Monthly Archives: September 2009

KISS, Reunion Tours & the Death of Rock and Roll

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately?  KISS, reunion tours & the death of Rock and Roll.

The other day I was minding my own business and losing myself in the fast-paced world of IReports when an animated ad informed me that KISS would be blessing Seattle with its presence in mid-November.  Just so there’s no confusion, I’m not talking about a KISS cover band or a group made up of KISS offspring.  I’m talking about freakin’ KISS.  That’s right, the costumed, hard rock band whose debut album dropped in the year of my birth (1974), is back on the road.  And they aren’t playing the local Indian Casino either.  They’re playing the 16,000 plus seat Key Arena.

gene-simmons

Gene, Gene the blood-spitting machine.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Wait.  Aren’t those guys dead?”  Well, not yet.  Their careers were on life support for a little while, but then in ’96 the two founding members – Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons – decided there might be more money in kicking it old school.  So KISS put the make-up back on, reconciled with the two original members they’d kicked out, and started a reunion tour, which apparently has never ended.

And they’re not the only rock stars with graying hair putting on high-priced reunion tours.  In 2008 the list of top grossing tours was overrun by acts whose best work is far, far behind them; Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, the Police, Neil Diamond, and the Eagles.

I thought the Eagles hated each other’s guts.  Now they’re on tour ever three years.  Apparently time (and money) heal all wounds.

What’s truly sad isn’t that these musical giants can still pack ‘em in, it’s that lesser acts – the ones you’re too embarrassed to admit you loved as a kid – are still touring.  Just drive by your nearest casino and read the large, animated sign.  You can’t miss it.  It’s the one right next to the highway distracting the drivers who are flying by at 70 mph.

As I cruised past the Emerald Queen Casino sign on I-5 south of Seattle this week I was brought up-to-date on the parade of has-beens that are making their way to the northwest in the next couple months.

Three Dog Night.  Kansas.  Air Supply.  Blue Oyster Cult.

Blue Oyster Cult?  Really?  The only reason anyone under thirty knows who these guys are, is because of a Saturday Night Live sketch.  And if this band didn’t fear the reaper, then why are they still hanging around?

Look, I guess I can’t blame the musicians.  If someone’s willing to pay them to do the thing they love to do, they should cash those checks.  The fact that there’s still an audience for this stuff is what has me scratching my head.  Are there people out there who think it’s really worth paying fifty bucks to hear the silver-haired members of Kansas belt out a subpar rendition of “Carry on Wayward Son”?  I mean, is there really no other way for baby boomers to spend a Saturday evening?

As a musical genre, Rock and Roll will live forever.  It will carry on in some distorted form or another until the cockroaches retake the earth.  But as a cultural concept, Rock and Roll is as dead as Kurt Cobain.  Because at its core, Rock and Roll wasn’t just about music, it was a movement that represented cultural rebellion in the form or sex, drugs, and disenfranchised youth.  It was supposed to titillate teenagers and scare parents.  But when AARP members start leading the charge, the rebellion is clearly over.

Consider this…

Elvis Presley’s pelvis used to scare the shit out of parents and work kids into a frenzy.  Now the song “Viva Las Vegas” is being used to sell boner medication.

The Who used to sing about their “generation” and hoped they’d die before they got old.  Now they’re cashing the checks CBS sends them for licensing their music to the CSI franchise.

Kiss Coffee2

Myrtle Beach Rock City!

KISS used to sing songs about banging groupies while trying to find new merchandise to slap their likenesses on.  Okay, they’re basically still doing the same thing.  They just have reality shows and coffee shops to help them push the product.

The only true Rock and Roll icons left are the ones who died before they had a chance to sellout.  But something tells me if Sid Vicious were alive today, he’d be more than happy to play the Lucky Eagle Casino.  Provided, of course, they paid the acts in high-quality heroin.


College Football

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately?  College Football.

The summer came and went so quickly, I hardly had time to break in my new Speedo.  Seems like just yesterday I was laying out the many things I hoped to do before Labor Day.  I did very few of them.  But while the days get shorter and the temperatures get colder, at least there is one bright spot that accompanies the autumn months: Football.

football TV

Are you ready for some flat screen?

The arrival of fall means it’s time to fire up the flat screen and revisit the tradition of ignoring the family on Saturdays and Sundays.  Unfortunately, by the end of September reality kicks in and wives across America let it be known in no uncertain terms that spending an entire weekend firmly planted in the center of the sofa will not be tolerated.  Most of us can get away with one day of gluttonous sports self-indulgence, but certainly not two.

Which leaves most of us men with an arduous decision to make: College football or the NFL?  For me, it’s a no-brainer.  I’ll take the NFL, please.

Now don’t get me wrong, college football is very cute.  There’s lots of pageantry, rivalries and tradition.  And the crowd shots of drunken co-eds on TV make me fondly remember when I was young enough to drink my weight in cheap beer.

The NFL, on the other hand, is simply the cream of the crop.  It’s the best football players, playing the best football in the biggest cities.  But more importantly, the National Football League provides fans with the most exciting time of the sports year… the NFL playoffs.

How does college football thank their faithful followers at the end of a grueling season?  A football-less month followed by roughly three dozen meaningless bowl games and a championship game whose participants are selected by a computer.  Thanks, but no thanks.

WOPR

The BCS Championship computer.

The BCS isn’t a playoff system.  It’s political trickery that’s perennially packaged and sold to the public as if it were a playoff system.  It’s the kind of thing that’s usually created in a Capitol Hill committee room.  It’s toothless, watered down, and has the fingerprints of lobbyists all over it.  In the case of the BCS, the people lobbying in favor of an antiquated bowl system are the commissioners of major conferences and schools that reside in those conferences.

The BCS is actually very similar to health care in this country, as it currently exists.  The vast majority of people would like to see it changed, but unfortunately, there’s too much money to be made by the people running the system.  Insurance companies want to maximize profits and are willing to provide a sub par product in order to do that.  Sounds like college football to me.

Some BCS supporters claim the regular season acts as a playoff.  I find this allegation as hollow and empty as the claim that the United States has the best health care in the world.  It’s an insane argument that could only be made by someone whose alma mater is not regularly left out of the championship equation.  You’ll certainly never hear it come from the mouths of Utah alumni.

Is establishing a better playoff system in college football as important as reinventing the broken health care system that leaves almost 50 million Americans without coverage?  Of course not.  I just happen to think these two problems are cut from the same cloth.  They’re both dysfunctional arrangements that have been institutionalized for as long as anyone can remember and they both continue to disappoint those not born into a certain type of privilege.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get on my high horse and prepare for a professional football season that’ll focus primarily on gambling odds, prima donna wide receivers and an aging QB who turns the question of his retirement into a running soap opera.

Go Giants!