Of all the Guns 'N Roses stories, the "Rocket Queen" one is my favorite. When "Appetite For Destruction" was recorded, the moaning sounds on the album's closer (which might be my favorite G'N'R song, actually), were captured while Adriana Smith, a 19-year-old stripper who had been dating drummer Steven Adler, was having sex with Axl Rose. To quote the Rolling Stone story from last year:
"Come on, Adriana, make it real," Rose barked, pausing mid-coitus. "Stop faking!" On that warm weekend evening in the spring of 1987, engineer Vic Deyglio had set up a top-of-the-line vocal microphone to capture the sounds of Rose and Smith having sex - and at one point, he had to dash into the booth to adjust the mike as they went at it. "It was like a Ron Jeremy set in there," Deyglio recalls. Smith wanted to get back at Guns n' Roses drummer Steven Adler for cheating on her - and had always liked the singer better anyway. "I would do anything Axl asked me to do," says Smith, now a forty-year-old mom. "He's fuckin' magical."
The punchline comes at the end of course: Adriana Smith is now a 40-year-old mom. The other punchline is that Deyglio was credited on the album sleeve as "fucking engineer," which I suppose makes sense. Ah, Guns 'N Roses. Where have you been all these years? Now that we're a mere five days from the release of "Chinese Democracy" — and what better day to release an album people have been awaiting for 15 years than the Sunday before Thanksgiving? — I've been listening to a lot of G'N'R, and doing a lot of thinking. The first time I heard "Appetite," I was 12 years old and absolutely scandalized. (That controversial — and unlike most things that were controversial in the eighties, it's still pretty controversial — painting of the robot and naked lady got the album banned from my record store at the mall. I had to buy it at the pawn shop downtown.) Do you realize how much it fried my 12-year-old, center-parted, mulleted, farm boy brain to hear "get nothing for nothing/'cause that's what you do/turn around bitch/I got a use for you?" Heavens. This was definitely an album I had to hide from my youth minister. By the time the "Use Your Illusion" albums came out, I was almost 16 and therefore tons more mature. As much as I enjoyed those records, they were short-lived; it wouldn't be long until I finally discovered "Nevermind," and after that, everything was different. But listening to the "Illusion" albums lately, they hold up better than I remembered. They still should be cut down to just one album, though. Here's my suggestion for the eight songs for that theoretically streamlined, face-melting record. 1. Bad Obsession. (the closest they ever came to the Rolling Stones, complete with cowbell) 2. Double Talkin' Jive. (just for the opening riff) 3. Dead Horse. (which led to what's still my favorite Deadspin headline of all time) 4. Civil War. (seriously, what is so civil about war anyway? Honestly, this song is pretty dumb, but I still love it.) 5. Yesterdays. (totally underrated song. This should have been a bigger hit as a single.) 6. Pretty Tied Up (The Perils Of Rock & Roll Decadence). (all hail Izzy. "Where's Izzy?") 7. Locomotive (Complicity). (the big "epic" song off "Illusion II" that doesn't feel completely bloated.) 8. November Rain. (the song absolutely seems ridiculous now, but it still doesn't compare to the video, which I want to be shown on a loop if I ever make it to heaven. I still can't get over the part where Slash is like, "Fuck it dude, I'm just gonna rock out this solo right in front of this here church." I just felt bad he didn't have a cliff to throw the guitar over when his solo was done.)
I highly recommend you watch that full video again before continuing with your workday. It's well worth it. It's crazy that anyone ever let Axl make that. Anyway, in less than a week, the album will be out, and everyone will get free Dr. Peppers. The early reviews are positive, but at this point, does it matter? The success is that it's here at all. Axl is the same age as Herschel Walker, Star Jones, M.C. Hammer, Emilio Estevez, Hannah Storm, Clyde Drexler, Tom Cruise, Kool Moe Dee, Joan Cusack, Doug Flutie and William "Refrigerator" Perry. This album is here just so the rest of us can move on with our lives. (I mean, this album once had Shaq on it.) And I ask Axl not to make a video. I don't think I can jive this new, tubbier, dreadlocked, goateed Axl with the one who scared me as a child. I don't know anyone could. That said: I absolutely cannot fucking wait to listen to this album. I suspect many of you still feel the same way. I'm Axl Shimmying in my chair just thinking about it. 32. Detroit Lions (0-10). I was actually at Bank of America Stadium to watch this shitshow Sunday, which was disappointing, because it wasn't all that much of a shitshow. (Neither Daunte Culpepper nor Kevin Smith looked half bad, actually.) Not that this has made Rod Marinelli feel any better; now even the local reporters are openly questioning whether or not he's lost his mind.)
"You're in this dark tunnel and you've got no way out," he said. "You're waiting for light, and you see that light, what do you do? What do you do? You start digging and getting out. ... I've always believed you stay in the tunnel and you keep digging when you expect no light. "You have the same faith when you expect no light. You have the same belief in what you're doing when you expect no light. ... It's dark and I'm going to dig through. My shovel is sharp and my pick is sharp and my will is outstanding."
Totally, man. Not even Jim Fassel would beg for this job.
31. St. Louis Rams (2-8). Sorry, but when you fall behind like 35-3 at halftime against a team coached by Mike "Droopypants" Singletary, you fall behind even your in-state "rivals" to the west. The best angle on that game was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz's interview with Mike Martz and Isaac Bruce, who both showed sympathy for the Rams' current plight. That's right: Mike Martz is feeling bad for you. There's always a smaller fish, I suppose.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-9). What would be the equivalent of Herman Edwards turning around this franchise in the next few years? How about the ultimate irony of Rupert Murdoch being the last true believer in, and savior of, newspaper journalism. Bet nobody saw that coming. Read that link. He's absolutely right, which is even more frightening and astounding. Mike Royko is turning over in his grave.
29. Oakland Raiders (2-8). While searching for great Raiders blogs on the Web, I came across this outstanding one. It was updated once, simply with a picture of JaMarcus Russell and the following "post:" 12/02/07 - JaMarcus Russell made his NFL debut today as the Raiders defeated the Denver Broncos 34-20. Russell looked solid as he completed 4 of 7 passes for 56 yards. The rookie quarterback's first NFL completion was a bullet to Jerry Porter near the sideline. That's as good a time as any to stop. 28. Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1). Because the Carolina Panthers have established themselves as a Super Bowl contender, it's time to make a switch in these rankings. The honor transfers from the Panthers to the Bengals. So: Palin Watch! It's somewhat comforting that, over the last few years, our politics and our celebrity culture has merged. (It certainly seems inherently democratic.) First you had those Barack Obama Shirtless On The Beach photos, also known as the "christ, that asshole is better than me at everything" shots. Now come the Sarah Palin beach shots. It's nice to know she had some time to relax at the Republican powwow last week; it must have worn her out dodging all the hitmen Tim Pawlenty hired. (And yes. I just made a Tim Pawlenty joke. This is what we've come to.)
27. Seattle Seahawks (2-8). When I first moved to New York in 2000, my roommate shared my obsession with playing NCAA Hoops on the Playstation. Neither of us had a lot of friends, so we played it a lot. We even picked 32 teams and played an ongoing tournament. The game had a glitch in it, though, and there was a shooting guard for Georgetown who consistently shot about 95 percent from 3-point range, no matter where he was on the court. Naturally, because I was fortunate enough to choose Georgetown, I fully took advantage of this bug and won the whole tournament with the Hoyas. When I won the last game, because I am lame, I taunted my roommate. With signature deadpan, he pointed out that we shouldn't forget that I won because of a programming mistake, so I should shut the hell up. That's kind of how I feel about the fact that the Buzzsaw apparently is going to win this division. Sure. It's great. I'm happy it's happening. But when you look at this division, it's because of a glitch. I shouldn't forget that.
26. Houston Texans (3-7). Yes, the economy is collapsing and we're all screwed. This is well established. Thankfully, it's still important to remember what really matters. The front page story of The New York Times Web site most of the day yesterday? The tale of a 12-year-old food critic. I love this town. 25. San Francisco 49ers (3-7). Mike Huckabee is lashing out! While flying to Charlotte this weekend on JetBlue, I caught part of "Huckabee," the Fox News show the presidential candidate hosts. Huckabee is always complimented on being a "telegenic" politician. After watching this show, I find this about as damning a statement about politicians as I can imagine. Huckabee hosts the show like he's filming it on a Camcorder on his back porch. He had Michael Strahan on as a guest, and Strahan had the look of a man who was doing a favor for a neighbor's son who's working on a project for his AV class. "Huckabee" is the political equivalent of "The Magic Hour." Discuss.
24. San Diego Chargers (4-6). Actually, continuing on this front: Norv Turner is the coaching equivalent of "Huckabee." Now that I think about it, feel free not to discuss. 23. Buffalo Bills (5-5). Any time the Bills and Browns play — both the closest the NFL have to "cursed" franchises — it's going to be particularly painful for someone. Why couldn't this game have been the one that ended in a tie? That'll do it for the Bills, obviously. I look forward to Vincent Gallo's son making a movie in 20 years about trying to track down and kill Rian Lindell. 22. Cleveland Browns (4-6). I got to interview Q-Tip for the magazine this week. He was performing "Go New York Go," his "theme song" for the Knicks this season. It'll be playing at every Knicks home game this year. Q-Tip's trying to make a comeback after about a decade since his last album. He's a very nice man, and his new record's plenty good, but I'll say this: Being the official songster for the Knicks can't be the most ideal way to bring yourself back into the public consciousness. 21. Chicago Bears (5-5). Before Sunday, I thought the Bears had a chance to go 11-5. Now I'm not sure they're going to win another game. That said, they could still win the division. Put it this way: For all the justified talk about how easy the Buzzsaw has had it while compiling their five-game division lead, they're 3-3 outside their division. The Bears and the Packers, two of the three division leaders in the NFC North, are both 2-4. (The Vikings, also "leading," are 3-3. So they have that.) 20. Minnesota Vikings (5-5). And therefore, they go here. 19. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6). Sticking with the theme, the Jaguars are going to decide the NFC North this year: They play all three of the division leaders in the next four weeks. Is there anyone who will be even slightly surprised if they win all three? 18. Green Bay Packers (5-5). And now we wrap up the Norris. Of all the features I put together in this column, my favorite is the glance at the top story in the Green Bay Press-Gazette every Monday. Honestly, it's like if Mattoon had an NFL team. Today's winner? "An International Cooking Knight on Sunday at St. Norbert College brought dozens of students together to sample different foods and raise awareness of world issues." Sometimes I can just get lost in this newspaper.
17. New Orleans Saints (5-5). I find it astounding, really, that a man like Mark Cuban, who clearly knows more than anyone on earth about ethics — seriously, no one else even comes close — would be accused of insider trading. Fellow bloggers! All the hard work we put in to take down Cuban seems to have finally worked! Good work, gentlehumans. Whom should we go after next?
By the way, I live in terror that someday Lester Munson will write about me. That's a sign matters have gone very wrong. 16. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4-1). It is beyond comprehension that Donovan McNabb did not know the NFL had tie games. Could this possibly be true? I mean, McNabb has always seemed like a semi-intelligent guy. How would he not know this? He plays professional football, for crying out loud. And even if you're willing to grant that he might not have known going into the game, how could he have not known midway through overtime? With all the problems they've had with clock management and two-minute drills in the past, when you realize that Andy Reid didn't even tell his quarterback that the game could end in a tie, he's like the physics genius who puts his pants on backwards. Except it's looking like, in this analogy, Reid isn't very good at math either. Seriously, I know everyone's already talked this to death. I still can't wrap my brain around it. 15. Miami Dolphins (6-4). This year's Oscar movie that I dislike that everyone else loves? Slumdog Millionaire I saw this movie on Friday and, as pretty as Danny Boyle makes everything, this is the dumbest, most trumped up "love story" I can remember. This is the cinematic equivalent of whippets. It's all brief sensation, and when it's over, you've done nothing but kill a bunch of brain cells. Every year, I get an American Beauty or a Crash, a film the rest of the planet inexplicably adores. Here's this year's version.
14. Denver Broncos (6-4). A reason to cheer against Denver-area sports teams? When one of them goes deep into the playoffs, Rick Reilly inevitably decides that he's not leaving his suburban Rocky Mountain strip mall and just writes a piece about How Crazy Colorado Fans Are About Their Team. Rick Reilly gives us all hope that, someday, we can make "ballplayer money" to tap out 800 words a week and occasionally host "Pardon The Interruption" poorly. A colleague of mine at New York sent out the best email this week. "It's fun to read every rick reilly column pretending it's a satirical McSweeney's Rick Reilly column. 'They called the fight that killed Barry Scott a mismatch, but Barry Scott vs. life was a mismatch, wasn't it?'" That pretty much sums it up.
13. Baltimore Ravens (6-4). It's not really fair to drop them this much after a blowout loss to the best team in football — and it will be nice when Tennessee finally loses so we can all quit pretending that anyone's close to as good as the Giants are right now — but them's the breaks. Their schedule down the stretch is brutal. They'll be lucky to finish 8-8. 12. New England Patriots (6-4). Something I'd forgotten about Matt Cassel: He was actually second string at USC before losing out to Matt Leinart. The depth chart was Palmer, Cassel, Leinart. And now he looks like the best one. Fun factoid: Everyone kept claiming that Cassel's Week 2 start was his first start since high school. This is not actually true. He started one game for the Trojans at tight end. He did not catch a pass. 11. Washington Redskins (6-4). Sorry, you can't lose at home to a guy whose finger is almost falling off, and a team that looked like it has had just about enough of their owner's horrifying face screaming at them. By the way, whoever gets that final wild-card spot in the NFC looks like they're going to travel to the Pink Taco for the opening game. So, you know, plenty of seats available.
10. Atlanta Falcons (6-4). I have a sinking feeling that the feel-good story of Matt Ryan is going to end with four straight losses. We'll leave them here for now even though it'll anger Broncos fans, justifiably. But hey: Vick's going to be out of prison soon. Let's put him in Kansas City. God it would be fun to see him and Herm hang out. 9. Dallas Cowboys (6-4). It's worth noting that it has been more than a year and a half since Tank Johnson has been arrested. Way to go, Tank! Speaking of headlines I'm particularly proud of, here's an excerpt from "This is Why He's Not Known As Feelings Johnson."
Cops raided his house yesterday, supposedly looking for drugs (Tank has now been arrested three times since joining the Bears). They found "a cache of unregistered guns and assault rifles - some loaded," and we love that the Chicago Tribune added that ominous "some loaded" at the end, because otherwise we'd have no idea what people do with guns. They also found Willie B. Posey, who had two ounces of the ganga on him during the raid; he was busted too. Oh, and they also found Johnson's girlfriend and their two kids, around the guns and the ganja and the Willie Posey.
Posey was found dead only a couple of days later. Tank's a lot more boring when he's behaving.
8. The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals (7-3). Next week, if the Cowboys can beat the 49ers and the Buzzsaw win at home against the Giants, the Cardinals will clinch the NFC West. (They've beaten the 49ers twice, so there goes that tiebreaker.) The Cardinals aren't beating the Giants, of course, which is why I make the following unsolicited recommendation to Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt: Start Leinart. Make up some fake injury for Warner. The Giants' pass rush is going to kill somebody this Sunday, and since we're probably not going to win anyway, why not let it be Leinart? Not only does it keep Warner safe, but Leinart's death will resolve any quarterback controversy over the summer. And it will make sure, finally, that Brynn Cameron's support checks show up on time. Think it over, Ken.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3). Yeah, still pretty worried about these guys. Meanwhile, I would like to remind you that Mike Lupica is still writing about politics. I hate it when people who made their name in sports start thinking they can write about pol— ... you know, forget I said that. 6. New York Jets (7-3). I'm officially a believer. (And have 400 words of sterling magazine copy to prove it!) Even if the Jets lose this week, and they probably will, they're probably making the playoffs now. Any guesses on which wild-card round playoff game Peter King will end up covering? 5. Indianapolis Colts (6-4). Now that Eliot Spitzer has crawled out of his hole — figuratively speaking! — to join the national conversation again, Politico and The New Republic have a suggestion: If Hillary Clinton is named Secretary of State, Gov. Paterson of New York should replace her with Spitzer. That would rule. Now that we've broken through with a black president, our next barrier to overcome is a presidential candidate who has openly had unprotected anal sex with prostitutes.
Yes we can! Yes we can! 4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3). Now that Earnest Graham is out for the year, it's time for Cadillac Williams to make his triumphant return, before collapsing halfway through the second quarter and missing the next four seasons. To remind: At one point, at Auburn, the running backs were Cadillac, Ronnie Brown and Brandon Jacobs. 3. Carolina Panthers (8-2). For a story for Sporting News magazine — in case you don't know, I write a regular column (complete with stupid mugshot) in every issue — I sat in the press box for the Panthers-Lions game Sunday. It was the first time I'd sat in a press box in 12 years, and I have no desire to do so again for another 12 years. (The column is about how awful it is to sit in a press box.) Nobody bothered me, and, frankly, I don't think anyone in the whole stadium made a sound. It was like watching a football game in an aquarium. I kept tapping the glass to see if I could get the players to notice me.
2. New York Giants (9-1). I have learned my lesson from past years: It is an extremely poor decision to go to a bar in New York City and watch my Buzzsaw play the Giants in public. I'll be on the couch for this one. It makes it easier to hide the vomit. 1. Tennessee Titans (10-0). They have to beat the Jets this week, because losing to the winless Lions on Thanksgiving Day would be the 21st century equivalent of the Leon Lett play. It would be the one thing you and your family could find to talk about it. Let's make this happen.