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Why I'm Breaking Up with Axl Rose... for Good

We are never, ever, EVER getting back together.

Sitting in a booth at Canter's Deli in West Hollywood while partially hung-over and flipping through my "Like"-less Facebook page, I read this: "The Owner of Canter's Deli Has a Plan To Reunite Guns N' Roses." I'm also meeting someone who was on the Sunset Strip in the mid-'80s, snorting coke and shooting vodka at the Rainbow Room. Today, her ability to give a fuck has been medicated into a fast-talking prattle. All the stories she crams in-between guzzling coffee and pastrami sound depressing. Faded tramp stamps, shiny leather, and bottling Poison fans over the head. She’s a less evolved primate like all the rest of the rudderless carnivores who want to see GN'R reunite. In 2015, 22 years after their last gig, a GN'R reunion is still the biggest draw in rock 'n' roll fantasy booking.


Full disclosure: One of my first musical engrams was a video of Axl gliding onto the stage in Wembley wearing a black leather kilt and singing the chorus to "Bohemian Rhapsody" like some coked-up BDSM cheerleader. But I'm too young to have ever seen them live. What I want to remember is the ginger ayatollah; a paranoid chain-smoking psychopath – riffing on just about everyone he can think of with his stainless-steel 9mm in one hand, and a bottle of champagne in the other – that was the Axl Rose that scared the shit out of me. Slash, who roamed Amazonian snake farms on his time off, was even more demented. In other words, GN'R was dangerous, sexy, and full of shock-and-awe in an age where we wanted our heroes to be half-mutated gods, like Hulk Hogan's 24-inch pythons, or Michael Jackson walking in space. Axl Rose was the trashy Michael Jackson.

Today, in an era of cutesy cultural icons like Joseph Gordon Levitt, where being quirky is a national identity, GN'R would nosedive into parody like a Pauly Shore cameo in "Girls." Where does Axl Rose, in his boxer-briefs and "Victory or Death" tattoo, fit into riot grrrl or another op-ed on misogyny? We're in a world that still embraces Kurt Cobain in an evening dress. Guys like Axl and Slash are now caricatures in Guitar Hero video games: cartoony renderings of what rock and roll used to be. The closest thing to a legitimate rock star today is Kanye West, and he's never started a riot or toured with an Uzi semi-automatic.


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Noel Gallagher thinks he's the last rock star, but no. Axl is. But today, he's a Chucky doll in a fluffy fedora, with bedazzled garments and enough gaudy jewelry to finance his next album (GN'R's last album Chinese Democracycost $11 million). His current band, Axl Rose and Company, is a bloated cover band nobody takes seriously. His guttural falsetto has been softened into a starving baby's screech. As for Slash, well, he sobered up and started collaborating with Fergie. How dangerous.

A GN'R reunion would be a massive payday, but even if Axl and Slash did manage to pull something off for the 30th anniversary of Appetite for Destruction, it's too late now. The 2002 MTV Video Music Awards may have been their last shot, back when Axl still had his serpentine glide and crazy eyes and Slash was a shadowy figure with a lit cigarette peaking through his hair. It didn't happen then, and in an age of third-wave feminism and veganism, GN'R is dad rock; a slab of bloody factory-farmed beef we no longer have the appetite for.

But fans still want to know why two men haven't been able to reconcile their differences for nearly 20 years. They want answers to rock 'n' roll's most childish breakup. They'll never have it. What they might get is new GN'R material that sounds like Eltonian piano ballads over EDM beats. Before that happens, let's kill the past. Let’s scrawl "sorry I'm late" across Axl's coffin, like he asked. Let GN'R meet its maker (a giant pink dildo) and listen to their magnum opus, "Sweet Child of Mine," to remember that they could have been bigger than the Beatles instead of band that was blown to smithereens by Nirvana’s drone-strike into the heart of the Sunset Strip.