Sunday, August 31, 2014

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


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.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No Matter How Old You Are - You can be a Scofflaw. The Scofflaws play in Northport, LI as the day faded into the Night

8/23/14 19:40

It was a good week.  I learned on Face Book, The Scofflaws were playing in the park in Northport.  The park is pristine, and there is a classic bandstand set at one end of a long field.  The bandstand is the stage which I used to dream of playing with my band (The Few) in front of ten adoring fans.  That was thirty years ago and yet some dreams are so real, but frankly that one is like old stained glass, the allure catches the light whenever if ever shines on it.  So, I live vicariously through my heroes.  We have our poets and performers, and even the thieves who run reckless in the night causing chaos on our sanctified communities.  Yeah, Rude Boys, The Scofflaws were playing.  I even confirmed it with them on FB.   So, for the whole week I conjured up images of stomping in the grass as their ska music filled the night.  There would be a crowd there.  It was a great vision and on top of that, they were hitting the stage at 7 PM.  It meant there was time for the family to get there and home at a decent hour.  We packed ourselves in the minivan and headed out to Northport.  We even found a parking spot in the park’s lot – what are you kidding?  What luck?  We hauled out blankets from the trunk and barely noticed the grey haired couples in their beach chairs, sitting calmly and some eating their dinner and iced teas.  They can watch their show of a barbershop choir or whatever lame music was playing...there...way back there.  Let’s get this started!  There was Sammy with his van.  He looked confused.  Hey, Sammy!  Like I said he looked confused.  We get into the park and look back at the sedated couples on their chairs.  Could it be there?   Way back there?  The spot with the microphones and little lights and what does it say on the chalk board?  The Scofflaws, 7 PM Tonight.  Really? Here?  In front of them? We drove all this way from Port Jefferson.  Deep breath.  Calm…calm thoughts, enjoy this summer night with the family. So, we played in the park, swung on swings which look the same when I was there almost fifty years ago and took pictures, walked on the dock since if you are ever in Northport you must walk on the dock.  The familiar scent of tar, the green oxidized copper caps on the posts, the cracked floor boards and there in the distance is the boat yard that has been in operation for over a hundred years, maybe two hundred and then it was time to head back to see the show.  The kids were not really interested, although Ali and Amanda liked it.  Yes, Emma as well.  Eileen brought her boys down and we bumped into my father’s friends and we caught up.   We are all Scofflaws no matter how old or young you are.  Little kids were dancing.  Couples were twirling and shaking it.  All of this was taking place in front of the park, even the bikers in their black leather were there to see the band; we are all Scofflaws after all.  They played Boots, Daniel Ortega, Batman theme.  By the end of two encores, Sammy was a sweaty mess.  They were playing another gig later that night in Greenlawn; "The rated R version," Sammy said  They always give it their all. Before the night was over I had to get a pint in at Gunther’s.  I wish Frank Dentrone was with me, but he was in Vermont with his family.  Gunther’s is the sanctified establishment which has brought back so many memories, pitchers of beers, cigarette smoke stuck in clothes and hair and the scent washing out the following morning in the shower.  Seeing Vance Brescia and The Eggmen, Cliff Gardner and his wild dancing, Charlie and Chris, cheers Jon…cheers…cheers and I was there.  I drank my beer while my daughters looked at me, making fun of their weird Dad.  They could not understand what old movies were playing in my mind as I looked across the old bar.  May you discover your own phantoms!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Gordon's take on Hershey but only after The Devils on the Cross Bronx Expressway tried to stop us!

8/18/14 18:25

What did you do on your summer vacation?  It’s a question some of us dread, some of us wait for the question and let the warm memories flow like a broken dam.  What did I do?  I wrote about some of the things we did this summer, but listen to this; summer is not over.  Not yet.  Last Friday we drove to Hershey.  The plan was to pick up Amanda and Emma’s friends, Sarah and Hannah - both are sisters and the pairs graduated in their respective classes.  After we pick them up we drive to Hershey.  Easy enough.  I rented a car and used points for the hotel.  The hotel was in York.  York is forty five minutes away from Hershey, but for two rooms it was a bargain and well worth the drive.  But here's the news, Friday was one the worst driving experiences I encountered.   As a habit, I listen to 1010 and get the traffic.  The Throgs Neck Bridge was reduced to two lanes due to construction or was that the Whitestone? I wasn’t sure.  I waited ten minutes for the traffic report again, but was distracted, so followed the signs , the recommendations in neon and flashes.  We took the Throgs.  We made it over fair easily.  No major issues to report.  The sun was out, a perfect view of the city to the West.  I used the cash lane since my EZ PASS is linked to my corporate credit card.  Not a problem.  Then the sun went black and the traffic stopped on the Cross Bronx Expressway.  Little devils with gnashing teeth beat down on us and taunted us from the hood of the car, tossing pitch forks and flames. It was hell.  We eventually made it to New Jersey as if the anus of a state - was a foreign land - we kissed the trash laden ground as we set foot on the sacred rest stop.  It took over an hour to get there, maybe three, but really - who is counting?  I avoid looking at the clock when I don’t move.  I was numb.  After our break, we headed back out and while on the NJ Turnpike, I came up with an idea.  It was getting late. Why don’t we go straight to the hotel?  That led to the next parking lot which on this Friday evening rush hour traffic - slowly rolled and stopped, rolled for miles.  The devils were taunting me again.  Each exit was a painful imprint on the skull.  My conscience was playing tricks with me, you are here and you need to be there and you are not going very far…are you?  You can get out of the car and walk and you will get there faster.  Was it an accident?  No.  Amanda and Sarah were playing music and seemed settled and bored.  I questioned my logic, perhaps we should have drove to Hersey and spent an hour or two in the park and then off to York?  What is done is done.  Hello Trenton, only took four hours to see you.  What was a four and a half hour trip to the hotel - took nine fucking (excuse me) hours which included the rest stop and a meal at Cracker Barrel. 
The next morning we awoke after a good night sleep and arrived at Hershey Park.  It is tree lined.  The air is cooler and sweeter and fresh with a trace of the decaying hay from the fields.  Most arrivals take the tour which is a ride as well as an educational opportunity on how chocolate is made in the sweetest place on earth.  Years ago, you would be given a little Hershey bar, not these days, we were handed some lame ass chocolate covered beans in a tiny bag.  Rip off!  But I let that go, these days I need to be more grateful.  Thank you, Hershey for the little shit chocolate covered beans.  We checked through the entrance which is beautiful without being gaudy.  You walk into what feels like a quaint European village, why look, it’s Dunkin Donuts.  It’s sort of laid back in the park.  Kids with pimples on their pale faces wear baggy uniforms and push little brooms, picking up white paper napkins and white plastic spoons. They are the walking dead dreading to be seen by their friends.  I was there.  I pushed shopping carts one summer at a super market and recall the embarrassment and the torture since I had to wear a tie in that scorching heat.  My neck and back broke out in boils and I looked at them and picked up a napkin someone else dropped.  I got it, the kid said.  No son, I have this one.  You do enough at this park.  Well, not really, but I thought of it, as we passed slow ass country folk who walked as their underwear was loaded.   Get out of the way. What's the rush?  We can't help it, we are from New York.  Come back to see us.  What's with the characters?  Hershey Bar and Reese's and 5th Avenue - what the fuck?

The water park was fun.  Joe and I hit a ride and flew through a darkened tunnel and out into the light and back into the darkness only to crash face forward into the pool. I flew over Joe and nearly drowned my son who I pulled up from the cool deep.  He looked shocked.  Ready for another? I asked knowing what he’d say. Nah.  He was toast for most of the day.  While Ali and the rest hit the lazy river, I stayed at a table and watched the huge candy bar characters chase little kids and demand to get a picture with them.  Music played and this corpulent woman who was the ring leader for the characters was dancing.  I felt sorry for her.  I really did.  She was smiling though, maybe thinking she was on stage or the life of a party.   I hit the comet which is the oldest roller coaster in the park.  Front row.  I screamed like a little girl. Scott and Tyler also joined us.  Overall it was an enjoyable day for all of us. As night settled in - teenagers who were keeping their safe distances through the day were holding hands and acting like kids at a country fair would do; joking around and gawking at other teens.  They were having fun.  I watched them from a distance and saw one odd couple, the girl was tall and the boy quite short. They held hands and looked to be showing the world how opposites do attract. 

Under the cool night air, we wished for rest. We were at the park for close to twelve hours.   We had our fill.  Good night Fifth Avenue Bar and all of your inebriated chocolate friends.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A very short review of a very long book Duma Key by Stephen King

8/4/14 22:24

Henry Miller said if he could not get into a book within the first fifty pages, he’d put it down and pick up another.  I can relate to that, but what about reading the first 400 plus pages of a 600 plus and putting it down, you have to question my sanity.  I would.  I was fed up with the monster.  The heft in my hands built tight muscles, veins popped out near my knuckles.  The heft is called Duma Key by Stephen King.  I like King.  He gets me sucked into his books and for most of them I will go with the flow.  This beast was a little too much of the erection and less of the substance.  Look how big my book is!  Edgar Freemantle lost his arm in a terrible accident, subsequently suffers from memory and verbal dysfunction, is divorced, moves to the gulf coast of Florida, limps on the beach, befriends a lawyer and becomes an artist.  Not just any artist, but a master.  His works captivate.  They also exhibit a possessed spirit.  So, I started the book back in the winter and watched it gather dust on the floor near our bed and finally picked it up and finished it.  I blame the book on our North Carolina transplant and one of the joys in my life, Danielle Zahm, who I thought was visiting us this summer.  Which was the motivator to finish the book.  Years ago she lent me the wide text.  She told me, you have to read this…it’s a great book.  So I read and read and…I felt like I was watching one of those lame comedians David Letterman would bring out on his show from time to time.  You’d wait for the punch line.  You watch the anguish face on the screen.  They are suffering.  The comedian beats himself up in his wretched mind.  You’re on TV now.  Big break.  Big.  I think King has sold a few too many books and sucked us into his name.  I will continue to buy his books.  I will be a loyal reader.  But this book could have been half the size and made an impact, instead it is lost in his library I add to.  Before I put it away, I have to tell you, I was the one who waited for the gripping, nail biting, "oh no he didn't," and the twisting...he did it. The feeling that this master can create horror like no other.  You wait and you receive.  The last quarter of this book flowed and hurled with an incredible kick.  The scene close to the end when Edgar is walking with his daughter on the beach captured such love.   Wait for it.  Wait for it.  Done.  Now I can pick up and read Nick Tosches...

Thank you for reading this.

Six Months since I saw my wife due to Covid

  9/6/20 19:13 Home Tomorrow will be six months since my wife and I waved goodbye at the airport in Mexico City.   I planned to work in Me...