Soft (I)raq

Dispatches from Iraq

Could Kenny Rogers be the key to ending the "war on terrorism?"

October 20, 2008

My best friend and former co-hort at Details magazine is a guy by the name of Ian. We aren’t gay, but it’s an easy mistake to make, given the way we used to hang out constantly and, in favor of going to bars to talk to girls, would often curl up in his loft and listen to super cheesy vinyl and drink beer. I’m talking sweet, gooey Velveeta here: Lionel Ritchie, Christopher Cross, Seals & Croft, Chuck Mangioni, Richard Marx. The list (shamefully) goes on.

We listened to good stuff, too. But something about the honey-dipped lameness of soft rock always delivered both unapologetically tasty hooks and comedy gold. That, and we knew every word.

Anywho, so Ian is in Iraq right now doing a story on the burgeoning U.S. tourist industry (seriously!). And while it’s always great to hear from him, I thought it worth pointing out that he spent who knows how much money to call me from Iraq…not for an update on the insurgence, or a run-in with the troops, or even a late-night rendezvous on a camel. No, he called (twice!) from an Iraqi piano bar where some brilliant Middle Eastern man was showing that, no matter our cultural differences, the love for mellow FM gold is worldwide. That is to say, he was doing a medley of Kenny Rogers songs…"Lady" and "Islands in the Stream" among them.

"There are no words I can use to make this situation any better," Ian said, whispering over the tinkling of ivory in the background, holding his cell phone in the air, and trying not to laugh.

All I could do was agree…and think that, just maybe, an ivory bearded man with a propensity for plastic surgery might be the key to peace in the Middle East.

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