Archive for July, 2011

Dissecting CARCASS’ “Heartwork” – Fourth Incision…Heartwork

This is the fourth in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

Heartwork

Works of art, painted black

Magniloquent, bleeding dark

Monotonous palate, murky spectrum, grimly unlimited

Food for thought, so prolific

In contrasting shades, forcedly fed

Abstraction, so choking, so provocative

A canvas to paint, to degenerate

Dark reflections – degeneration

A canvas to paint, to denigrate

Dark reflections, of dark foul light

Profound, aesthetic beauty

Or shaded, sensory corruption

Perceptions, shattered, splintered, mirroring

In deft taints, diluted, tinted

Spelt out, in impaired color

Denigrating, going to paints to pain – not a pretty picture

Works of heart bleeding dark

Black, magniloquent art

Monotonous palate, murky spectrum, grimly unlimited

Prolific food for thought

Contrasting, fed with force

Abstraction, so choking, so provocative

Bleeding works of art

Seething work so dark

Searing words from the heart

Heartwork is a statement of purpose.  Its story belongs not only to Jeff Walker and Carcass but also to anyone who has ever spent a significant stretch of time staring into the abyss.  Why do we gaze into the darkness?  What are we looking for?  What is it that makes some people gravitate toward existential questions that are presented in extreme music?  Heavy metal, for all intents and purposes, is a death factory.  Trying to find ten songs on your hard drive that don’t deal with some form of horrific strife, violent rage or terrible suffering is a nearly absurd task for those who are obsessed with The Sound.  Even power metal, with all of its uplift and ecstatic jubilance, often contains elements of profound sadness and pain.  To spend your life pondering terror, strife and human suffering hardly seems to be time well spent, but its appeal, at least for me, is undeniable.

There seems to be a popular school of thought that encourages people to “think happy thoughts”.  The idea of perseverating on horror is felt by many to be a recipe for dangerous feelings of sadness and detachment from the world.  On one level, there is something that seems correct about this idea.  Good vibes in, good vibes out.  Perfect equilibrium.  Yet, no matter how much goodness and light we choose to bathe in, we still suffer and we still die.  Spending life trying to fill ourselves with the beauty around us may be the best way to live for some, but it feels disingenuous to me.  Death and suffering are all around us.  We are, in fact, all living out a slow motion disintegration.  I cannot hide from it; I cannot pretend it isn’t there.  My fear of the eventual fate that awaits me is a critical element of who I am.

There is an authenticity that comes with accepting one’s fate. Beyond that, there is a strange feeling of liberation that a person can achieve by coming to terms with the worst elements of existence.  Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a samurai whose insights were collected in a book the Hagakure in the early 18th century, makes a fantastic case for this sort of thinking.   One of the most stirring passages of the book says, “Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one’s body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one’s master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead.”

This meditation on death seems like a morbid exercise, but how else is a person supposed to rationally process the mortal terror that comes with the recognition of one’s finiteness.  We cannot change it, but we do not have to run from it.

In the song Heartwork, Walker is stating the necessity of recognizing the dim, murky reality of our being.  The artist, coming to terms with this awareness, can do nothing of value but create an art that reflects the degeneration of our spirits and bodies.  The goal is not to shock people, nor to frighten people, but simply to state in no uncertain terms, that everything is not okay.  This type of dark art can provide the audience with the gift of catharsis.  We are not alone in our terror.  We may have to accept the terrible terms of our existence, but we don’t have to do so by ourselves.

Here’s the video…..

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American Burlesque or I Just Flew In From Vaudeville and Boy Are My Arms Tired

Last Christmas, my wife bought me one of those human cloning machines that they sell on TV for 129.99.  At first, I didn’t have much of a use for it and it stayed in the back of my closet.  However, I started getting some wacky ideas in June and began sending away for samples of the DNA of famous Borscht Belt comedians.  I got an excellent mixture of Milton Berle, Shecky Greene, Mort Sahl, Buddy Hackett, Henny Youngman (his even came in a small violin case!) and a dash of Rodney Dangerfield.  At a local DNA shop in downtown St. Paul, I purchased the DNA of several 1960s radicals like Huey P Newton, Abbie Hoffman and George McGovern.

Two days ago, I took all the DNA, threw it into the machine and, as per instruction, simmered for 12 hours. I just wanted to see what the combination would create.  I wanted no trouble.  What came out of the machine yesterday morning was beyond my worst nightmares.  It was around 7 feet tall, had a cheap looking tuxedo and a blown out afro.  It looked like a bizarre cross between Strom Thurmond and Julius Erving.  It told me that it must find a club and do stand up comedy.  I tried to stop it, but it tossed me aside and ran out the door.  Minutes later, this creature burst into the VFW Hall located down the street from our home and began doing its routine for the 15 or so semi-drunken patrons.   I was able to get there in time for the second half of the act.  The following is a transcription of what took place.

Creature:   What’s the difference between an American and a gorilla?

The gorilla won’t tell you it’s proud to be a gorilla.

 Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

Woman in the Audience:  YOU SUCK!!!!

Creature:  Thanks, you’re a dear.  I wish I had my hunting license.

Man in the Audience:  Get OFF THE STAGE, Idiot!

Creature:  All right, all right!  What has 600 million legs, over 1 million guns and an IQ under 70?

The American Public

Bartender:  Shut UP!  Please!!!  I’ll call the police if you don’t get off of the stage!!!!!

Creature:  How do you get 200 million Americans to vote?

Turn on American Idol

Thanks!  Tip your servers!!!

Woman in the Audience:  YOU SUCK!!!

Audience:  BOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Creature:  Yeah, George W Bush, George W Bush…..The other day I asked Bush where’s the 20 dollars I loaned him.  He said in the other room under the weapons of mass destruction.  He went to get it and I never saw him again.  But, hey, you re-elected him!!!!  I LOVE THIS CROWD!!!!

Audience:  BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!  (bottle smashes behind The Creature’s head)

Creature:  What’s the best part of voting in Florida?

Knowing it won’t count

Take My Wife, Please!

Man in the audience:  Come back when you’re funny!

Creature: Hey, I forgot you were all Americans.  Do you want me to repeat any of these slowly?

Audience:  BOO!!!!!  (three more bottles smashed against the wall behind The Creature)

Creature:  What do you call an American who works 60 hours a week in order to pay off 25,000 dollars in credit card debt?

Free!  Ya get it!  Free!  You guys are the best crowd I’ve had in months!

Man in the Audience: (over a chorus of boos and bottles smashing) SHUT UP!  We’ll tear your eyes out!!!!!

Creature:  Ahhhhhh….what are you going to do?  Invade Iraq again!

A mob of angry patrons began to storm the stage.  I ran up and grabbed The Creature by the arm and pulled it out of the bar.  A group of three raging men ran after us as we sprinted down the street.  After a few blocks, they stopped chasing us.  We were both exhausted and safe….for now.

I realized later that night that this creature simply couldn’t exist in our world.  It was too jaded, too unwilling to accept compromise, too hateful, too cynical.  I had created a monster that did not belong in today’s America.  It was just going to cause trouble and incite riots wherever it went.  I knew what I had to do.   I crept into the room where The Creature was sleeping and pushed a pillow over its face.  It struggled and screamed, but after a minute or two, it stopped thrashing around.  I went back to my room, turned on the television and fell asleep.  The problem had been solved.

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King Diamond Offers 11th Hour Compromise to End U.S. Debt Crisis

The King Speaking To Reporters At Today's Press Conference

Click here for up to the minute updates on King Diamond’s campaign for President.  Will he run or not????

Tired of the political bickering taking place between the Republicans and Democrats over the raising of the debt ceiling, metal legend King Diamond has offered a compromise in the hopes of averting a major economic crisis in the United States.  At a 7:30 PM press conference, The King scolded President Obama and the Republican Party for “playing political games” at a critical time.  “This is unacceptable!”  shouted the King in a mild falsetto voice, “My sleep has been disturbed by rumors of the US Bond rating being downgraded.  Do you people understand what the fiscal ramifications of that would be!?!?! This must stop nowwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!”

In response to the stalemate in Washington, The King offered an economic package that he felt would be acceptable to both sides.  The King’s debt deal would shave 3.8 trillion dollars off of the Federal Debt over a 10 year period with only a modest tax increase and minor cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  He intends to generate additional revenue by putting a 20 percent tax on all albums by “awful mallcore bands”.  He also plans on heavily taxing all hipster related products.  “You know those stupid tee-shirts they sell at Target with pictures of Spam and Dr. Pepper on them.  We are going to tax the hell out of them.  Teach those people to dress like adults!” opined the King.  “I’m not worried about hipster backlash.  Hipsters don’t even like hipsters!”

The King has summoned President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to a meeting at his hidden lair located somewhere in the Alps.  The King’s Lair has only been seen by a handful of people and has never been photographed.  There have been rumors over the years that he has the world’s last remaining minotaur in a pit in his backyard.  According to The King the meeting, set for Tuesday afternoon, should straighten everything out.  “If I was able to put my differences with Mercyful Fate aside in order to reunite and make great music back in the 90’s, these humans can certainly put aside their petty differences,” said the King in a scornful, frustrated voice.

The King had harsh words for the politicians standing in the way of a deal.  He threatened Tea Party members and others who are willing to risk default on the U.S. debt with “a trip to grandmother’s house”.  The King has another press conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at which he plans to bring either a signed agreement or “a bag full of their skulls.”

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Dispatches From The Republican Convention September 14th, 2040

Nixon Thrills 130,000 People In San Francisco

The Republican Party seems poised to return to power after their thrilling convention concluded in San Francisco, California last night.  The keynote convention address, given by Republican Presidential Candidate LeVance Nixon, brought the house to a twenty minute standing ovation.  Nixon pledged that the Republican Party is committed to “freedom now, freedom tomorrow and freedom forever” in a speech that some commentators are calling the best in the party’s history.  Several polls taken within minutes of Nixon’s speech showed that Nixon picked up 8 to 12 points against his opponent, Democratic Incumbent Juan Jose Herrera and now leads in 31 of the 44 states.

Nixon’s campaign theme of entirely eliminating nearly every function of government has gained steam in the past few months.  His major idea of privatizing the entire United States military and offering it to other countries as a mercenary defense force has captured the imagination of many.  Nixon claimed last month that the US could have the money to re-aquire the state of Oregon and allow the Social Security Age to dip below 95 for the first time since 2030 if the program is instituted.   Other Nixon programs, including the elimination of public schools by 2050, a program dismissing taxation for Americans making over 250,000 dollars a year and the immediate closing of the Food and Drug Administration, have also gained popularity since Nixon announced his intention to run for the Presidency last year.

A year ago, many of his ideas seemed far-fetched, but even the most radical ones have gained an audience.  Nixon’s revolutionary re-working of the welfare system, once thought to be too radical, is a hit even now with some Democrats.  His program, originally decried by many for its cruelty, would force people receiving federal benefits for more than two years to exchange a kidney for continuing benefits.  “The poor have senselessly and selfishly hoarded their kidneys without regard to the harm they have caused. You can sell a functional kidney for $25,000.  It’s time the poor do their part to make America great again! Even the lazy can contribute to our once great nation!” Nixon told the screaming crowd of conventioneers.

The Problem of the Moths has plagued much of the Presidency of Juan Jose Herrera.  Nixon looked to capitalize on this issue through a proposal to give a ten year long tax holiday to any corporation that captures more than 100 giant man eating moths per year.  According to Nixon the program will “encourage the growth of the real generators of the Great American Job Engine…corporations.  It will also help to stop moths from consuming the flesh of innocent, hard-working Americans.”

The energy around the Nixon campaign is a testament to the youthful, revitalized nature of the Republican Party.  Many of the parties core supporters are 18 to 34 years old.  They are attracted by the Parties strong anti-government message.  It was a Republican Congress and President, as most remember, that legalized all drugs in 2025 and gay marriage in 2026.  Since those fateful decision, the Party has attracted a slew of gung-ho, young supporters.  Hundreds of young Nixon supporters, calling themselves the Nixon Youth, staged a spontaneous rally outside of the Harvey Milk Arena after his speech.  “Nixon’s for freedom and freedom is for America.  Government sucks!  It’s that simple!” shouted Emilia Antonia, a Nixon supporter who had travelled all the way from the ruins of Boston to be a part of the special evening.

Get 2040 Democratic Convention Highlights here

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Moronball

Some people dream of having their own twenty-room mansion, some fantasize about owning a yacht, others imagine purchasing their own tropical island. If money was no object and I could buy anything I wanted I’d immediately purchase the Colorado Rockies. Here’s the thing, I’m not even a Rockies fan and I’ve never been within 300 miles of Colorado. So, why would some multi-billionaire Mets fan want to purchase the Rockies? Because it would allow me to put into play a baseball system that would forever revolutionize how the game is played. I like to call the system Moronball and it could be the greatest innovation in how the game is played since the creation of the curveball.

Moronball is a system that utilizes several idiosyncrasies within the game to the greatest possible advantage. It is similar to the Oakland A’s  Moneyball system in the fact that it tries to achieve success without spending a large amount of money. The difference is that instead of creating a team built around a boring, clichéd goal like winning; Moronball is built around creating the most bizarre and entertaining possible experience imaginable.

The first and most obvious question is, ‘Why Colorado’? The homerun is the most critical offensive component in Moronball. Therefore, we will try to create a team that will hit the most possible homeruns and in the process sacrifice nearly every other important offensive category. The thin air of Colorado can offer a possibility of a nearly endless stream of homeruns if the fences are moved in a bit. Right now, you need to hit the ball 415 feet to get a homerun in straight away center. That’s ridiculous! Nobody wants to go to a game to watch long outs. We will move that that to about 350 and put a 275 foot short porch out in right and left field. As Founding Father and diehard baseball fan James Madison once said, “Chicks dig the longball.”

The next step is finding players that fit the system. Homerun hitters tend to be a bit overpaid unless they lack speed, the ability to hit for average and anything approaching average defensive ability. The Moronball Rockies are going to resemble a 35 and up beer league softball team. My outfield will feature athletes like Wily Mo Pena (5 HRs in 46 AB this year), Andruw Jones (14th on the active list of homeruns per at bat with 1 per every 17), and Matt Stairs (25th on the same list 1 HR per 19 ABs). I’d even talk to Barry Bonds about coming out of retirement to roam the outfield. Granted, what I have just outlined is the worst defensive outfield in the 150-year history of baseball, but the point is to win games 22 to 17, not 3 to 1.

At third base would be Russell Branyan (7th on the active AB/HR list with 1 per every 15 ABs) and our first baseman will be Cubs power hitter Carlos Pena (anyone who can hit 26 homeruns with a sub .200 batting average like Pena did last year belongs with us). Pena would cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million per season, but, honestly, we’re not really paying anyone else all that much so why not shell a little money out for a guy who could potentially hit 75 homeruns in our ballpark.  Many, many records would fall in Colorado.

It gets a bit tricky when you get to shortstop and second base, because the bloated power hitters are either making too much money for us or have been moved to the outfield. However, keep in mind that we are not committed in anyway whatsoever to playing anything that would even remind a baseball fan of defense. Therefore, I would use Spring Training to convert some Triple A power hitting phenoms who can’t make the show into middle infielders. Mike Hessman, who is currently playing in Japan, is the active minor league homerun leader. I bet that he’d be willing to play second base if I promised him an everyday gig. Shortstop would be manned by power hitting journeyman Bill Hall who is, ironically enough, actually a shortstop. Our catcher would be slugger Miguel Olivo who does almost nothing but hit the ball out the park.

Our starting pitching staff will be another unique facet of Moronball. 3 knuckleballers. That’s it! Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey and Charlie Haeger. Jim Bouton once said that knuckleballers pitch better when they are tired. These starters are going to be looking at logging something in the neighborhood of 40 starts so they will be completely exhausted. One of the most entertaining things to watch are knuckleballers, so I say, give the people what they want to see! We’d then carry 9 relief pitchers who could come in and throw hard in order to capitalize on the fact that seeing knuckleballers all day long will cause the opposition’s timing to be a bit off. They can all be flame-throwing journeymen; I really don’t care. We could even have a contest and put a fan on the roster as a middle reliever for the entire season. As long as our team ERA is somewhere below 15.00 we are going to be competitive or, at the very least, fun to watch.

The Rockies have a great amount of talent. I’m sure I could get the players I’ve mentioned because I strongly doubt teams like the Red Sox are going to turn down an offer like Troy Tulowitzki for 44 year-old Tim Wakefield. With the players I’ve mentioned and a few bench players, I think I can keep the payroll somewhere around 35 million per year. I will invest an additional 5 million in order to find the best steroid doctors in the world. If it means forcing our players to inject substances that would have made Mr. Ed win the Kentucky Derby, we will do it.

Baseball purists will hate our team. The commissioner will threaten to close us down. Announcers will lambaste us every time they watch us play, but a Colorado Rockies game will be the most exciting 6 hours the fans have ever seen. We will put hills in the middle of the outfield, place a giant sinkhole between first and second base and even mine the infield grass, whatever we need to do to make Rockies baseball the greatest show on earth.

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The Howling Man

 

Fedor_Jeftichew_Jo-Jo

The following is an account of what took place on the evening of Sunday March 14th, 1996 in New Paltz, New York.  It was the most frightening night of my life…

“AAAAAAAAAAARGGHRRHRHHHRRHAHGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I looked at the alarm clock.  3:14 AM.  What on earth was that horrible noise?

BANG!!!!! BANG!!!!! BANG!!!!

Loud thumping from the front door.  What on earth?!?!?

“AAAAARRRGHRGRHHRRAAAA!!!!!  HELP ME!!!!  AAAAAAAAARGHTHHTERGG!!”

BANG!  BANG!  BANG!

What could it be?  I stared at cracked wood paneled ceiling above me.  Eyes pinned open.  Was someone banging on my door?  Why would someone be banging on the door at 3:14 in the morning?

BANG!!! BANG!!! BANG!!!!!!

“HEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!”

The bleariness of sleep quickly disappeared from my mind.  Cobwebs melted away and were quickly replaced with horror.  What on earth?  ‘I should go downstairs’, I mumbled to myself.

BANG!!!! BANG!!!!! BANG!!!!!!! BANG!!!!!!!!!

I shot out of bed and grabbed the 36-ounce aluminum Easton bat from my closet.  I threw a shirt on, took a deep breath and started to walk to the hallway that connected our living room to the front door.  I lived in an apartment with two other people who were both out of town.  It was just me.  The hallway led to a creaky wooden door that probably couldn’t handle much more of the pounding that whatever was on the other side was inflicting on it.

“ADAARGREHEREHERHREHR!!!!!  HEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLPPPPPP!!!!”

It didn’t even sound human, whatever it was.  Some filthy, snarling beast on my front porch.  Why?  Maybe it would go away if I…..

“HHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEGGGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!”

BANG! BANG!!!! BANG!!!!!!!

Pounding with two fists!  Screeching!  What was on the other side of the door?

“ARGGRHRRRHRHT!!!!! HHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

BANG!!!!!

BANG!!!!!

BANG!!!!!

Only feet away from the door handle.  Now, the door handle in my hand.  NOW!

I flung the door open and I’ll never forget what I saw.

No shirt, covered in some red substance that was either blood or strawberry syrup, dark bruises on his body, a deranged, confused expression on his face.  Only feet away from me.  I knew him right away from the moment my eyes met his.  It was Bill Clinton.

He began looking at the sky and howling a sick, miserable shriek.

“AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHBSHFBSHMHGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

“Mr. President, are you alright?” I asked filled with astonishment and terror.

“I know…..I know……I know……I know…….FEAR!!!!!”

“Are you hurt?”

He stared blankly into my face.  His body was no longer filled with electric, crazed energy.  An empty vessel.  Eyes filled with nothing as if he was listening to a song that only he could hear.  He was covered in blood and chicken feathers.

“I know pain,” he whispered to me in a voice that projected complete sadness and desolation.

“I KNOW PAIN!!!!  ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAGHRGRHRGRGGG!!!!!!!!!” he screamed.

The next thing I knew he began running away…..howling.  The way his body moved was not even human.  Like some combination of an eel, a toad and a man.  He disappeared into the woods on the side of the house.  What had just happened?  The howling faded into the distance and I was left alone in the oppressive darkness.

I tried to call the police.  They told me I was crazy.  I told my friends.  They didn’t believe me.  I tried to find news reports about the whereabouts of the President on that evening.  The newspapers claimed he was in France on an official visit.  I knew better.

I never have figured out what happened that night.  I will probably never know.  For a few moments, Clinton became a vulgar, demented beast.  Maybe it was who he was all along or maybe he strayed from the light for just one evening.  That night he was a monstrosity.

It’s not the screaming or the banging or the look in his eyes that I remember most.   I remember his howl he let out as he disappeared as if I heard it yesterday.   It was the noise an animal made when it sensed its own demise.  It was the repugnant terror of existential emptiness and complete alienation all pressed together in one terrible, resonant sound.  In that moment, he spoke from a horrific place that I hope I do not ever see.  I never looked at him the same way again.

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George Clooney Agrees to Buy Bones of Bathory’s Quorthon For 1.6 Million Dollars

george-clooney

In a highly awaited auction, film star George Clooney outbid several other interested collectors for the rights to purchase the bones of former Bathory frontman Quorthon at Southeby’s in London on Friday.  Clooney paid a record 1.6 million dollars for the skeleton, the most ever paid for the remains of a metal artist.

Clooney, a lifelong Bathory fan, felt this was the best way to pay his respects to the band that got him into metal.  “I’ll never forget the day I bought Under The Sign of the Black Mark,” said Clooney with a nostalgic, distant look in his eye, “it was the first time I ever fell in love.”

The purchase of the organs and bones of dead metal artists has become a hobby among Hollywood celebrities of late.  Julia Roberts started the trend last year when she purchased the spinal column and jawbone of Ronnie James Dio for five hundred thousand dollars.  Roberts has already offered two million for the corpse of former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno, who has not yet died.  Roberts plans to consume the corpse in a stew with several other diehard Maiden fans while listening to the album Killers at her palatial home in Malibu, California.

The bidding war over the corpse of Mayhem and Burzum’s Varg Vikernes reportedly may run over 10 million dollars.  The country of Albania has already expressed interest in buying his lungs and placing them in the town square in the city of Tirana as a potential way to ward off the evil spirits that have plagued that European nation for the past century.

bathory-220861

The recent surge of interest in the band Bathory contributed to the high cost of Quorthon’s bones, which six months ago could have been purchased on Ebay for only four thousand dollars.  However, since last month’s release of the Bathory celebrity tribute album, “It’s Never a Fine Day to Die”, the band has become a household name.  The first single of off the album, a duet version of Necromansy performed by Elton John and Ke$ha, climbed to number 7 on the Billboard chart this week.  Other major Bathory tributes are popping up all across the United States.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour proposed a bill to recognize February 17th as Quorthon day in the state “for his contributions to the black metal movement” and Dairy Queen has offered to give anyone free French fries if they bring a copy of “Blood Fire Death” into any of their nearly nine thousand nationwide stores for the next month.

Quorthon’s estate upped the bidding by promising to give a full ten percent of the purchase price to The Salvation Army.  Clooney was thrilled not only to be able to finally caress the femur bone of his favorite vocalist;  he was also happy to be able to help out a good cause in the process.  Salvation Army spokesman Marshall Whitcomb praised the donation and remarked “I haven’t heard much of this Bathory, but my daughter assures me they are great.  We look forward to building churches and community centers around America in Quorthon’s name.”

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