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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ahhhhh, sweet celebrity...

This is a pretty good picture of Randy Travis, the country western superstar - he looks a little sinister, but it is not a bad photograph. Looks like hi-def. The bad news is that it is a mugshot; the good news is that it appears as if police departments are beginning to upgrade their photographic equipment. This mugshot is from February, when Randy Travis was arrested for sitting in his car in a parking lot with an open bottle of wine on the seat. He reportedly smelled of alcohol.

Rather benign and probably quickly forgotten. Mistakes happen, after all, so no harm, no foul.

That changed earlier this week when Randy Travis was arrested again for drunk driving. Ironically, in neither instance was Travis actually pulled over while driving drunk. The first time, he was simply sitting in his car. This week, however, things got a bit more exciting.

A call was placed to 911 in Grayson County, Texas by a motorist shortly after 11pm Tuesday night, informing law enforcement that a man was lying in the road, either injured or asleep. The caller also politely informed the police dispatcher that the man appeared to be "shirtless". "Shirtless" turned out to be "buck-naked" and the man lying in the road turned out to be Randy Travis, who was inebriated and had ran his car into several construction barricades in the road and subsequently climbed out of the wrecked vehicle and lay down on the pavement for a little nap.

When rousted, Travis, who apparently once again smelled strongly of alcohol, threatened to shoot the policemen and was summarily transported to jail, where he was lent a shirt and again photographed for legal posterity. As facts began to trickle in, it was discovered that Travis had also wandered into a local convenience store to buy a pack of cigarettes. Also buck-naked. When asked how he was going to pay for the butts, since he was holding no money in his hands and had no pockets, Travis left the store, sans smokes.

He was released the next day in a blue paper suit supplied by the county, which should one day be on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with George Jones' lawnmower and Jake Owen's sombrero.

Of course, this is not the first time a celebrity has been arrested for driving drunk. In fact, the one and only Rick Springfield was popped last year for speeding drunk through Malibu in his vintage Corvette. I don't know about you, but if I'm driving through Malibu in a vintage Corvette, I'm going to do it fast... Unfortunately, he was also inebriated. I'm nearly certain that Rick Springfield was less upset by the arrest than by being referred to as a "one-hit wonder" in every article written about the incident. Reporters can be cruel.

Famously, Nick Nolte was pulled over along the same stretch of freeway and had this legendary photograph taken by police. Also drunk.


Glen Campbell had a similarly disheveled photo taken several years back and chose to growl at the camera when asked to smile. Then again, Campbell has always been a maverick. Especially when drunk.

The first thought that always comes to mind when these incidents crop up is "why in the hell are these folks driving?" These are not middle-class construction workers having a couple too many after work; we're talking about rich celebrities who should by all rights be able to afford a cab. Or a towncar, or a limousine to drive them around, naked or clothed, when they want to get their drink on.

I think that celebrities probably get away with lots of stuff, but driving drunk is where the powers that be draw the line. If Rick Springfield had been driving through Malibu in the middle of the night with the top down in his vintage 'Vette, blasting "Don't Talk to Strangers" at full volume, he could have probably gotten away with a stern warning and a splashy autograph written on the back of the officer's ticket-book. Nolte might have growled his way out of arrest if he hadn't been drunk and grooving out of his mind on Ecstasy. Glen Campbell should have just had a driver. Period - look at that angry face - FIRE - BAAAAD!

Of course, back in the old days Frank Sinatra could get away with anything - he was the "Chairman of the Board" and leader of the Rat Pack. He owned Vegas - if he wanted to burn Sin City to the ground, the Mayor would have probably handed him a match. However, pre-Rat Pack, back when he was just a young, pencil-thin crooner, Frank was hauled in to the poky for seducing to his bed a young lady with far-fetched promises of marriage. But at least he wasn't driving drunk...
Charges were dropped when it was learned the young lady was already married.

Those were the days...

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