Friday, May 22, 2009

Fuckin' Down It, Tommy


That day we decided to drink off our drummer woes at the Oakland Coliseum with Motley Crue, Whitesnake and Poison. We met our friends Lord Jim, Chris Bitch and Insane Lorraine, a motley crew in their own right, and scalped tickets on 66th Avenue. None of us owned a record of the any of the bands or even particularly liked them; to us it was kitsch -– anthropologists studying the hairspray locals. At least that’s what we told ourselves. All of us, except Lorraine, were making the awkward transition from Anarchist punk to civilian life. Some of us found college rock and others got their pop culture fix with hair metal.

Baking in the hot Oakland sun, I laid on my back watching the jumbotron flash: “Take It Off, Take It Off.” Bret Michaels from Poison was leading the chant and the jumbotron followed suit. I surveyed the crowd and, yes, a few girls on the shoulders of tanned boys had taken their shirts off. All was right in the world of arena rock.

Launching into “Talk Dirty to Me,” I jumped to my feet and screamed, “I know this song!” It seemed like an appropriate response for somebody who had only heard the hits from the band. But to the real fans, who surrounded me like a storm, I could visualize the word “Poseur” spilling from their disapproving looks. The effects of pre-show alcohol and marijuana had reared its ugly face.

The Crue pranced in from the side of stage, perfectly quaffed, giving the crowd the international metal sign and pointing to the third deck. I had read in Rolling Stone that they did push-ups right before going on stage, to make their biceps a little more attractive and wondered if they were out of breath from just doing a round of reps. They were tanned, their hair flowing and looked like they were about to have the time of their lives.

“Oakland, how you fuckin’ doing?” Vince Neal, lead singer, squealed in that metal voice. It was just the first of many “fuckins” to come. He knew how to work the crowd.

Not to be outdone by Poison and their “Take it off” shtick, Vince, still court-mandated sober for killing Hanoi Rocks’ drummer in an alcohol-related car accident, broke it down in the middle of the set:

“Do you motherfuckers like to party?” The word motherfucker is always a crowd pleaser and gets a positive reaction from the even the most lackluster crowd. “I can’t drink, Johnny Law says so, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to party and have a good time [screams from crowd].” The pace of his phrasing sped as he climaxed at “good time.” “Well, my friend Tommy [drummer] likes to drink, oh yeah!” Tommy stands, points his drum sticks at the crowd and cups his left hand behind his ear, while his right hand urges the crowd to make some noise. Giving that open-mouthed look of excitement that only drummers can do, he comes out from behind the drums, displaying an outfit of short shorts, that’s it. He confidently grabs the bottle while Vince squeals, “Fuckin' down it, Tommy.” I look at the jumbotron and it’s flashing “Down It, Tommy.” The crowd chants “Down it, Tommy,” (omitting the fuckin’) while he takes several large gulps of what is probably tea. He spits the last gulp in the air and returns to his drums, where his rack tom hides his lack of clothing.

Vince high kicked over to Nikki (there something about tight spandex pants that makes hair metal guys run in an affected manner) and puts his arm around him, his clinched fist resting on his torso - a very guy way of showing affection. “Now this motherfucker is crazy.” He hands Nikki the bottle. “Fuckin down it, Nikki!” The crowd goes crazy and the scoreboard follows suit.

Vince grabs the bottle from Nikki and thrusts to it to the sky, his extended arm the sole focus of 50k fans. He looks at the half empty bottle and then looks back at the band: “Fuckin pussies!” Vince appears pleased with himself and the crowd obliges and he gets a laugh. Ba-boom!

HE walks over to Mick Mars. “Now, you might not know it, but this motherfucker is the craziest of us all.” Mick, looking 1/3 El Vira, 1/3 Emily Strange and the rest Uncle Fester with a black wig with a chaser of Sam Jackson’s character in Unbreakable, grabbed the bottle and took a quick swig, quickly returning the bottle back to Vince. Vince looked a little annoyed and confused, not knowing what to do. While the jumbotron flashed, “Down it, Mick,” expecting Vince to go through the motions, Vince ran off stage and gave the bottle to a roadie. Eventually the jumbotron stopped flashing. Mick had blown the end of the Jack Daniels bit. Pure performance art! Back to the rock.

I returned to lying down -- I'm drunk, high, dehydrated and sunburned -- and watch my friends painfully move closer and closer to each other for a drunken hookup.

2 comments:

  1. Sadly, Lord Jim is no longer with us (this comes from many sources, but may be inaccurate). He once borrowed $20 dollars from me to buy me a drink. He was a sweet guy.

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