Music throwback: Alice Cooper turns 70

In 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Alice Cooper, as an artist, absolutely fascinates me. This Godfather of Shock Rock, born Vincent Damon Furnier, has done shows that utilize “guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords.”

The shtick seems to have developed from a need for his band to stand out. His makeup was inspired by Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and other performers. “Furnier adopted the band’s name as his own name in the 1970s and began a solo career with the 1975 concept album Welcome to My Nightmare.”

Yet he is “known for his sociable and witty personality offstage, with The Rolling Stone Album Guide calling him the world’s most ‘beloved heavy metal entertainer.'” You see that in this interview just after his good friend Glen Campbell died. He was also friends with Groucho Marx, and got pied by his good buddy Soupy Sales.

At some point after getting sober in the late 1970s, he became a born-again Christian, interesting since he was raised by a preacher. He married Sheryl Cooper on March 3, 1976 and they had three children together: Calico Cooper, Dash, and Sonora Rose.” He has replaced his addition to alcohol with a near addiction to golf.

Over the years, he’s made his art mainstream, showing up in everything from the game show Hollywood Squares to the Muppet Show to the movie Wayne’s World.

I suppose I’m less interested in his body of work, though I do enjoy the anthemic quality of those early hits. In 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Still, I’ll have to record and watch him playing King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar – Live! on April 1 – Easter Sunday! -on NBC.

Listen to (chart action on US Billboard charts):

Eighteen, #21 in 1971

School’s Out, #7 in 1972

Elected, #26 in 1972

No More Mr. Nice Guy, #25 in 1973

His birthday will be February 4.

Everything reminds me, when it isn’t it

f you have dementia, you may have difficulty with language, behavior, thinking, judgment, and memory.

After my mother died, I thought that the hospital people might want to check out her brain, dissect it for science or something. No, they were good.

The reason I thought about this was, according to the baby sister, the rapid change in my mother’s personality over the last six months of her life.

I came across this Daily Kos story about health care and politics, when this paragraph jumped out at me and pretty much slapped me across the face:

“Now, my uncle hasn’t been well for awhile. He’s suffered from an incredibly early onset of Pick’s Disease; which, if you’re not familiar with it, is like Alzheimer’s, but worse. Much worse. For instance, one of the ways you can differentiate between Pick’s Disease and Alzheimer’s is that with Pick’s people get incredibly hostile – argumentative, vulgar, violent – towards family members first and most aggressively, behavior they won’t exhibit or inflict on people they’re not familiar with.”

She wasn’t that young, 83 when she died, but she became really hostile to those she knew best. Yet she was seemingly a perfect angel to strangers, or those at her adult day care, e.g.

Of course, it doesn’t REALLY matter exactly what she died with – she died FROM the stroke. And she really doesn’t fit the full profile:

Pick’s disease is a rare condition that causes progressive and irreversible dementia. This disease is one of many types of dementias known as frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Frontotemporal dementia is the result of a brain condition known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). If you have dementia, your brain doesn’t function normally. As a result, you may have difficulty with language, behavior, thinking, judgment, and memory. Like patients with other types of dementia, you may experience drastic personality changes.”

Whatever that caused the changes, I feel badly for my sister and her daughter. And, I suppose my mother too, although who knows how self-aware she was about processing things.

Seven years since Mom died. Still sucks.

Frederick Douglass bicentennial

I’ve long been fascinated with Frederick Douglass. The son of a slave woman and an unknown white man, “Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey” was born in February of 1818 on Maryland’s eastern shore as an enslaved person. But he became a free man, and was one of the leading spokespersons in the abolitionist cause. He was also an ally in the women’s movement.

He did some of his greatest writing and oration in upstate New York. His July 5, 1852 speech about Independence Day when one is enslaved is an epic piece.

On the 200th anniversary of his birth month, here’s just a small bit from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass:

“I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land… I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of ‘stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.’ I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me.

“We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus…

“The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time.

“The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.”

Read more about Frederick Douglass here or here or here.