By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
I came to and the contents of my stomach made a bid for freedom. I stumbled to the toilet just in time to fill it with last night's Old Milwaukee. Joy. I wiped the pungent fluid from my nose and mouth and braved the mirror. Not bad. Some shattered blood vessels, bags under the eyes, but basically the same cynical bastard I see every day. Could be worse, I figured; the angel could still be here.
Angels. The only kind I've ever known, that is. Hussies on bar stools who change form until the magic of the juice starts to wane. Then the same lost, shattered women reappear--usually on my sad, stained bed. From what I remember, the one last night had a sin to match any guilt.
Grateful she was gone, I made it to the couch, where I longed for a cup of coffee. I picked through the heaping ashtray centered on an upside-down milk crate and found a cigarette with a bit of life left. I lit it, leaned back, looked through the front window of my double-wide and watched the neighbor's poorly mothered kids whack each other on the head with sticks.
Then I noticed the mail carrier making his way toward my trailer. I imagined what it would be like to have a thankless job like his, handing out bills and other crap to people, suffering through places like this, where the exterior decorum of old mattresses, upturned chairs and broken toys is the hunting ground for wicked dogs who'd love to rip chunks from your leg.
The postman rang. I opened. He handed me my daily allotment of misery: delinquent notices and a package from New Times. I extended a hoarse "Cheers" to his blank face and closed the door. I tossed the bills away and opened the parcel. Inside were the new ones from Kip Winger and Helmet.
I went back to bed.
This Conversation Seems Like a Dream
So I walk into a record store (one of a zillion things I hate to do) and confront a massive store display of a face I recognize as one of those insufferable, MTV-generated rock effigies from the Reagan years.
"What the hell's this?" I ask a pimply-faced, overpierced record-store subordinate who looks down on me from an elevated floor behind the counter.
"It's the new Winger, and it kicks some serious ass," he retorts, as only a self-impressed record-store dork can. "This record rocks. It's even outselling Bush."
He was already getting hissy. So I laid right in.
"Settle down, you assembly-line-bred, overfed, snotty suburban brat, before I smash in those teeth and cost your old man a fortune."
He backed off.
Now I was thinking, "Am I really at a record store being told, basically, that Kip Winger's new album is the post-Cobain ass-kicking rock 'n' roll needs? Does this mean an end to 'alternative,' or whatever you want to call the dirge that bores the piss out of everybody but those without a clue? And ain't 'alternative' the very same thing (to its credit) that slaughtered Winger's career to begin with? Yep."
Like any idiot, I purchased Winger's new disc, hoping that, just once, a record-shop flunky knew what the hell he was talking about. After the long walk back to the trailer, I put the thing on. And, holy Mother of God, if it wasn't the coolest thing I've heard since the first Cheap Trick album. That record-store zero was right! I rejoiced with benedictions to every god I know.
Then I woke up, sweating and shivering like a mean bout with the D.T.'s. Jesus, I thought. Winger? I actually dreamed I bought a Kip Winger recording! Balls!
Then it all came back. The angel, the kids with sticks, the mail carrier and his package. Now I had to hear the new Winger, 'cause dreams always lend reality a fresh angle--no matter how far-fetched. I put the disc on. It sounded like Sting, only inconceivably worse. For the second time that morning, I ralphed.
Then I went for my beer.
"Another self-made luminary/Or maybe just the fuckin' tooth fairy"--Helmet singer Page Hamilton pats himself on the back in "Diet Aftertaste."
Getting major labels on their knees in a bidding war, then ripping off the "winner" for more money than any band in the history of rock 'n' roll, was the coolest thing Helmet ever did. Next, in a fanfare of hideously high hopes, the band bombed. In proportion to expectation, the band's failure was colossal. Hee hee hee hee.
Aftertaste is another Helmet recording. So what? Just another in a line of shit recordings. Who cares? Who wants to hear phony proletariat sloganeering delivered in a dull drone over elegiac power-chording? Not I. True, muscular cheerlessness is the rage these days, but this album is just dumb. And numb.
The bio enclosed reads: "Aftertaste cuts through the morass (?) of cookie-cutter-alterna-music now being played in a shopping mall near you."
It should have read: Aftertaste comes out the ass of cookie-cutter-alterna-crap and plops into the sewage to float with the other turds.