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Davis, California

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Pants optional

Sometimes I’m not sure what I’m doing with my life. I’m not talking about one of those quarter-life crises that so many of you insist on having where you trip balls about what you’re gonna do for a living or something depressing like that. I’m sure some of you know what it’s like to be sitting in class and wondering why you’re getting an education at an accredited university when you could be cussing out paparazzi or taking a baseball bat to something expensive just because. Damn, it must feel good to be a rock star.

It takes a special kind of human being to get away with getting drunk and biting strangers on the leg in Swedish hotels. Some people are just destined from early on to lead lives of chaotic insanity. Like Anthony Kiedis, who lost his virginity at the age of 12 to his father’s 18-year-old girlfriend. With permission, of course. Mick Jagger also once stated that he did it at 12 with two girls in a garden shed.

Kids grow up fast.

Every once in a while these guys let the substance ruin their own concerts, but it usually makes for amusing results. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith once played a single song at a London concert, said, “Good night, Berlin,” fell into the orchestra pit, and passed out. An audience member had to fill in for Keith Moon when he passed out for the second time at a show. Liam Gallagher bailed on an MTV Unplugged set, got drunk and heckled his brother from the audience. Sometimes when he doesn’t like a question that someone asks him he just punches them in the face. Oasis generally likes to go around telling people that they’re “the best fookin’ band in the world.”

Some bands just like to wreck stuff. This obscure little band called The Who smashed 700 pounds worth of equipment per night onstage when they felt like it. Keith Moon, their drummer, had an intense passion for blowing up toilets in hotels. He also drove a car once into a swimming pool and made the limo drive all the way back to the hotel from the airport just so that he could throw a TV out the window. Aerosmith took this a step further; they actually brought extension cords so that they could keep the TV on as it was falling. Chainsaws also accompanied them on tour so that they could remodel their hotel rooms more easily. Nirvana is another band that liked to seek excuses to do their instruments in.

Rock stars probably take for granted the simple joy that is throwing a hissyfit. David Lee Roth once flipped a bitch when he found a brown M&M backstage. Apparently this was forbidden in Van Halen’s contract. After trashing a penthouse in Thailand, Billy Idol refused to leave and ended up being tied down to a stretcher before they deported his ass.

But then again, part of their appeal is their lack of caring. Angus Young has no qualms about admitting that every AC/DC album sounds the same when reporters ask him about it. When arrested for indecent exposure onstage at a concert, Jim Morrison just said that he wanted to see what it looked like in a spotlight.

Not everyone can get away with half the stuff that these guys can, though. Ray Davies allegedly tried to pull a Keith Moon and knock a beer bottle against the wall, but he somehow ended up knocking himself out instead. Unfortunately I suspect that’s something that would happen to me (see pepper spray incident).

Some things rock stars do are just downright weird. Everyone knows that Ozzy is messed up from years of snorting, smoking and shooting up everything in sight, but he also bit the head off a live bat in concert. Keith Richards admitted to snorting his father’s cremated ashes mixed in with some cocaine, saying he “couldn’t resist.”

Where rock stars turn their antics into art is where they come down momentarily from the shitshows that are their lives and write a gem like “Free Bird.” It’s not the hotel rooms they trash, but the music that ultimately immortalizes them. Since I don’t have an ounce of musical talent, I know I’ll be back in class on Monday living vicariously. Maybe someday I’ll get my shot.

 

MICHELLE RICK salutes those about to rock this weekend and reminds you that real rock stars wear sunblock. Send blackmail photos to marick@ucdavis.edu.

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