I was a wide-eyed impressionable youngster at the beginning of the MTV generation. A clicky little brown cable box would transport exotic sights and sounds to my buddy Danny’s house. My first experience with MTV and music videos was sitting in Danny’s den struggling to make sense of this new media music-pimping creation.
The neighborhood kids would congregate daily at Danny’s house and watch the newest offerings from RATT, Twisted Sister, and ZZ Top. Since my family was too poor (and Christian) to have MTV at our house, I would absorb my devil music indoctrination across the tracks. Years later, the Satanic music that Danny loved so much was a contributing cause to his teenage suicide.
Danny had a rough life. He had a short fuse and liked to torture animals to let off steam. He lived with his grandmother (who represented herself as his mother). She told Danny that his father was a lumberjack who died when a tree fell on him (in an act of Karmic forest retribution). His real mum actually lived next door to him, but Danny was told that she was his sister. She was a martial arts expert and was married to a muddle-headed Lou Ferrigno look-alike. It is complicated I know.
I suspect that his mom (pretend sister) became pregnant at an early age by a naughty fella with sweaty palms and an tingling rod of boy-meat. The maternal deception was created so the neighbors wouldn’t ostracize the family on moral or religious grounds. The Kingdom of Heaven is denied to those who satisfy their carnal urges at a young age, especially if the lusty endeavor produces a sin-child. Sadly, my pearly gate entry has been precluded due to sexual self-abuse. When I was 11, I throttled the one-eyed milkman on my parents bed will ogling Marsha Brady on the telly.
Like me, Danny had a bevy of teenage psychological problems. One of his favorite games was lining up large rocks on the railroad tracks behind his house in the hopes that the train would derail. Other times, we would meet at the designated train arrival time and try to take out the conductor with rocks. Of course, that was when we were both young and relatively innocent. I later graduated to high-level felony property damage, arson, and pellet gun sniping. Danny moved onto to devil worship, grave-robbing, and Russian roulette.
I did not have a lot of contact with Danny when he hit his mid-teens. He got involved in the heavy metal scene – donning trench coats and black boots (ala Colombine killers Klebold and Harris). At night he would rob graves for skulls and bones to decorate his room with. I was deeply entrenched in the skater culture and happily filled my days vandalizing curbs, benches, and hand-rails. Danny morphed into the silent brooding type jamming to Guns and Roses and Metallica endlessly.
Danny was sent off to boot camp by his grandmother to straighten him out. He was home for a visit and pleaded desperately not to be sent back. As a kid, Danny would have explosive outbursts and make threats about this or that, but would never follow through. He made good on his last one. Since his mum wouldn’t waver on shipping him back off, he sat on his bed and removed his head with a shotgun blast.
Back to MTV.
I vividly remember David Bowie’s video for “China Girl”. It was pretty heavy for 1983. Around that time, you had David lee Roth exhibiting his high-kick gyrations, Michael Jackson was leading zombie parades, and the Talking Heads were threatening Americans with domestic arson. The song stuck out a bit from the typical sex-drugs-rock and roll MTV blueprint. It was arty and sensual – concepts that I had not been exposed to.
China Girl was written with Iggy Pop during their West Berlin days in the late 70’s. The video was banned in many countries due to its adult themes and partial nudity. It garnered Bowie the title of Best Male Video at the 1984 Video Music Awards. As a kid, this video put me in a trance whenever it came on the tube. Bowie’s delivery is haunting.
Here is my favorite lyric from China Girl:
I stumble into town just like a sacred cow
Visions of swastikas in my head
Plans for everyone
It’s in the white of my eyes