Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valor, and be in readiness for the conflict - Winston Churchill
I remember the moment I knew I spent way too much time thinking about Rock And Roll. One day in 1992 my girlfriend was looking at a picture of five longhaired guys in a magazine and asked "You ever heard of a band called Def Leppard?"
"Oh, yeah" I said "One of 'em lost an arm in a car accident."
"Really? Which one?"
"That one right there." I said, immediately pointing out the right guy WITHOUT HAVING TO LOOK AT ANYBODY'S ARMS!!!
But this is not an article about Rock and Roll. Western Civilization is at war for its very survival and today I report on two Rock related DVDs so relevant to our current struggle with international terrorism I've got Condoleeza Rice coming over to watch 'em this Saturday night. Now, listen here, baby, and stop acting so crazy . . .
First we've got "Hysteria - The Def Leppard Story", a dramatization of the indestructible metal band's career (Featuring a surprise appearance by Anthony Michael Hall as legendary record producer Mutt Lange. In "The Dead Zone" Hall grabs a guy's arm and yells "Your house! There's gonna be a fire!" In "Hysteria" he grabs a guy's arm and yells "Here it is! I found it in the weeds!"). Cornier than Succatash without lima beans, but you'd have to be a former member of The Replacements not to be inspired by "Hysteria" - Lovable guys make it big, lovable drummer loses his arm, lovable guitar player drinks because he can't see how lovable he is, lovable lead singer has blonde hair all of a sudden - But they just keep right on a'rockin no matter what!
How do they do it? The most important thing about Def Leppard in this context is that they are BRITISH. Yeah, everybody knows that, but Def Leppard aren't Sex Pistols "This is BOLLOCKS! SOD it! It's SHITE!" British like we here in America can relate to, Def Leppard are Winston Churchill "Never in the field of human conflict was so little owed by . . . Wait . . . Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed to so many . . . Uh . . . Never in the field-" Aw, Hell - I can't even remember the words to any Def Leppard records, how the hell am I gonna quote a classy dude like Winston Churchill? But the British are TOUGH. The British have been British for centuries while here in America everybody will be Mexican by Christmas- Navidad, I mean. Every old World War Two movie has a lovable little British guy to keep everybody's spirits up no matter how grim things are looking . . . The Regiment is entirely surrounded by Irwin Rommel's Afrika Corps, hundreds and hundreds of ten ton Nazi Tiger tanks are coming right at em and Gunner Milligan announces "No problem, Colonel! I got me CAN OPENER right 'ere!" (I'm talking about how "Tough" they are, not how "Funny") This is the strength that pulled triumph out of defeat at Dunkirk, kept London standing tall throughout the Blitz, and enabled The Who to continue after Keith Moon died. Okay, so sometimes it's best to sober up and face the facts, but anyway . . . In "Hysteria" this role is filled by Phil Collen, Def Leppard's new guitar player after the original is given the sack for being too much of a "BOLLOCKS! SOD! SHITE!" person (He is now writing album reviews for SPIN). Nothing can keep Phil down and - Although I could happily choke him to death with my bare hands - I find the idea of an entire nation of such lovable scalawags rather comforting. Oh, wait - It says here that Phil lives in California nowadays. Sure hope things work out better for him than they did for Dudley Moore!
"There's only one way through this nightmare and that is THROUGH it!!!" is Def Leppard's battle cry when the drummer . . . Well, you know, but such oratory would be a total loss on the members of Metallica, the subject of the documentary "Some Kind Of Monster." Metallica, whose drummer still feels deprived for not having been born with three arms so he could play as well as a guy with two, is the most successful hard rock band in history which is why I spell "hard rock" with a little "h", a little "r", and a little cartoon of a long haired guy standing in dog shit in the margins. If Def Leppard embodies the spirit that lead Britain to victory against Hitler, Metallica represents everything about America that . . . Maybe this would be a good place for a Ward Churchill quote? Naaah . . . Forget about anything as horrible as the loss of a limb, the Big Crisis these candy asses are confronted with in this film is their guitarist James Hetfield checking into rehab right in the middle of recording an album which, after watching Def Leppard plead with their guitarist Steve Clark to check into rehab all through "Hysteria", just don't seem like that big a deal to me. But I'll give it a shot -
"There's only one way through this nightmare and that is THROUGH it!!!"
"What does that mean?"
"Well, you know - The only way for us to deal with this is to DEAL WITH IT!!"
"Oh! I see!"
"Well, I don't! You're just saying the same thing over and over!"
"No, he isn't! You're being stupid!"
"I'M being stupid?! YOU'RE the one who understands that stupid 'The only way to deal with this is through it' thing!"
"I didn't say 'The only way to deal with this is through it', I said-"
"No, YOU shut up!!"
"No, YOU shut up!!"
Long uncomfortable silence.
If there's one important lesson that Metallica can learn from "Hysteria" it is The Healing Power Of The Hug. The members of Def Leppard spend so much time hugging each other in this movie that if it wasn't for their long hair, earrings, and tight leather pants it would be suspicious. But, as Our Great American Spiritual Leader Duff McKagen so ably demonstrated in that Velvet Under . . . I mean, Velvet Revolver video where the stupid lead singer was dying of a drug overdose and was magically brought back to Life by The Duff Hug O'Love, there is nothing that makes a multimillionaire rock star feel better than a good HUG. That and real estate. And publishing rights. And product endorsement contracts. And . . . Oh, jes' give boy a HUG - That's what he really needs!
A Velvet Under . . . A Velvet Revolver Concert
Some poor kid jumps onstage in the midst of an eye rolling teeth gnashing methamphetamine fit. At a gig by any other band he'd be dragged offstage and beaten to a pulp by security goons but, this being a . . . Concentrate, John! Concentrate! . . . Velvet Revolver show he finds himself in The Healing Embrace Of The Duff Hug O' Love and is restored to perfect health and sanity INSTANTLY!
"Clean and sober!! Hallejullah!! Clean and sober!! I am a NEW MAN!! And now I am gonna TESTIFY!!"
Slash staggers up to the kid.
"Dude, that's BEAUTIFUL, man!"
Slash gives the kid a hug. The kid has an immediate overdose and dissolves into a puddle of slime which Slash draws up into a hypodermic and injects into his arm.
"Oh, well!" smiles Duff "That's our Slash!!"
(MUSIC: "Waiting On A Friend" By The Rolling Stones)
The Big Scene in "Some Kind Of Monster" is when Hetfield returns to the studio after a year and has been transformed into such a weenie Conor Oberst wants to give him a wedgie. What rehab clinic did they send him away to - The Brian Wilson Center? This mook, who can't even sing well enough to go "LET ME STAND NEXT TO YOUR FIRE! LET ME STAND NEXT TO YOUR FIRE!" along with an old record you play at a barbeque, is sitting in the studio playing guitar - BRRAAANK!!! BRAAAAAANK!!! BRRRAAAANK!!! - when their producer Bob Rock ables over with the Nicest Smile In The World (Bob produces for Motley Crue as well as Metallica. If he hadn't gone into the music business he'd be training chimpanzees to do funny tricks for TV commercials. He's probably had so many Motley Crue hugs tattoos have rubbed off on him. "But then I looked in the mirror and saw that it says 'PAMELA'!") and tells James "Man, that is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my life!". James stops playing guitar and stares at Bob like "Huh? What? Huh?" so now Bob is embarassed "Uh . . . Cause . . . You know . . . You haven't been around for a year . . . And . . . Uh . . . Now you're back in the studio and . . . It's nice . . . " James is glaring at Bob like "What are you - Some kind of a HOMO!?!" Bob realises what a sad mistake it has been to treat this galoot like some kind of an adult man and just touches James on the shoulder a bit in a "Down, boy! Down!" kind of gesture. James is mortified and watches Bob stagger off with pure contempt. What a DICK! How'd ya like to share a foxhole with a guy like that? "Hetfield! Cover my back!" "What is that supposed to mean, ya big queer?"
Duff McKagen materialises from out of nowhere (He can do that, know - He's DUFF!!).
DUFF: James! What was that?
JAMES: Huh? Duff!?! What the hell are you doing here?
DUFF: James, just now when Bob was talking to you, don't you understand that he was only trying to let you know how much he cares about you?
JAMES: What the FUCK!?! I go into rehab for a year and everybody turns into a buncha FAGGOTS!!
Lars, the two armed drummer, enters.
Duff gives Lars a hug.
JAMES: What the hell is going on around here!?
DUFF: Hey, James . . .
DUFF: Group Hug! C'mon!
JAMES: Who? Me?
DUFF: C'mon, James!
LARS: Hey, Kirk!
Kirk, the spineless hippie guitarist - Looks like a doormat with fingers - enters.
LARS: We're gonna have a group hug with Duff and James!
KIRK: Duff? Duff is here?
Kirk hugs Duff.
JAMES: Aw, for God's sake!
Bob comes back in.
Bob and Duff hug.
KIRK: We're gonna have a Group Hug!
JAMES: WE ARE NOT!!!
DUFF: Come on, James!
JAMES: No, man!
LARS: Oh, come on!
BOB: Give us a hug, James!
JAMES: I don't wanna!
DUFF: Aw, James!
LARS: Do it for Cliff, James!
KIRK: Yeah! Give us a hug for Cliff, James!
JAMES: You guys!
DUFF: Cliff would give us a hug if he was here!
BOB: Yeah, Cliff would give you a hug if he was here!
JAMES: Awww . . .
KIRK: Do it for Cliff, James! Do it for Cliff!
JAMES: Aww . . . I can't say "No" to you guys!
James stands up and all the guys embrace him. There is a moment of silence. And then . . . A sudden falsetto . . .
JAMES: Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life! At last I've found yoooooouuuu!!
KIRK: He just grabbed my butt!
They all run away from James.
JAMES: Lars, go put on that cute Little Drummer Boy outfit with the black shorts and matching black wife beater! I just LOVE you in that!
Everybody is leaving.
JAMES: Don't leave yet! I was gonna make espresso!
DUFF: I got a soundcheck in Manchester . . .
BOB: Say, Duff , if you need a producer for the next Velvet Under . . . Velvet Revolver record . . .
DUFF: I caught that "Under . . . "!
JAMES: Fine! Be that way! I don't need you! I've got my MUSIC!
James starts playing guitar and singing.
JAMES: Each morning I get up, I die a little, can barely stand on my feet, take a look in the mirror and cry - I want a Steinway in here IMMEDIATELY!!
Americans will always do the right thing - After they've exhausted all the alternatives - Winston Churchill