(As published in two consecutive issues of the Times of Acadiana)
When Ted Nugent takes the stage this Friday night before Kiss, he’ll become the best-selling author ever to have rocked the Cajundome. To date, his book God, Guns, and Rock and Roll (Regnery)--the follow-up to his 1991 classic, Blood Trails: The Truth About Bowhunting--has sold over 80,000 copies. And, unlike most celebrity books, it’s no as-told-to. As you’re about to see, the last thing that the fifty-two-year-old, lifelong-drug-free Motor City Madman needs is someone else to speak on his behalf.
TIMES OF ACADIANA: Is playing in Louisiana any different from, say, playing in Peoria?
NUGENT: Are you kidding me? I fast for days before I come down to the Gulf so I can suck massive quantities of spicy sh#%*! I’ve got etouffee breath as we speak. I am the Cajun-damn-cayenne-pepper-crawdad monster! In fact, and a lot of people don’t know this, but I was the guy who first told people they could bite the head off a crawdad and eat it!
TOA: That was you?
NUGENT: That was me!
TOA: We owe you a lot.
NUGENT: You’re g#%*$@ right you do.
TOA: How long are your sets, opening for Kiss?
NUGENT: We go for sixty, seventy minutes, and that’s about it, which is painful, because I’d rather go two hours minimum.
TOA: Who is “we” this time?
NUGENT: Tommy Aldridge and Marco Mendoza. We are the Greasome Threesome. Anybody else would be superfluous because Tommy and Marco are so g#%*$@ good! They are the greasiest, most exhilarating rhythm section I have ever played with. Just wait till you f&*#% hear these guys. Holy sh#%*!
TOA: What’s on the set list?
NUGENT: We do “Stormtroopin’,” and then we go into “Paralyzed,” then “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” to make sure we supply adequate dinner music for the masses, then “Free for All”--because we have to!--and then we go into “Dog Eat Dog,” “Kiss My Ass,” “Fred Bear,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Stranglehold,” and “Great White Buffalo.” And at that point everybody needs resuscitation. It’s a great, great show.
TOA: Sounds like it.
NUGENT: It’s a snarler, baby.
TOA: Speaking of snarlers, your new book has just come out--
NUGENT: Yeah, my God! And people are sh#%*ing blood as we speak.
NUGENT: Because some people don’t like at all the content of my life or the book, which nails the content of my fifty-two years of clean and sober living and the whirlwind of wanderlust that it is. I understand that there’s a real threat of going to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Talk about wise use of the middle finger! I can’t imagine a more effective use of the digit.
TOA: You have cover blurbs from Charlton Heston, [Aerosmith’s] Joe Perry, and Congressman Bob Barr. Who else are your heroes nowadays?
NUGENT: You know who my new real heroes are? People who wake up out of the status quo-floundering neuteredness of sheep-like behavior and rise up like Braveheart and become activists, people like the directors of the Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America, who I watch all across the country penetrate the outrageously biased liberal media with the truth about the two pivotal issues that determine freedom--guns and hunting.
TOA: What makes them pivotal?
NUGENT: As I say in my book, I believe that all thinking, conscientious, reasoning beings would conclude, as I have, that-- whether it’s the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or the Ten Commandments--the Creator has endowed us with the right to life, and if the right to life is anything, it’s the right to not die. How does one not die? One has to kill sh#%* and eat it. And when one is confronted with a guaranteed element of evil metastasized via the cultivation of a failed justice system--I give you recidivism--one must survive that evil encounter. How does one do that? A f&*#% gun! In the belt! Not in the safe, not with a trigger lock, but in your f&*#% belt! Now, if that’s not the right to life, my name is Michael Jackson.
TOA: The upcoming election is certainly looking interesting.
NUGENT: Oh, baby, I’m interested (laughs). In fact, I’ll be at the Republican Convention on the third of August to unleash my book upon them.
TOA: Are you a Republican?
NUGENT: No, I’m an independent. I support the Republicans who stand up, like Bob Barr, J.C. Watts, Governor Engler, Governor Thompson--and Governor Pataki sometimes. But I don’t support the “Republicrats.”
TOA: Why not?
NUGENT: I think there’s too much watered-down political correctness on their plate.
TOA: How much is too much?
NUGENT: Anything that prevents you and me from being Lewis and Clark every day of our lives. We should be out there exploring uncharted territory, intellectually, spiritually, physically. That’s all I represent. That’s all Ted Nugent is. He’s a f&*#% riot.
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Cripes, my hearing! As I write this, my ears are ringing with the sound of a thousand cicadas in heat, and my every response to what anybody says is “Eh?” I should’ve worn earplugs, I guess, but, number one, the sound at these sports-arena rock shows has gotten much cleaner over the years (at least until now), and, number two, earplugs are for sissies. Besides, how was I to know that neither Kiss nor Ted Nugent would perform an adequate sound check? Or that, even if either did, both would look at their VU meters and say, “To hell with them! The Cajundome may not have been built in a day, but we can sure make it fall in one!”? Or that I’d ever miss such day-to-day pleasures as the sounds of jackhammers, air-raid sirens, and the bombing of gong factories as much as I do right now?
Friday night’s Cajundome Kiss-Nugent-Skid Row show began ordinarily enough. For one thing, it started on time, leaving Skid Row to play its twenty-minute set to a crowd that for the most part was out in the lobby buying Kiss T-shirts and getting its faces painted to look like Gene Simmons’.
Never a big Skidster, I nevertheless recognized “Riot Act,” “18 and Life,” and “I Remember You.” ’Round about song four, I began getting restless for “Cherry Pie”; then I realized that Warrant, not Skid Row, did that one. Then I remembered that Skid Row's singer’s name was Sebastian Bach, and I began itching for the Mass in B Minor. Then I realized that the long-haired yahoo on-stage wasn’t Sebastian Bach at all but the recently recruited Johnny Solinger, and I began craving Catcher in the Rye. Worst moment: Solinger’s pretending to masturbate with the microphone after it died during “Youth Gone Wild.” Best moment: his looking the empty seats in the eye and proclaiming, “You’ve got some real good-lookin’ women here in Louisiana!”
Ted Nugent was even more Louisiana friendly, demonstrating a familiarity with our license-plate slogans (“Sportsmen’s Paradise”), our dining habits (“crawdads” and nutria), our weakness for flattery (“Hey, you Coon-ass Mother#$%&*s!”), and our multicultural diversity (really, people, I’d love to tell you what he said when introducing “Cat Scratch Fever,” because it was really funny, but with the cost of free speech at an all-time high and me with a family to support, I’ll pass.) He played everything he said he would in last week’s Times Q&A (except “Fred Bear”), he wore a real Indian headdress for “Great White Buffalo,” he shot his guitar with a flaming arrow, and he made comments about Janet Reno, Jesse Jackson, Sarah Brady, and the I.R.S. during and before “Kiss My Ass” that made John McCain’s “straight-talk express” look like a dog-and-pony show.
As for Kiss, what’s left to say? They were the best live act in the world in the ’70s, and they’re the best live act in the world now. And if you don’t think so, try imagining a show beginning “Ladies and Gentlemen! You wanted the best, you’ve got the best! The hottest band in the land--the Dixie Chicks!”
The theatrics began even before Kiss took the stage. During what seemed like a merely routine, background-noise playing of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” over the sound system, an enormous, black “Kiss” curtain unrolled the instant Roger Daltrey let loose his climactic classic-rock scream. Obviously, the band has spent the years since its reunion making even its previous perfectionism seem paltry.
As for the show itself, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Ace Frehley entered on a descending platform, already several measures into “Detroit Rock City,” while Peter Criss pounded away and all manner of lights and video-screen wizardry flashed in the collective Cajundome brain pan. What else was different from the last time? Improved computer graphics during “2000 Man,” hotter towering jets of flame during “Heaven’s on Fire” (or was it “Firehouse”?), Paul’s riding out over the crowd to perform “Love Gun” (or was it “I Still Love You”?) on a platform in the middle of the floor, and the inclusion of such lesser-known songs as “Psycho Circus,” “Lick It Up,” and, all the way from 1982’s Creatures of the Night, “I Love It Loud.”
What was the same? Gene’s fire breathing, Gene’s fully extended and suggestively flickering tongue, Gene’s blood-drooling, bass-plunking intro to “God of Thunder,” Ace’s shooting two confetti-filled orbs with his guitar, Paul’s pantomiming mammograms and mouthing “I love them so much” to the women flashing at the foot of the stage, and the inclusion of “Do You Love Me,” Calling Dr. Love,” and “Rock and Roll All Nite” (and still no “Christine Sixteen” or “New York Groove”).
Alas, unlike Peter, I can no longer hear Beth callin’, for, although I too love it loud, my eardrums obviously come courtesy of petetownshend.com.