Guns N’ Roses FAQ Preview

September 16, 2016


Bursting onto the Los Angeles rock scene in the mid-1980s, Guns N’ Roses redefined rock ‘n’ roll – turning back the tide on the excesses of glam metal and the banality of MTV-spawned New Wave/synth pop by infusing the blistering hard rock of Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith with a punk sensibility that hearkened back to the onstage anarchy of the Stooges, New York Dolls, and Sex Pistols. In 1987, GN’R released the seminal album Appetite for Destruction, which reached number one on the U.S. charts and to date has sold more than 30 million copies, making it the bestselling debut album of all time in the United States. However, GN’R’s outrageous excesses and self-destructiveness led to turmoil in the early 1990s as the original band members went their own ways – all except lead singer Axl Rose, who forged on through a series of lineup changes to finally release the long-awaited album Chinese Democracy in 2008.

Guns N’ Roses FAQ charts the amazing journey of the band from their early West Hollywood club days to their skyrocketing success in the late 1980s and their downfall in the 1990s – all the way to their 2012 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the reunion of three of the five classic band members during the 2016 Not in This Lifetime Tour. Readers will discover a treasure trove of interesting material in Guns N’ Roses FAQ, such as the band’s earliest influences and venues, most notorious concerts, opening acts, highlights of their seemingly endless Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion tours, bizarre TV appearances (like the time they destroyed the set of MTV’s Headbangers Ball!), feuds, the story behind their music videos, best and worst covers (Pat Boone, anyone?), and much more.

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Drinking with Kerouac

October 21, 2015


“Drinking with Kerouac” by great caricature artist Bruce Norris!

As Slow As Possible

October 16, 2015

John Cage’s composition, “As Slow As Possible,” takes 639 years to play.

Ham on Rye [1982] Charles Bukowski

October 16, 2015

“Gathered around me were the weak instead of the strong, the ugly instead of the beautiful, the losers instead of the winners.” According to Charles Bukowski’s fourth novel, Ham on Rye, he had a miserable childhood courtesy of his father, a sadistic tyrant who regularly beat young “Henry Chinaski” and his mother over the slightest infractions. To make matters worse, Bukowski suffered from a rare skin disorder, diagnosed as acne vulgaris, once he reached his teens. His only refuge was the local public library, where he voraciously devoured the writings of “The Lost Generation” school of American novelists such as Ernest Hemingway (whose later works he despised), Sherwood Anderson and John Dos Passos, as well as the works of European writers, including Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, Knut Hamsun’s Hunger and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s Journey to the End of Night. Set in Los Angeles, Ham on Rye was published by Black Sparrow Press.

Elton Casey

October 15, 2015

I used to work at this small weekly newspaper called The News of Orange County in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and one of my coworkers was this legendary sports editor named Elton Casey who banged his stories out on this ancient Remington typewriter. He once worked for the Durham Morning Herald and he was the kind of employee who got drunk every day during his lunch hour and then would come back to the office all fucked up if he showed up at all. In other words we all looked up to him. The guy would simply pull his article out when he finished writing and mark all of his errors with a pencil and sometimes even cut and paste paragraphs onto another piece of paper. Then he would hand me this torn, sloppy mess of an article and I would have to retype it into an old Apple computer from the ‘80s. Within a couple of months he had a stroke and died alone in his cheap apartment—I believe his landlady found him a day or two later. I didn’t know Elton that well at all but I attended the funeral and I think about him from time to time. I even have several of his articles that I peruse sometimes. Back then I made just $240 a week as a sports editor and features writer but had the time of my life working there for a couple of years. My point being that I wish I had that old Remington typewriter … it sat there and gathered dust in the office before someone hauled it away.

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

October 14, 2015

Grudge Match: Rush vs. Shakespeare

October 12, 2015

Many, many years ago in high school, some stoned-out surfer dude was trying to explain to me the intellectual firepower behind the lyrics in each of the songs included in the album Moving Pictures, Rush’s “masterpiece.” Here’s how the conversation went down:

Surfer Dude: “Rush is truly great, they’ve got some really mind-blowing lyrics, man . . . ‘All the world’s indeed a stage,’ that’s so profound!”

Bill Chinaski: “I think Shakespeare wrote that first.”

Surfer Dude: “Who?”

“All the world’s indeed a stage

And we are merely players

Performers and portrayers

Each another’s audience

Outside the gilded cage”

-“Limelight,” Rush


“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages . . .

Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

As You Like It, William Shakespeare

Flashback Blues

October 11, 2015

Description of James Taylor concert, 2001, Walnut Creek Amphitheater, Raleigh, North Carolina (author unknown)

Surrounded by dull, obnoxious yuppies, old blue hairs, bored college students and hyperactive kids. Everybody’s got a cell phone. We’re looking for a patch of grass to lay our blanket but they’ve oversold the lawn seats again and everybody’s packed in like sardines. We finally squeeze into a 4-foot by 4-foot spot next to a rapidly diminishing aisle. It’s standing room only behind us. An aging, sagging blonde next to me—who has had way too much to drink—starts dancing to a crappy song about a pineapple. She’s flailing her fat arms, spilling beer on my head and dropping ashes from her cigarette into my lap.

Let’s face it, the modern-day concert experience has gone to shit.

Now comes the tedious “Steamroller” bit where Taylor dances and struts around the stage like a rooster with its head cut off. I’m so sick of this fuckin’ song that I just want to head to the parking lot and puke my guts out.

As we make our exit, a bored limo driver asks us if it’s Taylor’s last song. “Hopefully,” I reply. He seems to find this very funny for some reason. I see no humor in it at all.

Charles Bukowski Quotes

October 10, 2015

“I was a man who thrived on solitude; without it I was like another man without food or water. Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride in my solitude; but I was dependent on it. The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me.” – Factotum, 1975

“God or somebody keeps creating women and tossing them out on the streets, and this one’s ass is too big and that one’s tits are too small, and this one is mad and that one is crazy and that one is a religionist and that one reads tea leaves and this one can’t control her farts, and that one has this big nose, and that one has boney legs . . . But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress . . . a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.” – Post Office, 1971

“I had come off a long drinking bout during which time I had lost my petty job, my room, and (perhaps) my mind. After sleeping the night in an alley I vomited in the sunlight, waited five minutes, then finished the remainder of the wine bottle that I found in my coat pocket. I began walking through the city, quite without purpose. When I was walking I felt as if I had some portion of the meaning of things. Of course, it was untrue. But standing in an alley hardly helped either. I walked for some time, scarcely aware. I was vaguely considering the fascination of starving to death. I only wanted a place to lie down and wait. I didn’t feel any rancor against society because I didn’t belong in it. I had long ago adjusted to that fact.” – “Animal Crackers in My Soup,” Tales of Ordinary Madness, 1983

“That was the trouble with being a writer, that was the main trouble—leisure time, excessive leisure time. You had to wait around for the buildup until you could write and while you were waiting you went crazy, and while you were going crazy you drank and the more you drank the crazier you got. There was nothing glorious about the life of a writer or the life of a drinker.” – “900 Pounds,” Hot Water Music, 1983

“I made practice runs down to skid row to get ready for my future. I didn’t like what I saw down there. Those men and women had no special daring or brilliance. They wanted what everybody else wanted. There were also some obvious mental cases down there who were allowed to walk the streets undisturbed. I had noticed that both in the very poor and very rich extremes of society the mad were often allowed to mingle freely. I knew that I wasn’t entirely sane. I still knew, as I had as a child, that there was something strange about myself. I felt as if I were destined to be a murderer, a bank robber, a saint, a rapist, a monk, a hermit. I needed an isolated place to hide. Skid row was disgusting. The life of the sane, average man was dull, worse than death. There seemed to be no possible alternative. Education also seemed to be a trap. The little education I had allowed myself had made me more suspicious. What were doctors, lawyers, scientists? They were just men who allowed themselves to be deprived of their freedom to think and act as individuals. I went back to my shack and drank . . .” – Ham on Rye, 1982

“It had been the same for as long as I could remember: turn on the radio to a classical music station, light a cigarette or a cigar, open the bottle. The typer did the rest. All I had to do was be there. The whole process allowed me to continue when life itself offered very little, when life itself was a horror show. There was always the typer to soothe me, to talk to me, to entertain me, to save my ass. Basically, that’s why I wrote: to save my ass, to save my ass from the madhouse, from the streets, from myself.” – Hollywood, 1989

“. . . out of a background of factories, park benches, two-bit jobs, bad women, bad weather of Life—the reason the average person is at the track is that they are driven screwy by the turn of the bolt, the foreman’s insane face, the landlord’s hand, the lover’s dead sex; taxation, cancer, the blues; clothes that fall apart on a 3rd wearing, water that tastes like piss, doctors that run assembly-line and indecent offices, hospitals without heart, politicians with skulls filled with pus . . . we can go on and on but would only be accused of being bitter and demented, but the world makes madmen (and women) of us all, and even the saints are demented, nothing is saved. so shit. well. according to my figures I’ve only had 2500 pieces of ass but I’ve watched 12,500 horse races, and if I have any advice to anybody it’s this: take up watercolor painting.” – Notes of a Dirty Old Man, 1969

“Each morning, down at work, we would be sick . . . it was our private joke. Each night we would get drunk again. What is a poor man to do? The girls don’t search out the common laborers; the girls search out the doctors, the scientists, the lawyers, the businessmen, so forth. We get the girls when they are through with the girls, and they are no longer girls—we get the used, the deformed, the diseased, the mad. After a while, instead of taking seconds and thirds and fourths, you give it up. Or you try to give it up. Drinking helps.” – “A Drinking Partner,” – The Most Beautiful Woman in Town & Other Stories, 1983

“The human race had always disgusted me. Essentially, what made them disgusting was the family-relationship illness, which included marriage, exchange of power and aid, which like a sore, a leprosy, became then: your next door neighbor, your neighborhood, your district, your city, your county, your state, your nation . . . everybody grabbing each other’s assholes in the honeycomb of survival out of a fear-animalistic stupidity.” – “The Great Zen Wedding,” Tales of Ordinary Madness, 1983

“I am for the small man who has not forgotten, for the man who loves his beer and his women and his sunlight but who is not quite wise enough (ever) to know where next month’s rent is coming from.”
— Letter to Jon and Louise Webb, December 25, 1964, Living on Luck: Selected Letters 1960s-1970s, Volume 2, 1995



October 9, 2015
  • “I saw ‘Bonanza’ over at my in-laws and it was not for me. The Ponderosa looked fake. Hardly recognized Little Joe.” —Diner, 1982
  • “I’m gonna tell you something. ‘Bonanza’ is not an accurate depiction of the West . . . You ever see the show? It’s a 50-year-old father with three 47-year-old sons. You know why they get along good? ‘Cause they’re all the same age.” —Tin Men, 1987
  • “You know, when I saw ‘Bonanza’ the other day, something occurred to me. There’s those three guys living on the Ponderosa and you never hear them say anything about wanting to get laid. You never hear Hoss turn to Little Joe and say ‘I had such a hard-on when I woke up this morning.’ You know . . . they never talk about broads . . . nothing. Ya never hear Little Joe say ‘Hey, Hoss, I went into Virginia City and saw a girl with the greatest ass I ever saw in my life.’ Ya just see ‘em walking around the Ponderosa saying, ‘Yes, Pa,’ and ‘Where’s Little Joe?’ Nothing about broads. I don’t think I’m being too picky . . . at least once if they talked about getting horny. I don’t care if you’re living on the Ponderosa or right here in Baltimore, guys talk about getting laid. I’m beginning to think that show doesn’t have too much realism.” —Tin Men, 1987