Too Weird for Ziggyby Sylvie Simmons
In Greetings from Finsbury Park,”
In Pussy,” the girl singer of the eponymous band cracks up after her lover and the band’s creative center dies. When her manager tracks her down she is living anonymously in an East Village tenement, rarely going outdoors, and hoarding her own discarded hair, dead skin and other physical castoffs.
In Greetings from Finsbury Park,” a British rock star comes home from L.A. only to find that the customs agent going through his suitcase is an embittered ex-schoolmate whose wife once slept with the star before he was famous.
In A Happy Ending,” a deeply shell-shocked ex-superstar (think Brian Wilson) struggles to keep the voices in his head quiet during a meeting with a hot new producer for a comeback album the A&R boss envisions as an unholy alliance of Neil Young and Public Enemy.
Love Stain” charts the emergence of devotional offerings, cottage industries, and a pecking order of proximity to the spot where an up and coming young rocker dropped dead on speedballs outside a London cluband his best friend chats up a rock journalist about the tragedy and the conspiracy to murder his friend, all while trying to get her to cover his own band.
In Rhinestone Tombstone Blues,” country music singer-songwriter LeeAnn Starmountain copes with the disappearance of her inspirationthe violent fantasies of her abusive mother’s death, which she can no longer indulge in after her mother actually perishes, cooked to death by her electric blanket after a stroke.
In Close to You,” a cult devoted to Karen Carpenter springs up after the singer’s image appears in the paint on the wall of a London kebab shop.
In From a Great Height,” controversy erupts when the frontman of America’s biggest rock band urinates off his hotel balcony, soaking a crowd of adoring fans.
In And Alien Tears,” a California limo driver with a gift for Jim Morrison impersonation becomes a star in his own right in Germany, hosting a talk show as Jim.”
The hottest band of cock-rockers in America finds their tour going off the rails in Allergic to Kansas” when the misogynist lead singer starts growing breasts.
In Diet Cola Cancer” Pussy, the lead character in the first story, returnspost-breakdown, and racking up the younger boyfriendsand even gets sued when one of said boyfriends commits an indiscretion at an LA rock club, and Pussy douses the paramour in carcinogenic” Diet Coke.
In I Kissed Willie Nelson’s Nipple,” LeeAnn visits England on command performance for the Queen, and tells the story of her many marriages, the greatest hits” of her abusive relationships, and the self-explanatory Willie Nelson film role that put her career back on track.
In Spitting Image (The 80s Retro Track),” the famous British television show (they made the puppets for Genesis’s famous Land of Confusion” video) agrees to sell one of their puppets to the star it comically representsbut when the puppet is kidnapped” on the way to its new home, and someone sends the star the puppet piece by violently detached piece, he finds himself cracking up.
In Too Weird for Ziggy (A Dream of Holes),” a famous rock god is dead, and MTV isn’t content to let him rest. So in an unprecedented live television séance at the palatial home of one of LA’s most overcompensated rock managers, they hire a voodoo practitioner to raise him from the dead, on live television.
In Jeremiah 18:1-10” the band from From a Great Height” returns and now the drummer has a stalker, who claims God has commanded her to become his wife. The trouble is, she seems so innocent and naïve, no one takes her seriously until the drummer’s stripper fiancée suddenly turns up dead.
In The Audience Isn’t Listening,” the bass player and guitarist from the same band cope with the rumor that the megalomaniacal singer is planning to dissolve the band and keep the namewhile the guitarist’s wife has secret designs of her own on the singer.
In Baudelaire’s Dog” the cracked-up Brian Wilson type from Happy Ending” is back with the album in the can and a press conference to get throughbut he is having a hard time keeping quiet about his constant visions of the brother he secretly murdered during his years of madness.
In Autograph,” Spike, the rockstar from Finsbury Park” and Pussy’s second new boyfriend in Diet Cola,” has a new problem to contend with: the ex-girlfriend he dumped as soon as his band got big. She’s a nurse with ready access to narcotics, and when he goes home for his mother’s funeral she gets a junkie to help her kidnap him, and gives him her autographwith a tattoo gun, on his privates. Unfortunately, her name is Minerva (Mini) Smallwood.
Finally, in Patron Saint of Amputees,” Pussy returns, waking up in the bed of a much-younger MTV VJ the morning after the séance/party, to drag herself to a meeting with her record company about making a comeback album. Only they have news for her. It’s Pussy (her plus her ex-backing band) or nothhhhhing and Taylor, the supposedly dead ex-love-of-her-life? Alive and well. She’s not sticking around to find out moreshe bolts and asks her limo driver (recognizable as the ex-Jim Morrison impersonator) to take her the fuck out.”
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Read an Excerpt
Too Weird for Ziggy
By Sylvie Simmons
Black Cat/Grove Atlantic PressISBN: 0-8021-4156-0
Chapter Onefrom JEREMIAH 18:1-10 We were in the hotel bar after the show, it was just gone two, you could see the bartender was impatient to go home but hey, only four more hours till our flight so no point going to bed. There were six of us - me and my photographer Eric, Jerry and Ted from 'XO' magazine, Paul from 'Hundred % Heavy' and Rollo, the publicist, the man who'd brought us all over to the States and was right now getting them in at the bar. All of a sudden this girl comes up on my blind side and taps me on the shoulder and says in a soft Southern accent, "Pardon me, are you with the band?" "Certainly is", Eric shot back. "Shoot 2 Kill's chief knob-sucker. Four foot tall, no teeth, made for the job." "Fuck you", I said with no particular malice. Photographers are all sociopaths, something to do with always looking at the world through a lump of glass, plus it was as good an answer as any to the 'are you with the band' question that rock journalists are always asked. "Only", she continued, undaunted for someone who looked so small and meek, "I saw you backstage earlier talking to Frame." "She's doing a story for 'Pulp'", said Rollo, "June issue, cover, double spread." Like all publicists he couldn't go long without telling everyone what a good job he was doing. The girl ignored him. "Do you know Duggsy?" she asked. She meant John Dugsdale, Shoot 2 Kill's drummer. "Everyone knows Duggsy", chuckled Jerry. "Genius! The star of the show!" "You know, God's a good bloke", Eric joined in, "only he does keep thinking he's Duggsy." The girl just looked perplexed. "Modesty", Eric explained, "is not Duggsy's strongest suit." "Neither's drumming", I said, and we all fell about in exaggerated drunken laughter. Except the girl. She just stood there with her thin hair and long, baggy sweater and pale, waxy face and said in a pained voice, "Do you know where I can find him?" Just then two of the band's roadies walked into the bar. "Hey!" shouted the fat one in the faded black Aerosmith T-shirt. "It's the snorkelling Southerner. Back for another mouthful, darling?" "Our cocks", said the other in a bad fake-posh English accent, "are quite frankly irresistible". He had scrawny grey hair that stuck out from his bald patch and disgusting trousers whose crotch dangled close to his knees. "She wants to know where the drummer is", said Eric. "Last time I looked", said Disgusting Trousers, "he was backstage in a room with a camcorder and two naked birds on the concrete floor, stoned as fuck, eating each other out." I don't know what she wanted to hear but it wasn't this. The girl visibly crumpled. She ran out of the bar. I felt bad. I almost went after her - she had that innocence about her that the Japanese girl fans have; it makes you want to protect them. But there are certain rules of rock journalism that are inviolable, chief among them abandoning the bar when someone's getting in the drinks, and anyhow I didn't want to give the boys any excuse to go thinking I was soft. "Mad cunt", said Aerosmith. He told us they'd found her hovering by the pit when the show was over while they were doing the rounds with backstage passes, trawling for blondes who wanted to meet the band. "She comes up to me and says she has to see the drummer. So I say", he knocks back a beer, a good third of it spilling onto his T-shirt and softening up a blob of what I hoped was mashed potato on his chest, "you know the routine. Only apparently she doesn't. Though her being blonde and female and breathing naturally we figure that she does." As a point of information for females this is the basics of the Backstage Pass Transaction. A sordid business. In a nutshell: they've got something you want (band access), you've got something they want (XX chromosomes) and so a deal is struck. To get to the vocalist you fuck the tour manager, for the guitarist you blow two roadies, one for the bass player, and if it's the drummer you're after they'll send you off for a brain scan, bum a cigarette and give you an Access All Areas. Drummers, you might have gathered, do not rate high in the rock pecking order. Neither, for that matter, do girls. "So, when the dirty deed is done I ask her what the fuck she wants with the drummer. So I tell her that there was this drummer one time who was touring with Alice Cooper and Alice's rattlesnake gets out of its snake-box backstage and bites him on the dick. And there's this rancid old groupie wandering around the corridors looking for famous knobs to suck and the drummer yells for her to go and get the doctor. So she goes to the doctor's and tells him the drummer's been bitten on his dick by a snake. There's just one cure, the doctor tells her. Suck out the venom or he'll die. So she goes back", he falls about laughing. "And the drummer says, well what did the doctor say? And she says-" Paul interrupts: "'The doctor says you're going to die!' Come on, that's an antique." Aerosmith is choking with laughter, tears rolling down his cheeks. If you didn't know better you might think he was crying. "And", he manages to get out between gasps, "the girl doesn't even smile. She says, she's going to marry him. That she's had a message from God. I say, why the hell would God want you to marry Duggs? Fucking Jesus, he must have it in for you." Duggsy already has three ex-wives-and three jail terms for assault and battery. Plus an ongoing lawsuit from an ex-girlfriend, the mother of his child, who says he abused their little girl. Duggsy hits things. He's a drummer. "And she says", he rolls his eyes to heaven, "'It is not for me to question God.'" "Wicked!" Rollo grinned. "Top five lies told by drummers!", announced Paul. Uh-oh, circle joke. "Number five", I taught John Bonham everything he knew. "Four", the guy from 'XO' joined in. "I practice eight hours a day." "Three", yelled Eric-why do men get so excited over lists?-"I'm on the cover of 'Modern Drummer' any day now." "Two", guffawed Paul "They'd never fire me. I hold the band together". Aerosmith nodded, "Good one." "Number one", said Rollo, "my girlfriend's a supermodel". "Nah", screamed Disgusting Trousers, "she's a fucking great singer and the record label have asked me to produce her album!" Whoever Duggsy's girlfriend might be, one thing was for sure. She was not going to be a timid girl with a flat chest on a mission from God.
Excerpted from Too Weird for Ziggy by Sylvie Simmons Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Sylvie Simmons is an award-winning writer and one of the foremost music journalists working today. Born in London, she moved to Los Angeles in the late seventies and started writing about rock music for magazines such as Sounds, Creem, Kerrang! and Q. She is the author of acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books, including the biography Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes and the short-story collection Too Weird for Ziggy.
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