Cover of the Rolling Stone: Shaggable sham.
Cover of the Rolling Stone: Shaggable sham.

Confessions of an Airbrushed Anglophile

Throughout her ever-changing incarnations -- Material Girl, religious provocateur, dominatrix, crypt keeper -- one thing Madonna has remained is honest. Whether she's hitchhiking naked, exploring Jewish mysticism or feeling super duper about her Mini Cooper, Mama M has never had a problem telling the American public exactly what she's thinking.

We know her kids aren't allowed to watch TV or read magazines. She loves Michael Moore, hates Dubya and wanted to suck off Antonio Banderas before anyone stateside knew who he was. She was a teetotaling vegetarian. Now she bellies up to the bar for a pint and a burger. We've been with her through both. She rides horses. And falls off them. The woman is a walking, talking advertising campaign for herself. If she does it, thinks it or believes it, we, praise red-thread bracelets, will know.

So now that Madonna is unhappy, it's no surprise we're starting to hear about it. Her current source of discontent? The December 1 issue of Rolling Stone. Featuring Ms. Lucky Star arching catlike toward the camera, the cover makes her look nothing short of stunning.



What's the problem, you ask?

"It's all a bloody farce," she's been blurting in thick Cockney outside various pubs in England, according to sources.

Nigel Pepperworth, owner and pint puller at the popular central London Pepperworth Pub, says Madge came in the day the issue hit shelves. "She was right mad. She brought it in and started waving it about after her third pint of Bass. She was going on about airbrushing and Photoshop touch-ups and whatnot. I couldn't really understand a bloody word she was saying actually. Her faux-Brit accent gets fuckin' right thick after a coupla ales. She's from Michigan; why the fuck she talk like that?"

Better able to understand her was Colin Boddington, who made the mistake of approaching Madonna with a copy of the issue at a pub in Brighton. "She right snatched the fucker from me hand and held it to me face and began bloody screamin', 'This isn't me! It's airbrushed. I don't bloody look like this. I'm, like, 103 or something. I don't look this bloody good. Look at me goddamn face and tell me I look like this!' " Did she? Boddington remembers, "Not in the least, mate. She's got a point. Her face has more wrinkles than me ball sack. Body looked right shag-worthy, though. Me thinks it's all the Pilates and mocha lattes that keep her lookin' so fit."

Sussex, England, pub patron Mary Maryfellow had what she described as "a right deep conversation with the old cow," which helps explain Madonna's position on the matter. "She was well pissed from half a dozen pints. She was very maudlin, almost to the point of bloody tears. She was tellin' me that Kabbalah takes a very strong stance against vanity. She didn't want to let down the Kabbalahist scholars she'd been larnin' undah. She was afraid they'd get the wrong idea, that she wasn't acceptin' of her status as a octogenarian."

Nigel Pepperworth says Madge was sentimental about the same thing at his place. "I gave 'er some spotted dick and blood puddin' and a bunch of udder disgoostin' shit our people eat to sober her up. She started natterin' about things along those lines. One thing I remember distinctly was her sayin', 'Maybe I'm getting' worked up over bloody nothin'. After all, those Kabbalah books are in Yiddish or somethin'. I can't even read 'em!' "

Attempting to explore more deeply, Wack was able to get Madonna on the phone.

"Tell us about your trepidation over the Rolling Stone cover," we mined.

"Something something bloody something," she replied.

She then added, "Bloody 'ell!" -- Brian McManus


My parents are no concert slouches: They saw the Who in their 1960s heyday and have accompanied me to R.E.M. and U2 shows. But since my dad delights in playing the rockified holiday tunes of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra every Christmas, Wack decided to grant his holiday wish and send him and my mom to one of the band's shows to report back on what they saw.

Wack: How many people were on stage?

Dad: I think there must be eight of them? There was the narrator, three guitarists, a violinist, two keyboards…

Mom: Drummer.

Dad: And a drummer. An excellent drummer.

Mom: And then an orchestra.

Wack: What does the narrator narrate?

Dad: Each year there's a different story that they put their music to. The story was about an old man going into a bar on Christmas Eve, sitting all alone. Then he starts talking to this other gentleman, and the gentleman relates a story about an angel going around the world on Christmas Eve.

Mom: This is how it starts out, okay: "In an old city bar, that was never too far…" [laughs]

Dad: That's it. Your mom took notes, so that's the quote.

Wack: What was surprising about the concert you didn't expect to happen?

Mom: They went into this long rock concert [after the Christmas portion].

Dad: I think they were trying to spread their wings, because they were playing non-Christmas music.

Wack: Did you like it?

Dad: It was okay. But I came prepared to hear their Christmas music. I wasn't prepared for other music. Two-thirds of the way through the second set of songs, he [band member] says, "Okay, let's see how many people out there have cell phones -- light 'em up! Wave your cell phones!" That was really neat. All you could see is these little blue screens waving…

Mom: Of course, you know your dad couldn't wave his because his doesn't…[laughs]

Dad: Oh, shut up.

Wack: Because his doesn't what?

Dad: I've got my little green screen. I've got my old little phone, the ancient one? [laughs]

Mom: It doesn't light up. So he pretended that he had one.

Wack: Mom, which Christmas song did you like the best?

Mom: Um…

Dad: She liked the one with the strings.

Mom: That was their opening one.

Wack: Was it all downhill from there?

Mom: [laughs]

Dad: For your mom it was.

Mom: It's not like a Christmas concert where you're actually hearing Christmas songs. Like if you go see the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, if you see that one. You have things that you recognize. But the variations they do on these songs…it's so much rock. And so much guitar and headbanging that you don't recognize it.

Wack: Headbanging?

Mom: Headbanging with "O Come All Ye Faithful."

Dad: No, they run up and down the stage, Annie. They're all longhairs. Longhairs in tuxes.

Mom: When they were doing "O Holy Night" -- which is one of my favorite Christmas songs anyhow -- it was this rock version of it, where they're doing the dueling guitars right next to each other and swinging the hair.

Dad: Think of Jimi Hendrix. The way they did it on the guitar. They know how to play their guitars, believe me.

Mom: It was so rock. As I said, it reminded me a lot of Beavis and Butt-head doing AC/DC.

Dad: The thing is, though, Gerri, people who like Trans-Siberian Orchestra recognize their music the way they do it that way. You're not into that. I enjoyed that.

Mom: Right. All I could think of was Beavis and Butt-head. I had to grab at straws. [laughs] I had to grab at some type of entertainment. -- Annie Zaleski

Trans-Siberian Orchestra appears for two shows on Sunday, December 18, at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk, 713-758-7200.

Another self-described local band for your edification

Band name: Vapors

Web site:

Native or transplant? Native

What's in a name, particularly yours? "Vapor" means insignificance.

When did you form? Four years ago

Releases/discography: Vapor self-titled six-song EP

Who or what do you think you sound like? Foo Fighters, Oasis, Jimmy Eat World

What are some of your noteworthy recent feats? Our song "World Turned Upside Down" will be featured in the upcoming Zukor Pictures release No Pain No Gain.

What albums have had the biggest impact on you? Too many to count, but Breakfast in America by Supertramp is always within reach.

Finish this sentence: I'd rather be… Here 'cause we've seen what "there" is really like.

Weezer or Winger? Weezer

Jay-Z or Z-Trip? Don't like Jay-Z, don't know Z-Trip…but we do like to catch some Z's on day trips.

Football or foosball? Watching football while playing foosball

Parting shot? It's all just someone's opinion.

See them at: The 19th Hole, 202 Sawdust, on Friday, December 16


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