Monday, April 16, 2007

King Dork and Rock & Roll

I just recently finished the Novel "King Dork" by Frank Portman, or Dr. Frank as he is known to fans of his Bay Area band The Mr. T Experience. The book centers around young Tom Henderson, a high school sophomore who is about as low on the adolescent food chain as one can get. He and his only friend, Sam Hellerman, (his alphabetical neighbor all through grade school) have their own rock band, the name of which they change weekly, devising first album names and pseudonyms for each. Their lives are of typical high school zeros: They are picked on, abused, laughed at and generally ignored by all of the "normal" people of their school. But back to the rock and roll. Through the evolution of their band, Hellerman & Henderson finally find a gig playing at their schools "Festival of Lights" their PC version of a battle of the bands.

Their band, Chi-Mo, after Henderson's nickname (meaning child molester. Long story. Read the book.) royally and completely sucks, but what can you expect from a high school band that just learned how to play their instruments? Their big break comes when they sing a song extolling their Vice Principals desire for a sophomore girls back side. After the show, the enterprising Sam Hellerman publishes the lyrics to this song and several others to distribute around the school, and the band gains a sort of cult fame status.

Here's the thing. I am from the same school of rock as Henderson and Hellerman which teaches that if you start a band, no matter how pathetic, you will gain popularity. Mildly. But sometimes it is just enough to get that girl to notice you for the first time or that group of guys to stop picking on you. There is something dramatically exciting when you are a high schooler and you strap on your guitar in front of your piers for the first time and show everyone just how badly you need to practice. But so what? You are the brave soul standing in front of everyone butchering bar chords and dropping the melody, not them. So kids, here is today's lesson: If you are in high school, and your chances of survival are slim, talk your parents into buying you a second hand guitar, practice a few chords, and start a band. Because just for a moment, just for a blink of an eye in the vast high school universe, you will be a Rock & Roll GOD.

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