Thursday, November 29, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
If civilization falls apart like nearly all of us seem to think it will, only the uncivilized will survive.
- Jim Goad, “Taming The Wild Nugent,” April 23, 2012
The end is near. I can see it. It’s written in the sky. The weather here in Nebraska—your true & rightful home—tells me everything I need to know. I can feel it. It’s in the air, like that song you used to listen to all the time when we were kids. You know, the one with the drum solo or whatever. God, you used to love that song. Do you still listen to it, I wonder? If there’s anything I’ve learned in the long years we’ve been apart, it’s that sometimes songs can tell you the future if you listen close enough. And not just songs, Randy. Newspapers and the TV can give you glimpses of what’s to come if you know how to sift through the nonsense and look for the signs. The world around us is the same way. I often see things written in the birch trees near the old grain silo. Ripples in the lake whisper portents in my ear. The herons speak to me without ever opening their bills. We communicate, the birds and I, with our minds. Telepathy, Randy. Our old friend Mrs. Keating calls it “ESP.”
And you would not believe the things they tell me about death. Firestorms sent from heaven to burn us down. Big-breasted she-demons with pin teeth ready to sink poison into our very veins. Undead armies of teenagers with their heavy metal and their Internet phones and their erection pills riding a wave of pornography down Main Street. Right here in Lincoln! Sometimes I think those birds are crazy. I think they’re trying to confuse me. But then I think about the economy and the gays and that bulge in Pastor Titus’ crotch that seems to call me like a coyote at midnight and... oh, I don’t know, Randy! I wish you were here to help me make sense of all this. You could meet the herons and they could tell you the things that they tell me and together we could make the necessary preparations.
Uncle Teddy thinks I’m going soft. He says there ain’t no such thing as birds that can talk to humans about Revelations and such. But he’s getting ready in his own way. Every time I peek into that old barn of his, I see more canned beans, more tuna fish, more cling peaches and fruit cocktails than last time. Sometimes he stays up all night butchering a deer he’s shot. He salts the meat and heat-seals it with this fancy new contraption he got at the auction a few months back. Into the freezer it goes, with all the rest. Right on top of my Klondike bars.
I want to tell you something else. Things here in Lincoln ain’t what they used to be. The latex factory shut down a few months back, and Ma Herring says she might not be able to keep the diner open past Christmas. Pastor Titus didn’t say it out loud, but I could tell by last Sunday’s sermon that the church is hurting for finances. Could you imagine if they had to close the church, Randy? Last week I asked the herons if I could do anything about it. I know I’m just silly farm girl with no fund-raising talents to speak of, but if I can help Pastor Titus keep the church doors open for all us sinners, I’ll be doing God’s work, won’t I? But the birds said there was nothing I could do. Do you know why, Randy?
Because Satan is coming, Randy. SATAN IS COMING. And we are truly powerless against his unholy wrath. I want you to remember that out there in Los Angeles, Randy. I want you to think about it when you listen to that song that I know you still listen to. “It” IS coming in the air, Randy. “It” has cloven hooves and a forked tongue and every word from its mouth spells S-A-T-A-N and certain death.
Gotta run now. Uncle Teddy wants me to milk Gladys before supper. If you have a chance, please send more of those nice grapefruits that Momma and I love so much.
This bullshit originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Decibel magazine.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
This bullshit originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Decibel magazine.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Thursday, May 3, 2012
This bullshit originally appeared in the October 2011 issue of Decibel magazine.
Friday, March 16, 2012
We thought the final nail had been driven into Metallica’s jewel-encrusted coffin a long time ago, but when they announced their forthcoming album collaboration with Lou Reed, it became clear that we’d need a bigger hammer. And a shitload of extra nails. Unfortunately, certain veteran thrashers have apparently caught the latest mental illness that Lars and the boys seem to be suffering from. It’s like syphilis in that it starts with an ill-advised coupling followed by a hasty exchange of fluids and ends in severe delusions, painful lesions, and sadness.
Slayer & Sade – (This Is) No Ordinary Reign
Emboldened by their successful collaboration with Ice T on the Judgment Night soundtrack, Kerry King and company up the ante by cutting an album with the ’80s R&B nightingale who purred America to sleep at night with ubiquitous hits like “Smooth Operator” and “The Sweetest Taboo.” The unholy deal was sealed when Tom Araya rang up the British-Nigerian songstress after hearing that she covered a Thin Lizzy song during one of her concerts earlier this year. As it turns out, Sade is a massive Slayer fan who thinks Seasons In The Abyss is the band’s finest hour. “I never understood why Reign In Blood is the one that everybody sweats,” she recently told Decibel. “I mean, ‘Dead Skin Mask’ is the fucking tits, am I wrong?”
Megadeth & Jackson Browne – So Far, So Good… Sew Buttons!
For once, MegaDave beats his old bandmates to the limp-wristed punch by finding someone even more lame to work with than Lou Reed. What started as a duet of “Running On Empty” –eventually discarded for the severely under-appreciated “Somebody’s Baby” from the Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack—turned into a 78-minute full-length featuring a guest shot from Glenn Frey, 400 cases of red wine, and a long-lost piano track contributed by the estate of the late, great Warren Zevon. Suck on THAT, Lars!
Anthrax & Meat Loaf – Fistful Of Meatloaf
Though their work with Public Enemy on “Bring Tha Noize” resulted in one of the few rap-rock unions that doesn’t completely blow dead dogs for quarters, Anthrax never could leave well enough alone. Or pass up the opportunity to work with The Loaf, especially now that Scott Ian is having a kid with his daughter. (Meat Loaf’s daughter, that is—not his own daughter. That would be fucked up.) Unsurprisingly, the band’s collabo with the artist formerly known as Marvin Lee Aday on “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” is third-rate and tepid when compared to similarly bloated AOR hits covered by the rest of the Big Four. Plus, Joey Belladonna totally butchers all of Ellen Foley’s lines.
Testament & James Taylor – Live at Tanglewood (Bootleg)
Inspired and invigorated by one too many midnight viewings of Two-Lane Blacktop, Chuck Billy decided to find out just how boring a James Taylor concert could really be. The answer? Really, really fucking boring. And yet it didn’t stop him from getting shitfaced on wine spritzers and singing along to “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” with all the semi-retired investment bankers and their summer-cottage mistresses. Billy even braved the lactating throng of 60-year old dental hygienists to sneak backstage and meet Taylor in person. Their conversation—and impromptu renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” and Testament’s “Return To Serenity”—were surreptitiously recorded by a member of Taylor’s road crew, who reportedly sold the mp3 files to “the Internet” for “big, big money.”
This bullshit originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Decibel magazine.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
May you live in interesting times
—Ancient Chinese curse
Laruss Trumbo pointed his binoculars out the window of his office on the 13th floor and saw nothing but gray skies, empty streets, and fire. The first three plagues—blood, frogs and flies—had arrived according to schedule. He had been expecting the locusts since Thursday, but they had not materialized. He was not looking forward to the pestilence or the incurable boils. On top of this there was the slug problem: Giant, man-eating slugs.
He had been holed up in his office for nearly two weeks, living off of his personal stockpile of protein bars and the myriad foodstuffs he had managed to scavenge from the office cafeteria. As the massive carnivorous slugs trailed their hideous mucous across his beloved city, Trumbo read back issues of Everglades Enthusiast magazine and listened to Slayer’s Hell Awaits on repeat. He clung to the lingering hope that someone was still out there, and that that someone, whomever they might be, would rescue him before the incurable boils spread across his pasty flesh in hot carbuncles of purple, festering misery.
Laruss had not left his office since Monday, when in an attempt to make an end-run for the bathroom, he saw one of the slugs feeding on the inanimate corpse of his (former) co-worker Sawney Beane. Old Sawney’s eyeballs were rolled back in his head as if he were getting some perverse pleasure out of being slowly masticated by the gargantuan green mollusk while it secreted its viscid glaze all over what was left of his ruined forehead. Laruss couldn’t be sure if the slug had spotted him—or even if the repulsive creatures had eyes.
His last chance at freedom had come and gone when Lacey Underall had tried to pry open the revolving door for him just hours after the first plague struck. Somehow, she clambered over the heaving pile of co-workers clogging the building’s main entrance and made it outside. She stretched her thin arm back through the door in an attempt to hold a narrow opening for him, but the weight was too much. Her forearm snapped off below the elbow mere seconds before she was washed away in an ocean of blood.
Laruss felt in his pocket for Lacey’s Claddagh ring, which he had removed from her severed but still delicate hand. He remembered wistfully that the heart had been facing her fingertip. They had exchanged lingering glances in the elevator for months and even enjoyed a brief flirtation at the office Christmas party back in December. Of course, Laruss had never quite mustered up the courage to ask her out for a drink. And now… well, now it seemed like his window for relationship opportunities was closing fast. The inane prophecies of the sandwich-board crazies down on State Street had been shockingly accurate, right down to the self-aborting fetuses that now streaked the floors of St. Elizabeth’s maternity ward with a thick coat of gore.
It was Wednesday afternoon when the voice from the heating vent spoke to him. Laruss was stretched out on the floor, trying to sleep but really just sobbing softly to himself. At first, he thought he was hallucinating. His food reserves had become increasingly sparse, so he had been steeling himself for this phase of the starvation process. The voice began by whispering incoherently under its breath, punctuating each stream of gibberish with an exceptionally forceful “Look out!” Eventually, it addressed him directly.
“Trumboooooow,” the voice hissed. “Help us, Trumboooooow. You are the only one capable of making these adjustments.”
Laruss ignored the voice. There was no way this was actually happening to him in real life. Not like the blood and the flies and the… giant man-eating slugs. Okay, fine: “Leave me alone,” he ventured, covering his eyes with the crook of his arm. “Go away.”
“Don’t leave us here, Trumboooow. We need you.”
“No one needs me anymore,” Laruss sniffled. “Everybody’s dead.”
He turned to face the vent: “Who are you, anyway?”
“I think you know, Trumboooow.”
“No, I don’t,” he sighed, wiping away a tear. “I really don’t. Just tell me.”
“It’s Ronnie James.”
Laruss yanked his trusty Leatherman out of his briefcase and unscrewed the grating from the wall. Once removed, he peered into infinite blackness. Slowly, he reached into the opening. “Hello? Ronnie?”
His arm followed, until it was in up to the shoulder. He grabbed fistfuls of stale air in every direction. “Ronnie?”
Laruss stuck his head through the opening, followed by the other arm. He couldn’t see an inch in front of his face. He heard a strange howling sound somewhere below him. And, like, a bass line. A very familiar bass line.
“Awww, look out!”
Laruss turned toward the sound and found himself upright in total darkness. He grasped for a handhold, but could find nothing. He wasn’t even sure if there was ground beneath his feet. “Ronnie?”
The white light that Laruss had suspected was coming finally came. It was small at first, but grew slowly as it approached. In it, he could make out a figure walking toward him, a small figure carrying what looked like a sword. Laruss reached into his pocket and felt for the Claddagh ring. It was still there. Calmly, he walked toward the light.
This bullshit originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Decibel magazine.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
In Brno, the streets run fluorescent yellow with last night’s drunken pee, those untold gallons of Red Bull & vodka hastily consumed and just as hastily evacuated, like God’s own water (40%abl) back when Noah built the Big Boat. By all indications, Brno is the Czech Republic’s version of a college town, and—according to the Internet and our trusty driver/tour manager/German translator Roland “I Make Zee Business Now” Bergner—the second-largest city in the country. Decibel is here because we’re rolling with Black Math Horseman on their triumphant 2010 US tour, rescheduled for 2011 due to last year’s Icelandic volcanothatcannotbenamed. Which makes it April 6, 2011, to be exact.
When we first pull up to the Melodka and eyeball the mural of cartoon hockey players on the façade and the gaggle of small children in actual hockey pads gunning down butts, Soviet style, out front, we’re convinced that the band would be playing a very large, very cold room with Plexiglass walls. As it turns out, the bottom floor of the Melodka is a hockey-themed diner, which is a phenomenon Decibel had never even contemplated in our wildest nightmares, much less encountered in real life. The upstairs bar/venue is separated from the diner by an excessively steep flight of stairs and a metal security gate that opens via electronic buzzer, pawnshop-style, by an especially bored-looking power-slag with magenta hair huffing roll-your-owns by the bar.
Outside, the poster for the show proclaims that Black Math Horseman play “in the style of Tool and Isis.” We all share a hearty group chuckle at that one, but Decibel secretly admires the promoter’s ability to do his job and be completely full of shit at the same time. Which pretty much sums up the dude’s entire work ethic when he turns up to greet us, all five-foot-nothing of him in a Baroness Blue Record t-shirt. But his English is way better than our Czech and he’s secured almost everything on the band’s rider, so his weasel-like nature goes largely ignored for the time being. He even pays BMH in advance, which turns out to be a tacit admission of just how totally fucking hammered and rip-roaring high he plans on getting later in the night.
Despite their absolutely terrible name, local openers Five Seconds To Leave turn out to be surprisingly awesome. And then Black Math play their finest show of the tour thus far while debuting the moody, apocalyptic visuals vocalist/bassist Sera Timms assembled for the band’s upcoming appearance at Roadburn. After the show, the promoter clinks his glass with a soup spoon and addresses the whole bar with a brief but triumphant speech in Czech that everyone seems to approve of. Later on, backstage and shitfaced, he tells Black Math they were better than when he saw Tool in Prague that one time.
And then the trouble starts.
At the beginning of the night, the promoter had handed Roland three sets of keys on pink plastic keychains, each to a room at a supposedly nearby hostel where the six of us—band, Decibel and Roland—were to stay that night. What he hadn’t done is told us how to get there. And by the time he finished slurring in two languages about how he could never listen to Tool again, he was in no shape to offer coherent directions to the Melodka’s bar, much less the hostel. So Roland does the natural thing and asks him to walk us there. But the promoter straight up refuses, says he’s too drunk and that it’s easy to get there, and that we just need to go up the block and take a right and a left and a right. Only he points left when he says right and points straight when he says left. By now it’s nearly 3AM and we’re out in front of the club. The promoter is surrounded by his boys, who are clearly wishing that the pesky Americans would piss off so they and their promoter friend can all keep pouring beers into their faces elsewhere. (As it turns out, some of the bars in Brno never close, ever.)
This is when Decibel decides to implement our time-honored behavior modification program in which we express—through nothing more than a calm tone of voice, the placing of hands firmly on the promoter’s slumped shoulders, and severely direct eye contact—that he really should walk us to the hostel, since we’re from out of town and all and he really wouldn’t want us to get lost and/or accosted by the local criminal element, would he? At which point our man finally relents, sloughing off into the Brno night with us while his shitty brosephs shout Czech epithets that none of us fail to understand.
So begins the long, brutally silent walk toward what we assume is the hostel. For a brief moment, it occurs to Decibel that our new friend might point us down a decidedly unfriendly alley in which we might be beaten, raped and relieved of our internal organs. But instead he leads us to a dingy hangover palace with no running water and a hooker bar on the bottom floor, the kind of steaming hot-sheet shit-hole that typically rents rooms in 15-minute blocks. And surprise, surprise: the keys he gave us actually work. We bed down fully clothed and armed to the teeth, humming “Sweet Chariot” until the Brno dawn finally consumes us.
This bullshit originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Decibel magazine.