An Open Letter To Keith Morris: Please Shave Your Head

Punk rock legends Keith Morris (left) and Henry Rollins (right). Photo by Timothy Norris.

Dear Keith Morris,

I love you.

You’re a punk rock icon.

Your resume includes being the singer for such luminary bands as Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Off!

But please, for the love of God, shave your head. It’s getting awkward.

Keith’s pre-sweat comb-over, right before the Red Sea parts.

This is what you look like in your head.  And this is what you really look like.

When I saw you play with the Circle Jerks on the reunion tour in 1995 you had dreadlocks all the way down to your knees.  Some people scoff at the idea of an older white man having dreads, but I was all for it.  It looked cool.

But that was 17 years ago, and a lot of things have changed since then.  Mostly, the top of your head’s ability to produce and maintain hair follicles.  Perhaps you’ve taken your song “Deny Everything” a bit too seriously.

When I saw you play with your new band Off! this past year, your energy and charisma were through the roof.  You followed a young band, Trash Talk, who I didn’t think you could possibly top.  But you did.  Until you started to sweat and things started to unravel.  Literally.

I realized, with mounting horror, that not only had you gone 95% bald on the top of your head, but that you’d attempted to comb it over with the one single, solitary dreadlock that remained on your forehead.

This is the part where I remind you that I’m on your team.  You’re awesome.  Only a handful of singers in hardcore punk can even come close to holding a candle to you.  But you have hair that even Donald Trump would snicker at.

Please shave it off.

They say never meet your heroes.  And while I didn’t actually meet you that night, I did see you from five feet away as your sweaty, barely-hanging-on last dread whipped around like the saddest helicopter ever.  Like the last leaf clinging to the tree in fall.  I was afraid that with each twirl, that dread was finally going to snap off and fly into my hands and I’d be standing there holding it like a dead, wet ferret.

Trust me, I get it.  I’m a bald man myself.  Like you, I had long-ish hair when it started to go.  I fought the urge to deal with it for a few years too many.  One time I went swimming in a public pool and my hair was so weak it had turned yellow.  It looked like a handful of wet spagetthi falling off the front of my face.

You and I both know what it’s like to be afraid of the wind.  If I even so much as saw a flag blowing I wouldn’t go outside for fear that my hair would come unhinged.

Shave it.

Nobody will tell you this because everybody’s afraid of you.  As stated, you’re a punk rock legend who used to and/or still may be on heavy drugs.  At the very least you are unpredictable.  The only reason I’m saying this now is because I’m on the internet and I can hide behind my laptop.  I live in Minnesota, so if you come looking for me please wear a hat. It gets really chilly up here and I don’t want one of my all-time favorite singers to get pneumonia and die.

I don’t want that guilt in my head.  My head which is hairless, like yours should be.

Shave it.

Sincerely,
One of your biggest fans,
Mike Brody

Hippy Dippy Rastaman

Bob Marley gets a bad rap.

I blame the hippies.

To be fair, I blame nearly everything that sucks on the hippies, from hacky sacks and Phish to burnt toast and Season 2 of The Walking Dead.  I dropped my phone in the toilet and I’m convinced that it was somehow Jerry Garcia’s fault.  Drum circles increase your risk of prostate cancer.  I know for a fact that patchouli oil caused the Korean War.

While it’s debatable that those things aren’t true (except for the drum circles), hippies really did ruin Bob Marley.  And it’s for one reason and one reason only: 420 maaaaannnnnnnnnn!!!!!!

There’s no denying that Bob Marley loved the ganja.  Intensely.  But so did Charles Manson and you don’t see anybody following him.  Wait…

Potheads focus on Marley as a soundtrack to their toke-fest, then ignore the other 80% of his subject matter.  He sang about war, social injustice, the Old Testament, Rastafari, rioting in the ghetto, the liberation of Zimbabwe, numerous other subjects and yes, weed. But because hippies are so goddamn yappity about it, the rest of the world associates the two.  Suddenly Bob’s got a stigma.  Boom!  Musical icon ruined.

I don’t know what Bob Marley’s giant floating head is looking at but it’s presumably a larger pot plant.

It’s not fair.  John Lennon sang about walruses a couple times.  That doesn’t mean he was the walrus guy. Do you ever see zookeepers walking around with John Lennon shirts?  Was he on the cover of “Tusks Monthly”?  “Pet walruses every day! Coo coo ka choo!”

When I was a bartender in college there was a regular who loved Bob Marley so much that he filled his entire apartment with Tuff Gong posters and Jamaican flags.  He was never not high and refused to drink anything other than Myer’s Dark Rum because he wanted to “support the Jamaican economy.”  He was also the most physically white person I’ve ever met.  He made Marilyn Manson look like Kanye West.  One day, after listening to him talk about Bob Marley for time on end, I got fed up.

“Alright dude, you love Jamaica so much?  Name one reggae artist besides Bob Marley.”

He sat there in stone silence while I waited in vain.  After a while I actually forgot that I asked him the question.

“Peter Tosh?” he said finally, with a hint of doubt in his voice.

Congrats dude, you named a guy who was in his band.  That’s like saying you’re a humongous fan of George W. Bush, filling your apartment walls with presidential seals and buying ten gallon hats to support the Texan economy.  Then when asked to name just one other president you pause for 45 minutes and say Dick Cheney.  (Reggae stars that he could/should have mentioned: Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, Toots & the Maytals, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs and yes, Bunny Wailer.)

My point in bringing up these fakin’ Jamaicans is that they are the people doing the repping.  Of course you are going to think Bob Marley sucks when you see his fan base.  But it’s not Bob’s fault.  Bob was the real deal.  He started with ska in the early 60s, worked his way through rocksteady and then became a reggae star.  He proudly sang of being black, standing up for yourself and loving one another.  He championed his causes so much that he actually got shot for it and still performed that very night!  He was a baller.  (He was also a man-whore and had more illegitimate children than there are Sesame Street characters but that’s neither here nor there.)

I love reggae.  I got into it because of The Clash and Operation Ivy.  Reggae is the only thing that punks and hippies agree on.  The punks like it for the militaristic side and the relative simplicity of the music and hippies like it because of the love and the reefer.  Neither side is going anywhere.  It’s like Israel and Palestine.  We have to just get along.  We need to strike a deal.  I suggest a bargain:

Punks get all the Bob Marley songs about shooting sheriffs and burnin’ and lootin’.  Hippies get all the songs about three little birds and one love.  We also get “Punky Reggae Party” for obvious reasons.

And hippies, as a token of fairness: you can just have Ziggy Marley outright.

Suggested Bob Marley listening:
Simmer Down
Small Axe
Natty Dread
Johnny Was
Zimbabwe