While I wouldn’t call it “essential reading” exactly, if your 6th grade mind was as blown as mine was watching the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” video on MTV and, thinking back, you’d maybe like to know what homeboy in the top hat was really up to, then “War and Peace” be damned – here’s “Slash” to slosh around in the Canon!
The best thing, by far, about “Slash” is that it’s namesake does not give a flying fuck. Never has. Take that top hat for example, one of the most unmistakable accoutrements of 80’s Rock – homeboy ripped it off from a mannequin in a boutique in Hollywood on his way to a gig at the Whiskey. Why? “I don’t know what it was,” he says. “The hat just spoke to me.” A ha! That and the fact that he was a full-on kleptomaniac, juvenilely fearless, totally self-absorbed and that the other things that were “speaking” to him at the time were, in order of their decibel level: heroin, coke, booze, strippers, destroying property and the McDonald’s McRib. And “Appetite” wasn’t even out yet!
The worst thing about “Slash” is that it makes no sense why Slash is Slash. I mean, we know why he’s “Slash”: the actor Seymour Cassel (all the Wes Anderson movies), whose son Matt was friends with Slash in High School, was having one-of-endless parties at his Hollywood home when he noticed the teen-aged Slash darting around in double-time from room to room. “Hey Slash,” he yelled out. “Where you going? Where you going, Slash? Huh?” And shazaam – it stuck! As does every Hollywood cliche: Broken home? Check. Fast crowd? Check. Mom dating David Bowie during his “Ziggy Stardust” phase? Check. Stoner? Free to roam? Rebel without a cause? Check, check, check, check, check. Who are you, Slash?
A willful – and successful – juvenile delinquent is a pretty tough narrator to trust and yet you root for the guy – he’s so unflappably Zen. During his two years straight of speedballing (shooting up coke and then shooting up heroin) after Guns N’ Roses first big success, he recounts with true tenderness his demonic hallucinations. From the little demon’s perspective, you’d think most junkies would be pretty fucking freaked out when you and your gang came crawling up their skin. But not Slash – Ommmmmmmmmmm – he calls them his “little Cirque du Soleil”. (They do finally get to him around lunchtime at a Country Club outside of Phoenix – a circus-story you’ll have to read to believe…) You could pretty much say that the only things Slash wasn’t helplessly cool with were primo-primadonna Axl Rose’s inability to start shows on time and some of the Hair Metal competition out on the Sunset Strip. Weird for me, since I was both an Axl Rose and a Poison devotee, but even a Siddhartha like Slash has got to make fun of somebody…
That’s kind of it: Slash is like the ultimate hippie child but with his affinities crossed. Instead of wine he likes whiskey; instead of connection he likes chaos; instead of linen he likes leather. You could go on and on. Instead of purity, pollution; instead of butterflies, snakes; instead of free love, well.. perhaps there’s some hippie in him yet! But the things he loves, he loves unconditionally. He asks for nothing (or he just steals it…) He accepts All.
Perhaps in the future, “Slash” will be read alongside “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Think there’s any G N’R fans in the Canon?