My Dinner with Danzig
September 14, 2017
Every parent faces this day.
The daughter comes home on a blustery December day, gray but for the gaudy Christmas decorations that graffito the suburban landscape.
She’s maybe 6 or 7, and asks the question you just knew was coming.
Hey Dad-Dad, is there really a Santa Claus?
This is Baby’s first existential crisis, the first questioning of the only reality she has known, a view of an alternate world – colder and darker – brought forth of recess gossip.
She is about to enter the cynical world, and it will not be long before she sees her first Kardashian or some fucking little bastard offers to show her a penis.
The original Misfits will be appearing at Forum in Inglewood CA for their upcoming December 30th concert.
And the shit hits the fan.
The punks online have become divided, incensed that the band has reunited for another one-off and sold out spectacularly. Others, not so lucky to have seen them in the grimy clubs way back when, have bought out the room in a day–I mean, c’mon–The Misfits!
I suppose there was a time when you would smile at such news, be it a bemused smirk or facial tell of joy, and then go about the day. But then along came a little thing I like to call The Internet-catchy, yes?
Have we become so cynical as to put down every small victory for the tribe? Has social media made it so easy to post up any slight immediate judgement before introspection and digestion? Be it an indictment on a band’s movements or a misguided defense of right-wing nationalists? Ahem
Yeah yeah, I know it’s hard to ignore the missteps the Misfits have taken, the public squabbles and Kiss-like merchandising.
And it’s just too damn easy to take the piss out of acts that are supposed to be serious or, god forbid, scary.
Is it a defense mechanism against the darkness?
I dunno, but why do you think Elvira has those glorious tits?
Those songs though.
How can you discount the long nights in the van, headlights carving out a tunnel though the moonless night, and everyone singing along whoa-ohs! to the gems we were gifted.
50’s melodies and crashing guitars, the perfect mix to transport yet another boring summer night driving through the tracts into a memory of youth.
And with Danzig, hell–there’s no need to spend precious time trying to decipher these lyrics.
For surely when Westerberg talks about rabbits In the yard, those aren’t rabbits, and there is no yard.
The Misfits want your skull.
Made it to the fuckin’ Fabulous Forum, people!
Home of Showtime, the temple where we once saw Keith Moon come out at a Zeppelin encore and smash Bonham’s kettle drums.
When Cheap Trick finally made it to headliner at the Forum there was a bit of a sting.
The band we first saw at the Whisky was now lost to the masses-but that is a different sort of discontent, isn’t it?
We had to admit an almost parental pride in our boys making it to Inglewood on their own merit, the rest of the world catching up to our great taste.
Who are we to begrudge anyone such an honor?
The long 1983 tour, we sweated through the Southern continent through July and finally made it up to Yankee territory just as the year surrendered to August.
We’d been in the van a month by now, and needed a night of gold star stature to remind us just what the hell we were trying to do here.
And so Kimm had somehow made some calls from Jack Rabid’s place and made arrangements to make a stop before the gig.
We pull up at a regular old NJ suburban pad, and after a polite knock that rattles the screen door, who answers but goddamn Glenn Danzig!
Oh sure, we’d met a few times before, on their West coast jaunts and at the disastrous NY eve show Irving plaza 1981, but now here we are standing in his basement as he rinsed out glasses to serve us tap water!
I dunno why this seemed strange, as we’d accepted the hospitality of a half-dozen punk rock heroes by now. Hell, I could still savor the soothing deliciousness of a pbj Biscuit had made me after a late night gig in Austin.
But I just somehow thought Glenn would live in a haunted castle or at least a trailer on the edge of a graveyard.
We had our waters and chatted a bit, he dug out some EvilLive t-shirts fresh off his screen and we traded merch. Then he yelled goodbye to his Dad upstairs (in a throaty roar, natch) before jumping in the Blue and White with us.
He pointed out local landmarks, (Here’s where Jimmy got clobbered, that there’s where Tammy flipped her Camaro)
And not to get too Springsteen on your asses, but it was pretty great driving through that golden Jersey landscape with Glenn in the van, he guiding us to some cool place to pregame before the show.
We thought he was taking us to some underground dungeon or at least a dive bar with Thriller on the jukebox and AB negative on tap.
But when we pulled into a strip mall parking lot, we got out and discovered ourselves at, of all things, a goddamned video arcade.
And no beer in sight?
Glenn jumped out, looked into the flashing parlor, then back to us to follow.
He was just a kid like us after all.
And yes, that is how we spent the day, late afternoon rolling into darkness, in a bleeping booping video arcade, a stack of patina-ed quarters in hand.
And ya know what? We had a goddamned blast!
I rediscovered my love hate relationship with Centipede as Doug challenged all comers to Ms Pac Man. I think Jackie and Jay took on the local Jr High kids in a fierce air hockey tourney that is still talked about in certain circles as Glenn and Kimm went to the old school pinball gallery.
We were a band that relied-heavily-on drinking in the local flavor before a gig. And by local flavor I mean copious amounts of booze, sometimes to disastrously hilarious result.
Yet here we were reconnected to the inner child that welcomed a night off the bottle.
And when we finally encountered the all new Dragon’s Lair game in the corner, really a ground breaker back then that incorporated movie graphics in a rather clunky choose-your-path sort of game, we gathered around it and watched: amazed.
I saw Glenn staring at the game, and could imagine his thoughts, the world of fantasy where he roamed, merged with a new technology. Bringing the experience ever closer to the cinema that he loved.
And at the gig that night, he jumped on stage during the closer of Wetspots, and was promptly dog piled on by the local knuckleheads, keeping him in check, all in good cheer.
We had found the night that we needed.
Now, who told you there was no Santa? I’m asking, the old stall tactic that every parent knows.
The kid only shrugs while looking away, a look betraying the shame and burden of understanding.
I could only pick her up and swing her onto my shoulder, and then we stand before the big mirror in the living room. It’s the spot where I’ve held her since she was just an infant, to show her the reflected world: non-existent yet identical.
And then, together, we look and look back at once.
Dad and kid, one generation literally sitting atop the other, a man she will some day have to bury.
And then I ask her.
Well, what do you think is better? To live in a world there is no Santa?
Or to live in a world where Santa Claus will always come on Christmas?
She thinks for a moment, then she smiles.