Sad Song

I was working in my first record store in Oklahoma City. A guy named Joe worked there too. He was my first fellow Lou Reed fan, and he was gay. Even though I kept up with the glam fanzines, for some time, I still thought Max’s Kansas City was in Kansas City.  Joe and I talked about buying big motorcycles and going there. Once I found out it was actually in NY, this period became the only period of my life I thought maybe I should go to NY.

I guess you could say my first two gay influences were Lou Reed and Gore Vidal. If not for them, how many wonderful friends would I have missed knowing? “Walk on the Wild Side” in many ways brought this country out of the closet.

Just hearing “Walk on the Wild Side” filled my head with visions of platform heels and glitz.  It became and remains an anthem.

Once I was traveling late at night near the Angelina Forest in South Texas when by some miracle of phantom radio signals, Lou Reed came blaring past the local station the radio was tuned to, and not just “Walk on the Wild Side” but a less commercial song I can no longer remember, coming all the way from Chicago, on the “X.” It was like being transported into another world, out there in the dark, made me realize how many possible realities there are and both how near and how far away they are.

I used to play the darkly beautiful “Berlin” a lot. The juxtaposition of beauty and joyful appreciation of the simple things emerged from a thick shadow of sadness. Here was Lou Reed, the quiet poet.
“Staring at my picture book
she looks like Mary, Queen of Scots
She seemed very regal to me
just goes to show how wrong you can be”

So many of his lines became catch phrases. I always loved “just goes to show how wrong you can be,” because it’s so simple and so true.

When “Rock and Roll Animal” came out, that live version of “Sweet Jane” became my favorite guitar dual of all time. Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter parry through the long intro. The sound quality and production of the song was just amazing. The recording in many ways made everything he’d done before pale in comparison, at least to an electric witch like me. “Berlin” was for a special mood. “Rock and Roll Animal” was the best of everything, for anytime.

Lou Reed is one of the only rockers I really wanted to meet but never got to. The label had arranged a dinner once, but it fell through. Maybe that’s why he’s still an enigma to me. He was a true pioneer, a nucleus of a growing genre of music that came together in different ways at different points in time. He influenced music, art, and most of all culture.

To Lou Reed, in his passing, I’d just like to say, “It was very nice. Oh, Honey, it was paradise.”


Random Quotes from My Journals


“He said he was on his second day of not smoking and was bitching:  ‘What else am I supposed to do when I’m at a bar drinking, hold my dick?’  I said, ‘Hmm, I’ll have to remember that if I ever quit smoking.’  After awhile, he said, ‘Give me a Parliament.’  I said, ‘No,’ and he said, ‘Then hold my dick.’
He had somehow placed ___ and I at the scene of the crime almost every night of the metal convention.  I was SO hoping rock musicians were too distracted to talk amongst themselves.
“He was real butch, and lots of things made him mad, like when I called the Metallica l.p. ‘Master of Muppets.'”
“Did I want Hugh back at some point? Yes. Would I have given up five years of sporadic hand kissing from Trey for it?  No.”
“After I had mock-shaved his toes, I started the countdown, and the peel landed on my chest after having been launched from his foot.”
“I made a comment about the Bermuda Triangle apartments. He asked why I called them that.”

“We slept until right before dawn. I told him we should get up and watch the farm reports. I pull the good-clean-life-ready-to-rise-chipper routine with him because he thinks it’s sick to be alert.”

“He steers away from sentimental TV, movies, etc. They actually make him mad.”
(at a label promotional party)
“Bored and ready to evacuate by 8:00 o’clock, I looked up to see Johnny, avec black leather jacket, had arrived. I was in a circle of people when Tracy asked me if I didn’t think that Johnny guy was real weird. Like that’s a deterrent.

“Three of the worst bands played I’ve ever heard, and ____ said he and I should just go over to his place and fuck, adding that even if we were the two most boring fucks in the world, it couldn’t be worse than staying there listening to the bands.”
“He left pretty soon, during Foghorn Leghorn, my favorite besides Pepe Le Pew. Probably couldn’t take my impression of Foghorn Leghorn saying, ‘Ah jus’ dotes on bo-ays.’”

24 Hours of Alice Cooper

It’s weird having so little time to pursue my interests.  They have to be put on hold until I have enough time to unwind and get back to myself.  I guess it’s partly for that reason that things got weird in these last 24 hours.  

Alice Cooper was a guest on Joy Behar this past year, and she reran the show as one of her favorites before her show went off the air recently.  It was a truly delightful interview.  People seem to underestimate how charming and entertaining rockers can be in interview, I think.  Alice looks amazing, and he’s, I guess older than me.  I think he looks more handsome than he ever has. I guess all that golf agrees with him.  

I’ve always loved Alice Cooper, the man and the band.  I saw them when I was a hippie, the “Love it to Death” tour, and it was, as I said in my journal, my first rain of glitter, a very influential concert for me.  It was the direction I was headed and the house of my true heart.  A couple of years later, working in my first record store, I became preternaturally possessed by another band, whose name I always have to disguise because of security reasons (to avoid a past internet stalker), Rox-xxy Music.  I didn’t understand them at the time, but I had a premonition that their third album (“Stranded”) was, the inner voice said, “going to be very important to me.”  I heard this message in my head as I unpacked its new release box and uttered those words out loud, before I ever heard the album.  I’d found the first album by this band confounding, and I was unsettled and excited by it. Couldn’t leave it alone, but really wanted to.  I was paranormally pulled to this new and, in the U.S., obscure glam/art rock band.

Hippies had certain ideals and coda they adhered to, and I was having trouble wrestling with my own philosophies as I began making the transition from hippie to glam, which is quite a gap to bridge.  It was during this time I had a dream that Alice and some other guys were all sitting around in my room where I grew up, talking and had guitars and they were picking and, I guess, arranging.  (Realize this was before I really knew what that would look like, but in retrospect, except for being in my room, it seems reasonably realistic.)  I felt like an intruder going in there, but I needed to ask Alice something.  He made some statement to indicate he’d rather not be interrupted right then (like guys will ignore you when they’re immersed in working with music with each other), but I asked him anyway.  I asked if he liked Rox-xxy Music.  He said he did.  I told him it was important for me to know that because I’d liked Alice Cooper so much the past couple of years, and now it was Roxxxy and Bowie.  He nodded and made a hand gesture that I interpreted as, Yes, it makes sense, or, It follows (logically).  I felt relieved, both in the dream and upon awakening.

Thereafter for many years, I sometimes thought of Alice as my spiritual mentor.  Life continued down the glam path now that I’d clarified my way, and that music became the most important music of my life, a life whose entire focus was music, a 20-year career in it during which everything in my life centered around it and was for it.  I marked time by music, and my memories are stored in music.  It was a spiritual time when I sometimes had an inexplicable “knowing,” and then there was one remarkable time when, while awake but in a relaxed alpha state, I slipped into a parallel reality for a moment where a meeting was being held in a lime green room by a panel to discuss my life plan, and make adjustments.  I entered enthusiastically, approached the main guy, who was in a robe, though most of the others looked modern, and was told, “You know you can’t be here for this,” and banished, but I knew they were discussing me.  I’d had times during this period when I could literally feel the big wheel turning, and the big cog locking into place, as I began living my dream.

About 15 years later, I would meet Alice Cooper for the first time.  The first meeting was fun, and I felt honored, of course.  By now, I felt like “one of them.”  That was always my dream.  It was where I always felt I belonged.  So I wasn’t really star struck by this time, and I wouldn’t show it on the rare occasion that I was.  I, more or less, considered rock musicians the closest thing to what I would call peers, because although I was no musician, I was completely immersed. The meeting was brief but enjoyable.  

A year or so later, in ’87, I would attend another show and, together with others, meet ‘n greet Alice on his bus. The visit afterward was really a special one for me.  I think the difference was in me.  I’d had periods of turmoil and periods when I kind of shut myself off to get through some stuff, but I was able to really connect and get the most out of this rare opportunity.  Alice’s assistant (everyone calls Renfield) remembered me.  (He must have had a photographic memory or something, because there was really no reason to remember me from a year prior, it being a brief and fairly typical meet ‘n greet situation.)  Alice and I got off to a good start when I complimented him on choosing the theme from Frank Langella’s “Dracula” as his opening before taking the stage.  He and Renfield both remarked that no one had gotten that yet.  That led to a longish discussion about horror movie themes, and about horror movie scenes we loved, and books.  Alice and I differ some on this, because I’m a gothic horror fan, which includes the Anne Rice books of the time and the more gothic movies, but I don’t like slasher stuff, and Alice does, but he loves the goth stuff, too. We talked about who had rights to “Lestat” and “Interview With a Vampire,” at some length, and he told me he’d tried to get them, too late, which would have been awesome.  Against the advice of Renfield, he told me one of the names he used to check into hotels (because it was germaine to the topic).  It was just a great back-and-forth on subjects we were both really into, and one of the most memorable meetings of my career.  

I would meet him one more time, very briefly about a year later.  This was the “Trash” tour. His new single, “Poison,” was a hit.  I loved the song.  When I relate to a song and it has such great music behind it, it’s like I’m being almost torn apart by it, and this song had such passion that I really connected with it, still get chills listening to it. I wrote in my journal that I thought it was their best single since “18,” emphasis on “single.”  Co-written by Desmond Child and Alice, it was an inevitable hit. There are other Alice songs I love more, entire albums, but for a single, this was it.  I wrote in my journal, “It’s so perfect, you wonder why it hasn’t been written before now.” This meeting was more of a typical meet ‘n greet cattle call.  There were a lot of people in groups to be brought through to meet him, and I didn’t put much about the meeting itself in my journal and don’t recall any significant face-to-face interaction.

I’ve already written about all this and everything else in my journals in much more detail than I am here, and I hate to reiterate it, but it is all leading up to the weirdness of the past 24 hours.  

So as you can see, I’ve always regarded Alice as an important influence on me, long before I ever met him, some sort of spiritual bond, plus a simple kinship of common interest, which is a common enough occurrence for fans.  If I were ever going to have a thought turning more fondly toward Alice, it would certainly have been after the second visit; but knowing that Alice is long and devotedly married would have thrown water on any prolonged errant thoughts heading down that path.  

So I was driving to a doctor’s appointment in Oklahoma yesterday.  Once I get about 25 miles north out of Dallas, I can pick up a good hard rock station in Sherman.  As soon as the signal cleared, the opening guitar from “Poison” came on.  I can’t explain why my reaction this time was so exaggerated.  Maybe in my subconscious, Alice’s charming and funny appearance on Joy Behar (the rerun of it) had triggered a longing in me, made me miss being “one of them.”  I’m really not sure.  But as soon as the guitar started, I burst into tears and began shouting to any spirits out there listening, “ALICE COOPER, I LOVE YOU!”  I felt this bright searing pain of longing and love for him, whereas before, and for decades, I’d always been satisfied to view him as a sort of spiritual guide/mentor with whom I sensed a very strong kinship.  I was sending my love out into the universe to him, wherever he was.  (Probably on a golf course no doubt completely oblivious.) 

I recovered somewhat as I drove down the road and became distracted by a small dog about to get run over and stopped to call animal control to come get him.  I made my day trip and returned tired, turning in rather early, and then it all hit me again, these feelings of intense love.  It was unrelenting for awhile, but I finally got to sleep.  This morning I read back over any mentions in my long journals of Alice trying to get some perspective, and that did help some — but then I lost ground again after watching a couple of videos [addendum: it’s 48 hours now, and more than a couple of videos]. I’m sure this mania had something to do with me just working too much to ground myself, and it just all built up and spewed out, but it’s too soon for me to really sort it out.  Anyway, for what it’s worth, I do love Alice Cooper, the man and the music, just in case I haven’t been clear.