So if my primary source of election information was going to be seeing the proJohn Kerry Vote for Change tour featuring Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. next month, I figured I should balance things out by catching some Republican bands too. Since there is no G.O.P. rock tour, I decided to organize a G.O.P. tour to give voice to the voiceless.
After some careful research that involved flipping past the first page of the newspaper, I read that alleged Republican musicians include Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Foghat, Charlie Daniels, Johnny Ramone, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock. It was, admittedly, going to be a slightly creepy concert, in terms of makeup and facial hair. My first call as tour manager was to Nuge, the guitarist who penned Cat Scratch Fever and is now a right-wing hunter. I contacted Tedquarters in Jackson, Miss. which is in charge of all things Nuge, such as the hunting magazine (Ted Nugent Adventure Outdoors), hunting TV show (Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild Television), hunting crossbow (NugeBow), hunting children's camp (Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids) and tour dates (none scheduled). Linda at Tedquarters was interested in my project but told me that Nuge couldn't talk until the next day because he was flying back from South Africa, where he had been killing things.
When Nuge called, he immediately launched into a diatribe on why there are so few Republican rockers, talking for eight uninterrupted minutes, several times working himself into a screaming frenzy, once about colonial British taxes. Nuge also burped twice. Amid this rant, Nuge mentioned three times that unlike the Kerry-loving, dope-smoking hippie rockers on tour, he believes in living by the Ten Commandments. Asked to name them, he said, "I couldn't rip them off right now. I'm sure I live them on a daily basis." When pressed, he named five before paraphrasing the rest: "THOU SHALT BARBECUE ON AN HOURLY BASIS! THOU SHALL SHOOT DEER DIRECTLY IN THE VITALS TO CAUSE A QUICK DEATH!" As far as the lack of Republican artists, Nuge countered with "JAMES WOODS IS A REPUBLICAN! BRUCE WILLIS! DIE HARD 2, THAT'S SOME ART!" he said. "BO DEREK IS A REPUBLICAN. SHE'S ART!" While that may be true, her work in 1990's Ghosts Can't Do It is debatable.
With Nuge on board, I was well on my way to becoming the Reuben Kincaid of the right. My next calls, however, were more disappointing. Alice Cooper announced last week that rockers shouldn't get involved in politics. And ZZ Top's manager informed me that although the group is being paid to play an event in New York City this week that a lot of G.O.P. delegates will attend, the band members have different political opinions, although they all are pro-leg. Charlie Daniels, while backing Bush, told me, "I don't go with either party," and that he's a big Jimmy Carter fan and hasn't yet committed to taking the G.O.P. up on a request to play a rally in Columbus, Ohio. And Foghat was quoted denying its Bush allegiance to the New York Post last Friday after not calling me back all week. That hurt, Foghat.
The reason my tour was looking weak may have been my lack of respect within the Southern rock community ever since I cut my mullet. But it's also because almost everyone involved in the arts is liberal. Perhaps that's because the left, with all its hemming and nuancing, is more willing to accept imperfection and failure, which are inherent in art. Conservatives, with their definitive solutions and visions of Utopia and impeccable memories, are better at philosophy and political talk shows. Plus, if you're a budding rock star, it's unproductive to hang out with the Young Conservatives when you're trying to get some.
But Republicans, I realized, don't build coalitions. So I told Nuge it would be a good idea to go to small clubs on the same nights as the Vote for Change tour and outrock them, G.O.P.-style. "I do too," he says. "BUT HUNTING SEASON IS COMING SOON, SO YOU CAN ALL KISS MY ASS!" It's a big tent after all.