Mere words are not sufficient. Movies are not sufficient. YouTube videos are not sufficient. Some human experiences—the most intense love, for one, or the most absurd folly—can only be portrayed with justice in the loftier arts, none of which are loftier than opera. And since George Bush is certainly one of the most absurd follies to come along in my lifetime, he's earned himself an opera.
I told you about it last week. At least, I think I did. Honestly, I have been in such a white-hot rush to have the opera completed before Inauguration Day that I'm not sure what I've been telling to whom. As I said in my last column (I think), I have fretted for eight years that whatever I wrote for the occasion of Bush's departure from office would not be adequate—that he and his administration would be leaving such huge and hideous scars on both the heart and the hide of America, that any attempts to describe the damage they have inflicted would be like trying to capture the full scope of the Boxing Day tsunami on a cell phone camera.
Unfortunately, it wasn't until just a couple of days before Christmas that I realized only an opera could convey the proper magnitude. Had I started out thinking "opera" as far back as the Florida recount, I would have been churning out the libretto even before he first took office. Think of it. By now, I would have enough libretto to fill a 10- to 12-hour opera—which, as anyone who has sat through Richard Wagner's entire Der Ring des Nibelungen would know, isn't so long. For an opera.
But no, this opera brain-quake didn't hit the Bill Valley until (as I write) about three weeks ago. Not much time to throw an opera together. Lucky for me, I wasn't aiming for a 10- to 12-hour opera.
What I have in the end is more like a 10 ... 12-minute opera. Maybe 20, if you actually try to sing the words. As original music would be meaningless in this printed venue, I have selected popularly established tunes to accompany the libretto. It is unlikely the musical numbers I have chosen will satisfy the more sophisticated opera buffs, but I doubt there are more than a handful of people within range of this paper who can whistle the tune to "Oh! Nel fuggente nuvolo," let alone "Si, mi chiamano Mimi." So to the snobs who might complain that this isn't so much an opera as a Broadway-ish musical—or even worse, a revue—I suggest they imagine that the sopranos are singing really, really high and that the tenors are singing really, really loud.
Now for the bad news: The opera, Der Decidermeister, will be presented in its entirety only in the online version of Boise Weekly.
And here's why: As it's only been three weeks since I decided to do this in time for Bush's last day in the White House, the paper was unprepared to present an entire opera on these pages. It's not their fault. Had I warned them well ahead of time—eight years ago, or even six months—that an opera was headed their way, they would have made certain there were an extra 10 pages or so on which it might fit.
Sadly, 10 (or so) spare pages are hard to come by in the current newspaper market—especially in January. You see, advertisers generally take a break in January. They wear themselves to a frazzle during the holidays, advertising away like their survival depended on it, then during January, they kick back and chill. And since it is advertising that determines how many pages a newspaper will contain when it comes out, January is slim pickings for the newspaper biz, even if the economy is tearing along like a brand new brass locomotive. Which it ain't.
But, since online pages are free, there is plenty of room at boiseweekly.com for my opera. If in last week's column, I got your hopes all up and stuff that this morning, you would be able to dunk your favorite biscotti into your favorite commercially prepared mug of French roast at your favorite retail coffee dispensary, all while enjoying a mellifluous singalong of Der Decidermeister, I apologize. It just didn't work out.
But what I can do for the remaining few column inches is give you a taste of what you're in for should you surf on over to our Web site—let me repeat: boiseweekly.com—and click up the opera. I give you an excerpt, a tease ... an opera trailer, if you will ... in hopes to draw you in.
Curtain rises on George Bush as a young man in his Texas Air Guard uniform, cavorting with a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a tightly rolled 20-dollar bill in the other. He sings (tune of "I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say No"):
I'm just an aimless rich boy drunk,
skating on Daddy's good name.
At heart I'm nothing but a punk,
playing a fake grown-up game.
George puts on mortar board with tassel dangling in his face.
I pretend I am a Yalie, learning
But even my "C" av-er-age is com-
I didn't learn a damn thing but how
to tap a keg, you see?
I only got to Yale because I was
Repeat refrain and trade mortar board for a flight helmet.
I pretend that I'm a pilot, training
for Veet Naaam
But no way I'm really going there,
'cause I'm a gonna scram.
Trades flight helmet for a Texas Rangers baseball cap.
I pretend I am a C-E-O,
but everything I own
goes promptly down the crapper;
I can't count the deals I've blown.
That's all I can give you at present, opera lovers. Now get on over to boiseweekly.com for the whole thing from start to fini. And remember to switch your cell phones to vibrate.