Spoofs & Satire

Rod Penner, Mr. W / Lubbock, TX, 2013. Courtesy Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe.

Admirable Restraint

Understatement can help us cope with disaster. But in the case of Paul McCartney, a little doesn’t always go a long way.

The Beatle spoke about initially hearing the news of John Lennon’s death in 1980 and his thoughts on shooter Mark Chapman during an appearance on the Jonathan Ross Show.… Paul McCartney called John Lennon’s killer Mark Chapman the “jerk of all jerks.”
New York Daily News, December 7, 2014.


Paul McCartney on World War II: “What a bummer.”

Paul McCartney on Hurricane Katrina: “Not ideal, when you think about it.”

Paul McCartney on the CIA torture report: “It caused a bit of a stink. People seemed to be irritated by the things in there. It put them off their breakfast.”

Paul McCartney on the Challenger disaster: “Talk about a mix-up.”

Paul McCartney on the Black Death: “Slightly embarrassing, don’t you think?”

Paul McCartney on the worldwide famine of 1601-02: “You have to be right careful with those volcanoes. Not much of a giggle when one of them pops off. It mucked up the crops everywhere. Hard to get a good sandwich in those days, if you catch my meaning.”

Paul McCartney on Joseph Stalin: “Well, I never.”

Paul McCartney on the Plague of Justinian: “Good golly.”

Paul McCartney on the Hindenburg disaster: “Seems bad, on balance.” 

Paul McCartney on getting a decaf instead of a regular coffee: “It was the last straw. I mean, everything went wrong this morning: absolutely everything. First, I went to pick up my shoes from the cobbler. I was having them resoled. They weren’t ready, even though I was specifically promised they would be. And I trusted that man, which I guess is something I shouldn’t have done. Serves me right for believing in the milk of human kindness and all that rot. ‘Are my shoes ready?’ ‘They are not.’ Unacceptable, y’know?

‘It’s like one of your lyrics, innit?’ he said, putting on an accent, though it was more Geordie than Scouse.

“Then I went to get my hair cut and colored, and that was humming along nicely, snip snip and the rest, until the guy next to me struck up a conversation about his recent trip to Gibraltar. He knew who I was, but he was pretending he didn’t, and he probably even knew what Gibraltar means to me, but he was pretending he didn’t know that either. There’s nothing I hate more than that, except what happened next. It started raining outside, really pouring, and—wouldn’t you know it?—a fireman came in, and the barber got the giggles. He started laughing into his hand at first and then he had to go into the bathroom in the back of the place. We heard him in there, giggling like a man in a madhouse. The fireman was standing there looking stricken. The bloke just wanted a haircut. The guy in the chair next to me looked over and winked. ‘I know why he’s laughing,’ he said. I shrugged and shook my head. I knew why he was laughing, too. I just wanted the conversation to end. But then that numb-nuts winking guy had to say it out loud. ‘It’s like one of your lyrics, innit?’ he said, putting on an accent, though it was more Geordie than Scouse. I turned and gave him the nastiest look I could muster, the kind of thing that would wither a flower, but he kept on going. ‘And isn’t there a banker in the line just before it? I work in finance.’ Now he was starting to break up, too, giggling almost as bad as the barber, who had come out of the bathroom and was standing at the back of the shop. I stood up, took off the smock, threw a 20-dollar bill on the counter next to the sink, and headed for the door. When I got there, hand on knob, I turned and said, as icily as possible, ‘Very strange.’ As the door shut, I heard the barber say something about not leaving a tip. Here’s a tip: don’t be such a tosser.

“I went through the wet streets, cursing life itself, and when I got into the car, my hand was so slippery from the goddamned rain that I accidentally tuned Sirius off of 50s on 5 and onto The Coffee House on Sirius. A double dose of Sarah McLachlan? I thought I might go right out of my skull.

“If there’s a greater injustice in history, I can’t imagine what it is. Lunch was okay, except that the vegetable spring roll order had only two instead of three. Must everyone try to rip me off simply because I’ve got a little silver in me pocket? That jingling noise you hear isn’t an invitation to rob me blind, Thai Noon.

“And then I popped out for a spot of coffee and got decaf instead of what I ordered, which was clearly regular coffee. I couldn’t have expressed myself more clearly if I had been wearing a sandwich board, which is what I guess I’ll have to do next time, on account of the utter and pernicious incompetence of the baristas at that godforsaken place. Now I have a pounding headache and I can’t take another minute of this. What terrible god rains down upon me misfortune after misfortune, calamity after calamity, drowning my waking hours in unimaginable horrors? This is not a world I can abide.”