The Beat Snakes were a musical group that were well known around my hometown when I was in high school. I would’ve said “popular” instead of “well known”, but in truth nobody really liked them very much. In fact, they were citywide pariahs and everyone hated their stinking guts. But the Beat Snakes didn’t care. They thought it was “cool” and “rebellious” to be hated.
Each member of the Beat Snakes had his own individual persona. The lead guitarist was known as “Roller Skate Head” because he wore roller skates on his head like earmuffs. Someone once asked him why he did that, and he answered: “Because I am Roller Skate Head.” His real name was Boyd Feldman, and whenever he had to sign his actual name on some kind of official document or whatever, he would write “Boyd ‘Roller Skate Head’ Feldman.” When he finally died, his headstone read “Here Lies Boyd ‘Roller Skate Head’ Feldman.” It was carved in the shape of a urinal.
The lead singer for the Beat Snakes was known as “Super Lobster.” He would move his hands as though they were lobster pincers and run around pretending to fly like Superman as he made a “whooshing” noise. When he got hit by a bus one day while pretending to fly around out in the middle of the interstate, Roller Skate Head called the local paper to give them the big story, expecting them to print an elaborate front page obituary. Instead, the editor of the paper reacted to the news by saying “So?” and printing a simple back-page filler item entitled “Bus Runs Over Dumbass.” Since nobody knew Super Lobster’s real name, his headstone simply said “Here Lies The Unknown Dumbass.” It wasn’t until several years later that his real identity was revealed to be ex-Doors-frontman Jim Morrison.
The bass player for the Beat Snakes called himself “Fred Flintstone.” People naturally assumed that he was named after the cartoon character, yet he insisted to his dying day that this was his real name. In fact, his dying words were: “I am Fred Flintstone.” Immediately after saying this, the helicopter that he was flying in got hit by a train. At his funeral, an older couple claiming to be his parents showed up and introduced themselves as Fred and Wilma Jetson. His headstone consists of a rotating marble bust of Gary Coleman with elk antlers.
Most peculiar of all, perhaps, was the Beat Snakes’ drummer, who went by the nickname of “Bea Arthur.” This was most likely due to the fact that he was a dead ringer for the “Golden Girls” star, even to the point of dressing like her, speaking in the exact same voice, and disappearing for long periods of time whenever the show was being taped in Hollywood. There was a persistent rumor, in fact, that he actually was Bea Arthur. There was another unsubstantiated rumor that he also defeated Muhammad Ali in a 1973 heavyweight title bout under the pseudonym of “Ken Norton.” When queried about this, the other members of the group were heard to reply, “Nah, she was with me that day. I mean, he.”
The fact that the Beat Snakes’ drummer and the popular television actress were never seen together at the same time added fuel to the rumors, although it has been pointed out that neither had ever been seen at the same time with several other well-known people including Frank Sinatra, Jr. and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. This latter point was further obfuscated when, during the final year of the band’s existence, they acquired a keyboard player who went by the name of “Oprah Winfrey” and appeared to be a large black woman, although he consistently denied this.
I was there when the Beat Snakes gave their final performance one hot summer night in the local high school gym. There was a fairly large crowd, consisting not of fans but of people who showed up merely to boo and throw things at them. When they hit the stage, they were pelted with vegetables and rotten eggs that were on sale in the lobby as they launched into their theme song, “Hey, Hey, We’re the Beat Snakes.” Roller Skate Head’s pants fell down during his big guitar solo, but he acted as though this were intentional and the matter is still up for debate. Fred Flintstone, apparently not feeling well that evening, vomited profusely throughout the entire song, prompting various audience members to get sick as well until the entire crowd was heaving their collective guts out.
The lynch mob and the arsonists both arrived during the final verse of the song, causing the band to flee for their lives as the gym went up in flames. Super Lobster was seen out in the street making defensive lobster-pincer motions with his hands and attempting to fly away, and was eventually rescued by his sister when she came driving by in her Volvo. Roller Skate Head tried to blend into the raging mob by donning dark glasses and a baseball cap, but failed to fool anyone since he’d forgotten that he was still wearing roller skates on his head. He finally had to leap onto the back of a passing Greyhound bus and ended up some time later in Cincinatti, Ohio.
Fred Flintstone and Oprah Winfrey managed to escape through a manhole, crawl through miles of rancid underground sewer pipes, and emerge on the other side of town covered in slime, where they were mistaken for swamp monsters and chased by angry torch-wielding villagers until they ducked into an Arby’s on Wilton Boulevard and were hired to work the night shift. Bea Arthur disappeared during the initial chaos and was never seen again, although many believe that he is hiding out somewhere in the great northwest forest region of the United States under the name of “Bigfoot.”
Now, whenever the band’s name is mentioned, little children are heard to ask, “Who were the Beat Snakes, Mommy?”, even when their parents are nowhere in sight. A documentary about them entitled “Who Were the Beat Snakes, Mommy?” was scheduled to be shown on VH1 a few years ago but eventually showed up on Nickelodeon at 4:00 in the morning, where it was seen only by me, some guy in Cincinatti, and, for some reason, the entire cast of “Desperate Housewives.” So whenever a little child comes up to me now and asks, “Who were the Beat Snakes, Mommy?”, I just smile, pat them on the head, and say, “I’m not your mommy, stupid. I just look like her.”