ANATOMY OF STARDOM
IN 1969, JIM Morrison was arrested in Miami for exposing himself on stage, securing his place in rock chronicles as a quintessential bad-boy frontman, shattering mainstream delusions of virtue. A few weeks ago, we attended The Jesus Lizard show at First Avenue. We gazed up at pugnacious lead singer David Yow, already shirtless and sweat-drenched under the blazing stagelight, as he peeled his snug black Levi's down to his ass-kicking cowboy boots and proceeded to wail the night's final number in the raw.
Yow was not arrested, nor did his gesture spawn anything like a riot of nudity. A few awkward smiles and whispers wove through the shadowed audience, but otherwise, imperceptible response. (Perhaps we'd already been numbed by Yow's earlier command to line up outside after the show, where he'd fuck us from behind without spilling a drop of sperm.) By now this striptease seemed simply pro-forma.
Meanwhile, knowing that rebellion is no longer possible without satire, ankles still ridiculously cuffed by denim, Yow flexed his upper body like a third-rate Mr. Universe, shook his penis as if taunting dogs with a rubber toy, fell to the stage floor and rolled epileptically through puddles of beer and spit. When the music ceased, Yow pulled up pants, discarded microphone and exited as unceremoniously as a proletarian at quitting time. Next millennium, both Morrison and Yow will be remembered as seminal rebels: the former because he made us angry at authority, the latter because he made us a little embarrassed to be alive. (S.P. Healey)
F. SCOTT'S ST. PAUL
A FEW YEARS back, it was suggested that the newly renamed Fitzgerald Theatre be christened with a bottle of whiskey busted against the building; thinking that too wild, those in charge opted for a splash of river water instead. So while it's fitting that there is a week-long ballyhoo celebrating the 100-year anniversary of F. Scott Fitzgerald's birthday--because if there was one thing that F. Scott was into, it was partying--we're just not sure if a single week of dignified and officially sanctioned festivities can even begin to do justice to this literary maniac.
In conjunction with the festivities, we toured his old stomping grounds in a packed little bus last weekend (courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society), wondering how his town, our town, had shaped him. St. Paul, which began as a bend in the river and a bootlegger's shack, only to become the state capitol and home to numerous railroad and river barons, must have made Fitzgerald a believer of infinite possibilities. Unlike the legitimate tastes of folks "out east," we in the Midwest have always had to make it up as we go along. This may explain the architectural experimentations on Summit Avenue, the crazed parties hosted by F. Scott and Zelda, and indeed his very success as a writer.
The tour humanized Fitzgerald the literary figure, and in this way it was strangely revealing. We were moved to hear he how spent six weeks revising Tender is the Night at 599 Summit Avenue, then ran up and down the street waving his acceptance letter from Scribners, exclaiming to the world that he was finally a published author. And now that F. Scott is getting a bronze statue in Rice Park, it's worth noting that he and Zelda were once the holy terror of tenants, having suffered many evictions. And how can you not find a place in your heart for someone who trashed the White Bear Yacht Club?
Though intrigued by wealth and power, F. Scott's immediate family never had enough money to be upper crust. It was if the young Fitzgerald always stood just outside the party, peering in--a status that must have not only fueled his desire to triumph as a writer, but developed his keen eye and descriptive talents. As is evident in The Great Gatsby, he could flawlessly portray an afternoon of elegance. His prose gives the reader entrée to the party, offering an ear to every conversation and a glimpse into every soul.
St. Paul is a quietly eccentric city that expands and contracts in mysterious ways. Fitzgerald, like many, left it to seek his fortune, but the fortune of his mind was formed here, around the old sidewalks, stately homes, and looming trees. As we in St. Paul proudly claim him and his image becomes marketable nostalgia, we must realize that his superior talent places him in the realm of the imagination--a place that belongs to everyone, lasts forever, and has no city limits. (Paul D. Dickinson)
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