I can't remember if it was Casey Kasem or Chuck Klosterman who recently noted that "Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It's more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all?"
But after giving the rock-and-roll version of Magnolia a half-dozen complete listens, and wasting the better part of two weeks trying to decipher what goes through the mind of the sole remaining maniacal original band member, I think I can make one definitive statement:
Chinese Democracy kicks ass all over Chinese democracy.
Here's 17 reasons why, one for every year that Howard Hughes spent holed up welcoming very few to the jungle Xanadu where he was using Pro Tools, guitar riffs, hip-hop beats, strings, Mississippi Burning outtakes and quite possibly a glockenspiel while constructing his sonic Shaolin Temple.
1.3 billion Chinese ain't got nothin' on W. Axl Rose:
Chinese democracy is: An editorial in the state newspaper, the Global Times, which says the new Guns N' Roses album is a "venomous attack" that "turns its spear point on China." The album's website has been officially blocked in the Middle Kingdom.
Chinese Democracy is: "When your Great Wall rocks, blame yourself, " W. Axl Rose.
Chinese democracy is: The mysterious disappearance of Tank Man (aka the Unknown Rebel) who stopped a column of tanks all by his lonesome during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Chinese Democracy is: One man's brave stance against a corrupt society's repression of red-heads with cornrows wearing workaday kilts.
Chinese democracy is: Yao.
Chinese Democracy is: Yow-ZAA!
Chinese democracy is: "Oh what a beautiful baby girl you have. It cost you 100 Yuan for us to throw her off bridge for you. No mess, no fuss."
Chinese Democracy is: Standing up for the rights of every American child to enjoy a delicious bottle of Dr. Pepper soda.
Chinese democracy is: My stupid brother Daniel being all, like, "You have to go spend a month in China, it's so freakin' amazing. Seeing the ancient temples, walking the Great Wall, eating the different regional cuisine...awesome. It's blowing up, you need to go now, before it's completely commercial and played out. Probably too late as it is, but experiencing China first-hand can't be described with mere English words."
Chinese Democracy is: Accepting me for who I am.
Chinese democracy is: An update of the "Redeem Team's" gold medal Olympic men's basketball victory on CBS Sunday Morning without even that the decency of offering a spoiler alert for all us hoops fans who DVRed the thrilling game and didn't want to know the outcome. Thanks a lot, Osgood. You couldn't carry Kuralt's, man-sized jock. Oh, no doubt about it. I'll see you on the radio, you lumpy bow-tied dickface.
Chinese Democracy is: A mook like swimmer Michael Phelps getting to do the breaststroke with Asian-Vegas-stripper-cum-gold-medal-and-nothing-else-wearer, Caz.
Chinese democracy is: The dreary grey tightly-collared five-button Communist Zhongshan suit favored by Mao.
Chinese Democracy is: Bill Bailey's bandanas, bitches!
Chinese democracy is: Slashing timber to rid the country of its original rainforests in the name of progress.
Chinese Democracy is: Praying Slash's axe will unite the original quintet in the name of regress.
Chinese democracy is: The fact that Olympic table tennis star champion Wang Hao must undergo something called "ritual self-humiliation" for getting into it with a security guard who tried to stop him from taking a nice drunken piss after throwing a few back at a karaoke bar.
Chinese Democracy is: The fact that many of the album's killer licks come from a genuine weirdo who does his best work while wearing a vintage Kentucky Fried chicken bucket on his head. Does anyone remember what that guy's name is?
Chinese democracy is: Leading HIV/AIDS activist Hu Jia was given a 3.5-year prison sentence prison for "inciting subversion against the state," better known as protesting human rights abuses in preparation of the 2008 Olympics.
Chinese Democracy is: "Free at last! Free at Last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!" Excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King's speech are featured in the song Madagascar, along with other revolutionary clips inexplicably plucked from Cool Hand Luke, Se7en, Braveheart and Casualties of War.
Chinese democracy is: Cracking down on the Falun Gong spiritual movement through torture, imprisonment including forced labor, and (thanks to an investigation by Canadian Parliamentarians) the harvesting of organs from living Falun Gong members that kills them in the process.
Chinese Democracy is:Taking up the yaogun yinyue arms in the title track. "Blame it on the Falun Gong. They've seen the end and you can't hold on now."
Chinese democracy is: China becoming the main trading partner with Iran to the tune of more than $3 billion, which includes sensitive military technologies helping keep Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear program alive.
Chinese Democracy is: Not understanding why immigrants want to come to our country and do as they please. Like for instance, starting a mini-Iran. It's all Greek to me.
Chinese democracy is: The 2008 Amnesty International report on the World's Human Rights notes that in China, "Around 30 journalists were known to be in prison and at least 50 individuals were in prison for posting their views on the internet. People were often punished simply for accessing banned websites."
Chinese Democracy is: The reports that after this long strange trip--17 years, more than $13 million and a rotating cast of producers, musicians and revenging shackler's--the new G&R album hasn't been a blockbuster... Because Axl Rose HAS GONE AWOL for the last couple of months and done zero publicity for the alleged masterpiece that's consumed him from the ages of 29-46.
Chinese democracy is: Having a nightmare flashback to the two-hours spent in a theater in 2000 watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Chinese Democracy is: Waking up at 7 a.m. on September 17, 1991, heading to a downtown Milwaukee record store, purchasing both Use Your Illusion albums, bringing them back to your buddy Eric Schnabel's college apartment, listening to them before class, then ditching school for the rest of the day to give them another go-round while breaking out the breakfast beers.
Chinese democracy is: The cheap toxic crappy toys that people are trampling one another to get at Wal-Mart.
Chinese Democracy is: Adhering to the much higher corporate standards of Best Buy.
Chinese democracy is: Slaughtering some 200 Tibetans and injuring 1,0000 after peaceful independence protests last March.
Chinese Democracy is: Wondering what's so civil about war anyway.
Chinese democracy is: Non-existent.
Chinese Democracy is: About to sustain me through a half-hour of light-to-moderate running on a treadmill.