Archive for category People Who Were Willing To Speak To Me

An unInterview With Johanna Sadonis From Lucifer Performed By Mickey Rourke Before All The Plastic Surgery


Last night, I was abducted from my bedroom during a fitful sleep by Lucifer vocalist Johanna Sadonis, actor Mickey Rourke and former US Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird. My wife informed me later than the three performed a bizarre Santeria ritual around my bedside and poured some mind-altering substance into my CPAP machine.  They then hoisted me out the window and onto famed metal musician Lee Dorian’s flying couch.  I awoke hanging from my feet nearly 30,000 feet above the city of Nashville, Tenneesee while Secretary Laird painted my feet with ox blood.  To the best of my recollection, here is what was discussed….

Rourke:  Do you know Johnny Favorite?

Sadonis: I deliberately chose to create a new concept this time around, as when I founded The Oath. I felt no need to repeat it. I loved that one album we did with The Oath and her raw style of playing fit very well with it. With Lucifer however I wanted to put more weight on 70s Heavy Rock influences and Doom. Deeper, more moody and defined.

Rourke:  How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise?

Sadonis:  Lucifer is not so much influenced by the folk stuff. Black Sabbath is the greatest influence to Gaz and me, yes. Gaz is also a huge Trouble fan. Other big influences to Lucifer are Deep Purple, Uriah Heep. Blue Öyster Cult, Aphrodite’s Child, Lucifer’s Friend, Led Zeppelin, Pentagram. The list goes on! I am personally also very influenced by 70s Heart, 70s Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane and the Shocking Blue.


Rourke:  You ever watch the Mickey Mouse Club? Because you know what today is?

Sadonis:  These are two great bands. Bands like these of the 1960/70s have an original fire and spirit because what they did was fresh at the time. Heavy distorted guitars and in the case of bands like Coven and Black Widow wrapped into a magic dress. I just watched a Black Widow full show on the German TV program Beat-Club the other day. It was a black mass ritual complete with magic circle, a nude girl as a vessel, ritual knife etc. Today that is not shocking anymore but then it was obscure and fairly fresh. It was daring, extreme and creative. I love that spirit and look up to it. I also love hearing the direct influence these bands drew from, music my mother raised me with.

These bands are direct successors of their influences in blues and you can still hear it prominently shining through. That is beautiful to me as it is the musical language I grew up with. I’m a rock’n’roller at heart. I’m not saying modern bands in general lack this but it is certainly difficult trying to reinvent the wheel within Rock Music nowadays, so yes, I can relate much better to the original spirit than to copies of copies.

Rourke:  What gives human life its worth anyway? Because someone loves it, hates it?

Sadonis:  Thank you so much! You took the words right from my mouth!

Rourke:  Are you an atheist? Do you speak French? Are you from Brooklyn?

Sadonis:  It is a very powerful name, yes. I put a lot of thought into everything I do. It shouldn’t matter so much what people think. It has to make sense to me and it does.

Rourke:  Why do you have a thing about chickens?

Sadonis:  I have been playing in bands since I was a teenager and have been along the way very involved with the Metal scene in general all these years as a DJ, as a local promoter putting up shows and running events in Berlin. I have for example an old school Heavy Metal party called Kill Em All Club for almost six years now too. When we released the first single with The Oath on High Roller Records, several labels approached us for the album. Rise Above was one of them and we decided to go for them because of their catalogue and dedication. I didn’t meet Gaz until we played in London with The Oath.


Rourke:  Mephistopheles can be a mouthful in Manhattan, don’t you think?

Sadonis:  Lucifer genuinely plays from the heart and not what might or might not be expected. I don’t measure Lucifer with other bands. I’m not looking at modern bands for inspiration. We might share similar influences with some of these bands. Whatever these inspirations are channeled into though, be it any of the mentioned bands or us, I don’t think needs to be compared. We all differ musically very much from another. I am however friends with most of these bands and respect and admire their work as contemporaries.


(Robert De Niro suddenly appears on the flying couch looking very much like Satan)

De Niro:  Some religions think that the egg is the symbol of the soul. Did you know that?

Sadonis:  In fact, my parents were listening to 70s music. My rebellion as a teenager was listening to Heavy Metal. I was a complete misfit for it at school actually. I went to my first metal shows at the age of 13. That was GunsNRoses and Metallica. Danzig then turned me onto a darker path and by the time I was 15/16 I started deeply into Black, Death and Doom Metal. Later on I opened my horizon musically and started digging into the past of musical history and here we are now.

DeNiro:  Would you like an egg?

A huge difference indeed. The devil is only part of the whole picture. A metaphoric figure. Devil worshipping might have a strong appeal but it is very one sided. I am very interested in the dark side of things and had a time in my life I leaned very strongly towards it. However I learned that it applies much more to my life to draw perspectives on existence, death and everything beyond from ALL religions and philosophies. There is a universal duality. There is no dark without light and vice versa. And ‘as above so below’ as a central principle. I embrace it all with an open heart. I’m a very spiritual person and I have been looking for answers from an early age on – everywhere.


Melvin Laird:  Why did you let Bedbug Eddie take Paulie’s thumbs? Do you worry that protecting him from his own mistakes will eventually lead to your undoing?

Sadonis:  Lucifer is a very complex figure. He is the morning star, the bringer of light in the Hebrew bible, Greek and Roman mythology. As the morning star, he represents Venus, the brightest star in the sky, only seen while descending during morning hours, hence Lucifer ending up as the fallen angel in the bible. The Old Testament had very positive things to say about the son of the morning. Unfortunately later on his figure was used to teach a lesson Christian style. He was now pictured as a favoured angel to god for his beauty and intellect and cast out of heaven when it got to his head and he started ‘sinning’. He ended up as being this common misconception for being a rebel: the devil. A wrong picture conjured in the bible. To me Lucifer is beautiful, bright and very misunderstood. A misfit. The name is not related to Kenneth Anger even though I am a fan of his work.

That’s the last thing I remember.  I awoke the next morning in my bed unharmed.

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An unInterview With Gary Meskil From Pro-Pain That Didn’t Really Take Place After I Was Beaten At Shoprite


If I could be anyone when I grow up, it would be Gary Meskil from Pro-Pain.  I have an unhealthy fascination with the man’s work.  The band has several thousand albums and I have memorized every detail about every one of them.    

You can imagine my surprise when I ran into him in a Shoprite in Passaic, New Jersey.  He was buying turnips.  I was so overcome with joy that I began leaping up and down and shouting.  I attempted to hug Mr. Meskil when a store security guard, who erroneously believed I was trying to assault him, hit me over the head with a billyclub.  I lost consciousness.  

When I awoke, I was in a hospital room.  Gary was standing there with my family looking extremely concerned holding a Whitman’s Sampler and a card that said “Get Well Soon, Champ!” on the front. I began asking him questions… 

Me:  I saw the band play back in 1992 when “Foul Taste of Freedom” had just come out. One of my favorite shows ever. It was in a Guido bar in New Rochelle, New York called Marty and Lenny’s that occasionally did metal shows under the equally awful name “The Rocker Room”. I was a skinny high school kid with a Gabe Kaplan from “Welcome Back, Kotter” looking Afro. I was wearing an Immolation shirt. How would you rate my performance in the pit that night?

Gary:  I would give it the highest of scores. A perfect 10! Aerodynamic haircuts are timeless and seem to be quite practical in and out of the confines of the pit. The spherical shape obviously aides in getting to the forefront of the circle pit and also in eluding certain rough and tumble types. The Gabe Kaplan cut was a good one! Add an Immolation T-shirt and you have a perfect score!

Me In High School

Me In High School

Me:  Was Johnny Black a real guy or is that a made up story?

Gary:  It’s a true story, but I made it vague enough so that the fans could relate to it via their own story. It’s generally about a modern day James Dean type. Someone whom we all looked up to “way back when”. Then as the years went by, everyone and everything seemed to change around him, yet he stayed exactly the same. As a result, those who once idolized him suddenly frowned upon him. He died young, and I was inspired to write about my observations of people who lose their inner child as they grow older. Suddenly everything becomes shallow and forced, with talks about the weather and such. I admire people who have the guts to always be themselves.

Possibly The Only Person On Earth Who Could Wear A Polo Shirt At A Metal Concert And Look Cool

Possibly The Only Person On Earth Who Could Wear A Polo Shirt At A Metal Concert And Look Cool

Me:  You have an incredibly powerful, distinctive voice. Have you ever ended up in a public situation where a used car salesman or some other idiot is jerking you around and all of a sudden you change your voice like in “Johnny Black” and scare the hell out of them?

Gary:  That’s a great idea, but I can’t recall ever vocally changing gears like that as a fear tactic in public. However, as a father it came in quite handy sometimes to use my “stage voice”, since I’m in favor of sparing the rod.

Me:  (in a serious voice)  A running theme in your music is a weariness and frustration with American military adventurism. From “Iraqnophobia” to “To Never Return” (a song I believe to be one of the most passionate indictments of US foreign policy ever put to music), you have railed against the government’s choice of wars. Do you see anyway for the United States to, at this point, extract ourselves from decisions driven by the military-industrial complex or are we pretty much stuck playing that hand until Armageddon or revolution?

Gary:  It’s pretty idealistic to think that war is somehow not perpetual. That is indeed how insane the world is. There seems to be a disharmony between humans and nature. Perhaps we are alien to this Earth. The wars and occupations will continue as long as at least half of the citizens of the occupying country are somehow convinced that it is necessary. The world desperately needs more tolerance and less ignorance.

Me:  You have done some interesting experimenting with your sound over the years. Have you ever thought of doing a really freaky, out-there Pro-Pain album? Maybe a mix of thrash, hardcore, gospel, and Bangladeshi folk music. Or something in that vain?

Gary:  That would be interesting, if nothing else. I think there are bands out there who experiment to the extreme in that regard. System Of A Down comes to mind. They use their influences really well, in my opinion. With Pro-Pain, there have been quite a few exploratory moments over the years, and more than we are given credit for (I’m sure). We used 808 samples (now called bass drops) in 92’, we had trumpets on our debut , a sax solo and Ice-T duet in 95’, horn sections on various songs, melodic vocals, and lots of guitar wizardry….yet some still categorize us as just a hardcore band.

Here Is Gary.  He's Actually Flying.

Here Is Gary. He’s Actually Flying.

Me:  I’m in the Pro-Pain Army on Facebook. Is there any chance we could go to war with the Kiss Army? We could invade the makeup aisle at Target or something. Go after anyone who has whiskers painted on them. What do you say?

Gary:  Sounds like a plan, (and good PR). We might be outnumbered, but their Love Guns are no match for our PRO-PAIN Tanks!

Me:  What do you think the greatest film ever made is? 

Gary:  The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

Me:  Really?  Why?

Gary:  Because it was beautiful on it’s face, ugly inside, and was magically and majestically presented on the big screen circa 1939. To this day, there is still so much room for all kinds of interpretation (political and otherwise). Fascinating stuff!

Me:  Once I was hanging out with a bunch of serious hip-hop heads that were all freestyling rap lyrics. Everybody sounded really good and I was nervous because I can’t freestyle for my life. Each guy did a verse. They were making fun of me because they didn’t think I could rap. Luckily, I knew “Pound for Pound” by heart and none of them listened to metal. I jumped up and did the whole song. They all looked at me in stunned silence and acted like I was some sort of genius. I pretended I made the lyrics up and they all thought I was cool from that point on. I’ve always felt guilty for passing your work off as my own. You’re not angry, are you?

Gary:  No. It must have happened some time ago though, because “Pound For Pound” is now required learning in most urban schools around the country. The class is called Street Cred 101.
Me:  (at this point, I dramatically grabbed his hand…I think it made him horribly uncomfortable, but I wanted to convey the importance of what I was about to say)  Promise me you’ll never stop making Pro-Pain albums. EVER! I want your word on this.

Gary:  Define EVER. My word is that I’ll keep making PRO-PAIN albums as long as I’m ABLE. (see ABLE under definitions).



Me:  (I look away from Gary and directly into the eyes of YOU, the audience)  They have a new album coming out this month.  It is called “Voice Of Rebellion”.  You need to buy multiple copies of it and give it to all of your family members and friends.  If you do not buy at least five copies, hundreds of bees will attack you when you are not expecting it.  Like, when you are sleeping.  Or, on an airplane.

I'm Not Kidding About The Bees

I’m Not Kidding About The Bees

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An unInterview With Zyklon-V From AntiKosmos; I Am Transforming Into A Beagle

Photo by Kassandra Carmona of Konvulsion Photography

Photo by Kassandra Carmona of Konvulsion Photography

Zyklon-V from AntiKosmos is the mammal pictured above.  She is wearing animal blood and wooden shoes.  Myself and a team of botanists from NASA interviewed her moments before the heat death of the universe.  Here’s what happened…

Me:  AntiKosmos?!?!   What…do you just want to see the Kosmos banned? Then what, only criminals and the government will have access to the Kosmos? You know who banned the Kosmos? Hitler! You know who thought it would be a bad idea to ban the Kosmos? Gandhi!

V:  I’ve always found “Turkish Delight” to be a really presumptuous name for a candy (or, I should say, so-called candy). I mean, what’s delightful about popping a sweet into your mouth only to discover that some nasty, fez-wearing miscreant bent on revenge against the decadent West has swapped it out for one of those decorative rose-scented soaps your grandmother used to keep in the guest bathroom but yelled at you if you actually tried to use to wash your hands? “Turkish Disappointing Surprise You’ll Be Tasting With Every Burp For The Next Presidential Administration,” more like.

M:  It’s your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet. How do you react?

V:  I once listened to “Yakity Sax” for 36 straight hours on a loop while totally naked in a sensory deprivation tank, with no breaks for food or toilet. When I emerged, everything was exactly the same as it had been when I went in, except there was a gentle trickle of cerebro-spinal fluid from my ear that continued for a week, and I subsequently lost the ability to taste mallocreme. I think this is as relevant a commentary on the state of black metal as anything I have read in a glossy music criticism publication.


Q:  If Arby’s began selling a sandwich covered in the sweat of Glenn Danzig, why do you think we faked the moon landing?

V:  When I was a kid in primary school, I fell off my bike and scraped my knee so bad the kneecap was visible. My mother wanted to use a toothbrush to get the pebbles out of the wound, but my father said that was torture and used a washcloth. After that, I charged my classmates money to pull the bandage back and gaze upon the wound, like the contents of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. I got addicted to the fame, and after the wound healed, I would eat anything brought to me for money – I ate bugs, pre-chewed gum, once all I had to do was put a found mouth guard in my mouth for thirty seconds. I guess what I’m saying is that child prostitution is educational but ultimately dehumanizing, and AntiKosmos does not use fake blood in our performances, so please stop asking.

H:  Have you ever walked up to someone wearing those weird plastic “Bubba” novelty teeth that are pointing out in all weird directions started pointing and laughing hysterically then realized the person is not actually wearing novelty teeth and really looks that way?

V:  For years, I avoided eating bananas because I read that an enzyme your skin secretes after banana consumption makes you more susceptible to mosquito bites. Then I realized I live in a high rise apartment complex in the middle of a city, and I haven’t seen a mosquito in almost a decade. So I bought a bunch of bananas, and when I reached for the first one, as if to mock the celebration of my return to banana-dom, I was immediately viciously attacked by a tarantula that had hidden itself amongst the bunches in a do-or-die immigration attempt from Honduras. Needless to say, I don’t watch televised figure skating anymore.

Ed:  You get into a taxicab. The man sitting in the seat next to you has a necklace made out of the ears of deceased members of the Kennedy family. You ask the driver to go north, he immediately proceeds south. He has a picture of a Benito Mussolini branded into his forehead and looks slightly like Florence Henderson on the early episodes of The Brady Bunch. Over the radio, you faintly hear the whimpering of a small dog. What do you do next?

(warning the following answer contains strange Dutch stuffed animals talking to one another   If you are allergic to stuffed animals or Dutch people or your workplace has a policy in which watching talking owls can cost you your job, do not click the link)

Click here if you dare

K:  In John Cassavetes’ 1976 masterpiece, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, the lead character, Cosmo Vitelli, skillfully played by Ben Gazzara, is sent on a mission for the local mob boss to whack a bookie that is cutting into his business. At some point during the film, a nuclear bomb is detonated in the city of Calgary. Years later, three-headed Canadian beasts emerge from below the surface of the earth and consume all of the margarine available on the United States mainland. Have you ever committed a blunder and later regretted it?

V:  People make a lot out of famous last words. I think some people reveal themselves to be utter deathbed try-hards (not naming names here, but I’m definitely looking at you, Oscar Wilde). For my money, the greatest last words ever uttered were those of Thomas Grasso, who was executed in 1995 for strangling an elderly woman to death with her own Christmas lights over what amounted to $137. His words stay with me to this day, and now I’m passing them on to you so their wisdom will echo through the ages. He said, “I did not get my Spaghetti-Os, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”


KL:  You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?

V:  Did you know that there’s a sort of tunnel-like spot in the architecture at the Canadian Embassy in Washington where you can scream as loud as you want, but nobody outside the tunnel can hear you at all? I’m starting to feel that way about this interview.

5:  You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm.

V: I get a lot of emails from Smithsonian magazine. They’re that sort of “we want you back” emails that you get when you let your subscription lapse. They’re all intended for an ex-boyfriend I dated 6 years ago. I never mark them as spam or take myself off the mailing list, because I enjoy reading the mini articles they use to try to tantalize you into re-subscribing. There’s probably some ironic commentary there about the detritus of old relationships haunting you long after they end, but right now I’m much more concerned with when the 100,000 Dollar Bar changed its name to 100 Grand, and what made them think they could be so colloquial all of a sudden.

U:  You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that?

V:  As a small act of protest against the patriarchal hegemony asserted by this question, I’m going to ask your readers to join me in a silent, ten-minute contemplation of the McRib sandwich (not available in all markets; check your local franchise for details and nutritional information; limit 17 per customer).

Photo by:  Kassandra Carmona of Konvulsion Photography

Photo by Kassandra Carmona of Konvulsion Photography

K:  One more question: You’re watching a stage play – a banquet is in progress. The guests are enjoying an appetizer of raw oysters. The entree consists of boiled dog stuffed with rice. The raw oysters are less acceptable to you than a dish of boiled dog.

V:  Great question. I get this one a lot, and it never fails to really trip me up and make me think. The thing we all have to come to terms with, I think, has less to do with whether human life is imbued with inherent value by nature or some sort of creator being (I think we waste a lot of time contemplating this – time that could almost certainly be better spent ingesting frozen custard), and more to do with whether there really is an “airport rate” that hired cars in Albuquerque are required to charge for rush-hour travel through downtown, or whether that cab driver was ripping me off. Look out for AntiKosmos’ debut long-playing record album “Lachryma Mortis,” available at finer stolen car chop-shops later this year.

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An unInterview With Tommy Christ Of Scatterbrain and Ludichrist; Though This Be Madness, There Is Method In It


There have been many greatest moments in my life. The birth of my two children, my wedding day, the first time I saw Jodorowsky’s “Holy Mountain”, the time my high school basketball team came back from 8 down to win the league championship, the first time I saw an x-ray of my foot, defending my family from alligators and nuclear waste fueled swamp mutants after our plane crashed into the Everglades….

…the time my pancreas was featured on the Today Show in their “Pancreas of The Month” segment, the day I found out that my neighbors wife wasn’t missing, but had been consumed by him in an all-night Santeria ritual meant to bring a plague of locust on the people of Peru…

…..the time during college when myself and a couple of friends stole an 800 pound orangatuan from the Bronx Zoo, the moment I realized I had the power to become a donkey merely by selling my eternal soul to former President Jimmy Carter and the day I first learned that Al Roker was my biological  father.

However, all great days pale in comparison to today. For this is the day I get to publish an unInterview with a man I’m not afraid to say that I love. His music has shaped me into the deluded, psychotic misanthrope that I am today.

Both Scatterbrain and Ludichrist helped me discover the parts of myself that were missing after I was accidentally dismembered on an assembly line in Flint, Michigan back in 1953.

Now, without further adieu (as the French say), I present to you The Man, The Myth, The Legend….Tommy Christ….

Why did you kick Slash out of the band?

Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere;

When did you first realize Led Zeppelin had plagiarized a portion of “Whole Lotta Love” from Scatterbrain’s “Down With The Ship”?

Who steals my purse steals trash. ‘Tis something, nothing:

‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands.

But he that filches from me my good name

Robs me of that which not enriches him

And makes me poor indeed.

Rank your favorite Hawkwind albums in order 1 through 983.

I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I

know a hawk from a handsaw.

When Rob Halford rejoined Ludichrist, do you think it improved the band or do you think you were better off with Blaze Bayley singing?

And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil

By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.

If thou have power to raise him, bring him hither,

And I’ll be sworn I have power to shame him hence.

O, while you live, tell truth and shame the devil!


How come Steve Perry won’t play live with you anymore? Is it because he is short?

I have long dreamt of such a kind of man,

So surfeit-swell’d, so old, and so profane;

But being awak’d, I do despise my dream.

Do you ever wear pleather on stage? How about around the house?

What, is the jay more precious than the lark

Because his feathers are more beautiful?

Who is a better drummer Ricki Rocket or a sock puppet?

None better than to let him fetch off his drum, which you hear him so confidently undertake to do.

How did your band end up with the starring role in 2 Fast 2 Furious? And what did you do to make Bill O’Reilly so angry?

Can he be angry? I have seen the cannon,

When it hath blown his ranks into the air,

And, like the devil, from his very arm

Puff’d his own brother:—and can he be angry?

Something of moment then: I will go meet him:

There’s matter in’t indeed, if he be angry.

Did Mitt Romney get your permission to use “This Party Sucks” before campaign speeches or did he do that without asking?

O, he is as tedious

As a tired horse, a railing wife;

Worse than a smoky house: I had rather live

With cheese and garlic in a windmill, far,

Than feed on cates and have him talk to me

In any summer-house in Christendom.

That time you toured with so and so. What was that like?

Set you down this;

And say besides, that in Aleppo once,

Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk

Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,

I took by the throat the circumcised dog,

And smote him, thus.


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The Time I Met Chuck Schuldiner


Back in June of 1995, I was lucky enough to have met and spoken with Chuck Schuldiner. Myself and several friends were at a Death concert at The Roxy in Long Island and through a bizarre series of events we ended up on their tour bus.

Meeting Death was, for me, the equivalent of what I imagine Christians might feel having been in the presence of Christ. Seriously. For me, Death albums were transcendental experiences that explained most of the mysteries of the universe. Chuck was a mystic to me, Gautama with a guitar, The Great One sent down the mountain to help us see the invisible boundaries that we have created to lock away the most creative, life-affirming aspects of our being.

I’m sure I made a total fool of myself. I was your average 13-year-old girl getting backstage to meet Justin Beiber. I was stumbling around for words. Saying anything that came to mind to try to prolong the time we were in the man’s presence.

It was actually an uncomfortable feeling in retrospect. I didn’t want to mess up my one shot at actually asking the man the questions that had plagued me for the entirety of my being. This man had answers. No one could create like he did and not hold the key within him.

Finally, I worked up to asking him the meaning of the song “Vacant Planets” off of the album “Human”. I had somehow worked up a theory in my mind that this song was a comment on the nature of reality and life itself. I had pondered this song for hours and hours. Understanding its meaning consumed me.

There was something to the urgency of this song. It demanded to be understood. There was something deeper to it. Beyond meaning. Beyond rational thought. If he could just explain it to me, I’d have found the missing piece that explained this demented jigsaw puzzle I was living in.

I ambushed him out of nowhere with a rambling, semi-incoherent question about the song. “Chuck…I need to know about the song Vacant Planets. I mean, that song…that song. There is something within that song, you know. The planets around us are so empty. But, ‘in a realm so vast, we sit among the Vacant Planets’. They are vacant and without life. So is our planet, you know.”

“There is nothing to us. We are empty vessels. We eat, we sleep, we decay, we die. Over and over. And it all amounts to nothing. We want endless life, but for no reason. We don’t want to discover the universe around us, we simply want to not die. There is so much possibility wasted.  This place is a void.  No different than the emptiness on Mars or Mercury. We are a Vacant Planet! There is no meaning to any of it.”

During this whole disjointed explanation he regarded me with a great deal of kindness. He had a very empathetic expression. He was listening. He understood.

“Chuck, I need to know, am I right? Is this it? Is this what Vacant Planets means?”

He looked composed his thoughts for a second and looked away. I felt embarrassed. Had I said too much? Had I wasted my moment?

Then, he looked back at me. Stared directly into my eyes with a half smile on his face.

“Man…the song is about outer space.”

If there ever was a testimony to his genius, it was that answer.

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An Interview With A Happy Person


A few days back I got into an intriguing conversation.  I was asked who I would consider a “happy person”.  I drew a complete blank.  I couldn’t think of anyone.  I pushed myself on the question for hours.  Nothing.

I found the thought troubling.  Is it possible that there are really no happy people?  Am I so blind to happiness that I am surrounded by many happy people and completely unable to notice it?  I could name 100 people I think of as angry or miserable people who have suffered greatly, but I could not come up with one person who I would think of whose defining characteristic to me would be “happy”.

I couldn’t come up with an answer that made any sense.  I decided to attempt to find someone who considered themselves “happy” and really hear them out on their point of view.  I put up a post on my Facebook page seeking someone who considered themselves a “happy person”.  I got several responses.

The person I ended up interviewing was perfect.  Her story is compelling and thoroughly poignant.  She is extremely honest in her answers.  She asked that I did not use her name so that she could tell her story as truthfully as possible without the potential problems with being entirely truthful in a venue that can be accessed by anyone on earth. (She was comfortable with me mentioning that she is from Portugal)

You consider yourself to be a happy person. Why?

I always see the positive aspects of everything. I’m an optimist, a glass half full kind of person. Smiling or laughing are my default modes. I always enjoy my meals or the view from my window. I love to put on my headphones and listening to a podcast while I perform boring chores. Some people say their children revived that spark in them but in my case I’m trying to create a permanent spark on my son.

How do you define happiness?

I wouldn’t. As a sociologist I’m very careful with my concepts. I often feel tense or anxious, of course, like all people. But aren’t we mistaking moments for the grand total? I have terrible moments. Rage, sadness. But overall I am very happy, my life has been comprised of more positive than negative.

What percentage of the time would you actually consider yourself to be happy?

90%. I do understand other emotions and I don’t deny them.

Do you believe your happiness is more a product of what is inside of you or of how you were socially conditioned?

The answer is, of course, a mix of both. My mother is very pleasant and a really good person but very pessimistic. My dad was very harsh but also very funny and carefree. I think I took a bit from both of them. I do believe it’s inside of me because my parents always told me I was a very happy child, way before I could understand what it all meant.

Do you think there are circumstances that could change your view of yourself as a happy person?

Yes. I think that continued trauma could change this. But it had to be something big, much like torture. As I told you privately, if we’re taking circumstances, I’ve been through stuff. In the past I’ve had two pregnancy terminations, unwillingly, one as an early miscarriage and the other one due to severe heart malformations. My father passed away earlier this year. Then, I underwent knee surgery. My husband is going to be away from home for a month during the ending stages of my thesis work. In July my scholarship ends and I have no prospects. I SHOULD be unhappy, right? But I’m not. I’m sometimes tense and anxious. But I’m not unhappy.
I still have my healthy mother. If I’ve had those children I wouldn’t have this particular child right now. Because after limping for six months my knee is now fantastic. My partner is an amazing person that is leaving his son to bring home some extra money and it’s only a month. If I don’t pursue the academic life in the future at least I’ve tried it for a bunch of years and I’m able to say that I’ve lived my dream for a while. I live a blessed life, with a happy healthy child, a loving partner, full of gadgets and entertainment and funny people and friends… why should I be unhappy?

Why do you suppose so many people feel unhappy?

Money, life events, the news… life is tough, man. I’ve been lucky all my life, so far. The pros column is full and the cons column has some stuff but nothing that can overshadow a lifetime of success and happy moments. Sometimes it’s really hard to do this math, I’m not a guru or an expert and I’ve had my moments so I truly understand unhappy people. It’s very easy to get swallowed in the vortex of unhappiness.

People use the expression from time to time “ignorance is bliss”. Is happiness a condition of self-delusion/ignoring personal pain and the suffering of those around you (and in the world as a whole) or do you believe people can authentically recognize pain and still be happy?

I am very blissfully ignorant about some subjects that I know will hurt me. I hide Facebook posts about abandoned or hurt animals, for example. Also I don’t watch videos, tv shows or movies with extreme violence or with scenes that can upset me, I see no reason why I should put myself through pain just to “understand”. Not knowing some things makes me less unhappy. But, this being said, my thesis is about children in institutions. I’ve read hundreds of cases of negligence, abandonment, severe abuse. I’m all but blind to this reality that maybe other people can’t stand, like I can’t stand abandoned dogs. My role here – and what makes me happy – is that I’m able to write about their experiences and show them to the world.

What role do you believe spirituality plays in people being able to experience happiness?

For other people probably a lot. For me none. I’m an agnostic prone to atheism and I’m very happy with the fact that I’m here for one life only, folks. No reward in the afterlife, no spiritual guilt right now. I’m responsible for my actions as a human being and as a citizen of the world. I must respect laws and human boundaries. Otherwise I feel free and loved and having God means nothing for my personal happiness. As far as religion and spirituality goes I’m in the “don’t care” category – I don’t care what you believe in, as long as you are a good person. Whatever makes one happy, right?


An unInterview With Johnny Gorilla of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell; Babies Should Be Eaten, Not Heard


I learned a few things while interviewing Johnny Gorilla from Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell.  First of all, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell is named after a famed Naval Officer.  Secondly, a Naval Officer is not stationed in a persons bellybutton.  Nor in an orange.  Also, even though a person’s last name is Gorilla, that doesn’t mean he is actually somehow related to the animal.  It might simply mean his parents are named that.

Johnny and I were locked in a mason jar on Funk and Wagnell’s porch (six people on earth just laughed, three checked wikipedia, the rest simply moved on assuming it was yet another in a series of unending, culturally obscure references that plague this site).

Both of us were miniaturized by Taiwanese scientists.  50 tiny tarantullas were placed in the jar with us.  At the end of the interview, we both were bitten and died in each others arms.  Like brothers in a bad Civil War movie.

Why was Stacy Keach kicked out of the band? Was it an amicable split or did you pay mobsters to kidnap his children?

Why all these bedwetters are moaning about Ginger Baker?


If an Earwig is brown, then surely it’s only right that Turtles make Lemon Pies.

Why is music?

The next time I go out, I’m gonna go to the chemist, and then pick up some of those little ‘pillows’ full of washing liquid to pop in the washing machine. I never did like marzipan.



What’s the difference between Napoleon and Nelson?? Nelson held his had like this, and Napoleon held his hand like that.’

In order to be ironic, do you plan on playing any concerts on the Isle of Scilly?

Scilly question.

I like what you did there.  Do you think I look good in sweaters?

I once lent an old man a tissue. He grabbed more than he groped and at once I could see a wonderful human being with a lassoo for us all.

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading?

It’s often said that Billy (Bill Darlington) is one of the best drummers in the world, and I tend to agree with him.

A guy once told me sherbet is made out of donkey bones. I thought he might be kidding, but then, gelatin is made out of the hooves of horses. Do you think he was being truthful with me?

There has been a lot in the news lately about rockinghorses being the main cause of shoplifting in Guatemala.

Somebody once told me that rain is just the tears of God because of all the sinning we do. I have a dog speech?

Did you hear about the baker who had brown hands? No, me neither.

Aren’t raisins stupid? Especially the tiny boxes?

It’s about time someone did something about floorboards. Silly creepy things that crawl up your trouser leg and bite you while your watching VH1. Or is that rainbows??

I hate the word “trousers”.  Especially when people say “trouser leg”.  I’ve felt this way for a very long time.

Former Houston Oilers Wide Receiver Yancey Thigpen Almost 20 Years Before The Band Formed

Former Houston Oilers Wide Receiver Yancey Thigpen Almost 20 Years Before The Band Formed

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An UnInterview with Josh Elmore From Cattle Decapitation; I Bought My Kidneys At Costco

This Is Josh Elmore.  He is in Cattle Decapitation.  His is wearing a green jacket.

This Is Josh Elmore. He is in Cattle Decapitation. He is wearing a green jacket.

As General Douglas McArthur said only moments after the Battle of Norway at the end of World War 7, “why interview someone when you can ask them questions that they are asked to ignore and answer anyway they want?” I fully subscribe to this philosophy and have tattooed these words on my inner thigh along with a picture of Bob The Builder wearing a Slayer shirt.

Cattle Decapitation is a band and Josh Elmore is in it. He agreed to be unInterviewed only if I promised not to mention him by name or say what band he is in. He claims to play guitar in the band in spite of that fact that I insisted that he played saxophone for Spiro Gyra. I met him to discuss the band and his time as a professional male model in Botswana in the 1920s outside of a Starbucks coffee that he had set fire to only minutes earlier. The last few questions were asked as we were hiding from the police and several walruses under a canoe in the back of an elderly person’s house.  

There are 34 different breeds of bunnies.  One is called the dwarf bunny.  It fits in the palm of your hand.

1.  I have heard Cattle Decapitation has the lowest prices. How would someone join?

Fans can wait about a year from now to be entertained by Cattle and the Decapitations fresh new “effort” which the band is apparently half way through writing at present. Expect less blatant late-90’s JL America roster rip-off artistry and more straight up Mordred worship.

2. My uncle has cholera?

It’s a seemingly odd but consistently observable trait that certain males like to project a tough guy image, yet always have at least one element to their persona that is a bit dandy. Maybe it’s some genius strategy to put off potential rival males vying for power, a mate or status. When you’re getting beaten up by some guy from Connecticut who’s wearing an Orlando Magic jersey, copious amounts of Dep and a Defiler flat-brim, it is hard to not laugh when all you can picture is them telling their mom that they’re just taking this one semester off or that they don’t know anyone who “does coke.”

3. If?

I’ve become more convinced that people who label themselves as Libertarian are just living in the stage of suspended animation between youthful liberalism and fully embracing their parent’s reactionary small-business conservatism. There’s a totally different generational mindset, y’know? I have lots of black friends.

4.  How is a thing made round?

Do you think Ron Rinehart eventually hooked up with that blonde chick he was macking on during the Ultimate Revenge 2 show? I think she might’ve just been being nice.

5.  My back hurts when I lift heavy objects?

There is no middle ground with metal dudes. Either they are simultaneously working on 10 different musical projects while pursuing their doctorate in existential philosophy or they’re looking to celebrate their promotion to shift manager at Auto Zone by downing some beers and cranking some METAL. At least that’s what Facebook told me.

6.  If one day you found yourself trapped in cellar in Des Moines, Iowa with only a crowbar and a copy of Time magazine from 1947, what album would you listen to?

Ever notice how “the Midwest” is the new “the South?” Apparently the newly defined geographical location of said “Midwest” is anywhere east of Vegas and west of Philly. Talk to any 22-year old from Orange County for more than 5 minutes and they’ll be sure to mention that they’ve been to Bhutan 6 times but never east of Phoenix, cuz like, why? LOL

7.  Do you have? If so, why?

The Internet has been the death of finding stashed pornography in a ditch or at the forest preserve. This rite of teen male passage is now extinct. It makes me want to slug Al Gore in the feedbag.

8.  The Middle East?

Have you ever had camel’s milk? All I could compare the flavor to is a combination of that burnt pasta smell/taste and the odor of grandma’s recliner.

9.  Sometimes, when I’m alone, I stare at a picture my grandmother painted back in 1963. I’m pretty sure there is another painting underneath, because it looks like there are additional arms coming out of the body. But, sometimes I wonder if she INTENDED it to look like. Almost like some sort of optical illusion. Like Escher, but not as detailed. Honestly though, that’s quite inconsistent with her style as an artist. But then, Picasso went through many phases as an artist. Maybe this was just some sort of experimental thing she did one time, but never repeated.   Are you wearing pants?

If you are as sick of dealing with ill-disciplined stump-broke calves as I am, it would be wise to appeal to the animals’ more base appetites in order to modify and eventually squelch the defiant behavior. Swirl your finger in about a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses and then let the calf satisfy itself with the viscous treacle. You will have a domestic beast that is now all too willing to pursue your task regimen (both in the field and repertory) in hopes of a sweet reward.


10.  If you had to tour with one band on the planet, would Gandhi still be alive today? If so, would he look like Eli Wallach? If not, will you recognize the People’s Republic of China?

(Editors Note:  At this point, Josh provided a link to a video as a way of not answering this question.  If you click here, you will see it.  If you don’t click on that last sentence you won’t.  You will be missing out and will be racked with guilt and emptiness for the rest of your natural life)

11.  Satan? If so, Gary Coleman? If not, elephants have babies, why can’t plants?

It is time to put a stop to this lemon in the water trend at restaurants. Did I ask for that? No? Then get that disgusting thing out of my water. People have said; “they’ve always done that.” LIES. In my nearly 4 decades of existence I cannot remember any time except the past couple years that lemon is in everything. Do I throw a carrot in your Dr. Pepper? NOPE. I don’t want to smell that citrus reek on your fingers or stinking up the break room at work. The next person I hear say “but it’s so refreshing” is getting a roll of quarters to the jaw.

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An Uninterview With A Heavy Metal Band Called Allegaeon Who Is Very Good I Like Them



The interview is dead. There have been thousands of them in the history of heavy metal and what have they really accomplished? War, global warming, famine, infant obesity and the looming specter of canine halitosis still haunt us. The time has come to ask the question that our beloved former leader George W. Bush once asked: Is we learning?

We have now embarked on a bold new journey. Welcome to The Age Of The Uninterview.

Allegeaon is a band. They have a very challenging named to spell, but they are very talented at playing the heavy metal music.  (I offer proof of that in the form of their new video which is utterly hysterically brilliant and excellent and good. CLICK HERE AND THE VIDEO WILL APPEAR ON YOUR SCREEN….BELIEVE IT OR NOT COMPUTERS CAN DO THAT NOW AS WELL AS COMPLEX MATH PROBLEMS AND PLAY CHESS)

I like them. I got to talk to a bearded, scary looking fellow named Ezra Haynes who claims to be in the band. I think he plays some instrument or sings or something. He’s very good at it.

In Hebrew, Ezra means hard worker. I’m not sure if he knows that and I forgot to tell him. He might speak Hebrew, but honestly, the subject never came up so I can’t be sure. If you spill water on Ezra, he will sprout hundreds of mini-Ezras from his back and neck. He and I met for coffee in one of the 36 stomachs located within a cow named Gertrude in Provo, Utah.

These people have an album coming out. They call it “Elements of The Infinite”.  You can buy it.  If you want.  Because we have free will.  Unless you are in prison or trapped in the basement of a serial killer.

Back to this Ezra guy. He has been instructed to not answer any question I ask him, which is good, because many of the questions are remarkably stupid.

1.Are you French? If so, why?

Yesterday I woke up at 4:00pm, nothing makes you feel more like a scum bag than waking up at 4:00pm. On top of that, I wore only basketball shorts and ate quesadillas for the rest of the day. Pretty scummy.

2. I’ve heard that Allegaeon is Swahili for “one that works with oxen”. If this is true, how do you explain the existence of evil?

I once ran through a Scientology building in Los Angeles yelling “Tom Cruiseeeeeeee”.  Later that night I found myself walking around Hollywood with a samurai sword. This is all very true.

3. Women often tell me they are surprised that I’m a Scorpio?

The new record came along great! We’re just gearing up for the release this Summer and plan to tour relentlessly to promote it. We look forward to sweating it out in the van.

4. When you were young, did you chew on your clothes? Did you chew on other people’s clothes? Did you chew on other people? Did you chew?

I really don’t like the word ‘muddle’. It sounds so gross to me. I work at a bar in Fort Collins and one of the drinks calls for cucumber and mint leaves to be ‘muddled’. One muddled muddling muddler coming right up! Muddle.

5. How come the Kansas City Royals insist on playing Lorenzo Cain over Dyson Spheres even though Spheres is capable of stealing 80 bases if given regular at bats?

Last night I had a dream that I was cleaning my cat’s litter box. Why did my brain waste all of that energy on that? Wearing sunglasses assures that you never blink in photos.

6. So, I hear you like milk?

Why did I get a external hard drive with moving parts? I should’ve sucked it up and paid for a flash external hard drive. I wonder how many days it has left? Why is it on? It looks pretty trashy with an empty beer can on it.

7. What’s with all the guitars and stuff? I mean, isn’t that stuff hard to lug around everywhere? Do you have any back problems? Have you considered surgery?

I should give Corey a call. Hearing him complain about life makes me feel good.

8. I have a spleen, but I’m not sure why? Or where?

Boy is Greg cranky today. I love him.

9. If Jive Time Jimmy Camiby fought the Ooglabot in Guam (with Moo Goo Jerry Gonzales as the referee), why do you suppose people continue to bring children into this hellish, godforsaken world?

May 5th – 3:40 pm I woke up at 12:00pm today. Still eating Quesadillas though. Baby steps. Progress.

Sincerely, Ezra Haynes

10. Lady Gaga is missing an eye. Do you think that someone took Pokerface literally?

I think I’m supposed to do an interview today.

11. A train leaves Chicago travelling 40 miles per hour?

That new Godzilla movie looks really cool.

12. Do you think there is outer space?

I am terrified of horses.

13. Who invented titanium golf clubs?

Horses are like, really BIG.

14. If Adam and Eve didn’t have belly buttons, would it prove the existence of a merciful and loving creator? And what do you think of Kreator?




852 Fascinating Words With “A Tale of Two Maidens” Writer Anne Echols


Anne Echols is an amazingly talented writer from Atlanta who has just released her third book, A Tale of Two Maidens.  She is a brilliant teacher and a wonderful human being. I was honored to get a chance to talk to her last week about her new book, Joan of Arc and, of course, Iron Maiden.

For those folks out there who haven’t read it, tell us a bit about what A Tale 0f Two Maidens is about…

The book is about a fifteen-year-old Felise who is an apprentice scribe in medieval France.  She dreams of escaping her cruel guardian, who plots an arranged marriage for her.  She dreams of being a writer and a book shop owner.  The Hundred Years War rages all around her, even spilling into her town.  This takes place at the time that Joan of Arc blazes onto the scene as a teenage girl who claims God-given powers to change the fate of France.  Joan inspires Felise to run away and embark on a daring adventure of her own.

Every day draws her further into the underbelly of a life she has never known — a world of lepers and vagabonds, brawling men and loose women. Burning villages and terrified peasants are left behind in the path of war as Joan tries to free France from the English.  When a young suitor from home pursues her, Felise finds herself drawn to him despite her quest for freedom and her distrust of men.

Following after the army, Felise meets Joan face to face and soon finds herself torn between Joan’s single-minded sense of purpose and her own desire for love and personal fulfillment.

Lepers and vagabonds!  Sounds like she went to a Poison concert.  What was the inspiration for writing A Tale of Two Maidens?

I wrote two other books (both non-fiction) about women in the Middle Ages.  Joan of Arc has always fascinated me since I read saint’s tales about her and I wanted to understand the truth about her.  I researched her life and found out that there were Joan imitators both before and after her death — false Joans who went around pretending to be her.  That gave an idea for my book — to see how she influenced ordinary women of her time.

Joan of Arc figures prominently in your book.  What do you think she was like in real life?

Blunt; down to earth; practical; bad-tempered; pious and celibate; fiercely loyal to the Dauphin (deposed prince); illiterate.  Didn’t like dressing as a guy at first but I think she kind of got into it after a while.  She would hear the sound of church bells and lapse into a vision of her saints but then snap out of it and go off and lead her men into battle.  I don’t think she liked the adulation of the crowds and certainly didn’t believe that she could perform miracles.  I think she truly cared about her soldiers — almost like a big sister.

If Joan of Arc were alive today, what do you think she’d be up to?

She’d be attached to a ruler who had been has been unjustly deposed (or unjustly lost an election) and exiled and she’d be the star military genius helping him or her get back in power.  Maybe Radonski in Venezuela.  She’d be an indigenous peasant from a small village in Venezuela with undiagnosed schizophrenia and hear voices to help him contest the election or stage a coup.  I picture her in a Rambo style bandana driving around Venezuela in a tank — with a tatoo of her beloved saints and lots of groupies.  They would use her name to market clothing products, t shirts, berets, and of course Joan of Arc goat cheese (I really saw this product at my local grocery store!)

Earlier I could have seen her as a female Che Guevarra.

Many of the readers are metalheads, so I want to make it clear, A Tale of Two Maidens is not a comparison between Iron Maiden with Bruce Dickinson and Paul Di’anno.  But, in your opinion, who is the better frontman for the band?

Both are great singers, but I’d pick Di’anno for being raw and real — I believed that he was actually feeling the emotions as he sang.  Dickinson was more theatrical and was having more fun performing but I didn’t believe him as much as I believed Di’anno.  I think Joan would have liked the first singer better too.

Who was “more metal” Shakespeare or Chaucer?

This is a tough question…Chaucer came to mind first because I could really see someone doing a metal style Pardoner’s Tale in Middle English.  Also I think the earthy, bawdy exterior of the tales (but often with a melancholy but truthful interior) lend themselves well to the metal blend (at least in my mind) of raucous exterior but often emotionally charged, compelling interior.  And the ‘on the road’ setting definitely applies to both.

Shakespeare’s play have already been done in so many styles from the Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet, to a stage interpretation of Julius Caesar done in Star Trek style sci fi, so why not metal?

A Tale of Two Maidens is available on

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