I’ve been listening a lot to Chinese Democracy, the product of Axl Rose’s 17-year stint as a psychopathic hermit in Malibu. I’ve been a huge GNR fan since the 5th grade of elementary school (1986 I think?), so I’ve been looking forward to this forever. In 1999 or 2000, my then-girlfriend sent me a copy of an article in Rolling Stone where Axl talked about how the “new” album was just about ready for release. It seems that the world wasn’t yet ready for Chinese democracy.
Axl’s creative life itself seems to be a good metaphor for Chinese democracy. Pretend to be open to other ideas, while being so paranoid that you either imprison those around you or drive them away. Back in the GNR heyday, he reportedly refused to go onstage before a concert until the entire band signed over the rights to the Guns N Roses name. Which is why he can still call himself Guns N Roses while Slash has to form a toolish band called Velvet Revolver. WTF?!
China allegedly still operates “mobile execution units,” vans that drive around and euthanize so-called criminals. This makes it harder for citizens to track the events, and perhaps reduces the psychological impact of executing thousands of people per year. The fact that the Chinese government banned the album Chinese Democracy shows the ridiculous truth, that their government is pathetically paranoid. Next time I’m in Shanghai, I’ll be wondering whether the van driving past is a euthanasia-mobile, or if the Falon Gong is somewhere being tortured.