Monday, January 02, 2006

Does Jesus have a shoe fetish? Or, strange thing happened in a Minneapolis cab.

Matt’s Monday Rant. Holiday Edition.

Right before Pam and I left for the holidays, I was taking a cab home from downtown Minneapolis, escaping in a cab right before the Holidazzle parade started. That damn parade could be another rant, but will have to wait until next year. Anyway, it was going to be a good evening – a cab ride out with my shopping holiday shopping complete. The compulsory banter between cabbie and passenger starts, but I knew it was going to be a bit different as the driver looked more like Pat from SNL at age 60, with a great smoker’s cough and skipped the “where to, friend?” portion of the conversation. Usually the drivers say “where to friend?” and I think oh, I’ve gained a new friend, and then I’m left in the cold as the driver doesn't even stop the conversation to ask me how I'm doing or how was my day. No, they take a cell phone call and they don't even look in the rearview mirror to see me there smiling, nervously waiting to answer their next question. Not Pat. Ah, Pat had more to offer. Pat, asked me where I was going and asked if I was happy to be going there. Thanks for caring, Pat. It was going to be a warm, true friendship between me and the embodiement of an SNL cliché. Things changed suddenly when Pat started to complain about how she was tired of being discriminated against. Mmm, as a woman? As one over 55? No, the city of Minneapolis discriminates against cabs, she tells me. “They fill the cab stands with all of the snow and don’t remove it for days.” I think to myself, not all of the snow, but I wasn’t going to ask Pat if the cold front was followed by rising levels of hyperbole. I had to take her word for it. Pat told me that she asked her son to get downtown with his video camera to tape this discrimination. Pat said her son wouldn’t do it, as he was too busy eating “mac and cheese.” I hope to God that she meant macaroni and cheese and not a cannibal victim named Mac. I continue to listen as Pat tells me that I’m her last fare for the evening. She told me she was supposed to buy a bag or batteries from some guy downtown, but he’s going to have to wait. What? Who buys batteries by the bag and who buys them as if they were to be trafficked on the black market. I suddenly imagine Pat and her son killing cab customers with a of bag batteries. The last thing you see is this bag of Duracells and Energizers coming at you. Thwack!! Next thing you know her son is cooking you up at home and to busy to bring the video camera into the city. That thought makes me chuckle and at this point, I’m convinced this might be the most entertaining cab ride I’ve had to date. It got better when Pat turned up the radio as a tune I’ve never heard had started. The song was “Christmas Shoes” by New Song. Pat told me that it’s the best “Christmas song she’s ever heard.” I sit and listen to it and I’m floored with how bad this song is. It’s worse than the mumps, humps, bumps, lumps, jumps crap by Black-eyed Peas. This will be a bit of a long post as I dissect the song. The carbide is not the rant, I just had to share. So, when the song’s over, Pat asked me what I thought. Minnesota must be rubbing off on me as I didn’t tell her what I really thought and I said simply “I’ve never heard anything quite like it.” I was worried about the possible follow-up question that might bring out my true feelings. But just then Pat gets a call from a fellow cab driver. She tells the cab driver she’s done for the night but would appreciate it if this person would go downtown and get her bag of batteries. I think that the cabbie/battery culture would make for an entertaining ethnographic study.

Ok, the song, which on some level makes me think the country continues to celebrate ignorance and downright stupidity. Did you hear this song? It’s about a dude who is shopping and a dirty, poor kid who needs to buy new shoes for his dying mom. If the mom had been beat into a coma then I would have thought it was written by the Lifetime network. Focus on the song, Matt.

Ok, so the kid’s buying shoes because it’s Christmas, right? No, because his mom is dying and she may see Jesus tonight. As we all know in Prada 3:16, Jesus told his shopping disciples that only with new shoes will you get into heaven. No wonder the unemployed carpenter wanted to scrub everyone’s feet. You can’t put dirty feet in new shoes, not if you’re going to see Jesus. The song is awful when you hear it. It gets worse I see the lyrics in print. I fear for this country. But then again, I don’t think that George Bush and Wal-Mart are looking out for America’s best interests, so that’s my bias. Let’s focus on the chorus of “Shoes.” First, the kid doesn’t know to give it up to Jesus, instead he asks for the kindness of strangers. Second, the kid is spending precious time while his mom is dying (assumes the kid’s not a young confidence man in training). Third, his mom is some materialistic, delusional freak – she’s dying, but new shoes will make her smile. But the killer is that she needs to look good for Jesus. WTF?!?!? Jesus, the big J, J-Dog, DJ INRI, judges? So the meek will inherit the earth because everyone else with good shoes will be in heaven. Imelda Marcos is a prophet. Thanks to the insight of New Song, I know the answer to that popular bumpersticker riddle, “What would Jesus do?” Well, Jesus will look at your shoes. If you’re not put together well, you’re not getting in to heaven (even if you’ve been counting your pennies for what seems like years). Now I understand why there is so much missionary work with native, first nation, and tribal communities throughout the world. Most of them aren’t wearing shoes. C’mon people, Jesus is judging and you better look beautiful tonight. Fuck, Frank Capra, I now know the beauty of Christmas. I hope a dirty, penny counting boy will be sent to me by God to show me the meaning of love. I’d like to see a Candid Camera/Daisy Does America/Punk’d/Fox News expose on stores and good, true Christian soldiers. How many dirty, penny counting boys (or girls) would be given money by the person behind them in line? I remember when Tom Green tried to pay for something with a sack of pennies and the shopkeep almost kicked his ass. One of the things I hope to do in 2006 (beside see Pat the Cabbie again), is to explore ways in which ignorance is celebrated in American pop culture. Examples would be George W. Bush, Toby Keith, Larry the Cable Guy, etc. Don’t worry, I’m a white guy, so it’s ok for me to call these guys out.

The Christmas Shoes - New Song

It was almost Christmas time, There I stood in another line Trying to buy that last gift or two, Not really in the Christmas mood. Standing right in front of me Was a little boy waiting anxiously, Pacing round like little boys do, And in his hands, he held a pair of shoes. And his clothes were worn and old. He was dirty from head to toe, And when it came his time to pay, I couldn't believe what I heard him say.

Sir, I wanna buy these shoes for my momma please. It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size. Could you hurry, Sir? Daddy says there's not much time. You see, she's been sick for quite a while; (and I ) Know these shoes will make her smile. (and I ) Want her to look beautiful if Momma meets Jesus tonight.

He counted pennies for what seemed like years Then the cashier said “There's not enough here.” He searched his pockets frantically Then he turned and he looked at me. He said “Momma made Christmas good at our house Though most years she just did without. Tell me, Sir, what am I gonna do? Somehow I've got to buy these Christmas shoes!” So I laid the money down; I just had to help him out. And I'll never forget the look on his face When he said “Momma's gonna look so great!”


I knew that I got a glimpse of heaven's love As he thanked me and ran out. I knew that God had sent that little boy to remind me What Christmas is all about. Chorus in children's voices

Young boy: I want her to look beautiful If Momma meets Jesus tonight.