Music to my ears: Not!

A freak for fitness, I decided the other day to concentrate on what trainers call the "core muscle groups," the very struts of the human body. In my case, the core muscles are the tongue and the schnitzel. The schnitzel is unfamiliar to many folks, but it's a sister muscle to the hamstring. Twisty like ship rope, the schnitzel runs from the back of the tongue to a spot just under my computer desk. I'm typing with it now, in fact.

So what I've been doing every morning is to work my core muscles — my tongue and my schnitzel — then replenish my fluids later in the day with that popular new heart medication, a glass or two of red wine.

The wine we like tends to suds up when poured, producing what appears to be its own beer head.

I think the bubbles come from dishwasher soap, a sign that our wine glasses need to be handled more carefully. Like laboratory beakers and rose queens, they should be pristine.

"Maybe I should wash them by hand," I say.

"You do that, champ," says my wife, Posh, a little too dismissively.

Anyway, Posh thinks the suds are a natural byproduct of the wine itself. She also worries that my lowbrow understanding of wines will one day get us evicted from California for not being cool enough. In particular, she objects to me intentionally looking at wine lists upside down, then sniffing to the waiter, "Never heard of any of these."

Getting evicted from California doesn't worry me so much — I've been thrown out of worse places — though I am still troubled by what happened here the other night at something called the American Music Awards.

In case you missed it, this singer known as JLo came out on stage in one of those tiny new Fiats, which barely fit her core muscle group, her famously Euclidean tush.

By coincidence, this Fiat happens to be the same car Jennifer Lopez drives in commercials. It was — to that moment anyway, several days have since passed — a low point in the commercialization of American music.

We had friends over, and there was an audible gasp in the room that a pop singer could be so promotionally naked, which coincided with the physical nakedness, for during her dance number, they tore away part of her outfit, leaving her wearing only a sprinkling of sequins. As the parent of any teenager will tell you, a sprinkling of sequins is not appropriate attire for national television.

If, for example, I wore only sequins out to get doughnuts on a Saturday morning, I would be immediately arrested. Worse yet, if I happened to make it all the way to the doughnut shop, they would not serve me doughnuts.

This is what America has come to. You can go on national television wearing less than you were born in and be perfectly fine, but if you tried the same artistic self-expression while out buying doughnuts, you would be quickly incarcerated.

Fortunately, JLo's music was really, really interesting.

Let me describe it for you now: You know the screech produced by a cat when you accidentally suck up its tail in the vacuum? This was louder than that and much more distinct — surgical in its sharpness and dangerous to human flesh. I would only describe it as "frackin'."

While she sang, this JLo was surrounded by dancers who looked to be attempting to eat their own privates, as lights flashed wickedly across the stage in what I assume was a mash-up of popular music and video games.

There on the couch, my schnitzel throbbed.

"More wine!" I yelled.

"Shhhhhh," someone said.

"She really," my buddy groaned, "drove on stage in a Fiat?"

I could not quite decipher her lyrics, but I assume they dealt with the injustices of life and how difficult it is to get your core muscle group into one of those tiny new Fiats.

Also, there had to be a certain amount of angst in driving a new Fiat, knowing, as everybody does, that in the old days, Fiats would just spontaneously decompose. You would just be driving down the highway and a door would rust off, followed by a wheel.

So, yes, I am bound to get kicked out of California at any moment. When people ask me why, I will explain that music awards shows drove me away. For the record, I'm not so hot on digital holiday cards or 3D movies either.

I will miss California, especially these sun-splashed days after big storms, when the aspen quiver and the mountains are clear as tonic.

Without storms, there would be no days like this. Without bad times, there would be no good ones to follow.

And without JLo, there would be no one driving on stage in Fiats.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World