"Alternative, indeed. To what? Abba?" Damn right to Abba. But more so to a-ha and Genesis and Wham! and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Boston and all the other mind-numbing crap that so much of this country's youth listened to in the Eighties because the good stuff, the angry stuff with a soul, was so hard to find.

And where'd you get the idea that "alternative" means "dress in an utterly unique fashion"? There's power in numbers, Bill, and "kids these days" seem drawn en masse to music that encourages them to both keep their eyes open and get pissed off about what they see. I think that's great. And what's more, if they all wear clothing or decorate their bodies or style their hair in a way that identifies them as an individual part of a growing, aware, pissed-off whole, I think that's great, too.

One more thing--you wrote that Lollapalooza "is like much else in life--a lot of it's been done before." Guess that's why you chose to focus on a kid with a Mohawk and the body-piercing booth in your piece that ran the day after the event, rather than, oh, say, the music. Strange hair and body piercings at Lollapalooza--quite an original angle, if I may say so.

End of rant. Let's get to the fun stuff. It's "Best Of" season here at New Times, so, getting into the spirit of things, I offer you a random array of Best of Lollapaloozas. "BOLs," if you will. This fest had lots of 'em:

Best Storm of the Bastille: This goes to the several hundred cheap-seaters who, in a formidable display of tactical organization, rushed the metal barriers separating them from the front-of-stage/box-seats section on a prearranged signal: the first song by Cypress Hill.

Ninety seconds of fascinating mayhem ensued as hopelessly outnumbered security personnel attempted to hold back the onslaught. They were like eels striking into a school of fish, snagging random, unlucky individuals as the vast majority streamed by. Those caught were picked up and violently jettisoned over the nearest barrier, where they quickly rejoined the pack. Eventually, a half-dozen insurgents picked up a six-foot section of barrier and used it to ram the guards to the ground.

It was a storm whose time had come. Lollapalooza without moshing is like sex without moans, and solid sets by the Jesus Lizard, Beck, Pavement and Elastica were all artificially subdued by the absence of a swarming pit at the foot of the stage.

Best Misuse of Cold-Weather Gear in 102-Degree Heat: A toss-up between the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who performed in full hipster suits, and Mike Watt, who took to the second stage in a heavy flannel shirt.

Best Onstage Political Spiel: Goes to B-Real, who, at the close of Cypress Hill's set, admonished the crowd: "You motherfuckers better go out and fuckin' vote because we don't need that Dole motherfucker in the fuckin' White House." Fuck yeah, B.

Best Guitar Solo: Any of the several taken by Pavement ax-master Spiral Stairs. Surgically clean, even at warp nine.

Best Hostile Star/Fan Interaction: Goes to Beck and the trio of blue-painted hecklers who spotted him standing outside the backstage exit with friends. They boisterously tried to entice him for a beer. Beck, who had canceled all interviews for the day because he had a bad cold, looked over and issued a meek "Hey, what's up?" before ambling toward his tour bus. Unsatisfied with merely being acknowledged, the wanna-be Braveheart extras let loose a torrent of insults and curses: "You fuckin' loser. What are you, too good for us, you little wiener?" etc. Beck glanced back once and looked like he was about to cry.

Best Last-Minute Save: Goes to Beck's bassist Abbey Travis, who kept Elastica in the show by filling in on four-string. Elastica's bass player had walked off the tour two days before it hit Phoenix. Travis played with a notebook of progressions at her feet, but made it through Elastica's 50-minute set with nary a falter.

Best Backstage Courtney Love Quote: Said to a roadie helping her log onto the Internet: "What, what, what, what is my fucking password? Hey, what kind of pill do you want? I've got any kind of pill you want."

Best Onstage Courtney Love Quote: Said to a dude in the pit who screamed, "I want to fuck you so bad," as she came onstage: "You wanna fuck me? If you make it up here, I'll do it. If you make it past all these big, strong guys, I'll do it. I haven't been laid in a while. Come on, be brave." Best Beat Box: Goes to Malik B. of the Roots, a Philadelphia hip-hop quartet that laid down some seriously phat lyrics and grooves on the second stage. With live drums, standup bass and Malik bustin' the dope beats with his mouth, the Roots demonstrated there is life for hip-hop beyond the sampler. Keep an eye out for this group.

Best Stage Presence: Courtney Love, hands down. She stumbled. She slurred. She preened. She deep-throated condoms full of water. She argued with her band about what song to play. She sang the hell out of her songs. She looked really cool with her hair blowing in the fan breeze with one leg up on a stage monitor so as to flash some serious thigh. She played the part of a rock diva burning the candle at both ends. With a blowtorch. She posed hard, but she was a riot to watch.

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