Refusing To Quit
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 31 13:59:38 CDT 2004
>From the San Francisco Chronicle at:
REFUSING TO QUIT
Sunday, August 1, 2004
I had a granola-induced flashback: I was hanging out
with Michael O'Donoghue, smoking Turkish blunts from a
long, black-tipped cigarette holder, discussing the
anti-establishment movement back in the '60s. "Hey,
Mr. Mike," I asked naively, "whatever happened to the
Summer of Love?" "Ah, young man," he said, casually
tipping his ash, "it became the Winter of Cash."
And with that, Mr. Mike's head exploded because of a
massive brain aneurysm.
If Jimi Hendrix hadn't choked on his own vomit, he
might be gagging today at the de-evolution of the
hippies. After a brief moment in history when they
thought flowers and underarm hair might bring about
world peace, some former ivory tower idealists have
stockpiled their millions and repaired to steel-
reinforced bunkers in Marin County, breeding future
President Jeb Bush's core constituency.
A few gray, ponytailed holdouts cling to their
Birkenstocks and the old communal, hippie lifestyle --
living in concrete-floored, solar-powered domes,
protesting the war, running clandestine LSD labs.
Many, however, have sold out to the god of cold, hard
cash. Land deals with strip-mall developers, silicon
chips and software startups, monster SUVs, family
outings to Starbucks, Botox injections. America, land
of espresso- fueled opportunity, lost ideals and
One disturbing phenomenon -- these rich 50-somethings
are more than willing to shell out the green to see
aging and decrepit rock stars slog through the cobwebs
of 30-year-old songbooks. And they meekly tolerate
corporate tie-ins that seriously compromise their
heroes' artistic message.
I mean, 20 bucks to see Todd Rundgren at Slim's is one
thing, but can anyone justify $194 to see Old Man
Townsend windmill his way through "Baba O'Riley" on a
Shoreline stage full of MGD ads? Hey, Daltrey, the
nursing home called -- the last person who thought you
could still rock just died.
One can only imagine the Apple, IBM and Nike ad
nitwits feverishly scheming over the Rolling Stones'
50th anniversary tour, currently scheduled for 2012.
"See soon-to-be septuagenarians Mick and Keith strut
the stage in their new Air Jordan Corrective Shoes."
I suppose it all started when the hippies boarded the
Jefferson Airplane as their official transport to the
promised land. With Grace Slick as high priestess, the
flower children were doomed from the start. One pill
may make you larger and another may turn you into a
Starship ("We built this city! We built this city on
rock and roll!").
You can't blame hippie icon Jerry Garcia for injecting
himself on a daily basis with enough heroin to kill a
moose. He would've had to dull the pain to watch such
a well-intentioned movement dissolve into comedy.
Every time he saw his own bearded mug smirking from
the label of a pint of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia,
his stomach must have seized up into a junk-sick knot.
But I guess the sickness is quelled when the dollar
Sadly, the Dead soldier on, squeezing out the last
buck from a faded past with a one-time Gregg Allman
fill-in guitarist mimicking Jerry's licks. All that's
missing is the poncho, gray fright wig and mirror
shades. Meanwhile, legions of un-Dead heads continue
to fork over wads of expendable income for soporific
performances, dusting off the beads and tie-dye for a
night of nostalgia.
In another example of pre-Cambrian geezer rock
futility, a good friend of mine from the Summer of
Love generation recently took in a Creedence
Clearwater Revival revival. It turned out that the
only original member of the band who bothered to re-up
for this go-round was the drummer. Needless to say,
the former love child was disheartened. Still, he
reports, the robotically polite crowd cheered the John
Fogerty cardboard cutout stand-in. "Oh Lord, stuck in
Lodi again ..."
The Mormon Tabernacle of washed-up rockers has to be
the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Imagine being nailed
to a church pew, surrounded by a congregation of
George Lucas look-alike '60s hold-outs, replete with
hundreds of finely trimmed salt-and-pepper beards.
Then, picture Boz Scaggs dredging up "Lowdown,"
lashing the somnolent hordes into a Perry Como-like
frenzy. Though you've heard Boz play it 842 times, you
convince yourself that this version will knock your
socks off. Finally, your own bare hands form a death
grip, slowly encircling your throat as you lapse into
A revolution is a hard thing to complete. I don't hold
it against the hippies for joining the establishment.
Once even the most die-hard socialist gets a taste of
American consumerism, it's a long road back to boiled
potatoes and AMC Gremlins. But don't keep lining Mick
Jagger's and Neil Young's pockets with C-notes.
Boycott those reunion concerts. Those geezers get
boatloads of cash every time they sell a classic rock
dinosaur tune to Microsoft.
Former love children, you have the power to keep the
legacy of the '60s alive. When Ralph Nader takes
campaign donations from fat-cat Republicans and Alice
Cooper tees it up in a foursome with Kenny G, Huey
Lewis and A.J. from the Backstreet Boys, things have
gone horribly wrong.
We've all heard how you are a breed apart from the
vacuous bubblegum pop generation and the "I gotta get
mine" hip-hoppers of today. So make a statement, for
old times' sake. Reject this mutated misuse of hippie
principles for monetary gain. See through the facade.
While you're shopping for that new Cadillac,
unconsciously humming Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll,"
ask yourself a question. Didn't Eisenhower and your
old man drive Caddies?
OVERPRICED GEEZER ROCK SHOWS
Don Henley, Mountain Winery, Aug. 3. $66.25-$126.25.
The Who, Shoreline. Aug. 7. $44-$194.
Rod Stewart, Chronicle Pavilion. Aug. 11.
Smokey Robinson, Villa Montalvo. Aug. 13. $65-$130.
Van Halen, Oakland Arena. Aug. 13. $63-$94.50.
Judy Collins, Rita Coolidge, Suzanne Vega, Villa
Montalvo. Aug. 19. $45- $75.
Doobie Brothers, Mountain Winery, Aug. 28.
Van Morrison, Mountain Winery, Aug. 31.
Alabama, Chronicle Pavilion, Sept. 9. $20-$1,004. Yes,
that is not a typo. $1,004 gets you a ticket and an
Alabama replica guitar. A grand well spent.
Lyle Lovett, Luther Burbank Center. Sept. 20. $45-$85.
Sting and Annie Lennox, Shoreline. Oct. 2. $41-$131.
E-mail Steve Sande at ssande at sfchronicle.com
-Brian in Atlanta
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