Michael Jackson Thoughts

Michael Jackson

As everyone knows, Michael Jackson died last Friday from heart complications in LA.  While i wasn’t shocked by his death, I was amazed by the reaction both by people and the media.  Some of my thoughts:

  1. First off, while it’s nice to see such happy thoughts and words coming out of the media and blogosphere, i can’t believe how everyone has sort of forgotten about the past 15 years of Michael Jackson. I mean, multiple child molestation charges with 13-year old boys.  Whatever the cause of the guilt, do you know anyone who would leave their 12 year old with him alone?
  2. Some Good Articles: There is a great recount of all those stories listed here in Vantity Fair and Ebert has posted a great article that weighs both his greatness and his fragility in a good article here called “The Boy Who Never Gave Up
  3. Thinking about his legacy, he’s definitely one of the best performers of all time – his dancing and on-stage presence seems unparalleled.
  4. While Elvis brought in Rock n’ Roll, i feel that Michael Jackson brought in pop music.  He came to define the 80’s style while adding more production value to music.  To me, he invented the genre “pop”
  5. It’s interesting to see how people react once someone dies.  The immediately become forgiven and can easily take on legendary status.  While that’s ok, i wish more people who feel this way while the artist is alive.  Two months ago nobody was saying how influential MJ was. Then hie dies and everyone in the world starts blabbing off about how influential and transformative he was.  Was he awesome? Yes.  But why didn’t people post how awesome he was before? The same thing happened with Kurt Kobain, Johnny Cash, Elvis and others.  As Chuck Klosterman says (who is an expert on his subject having written Killing Yourself To Live), “You’ll hear nobody stating how influential Boy George is, but the minute he dies it’ll come out with how he was able to break down the gender barriers before anyone else”  And he’s right.  In death, people are no longer people, they become symbols.

Slash's Autobiography

Slash (autobiography)
Image via Wikipedia

A few months ago i plowed through the book Slash which is “written” by the Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.  I’m a huge fan so i really enjoyed the read.  Here are some interesting things i learned in the book:

  • When Slash‘s parents got divorced, the first guy his mom started dating was David Bowie. Slash and her would go to his shows with him and just hang out with the guy
  • Slash’s mom was a professional costume designer named Ola Hudson. She was quite an artist and tailored outfits and album covers for such acts as John Lennon, Diana Ross and the Pointer Sisters.  He dad also did album covers – for Neil Young and Joni Mitchell
  • His mom was also good friends with David Geffen. But when Slash was signed by Geffen’s label, he kept is a secret.  One Christmas, Geffen was eating lunch with Slash’s mom and asked how Slash was and she replied, “you should know, you signed him a few months ago.”  He was floored b/c he had no idea Slash was actually the same little kid that he knew for all those years.
  • Slash was really into BMX bikes and at age 12 was considered one of the best riders in the country for his age bracket
  • One of Slash’s good friend’s dad was Seymour Cassel, who is an actor (Max’s dad in Rushmore).  He is the one who gave Slash the name “Slash” because he never sat still and was always scheming
  • Slash was so messed up on drugs the entire time that most of the success he realized has been forgotten.  For instance, he went to the MTV music awards and didn’t even know he was a nominee.  When they won, he went on stage and didn’t know that it was an acceptance speech.  The whole night was a blur and along the way he left the award in a cab.
  • All the members of the band were so messed up on hard drugs that they really couldn’t function.  They had to have a fix before shows to operate.  Slash went to rehab several times and it never really worked until he was long done with GnR
  • Alx comes off as a total dick in the book.  They were constantly waiting for him.  He’s arrive late to almost every show.  He wouldn’t show up for rehersals.  While i’m sure he was much more sane than the rest of the crew, he was also the main source of anxiety and stress for all members of the band
  • The song November Rain was actually written for Appetite for Destruction but they left it off because they wanted only one ballad on the album and that was Sweet Child o’ Mine.
  • Paradise City was written when they were all driving down from San Fran way before they were even getting good gigs and was just a chant they wrote when they were excited to get back to LA.  As the band grew and the egos grew, they never traveled like this again and lost all comraderie.  Reading the book you realize why songs like Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child, Paradise City, Rocket Queen never materialized.  They were written at a time when the band was incredibly tight and the lyrics of Alx, and the guitar playing of Duff and Slash were perfect compliments

It’s a good book and really interesting if you’re a Guns N’ Roses fan.  It’s a bit longer than The Dirt – Motley Crue’s autobiography – and it only focuses on one member so it has much more depth.  I recommend it. 3.5 to 4 stars (out of 5).

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25 Random Things About Me

I got tagged in Facebook to do one of these lists.  I really enjoyed reading some of my colleagues and some of my old friends from high school so i thought i’d put one together.

The rules are that once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged or however many you want. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

Here are my items:

1. I don’t like fruit (with the exception of apples) and i’m happy that my sister’s the same way. It makes me feel less strange.

2. I tend to get around. I’ve been to 49 states and hope to get to the final one, Mississippi, sometime soon.  Since college, I’ve lived in Virginia, New York, Washington DC, Boston (sort of), and now Los Angeles.

3. I have no toenails on my 2 little toes.

4. I was born in NY, then moved to CA, then moved to Texas before i finished my youth in Minnesota.

5. I grew up in Minnesota.  When i moved east in 1996, i felt like a Midwesterner.  I then lived on the east coast for 11 years.  When i moved to California last year, i felt like an Easterner.  After a few years here, who knows who i’ll be.

6. i’ve never broken a bone. I attribute this to my love of milk.

7. I love the extended Lewis Family clan and feel so fortunate that i have such great cousins, aunts and uncles.

8. When i was younger I used to dress up like a ninja and wonder around in the woods with my brother.

Continue reading “25 Random Things About Me”

Welcome to the Jungle….

As Axl Rose purportedly makes final preparations to put out Chinese Democracy any minute now (we hope!), Stephen Davis, the rock biographer behind 1985’s classic Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga, is releasing his long-awaited Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses. In it, Davis traces GN’R’s illustrious history all the way back to Rose’s origins as a disaffected Indiana kid named Bill Bailey. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s introduction:

Some think the legend of Guns N’ Roses began in the nighttime Los Angeles of 1985, a distant echo of West Hollywood’s neon-lit Sunset Strip. Others think it should begin ten years earlier, at the confluence of two Indiana rivers, the Wabash and the Tippecanoe, in the 1970s. But in this telling, the GN’R saga begins in gritty New York, in upper Manhattan, on a sweltering, run-down street in the late afternoon of a summer day in 1980

Continue reading “Welcome to the Jungle….”

The Crue is Smart

Sure they’ve done some dumb stuff, but check this out – they released the single from their latest album, Saints of Los Angeles, both in the video game Rock Band and as download on iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere. In the first week it was downloaded 47,000 times on the Xbox alone compared to 10,000 times on iTunes and other digital download stores on the Web.

Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Grand Theft Auto – that’s where the action is.   Smart

The Dirt on/by Motley Crue

I just finished reading the book The Dirt, a semi-autobiography of the 80’s band Motley Crue. It’s a great read that is pretty mesmorizing. All four band members write about their childhood, the crazy period where they become the most famous band in America and then the post-fame period where they turn to drugs and amazingly hot chicks.

The middle section of the book is how the Crue got from a great live act to becoming a hit. They were constantly selling out shows on the LA Strip but none of the record labels wanted to sign them to a record deal. This was the early 80’s and the entire industry thought that New Wave was the thing to be and Rock was dead. A 20-year old intern at Electra convinced the head of A&R to let him sign them. They then rel-released their first album and went on the next year to sell 5 million records. Even with that success, the label wanted to drop them because they didn’t like their image. After the next year when they were the top selling artist of the year did Electra decide to stick with them.

Throughout the book Nikki Sixx emerges as the only one who understood what the band’s direction was. He wrote most of the songs and consciously decided they should be a crossover from hard rock to mainstream. He also seems to be the glue that held the band together. He also was dating Lita Ford for most of their early days but eventually broke up when they went on tour for 18 months. They toured with Ozzy, who was even crazier than they were. He eventually married Baywatch star Donna D’Errico.

You also read how much drugs they took in both their early days. They were constantly doing coke, heroin, and anything else they could get their hands on. As a result they destroyed almost everything in the path and they hooked up with anything that moved. Both Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee overdosed and almost died, Vince Neil got into 3 drunk driving accidents, and Mick is a full-blown alcoholic even today.

You also read about Tommy Lee’s marraige to Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson (who he dated for only 4 days before they were married). Also about Vince’s solo band and all the tragedies they’ve encountered along the way.

The beginning is pure rock and roll and the end is just sad. You would never think that their lives would be so hard but they all really struggle just to make it day to day. I guess a bunch of ego and booze and drugs will do that to you.

Note: i just saw here they’re making a movie from the book with Val Kilmer and Christopher Walker rumored to play Ozzy and David Lee Roth.

If You Want to Rock, Bang Camaro

Let’s start by saying this: there is a lack of ROCK in the world today.  It’s become a hiphop and country world, and this world has kicked good ol fashioned rock n’ roll to the f’ing curb.   There are about 3 rock bands in the mainstream right now: Daughtry, Nickelback, and Hinder.  I only know Nickelback and think all 3 pretty much suck.  It should be noted that they’re selling records like hotcakes.  Why? Because there are no other choices if you want to rock.  But it’s good to see that there are people like me – people who still care and want to crank some tunes and rock out.

Imagine my happiness when i discovered the Band Bang Camaro. Here’s a band that just turns it up to 11 and then just rocks!  I went to their MySpace page (here) and put on Pleasure Pleasure. I dare you to try to not nod your head to the rock.  I’ve also included the mp3 (here) of Push, Push (Lady Lightning).  It’s no old school GnR.  It’s probably more like an early Def Leppard, but at it is something.

New Guns N' Roses Album is Coming!

Axel RoseYou read it here first. The next Guns N’ Roses album called Chinese Democracy that’s been rumored for about the past decade is finally coming. And to prove it, there’s a single coming out from it. It’s called “Better” and i’ve got it right here (link).

This could turn out like Michael Jordan’s return to play with the Wizards. Whatever, i’m pretty damn excited.

(from Idolator)