I'm probably only adding confusion

Ann Althouse wrote a very fun post about Alice Cooper which not only recalls her fondness of his music, but which discusses his ongoing nonconformism -- especially of the political variety. I very much enjoyed it, as I used to love Alice Cooper but haven't thought much about him lately. (I originally learned of him via Frank Zappa, who I loved from the early MOI days.)

Cooper was in full throttle when I was a high school senior, and I still have some of his albums somewhere.

"I'm embarrassed that I was embarrassed to go see Alice Cooper back then," says Althouse. Actually, I think it's incredibly cool that she admits to liking him at all -- once embarrassed or not. Looking back to the 1970s, I can't imagine the number of things I should be embarrassed to have been embarrassed about! (As a former Marxist who was basically embarrassed to be alive and ashamed of my existence, my embarrassed-to-have-been-embarrassed quotient would, I suspect, be off the bell curve... Why, I'm even embarrassed to think about it!)

But I just can't resist chiming in about Cooper's relationship with Salvador Dali -- who loved the musician so much that he created a holographic portrait of his brain. That last link features Cooper's recollections of the meeting:

In early April of 1973, a mind-melding of sorts took place in New York City. Over the course of about two weeks, shock-rocker Alice Cooper and Dali, fabled surrealist, ate together, drank together, and basked in the glow of each other`s exceptional freakishness. And Lo, it was beautiful. In the light of the recent publication of Meredith Etherington-Smith`s biography, The Persistance of Memory, (Random House)- and the fact that Alice`s and Dali`s coming together is mentioned however scantly - the time seemed right to query Alice about just what, exactly, happened.

How Alice Met Dali

Dali invited Alice and his manager Shep Gordon, over to the St. Regis Hotel. "We met in the bar. Gala (his wife) comes first. She`d dressed in a full tuxedo. She looks exactly like Fred Astaire - top hat, cane, spats. I went "Wow!" Then about six boys and girls - or whatever they were - about 16 or 17 years old, came in. These creatures he had with him were like something out of Satyricon. They were dressed in a lot of silk. Flowing things, loose things. They didn`t say anything but they were real pretty. I had this vision of Count Dracula and his wives. They kind of floated around the room. Then Dali comes in. He said, "I am the great and grand Dali!" And I said "Hi, I`m Alice Cooper." I felt like Jerry Lewis, you know."

Reading the account is a fantastic exercise in nostalgia.

During the course of their artistic endeavors, the pair had great difficulty in communicating. But to Dali, confusion was the whole point:

"I was sitting there wearing all black and my eyes are all smeared and I`m drinking a tall can of Budweiser and he`s all in white and looks like some kind of saint. He`s explaining on and on and on and they ask me, "What do you think of this?" And I said, "I haven`t understood one word he`s said since I met him." And he jumped up and said: "Perfect! Confusion is the greatest form of Communication."


It all seems quite logical to me.

That's because I take pride in logical confusion.

(I'm sorry if that's confusing logic. My confusion embarrasses me regularly.)

MORE: In a somewhat sympathetic review of last year's Dali exhibit, Time Magazine raised the Alice Cooper collaboration in the context of kitschy media whoring:

In the same spirit he is being re-examined by academics and curators as a pioneer of the artist as public performer, role model par excellence for Andy Warhol and Koons. It might not seem like a good thing to re-emerge as the original media whore, but there's no denying Dali's role in making showmanship an art-world career tactic.

But is there more than that? Is it truly possible to look at the later Dali, at the endless recyclings of his Surrealist mannerisms or his hologram of Alice Cooper, the '70s rock nuisance, and not shrug? The well-argued Philadelphia show says it can be done--just pick your way carefully among the works.

Frankly, I don't think Cooper was "rock nonsense" and I liked the Cooper hologram, the "First Cylindric Crono-Hologram" ever made.


It spins!

UPDATE (01/27/07): Check this ebay listing out!

an autographed photo of Salvador Dali and Alice Cooper together from 1973. Alice has signed the photo with, "Confusion is the greatest form of communication - Dali. Alice Cooper" (his favorite Dali quote). Also, this photograph is the actual and original production print used by "16" magazine for their special "Alice Cooper & Freak Rock" issue. Attached to the BACK of the photo (this does not affect the photo or image at all) is an editor's / printer's notes that this photo will go into the magazine on page 14 and will measure 3 inches. This print came directly out of the "16" magazine storage files. Also, this print was made in 1973 from the ORIGINAL film. The autograph was done in 2007.

posted by Eric on 09.23.06 at 06:21 PM


I guess I can understand your fascination with Dali. He was after all, really just high camp. The sad aspect for me is that he was such a gifted painter.
My question is why did he feel he had to hide his ability in "confusion" as you would say.
It is the same for late romantic composers like Debussy and Ravel. Only they hid their creation behind a fog bank and called it impressionistic, while artists like Dali painted beautiful images and gathered them together in nonsensical surrealism.

Frank   ·  September 24, 2006 2:12 AM

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