This evening, I’ll be taking the Spawn to her first “real” (that is to say, non-Berries) rock show, as we head to Real City to see Alice Cooper and his band. It’ll be the third time I’ve seen the Coop. The first was at the Cincinnati Gardens, on his comeback tour for Constrictor in 1986. I bought a T-shirt that somehow eventually became my dad’s (which made sense — Dad was always cooler than I could ever be), and two of my bandmates and I had front row seats. It was one of the early dates of the tour, just far enough in that the band had jelled, and it was a powerhouse performance. While I was aware of Alice — mainly through my friend Carl’s big brother — I had only really discovered his work a little before Constrictor, when I realized that had I known about his early 70s work when I was in high school, I might not have listened to anything else. As a late bloomer, the teen anthems were perfect for the 20-year-old me, and the more metallic, splatter movie Alice that came with the comeback suited my Midwestern thirst for loud rock and spectacle. So yeah, I liked it.
I saw him again in 2002, as I had finished my Ph.D. defense and was teaching as contract faculty at Ball State. Mrs. M and I had seen Paul McCartney in Indy two nights earlier, and here I was back in town two nights later to see Alice on the Dragontown tour. This time the show was more satirically focused, although it still had plenty of Alice’s trademark hard-rock variations on the Mummer’s Play. (I actually mention this when I talk about Northrop Frye with my classes: Someone shows up, cavorts and upsets the social order, is executed (often by beheading), and returns to lead the revels. That’s an Alice show, right there.) But the high point for me was toward the end of the show. A dancer (probably Alice’s daughter Calico) meant to resemble Britney Spears came on stage — with a Pepsi logo placed over her crotch — and bumped and ground her way through a fembot version of “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” before learning that in Alice’s world, such suggestions are taken much more literally. He chased her offstage, and returned with a “Britney head” impaled on a mike stand, like Macduff with Macbeth. Sic semper corporate dancepop. Violence toward women? Sure — but this is an Alice Cooper show; there’s violence towards everybody, and Alice himself had been beheaded and hanged at points earlier in the evening.
I’m looking forward to tonight’s show — he has a new album coming out shortly, including some tracks with the surviving members of his original band. But it’s going to be even more fun sharing it with the Spawn, who firmly believes Alice should be a Disney villain. And he kind of is already. A report will follow.
For reasons that currently elude me, I broke a several-month fast from walking. I did the treadmill thing a few times this week, and logged a couple of miles or so each day. My right foot developed its characteristic blister, but it’ll become a callus soon enough, I guess.
People often talk to me about the endorphins released by exercise. The science seems to support that, but I can’t attest to any of it. Not only have I never experienced anything like a “runner’s high”, I’ve never even felt a walker’s buzz. Still, I suppose I’ll do it until I don’t want to again. We shall see.
I forgot to mention that tonight’s pre-concert dinner with the Spawn is funded by a gift card that the Sisters in Crime were gracious enough to send my way as an honorarium for last week’s speaking gig. It was a delightful surprise, but as I said on Twitter, they could have just had me at the free dinner. Thanks, ladies and gents!
I was in Real City yesterday for various reasons, and took the opportunity to swing by the used media store, where I picked up a couple of Michael Connelly’s Bosch paperbacks and a book I had wondered about for a few years — Jim Bouton’s Foul Ball, his account of an effort to save a historic baseball stadium in the Berkshires. I’m only a little into it at this point, and while small town business and political machinations don’t seem to carry the same zest as the Seattle Pilots’ only season, Bouton’s voice remains strong and engaging. More as I have it.
And to wrap things up, we’ll go to the Coop for some music. This is a song he won’t be playing tonight, from the group’s relatively obscure first album, Pretties for You (on Frank Zappa’s Straight label). The album — and its successor, Easy Action — are far more psychedelic and strange than the albums that made the group famous, but they have charms of their own. This track also has the distinction of having been more-or-less plagiarized by the Flaming Lips, under the title “The Ceiling Is Bendin’.” This is “Levity Ball.”
See you soon!