Okay, I admit it, I watch Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels on A & E. Simmons’ band KISS was big big big in the ‘7o’s, but I wasn’t at that stage yet in my musical development and found “Twinkle twinkle little star” a far more appealing ditty than
(only 30 secs)
Besides, they looked like this:
I do vaguely remembering thinking the “cat one” was cute when I saw them on MTV back in the day. I also remember my mom getting very upset that some of the teenage boys in our neighborhood would dress up like KISS, replete with face paint of course, and jump out at her (and other adults, I’m sure). Sometimes, they would do this while she was driving, and she was understandably worried that she’d mow them down in the street. That would have sucked.
Anyway, back to this show, it’s not at all what I thought it would be because I had watched Gene Simmons’ Band Camp or whatever in England, and I really didn’t like him all that much. Let me just say that I find some of his choices would not be my own, nor would I be comfortable in his life; however, as I neither have to live nor sleep with him, I’m okay with that. He’s quite famously had sex with literally thousands of women, and though he has a lovely family, continues to do all sorts of these things. Again, though, not my business. But I really didn’t see the point in watching him; we didn’t have one thing in common, and I found his morals a bit . . . well, not to be all judgy (yeah, right), but I found them lacking, you know? And I found him arrogant. And I couldn’t figure out why he would be arrogant, on what it was based.
(the famous tongue)
(without makeup, remember when he was dating Cher and we first saw him without it?)
One of the things that keeps me watching the Family Jewels show, though, is how great his kids are and their family dynamic, in general. The Osbornes were clearly a close family, very loving and all that, but a bit dysfunctional and strange, too, with poor Ozzy doddering about unable to articulate a thought, if he had one, and the kids being a bit wild, and all the onus being on Sharon to hold it all together. It was stressful, sometimes, to watch their life, not so the Simmons (though of course, Gene isn’t married to Shannon, so they’re not really “the Simmons,” but it’s easier to write that way. Or it would have been if I hadn’t just explained it for four lines).
Anyway, they’ve got a son who’s about 18 named Nick and a younger daughter (about 14) named Sophie, and these kids are just great; they’re funny (well, they’re pretty sarcastic, and I guess some people don’t appreciate that in children), they’ve got amazing heads on their shoulders (Sophie is constantly reminding people who try to put her in sleezy or even slightly revealing clothing that she’s only 14, for instance, and a lot of 14 year olds . . . well, look around), and they’re clearly devoted to one another and to their parents. Nick said recently in an episode that he is the only of his friends, indeed the only teenager he’s ever heard of who actually wants to hang around with his parents. And he does want to do so, as does Sophie, and Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed clearly enjoy each other and the kids, as well. It’s really . . . nice.
Here’s a quick clip that will give you an idea about the show:
I’m not really writing to regale you with the wonders of the show, it’s not for everyone. I know that. But I am writing to regale you with a quick synopsis of the episode I watched last night in which Gene took Sophie to Camp Pendleton in San Diego to help her better understand the lives of military personnel for a paper she was working on for school (so sure, we’d all be better parents if we had that kind of money / clout). They get there, and they go through this obstacle course (funny), then Gene decides to take her to the Veterans Hospital. There, they go around and meet and shake hands with and offer support to scores of vets from the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraqi Conflicts (these are the ones I remember seeing, there may have been others). Gene got choked up talking to one old guy, and the vet told him that just his choking up like that was meaningful, that it was thanks.
And that’s what Gene and Sophie did . . . they walked around that VA hospital, saying thank you and letting those disabled and injured vets know that what they did, the sacrifice they made, their decision to do for us what we cannot or will not do, to pay the price that must be paid for our freedom (and freedom is not free) . . . letting them know that it matters. That THEY matter. And that the Simmons were grateful. It brought tears to my eyes, it really did. I was so touched by this unselfish act of a very wealthy man, a man who could have dashed off a check to ease his conscious (as he clearly has one), to appease his patriotism. But he didn’t do that; he went in person. And he shook hands, listened to stories, gave back. And yes, the skeptics among us may point out that he did it on his television show, and he did, but it’s a television show, they could have done anything, gone anywhere; they chose to do that.
And he didn’t just stop there, he called up his musician buds, got them together with some military musicians to arrange portions of the four songs of our military branches into one rockin’ number, and then they went and performed it. Watching this left me feeling proud and patriotic (and a little surprised that I actually knew many words to each of the four songs):
Gene Simmons and I have some things in common, after all: we’re both patriots and proud Americans. Oh, and neither of us can sing.