The Trashman

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

Sunday afternoon in the middle of August. I come to, ready for the undertaker. I look up at a picture of Jesus, hanging on the faux paneled wall opposite me. The sweat in my eyes makes Him appear all blurry. I am parched, hung over and stinging of cooked flesh. The trailer is into triple digits and holding steady.

It all started last night when the swamp cooler wheezed and coughed, then blew out its final breath of soggy air. Then I'd neglected to close the curtains before passing out on the couch in a wee-hour stupor. In the trailer court, summertime is your greatest enemy. So, for a good part of today, the Arizona sun crammed my windows with a vengeance as I snored away in the path of its hateful rays, bare-assed and oblivious. Another reminder that life is simply death, only moving along at a snail's pace.

Last week a young mother and her three sons moved into a vacancy two trailers down. She has a ravaged face that suggests a multitude of vices and blind loyalty to a brutal man. She looks 50, but probably isn't a day over 30. Her sons, all under 7 and fueled on sugary substances, are outside screaming. They're just playing, but to me it sounds like somebody's killing them. There isn't a soul in the world who gives two cents about those kids. I think of the criminals festering inside them.

I get up and notice that half my body is burnt red. I make it to the refrigerator, get a beer and carefully lay back down on the couch. I think of the romantic Hemingway and punk-rock mythologies which put me here, and how I'm having to live with the consequences of my dreaming. I wonder how it would feel to be rich and above the pangs of poverty and struggle.

The rich, for instance, don't know what a piss-stained bathroom in a Greyhound bus station smells like. The rich don't have to drive a sputtering '76 Ford LTD, a car in need of constant prayer with a failing transmission and busted headlight. The rich don't have to endure the derelicts, the disturbed or those devastated by circumstance. They can go and eat anywhere they choose, anytime. Drink the best beer, wine, whatever. Or get any car, girl or drug. I think about all that. Every rich person I ever met was soft and of contrived spirit. They're just spoiled by the poor, who want to be rich.

Rich? Nah. I don't want any part of it. It ruins a man. I look back up at Jesus, finish the beer and do the couch-refrigerator-beer-couch routine.

Dokken
Shadowlife
(CMC International)

Dig it: hook-free choruses glued together by utterly forgettable verses, matched tit-for-tat with lyrics that uphold the honor of bad poets everywhere (the embarrassment of a lyric sheet is even included): "Liquid fused around my body/Swimming in the night's black water/Justifies a child's existence/Innocence abounds within us/But what does it matter." Worse, the pomp suggested in the title "Convenience Store Clerk Messiah" is blown to Brobdingnagian proportions: "He's a real convenience store messiah/Idol worship for the idle mind/He's a real convenience store messiah/Turning bottled water into wine." Oh, Longfellow, won't you please come home.

Dorkken, like any bad metal band whose songs were but video soundtracks in the '80s, takes on even more inappropriate early-'90s alternative mannerisms now (no shortage of Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, STP cops) so as to remain "current" (despite MTV's disapproval!). For that, the members should be taken out back by the compost heap and shot. For rock 'n' roll to stay alive and remain vital, it must include an inherent defiance of the status quo, not the patented Dokken stay-hip-for-career-purposes agenda mixed with a blatant mining of the tired Led Zeppelin and Robin Trower mother lodes.

Add Shadowlife to the glut, coming soon to a cutout bin near you.

Slaughter
Revolution
(CMC International)

The opening song, called "American Pie" (not Don McLean), on this "new" (yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk) Slaughter turd is such a soulless, sexless "Bang a Gong" rewrite that I have to say it's 1997's most miserable listen. The ubiquitous and predictable Zep/Alterno futility kicks in after that to complete the downward spiral, with a stop long enough to thoroughly destroy Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way."

On Revolution, any idea of hooks is but a dream, and after only one spin, I knew I was lost in that netherworld where '80s metal smarm and '90s "rock" testosterone mingle in a heady mixture as volatile as a fat man's flatulence.

Warrant
86-97 Live
(CMC International)

Warrant was a popular pop-metal band in the '80s. It had big radio hits, too. Like "Downboys," "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "Heaven," "I Saw Red" and "Cherry Pie." This is the band's new album. It has those songs on it, plus other songs from later albums that were made when nobody cared about it anymore. And all the songs were recorded live in Detroit in 1996. There are photos of the band members on the inside sleeve from younger, and--judging from all the shit-eating grins--happier days. In one picture, they're all clutching platinum albums and holding their first two fingers in a V in front of their mouths with their tongues sticking out like they're performing cunnilingus. If I were a girl, I would be turned on. I know that. In another picture, one guy is flipping off the camera, but he looks like he's in that other big band from then, Poison. Maybe that's why he's flipping off the camera, to be tough and not be mistaken for a sissy like them Poison guys.

They all drank Budweiser and watched football, anyway.

 
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