BEAT L.A.! . . . BEAT L.A.!! . . . BEAT L.A.!!!
What with the Rams now defending champs in football—and what with the Dodgers trying to buy the NL pennant ($215 million payroll?!) and what with HBO throwing the Showtime Lakers in our face every Sunday night—it brings fresh awareness to that old chant.
Because this is, of course, the ultimate rallying cry whenever David plays Goliath. And in the case of those La-La-Landers, a smug Goliath with hair plugs, a perpetual tan and a nutritionist for his poodle. God, you just hate those Hollywood posers and you would love nothing more to rub their botoxed faces in the LaBrea Tar Pits.
Because that’s what “Beat L.A.” is all about.
Here’s the true Hollywood story: Back in May1982, the Philadelphia 76ers went on the road and beat their heated and hated rivals, the Boston Celtics, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. As the last minute of the game and the series and the home team’s season ticked away, the 15,000 fans shoehorned into a sweltering Boston Garden—and this is wicked awesome, if you think about it—actually began serenading the vanquishing visitors with the coolest sendoff in the history of sports, a thunderous chant of what to do when they advanced to face Magic, Kareem and the rest of the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
BEAT L.A.! . . . BEAT L.A.!! . . . BEAT L.A.!!!
Which, for the record, they didn’t do, dropping that series in six games.
Now don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that, as misunderstandings are as old as, well, as old as the Bible itself. Consider the tale of the Prodigal Son, where an archaic adjective describes someone that is “wasteful” and not someone that is “returning home.”
Your own world, be it business or personal, is not immune to such contextual confusion. Check out these examples and you’ll see that sometimes perception does not equal reality. So the lesson here is to not take everything you hear as gospel (i.e., some facts are less factual than you might think). As John Keats once said: “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know that just isn’t so.”
Except of course, it wasn’t Keats. It was Mark Twain.
Case in point. Now let’s have at it.
Sacre bleu! Marie Antoinette certainly lived a life full of bad beats: Being married off at 14 years old to King Louis XVI (a notorious nutjob); being falsely accused of having an affair with a high-ranking official of the Catholic Church (never a good look); being the first person in recorded history whose hair suddenly and inexplicably turned white (hence dubbed “Marie Antoinette Syndrome”); being imprisoned and ultimately beheaded in the coup de grace moment of the French Revolution.
Plus, she was misquoted.
Because there is zero evidence that when she was told the citizens of France were so engulfed in poverty they lacked the most basic sustenance of bread, she shrugged her shoulders and said, well then, “Let them eat cake.”
Nope. Never happened. Matter of fact, Marie Antoinette was actually regarded—well, up until the moment an angry mob of Parisians decapitated her and paraded her head around on a pike—as a warm and considerate person that was able to connect with the average Francois and Francoise in her country.
Lost In Translation
While it’s true that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev occasionally succumbed to his volcanic temper—once in fact taking off his shoe at the General Assembly of the United Nations and pounding it relentlessly and repeatedly on a table to emphasize a point, either that or to dislodge a pebble—modern scholars disagree.
Anyway, in 1956, Khrushchev’s colloquial rhetoric pushed the world’s two superpowers to the brink of war when his Russian-to-English interpreter relayed these words to the West: “Whether you like it or not, we are on the right side of history.”
“And”… wait for it…
“We will bury you.”
Now that indeed sounds like a threat, something a Mafia goon would say to a junkie in a Quentin Tarantino movie. As in get the shovel and the lime and the Caddy with the big trunk.
And call the Wolf for cleanup.
Except that’s not what he meant. The true message of that message was lost in translation: Khrushchev was saying not that the USSR would use military aggression to kill and bury his ideological opponents; rather, if they didn’t recognize where the future was headed, then meh, it’s their funeral.
Big difference. The difference between metaphor and menacing.
You probably know this already, but one of the most popular love songs in the history of modern music—and like literally the most played song ever on radio (20 million times and counting)—has nothing to do with love at all.
Unless control, obsession and stalking are forms of love. Which—checks notes—they are decidedly not.
Now if you actually listen to the lyrics of “Every Breath You Take,” the song that catapulted the Police to superstardom in 1983, it’s pretty obvious our protagonist is a wee bit of a—hmmm, how to say this?—a lunatic.
“Every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watching you.”
“Oh can’t you see, you belong to me.”
Yeah, it ain’t exactly cryptic.
But you’ve all probably been to a wedding where this was played. Un-ironically. Now this song is 39 years old, so the cat’s pretty much out of the bag by now, but back when it was ruling the Billboard charts, nobody seemed to have any idea how creepy and sinister it was.
FYI, EBYT isn’t the only misinterpreted song ever. Speaking of wedding songs, if find yourself doing the “Macarena,” you are line-dancing to a song about a woman that cheats on her boyfriend… oh, it gets worse…. after he’s drafted into the army.