By New Times
By Derek Askey
By Mark Deming
By Serene Dominic
By Jason Keil
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
A whole day spent agonizing over three simple paragraphs. When you exhaust the better part of a day on a three-paragraph lead to a short story, you want to put a gun to your head.
If I owned a gun, I can see the headline now:
Neighbor Finds Dead Writer in Trailer, Bad Prose the Reason.
But, as I have said in the past, I don't own a gun. So the headline seems unlikely. I've always subscribed to the notion that guns were merely the tools of morons and pussies, or those who suffer from acicular paranoia. I've come to this conclusion not from reading wimpy, leftist blather, or from child-fetish paranoia borne of Colorado youth disasters, but by simply witnessing many of my own neighbors in action.
You don't know how many fools are allowed to carry a sidearm, my friends. The whole of my trailer court is empowered by the right to bear concealed arms. Between 6 and 10 p.m. -- happy hour around here -- I don't want to leave my trailer. Booze plus morons plus guns equals curtains. In the past two years, four of my neighbors have been shot to death, each by a friend or relative.
Of course, when one of my neighbors invariably chirps, "As long as the cops are armed, then I'll be armed," I just have to shake my head and gulp more beer. The idiots.
The government will always win. You have a gun; they have bigger ones. You have a bazooka; they'll have tanks. You have a tank; they'll have fucking nuclear warheads.
Your little Glock might as well be shooting jizz. And isn't that what this entire gun business is about? Shooting jizz?
Regardless, my theory is, "Why kill yourself when you can drink?"
When I write, I don't drink. And when I drink, I can't write. The drinks come later, as a kind of recompense. Thing is, I can't write 99 percent of the time. But I still reward myself.
Fitzgerald, it's said, would write all day and drink at night, but never drank while writing. Capote is said to have written well while drunk, as did Henry Miller. Bukowski made similar claims.
I am stone sober and failing at a story miserably. My nightly cutoff time for work is 11 p.m., and it's quickly approaching that hour now. I'll get a beer and just tell you about the story. Okay?
I have just guzzled three beers in the past half-hour, and cracked a fourth. It's 11:33 p.m. on a crisp and cold February night under a huge, starry Arizona sky. I can hear the soft patter of my cat's footsteps across the roof. Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. It makes me laugh.
All right, as you can tell, the beers have helped; I'm feeling much better.
So here's the story:
Meet Twees, a bass player in a horrible rap/metal rock band who falls in love with a porn star. Twees is 28, overweight, unruly and has a bad habit of breathing through his mouth. A lack of intelligence justifies his insolence, and he talks in monosyllabic bytes. He wears baggy shorts, owns and mistreats a horrible bulldog he calls Dude, and covering his legs, arms and torso are ghastly tattoos. Twees is generally pathetic and will inspire no empathy, even in the most generous of observations. He's your basic mook.
A DNA test has revealed that Twees, for the majority of his life, has been sending the card to the wrong man on Father's Day.
As you can no doubt see, I base Twees on a single composite of Limp Bizkit and Korn members, focusing primarily on the groups' lead singers.
Anyway, Twees shares a house with his 80-year-old grandmother in a nice, clean Fresno neighborhood. He snorts meth, drinks Natural Light Ice and beats off day and night to porn videos. On occasion, when his mind, hand and dick lose drug-addled connection with each other, he'll stop the rote and go out for more beer, fast food and a quick visit to his dealer. Sometimes he'll drift into a brief recess of unsettled sleep.
From his collection of smut videos, Twees soon develops a crush on a particular porn star, a blond anal queen from Anaheim named Tiffany. Her lovely dimples and wholly utilitarian orifices hook him in with little cajoling. Before long, Twees restricts his smut scrutiny to Tiffany videos only, and his crush morphs into full-blown love.
Night to night on his bed in the darkness, his life becomes a bone-in-hand vigil to Tiffany. That is, until he acquires a new Tiff vid and witnesses an insufferable dork named Jack Hammer defile Tiffany's creamy body in the sunlit backyard of some Southern Cal mansion.
Hammer is buff, butt-ugly and, of course, tattooed. He's your basic porn stud troll. But he's tattooed in the worst way imaginable. He has an anarchy symbol and the words "West End Punks" etched onto his chest. Tattooed on his back are the words "White Power." Also, Hammer's member is shaped like an old, six-ounce 7-Up bottle. There, Hammer doesn't have a thing on Twees. Still, for Twees, this fact offers little comfort.
Twees may be a godless bonehead hooked on porn, whack and tweak, but it ain't the schlong comparisons he's concerned with, hell no. Twees, as unlettered as he is, believes that the only good Nazi is a dead Nazi.
See, when Twees was a boy, his mother was raped and murdered by a group of skinheads who spouted Hitler rhetoric and listened to punk nothings like Skrewdriver.
No Nazi is going to schtupp Twees' dream girl.
Twees quits his shite band -- unbeknownst to him is the fact that he's already been kicked out of it. Then he robs his grandmother's bank account, steals her mint-condition Ford LTD and heads out to L.A. -- Van Nuys, specifically. Twees knows that the Van Nuys/Chatsworth area is where 90 percent of all porn in this country is produced.
Once in Van Nuys, Twees finds a weekly room off Victory Boulevard and settles in. The sunny California life suits him well, and, almost immediately, he knows his way around the Valley. A meth connection is made next.
Soon he's mastered the simple ins and outs of the jizz biz and is surprised at how easily you can enter the world of porn. At some point, Twees enters a porn production house posing as a director. He's learned enough to know that he'll be readily accepted because that is precisely how 99 percent of all porn directors get work. Being doughy, tattooed and white, and looking all rap/metal, doesn't hurt, either. His dark shades, the Vandyke, the simulated cool -- it's like the wood grain of the cheap paneled offices in the porn warehouses. Just window dressing to hide the ugliness underneath.
Twees eventually gets his hands on both Tiffany and Hammer's real names and addresses. The next day he starts stalking them. Then he buys a gun.
His plans are to first kill that Nazi punk-ass Hammer, then marry Tiffany.
Here's where I'm lost. Before I can write this thing, I need an ending. Maybe you can help.
Will Twees succeed in blowing away Hammer, then wind up on Death Row to question life and green things like the little Algerian dude in the end of The Stranger? Or will he bungle the whole thing and get blown away by the cocksure porn stud?
And what about Tiffany? If Twees eliminates Hammer, will he get Tiffany as his prize? And if so, will they live forever in a waterfall of porn and meth somewhere in the Valley?
Lemme know, okay?
When was the last great London rock 'n' roll sound? If you're thinking Blur or Oasis or the once-brilliant Pulp, fergetit, you're wallowing in that low insight begat from an immoderation of mediocrity, cowboy.
In the '60s and '70s, London either produced its own great bands (the Pretty Things, the Kinks, the Small Faces, the Who) or drew the best work from those who moved there (the Beatles).
For the whole of 1976, the Sex Pistols could've been considered a great U.K. band. Now, the limeys can't even give birth to what they were once synonymous with -- great pop music. And why else would Glimmer move from London to L.A.? And why L.A.? Jesus only knows.
First, never trust a record bucking for hip-pop cred when the sleeve includes a thank you to a member of L.A. Guns.
Second, a crumpled remain from Faces vaudevillians the London Quireboys (Guy Griffen) should be a dead stinkin' giveaway; and third, the band contains three other stone-faced blokes with only borderline Ron Wood hair.
And the best post-hard-rock-pop tricks are here, like any Enuff Z'nuff record: the fabricated "gruff" vocal sound that occasionally resolves a note in a falsetto swoon; the try-too-hard-at-cool song titles ("Velveteen," "Silver Zone"); the relentless acoustic guitars blaring open chords aimlessly with the old "Ticket to Ride"/"Tomorrow Never Knows" beat ("Make It Real"); the ready-made arched and (dare we say it) backward guitar notes, fazing vocal and weak, mod-centric drug references ("5 Miles High"); the cleverly intended-but-instead-wallowing-in-red-faced-self-consciousness turn-of-the-phrase ("Confusion makes no sound/It's too late for a showdown"); and, of course, the Wembley-size guitars are all perfectly placed and recorded with L.A. stoner ease ("Push Me Too Hard," etc.).
Glimmer magnifies the pointlessness of bands like the Candyskins or Kinky Machine, while giving the very idea of pop songwriting a righteous pummeling, and not in a good way, either. And this considering the A&R man involved, former David Johansen skinner Frankie La Rocka; what's he thinking?
Where's the boozed-up and ill-natured guit-wielding fawner of rock 'n' roll? All the shag-magnet mattress-backed boys? The kick-up-yer-glitter boots sick-of-woe inspiration? I mean, gosh, the bio does exasperatingly name-drop Bowie, the Who, Cheap Trick, the Kinks, T. Rex, the Pretenders and so on.
Glimmer, glimmer, glimmer gone.
Sounds like a hammer smashing a Tal Bachman record and being dragged through your dog's summertime Skippy vomit. It's as breezy as an afternoon spent glue-sniffing and reflecting on the undeflectable Stone Temple Pilots/Buckcherry likenesses, 25 years after Thin Lizzy chest-beat the Billboard Hot 100.
And at what point was it cool for hard-rock vocals to be whiney and high but sound forced low and growly? Wasn't Vince "Slim-Fast" Neil worth at least one lesson?
Beware of any combo that touts a front man as its one comely faction. The two band photos included in the packaging see the smooth-skinned singer sporting black eyeliner and spiky blond locks preening in the foreground while three cherub-faced goobs lurk back, mixing in with the shadows. The devolution of pop is never more aggrandized than when the Exies top a Lenny Kravitz cop with lines like, "Sly's got a family stone/And all the cat's [sic] groove along."
And then there's a negative side here common to all contemporary "rock 'n' roll" records: no fuck-you snottiness, no working-class pride, no ferocious interplay and, worst of all, no swagger to make the cervix of a teenage girl glisten. Just loud rock music that aspires to nothing beyond filling time and space.
3 Doors Down
The Better Life
Think, if you can stand to, of Soundgarden. Then remember it in all of its force-fed sonic cliché and seppuku-inducing FM-happy credo. Then picture a sun-drenched Texas landscape strewn with tract homes, fatherless children, bleak swing sets and men with grisly facial scars. Imagine four slack-shouldered dullards, phlegmatic since birth, attempting to shape that into a "rock" sound. I mean, it is the sound of a rock.
I'm Diggin' It
Why, do you ask?
Because all this reminds of Ms. Alecia Elliott, the latest teeny pop tart mired in porn (pre)-tension: well put together, lighting-flattered and very buxom. Only she's a little bit country. If Nazi scientists had focused their efforts on creating the perfect Nashville country-cum-porn starlet, Alecia Elliott is it.
What price Nashville?
And if that don't make you just a little concerned and somewhat sad, then you are more messed up than me, brother.