The Week in Rock

I always tried to steer clear of the whole Pete Doherty fiasco. As the ex-Libertine continued over the past two years to descend into a hellish swamp of drug arrests and problems, I steadfastly ignored them. In the first place, I really didn’t know anything about the guy, I didn’t think that his bands were that great and I really didn’t care about his drug habits. But today, I realized that this guy is NEVER going to stop being in the news, so if I was going to have to write about him it might as well be now. I mean, almost every week there’s someone firing up the presses about his trouble keeping off the horse. For example, last Sunday, the errant Doherty was arrested shortly before his band Babyshambles was supposed to play a big-time show in London’s Trafalgar Square. Apparently, he had been photographed injecting smack into the arm of an unconscious woman, and said photos found their way into the English tabloid The Sun. A week earlier he’d been busted for intent to distribute junk, hours after leaving the court on probation for an additional seven drug charges. I have to wonder why someone like Pete Doherty would allow a picture of him shooting up an unconscious person to be taken, or why anyone would even do that in the first place. So there you have it. Pete Doherty arrested on drug charges. No word yet on what kind of jail time or fines he’s looking at, but considering he was on probation at the time of his latest incident, they ought to be somewhat weighty. In addition, a while back The Sun started its own “Get Pete Off the Street” campaign to put the poor guy behind bars, even though he was at the time checking in to a mental hospital for manic-depression treatment. With everyone turning on him like that, I just hope he doesn’t turn to drugs for solace.

Cris and Curt Kirkwood are back, and are bringing their old band the Meat Puppets along with them. Best known for their appearance with Nirvana on that band’s MTV Unplugged show, the Puppets’ career has seen them begin with hardcore in the early ’80s, sign with SST, and branch out into psychedelic, western-style desert music. If you remember, they even had a charting radio hit with “Backwater,” propelled by the publicity Kurt Cobain’s fandom brought them. Even with this boost, the band went on hiatus in ’96 and broke up in 2000. Cris was arrested in 2003 for assaulting a security guard at a post office, and went to prison for a couple years. Come 2006, the band is reuniting, albeit without original drummer Derrick Bostrom. In his place will be Primus drummer Tim Alexander. This news just lends credence to the theory of the Early ’90s Revival picking up where the last couple of years’ ’80s Revival leaves off, as The Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and now the Puppets have re-formed or at least expressed their intention to do so. You might want to dig out those flannels, friend. Their time is coming back.

Last week, Rolling Stone Keith Richards injured himself in a bizarre incident in Fiji, where in an attempt to gather coconuts from a palm tree, the old-timer took a spill from the branches and hit his head. He was flown to a hospital in New Zealand shortly afterwards. Stones spokeswoman Fran Curtis had a few words on the encounter: “Following treatment locally and as a precautionary measure he flew to a hospital accompanied by his wife Patti for observation.” Days later, however, Richards was still experiencing head pain inconsistent with the mild concussion resulting from the accident, and closer examination revealed a brain hemorrhage inside his aged head. The elderly guitarist will undergo a draining operation to remove the fluid. On the whole, though, it seems like it could have been a lot worse. I’m not going to make a joke about how shriveled-up the guy is, or how he looks like a dead person. That’s played-out and tasteless. But he is over 60, and I can’t imagine many people that age falling out of a tree onto their heads and surviving at all, let alone with a minor hemorrhage as the only damage, so good for him. He must be pretty tough. There’s been no indication that the mishap will interfere with the next leg of the Stones’ tour, scheduled to begin on the European mainland in May.