If there is any difference between one’s truth and one’s reality, I tried to explore it this morning. This was to be a pretty big show. Michelle Shocked agreed to come on with me to clarify the statements she made from the stage Sunday night at Yoshi’s in San Franciso. From her music and what I’ve seen in this woman whom I’ve interviewed a few times over the years, I believed her to be a compassionate, caring, far-from-bigoted person that was being reported by disgusted concert goers Sunday night.
So, I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. I had a lengthy email conversation earlier this week with one of the attendees Sunday night who had a different opinion of the episode. Colin Epstein, who had been on a real high earlier during the Yoshi’s show as he was a fan who was able to accompany Michelle on harp during a song, believed that she was trying to say something different, albeit clumsily, and then mob rule took over.
“At the start of the second set, Shocked said a lot of disjointed, garbled things. These included thoughts about Jesus, sin, and gays, but for the life of me I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Some of it was even in Spanish for some reason. In my eyes, it was far too unfocused to qualify as any sort of rant. I do think some of the stuff was said ironically. I know she made one statement criticizing some Christians that seems to have gone completely unreported. She said (paraphrasing as accurately as I can from memory) “I’m tired of Christians who hide their hypocrisy behind the cross.” What did she mean? I don’t know. It was just one of many statements she made that lacked any apparent cohesion. The most infamous soundbite, (which I remember as “now y’all can go on Twitter and say Michelle Shocked says God hates fags,” though it’s been reported with drastically different syntax elsewhere) I took as sad, ironic surrender to how the crowd had turned on her and mis-read her rather than the boastful statement others are reporting. But the crowd took anything she said at full face value and things got ugly fast. While I wish Shocked had calmed down and explained herself instead of letting the reactionaries in the audience control the conversation, I’m not sure she could have.”
So when Michelle agreed to come on my show today, I was thrilled. I wanted to give her the opportunity to tell what happened – to reconcile what she was trying to say with the the words that we’ve all now heard with our own ears, as this recording surfaced yesterday:
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to ask her any of the questions I had hoped to, and didn’t hear her clarify anything this morning as she wouldn’t answer the phone when I called. And I tried. Repeatedly. When she did answer, she just read some of her “Open Letter” that was released yesterday. If I remember correctly, she picked up a second time, but was obsessed with the delay between the phone conversation and when the sound came through her computer speakers that her paranoia took over. I tried to tell her to turn down the sound on her computer and just talk to me on the phone, but she began counting the seconds of the delay. She later tweeted that to music journalist Chris Willman of Yahoo music that she thought I “was going to ‘fact check’ during the delay the way you do”. (Note: I’ve known Chris since my LA radio days when he wrote for the LA Times, and he bent over backwards to give Michelle the benefit of the doubt on this story, as I did. Yet she has attacked him mercilessly via Twitter) Instead of talking with me – human to human, Shocked decided she wanted to continue to speak her own, strange version of reality via twitter. Michelle seems to be somewhat obsessed with the Twitters these days. As you can hear from the recording from Sunday night, it was that way during the show. She actually agreed to come on the show via twitter:
When I texted her last night to confirm the interview today, she attempted to back out. I wasn’t going to release our text conversation, but thought it necessary in that she, again, went back on her word and did what she proposed last night, which I categorically did not agree with.
(Ed. Note: Text exchange is not readable via our graphics, please read exchange at Radio or Not)
Since we wanted to hear her words, I played much of the recording, embedded above, from the Sunday night show that surfaced yesterday on the show this morning, all the while attempting to get her to talk to me… to us! I really wanted to hear Michelle clarify what she was trying to say. Instead, she seems to be digging herself a deeper hole – and alienating the few people who’ve been attempting to help her. She lashed out at me in the final moments of the show, when she called back in as I was playing my favorite Michelle Shocked song, “Come a Long Way” – for the last time. I’m sorry she’s going through this, and I hope she can get some help. Perhaps she should go back and listen to the first hour of the show in which I had the pleasure of interviewing former Congressman Bob Ney. In Bob’s book, Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of the Hit Men of Capitol Hill, and on my show this morning, Bob admitted the mistakes he made. He’s said he’s sorry. I have a lot more respect for Ney today than I do for Michelle Shocked. And I still wish I understood what point Michelle Shocked is trying to make with her Truth vs. Reality meme. She might be on to something, but I don’t think we’ll ever know.