In 1992, Francis Fukuyama boldly declared that western liberal democracy was “the end of history.” He argued that all societies, given enough time, would eventually become secular democracies.
The events of the following 14 years have not been kind to Fukuyama’s predictions. Global warming has laid bare the grave environmental implications of a global free market, the strengthening of anti-Western sentiments climaxed with the events of September 11th, and the democratization of Iraq has proven next to impossible. Perhaps most importantly, authoritarian China has emerged as a political and economic juggernaut to rival the power of the western world. To many, it seems that Chinese Democracy will never come.
One man has remained stalwart in his efforts to achieve the release of Chinese Democracy. He has poured 15 years of his life, as well as $13 million dollars, into his continuing work on Chinese Democracy. Despite constant derision and seemingly insurmountable odds, Axl Rose has never given up hope. He has promised to go to any lengths to release the newest Guns N’ Roses project, “Chinese Democracy.”
His obsession has clearly taken its toll. The once-vigorous rock star has been rendered haggard and filthy. His bandanna no longer sits atop gorgeous flowing blonde locks, but rather over a nest of greasy dreadlocks, akin to those zig-zaggy french fries. Where once a leather vest may have revealed an immaculate six-pack, a football jersey now covers a non-rocking physique. A brooding grimace is often replaced with a scalpel-induced smile. His monomaniacal pursuit of “Chinese Democracy” has become his white whale, rendering him Ahab if Ahab did a shitload of coke.
Axl stands alone in his quest, flanked only by single-named shredders who shuffle in and out of Guns N’ Roses as through a revolving door. Slash and bassist Duff McKagen have long since abandoned him. Supporters have become confused and angry, showing up to performances billed as Guns N’ Roses to find that all that’s left of the original band is the lonely Axl Rose.
“I know that many of you are disappointed that some of the people you came to know and love could not be with us here today,” Rose says to those fans. “Regardless of what you have heard or read, people worked very hard (meaning my former friends) to do everything they could so that I could not be here today. I say FUCK that.”
Rose seems convinced that he can fill the hole that Slash left in his heart with “Chinese Democracy.” In his desperation, he has reached out as far as Dave Navarro, Buckethead and Shaquille O’Neal to complete the project. Some stuck around longer than others but in the end provided neither musical solace nor foul-shots. Rose has had no choice but to cancel untold numbers of hopeless release dates for “Chinese Democracy.” Most recently, he announced that it would be released on March 6, but last Thursday he solemnly announced that this date was overly optimistic.
Rose has not been without his detractors. Reactionary groups such as The Offspring and Kitty and the Kowalskis have both released their own versions of “Chinese Democracy,” mocking the pathetic Axl with the ease with which they were produced, as well as their existence as tangible objects in the real world. Spin Magazine also released a review of Chinese Democracy for their April Fool’s issue, saying that “several songs make thinly veiled references to the architect who designed Rose’s backyard topiary garden, a move that may confuse casual listeners.”
But there are stirrings, albeit slight, that “Chinese Democracy” could be just around the corner. Former Skid Row frontman and accomplished rocker Sebastian Bach has previewed the project, which he described as “badass with killer screams.” Just last Tuesday an anonymous tipster released what is said to be the first single off “Chinese Democracy,” and a close listening reveals not only heavy beats and barbed-wire guitar but also an almost unintelligible loop of “Slash is gay.” Other songs come and go, rumored to be this or that track off Chinese Democracy, but the album itself remains only a whispered shout.
The question is fast becoming: Does anybody care? Will “Chinese Democracy” really be all that great, or should the Western world just learn to live without it? Years of empty promises and leaked riffs have made “Chinese Democracy” into more of an industry joke than a legitimate project. If it comes out, it might be good, but it sure as hell won’t be 15 years good. Most people agree that if Chinese Democracy is really going to take that long, it’s just not worth it.