Posts Tagged Ronald Reagan
A clip from last Wednesday’s episode of Brazil’s top prime time television program “Brazilian Idol”, known to the people as Placa De Ferver Infestados Rins, has become an Internet phenomenon thanks to the amazing performance of Aldo Infante.
Aldo is an 8-month-old whose voice sounds remarkably like Max Cavalera, the former singer of Sepultura and Soulfly. The child sent the capacity crowd into hysterics by performing a spot-on cover of the Sepultura classic “Slaves of Pain” and then going into a stirring rendition of “Troops of Doom”.
This was a great moment for a nation that has experienced terrible turmoil for almost 30 years. Ever since U.S. President Ronald Reagan sent swarms of bee people to the nation in 1986 in order to root our members of the Brazilian Communist Party (Os Desviantes) and ended up accidently killing 2/3s of the population, Brazil has been a country racked with sorrow.
“To see a baby, which only years ago would have been used for food by an undernourished population forced to survive in underground caves because of the swarms of killer Beemen stalking their every move, is a great thing for the Brazilian people,” said President Juan Ponce Gatuno.
While the Beepeople have mostly vanished or been killed off, the 2003 invasion of Brazil by The Robot Overlords from Paraguay has been yet another setback in the Brazilian people’s quest for a life above ground. Many Brazilians were so moved by Aldo’s performance they have begun calling him “Salvador” (The Savior) and are talking about him as being a potential leader in a revolution against the bloodthirsty robot killing machines.
Singer and actress Peggy Lee, who moved to Brazil after her death in 2002, is currently a judge on “Brazilian Idol”. She was so moved by Aldo’s performance that she ran onstage, sat in the lotus position and immolated herself in front of the cheering crowd. Although she has burns over 98 percent of her body and currently lacks the ability to speak or breathe, she is expected to return to the show next week.
Responses from around the world to little Aldo’s Sepultura covers have been extremely favorable. The clip has received over 15 million hits on YouTube and was the lead news item on the nightly broadcast of the BBC for the 3,000 or so Englishmen who survived The Great English Bloodfeast of 2009.
Americans, who have been mostly unharmed by the plagues, famines and alien attacks that have decimated most of the world, particularly love little Aldo. According to Courtney Thirstwood, who lives in a gated community in Colorado, “OMG…..It is sooooooo amazing! The baby sings heavy metal! That’s soooo 80s!!!! And it’s cute! And cute things are fun to look at! Cause they’re cute!”
Every Sunday night between 5:15 and 5:17, thanks to a mixture of transcendental yoga, Nyquil and Shiatsu, my mind travels to a dimension similar to our own. This parallel universe is known simply as Blargh.
Many of the details of The Blargh Dimension are similar. For example, the San Francisco Giants have won two of the last four World Series there as well. However, there are also some major differences. For example, in Blargh, the Giants best pitcher is a 14-foot tall polar bear with 11 arms.
One of the most extreme differences between their world and ours is the role of heavy metal in their lives. The average resident of Blargh listens to roughly 22 hours of heavy metal a day. By the age of 11, all Blarghian children are tested on Venom and Slayer lyrics. If they make even one mistake, they are fed to one of the thousands of giant lobsters that live in tunnels below the cities.
I have been trying to convince people of my travels for years. However, the story is a bit far-fetched and proof is hard to come by. However, this Sunday, I was able to rip out a page from the Blarghian TV Guide and smuggle it back. Here is the evidence of the existence of this world, along with a good sampling of what the average Blarghian watches on network television (President-For-Life Agnew banned cable TV in the 1980s and, consequently, they only have three channels).
8:00-9:00 Marduk, She Wrote
Everyone’s favorite 276-year old detective Angela Lansbury teams up with Swedish metal blasphemers Marduk to solve mysteries and promote neo-fascism.
9:00-9:30 Jeff Walker, Texas Ranger
After leaving Carcass, metal legend Jeff Walker uses his extensive knowledge of human anatomy to fight crime and poor hygiene in Texas.
9:30-10:00 Touched By A Morbid Angel
A heartwarming show that features David Vincent giving fake messages from God to strangers and making them do really horrifying things to their loved ones.
10:00-11:00 The Dukes of Biohazard
Brothers Bo and Spyder Jonez speed around a post-apocalyptic Brooklyn in a car with a confederate flag painted on the roof while trying to avoid police officers and members of the Baseball Furies gang.
8:00-8:30 Leave it To Believer
Jerry Mathers stars as an Kurt Bachman, an 8-year old musical prodigy who writes Christian death metal songs and gets into all sorts of mischief with his brother Wally.
8:30-9:00 Powermad About You
An aging Minneapolis thrash band fall head over heels in love with Helen Hunt and attempt to marry her in violation of New York’s ban on polygamy.
9:00-10:00 In Battle There is No LA Law
Seven-time Emmy winning actress Jo Bench and the members of Bolt Thrower star as hip Los Angeles attorneys who drive around in sports cars while dressing as characters from Warhammer.
10:00-11:00 Falconer Crest
Lorenzo Llamas stars as a power metal vocalist who tries to wrestle control of a winery from Ronald Reagan’s ex-wife.
8:00-8:30 All In The Manson Family
Marilyn Manson is a crusty but benign racist who argues incessantly with his leftist son-in-law and humiliates his “dingbat” wife.
A spin off of Jeff Walker, Texas Ranger. Walker retires and opens a bed and breakfast in a Vermont that is visited by traveling grindcore bands and Elvis impersonators.
9:00-9:30 Fantomas Island
Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo, Hervé Villechaize, and Ricardo Montalban are trapped on a magical island that is haunted by the ghost of Henry Mancini.
10:00-11:00 Highway To Hell
Bon Scott stars as a demon attempting to force wayward souls to make bad life decisions and end up condemned to eternal suffering. Michael Landon and the scuzzy looking guy who always wear the Oakland A’s hat co-star.
On the eve of this years’ Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama is facing tough criticism from death metal legends Carcass. Obama, who regularly uses the splatter-grind classic “Regurgitation of Giblets” as intro music before his speeches, was asked to “cease and desist” from using the song until his policies match “the spirit in which the song was intended.”
According to Carcass singer Jeff Walker, “Regurgitation” was meant “to address the deeper themes of dehumanization in the work place, consumer alienation and the effects of modernity on the human form.” Guitarist Bill Steer reiterated Walker’s statement and added, “The song certainly wasn’t meant to help elect the President of the United States, a nation that is, after all, the largest dehumanizing, alienating force in the history of organized society.”
Obama, a die-hard Carcass fan, had been using the song to contrast the campaign’s message of stability and progress with the Republican themes of blind panic and race-baiting. He has even managed to use lines from it in a campaign speech in Dubuque, Iowa last month. “Romney’s America is one where the average American will be spewing up his or her collective sanguined guts into a wooden box. I ask you, do you want to be trapped in that type of sarcophagus? Is that the sarcophagus we want for our children?”
In deference to Carcass, the Obama campaign will no longer be using the song. They have decided to switch to either Clinton era favorite “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac or “Epitaph of the Credulous” by Suffocation. However, the campaign plans to keep distributing the 30,000 Carcass themed “Festerday In America” pro-Obama tee-shirts that they have been handing to supporters at campaign rallies.
This is not the first time that an American political campaign has run into trouble over the use of a song. Back in 1984, Bruce Springsteen strongly objected to Ronald Reagan’s use of “Born in the USA” as a campaign anthem. In 1840, the band Cattle Decapitation went to court to stop William Henry Harrison from using the song “I Eat Your Skin” in several television commercials.
Occasionally, however, metal bands lend their support to help a campaign. In 2000, metal godfathers Death re-recorded their first album under the new title of “Scream Albert Gore”, in order to support the Democratic Presidential candidate. While Gore did not become President, the album was credited with helping him win the hotly contested State of Florida in his campaign against George W Bush.
7 out of 10 Republican Voters Believe Mustaine Endorsement of Santorum Is “The Most Important Factor” In Presidential Race
In a recent Rasmussen poll of Republican voters, over 70 percent cited Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine’s endorsement of Rick Santorum as being the critical factor in their choice of candidates. Mustaine’s endorsement ranked ahead of the economy, international terrorism, the myth of global warming, contraception, electability, a woman’s right to vote, the return of the messiah and abortion as being the most important factor in who they will choose to represent the Republican Party in November. In spite of Santorum’s recent flood of absurd, borderline insane comments and Mustaine’s later remark that he had not, in fact, endorsed Santorum, the Megadeth connection has the former Pennsylvania Senator leading in the polls by as many as four percentage points.
Mustaine’s role as Republican king maker started back in 2004 when he announced his intention to vote for George W. Bush. Bush was victorious. Since then, many Americans have turned to Megadeth albums to help explain many of the difficult problems that face the nation. Mustaine, whose recent record Endgame railed against wireless tracking chips being put in people’s heads and Americans being forced into FEMA concentration camps, has become the snarling voice of the moderate wing of the Republican Party.
At a town hall meeting in Michigan, people were still abuzz with the news of Mustaine’s “endorsement”. “I feel like Mustaine and I have a lot in common,” said 83-year-old Jane Summerville of Ypsilanti, “We both support a candidate who doesn’t follow the instructions of the New Ways Evil Book of Rules. And that man is Rick Santorum.”
Agnes Murphy, 63, of Auburn Hills was even more impressed. “I have been unhappy with many of the Republican candidates this year. It’s like I told my husband, ‘If there’s a new way, I’ll be the first in line. But it better work this time!’ Santorum has some radically new ideas. I don’t care what the liberals say; it’s still we the people. Right?” announced Murphy while pacing, foaming at the mouth and waving her arms wildly.
According to James Sullivan, Santorum’s campaign manager in Detroit, Mustaine’s endorsement gives them an excellent chance to vanquish Obama, their hated foe. “Obama is like the Pied Piper, leading rats through the streets. And Americans are dancing like marionettes,” howled Sullivan at a room full of shrieking, Megadeth tee shirt wearing Republicans.
Mustaine’s foray into politics may be the most successful attempt for a metal artist to influence a major election, but it certainly isn’t the first. Quorthon, of Bathory fame, actually spent much of 1984 away from music helping to run Ronald Reagan’s Presidential campaign in Utah. Back in 1956, Slayer vocalist Tom Araya made history by supporting Adalai Stevenson in his battle against Republican incumbent Dwight Eisenhower. And who could forget when Tom Angelripper of Sodom threw his weight behind Rutherford B. Hayes in his election campaign against Samuel Tilden in 1876.
Rick Santorum has been on the offensive lately, but his target has not been Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney or even President Barack Obama. For the past week, Santorum has been using his campaign to take aim at an issue he feels to be the single most dangerous force in America today: Satanism in heavy metal. “If you listen to the radio today, many of these brand new, so-called heavy metal music bands like Black Sabbath, Venom, The WASP and Iron Maiden use satanic imagery to corrupt the minds of young people,” announced Santorum at a 10,000 dollar a plate sock-hop in Valdosta, Georgia on Thursday.
Santorum’s popularity in the polls has grown substantially since he began speaking out against metal and its assault on traditional values. He has spent much of the past week in the Midwest encouraging young people to stay away from metal artists and listen to performers like Michael W. Smith and Pat Boone. In a recent Gallup Poll, 87 percent of Republican voters think that the biggest problem in America today is “the demented bloodlust of teenagers caused entirely by heavy metal music.”
In the past, Santorum has accused heavy metal of being the cause of some of the worst crimes in American history including the attempt on the life of Ronald Reagan in 1981, 9/11 and the passage of Obama’s Health Care Bill. He stepped up his rhetoric in a speech on Wednesday when he implied that heavy metal is the cause of many forms of mental illness as well as lactose intolerance.
It’s probably not a coincidence that since he began his crusade against metal that his poll numbers have been surging upwards. Picking out a small and unique group, singling them out as “other” and using them to frighten the masses is a proud tradition in American politics. However, many commentators believe that his call for metal internment camps goes too far. Santorum has openly advocated the forced re-education of metalheads. They would be forced to endure 30 days of non-stop “values based” music that promotes the American way of life as well as the free market. In order to leave, they will have to sing the chorus to at least one Celine Dion song.
In response to Santorum’s metal onslaught, Mitt Romney officially denounced his earlier position of “tolerance towards all fans of extreme music”. This, in spite of the fact that GWAR played his inauguration as governor of Massachusetts back in 2003. But things have changed since 2003 and embracing heavy metal music is about as popular selling baby organs on Ebay or clubbing seals. Romney will need to begin pretending to be something else if he plans on facing Obama in the general election in November.
One of the great, but somewhat forgotten bands in the history of American pop music was Tommy James and the Shondells. Chances are, if you’ve spent more than an hour of your life with the radio on, you’ve heard one of their hits. They were responsible for chart topping classics that ran the gamut from the #1 hit and rock anthem “Crimson and Clover” to the sundrenched, psychedelic classic “Crystal Blue Persuasion”. They had hits like “Mony, Mony” and “I Think We’re Alone Now” which were made into even bigger in the 1980s by Billy Idol and Tiffany respectively. They were responsible for writing the theme song to the television show “Bonanza” and created the entire soundtrack to the Wes Craven’s horror standard “Last House on The Left”. Yet, miraculously, few people know the mind-blowing story of their bizarre careers.
Tommy James (born Thomas Gregory Jackson) came into the world on April 29th, 1927 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. From an early age, Tommy, as his friends called him, overcame great adversity. Tommy was born with several additional limbs, including an arm that jutted out of his back and two additional legs that sprouted from slightly below his right knee. James lived in this awkward and uncomfortable state until he had the additional limbs removed at age 16. By that time, James had become somewhat of a music prodigy. Before the removal of his extra arm, 8-year-old Tommy wowed the elementary school talent show crowd with his ability to play all of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on guitar while doing a full handstand.
Music was Tommy’s first passion, but it was his skills as a twirler and football player were legendary in the state of Michigan by the time he began considering college. Tommy was a dual threat quarterback who was known for his majestic playmaking ability, as well as the fact that he is the only football player in modern memory to also do the halftime shows for his school. After passing for 427 yards and 8 touchdowns in the first half of a game against rival Warren G. Harding High School, James came out and did a flaming baton routine that is still talked about locals today. Tommy was offered football scholarships to Ohio State, Michigan, UCLA and Notre Dame, but decided to dedicate himself to music fulltime when he turned 18.
Tommy played with several bands but quickly became frustrated with the music industry. On his 26th birthday, Tommy made a decision that would forever change the course of world history. After reading a newspaper article the corrupt dictatorship of Cuban strongman Fulgencio Batista, Tommy decided that the cause of freedom was more important then his music career. He packed up his backpack and got on a boat for Cuba that very day. While he was there he quickly became close friends with several revolutionaries, including future leader Fidel Castro. Tommy spent the next ten years working with Castro and an Argentinian doctor by the name of Ernesto “Che” Guevara to overthrow the dictatorship and to bring economic equality to the Cuban people.
Tommy became disillusioned with the Castro regime in the early 1960s and eventually had a falling out with Fidel over Cuba’s alignment with the Soviet Union. He was expelled from Cuba and told he would be executed if he ever attempted to return. Tommy decided he needed to find himself spiritually and moved to Tibet. After spending a year of his life herding yak, he met a group of four American expatriate musicians who lived in the mountain village of Shondelli. While sitting at the foot of Mount Everest and discussing the path to enlightenment, these five men together wrote the song “Hanky Panky”. Knowing it would certainly become a hit, they returned to America with stars in their eyes. Sure enough, Tommy James and the Shondells scored a number one single with the song in 1966.
From 1966 to 1970, the band produced a string of Top 40 hits and became a regular on such shows as American Bandstand. One morning in 1971, Tommy woke up and decided that the craziness and excesses of the music industry were too much for him. He left the scene and opened an exotic pet store in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Shondells, left leaderless by Tommy’s disappearance, knew they needed to take action in order to stay famous. Using a strand of Tommy James’ hair, the band, who had each received PhD degrees in Biology from Harvard University, attempted to clone him. At first, the clone of Tommy James performed well. However, before a concert in Cleveland, Ohio in 1973 the clone went berserk and consumed four Girl Scouts who attempted to sell him cookies backstage. The clone was destroyed and the Shondells were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole until 1998.
After receiving several letters from the Shondells, James, racked with guilt, closed up his pet store and broke the band out of Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas with support from 3 members of the Oakland Branch of The Symbionese Liberation Army (who were later known for kidnapping heiress Patty Hearst). The band hid in the mountains of Colorado for 15 years only occasionally returning to cities to sign copies of their Greatest Hits album. Eventually, the band surrendered to Federal Authorities in 1987. However, lady luck smiled upon the band when outgoing President Ronald Reagan pardoned them in 1989 because he errantly believed they had helped smuggle guns and money to the Contras in Nicaragua.
The band relocated to Seattle and began playing slowed down, “grungy” (as they called it) versions of their earlier songs. A song they had created in honor of their good friend actor Martin Sheen called “Smells Like Sheen’s Spirit” was borrowed by a young musician named Kurt Cobain for his band Nirvana. Nirvana changed a few words around and the rest was history. James, who had accidently signed away the rights to the song during a late night card game with Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, never got over his rage about losing the song. Weeks before Cobain’s death, James threatened to “feed Cobain to a pride of lions at The Olympia Zoo”. However, James was never considered seriously as a suspect in the death of Cobain.
After the Seattle years, the band went on to various projects, occasionally reforming for short tours. However, they never recaptured the hit making ability that they flashed so prominently in the late 1960s. Sure, some bands have been able to write catchier pop songs. A few bands have even been able to capture the exciting, frenzied energy they were able to create on stage. However, as far as I know, there are no bands that have lived as surreal and extraordinary lives as Tommy James and The Shondells.