Teacher’s Comments: A literary first. The autobiography of a rock star and how golf saves his life.
I have never been a fan of Alice Cooper’s music (in fact, I wouldn’t recognize it if it came on the radio). When I was in high school —and he in his heyday – I was listening to an eclectic list of artists that included Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and the Allman Brothers. My friends listened to Cooper, though, and thought my tastes just more evidence of my oddness.
That said, it is a tribute to the book that – after reading it – I want to go back and listen to some of his “classic” works.
In many ways, Golf Monster is a standard autobiography. Cooper begins with his birth and childhood in Detroit, and takes the reader through several family moves which resulted in his high school years in Arizona, where he became a track star and began his musical career.
At that point, it becomes the story of the rise of a rock star. The early years are lean, but “romantic”, as Cooper and his band live a hand-to-mouth existence. Then come the breaks, the rise to stardom, depravities and addiction. Finally, Cooper checks into a treatment center (one of the first big names to do so), dries out and recovers his life. Ultimately, he becomes a Christian and refocuses his art (still a shock rocker, but now a shock rocker for Christ).
Much of the fun of the book is in the stories that Cooper tells about people he has met: Salvador Dali, Frank Sinatra, the Doors, George Burns, Tiger Woods, John Daly, Arnold Palmer, and many more.
A couple of things about Cooper’s story stood out for me. First, he was not nearly as depraved as I would have imagined. In many ways, he was – and is – astoundingly normal. I have known people in my life who are much further out in left field. (There apparently is nothing to the biting a head off a bat chicken story).
Second, I found myself liking him. As this is an autobiography, you have to consider the source, but Cooper comes across as a genuinely caring guy. His relationship with the aging – and declining – Groucho Marx is touching. His friendships with other people whose lives have crossed his seem quite rich.
Still, the short version of the book is no different from a lot of rock biographies. What makes it different – and relevant to this blog— is that Cooper seriously credits golf with having saved him. Apparently possessed of an addictive personality, he refocused that addiction from alcohol to golf. (I actually suspect that golf attracts a great many addictive personalities). Cooper says that he plays 36 holes a day and carries a five handicap.
The book actually begins with Coopers’ account of his trip to the legendary Pine Valley golf club. And between chapters, he offers advice on the game – a great deal of which I found useful. At the end is an appendix with golf instruction.
I can recommend this book for a lot of reasons. But in the end, I’ll say this. In spite of not particularly liking Cooper’s brand of music, he’s now on my short list of people I’d like to meet. And maybe even play a round of golf. Alice Cooper — are you reading this?