The Trashman

Where unit-shifting heroes of rock are exposed as the passionless poseurs they really are

This morning my neighbor across the court accidentally killed her dog. Backed over its head with her Pontiac. My girlfriend used to feed the little brown thing dinner scraps from my kitchen door. I would tell her to quit it. But that was before.

I am on the couch, drinking beer and reclining. I've been lying here all day having trouble deciding whether to try the bed. I'm thinking about that dog. It's a welcome relief from thinking about her. You know things are bad when the squashed head of someone's beloved pet is a comforting thought. Of course, even if I was okay, the 110-degree glare burning through my windows would still be there. I can understand why people jump off bridges.

Next door the TV is blaring, cutting through the gloom. There's a movie on, Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses. Lemmon plays a guy who turns his wife to drinking and they lose everything.

I've lost weight: Three days ago, I managed to get down maybe five fish sticks, and that is the sum of my food intake for the last two weeks. The only other things in my system are beer and agony--both of which have reached an all-time high, even for me.

My girlfriend cutting me loose has taught me that the level of cruelty a woman is capable of inflicting upon a man is in direct contradiction to her nurturing nature. I think, genetically, women are not designed to cause someone such anguish. Therefore, if that's true, then she couldn't have been aware of what she was doing, otherwise she wouldn't have left. It crosses my mind that I could just be a loser.

My neighbor's TV informs me that Jack has bravely sobered up, while his wife hasn't. They've separated. He gets their kid and she stays with the bottle. A commercial comes on. A man selling dog food.

I start thinking again. Emotionally, a woman can kick a man's ass. And a communication breakdown from misinterpreted circumstance will always put scabs on a man's knees, regardless of who's at fault. And if the kneeling fails, then she'll leave, sending the poor bastard on a lengthy journey through hell. Such is life.

I didn't want to hear how Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick made out. Instead, I watched the sun drop into dismal twilight with the gut-wrenching knowledge that, from now on, I'm the furthest thing from her mind. I washed down the whole thing with another beer.

Pat Benatar
Innamorata
(CMC International)

Pat Benatar's squirrel countenance and bad dancing ability ("Love Is a Battlefield" video, anyone?) showed she didn't do well enough in the genetic Wheel of Fortune to sustain a career once MTV's dismal celebration of pop celebrity put the last shovelful of dirt on '80s radio stars. (Picture Janet Jackson as Norma Desmond in 30 years, saying, "We didn't need words then, we had faces".) When MTV hit, Benatar became a sort of Clara Bow in reverse--nobody wanted her face--even though her voice (overtrained, passion-free ad nauseam) was fine for the time. Then, after a career which somehow managed to slightly outlive the attention span of your average high school student, she was gone, and nobody cared.

So, this '97 Benatar recording is the insufferable exercise in anachronistic futility you'd imagine. Benatar is paired with hubby/guitarist Neil Geraldo, and the songs plod along in that faceless '80s-rock shtick common to bad Patrick Swayze movies; if there are hooks here, captain, they're located too deep for our conventional sonar to locate. Ms. Benatar's unironic, tough-chick nonsense is still live and, uh, kicking, too, but it's diffused with a misplaced, faux-mature sentiment: "And what if fate has already played its hand/And there's no future left in the plan (at this time)." Peee-Uuuuu.

Once a symbol of feminine power (like it or not, Benatar defined the position for tens of thousands of pubescent girls), she was really just a housewife with a glandular problem. And after PJ/Courtney/Jewel, it's all moot.

Styx
Welcome to Paradise
(CMC International)

Flip to the music section of your local weekly and tell me you ain't tastin' yesterday's hot dogs makin' a bid for freedom after a gander at the concert ads featuring a myriad of bloated '70s nonsense coming through town. I mean, ya got the Steve Miller Band, for Chrissakes, and, worse (imagine that), Boz Scaggs. Also, of course, what would summer '97 be without Boston comin' at ya (rest assured, the poodle-dos are intact, only now the boys are sportin' receders)? Dan Fogelberg? Alice Cooper's comin' 'round, too, with some used-dish-towel '80s coattailers like Dokken, Warrant and the unmentionable Slaughter (er, Alice's sense of wit is not lost here). Ooh, the pain. But hands down, worst of all are the mustachioed, powershagged, bad-suit-wearing, shit-eating-grin stylings of Styx. Can you say "overdue child-support/alimony/house payments"?

Yep, the group's back (on the outhouse label for the incontinent, no less, CMC). The all-original lineup (minus the drummer who drank away his liver) supports this cow dung made up of the same white-trash anthems which blasted from cheap car stereos, cinder-block domiciles and radios in auto-repair shops two decades ago. Only now, it's live. Joy. And rest assured, the hits are all here, baby: the lifeless "Paradise"; the wretched "Lady" (featuring the chestnut couplet of the century: "Lady, when I'm with you I'm smiling/Give me whoa whoa whoa your love"); the insipid, by-numbers "Too Much Time on My Hands"; the unforgivable "Lorelei"; the cornball "Come Sail Away"; and on and on.

Best of all, though, are the liner photos in the CD booklet. How embarrassing--a bunch of old men hamming it up in self-congratulatory rock poses. It almost makes you wish Triumph would rear its putrid head. Uh huh.

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Archive Alive
(Archive)

Yeah, it made it on my player. But not for long. I flipped through the generic country musings looking for the hits "If You Wanna Get to Heaven" and the current ubiquitous oldies rerun "Jackie Blue," neither of which was on this reissue. What are they thinking?

This one made it clear over the saguaro, past the rusted car and disappeared into a pile of dust a good hundred feet away. I went back in for some Bob Wills.

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