for September 22, 2005
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Time Heals All Fools
by Stiffy Biceptz
>From their first appearance in the early eighties, I despised Motley Crue. They personified everything I detested in metal music: No talent, a surplus of stupidity, sexism, all image and no substance. Sex, drugs and garbage. They made Kiss look almost good. Despite trying their very best to kill themselves and everyone else around them, they somehow survived long enough to become irrelevant and break up due to obsolescence. And the world became a better place.
Tommy Lee was their drummer. He somehow managed to nail Heather Locklear, then graduated to Pam Anderson. During the nineties we witnessed the trials and tribulations of this terrible twosome, getting to know far more about them than was really necessary. Passion, kids, videos, divorce, violence, but thankfully no music. And in a strange way, America actually found it had a soft spot for Tommy, despite his problems. There was an innocence about the guy, a naiveté that came through the bad boy exterior. You could see it in his smile. He just wanted to have fun, and didn’t really mean to hurt anyone.
Now VH1 brings us “Tommy Lee Goes to College”. Here we have Tommy Lee, someone who would be challenged to repeat high school, spending a month at the University of Nebraska, actually taking a few courses and sampling college life. It's through this show that we get to meet the real Tommy Lee.
Question: Why would any pop star of his magnitude, age or wealth bother to really go to college? Answer: He really wishes he could have had this type of life.
Five minutes into the first episode this becomes abundantly clear. Tommy’s mom sends her little boy off to school, and even though it's just a silly reality show, you can see that Tommy is really proud of himself and is happy to have (finally) impressed him mom. Few pop stars would ever risk doing something like this unless it really meant something to them, whether they ever admitted it or not.
The show is irresistible. Not only for the obvious comedy of having a middle aged idiot dropped into a highly academic environment. It’s great because it is so brutally humanizing of Tommy Lee, who willingly subjects himself to potentially great humiliation, but ends up looking like far more of a likable guy than he could have ever hoped for.
What makes “Tommy Lee Goes to College” work so well is that Tommy is unswervingly himself throughout the series. Nothing phony, no pretentiousness, no rock ego. Just pure fish-out-of-water vulnerability. When Tommy tries out for the marching band, there is much consternation in the band leadership. They make it clear to him in no uncertain terms that band is the most serious thing on campus other than football and that he’ll have to be perfect if he really wants to make it. Tommy’s response to this patronizing attack on his musicianship is “OK, I’ll work really hard to make it”. And he does.
In many situations, the students come off as the bigger idiots. For a bunch of 21st century college kids to be impressed by the likes of Tommy Lee is a bit embarrassing. It is unlikely many of them will every achieve even a small percentage of Tommy’s fame or fortune, and it is doubtful they’d ever be as entertaining. Many of them will end up with screwed up lives and be guilty of the same sins Tommy has committed. What will their excuse be? Maybe too many of these kids were conceived in the back seats of pickups while the Crue was blasting on the tape deck...
As it turns out, Tommy has as much to teach his college mates as he has to learn. Being yourself and going after your dreams regardless of what others think about you or expect from you can bring you far more happiness (and wealth and babes) than simply following the plan. The successes and failures will be all yours and that is the greatest freedom of all. Yes kids, there can be fulfillment outside of a 9-5 lifestyle.
15 years after the flameout of the metal music scene, we can now finally enjoy the likes of Tommy Lee for what they always were: Pure entertainers.
©2005 Stiffy Biceptz
All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.
Today's NY/NJ Shows That Matter
Friday, August 23, 2019
Rufus Wainwright and The Rails at Grunin Center For The Arts, Ocean County College
Extreme at Starland Ballroom
Old Dominion at Stone Pony Summerstage
Surfer Blood and The Morgan Freemasons at The Saint
Spring Heeled Jack at Stanhope House
Matt Wade Band at Langosta Lounge
Little Vicious, Candy Cavity and Damn Jackals at Asbury Park Yacht Club
Muscians On A Mission presents Songwriters & Storytellers: Channeling Woodstock (Open Mic & Food Drive) at Monmouth Museum (6:30p)
The Marshall Tucker Band and The Bennett Brothers at Sony Hall
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe at Asbury Lanes
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