IN THE NEWSPAPER the other day, there appeared an alarming story about veteran rockers Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young releasing a reunion album.
I say "alarming" because there was also a photo of the group accompanying the story.
And the photo was not, um, flattering.
It looked like it was taken at a reunion of old buffalo hunters.
Boy, do these guys look bad!
Long, gray hair, unruly mustaches and sideburns, big guts, clothes that look like they were fished out of a Goodwill bin -- if this is what happens to rock stars in their golden years, a fatal drug overdose doesn't sound so bad.
Anyway, looking at that picture, you were left with one overriding thought: I sure hope they sound better than they look.
Because they look like hell.
This, of course, violates the dictum that says you shouldn't still be playing rock and roll unless you look the part.
And these guys sure didn't look the part.
They looked like retired Hell's Angels.
Or the bowling team for Roy's Sunoco in the Thursday
Night B League.
And please don't tell me there are lots of rock bands that look old, like the Rolling Stones.
Let me tell you something: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young look like the Stones' grandfathers.
The Stones may be ancient, they may have more creases on their faces than an old road map, but they're pretty trim and fit for old guys.
Mick Jagger does two hours of dance exercise a day, knocks back all these herbal supplements and has the body fat of a broomstick.
Charlie Watts may exude all the emotion of a department store mannequin, but he appears to be in great shape. Same with Ron Wood.
As for rail-thin Keith Richards, well, that's what a former heroin habit will do for you.
Look, you can talk all you want about Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and the new Atkins no-carbs diet. But when you're shooting $200 of smack a day, you're really going to keep those pounds off.
In any event, after reading about CSNY's new album, I went to a music store in the mall to check it out.
Going to one of these places is always a treat, of course.
If you're a middle-aged guy and you want to feel really old, go hang out in a music store.
On this particular afternoon, one guy browsing next to me sported the New Millennium fashion trifecta: pierced eyebrows, tattoos, bleached white-blond hair.
On the other side of the aisle was a high school girl who was wearing -- this is the God's honest truth -- bright lime-green platform shoes and a leopard-skin skirt. Plus she had half her hair shaved off.
Oh, yeah, I fit right in.
Because let's face it, nothing says "I'm hip" like gray hair, an Eddie Bauer shirt and Dockers.
Anyway, the guy was checking out a Kid Rock CD, and the girl was looking at something by Nine Inch Nails.
And I'm holding a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young CD.
With a picture of four guys on the cover who look like they're in town for a Civil War re-enactment.
I'm surprised security didn't toss me out right there.
The great thing about music stores now, though, is that they actually let you listen to CDs before you buy them.
So I took the CD up front and the pale, waxy-faced kid behind the counter set me up at one of the listening stations.
And for the next 20 minutes or so, I hung out and listened to CSNY on the headphones.
All that was missing was a La-Z-Boy to crash on.
I'm telling you, if they served beer and pretzels in these places, no one would ever leave.
Still, after hearing much of the album, I decided not to plunk down 15 bucks for it.
A couple of the songs were OK. A couple even evoked the vintage CSNY sounds of 30 years ago.
But generally it sounded like a bunch of old guys trying to harmonize like they used to, and not quite pulling it off.
If I want to hear that, I'd listen to the Beach Boys.
Who should probably be called the Beach Geezers these days.
Although that's another story altogether.