I wrote a book detailing the history of the Ghostbusters movies (all of them, even the ones they didn’t make). It’s called A Convenient Parallel Dimension: How Ghostbusters Slimed Us Forever and it’ll be published this November by Lyons Press. Click here to preorder it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I thought I knew everything about this franchise…then I started work on this book. I think you’re gonna love it.
Before A Convenient Parallel Dimension, I was working on a book about the Guns N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy. You know, the album it took them 15 years to record and release. I am pleased to report that Backbeat Books has asked me to complete the Chinese Democracy book for 2025. What can I say? Take me down to Paradise City.
I’m going to blog here again on a weekly basis and that includes some posts that will only be available to JG2LAND PREMIUM subscribers. For just $2 a month (or more, if you want) you can enjoy access to it all. The first premium post went up yesterday. It’s a review of Two of a Kind, a 1983 John Travolta / Olivia Newton-John comedy no one really remembers. Click here to sign up and check it out.
Remember, when you become a JG2LAND PREMIUM subscriber, you’re not just supporting me, you’re supporting my beautiful wife, my beautiful children, and our beautiful guinea pigs.
Thank you for all your love and support. Now let’s try to relax before Rob Zombie’s Munsters comes out and the discourse becomes unbearable.
The original Ghostbusters crew had 25 years to make a third movie. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen (and now it can’t happen because Harold Ramis is dead). It’s actually a little weird Sony didn’t force this beloved (and enormously profitable) property into someone else’s hands sooner. I know Murray, Ramis et al had something of a tontine when it came to the rights, but everyone has a price. Chinese Democracy came out before Ghostbusters 3. Do you really believe Axl Rose is more reasonable than Bill Murray?
Still, fans are apoplectic over the announced reboot, as if Paul Feig will simultaneously be erasing the first two movies from history. It’s difficult to comprehend some of the ire. Complaints have already surfaced from die-hards who are upset they’ll now have to share convention space with people cosplaying as Feig’s Ghostbusters; the new technology, you see, will clash with their expertly recreated 1984 proton packs. Guess these costumers never stopped to consider how much some of us detest seeing guys with goatees and backwards Yankee hats parading around as “Ray Stantz.”
I love Ghostbusters so much I’m currently working on a book about its entire history, but I have no problem admitting that up to this point the series has been a rigid boy’s club where female characters aren’t given much to do (even Gozer only takes the form of a woman for about one minute). Paul Feig’s decision to “star hilarious women” in the reboot is refreshing and fun and much needed, and fans who are disagreeing need to cop to their own throbbing sexism. Female-based entertainment is not “a gimmick.” The fictional activity of ghostbusting is not “too rigorous” for women.
Key point: ghostbusting is fucking imaginary. Gender bias in real life is bad enough. Extending it to the land of make believe, that’s insane. “You can pretend to be anything, except this one thing that makes me uncomfortable for some dumb reason, because I’m threatened by change even in a fake world where marshmallow creatures go on rampages.”
I think it’s also worth noting that Katie Dippold, the scribe for Feigbusters, works on “Parks & Rec,” a show I’d consider female-centric but one that also boasts some of the funniest, most fleshed-out, and just plain interesting male characters available. The door swings both ways.
Admittedly, this reboot could crash and burn. Previous experience doesn’t mean jack. Dan Aykroyd has to wake up every day knowing he made Doctor Detroit. Yet, even if Feigbusters turns out to be the new Heaven’s Gate (are my references dusty enough for you?), who cares? It’s just one movie. It’s not meant to replace anything. If it’s really atrocious we can just pretend it never happened, like Rocky V or the Halloween with Paul Rudd or Rob Zombie’s Halloweens or the Dumb & Dumber prequel or Ace Ventura Jr.
My only real investment: I hope they make the Ectomobile cool. I don’t have any suggestions because I’m not really a car person…just make it cool. You know, like stylish but also kinda nerdy. Like the original.
“South Park” ramped up the debate over their rather curious Dr Pepper connection on last night’s season finale by making the soft drink a semi-major plot point. The episode found Kenny and Cartman briefly living in a foster home run by a pair of strict Agnostics. As the father is giving his new children a tour of his home, he declares that they are only allowed to drink “Agnostic beverages.” He then opens the fridge to reveal it packed to the gills with Dr Pepper.
“What flavor is it?” the father opines as he holds up a can. “It is neither root beer nor cola. Nobody is sure what flavor it is, and nobody can be sure.”
The foster parents later get in trouble for providing nothing to drink but the Pep, and it’s eventually revealed they cruelly (and hilariously) punish the insolent members of their brood with gallons of the sticky sweetness. It should be noted that the episode singled out another leisure beverage, Pabst Blue Ribbon, as the cause of any and all domestic disputes between lower class caucasians in rural areas.
So, this would all seem to confirm Dr Pepper’s recent assertion that they have no affiliation with “South Park,” right? Would a Texas-based soft drink giant agree to get into bed with this show if it knew their product would be aligned with Agnostics? Would any soft drink company sign up for this if they knew their product would be used as a torture device on frightened children in a dimly lit basement? Doesn’t seem likely. I guess this was the Parker/Stone way of saying, “We do not have any kind of placement deal, we’re just gloriously fucking with another American institution.”
On the other hand, Dr Pepper got in bed with those rabble rousers Guns n’ Roses a few years ago by trying to give everyone in the country free soda to mark the release of Chinese Democracy. Granted, that turned into a complete wash, but it proves that this beverage brand isn’t above working with profane, subversive, and strange entertainment entities. Again, I declare this investigation ongoing, and the bottom shall be reached hopefully before I expire.
No, I didn’t kidnap Sebastian Bach. There was a listening party at Webster Hall in Manhattan. To answer the burning question most music fans have about Chinese Democracy, no, Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t rap anywhere on that shit.
I can’t say much else about Chi Dem at the moment because I’m working on a feature about it for next week’s edition of Crawdaddy! However, I will state for the record that I think David Fricke was being quite generous when he awarded GNR Album No. 6: Abuse Your Delusion four stars in his review for Rolling Stone. Quite generous.
Tune in to Crawdaddy! next Wednesday to get the full Chinese Democracy monty from JG2. I can’t promise free Dr Pepper, but it should be worth the wait.
P.S. – Axl was not at the Webster Hall listening party. Neo-GNR guitarist Bumblefoot was, though. Like every celebrity, he’s much shorter in real life.
P.P.S. – I realize calling Bumblefoot a celebrity might seem like a stretch. Remember, in my world, the two guys from Ski School are equal to your Brad Pitt and George Clooney.
The first single from Chinese Democracy was released today, but I don’t necessarily take that as a sign the long-awaited album will actually hit Best Buy shelves next month. There’s plenty of time between now and November 23rd for Axl to cancel the whole thing with one wave of his freckled forearm.
I can already envision Blackwater-esque armed guards raiding Best Buys across the country minutes before the clock strikes 11/23, acting on strict orders from William Bailey himself to round up every copy of Chi Dem and send the bulk to the same Arizona landfill that houses all the unsold E.T. Atari cartridges from the 1980s. It would be a dick movie, sure, but at least Axl’s sanity would momentarily be in check and Dr Pepper would save God knows how many gallons of their delightful sugary pop.
But I digress. The newest GNR single is the title track from CD, which you can hear here. It’s a barely different version from the one included in the infamous June 2008 Nine Song GNR Leak (which I reviewed here). I stand by my original opinion. “Chinese Democracy” is nothing special. It’s certainly not the door-smasher Axl needs to get the world revved up about his fourteen years-in-the-making project. He probably should have lead off with something completely fresh—i.e. a tune that wasn’t part of the aforementioned leak, like “Sorry” or “Prostitute.”
Of course, who am I to be giving Axl Rose armchair advice? He’s the botoxed, cornrowed genius who fired Slash and replaced him with Buckethead. I’m just some schmoe in Brooklyn who’s never had the balls to even once combine a kilt with a Charles Manson t-shirt.
I mean, this is a perfectly acceptable album cover following a decade plus of musical shenanigans:
No way does that look like the cover to a Blues Traveler b-side. You’re on target, Axl. Stay the course and all will be forgiven. You know I’ll be linin’ up at midnight for this shit, wrapped in a couple extra sweaters in case the riots get too out of hand. Chinese Democracy starts now, bitch tits! It’s gonna make the Super Bowl look like the Pro Bowl (oh, SNAP)!
Last month, Dr Pepper issued a press release that stated it would give everyone in America a free can of their sweet, delicious beverage if Axl Rose finally unleashes Chinese Democracy, the long-awaited sixth Guns n’ Roses studio album, this year. Unfortunately, Axl’s a Mr. Pibb kinda guy. No, I’m kidding. The mercurial Rose quickly responded to this strange offer by stating that he was pleased to have Dr Pepper’s support; unfortunately, he said nothing about the album or the probability that you or I will have eight ounces of free soda in our hands by the year’s end.
For those keeping score at home, the legendary Chinese Democracy has been well over a decade in the making. Axl’s burned through $13 million making this puppy so far. That’s nearly as much as it cost George Lucas to make the first Star Wars movie (the one with Mark Hamill from 1977). In addition to contributions from uber-drummer Josh Freese and Academy Award nominated composer Marco Beltrami, Chinese Democracy also allegedly boasts guest performances by the likes of Brian May, Shaquille O’Neal, and Sebastian Bach. I think I can accurately sum up humanity’s response to all that with a quick and simple “God damn!”
Since work began on Chinese Democracy, every original member of Guns n’ Roses except for Axl has quit, a few of the people Axl hired to replace the original members have quit, a Pope died, we figured out who Deep Throat was, the Red Sox broke their ninety year old curse, the telegram has been phased out as a viable form of communication, the McRib has come back at least twice, New Kids on the Block reunited, three Batman movies been made, three Spider-Man movies have been made, new Rocky and Rambo movies have been made, scientists have seriously started talking about colonizing the moon, and Tim Meadows finally left “Saturday Night Live.” I don’t think there are any other cultural milestones left to wait for. Come on, Axl, turn this bad boy in and get me a Pepper.
The only thing that kind of sticks in my craw about this strange cross promotion is that Dr Pepper’s offer excludes two people: former GNR guitarists Slash and Buckethead. In Axl’s cheery response to Dr P, he said he’d have no problem sharing his free can with the latter six string wizard, as some of his work will be featured on Chinese Democracy. That leaves poor ol’ Slash out in the cold with nothing but his top hat to warm him, and I hardly think that’s right.
Dr Pepper, I think in your attempt to be cute you lost sight of something extremely important: without Slash, there’d be no Guns n’ Roses. His chaotic, bluesy guitar work was a cornerstone of the band’s original sound, just as integral as Axl’s chainsaw vocals or Duff McKagan’s slithering bass. You can’t tell me Appetite for Destruction would have been the same landmark rock album had Tracii Guns stuck around in the lead guitar slot. If you did, you’d be a self-delusional fool and, much like Mr. T, I would pity you.
Indeed, without the facially-obscured, alcohol-soaked fretwork of Saul “Slash” Hudson, we wouldn’t be sitting here eagerly awaiting a new Guns n’ Roses record this late in the game. Besides, it’s not like he or Buckethead are personally responsible for Chinese Democracy’s lengthy delay. That’s all Axl, baby. If you’re going to arbitrarily exclude former Gunners from this promotion, shit, I say Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke should be on the outs (they know what they did).
So relent already, Dr P. Get into the ring and give the man who first welcomed us to the jungle a can of your Mr. Brownstone. I’m sure he’ll be in Paradise City once he hears you’re no longer using your illusions. It’s so easy. The two of you will no longer be estranged, he’ll be your rocket queen again, and this spaghetti incident will be water under the bridge.