I Go Flying So High, When I’m Stoned


I love William Shatner’s “musical” performances. I was happy to see him devote some pages in his autobiography to his famous “Rocket Man” rendition. He’s very coy about whether or not he seriously thought this was a good performance, but he accurately sums up the audience’s reaction: they were stunned, wondering if he’d lost his mind. Shatner is a complete ham, and the good side of being a ham is that he gives his all, no matter what he’s doing. That’s why his insane talk-singing is so mesmerizing: like the audience for “Rocket Man,” we’re constantly wondering if he’s serious, if he will at any point betray any knowledge that this is ridiculous. He never does. Not for a second.

All this is prelude to a great time-filler clip, Shatner in his ’70s prime — his prime as a has-been, I mean, when Star Trek hadn’t been revived for the movies yet and he was doing some very strange projects — “singing” the song “Taxi” by Harry Chapin. It’s a long song and you keep thinking he’s going to crack at some point, show some hint of ironic self-knowledge, but he. Never. Does. I’d like to think that he really, really believes he’s a great singer, but the point is, even if he doesn’t believe that, he never lets on.


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I Go Flying So High, When I’m Stoned

  1. I heard a radio interview with him recently and he admitted that he is a terrible singer and that he only has the ability to do his speak-sing thing. On his version of ‘Common People’ he got someone else to sing the chorus, which made it sound a bit weird to be honest. From his interview, I definitely get the impression that he truly believes he is making art and that he loves music, which I think prevents him from thinking he is being ridiculous.

  2. The beauty of Shatner is that no one else in the world could pull that stuff off. My belief is that he was serious when he did that stuff in the ’60s and ’70s, but now realizes how foolish his music career was, and tries to act like, “Yeah, I meant that.” I say that as a huge Shatner fan. He eventually–I’d say not until T.J. HOOKER went off the air–became self-aware and brilliantly parlayed his “Shatnerness” into an extremely successful second career. How many other actors his age are still having the type of success that he is? Are there any other 77-year-old actors starring in hit TV series?

  3. This is truly awesome. I would not have thought he could surpass Rocket Man. You could wound livestock at substantial distances by making them watch this Youtube.

  4. I caught an interview with the captain awhile back and he told this fascinating story about rowing his canoe down to New York from Ontario – it was very cool.

  5. I actually think that his vocal powers were harnessed perfectly on the album “Common People” is from – “Has Been”, his collaboration with Ben Folds. He traverses the ridiculous to the sublime – esp. on “That’s Me Trying”, a first-person narrative about a self-obsessed father reaching out to his estranged daughter. Really takes advantages of what the Shat can bring!

  6. Your article is a little selective with the facts!!!.Let’s put it in language your readers in Canada will understand—California is run like Canada under the crack -head TRUDEAU…When the good times roll Trudeaumania in California will buy stuff they can’t afford, invest in nonsense…and pay their bills tomorrow…WELL its tomorrow now and its time for HANGOVER!!!!!!!..Just likeCanada in the late eighties and early nineties…ITS TIME TO PAY THE PRICE of telling yourselves how great you are all day and more specifically denying the law of economics!!!!!!

    • Hmm, where to start. Trudeau wasn’t in power in the late eighties and nineties. He never was in power in California, I doubt many there would know who he was even when he was PM in Canada. Weather you agree with his policies I don’t think anyone could say the path followed by California policy makers was remotely like Trudeau’s concerning fiscal and taxation policies. Trudeau(and for that matter even conservative PM’s) have always followed a political philosophy of higher rates of taxation and a larger role for government. Thus Canadians have universal health care which they do not lose even if they have the misfortune of losing their job. Americans do not. Canadians, like everyone, bitch about taxes but have no desire to remotely follow the American path. Sorry if that annoys you Aaron, but it is our country and for the most part are happy the way it is. For most of the last 25 years Americans voted for right wing governments who wanted government to virtually disappear so taxes could be lowered(especially for the wealthy). It seemed the only thing taxes were to be spent on was conducting foreign wars of dubious merit. Exactely how police and firemen were to be payed for was never explained.(Privitize them too, I guess) The neocons wanted everything deregulated(especially the banks and Wall St). Congratulations Ronald Ragen, mission accomplished. However the 25 year experiment seems to have ended in a very bad result for many Americans. Aaron, blaming Trudeau is, origional however. It was getting boring listening to Limbaugh blame everything on Clinton almost a decade after he left the White House(with the economy doing well and the federal government in surplus by the way). Now the economy is in tatters and the neocons are still spewing venom and hatred at any loyal American who happens to disagree with them. Thank you Carl Rove and Co. for turning Americans on each other. Having been run out of Washington on a rail via the election some ultra right wing kooks(including samefully the governor of Texas) are threatening rebellion, succession(remember the Civil War, wasn’t that a fun time for Americans). Sarah Palin held campaign rallies where talk of killing Obama was not exactly discouraged. Now Obama is spending money in America, on American’s, trying to rebuild an economy that the right has left on life support. I don’t know if this will work but at least he’s trying to do something for the average joe out there just trying to put food on the table and a roof over the head of his family. The neocons are now denoucing him as a trailor and a socialist for doing this. Oh, and for changing the tax rate on mutimillionaires. In closing I noticed you spoke of people buying things they could not afford, investing in nonsense and paying the bills tomorrow. Seems to me you have just described the freeforall on Wall St. and the subprime morgage shenanigans that were promoted whole hog by the neocons. Cheers.

      • Canadians don’t have a monopoly on these views. It’s the same here in Oz. First the unimaginable greed of the Wall Streeters and now the private health insurers are displaying the same type of thinking. My favourite saying: “Americans always make the right decisions…after they have tried everything else.” (Churchill)

        • Greeting Richard, ya I understand that for sure. After all, you did elect Obama. Finally an election the neocons didn’t steal. I wish your great country all the luck in the world. I fear however things will get worse before they get better. But get better they will. As Ross Perot was fond of saying, “time to shovel out the barn”. It seems you know a little history. Did you notice the latest frothing at the mouth insanity of the neocons is to rewrite history. They now are trying to claim Roosevelt’s New Deal prolonged the great depression. It was really WWII that revived the economy. Well at least they are consistant. As usual massive deficits and vast amounts of money can only be spent to bomb foreigners into the stone age. Any money spent on the poor or for healthcare or infrastructure is socialism if not high treason. Take care.

    • Please do not take my fellow American colleuge Aaron too seriously, we have a lot of loud ignorant people in the U S of A. I live in Michigan so Canadians are sort of like second cousins and _THANKFULLY_ I get to listen to the CBC, especially during the last eigth Bush years, to get a bit more rational and objective view of what was happening in our country. As for Aaron, as my uncle used to say, “an empty can makes a lot of noise”.

  7. Merced was a beautiful little place in the Gold Rush country, the gate way to Yosemite Valley and the Sierra Nevada mountains. I hope the townspeople can make it once again a sleepy village where a slower paced life can be enjoyed.

  8. Rubbish. California is barely affected. The “poorest” Californian is richer by far than 90% of the world’s population, thanks to liberal-nazi confiscation of every extra dime that hard-working Californians manage to put aside for themselves – only to have freeloading government rats steal it away. Gradually, however, the productive citizens are realizing just how much the government and the freeloaders hate them and how thoroughly these psychotic parasites have made it impossible for then to succeed. They are voting with their feet. If it was not for hardworking illegal Mexican invaders, the whole state would collapse into a marxist shithole like Britain. The Mexicans are enabling this farce to continue, although they are at the same time trashing the state. It’s not theier fault, tehre is no such thing as garbage pickyup in Mexico, so they just throw their trash in the street ewerywhere they go. San Fransicko used to be a beautiful city, now it’s just a dump, like NYC before Giuliani cleaned it up. CaLifornia still attracts bums fromall over the world, so it obviously is doing much better than say the Rust Belt.

    • Rick LaBOnte is either a fine satirist, or the saddest example of a brainwashed human I’ve seen in a while. Then again, I haven’t turned on fox news in a couple weeks.

      • Well, I am not sure about the satire but I expect to see him on Fox at Eleven, hole up in a tower somewhere with a sniper rifle and thousands of rounds of ammo. Cheers.

  9. Hello Canadian friends: I was raised in Alaska, and have traversed your beautiful country many times! Regarding the “failure of Capitalism, Free Markets”, etc., the markets did not fail! They were trying to work with an innumerable host of government interventions (Fannie, Freddie, Ginnie, VA, FHA, Glass-Spegal……). What, in fact, has happened is that the Government has continued to distort markets by manipulating and clouding the market signals so that markets did not function as “free markets”. Wall Street’s purported free-for-all was actually the reaction of investors to the idea that, in the end, the Government would ‘back-stop’ everything and everyone. The reason that housing over-inflated was a combination of unrealistic market behavior coupled with government guarantees. In the end, the Government cannot afford to do everything. I love the Republican (as in representative government) form of government, but the weakness is that those in political power will have every incentive to promise that which they may or MAY NOT be able to afford or provide. In my opinion, our (the USA’s) current recession/depression is a reality check for politicos; it has not run its course yet. But by the time this current economic cycle is over (maybe the next 5-10 years), most politicians will be “humbled” and realize that Governments do not create wealth. They can, at best, ‘grease the wheels’, but more often than not, they get in the way of wealth creation and prosperity.

    The market need to clear. Banks need to fail. Houses need to be foreclosed on. Prices need to fall. Deflation has to run its course. Governments and households need to begin to live within their means, again. The savings rates v.s. consumption rates need to find a more historic equilibrium. Then the economy will recover.

    • some very good points Shane : it is so easy to make blanket statements that at heart are either trite, over-simplified or just out and out non sense and all 3 are in healthy supply of late. If anyone contributed to this mess it was the Dem’s and Bill Clinton who and get this forced money lenders to roll out the sub prime dough as their platform at the time was based upon every one owning a home .. good grief .. imagine encouraging people to invest in a real estate bubble. Apparently as well this whole de-regulation idea didn’t start with Bush no matter how much you want to lay the blame on him for everything. PS: wealth is not created – it is just moved around from one pile to another – economic professor told me that once it’s an interesting point.

    • Shane,

      Are you saying the free enterprise, competing ratings agencies had no role in this little debacle? The fact these unprincipled, greedy folk betrayed their trust with impact on the rest of the world has tended to put your simple view of the world under increased scrutiny. And we are not particularly impressed or persuaded.

  10. To Rick LaBOnte

    I deeply resent your comment that Britain is ‘a Marxist shithole’

    We are not the least bit Marxist

    • Not marxist, but a shithole never the less…

  11. Excellent summary by Shane! I don’t want to sound as an alarmist against big government, but I do think the citizenry needs to become very aware of the kinds of salaries and benefits enjoyed by many in the ranks of local, state, and federal government…at the expense of taxpayers in the private sector! From the article above: “According to Gomes, a leader in the fight to fix Vallejo’s financial mess, 26 employees each earned more than US$250,000 last year, most of them firefighters.” That’s insanity for a public position! And in a town the size of Vallejo? Try finding the benefits and pay, in the private sector, to match those in the government!

    Having held a position for the Federal Government as an Aerospace Engineer for two years, next as a serviceman in the military for 13 years, and then finally as an entreprenuer in three different endeavors – real estate development, a franchise for a web based service in three cities, and co owner with my spouse, a dentist, of a dental practice with 10 employees – I can tell you that the public sector has no clue about the complexity and difficulties of buiding businesses, and yes, “creating wealth”, through initiative, risk taking, and responsibility for paying others when your not even sure you can pay yourself! And contrary to Wayne’s comment that wealth is moved from one pile to another, wealth is created almost entirely by the private sector, with the government mostly transferring it, but somtimes incubating it. No thoughtful intellectual or economist today would pretend that a centralized or government planned economy could produce anything like the miracle of a market based or free economy. While government has a role, we need to be very careful in checking governments growth and influence lest it chokes us all in a sespool of socialism as witnessed in the Easter Bloc of past decades, devoid of the initiative and creativity of a market system as seen in the last century in the U.S. or Hong Kong, or Japan.

  12. As a Canadian, the one thing I worry most is our complacency. Case in point: I have practiced medicine in both the US and Canada. While our system is equitable, the level of care in a lot of communities, including even bigger cities, is only mediocre when measured by the standards of modern medicine. However, because of the lack of private options, even people who are willing to pay for premium service (i.e. no cost to his fellow taxpayers) cannot choose to do so unless they go outside the country. In the name of equality, we have stifled improvement in quality of care by preserving a rigid and mediocre system which continues to deteriorate as the population ages and as funding dwindles. Yet we are so blinded by our pride and complacency that we are oblivious to the need for reform to improve the system. Outside of health care, we are slipping in other areas like education and community safety. Witness the recent gang war madness in Vancouver that the police seem to be totally powerless to stop. As a nation, our spirit and lifestyle have become too comfortable and lazy and we are losing our vitality.

  13. I’m a Canadian living in Fremont, CA (East Bay) in an apartment. We are still waiting for housing prices here to drop. Last year a 50 year old 1400 sq ft. house, with no A/C, no upgrades, and a dirt back-yard in a dubious neigbouhood cost around $650K. Today things aren’t significantly different.

    • New isn’t news if writers don’t focus on the extremes. It’s really boring and difficult for the writer to write about cities/towns where nothing much has been affected or changed.

  14. Tony,

    At least you, like us in Oz, have a single payer system which eliminates the buck-passing of the much ballyhooed “choice” system. Americans seems to approach every issue, be it guns, banking regulation etc, with a religious simplicity which prevents rational debate and results in the country falling further behind by the day.

  15. Ever notice that the articles about California’s real estate melt down always concern inland locations that were for the most part, johnny-come-lately to the appreciation boom. More relevant, it concerns places where those at the lower rungs on the economy bought houses (that sounds cruel, be advised I didn’t mean to be condescending in stating this)

    I don’t see news pieces about La Jolla, Malibu, Santa Barbara or Pacific Grove in dire straits.

    The reality is that the economy along the coast (while certainly not exempt from the current situation) is certainly different that what the Main Stream Media reports about California. Keep in mind that by saying “along the coast”, I mean in general, a 10 mile wide belt. Certainly it encompasses a lot more than multi-million dollar properties on the beach.

    So people, get your facts right before making any evaluations about the state of California.

  16. California has always been a liberal bastion in the United States and believed in spending, spending, spending. What is Congressman Pelosi going to do for her people now. Maybe she will park her private Air Force jet and spend the savings on California’s poor. I think not.

    The bills have come due and it’s not pretty. Now we have a President in the White House taking the California approach nationwide.

    • Hmm, I thought it was George W. who managed to transform the US from a healthy surplus budget when he took office, to a huge deficit by the time he left in 8 years.
      He must have spent all that money on his friend Dick Cheney’s Halliburton outfit perhaps? Neo-CONS indeed…! They managed to con the public for so long, while chanting the free market mantra all the time.

      • Obama’s defecit for this year outstrips the deficits of the Bush years combined. And your repetition of the same old ridiculous talking points shows your lack of original thought.

  17. They tried to renegotiate, but were told that until they defaulted, the bank couldn’t help. When they did stop making payments, they learned that the bank they’d been speaking with no longer owned their mortgage. (Their daughter, Gail Sullivan, later learned the Martins’ mortgage had been sold and resold five times.) In February, the Martins received a “notice to quit.” The sheriff’s office posted it to their front door. But by then they’d already moved out. “We left a lot of love in that house,” she says.

    Folks, a word to the wise. Many banks resold the mortgage debts but there’s something they don’t tell you. If they’re going to foreclose on you you have a LEGAL right to demand to see the original mortgage document with your signature on it. If they cannot produce this, because they sold it on, they have no LEGAL right to foreclose because they can’t prove that you are indebted to them. I live in the UK but I knowthat quite a number of people in the US have used this legal challenge and have WON in court. Best of luck to all of the good people in Stockton. Remember, if your bank wants to foreclose on you challenge them to show you the document that proves you owe them money. Under contract law, without that original document, they ain’t got a legal leg to stand on.

    • Puhleaze. So you are saying that people have the right to live in a house they cannot pay for simply because of a missing piece of paper. Your glorification of theft is not impressive.

      • If the bank cannot prove they own the debt against the house then under contract law they have no legal right to foreclose on that property. They also have no ethical right as in such cases where they sold the debt on it is no longer theirs to pursue. That should be down to whichever bank eventually ended up with your mortgage and title deeds which, under law, would be the only bank actually permitted to seize the property in the event of default. Like it or not, it’s as simple as that. But please don’t take my word for it’; check it out for yourself.

  18. All this partisan back and forth. Wake up. The Democrats and Republicans are BOTH corrupt. They both take millions from lobyists and screw the citizens. Americans need to start electing people not endorsed by the overlords and stop putting the same jerks back in time after time. How can the polls show a approval rating of Congress that is 10-20% but then the politicians have a 98% retention rate?? Stop electing lawyers and put regular citizens in. People that work for a living. Career politicians are criminals that pass laws that make what they do legal. We need to start at the local and state level and put in people not backed by big money. The left likes to make it look like only the right is rich. What about Soros, and all the Hollywierd millionaires?? The two party system is corrupt, and the voters can’t win. The Dems and Repubs make it impossible to get a third party on the ballot. I wonder why. You people here are doing what they want, arguing with each other trying to point out why the other’s party or politician is bad and yours is good. Keep fighting and you won’t notice the crooks in Washington stealing your money and country. Think—why would someone spend millions of dollars to get a job that pays $175000? Would you spend $500000 to get a job that paid $50-60K? Educate yourself to the corruption, stop watching TV and read. Read more than one opinion and viewpoint. Try Orwell, he was a prophet. He showed where the corruption would lead.

    • Do you see any irony in the fact the US seeks to impose democracy on a sceptical world (sometimes by force) yet its own citizens have so little faith in the concept themselves?

      Compulsory voting in the US and adequately resourcing the actual election process might help encourage more to take an interest and have a greater say in how it works for them.

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