Night Of The Hunter

Welcome Back To My Nightmare: Alice Cooper introduces Steve Hunter in Columbus.

It’s a great time to be an Alice Cooper fan. Just last November, Alice wrapped up a 16-month world tour dubbed Theatre of Death, an over-the-top theatrical extravaganza propelled by his best band in years. In April, the original Alice Cooper Group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with a bombastic celebratory box set arriving in the summer. Next month will see the release of Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a conceptual sequel that reunites Alice with legendary producer Bob Ezrin and includes contributions from the ACG as well as veteran solo career collaborators. It would surely be permissible for the rock icon to take the summer off and relax.

But no. Not only has he been canvassing Europe and both North and South America since May, he is doing so under the banner of a new tour called No More Mr. Nice Guy. As the concert filler between Theatre of Death and the forthcoming Welcome 2 My Nightmare tour, it could easily have been a minimally produced affair in which Cooper & Co. make a few bucks off an assortment of greatest hits, and few would have complained. But Alice is firing on all cylinders right now, and his current show is no mere stopgap, as Wednesday’s date at the LC Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio proved. Read More

Future Shock

My ten-year-old self would have died at the revelation that this was coming one day.

Dear Bob:

If this letter reaches you sometime around the summer of 1979, then you have already wondered what it would be like to receive a letter from your future self. Well, wonder no further, because this is it. That’s right, Bob – I am you in 2011, thirty-two years in the future. As I recall, your summer days consist of reading a lot of MAD Magazine, listening to Alice Cooper, and watching as many Brady Bunch episodes as you can find on TV. They say the child is the father of the man, and in our case it’s true. You’ll still be enjoying those same interests in 2011. But you won’t believe how things have changed.

Some of what I say may be hard for you to understand, because the technology you use is going to change so fast that whatever dazzles you in ten years will be obsolete a decade or two after that. For example, take your record collection. By the time you’re in high school, most people will listen to their records less and less, preferring instead to take their music with them on portable cassette players. In college, you’ll see your first compact disc, a little silver record smaller than a 45 that is read by a laser instead of a needle. The sound will be incredible, and you won’t need to flip a disc over to hear the whole album anymore. What could be better than that, right? But that’s nothing. In 2011, I hardly use compact discs anymore. I have an mp3 player, a little box about the size of a wallet, and it has far more music on it than you currently have in your entire collection. Read More

Alice in Limaland

Alice In Limaland 2

“We kept getting jostled from all the kids dancing with wild abandon.”

This Monday will be the tenth anniversary of one of the most improbable and unusual adventures experienced by my parents, and I am the one to blame.  By the time it was all over, our quirky story had been covered twice by the local newspaper.  Mom and Dad became small-town celebrities for a brief time, recounting the incident for everyone from fellow church parishioners to Dad’s doctor.  They came across favorably as loving parents who gamely went along with a bit of outrageousness solely to indulge their youngest son.  I was 32 at the time; they were 67.

The story began more than 20 years earlier, though none of us could have known that at the time.  Who would have thought that a few nonchalantly expressed words from my father would have such a long-range impact?  Who could have foreseen how the longevity and vicissitudes of an aging rock star’s career would one day illuminate those forgotten words with the intensity of an enticing marquee?  But that is what happened, and Dad saw to it that he was a man of his word, even if it meant fulfilling a casual promise decades later. Read More

Art For Hoi Polloi: Salvador Dali


Lowbrow meets lowbrow: Rocky emulators sprint up the visage of Salvador Dali.

Recently I came across a live webcam of a construction site in St. Petersburg, Florida.  I was surprised to find not only active workers but fairly interesting activities going on, and I zoomed in to watch a pair of laborers installing triangular glass panes into a large, metallic lattice that bulged from a concrete edifice.  The structure looked somewhat odd for a conventional building but rather conservative for its intended purpose:  the next home of the Salvador Dali Museum.  Given the famous surrealist’s iconic imagery of melting watches and drooping appendages propped up by crutches, one might have expected a design that abandoned recognizable geometric forms altogether.

The new facility, slated to open in 2011, is only a few blocks from the current museum, but it will offer fifty percent more gallery space and more than twice the overall area.  More importantly, it will provide robust shelter from violent storms for its collection in a way that the present building does not;  so vulnerable is the existing museum to damage that its exhibits must be removed and stored during severe weather warnings.  Constructing a more secure home for these treasures sounds sensible to me, because I would hate for the world to lose the original work of such an incredibly talented and imaginative artist.  I have been captivated by Dali’s art all of my life, and obviously many people feel the same way.  Why, then, do I have the nagging sense that serious critics would dismiss his oeuvre as pandering to the lowest common denominator?

Perhaps because it does. Read More

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