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Originally Published: February 10, 1997
Author: Bill Goodykoontz
In a recent article by James Carville in 'Salon', an electronic magazine, the president's pal explained how he was going to skip the inauguration - it wasn't worth all the trouble.
I hate things like that.
Sure, Carville could have had great seats, incredible access and whatnot.
At the same time, many people would have done just about anything (like make questionable campaign contributions) for a far-lesser inauguration experience.
What brought this to mind was a recent round of golf I played with Alice Cooper. Oh, sure, that's how I describe it now, but at the time, here's how I told my friends:
I JUST PLAYED 18 HOLES WITH ALICE COOPER! (For the full effect, imagine me jumping up and down like a kid who's just downed a Thirst Buster and is still 50 miles from the next rest area.)
Cooper is hosting the Alice Cooper Celebrity/AM Tournament at the Arizona Biltmore on Feb. 21-23; proceeds benefit the Solid Rock Foundation. A publicist had broken up an otherwise dull day by calling and asking if I'd like to play a round with Cooper, in hopes that I would write something about it.
I put up a good front: I can't promise anything, but sure, I'll play. Yes, it's a great cause. Meanwhile, the phrase GOLF WITH ALICE COOPER swirled through my head like a tornado through a trailer park.
Ever since I was 10 years old, you see, I've been an Alice Cooper nut.
Butter Spread II
The first album I bought ('School's Out') was an Alice Cooper album. So as the second ('Billion Dollar Babies'). Having long since worn out both on vinyl, I now own the CDs.
One of my abiding childhood memories is discovering that, instead of a dust jacket, 'School's Out' came wrapped in *a pair of women's panties*. This was just about more than a fourth-grader could take. I had to tell someone, so I swore my brother, Butter, to secrecy and showed him. He, of course, snatched the record - panties and all - and marched into the kitchen to show my parents. (They laughed.)
I found myself telling Cooper this same story as we waited to tee off on one of the holes. You could tell he had heard similar tales more times than anyone ought to, but he still chuckled politely. In fact, he did everything politely. He was about as nice as a guy could be. The only link to the ghoulish rocker I had heard about when I was growing up, the one who chopped up dolls and faked beheadings onstage, was the brown ponytail that hung beneath a white baseball cap.
"People are always disappointed I don't carry a snake around and wear makeup all the time," he said, laughing again. "My theory has always been, be as nice as you can. You're lucky to be in this position. And how hard is it to be nice?"
'Alice'? Wow, Man!
I hate to sound old - I hate to *feel* old - but it's impossible now to impart how outlandish, how fighteningly bizarre, how downright *weird* Alice Cooper was 25 years ago. Just having a male singer with a female name was enough to put off some parents. Tales of the band's onstage antics finished off most of the rest. (Shipping records in panties didn't help.)
Yet much of the band's early music still holds up remarkably well; some of it is out-and-out great. That's something Cooper tells bands that have inherited the shock-rock mantle, like Marilyn Manson, to be mindful of.
"If you're going to be theatrical, the songs better be good," he said, "or in two years, it'll be a gimmick."
For the record, Cooper shot a 76 - 4 over par. I shot, ahem, a 103. (And he is an immensely patient man - he waited until the 15th hole before trying to correct my swing; most people can resist for only a hole or two.)
In short, I had a ball. I know that some journalists and media experts and whatnot would say I should have quelled my fandom - acted like it was no big deal.
I didn't. Instead, right off the top, I told Cooper I was tickled to meet him. I never want to become so cynical that I let a put-on worldliness get in the way of a great opportunity.
Forget all that. I had a round to botch.