All We Are Saying...

...Is Give KISS a Chance!

By John Saleeby
May 16th, 2004

"This could be the greatest night of our lives but you're gonna let it be the worst!" - John Belushi in "Animal House"

Kiss weren't just a really popular rock and roll band in the seventies, they were the first band which had Beatles, Dylan, and Rolling Stones fans mumbling about "stupid kids", "no talent bums", and "Now, when I was your age . . . bitch bitch gripe gripe . . . " Yes, Boys And Girls - Kiss was The Band That Forced Every Baby Boomer To Deal With The Horrifying Reality That He Was Just Like His Mom And Dad After All. And why was his creepy little brother running around with his face all painted up like that?

KISS FACTOID #1
When Peter Criss was a kid he and Jerry Nolan took drum lessons from a really famous Forties Big Band drummer whose name I can't remember but at least I know who Jerry Nolan was so I'm still one up on your dumb ass.

Ace Frehley's real first name is Paul but there was already a Paul in the band and it was at least a decade too early to be called "Ice".

Gene Simmons' parents were Holocaust survivors and he was born in Israel. So the next time you try to think of a single positive thing that ever came out of that place . . . I dunno, tell em David Lee Roth was born over there. People might believe that.

Paul Stanley . . . Who the hell cares?

You kids today are so lucky not to have been kids thirty years ago in the Seventies that I hope they bring the draft back and send you off to Iraq just to punish you. I was kidding about that, but if it made you feel a little anxious for a second there - Take that one second, multiply it by sixty, multiply that by sixty, multiply that by twenty four, multiply that by three hundred and sixty five, multiply that by ten, and maybe then you might be able to understand that it was like to be a kid in the Seventies. What are . . . You're using a COMPUTER to do all that multiplying? (John, I think you're math's off a bit there. Multiply it by sixty, then multiply that by twenty seven, then multiple that by three hundred and sixty five, etc - ed.) Man, if you had been a teenager in the Seventies before all this technology you woulda been so freaked out . . . Maybe that's where Punk and Disco came from. Everything was so GLOOMY! If you think you feel kinda down after a year of Iraq just imagine how we felt after an entire childhood of Vietnam. And, as far as casualties go, one Vietnam year was worth ten Iraq years so before we were even ten years old we had been through the equivalent of an entire lifetime of Iraq and, I'm sorry about all this math, but if there's one advantage being a kid in the Seventies had over being a kid today is that we got to go to real schools and learn how to do stuff.  That's why the premise of any of today's kids reading this is probably the sickest joke I've ever written.

KISS FACTOID #2
Kiss released three albums of tense, brittle power pop that sounded like your eight track cassette player would shatter into a million pieces if anybody in the studio were to cut a fart. Their live show was a hit from Day One but the records weren't bringing in any cash and when their record company lost a ton of money on a Johnny Carson album (What the hell kind of ass backward record company could lose money on A JOHNNY CARSON ALBUM? The same one that made a fortune on The Village People, that's what kind. You kids thought I was kidding when I said this decade was a nightmare?), things were so desperate by even early Seventies standards the band almost got Jimmy Carter on the phone for advice. Since concert ticket sales were the only positive development the band could talk about without Simmons bringing out his collection of groupie Polaroids, they decided to record a bunch of upcoming sold out shows in Detroit for a live album. Well, you all know what happened - The band's bus drove off a cliff on the way to Michigan killing everybody on board and when the guy who used to play guitar in Humble Pie did the shows in their place "Frampton Comes Alive!" became a record breaking smash hit. Nobody born after 1980 got the joke, but I just had to do it - I JUST HAD TO DO IT!!

Anyway, "Kiss Alive!" became a gigantic hit, making the band the legend it still is today despite the pretty erratic collection of recordings the band has released since. "Destroyer" is good if you're looking for something to write snotty comedy routines about. Don't be a hack and make Yoko Ono jokes, instead, wow the crowd with a good five minute chunk of "Destroyer" material! (I have an appointment at the UPN to pitch a sitcom based on the guy who gets killed in the car crash at the end of "Detroit Rock City". Get this - He comes back as a ghost, a HEAVY METAL GHOST! It can't miss! He wanders around Detroit spooking out all his old stoner buddies! He hangs out with The Ghost Of Hendrix and The Ghost Of Kurt Cobain is the asshole they all make mean jokes about like Ted on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". My appointment with the UPN is ten o'clock Tuesday and . . . What, Mom? Whattya mean it's not an appointment with the UPN? What? YOU GOT ME A JOB INTERVIEW WITH UPS!?! AW, MAAA!!)

What a crummy time to be a kid! Not only did we have our parents giving us all that Archie Bunker grief, but guys like Mike The Peace Loving Hippie weren't particularly fond of us, either - It was no big surprise to have Old Guys hollering at us for playing records too loud and growing our hair too damn long but to have a bunch of Freaks putting us down for not wanting to off the Pigs and live in communes was utterly bizarre. By the time we were bad ass beer drinking, pot smoking, sex crazed High Schoolers we didn't just have Old Folks raggin' on for our Hooligan Stoner ways, we also had Old Hooligan Stoner Folks raggin' on us for not being PROPER Hooligan Stoners! Shit!

Kiss were The Fly In The Ointment, The Turd In The Punchbowl, The Giant Monkey On Top Of The Empire State Building, Jerry Lewis Taking The Stage On Woodstock To Do His "Invisible Typewriter" Routine Right In The Middle Of Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" Prompting Thousands Of Acid Tripping Hippies To Steal Typewriters And Become Real Writers Instead Of Spending The Seventies Bitching About Everything While We Were Trying To Cut Loose And SWING WITH IT, BABY!

A rock and roll band in which the lead guitarist dresses up like a space man, the bass player dresses up like a monster, the drummer dresses up like a cat, and the lead singer dresses up like a prancing fairy is pretty stupid, but at least they got one of four right. Unlike The Beatles, Kiss had not just one but TWO straight jackets to bust out of and once a guy gets out of two of those things there is no telling how he's going to dress.  The whole objective was to get out of your head and just escape for a little bit. Maybe that's pretty silly, but after ten years of bloody twits getting ripped on all kinds of insane drugs to come up with foolishness like "For The Benefit Of Mister Kite", "The Magical Mystery Tour", and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" it was just a bit too late to get so critical all of a sudden. If we were going to take a lot of grief from old people for our taste in entertainment we might take it from old people who at least had the balls to win the war they had to fight in, but these other ones with their Janis Joplin and that horrible Jim Morrison? Get outta here! We were gonna take their silly music and make a great big ridiculous cartoon show out of it and when they build their goofy Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland of all places we're not gonna go cause you know sure as Ace Frehley never pretended to give a hoot about James Brown or Johnny Cash they're never ever ever gonna induct Kiss into that thing and we're just gonna let it go outta business no matter how many cool punk bands they let in. And if kids today in 2004 would rather buy a Britney Spears CD or some crazy video game instead of The Strokes or whatever Millenium Minstrel Act Jann Wenner is pushing on em I say "God Bless Em".

KISS FACTOID #3
The best Kiss records were produced by Eddie Kramer, Jimi Hendrix's engineer. "Destroyer", however, was produced by Bob Ezrin, Alice Cooper's producer. It was SUPPOSED to be produced by Jack Douglas, Aerosmith's producer, but Douglas said "Thanks, but I don't like your music." which sounded like "Buh buh buh buuuhhh buuuuhhhh uhh hhuuhhh hhhuhhhh . . . " cause he was so wasted from hanging out with Aerosmith all the time. Nonetheless Eddie Kramer was a great producer - Mono drums or no mono drums - and it wasn't until he brought Kiss into Electric Ladyland Studios to record their live album that their sound was adequately captured on vinyl. Yes, "it wasn't until he brought Kiss into Electric Ladyland Studios to record their live album", that wasn't a typo. Aw, come on - You're not really one of those rubes who believes live albums are recorded while the band is actually performing onstage in front of an audience, are ya? If you believe that maybe I'd better sit you down and tell you that Ace Frehley was not REALLY A Man From Outer Space, Peter Criss was not REALLY A Half Human/Half Cat Jungle Beast, Gene Simmons was not REALLY  A Blood Spewing Fire Breathing Hell Demon, and Paul Stanley . . . Well, yeah . . . Okay. Purists complained that "Destroyer" was too elaborate a studio production for a Kiss album - Hell, compared to the live album "Destroyer" is Lemmy from Motorhead leaving a message on Dave Grohl's answering machine - "Eh, Dave? I didn't leave a potato masher hand grenade in yer house, did I? Get yer 'taters outta there, lad! That thing's a KILLER!!"

Lord, how the rock press hated Kiss! Not only was their music The same Old Stuff The Who and The Kinks and The Dogs and The Cats had been doing for years but it wasn't even of CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OR SOCIAL RELEVANCE!!! The Big dramatic Climax of the Kiss show I saw in 1976 - Very first rock concert I ever saw! - was when all the fireworks went of at the end of "Black Diamond" and Peter Criss' drum kit rose waaaayyy up in the air and everybody went out of their minds and what do you think was painted on the front of the drum riser as it came up from under the stage? A Peace Sign? A Crucifix? A Swastika? A Star Of David? A Red Star? No, man - It was a picture of a KITTY KAT - A cat with whiskers and big pointy ears and a cute lil' nose that looked like something your sister would decorate the Secret Box she kept all her Favorite Girl Things in! Now, if that had happened at the end of a Beatles concert ten years earlier there wouldn't have been a single stray cat on the streets of The Western world so many kids would want to have one for a housepet. If Black Sabbath had done that everybody would have been seized by the innate fear that pussycats were possessed by the Devil and by now all domestic cat breeds would have been long exterminated. All hard core Kiss fans, of course, understood the genuine meaning of that Cat: Peter Criss liked cats. Yes, I would not have been surprised at all to learn that he had one or two of the crazy critters lolling around inside his ritzy Manhatten condomeenieyum like they owned the goddam place.  How stupid that must have seemed to Baby Boomer music critics who had grown up at a time when a chance to "Make A Statement" was something to never be passed up on! Wait a minute . . . Maybe it WAS taken as a statement and THAT'S what got Kiss in such hot water with those people. Somebody go to Rollingstone.com and dig through the archives - Is Jann Wenner a Dog Person?

Were those Kiss concerts really pretty dumb? Maybe so, after an hour or so of Kiss Alive! my Inner Boomer said "I can't take any more of this shit! I'll see you out in the parking lot!" and when we went out to the car I found my Inner Boomer had been passed a joint full of Angel Dust and gotten beat up by a cop - "Oh, you just HAD to go see Kiss! Now look at me! I'm dyin' here! Did that guy set himself on fire?"

("Wonder Years" Fred Savage style voice over narration)

And as I stood there in the parking lot after the Kiss concert watching my Inner Boomer roll around in a puddle of his own urine and ranting about how come I never took him to see Little Feat or Roxy Music . . . I REALIZED that maybe life isn't about complaining about how bad everything is or how much better it would be if it was different. Maybe it was about ACCEPTING life for the way it really is and being determined to have a good time anyway. Maybe if I could go through life without my Inner Boomer harpin' at me all the time I'd be able to have fun no matter what -

KISS FACTOID #4
Kiss' Big Break was opening for Iggy Pop and Blue Oyster Cult in New York City. Iggy was so desperate to outdo Kiss after all their crazy shennanigans he went out there and beat himself black and blue, rolled around in broken glass, and made a clear cut choice between Betty and Veronica from "Archie Comics". Blue Oyster Cult came out and the entire audience had gone down to CBGBs to start up their own bands.

"It's not 'Wonder Years' Fred Savage style voice over narration, dumb ass! It's 'Wonder Years' DANIEL STERN style voice over narration! Jesus!"

So I tied him to the rear bumper of the car and drove all the way home dragging him behind so about halfway there the hollering stopped and when I got home nothing but his foot and part of his ankle was still back there. If it had been a Ted Nugent concert I would have eaten it. But it was a Kiss concert, so I sold it.

What do you think? Leave your comments on the Guestbook!

John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - jacksaleeby1@hotmail.com




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