FLEA - ACID FOR THE CHILDREN
FLEA - ACID FOR THE CHILDREN A memoir
Review by Ian Browne Shamrock News
Known as one of the great bass players of our time, and a creative, enigmatic figure to boot, this is a colourful journey into the life story of Michael Balzary - best known as Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Though this book takes you along the trail that led to the band’s formation, very little is spoken about those days. This is more about Flea; his family and friends; his geographical wanderings - the experiences that shaped his life - and the bands he played within before he co-founded the biggest of the world’s indie-rock outfits.
As short, philosophical instillations, Flea weaves a poetic chain amongst the narrative, allowing the emotional experiences of his younger years, on to middle-age, to reveal themselves in dream-state dialogue. The implications to his move to the US; the seemingly careless indifference of his mother to his young needs - and a change in the patriarchal figure in he and his sister’s life: a musically creative, yet highly volatile man - all intriguing. Fascinating too are the characters and places his life along the streets of LA took him to. Flea’s time growing up in Melbourne, returning from the US in later days to Canberra and the South Coast of NSW, were refreshing: honourably describing his loving connection to the Australian landscape and its nature.
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Interesting are the 80’s bands Flea saw live in LA, and while visiting San Francisco with bestie Kiedis. I was surprised by some of the bands that blew him away, including a visit from London’s Echo and the Bunnymen. Admittedly, those that rocked his sock, occurred when he was tripping on acid. A life amongst a family household jiving with jazz, in time he became fascinated by punk, joining well-known LA group Fear on bass. Discovered are many new dimensions to his passions, where Flea was something of a wizard on trumpet during his high school years.
The drugs, well you may have read my review earlier in the year of Anthony Kiedis’ journey with heroin and cocaine. Flea too reveals all, but he also states that he was never addicted; rather just exploring the enhancements - while also highlighting the negatives associated with chasing the ‘high’, and the harsh downhill plummet from the high itself. He commits five pages to an instruction manual for ‘geezing’. As described, geezing is the shooting of a mix of cocaine and water - you probably know this well - and the step by step schedule is both debaucherously honest, and hilarious.
Though we are introduced to Flea’s girlfriends, there is less womanising on show in comparison to Mr Kiedis’ memoir. I really enjoyed Flea’s time amongst the bohemian, avant-garde side of LA, where, while living on a couch in a community gallery, he meets a Hollywood star who used to drop by for a chat. The shenanigans Flea and Kiedis used to get up to during their younger days is amusing, his connection to people in general is well-described. Flea gives back, he is a sensitive lad. That being said, there are moments that take you off guard - such is the yin & yang of being a wild child on the streets of LA - where Flea highlights the flaws to an otherwise socially respectful existence. Flea also introduces the characters and moments related to his acting on the 1984 cult-classic punk film, Suburbia, one I watched as a teen countless times myself. Divulged is a moment that Flea regrets to this day, something he did when the young cast viewed the film for the first time at a party. The guilt he harbours, and the turn of events that impacted one of his fellow caste members in later days, made me sad.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - and as far as being a fellow human being - I reckon Flea is a very caring and worthwhile individual.
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