Sunday, November 23, 2014

Searching for traces of Thomas Merton on Long Island

16:10 11/23/14

Last week, I finally took Ma on the Thomas Merton tour which we discussed weeks ago.  For those of you not aware of who Thomas Merton was, in brief he was a poet, a catholic mystic and an influential writer, his most popular book was perhaps his autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain which described his life and how converted to Catholicism and became a Trappist monk.  Later he became interested and studied Buddhism and wrote leading books on this subject.
Our tour was not that bad.  To my surprise Ma sat in the front seat when I drove.  She has a fear of driving as a passenger.  I wrongfully assumed she’d sit in the back seat.  Little insight for you, before marrying my father, my mother was involved in a horrible accident which tragically took the life of one of the passengers in the car.  She was in the hospital for weeks and to this day one leg has the scars from the injuries which she sustained.  So, you can all understand her trepidations.
The first stop was locating the house which Merton lived on off on for years in Douglaston, NY.   It belonged to grandparents.  His mother’s parents.  The house is off of 25A, technically it is on Long Island but it’s in Queens.  With the white paint and black borders, it appears much the same way it did back when Merton lived there.  Well, most of the house is the same except for one noticeable change the trees which caught the wind and was depicted in Seven Storey Mountain were missing.  A young Merton’s memory had been cut down to the stump.  I assumed this was on account of Sandy.  There is still a stone wall which I assumed was there when Merton was a child as well as cement steps which were off the sidewalk.  There is not a marker on the house or on the street to mention Merton lived there.  The neighborhood is scattered with the new style of mansions which are built on small bits of property.  The broad mansions clash with the pristine suburban setting.  They are plastic castles.  Yet, within the neighborhood were other historic and original homes like the one we came to see and I imagined a young Merton climbing some of the old evergreen trees, perhaps even visiting some of the homes where his friends lived within the neighborhood.  We walked around the house and Ma took a few steps up almost into the back yard after I said Merton probably climbed up these same steps. 
Our next stop was Zion Episcopal where Merton’s father once played the organ during Sunday services.   We couldn’t gain access to the church, but walked around and went inside the hall where folding chairs were set up in rows in front of a small stage.  We went back outside and saw a woman approaching and Ma asked me if I thought she worked in the church.  No, I said.  But after we watched the woman walk into the church, I was proved wrong and Ma went up to the door where the woman entered and Ma knocked.  The woman came to the door.  I tried to protest.  “Oh, what’s the harm; we are here and may not be back.” Ma explained to the woman what we were doing (Merton tour) and if possible can we go inside the sanctuary?  The woman apologized and explained she does not have the key.  And I heard Ma say, “But if you did have the key, you’d let us in?”  Of course, the woman responded.  There were head stones surrounding the church.  We wondered if his mother was buried on the grounds…since she passed when Merton was only seven years old.
It was just as well we did not gain access.  I had the tour timed to last a few hours and wanted to get Ma back home before it was dark at five o’clock.  We had time for the last stop which is Corpus Christi church in Manhattan.  It is located at 529 West 121st Street.  This is where Merton was christened while attending Columbia and where he held private masses back in the early sixties when he came back to New York.  Ironically it was the 76th anniversary to the day when Merton was baptized into the catholic faith.  I only found this out earlier in the day and knew there would be an event that day at the church to discuss Merton.   
We crossed over Throgs Neck Bridge, with a view of the bay as well as King’s Point and we discussed Dad who graduated from New York Maritime.  The Cross Bronx Expressway was not too busy and we exited off the last stop in New York, took the Henry Hudson down to 125th and found the small church.  At the end of the street was Union Theological.  The church was open.  We walked up the stairs and I blessed myself with the holy water and we heard the lecture from outside the door.  We weren’t sure what to do, but we stepped inside and took a seat in the last pew and listened.  I grew inpatient since I wanted to get there and see the baptismal font where Merton was christened.  I looked around and noticed the black gate which led to the small room and knew the font was there.  I got up and checked it out.  Sure enough I found it.  I went back and asked Ma if she wanted to stay.  She said it was up to me.  I was thirsty and hungry and said I was ready to leave, but I wanted her to see the font.  We went into the small room.  There is a cross on the wall, confessional booths to the left and there was the font.  Ma was excited and we touched it.  I took some pictures and we quietly moved out from the church and made our way outside.  Mission accomplished, I said out loud. 
It’s difficult to pull my parents out of the house, taking them away from their familiar and comfortable settings.  I respect my mother for taking the trip and being gracious enough to thank me for suggesting the idea and acting on it.  She said, it will be a day she will never forget.     
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of Merton’s birth.  I expect there will be others who would take this pilgrimage.  Next year there will be events held at Columbia which I hope to bring Ma to.  Perhaps we can gain more insight into the man and monk and for some an inspiration to follow their calling.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Follow your Bliss

11/8/14 22:33 Follow your bliss

Earlier today, I went for a walk in the woods.  I needed to get in among the trees and the swirling leaves that tumbled down.  It was a clear day.  Originally, I had the idea to take Ma on what I will refer to as the Merton tour.  Thomas Merton.  There are a few places within our vicinity which we can stop at and make a day out of.  For now we are planning for next week.  Hope ma does not get too nervous with my driving.  I can sense the dread she may have of driving her into the city.  She will close her eyes and pray to Mary and Joseph and may choose to sit in the back seat; which she did when I took her to Plains Georgia to see Jimmy Carter. 
What is your bliss?  Joseph Campbell wrote, make yourself transparent to transcendent.  He wrote of having an energy flow through you.  All of us are capable of being conduits to this force or power or grace of God.  I was looking for this energy in the woods.  There were a few distractions and interruptions, a woman walking two dogs, one a pit bull.  Keep away.  Couples walked pass, I would nod to the man.  I walked to the edge of the lake and behind me over hear one woman who recalled out loud to her husband, friend, brother, when they jumped in the water last summer, which must seem like a hazy memory as the chilly winds rippled over the bare branches.   Did I find the bliss in the woods?  There were moments of peace.  Not enough.  It may have been due to the throbbing pain of needing to piss which was a mighty distraction.  I could go behind a tree.  But each time I thought I was alone, I would hear a panting dog or a voice and I tightened the muscles and moved over stiff roots which liked to pop up and trip me. 
It was a good hike in the woods.  It was the first time in Blydenburgh Park in what must be close to 40 years.  I searched for the camp grounds and could see some in the distance.  I had camped there when I was in the Cup Scouts and recall making the significant accomplishment of not sleeping with my blankie.  I suffered the painful withdrawal for a whole weekend for fear of being ridiculed by those malicious scouts.  I could imagine their twisted faces as they gazed at my fabric contentment.  What’s that?  I’d hold it up since I was caught.  It’s my…blankie.  With that, they’d take it away.  Truth is; I would do the same to some unsuspecting wimp.   I could see them hold it like it was a prize and tell me, See this?  This is my knife and I am going to cut it up and toss it into the fire.  I would not dare the humiliation or the loss of my precious blankie.   So, the moment when I was back inside my home, I heard, how was it?  No time for explaining.  I needed to get reacquainted.  I was on a mission.  So, I half waved at Dad, barely said hello to Dave who was happy to see me and Eileen who was springing around and Sheila who was in a high chair.  I needed it.  I ran full speed to my bedroom to find my filthy rag.  It was my rag.  My blankie.   It smelled the same.  I closed my eyes.   It was my bliss.


Thank you for reading this.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Never Dream of Regretting

11/1/14 20:17


The fire was burning as the night descended on this town.  It was dark all day; one of those dreary days when waking up in the morning seemed like the middle of the night.  I watched from our bedroom window as the wind pushed off brown leaves that tumbled like chaotic birds for moments - before settling into the cold moist grass.   Ali was studying for her class.  Shea called from Mather Hospital. Eileen was up in the emergency room, her gall bladder is acting up.  Ali is there.  She can reassure Eileen since Ali had her gall bladder removed...almost ten years ago?  Joe and Bella are watching TV and I took advantage of this day, the weather, the rain to read the NY Times and wrote.  I’m editing my new novel and the task is slow and arduous.  I also looked into taking some classes at Empire State, finishing my bachelor’s degree with the eventual goal of attending seminary school in the city.  It has been an elusive goal of mine for more than ten years and like my previous attempts at school, I am motivated early and then after the work hits - I raise the white flag.  From my estimates, I must be close to 80 credits.  From getting credit from Stony Brook while in high school, to Suffolk Community to Purchase and back to Stony Brook for a year or so and now Empire State.  I have a coach who I have hired for three months.  It’s not a lot of time, but I am sure she will motivate me as I pursue this goal.  I just thought I would share this with you.  It’s not as if we should hang it up as we approach our mid-life and later years, fifty, sixty or seventy.  While reading last week’s New York Times Magazine, there are numerous articles on aging.  I recommend getting a copy.  T.H. White, the British naturalist turned novelist to write “The Once and Future King.” Speaking of the mind, “There is only one thing for it then – to learn.  Learn why the world wags and what wags it.  That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and dream of regretting.”  I think of Franciscan Brother Dunston who is at Little Portion and who I spent a couple of hours with last Saturday.  He is a man brimming with love and at 92 continues to warm the world.  I pray for him since he shared the friary is closing...
  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Driving to DC to see Rollins at the Smithsonian

10/15/14 03:40 Rockville, Maryland

For some reason I can’t sleep so I write.  I drove down here yesterday to see Henry Rollins at the Smithsonian.  I respect him for his work ethic as well as social justice stands.   I wrote a few blog entries about Rollins, from reviewing some of his books as well as his spoken word performances.  This year, he has made infrequent public appearances.  It seemed a Rollins show was an annual event, but he’s busy working on his show for National Geographic as well as he described, “Hollywood stuff.”   Last night event was titled, Henry Rollins on the DC Punk Scene.  It was the closest Rollins event which I could make, so I bought my ticket weeks ago and knowing the event would be a sellout.  Who else would drive more than five hours from Long island and take a subway into a humid October night?

I used my Marriott points and rented a car since my beast has more than 160,000 and I was not risking the drive.  Packed my things, brought some books and CD covers as well as an album by the evens, since I hoped Ian Macaye would be there.  After roughly five hours of easy traffic, passing autumn vibrant in orange and yellows and weary of the highway patrols, I checked into the hotel in Rockville Maryland, dropped off my bags and checked some emails before driving to the Metro station in Shady Grove.   The Metro ride was closer to 45 minutes.  I was not the tourist this time in DC.  I was on a mission.  I barely noticed the Washington Monument when I stepped outside onto the mall, oh there it is, and on the opposite side, the capitol building, the dome is under scaffolds.  I made my way to the museum of natural history.    

DC is Rollin’s hometown.  In his books he writes about the city like James Joyce created - referring to his mythic Dublin. 

The auditorium in the National History seats more than five hundred.   The ceiling is tiled and the acoustics were perfect.  I had an aisle seat and sat four rows back.  Chris Richards was the interviewee and handled himself very well.  There was a familiarity between the Rollins and himself, not only on the subject but more for Rollins support when Richards played in his punk band.   Rollins started out describing his friendship with Macaye, who he still considers his best friend since he was twelve.  They shared and continue to share music,  Macaye lived, “about a four minute bike ride from me.” They swapped Hendrix albums and eventually made a pact; we will either be comedians or musicians.  Music motivated them.  Punk transformed them.  Rollins said they continue to share music as well as artistic influences.  If you don’t know Ian Macaye, he is famous in the punk movement for bands, Minor Threat, Teen Idols, Fugazi.  He is known for creating the movement - straight edge - as well as Dischord records. Not in that order.  Rollins said straight edge has taken off and become more extreme which was never the intention.  If there was one thing missing on the stage, it was Ian Macaye.  I would have enjoyed hearing them swap stories and as Rollins said a few times, Ian was in the audience.  But seeing Rollins take charge and not giving Chris Richards much of an opportunity to carry out the interview…makes me reconsider - I am not sure what we would have seen with Ian up there.  I would assume it would be a moment when Rollins was on a stage and spent a great deal just… listening.

The interview became less of a DC punk movement to a Rollins interview.  There was an emphasis Bad Brains who gained fame for opening for The Dammed.  Seeing HR and getting closer to the stage as others backed up, frightened by the singer HR.  Seeing The Cramps in a very small venue, The Ramones played in a wine and cheese place, he got so close to the stage some sweat from Dee Dee fell on him.  But there was little about the influence of DC punk other than the Bad Brains.  The Cramps and The Ramones hailed from New York.  Early in the discussion Black Flag was raised.  Ian was interested in SST Records and called them up to learn more about the independent record business.  The fact he called impressed Rollins.  “Typical for him.  You did what?”  I called SST and spoke to Greg.”  On a side note, this is typical DIY.  While Black Flag toured, they would stay at Macaye’s parent’s house and this is where Rollins got to know the band.  Their bassist Chuck Dukowski influenced Rollins, suggesting he listen to The Stooges and MC5 and would call Rollins from time to time.  

It was in New York that Rollins took the microphone and sang his first Black Flag song at an after show party and right before he made the five hour drive back to DC to start his shift at Haagen Daz where he managed the store.   Some months later, Greg Ginn called him and said they are holding auditions in New York and would like him to try out for the band. 
Last Sunday, I took a punk tour of the Lower East Side.  It was led by John Joseph the singer for the hardcore band, Cro-Mags.  Part of the tour was seeing where Rollins auditioned for Black Flag.  I have to admit it was one of the highlights of the tour.  Last night, after the interview I had the opportunity to meet Rollins.  I told him about the tour and how the building was one of the stops.  “It’s really part of the tour?”  It is.  

Henry Rollins and Ian Mackay are currently archiving punk posters, records, as well as journals.  Eventually he would like to create a data base for people to see and learn more about punk.  This leads to one of the last questions which Chris Richards asked, regarding the recent Black Flag formations and their respective tours.  It was Greg who called Henry (although he denies it, per Rollins) to say he was leaving the band.  Well, in that case, there is no more Black Flag.  Instead of being somber, that day he wrote two songs which eventually became his first album and which eventually became the Rollins Band.  He described how he endured the break up and worked hard, starting a publishing company, touring with his band and giving spoken word tours to make money to pay his band, sending them money orders from the road – while his ex- band mates did little to further their career or to make money.  About the new Black Flag renditions, that time has passed.  They came to my office (FLAG) to ask me if I wanted to join.  No.  Not interested.  They are too old and getting close to sixty.  It pisses me off since Black Flag means so much to me.  It was like a war we created when we went on tour.  I was beaten up, stiches to my lip, eye, broken ribs, cut and bitten…both renditions were touring, FLAG contained most of the original members, but Greg Ginn also toured as Black Flag in 2012 and sued FLAG as well as Henry Rollins.  “I guess he sued me for good measure? It was like The Platters, well our version has the original session player from the first album which makes us more authentic.  They play these songs and are huffing through them.  It was a joke.”
   

It was well worth the drive and the opportunity to hear the man in person in his hometown.  And yes, I met Ian as well…the man is a gentleman and very gracious.  What was curious was to hear and learn the differences in the cities, especially compared to New York, punk fans in DC were more respectful and polite.  I don't think Rollins cussed once during the interview which was a contrast to getting a tour of New York by the street survivor John Joseph...




Friday, September 26, 2014

Regulator kicked ass, combined talents from Bad Brains and Cro-Mags raged at Bowery Electric

9/26/14 12:32

Driving into the city last night was easy.  I didn’t rely on the Waze or the GPS.  I have driven in a few times to the Bowery Electric.  I felt confident in my sense of direction.   It’s perhaps one of my strongest traits.  Leaving New Hyde Park around 9 meant less traffic.  I drank a couple of beers at a farewell party – some salad and pint of water and I was off.  I was a man on a mission.  Onto the cross island and onto the LIE and then the BQE and follow the signs to Manhattan.  The sparking city was resplendent from the passing rain.  I found a parking spot, paralleled parked the Charger and walked a couple of blocks to the Bowery.  Turned left.  Pass some restaurants and a 7-11 and there it was.  Walked in, checked in at the ticket table.  Showed ID and headed downstairs.  Passed legendary Bad Brain’s guitarist, Dr. No, but was too shy to say anything.  

The place was packed.  SubZero was on the stage.  They played the last two songs of their set.  The lights went on and a flood of bodies escaped into the night.  It was the time to climb into the heat.  I went in, stepped down into the pit and took a spot in the back next to the sound board.  I was safe.  I was back against a wall.  

I was there to see Regulator which as members of Bad Brains and Cro-Mags.  Dr. No was warming up and high fived Mackie, the drummer of the Cro-Mags as he sat down behind the drums.  A content Daryl Jenifer, bassist for the Bad Brains, eventually was on the stage and warmed up as reggae music thumped through robust speakers.  It was a few minutes of sound check. The collected and anticipating bodies waited like patient monks till John Joseph, the singer for the Cro-Mags took the mic and asked, “How’s everyone doing?” Ready to rip. 

The super group piled on the bricks of the Bad Brain’s classics.  Sailin’ on, Don’t Need It, The Regulator, essentially all of the songs off The Bad Brain’s seminal self-titled album, but skipped over the soothing (take a break from aggression) reggae selections.  They played House of Suffering off the album I against I and they nailed it.  

Why skip the reggae?  My thoughts: the reggae songs were the influences from their singer (HR and his younger brother Earl Hudson) It was another reminder this was not the Bad Brains on the stage.  Not that it mattered to the crunching horde slam dancing, jumping, legs over heads, shoving the heavy and solid music board back.  The energy in the room raged.  

John Joseph carried the tunes very well, but the strong vibrato, the classic pristine falsetto of HR’s voice was missing last night.  But considering where HR is now and what he has been up to recently – performing solo shows to some harsh criticism, even his voice can’t match its peaked past.  

Regulator may be flirting with our nostalgic heart strings.  Is there a possibility they will continue as a band?  I was surprised how short the set was - as well as no encore. There were so many songs left to play and there was the expectation they'd play for an hour plus. I'd say they played for about 45 minutes. 

Before closing, John Joseph thanked Jesse Malin for hosting the event.  He explained why we were there – it was a benefit concert for Children’s Tumor Foundation.   Even on his FaceBook page he stressed even if you cannot make the event, you can make a donation to the foundation and suggested buying a T-Shirt on the way out.  All of the money is donated to the foundation.   I will share a link within this post.  Enjoy the pictures.


Thank you for reading this.








Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kids Don't Follow! And We Can't Stop Getting Older...The Replacements at Forest Hills

9/20/14 9:20

Last night was one of those events that met all expectations.  It doesn’t happen very often.  There is the height of anticipation of the first kiss only to meet dry lips or the closing on the house and learning there are chickens in the attic or meeting that one person who you thought would be inspiring and so insightful but instead were dreary bores.  Before we got in Mike T and I bumped into Rhett Miller from the Old 97’s who literally came out of a porta potty and was drying his hands.  Mike shook his hand first and Rhett jokingly said now my hand is dry.  He was appreciative when Mike had mentioned seeing some of his solo performances at Fez so many years before.  He was also pumped for seeing The Mats.  
So, let me share this event.  After decades of listening and dreaming of a Mats reunion it occurred.  For the legion of fans we know why it was nearly impossible, Tommy Stinson the Mat’s bassist was in an exclusive contract with Axyl Rose and Guns & Roses.  The chances for a Replacements reunion were slim.  The second lead guitarist, Slim Dunlap had suffered a debilitating stroke.   But it happened.  The first reunion shows were last year in Toronto and Denver. In more than twenty something years, Replacements were on stage in New York.  Their everlasting goof ball ringleader, Paul Westerberg wore a yellow clownish blazer, red knickers, and knee socks.  He took a guitar and had a smile that could part the red sea.  Tommy Stinson stood to his right and was almost ready.  He fixed the microphone stand and cursed at the roadies, “What the fuck?  Why is this so short?  I’m older and taller.”  Tommy was twelve when he started playing with his brother and the rest of the band.  At the cozy Forest Hills Tennis stadium in New York, The Replacements were tight and efficient.   They ripped into Favorite Thing off their Let It Be album (Twin/Tone) and then Taking A Ride off their first Twin/Tone album, Sorry Ma Forgot To Take Out The Trash.  I was a few rows back from the stage until nature called.  Excuse the interruption, let me get this off my chest; from this vantage point in front of my computer and a day later. I can hear some groveling.  These are the whiners, the hardcore Mats fans who would not dare set foot in front of this semblance of the band.  The Mats were once and this band is a fraud.  Without Chris Mars, their former drummer or Bob Stinson, their former lead guitarist, the band as The Replacements for these ardent and stubborn fans is not truly…authentic.  I heard some of the skeptics.  I looked around me and noticed all of them were singing to the music and pumping their fists.  Listen, Chris Mars refuses to play with the band and sadly Bob has been dead for twenty something years.   Get over it.  For a couple of hours we linked the past to the present and suddenly everything was right in the world.   Each song evoked a burst of energy, but for me there was one particular song which ripped my vocal chords, that was their classic howling blues "White & Lazy" off their Stink EP.  I understand they have not played this song very often. I called out for it when I was in front of the stage and this is my hunch, my faint voice was heard.  I noticed Tommy approached Paul and perhaps suggested a different song; Paul waved his head and picked up the harmonica.  Maybe he thought, “No, I heard some tall guy in the front call out for this and he will get what he called for.  Here’s to you tall guy with the big nose.”  Yeah, I can dream.  Too band I can’t post my video for you all to hear my singing and see The Mats from where I stood.  The song did not get the full or even half of the audience’s response. I assume there were some who heard the song and asked what the fuck is he singing?  Is this a white racist song?  Far from it.  If it was, I would not be a fan.  "I can wake up in the morning and stay up in the afternoon"…there is a link to the set list from last night, which includes, Color Me Impressed, Taking a Ride, Waitress in The Sky, Bastards of Young which is the anthem for The Replacements, “The ones who love you least are the ones you die to please.  The ones you love you best - are the ones you laid to rest, if it’s any consultation I cannot begin to understand.”   Tommy said they had to shut the show early since the neighborhood has an enforced policy, “What can I say? We need to pull the plug at 10 PM.”  When I strolled out into the streets, I was surprised by the robust presence of the police.  There were mounted police who looked menacing, eventually galloping off to battle some night creatures in Kew Gardens.  Why the full force? It was just us older - meandering middle aged punks who drank a few beers and perhaps appeared slightly inebriated to the neighbors. Was there really a need to have a battalion of cops ready or was it the distant threat - that if we acted like the children we once were - we would be severely punished.  It was the slap in the face, the voice over the loud speaker…hello… the party is over...do yourself a favor and listen to the link below, Kids Don't Follow and you'd get the reference.


Thank you for reading this.





Kids Don't Follow

Sunday, August 31, 2014

First there was Alice Cooper, followed by a weak hearted Bubblegum Heavy Metal Band on their final tour

8/30/14

For the record, I don’t like Vince Neil’s voice, it is whiny.  I could only take an hour of it till my ears were pained.  I left the venue half way through their set and was in my driveway just as the concert ended.  I beat the traffic and my ears were grateful.  Vince’s voice and the insincere theatrics are the main reasons why I was never a fan.  For a final tour, these guys acted like they should have called it off before the tour bus hit the road.  But let me tell you, there are songs of theirs which I enjoyed, She’s Got the Looks that Kill, which is off their Shout to the Devil album and Girls, Girls, Girls.  The video for Girls was a hit on MTV when thirty plus years ago the channel played videos…hello YouTube.  Back then, heavy metal had its own show on the channel and this band had…and still has its own legion of fans.  It looked like a sellout, maybe after Groupon promoted $20.00 tickets to the nose bleeds. 
The Crue tipped into the glam metal category of plastic, sugary, sweet metal which was like Poison, Quiet Riot, Ratt and a wish washy band like White Snake.  They were merged into the soft metal, malleable; like their talent.  The video for Girls captured what was important to Crue. The rock stars at their finest; on their choppers cruising on Hollywood Blvd, smoking cigarettes, tattoos and making the rounds of famous topless clubs in the country.  “Hey Tommy, over there!”  Whistles.  I wish I can whistle like that.  This band and like their fellow clones - were all about the image.  These men captured the gluttony of heavy metal, the excess, sex, alcohol and drugs.  These artificial influences eventually made their way into their music which gradually suffered over time.  Listen, their song Dr. Strangelove – sucks.  Like all good things, there is a time and place for it.  It took place back when most of the audience was a lot younger, there was no care to what they listened to - most of them accepted the music and the band without really critiquing or learning what good metal was.  Inset your favorites, AC/DC, Metallica, Zep.  Most of us grew up and moved away from the Crue.
Vince gained weight (and has gained more weight) Tommy made a famous video; Nick suffered from abuse and the other quiet guy, Mick Mars nearly died and looks like a ghost, but what a great guitarist.  The Crue were the eighties.  So with all the criticism why was I there?  Two reasons, the protagonist for a novel I am working on is a heavy metal fan and I wanted to experience a heavy metal concert, the pyro techniques, the leather, the woman and the concentration on their boobs (thank you) and the exuberance of being an American male.  All of that was the first reason.  The second was - Alice Cooper was the opener.  I always wanted to see Alice Cooper. 
Before the show, walking through the parking lot, the men and women drank their alcohol out of plastic cups, ate their dinners and it struck me.  We are all about the same age.  I was not out of place.  I saw more bald heads, out of shape bellies, big bottoms, dyed hair, reading glasses in that parking lot and for a few minutes there was some semblance and association to the decay.  Some things don’t change. The teenage girls who got tired of waiting in their long line to take a piss were now middle aged women with children in college, but they didn’t care -they barged into the Men’s bathroom and yelled, “We’re not looking!” Hold it.  This is why most of us were here, the exuberance of being an adolescent, the salute to the American; a bold proclamation of being middle aged adults - who still had a reverence for their heavy metal and faded concert t-shirts which they bought after the show in the parking lot. 
Nick shared the story which he repeats in each venue, how the band started in ’81 in L.A. when new wave was popular, the only bands around LA were The Go Go’s and The Knack.  “I wanted to play my own fucking music in my own fucking way and didn’t want to answer to anyone.”  He sought and found the musicians because as Nicky so eloquently stated, “It all…begins…with a thought.  We are here because it began with a thought.”  And he closes with a declaration, “We’re going to rock you till your dead.”  Yeah?  I don’t think so you middle aged make-up wearing freak.  Besides, I’d rather listen to The Clash than the Crue.
I read their set list, they would play, the songs I mentioned as well as the Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK, Smoking in the Boy’s Room, and before one mellow song Vince declared, “If you’re 25, your parents probably played this song as they were doing something nasty.”  I could see the youngsters throwing up in their seats.
Alice Cooper put on an incredible show.  This is a man who knows how to get the audience pumped, the way he twirled his cane, swung swords, popped large white balloons which were kicked into the audience and were pushed back to the stage.  He was captured in a strait jacket, beheaded in a guillotine, jabbed with needles - it was a wild show. His band was tight, Ryan Roxie on lead, Nita Strauss, also lead and an incredible drum solo by Glen Sobel and least I forget a native Long Islander, Chuck Garric.  The classics were played;  18, Schools Out, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Hello Hooray, Welcome to my Nightmare.  Alice’s strong voice growled a raspy vengeance.  His stage theatrics were incredible and I would love to see him solo.  These days he is opening up for more acts, so I may be reduced to seeing him open for Rob Zombie – which I wouldn’t mind.  This is the man who influenced the dark image in heavy metal.  He is a true artist and compared to the headliner – he and his band took the opportunity to prove to anyone why he still has it and will not stop.
Oh yeah, The Raskins opened the show to a nearly empty theatre. 


Thank you for reading this.