Archive for December, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions by Elle Dergod

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2013 by Alex S. Johnson

1. Assume definite form and stick to it. Nebulous, inchoate, etc. not cutting mustard.

2. Spread chaos and madness among mankind.

3. Get shit together. Dead but dreaming has worked for aeons–now time to punch through astral prison and do #2.

4. Get proactive.

5. Find inbred hillbillies, primitive tribes, etc. and force to worship Elle.

6. Leave cryptic messages, signs, etc. 

7. Look into social media. What is a Twitter, how does one Tweet?

8. Vocabulary power. How say “Eldritch” other ways.

9. Consider breaking #2 into micro-steps. 

10. Eat more fiber.

11. Eliminate insalubrious from diet.

12. Assume friendly mask, the better to really sell #2.

13. Get life–lots of it.

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Why Heavy Metal?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2013 by Alex S. Johnson

When I was in high school, music was one code that separated social groups. The popular kids–beloved of teachers and administrators, bound for glory, destined for Ivy League schools, winners of academic achievement awards–listened to New Wave. Or R&B. The New Romantics. Duran Duran. Music that fairly popped with bright pastel colors and cheery messages about love, life and the future. The popular kids, who were also for the most  part upper middle class, already had the attitude and self-assurance that bodes well for success.

Then there was that other group–the smokers in the parking lot, the ones who braved our fiercely clueless vice principals, disciplinary suspension and the disgust of the same teachers that worshipped the preppy kids to flee campus at lunch time for recreational drugs and beer bashes at a local park. Their music? Heavy metal. Scorpions. Priest. Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden.

I did not belong to the first group. For one thing, I wasn’t rich. I didn’t live in a prosperous neighborhood. For another, I struggled with school. Many subjects did not come naturally, especially math. I dreaded tests. Socially, I was marginal. Hell, I was an outcast. I couldn’t wait for school to be out so I could go home and crank up the music. And it wasn’t going to be that fucking “Our House” song.

You see, I may not have been cast from the mold that spelled a quick rise to prosperity and comfort, the two car garage and the networking on the golf course. I may have spent many hours in a depressive funk when not actively wishing for death to visit me and deliver me from a chronic sense of futility and despair. But I did read. A lot. And I followed politics. And I came to a few conclusions in regard to the popular kids, the cheerful ones who dressed in preppy clothes and listened to The Stray Cats, Adam Ant and Huey Lewis. For all their optimism, they didn’t understand one crucial thing: that the future hung under the Damoclean sword of nuclear holocaust.

This was the Cold War. People like Ronald Reagan were in charge. His Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, was a radical, fundamentalist Christian who freely admitted that, as a believer in Armageddon, his job was to help corporations dig up, exploit and pollute the planet to their heart’s content before the whole thing went KABLOOEY and Jesus returned in triumph to judge us for all eternity.

The Russians had weapons. We had weapons. There were enough weapons in the nuclear arsenal to destroy the Earth not just once, but again and again. And all that stood between peace and a hot smoldering mass of radiated globe were a few men who thought of the future in terms of eschatology–that branch of theology which deals with the End Times.

The popular kids listened to the “Our House” song. Not me. I listened to Ozzy. Unlike the rappers and the New Wavers and the technopop crowd, Ozzy seemed to be in tune with the actual state of affairs–that if we continued to despoil Nature for the sake of corporate greed while clinging to a metaphysics that almost guaranteed world holocaust in the not-too-distant future, there wouldn’t be an “Our House” to come home to. Hell, there wouldn’t even be a neighborhood. Just block after block of blackened, steaming death.

Unlike the musical artists beloved of the prepsters, Ozzy wasn’t a happy camper. He sang about depression and suicide and addiction. He celebrated the value of smoking the sweet leaf to lift one above the fear of an electric funeral precipitated by war pigs. He wondered if the children of the future weren’t simply children of the grave. And the sound–the sound was powerful. Metal didn’t fuck around. You couldn’t slow dance to it. You couldn’t move cheek to cheek with your partner as the mirror ball turned and scattered magic dust on your prom night. With metal, you banged your head, acknowledging reality. You thrust the sign of the horns in the air, assenting to words and music that reflected how you felt: angry, doomed, frustrated, longing for love and affection and fearing it would never come to someone as fucked-up as you.

A few years after graduation, I was at a party with some of the popular kids. I still didn’t fit in. The guy whose birthday we were celebrating made a point of noting how “stupid” I looked in high school when I wore my hair long and was “into metal.” I was trying to change myself, adjust to different values that I thought would take me down the path of success. I thought if I tried to look at things in a more positive light I would feel better about myself and be more socially popular. But you know what? That didn’t happen.

After all these years, my heart still glows when the metal plays. It’s loud, fast, powerful and, most important, authentically emotional. Thirty years after I graduated from high school, I still find the truest reflection of my feelings in Judas Priest, Manowar, Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. Still a hermit, still marginal, and ever-more-thankful that my sojourn into denial land was brief-lived. The war pigs are still around, more firmly entrenched than ever. The planet is still threatened by the same End Timers, who now deny that the rapid destruction of the polar ice caps and the escalation of extreme weather might have anything to do with the ideology espoused back in the 80s by our Secretary of the Interior. Metal has a lot more respect now too. Turns out we might have been on to something after all. –Alex S. Johnson