A Few Moments With Andy Rooney Jr.

A somewhat angry young man for a somewhat angry age .

Wouldn’t it be a good laugh if people in the clergy were forced to make an honest living? “Hello, my son.” “Shut up and pump the gas, padre.”

Solet’s look through the old deskdrawer. Somestring. Why’d I put that there? An old key. Forgotten what door it opens. Oh, look, an old Pearl Jam ticket from 1993. That’ll come in real handy. You know, I had no idea “Pearl Jam” was slang for “sperm” when I saw that concert back in ’93. I just thought it was an interesting name for a band. Shows you how dumb I was.

If video phones ever get popular, I don’t think I’ll use one. I said the same thing about the computer back in ’80 or so. Computers and condoms. Said I wasn’t going to use either one. Then came AIDS and then the Internet. I guess that makes me 0 for 2.

Everybody is wild about the fall, or claims to be. They love to go on about the crisp weather and the colors of the leaves. I think the fall stinks. If it has a theme, it’s this: death and decay. I’m not a big fan of death and decay. And the sweaters. People get excited about putting on their sweaters. I would rather die in the gutter wearing boxers before I put on a sweater or got excited about wearing one.

If this is a free country, why can’t I get a minute to myself without somebody bothering me?

I think I’ll skip the Warren Zevon album.

It’s better to walk than to accept a ride from somebody. Getting a ride is more trouble than it’s worth. You’re standing there wondering if you’re in the right spot at the right time. Then the person shows up and you have to make conversation in a small space.

I saw Swimming Pool over the summer. That was my big night out. It was a good movie, a little creepy. But by the way the audience was reacting, you would have thought we were watching the most hilarious comedy ever. Do you get the feeling that Manhattan audiences laugh too hard at anything remotely resembling a joke, especially the foreign-film crowd? They want to make sure other people know they get it.

People who claim to talk against the elite on behalf of average Americans are by definition part of the elite.

What, it’s our civic duty to buy the Warren Zevon album? I thought I already did my part in ’80, when I helped support his blow habit by paying $8.98 for Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School.

Who are these people who get all ‘artistic’ over Sept. 11? “Hey, let’s make a big poem out of the 911 phone logs!” You know what? Let’s not.

For centuries, wheat was a blessing. Most of our ancestors would have perished if it weren’t for wheat. Now it’s the big enemy. Now people say things like, “I feel so much more clearheaded since I gave up wheat products.” Here’s a clearheaded idea: Shut up and eat some bread.

I think the Yankees are going to lose early in the playoffs, because it’s not really enough fun for them to win.

Let’s see, what else do we got in the desk drawer? A manual for a little CD player I bought in ’90. There’s a warranty form, too. I was supposed to fill it out and mail it in. I don’t remember what happened to that CD player. It probably broke. I wonder if anyone fills out those warranty forms.

The Times predicted huge things for a band called Fannypack. I’m still waiting.

I wonder how many Iraqi civilians we’ve killed. I’d like to get a number on that. I feel it’s only right somehow.

Funny How?

The artist currently known as Joe Doggs probably has a point when he says over the phone, “If you look at all the things they write about actors who try and sing, all they do is fucking kill them. The media kills them totally. I am not a fucking circus and I don’t want to be part of one.”

So maybe if you, too, were a movie star about to embark on a side career as a jazz musician, you’d also want to be low-key and try to keep your real name out of this. Given these celebrity-obsessive times, though, is such a thing possible? Doubtful, but we’ll try. Anyway, his collaborator and co-conspirator can safely be identified-Joey DeFrancesco is one of the top jazz organists working today, winner of this year’s Downbeat magazine critics’ poll as best at his instrument. It was on his newest recording, a collection of 11 standards titled Falling In Love Again , that Mr. Doggs made his singing debut. The CD cover art is a photograph of a flamboyantly morose basset hound, which may be taken as a signal that “Joe Doggs” is a scam of some kind. But this is no vanity project or Hollywood lark-Mr. Doggs did all the album’s arrangements, too, and the players on the CD are bona fide jazz aces, including guitarist Pat Martino and Tonight show band leader Kevin Eubanks. In the liner notes, Quincy Jones writes of Mr. Doggs: “He has flawless pitch, he has plenty of soul and control, and is totally at home with the vocal phrasing of a jazz instrumentalist, which is what it takes to be the real deal.”

The singer’s sound and style are heavily indebted to jazz old-timer Jimmy Scott, whose high, haunting voice has earned him a cult of fans and supporters as diverse as Lou Reed, Bill Cosby and Joe Pesci (oops-forget I said that). Mr. Doggs began in show business as a guitarist and singer, in his teens, which was when he first met Mr. Scott. “He practically taught me everything,” says Mr. Doggs, who is 60, “but it’s hard to compare me to Jimmy, because he’s a fucking genius, at least to me.”

Over the years, as his acting career took precedence, Mr. Doggs would still drop in on jazz-musician friends playing clubs and then, unannounced (and sometimes with his back to the audience), sing a few songs.

“I’ve known Joe a long time,” says Mr. DeFrancesco, who is 32, “and I’ve always admired his style of singing because it was so much like another instrument playing, with the laid-back phrasing and the improvising on the melody. And no matter what we play, it doesn’t bother him. He’s not like a singer where, when you accompany him, you have to whisper everything. Joe’s like, ‘No, play more-don’t worry about accompanying me.’ He’s like a sax or a trumpet playing the melody.”

Mr. Doggs could have gone on doing those stealth gigs forever, but once he and Mr. DeFrancesco made the recording, it seemed inevitable that the cat would slip out of the bag. In fact, they played two nights this summer at a club in suburban Philadelphia, and they’ll be performing again in New York, at the Blue Note, from Sept. 17-21.

“But I don’t know how much I’m looking forward to it,” Mr. Doggs says, because even at the club outside Philly, fame intruded on art. “There was this idea there that I was Joe Pesci.” (Hey, how did that slip out?) “It becomes an annoying thing, you know what I mean? What does Joe Pesci have to do with this? What if it was Clint Eastwood singing? What’s the difference? It’s supposed to be about the art form, and when they take it away from that, they ruin it.”

At that debut gig, Mr. Doggs reports disgustedly, “people were yelling out lines from movies. I mean, that’s bullshit. Because I think that all the attention drawn to whether or not Joe Doggs is Joe Pesci, like, ‘Is it really Joe Pesci? We heard you were Joe Pesci. Are you Joe Pe-’ Go fuck yourself! It’s nonsense! All that does is make it hard for me to do this, because then the wrong people will show up. If I perform at a jazz club, if there are jazz fans there, naturally they’re going to say, ‘Hey, that’s fucking Joe Pesci!’ Fine, I expect that, but at least they didn’t come there because they’re movie fans who want to gawk at a movie star, so to speak. Or they’re not the media, who want to come just to take fucking potshots at me-people who don’t understand the music, saying, ‘What the fuck is he? Oh, now he’s a singer, look at this-now he’s singing.’ I’m trying to avoid that. But if it gets out of hand, then you fuck it up for me where I can’t do this.”

-Bill Tonelli

We Won’t Be Surprised When the Following People Are Arrested (continued)

Gary Busey

Larry Clark

Bill Maher

Anne Heche

Terry McAuliffe

Bob Pittman

Michael Imperioli

Christie Todd Whitman