“Rock Lobster” – The B52s

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In “Citizen Kane,” there’s a brief and pivotal scene where Bernstein, one of Charles Foster Kane’s oldest associates, is talking to the reporter trying to uncover the meaning of Kane’s last word “Rosebud.” As Bernstein puts it, “A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn’t think he’d remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn’t see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.”

I don’t have anything quite that poetic, but a friend recently Facebooked about being stuck on a train and it reminded me of taking the train to visit my Dad back when I was a teenager. On one particular trip when I was 15, I was sitting next to a cute girl my own age and we seemed to hit it off (though at the time, I didn’t realize it). She was not only cute, but also hip (she liked the B52s … this was before their huge commercial breakthrough in 1989 with “Cosmic Thing”). Anyway, when the drink cart came by, I threw all caution to the wind and ordered a beer. Being 6’2″ at 15 years old, they either thought I was of drinking age (21 at the time), or didn’t care, so they took my money and served me my Molson (it was Canadian, so I felt especially debonair … it wasn’t until years later when I moved closed to the Canadian border that Molson is like Busch in Canada). Anyway, the girl sitting next to me was VERY impressed with my drink ordering skills, laughed at all my jokes, and we had a great conversation all the way back home in the train car. Natch, she even lived in my hometown. Did I even think of asking for her phone number? Of course not. This was one of the few suave (OK, suave for a 15-year old) James Bond moments of my life and … I didn’t even think to go for it.  The PMRC should have gone after the Smiths back in the day.  They’ve arguably ruined more lives than Ozzy ever did.

Anyway, wherever she may be and whatever her name is, this is for “train girl.”

“The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years” (1988) dir. Penelope Spheeris

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“The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years” is Penelope Spheeris’s follow-up to her groundbreaking documentary on hardcore punk from 1980 (“The Decline of Western Civilization”). “Decline II” chronicles heavy metal, circa 1988 in Los Angeles, predominately glam metal, which was the rage at the time.

“Decline II” is often cited for being extremely funny because many of the participants seem absolutely delusional about their prospects at future success in music … and in life. There are interviews with stars (Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Tyler, Joe Perry, Poison, Dave Mustaine, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Chris Holmes) and interviews with up and comers, most of which you’ve never seen nor heard from since this film came out.

However, the most compelling part of the film is arguably the interview with Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P. Lying in a pool chair, literally pouring vodka down his throat, explaining he’s a piece of s–t, while is mother is sitting next to him, trying to put on a good face, but looking like she wants to cry. One of the saddest and most disturbing scenes from a documentary ever.

Despite this, the humor outweighs the pathos.  One of the best scenes in the film comes near the end where legendary club owner Bill Gazzarri hosts his annual “Miss Gazzarri Dancer” contest and Gazzarri tries to get everyone excited about a band called Odin, which he claims are going to be the next big thing.  Needless to say, they fell far short of this goal.  I’ll let you be the judge as to whether the public was ignorant in their mass rejection of Odin through this clip:

Spheeris later hit the box-office jackpot as the director of “Wayne’s World” in 1992, a job she got in no small part due to her success with “Decline II.”