I try to stay hip. It's important to me to act cool. I refuse to become some grumpy middle-aged guy who yells at kids to turn their music down and turn their caps around. I'm not one of those square old dudes who thinks Marilyn Manson is a woman and Cameron Diaz is a man. If somebody asks if I listen to the Beastie Boys, I won't ask if they're the band that sang "Surfin' USA."
I know the Goo Goo Dolls.
I know Puff Daddy.
I know who sings for Hole.
I'm fly. I'm phat. (Don't even bother saying it.) Man, I am so fly and phat, I am hip to the fact that it ain't even cool anymore to say fly or phat.
For a happening cat like me, this is an excellent time of year, because this is "MTV Live in Los Angeles" week, leading up to the 15th annual MTV Video Music Awards show Thursday night at the Universal Amphitheatre.
I haven't been asked to be a presenter, but maybe next year. I could wear my leather pants with the chains and a vest with no shirt, like Pat Boone.
Los Angeles just got the MTV awards back, after losing them for the last four years to New York City. I can understand New York's appeal to the music industry. That town had grunge long before music did.
New York has very quaint notions about music, including that it be played indoors. If Carnegie Hall is ever moved to California--and I think David Geffen should look into this, first thing in the morning--we'll put it where it belongs, outdoors, without a roof. Turn it into Carnegie Bowl.
The very first MTV awards were held at Radio City Music Hall, which is a nice place if you enjoy seeing dancers kick their heels over their heads. I have never totally comprehended the concept of the Rockettes. Then again, I have never totally comprehended the concept of synchronized swimming.
Madonna came out on that MTV show 15 years ago and sang "Like a Virgin" while wearing a wedding dress. It was the first and last time I saw Madonna overdressed.
She was young then. Now 40, Madonna is a middle-aged mom who probably goes around the house using obsolete words like fly and phat and telling her kid to turn down the music. She still looks great, though. I'd play "truth or dare" with her any day.
Michael Jackson just turned 40 also, although due to his Jehovah's Witness beliefs, he reportedly doesn't acknowledge birthdays. I have been listening to Michael sing for as long as I can remember. I can remember when he was a kid. I can remember his original nose. I can remember when he sold more albums than his sister.
It is hard to believe Madonna and Michael are in their 40s. Ten years from now, they will probably be playing supper clubs together, like Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. They'll sit on stools and do a medley of old Captain and Tennille hits.
I enjoy the MTV Video Awards even better than the Grammy Awards, which we also took back from New Yorkers this year.
(They are welcome to the 1998 Dodgers in return, if they like.)
Hillary Rodham Clinton won a Grammy last year, for an oral version of that book she wrote about the village people. I just wish Hillary was up for an MTV thing this Thursday. She could come out in her wedding dress.
My favorite moments in MTV award history have been:
* The Artist Formerly Known as Prince showing up in a costume that could best be described as the emperor's new clothes.
* The Herman Formerly Known as Pee-wee showing up in public for the first time since being caught at a movie not reaching for his popcorn.
* And the king of rock 'n' roll's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, kissing the king of pop, Michael Jackson, on the mouth, ending speculation that they hadn't kissed on their wedding night.
In my continuing effort to be cool, I spent last Sunday checking out the L.A. area's club ads. I wanted to know who the hot groups were and where they would be.
I saw that the House of Blues' upcoming acts included ones called the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Church, Judas Priest and Rev. Horton Heat. I was pleased that the house had booked religious groups, until I noticed it also had one called Insane Clown Posse.
Another club on Sunset was advertising appearances by bands called Ratt, Snot and Voodoo Glow Skulls.
I'll probably buy all their records. I mean cassettes. I mean CDs.
See? The older I get, the hipper I get.
Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053, or phone (213) 237-7366.