Belinda Carlisle liked to party....By page fifty-nine, Belinda's already pissed herself twice, and is tempted to, again, after yet another, unfortunate run-in, with the notoriously anti-punk, Los Angeles police department. It's hard to imagine the upscale Ann Margret lookalike from that boppy pink solo album, who had Andy "Thunder" Taylor (from Duran Duran and the Power Station) providing guitar solos on her cheery singles, and who posed nude for "Playboy"; ever traipsing through Hollywood Forever Cemetery, on acid, with Don Bolles, hanging around with Lorna Doom, Pat Smear and Darby Crash, shop-lifting cheap cosmetics, flying to England to see the Sex Pistols, or making-out on the sidewalk with David Lee Roth. She also had flirtations with Keith Moon and Suggs from Madness. She dated guys from the Blasters and the Dickies. Carlisle was even counseled about the perils of rocknroll decadence by John Belushi, himself. My kinda girl. I only wish I'd known her, before she married the rich Reagan aid, and became such an over the top, Mariah Carey-style Material Girl. I was just a little kid, when the Go-Go's were rising, but those cheerful songs soundtracked my childhood. "Turn To You", "Head Over Heels", "Our Lips Are Sealed", "We Got The Beat", "How Much More", "Vacation". I remember when my old friend, Stewart Strunk, first gave me a Go-Go's pin in the fifth grade, and they were obviously, a big part of my generation's love affair with new wave, day-glo fashion, and bouncy music videos.
Jane has always been my favorite, and currently, there's even a super hero comic book about her, called, "Lady Robotika" for all my brethren Jane Wiedlin fetishists. They all got rich, but Jane's still punk. An advocate for animal rights, breast cancer awareness, and dominatrix role playing, in cool corsets. She's a fantastic talent. What a cool buncha broads. I'm sorry I missed out on those halcyon days of the Hollyweird punk scene simmering out of the Canterbury, Disgraceland, the Starwood, and the Masque, with Pleasant and Iris, Black Randy and the Metrosquad, x, the Dils, the Weirdos, the Dickies, the Mau Maus, Levi and the Rockats, and Sophistifuck and The Revlon Spam Queens, but I was still just an elementary school lonely, only child, back then. A geeky comic book kid, stuck watching Monkees reruns, in Lexington, Kentucky. I was only six, or seven. Even still, Belinda was right in "This Town"---I wish I would have been one of them. Even if we weren't already starcrossed by age and geography, even if I HAD grown up in the intensely romantic, neon age of the Hollywood Tropicana, it's probably still unlikely I woulda successfully wooed my darling, Jane Wiedlin, cos the Go-Go girls actually tended to only fall for the prettiest boys-model pretty boys, like Terry Hall from the Specials, and the Levi and the Rockats guys, always photographed so lovingly by the wonderful, Leee Black Childers.
I still dig the fact that Belinda came from lower class parents, and made her own clothes, and promptly abandoned cheerleading to play drums for the Germs, until a bout of Mono mandated a move back home. Nowadays, the Go-Go's are established industry insiders, who make big bucks, as song doctors, for the likes of various Disney puppets, Keith Urban, and Courtney Love. I thoroughly enjoyed Jane's stint on "The Surreal Life", but missed Belinda's ride on "Dancing With The Stars", because I very sanely, got rid of that bullshit tv. My significant other just reminded me of what a joke it was, when No-Name rapper, Da Brat, called our Jane, "a washed-up has-been", on that reality show. Not only did Miss Wiedlin's songs open doors for every girl band from the Bangles to the Donnas, to whichever Josie and The Pussycats-style sensations that Little Steven is probably promoting on Wicked Cool records, this month, but it was the commercial success of the Go-Go's that bolstered the viability of every skinny-tied, or mini-skirted garage band who got signed in the MTV era. They changed the whole industry. Her songs were the flagship of an entire movement, by demonstrating the ongoing, commercial potential of sunny, Beach Boys/Beatles/Shangrillas type power-pop melodies, with bright harmonies-a timeless formula that never fails, if promoted properly. I'm certain Da Brat may have, similarly, had her moment in the history of hip-hop, but I'm as willfully ignorant of Da Brat's contributions, as she was, to the eternally cool legacy of the Go-Go's. Think of all the power-pop bands that signed major label deals, on the coat-tails of the Go-Go's top forty hits. It's mind boggling, really.
It's hard to remember that the Go-Go's were once on a label with the Cramps, Fleshtones, Wall Of Voodoo, Concrete Blonde, and Lords Of The New Church. One can hardly even imagine that many talented bands being allowed to flourish. You'll never see a Raw Powered talent like Stiv Bator getting signed today-unless he was some independently wealthy character, who can self-finance his music hobby. It's weird how all the old punks cashed-in, Oingo Boingo and Devo now make music for commercials, cartoons, and motion-pictures, but there is no support system for younger generations to thrive, any longer, beyond maybe making mouse-pad beats for their friends on-line. What a drag. R.e.m.'s old management are reportedly, helping to break the catchy, photogenic, Biters, but many of us lament the sad death of America's underground print-media, courageous radio shows, sticky dives, and basement shows, before the Patriot Act Crackdown on freedom and democracy. Nowadays, underground shows are broke up by taser wielding thugs. The corporations strictly control the mass-media. All the cool labels like Bomp! and Sympathy and I.R.S., are but a fading memory. Truth is censored. Real punk is forbidden. No one cool can afford to rock, in a pay-to-play, cultural wasteland of "Guitar Hero" rich kids, and Emo for Target. Congress-folk are shot by Fox fraudcaster-brainwashed fanatics. The rightwing has taken hostages of our airwaves, airports, all of our electronic communications, and even the no longer liberal, in any sense whatsoever, war-mongering, Democratic Party. You need a lobbyist to reach your representative, and the will of the people is ignored. Anyone can see the entire government's now hijacked and strictly controlled by the global-banking elites and the secret police, because no one from Eric Holder's Justice Department's ever used the Rico statutes to prosecute the criminal enterprises of Wall Street, Halliburton, B.P., Blackwater, Monsanto, the Murdoch Company, or the Bill Of rights undermining Chertoff Group's porno-scanners. It's everything but party time.
Way back in the early daze of the Go-Go's, they were marketed towards the upbeat, ska scene's fun loving, dance crowd, touring with all the British ska bands, diligently rock'n'rolling their way out of poverty. The Go-Go's paved the way for the legions of chipper jail-bait, hot pink, girl bands of today, but what impresses me most about the Go-Go's, besides their ability to share space with each other, staying true to a common vision, and effectively collaborating with one another, and therefore, benefitting from each other's major talents, which seldom happens in today's cut-throat climate of greed and selfishness....The cool thing about the Go-Go's, that you NEVER get to see anymore, was that these were real girls, true punks-Kathy Valentine just picked up the bass, like Paul Simonon, and their crucial drummer, Gina, had even come from Baltimore's Edie and the Eggs, fer Chrissakes...They got together, themselves, they weren't phony, zoo animal, shallow, show-biz kids. When do you ever see bands "making it", who came from actual poverty, anymore? Now, they're ALL showbiz brats, owned by the company, miming other people's songs, and obediently working for the four big corporations, entirely manufactured, and managed by horny evangelical parents, and sinister, profiteering, handlers. The Jonas Brothers, the Simpson sisters, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and all those dreadful, former Mousketeers. That mysterious, magical, x-factor synergy, that the Go-Go's had in spades, diamonds, clubs, and valentines, is always missing when bands are trained seals, bred by rich relatives, for fame, and tanning. I still love real rock'n'roll like John Gotti loved Cosa Nostra. I miss real music, made by real people, don't you?
Almost as soon as she first glimpsed the lavish, luxuriant, jet-set lifestyle of Sting and the fortunate son Copeland boys, she steadily, seemed to dump all her poorer pals, along with her once charming and home-made B-52s style, retro fashion sensibilities, started dating a long series of jocks, and underwear models, eventually marrying James Mason's son, and indeed, they seem ideally suited for one another. Mansions, and fancy cars, swimming pools, and movie stars. Ridiculously, ridiculed for her chubby cheeks in middle school, Belinda made some selfish choices, while emboldened by the deadliest, and All-American, chaser-highs, of money and fame. One by one, she tried replacing her punk peers with random strangers, who seemed to project glamour and power. She's upfront about this regrettable string of betrayals, and I can strangely, even identify with her story-cos face it--even us nobody losers, at the local dive, can get all starry eyed, and afflicted with these drunkenly, out of proportion self images, after enough nights of showing up somewhere, where they're always glad you came. I know I used to feel like a beloved politician, while just walking to the bar, shaking hands with the people. Receiving trays full of drinks from my fellow barflies, teenage foxes on my lap, feeling like Alice Cooper at the Rainbow, on one helluva bender. Even when I had no real band for twelve-fifteen years, I was still prone to waking up, feeling like Michael Des Barres, somedays. The Silverhead/Detective lead rockstar, was one of many, who helped Belinda, in the early stages of her first even remotely contemplating the long and arduous road to recovery. If she loved the nose candy so much, she probably should have been more willing to visit the backstage, once in awhile, and surrender the spotlight to Jane, for a song or two, like Mick Jagger does with Keith, and Roth does with Eddie Van Halen. Sure, Belinda was a gum chewing, ruthless, valley girl, who dedicated herself to becoming a nauseating, "People magazine", yuppie-celebrity, as soon as she could, but I can still relate more to her gutsy story than to any of those "Metal Years" cock rock millionaires, who've recently, published their own, "Behind The Music" style memoirs. Maybe it's because we both have issues with eating, alcohol, addiction, self-esteem, wanderlust, and absent Fathers, but I was very surprised by how much compassion I felt for Belinda, while reading this autobiography, at least the first half of it.
She lived with a bullying, homo-phobic, pro athlete for awhile, before dumping him to hang out with the brilliant director, Jonathan Demme, and Jimmie Vaughan, from the Fabulous Thunderbirds. While touring in the eighties with INXS, Carlisle had an affair with notorious playboy, Michael Hutchence, who tried to reach-out to her about saving her voice, in vain, as B's nasty habits had eclipsed, even his own-the stuff of legendary decadence. She only really became less attractive, as her cocaine fuelled self-obsessions and shameless vanity compelled her to think of herself as some grand dame diva in competition with tacky, mainstream celebs like Celine Dion, Cher, and Madonna. Post-Go-Go's, she had sadly become an industry cog, a company tool, desperately clinging to fickle fame. Disposable and long past her sell-by date, with the forever inquiring of, "Ooh baby do you know what that's worth?"...Hipster-savvy, Miles Copeland, advises her against covering some syrupy song, later in her career, and it infuriates her, when Celine Dion has a hit with it. Someone has to live the cliche'.
Needless to say, at some point in her addiction, Belinda really loses the plot. Like most music fans, I missed her third, fourth, fifth, and sixth solo albums, completely, and had no idea that George Harrison, or Brian Wilson, had each contributed to one, and somehow, I even blocked-out that Jane had ever left the Go-Go's. The remarkable, Charlotte Caffey, married the similarly talented, Steven McDonald, from Redd Kross. About two-thirds of the way through Belinda's book, and all her relentless moaning about the hardships of being rich-the lazy housekeepers, and pressues of staying svelte, and the fanfare, and papparazi, her unsatisfying move to France, etc., it does get a bit tedious. Dig...She once told the other Go-Go's it's not her fault that she's a bigger star than any of them. Her and her calm, cool, enabler hubby tell themselves they earned their own way in life. A pity her poorer relatives refused to apply themselves, like her, and rich (Son Of James...) Morgan Mason. Even feel-good guru to the stars, Deepak Chopra, is trotted-out to help Belinda "find her own peace". Maybe writing this book helped her to see some of her own blind-spots, like the obvious, glaring, link between all the people she ditched with a shrug, and her epic career slump. By the time she's attacking some music exec in a fancy restaurant, for being a balding, exploitive, corporate liar; or rejecting her negligent biological Father's suspiciously-timed, multiple endeavors to make amends to her, for being a Deadbeat Dad, it's becoming harder to pity her for being called "Fatso", forty-some years ago, especially, while she brags endlessly about her endless partying, and the always unfulfilling, bourgeois-pig lifestyle, to which she's become all-too-accustomed: "helping the nanny to plan most meals", all that exhausting delegating, and supervising, and having to pet the dogs, and seeking-out song-farmers, locating and maintaining adequete drug-suppliers, all while staring in the mirror, "like a 50's movie star", ignoring her husband and son, mopping a floor on a reality show...blah blah blah. The book does get taxing towards the end.