DECONSTRUCTING ESTRANGED

I never liked the video clip – I guess I’m like Slash and think the dolphins wholly unnecessary. Too glossy, too silly. The live performances – ah- something else again. Those faraway cities, long ago times – Tokyo ’91, Oklohoma ’92. Axl screeching as if his soul is tearing up, Slash strutting on the stage holding a golden guitar upright, a giant phallic symbol.

A small, slight man, first wearing an oversize soccer sweater, then changing into a purple jacket, both exaggerating his chest. With his long hair, he makes a womanish figure on the stage. And his voice too is neither man nor woman- its pain transcends genders, he could be an alien sent down to howl at earthlings. His movements are jerky, and his eyes are frankly frightening. He glances around, daring people to pity him, even as his lyrics are drenched in self-pity and sorrow. Half way through, he stops singing. In an ordinary voice, he says : “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Dizzy Read on the keyboard.” The camera cuts to Dizzy, who glances up through his long bangs and nods sternly. Nobody smiles. Axl doesn’t mention anyone else, assuming that they are either too well-known (Slash) or not (Duff and the others) to need his introduction. He leaves the stage. Slash does the solo slash-thing on the guitar which makes him so famous- and which clearly even then, Axl felt he would stab someone if he had to hear one more time.  The camera cuts to Slash’s hands, but seems to focus on his navel. Axl comes back, in the purple jacket, and starts swaying from side to side. Duff moves away from Slash and walks to the back, cutting across Axl while holding his guitar in front of him, presumably to ward off the evil looks. Poor Duff.

“…maybe I’ll get it right next time…” Axl shrugs and screws up in his mouth. In one performance he answers himself “I doubt it”.  He was right, he never did. Poor Axl. “I never wanted it to die…

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