If You’re Wired, You’re Fired.

March 16, 2010

thanks for clarifying that; I was under the impression that you dudes operated under a strict code of conduct

Back in the late Nineties, one of my drinkin’ buddies periodically wore this orange Poison shirt—the same color as the “go directly to jail” card in monopoly. I thought this was cool because, as you probably remember, bright primary color shirts, like yellow and orange were cool at the time–like those first run of “[INSERT CITY NAME HERE] 04” Fourstar shirts. He and I also often contemplated starting a sincere hair metal band. However, I am not sure if he knew how to play an instrument. I don’t think he even had a band name, which is the element one usually creates first in this kind of endeavor. All he had was one song title:

“Unprotected Love.”

In the fantasy world we had created, rehearsal, jamming, practice–the usual processes of musicianship–were irrelevant. All that was needed to make dream reality was one really fucking cool song title.

I am not sure why I still like this genre of music. In actuality, it is not ironic or contrarian. It does, of course, hold undeniable nostalgia value. Perhaps it’s just upbeat, high-energy rock n’ roll about drinkin’ and fuckin.’ You don’t hear too much of that these days–but what do I know; I have reached the point where I don’t even seek out the work of individual artists, I just listen to whatever’s on the satellite radio/pandora. I do not, however, listen to NPR or classical music while driving–the point of no return.

Maybe my mental connection to this genre ties into the routine I developed surrounding it in pre-internet times. In order to view Headbanger’s Ball,* I programmed a magnetic videotape cassette recorder to turn itself on (mad futuristic) and record the show every Saturday night from 11:59 to 1:59. I definitely recall not programming it to start at 12 midnight—too much confusion with the date or some shit. One of the many interesting things about this television program was that they would start off with the more popular glam shit, such as Poison, and get progressively more and more “metal” as the evening went on, eventually culminating in the “Triple Thrash Threat.” You might also see a Candlemass or Celtic Frost (“Cherry Orchards” most likely–I know, I know) vid just for the fuck of it.

I have contemplated this musical genre extensively over the past few days because, after losing it at some professional development session back in the fall, I recently repurchased and reread my favorite book–Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman, whom I often reference on this site. Klosterman deconstructs the seemingly meaningless and shitty glam metal of the Eighties in a hilarious, personable fashion. Specifically, he spends much of the book deconstructing, and to a certain extent validating,  the oeuvre of Poison. I hated Poison back in their heyday, but now, at the very least, “Talk Dirty to Me” is one of the catchiest fucking songs ever, and “Nothin’ But a Good Time” is the best five-‘o-clock Friday song going, narrowly beating out “Workin’ for the Weekend.”

One particular piece that resonated during my recent revisiting of this tome concerns the chapter dealing with 80’s music videos, which unlike skate videos, were actually broadcast over readily available media at the the time. However, there were some metal videocasettes that attained a certain degree of infamy; one kid in middle school always had the Motley Crue Uncensored video with the, yes, uncensored “Girls, Girls Girls” video.

ANYWAY, Klosterman specifically goes into detail regarding the “live without and audience” subgenre, of which “Nothin’ but a Good Time” is a prime example. He asserts that this particular style of music videography, with full-blown stage sets, robotic lighting rigs swooping down from here and there, smoke machines pumping, lead singers running up and down corrugated metal ramps for no apparent reason, creates a sense of “hyper-reality”–even if you were in the front row at, say, the Ratt/Poison show, it still wouldn’t be nearly as in-your-face. For some reason, this made me think of the Berrics, with the dramatic lighting and slow-motion lifestyle footage. Furthermore, Klosterman also states that the gentlemen in Poison, as portrayed in the narrative of the “Nothin’ But a Good Time” video, “offer a bridge to a fantasy life.”

If the Berrics, as a media entity, does anything, that’s what it does. If you are unfamilar with the narrative of “Nothin’ But a Good Time,” a young gentleman, employed as a dishwasher in a restaurant, is hassled by his immediate supervisor. He kicks in the door adjacent to his work station, revealing a full-stage-set Poison performance. At the end of the video, the supervisor attempts to redirect the employee, but he is in a somnabulant dream-state; confetti from the performance has crossed over from the Poison dimension into the real world.

always thought this would make a cool graphic rip-off

Indeed, the careers of Michaels and Berra share many parallels. Both dabbled in screenwriting and the dramatic arts. Both moved to LA from the Midwest (yes, I know Harrisburg, PA is not technically midwest; however, it’s 1/3 of the way from Phila. To Cleveland—philosophically, it’s close enough) on a quest for the big time. Both have banged at least one B-to-H list (depending on the year) actress. Michaels and Berra both speak with the same heartfelt, deliberate seriousness; they really care about you. Above all, though, Berra has displayed an uncanny sense of business acumen that has kept him in the game long after more transcendent talents (many of whom, truth be told, were really cool guys) succumbed to the white lady, Mr. Brownstone, Mary Jane, or whatever sinister personification can be dreamed up for fixed-gear bikes.

Of course, every super serious dude needs a sidekick for comic relief. Reda is the C.C. DeVille to Berra’s Michaels–an abrasive, shticky, stimulant-fueled Brooklynite. I must admit, though, his comedy is more hit than miss, even though most of it ventures into the ethnic realm. I mean, in terms of skate-nerd humor, it doesn’t get much more hilarious than referring to a middle-aged Asian woman as “Kenny Anderson.”  Perhaps , if Jason Ellis achieves his goal of replacing Stern when the Long Islander’s contract runs out, Reda can ride his coattails to comedy superstardom. Like an Artie type thing.

Get well soon Artie–we miss you, bro.

NOTE:  I watch the videos Berra pumps out as religiously as the next dude. Specifically, the Walker Ryan part is some cool shit. Appleyard. PJ’s solo video part is the most footage from the gentleman we will most likely get until Unquestionable (or is it called Know Future now? That sounds like an Alanis Morissette album title) comes out in 2016. ANYWAY, it’s kind of funny, or maybe admirable,  that skaters are so centered these days that they will just let Reda say fucking anything. I wonder if he would berate, say, Maurice Key or, lord have mercy, Sheffey the same way. I also wonder if Berra adheres to the same “if you’re wired, you’re fired” policy Poison allegedly (apocryphally?) did.

When I was writing this, I tried to think of the most legit 80’s metal video–the Gino-in-Trilogy of the genre. Drew a blank. Perhaps the medium as a whole was just too fuckin’ goofy. I contemplated that L.A. Guns video when Phil Lewis drunkenly ambles around Sunset Blvd. fucking with random people, but L.A. Guns sucked except for two or three songs. However, during a recent bout with insomnia, I watched all of David Lee Roth’s “Just A Gigolo” video. If anyone held an advanced understanding of the medium, it was Mr. Roth. Indeed, in his autobiography Crazy From the Heat, he states that he almost made a motion picture, or some shit, based on the series of videos from his first solo record. I gotta tell ya, when analyzed with the “Hot For Teacher” video, Roth had a Rocco-like instinct for pumping out videos that portrayed California** as a wacky, opportunistic playground.

*For the purposes of this article, I am going to deny the existence of any incarnation of Headbanger’s Ball not hosted by Adam Curry or Rikki Rachman. I still have trouble dealing with him cutting his hair when Pantera and Prong blew up. To the extent that Prong “blew up,” but you know what I mean.

**”gimme a glazed donut…and a bottle of anything…to GO go go go go ….”


2 Responses to “If You’re Wired, You’re Fired.”

  1. if you havent, you should pick up a copy of klosterman IV- a lot of pop culture gems

    • thecarbonite said

      shit yeah, i’ve only read Killing Yourself to Live and FRC…still gotta read that, Cocoa, prob. gonna get Eating the Dinosaur when it comes out in paperback

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