Posts Tagged United States
The note under my door said “Meet at 3 AM in the parking garage behind the Waffle House.” I’d received notes like this before and, usually, they either led to great information or some guy in nothing but a trenchcoat asking me if I wanted to hold hands and whisper Carpenters lyrics into each other’s ears. Typically, these messages came from my high level contact in the CIA, a man who will only let me refer to him in public as Deep Thrombosis. He’s worked in The Company for many years and has put me onto some of the bigger stories Tyranny of Tradition has broken. He was the guy who tipped me off to Obama’s drumming on the first Overkill album and Nixon’s plot to assassinate the members of Black Sabbath.
I knew that a night meeting with Deep Thrombosis could be the thing that gets me that Pulitzer Prize I’ve been coveting all these years or even a date with The Great Kat. However, I was not prepared for the monumental significance of what he was about to tell me.
“Tonight, we are going to pull back the curtain,” whispered Deep Thrombosis while his shifty, beady eyes darted from side to side. “The information I’m about to give you could bring down the whole circus. If you print it, be warned, there is a good chance you will end up having a ‘boating accident’ or accidently hanging yourself while trying to install a garage door opener. And for godsakes, if you print this, you need to promise not to mention you got it from a source in the CIA! They’ll be able to track it back to me.”
“I will absolutely not mention how I got this information,” I told my CIA source. “I swear it!”
He proceeded to tell me the most outlandish story I had ever heard. A story of violence, intrigue and a CIA so out of control that it would go so far as to break up one of the great thrash metal groups of our time.
“The Company had heard some rumors that the next Slayer album was going to be all about drone strikes on Al-Queda bases. The thing was going to be called “South of Reason”. Typical longhaired hippie liberal propaganda. We’d have let Limbaugh handle them except they were going to reveal potential bombing coordinates, out some of our higher level agents, and really turn the metalhead public against the whole ‘secret murder of civilians who have had no trial’ thing. We couldn’t let it happen. So we took action.”
“The first part of the plan was to kidnap Kerry King and replace him with an actor who resembled Kerry King. We have a guy who has done some jobs with us in the past who was a dead ringer for King, a sort of grubby, misshapen fellow who slightly resembled a poorly shaven yeti. We scooped up the real Kerry and threw him into Guantanamo and told the guards he was actually Osama Bin Laden’s masseuse and to ‘not torture him’ until he gave us any information on the whereabouts of the secret terrorist training camps in Iceland.”
“The guy we are using as Kerry almost gave the thing away during the first show. He played three or four really great solos, which confused the audience. Luckily, one of our agents got ahold of him and told him to haphazardly move his whammy bar around really fast when it was his turn to solo and no one would know the difference. Things went fine after that.”
“We slipped a mind-altering substance into one of Araya’s drinks and, through the power of suggestion, convinced him to start listening to Asking Alexandria. We figured this would jam up any creativity that was flowing through his head. Then, we gave a copy of the band’s financial information to Lombardo. The rest is history.”
“The thing is, I’ve begun to realize that this sort of thing is dangerous. After all, if the CIA can destroy Slayer or overthrow the government of a foreign country or randomly kill civilians who happened to be in the same vicinity as people we believe to be terrorists without the consent of the American people, then what is the point of even calling our country a democracy.”
“I started thinking of what a soulless, unaccountable beast like the CIA could do if it really put its mind to it. Forcing Exodus to do a ska album? Getting Testament to hire Michael Bolton as their lead singer? Letting Janick Gers write all the songs on the next Maiden record? The possibilities were too horrible to consider.”
“So, I have chosen you to help put a stop to this. Publish this article tomorrow and remind America that in a democracy, the government needs to be accountable to the people or else they have ceased being a democracy. That transparency is the only thing that can keep us from becoming a nation capable of any atrocity in the name of opening new markets and exploiting new sources of human capital. That America should stand for something greater than the principal of bending other, weaker nations to our will. And that Slayer should start writing stuff that sounds more like it did before Divine Intervention, because honestly, the new stuff hasn’t been all that impressive. Except for God Hates Us All. That was pretty cool.”
I heard the sound of a car door slam in the corner of the garage and turned to look at it. When I looked back, Deep Thrombosis was gone.
In a move aimed at making Americans forget the achievements and contributions of former Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, President Barack Obama has taken the unique step of having his likeness removed from Mount Rushmore. Ward had been on the monument between Roosevelt and Lincoln since 1978.
The de-Wardization of Mount Rushmore comes at the end of a traumatic week for Ward, who has seen his image removed from the moon landing picture, the painting of Washington crossing the Potomac and even the website of his former bandmates Black Sabbath. Ward has remained mostly silent on the matter, but many insiders believe that there is an ongoing conspiracy in place to make the American public forget that Bill Ward ever existed.
Ward’s contributions to America are nearly unmatched. Who invented penicillin? Ward. Who was the first person in space? Ward. Who was the 23rd President of the United States? Ward. What President made the treaty with aliens from the Uhreih Galaxy and began a period of unmatched peace and prosperity? Ward. Who eliminated the use of anti-matter death rays? Ward. Who infiltrated Satan’s dark underworld and ended his grip on the souls of all mankind? Ward.
However, if you asked most Americans, they wouldn’t even know these significant events had taken place. A few might remember he was the drummer from Black Sabbath and little else.
Obama’s decision to wipe out the final link to Ward runs deeper than most people even know. The Obama administration has taken the rare step of removing all mentions of Ward from history as well as any pictures or paintings. They have even gone so far as to remove him from his own baby pictures.
When asked for comment about the matter in a press conference on Friday Obama remarked “Bill Who? I’m not aware of the person you are speaking of. Wasn’t he a drummer or something?”
Black Sabbath have also denied knowledge of the existence of Ward. Their official website now claims that Vinny Appice played drums on all of their early records. Singer Ozzy Osboune claims he knew an auto mechanic named Bob Ward once back in Yorkshire, but hasn’t spoken to him in 30 years. The rest of the band have denied even knowing that a person with the last name Ward has ever walked the earth.
No one seems to know why Ward’s existence is being hidden from the human race. It is impossible to get an answer from anyone because the minute Ward’s name is mentioned, people who should have known him for years pretend they don’t know what you are talking about. Even his children now deny he existed.
The sudden disappearance of Ward’s image has led many to speculate that sinister plans are being made to completely eliminate Ward from the minds of people. Known conspiracy theorist and Ron Paul for President National Spokesman Art Bremer claims that the U.S. government is currently in development of a biological weapon that, once released, will wipe out all memory of Bill Ward.
Update: I wrote this article last night, but for some reason I can’t remember who this “Bill Ward” person is. I fell asleep at my keyboard and woke up with some strange story about a guy I’ve never heard of and all of his amazing achievements along with a terrible headache. I think he might have been a character I made up or something like that. Everyone knows that Vinny Appice was Black Sabbath’s first drummer and Benjamin Harrison was America’s 23rdPresident.
A wise man once told me not to pay for what you can get for free. He’s currently doing a stretch of 2 to 5 years at Rikers Island for passing bad checks, but his point was well taken. After my ticket for Saturday night’s Ghost, Opeth, Mastodon show at The Masquearde in balmy Atlanta, Georgia fell through, I was faced with two possible futures. One involved me jumping in my car, heading over to The Varsity and drowing my sorrows in 12 pimento cheese sandwiches and the other involved me standing out in the parking lot and craning my neck around some light poles to get a glimpse of Ghost, the current greatest band in the history of the universe. The choice was obvious.
By the time I got to a spot that allowed me to view 1/12th of the stage, they had already launched into a rip-roaring version of their Mercyful Fate tinged masterpiece “Elizabeth”. Apparently, I was not the only person leery of actually paying to see a concert. There were two 15-year-olds staring over the fence with expressions of cold, awe-struck horror. One of them had his “throwback” Bullet For My Valentine “Scream, Aim, Fire” shirt on and the other one looked like he was dressed for the eventual random onset of a golf match. They clearly were in the wrong place:
Metal Kid #1: Why is the singer of Mastodon wearing a Pope hat?
Metal Kid #2: I don’t think that’s Mastodon. That’s probably Opeth.
Me: No….that’s Ghost. Ever heard of them?
Both Kids at Once: No????
Me: They are completely crazy. Keep watching. You’ll see some terrible things.
Metal Kid #2: What do you mean?
Me: Well, first of all, you know where he got that hat from?
Metal Kid #1”: No.
Me: He stole it from the real Pope.
Metal Kid #1: No….No way! Is that true?!?!
Me: Oh yeah. These guys are pure evil. The drummer punched the Pope one time at an IKEA in Munich and the singer took the hat and ran. They mugged the Pope for Godsakes! They were supposed to play America a year ago but they were banned from the United States.
Metal Kid #2: Whoa! What for?
Me: They are into trafficking and selling animal organs. The singer got caught trying to sneak 150 sheep livers into his suitcase when they went through customs. It was a big international incident. That and the whole thing with the walrus got them into a bunch of trouble….
Metal Kid #1: (horrified) Walrus??? What happened with the walrus???
Me: Jesus, doesn’t anyone read the newspaper anymore!!!! They did a concert in Poland and at the end of the show they brought a walrus on stage and beat it to death with hammers. They cut it up and gave pieces to everyone in the audience. It was unbelievable. They put birthday candles in each of the pieces! People ate it completely raw and something like 46 people died of food poisoning. Horrible! That’s what got them on the FBI’s 12 Most Wanted List.
Metal Kid #2: Oh my god! Wow! These guys are awesome!
Metal Kid #1: Do you think they’ll kill a walrus tonight?
Me: God no! They found religion and recently became Jehovah’s Witnesses. They swore off all of that praising Satan and slaughtering animal stuff and now they go door to door preaching The Word. The guitarist, the one dressed like a Jawa from Star Wars, he sold me a copy of Watchtower magazine last month.
Metal Kid #1: Whoa!!!! That’s amazing!
I quickly tired of filling the minds of these kids with insidious poison and began to focus my attention onto the mellifluous tones of Ghost. The solo from Ritual was casacading to its nearly perfect peak when I became aware of a terrible presence only inches from my right arm. As the song ended, I turned and came face to face with The Hipster With the Glass Eye.
The fella was probably six foot three and 98 pounds soaking wet. Imagine your average beardo coffee shop barista decked out in his best Piggly Wiggly tee-shirt and you’ve basically got a mental image of the dude I was looking at. Except this person had a glass eye. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Did he have some terrible accident Vespa racing? Was this some kind of sadistic, post-ironic fashion statement? Did he pull the original eye out in frustration when he couldn’t find a copy of the new Band of Horses album? Do they sell glass eyes at Urban Outfitters now? This rare specimen of humanity had my interest for a full two minutes worth of conversation. Then, things got ugly.
Me: Nobody knows who Ghost is. They’ve only done two interviews. Both of them were in caves. The interviewers were blindfolded and driven hours away to a secure location. They did the interviews wearing hoods!
Hipster With The Glass Eye: So, no one knows who they are?
Me: No one!
Hipster With The Glass Eye: (excitedly) Wow, so they are kinda like Banksy??? That’s awesome!
I looked away and shook my head in horror. An uncomfortable, awkward silence fell over us both. He stood there waiting for a response that would never come. I decided that the night was officially over. I walked to my car filled with hopelessness and despair. At least the band was good.
As of midnight on May 4th, 2015, Georgia will become the first state to formally ban cute pictures of kittens from the popular website Facebook. The move comes in response to a deluge of pictures of kittens in sinks, kittens wearing Darth Vader masks and kittens doing activities typically done by human beings like water skiing or juggling. In a poll of Georgia voters, kittens on the internet ranked third behind the economy and the threat of poor people receiving adequate medical care as issues that threatened the future of America. Governor Nathan Deal said yesterday in a press conference that “kitten picture crime might well represent the greatest threat to an efficient and democratic society since baby ducks.”
According to a recent study, 2/3s of the traffic on Facebook is believed to be adorable pictures of kittens. Republican Representative David Wayne from Hiram, Georgia was fed up and introduced legislation last year to ban these offensive images. According to Wayne, kitten pictures cause people to become “distracted and less productive” around the office. Wayne estimates that kitten related work slacking costs the state over 1 billion dollars in revenues on a weekly basis as people waste hours of time giggling and showing their friends all the funny things that tiny cats can do.
While these pictures seem harmless to many people, many critics, including syndicated conservative talk show host Mike Howe, have speculated that pictures of baby cats could be a way for Al-Queda to communicate with sleeper terrorist cells throughout the country. “Some people think a kitten rolling around in a pile of string is hysterical,” said Howe during yesterday afternoon’s show, “they laugh and laugh and laugh. Ha. Ha. Ha. Meanwhile, instructions are being given to groups of terrorists to release biological weapons at Dairy Queens throughout America. I’ve seen the face of fear folks…and it has whiskers.”
Other politicians had more practical concerns. Representative Ronny Munroe from Valdosta, Georgia sees the current “kitten picture crisis” as an example of the erosion of American values. “Kittens are soft and weak. If you expose one to the extreme heat of a microwave oven or throw one into a bear cage, it will die within seconds. What happened to the rugged individual? Our nation was founded by men who would stay outside in a blinding snowstorm for three weeks without food or shelter while bleeding profusely from their eyes and scalp. They didn’t have pictures of kittens or government programs to keep them safe,” announced Munroe during his daily massage at the Eggmont Golf and Athletic Club.
The Kitten Crime and American Freedom Act is being hailed as a landmark piece of legislation that should help create jobs and imprison political deviants throughout the state. Similar pieces of legislation are being considered around the country. The new law stipulates that a first time offender could be forced to serve 12 months in prison and pay a twenty five thousand dollar fine. A second offense could lead to the criminal being forced to attend five regular season Atlanta Hawks games. Whatever effect the law has, it has become clear that posting pictures of kittens on Facebook is no longer a laughing matter.
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing on April 12, 2012
In Slayer’s song Blood Red, singer Tom Araya bellows forth a challenging and powerful lyric that cuts to the core of today’s debate between a managed, centralized economy and a free market system where the “invisible hand” balances the wants and needs of the consumer against the production capabilities of the market. When he shrieks “Honest validation of unfair cheese” at the 41 second mark of the song, it is clear that he is undercutting a basic free-market premise posited by thinkers the likes of Milton Friedman and Frederick Hayek. The words are enlightening and deeply meaningful, particularly for an electorate on the cusp of deciding what sort of financial decisions it plans to make as it marches forward into a new millennium.
In order to understand the meaning behind Araya’s lyric, it is first critical that we understand the meaning of “unfair cheese”. Nothing is more disappointing to a lover of cheese than when, upon returning from the supermarket, a shopper finds moldy, poorly preserved cheese in their bag. Who is supposed to ensure the consumer is safe from a flood of this “unfair cheese”? If the supermarket is left to its own devices, it might well sell all the out of date cheese it could possibly get away with. After all, as Buddy Holly said in his 1981 hit song “Who is watching the detectives?” In this case, maybe we need someone to even watch the people who are watching the detectives. Or, it is possible we may need to hire detectives to watch the detectives who are watching the detectives.
Back to the cheese thing. If it weren’t for the Better Food and Cheese Act of 1938, under the esteemed and underappreciated Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, humans would be consuming pounds upon pounds of rotting, vile cheese. The Act empowered the police to arrest and jail any store clerk found selling “unfair cheese” for a period no less than five years in prison. Higher quality cheeses began to appear. Productivity flourished. It was during this period that Gorgonzola cheese was first produced in a laboratory. It was originally meant to be used as a weapon against the Soviet Union, but later it became appreciated for its velvety texture and tangy flavor. In the preceding two hundred years, America’s cheese growers had not produced as much as a single new breed of cheese.
So, when Araya asks for “honest validation of unfair cheese”, he’s really questioning whether a purely free market can produce the quality goods needed in a modern economy. Sure, it’d be nice to believe that the market is such a perfect force that can correct itself and keep the desires of its members in line, but it’s this sort of utopian thinking that caused the Great Wall of China to fall in 1990.
We cannot simply rely on market forces to purify the market. Human nature tells us that humans, in a perfect state of nature, will do some really unnatural things. In short, only a neutral arbitrator with no stake in the outcome can possibly make decisions that protect the consumer.
Only when the positions of these regulators are depoliticized and not influenced by corporations or individuals with expensive cars will we truly see an “honest validation of unfair cheese”. Only then will children of all races and all creeds, of all nationalities and all socio-economic backgrounds, of all hair styles and all blood types be able to sit down at the table of friendship together and eat the same safe and healthy cheese. Only then will we truly be free.
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing on April 8, 2012
So there I was, participating in that most shameful American rituals, the Easter Egg Hunt. Swarms of children knocking each other over, screeching at the tops of their lungs in the desperate hopes of laying their greedy little mitts on as many plastic eggs as they possibly can. The whole exercise functions as a wonderful metaphor for American style consumer capitalism. A bunch of wild-eyed humans released upon an uneven field with the goal of filling their baskets with as much stuff as possible. Sure, everybody gets something, but those who are bigger, stronger, faster and, most importantly, start at the front of the line tend to get more. All the while, this being a function of one of the local mega-churches, crackpot religious explanations are given for nearly everything.
“You know who really put these eggs out here, son? Jesus Christ. See, he works through us. Remember that when you are eating those Skittles,” muttered a used car salesman looking church elder with game show host hair.
It was around that moment that I realized that if I didn’t put my headphones on immediately and listen to something angry I was going to tear my shirt off and run around howling like Lon Chaney. These were the exact conditions under which I came into contact with the new Cancer Bats album “Dead Set On Living”.
I should admit up front that this hardcore punk metal hybrid thing never really did much for me. Around the time Hatebreed and Converge were coming out I was busy trying to prove to the world that I was so metal that unless it came out in Europe, was from a band that had been around since Carter was President or had been approved by at least six members of the Central Committee that I couldn’t be bothered it. It is really a shame, because I missed some pretty intense music and probably would have been easier to be around had I been a tad more open-minded.
Listening to the driving groove of the opening track “R.A.T.S” while watching a husky five-year-old girl rip an egg out of the hands of some pigtailed three year old seemed particularly fitting. The whole scene was menacing. The tone of the album helped me imagine the children turning into brain-thirsty zombies. Somehow, instead of the eggs being filled with the sugar-laced, sunshine of God’s love, they were contaminated with some CIA tested drug that morphs children into predatory beasts.
The Cancer Bats singer Liam Cormier takes some getting used to. He’s of the high pitched death wail school, which usually makes me a bit edgy. It gets better as the album goes on, particularly because he offsets it from time to time with an almost David Lee Rothian snarl. The guitars are what really what grab you. They tend to create short, punchy, memorable riffs that carry you endlessly forward and flow from a nearly bottomless pit of energy. About three listens to this record are all you need to be thirsting for it every second of the day.
Meanwhile, the kids began to get this panicked look around the time they realized the eggs were nearly gone. Something like the expression they’ll have in twenty years when they are sitting in their car waiting to get gas for three hours. I cranked the music louder steeling myself for some sort of toddler riot. I knew I could handle a few of them, but if the whole group turned on me they’d tear me to ribbons. Finally, mercifully, the eggs had all been collected and the mob was redirected with little violence towards a sea of bouncy castles in the church parking lot.
The whole experience was perplexing for me. Here I was, surrounded by all that is supposedly good and right with the world. Except every bit of it felt dirty and degrading. The only thing that seemed remotely moral to me was the driving rhythm of the music in my headphones. I sunk into a moment of genuine despair as I realized that I might never be able to reconcile my values with those of my culture. Maybe I was an alien. Maybe I was simply wired wrong. Would I ever be able to understand how people could find joy in moments like this? Then, out of nowhere, my beautiful three-year-old daughter took my hand, looked at me and smiled. And everything was okay.