Wednesday, July 22, 2015

No, it's NOT o-bee kay-bee...

Dear MISTER Cosby,

When Michael Jackson died six years ago, I didn’t really mourn over his passing much.  You know why?  Because to me, MJ was already dead.  The Michael Jackson whom I knew and enjoyed—that good-looking black guy that I grew up listening to on AM radio when I was a kid who could sing and dance his ass off—he’d been dead to me for almost 20 years.  Long about 1990 or so, Michael the suave and talented performer was replaced by this creepy fey-looking pale-skinned crotch-grabbing hypochondriac white zombie clone named Jacko whose nose kept falling off and who preyed upon unsuspecting little boys and got involved in sham marriages and kept his (alleged) offspring’s faces shrouded with scarves and nearly dropped one of them off a balcony and danced around on limos in front of district courts and such.

As one of your famed comedy routines once went, MISTER Cosby: “I told you that story to tell you this one...” 

And if I may borrow from another routine, as your wife once said to you in your bit about belching nasty gas, “You’re dead!  You passed away a long time ago, but somehow you’re still upright!”  More on your moron wife in a bit, but the Bill Cosby that I knew and loved and grew up with is now deceased—he’s actually been dead and gone to me just about as long as Michael Jackson has.  That lovable rubber-faced father-figure who was such a brilliant comedic storyteller and brought to life such characters as Fat Albert, Old Weird Harold and your brother Russell and lampooned trips to the dentist, chocolate cake for breakfast and natural childbirth, among other things—he’s as dead as Mel Gibson’s movie career and has been replaced by this scruffy, unshaven moralizing perverted philanderer clone in dark sunglasses named MISTER Cosby.  That’s what you’re called now, right—MISTER Cosby?  No more just plain “Bill” or “Cos” for you, huh?  At least now I know why you had the cojones to be listed in the closing credits of “The Cosby Show” as “Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr., Ed. D.”—you not only played a doctor on TV, but you played doctor with all those women, too, didn’t you? 

[NOTE: I was never impressed by that “esteemed” designation anyway because a doctorate degree in education has all the value of a DEVO hat—sort of on a par with my BA in Communications Studies, but I digress.]

Good gravy, dude—I had nearly all those ‘60s/’70s Bill Cosby records memorized verbatim, and even had the temerity to perform your “Noah & The Lord” bit with a buddy of mine in 7th grade speech class—and fucking nailed it, too!   “Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids” was a Saturday morning staple for me, as well--it was a clever show that got its point across without being preachy or losing its cool, and I’d like to think I’m a slightly better person for having watched it.  “The Cosby Show” was pretty damn funny too—for the first couple seasons, that is, before you got all uppity, preachy and righteous with the whole “black consciousness” thing by featuring twin babies named Nelson and Winnie and had this never-ending parade of elderly jazz musicians posing as Dr. Huxtable’s relations, along with other trite gambits.  And how come the show never had any white people on it?  Other than that dumb chubby white kid that never uttered a word (Rudy’s buddy), you gonna tell me there were no other Caucasians in that upper-crust neighborhood the Huxtables lived in?  Uh-huh…

[ANOTHER NOTE: Something ironical about the “Noah” thing:  If I were in 7th grade today and attempted the same material in class, the school probably wouldn’t allow it because of all the religious connotations—pretty damn ironic considering I was already an atheist even then, yet willingly wanted to perform said skit anyhow.]

Anyway, I’ve decided that your comedy material was just too damn funny and all those fond memories are just too good to ever disown, therefore I’m not burning all my Cosby records and CDs in effigy (not my style, anyway), but instead, my internal mortician, Dr. Goodbury, has officially declared the original Bill Cosby dead, MISTER Cosby.  This is the only way I can think of to reconcile all those memories and not associate them with the pathetic (and unrepentant) lying sack-of-shit sexual predator you’ve apparently devolved into.

[YET ANOTHER NOTE: I chose that album cover photo intentionally for this piece, for obvious reasons.]

Where in the fuck did you go astray, buddy?  I honestly tried to give you the benefit of the doubt as long as I could all these years until the allegations against you started accumulating because I truly didn’t want to believe it. I also brushed off all the stories about you merely cheating on your wife back in the ‘90s (without drugging anyone).   While I certainly don’t condone that sort of behavior, it’s still par for the course in Hollywood, and you sure weren’t the first (or last) to do so, although it definitely makes all your moralizing about family values and such ring awfully hollow now.  Who the hell are you to be telling all these homeys out there to pull their damn pants up when you don’t seem to be able to keep your own up?  And who were you to ever criticize the likes of Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy for the lifestyles they led or for using profanity in their stage acts?  Neither of those guys were/are angels, but at least neither of them ever (to my knowledge) resorted to the sort of low-life mongrel behavior like you’ve engaged in.

And what does it say about you that you have to get some poor woman fucked-up out of her mind just to fuck you?  Is it because you’re hung like a Chihuahua and don’t want them to notice?   Never mind—I don’t want to know.  What I do know is you’re just a dirty old turd who should be rotting in prison somewhere with the likes of Jerry Sandusky.   Furthermore, asshole losers like you are just another reason why women don’t trust single guys like me, even though my intentions are strictly on the up-and-up.  I can’t say I blame them, either, thanks to excrement like you…

“You don't just meet Camille Cosby—you experience her. She exudes the kind of splendor attendant with royalty. Even hearing her name—Dr. Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby—makes you think, I want to be like that.”—Oprah Winfrey

Speaking of women, your wife is a brainwashed (or brain-dead) idiot for continuing to support you—and so is Oprah for making a statement like that, too.  Camille should’ve kicked your wayward lyin’ ass to the curb decades ago, but I guess she just can’t bear to part with all the bling she’s become accustomed to by way of being Mrs. Bill Cosby, huh?  And then she sits there saying these women WANTED the drugs you provided them, so that made it consensual.   Riiiiight.  Even if what she says is true, that still doesn’t excuse YOUR behavior whatsoever!!  I can’t even imagine how embarrassing this all must be for your four daughters.  In spite of it all, by the way, I’m still sorry you lost your son—I felt like I knew him, in a way.  Then again, I felt like I knew you, too, but I suppose not...

Lucky for Ennis, he’s not around to witness your colossal fall from grace, MISTER Cosby, because you will now go down as the Joe Paterno of stand-up comedy and television.  While Paterno wasn’t actually the perp in his situation, he was an enabler that allowed unspeakable things to happen even though he was totally aware of them, and just like you, MISTER Cosby, he was so arrogant that he thought he was untouchable.  Guess again, asshole.   As my man Lemmy from Motorhead sings, “Just ‘Cos (pun intended) you got the power, that don’t mean you got the right.”

In closing, let me just quote your brother Russell from the cartoon show, “You’re like school on a Saturday—NO CLASS!”  Rot in hell—you GUNKY!

Your ex-fan Brian

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Concert #117

The Rainmakers/Nace Brothers (Friday, August 16, 2013—Grinders) Ticket price: Free

For the 4th time in two years (and my 7th time, overall), my friends and I went to see Kansas City’s own Rainmakers perform in concert. You’d think we’d be getting a bit burned-out on them, but you can’t beat free, and as usual, the boys did not disappoint. If anything, they exceeded expectations this time.

Outdoor concerts in mid-August in Kansas City usually automatically come with London Broil temperatures, but not on this night. We couldn’t have dreamed of more perfect weather this time of year—mid-70s at showtime, no wind, no humidity and a waxing gibbous moon hovering overhead. This was my first visit to Grinders, a place I’d never even heard of until last week, but I was fairly impressed. It certainly was a MAJOR upgrade over Knuckleheads, where two of our previous R-makers shows were staged. Grinders is open and spacious and instead of an old loading dock, their stage was actually a first-class stage, and it looked to be almost half the size of the stage at Sandstone Amphitheater (or whatever it’s called now). The Port-A-Pottys were actually an upgrade over the closets they expect you to piss in at Knuckleheads and they had several libation stations scattered about, so the beer lines were quite short all night (although I abstained) even when the place filled up. Grinders even allows you to bring your own lawn chairs in if you like.

My only issues with Grinders were the "No cameras" policy (which meant I had to take my digital camera back to my car first—never mind that people were snapping pics right and left with their camera phones, like whoever took the pic I've included here) and the fact that they allowed kids in the place. And I'm talking little kids, too. For the better part of an hour, I watched these two nandofuck parents in front of us allow their three no-attention-span little boys (the oldest of whom couldn’t have been more than 8 years old) to run around loose and futz around wrestling with each other (and with Mom and Dad) and just generally be a nuisance. This show as free—why couldn’t these dumbasses splurge for a babysitter or dump the kids off on Grandma for the night so they could actually enjoy the concert? And did they really expect those little shits to sit and watch the show? I felt like that chick in Showgirls who uttered, "Would somebody get these fucking kids out of here!!!" Come on folks, this is a Rock concert in an outdoor bar/nightclub with people getting drunk, not daycare at Romper Room.

Okay, enough ranting. The Nace Brothers hit the stage just around sundown and played for roughly 45 minutes or so. A four-piece KC outfit just like the Rainmakers (and two of them actually are male siblings named Nace), they’ve been around over 30 years and have released several CDs during that times, but I knew nothing about them. They weren’t bad, though—sort of an edgy Gin Blossoms with a little bluesy Jeff Healey-style blues mixed in. They played all original material too, and I noticed right away how crystal-clear the sound was at the venue because I could understand each and every word they sang and the between-song patter as well. The Bros. didn’t necessarily blow me away, but they didn’t suck, either, and were not a bad opening act at all. We watched them perform from near the top of the hill, but for the main attraction I was more than happy to relocate somewhere else away from the Karate Kids, so we ambled down to the standing room area down front, and before I even knew what hit me, we were suddenly right in the front rowwwww by the barricade, just to the right of guitarist Jeff Porter’s microphone at stage left. Now I REALLY wanted to use my fucking camera, dammit! I was also shocked at how good the sound still was even right down front with the speakers just a few feet away from us. It was plenty loud, yes, but not blowing my brains out like the shrieky headache-inducing sound mix Styx and Speedwagon employed at Starlight back in May—and we were way up in the back of the venue at that show!

The Rainmakers hit the stage around 9:30 with leader/guitarist Bob "White Shoes" Walkenhorst, "Shoeless" Jeff Porter on lead guitar (apparently channeling the late Ronnie Van Zant by performing barefoot), bassist Rich Ruth sporting a scruffy beard and Daniel Boone hat with raccoon tail (he would’ve fit right in with Hayseed Dixie!), and drummer Pat Tomek in plain black t-shirt. They fired off three straight songs from their second album Tornado, "One More Summer", "Snakedance" and "Other Side Of The World", which gave me hope I might finally hear them play a personal favorite from it, "Tornado Of Love", but they never got to it—work on it, will ya?   Actually, all of their albums got plenty of spins over the next 2.5 hours, with the once again curious exception of 1997’s Skin, which they didn’t touch for the fourth straight time I’ve seen them play live since 2011—could it be Skin has a rash?!? For once, I wasn’t in (or on my way back from) the toilet when they played another personal favorite, "Reckoning Day" (which features the credo of this here blog: "Well, I feel like pickin’ a fight, with anybody who claims they’re right…"), from their underrated 3rd album The Good News And The Bad News. The Rainmakers’ most recent release, 2011’s 25 On, was visited several times on the night, including "Like Dogs", "Missouri Girl", "My Own Bed", "Given Time" (a track which is really growing on me) and my favorite from the album, "Kansas City Times", all about Bob’s old paper delivery route back in the ‘60s in rural north central Missouri.

The band seemed in great spirits as they reeled off song after song, and Walkenhorst remarked about what an absolutely splendid night it turned out to be, thanks to Mother Nature. More high points ensued, like "Wages Of Sin", "Government Cheese", "Width Of A Line", and especially "Rockin’ At The T-Dance", which took on added significance with "the Hyatt House" and its "big dance floor" looming just five blocks south of the venue—you can still see the ghosts from 32 years ago, too. Apparently the band’s plan was to play just about everything they knew, but unfortunately the venue turns into a pumpkin at the stroke of Midnight and they were up against a tight curfew. With the clock ticking, they brought the Nace Brothers back on-stage for a brief tribute to Elvis on the 36th anniversary of his passing and performed "Burning Love", followed by Jerry Lee Lewis’ "Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On." They had planned to do more with the Nace Bros., but only had time for one more song, and to my surprise (and delight) it was the Rainmakers classic "Big Fat Blonde" instead of their signature song "Let My People Go-Go". This is akin to Kiss not playing "Rock And Roll All Nite" or Springsteen not doing "Born To Run". I wonder if this was the first Rainmakers gig at which "Go-Go" was ever omitted. In any case, it was a most outstanding show, 34 songs in 2.5 hours—not too shabby for free! They could’ve charged 20 bucks or more and I still wouldn’t have felt cheated.

One more rant:  I would’ve enjoyed our front row spot a whole lot more but for the stupid and inconsiderate drunk fucks who inhabited the area down front. This one palooka next to me was totally wasted from the moment the Rainmakers hit the stage, and he kept bumping into everyone, he hollered crude homosexual remarks at Jeff Porter saying he wanted to fuck him, and he kept climbing on the barricade flailing his arms around and just generally made an ass out of himself. I don’t think he even knew who The Rainmakers were to begin with. I hope to hell he woke up Saturday with a gi-normous hangover in the morning. Fortunately, he went away (or was hauled away) after about 30 minutes. No sooner than we got rid of him did this gaggle of gabby Kardashian-like women show up right behind us and they would not shut up the rest of the show. They were almost louder than the band at times. My friends had to leave early because of next-day work obligations, and I finally gave up my front row spot because I was sick of listening to these bitches yammering away. Nothing wrong with getting drunk and having a good time at a concert—I’ve done it myself a time or two—but there’s such a thing as common courtesy, and being royally-ripped is no excuse for that to cease.  As I made my way back up the hill and took in the rest of the show from a distance, I was quite amused at this joker who was literally falling-down drunk trying to get to the latrine. I sincerely hope he wasn’t going to get behind the wheel anytime soon—he couldn’t even drive a golf ball!

SET LIST: One More Summer/Snakedance/The Other Side Of The World/Downstream/Turpentine/Battle Of The Roses/The One That Got Away/Missouri Girl/Width Of A Line/Long Gone Long/The Wages Of Sin/My Own Bed/Half Past Kissin' Time/Reckoning Day/These Hills/Another Guitar/Given Time/Half A Horse Apiece/Small Circles/Lakeview Man/Like Dogs/Shiny Shiny/Nobody Knows/Kansas City Times/Rockin' At The T-Dance/Government Cheese/Spend It On Love/You Remind Me Of Someone/Information/Drinkin' On The Job/Hoo-De-Hoo/Burning Love (w/Nace Bros.)/Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (w/Nace Bros.)/Big Fat Blonde

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Now that I’ve had my newly-acquired vehicle almost two months, I’ve been wanting to see how it performed on an extended highway stretch, and since we had some unexpectedly cool weather last weekend, I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Omaha.  I’ve been there a few times before, but they’ve added some new things since my last visit, and I also decided to venture north of Omaha on I-29 for the first time.  Nothing earth-shattering, but a fun and cheap little getaway weekend.

I just love being able to see the city from my hotel, and this is the vista from my room at the Motel 6 University Park just NW of downtown near the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  This place used to be a 6-story Best Western and you’d never know it was a Motel 6—it seemed more like a poor man’s Marriott and was quite suitable for less than 70 bucks night.  I was even able to make my stay pay for itself after playing Blackjack at Harrah’s casino over in Council Bluffs and coming away with a net profit of $150.   My timing was perfect too, as they were flirting with record low temperatures Friday night/Saturday morning and it was in the mid-‘70s all weekend.  I almost needed a sweatshirt—just phenomenal for late July in this region. 

I made it a point to check out some local eateries rated highly by the locals, and one that sounded intriguing was a dive called Leo’s Diner in north central Omaha, whose claim to fame is a delicacy known as “Fantasy Island”.  I was all set to try it on Saturday morning, but I had to postpone it for a day because unbeknownst to me, the little neighborhood Leo's resides in was having some sort of parade and the place was right smack-dab in the middle of the parade route.  It was worth the wait until Sunday, though, as it was most excellent.  Basically, it's two biscuits on top of hash browns, with sausage gravy poured over that, with ham, bacon, onion and green peppers mixed in, topped with two eggs anyway you want.  Worth checking out sometime if you’re ever in the area, although the wait staff was a bit on the scuzzy side, and really I could've done without them sniping at each other in front of the customers—not cool. 

My new red machine, a 2007 Ford 500 SEL, may not be a Barchetta, but it’s a beautiful shade of metallic red, and it performed admirably on its maiden road trip sojourn. Now that I have an odometer that measures mileage, I was most pleased to get 28 MPG on the highway, which is a major upgrade over the land barge I'd been driving.  I almost got to witness an accident in front of me on I-29 too, as some redneck in the little pickup hauling a large mattress that was blocking his rearview mirror nearly ran an SUV (who was trying to pass him on the right) right off the road. Was also amused by another mattress hauler who thought he had it strapped down good on top of his minivan--until it started raising up in the wind like airplane flaps! We nearly had liftoff...

This is the fancy new baseball stadium on the north side of downtown Omaha where they now play the annual NCAA College World Series.  Quite a handsome ballpark—almost Major League quality—but it seems like a total waste considering they only use the place one month out of the year, while Omaha's minor league Storm Chasers team (the Royals' AAA affiliate) plays in their own new stadium in the middle of a corn field down in the next county.  Why the hell do they make their fans drive 12 miles away from the city when they could be playing right downtown?  Apart from making it a shorter drive for the fans coming up from Lincoln on I-80, this makes no sense...

So nice of the Omahans (Omahites?) to name something after me.  Also cool of them to hype my man Weird Al’s performance at the nearby Orpheum Theater, which I was a night too late to catch on Thursday.  But fear not, coming next week for a limited engagement at the good ol’ HPAC, Hugh Grant stars in the stage presentation of "Oh, What A Twit!"


This is a rickety old foot bridge.  So rickety, that they won't even let humans on it anymore.  I was standing in Iowa when I snapped this, and that's South Dakota on the opposite shore. I drove up to Sioux City on Saturday afternoon just for shits and hoots because I'd never been there, and I hopped over to that little SE tip of South Dakota, knocking another state off my list that I hadn't set foot in yet.  This leaves only Vermont, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii and Idaho as the only U.S. states I never been in, although technically I've been over part of Idaho in a plane.

My first stop when I got to town Friday was a BBQ emporium called Beyond BBQ in a little strip mall just west of where I was staying.  Not too shabby, especially the St. Louis-style ribs.  I don’t know that they’ll be around long, though—I was their lone customer after 8:00 on a Friday night until they closed at 9:00, and the place had no atmosphere at all, not even any music playing overhead, with a World War II movie playing on the TV. 

Meantime, my Saturday night dinner was even more interesting.  I went to a sports bar I’ve heard about for years called Brewburgers on the SW corner of the city and tried their “Inside-Out Burger”, which has the cheese and bacon already built-in.  It wasn't bad, but there was one little problem—I took one bite and the thing exploded all over my shirt!  Anyway, it wasn’t half as good as the appetizer I ate, "Cajun Nachos", which was chips topped with cheese, Cajun sausages and alligator meat.  I didn’t even know gators were edible, and kept having visions of Bobby Boucher’s mama from The Waterboy whooping this up in the kitchen, but this stuff was damn good!

On the way home Sunday I swung down to Lincoln, which I hadn’t visited since 1991 and was surprised to find a fancy new arena going up just a couple blocks west of the U. of Nebraska football stadium.  Nearly completed and due to open in September, the Pinnacle Bank Arena replaces the aging Devaney Center for Nebraska bassit-ball (both men’s and women’s), and will also host major concerts like the Eagles in October.  Looks like a major upgrade for Nebraska’s capital city.  The drive from Omaha was a treat too, as you can legally do 75 MPH on three-lane (each way) I-80.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Concert #115

Red Elvises/Hayseed Dixie (Saturday, May 18, 2013—Knuckleheads)  Ticket price: $23.50

About this time a year ago, the Red Elvises were a band with a huge cult following that I’d never heard of, but when they opened for our local favorites the Rainmakers at the Knuckeheads dive bar, I was most impressed by their sheer goofiness and off-beat humor.  I liked them so much, I snagged their best-of double-CD and delved into their oddball repertoire.  They played K-heads again back in November, but it was bad timing because it was a weeknight, and I was already committed to seeing Bruce Springsteen at Sprint Center that weekend, so I had to pass.  The Elvi invaded us once again six months later last Saturday night, and I was really looking forward to seeing them headline this time.  And I’m still waiting to see them headline…

This show was billed as the Red Elvises “with special guests” Hayseed Dixie, another under-the-radar band I was also interested in seeing, so I assumed Hayseed was the opening act.  Wrong!  In typical backward-ass Knuckleheads fashion, the headliners played FIRST on this night, and I was most disappointed.  The Elvises, led by singer/guitarist Igor Yuzov, got off to a hot start, opening with “Drinking With Jesus” and playing some biggies of theirs like “I Wanna See You Bellydance” and “Strip Joint Is Closed” and “Love Rocket”, which features the classic double-entendre line, “We’re gonna rock this joint/We’re gonna roll this joint/We’re gonna smoke this joint…until we sound like Pink Floyd.”  Then, just six songs or so into the set, Igor announces they were going to take a short break.  WTF?  At first, I thought maybe this meant they were playing the whole night because the Hayseeds didn’t make it or something, but I was wrong.

The set resumed with some newer stuff and a few more favorites like “Closet Disco Dancer” and included an interesting drum solo featuring all five members of the band on the SAME drum kit.  The Red Elvises personnel seems to be ever-changing (the above photo is not current), and it’s a unique line-up they have now—it’s both bi-racial and co-ed with three white guys (two from Russia) and two black women.  Oleg Bernov was back with his ever-present day-glo orange balalaika bass guitar, which is so big it needs a kick-stand to hold it up while he plays.  Multi-instrumentalist Sarah Johnson played keyboards, sax and flute at one end of the stage, while Dregas Smith manned (womanned?) another keyboard at the other end and the drummer’s name is Garrett Morris, but you wouldn’t recognize him from his “SNL” days—he’s white and in his 30s now.  By and large, it was a good, energetic set the Elvises put on, but too damn short—only about an hour and ten minutes, not counting the intermission.  They played a far better set last year opening for the Rainmakers.  Even worse, this was the first time I’ve ever seen the headline act have to tear down their own equipment following their set.

I’ve mentioned my disdain for Knuckleheads before, but it bears repeating.  It’s a dumpy indoor/outdoor dive bar that looks like a FEMA project that was pieced together with spare parts, with an outdoor stage that appears to be an old loading dock from who knows when, and it’s located in a downright dismal part of Kansas City’s east bottoms area, with “bottom” being the operative word.  Oh, and it sits practically on top of a live railroad line that is constantly in use, with train whistles blaring at any given moment.  In one of the men’s restrooms, instead of a toilet, they have you pissing into a trough-like sink full of ice!  How they’re able to attract nationally-known acts like Leon Russell and Kenny Wayne Shepherd to play there is beyond me.  I don’t mean to sound snobbish, and I’m not expecting the place to be the Taj Mahal or anything, but come on, we can do better than this!  The lone saving grace of the place is the cheap beer, but I was on the wagon that night anyway, so I didn’t have a particularly good time.

Once the Elvises packed up their gear, it should’ve been a quick changeover to Hayseed Dixie, but it wasn’t.  There was an awkward period of about 15 minutes with the Hayseeds standing on stage with their instruments trying to get direct boxes (the sound gizmos) to work.  For the uninitiated, HD is a group of excellent Bluegrass musicians who do cover versions of mostly hard Rock songs from the likes of Kiss, AC/DC and Motorhead.  Once they did get going, they still had sound issues for the first couple songs, especially banjo player Don Wayne Reno, but once that was corrected, they reeled off several AC/DC cuts, including “Hells Bells”, "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and “You Shook Me All Night Long” and even the more obscure “Let’s Get It Up”, as well as Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades”, which I’m sure would’ve made our friend Lemmy proud.  Even The Cars’ “Best Friend’s Girl” and Alice Cooper’s “Poison” got the Bluegrass treatment, and although this style of music is hardly my cup of tea, it’s fun to hear popular songs re-worked with different instrumentation, to the point where you have to play “Name That Tune” sometimes to figure out which song it is. 

The highlight of the set for me was their raucous rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which they deemed “the greatest killin’ song of all-time”.  A little while later as the band played, some Hell’s Angel outside the venue drove by on his overly-loud fart-machine chopper bike and intentionally drowned out the band, prompting mandolin player Dale Reno to shout into his mic, “That guy has a little penis!”  Unfortunately, after about an hour I started getting bored with Hayseed.  First off, they aren’t much to look at—they totally live up to their name, appearance-wise.  I also quickly got burned-out on lead singer John Wheeler’s endless yammering between songs all about the same subject, drinking, which is pretty redundant in a bar/nightclub—it’s like someone constantly yapping about being naked in a nudist colony.  And don’t get me wrong, they’re all great musicians for the genre they play, but the stuff does all kinda sound the same after a while and I’ve found that Hayseed Dixie is best taken in smaller doses.  They hadn’t even played any Kiss songs yet, but I’d had enough and left midway through their set because it was about to storm anyhow.  This would’ve been a much better show for me if the roles had been reversed and the Red Elvi played a full set.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Concert #114

Styx/R.E.O. Speedwagon/Ted Nugent (Friday, May 10, 2013—Starlight Theater) Ticket price: $24.75

I wasn’t initially planning to attend this concert featuring three of Kansas City’s all-time favorite ‘70s Rock acts (which I’ve seen numerous times in the past), but a friend invited me tag along with the group he had assembled to go, and since I hadn’t set foot in Starlight Theater in about a decade, I thought "What the hey," and decided to go. Turned out to be a good move, as it wasn’t a bad show.
Given my anti-Nugent manifesto that I posted just last month, I was really in no mood to see my ex-idol perform again at this point in my life. This was my 10th Nugent show since 1979 (his 7th as an opening act), and in a totally unintentional yet fairly symbolic gesture on my part, I happened to be in the men’s room taking a leak when Nugent’s set began—first time I’ve ever not seen him hit the stage in his 10 performances I’ve witnessed, gosh darn it! I sooooooo wanted to rip him to shreds here, but guess what—that’s not going to happen. Instead, even jaded ol’ me has to admit that this was easily the best set I’ve seen Ted Nugent play in person since 1982—musically, that is. He opened with "Wango Tango", minus the stupid rap about the Mazerati, but with a few bars from "Cool Jerk" (Ted Nugent sings the Go-Go’s!), then gave way to his rhythm guitarist for the vocal on the next song. I didn’t recognize the guy at first, but his voice sounded an awful lot like that of longtime on-and-off Nugent sideman Derek St. Holmes, and as it turned out, it WAS Derek St. Holmes! DSH was indeed "Just What The Doctor Ordered" to upgrade Nugent’s live act—it’s sorta like in baseball where you need a good #5 hitter to back up your clean-up batter, and Nugent has never understood this. He always has to hog the spotlight for himself, thus he can’t handle sharing it with a much more talented singer, and I never expected these two to ever work together again in light of Holmes’ commentary on the VH-1 "Behind The Music" segment on Nugent. Derek’s return led to an even more unexpected (and most welcome) surprise for me, as after 34 years, I finally got to hear one of my all-time Nugent favorites performed live, "Turn It Up" from Free-For-All, and it kicked ass. Could it be that Ted Nugent might actually find his way back into my good graces? Well, this was a step in the right direction, but not nearly enough.

I don’t know if this really made a big difference or not, but in another throwback to the ‘70s, I noticed Ted was once again playing his trademark Gibson Byrdland guitars instead of the Les Pauls he’d employed in recent years. The mighty Les Paul guitar looks just right on the likes of Pete Townshend and Ace Frehley, but on Nugent they always looked out of place. Meantime, Rev. Theodocious Atrocious goes through more drummers than Spinal Tap, but his current rhythm section is the best he’s had since the ‘70s, with "Wild" Mick Brown (formerly of Dokken) on drums and bassist Greg Smith, who looked like he wasn’t even born yet when Weekend Warriors came out in '78. The set list was rounded out by usual suspects like "Cat Scratch Fever", "Stranglehold", "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" and since Holmes was back, the hit "Hey Baby", which received a good reaction from the crowd, which I would estimate at about 7,000 or so. I was a bit surprised at the omission of "Free-For-All" and 1995’s "Kiss My Ass", and Ted fell flat on his face with his misguided tribute to black musicians in the form of a medley of "My Girl" (yes, the Temptations’ "My Girl") and a half-assed rendition of Chuck Berry’s "Johnny B. Goode". Soul Brotha #1, you ain’t, Ted. At least he spared us the firing of the flaming arrow into the fake guitar from ten paces this time.

And of course, it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped. For the first half of his 45-minute set, Nugent checked his tongue and focused more or less on the music and working the crowd. If I had a dollar for every time Nugent uttered the phrase "I love this shit!" (referring to being on stage playing to HIS people), the cost of my ticket would’ve been covered. "You fuckers deserve me, Kansas City!" he declared. Yeah, like whooping cough or inverted nipples. That wasn’t so bad, but like a junkie with a crack pipe, it wasn’t long before Ted stopped resisting temptation and spewed forth his usual right-wing Wookiee excrement. There was the usual paranoia about someone threatening to take his guns away, and statements like "The President is the enemy!...The Attorney General is the enemy!", as well as this classic: "If you’re not out there pissing off the assholes, then YOU are an asshole!" I guess I’m not an asshole, though, because if Ted reads this review, it’ll piss HIM off, so I’m covered, right? When Ted implored everyone to "Stand up for what you believe in", I promptly sat back down—I don’t believe in nandofucks. Ted’s coup de grace was when he stated, "I salute those who defend the Constitution that the President wipes his ass with!" Coming from an admitted draft dodger, I think this is a total insult to every combat veteran in America. I’d pay good money to see one of them shove their prosthetic leg or arm up Ted’s ass. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I attend a Rock show to be Rocked and entertained, not to be preached at and fed a load of political buffalo bagels. Why does Nugent insist on pissing all over an otherwise fine performance with all this bullshit that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the music he’s performing? He’s like the jagoff who farts at the dinner table at Thanksgiving. Do us all a big favor, Ted—just shut the fuck up, take a tip from Aerosmith and "Let the music do the talking…"

SET LIST: Wango Tango; Just What The Doctor Ordered; Wang Dang Sweet Poontang; Turn It Up; Medley: My Girl/Johnny B. Goode; Hey Baby; Cat Scratch Fever; Stranglehold; Great White Buffalo

R.E.O. was up next. This was my third time around with the Speedwagon, and second time with the current lineup of Bryan Hitt on drums, guitarist Dave Amato (who once worked with Nugent), bassist Bruce Hall, stalwart keyboardist Neal Doughty and singer Kevin Cronin. A brief video montage of Bo Diddley-beat songs from the past led into their opener, "Don’t Let Him Go". Cronin sported almost Phil Spector-ish poofy blonde hair, and as I feared, his voice has all the depth of a shot glass now, as the years have taken a toll on his vocal chords. He sounded really weak on the Arch Allies live CD, which came out over a decade ago, and sadly, not much has changed. But KC is a trouper and worked the crowd with Springsteen-like prowess throughout R.E.O.’s set, which was fairly predictable, featuring "Take It On The Run", "Time For Me To Fly" and "Back On The Road Again", as well as "Keep On Lovin’ You" and "Ridin’ The Storm Out" for the encore. I was also hoping to hear "157 Riverside Avenue" (with Cronin’s infamous yodeling) and perhaps some more obscure stuff like "Say You Love Me Or Say Goodnight" and "Good Trouble", but they could only cram so much into their 70-minute set. Which begs the question, did we really need Nugent at this show at all? I would much rather have skipped him altogether if it meant getting full 90-minute sets from Speedwagon and Styx. Anyway, the two surprises for me were "Golden Country", which was omitted in my previous two R.E.O. shows, and "That Ain’t Love", one of the last hits they had with long-estranged lead guitarist Gary Richrath in 1987. It seems almost like an indictment that this was the most recent song played by any of the three acts at this show. Have we really been this devoid of good classic Rock over the last 26 years?

SET LIST: Don’t Let Him Go; Take It On The Run; Keep Pushin’; Golden Country; Can’t Fight This Feeling; That Ain’t Love; Time For Me To Fly; Back On The Road Again; Roll With The Changes ENCORE: Keep On Lovin’ You; Ridin’ The Storm Out

All three acts employed the nice big video screen in back, but there were no live cameras at this gig, so it was basically all graphics, band logos and lame visuals all night—kinda worthless, I thought. The sound mix was a major issue for me too—it was way too trebly. I realize my ears are almost 49 years old now and can’t always take the pounding like they used to, but volume wasn’t the problem so much as the high-end shrieky-ness, even during R.E.O. and Styx, which left my ears ringing for quite some time afterward. But I have to say, Starlight Theater (pictured here from back in the '60s) is still the best concert venue Kansas City has to offer by far. It’s been around over 60 years now, but they’ve maintained and updated the place quite well over the years. My very first Rock concert happened here—Paul Revere And The Raiders in 1971—and I thought back to the other great shows I’ve seen at Starlight, like Pat Benatar in 2002, Robin Williams in 1983, and especially Elton John in 1982—not to mention nearly drowning in a thunderstorm at Weird Al Yankovic in 2000—and wondered why I don’t go there more often. Ironically, of all the major KC concert venues, apart from Arrowhead Stadium, Starlight is closest to where I live.

This was my fourth concert sojourn with the Stygians, but my first time without keyboardist/co-founder Dennis DeYoung, and I didn’t miss him as much as I expected to. Surprisingly, Styx doesn’t lose all that much without DDY, as his kinda-sorta sound-alike replacement Lawrence Gowan is quite the showman himself, and was very animated throughout the set, particularly on his little spin-o-rama keyboard platform at stage right, which almost looks like something you’d find on a galactic playground. Apart from his goatee, guitarist Tommy Shaw doesn’t appear to have aged a bit since 1977, and he bounded about the stage like a 12-year-old all night. Former Baby Ricky Phillips is now the full-time bassist for Styx (aren’t we all former babies?), but three songs in, original bassist Chuck Panozzo made a cameo appearance on "Fooling Yourself" and returned later for "Come Sail Away" and the encore. Chuck’s a nice guy, not to mention courageous in campaigning for gay rights and all, but honestly, he’s not that big a draw with the fans, so I guess trotting him out for a few songs is merely Styx’s way of throwing him a bone by keeping him on the payroll. And no offense intended to Chuck’s dearly-departed brother John, but his replacement, Todd Sucherman, is a monster on the drums. I always considered John Panozzo to be a bit pedestrian, while Sucherman is a far more dynamic player, and his drum kit rivals that of Rush’s Neil Peart in size.

Like R.E.O., the Styx set list was predictable with a couple minor surprises like "Light Up" from Equinox and Shaw’s underrated and overlooked "Man In The Wilderness" from The Grand Illusion. Gowan did a solo bit where he played bits from classic Rock numbers before leading into "Come Sail Away". I was hoping we might hear "Suite: Madame Blue" or "Lorelei", but again they could only do so many songs in the short time allotted. And I was absolutely stunned that they didn’t perform "Babe"! "Mr. Roboto", either! How could this be?!? Okay, I’m being facetious, but I was a bit disappointed they didn’t do an encore with the guys from R.E.O. as they’ve done on previous R.E.O. Styx-wagon joint tours, or perhaps even a Damn Yankees reunion between Shaw and Nugent. Still and all, this wasn’t a bad concert for the money. Nothing I hadn’t seen before, mind you, but if nothing else, it reignited my "concert mojo" a bit, which now has me interested in doing more than a few gigs this summer and fall, like Rush, the Eagles, Black Sabbath, Kiss, Heart, etc.

SET LIST: Blue Collar Man; The Grand Illusion; Fooling Yourself; Lady; Light Up; Man In The Wilderness; Miss America; Too Much Time On My Hands; Medley: Space Oddity/Layla (the piano part)/You Can’t Always Get What You Want; Come Sail Away ENCORE: Rockin’ The Paradise; Renegade

Monday, April 29, 2013

Fly Like The Egos ("Fly Like The Eagles?" remastered)

A couple or three years ago, I paid a very brief blog tribute to The Eagles, a band I was never a gi-normous fan of, but who was/is still worthy of a tribute all-the-same, given their lofty stature as one of the most renowned and popular American bands of all-time. Having recently viewed the three-hour documentary "History Of The Eagles" on Showtime, I find myself much more educated about the band, and a couple years back I read ousted lead guitarist Don Felder’s tell-all book, Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001) and thoroughly enjoyed it. At that time, I found myself siding with Felder more than I did with Eagles co-founders Glenn Frey and Don Henley (whom he referred to as "The Gods" in the book), but after viewing the documentary, I no longer have a "frail grasp" on the band’s history, yet I find myself a bit conflicted about certain issues regarding them, so I thought I’d take a page from VH-1 Classic and offer an expanded "Remastered" version of my original Eagles post.

I've always had a love/hate (more accurately "like/hate") relationship with the Eagles ever since the '70s.  I absolutely hated themhated them—at times. I perceived them to be rather snobbish and uppity, with a "we're better than everybody else" attitude, and I always thought they got played way too much on the radio, both on Top 40 and Album Rock stations. However, they did have a few songs I liked, especially "Witchy Woman", "Already Gone" and "One Of These Nights", so I tried to tolerate them best I could. As I got older I learned to appreciate the band a lot more, although there are still some Eagles songs that I never need to hear again as long as I live (namely "Hotel California", "New Kid In Town" and "Life In The Fast Lane") because they've been played to death so much on radio. In recent years, I managed to obtain all of their original albums on CD, and have been pleasantly surprised at how good some of their "B-stuff" is. Songs like "Outlaw Man", "Good Day In Hell", "My Man", "Journey Of The Sorcerer", "Out Of Control", "Chug All Night", etc., have all caught my ear—why can’t some of these tracks get a spin or two on the radio instead of "Seven Bridges Road", "The Long Run" and "Take It Easy" all the time?

Although I have often viewed Glenn Frey and especially Don Henley as real hard-asses over the years, Henley comes off way better in the documentary than Frey does. While Frey just seems like a pompous prick at times, Henley is a lot more laid-back and calculated in his demeanor, and actually appears to have a heart after all, plus his friendly Texan drawl is rather endearing to listen to. Henley’s a natural iconoclast, though—a lot like me in some ways—which is why I still like and respect him, in spite of his often prickly personality. He has a wry and often wicked sense of humor, and like one of his best songs goes, he can truly "get down to the heart of the matter" on most any subject like TV news ("Dirty Laundry"), TV talk shows ("Get Over It"), general phoniness ("Busy Being Fabulous"), the impermanence and fragility of life ("New York Minute") and blind faith ("Frail Grasp On The Big Picture").

As for Frey, I really want to like the guy, but his arrogance makes that very difficult. While he’s a fine singer/songwriter, always treats his concert audience with courtesy and certainly possesses a good Rock ‘N’ Roll attitude in general, he just appears so confrontational and is always spoiling for a fight with someone (particularly Felder), and his ego often seems to get the best of him. I thought he handled the departures of original bassist Randy Meisner and original guitarist Bernie Leadon rather poorly with his "my way or the highway" ultimatums and his relationship with Felder was/is especially messy. Things reached a boiling point in 1980 at a concert in Long Beach in which the band played to benefit Senator Alan Cranston. The apolitical Felder was none too crazy about this venture, while Frey stroked his own ego by hob-knobbing with the politicos, and when Cranston went down the line to shake hands with the band to thank them for their participation, Felder infamously responded, "You’re welcome…I guess," which totally incensed Frey. Instead of talking things out like gentlemen, Billy Bad-Ass was livid, and totally ready to punch Felder out right on stage that night, and Frey subsequently chased him down afterward before Felder escaped in a limo—pretty immature, Glenn. Dude, I woulda said the EXACT SAME THING Felder did because I’m very cynical about Rock bands schmoozing with politicians—you think just because you have a microphone and/or a guitar and some money, you can change the fucking world? Sorry, bud, you’re just a Rock band…

I also still can’t shake this image I have of Frey and Henley as greedy bastards who can only get motivated to make a new album or go on tour when there’s a super-sized paycheck involved. I still recall how dumbfounded I was when tickets for the Eagles’ "Hell Freezes Over" tour topped out at over a hundred bucks—quite commonplace now, but unheard-of in 1994. Then again, I’m still a fan of two of the champion Rock money-grubbers of all-time, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, so maybe I’m the idiot here, I dunno, but at least Kiss manages to keep their ticket prices fairly reasonable for working-class fans, and if the hoity-toity ones want to pay more for the deluxe package crap, that’s their problem. Anyway, even after watching "History…", it’s still hard to get a read on what these guys (Henley and Frey) are like personally, and it would certainly be interesting to sit down and have a few beers with them. A friend of mine on Facebook who has been in radio for over 30 years told a story recently that he heard from a friend who worked at Fox Theater in St. Louis where Don Henley was doing a solo performance in the early ‘90s, and they were told to not make eye contact with Henley or even acknowledge his presence in any way or he’d cancel the show. Okay, I’m finding it a bit difficult to believe that he would be that full of himself, but if he is, that’s disappointing—yer shit stinks too, Don.

I also learned quite a bit about Joe Walsh in this documentary that I was previously unaware of. I didn’t realize he had so many issues with drugs and alcohol—I just assumed he was naturally goofy and weird, but evidently he had a little help. Being a member of the Eagles has literally been a life-saver for Joe, because he might not have gotten sober had it not been for the urging of Frey, Felder and group manager Irving Azoff before the ’94 band reunion, and he seems like a much happier, more lucid and wiser individual today. Ironically, Walsh’s commentary in the documentary was the most poignant and compelling of all, and he was even able to cut through some of the Frey/Henley B.S. at times.

I also didn’t know a lot about bassist Timothy B. Schmit beforehand. He always came off as a bit of a lightweight to me, in part because of his soft-spoken demeanor and the rather wimpy songs he contributes to the band, but I have to admit he’s a pretty thumpin’ good bass player, and Frey and Henley obviously respect him a lot, letting him have a hit song right away with his "I Can’t Tell You Why" from The Long Run. Oddly enough, Schmit replaced Randy Meisner in the band Poco when Randy joined the Eagles and Schmit replaced him yet again when Meisner departed the Eagles. Meisner had a great voice, with 1975’s "Take It To The Limit" being his high-water mark with the band, but he had some other tracks I liked, including "Tryin’", "Certain Kind Of Fool" and "Try And Love Again". Frey and Henley tried to encourage him to sing more, but he seemed inhibited (especially on-stage), and didn’t handle all the fame and such very well, thus he left the group in 1977 after Hotel California. I realize these guys are all 40 years older now, but of all the members of the Eagles, Meisner appears to have aged the most rapidly, going from a youthful boyish-looking guy to an old man rather stunningly—I wouldn’t have even recognized him now. I wouldn’t have recognized original lead guitarist Bernie Leadon either, being’s how he gave up on his hair since the ‘70s and shaved it all off, along with his bushy Jim Croce-esque mustache. Bernie was more partial to the twangy Country-Rock style the band played, which clashed with Frey’s straight-ahead Rock leanings, so he left after One Of These Nights and was replaced by Walsh. Rumor has it Leadon may be rejoining the Eagles for portions of their upcoming tour.

As for Don Felder, I have mixed feelings about him now. When I read his book, he seemed very likeable (still does), and I could understand where he was coming from regarding his ouster from the Eagles. He’s a damn fine player too, but on the documentary, he comes across as a bit of a whiner. Felder was miffed that he didn’t get to sing lead on his song "Victim Of Love" (which Henley kinda stole from him), and when the band reunited in 1994, he was under the assumption that all five band members would be paid equally, but this wasn’t the case, as Frey insisted that he and Henley be compensated more, mostly because they were the co-founders and principal songwriters of the band. Valid points, I suppose, but this didn’t sit well with Felder, who tends to forget that he joined the band in mid-stream, thus he suffers a bit from Vinnie Vincent Syndrome, and wasn’t really in any position to be all that demanding. DF also feels that since he contributed one of the band’s biggest hits, "Hotel California", that he’s owed a bigger slice of the pie than he got, but as Peter Criss proved with "Beth" in Kiss, one home run doth not a Hall of Fame career make. Felder didn’t aid his cause with me with his final bit on the documentary, where he talks about how hurt he was and that he missed the camaraderie of the band, then abruptly gets up and says, "Okay…" and walks off, thus rendering everything he’d just said to be rather insincere.

Seems to me like Frey and Henley do more talking through lawyers now than anyone else, and I’m sure that’s what inspired them to put out their 2007 double CD The Long Road Out Of Eden exclusively via Walmart, so it seemed only fitting that one song on it was called "Business As Usual". A former co-worker of mine is a big Eagles fan, but being the hard-ass that he is, he valiantly refused to knuckle under to Frey/Henley Inc. by buying the CD so he took the circuitous route and borrowed it from his local library instead. He in turn loaned it to me and I pirated my own copy—sorry Don, Glenn and Wally-World! A better by-product of their various reunions is the double-DVD "Farewell Tour I" concert video they came out with a couple years prior to Long Road (which I actually DID purchase), that features phenomenal audio quality and a pretty good concert performance too. Frey even makes a humorous legal reference on that show, "This next song goes out to my first wife, Plaintiff". In the documentary, Henley himself noted that the band were often accused of "loitering on stage", but the "Farewell" video holds your attention throughout. While I tend to agree with many hardcore Eagles fans who would prefer to hear an all-Eagles set list instead of the inclusion of Henley, Frey and Walsh solo stuff, I have to say Henley’s "Dirty Laundry", "New York Minute" and "Sunset Grill", as well as Frey’s "You Belong To The City" do sound awfully tasty here, and Joe’s "Life's Been Good" was a high point of the show.

In lieu of my usual countdown, I’m just going to dole out a few random thoughts about my Eagles favorites (in no particular order):

"Lyin' Eyes" (1975)  I was 11 when this came out, and absolutely couldn't stand this song back then. It was too damn long for one thing, and too twangy for my liking at the time. But when I started hearing it with adult ears and could actually understand the juicy storyline in the song, I grew to love it.
"Witchy Woman" (1972)  Or as my older brother and I used to lampoon it when I was eight, "Itchy Woman"! For the longest time, I didn't even know this was The Eagles
—for some reason, I thought it was some Native American band when I was a kid.
"James Dean" (1974)
 "Too fast to live, too young to die, bye-bye..."

"Heartache Tonight" (1979)  I imagine more than a few bar brawls have been set to (or set-off by) this song.
"Take It To The Limit" (1975)  Ever notice how this song's intro is eerily similar to that of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now"?  I use to lampoon Randy Meisner’s  falsetto "weeeeee"s at the end quite a bit, too. Randy went on to have a minor hit in 1981 with "Hearts On Fire", which wasn’t a bad song, and toured briefly with Rick Nelson, but thankfully was no longer in his band when Nelson’s plane crashed in 1985.

"One Of These Nights" (1975)  Every time I hear this song, I think back to the summer of '75 with this one playing on the jukebox at Fun House Pizza while I spent all those quarters on pinball and playing those prehistoric video games. This one comes off surprisingly well live in concert too, even with all its falsetto vocals.
"Those Shoes" (1979)  Don Henley gets down and dirty, and Joe Walsh gets to play with his squawk-box contraption.
"Take It Easy" (1972)  Another one that gets played to death on the radio, but I'm sure the good folks in Winslow, Arizona don't mind. If I'm ever down that way, I plan to go stand on one of their corners...
"Already Gone" (1974)  This was the second song I cranked up the day I accepted my current job back in 2001  (The Who's "I'm Free" was the first), thus freeing me from the miserable one I was stuck in. "I will sing this victory song..."
"Get Over It" (1994) My all-time favorite Eagles tune.  I love songs with rapid-fire lyrics, mostly because they're usually funny too, and this one's a killer. Full of attitude, Don Henley scores a direct hit on the daytime talk-show circuit, or "White Trash Theater", as I prefer to call it. Love the line, "You're makin' the most of your losing streak
—some call it sick, well, I call it weak..." 
"Frail Grasp Of The Big Picture" (2007) One of two Henley gems off Eden, I just love his little mid-song invocation: "And we pray to our Lord/Who we know is American/He reigns from on high/He speaks to us through middlemen/And He shepherds His flock/We sing out and we praise His name/He supports us in war/He presides over football games/And the right will prevail/All our troubles shall be resolved/We hold faith above all/Unless there's money or sex involved" Amen, brother, amen!
"Busy Being Fabulous" (2007) Henley’s other gem from that album, which I dedicate to Kardashian-types (and those who give a shit about them) everywhere…

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dear Ted...

Back in 1974 during his "Lost Weekend" period, John Lennon was thrown out of the famed Troubadour club in LA for being drunk and belligerent during a Smothers Brothers performance, as well as for throwing punches at anyone in his path, including a cocktail waitress, whom he clocked right in the face.  This quote from his inadvertent victim has always stuck with me:  "It’s not the pain that hurtswhat hurts is finding out one of your idols is a real asshole!Id like to think John was man enough to make things right with this woman (whom I believe filed a lawsuit) after he sobered up, but Ive never confirmed this.

Anyway, Ive never met Ted Nugent in person, let alone ever been physically assaulted by him, but his constant assaults on my intelligence over the past few years have led me to the same conclusion that waitress came to:  One of my (former) idols is a total dickhead. Ive written about this once or twice before on this blog, but after reading about Nugents latest inane TV interview on CNN this week, I couldnt take it anymore.  So Ive decided to author an open letter to His Humbleness…

Dearest Ted,
How are you, man?  I thought you'd be dead by now.  And you're not even in jail, eithercongratulations!  Weve never met before, but Ive been listening to your music for over 35 years now.  I saw you on the tube again this week blathering away like you so often do.  You declared, "If you dont enjoy my interviews, then youre an idiot!I guess that makes me a complete and total dumbass then, eh, Teddy?  You know, there are times when I wish you had or would indulge in drugs and alcoholit might chill you out a bit and make you more tolerable.

I gotta tell you, man, when I was 14, I really thought you were the shit. I idolized you. Hell, I fucking wanted to BE you!  There was a point at which you were on the verge of replacing Kiss at the top of my Rock N Roll mountain around 1978-79.  You won me over on Double Live Gonzo! when you hollered, "Anybody wants to get mellow, you can turn around and get the fuck outta here!"  Your music was kick-ass, testosterony and perfectly-suited for adolescents like yours truly and your stage raps were classic:  "This guitar can blow the balls of a charging rhino at 60 paces…";  "This is a love songI wanna dedicate this to all that Nashville pussy…"  You even made a big clunky old-school guitar like the Gibson Byrdland look cool to play.  I even remember hearing about the time you played Kemper Arena and some knucklehead knocked one of your teeth out shooting BBs at you, yet you insisted on making sure each and every member of your road crew received their Christmas bonus before seeking medical attention—most honorable of you.  Sure, you ran your mouth a lot back then too, but in those days it was humorousrather endearing evenand fairly harmless.

I saw you in concert at Arrowhead in 79, and you played your ass off, even with a badly sprained anklemost admirable.  The next year, you rocked Kemper again and withstood the challenge of your upstart opening acts Def Leppard and Scorpions.  I coulda done without you in the loin cloth, but thats another issue.  Opening for R.E.O. Speedwagon at Arrowhead in 82, you got everybody united with "Bound And Gagged", which even won over a guy I worked with at the time who couldnt stand you up to that point.  You had a pretty good band backing you in the mid 70s, too, but I guess you couldnt bear to share the spotlight with a good-looking and talented singer/guitarist like Derek St. Holmesyou had to have all that backstage pussy for yourself, right, Nuge?  Did you ever notice that your best records were the ones DSH sang and played on? Nah, didnt think so.

Then you got stupid. "Terminus Eldorado"?  Dude, please.  And what the fuck was that Intensities In 10 Cities tripe?  "My Love (code for Dick) Is Like A Tire Iron" "The Flying Lip-Lock"?  We got it, Tedyoure an alpha-male—you didnt have to keep shoving all your macho-bravado bullshit histrionics down our throats.  And "Jailbait"?  You had one helluva nerve writing and singing a song like that when you own daughter was approaching her teens at the time.  It went from bad to worse after that when you got desperate and borrowed Billy Squiers band for an album (Penetrator) that had fucking synthesizers on ityou, Ted?!?  Then you needed Bon Jovi and Sambora just to help you reach mediocrity on If You Cant Lick Em, Lick Em in 1988.  Dull was never a term one could readily use to describe a Ted Nugent album until then.  Since your own musical career was in the crapper, you found a lifeline of sorts with Damn Yankees for a few years.  Two pretty decent albums resulted, but lets be honest, your contributions to them were fairly minimalTommy Shaw and Jack Blades did all the heavy-lifting thereand seriously, you fit in with them about like David Lee Roth would with Toto or Survivor.  Still, you surprised the shit out of me in 95 with Spirit Of The Wild, and I was so pleased to hear you taking your music seriously again, not to mention having Mr. St. Holmes back on board.  I even liked that "Fred Bear" tune, even though I dont give a monkeys spleen about hunting.  I might have known the good stuff wouldnt last long, tho…

The next time I caught up with you in concert was in 99, and by then you'd gone over to the Dark Side.  You got on this kick about "Get out of America if you cant speak English," which didn't have a fucking thing to do with the songs you were playing. These diatribes continued unabated when I saw you open for Kiss several times on their "Farewell" Tour in 2000.  And you kept going on and on about how "Janet Reno is an ugly whore."  I'll agree, the woman gives Quasimodo and Joan Rivers (and her ugly-ass daughter) a run for their money, but why even bring it up?  Dude, when I attend a concert, Im there to be entertained and rocked, not to be fed a bunch of radical right-wing political bullshit, let alone out-and-out racism and bigotry, and you unrepentantly crossed the line repeatedly.  I also found it highly hypocritical that you continually maligned Hispanic people when your own bass player's last name at the time was Mendoza, yet you constantly referred to him as a "blood brother" anyway!  Mendoza had every right to slam your nuts in a car door.  Numerous times.  Are you forgetting that your ancestors probably couldn’t speak English worth a damn when they landed on these shores either? 

Oh, but you didnt stop there.  As the Dubya Administration wore on, you sucked up to the Republican Party so you and your paranoid NRA buds could keep your precious guns, and your radical rants became more vitriolic and hateful as you added liberals, gays, welfare recipients, et al, as targets for your verbal Uzi as you talked out of your ass.  Youre entitled to your opinions, Ted, absolutely, but why does it always have to be about YOU? Why do you continue to trash your own musical legacy?   I have yet to reach the point where Im ready to burn your albums and CDs in my collection, and I still enjoy your music from back in the day, but its becoming more difficult to listen to now, knowing what a low-life youve devolved into.  Youve always been a mouth, but back in the day you could back it up.  Now, you sound like a bigger whack-job than Glenn Beck (and THAT takes some doing!).

Just as an aside, you looked like a total fool wearing that Indian headdress on stage during "Great White Buffalo" during that period—it looked as if you were doing a bad Boy Scout campfire skit.  And I gotta tell ya, shooting a flaming arrow at a defenseless decoy guitar from ten feet away (you think I didnt notice the roadie switch it out with the real one?) dont impress me much.  Even I couldve nailed it from that distance, and my aim sucks like a Hoover upright most of the time.

While I have your attention, I have to say that you are full of shit about numerous topics.  You once ripped on Paul McCartney for firing people from his road crew for eating meateven though their contracts stipulated that to be on his crew, you had to be a vegan.  Yet, you once boasted that you would ax anyone on your road crew that you even SUSPECTED of doing drugs or drinking alcohol.  And tell me this, Mr. Conservative Christian Family Valueswhats up with doinking that underage girl?  I believe they call that pedophilia.  Three out-of-wedlock children over a 30-year stretch?  Shit, youve been slapped with more paternity suits than Hugh Grantsome family man you are!  And you couldnt even be bothered to attend your own mothers funeralwhat the fuck?!?  And then there was your first wife, Sandra, who you basically drove to drink with all your infidelity and you referred to her death in a drunk-driving incident as a "human tragedy".  Did you bother to get the woman some professional help to get sober?  I cant believe what a sucker I was when I fell for your song "Alone" in 79 about your divorce from her and how broken-up you wereall the while, still craving "all that English pussy out there" (or Nashville, or whichever locale you preferred).  Seems to me that Sandra's the one who was alone, Mr. Cock-Rocker.  And I hate to bring this up again, but you got a lotta balls going around saluting our military these days when you were a draft dodger during Vietnam.  Dont get me wrong hereif I was 18 years old in the late 60s, I may well have done the same thing you did, but dont be sucking up to the troops now with your hollow pseudo-patriotism.  I once bought into your patriotism back when you did "Bound And Gagged" in 82you actually seemed sincere at the time.  Now, not so much.  I also think its an insult to the troops that you wear those damn camouflage fatigues on stage.

As for your hunting and outdoorsy ventures, I couldnt care less.  If youre into bloodlust and thats your hobby, knock yourself out, but its not my scene, sorry, Dude.  And I dont give a flying fuck about guns.  Have no use for them in my life. None. Zero. Nada. And don't try to tell me that I'm any less of a man just because I don't care to own firearms. Apart from maybe a "Star Trek" phaser or a light sabre from Star Wars, I have no desire for weaponry.

Other than your outrageousness that draws in ignorant viewers, I fail to see why the TV networks need to interview you in the first place.  Youre no longer relevant musically, havent put out a decent record in nearly 20 years, and now youre just an obnoxious big-mouth redneck bully who damns his own cause more than he aids it.  Whenever you appear on Faux News Channel or CNN, etc., you know what I see, Ted?  I see an insufferable, ignorant, inconsequential has-been whos so desperate to keep his name in the papers that hell say anything inflammatory, regardless of who it hurts.  There was a time when I would've walked the proverbial "mile for a Camel" to see you perform in concert. Today, I wouldnt even walk to my back porch to see you play (and Id have your bigoted ass thrown off my property too).  Youre a real douche-bag, Ted.  You arent quite in the same league with Rev. Fred Phelps and his merry band of Neolithic dipshits from Topeka, but youre getting damn close.  Does the phrase "Shut up, and play yer guitar" mean anything to you?  Guess not…

One of the coolest things about Rock N Roll music is it has the power to overcome the bullshit that even its own creators sometimes put forth and it makes you forget all about their pettiness, stupidity, arrogance, politics, etc., and you remember what drew you to those people in the first place.  Gene Simmons pushes his luck constantly with me with his crass money-grubbing, but at least he's not near the bigoted jagoff you've become, Ted.  I guess it’s a sign of my own personal growth that I’m able to sort through your B.S. and see you for who you really are now.  There are/were plenty of assholes on the Rock music sceneEddie Van Halen, Glenn Frey, Axl Rose, Jim Morrison, Kid Rock, John Mellencamp, Phil Spectorbut none of them have ever worked quite so hard to be an asshole the way you do.  I can't think of any other person I've ever been a major fan of who I've completely turned on like I have with you, Nugent.  Dude, if you're not going to take your music seriously anymore, the do us all a big favor and shut the hell up and return to the has-been celebrity scrap heap and rejoin the likes of Super Dave Osborn, Macaulay Culkin, Michael Richards, Downtown Julie Brown, Jane Fonda, Danny Bonaduce, Alan Thicke (oh waithe's a never-was), Jenny McCarthy, Screech from "Saved By The Bell" (oops, another never-was!) and Wynonna Judd, et al.  The world will be a better place...

Yours truly,

P.S.: I found this old photo in a magazine a while back.  What's up with all the gay-bashing when you appear to be gazing longingly at Andy Warhol while you have your arm around Truman Capote?  Is there something you'd like to get "out" of your system, Ted?  Too bad Andy and Tru are no longer around, but there's always Janet Reno...