A friend remarked that I am a die-hard fan of the Rolling Stones. He based his observation on a recent comment and several photos I posted on Facebook.
Since my wife Mae’s passing in end-August 2015, I have done some traveling. One destination at the top of my wish list is Cuba. It’s high time I visited Cuba, the antiquated, revolutionary Cuba, before Fidel Castro’s demise. And before the invasion of Havana by a swarm of Americans, transforming it into a new Miami.
What does this have to do with the Rolling Stones? Well, it turned out that the Rolling Stones gifted Cuba a free concert, as a culmination of their 2016 Latin American tour. So a trip to Cuba could have been a chance to see the Rolling Stones in a live concert.
However, Cuba does not have an embassy in Manila where I can apply for a visa. Its embassy in Bangkok was uncooperative. It did not respond to my query regarding visa processing.
I thus had to abandon Cuba as a destination, and I ended up in Peru and Bolivia. The trip still coincided with the America Latina Olé stadium tour of the Stones.
But I missed the Stones concert in Lima. I left on the eve of their concert for La Paz. Unfortunately, the Stones skipped La Paz. My Bolivian tour guide, Fabian, quipped that the Stones would not be up to it. That is, no way could they have an energetic, electrifying show in La Paz. Can you imagine the septuagenarians performing Jumpin’ Jack Flash at an altitude of 3700 meters above sea level? They would have to wear oxygen masks. The Stones know their limits.
Seeing the Stones in Latin America was not to be. But rewarding enough is seeing their exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London, running till early September. Simply titled Exhibitionism, it is a must-see for those who think the Stones constitute the greatest rock band. Jimi Hendrix is arguably the best of the rockers, but he is not a band. In terms of longevity and prolificacy, the Stones beat the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd.
The best part of Exhibitionism is the recreation of the early life of the Stones. Said Keith Richards, they “spent the first year of their life hanging in places, stealing food and rehearsing.” Their flat at Edith Grove was like a pigsty. The kitchen, the bedroom, and the living room were full of filth — stale leftovers, piles of dirty dishes, soiled bedding, a clump of cigarette butts in an ashtray, a ripped couch, unswept floors.
A section of the exhibition is interactive. One can remix some of the Stones’ songs. Old instruments are also displayed like the drum kit of Charlie Watts and the fretless bass guitar of Darryl Jones.
Another room exhibits the Stones’ costumes through the years. In the early years, they “abandoned dogtooth jackets in favor of bad-boy rebelliousness.” But when they were no longer boys, their attire became more flamboyant or outlandish.
Mind blowing is the last gallery — a 3-D film showing a segment of the Stones recent concert in Buenos Aires. A visceral experience. I can almost touch the face of lolo Mick or lolo Keith or the hips of the swaying, supple, and pretty young Latinas.
Yes, the Stones, despite their age, have remained bad boys. Just like presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte who now wants to be called Rody. Both the Stones and Rody are old, nasty, sleazy, and rebellious. Perhaps, the Stones’ and Duterte’s unwholesomeness is what makes them attractive to women.
Further, to paraphrase Rich Cohen (the author of a forthcoming book titled The Sun & the Moon & The Rolling Stones), Jagger, Richards, et al. know their market, their niche. They avoided being a copy of the Beatles. Thus, they cultivated the bad boy image. Does this apply to Rody, too?
The Stones liked to “beg, borrow, and steal.” Wrote Cohen in “Mick and Keith’s Guide to Business Success” (Wall Street Journal, May 2016): “The Stones started as a cover band, playing bastardized versions of the songs they loved. They tried to copy them exactly but couldn’t help dirtying them up with their own experience.”
Again, that reminds me of Rody, who frankly said that he’d just copy the good platform or program of his rival candidates.
Being a Stones’ fan, I can choose which songs to dedicate to Rody. “Monkey Man,” for example: “Well I hope we are not too messianic. Or a trifle too satanic.”
Or “Street Fighting Man.” Which goes: “Think the time is right for a place revolution. But where I live the game to play is compromise solution.”
But let me not end there. I likewise dedicate one for Leni Robredo. Leni’s song is “Salt of the Earth.”
“Let’s drink to the hard working people. Let’s think of the lowly of birth. Spare a thought for the rag taggy people.” Leni, together with Rody, can give this old song a fresh meaning.
Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III coordinates the Action for Economic Reforms.