Monday, June 05, 2017

BRAD KOHLER'S TURN TO REVIEW JAGUAR RIDE, MEMOIR OF AN ELECTRIC EEL by Brian McMahon (gee, I couldn't let the poor feller down...) (Hozac Books, 2017)

I'll cut to the chase. I think a John Morton memoir would be a better read, judging by the interviews and prose I've read by him. As for Dave E., we aren't likely to hear from him unless he has some choice bon mots for us cretins left earthbound as he levitates towards Heaven during the rapture.

This is, in too many points, a tiring read. Digression follows digression, furthered by alter-ego dogMaN, a conceit that mostly does little to propel the narrative.

Credit is due though for the juvenile delinquent timeline, which struck me upside the head even more by a chance sighting of a school bus that had a warning placard affixed that announce that all activities within were being audio and video taped. Back in the seventies when I went to school, once you were on the bus said conveyance morphed into a torture chamber on wheels where anything could, and did, happen. The bus driver cared not a whit, unless the anarchy interfered with him sneaking nips from the half pint in his pocket. The same thing still goes on, but at least the purps are on camera.

Without cell phones, the internet and cameras on every corner, one could disappear into the underbelly miasma of existence, a trick as simple as climbing onto a highway off ramp and sticking out your thumb.  This is the route McMahon took to shake a suffocating family life overseen by an abusive father. Escape to a world where you didn't even keep in contact unless you had a dime for a pay phone left over after buying bologna and white bread or a cheap bottle of wine.

This long gone America is well represented in the book, a world fraught with equal parts ecstasy and peril, up to and including serving take out chicken to members of Paul Revere and the Raiders at a fast food joint in California while inadvertently short changing them (out of awe, not malice). And yes, they were attired in their patriot togs.

A supreme irony occurs when Brian and pals sneak into an Iron Butterfly concert and witness the soundcheck. They scream at and argue with each other throughout, a scene that would be the template for the Eels' short lifespan.

The book's timeline zigzags from past to present, ut the reader gets a clearer picture of being marooned in a crash pad for roadies of the James Gang than the Eels detonation upon wide-eyed observers.

"The band that didn't fit in with the bands that didn't fit in" is the description of the Eels. Why? Damaged goods from an alienating upbringing? I'm sure plenty of other players in the scene could claim that tag. And that sound! Did it arrive wholly formed, like the Psychedelic Stooges?

After thre hundred pages, this reader sort of feels like a variation on the old cliche about Chinese food. (Served at twin Clevo Chinese restaurants that shared staff, described in an entertaining aside). "I just read this book and I'm hungry for more an hour later." That can be a good thing, but in this case it's more "mission, unaccomplished".

JAGUAR RIDE was issued in an edition of five hundred (unless Hozac counts the same way bootleggers count) and is pricey. I can only give a reserved recommendation. You make the call. As if I cared.

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