Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Idol Worship

Remember that scene in The Christmas Story when Ralphie finally gets to see Santa? He's been waiting in line a REALLY long time, ever so anxious to get up there before the store closes so that he can submit his 11th-hour request for the Red Ryder BB Gun. That scene, filmed from Ralphie's POV, is perfect: he's dragged along the route he intends to travel ANYWAY, but the gruffness of the "elf" seems to indicate that he's actually going against his will. And, when he finally reaches his destination, he's so overwhelmed at actually BEING IN SANTA'S PRESENCE!! that all his carefully chosen words escape him, and he's left to simply mutter incomprehensible gibberish while staring with a deer-in-the-headlights look at this person who figures so hugely in his life.

Great scene. For me, that's what meeting Paul Stanley is like.

Who knows why certain people take idol worship to obsessive levels? John Lennon certainly put his pants on one leg a time, same as me...but, upon his murder in NYC 26 years ago, adults who didn't even KNOW him personally wept at the loss. Why? What WAS it about Lennon (or ALL the Beatles) that just...clicked with people? Same thing with Elvis; there are TONS of anecdotes about the "gate people," folks who would just sit outside the gates at Graceland hoping to see The King...and if they didn't, they weren't necessarily disappointed. They were happy to just be there, near him.

Grown, seemingly-logical people who would appear normal under most circumstances...they suddenly are revealed as quasi-dingbats who obsess about a particular person/band/TV show. I don't get it...and I'm ONE of 'em! I honestly cannot pinpoint what it is about Kiss that just CLICKS with me. Heaven knows, I'm asked to do so routinely! My spouse is always rolling her eyes as I open up ANOTHER eBay score of Kiss swag, extolling her with the most insignificant and miniscule bit of band member trivia. I'm even slightly abashed of MYSELF that I'm able to share the trivia tidbit that Gene Simmons' son Nick is a little creeped out by the amount of trivia people know about his family.

I think...I think Kiss for me was EXACTLY the right thing to come along at EXACTLY the right time. Much like Gene Simmons himself (trivia tidbit!), I was already into comic books and fantasy. I was small, so the idea of larger-than-life characters like superheroes and Godzilla was very appealing. Musically, I was at that perfect age when I had outgrown my mom's Helen Reddy records, but so far my only foray into my "own" music was a collection of oldies with Fonzie on the cover. Then...I heard Destroyer, the first of Kiss' two albums from 1976. It was...unspeakably grandiose. This was, literally, a music I'd never heard before. And to look at the album cover...why, I wasn't even aware of these...these FIGURES as a band! There's no instrument anywhere...just the four of them, larger than life, standing over the flaming ruins of a city. Who were they? WHAT were they??? I HAD TO HAVE MORE!!

Lucky for me the mid-/late-1970s were ALL about Kiss. Not only did I have instant access to 3 previous studio LPs AND a double-live set, between 1976 and 1979 there would be 3 more band albums, another double-live set, a double set of greatest hits, and FOUR complete solo albums. The mystery, the superhero vibe, and above all the all worked together so that to ME, Kiss was as large, important and mythical as Santa Claus ever was.

I got my chance to meet them in the fall of 2003, spending a small fortune to talk briefly with three of my heroes and pose for what may be the greatest picture of all time...

It was...wonderful. (Imagine ACTUALLY being able to meet the REAL Santa!) So, when I had the chance to meet Paul again this last weekend, I figured "No big deal, I've met him before; I'll shake his hand, make some brief but startlingly clever conversation, following which he'll realize that we're kindred spirits and he'll want to write songs with me for his next album. Oh, and I'll get a kick-ass photo."

As Bill Cosby used to say: "Riiiiiigghht." What ACTUALLY happened was that I bought a $40 bottle of Kiss cologne (and I'm with you in a very perplexed "What the--?!?") and waited 2.5 hours in line with soon-to-be bro-in-law Joel. We made small talk with the people around us; you know, the kind of daft fanboy conversation you could ONLY have with other similarly obsessed people. ("Right, uh-huh! BUT: what if Black Bolt COULD speak, and the Terrigen mists had only given him the powers of his antennae??" Like that, only Kiss.) When we'd finally traversed the snaking-around-itself-like-you're-at-Cedar-Point line to the stage, my Ralphie moment commenced. It was all kind of a blur: hand the bottle to Paul's "elves" so that they could give it to him for signing, then UP the stairs for my moment of truth. He's MUCH shorter without his 7" platforms, but even so he's taller than I am. Still: look him in the eye! Shake his hand! Clever...BE CLEVER, DAMMIT! "Uh...hi, means so rule, man..." Yeah. And then, down the other side, only as he fades from sight remembering that we're kindred spirits, and that he MUST want to work with me on his new album!

Oh least Ralphie got his gun...and I got the SECOND-greatest photo ever...


Blogger Mike said...

careful how you spray that cologne out of the atomizer...

you'll shoot your eye out. hee hee

ok, make that funny little snarl out of the side of your mouth look now ~ hmmm!

11:32 PM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

You're one of the sexiest friends I have, and I don't care if you take your obsession to the extreme. It's part of your charm.

KISS rocks. :)

ps - I'm sure Paul will be calling any day now to collaborate on the new album.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Tess said...

I suppose there are worse obssessions to have...although nothing comes to mind instantly. My favorite part of that is when you had to listen to your mom's Helen Reddy collection. NO WONDER! The mysetery has been solved, for me anyway.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Animal said...

"Delta Dawn, what's that flower you have on? Could it be a faded rose from days gone BYYYYYYYY? And did I hear you say he was a-meetin' you here today to take you to his mansion in the skyyy-hyyyyy?"


7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey......I listened to a wide variety of music, including all the standard Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary composers as well as the pop stuff. Still do, just not so much Barbra "cancel Detroit" Streisand. Can't you hear Stravinsky's "Solo for unaccompanied clarinet" going in your head from those early years? But, there's Helen and "You and Me Against the World".

gotcha, Mom

11:37 AM  

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