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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Do You Do If Your Kid Doesn't Like Kiss?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Page 2 of 2

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Anyway, I told my son that loving Kiss means tossing aside the silly, half-a-century-old notion that popular music is a thing to be aestheticized and deified. "Art should be the name of a guy and the rest of it should be up to the public," as Gene once so eloquently put it. Loving Kiss means embracing the idea that popular music is the primary means for peddling action figures and lunch boxes and cremation urns. It means permitting your wants to be fully transformed into needs, so when you cook a meal, you need that two-tier Kiss spice rack or when your heart gives out, you need that Kiss model pacemaker.

When my son remained apathetic, I speculated that he had discovered how being a Kiss fan is a fulltime, thankless gig. That the job involves serving as a perpetual bulwark against the disdain and disrespect of haters. That you may one day find yourself on a web site such as YouTube, posting comments under Kiss videos in which you staunchly defend the brand, gamely declaring "DONT LET THE SPIRIT OF ROCK DIE!!!" (always no apostrophe, three exclamation points), trotting out Arbitron-like demographic data ("95 percent of teens these days listen to the same formulaic, crappy pop"), and then threatening to punch Hannah Montana in the kisser while simultaneously blaming Justin Bieber for the video's high number of dislikes.

Or maybe my 12-year-old learned that oftentimes there are situations where the written word is not sufficient. That you may find yourself loitering outside an arena before a Kiss concert, speaking extemporaneously to a microphone-toting television reporter about the band's underappreciated genius, punctuating your carefully articulated analysis by throwing the horns and hollering "Woooooo!"

But then it suddenly occurred to me that the issue here wasn't a generational one, that this wasn't just another case of youth thumbing its nose at its progenitors. This was about me forever viewing a long-cherished artist through the unprejudiced eyes of adolescence. This was about recognizing that all the missteps and stumbles and simultaneously released solo albums and synthesizer-infused power ballads were tiny parts of one grand, compelling narrative. This was about loyalty -- an idiot's twisted version of loyalty, but loyalty nonetheless.

I will readily admit that a large portion of my allegiance to Kiss is rooted in the middle-age desire to seek out the relatively familiar, to submit to that same motivation that has me purchasing a new black sweater that looks very much like my old favorite, to yearn to be challenged, but not in a way that's terribly subversive. With Kiss, I always know what I'm getting: cartoonish lyrics, an aping of recent music trends, an attitude born from long existing outside critically sacrosanct rock, crappy plush and plastic merchandise, and lots and lots of chest hair.

My 12-year-old son doesn't know what he's missing.

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Dad Rock is a column in which Ryan Foley attempts to look at pop music and pop culture from the precipice of middle age. If he ultimately leaps, it's because tiny hands ruined his Galaxie 500 vinyl. Accusations that he's raising five insufferable hipster children can be sent to mofrackie@gmail.com.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.

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Ryan Foley

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