PHOENIX — A rainy night in the desert.
Good for the spiny plants and creatures that live in the burrows of this wasteland.
But melancholy is rain’s handmaiden. So I ponder, quietly, what has happened so far this Super Bowl week.
Let’s see. There was Katy Perry and her news conference Thursday.
She wore a little blue dress with large orange football, um, breast areas. She had her dog offstage for whatever reason (comfort dog? PTS dog?), and when she called it, the pup sort of trotted toward her, then turned around and left. Not so much love.
The chatter was all about costumes. Yes!
Some of us couldn’t help wondering if her ‘‘costume’’ from the ‘‘California Gurls’’ video (798 million YouTube views), the one that consists of — let’s be frank here — nothing, would be, uh, dusted off for the Super Bowl halftime show?
And the one with the whipped cream boob cannons that fire at Snoop Dogg and his legion of evil Gummi Bears? Not to mention the clever lyrics about Katy and her Gurls: ‘‘So hot, we’ll melt your popsicle.’’
Nobody knows. And that’s the splendor of the Super Bowl.
◆ I’ve been hearing that Perry is believed by some to be a Satanist and a member of the Illuminati. So I examined ‘‘Dark Horse’’ and ‘‘Roar’’ for signs of Lucifer, freemasonry and an abundance of 666’s, and what I found, as in most of her videos, was an abundance of blue-eyed closeups and neo-phalic snakes and poles, plus grinding and lots of panting dudes.
It’s crazy to think that the girl’s parents were traveling ministers and she has ‘‘Jesus’’ tattooed on her wrist, like her dad, and that she might also be the devil. Haven’t had such symbolic concern since the ‘‘Paul is Dead’’ Beatles album days.
◆ Then there is Marshawn Lynch and his treatment of the media. His response over and over, to all questions, was (until a final blurt about his family and how we hate him), ‘‘I’m just here so I don’t get fined.’’
So I thought to myself, what if I said to him, ‘‘The rain’s comin’ down and the sun won’t shine’’? And he replied, ‘‘I’m just here so I don’t get fined.’’ Then I said, ‘‘Why be a chump drinkin’ rot-gut wine?’’ and he replies, ‘‘I’m just here so I don’t get fined.’’
A rap, people. Mix it, molt it, drop in the bass. And we have, I believe, a dance club hit. Alas, it never happened!
◆ Last night at 2 A.M., while I was watching — I swear to God, though it’s kind of pitiful — a rerun of the Memphis Grizzlies-Denver Nuggets game on TNT, I heard a soft knock on the door.
I answered. An attractive young woman dressed in black said, ‘‘Are you Mike?’’
I said, nope, I’m Rick. Wrong room.
She stood there and smiled. Didn’t move for quite some time.
So this is how they do it? Knock on doors until some dude named Mike, or whatever, says, ‘‘Right room’’?
So the hookers are here. A buddy of mine who lives in Scottsdale said he’d read they’re coming in from L.A. and Las Vegas. Kind of like invasive species.
Hey, the Super Bowl is a celebration of entertainment, advertising, violence, gambling, sado-masochism and corporate money-hustling — so why not?
As Perry herself has said about moving up in life, ‘‘Yo, shout-out to all you kids buying bottle service/with your rent money.’’
◆ The rain has dampened but not killed the omnipresent throbbing disco beat outside my hotel room. It’s nothing but party central here, though I’ve heard a number of New England Patriots fans couldn’t get into town because of messed-up flights back in Boston. Sorry.
◆ I had lunch with Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly on Friday, just sitting, eating sandwiches from Einstein’s. We go way back. Back to his New Jersey Generals days. Back to his Houston Gamblers days. And, trust me, he was a wild man.
Kelly will not dispute that. When he was the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback, he had a basement at his house in Buffalo where he entertained most of the players after every home game. That’s where I had my first shot of something called Goldschläger, 87-proof cinnamon liquor with actual flakes of gold going down your gullet. Kelly loved Goldschläger.
But he has changed. In fact, his life has been one of needed rebirth.
In 2005, his 8-year-old son, Hunter, died of Krabbe disease.
‘‘He’d been at his grandparents’, because they had a pool, and he loved water,’’ Kelly tells me. ‘‘I went to Children’s Hospital as fast as I could, because that’s where I knew they’d take him. But he was taken to another hospital, and I drove, speeding like crazy, to get to that one, farther away.
‘‘A cop stopped me, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, no!’ But he’s been radioed about Hunter, figured out where I’d be driving, and he said, ‘Leave your car, get in with me!’ So we flew to the hospital, and I ran into the emergency room and yelled, ‘Where’s my son?!’ And then a doctor tells me, ‘He died five minutes ago.’ ’’
Kelly and his wife, Jill, almost didn’t make it past that day. Then came Kelly’s battle with squamous cell cancer in his upper jaw. Surgery, chemo, the return of cancer. More surgery and chemo, then a deadly MRSA infection colonized in his bones last fall. He was tethered to a feeding tube and intravenous tubes for weeks.
Now he has no saliva glands (he always has a water bottle with him) and has a prosthesis that covers the roof of his mouth, anchored by its connection to two teeth.
‘‘I’ll have to go up and take it off and wash it and rinse the food out of the cavity when we’re done,’’ he says in near-disgust. Plus, he has a cyst that must be removed from behind his left eye. ‘‘But everybody’s got something, you know.’’
Kelly, the wild man, has become very religious, a devoted family man (he has two teenaged daughters) and an inspirational speaker. He hunts instead of parties, and he marvels at how skinny he has become.
‘‘Two-hundred three pounds. I need to gain about 20 or 30.’’ He was at 260 before the cancer.
We used to party and play basketball. He was cocky, funny, a leader who lived every moment for right now.
‘‘I’m still the same guy, Rick,’’ he says ‘‘But I feel a burden has been lifted from me like you can’t believe.’’
You’re lucky, I say.
‘‘I’m blessed,’’ he replies.