Insert Foot: What KISS trading cards, the Beatles and cockroaches have in common


Rendering: Adam Pardee/STAFF.

I no longer like cockroaches.

I never really did like them, but they had their uses. For example, as a young guy, my former roommate and I used to play the lights out game, where we’d sneak into our kitchen after the light was out for a while, then turn the lights on and quickly see how many cockroaches we could terminate.

Maybe it was the lights on game. Either way, it was lights out for the cockroaches. And the bottoms of our shoes.

Another set of roommates and I would occasionally find one in our kitchen—a cockroach, not another roommate. Though I guess they kind of qualified. Cockroaches seemed to be attracted to musicians in their early 20s (2020 is no time for a groupie joke). It’s probably no coincidence finding cockroaches around young guys in apartments, but I’m certainly not getting into my former hygiene issues with you.

My point was about to be that you can put a cockroach in a microwave for two minutes, and all it does is make them angry. I’m not condoning this behavior. But that’s just science. We actually lost interest before we found the correct time of decline (murder) for a cockroach, and eventually lost interest.

I don’t remember if we took that guy out of the microwave. If not, he’s probably really angry.

I know what you’re thinking: What does this have to do with writing something for a music magazine?

Well … not much.

Look, they knew what they were getting into when they signed me up. But out of respect for RIFF, I’ll tie this back to music, somehow.

Right. So I have cockroaches on the mind, because I haven’t dealt with them in many years. Once a guy grows out of his 20s, cockroaches are usually no longer attracted to him. Which may have something to do with having wives and stuff. So, because we’re still sheltering from the COVID—theoretically—I needed something to do during last week’s long weekend. I went to my storage unit and decided about half my stuff needed to go. And they don’t let you burn half a storage unit. I asked.

I’ll spare you the details, but … storage units must smell like 20-something men. Because cockroaches live there.

I have a LOT of stuff I no longer need. I have a box of Life magazines from 1968 and 1969. I don’t know why. I was barely born. But I do know I went through it about 30 years ago and took out one with the Beatles on the cover (music tie-in!). For some reason, I decided to take the cover off it and give it to someone to frame for me. I’m still waiting to hear back.

If it still had a cover, it might be worth some money—which isn’t a great reason to hold on to something if you’re never going to grow the courage to sell it.

In keeping with the musical theme, I also found a random rim of a snare drum. I have no idea where the actual drum is. I also found a pair of cracked maracas someone gave me when I was a kid that I finally threw out. I probably kept them because they were unique, all red, green and natural wood colored, with a palm tree on …

What? You too?

I had one of those fake $199 Stratocasters in there, which I gave to my daughter. Without an amp, which I haven’t found yet. And with only five strings. When she learns to play those, I’ll get her a sixth.

I tried remembering where I got the guitar but couldn’t. I remember the price, though, so I’m pretty sure it’s not stolen.

I also found the control pad for some electronic drums I left at the house of the guy with whom I used to play the lights out game. That doesn’t do me much good, as it’s 40 miles from the drums it controls.

I also found a singular KISS trading card from the ’70s. That is terribly frustrating, as I was looking for those a while back and have no idea where it came from. I had hundreds of them. Now I have one. As I stomped around, angrily looking for more, I’m pretty sure I heard little cockroach voices mocking me.

I also found a copy of an Ambiguously Gay Duo comic book, inscribed by the guys who created it for Saturday Night Live. They surprised me with it after I wrote about them for a newspaper. I immediately brought that home and, yes, was inclined to rip the cover off and frame it.

Right. I’m not very bright, At least I didn’t give it to a guy to hold onto for the next 25 years.

I brought many boxes home with me to sort through and not light on fire. And, yes, a couple bugs hitched a ride in one of the boxes (I read books once and keep them for 20 or 30 years in case I want to read them again, spending thousands of dollars in storage space instead of simply spending $3 on a used copy in case I want to read it again).

Things didn’t turn out so well for one of the cockroaches. He sustained a fatal injury, which he deserved for jumping out of a box while trying to scare me to death. His friend found refuge in a nearby bush. Which I let go.

I hope cockroaches don’t read this and send me hate mail. That said, here’s hoping you have a productive, bug-free week.

Follow music critic Tony Hicks at .

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