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Posts Tagged ‘heavy metal’

A Touch Too Much

In The 80's on June 3, 2012 at 1:43 am

‘Is my tray in its upright position? Am I?’

Tragedy struck the following Tuesday, and its effects were felt from the Night Raven to the Pines- all the way out to the Agora and  beyond. Bon Scott, the gritty, gravely voiced singer from the vertically challenged but extremely hard rocking band AC/DC was dead. Cause of death: Acute Alcohol Poisoning. The news spread through the  phone lines, multiplying like a Faberge Organics commercial. I told a friend, who told another friend, who told another and on and on. The grid grew by tens, probably to 40!

During the infancy of our heavy metal ‘scene’, this was big news.  News that was tragic yet exciting. We were both grief stricken and weirdly energized. There was lots of ‘when it’s your time it’s your time’ talk, with all of us glossing right over the excessive alcohol consumption that killed him. We all agreed that this (alcohol overdose) was something that could just sneak up on you- it’s not like there was some alarm that went off when you’d had enough, right?  (the stumbling, weaving, puking, fighting and memory loss not obvious enough) Not once did any one of us express an interest in ‘slowing down’ or partying less. No way! In fact, if we could die on any day at any moment, we felt it was time to kick it up a notch. And so we did. It’s hard to say how many shots and drinks were consumed after a toast to Bon Scott. Clink Clink. Cheers! And the word ‘irony’ never once crossed our minds. Even to the those of us who actually knew what it meant.

Bon Scott: Quite the shirtless ladies man!

Perhaps what made Bon Scott’s death seem ‘cool’ (to a bunch of barely adults who still felt as immortal as ever, rounding the bases at 18, 20 or 22) was that although the reason for his demise was drinking to the point of alcohol poisoning-the official reason was listed as ‘Death By Misadventure’.  This made it sound risky and- dare I say it? Fun! It was dark, yes- but also very rock and roll. It ensured that Bon Scott would never grow old, never burn out, never find religion or go to rehab, renounce his wild lifestyle, or marry a famous actress and start hanging out with rich people. He would never do these, or any of the myriad of things that rock stars did to get on our nerves. He would remain our eternal bad boy. His dirty deed would stay dirt cheap. And all it cost him was an early death!

Jess and I began perusing the papers and club hotline numbers for the inevitable AC/DC tribute bands that would be barreling down the pike. Meanwhile, like rock and roll ambassadors, we spread the news to all of the crevices  it hadn’t yet reached. The clerk at Cumberland Farms, where we bought our Newports, Kools, and Michelobs? He found out from us. Bear with me here, but I’m not sure how invested this clerk-middle aged, middle eastern and middle management was in AC/DC, and still, we told the story with all of the drama of the wipe-out skier who represented the agony of defeat on tv. We told Jess’s vocal coach, a specialist in deviated septums and my entire ‘Feel The Burn’ Aerobics Class at the Figure Forum. God knows how many they then told! It was assumed that everyone cared. (I’ll go out on a limb here and guess most people had no idea what or who we were talking about and just politely listened because we were paying them for products or services)

The loss also inspired many ‘philosophical conversations between me and Jess. For instance, we wondered if a person who was passed out drunk would even know that they died. If they were dreaming, and then crossed over how would they be able to tell the difference between the dream, and the crossing over? Wouldn’t it just seem like the dream was continuing? Listen: at least Jess’s deep probing philosophies were inspired by half a joint! I had no excuse. (It shocks me now that we were just assuming there was an afterlife! Why weren’t we arguing about that?!) We talked about how cool it was that Bon would exist forever on records, his voice saved for eternity, that he found a way to leave a permanent piece of himself behind. Someone should actively recommend us to the Algonquin Round Table. Surely an invitation to join would be forthcoming if were overheard by the right people.

‘It’s all fun and games until someone dies!’ Bon Scott’s autographs weren’t always uplifting…

Even Adrian called me at the end of the week, to get my ‘take’ on the loss. He acted like we had just lost a close, personal friend. He spoke as if we were still in cahoots, like he hadn’t cheated on me! I was immediately suspicious. I mean- yes I was bummed that a kick-ass lead singer had succumbed, but it’s not like it was Led Zeppelin or even Van Halen, no offense. AC/DC was good, but I hadn’t actually shed any real tears, as is usually the case with famous people who you admire but don’t actually know. Yet Adrian asked ‘how I was holding up’. Not only was it an odd question- but I got the distinct impression he was asking me about something that had nothing to do with a dead rock singer.

“Umm, I’m fine!” I said, quickly adding: “It’s not like I was invited to the funeral or anything!”

“Yeah, but I know how you liked them!” Adrian replied, oblivious to my wise crack “Always cranking that stereo of yours!” 

“Adrian! What do you really want? Why are you calling me?” I asked, cutting to the chase. Like I was the one with a loud stereo. His once cracked a window with his!

“Well!” he said, indignantly. And after a short silence he added, “I was just checking to see how you were! Is that okay?” He laughed uncomfortably.

“How’s your new girlfriend?” I asked, daring him to hang up and end the misery.

“I dunno” he said…..”Because I kind of miss you”

Oh brother! They must have gotten into a fight or something. I forced myself to think of all the shitty things he’d done to me less than six months ago: the lying, the cheating, the general deception. I thought of what Melody had told me at Rob’s party. But a part of me- besides being flattered (oh, look! I really am irreplaceable!) was also thinking that if I could get back with him, that I’d ‘win’ in some twisted head games kind of way. It would change the story that had already been written-that Adrian cheated on and dumped me, and gave it a better ending-one where Adrian came back to me after all, where maybe I could dump him at some point. I would save face after all! (Am I embarrassed to be copping to all of this? Of course. Wouldn’t you be?) Did I still love Adrian? Nah, he was pretty tiny in my rearview by now. However it was a potential friends-with-benefits situation, and Adrian was always generous and romantic- heavy on the gifts and out-to-dinner dates, especially in the ‘win her over’ phase. (For which I now qualified -kind of like re-registering after a certain amount of time as a ‘new customer’)  More importantly- he was a cute musician and lots of girls liked him. And  I really didn’t have anything else going on. (My last crush had been Jax, and I hadn’t seen him since he’d been sprung!) My reappearance in Adrian’s life would also be a symbolic Bronx Cheer to the floozy he had been dating  and I wouldn’t mind slapping some karma back her way, just for sport. I could still see the condescending look she gave me at the Night Raven on ‘footsy’ night. I sometimes hold grudges. I’m not gonna lie.

Not necessarily? Right?

“Oh, really?” I asked, trying to hide the smile in my voice.

“Let’s go out. To a movie or something!” he said, seizing the moment.

“Like what movie? And when?” I asked, trying to act uninterested, even though my responses proved otherwise.

“They’re playing ‘The Warriors’ at SoNo. I know how you liked that-“

“They ARE?!” I burst, “I LOVE that movie!” The theater in South Norwalk played cult and independent films and movies that were in the regular  theater last year, but were now showing at a deep discount.  When the Warriors first came out, I had to go with JJ because Adrian ‘had to practice’.

We had to  LEAVE THE HOUSE to see movies, kids!

“Let’s go tomorrow night then” he says.

“Maybe…” I say “I’ll think about it. Call me at 7:00 and we’ll see” 

“Oh, come on! Just say yes!” Adrian laughs.

“No!” I say firmly “I’ll tell you tomorrow night. And if that’s not okay- oh freakin’ well!”

Adrian sighs, but reluctantly agrees. Sure, I might decide not to go, but we both know I probably won’t. We can’t bring Bon Scott back to life, but with his death as an excuse to break the ice, we might just breathe new life into what was once a hot and heavy romance. Though it would probably be a touch…a touch too much!

Jailbreak:Part One

In The 80's on April 3, 2012 at 11:20 pm

The following Friday morning was an ice cold, sunny day. Why was it so freakin’ cold this year? I want answers!  Jess and I had spent the previous evening bar-hopping (including the Pines where we laughed with Louie about his drug induced jig, something that was approaching legendary status) Jess and I slept late.  We didn’t have to be in Bridgeport until three o’clock, to pick up the mysterious jailbird Jax. Evidently I’d told Angie that she could come along as well, and there she was, calling me at ten am sharp, waking me up in the process. Didn’t she realize I had the day off?

Thanks so much for that, Angela Marie!

“Where are you?!” she roared “Aren’t we going to get Jax?”

“Jesus, woman!! They don’t let him out until three!” I fumble around the nightstand for my cigarettes and lighter. “Hold on a minute!”  I put the phone down, use the bathroom, then quickly brush my teeth. I can’t enjoy a morning cigarette without first freshening my breath so that the cigarette can dirty it back up. I return to the bed, prop up my pillows and lounge back down. I can hear Angie’s voice through the receiver long before I get it back to my ear. She’s knee-deep in a conversation with herself. 

“Whoah, whoah, whoah- stop the clock!” I say. “Who the hell are you talkin’ to?”

I light up a Newport. Angie stops abruptly.

“What?! Haha! I’m talkin’ to you, dummy!” she says, cackling.

“Well- I haven’t even been here- I went to brush my teeth. What are you babbling?”

“Oh! hahaha” she giggles. “I was just tryin’ to tell you how cute Jax is. Wait till you see him!” I’d seen Angie’s version of cute before. It pretty much encompassed all males, everywhere. Discerning, she was not. 

“Well, Angie….I can’t wait to meet a cute guy who’s fresh out of jail! Sounds like marriage material!” I laughed.

“Oh, Sam!” she sighed “He’s only in there for motor vehicles stuff! Reckless driving, Drag racing-that kind of stuff. Nothing big. It’s just that no one would bail him out! Not even his parents! And they live in Westport!” 

Westport was a town over, and everyone who lived there was assumed to be extravagantly rich.

“Well, if he’s only in there for driving like a fucking maniac, maybe running someone over?- dare I say- he sounds perfect!”….I blow smoke rings to amuse myself. I imagine a hot rod barreling through the beach parking lot, crashing into and leaping over parked cars. Flying through a flaming hoop. A bevy of cop cars in hot pursuit, sirens blaring, red and blue lights spinning like cyclones.

Angie sighs.

“Okay” she says, “but I’m tellin’ ya- he’s foxy!…Anyway- when are we leaving?”

“Probably around one-thirty” I say “I gotta call Jess. Then I’ll come get you. Be ready!” I demand.

“Oh, I will be!” she cracks, “I can’t keep Queen Sam waiting!”

“That’s right!” I say, meaning it.

………….

I roll up to Angie’s a little after one. I pull into her condo complex, follow the road (and annoying  speed bumps) all the way to the end of the development where she lives and stop in front of a huge barrier of freshly plowed snow. I beep the horn, and out she flies, from between a break in the snowdrifts. She dances out, goofing around, dressed flamboyantly (as usual) in a dazzling mixture of fabrics and textures. Hot pink long sweater, thick black belt, black leggings, scrunchy boots, bright glittery scarves piled on, and clunky pastel bracelets. Her signature spiky brown hair (kind of a Carol Brady long shag with spikes) is on point, and she wears lots of makeup. Darla’s an extrovert and she dresses boldly.  I  opted for a neon green sweater, Guess jeans and spanking white high-top Reeboks- the kind with the velcro. My hair, longer, but also spiked on top- is Aqua-netted to within an inch of its life. 

Angie’s hair as modeled by Joan Jett

She jumps into the front seat, her presence sucking up all the air. “Sammy, baby!!” she exclaims, leaning into me with an air kiss, and strong hug.

“HOW’S THINGS? WHAT’S GOIN’ ON? WHAT ARE WE LISTENIN’ TO? LET’S GO!”

She’s all in my space and louder than hell. She means well- even when she drives me nuts. Which is often. I check the rearview and pull out onto the snowy main street to the opening riffs of Van Halen’s ‘Little Dreamer’. Darla immediately starts playing a violent air-guitar, elbowing me hard in the process. I give her a look. “Move…over there, will ya?” I say, gesturing towards the passenger door. The Caddy has huge bench seats, and she’s over here on my side.

“Sorry!” she says, laughing. She scooches over. Then she turns down the music. Before I can stare daggers she says “I gotta tell you about last night!”

“What?” I ask, mentally trying to trace down when I last saw her the night before. Was she playing pool with a crowd of people?

“Well….I kinda hooked up with somebody” she says, eyes glittering. Oh brother. What now? 

“Yeah?….and?……”

“Do you know that guy William Post?” she asks. I do. He runs with a New Wave crowd. 

“Yeah, sorta” I say.

“Oh, Sam!” she says, hands clapping together. “He’s SOOO cool!”

Darla falls in love every other week, and although I know it’s her business, I think she moves fast, then gets upset when these guys don’t stick around. I’m worried  she’ll get knocked up, and end up having a loud-ass baby she can’t possibly raise, and then I’ll have to step in and help her, which…yikes!

“I hope you used something!” I say.

For someone who’s as active as Darla, birth control seemed to be an afterthought. A She’s tried the pill, but didn’t remember to take it. I’m completely pro-choice and know without question that I wouldn’t have a baby unless I could afford it (and I take my pill…) but Darla says she could never end a pregnancy ‘because it wouldn’t be right!’. Her Mom is very religious, so I see where she gets it from, but I just can’t fathom bringing a life into the world because an invisible man in the sky says so.  

“Yeah- I was thinking…’ says Darla. “I really need a diagram”

I start laughing. “Really? I thought you knew what you were doing in that area! What don’t you know how to do?”

“Well- would I have to go to a doctor to get one?”

What? Doctors are passing out sex diagrams? I’ll have to get one at my next check-up. 

“Don’t you have that Helen Gurley Brown book?” I could swear I saw it in her room: Sex and The Single Girl. Though I’m still not entirely convinced she reads. She has borrowed books from me, but conversations about said books are suspiciously vague. And annoyingly, I always have to go in and physically get them back.

 It suddenly occurs to me what Darla is saying.

“Oh my God! Do you mean you need a DIAPHRAGM?” I ask, shaking my head and twisting up my face.

“YESSS! That’s what I said!” she chirps. Oh God. Here we go again…Sometimes when I’m with Darla, I expect springs to start popping out of my head. Or hers. Boing! Boing!

——————————-

Jess is outside waiting when we pull up. He’s wearing a brown leather and lambswool bomber jacket and acid washed jeans, arms folded from the cold, taking furious drags off a cigarette. When he sees the car, he flicks the butt into a snowbank and rubs his hands together until the car pulls up to exactly where he stands. I feel like I’m landing a plane, the snow crunching under the tires, while getting as precisely close to Jess without embedding him in the snowbank on the side of the road. Don’t come to me and make it easier, dear friend-I am here to serve you!

Jess opens the passenger door and starts laughing at Darla.

“What the hell are you doin’ here?” he says. He sounds nasally, like he has a cold.

“Go on! Get yourself in the back!” he says to her.

“No way!” she booms back.

“Sam- Tell Her!” he says, hand on his hip. He’s serious.

“Oh, for God sakes, just get in the back! You can have the front after we go to Bridegeport!” I tell Jess.

He sighs and squeezes into the back seat as Darla holds her seat forward dramatically and Jess purposely pushes all his weight against it.

“Hurry up!” she groans, like the weight of the world is on her. Finally the door is shut. If we’re the Three Stooges, I think -at least I’m Moe.

 

The Warning: Part 1

In The 80's on March 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Warn1

It’s the early 80’s, winter. I have my big, blue Cadillac sedan, and am getting my shit together as far as what I want to do with my life. I know I want to be involved with writing, and I love music, so I’m considering combining the two. I’m not thinking there would be money in it- but it’s important to me to be happy. Most of the adults I know are miserable and hate their jobs so I’m sure as hell not taking their path or advice. Also, I don’t understand money or its importance.

I’ll start school in the Fall-at the local college.  I’m still of the mindset that summers are for slacking so summer courses are out. I’m nineteen years old, working part-time and hanging out with my musician friends, helping them shore up their acts by listening to them jam, filling in lyrics and critiquing their ‘look’. Also bar-hopping where they perform and taking notes. It’s backbreaking work.

The person I’m with most often with is Jess, my new best friend. Ever since Adrian and I broke up, we’d been hanging out. We met at one of Adrian’s many band auditions. Like most bands, there was a perpetual search for a good singer. Like quarterbacks on NFL teams, they were rare and valuable.

Jess showed up after answering an ad in ‘The Bargain News’ He sidled up to me during the audition and began taking shots at Adrian and the band, whispering such doozies as “Who dresses these guys?” (to be fair, the band wore  street clothes- jeans and flannel shirts- because it was mid-afternoon on a Thursday. Jess was in zebra spandex pants, black cowboy boots draped in silver chains, and a ripped up Aerosmith shirt, which I immediately coveted. It was like seeing a sliver of the moon in the daytime)

He auditioned, his white blonde mane, twirling about in a frenzy, but his voice wasn’t as impressive as his get-up.  He later blamed it on the band in a stolen whisper to me: “Their timing is too fast!” he spit.

I was off in my corner, reading a book-as usual ‘waiting’ for my boyfriend’s much- more- important- than- mine to-do list so Jess’s approaching me at all was a surprise. His comments struck me as ballsy- he had no idea what my relationship was to the band.  But since I already had one foot out the door with Adrian (which, come to find out was mutual) I found Jess’s comments funny.

I also recognized that though Jess had the  perfect stage presence for a front man, he was quite possibly the worst singer I’d heard that day. Or possibly, year. I would best describe his style as ‘caterwauling’.

This didn’t matter to me at all (I didn’t have a band-nor did I ever think to form one-damn you, Patriarchy!) and I was happy to exchange numbers with him (undercover, like coke seals) on tiny pieces of paper.  I accepted his invitation to meet for a drink. It was a friendly invitation and there was no ‘I’m trying to pick you up’ vibe. I don’t know why- he certainly was cute enough. 

It was clear from that first drink that we would become good friends. He had me rolling with laughter, mostly mocking people, especially my ex, who I  caught cheating on me only days later. I walked into the Night Raven mid-week, on a whim and noticed him playing footsie with some girl with badly crimped yellow hair, who looked at me condescendingly as I walked over to their table. Adrian played innocent (the room they sat in was open and raised- one had to walk up several stairs to get to it. From the bar you could see the undersides of the tables, something these two rocket scientists couldn’t deduce. Which is how I witnessed the not-so- subversive ‘footsie’ playing)

“Oh, hiii!’ Adrian  said, fake smiling, looking nervous.

“Heeey!” he continued, a quick flash of ‘ut-oh’ in his eyes. I played cool.

‘Whatchya doin?’ I asked. They glanced at each other (totally in cahoots) and I said: “Be sure you don’t trip when you stand up. Looks like your feet are all tangled up under there” The girl gasped, and Adrian’s eyebrows shot up. With that I turned and walked away.

I pictured this new girl nested down in my old ‘reading chair’ for hours,(that is-if she could read) bored to tears and begging Adrian: “Please-please! let’s go out  somewhere!” I’m sure she thought she’d won a prize, but it was the kind of plastic prize that tumbled from the silver slot of a gumball machine. Sometimes the winner is the one who didn’t get the guy.

I stopped at the bar for a quick Kamikaze shot, which I downed in two seconds and headed out the door. I was shaking and humiliated. My pride was hurt- I didn’t think Adrian would actually cheat on me (and of course, I wondered how long it had been going on) . Worse yet, I thought I was  hanging on to him until a more convenient time to break up  (like when met someone new?) But the joke was on me. He had forced my hand, and in doing so, had done me a favor- though I couldn’t see it then.

'Undercover' Footsie

‘Undercover’ Footsie

I drove straight over to Adrian’s house from the Raven, mere blocks away.  I had a few books there, as well as some expensive Paul Mitchell conditioner (which Footsie certainly needed, but would get over my dead body) and a few incidentals. I rapped on the front door, until his brother Lance let me in, nervously babbling something like: “Adrian went to The Fortune Cookie with Steve” (he was the one brother of the three who was a shitty liar) but I busted right by him, heading downstairs for my stuff, and pointed out that I didn’t recall asking where Adrian was in the first place.

I grabbed ‘Interview With A Vampire’ and ‘Helter Skelter’, purposely leaving behind an old, tattered copy of ‘I’m OK, You’re Ok’ , crossing out the second OK and writing in: ‘A Dick!’ with a pen on the desk.There was a pack of EZ Widers on the dresser, which I flicked like a paper football, where it disappeared into the void. (Ten to one, they’re still there) I turned his desk clock back an hour, and took one last look around. 

After I left, I drove  aimlessly down the main drag, and tried to think of somewhere to go besides home. I was supposed to be meeting Suzy and Heather at the Night Raven, but I wasn’t going back in there tonight. I remembered I had Jess’s number in my wallet, so I pulled into the Pizza Den parking lot and searched for it. It was right underneath my Led Zeppelin ticket stub, which I carried around as proof of my coolness. I got out of the car and headed over to the pay phone, standing precariously on a little pile of dirty snow- depositing two dimes and dialing the number. Jess answered almost immediately. I started to explain who I was -he knew- and after  I told him about Adrian and the girl,  he laughed and said: ‘Oh, just be glad to be rid of him!  Come get me, we’ll go out and get drinks, and you’ll be sure to forget about his ass!!” I loved it. I got directions to his place and headed over, cranking Van Halen’s ‘You’re No Good’ and singing right along…loudly.

Warn6

Jess was standing outside when I got to his house. I recognized the shock of white blond hair, hanging past his shoulders, his pouty lips jutting out. He wore a white leather biker jacket, black jeans and snakeskin boots. He held a lit cigarette in one hand and a St. Pauli Girl in the other. When I stopped the car, he nodded, and strutted around to the passenger side, easing himself in.

‘Ahaaa!’ he said, almost giggling ‘I didn’t know you drove a BOAT!!’ I laughed and headed slowly down the street. We decided to go to  a small bar we knew, located on a golf course, called ‘The Pines’. On the way we couldn’t stop talking about Adrian. Jess said he wasn’t that good of a guitar player, but I knew he was just sore. 

 He went on to say he was glad they didn’t pick him to be the singer because he’d been jamming with a much better band, two towns over called Saint something or other.

“If Adrian can’t see what a good singer I am, fuck him!’ he exclaimed.

I noted the phrase see how good of a singer he was, and realized that it was like being at a wedding when they say ‘If anybody here sees any reason why these two should not wed’ and that if I said nothing about his bad singing, I’d never be able to. I decided I was good with that. Besides, maybe he’d grow into his voice. IT’s been known to happen.

The Warning: Part 3

In The 80's on March 13, 2012 at 12:16 am

Jess and I became tight very quickly. When we weren’t together, we yapped on the phone, and within a few weeks we knew each other  inside and out. We bonded over a shared a contempt for Adrian- after all, he’d rejected us both- so we loved to  dissect his every flaw, real and imagined. We loved the same music and shared the same primal fear: That we would someday live a normal (read: boring) life in suburbia.  To me- at nineteen years old, (Jess was twenty-one) nothing seemed a worse fate, or more cliche. (The fact that we were walking cliches: 80’s rockers who liked to wear leather, listen to hard rock and paaar-taaay! never once occurred to us. You see-wwere special!)

There was no chemistry between us, not even the slightest hint of becoming more than friends. Jess had two sides: one very, very playful, and another I called ‘Mr. Blackwell’ after the harsh fashion ‘judge’ of the day.  Jess was intensely critical of everyone’s looks He could find a flaw on anyone, anywhere. We argued about it- with me on the defense, taking these criticisms to heart.

It wasn’t that I was so nice I’d rally for the ‘victim’s’ sake- it was the nagging feeling that if the drop-dead gorgeous girls (and guys) had faults- what chance did I have? People could say whatever they wanted, all the ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’ crap-ola, but at nineteen,  I knew that looks were what mattered, they were what got your foot in the door. Good looks equaled winning. In the back of my mind, every failure I’d ever had, every bad day, every boyfriend I’d ever lost, could have been prevented had I been better looking. Thinner. Smaller boned. Less tall. (The fact that my gorgeous friends had horrible relationships, suffered from eating disorders,  drug addictions, alcoholism, etcetera, did not matter.  It didn’t fit in with my ‘theory’, so I chucked it)

I saw Jess’s evaluations as both true and  typical, because I believed he represented how most guys thought. I argued with him about it to get more insight. That being said- even if Jess had thought I was gorgeous, we still  felt more like brother and sister.

We spent a lot of time loafing around or living the nightlife. There was so much more more to life than partying -even at nineteen I knew this (knew it- didn’t like it) As for jobs- I blew through several (boring) part time gigs: An ice cream shop, Caldors, a convenience store, cleaning houses even a three day stint in a rug shop. a rug shop.

(There’s a story involving the rug shop.We had a piece of equipment-kind of like a big ‘slicer’ which was used to cut remnants. You would lift the handle that housed a long blade, place the rug on the flat surface and pull the  handle down. The sharp blade would slice the rug beautifully. So, whenever I would hear the song ‘Gimme Three Steps’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd and the lyrics “I was cuttin’ a rug, down at a place called the Jug, with a girl named Linda Lu, when in walked a man with a gun in his hand and he was lookin’ for you know who” I would furrow my brows and think: First off- what are the chances that this guy would walk into that rug shop at the same time  they were there, – how random! and secondly, what a dumb name for a rug store! And why was Ronnie Van Zant taking dates to rug stores? It drove me freakin’ crazy. The song was everywhere. I had never been taught (or overheard, or read in my zillions of books!) that the phrase ‘cutting a rug’ meant dancing!) 

I guess: 'pretty?'

My current job was at a tennis club, watching kids while their moms played tennis. It was boring, but the hours – 8am – 2pm, were nice. I had the daycare room to myself, and there were times when no kids would come in- so I could write, or flip through rock magazines, balance my checkbook, etc. I figured I could skate until September, when I started college. My jobs were just a means to an end and I took the path of least resistance as this is who I am.  Still, I was reasonably conscientious, and never called in sick…which meant I wasn’t above going in hungover.

Jess was always talking about ‘looking’ for a job, but even without one he always had money. Way more than I did. I wasn’t sure how he got it, but I never saw him dealing drugs or stealing, or doing any of the underhanded things people who don’t work but have money sometimes do.

He spent his days practicing. He had a battered amp and microphone, and sang along to records and cassettes. He and his slightly crazy grandmother, christened “Pearlie Bean’ by Jess, lived in a two-family house, and Jess was constantly fighting with the other tenants in his duplex over the volume of his music.

Sometimes I would stop by his house on the way home from work,and I’ve got to be honest: If I pulled up and could hear Jess wailing all the way out onto the street, I’d do a few laps around the block, maybe stop at Cumberland Farms for cigarettes-that kind of thing. 

Sometimes when I went into the house, we’d go through his closet, putting together ‘stage’ outfits. I spent a lot of time cutting sleeves off of t-shirts, and draping scarves over his lamps in various combinations. Also, smoking Newports while perusing rock magazines. I was also good at borrowing shit that I could wear the following weekend.

At some point Jess would insist I listen to his latest ‘jam’ and my ears would explode from the volume, and/or lack of melody in Jess’s voice.  I quickly learned that some sing-alongs were better than others. Lower voiced singers – like Ronnie James Dio were manageable. But for the love of god, when I’d see him pull out Judas Priest’s ‘Unleashed In The East’ I knew I was in for trouble. Nothing compared to listening to him attempt ‘Victim Of Changes’. It was one of those ‘blast the terrorists out of their compound’ numbers as interpreted by Jess. I guess if there’d been an ‘American Idol’ back then- they could have told him (and made him a star-of ridicule like that fat Asian guy), but I couldn’t give him an honest opinion for fear of hurting his feelings.

Oh no! Not that one!

He was still band material though. His look was amazing. His silky, chalk white hair, grew past his shoulders and was spiked on top.  He had deep set blue eyes, a slightly bent nose (ala Rod Stewart) and lush lips. It wasn’t unusual for us to be at a restaurant and have the server ask  if he was ‘somebody’. Jess loved it, and lied by omission.  His answers were vague: “Wouldn’t you like to know!” and “Why? Who do I look like?” I liked the fawning as well- it was a good reflection on me.

I did attempt to talk him into taking up an instrument, but he wasn’t interested. He was determined to be a singer. And at a certain point, I started to think that maybe he wasn’t that bad-maybe he was improving with all of the practice. Because I wanted to believe. I was also sure that my future as a rock writer was written in (rolling?) stone, so I was just as un-self aware as he was- and, like him- I had no idea it might not happen.

The tie that binds…

We ran into Adrian and his new ‘gal pal’ (aka: Footsie) a few times during those early days and it killed me.  Once, we saw them at Karl Graff’s Records where they were all googly-eyed and kissy faced. I wanted to puke. Zeppelin’s ‘In Through The Out Door’ had been released as things began unraveling with me and Adrian. I didn’t like it- it was sooo…..not heavy…..and to this day it reminds me of when Adrian cheated on me. ‘Fool In The Rain’ – fun fact: that was me. Not only had I been dumped by my boyfriend, I was also legally separated from my beloved Led Zeppelin!)

So, natch, ‘All My Love’ was blaring in the record store as my ex felt up his new girl in aisle 2. Of course they were over in the ‘Fusion’ section, no doubt checking out the latest Al DiMi-dildo album, so I  was at least comforted by the fact that I wouldn’t have to listen to that for weeks on end. Though, looking over at Jess I realized I wasn’t exactly off the hook.

I’d always love them, but we were growing apart…

The two of us pretended to ignore Adrian and her,and made a big deal of ordering some ‘NWOBHM’ (New wave of british heavy metal) imports from Ken, our cool ‘High Fidelity’insider (if those guys hadn’t loathed our genre) who would have them shipped directly from England. We ordered something by a new band called ‘Def Leppard'(whuuut?) and another by  ‘Saxon’ It felt good to be ahead of the curve.

The lovebirds stayed in their ‘area’ and Jess and I left without incident. But I was bummed. Why did it always seem like your ex was having a much better time than you were? Even when you knew they could literally! bore you to tears back when you were together? The minute you broke up, you pictured their life like a beer commercial montage: All that smiling, laughing, cleavage and beer. It really sucked as a mindset.

“She’s gone! Let’s party!”

 

Lita Ford and The Cover Of The Rolling Stone….

In Music, The 80's on February 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm

OK- so after writing about Motley Crue, The Road Warrior, Sid & Nancy and the distinct differences between Creem and Hit Parader for the college paper ‘Soundings’, I was contacted by the editor of a local ‘music scene’ newspaper. This paper, ‘Vox Pop’ was available for free at record stores and supermarkets. The editor, who wore a beret, and gave off an eclectic vibe, did not come across as someone who would cover the Metal genre, but as an editor, he knew the music was blowing up, and after all we lived in the suburbs, so-duh!  He offered me a column (which I brilliantly called ‘Metal News’ Woah!) where I could write about the latest heavy metal happenings, and he  promised me I could interview some ‘real’ bands in the future! Naturally, I jumped at the chance!

Lita Ford-First cover! Next stop Rolling Stone!

After several columns, and interviews with a few local bands, I was assigned my first ‘real’ interview with Lita Ford. Formerly of the all girl band ‘The Runaways’ (with Joan Jett) Lita was now going solo, and had set her sights on rocking hard in the male dominated Hair Metal scene. Lita was edgy, and one of the first women who played guitar (her trademark BC Rich’s) and sang. The male fans loved her leather clad, sex-kitten image, and the female fans envied her guitar playing and singing (I often wonder why so many girls in the 80s- myself included- automatically saw ourselves as ‘side stories’ to the music. We might write about it, date musicians, or promote them- but rarely did we set out to participate in the metal genre as musicians. Years later, Courtney Love, pre-Hollywood! would slap some kitten stickers on an axe, write her own lyrics & music -be as badass as any guy on stage- and sing with all of the guttural magnetism of Axl Rose.  Which made me see that it could be done, if one had the guts – and the thick skin it would take to plow through the initial criticism of ‘not acting like a lady!’) Lita, being a decade or more earlier, had to walk the tight rope of presenting herself as a sex object while asking to be taken seriously at the same time. Plus, she was practically the only female out there doing it in the hard rock world, which was beyond a boys club.

Joan Jett, Leif Garret and Lita (w/Lionel Ritchie to the right)

 I headed out on the highway,on the day of the interview with Lita, in my 1982 Firebird (like the Knight Rider car,which everyone pointed out, which at the time was taken as a  compliment.) It was new quarter silver with had black louvers, and a kick ass stereo.

I was meeting Lita at a Ramada Inn the day before her show with Twisted Sister and Ratt. Of course, I was going to that show with friends the following night. I decided not to bring any of said friends to the interview- despite their incessant begging. I wanted to concentrate on Lita, and come through for ‘Vox Pop’. I knew that none of my friends could keep quiet for five minutes in general, let alone for thirty minutes in the presence of a rock star. So ,I took off, being sure I had brand new batteries in my portable tape player, a polaroid camera to get a shot or two of Lita, and my trusty pad and pen for notes. Things were pretty old school in 1984, kids!

‘Lita’

Like I said, in 1984, Lita Ford was one of the few women in Hard Rock. She was still four years away from ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ and her duet with Ozzy Osbourne ‘Close My Eyes Forever’. She had just released her second LP, ‘Dancin’ On The Edge’ which contained the hit ‘Gotta Let Go’. I was as immersed in the hard rock scene as anyone, so I felt completely at ease with discussing music with Lita, but was naturally nervous to interview a burgeoning ‘star’. Though I’d met quite a few already, I’d never had to formally sit them down, and try to extract something interesting from them about which to write. I was also naive enough to believe that if I did an interview here and there (while living my  pedal to the metal, up all night lifestyle,working and going to school- not to mention conducting a completely tumultuous love life) that I would wind up doing cover stories for Rolling Stone in no time! Looking back, I can only blush with embarrassment at my naivete!

Lita, on the Twisted Sister/Ratt Tour of 84

Lita was cool as hell- we had an instant rapport- like I said- I was waaaay into the music, and could discuss all of my favorite guitar players, shows I’d been too, rock rumors,things I’d noticed about Lita’s style, the whole nine. We were both well versed in lesser known, but phenomenal guitarists like Michael Schenker, and boy could I wax poetic about my favorite solos. Many of which Lita got excited about. “Yeah! Yeah! I love that too!” I had to cut the interview by half- that’s how long we talked. I was absolutely floored when Tony Iommi (lead guitarist in Black Sabbath) appeared at our table like a heavy-metal apparition, as Lita had just that second been raving about him as an early influence, to which I could not agree  more!

Evidently, they were dating, but Lita asked me not to mention it because the situation was a little dicey. Whatever that meant! (He was married) I was so excited to keep Lita’s secret, flattered  to be brought into her confidence, that I wouldn’t even tell the editor of the paper who ‘the Unknown Guitarist’ in the interview was!  I suppose if I’d been a great journalist, I would not only have mentioned Tony, but also led with it. Tony soon sent over two orange juices -one for each of us (no vodka, to Lita’s chagrin!) which I took as a little nod of politeness from my favorite gentlemanly Rock God!

   

Below is the interview that was in the paper. It’s really hard to piece together, but I tried. I also have the complete taped interview. Pretty cool stuff. (Oh- and Lita gave me one of Tony’s guitar picks, straight out of her pocket- a prized possession to this day!!) And no- I never did see my byline on the cover of the Rolling Stone. But I did get five copies for my mother of the cover of the Vox Pop! 

View from the booth!

 

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