"I brewed some Chase and Sanborn coffee in a percolator I had found in the garbage, and pulled out the last Viceroy from the pack. I ripped away the cellophane and threw the rest into the pile of empties by the bed. I had been collecting every pack I ever smoked, systematically. I had wanted to tack them all up on a canvas, side by side, just like on a store shelf, but as art, because each pack held unique, lived experience: the abandoned factories that still burned on; the nature preserves for the homeless; the insane geniuses hidden away in every alley fleeing every age but our own; ghetto soda fountains; underground art museums; old robber baron mansions inhabited by Indian ghosts; and over it all that magical music that dies in the air because it has nothing but the truth to offer. What was to become of the feelings generated by these scenes, where was the explanation? It was in the cigarette packs, how much clearer could it be? The cigarettes were the reflection, the consolation, the only voice that said "yes, I care." I surveyed the now-unruly pile of red and gold pockets. This experiment had gone past the point; I was now hooked; I was not living the movie, it was living me."
Urban Shocker is a comic picaresque for anyone who has ever dreamed of rock'n'roll. It follows "the best unknown band in the world" as they try to chase their dreams and demons in the inhospitable environs of 1980's Baltimore.
Along the way they face: militaristic Deadheads, starter marriages, cocaine Republicans, death metal scholars, attempts to score drugs in the projects, beatnik gigolos, ten-year graduate students, born-again Christian drug dealers, "urban goobers," biker and longshoremen bars, gentrification scares, alien channelers, hotels for transients, conspiracy theories involving everything from the 1927 Yankees to fluoridated water, a "soundtrack" ranging from Bloodrock to Bongwater, cameo appearances by Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page and Kurt Cobain, addiction, spirituality, needless risks, romantic betrayals, the hunger for transcendence, and a whole lot of poor people who sneer at all their postmodern allusions. It's the story of Felix and Lester, who escape privileged but troubled childhoods to hurtle headlong into the urban maw, and find at the bottom a rare kind of friendship.
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Part I In which Felix from exurbia meets Lester the inner-city bohemian
Part II In which Felix must choose between the city and his wife. Guess which one he chooses?
Part III In which Felix moves in with Lester and the boys make the first stab at forming a rock band
Part IV In which Felix's life gets turned into a nightmare of city girls, unkind buds and demonic possession
Part V In which Felix and Lester escape from hell, but find things even wierder than before
Part VI In which all the entanglements are resolved, but not in the way you might expect