“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!”
–Robert Burns, “To a Louse”
The very next line of ol’ Rabbie’s poem has been translated as, “It would save us from many mistakes and foolish thoughts.”
Sometimes to truly understand the character of a place it takes an outsiders unvarnished view of things to bring honest perspective. After all, no one wants to acknowledge their own faults and foibles – admit weakness or willingly expose shortcomings – and our vanity and pretensions rarely allow us to see our own imperfections.
But others can.
I recently read an excellent piece by Jim Abbott writing in the Daytona Beach News-Journal touting the almost ready for prime-time Desert Inn/Westin/Hard Rock property.
The piece entitled “Daytona Gets Its Groove” received a prominent spot on the front page of Sunday’s paper, and rolled out the soundtrack for the languishing project – 90-minutes of music selected by Hard Rock International’s music and memorabilia historian, Jeff Nolan.
The playlist – described as a mix of “vintage surf to sophisticated ultra lounge music” – has been released on Spotify as “Daytona Getaway!”
Given the Halifax areas rich contributions to the music industry and culture of the 60’s and 70’s – from The Nightcrawlers, Allman Brothers and the incomparable Floyd Miles – to our outstanding current crop of musician/songwriters such as Rueben Morgan and bluesman Mark Hodgson – I’m surprised Hard Rock corporate failed to solicit local input, and in doing so, missed a great opportunity to build community support for a property that really needs local buy-in.
Whatever. Not my job.
Given the fact that many residents are still sore over the Volusia County Council’s retroactive legislation which pushed back their promise to remove beach driving from the strand behind the Desert Inn/Westin/Hard Rock – a deadline of February 28, 2018 that is rapidly approaching – one would think Hard Rock International would want all the local goodwill they can muster.
What I found most telling was Mr. Nolan’s unique thoughts on his impressions of the Daytona Beach Resort Area. Speaking in the News-Journal, Nolan said, “Daytona Beach is such an unusual place. There’s a little bit of a John Waters-y vibe here.”
He quickly recovered by adding, “. . .which is one of its big strengths.”
For the uninitiated, John Waters is an eccentric film director, screenwriter, author and journalist who has elevated bad taste to an art form.
He is known as The Sultan of Sleaze, The People’s Pervert, The Baron of Bad Taste and the Pope of Trash among other monikers that even a degenerate like me finds too distasteful for print.
To fully understand Mr. Nolan’s spot-on analogy, it helps to have a basic perspective of John Waters’ absurdist view of the world around him.
In his cult classic Pink Flamingos, Waters cast the late drag queen Divine as ‘Babs Johnson,’ an on-the-run criminal who is dubbed by a tabloid “The filthiest person alive.” Babs lives in a trailer park with her ne’er-do-well son, Crackers, and their “traveling” companion, Cotton.
Ultimately, Divine is harassed by the Marbles, a couple of low-life crooks who run a black market “adoption clinic” and are openly envious of her title.
The film progresses with what one critic described as, “…every kind of cruelty, obscenity and freak show behavior you can imagine, notoriously including unsimulated coprophagy and chickens killed during sex.”
However, there was one pivotal scene in the film that perfectly correlates with Mr. Nolan’s weird assessment of our hometown.
During one take, Divine holds a kangaroo court after having charged the Marbles with, “first-degree stupidity” and “assholism.”
Suffice it to say, it doesn’t end well in the movie – but does anyone else see the glaring connection between the offenses charged and our own elected and appointed officials in Volusia County?
Let’s face it, if First-Degree Stupidity and Assholism were truly crimes against the community, I know a few on the dais of power that would be thrown in the mythical Bud Light Pit of Misery for a long time to come. . .