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Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Rock this joint

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Imagine if Edmund Morris, Tom Wolfe and Jackie Collins had a threesome in a cheap motel on the outskirts of some god-awful suburb of St. Louis to celebrate the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton. This book is the equivalent of what the maid would find on the sheets.

Don’t care for that metaphor? Joe Eszterhas seems to like it fine: “Our first rock and roll president was supposed to rock the world … but not like this … He made us feel queasy now. We saw a freeze-frame of a 53-year-old man, tired, red-faced, overweight, a father, sitting alone in a plush office, his fly open, Willard in hand, staring, coming. Bill Clinton was the literal ’90s realization of that mythical moment in the ’60s: Jim Morrison onstage in Miami unzipping his fly, showing off his dick, and simulating masturbation and oral sex in front of thousands of people. Bill Clinton was the wet spot on America’s bed.”

Now that Slick Willy is about to decamp the White House for the niceties of Westchester County, New York, we should expect more of these sort of New Journalism final reckonings from the lesser lights of that blighted generation of narcissism and self-indulgence, the Flower Children. Eszterhas, perhaps still smarting from the ridicule heaped on him after Showgirls, has decided to make a last-ditch effort for respectability. And why not do so with an overheated memoir-cum-acid trip through the melodramatic embarrassment that was Monicagate, complete with all the lurid personalities saying and doing ludicrous things? Bill and Ms. Lewinsky re-create Plato’s Gorgias as they fly to Los Angeles. Bob Dole muses over his erectile dysfunction. And so on.

What a long, boring trip it was the first time around. But Eszterhas is determined to make it even longer by freighting the fucker with self-important digressions about all things ugly and American — white supremacists, Hollywood, strip-mall culture, social-climbing women, Nixon, JFK, yuppies, Calvinist repression of masturbation and, of course, the indignities of shooting Showgirls.

In the plus column, we definitively learn the real truth behind the late ’60s and its embarrassments — square, middle-class white kids wanted to be black and cool. And they hate themselves to this day for never making the grade. Only Bill, like some immaculate conception of hope and hip, had the flow. Our man obviously thinks he's writing American history as it was meant to be — right from the gutter, with neon pinwheels spinning in your eyes and poison in your soul. Turn off, tune out, drop dead.

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