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Sometimes you can take one of life's blind curves too fast. And that's how you wind up in situations like this.

If you'd told me two years ago that I'd be spending a Friday night at a Vanilla Ice concert waiting for Lenny Kravitz to walk in, I'd have laughed in your face. But I'm crying now. How did it come to this? The karmic wheel is a-turnin', and one of my past transgressions is dodging the flying knives.

Anyway, Kravitz never did come up from Miami Beach, rollin' in his five-oh. That's just as well. I mean, being in a room with one talentless, preening motherfucker was almost more than I could bear.

See, I've never wanted to attend, of my own volition, a performance by Rob Van Winkle. I did interview him via telephone a few years ago, and the experience didn't exactly fire my loins with the desire to bask in his aura again. The conversation was most memorable for the number of times he used the phrase "off the hook." Now, after last Friday night's show at the Culture Room, I understand what he was talking about. I kept wishing I were still on the phone with him, so I could have the pleasure of hanging up on his ass.

Who goes to see Vanilla Ice these days, you might ask? Well, besides boneheaded idiots like me, there were a few of those wallet-chained, baggy Tommy Jeans-and-'NSane Clown Posse T-shirt-wearing, teenage beta males with their not-ready-for-GED girlfriends. At least these folks made up the single-digit-IQ segment that clustered in front of the stage and seemed to have the most fun. For the rest of us, it was about as enjoyable as an Adam Sandler movie. With no popcorn.

Ice hit the stage about 1 a.m. with dry ice pumping and canned cheers blasting from the PA. Evidently the man hasn't tired of being laughed at quite yet. Sporting his typical BMX-friendly outfit and yellow baseball cap, Van Winkle and his crew of b-boy all-stars kicked into a frenzied rap-metal behemoth of a song. I know that performers like to get psyched up before a show, but Ice's energy level was akin to a rabid, feral cat with its tail in a wall socket. Later I decided that some sort of artificial stimulant must've been responsible. For real: How could anyone possibly get so excited about being Vanilla Ice, if not for drugs? Call me suspicious. It's always cool to jack off your mic stand, but make sure the veins in your neck don't appear to be ready to burst at any moment while you're at it. Looks bad for the kids.

With his original deckman, DJ Zero, on turntables, a madman drummer, a bassist, a guitarist, and a backup MC, Van Winkle was the weakest link on-stage. To assert that his rhymes operate at an eighth-grade level is an insult to Sister Mary Agnes' sixth-period English class. But the towering rapper seems to thrive on spitting out the confrontational rowdiness that's obviously constructed to resemble Limp Bizkit or the Bloodhound Gang. After the first metallic anthem, Ice laughed, "You thought there was gonna be some "Ice Ice Baby' shit up in here!"

But in fact a stinky whiff of the song wafted around all night: the band constantly teased the crowd with the controversial "Under Pressure" snippet that leads off the song. By the time the band got actually around to playing "Ice Ice Baby," it was done up boom-crunch style, fricasseed with basso profundo bellowing and power chords. And just to show how down he is, Van Winkle chastised the crowd for not blazing enough weed. ("Usually I'm smelling that shit by now! Light it up -- ain't no cops in here!")

Of course Ice had to underline his street cred further. "How many of you saw the VH1 special?" he asked. "I told the fuckin' truth on there -- I sent a message to the industry. I will never be a puppet for them again! I'm gonna do what I want from now on!"

Unfortunately what he wants to do is pollute the environment with more white-boy rap crap, as he announced the imminent release of a new album with cameos by Korn, Limp Bizkit, ICP, and the Wu-Tang Clan. To demonstrate that he's a family man, not a wife beater, he held his three-year-old daughter in his arms toward the end of the night.

Before embarking on a disastrous bastardization of "Walk on the Wild Side" (which Ice dumbed down to a lumpy nothing called "The Doot Doot Song") and an unbelievably non-spontaneous attempt at "freestyling" -- all delivered amid promises to "take us back to the old school" -- Ice offered some more sage advice.

"You've got to get out and support the local shit," he said. Sure will, Rob, while we're trying not to step in it

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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