Volume 3, Issue 13
June 21 - July 4, 2001
One Last Thing
WELCOME TO MY
WILL THAT BE
SMOKING OR NON?
I never gave Alice Cooper much mind.
There were those five minutes in
Wayne's World where he fondles a riding crop and makes the funny with his lines
about Milwaukee, but that's about it. I'm
too young to have known Cooper as a
rock star. But since Cooper has become a
member of the Denver business community
by opening his Alice Cooper'stown
sports bar, I've had to come to terms with
the man. The man and his dream of "barbecue
and fun for sports nuts and music
I could talk about the restaurant itself,
which is housed in the space formerly
occupied by Dick's Last Resort on Blake
Street. Cooper'stown (I can see the
restaurant name dazzling the "concept
executive" like Saul on the road to
Damascus) stays true to its slogan,
"Where jocks and rock meet." Unsettling
Columbine associations notwithstanding,
disparate elements of campy metal theatrics
and fetid-jersey mookiness have
congealed into a time-tested commercial
formula here in Lodo. Waitresses, wearing
feasibly risqué uniforms and black
notches of makeup about their eyes,
hoisted beers and plates of "No More Mr.
Nice Guy" Chipotle Chicken Pasta over
the opening night crowd.
The layout of the establishment is significant.
After all, this place is sort of, in its
own half-assed, up-to-code way, about
rock music, where every drunken blunder
is passed off as social commentary. So
allow me to elucidate. The ground floor
holds the main acrylic snakeskin bar, the
restaurant seating area and battery of big-screen
televisions that bombard you with
ESPN Dale Earnhardt retrospectives and
Darryl Strawberry urinalysis. Clearly,
this is purgatory. Hell is downstairs,
where the primary rest rooms apparently
flooded. After a couple Red Hooks, I was
directed upstairs to wait for an open lavatory.
Partially relieved, (I was still at a
sports bar) I emerged to see rays of sunshine
and misty white clouds. "Heaven"
at Cooper'stown gives you a second story
view of the Hooters across the street
while you sputter in a haze of theater fog.
Augmenting the trendy necropolis vibe is
a black bookshelf with an array of Ken
Follet hardbacks sprayed black and
propped up by keeled, stuffed, but intact,
Overall, the restaurant reflects its customers,
an equal mix of the rock-n-roll
faithful and those who have lost their
faith, exchanging the bottle opener for a
car alarm remote on their key chain. The
happy and disaffected denizens of suburbia
mix freely at Cooper'stown.
I could talk about Alice Cooper himself,
who embodies this wretched union of
white flight and Black Sabbath. Back in
the '70s, Cooper set "Billion Dollar
Babies" to garish stage shows that served
as template for a young Rob Zombie. (I
can only hope that Mr. Zombie's royalties
scheme is solid enough keep "Grease
Paint and Monkey Brains" Jambalaya
from ever slathering a platter.) These
days Cooper still wears black hair and
leather, but he also endorses Calloway
golf clubs. Residing in Phoenix, home to
David Spade, Rob Halford and urban
sprawl like melanoma, Cooper used his
goth froth persona to open the first
Cooper'stown in 1998. He golfs, owns
theme restaurants and according to Alec,
apparently still tours.
I could talk about Alec. After presenting
two forms of ID, a copy of Go-Go and
my favorite color, I was rejected early
admission by event staph at the
Cooper'stown door. It was at the back of
the line that I met Alec. His given name is
much more robust and fitting for his origins
in northwestern Russia. Rock, especially
heavy metal, was big for Alec
"People would save a month's salary just
to buy a bootleg Alice Cooper album,"
Alec said, a big man with a shaved head
who wears the jewelry he crafts for a living
here in Denver. The wait went on, our
conversation meandered, but the draw for
him was that of a longtime fan hoping to
catch a word or a snapshot with a personal
hero. The restaurant, he said, is "just
another sports bar."
But not every sports bar has the Clock
"The Clock People?" you ask.
You know, the Clock People, the house
band at Alice Cooper'stown Phoenix.
"The Clock People?"
Opening the show with their own material,
the Clock People struck me as having
talent in the Lit and Three Doors Down
sense of the word. But being with Alice
Cooper is a double-edged blade: you'll
get some recognition by association but
you'll remain primer and filler.
When Cooper took the stage set up on
19th Street, the crowd roared and the
Clock People became Cooper's Band.
The rocker seemed to be in good form,
needing much less makeup to achieve the
look of death-warmed-over than he did in
"I'm 18 and I don't know what I want,"
Cooper sang. We expect certain things of
certain people: our politicians must seem
optimistic, our news anchors must act
flinty and determined, and our shock
rockers must never seem pathetic.
Singing "I'm 18" while mired middle
age, however odd, didn't make Alice
"One more oldie," said Cooper as the set
"You're not old," the bassist chirped to
Cooper, "You're brand new!"
I could talk about how Cooper used more
shameless plugs than Regis Philbin's
scalp. As "Feed My Frankenstein" got
going, Cooper couldn't help himself.