had been having a very difficult time listening to music the Stan Keaton way
as of late. He was feeling arthritic this morning, lethargic and just a bit
hung over. Oh, the indignity of aging.
Today could turn out to be an important day in his life as a rock and
roll critic. Or a potentially important day. Or it might at least have a
shot at being an important day if he could ever put his ass into gear and
get around to the job at hand. Maybe today would be the day. It could be. He
had planned on it, he had marked it on his calendar, and he had stickies on
his monitor. His schedule was clear. He had been putting off this job for
days, but sooner or later, he literally had to face the music. Oh, but it
was such a hugely overwhelming job. So oppressively difficult. He needed
strength. He needed courage. There was a bridge to be crossed, and Stan was
Stan knows that for the past couple of weeks, in
the deepest and rockingest reaches of his mind, he has Just Not Been Getting
It. He has not been able to dive headlong into this most important mission.
It has seemed far too daunting a deed for a dude to do.
Stan had been ruminating quite a bit on his literary hero, Lester
Bangs, dumb dead Lester, the greatest rock critic of all time. Lester had
once written thirty-five thousand words on the original 'Funhouse' album by
the Stooges, an essay so devastatingly on target that Cream, perhaps the
finest rock mag ever published, had printed the entire piece, spilling the
words out over the course of three issues.
It was Lester who had taught Stan how to write about the devil's music
with real style and passion, and more importantly, with directed intent.
Fucking Lester Bangs was a cartoon angel sitting on his right shoulder and a
cartoon devil standing on his left. Stan was the cartoon between the two.
Lester was currently hiding in the bedroom closet, wearing a ripped and
pinned Funhouse t-shirt, taunting Stan with drunken laughter, 'Write it,
Don't write it, Fuck you! You know I'd do it!'.
There comes a time in every critic's life - and
Stan knew that the time had come for him - when one becomes full, one cannot
ingest another movie, another record, another book. Stan viscerally
understands this. He is mentally gorged. He needs catharsis. He has been
developing a powerful avoidance syndrome lately; when presented with
something new, he has begun to experience a feeling of crushing desperation.
Stan wants to get away. Every small morsel of incidental art seeks to
distract him from his mission.
It has been hard on Stan. The UPS man comes around nearly every
morning with the padded beige bags and boxes, and the cycle starts up again.
The ringing of the doorbell, followed by the inspection of the product. An
intriguing CD cover might catch his attention, and then without even
thinking about what he was doing he would have the little disc in his hand,
looking at the back notes and then wham 'Oh Man, Tom Verlaine produced’, and
he would open the clear plastic box and put the CD in his disk changer and
he could not absorb the music and the panic would set in. Stan Keaton had
assuredly heard too much.
‘I have the sickness’ he thought. ‘The rockin’
pneumonia. The boogie-woogie flu. The culture whore’s consumption.’ There
was only one way out of this predicament. It was time for him to tackle
Stan was sitting on the sea-green carpeted floor,
attention focused on his smoked-glass and chrome coffee table. On the
tabletop before him was a copy of The Stooge's
'Complete Fun House Sessions' box set. For days he had avoided opening
it. Seven discs. The entire surviving seven-hours-and-fifty-two minutes of
studio sessions, remastered from the original tapes. One hundred and
forty-two tracks, including two previously unreleased songs. Thirty-three
tracks of studio dialogue. Rhino Records has created quite a monster with
this package. It was truly amazing that back in 1970 someone had the
foresight to save these tapes for posterity. It made Stan woozy to imagine
consuming this opus in its entirety and attempting to explain the experience
through pen and paper. He needed courage. He needed coffee.
It was now nine in the morning. Stan figured that if he started
listening to Funhouse right away, he could still finish up in time for Happy
Hour. ‘I can do this’, Stan thought. ‘This is not going to be an easy job,
but I can do it’.
Looking at the track listing, Stan started to scheme. 'Is there
anything I can do to skip over some of this?' The print on the back of the
box was far too small and Stan didn’t own a pair of reading glasses,
although they would certainly be helpful now as he tried to make out these
one hundred and forty-two small print titles.
Let's see, thirty-three tracks of nothing but studio dialogue? Good lord!
How can that be? Could he really go on living if he were to miss Scott
Asheton asking the engineer for another beer? Was it really his duty as a
critic to listen to these Stooges talk? What would Lester do? He knew
what Lester would do.
Okay… Let’s examine the situation. It would appear that disk number
seven doesn’t count at all. That’s a perfectly valid critical assessment.
Disc seven was a bonus disk featuring a single that had never been
intended as part of the album. Some elderly Elektra execs must have pumped
hard to include this. Who knows why? He had heard the tracks a million times
before. Not bad, but not one of the Iggster’s better efforts.
Truth be told, these tracks are a totally inappropriate inclusion on a
project of this magnitude. What idiot editor would go to all the trouble of
putting together these original sessions in such a meticulous manner and
then let the executive producer go and add bonus tracks that didn’t fucking
belong? Bad move. End of story. These tracks do not belong on this
collection. Stan had half a mind to dash off an irate email to Rhino in
protest of this outrage, but then The Reporter told him that he was
employing a stalling mechanism.
Stan played around with all of the inserts from the special edition
Iggy box for a few minutes. Hey, look at these new photos from the original
Funhouse shoot. Man, those guys looked so young back then… Stan started to
drift into a reverie of his youth, but then The Reporter told him that he
was employing a stalling mechanism. Damn those mystical mind techniques.
In a final desperate play for time, Stan
attempted to balance the CD box on the corner of the coffee table. Fat
Sighing, Stan proceeded to remove the rest of the
contents from the box. Yep, seven disks all right. One of disks was in a
little black cardboard sleeve instead of a jewel box, and Stan looked at
that one first. This was the special bonus disk, ‘Down on the Street’ and
‘I Feel Alright’, total playing time six minutes. Six minutes? ‘Oh this is
great’, thinks Stan, ‘I’ve whittled this project down to seven hours and
Well, let’s do it. Stan lights a smoke and
removes the first disk from its container, puts it in the CD player, and
starts to edge over to his desk. Horrible noise ensues. What the hell is
that? Oh, it’s over. Out of nowhere comes some conversation. Somebody -
Iggy? - wants the monitor turned up. Fascinating. Hold on. Now the Stooges
kick in. All right! ‘1970’ comes blasting through the speakers and Stan
starts to smile. Raw power! Let me go get the bong. Just as soon as Stan
starts to move, the music abruptly stops, and there’s renewed talk about the
monitor level. What the hell? Stan picks up the cover and looks at the track
GLITCH FRAGMENT 0:22
02. STUDIO DIALOGUE 0:39
1970 [INCOMPLETE] 1:51
04. STUDIO DIALOGUE 0:20
1970 Take1 4:44…
As 1970 Take 1 comes on, the reality of the situation starts to sink in with
Stan. Could any critic really review this monolithic thing? (Fuck Lester,
Lester is dead).
Disk 1 alone has ten special dialogue tracks and
six more tracks listed as FALSE STARTs, but they’re
all short and skipping them won’t buy him any appreciable amount of time.
Stan takes an enormous bong hit and decides that he will go straight through
the set the proper way, disk one through seven, without skipping a thing.
That's what Lester would have done.
Seventy-four minutes and twenty-five seconds
later, it is time to put on disk number two. Stan realizes that he hasn’t
taken any notes yet, but that’s alright, he's catching the vibe, and he can
begin writing sometime in the next seventy-five minutes and twenty seconds.
He scans the liner notes and notes that along with plenty of incisive studio
dialogue, he will be listening to the first nineteen takes of ‘Loose’.
Susan is running late for work, not a particularly unusual event, and she
wants to linger at home a few more moments to see Stan before she leaves for
the day. The heavy oak door to the den is closed but not locked. There is a
fluorescent green sign mounted on the door that reads ‘Quiet! Critic at
Work’. Susan had the sign made for him a couple of years ago as a joke, and
damned if he didn’t use it.
Quiet, ha. The room is fairly well soundproofed,
so the music seems to pour out in thick jagged waves as she pulls open the
door. It almost knocks her off her feet. Susan waves enthusiastically to
Stan from the doorway, but he is too preoccupied with the music to notice
her entrance. Stan is working at his full frenzy setting, ripping yellow
pages off a legal pad, pen almost invisible in its stunning display of
It is way too early in the day for Susan to intentionally expose her
ears to the full brunt of Stan’s hydro-tubical supercharged speakers,
especially that planet-busting mega-woofer, so she remains in the doorway
for a couple of minutes watching Stan work. He looks so innocent when he’s
Stan finally looks up from his notes and sees Susan standing there,
nearly luminescent in an emerald green suit. She is hot, she is a Bond Girl.
Her pants drape down just like Kate Jackson's. He loves her.
Susan's honey-blond hair partially shrouds her eyes, sectioned down at
three distinct angles, looking just like Marianne Faithful on ‘Shindig!’.
Her eyes are a slightly less intense shade of green than her suit. Everyone
agrees they are the nicest shade of green. Her hair brushes lightly against
her shoulders, framing a olive-skinned oval face. She seems so happy. She
was almost always smiling.
'Hi Susan', Stan thinks. 'Hi'.
By now Stan has committed to Funhouse completely, and it’s hard for
him to believe that he hesitated for so long before taking the plunge. What
a glorious racket. He is completely energized.
Stan wishes that Susan would just remain where she is, all day long
without moving a muscle, glowing in her green outfit, leaning dreamily
against the door frame while she watched him work. That would be perfect.
That would be perfect.
Stan grins and waves to her, all hopped up and proud of his mission. He
holds the Funhouse box high above his head and shakes it, points to himself
and makes a writing motion. She knows. As Susan heads out of the front door
and towards her car she can still hear Iggy howling sadly in the background.
“You can stick it right in… Because I’m loose!”