The Big Shiny Prison (Volume One)" Chapter 1
PART I: HUMBLE ORIGINS (UNCALM BEFORE THE STORM) DECEMBER 20th 2006-FEBRUARY 6TH 2007 6O HOURS AND 24 INCHES (THE GREAT WHITE DESERT) “Ok man, so we’re headed out to Oklahoma to premier this little independent film we made called DADBOT. After 15 hours of straight driving, we’re finally out of steam & gas and we pull into this town called Cuba, Missouri…” The trucker smiles and nods his head: “Oh yeah bro, I know exactly what you’re talking about – I live a hundred miles west of it. It’s the last place on God’s green earth you wanna end up. Ain’t nothin’ goin’ on in that lil’ shithole.” “No doubt about that,” I say, ready to spew the strange tale. “So yeah, not only is there a drive-in theatre playing two full servings of Passion of The Christ on each screen long past it’s DVD release, but there’s also a Jack In The Box on the corner of the Interstate.” Still nodding, still smiling, the trucker listens on: “This weird, skinny chick is working the register – spies us, nabs us – takes her break and swings us outdoors to jabber. She plops on the hood of an Escort and while chain-smoking explains how Cuba is the crystal meth capital of the United States and that we need protection – immediate, hardcore defense.” “She flicks her butt in a trail of red ember and flashes us some chrome. Grinning, she dumps this killer street-gang blade on us – like this twisted mutation of a Klingon death weapon. She tells us to watch our backs.” “That’s quite an introduction.” “Well, that’s just Point A… It’s starting to get dark, and we’re gunning for a few beers. Our quest for the local dive takes us down these menacing, shadowy streets – lurching willow trees like a ghetto in New Orleans. Finally we hit this bowling alley but there were only three people inside and they wouldn’t look at us – like intentionally avoiding us – this evil vibe as if they’d just hacked up some drifter for BBQ and hastily mopped the floor. They are ugly fuckers, all of ‘em, faces rotted & sunken purple like Elder God worshipping cult folk from some Lovecraftian nightmare village. ” The trucker’s eyes light up in a strange, horrified bemusement. “We ditch on the alley & hit Main Street, which only adds to the Innsmouth vibe. The drag is a narrow corridor stretching for ten blocks, the walls of every building slopped with painted murals of farmers and cows. Inside them semi-Amish agriculturists are dressed purely in black, which is creepy to begin with. But the kicker was that everyone & everything inside the murals – the farmers, chickens, cows – all of them have pitch black eyes. Like evil insectoid eyes, huge and bulbous.” “They are fucking terrifying, totally painted by an armada of sleep-deprived meth freaks. And within the murals the Amish M.I.B.’s aren’t doing anything. They’re all just standing there, watching you, with their plows and rakes limply at their side. Even the cows are staring blankly with these soulless, black eyes, as if the second you turned the corner the painting would magically come to life. It was children of the fuckin corn, man…” “We shook off the heebie-jeebies and found another street…” The trucker’s still with me, waiting for the big punch line, “…with a dozen Texas Chainsaw Massacre looking houses. Giant houses – old, dilapidated, the stench of rotting wood – all of which had human sized rag dolls on the porch, plopped in rocking chairs. All of these hideous stuffed creatures, gazing at us with murderous black insect eyes. We heard something strange behind us and flipped our heads to catch two of the dolls we passed – again, totally serious – the chairs were rocking. We fucking ran all the way back to the motel.” The trucker belly laughs and proceeds to hammers me with sad stories of interstate loads at 19 cents a mile, gas not included. He was stuck, like all these other displaced people, in the middle of St. Louis Greyhound depot, rerouted or otherwise immobile due to the giant 24 inch blizzard that had engulfed the center of America. Our normal route was to be through Denver, but the poor saps in Colorado are now stuck there up to a week. All of Texas engulfed in white, the desert winds searing a negative 20 degree chill – Old Man Winter’s uncongenial bitch-fist. Elemental bastards, stay out of my damned Valhalla… So I commit these thoughts to mental calligraphy, awaiting the opportunity to purge. Barely a day into this thing, and I have yet to recognize the extent of what I’ve done. In a drunken whirlwind, not thinking the subject over too clearly, I declared the creation of a new book via international press release called “THE BIG SHINY PRISON.” In it, I tell the world that I now travel America for a year straight, drifting town to town, interviewing bands and the personalities thereof, penetrating music scenes as I ping-pong across the country totally DIY. I have no energy, I have no publisher. I have no game plan, I have no structure. All I possess is a backpack, a duffel-bag, and an old school cassette recorder. And I have no money except for the $1200 which is to last me until the end of March. The money itself does not cover any kind of motel or rent arrangement. It barely covers the fares of Greyhounds to destinations still vaporous and unbooked. I have no real idea where I’m going for certain except a loosely constructed list of bands, pr men, zine proprietors and promoters that have no idea I’m crashing their way. I rely totally on the willingness of those strangers. Still, none of that matters – for I have MySpace, the Thunder of The Gods… The book I have espoused is not the book which will be printed. I have been bored to the point of hammering nails through my face by the shoddy journalism of heavy metal. The only well-known books available on the subject are ultimately handcrafted from some hack writer making dozens of phone calls and typing his conversations into a paint-by-numbers expose in which we hear all too often the word “brutal” to describe everything. No, this isn’t my realm. I am not interested in what guitar strings they use. I am not interested in their perceptions of rumbling Drop D noise. I don’t care what patches are sewn onto their sleeveless denim vests. To even call it a book about music is misleading. What I seek is the soul. Character studies, their environments, their dreams, hopes and aspirations – a total sociological unearthing. The very substance and inertia of their war and poetry. What are they fighting for and against? And most importantly, how alone in my views am I? What is the common thread? Does the magical world I once looked upon in magazines and onstage when I was 17 even exist? So I fall into this cocoon, my physical body screaming in constant pain from a jigsaw skeleton of pinched nerves. No chiropractor, no therapy, no respite. One full year of road with no stopping, my last sacrifice to journalism before I can walk away, form a new band somewhere, discover my queen and live a real life. This book will be just as much about the artists and freaks I encounter as it is the hard reality of trying to write this book. This isn’t a Kerouac rip-off. This isn’t Hunter S. Thompson. This is akin to Christian Bale wandering the earth in Batman Begins for seven years, recreating himself in steel. It is just as much about me as it is all of them, because our struggle is unanimous. Surely, I will be sued. I will be misconstrued. I will be laughed at by dunderheads who think so small that the intensity and mission of such a project will fly miles above their heads. In this I am undeterred. Some will ignore, some will offer sanctuary. No matter the immediate situation I will play by the rules in which I am confined, weaving through these complex undergrounds by stealth. And if all else fails, keep them amused by whacky anecdotes until I can jump back into the safety of the Greyhound purgatory. The plan is to avoid big bands unless they seek me out or are right there waiting to go. It is not my job to promote those already promoted. Instead I seek the unknown, the struggling, the fringe and depraved. I am out to prove the point that no answer is ever the answer, and that reality is only in the eye of the beholder. I will hunt down the most extreme of personalities from the right to the left. I will let the recorder roll in front of views as confrontational as possible. From pagan militants to Christian rockers, “Goth Idols” to street-dwelling crust punks, from Neo-Nazis to flaming homosexuals. Every monster possibility in America, every inch of its seedy underbelly thrust into the spotlight… 3am, sleeping soundly and somewhere in Texas, a foofy-haired woman interrupts my rest: “What is he doing back there?” she questions, in a weird state of panic. I pass back out only to have her wake me again with this identical question. To shut her up, I wander to the back of the Greyhound, pretending to use the toilet. There is a creepy Hispanic man dressed in a blue-workman’s outfit, like Michael Myers duds in Halloween. He looks like the gruff caricature of a Sergio Leone villain and smells like rancid feces. And, of course, he’s rabidly masturbating an iron-hard flagpole… I sit back down. The foof lady asks again, and I duly confirm. The passengers are now wide awake, unwilling to confront the strange man wildly jacking off behind them. We pull into Amarillo, and the whacker guns it for Miss Pacman. Little does he know, cackling and babbling to himself, that Greyhound has called the police. When the heavily accented officers confront him, the Mexican becomes enraged. The cops point to the white glob of jizzom on his clothing, and the man protests in broken, hysterical English: “No iz paint, iz paint!” The cop whispers something in Spanish, and he starts laughing and unzipping his coveralls. Out it plops, dangling from his bellybutton as a limp pendulum. Fearful mothers grip their children, the elderly squeam, grown men grow nauseous & bellicose – a giant colostomy stuffed with shit dangles to and fro, dripping profusely, and all the Mexican can do is laugh horrendously at the terrified honkies… THE FRINGE DESIGN: A PRELIMINARY DISSERTATION To my dearest of Alice clones, from whatever vortex you might exist, from this tragic Cheshire comes the dynamic of the labyrinth. We must put an end, immediately, to these endless preconceptions. We must shoot down all error from the human mechanics which pervade us… To the hip, to the knowledgeable, to the fanatic – none of this will come as a shock. But to the outside element, the ones accustomed only to the ritual of entertainment – those who look at the weirdo uprising with a dim mystification… If I am to be your tour guide then I must also be your educator. It is a gutter philosopher you require, not a journalist bound to objectivity. We need to char up that grit, not flubber in the laws of the past. I will be honest to the sharpest apex, but do not chastise or aggrieve, for you now enter a freefall of eternal descent which even Alighieri refused conjecture. The kaleidoscope basis of this manuscript will always hone in on the subcultures deemed “punk rock,” “extreme metal,” “industrial,” “rock n’ roll,” “experimental.” Still, this does not prevent me in any way from side-missions outside those particular confines, because in the end every freak is somehow connected to the overall grand schematic in my humble opine… Like Voltron, these sharply defined terrains link to create a monster. It is this composite leviathan which constitutes the “counterculture” – the assemblage of all conceivable fringe as one massive, organic jigsaw. The nuts and bolts come in all forms, and the breadths of philosophies are panoramic & amorphous… Within every modern society the fringe lurks substrata. All of us, no matter our vocation, are the by-products of a deeply-ingrained refusal. Every subculture has sprung from the sense that there is something horribly wrong, something deeply unhealthy going on, and that there is definitely a larger system of misery at play. The air of Utopia is poisoned, as it were… In America there are but two concentrated psychological lines which prevail – the “herd mentality” and the “wild west,” so to speak. There is a quick-fix, “don’t look too deep & silence the questions” pre-packaged reality in which we are indoctrinated from birth. Then there is the darkness (or the light, depending on your view) – that vast grey area in which the general population only slowly and in marked paces inches forward. The counterculture is the collective body of all who’ve strayed into that realm of infinite perplexity… The world of The Big Shiny Prison is the reality of America. Here, in the apex of convenience and security, our bellies are full, our hide is soft, our suburbs are tidy and well organized. Our terrain is landscaped, our structures Goliath. Our culture is that of Walmart Tribalism; our social court the shopping mall. The police are your friends, the priest your neurosis killer, the psychiatrist your handy-man. Work is good, god is great, and everything is plum shit happy. To phrase the language of the gutter oh so eloquently: “well fuck all that bullshit.” Yes my Mohawk-laden scat-champs, I tell you as it is as sincerely as one can. There is a word which defines the root propulsion of the first subculture we are to dissect: “Anarchus.” It’s a Latin word meaning “any time you act without official permission.” Translated to English, this word reads Anarchy. Anarchy and Anarchism are not the same thing. Anarchism is the attempt to formulate and apply a definite structure or form, whereas “Anarchy” reflects a mode of thought or perception which the very definition “Anarchus” provides. Again – “anytime you act without official permission.” Anarchy is the action itself, and a conceptual underpinning which is amorphous in nature. Unlike any other ideology, it simply doesn’t have one. To claim oneself Anarchist is to claim the position of a “Free Agent” from any system, to consider nations an illusion & patriotism a farce – for the anarchist is by design a citizen of the world. The exact opposite of “Anarchus” derives from another Greek word: “Politik,” or politics. The root refers to “mans relationship to and life in servitude of the state.” To be political is to be a sentry of the establishment. To be an Anarchist is to be apolitical, and anarchy itself is like a virus in the larger body – malleable and formless, within every society, class & culture. Anarchy is the acting through of any activity with the conscience realization that it is not an action intended for the strengthening or assistance of the state. A family picnic by definition is a state of Anarchy, because you are “off the clock,” so to speak. The act of shopping, of painting the nails, of leisure is by very definition soft-belly Anarchy… Therefore, it should be of no dispute that the spirit of punk rock is wholly submerged in Anarchist thought. The entire basis of the underground is summed up by the phrase: “Do it yourself.” DIY is the mantra of punk rock, which is main-line Anarchy – building your own reality, starting your own band, zine, label, clothing line. Creating underground house venues and refusing to pay taxes – squatting, hustling, running amuck as gypsy land pyrates. None of this is rooted in a compulsion for violence, but rather as an outcry of individual passion. The “bleeding heart,” so to speak… We now speak of The Punks – skins, crusts, skaters, surf-punks, greasers, straight-edgers, vegans, scumfucks, the deftly unclassifiable. In this wing of the counterculture you have a huge mass of differing opinions. In this, people are either extremely cool about everything – like Rick James cool – or they are pretentiously fickle about every minuet detail. Here you find the most panoramic view of politics in music. There isn’t a punk alive that doesn’t claim knowledge about some government conspiracy, nor will you find any true love of authority. It is a fanatic escape attempt from the rule of the machine, forever at odds with a materialistic, clean cut existence. Nothing is more comedic, more ridiculous and laughable to the punker then the worldview that a man such as Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson embodies. In mainstream view, these scurvy rogues are seen as the epitome of “music entertainment” – big money & hot bitch hustlers, diamond-plated rims & pistols, MTV cameos & dolla dolla bills y’all. Far and wide, from sea to shining sea, that mentality is the laughable dunce crown. Whereas a high-roller nightclub pimps $1000 bottles of citron & sheepish patrons exude designer fashions, the seedy punk dive celebrates $1 PBR drafts, lets you bring your dogs inside, has no dress code, allows you to paint pictures on the tiling & slap bumper stickers everywhere. I shall put it this plainly: If someone G-Unit were to show up in a limo flashing all the commodities in the world, they’d be laughed out of dodge. Punks admonish their standing as the refuse of the world. This gutter pervades a life best described as rekindling the one long abandoned in childhood – returning to that magic but going deeper in, architecting a new world from it’s murky lagoon… Punk is a seed endlessly germinating, growing profusely amidst a universal sense of boundless adventure. And none perhaps have more a sense of adventure then “The Crustie” – the dirtiest, dingiest, most fanatic guardians of that resurrected ideal. “The Crustie” is the closest thing to a land-based neo-pyrate you’ll ever find. They are essentially street kids that have discovered freedom in disowning everything; literal hobos all on a wild mission to overthrow culture from their livelihoods. Hitchhikers, train-hoppers, panhandlers, dumpster divers, they often travel in small, tightly-knit groups before they get to the designated cities in which “The Black Flag” has been raised… They form in packs and hustle the streets, sleeping in parks or cracking the street system until they know how to get free food, shelter, money, medical services, clothing. They are commonly known as “crust punks,” “squatters,” “scumfucks,” “scumbums” or the like. When the tide suits them they are ultra-communal. Everyone shares what they own – especially drugs & booze. They are united in their perpetual self-destruction, and have an over-whelming hatred of squares and clean-cuts. Some have been on the road for up to ten years, but many are fresh crops who seek themselves for a few years before finding something solid, whether it due to burn-out or physical collapse. They live fast and burn like a tide of seasonal locusts. Those who die young are eulogized into crust folklore. Legends are spread like fables across the world. In other words, “His name is Robert Palsin.” On the flip side, there is the ultra-karmic strain of crustie, so deeply committed to veganism and social issues that they are the vanguard of the positivist. In a sense, these twin strains exist as a sort of ying-yang effect, all of which preside in a virtual land of the lost – the fall through the cracks of society so violently that any reverse becomes impossible… I will probably find myself traversing with many of these shadowy characters, especially in larger cities where I may have difficulty in finding a place to crash. There is always a squat somewhere, always a way to get some food, and plenty secretive avenues that can be explored so long as you dangle a 40oz in front of someone’s face. It is the ultimate bargaining chip because a bottle of Mickey’s goes fast among twelve alcoholics so hardcore they’re puking blood. The only problem is that you have to keep supplying it, or trick them into thinking your broke. Either way, $10 bucks in Steel Reserve is far cheaper than $60 for a motel. Plus it’s far more fun. When you hang with crusties, you drink and drink and drink – everyone dies together, that’s the rule. You also truly have to earn their respect or stay up until you’re the last one to pass out, because if you make the fatal mistake of falling asleep while everyone is at their liver-annihilating prime you run a high risk of “Beer Elf” danger. Expect your clothing to be sewn together with dental floss and your face covered with magic marker, David the Gnome style… The Skinhead is the antithesis of the crustie. Skinheads are not Neo-Nazis, as this confusion is simply the outcome of media disinformation. Neo-Nazi’s do exist, but they can be found in any subculture regardless, albeit the vast majority condemning this fascism and violently drumming them out. Real skins are for the most part SHARPS – “Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.” The skinhead thing was a wholly black movement which originated in Britain. Jamaican/African immigrants worked mercilessly on dockyards and shaved their heads to avoid lice, in the process gaining a specific look with Lonsdale Boots, suspenders, etc. They were the working class backbone of the UK, and established a unified underground in filthy Taverns on the outskirts of London… The centerpiece was always Oi dancehall music, a component of Reggae. Oi eventually crossed all racial boundaries, developed into ska, and was imported to the United States and other areas in Europe. In the late 70’s it really began to explode alongside punk rock’s growing phenomenon. Skins are for the most part heavily patriotic, if not non-violently nationalistic, and pride themselves on their blue-collar position. Strongly tied to the bonds of family and friends, they live a disciplined, clean-cut way of life. But they also drink like fish, and have a nasty belligerency in humongous gatherings. On their own they can be quite amusing though... The destructive crusties pride themselves on their knuckle scar tissue as well, but they mainly just fight each other. The crusts are fanatical about their separation from society, and would rather bleed to death from a stab wound in a gutter then degrade themselves by snitching. Society is not an option, except as sheep to con and tax. Crusties and Skins are highly secretive because they are targets for law enforcement. If you ever get pulled over or spotted meandering with a crust or skin, be prepared to be searched, if not shook up or arrested over a bogus charge. Skins, however, are friendlier to authority personal in general because they stand for the middle-class, structured lifestyle. They can talk most cops out of anything, so long as there’s no rum in their belly... The straight-edger (sXe) is the antithesis of the destructive crustie. They maintain the unity and discipline skins have, but straight-edgers derive their name from a zealous refusal to use drugs in any form. Many are so fanatical they won’t even touch caffeine, are sharply against prescription drugs, and some pride themselves on absolute celibacy… Skins and sXe’s get along in theory, but rarely in practice. Since skins are notorious working class drunkards, this creates a condition that can be described in following terms: The sXe band brings their associates out to a show. Unbeknownst to ideology, amidst the performance a tanked bulldog tries to force a shot of whiskey down one of their throats. As he believes totally in his cordial offering said wasted skin won’t back down, and when insulted blabs something that crosses the line. Thus an eruption of chaos split evenly down ideological lines, and a big, hairy mess to be sure… The term Straight-Edge originated from vocalist Ian McKaye of Minor Threat, the legendary Washington DC outfit from the early 80’s. McKaye was notorious as the godfather of the sXe nucleus, sputtering off independent cells throughout the nation. McKaye wasn’t a “hardercore then thou” tough guy – he was a fairly laid back individual that watched too many go down in a cocaine fireball and wanted to set something positive in motion. Still, for all the positive nature of the sXe ideal, there are some terrible mutant strains bridging from the virus… Straight-Edgers are of three general types. The first are those who chose their path after witnessing too many horror stories. These are usually straight-forward guys who don’t push their views on others, look at their preferences as a form of dietary choice. The second class is in the moderate to extremist range of ultra-leftist politics. This is where the hardercore-then-thou pathology begins to seep in, the veganism gets trumped to fanatical levels, the celibacy unfurls... Lastly, there are the ultra right-wing Straight-Edgers – a new brethren of Blackshirt fighting for their self-styled totalitarian utopia. They literally attack drug users in the streets – cigarette smokers, potheads, drunks. They show up 20-40 strong at a concert and jump poor saps guzzling beer, starting mini-riots. In Salt Lake City for instance, such a group was switchblade carving gigantic X’s (the sXe mark) in the backs of intoxicated citizens they’d randomly select under the cover of night. There are many violent right-wing sXe groups such as this, particularly in Cincinnati, SLC, Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington DC. Such factions have totally lost the sarcastic, humanist attitude of 80’s sXe and now undeniably gravitate towards the more “tough guy” hardcore bands which mix metalcore into the formula, giving it a more testosterone-laced, skinhead feel… As for other sub-types in punk rock you have the skaters, greasers, and a vast gray area that actually takes up the largest percentage. The skaters are typically free-wheeling, hard-partying, drunken vandals. Everything they embody screams of 40oz’s, spray paint, smoked roaches & repulsion of authority… The greasers are exactly what you’d expect. They include the entire rockabilly, psychobilly, classic 50’s rock crowd. They are cartoonish & laid back with a flair for the world of James Dean. You’ll know them by their pompadours & greased aero-dynamic, jet-black hair – leather jackets, chain-link belts, hot rods, choppers, and girlfriends with a visual nod towards Bettie Page or Marilyn Monroe. There might be clandestine games of high-speed chicken on dirt-roads, although I’ve never heard of any West Side Story switchblade duels. These are zany folks with a hard-on for Americana, worshipping at the altar of Necromantix, Koffin Kats, Phenomenauts, Brian Setzer and even Dick Dale. They drink heavy, but rarely are seen into any other hard drugs. They get along ok with the various groups because greasers don’t particularly stand for any great social message – though the ultra-anti-capitalist crusties might holler something about their gas-guzzling chop-jobs… No one wants more to deal with moderates than the metal scene, who by and large tend to be a little more right wing on certain aspects. You could sum up the vast majority of mentalities by the humble phrase: “shoot first & ask questions later.” That stated, the metalheads do not cling to this music for the sake of artistic protest. It is more a simulated riot arched upon a modernized Wagnerian powerhouse – a bombastic spectacle which taps into a primal vein while simultaneously ushering forth a futurist mythology. That is, to say, building a world of legend atop the ruins of current. That’s why the term “METAL GOD” is appropriate – this fascination with a new order, a loose hierarchy built on the premise that we, as a cultural phenomenon, are building this new mythology – a modernized canon of Roman gods in the shells of contemporary men… That sentiment isn’t all pervading, although it is an undeniable undercurrent which is also symptomatic in punk rock as well. Stripped down further, avoiding the idealistic hub-bub, most just want to rock. They want to fling themselves insanely through a whirlpool of bodies. They want to oogle at pyrotechnics, share communal fascinations, have the darkness they feel presented multilaterally as not to feel so damned alone in a material society stripped of magic or meaningful purpose. Thus you have heavy metal in all its forms – the fang-bared, blunt, unapologetic yet heroic and fascinating sibling of punk – manifesting itself through a complex web of styles like grindcore, funeral doom, death metal, power metal, powerviolence, necro, viking, thrash, black, sludge, endless variations and combinations of limitless sub-genres. Each sub-genre has their own variation of mentalities, although rarely as opposed to one another as the punks tend to be. Politics are of course engaged upon in lyrics and physical art, but rarely to the point of shoving it down anyone’s throat. Metalheads generally want to get hammered, slam into each other, party with brethren, consume horror cinema, communicate a purist love of music, and leave the constant political diatribes to another occasion. They don’t feel the need to dental floss their clothes together to fight the mass marketing of corporations, they don’t care the liberal intricacies of political correctness. They don’t want anyone to whine at them over a hamburger nor do they give a hoot about sXe fanaticism. There is a stereotype known as The Beavis & Butthead syndrome, in which the outside world sees only this vague Wayne’s World mentality. There are, of course, plenty of excerebrose morons in metal, but idiots constitute themselves in all walks of life. In reality, the smartest people I’ve ever known have all been into extreme metal, or at least understood its value and importance. Those deeply involved stay far away from mainstream tours, don’t watch MTV, don’t listen to the radio. The Beavis & Butthead’s of the metal world will always be marked by their assumptions that everything has to be bruuuutal and everything non-knuckle dragging is “faggot shit.” They go for the thunder, the testosterone, the beer… We call them ‘Meatheads.” Meatheads are a bane and a curse to all, but unlike the punkers that will blab away all of their digressions at them, metalheads tolerate them as the eternal half-wit brothers. The Meatheads are encapsulated mostly by “classic metal” (i.e. the easy shit that doesn’t challenge brainwaves), Satan-only “Cookie Monster” death metal, and the bad, modern hardcore in which you’ll also find many of the violent sXe or Skinhead types. The meathead is entranced by the knuckle-dragging breakdown, the mosh pit, the hatred of anything sissy, anything singing, anything weird. It’s all clunking thunder or nothing at all, with a eruptive macho flair. The people outside of this stereotype are above all intelligent, highly versed in all forms of music, actually listen to metal as opposed to just going with it. While the death metal dunderskull bangs his head to noise, the real metalheads actually pinpoint and dissect the notes, the rhythms, the lyrics, the presentation. The real metalhead always has a lavish (if even slight) history of building something from the ground up, whether it be running a self-financed label, distro or zine, organizing/promoting/managing shows, able handed with numerous instruments, playing in a band or two, directing online support. The authentic underground metal scene is generally composed of musicians playing for crowds of other musicians, random freak collectors or fans. No one is interested in money. It’s a brotherhood with a unity far tighter than the punk crowd, who for the most part are too busy fighting each other like children. Excluding the Greasers of course, who have no shame in blaring Celtic Frost at top decibel. Although they enthusiastically agree on their mutual distaste for gangstas, preps, jocks, and authority personnel, the main rub between punk and metal comes down to a few basic factors. First, metal is intolerant of that which is intolerant of it and wastes no time accommodating outsiders. Second, metalheads have deep grievances towards musical laziness, hence the appreciation of ultra-technical extreme metal. Third, most punk is loose and happy go lucky, thereby considered boring – most songs are basic, light-weight, upbeat, and crafted from 3 or 4 riffs. The punks see that as freedom, the-metalheads as uninspired generica. Above all you have a fascistically intolerant (if not wholly fascist) streak of anti-religious sentiment. No one seriously into extreme metal is deeply religious in any orthodox sense. There are stragglers of course, but they are far from abundant. After all, it should be noted that Black Sabbath were the first and ultimate heavy metal band, and they were Jesus-raging. Other prime examples of noteworthy Christian bands are Living Sacrifice, Zao and Norma Jean. However, for the majority of the metal scene organized religion is a classic target, and the truly bible-thumping are a superfluous minority. Most who claim Christian positions view Jesus symbolically, artistically, or confide a kindred spiritual link – they like “the idea of it” per se. There are very few who take all of it dead serious. The metalheads are almost unanimously opposed to Christianity (as well as Islam & Judaism) for the following reasons. First, there is a deep-seated belief that religion is absolute. Many have declared that to be a true follower one would have to be either ordained clergy, or fanatically working towards that goal. Anything else is seen as hypocrisy, and no one can dispute that the life of the convent does not coalesce well with a packed, rowdy club. As a random longhair once bluntly remarked: “You can’t just pussy-foot around with religion – either you’re in it all the way or you’re just a blatant poseur.” Secondly, there is the lengthy historical record of repression under the aegis of the church (i.e. the Crusades, Charlemagne, Torquemada, etc), which though now expurged, would certainly have been inflicted on the modern underground community – and that goes for punk rock as much as it does metal, or the counterculture in general. Third, religion renders all reality into a stark black and white in which no grey area exists, thoroughly promoting a clearly defined, authoritarian view of reality under the perimeters of scripture. In this, a great wealth of scientific evidence is wholly dismissed. Most importantly, the bottom line is the unavoidable conclusion that if you disagree with the views of the religion – that if you don’t submit, confess or convert – then you will likely be imprisoned in a lake of fire and tortured by demons for eternity. This is the end result which simply cannot be overlooked – and it is the most definitive reason why the underground has generally segregated itself from religious fundamentalism. That much said, I don’t feel the need to comment further, and it should be obvious that this intolerance in the metal scene comes from individuals having religion violently imposed on them. Punks generally think that all religion should be dismissed in one big hurdle, and to even piss around with the Occult is an all-out joke. The metal scene accepts the overkill of it fully, if only as the backdrop to a stage-show evoking Samhain rather than a Church Of Satan rally… For the most part, its all Halloween, although some engaged in this occultism are violently anti-Christian. The vast majority of those extremists find themselves on the right wing of the Black Metal movement or darker, more perverse death or thrash. Black Metal originated with bands like Venom and Bathory as this gruesome, ultra-heavy, satanic noise from the 80’s. Although these bands were overtly satanic or heavily engrossed in Norwegian folklore, none were armed militants. The ultra-violence of the Satanic underground exploded in the early 90’s with the “Second Wave” of black metal. A handful of lunatics from Norway (Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor) decided to create their own antithalian reality. In historical light of their ancestral roots, and culturally repressed by a timid church state, the underground Norwegian scene violently exploded. At first it was the attempt to make the darkest, grimmest, most haunting musical destruction laudable. One thing led to another, and thus begat a campaign of terrorism which climaxed in the wreckage of a dozen burned churches, the murders of a handful, and a litany of prison sentences. Those kindred to that initial seed are the die-hard black metal fanatics, the ones who advocate everything from genocide against all religious faiths to pagan neo-Nazism. They take the literal interpretation of the occult Hitler deadly serious, and theirs is an autotheistic war-cry to bring heathen glory. Yet most involved in the European and American black metal scene decry genocide because they detest being persecuted themselves. Most European metal bands – even black metal ones – detest Nazism. The Europeans still have not forgotten the bloodshed of their past. The ultra-fascistic BM bands in America are few and far between, but there are plenty still polishing their machetes, enthusiastic to unleash hell… Not all into black metal are right wing to this extent. In America, black metal was discovered through devices like Napster, because no one imported this shit anywhere in the 90’s. Most are hardcore metal-fans that collect vinyl and bootleg everything they can get their hands on. Wearing a Burzum t-shirt is less a statement of White Superiority then it is the same as sporting a Ted Bundy shirt, and collecting these violent episodes of music is akin to owning bootlegs of Cannibal Holocaust. The super-misanthropic underground is a surge of isolated loners or small groups of tight-knit outsiders. Many of the black metal kids in America are into fantasy period; you have this strain of Dungeons & Dragons & renascence fest people. Otherwise they are pissed off misanthropes, musicians, or weirdo’s obsessed by the awkward, painful quality of the more droning, ambient work. This droning, experimental side can best be described by bands like XASTHUR, Bethlehem, or Blut Aus Nord… The death-metallers tend to be horror-movie obsessives, very disciplined and with small circles of friends. They love sick humor or ugly porn, such as collecting tampons or down syndrome bukakki. Total brutal sickout measures, cartoonishly violent, anti-religious, or tongue-in-cheek misogynistic. 90% don’t take themselves all too seriously. Same with the Thrashers. They worship at the altar of Testament, Exodus, Nuclear Assault. Slayer are the progenitors of thrash, and their style its very definition. They love screaming at the stage egging on guitar solos with a pitcher of PBR raised high. Thrashers of true grit usually detest keyboards. Long hair, leather pants, sleeveless denim jacket covered in patches – old school high-top Reeboks if snazzy. Their musical world is not dated, it’s timeless… The power mettalers are into the soaring, banshee shrieking, ‘warriors of the world’ sentiment of bands like Blind Guardian, Iron Savior and Manowar, respectively. It is a world of guitar heroes, poodle hair, leather pants, and monster Harley’s. This all started with the duel onslaught of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Everything classic about metal can be traced here and every nuance of the 80’s lives onward. Power mettalers rarely get along with the death metal crowd who think their whole vibe is aptly “gay,” but none so much as musically homophobic as the black mettalers. Power metal outside of Europe is truly a rare breed, but it does not stop a man from blaring Stratovarius in any parking lot gathering he feels needs some quasi-spiritual uplifting… Grind was a reaction bridging ultra-hardcore politically charged crust punk with thrash metal. It can be easily identified by its particular blast-beat and its short-attention span variation on death metal – most songs range between 3 seconds to a minute. Grind started in Flint, Michigan (just north of Detroit) by Repulsion in 1985. They combined Negative Approach, Celtic Frost, and Discharge into one horror-obsessed entity. It was, at the time, one of the rawest albums ever recorded… The guys in Napalm Death got a Repulsion cassette in a tape trade and, promptly floored, decided to alter their own formula, churning out spastic, metal/punk hybrid ten-second-songs. It developed technically and spread accordingly, but has almost always retained its punk stylings at key moments. This is the closest thing you get to a crust punk in the world of metal, as most grinders are hand-in-hand with crusts. This is a prime area for communal squats, political dialogues, leftist opinions… Doom metal is the subterranean depths at which the die-hard eventually finds himself one day. Doom is either classic garage Black Sabbath-influenced metal complete with the rock n’ roll blues-scale backbone, or the slowest, snail-paced funeral dirge ever created. Doom can be highly complex, but it’s always dreary and medium-paced at best. Some doom bands have songs ranging up to 30 minutes encapsulating minimalist drumming and two or three riffs that drag on forever. Truly effective doom metal sucks the life out of you harder than watching Gummo fifty times in a row. Most into doom are surprisingly big grind heads or gravitate towards the darker, more experimental black metal for its coldness and distance. It’s all connected to one extremely polarized head-trip. The metalcore and tech crowd come from a bridging of newer styles towards the end of the 90’s. Metalcore is basically hardcore with a diverse spectrum of influences thrown in (thrash, death, and prog). All-out tech metal (or “math metal”) is the sound-freak, we-practice-eight-days-a-week, “so complicated your head explodes” style. It’s newer, and thus hated by the “you’re a poseur” death, black, and thrash-heads. But any musician – be it a blues artist to a symphony conductor – appreciates the jaw-dropping complexity of the often jazz-based fusion rhythms. Tech is the most disciplined metal outside of death, and is truly a 21st, post-modern variation of it. Tech metal is traced back to early Dillinger Escape Plan, with newer bands like Between The Buried And Me & THE END upping it to the next level. The “Repulsion of Tech Metal,” consequently, is a generally unknown Seattle band named SWARMING HORDES who in 1995 released the first album of its proto-genre… Since metalcore and tech have become mainstream, there is a huge influx of hipster mettalers that wear tight pants and have girlie emo haircuts, lots of streaks – this weird offspring of the YouTube generation the old guard don’t really understand but pretend to. They’ve infiltrated to the point where all the old metalcore bands (all of whom maintained the DIY of punk) are abandoning their old styles. Having a sea of clone bands before them, this vastly confusing apparatus, it changes things… It’s kind of a mess right now, honestly, and it seems everyone is jumping ship to play old school thrash, doom, or crazed experimental styles. The trend will die, as they always do, and all the underrated, overlooked bands like The Nain Rouge, Psyopus & Signs of Collapse will go down in history, wholly accepted by the “Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame” & pimped at tourist shops alongside Ozzy toothbrushes & Hendrix coffee mugs… The Industrial scene is a different vibe altogether though. America has never truly embraced the tank-rousing, street war digital hardcore that Alec Empire has busted out in Germany with Atari Teenage Riot, or the truly bizarre, Warhol-esque drug freakout zone that Throbbing Gristle pulled off in the UK. Instead, American industrial has mutated into this kind of hedonistic dance utopia, where metal heads, punks, and electronic music junkies coagulate at 3am wearing devilish suits and ties while half-naked freak-dolls are led by the chain of a dog collar whilst electrical tape covers up their nipples and thing-a-ma-boobers. It is the future of post-modernity that Marquis de Sade cranked to in solitary confinement. When a live industrial band such as VNV Nation or Skinny Puppy comes through a territory, the traffic will change to another venue, but the great mass of freaks will always flock back to the seedy club that has been designated as the outpost. Expect pure darkness, candle-lit atmosphere, The Cure, EBM, shouting alcoholics, rivers of booze, some fine hush-hush white powder guzzling up a nostril … The industrial scene is both a fuck-frenzy and the ground zero campaign of all dramatists to live out their Anne Rice flavored romanticism, complete with interpersonal goth legends that increase in magnitude with every passing solstice. You’ll find the worst of them feeble in a shadowy corner, sobbing their vulnerose anguish while gazing at a dried dead rose, railing for attention with lame tales of a half-hearted suicide attempt… The goth/industrial crowd is not to be confused with the ravers. Ravers are more like dance club people promoting a hedonistic celebration of life. There is a core vibe of humanism and communication; a fanatic push to fuse the body and soul… As with metal, you have those who actually listen to electronic music as opposed to going with it. When actually investigated, the electronic format is limitless. The repetitive nature of the more brain-dead “loop-based” trance & house has given a negative connotation to the genre. Punks & metalheads almost unanimously hate DJ’s. They generally don’t consider it an art form, and grumble stereotype lines like “Pick up an instrument you fraud!” I personally consider Disc Jockeying an exercise in clever editing, which is an art form in and of itself, as well as the ability to sculpt the ambience & psychological permeation of a dance floor as the conductor would a symphony. It is a very careful balancing act, and takes a great degree of talent. But the DJ is not a musician… Plus the ravers are not as deviantly sexual. The industrial crowd wears their S&M leanings on their sleeves. The ravers are more peace & love, not ‘Let’s whip each other in a dungeon setting and go ape-shit kinky with straight-razors.’ While the dance-floor can be quite an aphrodisiac, the problem is when you finally get home at 6am and are actually in the position to have sex as opposed to making it on some fucked up, torn leather couch in the middle of a warehouse, the guys are so strung out from coke they can’t pitch a tent, and the girls are so drained from ecstasy all they want is to cuddle or dance around a living room until they pass out from exhaustion. Either way it’s a nightmare… So where do I fit in? I’m somewhere in the middle of it all, with my own extreme views on everything. My people are generally the moderates that devour film and literature, who collect vinyl and blab weird stories until 5am. Depraved sex hounds & bombastic radicals who’ll heed to common sense… I’m too dirty to be a skin, although I believe in their discipline and unity. I do not see the blue-collar lifestyle as something to fight for, just another bane and curse to overcome. Though a sort of anarchist I am no molotov-chucking one either, nor have I ever pretended to be. I have no qualms about working for money, I support free-market economy within fair standards, and I believe that government should exist as a moderate form of Democratic Socialism, whereas its goal is to benefit its citizens – as opposed to cannibalistically exploiting them like a cannon fodder battery supply. Still, I think it be perfectly appropriate to mention that I am, of course, a pyrate and an outlaw. Although I believe how a government should be in theory, I still don’t give a fuck. I’m a criminal, as any sane man is. How can one subdue themselves in light of the ghastly policies of the machine? I actually enjoy taking a shower at least every three days, unlike the crusties who enthusiastically sleep in dumpsters, priding themselves on the absolutist rejection of hygiene. For the nihilist crustie, I am too clean cut and organized (if you can even really call it that). I’m too abrasive for the politically correct crowd, yet I have no qualms against playing bongos with a bunch of hippies in the park. Still I find myself offending all with my political views, and challenge meathead quotas. I’m quite vocal about what I think is rude, uneducated gibberish. I won’t shut up & never will until they steal my vocal chords like kidney thieves in the dead of night. I enrage, I insult, I do spastic cartwheels, I take great pride. As Monsieur de Sade once said: “Kill me again or take me as I am for I will not change.” I’m a FREAK – a proud one of a long-dead, quasi-nationalism that arose from the concrete of East Dearborn in 1994. I am its champion flag-waiver, and old school in my tastes and preferences… THE VILLA WINONA (PORT OF ALL STORMS) Two and a half days since I left Detroit, and only one more hour of waiting until the Greyhound slips the Los Angeles terminal and takes me – like a golden chariot with flaming wheels – to the San Diego drop off point. This is my third experience with the LA depot, and still there are screaming Mexican babies everywhere. Like all inner-city terminals, outside the glass doors prowl a mob of ex-cons slinging pain pills & stolen cell phones… The Villa Winona – a quasi-crust house filled with fellow Detroit expatriates – will be the port of all storms during this voyage. I head onto the road for 2 months, go bankrupt, hustle a bus ticket for San Diego, then land like a comet right back on the couch. I then, in theory, find a lame minimum wage job fit for a teenager. I make a grand, book further adventures, then rush back out into America until this book feels complete. Literally, I have no plan – I instead put my faith in fortune cookies and astrology columns… This is my first return to The Villa Winona since June – and my second experience with California. It was that very trip 6 months ago set me off like a time bomb. After a killer burn in the romance department, I'd gone to reclaim some peace of mind. Instead I was thrust into a bizarre tale of green card bride schemes, BDSM porn offers, psychobilly fight clubs, and a man named Harley at the Institute of Scientology who locked me inside an L. Ron Hubbard brainwashing chamber – all of which somehow led me to a desert compound filled with armed satanic terrorists. A brilliant state of affairs, this land of palm trees and razor wire. I expected a gleaming hippie paradise – surfers, bikini blondes, sunny games galore. Instead, I found a virtual prison state, sublimely wrapped around the sky mall agenda. The Schwarzenegger backed anti-homeless Gestapo had implemented H.O.T. – a program to cleanse the homeless blight. Black paddy wagons cruised the streets forcing hobo's into state-mandated concentration camps. Motion detecting video cameras lined the streets taking license plate snapshots and sending off traffic violations through the mail… West Coast politicians for National I.D. cards, microchips in the skin of felons, public urination a sex offense… It is a faux-liberalism encased in vast amalgams of extreme poverty. The flip-flop paradise continues to swell, the undesirables are pushed further astray, deeper into the brutally policed hives of meth and prostitution. It is bunched in the slop of humanity, grids upon grid of domestic homes with barred windows, where The Villa Winona stands. You feel the strain, the heat, the uncertainty. The helicopters, the sirens, the military police cruising El Cajon… Thousands of tweaker zombies drudge the streets; you can hear them approach by their grinding jaws & shuffling demeanor It’s a little known fact that Crystal Meth was created by Nazi scientists. It was the Captain America-styled super soldier serum manufactured for the Waffen SS, and fed mountain-full to Adolf Hitler. Those hooked to it are up for weeks at a time with no REM sleep – a line of coke that never ends, devouring muscle to sustain itself – brains eating themselves away, face and teeth rotting out. And historians still wonder why The Holocaust happened. This highly addictive Nazi super drug is the most potent street score outside heroin, and exploding rapid as Plague. Meth is an epidemic so large the Cali establishment has no concrete grip on how to handle it. There are so many shredded from meth’s clutch that the building of prisons is the new economic backbone of California. It is said that California is 10 years ahead of America. That San Diego is where it began, and L.A. is where it’s heading. Welcome, my friends, to THE BIG SHINY PRISON. MERRY X-MAS Christmas day in San Diego. As for the inferno I’d anticipated, the only one is that of the sun. In Michigan we are accustomed to a blanket of white, pine trees in the living room, perhaps a crackling fireplace and roasting chestnuts. On this side of the earth it is 82 degrees, and we are cooking barbeque without t-shirts in our shorts. It takes a long ride down El Cajon from Downtown before you reach the laughable “ghetto” of San Diego, where The Villa Winona sits in a predominantly black & Mexican neighborhood. Three blocks away rests prostitute alley. Meth-heads stumble, g-thugs holler threats, tough guys confront each other yet never a punch thrown. They ram heads with the wink of an eye. This expatriate colony is an Alamo-like last stand refusing to give into any conventional sense of reality. Eight of us in a house the size of a living room, and roaches crawling over everything. The Villa Winona is the hub of a communal family, a handful of Michigan survivors which constitute an elite assortment of the criminally insane. So complex are the inter-personal dynamics they are impossible to scribe at once… They’d all escaped from Michigan via one-way road trip. When the shuttle crashed they went right to the streets, cutting their way through months of alleys, parks, and out-reach shelters. Four months later, The Villa Winona was captured after their pot-dealer succumbed to AIDS. A mob of 19 year old punk rockers cornered the confused 68 year old landlord with a wad of cash, and it’s flown ever since without a hitch – this mob of grifters obsessed with counterculture revolution. It is a volatile colony absorbing random freaks from Southern California, enamored with piracy and intent on serious malarkey. This particular cast, this rogue gallery – to be intimately acquainted, dear reader, is not a particularly ripe plunge at this moment. Rather, let us assemble a gallery of faces spinning like a roulette, round n’ round in frenetic blur – Onyx, Lennon, Brandon, Skinner, Dr. Santiago – Panda, Jo-Jo, Pork Chop, Corn Flake, Ryan The Ghostbuster, Matt Ratt & Chuck The Homey… Onyx, “The Urban Priest” – 35 and epic as a John Woo action sequence, is somewhere between the hitcher from Texas Chainsaw, Dr. Jung & every renascence creep. His wife, a 56-year-old schizophrenic ex-cult member has the gift of mutant savant astrology… Dr. Santiago, covered in tats, burning eyes, bleeding, always bleeding and picking scabs. Dr. Santiago, the lightning bolt of quasi-Zen purity, the 18 year old crust holy man eating raw fig leaves, ingurgitating the sun in meditation photosynthesis… Lennon – the scarecrow-bodied speed-freak, the Ferris Bueller of our commune. He is the spider-monkey “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac,” drudging SoCal ever since moving from Japan. Thin, nimble, bespeckled and utterly German, Lennon is notorious for throwing crust punk sewer shows, his small adept team dragging power generators into rat-infested darkness… Brandon, 28, a old good ol’ boy from my hometown, stemming from the same public education slaughterhouse. Orange bi-hawk, purple bags beneath his eyes, severe bi-polar depression and life ruined by a bogus sex offender charge. He refuses to work, hiding in that little corner surrounded by dressers like a fort, sleeping 14 hours a day. Brandon, who supports himself by giving blood twice a week, veins starting to resemble a neurotic raw-dog slider. Brandon, who preaches endlessly the subject of guerilla warfare, the supremacy of the illuminati, the coming attack of Atlantis… Mr. Skinner, who sleeps in a coffin in the garage, is as obsessed with psychobilly as he is the arrival of the alien races that will one day – if not moving in our midst already – come to reclaim the earth when the Mayan calendar runs out of steam in 2012… Skinner, the self-piercing, self-tattooing wonder, buzzing away at the orange & blue flames up and down his arms. Skinner the maniac, bloody and laughing in machismo aftermath, the giant “Medieval” tat across his shoulder blades earning its upkeep… Mr. Skinner plans to revitalize the SD punk scene via D.I.Y. venue in which Tuesday nights would be fight club, Wednesday $1 drinks, & all other eves pure catastrophic noise. If anyone gets out of hand or a fight breaks out, the house lights cut instantly. The spotlight explodes like the moon, beaming directly upon the venue bouncers who will in turn gleefully beat the shit out of each other. Not the audience mind you, but themselves – bloody and laughing – just to view the faces of the crowd… Midnight. Been drinking whiskey & smoking green kryptonite since 4pm. Every surface is loaded with emptied half-pints, beer cans & rum shots. I cannot distinguish which is mine so I claim sovereignty over all, chugging the foamy remnants. Lennon has returned strange as ever, skinny and cartoonish, grinding & rolling in perpetual burnout. He slimes through the Villa Winona in his gelatin-tarantula form, face protected by a World War II gas mask, and locks himself in the bathroom. Skinner sees the ploy, looks at us shifty eyed, and nonchalantly slides a ski-mask over his face. He throws on a large hoodie, oversized white Elvis glasses, and camo pants before brandishing a high-turbine semi-CO2 handgun. Skinner leaps out the back door, running circles around The Villa… A rumpled slither of a human snake against the pull of the carpet catches our drift. Lennon is wriggling his way to the kitchen on his belly, mini-UZI in hand. Skinner busts through the back door in a surprise assassination attempt, projecting an armada of circular yellow bullets which ricochet throughout the house. Skinner unloads into Lennon’s gas mask and lunges behind the kitchen counter… Brandon jumps over the living room couch and slides on some goggles as the two reload. He pops up like a mechanical whacking arcade gopher and starts firing away. I throw on my Korean War greatcoat, aviator glasses, red beret, and black bandana to shield my face. The four-man impromptu duel moves in slow motion, the graceful ballet of carnage consuming all… FIRST ADVENTURE ON THE DRAG And one day you wake up and find yourself in the middle of Hollywood, half-naked girl sleeping deeply beside you, and naïve rich people for thousands of miles ripe for hustle… The moment I walked into the stairway, wearing that skinny black tie, I was in an ironic parallel world. The beautiful girl’s apartment, head-trip or not, may very well have been the same from the opening sequence of Pulp Fiction. What a jolt, this déjà vu. And baked, of course, in my usual stumbling way, I got lost in the corridors. I eventually thudded through a trash exit, setting off a screaming emergency beeper, and in a rush to avoid security tripped over my own shoelaces. I torpedoed like a buffoon, swung up like a tornado, slipped through the barbwire fence like a ninja. After so many years I was now a hop, skip & jump from the touted land of Hollywood. And what a perfect Cali day – 70 degrees, blue sky, sun shining, not a cloud. The ex-autoslave emerging from desperate Midwestern values, finally to rumble those fabled avenues. I’d expected Lamborghini’s, French maids, fortresses like Cambodian drug-lords – but these back-alley neighborhoods off the strip, all I’ve found are cramped streets of average suburban design. …Onwards to the tourist nightmare, that mythological terrifying side of Hollywood – the scum side, the mug-happy side – the soulless, blackened drag of strip clubs, pimps, pushers, con men and such like, where demon night crawlers stake their claim and the blood of the innocent flows supreme... HAHAHAHAHA. Ok, whatever… …Ah, Hollywood Boulevard, the media stairway to heaven. Was it corruption I smelled? The effluvium of a 100,000 starry-eyed sheep? The last great Babylon, so we’re told, where the weak trample the weak in a primal agastopian frenzy. All that desire, all their struggle – only to place a single foot at the incline of a hierarchical trapezoid, slicing through cartilage and bone, trampling friends and enemies alike to stay ahead of the mongrel leeches slithering below. Progress becomes the ability to sustain the attacks as one fends himself from the devouring onslaught on high… Apart from the famous star-studded sidewalk, Hollywood Boulevard resembles the hot spot of every random college town. You know, that three street long strip where the young go to intoxicate themselves silly and buy piles of comic books, bongs, and random memorabilia. That is pretty much the extent of it – just this huge, thirty block cluster – the apex of “hot spot” existence. Then BAM – you’re spit back out into LA – one gigantic mega-suburb without a center. It’s depressing and shameful. You feel like Jim Carrey at the end of The Truman Show when he rows to the edge of the town and discovers nothing but a sound-stage. The world you once knew, which seemed so large and endless, is just as phony as Los Angeles. The Déjà vu is there because you’ve seen it all on the TV screen before a hundred times, except that abandoned factory section you assume exists where Steven Seagal took out an Uzi-spraying coke-lord surrounded by flame shooting oil spikes isn’t an area at all. That abandoned factory is actually next door to the ice cream store from Grease, is next to the diner where Pacino meets Deniro in Heat, is next door to the gym from Pumping Iron. The world in your head that seems like an infinite universe is actually a stage prop that lasts thirty blocks, except there are Mexicans everywhere selling fruit on the corner, working the minimum wage shit jobs, and doing very silly things on Spanish infomercials… In front of the Chinese Theatre there is a man dressed like Darth Vader and across the street is a Japanese family taking digital photos in front of a Frankenstein statue. I only take a few steps past Captain Jack Sparrow when a tiny man with a Brooklyn accent offers a limo ride past all the movie star mansions for thirty bucks. How can I deny and plot device from Leprechaun 2? So I haggle, get a ticket for $25, leap in the back of the black stretch with eight others and off we go. The glittering wasteland quickly comes into focus as an Arabic driver explains the passing sights over an amplified CB radio. We cruise through Beverly Hills listening to “18 And Life To Go.” Dr. Phil’s house looks like Jabba The Hutt’s palace with this weird circular fortress roof… That bald head and mustache on the body of a pasty white elephant sized worm… Ozzy’s is the same from the MTV show, but “The Prince of Darkness” has Christmas wreaths all over his gates. Tom Cruise has a party shack across the street from his $50,000,000 dollar mansion. Leonardo Dicaprio lives in Joe DiMaggio’s old crib and has a ten million dollar personal golf course for a backyard. Bill Cosby has little black golf caddy statues all over his lawn. Michael Douglass has ten of the exact same Porsche lined in front of his humongous garage, each one a different color of the rainbow. Frodo’s Hobbit House from Lord Of The Rings is kitty-corner from Tom Hanks estate and hidden behind thick stone walls. For some reason, Universal decided to film that segment smack dab in the middle of the movie star death-zone. What’s so brilliantly pleasing is that the funny mushroom shaped Shire chimney is high as a flagpole and visible for all to see. It pops over the horizon during sundown and as the sunlight refracts off its pinkish tan hue the colossal chimney resembles a twenty foot high erection.… And Tom Hanks pulls into his parking lot every night and sees this. When he looks out his front window, when he’s on the commode. It’s the sort of thing that would drive a man to watch Mazes & Monsters… The acting elite own this town without question. Restaurants, hotels, movie theatres, apartment buildings, scientology centers. Pyramid scheme overlords – overlords & vultures, all of them. The greater their power, the bigger the mansion and higher the placement upon Hollywood Hills embedded near that famous “HOLLYWOOD” sign glowing outwards like a hypnotic occult emblem… George Lucas and Spielberg come within a few yards of its foothold. Perhaps it causes cancer or emits mind-controlling invisible lazar beams that keep the racket scheme in progressive unending motion like a renegade dishwasher on loop… Watch them glide, plastic and immune, guided by the invisible strings of the marionette. Yet who is the Puppet master? Who is the Puppet master? KABUKI DOUBLE TAKE Nearly a week later and the beautiful girl is getting impatient with my loafing on the couch. I need to hit it hard and get back to San Diego immediately – one last mission, something of intrinsic value. My slam-bang opening has been mauled by the lazy response of LA musicians. Perhaps it’s a dark nod towards the future, this pattern forming of contacts that flake like dead dandruff when it’s time to meet in person. Thus far I’ve conducted at least a half-dozen interviews, none of which are remotely appealing. Today I plan on usurping the tradition. I’m at a place called Cascade Studios, which is a rehearsal complex around the block from Paramount Studios. Fre-Ne-Tik are cutting their demo live here from the DAT mix. They’ve yet to arrive and no other bands are practicing except a traditional Mexican band complete with that carnie, parking lot, kielbasa tent Casio. I slip out back to clear my head, crouched on the back steps staring at the gravel. When I lift my head up I lock eyes with a mysterious figure – I’m staring at a man who is glaring from inside his green Windstar. His face is painted up like Sgt. Kabuki Man NYPD, and he’s so nonchalant. Apparently the Peppermint Creeps – a glammed out, rag doll-painted, hair metal ordeal – are about to film a video for their cover of “Turning Japanese.” The Fre-Ne-Tik caravan arrives. Lead singer/principal songwriter Mimi is so cute you expect her to flatulate rainbows. She has that Cleopatra meets Mrs. Marcellus Wallace hair cut, miniskirt with black tights and combat boots, like a ‘95 poster girl heartthrob. She is total sunshine, but nervously pacing the stage. They’ve this somber rock sound with bellowing Cello; a stripped down Opiate-era Tool and early Garbage or Infinite Sadness Pumpkins. I feel like I do when I’m listening to Portishead, if that has any resonance: “I was born in Jersey and played in a hardcore punk band. Then I moved to Philly for 9½ years. I did a little bit of everything, from hip hop to country to dance music. I kind of blew up to the point where I was in the local newspapers and magazines on a weekly basis. Everyone knew my name, I was signing autographs. LA pretty much calls me and tells me I have to come out here because I was offered a record deal as a solo artist. I got offered a movie part in a film called ‘Zerophilia.’” “What’s that about?” Mimi: “I was flown out to Oregon to be in the film for two minutes as myself, rocking out in a bar scene. Five of my songs were chosen for the film which just recently came out in theatres in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. It’s doing really well and there are big name actors that blew up while the film was in limbo. Zach from The OC. Taylor Hannely from The OC…” “Tell me about Hollywood…” “Where I’m from I’d get $600 and a 150+ would show up. Out here you pay to play and maybe 30-50 will show… If you have something original and refreshing you’ll make it. People come from all over the world to try and make it but I’d have to say that 85% of them suck. I know so many A&R reps that get black trash bags full of CD’s and find maybe one good song. I’ve personally been in the office of Capital Records, Universal. I’ve had these people interested in us, but nowadays you have to have sold at least 150,000.” “Is there a tightly knit artistic community here?” “In LA it’s hard to find genuine people. It’s like being stuck in this huge pond of people all struggling to stay afloat. They’ll grab you just to use you as a floating device and hold you underwater until you drown. It’s like only the strongest survive, and I feel like most of the bands act like they’re cool with you but if they know you’re really good and you have what it takes, they end up doing some shiesty, backstabbing shit.” “What’s the message of Fre-Ne-Tik? “The deepest, darkest secrets of every relationship you’ve had with everything around you. I’m this sponge that absorbs everything. I don’t even sit down to write. It could be three in the morning and I’ll wake up with a song playing in my head like it’s a CD on full blast. I grab a pen and start writing as fast as it’s playing. When the song is done it’s gone. I don’t go back and fix anything. I just start playing my guitar as if I’ve known it for 10 years. The band picks that shit up like they’ve been playing it for 20.” “Do you have any good celebrity stories?” “Dennis Rodman told me I needed to stop waitressing because I needed to be either on the television or on the radio. I just served him some coffee and eggs…” “Who would look creepier in pink spandex – Tom Arnold or Ron Jeremy?” “You (laughs). Pink spandex in general is pretty funny…” AGAIN, FROM SCRATCH Back in San Diego, back to the drawing board. If this is a new book, if this is a true expose, then where might the clarity derive? For life is not a series of concrete dimensions; action and response do not spring from definitive assertion. The Big Shiny Prison, as an art form, must record everything as it happens – it must convey the entire platitude, the prisms and jangles of the whole man… It seems now, in all substantiated opinion, that everything shall be failure. If this is an unsalvageable manuscript from the outset, perhaps it is failure I should now admonish? Perhaps, as a fearless workhorse, I should throw the baby out with the bathwater. I should promulgate the seed, beat the face of commercialism to a pulp. For what is journalism but a jigsaw of truth’s conjecture? The objectivity is now gone, yet propaganda is too harsh a description. I have to pull inwards, remove myself – I have to alienate myself completely to restore order, castrate the yearning for roots so that I may become citizen of the malleable nation I now germinate through vast foundations of text. If I, dear reader, shall be your tour guide, then we must begin anew. What you have witnessed in slap-dash is equivalent to gazing downward from an airplane at miniature homes and ant people, so miniscule and pointless that one finger flick could disrupt the tectonic plates. For we’ve only touched upon the sights, the sounds, the visions. We’ve dipped our naked toes into the pool, found it aggrieving, and paced steadily its length in blind hopes the chill shall evaporate… If there is any better a sense of womb for this journey then it is the purgatory now facing me? Nowhere have I discovered such a raw infusion of climate and mentality then in Southern California. Never have I parlayed such a sweltering brew of constant motion, of life rhythms based wholly on the sun. These life rhythms, so remote of the East Coast hunab ku, drive a surmountable wedge through a sustained communication… The San Deigan does not understand the meaning of hibernation, only the constant beat of the orb. In SoCal it’s always August. Forever the pulse of summer – the confusion, the noise, the inertia. Never does a layer of ice halt their turbines, never has a -20 chill dragged them deep within relentless gut-screaming depression. Unlike the Northern world there is no conscience urgency to suck up every last morsel of warmth. The yanks are frantic in summer, setting down all qualms, all responsibilities in light of BBQ’s, concerts, sports, riots, massacres & lunch, for they know it comes and goes in swift. They prime themselves wholly for adventure – picnics, car rides, wave pools, disc golf and athleticism. It is grabbed in full, drained lifeless as a rock. In San Diego this Mediterranean Climate embeds a different form of urgency. There is no need to rush sightless into its thick, no screaming terror that it will vanish deftly as Houdini. There is instead a permanency to the motion, an endless spring, a weight eternally lifted which drives the mind into a cultural inferno of perpetuation, as if an eternal law of symbiosis retains all submissive. The people don’t stop and think, they just go go go. What time is there to read books when ski jets graze above water? What grimness can be nurtured when the grey sky blight is a non-entity, a figment discontinued? Brains thus chug forward as frantic batteries, solar powered and hosted by the light… In this incubation The Villa Winona is supplanted. Somewhere in this miraculous mess of activity we come together to scratch our heads. We devour life more so then the locals, for in their blind rush of summer they lack the urgency that it will be taken in seasonal clockwork. They don’t understand the climate of fear and hopelessness that embodies Detroit. They know not the prison camp foundations of our lives. In their gleaming paradise Detroit is but a vague image, an untraveled trademark of stereotypes. Thus they have had the luxury of relaxation, of slower impulse. This is why, in any mass social interaction, when we gallop into open community we seem the detachment of a barbarian horde. We pillage like Vikings, carrying the weight of every successful hustle and food snatch back to the compound, where we live the economy of barter. Neo-tribal, this spinning nucleus of confusion, forever ogled & entranced as if San Diego were Disneyland. This rugged patch of terrain and class warfare, palm trees and motor debris… This far-reaching octopus of steel and black tar… Flower patches brimming like swarms of larvae… Ocean currents grate against the course pull of sand… Hills everywhere, like great walls surrounding us, at night the villages shine like magnificent dots… The endless maze of alleyways, dripping graffiti and fever… The outer crest of cement breaks rural, landscape unfurling homes sutured amateur… The cawing of roosters even amidst the concrete… The porn shop filth bowl and glass shrapnel motorway… Gaudy taco huts drifting charred effluvium… The black top vapor evap of mid-day rush… Motor police and orange coats, haggard winos swarming as hive… Car lot archipelagos & four wheeled mortgage tombs… Whore houses and jet rays, iPod’s and colonoscopies… Aristotle enveloping the technological undercurrent, Plato redefined… Bail bond advertisements on every park bench and flagpole… TRANSMISSION AMSTERDAM In 5 minutes, Melechesh is going to call The Villa Winona. Melechesh, the first black metal band in the history of the Middle East, who rose from Israel in 1993 to give the world its first glimpse of Sumerian thrash. Bullet belts, demonology & eardrum convulsions… On par with West Virginia’s NILE – who are legends for their unique breed of Egyptian death metal – Melechesh are hailed internationally for their original use of exotic scales and modes. They’ve rearranged the death/thrash formula into an even more extreme and hypnotic potent by blending an array of Middle Eastern folk instruments into their lavish compositions. In this, they’ve become an undeniably massive influence in America, guitarists far and wide emulating their brazen deviations. Dr. Santiago, still bleeding, still picking scabs, is to be my intern. He reaches over, as an unabashed fan, to enthusiastically read the text on Melechesh’s promo pack. I don’t need to for I know the story all too well – 14 years of chaos and 4 solid records of endless acclaim. Simply withdrawing into that inner-lair of zine quotes like stock market statistics I can cascade an avalanche of them at will: “Melechesh, the sonic bludgeoning killers of napalm infused whatever, driving the brains of their listeners into rust-belt meat-grinders, beating them senseless with fiery tides of revulsion and primal terror, and blah blah blah…” “Melechesh, those horrendous sons of the Aeonic gods, blast forth a highly complex, hook-driven & eerie blah blah blah. Worldwide, like the looming threat of Jihad, the poor metalhead consumes their audio cancer, driving them into a conspiracy movement of hooligan frenzied shenanigans – pouring acid on the face of the Lincoln Memorial, wiping their buttocks with the Magna Carta, dropping grand piano’s from skyscrapers at haphazard immigrant taxicabs – a plasma-drenched maelstrom of blah blah blah blood and fumigation. With their new release ‘Emissaries,’ Melechesh blah blah, world tour beside Marduk blah blah…” “So you’re calling from Amsterdam today? Ashmedi: “We live here actually. “Tell me about your new record “Emissaries” and what you hoped to accomplish with the album…” “I think I did accomplish what I wanted – you can say death, Mesopotamian metal or Sumerian thrashing black metal at it’s finest, I guess. It’s an expression of the band, and expression of mine as well, since I write most of the music. I feel that I’ve achieved that with Emissaries and it’s an album I’m very proud of. On the media level and the fans at least it’s being received very well. They had a lot of expectations for us especially after SPHINX was released. It’s been hailed by the public, especially here in Europe and now it’s starting in North America.” “What elements were able to make Melechesh stronger coming from the critically acclaimed “Sphinx” album?” “I don’t think I could answer ‘better or worse,’ because it’s very subjective. I know some people that think our first album is the best, because its very raw. I think the majority considers SPHINX our best album. I think of course the natural maturity and progression of the sound-work in the past two years has allowed me to grow musically, hence the improvement. Lyrically it’s very elaborate and we were able to include newer elements of the band. I think what I like about “Emissaries” is that I felt less cornered, like ‘fuck it I’ll just write whatever I feel like writing.’ With that liberation, I think the music came out even more sincere.” “Lyrically what are some of the concepts and ideas you talk about on ‘Emissaries?’” “Generally we play around with the ideas of Sumerian deities coming back from another planet onto earth. It is one that we like to elaborate on and in this album it is mentioned as well. It is just such a fascinating idea. I also have a song about my personal view of the occult side of Jerusalem, the city I was born in and where Melechesh started back in ’93. There’s also a track about the kabala. There’s also one song based on a very ancient text that is adapted slightly. It coincides with some ideas I had which is really amazing and almost surrealistic. In general its Mediterranean mysticism and Middle Eastern occult, specifically the Mesopotamian.” “What was it like originating in Jerusalem? I know many of the Arabic countries are very opposed to heavy metal and anything they would view as dark or satanic…” “Speaking of the Arabic countries the atmosphere is really different. In that world there is a huge scene. In some countries it’s legal, in some countries it’s been banned. It’s still brewing and its brewing big. I think that within 5, maybe 10 years it’s going to be very normal to hear of a signed Arabic band. As for the situation in Jerusalem there has always been metal. On sheer nightlife I find it more interesting in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv then Amsterdam. It’s not conservative at all, and on a cultural level they are less conservative. Of course the Palestinians are more conservative.” “But as a band with occult imagery, did you catch flack?” “We did a black metal band in Jerusalem – we were actually the first black metal band ever in Jerusalem, now there’s a scene there. When we said we were a metal band it was all okay in East Jerusalem and the Israeli area, but in the Palestinian areas I was a cast out. I’m neither Israeli nor Palestinian myself, but I lived there. It wasn’t polarized in Jerusalem until a newspaper wrote a kind of lie thing about us being a satanic cult and not a black metal band. Then we were wanted by the authorities because that was not allowed. There was no rule, there was nothing illegal that you weren’t allowed to have. But they didn’t know how to handle it because it was the Holy City and there was a “satanic cult” there… Now people are very interested in it. We’ve achieved a lot since then, and it kind of vanished with time. We moved out in ’98. We did one album while living there, recorded in Jerusalem. After that we did several albums in Europe.” “I have one of my editorial interns with me, he’s a big fan of your work. He’s got a few questions for you so I’ll be turning you over to him…” Dr. Santiago: First, a lot of people who may hear your music might consider it to have a dark influence or negative impact. I believe otherwise, but am curious your response…” “If they don’t comprehend what we do you mean? You can take that question into various meanings – it could possess you, it could tend to do something like make you cry or make you commit suicide or…” Dr. Santiago: “Well as far as your philosophies of the occult, would you consider it to be a negative or positive influence on your listeners?” “I think that its enlightenment. With Melechesh if you don’t read the lyrics you can still enjoy the music. The lyrics offer a lot of profound substance. If they really comprehend them, it won’t hinder towards a negative. They question a lot of things, the lyrics. The subjects we talk about are rather fascinating. Are they dark? Well, of course, but its very subjective.” Dr. Santiago: “So you believe it’s either one or the other – either they love your music or they’re going to hate it…” “I think at a musical level it’s like everything else. If you listen to it and you understand it, you might like it. And if not, that’s fair enough. From what I see our fan base is always growing. Musically people could relate to it unless they are looking at it from a very skeptical point of view. Lyrically I think that yes, it is dark in some sense. It’s not very happy stuff.” Dr. Santiago: “One thing I love about your music is that there is a wealth of experience and influences – what if any specific roots that contributed to the overall sound of ‘Emissaries?’” “I think it’s a process of evolution and conscious thought, but then it becomes your character. What you hear on Melechesh is my character of composing, so maybe that’s one, but how is that formed? I was raised on thrash and heavy metal, black metal. My attitude is a combination of the three. I feel that Mediterranean music fits perfectly in the percussion area, and with the guitar. That combination in my own character makes the sound of Melechesh.” Dr. Santiago: “Are there any specific bands that you have a lot of respect for?” “I respect a lot of bands of course, but acknowledging them for crafting the sound of Melechesh today? No, I can’t. But we started because I was so into the Bathory The Return album that I wanted to do something similar as in raw but that of course was the first period. I enjoy lots of rock and black metal and thrash, especially when they have their own sound going. But I don’t think you can relate any of them to us now.” Dr. Santiago: “What is your favorite country to play live?” “I like playing in Israel because it’s so inspiring there. It’s a holy place, there’s a lot of metal, the audience is very, very, very aggressive. France is nice to play, Germany. Sometimes the Dutch audiences are considered timid, because that seems part of the culture. But when we play its insane here. I liked playing Canada.” Dr. Santiago: “Does Melechesh have any political views? Being from Israel how do you feel about holy wars and the jihad situation going on in the Middle East?” “As a band we don’t have a political opinion because we don’t deal with mundane aspects… As an individual of course… We’re all free thinkers and we all have our opinions. Not all of them are in agreement of course. Personally my political opinions are best summed up with it takes “2 to tango.’ Every action has a reaction, just like Einstein said in physics. That applies. It becomes a vicious circle. They don’t ask what the source of the problem is, they just kill back and forth. I think a lot of people are hypnotized and easy to manipulate. Its ignorance ruling rather than enlightenment, and they outnumber us at least a hundred to one. I don’t believe what I hear on the TV. I know for a fact that there a lot of lies…” DESPERATELY AWAITING THE NEEDLES Onyx’ wife takes me to the homeless shelter Downtown, a Lutheran Church where dinner is served at 4pm and the free medical clinic offers a variety of services, including free acupuncture… You look down from the second story balcony at the swarming courtyard mass of them. Some crippled, some disturbed, all broken or otherwise obscured. That deep-seated conservative dogma rears its ugly head and you wonder how many are just parasitic actors that lack the discipline to pull it together… Dinner is served – a portion of chili, one donut, one piece of bread and a vital slice of American cheese. One stale slice of cold cheese pizza, a lumpy mash of yam pie smothered in cinnamon, one day old glaze donut with chocolate icing… I get ticket #43 for acupuncture and sit alone in the lobby blasted and falling asleep from hardcore muscle-relaxers. Hours pass, public lawyers explain legal issues to old Chicano men in Spanish… 8:30pm, shuffled into a curtained room where two med students await my diagnosis. One is a male late 20’s, wide-eyed and tripped out, the spittoon image of a Tom Green body double. The girl is a stunningly pretty blonde, trusting and beaming with a gentle, motherly aura. They ask dozens of medical and psychological questions and have me stick out my tongue, debating its coloration… Acupuncture is a pseudo-science that’s results count solely on knowledge of the charkas and other such Oriental beliefs. It is a way to channel the electrical currents in the body by sticking giant needles in a variety of pressure points that act like inward lightning rods. To make their final prognosis, they have to both read my pulse simultaneously, clutching my wrists as we all meditate together close-eyed and Zen-like in an attempted psychic link... But I know I’m in trouble. There is no way a correct reading is going to come from this. First, I’m all jacked up on painkillers. Second, I can’t relax because I’m a misanthropic, anxiety riddled freak and squirm in opposition to the general contact of strangers. Third, being this hardboiled has created a consistent mood where I cannot get excited, get a pulse pounding, or feel emotion like the normal human would. The empathy is strangled and the compassion is fleeting at best, but such is my serrated nature… Fourth, the pretty blonde girl is gently stroking my wrist with her soft, television white, Oil Of Olay hands and giving me a raging boner which I’m fighting with all my deluded concentration. Although instinctually I want the flagpole to rise full mast – to lunge forward in savage animal lovins’ – I have Tom Green here on the other end gaffeling the awkward process. Plus I’m chilly and in boxers beneath the Kleenex-thin surgical gown. My legs are tightly squeezed together to keep the ever-enlargement of Mr. Binky tucked firmly between my thighs, this air of an unrecorded Marx Brothers skit… They consult their certified mentor, I go limp, and they have me lay face down. Methodically they massage tender areas, spice me up with foreign herbs/exotic oils, then beat me with wooden mallets. Once I’m fully relaxed & gelatinous, they swiftly jab humongous needles into my feet and upper back... Tepes as it appears, there was nothing but dull pain involved, which quickly dissipated into a warm tingling. My eyes bulged from my skull, and I lay in a dizzyingly satisfying stupor. I melted like butter until being sent, confused and dizzy from needles, back into the night. The bus home was unreal, and the moment I walked into the Villa Winona I passed out on the busted up floor mattress… Next day, back screaming, wake up wondering where I was. Slept deep and in a bad, bad position – too much muscle relaxation way too fast. It felt like half the meat hung from my bones. I envisioned myself the gargoyle on the church arch, encased in ice… Did they wipe me clean with holy water? THE MADMAN OF TEMECULA "I've always hated 99% of Earth's population. Even as a kid I couldn't fucking stand them. Last month I nearly ripped someone's face off for disrespecting 'Masters of The Universe.' He saw my collection and was like 'Oh, that orange guy.' No motherfucker, these characters mean everything. They're symbols and mythologies. I was raised on the Norwegian legends, and all of them represent different incarnations of The Old Gods. But to this asshole, they were just chunks of plastic to bang together as a mindless kid. You fucking zombie, that's Beastman, not orange guy. He's the ruler of the jungle, he wrangles the beasts of the Earth. You disrespect him and you fuck with what I stand for. This shit is fucking serious!" These are the words of Edwin Borscheim, arguably the most extreme shock rocker in America, if not the world. Not since GG Allin's death in 1993 has anyone came close to topping the legend, yet Borscheim hits the same altitude of abomination, even if avoiding eating his own shit on stage. GG was a lunatic freak and prevented serial killer who found freedom in punk rock instead of slashing up hookers. His charisma was legendary, his quotes immense, his lunatic plan to remodel the world in his own twisted image second to none in the history of rock n’ roll… and then came Borscheim… To flip on a Kettle Cadaver DVD is to view Edwin live in action hammering 8 inch nails through his cock and scrotum to a 2X4, raping a skinned coyote with a high powered saw blade strap-on, staple gunning his face raw, tearing out his fingernails, savagely attacking hecklers in the crowd, jamming two dozen hypodermic needles in his skin, or wrapping razor wire around his chest, face and schlong for kicks. And now comes the new Edwin – an even bloodier, more gruesome version of his old self – abandoning the old school days of Kettle Cadaver for an all-out conversion to black metal terrorism. Hanging out with Edwin Borscheim is kind of like hanging out with Freddy Krueger, except that he hunts you down in your dreams not to slaughter you, but simply to hang out ‘cause you’re just as depraved. Just as the Son of a 100 Maniacs would lead you around his boiler room showing off his neat finger knife trinkets, Edwin enthusiastically does the same. We’re inside his HQ, this ghoulish shack of doom he built from the ground up. I’m the first journalist outside of the Germans to ever step foot in here, and they flipped him a grand. The interior hosts a massive collection of death-weapons he created through blacksmith arts & crafts. All of the leather he made himself – gauntlets, full war suits studded with barbaric spikes, weird BDSM shit. Since the slaughterhouse wouldn’t let him slay the cow, he purchases the fully carved skin and drags the bloody clump home over his shoulder, dragging a mutilated trail through sandy back-roads... The entrance to Edwin’s fortress is covered in gigantic rusted nails and surrounded by quaint booby traps such as literal bear traps. The interior is shadowy and gothic in the truest non-HIM sense, and you feel like you’re in the lair of a Handy Andy Nosferatu, because the entire structure is hammered together with chopped lumber. It’s like an authentically menacing version of Mandel’s underworld in Little Monsters. Edwin sleeps in a coffin and there is real blood splattered all over the walls. Same with the floors, and Manson Family-esque satanic writings spray painted across the walls. Black candles, occultist mirrors, giant Carpathian Forest flag. “You wanna see some crazy shit?” Edwin says as he flicks through the footage of a video recorder. On the tiny screen – the only thing illuminating the chamber – are two girls he’s faced backwards, backsides exposed, both handcuffed and mute, and he’s staple gunning their backs with three-inch deep industrial sized magnums. There are at least a hundred in each of their backs, and they’re not even making a peep. Then he lifts a chalice, pops some of these juggernauts out with a butter knife, and fills the thing up with dripping plasma. He pauses the HI-8 before it gets any crazier. Impressed, I say: “Wow, that shit’s fucking hot. Where do you find girls like that?” His reply: “You gotta create ‘em.” Every writer alive exaggerates things ever so slightly for the purposes of sensationalism and effect. Once again, I cannot stress more firmly how dead serious Edwin is. He is one of the most intense individuals I have ever met. Borscheim exists in some other dimension attained through Neitzscean will – this brutal tyrant with the cunning dementia of Loki. He moves with the wolf-like grace of Danzig – ripped, crazed; a wide black Mohawk with shaved-to-the-skin sides, Kettle Cadaver logo tattooed on the left hemisphere. His knuckles are tattooed with the names of his pet dogs, quite possibly the only living beings he has any true love for. He seems at all times to be swinging between two polarizations – one where everything is a sort of warped cartoon of black humor; the other a nightmare world where he could snap on you in a heartbeat. Yet he has an almost child-like exuberance for adventure. He has an inherently European vibe, due to his Norwegian immigration. He has a distinct way of talking, this slang-heavy accent on par with a mafia underling from Long Island. Not that I have even begun to unfurl his epic back-story. You see, in Temecula – a town 2 hours north of San Diego – lay a sparse settlement within a complex of mountainous valleys. Halfway to Los Angeles, in this very desert, lays a satanic compound where pagan black mettalers collide to live in a world between Road Warrior Urungus and the multi-hoofed army of the four horsemen. And the ringmaster antichrist of these hordes met me in person at a billiards hall last summer. We then had a discussion of great historical importance… Said Borscheim on June 22nd 2006, while referring to his legendary squat The Mower Shack: “Those days were pretty wild. I used to pick up squatter kids and let them live on my property in exchange for labor. We would have all kinds of different parties there. Most of them to make money, but then we also had our exclusive Plague shindigs where you could see bands like Pernicious and Sol Evil. It was an exciting time – we’d pretty much created our own reality. I was clueless of the outside world. When 9/11 hit, I didn’t even know until almost a week later.” “That place had endless opportunities.We’d host these bear-knuckle fight parties where people would beat the fuck out of each other. If you were to look at this scene from the outside, it might seem a bit childish with the war paint and old fashioned weapons. But this is what attracts the young and there is nothing like the enthusiasm of the youth… **Back to the Present, this chilly January night. The situation has crept ever so slowly from “formal journalist guy meets Satan incarnate.” No, this is on par with Scarecrow and The Joker kicking it at the League of Doom. It’s not about ideology, it’s not about press – it’s two sick fucks getting ripped & ranting depravity… Yet we need to back up this tale, again. Five hours ago I was sitting in the Greyhound SD terminal and breaking news flashed that the French government had declassified all of their X-Files and flatly admitted the existence of alien spacecraft. It ran once as a quickie blurb before returning to the top story of every 15 minute brief – a two year that old accidentally ate crystal meth in Kansas… I fell asleep on the bus, and went deep under in an exhausted lapse of REM. I thought I was an Eagle soaring over the mountains, swaying to the bus rhythms… Snapped out immediately, groggy, pushed out of the bus, Edwin emerges from the darkness with red suspenders and white laced boots, shakes my hand with a slick professional death-grip, and we hop into his buddies’ truck. The night is freezing and ominous, the moon full and bright when a cop speeds behind us and flips on his lights at 75 MPH on the freeway. It is no secret at that moment how allergic Edwin and I both are to the coppers; that same paranoiac, neurotic spider sense. Everyone is obviously a walking felony in this car. Miraculously, the squad car switches lanes, hits the gas, and zooms passed us doing 95 MPH. The cold-blood rush fades slowly... As we approach Edwin’s compound his dogs run to the fence. “Never pet the dogs, it’s faggot shit. I see someone pet my dogs and I swear I’ll beat their fuckin’ face in.” Up the hill is his little trailer in the middle of a dead field. His neighbors are far separated, and they have wooden fence posts and roosters. It is Devils Rejects incarnate. His entire backyard is this satanic al Qaeda training ground, and there are weird structures of steel and chicken wire that he welded together for cage-match fighting. There’s also a giant gargoyle head he created by hand, like an Aztec remnant, surrounded by a mix of black ash and sand... The inside of Boscheim’s trailer is divided into three main motifs – Danzig worship, He-Man toys, and a giant wall of horror DVD’s & WWII docs. There is an oil painting someone made of Edwin in a Frazetta-type barbarian background with flaming volcanoes. He’s beefed up, bluish and clutching a deranged machete. Eddie takes me outside to the shack fortress, and that’s when we catch up to the staple gunned darlings. He begins shuffling through junk drawers, tossing random items on the ground. The wood block he nailed to his genitals, a barb wired crown with strands of his hair and chunks of skin stuck to its barbs, hypodermic needles with dried blood in the chamber. “Ah, here they are.” He passes me some BM propaganda flyers fashioned after the old school Norwegian ones you see in the sidebars of Lords of Chaos. They are all based around the SoCal Plague network, the supposed terrorist organization in which Lord Mörder from Sol Evil was convicted. One flyer is an anti-Lord Daishe (Sumeria) flyer that has his corpse-painted face with a universal “NO” encircled by “NO TRAITORS, NO SNITCHES, NO RATS, NO NARCS” and reads: “This bastard helped the authorities in prosecuting Lord Mörder of Sol Evil. Destroy Daishe now!” Another is a bloody, demonic Ray Shipley that says “FUCK DAISHE, HAIL LORD MÖRDER. Lord Mörder betrayed by Daishe of Sumeria. Support Black Metal! Support Sol Evil! Not police Puppets like Sumeria!” There are a few basic S.C.B.M. (SoCal Black Metal) ones, yet the most bluntly iconic is of a white-hooded corpse-paint druid with a spiked club behind a barb wire fence. There is a universal “NO” sign crossing out the word “HARDCORE” and surrounded by the words “NO FAGS, NO TRENDIES, NO STAGE, NO BANDS.” ***It should be appropriate to mention at this juncture that Ray Shipley, a.k.a. Lord Mörder is the right hand man of Edwin Borscheim, and both were instrumental figures in this renegade empire. In case you haven’t heard, Lord Mörder is the first black metaller in the USA to be tried as a "Satanic Terrorist." In early 2003 Mörder’s black metal outfit Sol Evil was at their peak, having completed a successful tour with Enthroned. Not long after, Sol Evil’s drummer Berzerk – a gauntlet-clad, leather and spiked black metal warrior – swore off his die-hard Satanic ideology and committed himself to a faith-based rehab clinic. He gave himself to the Born Again pathology, took up the crucifix and, overnight, cleansed his former image. This did not sit well with Lord Mörder, the band, or any in their immediate circles. It is an indisputable fact that worldwide, the black metal scene is unrepentantly and fascistically antichristian, because Christianity is viewed as the ultimate fascism. The essence of black metal is drenched in heathenism and fanatic mental segregation from both society and all white light religions. Black metal strives for the deepest pits of blasphemy; it is an orgy of audio terror and darkness. In its deepest sense, the efforts of BM strive for a liberation through the deepest core of alienation – a finalized process of man above god fused with a Neitzschean will to power… The die-hard Satanists of this underground are viciously committed to a code of “death before dishonor.” None ever forget or forgive their Quislings, and retribution could come in any form. Lord Mörder is one such Satanist, wholly enamored in his own myth, having erased all boundaries between the stage and physical reality. One cold February morning, he and Sol Evil’s guitarist Arminius, “sent a message” in blunt fashion. At 5am they sped past the rehab clinic housing Berzerk and popped a couple handgun shots aimlessly at the building. Mörder fervently insists they had no plans on committing direct violence against Berzerk or anyone else. In their eyes, it was simply a way to rattle his nerves and forever draw the line. Berzerk didn’t require physical retribution. He was invisible – a bad joke, a bathroom poetic; dead to them and gone forever… What Mörder and Arminius didn’t know is that they’d succeeded in terrorizing Berzerk so badly that he’d contacted the authorities. Fixed with a wire and appearing at Mörder’s home to “make amends,” the police recorded whatever blatant statements they could before the SWAT team charged in. As charges were formulated, Mörder was discovered to maintain an already colored legal history including grave desecration and church vandalism. The prosecution immediately demanded a duel verdict of life in prison without the possibility of parole. To make matters worse, Sumeria bassist Lord Daische was allegedly coerced by authorities to make statements against the two (which Daische has vehemently denied). This has caused a massive rift in the SoCal BM underground, with Sumeria itself as one of the most high-profile touring BM bands from the region. Due to the fanatical nature of the crime, the authorities needed little to convince the jury of Mörder’s status as a perceived Charles Manson/Varg Vikernes archetype. The prosecution was the first in United States history to utilize the seminal BM book Lord of Chaos as a reference guide. From that definitive history of the Norwegian church burnings, they pulled every belligerent statement from Burzum, Absurd & Mayhem to influence the jury. In the eyes of the law, he was also the ringleader of "The Plague" – a supposedly International Satanic Terrorist Organization mirroring Norway’s legendary “Black Circle.” In reality though, “The Plague” was simply a name given to his crew of friends and like-minded bands they often played with (including Kettle Cadaver), not uncommon whatsoever in any metal, punk, or industrial scene you'll find in operation today. A top-notch defense team could do little to reprimand the jury’s opinion. With dozens of live show flyers lined up as evidence featuring an endless procession of inverted crosses, burning pentagrams, and "destroy the Christians" outbursts in the margins, the life sentence loomed heavy over what was legally a 3 year maximum penalty of discharging a firearm in public. For an action that few outside the immediate BM underground at large could understand, Mörder was left trying to explain himself to a system which looked at him as nothing other than a terrifying psychopath that best be dealt with by throwing away the key. In the end they secured non-life plea bargains with trumped up "hate crime" charges, instantly giving three times the legal limitation. Mörder got 15 years as an accomplice, Arminius 25 for firing the weapon. The media covered it up as not to start any commotion, and this story has long been buried or publicized in highly obscure metal zines… And here I am at the second version of The Mower Shack, Edwin’s new lair: “See that Snake Mountain box on the floor? Know how on the side panel it shows all of the features to make it look way bigger and magical than it is? Like the a picture of an action figure in the slime pit, then one of an axe battle on the castle top, and one of Skeletor’s laboratory? That’s a big part of what inspired me.” Edwin shows me all of his tattoos. One is of the machete he created on the wall of his shack, a sketch of his torture rack, his band logo. Everything in Edwin’s world is highly personal, reinforcing the world he’s fanatically courted into reality… Edwin rants about Axel Rose being that alpha-male of rock vocalists, how Misfits over-merchandising has destroyed anything cult about the band, and about his 2004 “Naked Tour” which was “more of a rock n’ roll thing.” He elaborates a tale of trying to get a band he’d beaten up on a compilation he was putting out, and when he went to their house 20 cars pulled up to protect them. “Shit man, I was just trying to be friendly. It’s not my fault they suck. You want a comp that represents all of the scene or what?” Devon (drummer of Kettle Cadaver) shows up with plastic sheeting covering a bloody, fresh tattoo, and Edwin launches on a Mayhem rant. He pulls out a shoebox of 600 photos. He took a snapshot of every nook of the labyrinth beneath the Helvete store in Norway where all the legendary BM bands used to practice. Next he flips on the new Kettle Cadaver 12 video DVD collection Among The Damned. And I thought the self-mutilation in the first DVD was bad; live clips and industrial miniatures of Borscheim doing blacksmith stuff like Leatherface in his chainsaw shed… He’s kind of weird about playing his “ego masturbation ballad” acoustic song – a kind of “Man That You Fear” which features Edwin on mountaintops dueling both environment and his own personal nature in poetic, somber contemplation… There is a “glam” video in a nightclub that looks like The Viper Room, red curtains and hot goth chicks making out and dancing with snakes. Then my favorite – a Roadwarrior post-apocalypse homage of his crew fighting each other in dune buggies and shooting arrows. In this video he plays the red-mohawked villain complete with assless leather chaps. It concludes with a “two man enter, one man leaves” broadsword duel between Edwin and one of the Sol Evil guys, fire explosions spewing everywhere… Next he speeds through the documentary the Germans made on his wrestling, which has a weird Gummo vibe to it, like pro wrestling as this thing that comes out of poverty, ignorance, and desperation. At his segments peak he’s showing the crew Masters of the Universe figures and says something along the lines of, “Some kids grow up wanting to be doctors or the president. I wanted to be this” and points to Skeletor. “And you know I’m closer than probably anyone in America.” He pulls out a briefcase and inside it has a police report that details everything that cops confiscated from Mörder’s house when the arrest went down. It is about 10 pages long and convictable items include: “One copy of Marilyn Manson’s ‘Portrait of An American Family’ compact disc, one copy of Ted Bundy autobiography, maps of California, pair of handcuffs, anti-Christian heavy metal flyers.” They even added a Smashing Pumpkins album to the list. Edwin waves around a cassette tape that has all of the wire tapped conversations from Berzerk of Sol Evil and Daishe of Sumeria. “How the fuck did you get that?” Edwin just chuckles maniacally. “I have my ways.” The moment has finally come to start the interview, and I hit play in the middle of a conversation: “…threw him into the goddamn drum set, like a full Irish Whip. Whap, right into this guy and you see the camera [makes crashing noise]. Then I hit the bus driver, I run out and grab him during one of the songs. Then I threw him on the stage and he tries to grab some other guy, and this guy goes flying through the drum set. All these other meathead metal faggots are just standing there… “Dude, there’s no evil and brutality here. Cheeseburgers are not fucking black metal. Fucking pussies... And that guy keeps standing around, practicing how to be fuckin’ ‘Johnny Evil?’ At the end of the night he’s still standing there like ‘oh, you’re not cool.’ I’ll fucking strangle him. You’re not fucking cool either, standing around with hippie hair bullshit. Oppress the maggots, keep ‘em fucking down.” “What do you think of Phil Anselmo?” Edwin Borscheim: “Everyone hates him, I think he’s cool. I met him once and he remembered the Kettle Cadaver CD, he sung some lines from it. He had the Celtic Frost tattoo, all that shit.” “What do you think of Led Zepplin?” “I don’t know much. I don’t like much, and that’s blues.” “What do you think of Pink Floyd?” “That’s all that hippie shit. I’m into… very evil and psychotic distortion…” “Have you ever met Belladonna, the freak porn star?” “I’ve never met her, but I met Jasmine St. Claire. This bitch, I almost punched her. It was at some stupid award shit. She’s like ‘I bet you like King Diamond.’ King Diamond? You’re a chick, why don’t you like Billy Idol or Axel Rose? Are you a man or something? Yeah that’s real sexy. Than she’s, ‘Oh, I like black metal’ and starts trying to tell me about Norway. Don’t tell me about Norway you fuckin’ dumb bitch. She’s like ‘eh, I got big titties’ and starts jibber-jabbering in Swedish to me. But you know, people suck you into their little gay trap.” “Did you lose her?” “She starts turning everything around like ‘I wanna fuck you’ and all this weird shit. She’s toying with my balls and I didn’t even know who this bitch was. Moral of the story is just one of those cocksucker bitches, the ‘oh you’re doing something, you made a speech.’ The kicker was she had the Guinness Book world record for most gangbangs. Alright, what the fuck else can I do to you anyway? I could bash you in the face with a 2X4 but it’s not gonna matter, she’s had the most gangbangs in world history. You’re already fucked.” “Not a big King Diamond fan?” “I’m not a fan of anything really. It’s all about shit that’s real and hard, totally fucking black metal. [Edwin points to the stereo as we listen to Lars Frederickson] If you wanna be a dirt bag, drink liquor, and eat drugs, play some fucking scumbag music. This guy tours and plays in Sushi shops. That shit’s real dude. Some little fucking Dungeons & Dragons faggot, what’s he know about punk rock? Punk Rock is always real, you can always count on it. “ “Did you ever meet Nattefrost from Carpathian Forest?” “No, but he grew up two blocks down the street from me and I never even knew. We’re the same age. Where I used to live, you could look right down from the window and see the Helvete II record store. I ask where I can meet some of these guys, where the black metal clubs are. I’m like what about these guys, these guys – no one fucking knew. Some dude in the back, he’s laughing. He had a fucking pentagram on his head. ‘Hey, aren’t you the guy from Kettle Cadaver?’ That was kind of weird. In fucking Norway? He’s like, ‘Yeah I used to play with Enslaved.’ ‘You know the guys from Darkthrone?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, fuckin’ Rick.’ So I talked to him about Carpathian Forest and he was like ‘Yeah he’s up in Germany.’ He called me high on mushrooms.’ I met the guy who made Count Grishnach’s mace. It was cool ‘cause I made a bunch that looked just like them.” “How often do you go to Norway?” “Whenever I can, but I don’t think anytime soon. People are so dull and lame. I walk down the street in Norway and I feel like I’m pollution. They’re so structured and strictly pleasant. You can’t do something like a cape and corpse-paint and not have them be scared. The guy could be looking like he’s fucking The Joker. Wait’ll you got blood running down your knuckles and a ‘Fuck You’ tattoo on your neck. That’s why I like the US, that shit doesn’t fly. Euronymous had his own internal censorship going where bands that sucked, he put them out of business. The US naturally is like that because if you’re a douche-bag you’re fucked.” “Was the music scene you came from pretty vicious?” “When I was a kid you could get your head beat in. It was gnarly. I remember my buddies little high school band played. They got spit on, green shit dripping off their face. They were lucky. Lucky’s walking out of there still walking. I’ve seen people beat up so bad. One dude the crowd held to the floor and beat him in the face with the microphone stand. Five chicks vomit on you and shit. When I do play a show and the little opening band gets their ass kicked, I could give a shit less. That’s the territory. If you’re gonna cry about it, then hop along little bunny and move on to the next scene. But if you come back with your busted self, keep coming back until people remember your face, then you can stick around.” “Obviously you’re getting more extreme as time goes by…” “There’s no progression, it just started off. Now I’m very content with shit so I’m not going to do anything unless I feel like it. I only want it to be real. A kid that wants to die hitting himself in the face with a hammer is different from the guy making a spectacle out of himself… I am skilled at hitting myself in the face with a hammer, of course. It doesn’t mean shit though…” “What direction are you heading?” “I want to do more of the rock n’ roll stuff. One of the bands that laughs the most is HIM, the most hated goth ever by all men. He fucks all their girlfriends and they sit at home and bitch. I get that now, I understand. I play shows for men. But where is the true evil? A big tough guy in front of dudes? Or fucking all those lame guys girlfriends? I like fucking chicks…” “You get these girls to do some pretty crazy shit though, like in the video…” “That was like two nights ago. Behind the coffin there’s just blood splatters, this shit just literally running off my neck. The chick was like ‘I just got new shoes, I swear if you got any blood on my new shoes.’ I look down and they look like tampons.” “What are the craziest shows you ever threw here?” “The black metal shows back in the day. One guy pistol whipped another guy in the face and shot out the window… There were the ones I’d go fucking nuts, beat people and any available anything. There’d be people pissing on each other and shit. You go upstairs and everyone is fucking. Wherever there are drugs, there’s always fucking.” “How did the last tour go?” “Awesome. Every single night of that tour it was the same type of shit – partying in crack houses, getting into fights, fucking chaos… We do one bad show, it stops right there in that city. No idea how to get amps or the drum set home. That’s what gets you into the mode – it’s you versus the street.” “In the event that you finally do blow up, and you got your image on lunchboxes that are sold to 14 year old girls at Hot Topic, what’s the number one mission now that you have everyone’s attention?” “(Laughs) I’ll figure it out once I get there…” It is then that we freeze because we hear his dogs Howley and Damian barking up something fierce. There is something sinister going on in the front yard. On edge, dizzy with liquor and paranoia, I instinctively grab the butcher knife on the table. Edwin sees this and grabs his machete, jumping up after my lead. We blitzkrieg into the night, leaping towards the gate below the hill… We come charging like wild Indians at a pack of 7 coyotes divided from Eddie’s dogs by the property fence. The moment they see us they scatter fast as they can, charging off into the mountainous desert region. We both stop, kind of just glance at each other, shrug, and wander back inside to kill all remaining booze… The next morning, passed out inside a sleeping bag with my face covered, feeling like a Nagasaki Hibakusha, Edwin had slept Indian style to the left of me. I slid open my eye, briefly looked around, no visible sign of movement on my behalf, I hear Edwin say “Hey Ryan…” He just knew… During the ride home I went back into that same, floaty sense of REM. sleep. This time the bus rhythms were that of the world being drown in Volcanic magma, the extermination of all human civilization in a boiling cauldron of terror… PURITY OF THE GREYHOUND Depression hits hard, and the world becomes so small and that only an element of massive change can bring repeal to the neurotic isolation. In my case, it’s always been alien habitat… Weak as it sounds, this Greyhound fetish began with a girl – a lady named “3.” It was the devastating end of a devastating run. A friend, who’d received 2 years probation over a roach, was about to be sentenced 6 months in county for pissing dirty on vodka at the age of 20. The first offense of course, which captivates the true justice and eternal beauty of Michigan. I rushed in like Zorro, swooped her up, and was set to launch her off on a one-way Greyhound to Florida. One thing leads to another and a romantic limbo lasts a solid 2 months. We both got way too close, way too attached, yet nothing could extinguish the impending doomsday… I sent her off broken hearted on Valentine’s Day 2006, and of course, I’d delivered her into a terrible situation in which she soon disappeared completely. From the closest person on earth to a non-existent ghost; a maelstrom of drama pervading everything. I was a hundred miles of frozen concrete the next 9 months. I watched my life crumble piece by piece into nothingness, every possible dagger that could have been stuck in my back was. All I could dream of was the Greyhound – that hollow land machine hauling me as a lone passenger through vast wastelands of night. Night after night, every ticking time-clock of every shit job, I’d close my eyes and see it – killer motor running silently; just waiting, beckoning me… There was only one way I could reclaim what had died within me. I had to become a fetus in its womb, let it shape me into whatever it planned. Let the blurring yellow lines of the highway become my mother, the hum of the engine my father. It didn’t matter where I traveled. Like the Argonauts, sailing was the only thing that mattered. The port of destination was the absurdity. I knew that somehow, someway, I’d rediscover the piece of me that was lost. That’s what this is all really about. Not fame, shows, parties, chicks, or any kind of journalistic integrity. I’m reclaiming my soul city by city, mile by mile of black tar… This is the hypnosis as I peer out that huge window into the rolling fields at night. I’m but one in a silent subculture that ride these things addictively – the hard-worn woman with the deep lines in her face, bouncing the country from one abusive relationship to the next... The one who’s burned all bridges and headed for the new beginning that will end just the same… The con man slinging Snickers & Skittles like a prison courtyard… The displaced trucker, the Las Vegas fuckup, the LA star-struck, the Mexicans who speak no English, black families on low-rent vacation to somewhere devastatingly grim like Pittsburg. Freshly released prisoners in a trance, drug runners with the blue tear tat, the runaways returning or fleeing home, the college kids out for a cheap thrill… Then there are those like myself, silent and contemplating whatever agenda it is that rumbles their scattered thoughts. Some live on those busses easily picking up females who are traveling alone and vulnerable, hopping off at the next city with them for a romantic, hustler fling. Some are living ghosts of that limbo who never want to come off. Then there are the crazies, the bad luck elderly, the neophytes who weed themselves out in inter-state Darwinian selection… I don’t bother to talk to anyone anymore. I know all the games and I know all the faces. I just close off into my own wonderland, enjoying that chemical stink of industrial grade disinfectant creeping from the ever-horrifying toilet covered with gang signs and sharpie memoirs. The wheels keep spinning, the land keeps rushing, and every rest-stop or fueling depot becomes a surge of Déjà vu. The bus parks in Grand Junction, Topeka, Kansas City, and you immediately recall every video game in the corner, every hot chocolate luxury – all the putrid options of fried food boiling under a white or red light. After enough miles are imprinted on your skull, you’ll know every McDonalds in the country like the back of your hand…

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Inspired by the legendary works of Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, Detroit writer Ryan Bartek traveled the USA to create his own heavy metal road saga of extreme journalism. 1 year, 35 States, 600+ hours on Greyhounds & 1000 cities later, "THE BIG SHINY PRISON" was complete - a unique travel book featuring hundreds of interviews with legends in the metal/punk undergrounds, as well as other alternative cultures in the USA. "The Big Shiny Prison (Volume One)" features appearances/interviews with members of Brutal Truth, DWARVES, Pig Destroyer, Repulsion, AxCx, MDC, Psyopus, Abysmal Dawn, Kylesa, Ludicra, Cephalic Carnage, Atheist, Impaled, HIMSA, Melechesh, Severed Savior, In Memorium, STALAGGH, Kettle Cadaver, Otesanek, The Angelic Process, 7000 Dying Rats, Screaming Mechanical Brain, EXITIUM, Light This City, Genghis Tron, Blood Stained Dusk, Solger, VILE, Sol Evil, SINDIOS, Kill The Client, OCTAGON, The Gracchi, My Uncle The Wolf, Apocryph, Salt Lick, Amish Noise, Lesbian, Churchburner, Fre-Ne-Tik, Alchemical Burn, Crematorium, Waco Jesus, Snotrokitz, Suicide Holiday, Vertigo Venus, Kill The Precedent, Beefcake In Chains,, Dreaming Dead, They Live, Diverje, Scorched Earth, Quinta Essentia, Alternative Tentacles, Whorehouse of Representatives, RU-486, Mathematicians, Anal Pudding, A.K.A. MABUS, Disgorge, Nihilistik Terrorist, Lysia Gori, The Crashing Falcon, Stormdrain, Bu Hao Ting, Potty Mouth Society, Funeral Age, Uranium Death Crow, Stahlmantel, Hammers of Misfortune, Ron of Japan, Sasquatch Agnostic, Jakked Rabbits, We Both Know, Hunab Ku & others. FREE PDF Promo "The Big Shiny Prison (Volume One)" Download Ryan Bartek's book collection/music discography - including albums from Vulture Locust, A.K.A. MABUS, Sasquatch Agnostic & The REAL Man In Black 100% FREE @ www.BIGSHINYPRISON.COM
Published Date
2/16/2016 12:00:00 AM