By Allen David
The Lone Ranger, the latest cinematic excuse to throw a big-budget costume party for Johnny Depp, begins playing Inland Empire movie houses today—and may become the undressing of the actor’s inexplicably long winning streak over good taste. Audiences are definitely not flocking to the box office to see The Lone Ranger on opening day, and that doesn’t foreshadow a good future for a film that cost The Walt Disney Co. some $250 million to make and another $175 million—so far—to promote. Although the star of The Lone Ranger, Depp doesn’t play the title role—a simple black mask over his eyes simply wouldn’t do for this Diva of Disguise. Nope. Johnny Depp plays Tonto, although there really isn’t much for Depp to communicate to an audience that isn’t accomplished by the time the makeup staff has slathered his body with ominous paint and gimmicky symbols and enough trinkets to have bought back Manhattan Island—all of it summarized by the big, black bird that’s perched on a pole above his head. Appropriately, The Lone Ranger is going to bomb. We can only hope the blast is so bad that it sends Depp—and that British accent he seems to have picked up from Madonna—back to a place before movies talked.
THURSDAY, JULY 4
Thomas Jefferson wrote a lot of stuff in the Declaration of Independence, which was signed 237 years ago today to kick off nationhood for the experiment in democracy known as the United States of America, and pieces of his wisdom are periodically invoked throughout the year, as circumstances warrant. But at this time of year we seem to cling to one of Jefferson’s phrases above all others. On the Fourth of July, it’s all about the “pursuit of happiness.”
FRIDAY, JULY 5
After reading about it—you know, the Monkey Style Burger, jammed with grilled onions and French fries—on Twitter, I jump immediately into my car, head straight for the closest In-N-Out Burger, choose the drive-thru line over the empty, air-conditioned inside of the restaurant, wait an hour with my engine idling, receive an impossibly cheerful greeting, then sing: “I’m a flea-bit peanut monkey. All my friends are junkies. That’s not really true. I’m a cold Italian pizza. I could use a lemon squeezer. Would you do? But I’ve been bit and I’ve been tossed around. By every she-rat in this town. Have you, babe? Well, I am just a monkey man; I’m glad you are a monkey woman too.” And it works! Deee-licious!
SATURDAY, JULY 6
No, it wasn’t her. Yes, I’m certain. Now, I’m positive that the woman in the car behind mine in line at the In-N-Out was not Acquanetta Warren—yes, the mayor of Fontana, who is preparing for a trip to Washington, D.C. at the invitation of Michelle Obama for her dedication to solving the country’s childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. Heck, I just read that quote from Warren in today’s San Bernardino Sun: “I am honored to receive an invitation from the first lady,” Warren says. ”Childhood obesity has been a great concern of mine for many years and is why I started the Healthy Fontana Program.” Nope, there’s simply no way Acquanetta Warren, who is spearheading the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties initiative on the local front, would be taken in by the Internet hoax hyping a special (but fictional) Monkey Style burger from the so-called Secret Menu at In-N-Out. No, the more I think about it, the more certain I am that the person in that car behind me was Johnny Depp, in costume.
SUNDAY, JULY 7
Dear Kobe Bryant,
Sorry that Dwight Howard, the big, talented, key to the future success of the Lakers, wasn’t open to your generous offer to teach him how to become a champion—especially after all the other ways you privately insulted, publically belittled and generally manipulated his season with the Lakers to your public-relations benefit. But you sure paid him back for choosing to play for the Houston Rockets—and accepting $20 million less to do it—by cutting him off from your social media feeds. Is that what you meant by teaching him how to become a champion? If so, I just want to let you know that I’m a champion, too!
MONDAY, JULY 8
A lot of people’s favorite sport returns to Murrieta, played the way it was in elementary schools throughout the 1960s—like baseball, except with a big red rubber ball and no bats. You roll the ball to home plate instead of pitch it, and you can throw the ball at runners to get them out. It’s called kickball, remember?
TUESDAY, JULY 9
Or maybe you remember it as something else . . .
I was bitten by a boar. I was gouged and I was gored. But I pulled it on through. Yes, I’m a sack of broken eggs. I always have an unmade bed. Don’t you? Well, I hope we’re not too messianic. Or a trifle too satanic. We love to play the blues. Well I am just a monkey man. I’m glad you are a monkey, monkey woman too, babe. I’m a monkey. I’m a monkey. I’m a monkey man. I’m a monkey man. I’m a monkey!