Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hold Your Noses... Here Comes Ted Nugent!

Just in time for Gun Week in this blog, the Attorney General of Texas — the putative Dumbo candidate for Governor — has adopted Ted Nugent as his "blood brother" and campaign celebrity companion. General (as he is termed in Texas) Abbott proclaims his admiration for a self-professed molester of adolescent girls (during? and) after the rock concerts. This raises an interesting conundrum: would General Abbott leave his 17-year-old daughter alone in a room with his "blood brother"? Even more amazing is the fact that Nugent has served on the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association since 1995. Just this AM, this blogger received another appeal for a donation from State Senator Wendy Davis — the putative Donkey candidate for Governor — and the target of the message was the Abbott-Nugent partnership. If this is a (fair & balanced) picture of political E-V-I-L, so be it.

[x Esquire]
Why The Hell Are We Listening To Ted Nugent?
By Peter Gerstenzang

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Have you heard any remarks about the U.S. president from Sammy Hagar lately? Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon? Eddie Money? How about Kansas? Have you noticed any of them taking time out of their touring schedules of state fairs and rib festivals to speak unkindly about our commander-in-chief? I didn't think so. I use these well-meaning saps as examples for a reason. They were all gigantic in 1978. Playing to stadiums full of beered-up stooges who yelled, "Take off your top" to anything remotely female. And they're all as vital and relevant now as songs about CB radios and Disco Ducks. But one of the kings of these stadium roofie fests who sadly is still relevant is Ted Effing Nugent. He was huge 35 years ago, too. Even at his peak (the year of Elvis Costello and Blondie), many of us still thought he stunk like a loincloth that hadn't been washed since the Paleolithic Age. Yet somehow, this sexist, lyrically challenged musician has grabbed the ear of the press. He recently referred to our president as a "subhuman mongrel." He probably says kinder things about the animals he slaughters. But what all the outrage about Ted Nugent's comments in the past couple days misses is that Nugent never deserved our attention. Why does he have it now of all times?

I don't know what's scarier. That a washed-up troglodyte is using the language of the KKK about President Obama and it's become news. Or that Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, running for governor, is happily bracketing himself with Nugent, letting him campaign for him and referring to this Fred Flintstone as "My blood brother" and "A fighter for freedom in this country."

Aside from the fact that Abbott seems to have learned his political lingo from 100 viewings of "Red Dawn," The Nuge's words are particularly hurtful and ugly, coming, as they do, at this time in history. We've just had a jury in Florida not convict a trigger-happy racist Michael Dunn on a murder charge. Fellow bigot George Zimmerman was even luckier. He killed an unarmed Trayvon Martin and was set free. So even as the country appears to be loosening up about gay marriage and marijuana, a certain segment of it seems to want to make up for this open-mindedness by declaring open season on African-Americans. Nugent's remarks would be ugly as sin about anyone of color. But the president of the United States? It's pathetic enough that would-be politicians are using washed-up rockers to campaign for them. But what some of us are really lamenting here is the end of civil discourse. Sad, right? Abbott, clearly, has not distanced himself from Nugent's remarks. And I think it will come back to bite him on the ass. But those words of this reeking rocker simply cannot go unchallenged.

Nugent is a well-documented perv and fake patriot and has managed to do something stomach-churningly evil in almost every decade. In the '60s, this gat-lovin', elk-killing flag waver, by his own account, managed to take enough drugs to cover his legs with so much shit that he got out of going to Vietnam. In the '70s, aside from the fact that he pounded the unremarkable "Cat Scratch Fever" into the ground, he made a stadium sport of having sex with underage girls. As the Dallas Morning News reminded us on February 17, "Nugent admitted having affairs with several underage girls." "I was addicted to girls. It was hopeless," he said.

Even waxworks classic rock stations don't play Nugent's work. So, like many a failed entertainer before him, the only option left was to try and drum up some attention in another arena: politics. What can we do about this hateful attention seeker? You can certainly protest his appearances. You can write him a letter and tell him if he's a real American, he'll stop making hateful remarks about the president. And that if he must speak, he should leave out words like "mongrel" when he spews his essentially unintelligible jive. When he said in 2012, "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year," he got a visit from the Secret Service. How he walked out of that one, I'll never know. Something tells me, these days, that if Trayvon Martin had said such a thing about a white politician, he'd have been lynched.

Finally, we and (hopefully) other reasonably moral, relatively unbiased Americans can do something very simple. Just ignore the bastard. Like Octomom or Joe the Plumber, this is just a freak show. Outrageous stuff that gets the public's attention for a while but soon becomes a flaming bore. A bit like dropping your pants in public. Although in Ted's case it's a bit more complicated. If he hasn't changed his since the '60s, his look and stench may be a little harder to ignore. Ω

[Peter Gerstenzang is both a freelance writer and editor. In addition to Esquire, his work has also appeared in The New York Times, SPIN, The Village Voice and many others. Gerstenzang received a BA (English) and an MFA (Creative Writing) from Columbia University.]

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