Snowy Red

Written by J.R. Taylor on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

But there
are probably amoral people who take equal pleasure in the long closing shot
of Electra Glide in Blue. There sits dead Officer Wintergreen firmly
in the middle of the highway, forever mounted as a stuffed trophy of bad existentialism.
His only crime? Trying to be nice to a bus full of hippies that he pulls over
for speeding. Wintergreen lets the mangy creeps off the hook as penance for
the excesses of his fellow officers, but the driver takes off without getting
his license back. The cop hops on his motorcycle and tries to flag the guys
down, and is rewarded with a shotgun blast out of the back window.

Four years
passed between the release of Easy Rider and Electra Glide in Blue.
Wintergreen should have known that times had changed. By 1973, there was nothing
mellow yellow about hippies in a bus. Those guys were all lean green, and probably
hauling a stash of coke the Rolling Stones needed backstage by midnight.

The line
used to be pretty clear between these two kinds of people. Now it’s getting
blurred. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) has always struck me as an aging amoral lean
green hippie type. I might have been wrong. By my reading, Daschle recently
said that he considered cocaine use to be a far more pressing issue than rape.
As a good feminist–just as Sen. Daschle certainly is–I’m all
for the death penalty in cases of rape. It has never occurred to me that coke
use should be treated just as harshly. The world may be a better place if more
drug dealers ended up like the guys in Easy Rider, but it’s also better
when the courts take care of these things.

Still, I’ll
concede Daschle’s point. We’ve seen how the rape problem can be stemmed
in Thelma & Louise. Coke use is more complicated. If Daschle will
go along with easier access to concealed weapons, I’ll certainly consider
supporting the wholesale assassination of coke dealers. I’m not so sure
about Daschle’s insinuation that we assassinate coke users. It’s
a fine idea to enforce long prison sentences on anyone who’s caught using
cocaine. The death sentence, however, is too much of an esthetic judgment. We
all want to kill people who use cell phones and keep lawn ornaments in their
apartments. That doesn’t mean we would be right to legislate a few new
death penalties.

you’d never get the support of the media. The vast majority has already
done cocaine. Heck, there were people all over the news back in the early 80s
talking about how harmless coke was as a drug. The experts said nobody got addicted,
much like we still hear today about marijuana. The press corps will never get
behind any serious attack on people who might have used cocaine. Even I’ve
taken the stuff. In my case, however, it wasn’t for pleasure. It was more
like public service for the crime of hanging out with music industry people.

This was
a while ago, too–though not as long ago as I wish it were. Like I’m
sure Bill Clinton did, I took cocaine in the mid-80s. That puts me at an embarrassingly
late age to be taking anything. In my defense, the stuff was still fairly easy
to find back then. This was back in the days when popular acts on 120 Minutes
would often play Manhattan clubs in exchange for bags of white powder.

You couldn’t
catch me today in the hotel room of a sleazeball tour manager. It’s a long
story of how I got there then. It’s one of those friend-of-a-friend-of-a-coke-whore
situations. Anyway, I was appalled at my surroundings. The tour manager was
exceptionally creepy in that typical tour manager way. He had the gold chain
and the permed hair and the permed mustache. The guy was likely slumming in
the alt-rock scene until he got the chance to hook up with Jefferson Starship.
Naturally, he brought along his shining monument to all that made him persona
au gratin: The big rock candy mountain was prominently displayed on the bureau.

Like any
fairly hip person of the 70s and 80s, I knew that cocaine was the devil’s
drug. Taking it was the only way I knew how to show my disdain. I took a hell
of a lot of it, too. The tour manager had to go off and deal with some errant
groupies. I grabbed an envelope out of the hotel bureau and put a very substantial
amount of cocaine in there.

Note that
I never admitted to actually doing cocaine in the mid-80s. That wouldn’t
make sense. Christ, I was already an adult by then. I simply took cocaine.
The case could be made that I used it, though. I gave the envelope to my friend-of-a-coke-whore.
He, in turn, ingested some of the powder into his nasal passages. This enabled
him to stay awake so that we could hit the road first thing in the morning.
That was very useful.

Today, of
course, I would never do such an underhanded thing. I’ve gotten way too
comfortable in expressing my hatred. The last person to offer me cocaine was
given a short lecture on how it’s the preferred drug of pathetic audio
salesmen who hang out in swing clubs. The guy wasn’t amused by the comparison.
This might not have mattered if he hadn’t just hired me for a job two days
before. There’s a shining six months on my resume.

like to think that today’s kids are buying into a similar fine mindset,
but I don’t really have any idea. This summer has left me frankly baffled
by the current youth culture. It’s strange times when my two favorite films
of the summer were about teens and drugs in the sodden 70s. It’s even stranger
when both of these films were the two biggest bombs of the season. Dick
probably never had a chance, since no one could buy the idea of a president
being offended at the idea of a young girl wanting to have sex with him. Besides,
the ending is just too sad. Richard Nixon is forced to resign after two teens
inadvertently play a major role in Watergate. The two gals look at each other
and say, "Now no president will ever lie to us ever again."

Rock City
doesn’t touch on anything so poignant. The most tragic thing
in the entire movie is actually the four drug-addled heroes. They’re your
typical young idiots of 1978: They’re expert with bongs, but can’t
drink brown liquor. They brim with confidence, but can’t speak to girls.
And they believe in rock ’n’ roll as represented by a massive marketing
device called Kiss.

But at least
they don’t do cocaine. This is because they have high moral standards.
These standards are best represented by their simple core belief that disco
sucks. The contrast is made clear early on in the film when the foursome pick
up a stranded disco gal on the highway. This leads to a culture war waged in
the confines of a Volvo, and it’s the funniest musical debate since those
drooling psychos went at it in Mother’s Day. The disco floozy promptly
sets the tone by claiming that Kiss will never make a record as good as Donna
Summer or the Village People. Nobody in the car is coherent enough to realize
that all three acts were on Casablanca Records.

One of the
idiot teens should be reminded of this, however, when he later sneaks backstage
at the big Kiss concert. There, he discovers a hot tub area full of writhing
gals in bikinis. There’s also a weaselly looking guy. My first thought
was that Can’t Stop the Music is no longer the final cinematic tribute
to Neil Bogart. But Mr. Weasel actually serves a more evil purpose, as foreshadowed
earlier in the Volvo.

The disco
floozy further taunts the kids that Kiss will even make a disco record some
day. "Kiss would never make a disco record!" cry the disgusted teens.
A contact high then dissolves further discussion, and that’s the only way
a potsmoker will win a debate this millennium. The joke, however, is on the
idiot kids. The audience knows that Kiss is only one year away from "I
Was Made For Loving You."

Blame that
guy in the hot tub. He’s probably Gene and Paul’s coke dealer and
spiritual adviser. (Gene Simmons serves as producer, so the film makes it clear
that Peter and Ace are peripheral to the ’78 Kiss experience.) The character’s
even billed as "Incredibly Lucky Guy In Hot Tub." "Incredibly
Lucky" certainly sounds right. Being Kiss’ coke dealer in ’78
would have been like being Bill Gates’ pool guy in ’98. You can get
rich off the tips.

a reason that Detroit Rock City is set in 1978. Really cool teens are
already snorting glue while listening to the Ramones. Kiss is in the midst of
their solo album implosion. And it’s time for four dumb teens to start
growing up. Their betrayal is right around the corner, so it actually feels
vitally important that these retards are able to sneak into a big sold-out Kiss
concert. But they’re only winning a small battle when they finally make
it into the auditorium. More importantly, the epic quest for tickets proves
that these four losers have a shot at actually becoming upstanding young men.

That, incidentally,
is your box-office poison. The two best films of the summer were about teenagers
learning about morality in a world gone crazed by amoral adults. That’s
in stark contrast to the big hit American Pie, which was about nothing
in particular (in contrast to, say, true teen-sex moralism like The Last
American Virgin
). At least the amoral Teaching Mrs. Tingle also bombed.
There might yet be a decent battle worth fighting for the hearts and souls of
young Americans. I just hope that antidrug fanatics like Tom Daschle don’t
go throwing out the teens with the bathwater.