Unspeakable Acts or: AT&T Center, San Antonio, August 15th, 2012

Preamble: Life and Times of a Young Man in a New Town

“It says buy one, get one half off.”
“That’s for the 7.5 bottle, not the whole liter.”
“That’s bullshit!  Fuck this!”
“Good!  Don’t bother coming back!”

This was the entire conversation I witnessed between a liquor proprietor and one of my lifelong friends, James Swain.  It happened at about 2 in the afternoon over a mistaken Jagermeister advertisement.  You know the day is off to a good start when you’re getting kicked out of a liquor store while most people are still on lunch break.

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What could possibly go wrong?

So I, along with the motley cast consisting of dear friends Daniel Mesich, Russell Cochrane, Emily Broker (now Emily Cochrane) exited the store, doubling over with laughter.  You’ve already met James.

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Hi, James!

We hopped back in Emily’s X-Terra and went three blocks down South Congress Blvd to the next available liquor store, opting to leave James in the car this time.  We’d already been drinking for a few hours by then.

I had been living in Austin for two years at this point, with three broken leases already under my belt to show for my time.  The last one coming just two weeks prior, when we left our spot in The Grove Apartments to move in with a whole new transplant of South Carolina refugees, seeking an escape from the endless cycle of alcohol abuse, terminal boredom and opioid epidemic prevalent in the Myrtle Beach area at the time.

We rented out a 6-bedroom house in University Hills, a low-rent neighborhood in Northeast Austin, not knowing that we had inadvertently started a misfit community that would hold together in one form or another for the next four and a half years.

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The House of 1,000 Keg Parties

It was from this house that Russ and Emily picked us (Dan and myself) up on this day that was destined to go down as one of the most reckless and irresponsible in all of my reckless and irresponsible young life.  We headed to South Austin to retrieve Swainy.

James “Swainy” Swain and I were still working together in the then Mom-and-Pop institution that was Salvation Pizza on 34th Street, presently a growing franchise and successful business, i.e.: a bourgeois mockery of what it once was – a sweaty mess of hip townies and hardly-functioning alcoholics drinking free beer and making the errant pizza from time to time.

We had known for a couple of months beforehand that Iron Maiden would be coming through Texas on their Maiden England Tour, with a stop in San Antonio, a mere 90-minute drive away.  Swainy’s mind was made up instantly, and he was pressing me to go with him.  But having just moved for my fourth time in two years, I couldn’t give a definite answer.

Until he offered to pay for half of my ticket.  How could I say no to that?

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It’s Wednesday!  Time to drink myself to death!

So we arrived at Swainy’s garage apartment around 11:30 and started our journey off with some drinks and excited shit-talk on the porch.  James, a lifelong Maiden fan, had yet to be in the right place and time to catch them live on stage, and he was over the moon with what the day had in store for him.

I had seen Iron Maiden once before when I was 18 – at Coors Amphitheater in Denver, Colorado – back in 2005.  But I didn’t consider myself a fan at the time.  I knew a few of their tunes, but something about the music just didn’t click with me.

However, after 7 intervening years of hanging out and living with James Swain, I had become very much familiar with the music, the members, the imagery and career of Iron Maiden.  So much so that even if I still didn’t really enjoy the music (which I did), I had already invested enough time and experience with it that it had nostalgic appeal for me by the time I was about to turn 26.

Once the clock started to near 2 P.M., we decided the time was right to get moving, after all, we needed to stop for more beer and liquor on the way down, and the hotel check-in was at 4.  Doors opened at 6:30, which gave us a couple of hours to “pre-game”, if you don’t count the beer, tequila and Jager we drank on the way as “pre-gaming”.  We didn’t.  That was road soda.

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And we’re off…

The mid-summer Texas afternoon was bright and hot, with a smattering of small clouds in the sky, as we cruised and bounced down Interstate 35.  The rolling hills stretching off into the far horizon, light brown and dusty as the land continued to recover from the previous years’ drought.  An aura of excitement and positivity buzzed through the five of us as we basked in the potential of the night ahead and the good spirit of getting the rare day off from work with a handful of best friends.

We pulled into the parking lot of the Travel Lodge off of East Commerce St, checked into our room and proceeded to debauch ourselves further with even more drink and smoke.

The Night in Question or: How to Win an Away Game

My mind was hazy.  Somebody said something about it being 6:00.  We started walking.

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A picture of Hell

It was a short hike down the side of East Houston Street, past Willow Springs Golf Course, to our destination – The AT&T Center, maybe 15 or 20 minutes away on foot.  But after helping to polish off three bottles of hard liquor, a couple cases of beer and a pack of cigarettes, in the August heat and humidity of South Texas, I was taking part in the Bataan Death March.  We’re talking instant swamp ass, and arriving at the venue, only to spend the next 20 minutes standing in line on a shade-less parking lot.  My mind ached, and I lost a little bit of time.

Until…
“Holy shit!  It’s Wes!”

I emerged from my brief blackout as I recognized my good friend and Salvation co-worker John Wesley Coleman standing not far away, amid the teeming mass of dark hair, black T shirts and tan skin.  I had forgotten that he said he was going to be there, so I stumbled over and gave him a big, stinky hug.  We were almost inside.

I could feel the promise of air-conditioning teasing as we neared the entrance.  I did my best “sober person impression” as security scanned my ticket, scanned me with a metal detector and turned me loose inside.  The elation at the wait being over, coupled with the 30 degree drop in temperature renewed me instantly.  It was time for more beer.

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Just take my $8, hand it over, and no one gets hurt.

And more beer was had.

Now I will say that there is a part of me that wishes that I had retained enough to sobriety to remember the performance in detail, because it was fantastic, as Iron Maiden concerts are wont to be.  In fact, there is a self-shot video of this exact concert in it’s entirety on YouTube, posted by one Ruben Vazquez, and watching the playback, I found myself astounded by the quality of the performance put forth by a bunch of guys in their early-to-mid-50’s at the time.

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#killingit

But it was these particular set of choices which led to the frame of mind that I feel helped give birth to something more than just going to a place, watching a show, going home and going to sleep, waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to continue my prole existence the following day.  Instead, the horrible decisions, blatant disregard for established laws, common decency and socially acceptable behavior – and therefore consequent suffering (although we got away with everything) – created a bigger entity: a story that I would keep for the rest of my life.

 

So what follows will be the events as I remember them in a series that spelled the name of the night: Trouble.  Chronology be damned.

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Fuck you, Time!

We’re standing in our seats, up in the nosebleeds.  I look down the bleachers and see open space at the bottom, so I figure, why not?  By the time I get down there, security is already kicking Swainy out of the General Admission section for hopping over the knee wall separating the GA from the stadium seats surrounding the main floor area.  He has a big, goofy grin on his face and a wondrous, yet vacant, expression in his eyes.

“Um, those are supposed to be our seats.”
“Huh?  What?”
I had been made.
I pretended to look confused and handed my ticket to the usher who had helped these people find their rightful seats.  She pointed up, way up, to the section of the bleachers where I was supposed to be.

Somehow I find myself between two very rotund Mexican men.  We’re rocking out hard to “The Prisoner” (one of my favorite Iron Maiden songs, and one they hadn’t played live on tour since 1988).  I have no idea where I am or how I got there.  I’m in somebody else’s seat, but these dudes don’t give a damn.  For a brief moment, we were best friends.  Such is the power of Maiden.  We’re three songs deep into the set list at this point.

“Sir!  You’re in the wrong seat!”
Fuck.
Made again.
It’s the same usher from before, with another couple of hapless snowflakes who apparently couldn’t find their way back from the merch stand without professional assistance.  This time she follows me back to nosebleeds, just to make sure.

I’m back in my section with our crew, but Swainy is standing in the wrong row, and people are trying to get by him.  I think he’s standing in their seats.  We try to get his attention, but it will not be averted from the spectacle onstage.  He’s been waiting since childhood for this night.  Nothing will detract from his total immersion in this experience.  This is his birthright, dammit!!  Dan, Russ and I are forced to manhandle him and physically drag him across and down to his seat.  I look over his shoulder and notice the Texas State Trooper standing in the far back row, shaking his head in disapproval.

“Sir.  Come with me.”
She’s brought backup with her this time.
I follow her up the stairs, out into the concessions area.  She flags down a group of security, and they ask for my ticket.  I hand it over.  They briefly inspect it and hand it back, and then turn their backs on me to discuss my fate when I hear “Churchill’s Speech” start inside.  That means the encore is about to begin.  And “Churchill’s Speech” means they’re about to play “Aces High”.
“Fuck this.”, I say to myself.
I walk away and easily disappear into the thousands-strong mass inside the arena.

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Peace, ya punk bitches…

I’m standing outside in the parking lot.  The show is over.  I’m drunk.  I’m hungry.  I don’t know where my friends are, and I can’t figure out which way to walk to get out of the parking lot.  I wave to an employee to ask, “Hey, how do I get to Houston Street?”.  I don’t notice until too late that it’s the same two ushers from before.  They give me a very condescending look.  One of them – the “backup lady” – says, “You’re very lucky.”.  I can’t hold back my laughter, and I walk away.

My head is spinning as I try to wrap my head around how to walk out of this maze.  I can see the nearest thoroughfare (which must be Houston?), but the idea of working my way through the Frogger-like traffic scenario full of cars and people is baffling in my state.

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Alright, dude.. You got this…

I’m looking for signs of my friends, but it’s hopeless.  The chaos of motion is just as confounding up close as it is far away.

I lock onto a pair of younger dudes, wearing longhair wigs and howling outside the front entrance.  With everybody else just shuffling through to get back to their cars, straight back into automaton mode and everyday life, these kids were still reveling in amazement at what they just witnessed.  These guys were clearly on a more similar wavelength to my own, so I walked over and struck up a conversation, breaking the ice with something along the lines of:  “HOW ABOUT THAT SHIT?!”.  If I couldn’t find the friends I came with, why not make some new ones?

They were exchange students – from Spain and Argentina respectively – whose names I couldn’t remember if I tried. And they.. were… shitfaced.  Again, my kind of people.

I asked them how they got there.

“We drove here, man! WOOOOOHOOOO!!!”
“Awesome! Do you think you could give me a ride to my hotel?  It’s right around the corner!”
“Sure, man!  LET’S GOOOO!!  OOWWWWWW!!!”

We walk over to their car, a grey or white-colored sedan not too far away.

“Hey man!  Do you want to drive?”, the Spaniard asked.

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Patron Saint of August 15th, 2012

I felt an impish grin creep across my face as the Spirit of Pure Mischief inhabited my entire being…

“Hehehehe… Yep!”

In an inexplicable exhibition of homing pigeon-like directional awareness, I piloted a motor vehicle, belonging to people I had just met, out of a labyrinthine parking network, onto streets I had never been on before this night, back to our hotel. For whatever reason, I couldn’t walk out of there, but I drove like an arrow, straight to my targeted destination, pulling up outside of our room just as Russell and Emily were coming out the door, their faces a mix a relief, cheer, and disbelief, as they recognized the person driving.

“HOW THE FUCK DID YOU GET A CAR?!”

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Disclaimer: In no way does Jackie Chan support my actions.

A vague recollection of piling back into the X-Terra follows.  A few bumps, twists and turns later, I find myself standing on a street corner with my friends in downtown San Antonio.  We’re looking for the Riverwalk, hoping to find a late night restaurant.  We don’t know the area, so we enlist the help of local homeless man to help, offering him dinner in return for his services.  It’s about 1 in the morning.

He leads us straight to the Riverwalk, which was (no shit) right across the street from us,  and we continue our quest.  As luck would have it, a few blocks away was an open Mexican restaurant which shall remain nameless, as the staff were the only innocent characters in this comedy.  They received us cordially and with good humor, even as we were a horde comprised of five drunk Austinites, two equally obliterated foreign exchange students and one well-meaning-albeit-crusty hobo, showing up an hour before close.

Normally, our shared sense of service industry camaraderie would have prohibited such wanton degradation of fellow service members in such a naked display of disregard.  But the hostess, servers and even a manager insisted on having our business.  Beside that, we were fucking starving.  And pie-eyed drunk.  Turn away at your own risk.

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You’re certain there’s no bother?

We caught up with our personal accounts of what happened at the concert over a late dinner and more drinks – which coincidentally turned out to be our smelly new friend’s dinner: two large mugs of cheap draught beer – as my own “ESL hostages” blacked out and fell asleep at the table.  The staff made it plain as they dropped off the check that they were closing, and that we had to pack up and move out.

At the sight of the bill, our vagabond steward immediately got up, mentioned something about having a bus to catch (at 2:00 in the morning) and shuffled away.  Dan and I burst out laughing.  Swainy lovingly called out, “Wait!  Don’t go!”  But he was gone, back out into the unknown, his charge fulfilled and compensated.

Another blur of laying down in the hatchback of a Nissan X-Terra follows.  Stop lights.  Bumps.  Turns.  Confusion.

I wake up in the hotel room shortly before the rest.  I go to the lobby and snag a couple of bagels and some coffee from the free continental breakfast.  Terrible stuff.  I come back to find everybody still asleep, so I go ahead and shut my eyes again.

Russ is yelling at me now.  It’s time to go, my Spanish and Argentinian captives already having made good their escape.  And so began our torturous journey back to Austin, with split skulls and exhausted windpipes from a night full of criminal negligence and holy terror.  Yet we returned with said cracked heads held high, having – in our own minds – represented Austin righteously and earnestly in the realms of partying and old-school heavy metal.  In our shared heart and mind, we were coming back with the championship belt.  But still, we made tracks forthwith.  I had to be at work at 4.

Epilogue: The Hangover and Lesson Learned

In a learning experience that I would integrate into my case building “How to Adult” dossier, I made sure to dictate a new Cardinal Rule: always take the day after a big show off from work.

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Everybody gets at least one.

I dragged my hardly-animated half-cadaver through the front door of Salvation Pizza ten minutes late, with that same flippant grin I had on when I commandeered the Latins’ car, albeit this time with much more psychic lamentation and torment behind it.  I started the work night with my head down, taking lonely solace in my stories from the previous night.  Wes and James had the subsequent experience and wisdom necessary to know the “Take the Day After” rule that I was in the painful process of learning.

Elizabeth Mahoney, then co-owner of the restaurant, overheard me recounting my fresh recollection of people “trying to kick me out of the show” to whomever had the displeasure of working beside me that night, to which she countered in her signature, pedantic, Nor-Easter locution, “How the fuck do you get kicked out of an Iron Maiden concert?”.

My fiendish smirk returned.

“Let me tell you how it all went down…”

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House of Blues: North Myrtle Beach, February 26th, 2000

Preamble: The Life and Times of a Stoned Juvenile

As I begin to write this for a second or third time, I realize that it is fast approaching the 18th anniversary of this unassumingly life-altering event from my cherished personal antiquity.  That is to say, if somebody who might have been attending this same concert all those years ago, and consequently become pregnant or knocked somebody up afterward in a bout of pre-9/11 guilt-free fun, the resulting progeny could now be old enough to prove a revolting pain in the ass.

As it was, I was 13 years old.  Hormonal frustration, vows of undying loyalty to counterculture and a never-ending search for marijuana ruled much of my time – not unlike many teenagers from my particular socio-economic bracket, both then and now.  But being 13 for me also meant that I had already been in a band for two years.  I took it seriously.  I was getting paid for playing music:  8:00-12:00 every Friday night at Cecil’s Bar and Grill (R.I.P.) in Garden City, South Carolina.  Average pay was $60.  Not bad for an 8th grader; enough for weed and fast food money, anyway.

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My teen years, in a nutshell…

When we pulled up to Cecil’s that Saturday morning to pick up our gear from the last night’s show, the air was filled with the cool humidity that is particular of The Grand Strand at that time of year.  Donning my trusty camouflage jacket that didn’t leave my back from 1999 to 2001, we set to work tearing down the equipment.  That’s when I got my first listen of System of a Down’s eponymous first record.  

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Album cover for System of a Down’s 1998 self-titled first record. One of the few from that era that has aged well.



Being a long-time fan of more traditional heavy metal bands, I wasn’t expecting anything so spastic and unconventional.  I had never heard anything like it.  I wasn’t informed on the new wave of hardcore that was happening at the time, so the idea of taking heavy metal (Metallica and Pantera in my mind) and melding it with the speed, bounce and irreverence of punk rock (Pennywise and Misfits as I understood it at the time) had never occured to me.  But this was the first time I was exposed to something approaching that dynamic.  I couldn’t even decide if I liked it.

And just to clarify: no, Sick of it All fans, I’m not calling System of a Down hardcore.  They got lumped into the Nu Metal construct, along with many of their contemporaries – which I understand how, but strongly disagree with why.  In my opinion they beat the tits off of the typical Nu Metal syndicates like Korn, Coal Chamber or whatever other dreck was being shilled out in the late 90s-early 2000s.  At least with that first record.  So Madball they were not, but they were more ferocious and unorthodox than most concomitants of the trope that they had been relegated to.

This was the band we had been invited to see that night.  Our father’s cousin Eric (Rest in Peace) was driving one of the tractor trailers for the Sno Core Tour: an alternative/heavy rock festival geared toward winter sports fans.  This year’s lineup consisted of headliners System of a Down, direct support by way of Incubus (who I would later refer to as College Metal), agents provocateur/musical forbears Mr.Bungle and Puerto Rican rap metal outfit Puya.  And thanks to having “a guy on the inside”, we had the hook up on free tickets and backstage passes. Thanks, Eric.

The Night in Question

 

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Abandon all hope, etc…

This wasn’t my first time walking into the House of Blues, which was (and still is) the primary music venue for national touring bands in the area.  It wasn’t even my first metal concert.  I had been here a few months prior to see Godsmack, but don’t tell anyone; it would destroy my indie cred.  Tonight was different, though.  This was the first time I remember tapping into the electric current of a crowd mentality full of shared excitement for the show they were about to see.  It seemed like the whole place was on edge, ready for any excuse to start moving.  There was a vendor handing out free Trojan condoms, and for whatever reason, even at my tender age, I appreciated the implication of social responsibility suggested in such a display.

Puya opened the show to an enthusiastic reception that would not prove to be a hallmark of future concerts.  More often than not (spoiler alert) people treat opening bands as little more than an annoyance – something that has to be endured or ignored

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Pictured: the average concertgoer during the first three bands

until the crowd can see the band they are most familiar with just to say they saw them, returning afterward to their fickle cubicle existences not having given something new a fair shake or, perish the thought, learned anything.  And they deserved a hearty reception.  Being on tour is hard work, and anybody who can do it deserves some attention for their efforts.  Even if they suck.  Not to say that Puya wasn’t a good band (they weren’t), but the excitement that night was palpable enough to convince me that they were. So much so that after I got my hands on a demo of their single, “Sal Pa Fuera”, with one version in Spanish and another in English (very progressive for the time, I assure you), I bumped it in my beat up Discman

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Farewell, old friend.  May flights of angels send thee to thy rest.

(the one that lived in the right pocket of my camo jacket) until it got scratched beyond playability.  Besides, they had all the trademarks of what I considered to be a good metal band at the time – skate shoes: check, cutoff khaki shorts: check, five string bass: check.  The fact that I adhered to this band as opposed to the band who took the stage after them stands as a testament to my adolescent susceptibility.

Cousin Eric had already taken a little bit of time to warn us about Mr. Bungle.  Heavy metal mixed with Barbara Streisand, I believe were his words, with plenty of on-stage shit-talking.  He regaled us with the story of the night they played in New York City.  Apparently, the venue was kitty-corner from a prominent neighborhood gay club, and the lead singer (who somebody mentioned was the singer from Faith No More, whatever that meant) suggested to the gathered mass of macho heavy metal dudes, that they all “go across the street and suck some dick”.  According to the story, they were not amused.

Their set this night in South Carolina would go much the same.

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Just your average band from Eureka, California

They opened with a mellow, sing-songy, Beach Boys kind of tune: “Sweet Charity”, I would later learn, and the room bristled.  There were a couple of boos, some cheers, but the prevailing attitude in the room was, “What??”.  They also looked bizarre.  As I would later recall to friends the next day at school – “two of them were dressed like cowboys, there was a baby with a giant bonnet and sunglasses on drums, a musketeer on guitar and I think a chef and an Indian chief in the back on keyboards.” Although this was far from the truth, the imagination played perfectly into my newly found appreciation for psychedelic, cartoonish weirdness.  And the confusion lingered as the last notes of the first song faded out and was smash cut into a song that was desperately fast and heavy.  The room started moving, and I was swept up and thrown into the maelstrom of a circle pit with people twice my size.

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Pictured: A postcard from the past

But the nature of their music was too spontaneous.  It launched, jerked and leered at odd intervals.  Thrash metal beats gave way to avant-garde jazz interludes, funk grooves and R&B shakedowns.  The unpredictability of the music was too much for the people in the mosh pit to keep up with.  One song would be tearing furiously, only to be followed by a doo-wop Summer ballad and herky-jerky Rockabilly.  The confusion was starting to show on the faces in the crowd.  And that’s when they laid on with the verbal abuse.

A few gems that remain in my memory bank include: “I saw your mom drop you off before the show.  Well, guess what?!  She’s not gonna pick you up! Because I fucked her in the ass and tore her in half with my dick!”
“Alright! We’re gonna play the national anthem of South Carolina!  What?! You don’t know the fucking national fucking anthem of fucking South Carolina?!!  Well, here you go!  One, two, three..  YEEEE HAAAAAAA!!”
And one that my father still likes to quote to this day: “What’s the matter?  Didn’t your mommy teach you how to mosh?”

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“You were saying?”

In later years I would meet people who were at this show, were already fans of Mr. Bungle and found all of this hilarious.  But they were a hapless minority in an increasingly agitated horde of proud Southerners.  I can still recall the expressions of impotent rage on some of the people in the audience.  They started to boo.  They called out the name of the band next up on the bill, “Incubus! Incubus! Incubus!”, perhaps in an attempt to get Mr. Bungle’s set time cut short, clearly not aware that both Incubus and System of a Down were huge fans.

The people were playing right into the artists’ hands.  In an expression of the audience becoming the entertainment and the performers becoming the entertained (something I was far too young to understand at the time), the players onstage enjoyed themselves immensely, working the congregation into a frothing furor, in a situation where they were absolutely powerless to end it.

The band played on, and through that simple act, they continued to rile and revile the people in the room to a baffling and unexpected position: an emotional response.

In doing so, they stole the night.  Yes, the vast majority of the witnesses applauded loudly when they left the stage, and some were more than happy to try and beat up the lead singer when he jumped into the teeming masses at the end of their set, losing a shoe in the process.  Even caught up in the herd mentality as I was at the time, I had to admit that that took an impressive amount of balls.  I would later find out that he (the singer, Mike Patton) handed his other shoe to my then-eleven-year-old brother, who had been watching the show from backstage.  My father made him throw it away.  Something I would grow to resent in later years when I rediscovered Mr. Bungle, actually listened to their music, and placed them as one of my favorite bands of all time.

But eventually their set was indeed over.  Incubus took the stage, and I was honestly nonplussed.  After something so aggressively strange and befuddling as what I had just witnessed, this was just too… tame.  There wasn’t enough edge, enough balls.  They pretty much had the rug pulled out from under them.  Sure, enough people in the house that night were relieved to have something more predictable and easy to digest in front of them, but it was almost as though the air had been sucked out of the room and their sounds didn’t carry as much weight.  I decided to wander around and use my backstage pass to explore.

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Catch you humps later…

It was my first glimpse of a professional, national touring package: road cases, clothing, backstage tech and backup instrument set ups: all bedecked with stickers from bands and sponsors that I was seeing for the first time: Snot, Lords of Acid, Skinny Puppy, Wumpscut, etc…  There was an undeniable allure.  Not to mention the Smut Peddlers

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That would be the one.

sticker with the hentai girl with big breasts fingering herself slapped onto  System’s wardrobe was enough to give my budding sexual hormones a jolt.  “Man”, I thought, “those guys must get laid all the time.”.

I ran into my older brother while I was back there, and we decided to go back out front and watch the final act perform.  So as Incubus got ready to leave the stage, we left backstage and got set up in the front row by the barricade.

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Pictured: young and wayward Armenian American men

System of a Down were electric that night.  I had never seen a band take to the stage running before.  They jumped and bounced with seemingly endless energy.  And the room – replete with faux antiquity, a well-executed mimicry of New Orleans’ swagger and pomp – trembled with the volume and energy of hundreds of people jumping, running, dancing and slamming into each other with a wild abandon that I had never seen before or since.  Every metal concert I’ve been to after this just didn’t seem to be as loud, as involved or alive.  It might have been that it was my first time coming to a show like this and feeling like I was starting to “get it”. Much like that first line of cocaine, initial acid trip, or fumbling entrance into the realm of human sexuality – you only get one first time.

Epilogue

In a way, I was looking at  the next 15 years of my life.  The piercings, tattoos, chains, band t-shirts, baggy clothes, the sticker of the girl masturbating on System of a Down’s road case – all these things that would become commonplace in my life as I pursued a career in music from my teen years, though my twenties and up to the present day, more or less – all emblems and aesthetic signifiers of the rough alternative lifestyle I sought to ingratiate myself to, identify with and eventually represent.  And in that way, I now recognize this night as a last hurrah of sorts for the innocence of my childhood.  A flashbulb moment permanently scored into my social and emotional psyche where I can still look back and remember being the impressionable, clueless teenager who had not yet seen enough of the world outside to have engaged and been corrupted by it.  Not that I hadn’t been seeking out ways to snuff out what purity there was left for some time up this point: as I have previously mentioned, the smell of a dive bar was already familiar to me, and marijuana was my favorite thing on Earth, but what I haven’t related is that I had already experimented with other hallucinogens by this time and had been obsessed with shedding my virginity since the seventh grade, due in no small part to pressure from an older brother who had “popped his cherry” at the age of 13.  But this night, by myself, off the leash and left to my own devices in a crowd full of frenzied adults, none of that mattered as I threw myself into having the time of my life. I ran, jumped, moshed, crowd surfed, totally oblivious to the fact that I was only beginning to take my introductory baby steps onto the bend in the road that would become a future I couldn’t even foresee, full of real pitfalls that swallow up the rest of a person’s youthful virtue – heartbreak, compromise of beliefs, senseless violence, emotional manipulation and trauma – the kinds of things that pack your malleable human clay into the peak physical form you inhabit after years of misadventures that might leave you square-jawed and grey-eyed at the end of the present day, with a couple of aching joints and a handful of dead friends to show for your trouble – the events that served as lessons to recognize and foster that same incorruptibility in the younger generations you see spring up after the curtain closes on your own misguided youth.

The rest of the night was more or less a blur.  I remember S.O.A.D.’s drummer, John Dolmayan (in a Spiderman costume?) jumping into the audience and crowd surfing at the end of their set.  We stopped at a Scotchman convenience store on the way home for bottled water.  I had never been so thirsty.  There’s a vague recollection of climbing the stairs to my bedroom, where I slept the kind of crypt-like slumber that only comes from having spent the very last ounce of energy from the relatively unpolluted body of a child.

The next day, perhaps to serve as another harbinger to dictate how the rest of my life was going to feel, I woke up sore all over my body.  But also with a smile on my face.  I was beat up, but happy.  Because I had woken up with a story.

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The Bitch is Back

Well then.

It would seem that my decision to distance myself from social media, and therefore sequester myself from the incessant rantings, ravings, belittling and bitching found there have left me with very little to complain about myself.

I also haven’t been going to any shows lately.
Elevating myself and my living standards beyond “the roommate situation”, which means finding a better paying job in order to keep up with the California Joneses who have invaded the Austin area in droves (leading to a spike in property prices) has left me with little extra time or expendable income to put toward going out.

My intake of drugs and alcohol has recently taken a nosedive as well.
That funky little Muse of the Hangover hasn’t come to visit me in quite some time. That depressive invisible fairy who used to drop in and convince me that I have something to say but am fresh out of fucks to care how people feel about what gets said? Neither hide nor hair of her in many moons.

So I’ve been directing my time and energy into other pursuits.
A little over a year ago, I started training in Judo – a martial art my family practiced when I was a child – and within the past year, I made up my mind to enroll in Austin Community College and pursue higher education.
Midlife Crisis? Pssshh… Yeah right!

Or so I like to tell myself.

Scared-Face
gulp…

So yesterday I took part in my first Judo tournament in over 20 years, and subsequently broke a rib.  Hahaha!  Oof…

Luckily for me, I have three more days off from work, Tramadol and a valid excuse not to exert myself for a while.

In short.. I’m back, baby.

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How you been, girl??

I don’t want you to think that I ever forgot about my literary baby here.  But with little-to-no recent musical venturing to draw from, I came to realize that a reappraisal of the situation was in order.
And it was the retelling of a story from my early teenage years that gave me the key to this judgment.

I have made the decision to reach back through my foggy days gone by and endeavor to recount the tales of The Concerts of Christmas Past.  Stories that I’ve told so many times that honestly, I’ve gotten tired of conveying the details over the years.

They will contain elements which may be considered embarrassing, hilarious, somewhat antiquated and, more often than not, illegal.

So come along with me as I give you the straight dope from the horse’s mouth – at least as well as can remember, and in the process, hopefully put these old tales into a comfy bed of typeface once and for all.

I’m Quitting the Cult

I woke up this morning feeling fine.

I got out of bed, had some juice and some coffee, saw my girlfriend off to work, fed my dogs and took them for a walk, but for some reason I found myself in an unshakable mental funk.  I tried practicing walking meditation.  I tried calming my breath.  I tried smiling.  But my patience was becoming non-existent; my energy was failing at 9:30 in the morning, and the cold winds of depression were starting to seep under my doors of perception.

What happened?  How could a morning which started with smiles, kisses, sunshine and fair weather turn into what I could only see as the beginning of a despondency of indeterminate length?

depression
No, really… It’s nothing.

By the end of my walk, I had my answer.

The seemingly endless echo chamber of opinions that is social media had subconsciously changed my perspective on the world around me:  Nothing was cool.  Nobody was happy.  No longer was there any hope for a bright future for me or anybody else.  Divisiveness and bickering now ruled.  The huddled masses were now left to our own devices, only to fight with each other over who was right about subjects that very few people truly understand.  And while I’m stoked that everybody found their political, environmental and social science degrees, the proliferation of biased rhetoric had become an overwhelming bummer.

In short, I had scrolled through my Facebook news feed whilst shitting.

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And not a Squatty Potty in sight… seriously, how do I live?!

Ever since the election, and even more so since the inauguration of Donald Trump, my news feed has been nothing if not bombarded by treatises on how fucked we all are now.

And while I hold my own opinions on the situation, I’ve grown very tired of the futility of voicing them via electronic public forum.  I don’t even like seeing posts that I agree with anymore, because in my mind, it’s all put in front of me to keep me logged in, hour after hour.  In the meantime, I have pants that haven’t been through the wash since New Year’s, and all it feels like is defeat.

Kind of like the feeling you get when trade this…
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for this…
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and ultimately end up with this…

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Really.. I have no words…

I understand how the algorithms behind the 7-headed monstrosity of Facebook takes a seemingly objective, non-nuanced human being and helps them create an online profile which can ease the activity of long-distance communication.  The age of the rotary telephone and long-distance charges are gone.  Onward to a brave, new future and all that.
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But after that, you’re asked about your interests.  Your tastes in music, clothes, entertainment, fashion and art.  Your political and social leanings.  The next thing you know, you have, in your hand!, a wellspring of validation:  article after article and updates galore telling you that you’re right!  You are not alone in your opinions.  In fact, it seems as though the WHOLE WORLD agrees with you, except for that one person you went to high school with, who you never really hung out with, but they were nice enough, and they were kinda funny in Geometry II, so you went ahead and accepted their friend request.  That’s alright because your cousin sure shut them up!  And onward down your feed you go…

Until, lo and behold, it’s your weird Aunt who you only ever really saw at a few Thanksgivings as a child, but your parents insisted that you add her to your friends list.  Now she’s on the same bandwagon as that dude from high school!  Weirdos, man!  Why doesn’t somebody put these people in their place?  That’s okay…
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They never really go away, though.

Dissent against what you hold to be true and sacrosanct still manages to find a way through the cracks.  You might find yourself thinking, “Where do these people come from?  Isn’t it scary that we share a country with…?  How could somebody in their right mind believe…?  Why don’t they just stay in their hole in the ground?  Why don’t they just leave?  Maybe I should leave?  If there are people out there who really think that way, then this place is falling apart, and it’s really not safe out there…”

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Just leave the pizza on the porch!

I’m not at all flattered to admit that these are thoughts that I’ve found myself thinking.  I will readily admit that Solipsism is something that I have toyed with and will still indulge in from time to time, but only playfully.  Because when I stopped looking at the world from one side of one fence, I started to realize that there’s another side of the fence, and holy shit!, another fence beyond that, and what’s this?, another fence behind me, and yards and points of view and understandings that I can’t even see from here!, crossroads and intersections of personal philosophies, all built from lifetimes of different experiences and upbringings.  And the more I delved into that understanding, the more my empathy and compassion for other people grew.

I also started to see the flip side of my logic.  Lock somebody in a room where there’s nothing but people who are on their same team, and show them pictures of a stranger who isn’t wearing the same color, so to speak.  Show them the picture intermittently for an undetermined amount of time, and it will be a matter of course that the people in that room won’t like that person in the different shirt.

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Whereas they used to be such reasonable, mild-mannered lads…

By utilizing a platform that was supposed to help people stay in touch and communicate with each other, we have created another situation where it’s more “us against us”.  And it wouldn’t take much looking to find information on how quickly and drastically “us against us” in modernized countries can turn into deadly confrontation.  Ukraine 3 years ago, for example.

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I found the government-backed sniper attacks on civilians to be particularly stylish… 

So in line with my long-standing tradition of running to my big sister for help, I came back from walking my dogs this morning, went to my computer and sought out my eldest sibling, #1 expat, and VCR VIP, Shannon Duvall for her insight on what I felt was troubling me this time around.  About a month ago she herself had decided to take an indefinite sabbatical from looking at her Facebook news feed, only using messenger for staying in touch and looking up information for events on Facebook pages, but other than that, no scrolling.  Having a strong desire to completely disconnect from the world of social media (which would make things terribly bothersome as far as promoting a band is concerned – therefor not an option), I asked her how exactly she managed to pull it off.

The answer was simple:  ignore it.

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Not quite…

Don’t ignore your problems and those of the world around you, but instead, if it is something you feel that strongly about, find some way to affect change.  If the issue is something that is real to you and you feel the inherent need to get involved, you will make the time.  But recognize that banding up with your buddies on Facebook to criticize policy and other people is at best masturbatory, at worse divisive, and ultimately achieves NOTHING.

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Might I suggest some light reading instead?

And, SPOILER ALERT, if for some reason you decide, after ex-ing out of this, to distance yourself from your favorite means of digital affirmation, if you find yourself on that platform at a later date, perhaps to look up information on something that only exists there, you might find an update from this seemingly inanimate creation, telling you how much it misses you and how much it cares about you.  As though it has become sentient and now has feelings.  To paraphrase one of my favorite comedians, Bill Burr, “That is some creepy, New World Order shit.”

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“I possess a compulsive manifestation of emotional tenderness borne of an instinctive desire to reproduce for you too, my coital partner…”

But any joking aside, I’m not telling you what to do.  I’m just telling you what I’m doing.

I’m a product of an ignored generation, somewhere in-between Gen X and Millennials.  I came of working age right when the Great Recession hit.  And my method of retaining income (my family-owned carpentry business) was taken down along with the housing market collapse.  Even before that, we had been undercut by cheaper labor supplied by immigrants.  I know first hand what it’s like to lose income in that manner.  I’m not proud to admit that there was talk of sabotaging work crews that had taken contracts which had previously been promised to us.  Remember what I said about “us against us” and how a narrow perspective can lead to terrible actions?  Luckily, a collective sense of karma, or perhaps just a fear of potential litigation prevented any action on the notion.  After all, what would we have succeeded in, aside from hurting other hard-working people who struggle more than us?  People just looking for a way to succeed?  People taking advantage of a situation?

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And you bitch about rush hour traffic…

Eventually, as you may well know, I found different means of survival in the world.  I moved away from home and dove head first into an unknown place, made a lot of friends in the process and saw the world through eyes that would have been impossible to imagine had I stayed in one place.

So my point is, how many of you can understand where I’m coming from?  One side of the fence being from that of a “disenfranchised working man” to that of “empathetic peacenik who gets excited about leveling up his Duolingo Spanish score”?  As Fat Mike once said, “Walk some in my shoes, then tell me to fuck off.”alan_snodgrass_fat_mike_20150130_001_300dpi-1

All I know is that numbly thumbing on that hypnotic, glowing screen isn’t helping me, and I know the symptoms of addiction when I see them.  I can draw lines as to the social implications on my own time.

My girlfriend and I have noticed that her sons have a problem disconnecting from their phones.  Time slips by, assignments get ignored and grades slip.  Where does the time go?  I’ve mocked and criticized and belittled the situation, but yet, I find ways to legitimize my own mindless use: “I have a job.  I have a band.  I cleaned up.  I’m just relaxing.”  I’m also well aware of my own sense of hypocrisy.

I mean, I started this fuckin’ blog to write about music, and my most recent posts (when I actually put time toward it) have been little more than me complaining about the fucked current state of affairs on the American political landscape!  When and how did I become so distracted?

distraction

I don’t have the answer to that, but I do know a change is in order.

I have books to read, and there’s a world outside.

Maybe I’ll see you out there.

Year Of The Bitch

“Every nation gets the government it deserves.”  – Joseph de Maistre

I came home from work last night to a placid, “Trump is winning.”, from my girlfriend.  Her face was a mask of nervous incredulity that she normally only brings out on special occasions – when something is too wrong to process in real time.

Me, being the accidental Buddhist that I have become (evidently due to a lifelong detachment to material objects, and a premature hallucinogen-induced acceptance of mortality) did my best to make sense of the situation and quell any of her pervading fears.

In my own paranoid mind’s eye that I still harbor from spending formulative years in an America under a cloak-and-dagger regime that left us all with a lot of unanswered questions, insurmountable debt, and a crippled reputation, I was under the impression that the election was scripted as a means to plant Hillary Clinton in the White House.  After all, who in their right mind could vote for somebody so outwardly misogynistic?  So over-the-top?  So buffoonish?  There was no way for him to be considered a legitimate candidate.  There was no way for him to be taken seriously as front runner.  There was supposed to be no way for him to win.

And that’s what I thought.  I honestly believed that the “shadowy overlords” and “the powers that be” wrote this election out in a way that was to make everyone squirm to the very end, until, lo and behold, the final count brought out Mrs. Clinton as the new leader of the Free World, sabotaging her most-contested Democratic rival in the process.  And if that is the case, what does it say about those tactics?  The DNC downplayed and possibly bought off the one person in the Democratic Party who had an easy chance of beating Donald Trump and in the process, sabotaged their own party.  And look where it’s landed us.  The worm has turned and jumped the shark.  Many a good men are rolling over in their graves.

I woke up this morning one minute before my alarm to the news that things didn’t turn out as I had predicted.  Life is not a movie.  Things happen when people take action.  And I find comfort and purpose in that.

There really isn’t a whole lot for me to accept.  I voted with what I felt and thought were the right choices.  I didn’t vote for any of the presidential front runners.  Not because I don’t understand what it means to vote against somebody (my more politically involved friends have been telling me for months that the ball is already rolling in the direction of a more Social Democracy, and a Clinton White House would only cater to the sway of the popular tide).  But when I stopped to think about her involvement in Libya, and her desire to further interfere in Syria, the idea of having to explain to a small child in Aleppo, who just had his home blown up and family taken away from him due to collateral damage, that I put my name down somewhere saying that I thought the person responsible was the right person for the job?  It was enough to make me feel like John Proctor, refusing to sign his dignity away on an admission of baseless guilt and instead embracing his own demise.  I may have tossed the misconception that this is a free country, but I will slam dance in as much wiggle room as I can find.  I scrolled down to the “Write In” option.  I turned the wheel until I wrote the only name I felt comfortable putting my own name behind, double-checked my spelling, and hit the Enter button.  And there it was, printed in black in white:  Bernard Sanders.

Some may say that I threw my vote away.  And you have every right to.  That’s how Democracy works.

And  I have to admit, I’m not really all that surprised.  The more you know about the history of this country, the more you’ll understand that racism, exclusion, xenophobia, greed, and misogyny have more often been the rule than the exception.  And you have to remember that the majority of people in this country don’t live in big cities.  Most people in this country don’t leave their hometowns, or they don’t venture far from them.  They stay in areas that are familiar to them, with people they’ve known their entire lives.  The idea of interfacing daily with people from different walks of life, with different orientations, beliefs, values and views doesn’t play into their modus operandi.

What does appeal to them is maintenance and tradition: “Don’t take my job, don’t take my stuff, and don’t tell me how to be.”  And in that, we might see that we are more alike than those from who we have been convinced of our difference.  When you spend your entire life in relative peace and seclusion, secure in your idea of “God and Country”, but suddenly there’s a bombastic man, who is your very idea of success, telling you that strange people are coming from a dirty place to take what is yours, and suddenly there’s “girls-who-think-they-are-boys” and “boys-who-think-they-are-girls”, and they want to sit on the same public toilet as you?  Meanwhile there are Bolsheviks bayoneting infants straight out of their mother’s drug-addled wombs.  It’s the same as saying that when I went grocery shopping this morning, I should have expected to see Neo-Nazis curb-stomping mixed race children, firing anti-aircraft weapons in the parking lot, whilst Toby Keith blared from a frighteningly large diesel pickup truck with a live whooping crane chained to the exhaust.  But there wasn’t any of that.  Just the usual mixed bag of humanity that I’m used to encountering in the aisles of the Allandale H.E.B.

It’s just more of the same “Us Against Us” rhetoric that I have been warned about my entire life.  And now it’s led us to a place we would have thought of as unthinkable 24 years ago.  Like it or not, we share this country with people who do not share the same values.  And the more we belittle and ostracize one another, the longer we will remain in a state of schizophrenic divisiveness.

We have now become the weird, unpopular kid in our middle school, who puts on a crazy outfit or styles their hair into some wacky, abstract thing as a means to garner attention.  At first, some of the kids in the cafeteria look over and say, “What did you do?!”  And we allow ourselves to sit back and bask in some long-sought validation.

That never comes.  At least, not to the degree that you were hoping.

Sure, some of the other kids might stop and compliment you, and more kids will just look at you like what you are: desperate and confused, grasping for meaning and acceptance.

The rest will do what they’ve always done: ignore you.  A couple of cursory glances due to the change in scenery, but other than that, they don’t have time for you.  They have shit to do.

And until we get cracking and start sorting out our own affairs like the rest of those kids, our collective identity crisis is not going to end anytime soon.

Be nice to each other, hold on tight and keep your eyes peeled.

Namaste, mother fuckers.

I’m Old.

It’s amazing how your day can go from 60 to zero in a nanosecond.  When it all seems to be going okay, even in a place where you don’t feel like being.  You’re open, happy, cracking jokes and feeling good.  You start thinking that things might not be so bad, and even though you’re looking at making it out of there, at least when you do leave, you can go on a high note.  Hell, you might even miss the place!  And then a seemingly insignificant action can send you spiraling back into your own head, where you physically feel your wavelength drop to a level that makes you bristle with contempt.  Your spine stiffens, your jaw clenches, you feel the tension immediately develop behind your shoulder blades, and it’s all you can do to finish your job as quickly as possible so you can get the fuck out of there, hours be damned…

I guess I hadn’t explained to anybody that I work with that I’m a musician, and part of my personality as a musician is that when I’m listening to my music, I feel good.  I don’t feel cool; it just makes me feel good in my brain.  It’s a big part of who I am.  And it’s not like the music you get to hear is particularly abrasive.  Trust me.  You’re hearing the tame shit.  Because I take the other people around me into account before I start filling the air with noises.  I’m not trying to subject anybody to anything that’s going to make them uncomfortable.

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The good part’s coming up.  Trust me.  You’re gonna love it!

So when I heard “Tangled Up In Plaid ” come do an abrupt, premature ending, I thought, “Surely, no one here would be rude enough to simply come over, grab something that doesn’t belong to them and manipulate it without asking!  The Wifi must be acting up.”  But lo and behold, somebody did in fact feel the compulsion to do just that!  So, I did what came naturally.  I picked up the spray head at the dish station, pointed it in the offending direction and squeezed the handle.  After all, I may not be your mom, but somebody should teach you some fuckin’ manners.

And throwing out jokes like, “What was that?  Nickleback?”, to me only speaks to your laziness.  “Oh, shit!  Gotta think up something that doesn’t make me look like an asshole!  Uhhhh… What’s that band that has guitars and people hate? No difference to these ears!  All the same to me! Uhhh… Oh  yeah!  Those guys!  Hahahaha!  Get it?!  Because everyone hates that band?!  It’s funny. I’m funny.  I’ll be over here if anybody needs more poignant and clever observations”

And that’s when I was taken out of this happy place where I felt like things weren’t so bad,

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Party time.  Excellent.

and I was immediately sucked into a head space that conjured visions of a sterile dystopia where people no longer listen to music, but tones –  just basic tones – designed to numb the frontal lobe and lull the listener into a state of delusion and passive acceptance.  No melodies. No arrangements. Just a basic 4/4 beat, some garbled lyrics floating around, and the constant “BUMMMMMMMM…  BUMMMMMMMM…  BUM-BUMMMMMMM…”, hypnotically drilling and merging into your subconscious.  It’s enough to make The Velvet Underground sound like Scale The Summit.

Pop Rap is boring music for under-active imaginations.  That’s all it is.  It’s only place is an ill-fitting world where the youth are medicated to the point of solipsism, continually distracted by fantasies of money, drugs and promiscuity (none of which are particularly harmful in small doses, mind you).  But like that is something that is true to them!

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Thanks for the ringtone downloads, ya broke muthafuckas!

Like listening to a song by 2 Chainz is suddenly going to make you share in his success, but then you look around when the song is over, and you’re still standing around at your shit-ass dead end job, with your softening, aging body, in your corrupt, Capitalist environment.  Better keep those songs coming before you have to stare reality in the face for too long.

I take back everything I said about the current state of heavy metal, because at least the people on those recordings are players.  You know, like people who play instruments? Physically?  With their bodies?  And it’s not even a “music with guitars vs. music without guitars” situation I’m talking about here.  Tupac Shakur was killed twenty years ago today, something I remember seeing in the newspaper, but nothing I could really identify with at the time because I was still a child, and in those days, I didn’t like hip hop.  I was too busy learning how to play bass and keeping my eyes peeled for new music by Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots.  But I do like hip hop now, and something that can be said about Tupac’s music, and hip hop in general, is that it’s honest.  There’s a communication in it.  You listen to “Dear Mama” and tell me that there’s not at least one part of that song that speaks some sort of truth to you.

Whatever is happening with the current state of popular rap music is fucking embarrassing.  If I was Suge Knight, I’d have one of these false, pretentious mother fuckers dangling out of a window, just on principal. But I suppose it never really was about the music for that guy.

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Charming…  Erudite…  Sophisticated…

So whatever it is that creates a mentality where it’s okay to fuck with other people’s belongings and cut off something that they were enjoying, I can’t help but believe that it is somehow tangentially connected to the dumbed-down state of mind that can convince  you to believe that Lil’ Wayne writes good songs.  If you had only asked to change the music, it would have been okay.  I probably would have said yes!  At least that would have given me an opportunity to get mentally prepared for what was coming next.  But instead, I had to jam earplugs into my head as deep as they would go, keep my head down and blast out any last duty that could have kept me in that place any longer, just so I could come home and air my grievances on a public forum.  I’ve quit jobs for less, but I’m trying to be an adult now, and I’m in a pretty tough spot financially, so believe me when I say that it’s best that I didn’t tell you how I felt about it at the time.  I don’t like getting fired, either.

Afterthought:
I couldn’t help but notice that once my vibrations had reached a low point, certain people in my place of work suddenly found me somehow approachable.  Is that it?  Do I just need to feel stupid, angry and bitter to get along with you people?  Maybe.  I don’t care.  Fuck you.  Fuck every single one of you.

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Im out!

 

Shades of a Blue Hangover

O, Mother of all Whores!  Bag of shit mode in full effect!  Stayed up too late and got up too early, but who am I to complain?  Sometimes, you just have to brush yourself off and go suck the day’s dick, as they say. And do not…  I repeat, do not, neglect the balls.

After all, it’s not everyday that I get to take my girlfriend to work, make breakfast, walk my dogs, drive to South Austin and back, develop very hard opinions about the current state of heavy metal, drop the car off, and ride back home against the wind on my new KHS Tempe… All before noon.  With a palsy-like hangover.  Come on!  Somebody pat my back!

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Pictured: Me.  Today.

 

And I still have an hour to kill before I go in to be the shining face of my current employ, (which is currently making it very difficult for me to afford my very modest standard of living, not particularly due do to any nefarious ill will on behalf of the owners or managers…  really just a symptom of a capitalist society in general, but more on that later!)  I should be sleeping, but I have opinions!  Hoo boy, do I ever!

What follows is a disjointed amalgam of random thoughts which have floated through my brain this morning.  Shout out to Lone Star Beer and Espolon Silver.

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 Holla at ya boys…

There are few scents that bring me back to my childhood more than the smell of freshly-cut wood and gasoline.  And in realizing that, I recognize that I am quickly becoming the product of a bygone age.  I’ve lived a few lives.  I grew up in the woods, moved to suburbia, and grew up some more before moving to “the big city”.  I fight with myself all the time.  I don’t empathize with overly-sensitive people because, well… fuck you.  And at the same time I have to take heed to the notion that everybody you encounter has an entire lifetime of experiences under their belt before you cross paths with them, so you have to respect that.  I don’t know.  All I can say is, don’t get too soft, kids.  Life isn’t about to get any easier.

Picking up dog shit also irks me.  Nobody did that shit in the ’90s.

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Maybe the ’70s, but definitely not the ’90s.

Speaking of which, what is happening with heavy music?!  What the fuck?!  Are people just running out of ideas or was that actually Judas Priest I heard on The Devil’s Dozen?  No?  It wasn’t?  Oh, right, that band had blast beats!  That’s how you tell them apart!  Seriously, though.  There are bands out here doing very interesting things.  Pay attention!  I understand what it is to draw from different influences, but you don’t have to be a parrot of those influences.
Wait.  What’s this?  The new Dillinger Escape Plan single?  Time to be objective.

Although they did play the show that convinced me to get off my ass and officially end my band‘s hiatus, and I feel like I owe them a lot, I must MUST! listen to it from as close to the middle of the road as I can.  Even if the idea of them breaking up sometime next year feels like somebody I know just got shot.

Gotta be professional.

But I totally get it.  You don’t want to become self-referential to the point of hob-knobbery, and you want to do it right and have your body of work be a complete circle.

Can’t let those feelings cloud my judgment.

Completely understand, though.  You’re not trying to be Woody Allen in this mother fucker.  Or maybe even…

Metallica??!! – with the current #1 song in heavy metal?  I mean, it’s not bad for a bunch of 50+ L.A. dudes.  I see that you got Lars to practice his gallop beats and found your kick drum sample from …And Justice For All, but was that a Nomeansno rip-off I heard in the chorus?   Seriously guys.  A for effort, kings of the castle and all, but seriously… Seriously.  What year is it?

I hope James Hetfield never finds this.  It would be super embarrassing if we  ever meet.

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Please don’t hurt me.

Nice job on the new tune, Dillinger.  I dig it.

Well, that’s about all, friends!  I’ve been meaning to dust my vernacular off for a little while, but I’ve been busy turning 30 and stuff.  I neglected rest, don’t have time to shower, and now I’m gonna go stand behind a register for 8 hours!  Wish me luck.