By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
It is the year 2029, and old Mr. Wibly is attic-bound again. This time he's trying to jump-start his dusty Gerard turntable with a digital microchip AC converter he bought at Radio Shack.
"Goddamn those Tandy people! Don't they ever make anything that works?" he grumbles, just as grandson Kyle makes his way up the rickety ladder.
"Hiya, Gramps. Whatcha doin'?" "Oh, hello, Kyle. Just trying to get this blasted thing to work so I can play these old records of mine. Guess I'll just have to stare at covers instead."
Kyle, a boy used to snapping an information chip into his head whenever he's curious about something, seems genuinely interested in these artifacts. Braving his grandfather's cream-of-corn body stench, he leans over to get a better peek at the antiquated record collection.
"Yucch! What's this, Grampa?"
"This is what was called a rock group. Called 'emselves Kiss. These boys used ta put on quite a show, Kyle. Breathin' fire, spittin' blood, shootin' fireworks with their guitars--they had more gimmicks than most people have teeth. Plus they never appeared anywhere without this crazy kabuki makeup on."
"Whatever happened to them?" "Fools! Stopped wearing the makeup. Without it, they looked like guys who belonged behind the wheel of a cab. Ruined everything."
"How 'bout this one--Sheer Heart Attack?"
"Ah, yes. Queeeeeen! They had a real, whatcha call 'androgynous' thing goin' on. Lead singer was a right nancy boy. Wore Cleopatra makeup, eyeliner--nail polish. Yet folks weren't put off by his fruity shenanigans until he started dressing like one of the Village People."
"The Village People? What were they like, Gramps?"
"Let's not talk about them, Kyle. They were merely a burp in American pop culture." "The New York Dolls?" "Yeah! Nobody much liked this band 'cept snooty rock critics. The Dolls did truckloads of drugs and croaked one by one. Except for this one guy. And he made a laughingstock of himself by piling up his hair and wearing a tuxedo."
"Gosh, Grampa, were they 'anonymous' too?"
"You mean androgynous. Heck, yes! Jes' lookit 'em! It's a wonder they didn't curtsy after every number!"
"You really liked this guys-dressing-up-like-girls stuff, didn't you?"
"It was before I met your Grandma, Kyle. I was a lonesome little buckaroo. But no matter. Say, I used to go nuts over these guys--Aerosmith!"
"Not those assholes again, Grampa."
"So you heard of 'em, eh?"
"Sure. Every year they drag their dead asses through town to play some dive. They suck! And they're even older than you!"
"Well, I'm sure they haven't made a record worth spitting at in over 30 years, but they were once pretty good. Funny thing, they got this sudden burst of energy in 1996. Had something to do with a $30 million record deal with CBS/Sony. All the sudden, they're putting out a record every three months like they're Gerry and the Pacemakers. Can't blame their label, wanting to recoup its investment before they all keeled over. They made some awful records--Feel My Pulse, Shake It and Shove It In, Take a Powder, If You Can't Beat 'Em--Lick 'Em, Extended Retirement--one worse than the other. Yeah, everybody got real tired of 'em real fast. Bankrupted the whole conglomerate makin' all those Aerosmith videos. That's why we only have three TV networks now."
Just then, a whirling hum from the turntable snaps the old man back into reality. "For goodness sakes, Kyle. I got this ol' thingamajig to work, after all. Hand me that record, will ya?"
"Get Your Wings?"
"Yeah, this is a good one. Listen ta this--`Pandora's Box.' I loved it when I was your age. Got a lotta whatcha call double entendres."
"What's that, Gramps?"
"Lavatory humor! Don't you and your pals pass around demeaning drawings of women in class? Well, this song's like that. Listen to Stevie Tyler singing 'Sweet Pandora, smells like Flora, open up your door-uh, won't you crack a smile for me?' Used to break me up."
"I dunno, it's kinda corny."
"Well, it used to be horny. You kids today, ya just snap chips into your skull whenever you feel a little frisky. I wouldn't expect you to understand. On second thought, listening to this one, it doesn't rock as hard as I remember. Aerosmith's rhythm section was once interchangeable with the Eagles, a wimpy country-rock band from Los Angeles."
"Where's that, Gramps?"
"California. You know--that state that fell into the ocean. A good thing it did, too, or your grandmother and I wouldn't have this beautiful oceanside property. I don't know how we survived in Tucson without sea breezes. Now these here, Toys in the Attic and Rocks, here's where Aerosmith really hit their stride."
"This sounds like the stuff they make us play in our music class with 20 guitars--Led Zeppelin."
"Well, yes it does. Ya hear this one--`Walk This Way'--sounds like Jimmy Page playing the 'Woody Woodpecker' theme, don't it? Aerosmith had a ton o' songs like this. Seems people were always comparin' 'em to Zeppelin and the Stones. The Stones thing I never got. Every time Aerosmith used horns, it sounded more like Dragnet than Exile on Main Street. Basically, this guy Tyler had big lips like Mick Jagger and similar taste in ladies' lingerie, but I always thought he sounded more like Cab Calloway."