Archive for March, 2012
Years from now, the Rick Santorum Presidential Campaign won’t be known for much. He has gone along way on the strength of an uncanny ability to make hatred sound virtuous, but let’s face it, his campaign is clearly having its final death spasms and will hopefully be put out of it’s misery, Old Yeller style, in a matter of weeks. Not that anyone will shed a tear for the man. Those who hate him will move on to more worthy targets and those who love him will find another dimwitted fear monger to cast their lot with any day now. America is chock full of hateful, well-spoken vipers who can carry the neo-conservative mantle yet another yard as it lurches ever so slowly towards 1951.
It’s easy to rail on Santorum and weeks from now, it’ll be even easier to forget he even exists. However, I think that he should be praised for one thing. His shadowy team of Gollum-esque backers has managed to create the single best negative campaign ad since LBJ nuked that poor little girl picking the daisy. If you haven’t seen the Obamaville ad and you happen to still double-check the locks on your front door when anyone mentions Willie Horton, you are in for a treat…
The first fifteen seconds of this ad are beautiful. It’s as if they hired George A. Romero or the guy who used to do the Nine Inch Nails videos to shoot the thing. The dimly lit streets of some American town. Pale, muted colors. Crows. Rusty playground equipment and the abandoned shoe of a child. Desolation. Despair.
This is usually the point where the bloodthirsty ghouls wander down the boulevard in search of brains. Instead, we get a flood of about 10 images in one second. Happy family. Front porch. Old couple. Jailed prisoner. Baby in red. Is the baby a communist? Is the baby a symbol of purity stained by years of liberal attacks on….I dunno…..babies?
Yes, that was a subliminal cut to an eyeball at the 17-second mark. Why? Who knows, but it sure is creepy. More despair in Zombie America. People losing jobs. Families in squalid apartments forced to eat nothing but apples. Cut to long abandoned hallways. Evil doctors lurking around every corner with needles, ready to harm you all the while bleeding your bank account dry.
Then, the best image in the whole ad. A man with a gas pump aimed at his head committing….uhm….dieselcide. More images. Religious candles being blown out by, I guess, liberals. Darkness. But, wait…it gets better.
Old people. About to be harmed. By Iranians. With nuclear weapons. Yes, at the 40-second mark, you did see the ad cut from killer Iranian leaders to Barack Obama and back again. You didn’t make that up. It really happened.
People. Marching in line. Drones. Zombies in suits. Sent to America to take your freedom and potentially restrict your family’s ability to visit theme parks. Wall Street. A menacing, monstrous looking tree with glowing eyes.
Images. Speeding up. You’re fired. You’re in your minivan and you’re angry. Obama. Piggy bank breaking. Faster. Eyeball. Red. Capitol. Faster. Jails. Bossy old women. Glasses. Faster. Iranians. Faster. The red baby. This hell on earth could only be one place…..Obamaville.
What could it all mean? It’s a surreal pastiche of terror. Watching this ad made me less concerned about the economy and much more concerned about the possibility of giant hawk-like creatures coming down from the sky and ripping my head off.
Forget all this policy mumbo-jumbo, let’s scare the bejesus out of them. It’s not that this is an uncommon tactic, it’s just that you rarely see it so clearly spelled out. This is the mother of all attack ads, because it implies, pretty clearly, that voting for Obama is not just a bad idea….it will, in no uncertain terms, KILL YOU. Short of selling bottles of rat poison with Obama’s face on it, I’m not sure how much more clearly you can make that point.
So, a tip of the hat to Rick. He left us with something that will stand the test of time. His campaign is directly responsible for taking things to a level that shady little hucksters like Lee Atwater never dreamed. He’s created the first all-American political slasher ad. An ad so vile, so repugnant, so clearly aimed to poison the well, that it will take Herculean effort to match its malignancy. After all, when your entire campaign is based on the idea that hopefully America will become so unlivable, so completely ramshackle, that its people will rise up en masse and elect a guy who could easily have been the Commander in “A Handmaid’s Tale”, why the hell not run an ad like this?
Don’t expect to be hearing anything from mimes anytime soon. Queensryche’s long awaited album Operation: Mimecrime, the third in the Mindcrime trilogy, has been put on indefinite hold after Queenryche was unable to get the troupe of mimes that they hired to do anything but pretend they were trapped in boxes. “We had a whole concept where the mimes were going to sing on the record,” said Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate. “Come to find out, that violates some portion of their professional code or something. Not cool at all.”
Mimecrime was meant to pick up where Mindcrime 2 left off. Nikki, who killed himself at the end of the second album, is revived by a voodoo mime priest named Ralph in a bizarre ritual involving Santeria and the first two Venom albums. Since Nikki’s death, Dr. X’s son Dr. Y has been causing havoc in the United States by using a group of hired mime terrorists to kidnap politicians and force radio DJs to play that terrible LMFAO song on their stations at gunpoint.
Ralph explains to Nikki that he must become a mime and infiltrate this group in order to stop the madness. He then goes through a training sequence similar to the one in the first Karate Kid film where he learns the nuances of miming. He also learns The Mime Code, which stipulates that a true Mime will always seek to behave honorably and never, under any circumstances make balloon animals.
He finally is able to join the mime cell, but soon becomes addicted to mime heroin, an invisible substance that causes euphoria, addiction and the need to pull on a pretend rope. Eventually, Nikki finds himself committing mime atrocities and enjoying them. This leads to a powerful ending where Nikki is forced to look at himself and confront what lies beneath the white face paint while singing the song “Mime In The Mirror”.
The album would have featured several new compositions including “I Don’t Believe in Gloves”, a song about how the traditions of miming require white gloves, but younger more modern mimes tend to not want to wear anything on their hands. The album had called for an ironic version of “Speak” that would have been sung in Braille. Their were also plans to re-record a stirring, climactic version of “Breaking The Silence” where the mimes begin the song with their fingers and finish with their voices.
The album was meant to capitalize on the recent mimecore trend where metal, industrial and punk bands dress as mimes and perform heavy music. Mimer Threat and Mimeless Self Indulgence have both charted on Billboards Top 200 list with mimecore records. Industrial bands Mime Inch Nails and Mimestry recorded a split 7 inch called “A Mime Is A Terrible Thing To Taste” which has become a huge hit in Burma and Turkmenistan. Black metal band Mime Furor has gone so far as to record 45 minutes of blank space calling it the first “Tr00 Mimec0re Album”. Unfortunately however, Queensryche’s foray into mimecore may never hear the light of day.
Eventually, Father Time catches up with us all. Former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo was once thought to be the undisputed greatest metal drummer on earth. Scores of adolescents spent many a Saturday night watching Headbangers Ball and air drumming his fills from the beginning of “Seasons in The Abyss”. Nearly every great young drummer used to be called “the next Dave Lombardo”. Then, at some point, the world caught up with him.
“Some of the new wave of drummers are just quicker today. They have taken my style and improved it with a youthful energy that it’s hard for a 47-year-old to match. I needed something to get my edge back,” said Lombardo last night in an exclusive Tyranny of Tradition interview. What Lombardo did was both amazing and terrifying. In a first of its kind surgery, Lombardo had two additional arms added to his body. The arms are functional and just as useful as the two he was born with.
The possibilities for Lombardo are now nearly endless. His drumming style will most certainly take on a uniqueness that the metal world has never thought possible. He will also probably become an amazing juggler and will be able to put away groceries with the speed and dexterity his family has never seen. But, the deeper ethical concerns about a drummer being able to add limbs was the talk of the metal world after Lombardo’s announcement.
“It’s not right that someone can just have limbs added to be a better drummer,” said Battleax Kidneystone, drummer from the death metal band Malignant Pancreas. “If a major league baseball player added extra legs to run faster there is no way they’d let him play.”
Others, like Chainsaw Bloodcolon, from the band Carpathian Impetigo Sore, were less concerned. “If he wants to run around the rest of his life looking like a freak, I say, let him. I’m sticking with the two arms that Satan gave me.”
Still, Gene Hoglan, the recently named Commissioner of Metal Drumming, is looking into whether Lombardo should be allowed to play for Slayer on their next tour. Hoglan, who recently ruled that performance enhancing drugs like beer, crack and Moon Pies were allowed for drummers, is faced with an even more challenging issue here.
Some argue that this could lead to a slippery slope where drummers will have more and more arms added to be competitive. Imagine if Sean Reinert from Cynic decided he was going to add 10 arms and 14 legs. Dream Theater would take Mike Portnoy back in a second if he showed up with no less than 100 additional limbs. The next phase would be guitarists having additional fingers and singers having additional mouths with separate voice boxes. Think of how many strings a djent guitarist could put on his instrument if he had 52 fingers to play with. It is possible that if Hoglan allows Lombardo to keep his additional arms, the metal scene in five years will be indistinguishable from a circus sideshow.
However, if Hoglan rules against Lombardo, the case will surely end up in court. As most legal scholars know, the 2nd Amendment to The Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. “The founding fathers wanted us to have life, liberty and the pursuit of additional limbs, otherwise they wouldn’t have written it down. Besides, what is more American than using technology to grab every possible competitive advantage over others,” said Lombardo. “Being a highly successful four-armed mutant is, in many ways, the American Dream.”
A national tragedy was avoided earlier today when the FBI arrested members of People For Truth And Freedom Against Tyranny and The Lack of Freedom With Liberty and Justice for All Who Believe In Freedom and the American Way of Life (PTFATLFLJABFAWL) a terrorist group from Islip, Long Island who kidnapped the members of the heavy metal band Anthrax. Members of the terrorist group were captured at the local Islip post office trying to fit five enormous human-sized envelopes into a tiny mail slot.
Earlier that day, PTFATLFLJABFAWL had captured members of the group at various locations around New York, drugged them, brought them back to an apartment and attempted to wrap them in bubble tape so they would be uninjured on their journey through the mail. Guitarist Scott Ian briefly became conscious during the seven-hour ordeal and remembers feeling like he was in some bizarre episode of the TV show Batman. “They had five of us tied up and were weighing us to see what the postage would be. They were wearing Slipknot looking masks so I couldn’t recognize them. Next thing I know they were trying to stuff me in a giant envelope that was addressed to Tom Brokaw at NBC News. When I tried to tell them he was retired, one of them hit me and I blacked out.”
One of the neighbors of the terrorist group initially tipped off the FBI when they heard high, falsetto screaming coming from the envelope of Joey Belladonna. “When I noticed humans in envelopes being carried down the hallway, I was a bit suspicious. I was about to go back to watching The Price is Right when I heard that melodic screeching from one of the envelopes. I could tell by the high pitched, more 80’s era sound that it couldn’t have been John Bush. It was either Neil Turbin or Joey Belladonna in that envelope. I called the FBI right away.”
Jonathan Winthrop, the group’s leader and a former writer for Tyranny of Tradition, believed his arrest was another example of the liberties of Americans being taken away by the repressive Federal Government. “Where does it say in the Constitution that mailing members of a thrash band in protest is a crime? I ask you….where? I say to you, mailing Frank Bello in the defense of liberty is no vice!!!!”
Beyond the Ian letter to Brokaw, the other letters were meant to go to President Obama, George Clooney, Rush Limbaugh and Tim Tebow. While the Brokaw letter was just about publicity, the other four were meant to be sent to the leadership of both American political parties in order to alert them that the current status quo would not be tolerated.
All the letters contained notes with similar words:
Who Is Caught In A Mosh Now
We Are The Law
The last part of the note had agents stumped. After being analyzed by over 300 of the top code breakers in the government for ten hours it was revealed that it was actually “Nice Freakin’ Government” spelled backwards.
“We may be through with the past but the past ain’t through with us.” -PT Anderson
History is inescapable and never-ending. In spite of protestations from some historians, like the famous one by Francis Fukayama in 1992 that the end of the Cold War essentially meant history was “over”, we have yet to come anywhere near something that could be considered a conclusion. History, on many levels, is a trap from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Its long arm reaches through time and pushes us in directions we never believed we be capable of going. This, more than anything else, seems to be the central message of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic “The Shining”.
While it would be easy to dismiss the film as an exquisitely told, elaborately filmed ghost story, there is a deeper meaning at the heart of the film. The story begins with Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his family undertaking the westward voyage that so many Americans have. Our history as Americans are filled with just this type of journey West in the hopes of finding fortune and freedom in a new place.
They arrive at the Overlook hotel; a resort in Colorado that shares is decorated in a Native American theme. This is not a surprise, because we learn early on that the hotel is built on a Native American burial ground. While this idea itself has become a horror cliché, it is important to note that, within the context of this film, it indicates the connection with a brutal past. One could argue that much of Western America was a burial ground for indigenous Americans who were steamrolled during the United States’ drive from seas to shining sea.
The ghosts of the past are not simply ghosts in The Shining. They are reflections of a troubling history of violence. Dick Halloran (played brilliantly by Scatman Crothers) offers us a metaphor early on that perfectly describes this. He tells Danny, Jack Torrance’s boy, that the ghosts in the film are like the smell of “burnt toast”. They may no longer be with us, but their presence is still strongly felt. Where Dick is terribly wrong is in his claim that the past cannot hurt us because it is like pictures in a book. The movie seems to argue that these “pictures” are very much alive and deeply at the root of the conflict that was raging through America in the 1960s and 70s.
In order to understand the film, it is critical to note the three separate reactions of the main characters in the film to the horrors of The Overlook. Jack gains from them a sense of belonging. He longs to be a part of the horrific history of The Overlook. He loves the violence at the core of its polished veneer. Jack is a metaphor for one view of those with power in the 60s and 70s. Disinterested in the suffering that takes place below their feet, they revel in excess while Rome burns. They are the governmental father figures that were supposed to protect the average American and instead gave us an overwhelming glut of consumer goods coupled nightmares like the Vietnam War.
Wendy (Shelly Duvall) is meant to be the symbol of most Americans. She cares deeply about her family but is blind to the actual circumstances of her life. She explains away much of the horror she’s experienced at the hands of Jack. Wendy doesn’t see the hotel for what it is until her family is shattered apart. Her awakening is meant to mimic what so many Americans feel when they look underneath the façade of the American Dream and see the massacred corpses it was built upon. Much of the interplay between the hotel, Jack and Danny go past Wendy, who is only focused on the immediate events at hand and misses the greater context of what is taking place. Her recognition of the violence around her is very much the climax of the film.
Danny (Danny Lloyd) is the next generation. He is equipped with the power to see and recognize what was there before him. He shines, or can telepathically see the images of The Overlook’s horrific past. The expression shining was actually taken from the John Lennon song “We All Shine On” by the book’s author Stephen King. The idea is that this new generation, the hippies, the yippies, the Panthers and the other groups of Americans in the late 60s and early 70s have become unwilling to play the game of forgetting the past and going about their lives. They were able to see how the past has impacted their world and they felt a desperate need to make the world see what they were witness to. Danny serves as a reminder of the violence that permeates the center of our collective fantasy. We must not be reminded of it or we might be willing to destroy it in order to save ourselves from it. Both The Overlook and Jack recognize the danger present in Danny’s vision and realize he must be controlled or even murdered.
Is this vision of America an accurate one? On some levels it is. Keep in mind this book and movie were created in the shadow of the chaos, both political and social, that were taking place in America in the 60s and 70s. The Presidency had been debased, the myth of America’s military superiority had been unmasked and the entire concept of the American Dream had been called into question. America could be seen as a madhouse on par with The Overlook. While this might be true, it is a massive oversimplification to argue that the “new” generation could be easily characterized by a visionary innocent while the leaders of the past simply lumped into the category of tyrannical, blood-thirsty madmen. There were so many shades of grey; the protest movement was far from beyond reproach and the government was not solely filled with violent, greedy sycophants. When discussing mass movements, simple narratives are rarely completely accurate
The deeper question at the heart of this film is of the role of the past in modern life. It’s simply not accurate to argue that the past is totally behind us. The world and its resources were divided up a long time ago and to accept these divisions as “the way things oughta be” does a profound disservice to those who today still suffer from decisions made lifetimes ago. Think of how the territorial distinctions made at the Berlin Conference in the 1880s have come to shape today’s Africa and you can get a glimpse of the power of the past. While much of the past is inescapable, I believe it is also something that can be understood in a way that makes some sense of the world. We owe it to ourselves and to those who are still among us to try to rationally understand the world we live in and how it got to be the way it is. This means living free of as many illusions about our history as possible. This may mean giving up some of the sense of identity that myth of a pristine past gives us. But, there is a redemptive power to truth and, while it may not save us, it can help us shine enough to at least see what is actually around us.
For years one of the great mysteries in American political history was what President Nixon said in the missing 18-½ minutes of tape that was “accidentally” erased before it was given to investigators. A new book may just answer that question.
According to Nixon’s story, his personal secretary Rosemary Woods erased the missing section of tape when she was trying to transcribe the details of the conversation for the Watergate Hearings. In a new book, “Knowing Dick: My Mother’s Time Under President Nixon”, Petey Woods, Rosemary’s eldest son, claims that she revealed to him that Nixon had detailed discussions about assassinating members of the metal band Black Sabbath on the deleted section of the tape. He also claimed that his mother was asked by the President to destroy the section because he worried about “a wave of heavy metal coming over to the U.S. from England and spreading lawless, godless communism.”
The book claims, Nixon, who has also been rumored to have encouraged the assassination and overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile, wanted to see a similar fate for Bill Ward, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. Nixon was much less concerned about Ozzy, who he felt was a drag on the talents of the rest of the band. However, Nixon was concerned that “Sabbath might go ahead and get someone like that fellow Dio from the band Elf. Then, they’d all have to go or they’d be unstoppable.”
Nixon believed the CIA could be enlisted in plans to get rid of Sabbath. “After all, we used them to overthrow Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala. They helped get rid of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Diem in Vietnam and Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. They even tried to kill Castro 8 times for god sakes. Getting rid of a bunch of angry, power-chord obsessed Brits should be no trouble whatsoever for the boys over at Langley.”
“The President was deeply concerned about the potential dangers of a style of music that loud and that intense,” says Woods in his book. Apparently, most of the 18-½ minutes is an anti-metal rant that featured the President raving about the future of metal. “Eventually they’ll be bands that play a style called speed or thrash metal. They’ll have names like Slayer and Demolition Hammer and they will corrupt the young. I can envision a world where kids run into each other in a dance they like to call “moshing”. They’ll be encouraged to kick their friend in the head and have a ball. Is this the type of America you want, Haldeman?”
One of the most shocking revelations about the tapes is Nixon’s Nostradamus-like ability to accurately predict the path of heavy metal. At one point, he allegedly referred to a style of metal from Scandinavia that he believed would be called “bleak metal” and would feature band members wearing corpse paint and playing fast, angry metal filled with high pitched screams. He then allegedly went into graphic detail about his concern that there might be a so-called “death metal” scene in Florida in the early 1990s where bands like Death and Morbid Angel “could completely warp the minds of an entire generation with satanic imagery and blast-beat drumming.”
Nixon even went as far as saying that if Black Sabbath isn’t killed, we’d see a future with bands like “Suffocation, Pig Destroyer, and Goatwhore telling our kids god knows what”. By “taking out Sabbath”, Nixon believed he could strike a final and decisive blow against the forces of heavy metal. “All we need are a few bullets, a little arsenic in their beer and a car bomb or two. Then the kids will start listening to positive stuff like Anita Bryant and Bing Crosby again. And just what the hell is a Goatwhore anyway?”
However, if Sabbath was successful in their metal mission young people would “fall like dominos” and eventually America would be filled with a majority of “black tee-shirt clad, long-haired maniacs who live to thrash all night and sleep all day.”
Later in Nixon’s life, he slowly began to accept heavy metal and even was rumored to have listened to Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates” on his deathbed. However, his willingness to use the power of the Presidency to kill members of a heavy metal band is deeply troubling for the remaining twenty or so Americans who believe that America doesn’t have the right to go around the world murdering people who are a perceived threat.