Thursday, September 26, 2013

TANKS A MILLION

The latest star of
"Duck Dynasty."
The worst thing about the murder of John Lennon was the murder of John Lennon. The second worst thing was that every celebrity suddenly thought he or she was a potential target of a psychotic fan. It was no longer enough to have a bodyguard. Now you had to pack heat just in case an autograph hound came within ten yards of your space. In the years following Lennon's death, a pre-rehab David Crosby was seen skulking around with a handgun. Wouldn't that image disturb you more than that of a real killer? More to the point -- and I know you're thinking this -- who the hell would want to shoot David "Our house is a very very fine house" Crosby? Don't worry, Dave, your fans are either too stoned or more concerned about their prostate to use you for target practice. You're safe. Now push yourself away from the pasta and go for a walk.

Bing could always count on his
homie Phil Harris for protection.
As time went on, the rise of rap brought celebrities shooting each other, usually at concerts, recording sessions and awards ceremonies. Can you imagine if this kind of thing had existed in the 1940s? Picture Bing Crosby pulling a gat on newcomer Frank Sinatra at the Paramount Theater in Times Square. Ima gonna plug you, you skinny muthafucka, watch the girls scream now! It would have been The Road to Sing-Sing for sure.

Well, guns just aren't enough anymore to prove your greatness. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Now, heavily armored vehicles designed to withstand large-caliber ordinance are turning up at valets around town. At the extreme end of the spectrum is the Prombron Iron Diamond armored vehicle from Latvia's Dartz Motorz Co. (Dartz manufactured Sacha Baron Cohen's gold-plated presidential SUV featured in The Dictator.) According to car news website Jalopnik, Kanye West recently ordered two Iron Diamonds, for $1.2 million each. New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith was spotted in Manhattan's Meatpacking District parking a $450,000 Gurkha F5 armored truck -- the same brute driven by Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five.

Despite Kanye West's recent boasting to the BBC ("I'm the No. 1 rock star on the planet"), his fairytale romance with Kim Kardashian has probably so lowered his standing in the rap world that, as with David Crosby, nobody would bother putting out a contract on him. And while we're at it, don't worry about Ms. Kardashian, either. I've seen photos of her; bullets couldn't penetrate
 
Honk if you think the Knicks suck. I dare you.
that ambulating flesh-heap from a foot away. In the case of J.R. Smith, however, he probably needs protection from the suckers who spend up to $67,000 for season tickets expecting the Knicks to actually make the playoffs.




Can even an armored car contain the uber-manliness
of Steven Seagal and his pal Vladimir Putin?
Urban tanks, it seems, are the new smartphones. Every celebrity is getting one now, whether they need it or not, just to reaffirm their self-worth. Don't believe me? Steven Seagal is apparently in such fear of anyone taking him out that he's bought a custom-made armored car. Steven Seagal! Who knew that oaf was still alive, let alone allowed to carry a drivers license?

If driving around town in a vehicle that wouldn't look out of place in the suburbs of Kabul wasn't enough of an ego trip, the doorhandles are electrified in order to give a "nonlethal" zap to carjackers and paparazzi. As Bud Abbott would say, I'm all for it. Anything that prevents further photos of these people would be a boon to civilization. I would tweak it a bit, however, to make sure the shock sends the cameramen into a year-long coma. And if the celebrities themselves
The car nobody wants.
accidentally do the same to themselves, well, 
so much the better. 

As for carjackers -- maybe they wouldn't try to
steal it if it wasn't worth over a million dollars, genius. According to the Highway Data Loss Institute, the least stolen car in America is the Hyundai Tuscon. And with a top price of 
$27,095, there's a savings of around $972,000.  You're welcome.

These military-style vehicles aren't just for the bold-faced names either:

Texas Armoring executive vp Jason Forston says the company has seen demand in the U.S. soar the past five years... "You even have a lot of Hollywood executives, studio heads, people not in the spotlight." Forston credits the "climate of fear right now -- the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots" -- for the surge in sales.

Mickey better get a Mouseketank, pronto
Why would a studio head need this kind of over-the-top protection? Consider: two of Disney's big releases in the last year and a half, John Carter and The Lone Ranger, lost a combined total just shy of half a billion dollars. If I were Robert Iger, the Chairman and CEO of Disney -- salary reported by Forbes in 2011 at $33-million -- I'd be afraid of getting shot by my shareholders. Sometimes, haters gonna hate for a good reason.

J.D. Salinger, one of the most famous American authors of the 20th-century, managed to live a perfectly normal life in a little Vermont hamlet. No tanks, no guns, no bodyguards -- nothing, in fact, to attract attention to himself for the last 50 or so years of his life. So it's more than a little ironic that the Hollywood "haves" are behaving in such a way to further attract attention to themselves. So clueless are they that, in the process, they're fermenting a genuine feeling of revolt in a good deal of America. Perhaps those "heavily armored vehicles designed to withstand large-caliber ordinance" are a good idea after all. But if I remember my history correctly, the Winter Palace probably had some pretty good security, too.

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