You can thank mall cop Paul Blart for this week’s basement song entry. That fictional creation, played so winningly by actor Kevin James in the film, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, has become another family favorite in the Malchus household. It’s one of those family films that has just enough edge to keep the grown up’s amused (at least the grown up’s in our house), but also has plenty of sight gags and heart to please the kids. After spending four months on our DVR, we bought the DVD last week.

One of the pivotal scenes in the film involves Paul, an oversized man with low blood sugar (a condition that prevents him from being able to join the police force and being relegated to mall security) holed up in a mall video arcade rocking out on Rock Band to the Kiss rocker, ”Detroit Rock City.” Paul gets so in the zone during the song that he fails to notice a band a thieves shut down the mall and take hostages. In case you haven’t figured it out, the movie is Die Hard in a mall played for laughs.

I am not a big Kiss fan. Although I have one of their many greatest hits collections, I did not begin to enjoy their music until they became a nostalgia act in the late 90’s. My earliest recollection of Kiss was in first grade. I was late for an after school Cub Scout meeting and I’d lost the address of the boy holding the meeting. I walked around on the snowy, cold streets of North Olmsted until I could remember the street number. When I finally joined my fellow scouts they weren’t talking about anything related to earning our Wolf or Bear badges; instead they were gabbing about Kiss. Their makeup! Their songs! The blood out of Gene Simmons mouth! The tongue out of Gene Simmons mouth! The fire out of Gene Simmons mouth! Gene Simmons, in general! Oh, and the other guys, Star Child, Ace and the cat dude, whatever. I was clueless. Never heard or heard of Kiss. At any moment I could have jumped in with something like, ”Hey, I know all words from A Chorus Line!” But I held back.

I never got into the Kiss hysteria, although I thought Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park was kind of cool. Aside from the times during college when my roommates and I would occasionally rock out to ”Lick It Up,” just to have some stupid fun, (stupid being the operative word- ”Lick It Up” is one big, dumb rock song) I don’t have any great memories involving the band and their music.

That is, until we met Paul Blart.

I have a new memory of Kiss. This one involves my son, Jacob, who latches on to movies and music like a leech. Jacob watches a lot of television and movies. I know; you’re saying to yourself, ”Oh, Scott, why? Too much television! You should know better. Think of the children!” Yeah, well, television was an early distraction for Jake when he began his breathing treatments back when he was an infant. The moving images and the crazy characters helped calm him while his little body vibrated and he had to inhale his medicine. At some point I believe he’ll start reading during his breathers, but he’s just not ready.

As he’s gotten older, Jake had become quite astute at the process of how television programs get made and how movies are produced. Through watching special features and whatever little interstitials networks like Nickelodeon, Disney or Cartoon Network slap on between commercials, Jacob has come to love animation. He talks of someday becoming a cartoonist; a ”drawer,” as Jake likes to say.

Whenever Jake and his sister, Sophie, fall I love with a movie, they immediately want the music featured in the film. Needless to say, after seeing the action packed hilarious sequence of Kevin James wailing on a toy guitar, it was only a matter of time before Jacob requested ”Detroit Rock City” for his hand me down iPod (which he did last month). Moreover, it was only a matter of time before that song became one of his most played selections. He loves the song so much that he has learned many of the lyrics (which horrifies me on many levels) and whenever I happen to be playing my own music, he’ll ask me in that kind, loving way, ”Uh, Daddy, can we play Detroit Rock City?’” Nice.

Lately he’s taken to picking up his old ukulele, the one bought in Hawaii when he was just two years old, and acting out the scene from the movie, as the song blares through the stereo speakers. The sight of this boy acting like a goofy rock star makes me smile and fills me with more joy than I can describe.

These past couple weeks Julie and I have once again begun fundraising for the annual CF Foundation Great Strides Walk. The task of asking friends and family to dip into their pockets is always humbling. Julie and I written letters that we hope evoke the love we have for our kids, yet show the reality of this damn disease. In addition, we’ve also edited together a short video to help in our fundraising. This whole process of reminding others that your child has a life threatening illness is stressful. It can drain your soul, raise a black cloud over your day, or place an elephant on your chest.

Thankfully there are our loved ones around to lift our spirits and help us stay positive. More importantly, there are two kids who laugh, sing, shout, dance and give you hugs that make the bad things easier. I need only look into our playroom and watch Jake lip syncing to the music of a bunch of Gene Simmons, Star Child, Ace and the cat dude. Because of my son I will always hear ”Detroit Rock City” and be moved to tears thinking of this little boy, my hero, my champion, fighting day in and day out against cystic fibrosis.  He inspires me and gives me hope. And when I need it most, he reminds me to rock on!

About the Author

Scott Malchus

Scott Malchus is a writer, filmmaker and die hard Cleveland Indians fan. His memoir, “Basement Songs,” is available in paperback and Kindle. He wrote and directed the film “King's Highway." His family is heavily involved in fund raising to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Scott Malchus is an employee of Cartoon Network and Turner Broadcasting. The opinions expressed on Popdose are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. Email: Follow him @MrMalchus

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