Being a proud New Orleans native, I felt compelled to watch NBC's A Concert for Hurricane Relief when it aired in the wake of Hurricane Katrina nearly a decade ago. And I must admit, I was absolutely gobsmacked when, without warning, Kanye West dropped his infamous 20-megaton dis on George W. Bush. Don't misunderstand: I didn't really question West's claim that Dubya "doesn't care about black people." But I was shocked by the angry intensity-- and, yes, the utter fearlessness -- of his off-the-cuff comment.
And I was convinced -- absolutely convinced -- that West would immediately be targeted for a boycott by outraged right-wingers. There would be pressure brought to bear on advertisers, who would in turn pressure radio and TV outlets to ban West's music and music videos. And, of course, major retail chains would be pressured to stop selling West's CDs.
So even before the TV special ended, I got up from my couch, ran out to my car, drove over to the nearest Best Buy store -- and bought a copy of every Kanye West CD I could find. In the interest of full disclosure: I think, at that point in his career, West had only released two studio albums, so we're not talking about a huge cash outlay on my part. But, hey -- it was the principle of the thing.
At the checkout counter, the polite young African-American cashier had a hard time hiding his amusement as this gray-haired white dude placed the CDs onto the counter. But his smile faded when I told him what I had just witnessed on NBC. He, too, thought Kanye West was going to suffer mightily -- professionally, and maybe even personally -- for his outburst.
Of course, when I got home, I started playing the CDs in my office. And right around the time I had "Gold Digger" (West's bodacious duet with Jamie Foxx) blaring from my speakers, my son George walked through the front door with a few of his college buddies. They had to file past my office door to get back to George's room, for a long evening of video-gamesmanship. And it was my turn to be amused as I noted the amazed looks on their faces. Fortuitously, I turned down the sound just in time to hear one of my son's friends tell him: "Damn, George! Your dad is fuckin' cool!" George, it should be noted, didn't indicate disagreement with that appraisal.
And that's why, even when Kanye West misbehaves at The Grammys, I can't get too upset at him.