Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The hot news from Barcelona is that the Stones came last weekend and 60,000 morons paid way too much to see the World's Most Overpaid Rock and Roll Band at the Olympic Stadium up on Montjuic. Hey, the Stones were great before 1972 and good between Exile on Main Street (their most overrated, yet still pretty cool, album) and Tattoo You. After that they began to suck, and then they started to suck really bad, and now they blow donkey dongs. I can't believe more of 'em aren't dead from either the party rock-and-roll lifestyle--I mean, how could Mick Jagger possibly have avoided AIDS?--or old age.

Also, they had some sort of international Harley festival here last week. This was a total company promo job, and they didn't make any secret of it. They got some 5000-6000 Harley riders from around Europe--the wealthy weekend biker types, not the smelly greasy ones who take a lot of speed and yell "Show yer tits!" at fat girls and occasionally shoot people or at least fuck 'em up good with pool cues--to this Harley convention thing they put on. I guess it must have filled up the hotels and brought a lot of money into town, because they sure made a big deal out of it.

Murph says he heard that there was a major coincidence between the Harley convention and Gay Pride Day parades--a lot of the same folks showed up for both, it seems. Gay bikers? Only in Europe. Murph claims there's an overlap between the gay crowd and the biker crowd. I told him to go to San Berdoo and say that.

Anyway, though, they had a Harley Parade and blocked off all the streets downtown, and supposedly 100,000 people came out to see it. And hear it. Well, cool, lots of motorbikes for people who are into that. Fine. But do these people recognize that they have just provided enormous amounts of publicity for the Harley-Davidson company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA?

See, here's the thing. The Spaniards are wild about American popular culture. They're fascinated by really stereotypically American stuff like convertible '57 Chevys and roadside diners--every damn ad on TV seems like it takes place in an American roadside diner--and Levi's blue jeans and dead brands of cigs like Luckies and Chesterfields and Ray-Ban sunglasses and Zippo lighters and other props they've seen in movies.

It's interesting that so many of these images that Spaniards carry of America in their minds, and that they love so much, are commercial. Maybe that's why one of the most common impressions they carry of America is that it is consumerism-ridden.

Also, I noted that both of these events were very decaffeinated, very theme-park America. The Stones aren't rock and roll, at least anymore. I'll admit they used to try, but it was so obvious that they were always trying. The harsh fact is they're a bunch of middle-class English dilettantes, not guys who actually know how to play blues guitar with a bottleneck. I mean, Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry or James Brown or Hank Williams, those were real rock and roll lives.

As for the Harley parade, lovely, very nice, everyone had fun. But these guys had as much to do with real bikers as I have to do with Sonny Liston. Bikers are not fun. They are scary. They pack guns and deal drugs. They will beat the shit out of you if they feel like it. Remember when they kicked the shit out of Hunter S. Thompson? Good move, I'll have to admit, but I'm glad it wasn't me. These so-called bikers are so, well, European.

The following items are packed in their studded leather pillion bags:

1 1/2 liters of chilled Evian water bottled at the source
Sandwiches of Camembert and glacé mushroom paté
Various back issues of L'Uomo Vogue
The Michelin Guide to Spain's Finest B & Bs
A seven-inch dildo with spikes on the end
Extra Vuitton sunglasses
Hair gel
A crescent wrench with a studded-leather handle

The Barcelonese just couldn't handle the real America.

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