By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Country in crisis
Local radio stations have stopped playing the pro-war, pro-drinking hit "Getting Bombed in Nashville" after the singer, country-music sensation and native Dallasite Gage Hawkins, made anti-war comments to reporters following his show at the Gypsy Tea Room on Saturday.
Hawkins, like Toby Keith ("The Angry American"), had become a popular C&W artist and frequent Bill O'Reilly guest because of his patriotic whoop-n-holler tune, which includes pro-America lines such as "The whiskey ain't workin' anymore/But our g-damn JDAMs are fer shore."
But in shocking comments given to reporters after his Saturday performance, the obviously intoxicated Hawkins revealed that his true colors are more yellow than his ass-kicking image suggests.
"Why are we bombing those poor Arab fucks?" Hawkins slurred during a live interview on KPLX 99.5 "The Wolf." "God, it makes me sick to my stomach to sing that flag-waving shit. But, man, I've got to. The sheep are eating it up. I'm rolling in cash."
Hawkins then belched loudly and asked, "Who are you? Is that a microphone?"
Local reaction was swift and unmerciful. The Wolf stopped playing Hawkins' song and canceled its promotional Gage Hawkins happy hour at Billy Bob's in Fort Worth. "We support free speech," says KPLX program director Paul Williams, "unless too many listeners complain. This is America, where we love freedom--as long as it's popular. Be a uniter, not a divider."
When asked how he could say it was un-American to exercise the constitutional right to free speech, Williams replied, "Constitutional rights are fine in theory, but this is radio. We have nothing to do with free speech. We play contemporary hit country. And please stop confusing me."
Hawkins' publicist, Lisa LeMaster, sought to clarify his comments over the weekend. "Gage Hawkins is a true American. Please continue to play his records. He owes me money."
By then, however, the damage had been done, and on Monday, it got worse. After doing some checking into his background, it was discovered that Hawkins (real name Gabe Hirschfeld) was born in Canada after his parents left the country to avoid the Vietnam draft. The Hirschfelds moved to Dallas in 1985, and Gabe became Gage Hawkins two years ago when he decided to pursue a career as a country musician, leaving behind a lucrative career as an anti-gun lobbyist.
Ted Stecker, program director for KSCS 96.3, says he was in "shock and awe" by this latest revelation. "I mean, I've heard the name before. We all have. But whenever someone mentioned 'Gabe Hirschfeld,' Gage would always say that was his business manager." Stecker then exhaled loudly into the phone. "Seriously? Draft dodgers? Oh, Christ."
Reached for comment early Tuesday morning, Hawkins says he's decided to give up the façade, no matter that it will cost him his reputation and quite possibly his career. "I've had a good run, brother, but this whole thing has been tearing me up, not to mention what it's done to my parents."
He's currently in the studio cutting a folkier, anti-war song, "(What's Saddam Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?"
War, the sequel
We here at Full Frontal love the war. Not the blood and death stuff, mind, but the TV program. Way better production values than the first Gulf War, though we do miss avuncular emcee Norman Schwarzkopf. No offense to Tommy Franks, but as TV hosts go, he lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. (What, Billy Crystal wasn't available? After years of hosting the Oscars, he'd be perfect for a long, drawn-out confusing firefight. Or maybe Jack Black--for the kids.)
Still, there's more than sheer entertainment value when it comes to war. What has all this modern technology and embedded reporting brought us in terms of news? After many hours spent watching War, the Sequel--between Friendsreruns, that is--Full Frontal has scientifically calculated the amount and type of information being brought to you 'round the clock by cable's news mavens.
Though the members of Congress have basically been mum on the war, and they're really hoping no one will bring up the sagging economy anymore, they recently sprang into action on one front: food. "This is just to send a message to the troops to say that here in the Capitol, we are not happy," said Ohio Representative Bob Ney when asking for the substitution of the word "French" with "freedom" on all House menu items. (In other words, you'd get "freedom fries" with that shake.)
Full Frontal figures: Why stop there? Below is a list of other changes we'd like to see made, so the troops in Iraq fighting for, um, well, something know that the French can't Chirac and roll in America, lest a boot meet an ass, brutha.
Freedom Lick, Indiana: To be honest, "French Lick" always kinda bothered us. True, it did give the world Larry Bird. But the town's moniker sounded like a porn store, possibly a movie you'd buy there--you know, one of the classier ones, with a plot and such. Maybe something you'd see performed in said film.
Freedom press: Liberate the flavor in your coffee.
Mr. U.S. Sympathizer fromFamily Affair: All future reruns of Family Affair, the TV series that ran from 1966-'71, will now be edited so that the character of Mr. French, portrayed by the late Sebastian Cabot and his beard, will be referred to in this way. That'll learn him.