Here in the Time of Rock, wherein Christopher Julius Rock III rules again as he has ruled before, but only more so — international sweep! colossal forums! better transportation! — promptness counts for much. “There’s no such thing as early,” Rock himself will tell you, just as his late heroic father often impressed upon him under threat of belt strap. “There’s on time and late. I’m always on time.”
Unsurprisingly, then, he has made it a point to be on time for his Time, which is a very good thing for a dire populace that suddenly seeks racial clarity with historic fervor (no mortal, of course, sifts matters of class and skin divide with sharper acuity than Rock, who is black but sometimes employs the term “a fine mocha” because he is just that precise.) Moreover, he concedes that seizing this seismic American Moment is probably a very good thing for himself as well, what with his nobly intended film career in chronic flux and no particularly daring roles to entice: “Eh, you know, so you read a couple of scripts, and it was like, naahhh —— hit the road, hit the road. Plus, it’s the election year. It was like, come on, man! This is the time! Black guy runnin’ for president against a woman —— it’s tailor-made for me.”
Because he is a listener first and foremost, the sharp clarion call of a nation — and also that of his savvy accountants — could not escape his attention. And so, for months now, he has begun dispensing fresh salient insight across the continent and also across the ocean, forcing jaws to plummet and beliefs to jangle in his fiery wake. From town to town, at carefully plotted stopovers (with some tickets scalped for hundreds of dollars apiece), his itinerant wisdom has echoed not unlike rolling thunder, depending on the acoustics provided.
For instance: “Bush has fucked up so bad,” he will posit to any and all congregants in braying loops of oratory, “that he’s made it hard for a white man to run for president. ‘Gimme anything but another white man, please! Black man, white woman, giraffe, anything!’ A white man’s had that job for hundreds of years — and one guy fucked it up for all of ya!” And: “Each candidate tells you how humble they are. No, you’re not humble! Do you know how big your ego has to be to say you wanna be president of the United States? Do you know how much Puff Daddy juice you have to drink? How many Kanye injections you have to take?”
And: “I actually think America is ready for a woman president. But does it have to be that woman?… She’s gonna work in the office where her husband got blow jobs?! There ain’t enough redecorating in the world she can do to change that!… There’s one thing Hillary Clinton’s better at than everybody else, and one thing only —— and that’s forgiveness! Hillary Clinton is the greatest forgiver in the history of the world. Even Jesus knows: ‘You really good at forgiveness. I mean, I talk the talk, but you walk the walk!’ “
And: “Barack Obama — he’s a black man with two black names! Barack. Obama. He doesn’t let his blackness sneak up on you. As soon as you hear Barack Obama you wonder, ‘Does he have a spear?’… He’s so cool, too, man. I don’t think he realizes he’s a black candidate! When you’re the only black guy doing something, people expect you to take it up a notch. If you’re the only black playing basketball with a bunch of white guys — they expect you to dunk!… Barack has a handicap the other candidates don’t have: Barack Obama has a black wife. And I don’t think a black woman can be first lady of the United States. Yeah, I said it! A black woman can be president, no problem. First lady? Can’t do it. You know why? Because a black woman cannot play the background of a relationship. Just imagine telling your black wife that you’re president? ‘Honey, I did it! I won! I’m the president.’ ‘No, we the president! And I want my girlfriends in the Cabinet! I want Kiki to be secretary of state! She can fight!'”
These, of course, are mere droplets from ninety-plus minutes of Never Before Heard meticulously honed societal meanderings —— topics ad infinitum traversing war, politics, pharmaceuticals, Roger Clemens, real estate, ejaculation, love, fatness, the energy crisis, Anna Nicole Smith, gender discord, women gone missing, debt, careerism, entertainment gossip, SAT scores, gayness, racial correctness (“Now they’re trying to get rid of the word nigger, my beloved nigger.…”), Britney Spears and beyond — sprung from the ever-swirling Rock reservoir of dyspepsia, which has been damming up since the airing of his fourth HBO concert special, Never Scared, in 2004.
“After I tape a special, I go to sleep for three years,” says Rock, meaning all material amassed for the broadcast is forever purged and discarded on-camera, so that the new can begin percolating while the universe dependably roils forth. And what would roil and erupt during this latest respite has awoken Rock to a world all but screaming out for his interpretive prowess.
“I think there was kind of a new hunger for him,” notes trusted confidant Jerry Seinfeld. “Like the Wheel of Fortune, there’s this wheel of culture that turns around and around, and it sometimes lines up with a person at a certain point in their work. You can just feel it, and it’s always exciting to watch happen. Chris has been there before, and now it seems to be his moment all over again, you know?”