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You're 64; We Don't Love You

Aging rock stars are the latest threat we face.

June 17, 2002|ROB KUTNER | Rob Kutner is a staff writer on HBO's "Dennis Miller Live."

They are shooting down Cabinet members. Infiltrating the White House. Disintegrating Congress. They have been found in possession of the most toxic biochemical arsenals known to man, and they maintain an alarmingly fanatical following.

Terrorists? No, but probably the second-greatest threat facing the nation today: Aging rock stars.

Just ask Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, whose recent African tour--which was all but guaranteed prime media coverage with its glitzy trifecta of AIDS, the Third World and the Treasury Department--was upstaged by the presence of 42-year-old U2 lead singer Bono.

Ask aides to President Bush, who saw the usual dignity of the White House correspondents' dinner sullied with the presence of 53-year-old Ozzy Osbourne. Don't even get them started on how bad Osbourne made Bush look by having offspring comparatively healthier than the president's.

Or ask Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who was prompted this month to boycott congressional testimony on the environment by 30-year-old Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson. (In boy-band years, that's over the hill twice.)

Every day, thousands of potential future "classic rockers" enter the U.S. from rock-sponsoring nations like Britain, Canada and Sweden. Yet it takes decades of declining album sales for them to even get on the radar screen of the national agency explicitly devoted to monitoring them: VH-1.

More troubling is the silence of Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, whose religious disdain for dancing ought to ally him with the Kenny Loggins-hating town elders from the movie "Footloose." Instead, Ashcroft insists that the 2nd Amendment protects the rights of individuals to bear even leathery, tattoo-encrusted arms. He also refuses to document the drug prescription records of countless foreign has-beens touring here on temporary visas.

Nor is this just a U.S. problem.

Mick Jagger came within striking distance of the queen of England with a sharp blade when he was knighted last week.

And tensions are flaring in Ireland, no doubt over last week's removal of Paul McCartney from the dating market.

Asia, meanwhile, is on the brink of nuclear war over a territory named after a 1970s Led Zeppelin song. The question is, how trashed will we let the national motel room get before we tell these immune-system-compromised legends that the party is truly over?

How long before our energy-strapped country is diverting billions of megawatts into Keith Richards' dialysis? Before the incomprehensible Bob Dylan is recruited to be a "code talker" for our enemies overseas? Before newsstands carrying Gene Simmons' Tongue (the new magazine developed by the Israeli-born singer for the rock band Kiss) are jointly firebombed by pro-Palestinian activists and loyalist readers of Maxim?

Be forewarned: Osbourne already has staked his territorial marking on the Alamo. Even if he doesn't remember it.

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