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Go Go Magazine

Volume 3, Issue 13 June 21 - July 4, 2001

One Last Thing

Andrew Wells





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 fans."

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, chickens.

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 growing up.

"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 People.

"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 his youth.

"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 Cooper pathetic.

"One more oldie," said Cooper as the set wound down.

"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.