Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Book Review - "Alice Cooper, Golf Monster"
The majority of non-fictional books people read are about things or people that we’re interested in, or that we enjoy. Some would say the definition of a good book is if it takes something we already like and makes us value it even more. If this is true, then “Alice Cooper, Golf Monster” is a great book because it increased my appreciation both of Alice Cooper and of the game of Golf. Most people know Alice Cooper as the 70’s shock rocker, with the funky makeup that inspired everyone from Kiss to Rocky Horror Picture Show, and with stage shows containing more special effects than most movies of that time. Some are aware that he plays a bit of golf as they catch him at the occasional Pro-Am event. Few people know that Alice (as his legal name actually is) is a comfortable five-handicap golfer who plays as many as 300 days a year, both at home in the Phoenix area and when he’s touring. “Alice Cooper, Golf Monster” is the story of his rise to rock ’n' roll fame, of his decline into drug use and alcoholism, and of his love for and addiction to the game of golf. It was published in 2007 and co-written by the twin brothers Keith and Kent Zimmerman, who have also written about Johnny Rotten, Orange County Choppers, and a bestseller about the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club. The book is organized into 12 steps, each of which has chapters about Rock 'n' Roll and chapters about Golf, which is a nice touch as the subtitle of the book is "A Rock 'n' Roller's 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict." The dedication is simple: “My liver would like to dedicate this book to me for giving up drinking and taking up golf.” The book opens with Alice getting invited by Ely Callaway to play Pine Valley. Before the round the over/under on his score was 85, and money duly changed hands. When all was said and done Alice played one of the truly monstrous courses in all of golf in 73 strokes. “Never before has an amateur come here and shot a 73,” the Caddy Master announced. From a sheer entertainment point of view the book is littered with Alice’s friendships and associations throughout the music and movie industries in LA through his years of living there. It’s not surprising to read about him hanging out with the crème de la crème of the 60s and 70s Rock scene, such as Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, John Lennon and Frank Zappa (Alice got his first break because a friend of his used to baby sit the Zappa kids). What’s more surprising is that Alice would also hang out with a virtual who’s who of non-Rock celebrities, from Salvador Dali and Peter Sellers to The Rat Pack and the Marx Brothers. “We got into the elevator and it’s me, Liza Minnelli, Linda Lovelace, and Chubby Checker all going up to meet Elvis." From the aspect of Alice Cooper the man and the human being, “Golf Monster” is highly personal and brutally honest. He openly admits his addiction and his failures, but also talks frankly about the dedication required to get clean, and the tremendous benefits of staying that way. The book ends like it starts, in the world of golf as Alice shares his “15 tips for Achieving Your Best Game." Sprinkled throughout the book are stories about the royalties of golf whom Alice has encountered in decades of Pro-Ams. CONCLUSION: BIRDIE The writing in “Golf Monster” isn’t exactly fluid, but if you like Rock ‘n’ Roll OR Golf OR celebrities in general the story itself will be plenty to keep you interested. It’s motivational and funny and smart, and it will supply your “Did you know …” drawer for years to come. In the end, Alice Cooper claims to have received three compliments in his life which he will cherish forever, and they’re indicative of his versatile talents and multi-faceted personality: 1) Groucho Marx saying that Alice Cooper was the last hope for vaudeville. 2) Bob Dylan saying ‘I think Alice Cooper is an overlooked song-writer.’ 3) Tiger Woods saying he wouldn’t give me two a side.