Kill The Music
By Michael G. Plumides
The author of this book would like you to believe it’s about issues of censorship and freedom of speech, and there is a story line that concerns a club being shut down due to an “obscene” performance, but that’s not the real subject addressed in Kill The Music. No, what’s really going on here is more about the author than anything else—thankfully, he’s a pretty entertaining storyteller, in the same way that guy you knew from college can still tell great stories about when he was in school twenty years ago as if the events transpired only last week.
Michael Plumides was a cocky asshole when I first met him and I doubt he’s changed much since. The problem with branding him a jerk, however, is that he was pretty good at whatever he chose to do; whether it was picking up beautiful college girls or playing disc jockey at WUSC (or, much later, getting a law degree). We were both student DJs there in the late 1980s, the time and setting of the first section of this book. Plumides’ two years at USC is explored in some detail, with the high point being stories of interviewing Lemmy from Motorhead and Dave Mustaine from Megadeth.
Plumides manages to convey vividly some of the petty political atmosphere surrounding the USC radio station at the time, though he’s changed most of the names that he criticizes for various offenses against him. He’s properly congratulatory of the station, though, for its then very influential standing in the world of college radio, and he manages to drop enough familiar names (Mark Bryan of Hootie & the Blowfish, Art Boerke, Danielle Howle, and others) to make it interesting for anyone who was around in those days. (Full disclosure–He even worked my name into one of the minor plot line stories, though it is just part of a list of people who were at a particular party.)
The scenes set in Charlotte at the 4808 Club which Plumides owned for several years are less revealing and more geared toward getting to the point of the book, the censorship debates of that time which gave us Tipper Gore and the PMRC. The central event of this half of the book is the GWAR concert that gets the club shut down, but it’s not necessarily the best part. Plumides manages to convey some of the anxiety of being a club owner—will people come out to see the bands, can I pay rent this month, will the fire marshal shut me down if too many people show up, etc., and he also reveals a bit of his own growing up in the process.
It is this personal passage into adulthood that makes the story line meaningful in some sense other than letting people know how cool he thinks he was in college or pontificating about censorship issues, and that means people other than his former USC classmates might want to read this, too.