Hey, you know what we haven’t had in a while? One of those weird episodes where they cram as many cameos in as humanly possible. They tend to be pretty hit or miss. More miss than hit. But this one is pretty solid. Let’s talk about rock!
We start off with Homer stopping by Moe’s desperate for a beer. Unfortunately it turns out he doesn’t have any cash in his wallet, because his family members have been stealing from him. He has IOU notes from Marge, Bart, and Lisa, and no money for beer. And for some reason Moe doesn’t feel like floating Homer some money, or letting him have a tab, so he refuses to give Homer a beer. Which means Homer has to do something insane.
He heads out into the night, trying to find alternative ways to mess with his consciousness. He goes to a really high hill and huffs some thin air, he goes to a pet shop and starts licking a pile of toads, and even goes and donates a dangerous amount of blood. And all of those things combines has made him completely shit-faced. And once he’s so inebriated he heads back to Moe’s to gloat, only to find that the other guys have guilted Moe into giving Homer a free beer.
So Homer gets the beer, takes one sip, and is pushed over the edge into a complete black-out drunk. The barflies are a little concerned about that, but they’re also incredibly annoyed by Homer, so they decide to make him leave, and not let him drive. But while trying to get Homer’s keys, he decides to toss them in the sewer, and is forced to take a taxi him.
The next day Homer wakes up at 5 pm, having no memory of his previous night, and decides to sit down with the family and watch some TV. And it just so happens that they’re playing some weird reality show called Taxicab Confessionals, that’s just people being videotaped in taxis saying horrible shit. They see Disco Stu admit that he hates disco, and then see Homer. Uh oh. It starts out okay, with Homer talking about how much he likes his family, but things turn dark and Homer ends up drunkenly explaining that having a family drowned all his ambitions, made it so he couldn’t be a rock star, and that he hates his life.
So that’s uncomfortable. The family is pissed now that they know Homer resents them and that he’s suffering from some serious Sad Dad syndrome. So he’s a little concerned when the next day they pick him up from work, and start making creepy insinuations about how they’re going to “get rid” of him for a while. Obviously Homer assumes that that means they’re going to take him out to the woods and kill him, but he’s pleasantly surprised when they take him to a little summer camp for adults called the Rolling Stone Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp!
Homer and some random dudes from Springfield now get to spend a week in the woods, living in cabins, and learning how to be rock stars with some real musicians, all while being run by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. And it’s pretty great. After we see the guys spend their first night in the camp, and Homer takes some pills he found on the ground that keep him up all night, they get to the actual courses, and the cameos start pouring in.
First they go to Elvis Costello who gets them their instruments, and obviously everyone wants guitars. Next they go to Lenny Kravitz who teaches them how to dress audaciously and stuff their crotches. Then they actually learn how to play their guitars with Brian Setzer, and start off by learning how to play flaming guitars with their teeth. Mick Jagger then teaches then how to dance and strut around, being as sassy as possible. They then have a romantic time down on a beach with Tom Petty while he teaches them how to write songs. And finally Keith Richards teaches them how to flee a gig and get past the paparazzi and groupies.
And with all of this knowledge the group have a little recital like they’re children, and complete their course. Which is when the family show up, and Homer’s fun weekend is officially over. And he obviously isn’t going to pitch a fit like a petulant child. Oh wait, that’s exactly what he does. And after pitching a huge temper tantrum, Keith and Mick feel pity for him, and invite him over to a benefit concert that all the counselors were going to do before they left town. So Homer’s dream of being a rockstar continues for a few days longer!
Homer obviously makes a huge deal about this, gets front-row seats for the family and all his stupid buddies, and start pitching it like crazy. But when he goes back stage, assuming that he’s going to basically be headlining this concert, he’s shocked to find that the rockers actually just want him to be a roadie and test the mics. Homer’s crushed, but he still goes out to test the mics. But when the crowd start cheering, assuming he’s there to sing, he decides to start using his rock knowledge and makes up a little song, and starts entertaining the crowd.
But that success quickly irritates the rockers, who get jealous and decide they need to destroy Homer. Which means they pile onto a giant car shaped like Satan’s head, and rush the stage, trying to run Homer over. And after a brief little chase, they end up crashing into the audience, injuring themselves and the crowds. So after the show the rockers come to talk to Homer, apologize for trying to kill him, and even offer to let him join them at a new benefit concert. But now that Homer feels fulfilled in his life, he refuses, and lets them go play a competent show while getting to keep the Satanmobile for himself.
Generally I don’t like these cameo-filled episodes, because they typically don’t have a lot of plot and exist just to cram as many celebrities into them as possible. But I like this one. It may be because I really love classic rock, and basically all of the musicians who participate, but the whole thing just works for me. I like the idea of Homer being a Sad Dad, beaten down by his life. Because that’s a real thing that happens to a lot of people. They make sacrifices for their family, and kill all of their dreams for the better of the family. Which is sad as hell. But hey, at least we got to laugh at some rock stars being silly! And boy were they silly. Especially Keith and Mick, who really amused me as the owners and operators of this goofy little fantasy camp, all while being really hands on. Seeing Mick and Keith go over the food budget for their camp is really hilarious to me. It’s just a fun time.
Take Away: Maybe don’t sacrifice all of your dreams just to make the rest of your family happy. You should keep something that you enjoy in your life so you don’t become a sullen and resentful mess. As the Rolling Stones said, “lose your dreams, and you will lose your mind.”
“How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” was written by Mike Sculley and directed by Mike B Anderson, 2002.