Benny Jay and I had another of our regular bloody melees this week. It’s getting so that health insurance companies don’t even want to cover us anymore, what with us constantly submitting claims for hurt feelings and bruised sensibilities. Oh, wait, health insurance companies don’t want to cover anybody for anything. Sorry.
Anyway, back on March 28th, Benny wrote the following about Sammy Davis, Jr. vis à vis the Rat Pack: “… “[H]e had more talent than all of them put together.” Now, folks, surely you can see that this statement is almost as ludicrous as the time a woman said to me that she was a big fan of Sarah Palin because she was so smart.
Can You Pick Out The Genius In This Group?
As quickly as if I were a volunteer fireman responding to the emergency siren, I dashed off a scathing email reply stating that Frank Sinatra, the Pack’s Capo, was unquestionably the greatest pop singer in American history and that Sammy’s singing to Frank’s was as Dan Brown‘s prose is to Mark Twain‘s.
Benny Jay came back with the tired old argument about Sammy being proficient in dancing and acting as well. You’ve heard it all before — Sammy was “the greatest entertainer” of all time and “he could do it all.”
Sure, I retorted, Sammy could do it all — but none of it particularly well. The next thing you know, Benny Jay and I were harrumphing at each other. It was grisly, I tell you.
Sometimes I have to wonder how Benny Jay and I have remained friends all these years. Look at it from my perspective. I have to put up with all his lunkheaded, ill-informed, rash, and reactionary pronouncements. What do I get in return? Merely his loyalty, advice, support, and affection. I must be a saint.
After contemplating this terribly lopsided relationship, I did realize there is something Signore Jay and I have in common. You see, we’ve both spent much of our lives wanting to be something other than what we are.
Read through Benny Jay’s posts from the last year and a half. Notice something? The man wants to be black! That’s it. The sorrow of Benny Jay’s life is that he was born a privileged white boy in a tony North Shore suburb.
Had the unborn spirit of Benny Jay been able to choose the body and persona it would inhabit he would have selected something closer to that of, say, Jules Winnfield. You know — tough, hip, brainy despite lacking formal education — the very apotheosis of cool blackness.
Who Benny Jay Wishes He Could Be
Instead, Benny Jay’s cosmic being was inserted into the form of George Costanza. Is it any wonder that my old chum worships at the dancing feet of Sammy?
Who Benny Jay Is
I, too, have been sorely disappointed by my physical confines. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a witty Jew. First it was Woody Allen. Sophisticated, educated, street-smart, conversant in Gustave Flaubert and Hoagy Carmichael. Then, as I became more disillusioned by this crazy, mixed-up world, I longed to be as trenchant and seditious as Lenny Bruce.
I Dream Of Never Buckling Under To The Man
Overlooking his final humiliating image as a bloated, drug-ravaged corpse on a bathroom floor, I’ve spent countless hours fantasizing that I, like Lenny Bruce, tried to open America’s eyes to hypocrisy and venality. Sadly, I turned out only to be the mischievous altar boy.
I’m Not Visible In This Picture — I’m Busy Giving The Last Kid On The Left In The Top Row A Hotfoot
So, naturally, Benny Jay and I became the closest of pals. Isn’t America a place of dreams? It’s where a fierce black man from the hardscrabble ghetto and an intellectual Jew from Manhattan can be partners.
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