It’s that time again. My co-favourite holiday always rolls up by surprise, even though we can see it coming from a mile away. There’s something about the blazing hot summer that seems to drag on forever that lulls me into a sun-baked stupor by the time October hits, and it’s tough to shake until Halloween’s looming over us like Godzilla over Tokyo. I just paid my first visit to a seasonal Halloween shop and they’ve really upped their game. The stuff kids of all ages can buy for a few bucks is getting way cooler, I gotta admit. These pro FX-grade horror decorations and creature characters just weren’t available to buy on the street when I was a genre-crazed tyke in suburban Pittsburgh back in the last century. I’m okay with that, because that was our time and it certainly had its charms. I mean, before the internet and iCrap, we had mystery and the unknown. I wouldn’t trade that for my own walking, clawing, growling, fully animated and motorised six-foot zombie… or maybe I would, but back when we could only imagine such a toy, mine was gooier. Who’s the shitheaded boardroom dweller that decided no blood = not as implied violent? Christ, I hate the beancounters. Those goddamn eunuchs ruin everything they touch. If you’re one of the few brave souls to have actually waded through every instalment of this Horror of Babylon, you already know that, but I’ll say it again: I hate those fucking beancounters. That’s right, Mr. Practical Financial Management, you too. Scram, ya put our feet to sleep. But hey, that’s another column.
What’s in HOB’s sights today is video games and hard rock, with lots of other spices and herbs you may or may not recognise. Now, I don’t play the games. I checked out when I was still trying to grow peach fuzz around the time of firstwave Nintendo in the eighties, but you’d have to have serious blinders on to not see the advances there. I recently watched a little boy marking out as his dad bought him a copy of Halo 2 in a bookstore. Whether or not Pentagon-developed military training games like Halo or Call of Duty are appropriate in the long-term for six-year-old Ritalin kids is beside the point. Point was, the kid was geeked with joy. Dad was geeked the kid was geeked and everyone left happy. Now, I do listen to rock, among many other things, but you’d be hard-pressed to make me believe Mumford & Sons or Kings of Leon belong in any remotely similar category to early Motley Crue or Motorhead. Those are two different worlds right there and I lean toward the latter. Devil horns up, fuckers. And if you’re one of the unfortunate souls who think Miley Cyrus constitutes shock rock, I’ve got some GG Allin and Wendy O. for you to watch. Think punk rock meets the supermax. Turn off your TV and get out there, life’s wasting!
When I was a kid, you heard the occasional stories of people going off the rails and shooting themselves, their friends, families, bosses, co-workers, random passersby, etc. Hell, I was even in close proximity once, back in those heady eighties. Thankfully, I emerged unscathed, both physically and psychologically (insert joke at my expense here). The impetus, or inspiration, for those old school flashes of real-life violence always seemed to be music, or more specifically, rock ‘n’ roll. At least, that’s the narrative we were fed back then. The aggressive music’s to blame for all the death. It made it necessary for us Catholic school kids to hide our Hit Paraders deep. Those shilling scumbags, Al and Tipper Gore, rode that message into the ground and fooled a lot of people. Thankfully, we had Frank Zappa. But those were the days before every kid was a 3D first-person shooter for up to ten hours-a-day and loaded to the gills on practically mandatory big pharmacy psychotropics, just because they preferred playing to studying. Simpler times, indeed. Remember the Judas Priest suicides? Seems positively benign in comparison. Columbine was the real turning of the coin and even then, they tried like hell to pin it on Marilyn Manson, until evidence obviously dictated otherwise. These days, the water’s deeper and the stakes are higher. Who do you trust? What do you enjoy? When do you let your guard down? There’s still merit in living carefree and having fun, in being good to each other while we can. After all, you only live once and never know when your time’s up til it’s up. As for me, I can’t tell if I’m a kingpin or a pauper. How I like it. So turn it up, rockers. If today’s the last, make sure the speakers are cranking loud and the video games are just toys in the attic. Where they belong. Let’s live in real time, with a kick ass soundtrack driving us, not virtually, in computerised 3D. Ozzy hates that. And you don’t want to make Ozzy mad, boys and girls.
In parting, I have a Halloween gift – or curse – for you readers out there this year. If you enjoyed my novel Scarla two years ago, she’s bigger, badder and back for more this Tuesday, October 15, courtesy of Comet Press [Editor’s Note: the novel is called Maimstream]. The trade paperback also makes a delightful doorstop, if needed. Thanks in advance to those of you who take the ride. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to drop me a line either way.
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