Wednesday, December 4, 2013

UNITED





I think you’ve had it backwards all this time. You wanted to enter history. Wrong approach, Leon. What you really want is out.

—Don DeLillo, Libra


Where does all the time go?  It seems like just yesterday I was out on the patio sipping a Bloody and noshing on designer tacos with my business manager, Juan Perez. After hashing out our plans for the next six months—Algiers, Minsk, Ho Chi Minh City—we were discussing the finer points of Pierre Boulle and all those damn dirty apes. 

The sun was shining, Stained Class was on the turntable, and the kitty cats were dry-humping in the dirt. We were even talking about going on a tandem juice fast, just for the fuck of it. Life was good. Real good.

And now?  My business manager is in Men’s Central for public urination while jaywalking, and I’m hitchhiking through East Dogdick, Nevada, with all my belongings stuffed into a triple-XL Cannibal Corpse longsleeve tied to a hockey stick. I’ve got a screaming headache, three loose teeth and some kind of skin thing happening on the inside of my left elbow. I don’t know, a rash or something. But way grosser, like I’ve got a bad feeling insects might be living under my skin, making babies and defecating and so forth. Also, I’m on drugs.

But I remember my business manager’s arrest vividly. We were crossing Grand Avenue—against the light, but well within the confines of the crosswalk—when he decided to blow a piss in the middle of the street. I’m talking this is downtown Los Angeles. In broad daylight. After like 300 beers. And of course a cop car pulls around the corner mid-deluge and blocks traffic like this is the crime of the century and the entire neighborhood should be shut down immediately and we better call in a helicopter in case this dude runs for it.

“Okay, buddy. I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but put your hands behind your back.”

“Can I put it away first?”

“Negative.”

“Seriously?”

They hauled him away with his pecker hanging out of his zipper like a sad, drunken turkey neck. This was Friday afternoon, which means a mandatory weekend in the can. Just think of all the fun he’s having now. Staring at the ceiling. Taking a dump in front of 20 of his closest friends. Avoiding eye contact.

Do you mind if I smoke while you fuck me?

Do you mind if I snore while you fuck me?

How did I end up in Nevada?  I took a bus. After my business manager’s arrest I was so distraught that I went home to take a nap. And, okay, feed the cats. When I woke up, I decided that the best way to show solidarity with my incarcerated confidante was to live life to the fullest and do a few of his favorite things. So I went out and got a mani-pedi. I bought a pair of white jeans, the most expensive ones I could find. I ate three cheeseburgers at three different overpriced “gastropubs.”  I went to the titty bar and spent about 200 bucks in just over an hour. On the way home, I stopped at Mickey D’s for a 20-piece nugget and spent the rest of the night reading conspiracy-theory books and jacking off.

It’s how he would have wanted it. 

This bullshit originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Decibel magazine. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Welcome To Metal Zone (We Have Some Questions For You)



Metal Zone Entrance Examination, form 1(a)



Name/Address/DOB/Occupation/Passport Number:



Countries visited prior to arrival in METAL ZONE (besides Germany):   



Have you visited any farms or been in contact with any livestock prior to arrival in METAL ZONE?



If yes, were the animals cloven-hoofed?



Have you ever been accused of being a poser?  If so, stop now and proceed directly to form 63(a).



Have you ever confused doom with funeral doom?



Have you ever confused death/doom with blackened doom?



Have you ever confused black/death with blackened death?



Do you think that the previous question was a trick question?



Essay Question # 1: Udo Dirkschneider makes me feel __________



Essay Question # 2: My favorite Angel Witch song is _____________ because ____________



Do you claim to be able to discern the logos of obscure black metal bands, even when you can’t?



Do you secretly love Ross The Boss-era Manowar but make fun of the band anyway?



Essay Question # 3: The best song on the NWOBHM ’79 Revisited compilation is _________ because ______________



How many Exciter albums do you own on vinyl? 



On cassette? 



Are those albums/cassettes on Megaforce or Banzai?  Please give a detailed breakdown.



Essay Question # 4: You are at a festival in Europe. You have enough money to buy an original Venom shirt from 1981 if you can talk the guy down, which you think you probably can, or approximately six beers. What do you do—and why?  If you need more space to complete your answer, use the blank pages attached to this form.



What is the song that got you into Satan?



On a scale of 1 to 10, how hard are you posing right now?



What about now?



If you answered either or both of the previous two questions, stop now and proceed directly to form 63(a).



Essay Question # 5: On a scale of 1 to 10, how psyched are you for Bolt Thrower’s upcoming US tour?  Answer the question regardless of whether you live in the US. If you don’t plan to attend one of the shows, stop now and proceed directly to form 63(a).



Does Jeff Hanneman somehow seem cooler to you now that he’s contracted a flesh-eating disease?



Do you refuse to acknowledge that Rob Halford likes dudes?



Should the goat on the cover of Bathory’s self-titled debut be yellow or white? If you do not understand the question, stop now and proceed directly to form 63(a).



Essay Question # 6: The best Megadeth lineup includes (a) Marty Friedman and Nick Menza, or (b) Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson. Include a detailed, point-by-point comparison.



Do you own an original copy of Witch Cross’ Fit For Fight LP?  If not, stop now and proceed directly to form 63(a).



If so, did you buy it on eBay?



Tom Warrior is my (a) hero, (b) favorite metal musician, (c) dad, in this recurring dream I’ve had since age 14.



In 1984, the “hottest chick in metal” was (a) Doro, (b) Lee Aaron, (c) Betsy Bitch, (d) Bruce Dickinson



Essay Question # 7: Metal was better in 1984 because ___________.  If you disagree with the premise of this question, stop now and proceed directly to form 63(a).



Essay Question # 8: Have you worn out the grooves on your copy of Lightning To The Nations?  If so, how long ago?  Please describe the circumstances and your subsequent mental state. If not, stop now and proceed directly to form 63(a).



Essay Question # 9: Blackie Lawless vs. Lizzy Borden vs. Dee Snider.  Go.



Are you old enough to know someone who bought Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell LP when it came out, based solely on the cover?



If so, how disappointed was that person upon hearing it, on a scale of 1 to 10?



Was that person you? 



Which album from 1984 are you listening to right now?



Are you sure?



Regardless of your answer to the previous question, stop now and proceed directly to form 63(a). 

This bullshit originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Decibel magazine. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hot Spikes




Life’s hard, but it’s a lot harder if you’re fuckin’ stupid.

—George V. Higgins, The Friends Of Eddie Coyle, 1970


Toronto, 1981. The bad part of town or whatever.

The fat man shuffled his feet. He said, “I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.”

Ron fixed his mustache and rolled his eyes. “What I’m saying is, you gotta take a long hard look at this thing. The big picture, I mean. Because I don’t think you’re seeing the angles. I think maybe you need to pull your head out of your ass.”

“You’re leading me, Ron. Spit it out, already.”

“Look, it’s like this: I’ve been working like a bastard on this thing. Day and night. Carrying the whole goddamned operation on my back like it was my own newborn son. But you, you’re not pulling your weight.”

“You calling me fat, you fuck?”

Ron smiled. “You are fucking fat, Eddie. But that’s not my point. My point is, it’s time for you to buck up.”

Eddie watched a pigeon shag a cigarette butt off the curb. “Okay, okay. Just tell me what you want me to do.”

“First thing’s first, Eddie. You gotta lose the Hawaiian shirt. We’re a fucking heavy metal band and you wear a fucking Hawaiian shirt—and white fucking khakis—to a photo shoot. Said photo ends up on the back of our fucking album. Ergo, we look like assholes.”

“Please. You’re wearing a pleather tunic in that picture. Over a black t-shirt. John’s wearing canary-yellow sweatpants with sky-blue bowling shoes. And Jeff… fuck. I think Jeff might be a fag.”

“Look, I already talked to those guys. Now I’m talking to you.”

“So what do you suggest, Ron? Spikes? Leather? Mirrored shades? You want me to do the cliché thing? You want us to be a fucking cliché? Like what’s-their-tits? Venom? I know you said those guys were kidding, but I’m not so sure.”

“Fuck Venom. They’re a novelty act. You think the world is gonna remember Venom 30 years from now? No fucking way. They’re gonna remember Fist, Eddie. And not the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Fist, either. The Canadian Fist. Our Fist.”

“Amen, brother. Amen. So what’s our next move?”

“Our next move is we gotta step up our game. Hot Spikes was good. It was real good, minus the band photo and all, but now we gotta move on up. Give these humps in Anvil something to sweat about. And not just them. Most of these greaseballs, they’re just dying to open for Rush. That’s the big time to them. The end-all, be-all. That’s making it. Fuck that, Eddie. I want Rush to open for us.

“I’ll be honest, Ron: I like what you’re saying. I like it a lot.”

“I thought you might. So do me a favor, okay?”

“Anything, Ronnie. Name it.”

“Lose the Hawaiian shirt, buddy. Pretty please, with sugar on top.”

“Consider it done. But what I’m saying is: If not the Hawaiian, what the fuck should I wear?”

“I’ve got this idea, Eddie. I think it’s gonna blow some minds, too. You know how we talked about calling the next album Fleet Street? The whole Sweeney Todd thing?”

“You mean the glam band?  The one with the little kid for a lead singer?  Yeah, he went solo and he thinks he’s hot shit now. Bryan Adams, that’s the little prick’s name. Can’t stand that fucking kid.”

“Eddie? You’re working my last nerve here, buddy. Sweeney Todd, the fucking barber. Slits his customers’ throats with a straight razor and passes the bodies off to his girlfriend so she can make meat pies.”

“For real?”

“It’s a fucking story, Eddie. Concerning the mysterious origins of ‘dubious pie fillings,’ if you know what I mean. Circa Victorian times. Which brings me to my point: I think we should go full Victorian garb for the next set of album pix. My sister’s a seamstress—I already talked to her about it, and she’s in. We might even be able to squeeze a decent budget out of the label, do this thing right.”

“I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about, Ron. But if you think it’s the way to go, I’ll back your play a hundred percent.”

“Trust me on this one, Eddie. We’re gonna be fucking huge.” 

This bullshit originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Decibel magazine. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weekly Standard



It’s Monday evening in Los Angeles, and I’ve just finished transcribing another interview. I’m patting myself on the back right now because I managed to do it without killing myself or staring out the window for three hours to see if those squirrels on the fence outside the house would actually fight to the death. As far as the interview goes: I’d name names, but what would be the point? After all: It’s the minor triumphs, the small victories, that make life worth living. Right?  But trust me on this: It was tedious and I will be demanding a raise from Albert at the earliest opportunity.

It’s Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles and I’m listening to shitty German black metal and watching the cat clean herself.  Okay, I’m lying. I’m listening to Men At Work. I had to turn off the German black metal because it was just way too shitty. I’d name names, but what would be the point?  It’s shitty, it’s German, and you’ve heard it before. Only last time it was Norwegian or maybe Polish. But see, now I’ve already said too much. Trust me on this one, though: It was shitty.

It’s Wednesday noonish in Los Angeles, and I’m hung over as fuck. Alka-Seltzer is the only reason I’m semi-conscious and able to keep at least one eye open without moaning. Okay, I’m lying. I’m actually moaning as I type this. I find it helps in a primal-scream-therapy kind of way. Last night was another installment of Heavy Tuesday with Scott Carlson and Tom Neely on the decks of death or whatever. Someone at the bar requested Slipknot so I played “South Of Heaven.” I figure Kerry King is a Slipknot fan, so close eh-fucking-nough, amiright?

It’s Thursday morning in Los Angeles and I’m about to get on a plane to Boston, where I will freeze my tits off within seconds of exiting the airport. While waiting for my luggage, roughly seven minutes will pass before I hear someone refer to someone else as a “such a feckin’ cawksuckah, kehd.” The cocksucker in question may or may not be present when the comment is made, but let’s call it 50/50 odds that the cocksucker is not present and is in fact a member of a professional sports team. The person speaking will almost definitely be wearing a Sox cap and one of those satin Celtics jackets. Or at the very least a Pats jersey. Possibly all three.

It’s Friday afternoon in rural Massachusetts and the snow is brown and yellow and black and I fucking “love it here.” Last night my shoes filled up with ice water almost as soon as I got off the plane. There was like a half an inch of slush on the floor at the gate at Logan, I shit you not. I saw a guy accidentally knock another guy’s precious Dunky’s out of his hand and then the Dunky’s guy grabbed the first guy and started pounding him in the face and calling him a homo. They were both wearing Pats jerseys.

It’s Saturday morning at the post office and I’m getting yelled at by this townie skank who thinks I cut her in line. She reeks of booze and she’s wearing gold lamé stretch pants with a stain on the crotch. When I tell her to relax and go ahead of me, she threatens to punch me “right in the cawk.”  I can tell she wants to throw her Dunky’s in my face, but not so badly that she wants to waste it and/or possibly get chucked. I move my Dunky’s further away from her so she can’t spill it. When she gets to the clerk, she fishes nine rolls of pennies out of her purse and says she needs a money order for four dollars and 63 cents.

It’s Sunday and I can’t take it anymore. I went into the IHOP out on Soldiers Field Road to use the pisser, and someone had taken a huge, sloppy dump on the back of the toilet. You could tell it was totally on purpose because it takes some serious skill to line up that kind of shot without getting even one drop in the bowl. I mean, the entire fucking bathroom was spotless except for this huge dump on the back of the toilet, like whatever poor sap got stuck with pisser duty didn’t wanna deal with it and just pretended it wasn’t there. Can’t say I blame the guy, though. I would’ve done the same fucking thing. 

This bullshit originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Decibel magazine. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

MY NEW LEAF (Turn It With Me)



93 of these things. Jesus. That means Cry Now will celebrate its 100th installment in issue 107, unless Albert pulls the plug on me before then.  I’ll have to plan something special for the occasion, turn it into a real extravaganza. Maybe kick off a nine-part investigative series on whatever it is that seems to be happening to Dave Mustaine’s brain. Written in haiku form, with a phonetic Irish accent.

I’m guessing some of you aren’t laughing at that one. Mostly because it probably seems like something I might actually attempt in this column. Which is why I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all of you—and Albert, and Bonzo, and of course my solid-as-a-fucking-rock Cry Now partner Brunofsky—for sticking with me through this pseudo-psychotic safari, this ongoing odyssey, this monthly marathon of occasionally half-baked ideas from a fully-cooked psyche.

I can say with 1000% certainty that I am a completely different human being today than I was on that day in 2006 when Albert called me and proceeded to make the biggest mistake of his entire life by asking, What would you write about if I gave you your own column?  I think it’s safe to say the poor bastard had no idea what he was in for. And neither did I, for that matter. Looking back on the past 92 issues, I see some ridiculous things in this column—shit I barely remember writing, and plenty of shit I probably should have kept to myself. But I also see occasional flashes of coherence.

As for the differences between then and now?  I’ve got less hair, fewer teeth, and the ability to write a cover story without staying up for three days straight on methamphetamines. In addition to writing about bands, I actually play in one of my own now. I’m older, obviously, and I like to think wiser. I’ve met an incredible amount of awesome people through this magazine, made friends with folks in bands that I admire, and have had many once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I will take to my grave. I’ve also realized that I’m not invincible, which is a bigger hurdle to overcome than one might think.

I’ve moved five times, including across the country, during the course of our first 100 issues—which is even more frequently than it seems when you consider that I’ve been living in the same house for the last four years. In fact, one of the only constants in my life since Decibel started has been Decibel itself. Albert has sent (and occasionally accompanied/babysat) me around the world to pursue stories about Scandinavian black metal, the Mexican underground, and French mega-festivals. Thanks to Decibel, I’ve shot hoops with Kerry King, shot skeet with Iron Maiden, and bum-rushed Disneyland with the Melvins. I even had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Ronnie James Dio and Peter Steele before they passed into the great beyond. I’ve also crashed cars on the job, been threatened physically for things I’ve written in these pages, and been the subject of legal threats leveled at the publisher. I’ve been so late with stories that Albert has lost a few hairs of his own. But it was all in the pursuit of journalistic excellence. Most of it, anyway.

In honor of these memories and in light of all the aforementioned ch-ch-ch-CHAIN-ges, I’ve made a decision: The next seven installments of Cry Now will contain absolutely none of the phantasmagoric fantasy-headaches that the first 92 specialized in. No more fake letters to the editor, no more fake band correspondence, no more semiotic cartwheels through time and/or space or whatever. Definitely no more making fun of people, especially Satan, who is absolutely to be taken seriously at all times. For the next seven issues, I’m gonna be Wolf-Blitzer earnest. Grave, somber, businesslike. Stoic, even. A straight shooter.

I’m not just joshing you. I swear it.

This bullshit originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Decibel magazine. 



Monday, June 3, 2013

ESCAPE FROM HRADEC KRÁLOVÉ





Alberto –

To quote the famous last words of General Custer, I’ve made a huge mistake.

Did you know that two Cheyenne women, upon recognizing Custer’s body on the battlefield at Little Bighorn, punctured his eardrums with huge sewing needles so his corpse could “hear better in the afterlife” because he had broken his promise to Chief Stone Forehead to never fight the Native Americans again? You know this story?  It’s hitting home with me right now because I’ve been thinking about it, and you know who 100% guaranteed never heard this story?  Custer. And there’s a huge lesson there, I’m pretty sure. I just can’t figure out what it is yet.

I’m writing to you today from the Czech Republic, that storied and highly leveraged chunk of Eastern Bloc real estate formerly known as Bohemia, where the dumplings are hot, the exchange rate is confusing and every other person is basically Russian. I’m here because I’m trying to escape: Responsibility, taxes, life in general—sure. But mostly I’m trying to escape the Satanists.

It’s like this, Alberto: I got hammered drunk in a strange city called Hradec Králové and accidentally sort of converted to Satanism. Actually, I’m not sure if converted is the right word because I had no religion to speak of before this happened. It’s not like I had to formally recant the Baltimore Catechism or denounce my Mormon elders or find a rabbi to reattach my foreskin or anything like that. In fact, I didn’t have to do much of anything.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking of the standard shit, am I right? But there were no hooded robes, no pentagrams, no altars, and—sadly—no naked virgins involved in this process. I didn’t even have to say anything. No Latin, nothing. They did cut me, though. But I was drunk and I wasn’t looking and before I knew it the whole thing was over. The coven master or grand wizard or whatever sliced my palm with a straight razor. I barely felt it because, like I said, I’d had a few. But there was a fair amount of blood, and I was numb enough that I could look at it objectively—without focusing or fixating on the pain, you know? Then he sliced his own palm and grabbed my hand in his and that was that. I’d made a blood pact. I was one of them. This was all unspoken, of course. These dudes barely spoke English. But it turns out the main guy’s name is Josef. I think he singled me out because of my Bathory t-shirt, but I can’t be sure.

Here’s where it gets weird. I wake up the next day in a shitty fifth floor walkup in some tenement building on the outskirts of town. After checking to make sure I hadn’t been raped (I hadn’t), I find Josef sitting in the kitchen. He’s still drinking, and clearly hasn’t been to bed. I thank him for his hospitality and tell him, you know, I’ve gotta split—I’ve got a thing or whatever. Suddenly his English is fucking perfect, right? He tells me I can’t leave. I’m one of Lucifer’s children now, and they’ve got a full schedule of doing Lucifer’s bidding today: Drinking, he says, listening to Venom on repeat, and then maybe we’ll knock over a liquor store and find some prostitutes who’ll take it in the cake. Girls, boys, whatever—doesn’t matter when you’re a Satanist—as long as it’s in the cake. Apparently Satanism is nothing if not an equal-opportunity faith. When I try to argue, he basically tells me that this is a blood in, blood out kind of deal. Like the Mexican Mafia or something. But it’s my call, he says.

So my question is: Can I get a few extra days on that cover story?

xoxo

J

This bullshit originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of DECIBEL magazine. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Iommi Job (Part 4)




The clock was ticking. Curtis Merriweather knew it. The Boys called. They wanted to know what was happening with their investment. That’s what they called it—“our investment.” Paulie laid it out for him: Come back in 72 hours with Iommi’s fingertips or don’t come back at all.

Madame Quinault, the psychic palm reader, had sent Curtis to see a man named Harrington. Harrington worked for ULTRA. Curtis met him at the Frolic Room. It was one of Bukowski’s old Hollywood booze trenches. Shoebox-sized. Sinatra on the jukebox. Harrington was drunk and borderline surly, but eventually it came out that he was disgruntled. Some kind of ancient beef with the bosses at ULTRA. Curtis bought him a shot: Maker’s to the face. Curtis pressed him. Curtis cajoled him. Curtis milked him for intel. Curtis bought him another Maker’s. Sinatra segued into Roy Orbison. Roy segued into Iggy. Iggy segued into “Killing Yourself To Live.” The song jarred something loose. Finally, Harrington spat it out.

“You’ll never find them fingertips. They’re in cold storage out in Van Nuys. A fucking warehouse full of fur fucking coats. But here’s the kicker: They’re supposedly in the pocket of one of the coats. We’ve had two dozen guys turning out pockets for days now.”

“How many coats?” Curtis asked.

“Thousands. I mean fucking thousands. Maybe 40, 50K.  Too many to count.”

“What’s security like?”

“A pair of armed guards at the gate, at least one on every entrance, plus who-knows-how-many inside. Cameras fucking everywhere, too. You’ll never get in, not in a million fucking years. And even if you did, it’d take you twice that long to find the motherfuckers.”

Harrington blinked. Curtis bought him another Maker’s and left.  He went out to the rental and cranked the AC. He turned it over and over in his head: A warehouse full of armed goons, 50,000 fur coats and two dozen hired hands fishing through pockets. How much could these fucking fingertips be worth, anyway?  No. There had to be something else. Either that or Harrington was full of shit.

Curtis walked back into the Frolic Room. Just as Harrington tipped back another Maker’s, Curtis smashed it into his face. The impact was audible. Blood spritzed. Curtis grabbed Harrington by the throat. His front teeth were chipped.

“What the fuaaaahhh!”

Curtis reached into Harrington’s jacket pocket and pulled out two plastic baggies. One was half full of cocaine. The other contained four shriveled brown chunks. At first Curtis thought they were mushrooms. They were leather fucking fingertips. 

Curtis released Harrington’s neck and dropped him to the floor. Harrington moaned like a dying animal.  Curtis slipped the bartender a C-note and put a finger to his lips. “Mum’s the word, boss.”

Curtis goosed the rental and drove out to Silverlake. He pulled into a parking lot on Glendale Boulevard. He called his mother. She went on and on and on about the neighbors and their shitty dog who kept her up all night with the barking. She didn’t actually use the word shitty. She complained about Father Tom at Our Lady Of Good Counsel. He smelled like booze, she said. She was afraid he might be a pederast. Curtis was sure she’d learned that word from the television. She would never just come out and say Father Tom was a drunk who liked to fuck little boys in the mouth. Everyone was up to something. She just knew the mechanic was overcharging her. The mailman was delivering her social security checks late on purpose. She suspected. She speculated. She inferred. After 20 minutes, Curtis couldn’t take it anymore.

“Mom. Where’s my Slayer record?”

“Your what?”

“Mom.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Mom. Did you sell something of mine?  At the record store?”

“Curtis. You know I sold my records years ago.”

“Mom. My records. My records.”

“Curtis, I…”

“Never mind.”

He hung up. He walked into Rockaway Records and scanned the wall above the counter. There it was: dead center. Between a copy of the Beatles Butcher cover and the second Sir Lord Baltimore album. Reign In Blood, original pressing, mint condition, 60 bucks. He threw three twenties down on the counter.

He flew back to Chicago that night. The Boys shook his hand and gave him a suitcase with 20 grand in it. 


This bullshit originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Decibel magazine.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Iommi Job (Part 3)




I looked at a million photographs because this is the dot theory of reality, that all knowledge is available if you connect the dots.

—Don DeLillo, Underworld

You wake up in the middle of the night again and there it is. Staring you right in the face like you’d ordered it off a menu. Summoned from the ether. Its intent is as clear as its origin is clouded. It gives you the heebie jeebies. It gives you the fear, the kind that snakes its way into your bloodstream like an incurable disease.

But what does it mean?

This is the question that Curtis Merriweather asked himself at 2:30 AM as he sat awake in bed, staring at a blank television screen in a shitty motel room on Santa Monica Boulevard. The Holloway it was called, like that girl who disappeared in Aruba a few years back. Street level digs gave Curtis a front-row seat for the show that never ends: the Great Hollywood Hooker Revue.

“Hey, daddy…” “Hey, sugar…” “Hey bay-bee…”

Every two out of three with prominent Adam’s apples. This was technically still Boys’ Town, so the “ladies” worked both sides of the street.

Giiiiirrrrlll…look at that fine piece uh meat!” 

Uh-uh, bitch. I saw him first!”

What Curtis saw was something else entirely. A vision? A dream? An epiphany?

It was Tony Iommi talking to him. Out loud. Not a disembodied voice from the Great Beyond so much as Tony Fucking Iommi, in the room, huffing down a duke and offering what seemed like advice. This is clean-shaven Iommi in the sky-blue shirt with the white fringe from the ’74 California Jam. And he’s saying… he’s saying this:

Blah, blah, blah, Birmingham accent, “fooking this up proper, lad,” blah, blah, blah, “tryin’ teh find muh fingers?” blah, blah, blah… “Go see Madame Quinault.”

Curtis remembered her. Or her sign, anyway: Madame Quinault’s Palm Reading & Tarot. He remembered it mostly because it was the only sign on the block that wasn’t neon. And all of those psychic/tarot/palm-reading joints had neon signs. Not Madame Quinault. She was an iconoclast.

The next day, Curtis did some checking up on her. Born Maria Alyokhina in Kiev, 1940-something, parents unknown or undocumented, files missing or destroyed. Arrived in Los Angeles shortly after the War. Been working her crystal-ball routine for the rich and gullible since ’69—at this location, anyway. She opened for business whenever she felt like it, and never before the crack of noon.

Curtis waited in the rental and cranked the AC. The sidewalks were a minefield of calamity and vice. Broken glass. Spent rubbers. Cigarette butts everywhere.

When she finally turned up, she was better looking than he’d expected. Less babushka and more Adrienne Barbeau.

“Tell me about yourself,” she said.

Curtis smiled. “I’d rather not.”

“How can I help you if I don’t know anything about you?”

“Tony Iommi sent me. Sort of. I’m looking for his fingertips.”

“The Englishman? Tony the Terrible?”

“Tony the… you know him?”

“We dated for a few months in ’72. Brown Sabbath was in town making a record.”

Curtis smirked. “Black Sabbath. You seen him lately?”

“It’s been decades, honey.”

“He didn’t leave any, uh, prosthesis with you or anything like that?”

“Can’t help you there. But I think I know someone who can.”

This bullshit originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Decibel magazine. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Iommi Job (Part 2)



Bel Air, high fucking noon. The manse at 773 Stradella Road had seen better days. Sabbath practically destroyed the place in a blizzard of cocaine and vodka back in ’72, but that’s not where its current sorry state derived from. Several years after Sabbath cleared out, TV miniseries queen and former Charlie’s Angel star Jaclyn Smith bought the joint and installed a heart-shaped swimming pool allegedly modeled after the curve of her own ass. After becoming even more insanely wealthy thanks to her gaudy women’s apparel and home furnishings empires, she upped sticks and sold the pad to a shadowy investment group called ULTRA, LLC.

Curtis Merriweather had yet to determine who was behind ULTRA. But they had let the place go to seed: Broken windows, bricks stacked in the front yard, about three years’ worth of leaves clogging the drains of Jackie’s ass-shaped pool. Curtis peered through a broken window and saw the usual detritus: broken furniture, drop-cloths, spider webs galore. The chances of Tony Iommi’s missing leather fingertips being somewhere inside 40 years after the fact? Curtis figured them at about zero. But the Boys seemed pretty sure of themselves. And they were paying the tab for this goose chase.

Curtis was just about to B&E the place when he heard a voice behind him.

“What do you think you’re doing, guy?”

Curtis fingered the grip of the .38 snubnose tucked into his belt.

“I wouldn’t.”

Curtis turned slowly and found himself staring down the barrel of a sawed-off. Behind it was an incredibly obese man with a Hitler mustache, a bowler hat, and a shit-eating grin. He must’ve weighed 400 pounds, easy. 

Curtis smiled sheepishly. “I’m with the alarm company. Must’ve been a rat that tripped the wires or something. You haven’t seen anyone else up here today, have you?”

“Don’t fuck with me,” the fat man snapped. “I can smell a lie like I can smell the dog shit on your shoe.”

Curtis looked down. He had totally stepped in dog shit.

“Let’s try again,” the fat man said. “Next wrong answer costs you a kneecap. What are you doing here?”

“Okay, you got me.” Curtis shot him another patently disingenuous smile, ten times worse than Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. “A friend of mine left something in this house a while back. He sent me up here to see if I could find it.”

“And what might that be?”

“A desk clock. Some kind of family heirloom. You seen anything like that inside?”

“Get dorked, guy.  Put your hands over your head, stroll out of here real slow, and I’ll pretend this didn’t happen. But if I see you or smell your dog shit shoes up here again, I’ll shoot your dick off and feed it to the coyotes.”

Curtis followed the fat man’s instructions. As he passed within kicking distance of that sprawling front-bum, Curtis had the urge to spin around and pistol-whip his oppressor right in the stupid mustache. He could almost see the instantly cleft lip, the smashed teeth, and all that righteous blood. But he figured—correctly—that he probably wasn’t fast enough to pull off that kind of maneuver without taking a load of birdshot to the face.

Curtis knew he’d have to hatch a plan. He climbed back into his rental, goosed the engine, and waved. Fatso lowered the sawed-off and flipped Curtis the bird. 

He knew the Boys would expect a status update soon. He wasn’t sure what he’d tell them—about the house, about Iommi’s fingertips, about any of it. But he knew this: The fat man worked for ULTRA. 

This bullshit originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Decibel magazine.