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On the phone with the Mtley bunch

A mid-July teleconference with Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe provided plenty of answers to the question "Why does mainstream rock journalism suck so hard?" Granted, the chat's organizers tried to limit inquiries to the most predictable, least entertaining subjects: the band's Live 8 performance in Canada, its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the impending release of a concert DVD and the current Carnival of Sins tour. But most of the nearly 50 scribes from around the country showed no interest in pushing at these restrictions, and as a result, the boys in the band (minus an absent Tommy Lee) seemed content to speak in stereotypes, turning the session into a 90-minute exercise in tedium. Exceptions to this rule were generally accidental. One of the interviewees misheard Rocky Mountain News staffer Mark Brown's name as "Mark Sperm," while a brief technical breakdown spurred this telling exchange:

Sixx: My ear's burning.

Neil: Mine's numb.

Mars: I can't hear anymore.

Sixx: What'd you say?

Neil: I've got to pee. Can I pee in my garbage can here?

Mars: Dude, you always do.

Along the way, Mars said the band's previous jaunt had taken them to A-list markets, and this time around they were hitting the Bs -- a comment that reveals where upcoming stop Houston stands in Mötley minds. Later, Sixx chatted about how a scarf he was wearing at a recent gig began burning, prompting his rescue by a fire-extinguisher-toting roadie dressed as a "demented clown," and Neil recounted the moment when a minibike-riding midget in the Carnival cast "pulled an Evel Knievel off the front of the stage. It was pretty crazy."

"We thought he killed himself," Sixx added.

"Yeah," Neil said, "because a six-foot stage to him is like jumping off a 30-story building for us."

Still, the most interesting revelation came when the threesome began riffing on an unapproved topic that no journalist had mentioned: the hip-replacement surgery the increasingly fragile Mars underwent last year:

Neil: I'm still pissed at Mick.

Mars: Why?

Neil: Because I asked to get your hip so I could carve up some skeletons out of it and make bracelets.

Mars: They didn't give it to me!

Neil: You could've got it for me…

Mars: I tried and tried and tried. I even said I was an Orthodox Jew and I needed all my parts to be buried with. They sent the shit off to the morgue.

Neil: That's fucked up, man.

Sixx: Did they bury your hip?

Mars: No, I think they burned it.

Neil: No, I think I just saw my dog running by with it.

If Mötley Crüe doesn't seem as hip as it once did, now you know why. -- Michael Roberts

I Hate Weed Love Songs

I'm sick of rappers busting out with some generic-as-fuck song about getting high. It doesn't matter if you're mainstream or underground: That shit is stupid. You would think rappers would've gotten over this gimmick after Cypress Hill beat that bong to death, but no. People who base their entire image around getting high are doomed to become irrelevant has-beens making shitty-ass rap-metal for clueless frat boys. If you don't believe me, just ask yourself: When's the last time you made it out to see Afroman perform? Oh, that's right, you haven't, because not even the 15-year-olds who lie about getting high because they're embarrassed about still being virgins care about that played-out gimmick.

Has this corny shit ever slowed rappers down from bragging about how many blunts they roll? Of course not. You've got a shitload of choices to get high to: Madlib's "America's Most Blunted," Luniz's "I Got Five on It," Likwit Junkie's "The Good Green," MF Doom's "My Favorite Ladies," Ludacris's "Blueberry Yum Yum"…The list keeps going, but if you don't want to track down individual songs, just throw on a Dr. Dre or Devin the Dude album, and you'll almost feel the roach clip though your speakers. Redman and Method Man even made a damn movie off the strength of their weed song "How High." Anyone who has ever seen How High can testify to the mind-blowing performances from Shaolin and Jersey's finest. I was so glad that someone finally harnessed the incredible talent from those Power Stripe deodorant commercials and cultivated them into this work of cinematic genius. It truly is a film buff's dream come true. (Coming later this year: I Got Five on It, starring Todd Bridges. Seriously.)

I think the dumbest of all marijuana rap songs are the weed ballads, where some cutesy rapper flexes his amazing lyrical skills with some damn love song, but really it's about weed. Yeah, I was also amazed by this stretch of imagination. I hate hip-hop love songs to begin with. Now I'm getting the double-header from a bunch of dumb rappers who think they're the first to rap about this stupid-ass girl "Mary Jane." The Alkaholiks did just that -- then there's Qwel's "The Highest Commitment," and hell, D'Angelo's first big single, "Brown Sugar," was a damn marijuana rap ballad. The latest to use this brilliant metaphor is Slim Thug with "Miss Mary" -- what Slim needs to do is take back "Still Tippin'" and slap Mike Jones's name on this dumbass song instead, because, as we all know, Mike Jones needs more gimmicks.

Here's a tip for any and all rappers out there: Get some better concepts and stop with these predictable-ass marijuana songs. We all know it's just a scheme anyway. Rappers are too bitchmade to carry their own weed, so they make these stupid-ass weed ballads so that idiots in the front row can get closer to their idols by passing on stage the blunt they've been saving the whole night. Sorry, dumbfucks, but your favorite rapper doesn't care how long it took you to roll that shit -- he's just too cheap to buy his own bag, so he resorts to bumming dirt weed off idiots who paid too much to get in anyway. You think that grill paid for itself? No, jackass -- he saved the money by not buying his own drugs and bumming your shit instead. What a bunch of cheap assholes. -- Sergio Ornelas

Journey to the Center of Your Mind

It ain't easy being Journey. In an age where irony is an essential bit of cultural currency, the mulleted head of Journey has been perpetually on the pike. The band's anthemic ballads and populist rockers, once unmovable from the charts, are now considered cock-rockin' cheese.

But while it's easy to take a swing at a band like Journey, why not find that little piece of your soul, unhardened by indie-rock elitism, and embrace it? Do so now, and you'll be just in time for their big show this Friday at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Purists will contend that, since iconic lead singer Steve Perry and the rest of the group have acrimoniously gone their "Separate Ways" (ha!), this isn't the realJourney. Ignoring the naysayers, the band is using this tour to celebrate 30 years of Journey, so we thought it would be fitting to give our top 30 reasons why we love Journey. However, 30 is a big number and, well, it's only Journey. If Dennis DeYoung gets back together with Styx, we'll happily pull out all the stops. Until then, here are 13 reasons to love Journey -- shamelessly and unironically.

13. In an effort to soften the blow of changing lead singers, Journey swapped one longhaired, high-voiced Steve (Perry) with another (Augeri).

12. Journey Escape, the 1982 Atari game that entrusted gamers with keeping band members safe from libidinous groupies and shady concert promoters

11. The band's tear-jerking episode of Behind the Music, wherein Perry bemoans his status as a pariah in the band he led

10. "Faithfully," a staple of all Hoosier wedding receptions since 1983

9. Rodney Dangerfield's golf bag in Caddyshack, which blared "Any Way You Want It," to the dismay of the bluebloods on the course

8. The pseudo-Egyptian/cosmic-insect artwork on the band's LPs

7. Steve Perry's long, flowing hair and tight, tight pants

6. Founding members Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie formed Journey after leaving Santana, inadvertently paving the way for Carlos Santana's stunning late-'90s comeback -- oh wait, sorry, that's from the "Thirteen Reasons to Hate Journey" list.

5. The fact that you can hear a Journey gem every hour, on the hour, on the Arrow (93.7 FM) and any other classic rock station

4. The roller-rink scene in Charlize Theron's Monster, making "Don't Stop Believin'" the official theme song of lesbian serial killers everywhere

3. Lovin'

2. Touchin'

1. Squeezin' -- Andrew Marcus

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