"Let's say that the Republican Party is Van Halen ..."
So begins the modest proposal recently circulated by Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti, which postulates that George W. Bush has "totally Gary Cheroned" this presidency. This thesis, which Spaghetti (real name Edward Carlyle Daly III, or so he claims) sent out to the band's e-mail list, has stirred up quite a reaction, not only from his more politically minded fans, but also from diehard followers of Van Halen.
Spaghetti equated original Van Halen singer David Lee Roth with Abraham Lincoln — "an ass kicking, slave freeing, minimize-the-government-in-our-lives bad ass. The glory years." He then put forth the idea that Roth's replacement, Sammy Hagar, was more akin to Ronald Reagan: "He totally lost the diehard, but for some reason, Van Halen have never been more popular. Hit after hit. The Van Halen machine makes more money than anyone thought possible!"
But the oft-scorned Cherone, an interim singer who went from the band Extreme ("More Than Words," "Hole Hearted") to Van Halen for the space of three years and one album (1998's Van Halen III), wasn't even included on Best of Van Halen, as if his era was either irrelevant or better off forgotten. Which is why it's so divisive when Spaghetti gets to the crux of his argument, drawing parallels between Cherone and Bush: "Even the most dyed-in-the-wool Van Halen fans have to admit, this was one bad idea. It didn't work, and, thankfully, we only had to put up with one record from this version of the Republican Par ... uh, I mean ... Van Halen. Gary made Van Halen so bad that Sammy Hagar returning actually seemed like a GOOD idea!"
Since sending out his missive, Spaghetti's been getting "some great hate mail," which he's posting on the band's Web site under "Hate Mail From the Campaign Trail." Some fans criticize the rock world for being too liberal, others take the rocker to task for getting political in the first place, saying that they didn't need any more celebrities telling them what to do or how to think, with comments like, "Clever analogy, but sorry, Bush will be getting my vote," "Less talk, more rock" and "Way to alienate half your fans!" One fan, Russell Gambrel, asking to be taken off the band list, signed his e-mail as "Former Suckers Fan and Member of the Party of Johnny Ramone."
Some fans argued that — based on reading Roth's autobiography, "Crazy From the Heat" — Bush actually had more in common with the original Van Halen singer. Others extended that analogy, with one saying that on the flip side, "John Kerry would be fronting a lame cover band with no original material of its own ... disco one day and polkas the next, depending on who's listening."
Not all letters were critical, though. One fan named Tasha wrote in that she is a Republican crossing party lines to vote for Kerry, and asked the webmaster to tell Spaghetti that "at least one of his fans has definitely changed her mind and won't be casting the stupidest vote of all time next Tuesday." Another wrote, "I appreciate the fact that you may alienate some of your fans who pay your bills ... For every album they would have bought, I'll buy 10."
"I definitely didn't mean to alienate," Spaghetti said of the flood of responses. "I kind of thought I'd be preaching to the choir here. Guess I was wrong and I'm glad. It's fun to see people get mad about the truth."