Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hellraisers ball (unedited)

I can't control my gypsy soul.

As the preeminent BulletBoys blogger, you'd think I'd be blogging about the life and times of many mostly forgotten hair bands.

Truth of the matter, I follow the comings and goings of several bands, but I don't go out of my way to see that many of them that do come to town. I'm a fan of Tesla to this day, but I haven't been to one of their concerts in a few years. They draw decent in comparison to some of their hair band brethren, and make a much better living than the BulletBoys, without a doubt.

Thursday night I drove from the Twin Cities to the unspectacular city of Mankato, Minn., for an L.A. Guns concert. I have written about the BulletBoys several times, but the band I've seen live more than any other is L.A. Guns.

I'll spare the L.A. Guns history lesson, and references to their catalog. If you don't know who I'm talking about, you don't care. All you need to know is that using an A to D scale of success during the hair band era, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue are among the A level acts. Tesla is a B level act. L.A. Guns is a C.

The band finds its way to Minnesota annually, sometimes several times in a year, which is ironic since the dudes really do live in the Los Angeles area to this day. Their management and booking is by a St. Paul-based company, which is a lot of the reason why they play gigs in the midwest as often as they do.

I don't have any insider knowledge, but from what I have gleaned over the years is that L.A. Guns flies into an area for a weekend of shows and then heads back to California after two or three nights of gigs. The band doesn't have the support of a major label any more, there's no tour bus traveling across the country. Compared to their late 1980s early 1990s heyday, it's quite a step down. Fans treat them like rock stars, and they have it better than most musicians ever will, but the bloom is off the rose at this point.

My guess is that they draw enough to get paid a few thousand dollars, give or take, per gig. Who pays for their flight back and forth? Who pays for the hotel rooms where they crash each night? Who pays to drive them between cities each night during their weekend jaunt? I assume that's covered by their management, who must get a cut of the fee L.A. Guns collects from each venue.

Since there's no tour bus or cross country tour, I'm also guessing that much of the equipment from night to night is provided by their management. There's no way these guys are taking more than a few guitars with them for three nights of concerts in Minnesota and Iowa.

There's much I don't know, but what I do know is that I still enjoy most of their songs two decades after I they were major label darlings. The irony is that I never got to see the band when they were drawing sellout crowds at huge clubs across the country or opening for bands like AC/DC. After years of touring without the original lead singer, the band reunited in 1999. I finally got to see them live on a Friday night in St. Paul, and for no cover charge. I don't know how that happened, but it did. There was a nice crowd at that unspectacular club. They sold more than a million copies of their second CD, so they still had fans.

And they continue to draw a few hundred people to a show in the Twin Cities. On a Thursday night in Mankato, the crowd was probably 200. It was $10 at the door, $7 in advance. I have no idea how much the bar has to pay to book the band on a Thursday night, but I'd love to see accounting for their night.

Since L.A. Guns performs in the Twin Cities regularly -- perhaps more often than they perform in California at this point -- I can count on seeing them live at least once a year. I once saw them three times in less than three months here in the Twin Cities.

But I had to miss their last show here in the Twin Cities, on Oct. 29, 2010. And it had been more than a year since they last played at a club here in the Twin Cities, so I decided to make a Thursday night road trip to Mankato, as long as the weather wasn't too lousy to drive. It was 75 minutes one way, so it was an easy round trip, especially since I timed my arrival to fall less then 30 minutes before L.A. Guns took the stage. The round trip, including a 14-song set by the band, was barely more than four hours.

That's a minor time commitment, although working for a living makes a Thursday night road trip less than ideal. But I don't have children to worry about or a time clock to punch at a set time every morning, (a blessing and curse of working in the media.) I have a less than glamourous life, I may make less than glamourous choices on a Thursday night in Minnesota, but I have the freedom and ability to hit the road and go hear a band I have enjoyed for two decades. A lot of people can't do that.

Would my life seem empty and meaningless today if I hadn't went to Mankato last night? No. And unlike hardcore music fans, it's not as if I was suffering symptoms of withdrawal from having missed the October show here in the Twin Cities. I simply had a chance to see a band I still enjoy, and I took advantage of it. '

It was a nice luxury to have, and one life doesn't afford me nearly often enough.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Factually speaking #7 (unedited)

1. I enjoy having a blog, and I'd enjoy feedback on a few topics I write about, but I'm not going to beg for feedback, or attach my name to this blog. That means few people will ever read anything I write.

2. There are billions of blogs, yet I rarely find one that keeps me coming back. And like all good things, many of them come to an end, either by design or by happenstance.

3. Twitter is an incredible waste of time and I keep reading reports that back that up. It's not without value, but 99 percent of it is worthless noise.

4. The Internet has given us so much more than most of us ever imagined, but most people don't realize how much it takes away from us.

5. I understand the theory behind price points, but smaller candy bars make me sad.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Remembering the infamous (unedited)

I was reminded of a college classmate earlier this evening. I hadn't thought about her in a few years.

This classmate was a year ahead of me, as I recall, lived in my co-ed dorm and was studying journalism. We sat next to each other in a writing class and discussed a class project in her dorm room one night. Cute girl, as I recall.

She was from central Wisconsin and, as I'd be reminded over and over, was a dairy princess. I think she won a local pageant and was representing the dairy industry in some way. She didn't seem to talk up her status as a dairy princess, but the media couldn't let go of it.

Her name was Lori Esker, and she was convicted of murder in 1990, less than a year after she killed her ex-boyfriend's girlfriend. The story garnered plenty of attention in parts of Wisconsin, as well as some national attention, including the TV news show A Current Affair.

Lori has long since forgotten the awkward, socially inept boy that she sat next to in journalism class, but I haven't forgotten her.

Michael Faulkner doesn't remember me either, I'm sure. Mike was rather peculiar. I'd heard stories about a traumatic childhood, and if they're true, it might explain his horrible personal hygiene, his lack of social grace and his bizarre behavior. He may have been a bit bizarre, but he had an eye for the ladies, evidently. Allegedly he was reprimanded more than once for creeping out cute girls in the dorms. He didn't do anything criminal, as far as I know, he just didn't know how to keep his distance, and this troubled young, fragrant women.

I am 99 percent sure he was the same guy I read about in 1998. A guy named Michael Faulkner was arrested for violating a restraining order. He had been stalking late 1980s pop sensation Debbie Gibson, and violated a restraining order.

Everything I read about the stalker indicated it was the same guy I knew from college. Eventually I remembered something obscure about my guy that convinces me he was indeed Debbie's stalker. My guy did a weekly shift on the campus radio station, just like me. I remember he used a somewhat obscure Debbie Gibson song as background music for his show one semester. Yep, it was a filler tune off her debut CD, and I knew the tune because I had the CD, as dorky as that makes me. (I probably still own the disc to this day.)

That last nugget of info convinced me that Debbie's stalker was my guy from college.

It makes me wonder what other types of criminals I shared the campus sidewalks with.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Factually speaking #6 (unedited)

1. At 6 p.m. New Year's Eve 2009 I was flying into New Orleans for my first visit to the Big Easy.

2. I cannot remember what I did to ring in the new year two years ago, and it is bothering me. I had trouble remembering it last year, too.

3. I doubt you could convince me it's a good idea to hang out at Times Square for six hours prior to the new year. I want no part of that action.

4. I celebrated the passing of 2010 at my buddy's house. It wasn't a party, it was just a few of us hanging out, watching TV. That was good enough for me.

5. If I'm ever going to join the masses in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve, I'd better do it soon.

6. Watching Dick Clark ring in the new year is painful.

7. Donny and Marie couldn't land a better gig for New Year's Eve 2010 than performing at Mystic Lake Casino in Minnesota.

8. At 8:30 a.m. Jan. 1, 2011, more than 1,000 people are expected to jump into a hole cut into the ice of Lake Minnetonka, west of Minneapolis. I've done it five times. I'm done with that.