Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Sleep, sickness, Van Halen

I slept almost all day today. It’s rainy and I did manage to drag 30 pounds of laundry to the ‘mat and get a couple of bagels and some juice, but otherwise I spent the day drifting in and out of sleep, flipping through the channels and watching nothing, and wishing I didn’t have a sore throat. Now I await my Indian food, listen to Van Halen’s Women and Children First (current track “Everybody Wants Some”, which reminds me of my 30th birthday when I rented a Corvette and drove around Vegas with the glass roof removed and this track on repeat, the Delco all-exclusive, all-top-end, better-than-Blaupunkt premium sound system at like 11.)

I actually spent a lot of last night and this afternoon reading Chuck Klosterman’s book Fargo Rock City, which Julie recommended when I said I was writing a book about 80s rock. I got a copy from the last Amazon dispatch, and sat on it because I thought I’d take it to Hawaii with me to help kill the 12-hour plane flight. But I cracked it open last night and started reading. I thought it would be a quasi-fictional book about some dudes in North Dakota hooked on Dokken records or something, but it’s more of a reviewer’s deconstruction and personal tales about heavy metal and what it means to him.

That’s a great premise, and I really do like a lot of his examination of the genre. That said, he’s a big fan of various glam metal that I really don’t like and consider to be more of a product of MTV and the LA scene than the kind of music I like. There are generally two types of metal: the kind that’s about the lifestyle, and the kind that’s about the power, the extreme-ness. He’s the kind of person that loves Poison and Motley Crue and completely dismisses guitar-metal and Death Metal, while I’m the complete opposite. But there are enough bands in the gray area and he’s an intelligent enough observer that I didn’t throw the book out of the window at page 6. (Which I assume people like Ray would.)

That said, he says some pretty stupid shit. He dismisses Rush as a Christian band; he says Slayer is a Death Metal band; he rails on bands with a more technical guitar player (i.e. the Steve Vais and Joe Satrianis) and he spends a lot of time at the beginning trying to define and dissect hard rock versus heavy metal, mostly getting it wrong. There were many points at which I thought this guy was full of shit, aside from the fact that he liked the most weak bands of the era.

That said, I stuck with it, and a lot of his observation was dead-on. One thing that really struck me was the fact that any rock music on the heavy end is written in such a way that you think you have a personal relationship with the person who created it. I mean, if you are a really huge Van Halen fan, and let’s say you relate most to Diamond Dave (as opposed to being a guitar fan and Eddie Van Halen virtuo-protege), you think to some extent that you have a conenction to Dave. He wrote the music (okay, the band did, but he sang it on the record) and you understand it, so you think he understands you, or you understand him. So there’s this strange premise of “wouldn’t it be cool to just hang out with David Lee Roth and life would be just like that video with the chicks with the boobs.” But in reality, that isn’t true, and that’s just part of the product. You won’t hang out with Dave or Eddie, and if you do, they aren’t going to be flying through the air on wire-mounted motorcycles like the “Panama.” They’re probably going to be hidden away in a trailer, bitching about their accountants. And that strange illusion is weird, because once you really realize it, the whole thing breaks. You can’t be an insane fan of a band if you know that it’s all fake. It’s like hooking up with a beautiful woman from a Victoria’s Secret catalog and becoming her boyfriend and girlfriend, and then getting to the point where you watch her take a shit, and that wall of illusion is gone. As a person who has never had a truly successful long-term relationship, I often wonder what that happy medium is, and if the secret to fifty years of marriage is that you really need to fall out of love and drink a lot of Pabst Blue Ribbon on a daily basis.

Okay, I went from book review to “too much information,” so I’ll stop there. I have absolutely nothing else to report – it’s been a very boring time around here. Maybe after my Indian food, I will have a greater burst of creativity and try to get to work on the book.