At a reading and book signing in the Upper Haight's Booksmith for Please Kill Me, the recent oral history of punk rock, co-author Legs McNeil hurled a pen point-first into the crowd, which nailed the chin of former Mondo 2000 staffer Jas. Morgan. Undaunted, Morgan squeezed out some blood from the wound and smeared it over the autograph McNeil had just inscribed into his copy of the book. Joey Ramone would have been proud.
Caught in a Trap
Restless Elvis fans are wiping their brows with relief over their annual International Conference on Elvis Presley, the funding of which was withdrawn this year by Graceland because of the scheduled performances of two heathen Elvis impersonators -- Elvis Presley Jr. and San Francisco's own Elvis Herselvis -- one a bastard "love child," the other a lesbian. (Last year's conference ended up a fiasco on many levels. Not only didn't it make any money, the rock journalist guest speaker was too drunk to give his speech and passed out.)
Fortunately, the management of Elvis Presley Jr., a man who claims he is the product of a union between the King and a Hollywood starlet, has contributed funds to continue the event, which begins this weekend in Oxford, Miss. Both Junior and Herselvis are on the bill as originally scheduled.
"They don't approve of either one of us, apparently," says Herselvis of the Graceland wimp-out. Ironically, back in the sanitized '50s, it was Presley who threatened America's moral fiber -- swinging his hips on TV, wearing makeup and pink shirts. But those die-hard fans who consider him a saint don't want anybody messing with his image -- bastardized, lesbianized, or otherwised.
"Being an Elvis impersonator is one of the last bastions of masculinity," explains Herselvis. "He's the King. There's no place for a woman to be king."
Although Graceland has grudgingly allowed a black Elvis impersonator, lesbians are taboo because the gender issue is easier to argue, according to Herselvis. Still, she's not too miffed; she's got the gig, and the more Elvis impersonators, the merrier: "Every group should have one, whether they want one or not."
Satan Is Alive and Well
At the Shoreline Amphitheater, Ozzy Osbourne's "Retirement Sucks" tour features a parking lot full of muscle cars and four-wheel drives, providing a pleasant pastiche of devil-rock imagery -- T-shirts that say "Fucking Hostile"; a Chevy Malibu with crudely painted flames and the single word "OZZY." Bug-eyed teen-agers stumble between vehicles, asking, "You guys got any pot?" The scene is reminiscent of the hilarious yet pathetic Rock and Roll Parking Lot documentary back in the '80s, in which a camera crew wandered through a Judas Priest concert parking lot in Maryland, interviewing tube-top alcoholics and babbling acid casualties. Tonight's crowd is similar, but with an added bonus -- the Bigg's concession booth is offering a "sausage of the week."
After Therapy? and Filter finish their sets, the video screens crank up a quick montage of the career of John "Ozzy" Osbourne, from his humble beginnings as another white-trash git from industrial Birmingham, England, up to his current status as the elder statesman of Hades. Suddenly the lights blaze on, a brilliant flash of cheap theatrics that always captures the attention of slit-eyed stoners, and it's the familiar guitar riff of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid." Everybody goes nuts, screaming, "Hail Satan!" among other exuberant cheers. The alleged bat-biter then runs onstage in black pants and T-shirt, flapping his arms like an impetuous, spastic child who wants attention; then he lets loose with the voice -- that voice -- ensuring his status as the Lou Rawls of Satanists:
"Finished with my woman 'cause she couldn't help me with my mind!"
The crowd nearly falls to their knees, weeping with joy. Oh God, it's just like the old Sabbath! The rest of the show is devoted to Mr. Osbourne's solo material but can't measure up to his first two numbers, both culled from the Black Sabbath songbook. After "Paranoid" finishes, the band -- scrawny technicians easily half Osbourne's age -- launches into the creepy intro chords to the ancient 1970 hymn "War Pigs," punctuated by video images of Adolf Hitler.
Little Baby Ozzy trots up to the mike, arms wiggling, and screams: "Generals gathered in their masses ..."
The crowd screams back: "Just like witches at black masses!"
The reserved sections are all on their feet, pumping the devil's horns with both hands, screaming the lyrics that have been imprinted on the brains of two generations of juvenile delinquents weaned on cheap weed and biker speed. On the upper lawn of the amphitheater, couples sit together on blankets, smiling and holding hands -- just kids in love on a date, out for a nice evening of music.
Ozzy: "In the fields of bodies burning ..."
Crowd: "As the war machine keeps turning!"
Ozzy: "Death and hatred to mankind ..."
Crowd: "Poisoning their brainwashed minds!"
Both: "OH LORD, YEAH!!!"
Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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By Jack Boulware
The '80s documentary about the goings-on in the parking lot of a Judas Priest concert ("Satan Is Alive and Well," Slap Shots, July 31) is titled Heavy Metal Parking Lot.