The Walking Dead is Not a Zombie Masterpiece.

Seems like everyone I know has gone all wackadoodledoo over “The Walking Dead” television show.

I occasionally watch it, I admit. Enough to keep up with most of the major plot points I suppose, but I can’t say I understand the people that are super-fans of the show.

Yes, as a lifelong horror movie fan it’s interesting and a little weird to see a normally hyper-violent subgenre of horror somehow translate into a huge hit with mainstream audiences.

There is part of me that is uncomfortable with such mainstream popularity. I can admit to myself that part of that may be snobbery, but part of it is the fear that zombie fiction will get messed up if it continues to cater to mainstream tastes. The last thing I want to see happen is zombies to become modernized like vampires have. Between Anne Rice and role playing gothtard nerds, vampire are hardly monsters anymore. Instead they’ve become vinyl clad bisexual superheroes that hang out at underground dance clubs. Shudder.

Vampires got screwed even worse when certain individuals decided that they are actual real life vampires. No, you’re not. You’re either delusional or play acting. Let’s get that straight. While the idea of some losers deciding that they’re “real” zombies and shambling around trying to eat other people is sort of a fun thought, I don’t think that’ll happen.

It seems unlikely that the rotting walking dead could get that kind of shitastic romanticization, but who knows? Anything’s possible when too many people get interested in a certain style of fiction.

I’ve been watching zombie movies of one kind or another since the late 70′s, when as a young child I was lucky enough to catch “The Night of the Living Dead” on TV one Halloween. It was a game changing moment for me. I had been watching horror films from about the time I could talk, but that movie seemed a lot more “real” than anything I’d been allowed to watch previously. Most horror movies that I’d seen featured patently unrealistic monsters or were kind of silly. Nothing wrong with that, but George Romero’s take on the reanimated dead just seemed much more grim and somehow possible than most horror made prior to the late 1960′s. I was probably only 10 when I saw the film the first time, but I could tell there was a lot more going on in NOTLD than in most monster movies I’d seen.

That experience ignited my love of horror movies even further, and to a certain extent it made me try to seek out the “harder stuff” – the films that were more intense and modern in their approach to scaring people. Fortunately for me, I was a kid during an era when horror films were going through a golden age. The late 70′s saw a lot of amazing movies that had a nihilistic realism at their core. That continued into the early 80′s, which welcomed the slasher film into the mix. Some of those being decidedly bad, but a lot were pretty intense for the time, and still are.

Somewhere during that time I was fortunate enough to see the uncut version of “Dawn of the Dead.” I knew that it was the best zombie film ever made, and one of the best horror films ever made. It still is, by the way.

While George Romero made intelligent films that used a background of a zombie apocalypse to tackle serious social issues, a lot of imitators (especially the Italians) just took this new monster and churned out film after film. Some, like Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi 2,” managed to be extremely entertaining and transgressive, even if the subject matter was mostly used to show nudity and extreme violence. I can honestly say that I still haven’t seen much that rivals the underwater scene where a guy in zombie makeup fights a huge and very alive tiger shark. It’s amazing.

So what am I getting at in regards to “The Walking Dead”?

I guess part of my problem is that I hear a lot of super-fans acting as if the series is wholly original and the quality is top notch. They’ll reference that it’s based on these really good comics (I admit, I haven’t read them), and that’s supposed to impress me as being revolutionary for some reason. It’s not. They may be well written, but they’re far from the first comics about zombies. In the late 80′s there was “Deadworld” and even earlier zombie action in comic magazines like “Creepy” and “Eerie” in the 70′s.

When I step away from the irritating fan people that try so hard to convince me that “The Walking Dead” is amazing, I have watched enough of the series to have mixed feelings about it. It IS entertaining from time to time, although I would say that like a lot of episodic television the quality varies greatly from episode to episode. I get that, it’s not rare or necessarily a bad thing.

The acting is mostly good, or at least as good as television acting gets. I can’t say anything bad about the actors involved.

The special effects are top notch. The people at KNB Effects are the best in the business, and that shows.

My main gripes are that the plots I’ve seen explored feel pretty uninspired and unoriginal. I feel like I’ve seen these stories, or ones very much like them before.

So fans? Say what you will about the show being entertaining, but please don’t tell me it’s got an original bone in it’s ravenous and decaying body, because it just doesn’t.

Then there’s the weird way violence is handled. I know it’s aimed for a mainstream audience, but there’s a LOT of graphic violence. I’m cool with that. I like it, actually. But I find it kind of lame that in a series that’s gone multiple seasons and that has lots of people coupling up, sex and nudity is absent entirely, but they will show a person getting their skin torn off by dead people.

It’s not a matter of wanting to see these actors naked exactly, it just strikes me as a very American and stupid take on this subject. Almost every episode features a level of violence that would’ve resulted in an X rating a couple of decades earlier, but no one ever walks around without their incredibly grimy looking clothes. If I were one of these folks, the first thing I’d do upon stumbling into one of the safe houses they always seem to find, is to strip down and hop in a tub, preferably burning my disgusting clothes and finding some new ones.

Anyway, the comic book hyper-violence seems weirdly out of place in a show where characters can’t even say “fuck,” much less show one of the couples engaging in that activity. It makes me think that the producers of the show have no problem with the graphic violence, but still think American audiences will prudishly freak out if a set of naked breasts were to end up on film.

The only other thing I can think of is that they’re trying to market the show to people of all ages, which makes me wonder why anyone would let a kid see a violent zombie show. I mean, I watched that stuff as a kid, but it wasn’t sanctioned by any responsible adults around. It wasn’t shown on television and relentlessly marketed either.

Mostly, the problem I see in a long running zombie series that’s trying to be gritty and realistic is that we’re going to see the same basic plot setups over and over.

Our band of survivors will stumble across some shelter, then internal conflicts and scumbag outsiders will screw up the sanctuary and they’ll have to flee, probably being scattered in the process. Then they have adventures apart until they eventually find one another again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Occasionally some semi-beloved character will get killed, and that’s about the drama cycle that will be milked. In the context of a movie, this can work well. But seeing it played out over and over just doesn’t.

There’s also the problem with characters that make obviously stupid decisions. Trust “The Governor”? Sure, that seems reasonable. Go to some outpost called “Terminus”? Why not?

I’m surprised they haven’t milked “Dawn of the Dead” completely and just set up shop in a giant mall, although the boring prison season came close.

So that about covers my gripes. I support the idea of a hyper-violent TV show about the zombie apocalypse. I just don’t think “The Walking Dead” is the masterpiece that so many fans tell me it is.

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“Ghost Adventures” Goofy Frat Boys Hunt Spirits Without a Talking Dog.

I’ve watched many major cable channels make a turn away from real, documentary-style programming towards the supernatural and the weird over the last several years. The History Channel once was dominated by World War II and Vietnam documentaries, to the point that it was often referred to as “The Hitler Channel.” Now, it seems to be almost entirely broadcasting weird reality shows like “Pawn Stars,” “Ax Men,” “American Pickers,” and “Swamp People,” begging many questions – what do those shows have to do with history, and why do so many Americans seem enthralled by the shenanigans of often angry working class dudes with unconventional jobs? I work as a meat cutter, if I want to see some dumb ass screaming at another at work, that’s common enough. It’s not what I want to view in my off time.

Most of the other more serious channels are following that trend, too. They’re all turning their backs on the types of shows they once aired in favor of the more popular reality shows, which we all know are pretty much fake, so that’s really strange. If one of these cable channels does broadcast programs about real events like WWII, you can almost bet it’s going to be “The Secret Nazi UFO Connection” or a show about the supernatural. Why? Because that stuff is more interesting to the average boob tube viewer than history or reality. The real reality, not the scripted stuff.

And I understand the appeal. I’ve watched plenty of those shows over the years. I’m into weird stuff, I’ve studied the paranormal and the occult. I’m down with Bigfoot and the Mothman, those things are fun.

But there are a few shows that I really can’t stand, and the ones that irritate me the most are the currently popular ghost hunting series.

“Ghost Adventures” seems to be the most popular, but there are a couple more. They all seem to have essentially the same basic format. A group of ghost hunters go to a reportedly haunted locale and proceed to do “tests” that prove otherworldly beings are present. On “Ghost Adventures,” this is also accomplished by the ridiculously-dressed leader Zac Bagans, who runs around like a drunk frat boy yelling and trying to goad restless spirits into proving they’re present.

Who knew that the only things a person needed to do to stir the departed into action was an Affliction t-shirt, a bad hair cut, and some gauges to measure electrical activity?

Oh yes, about that scientific approach they use (before all of the yelling starts). Since the vast majority of hauntings these clowns investigate are inside occupied buildings of one kind of another, it would seem that finding areas with electrical activity would be pretty common almost everywhere. Same thing about temperature fluctuations. Besides, at what point did people prove that any of that stuff indicates the presence of ghosts? It’s like a bunch of folks collectively decided to believe that we can measure paranormal activity with devices that were never intended for that purpose.

They also use sound recordings to capture the voices of spirits, although in nearly every example I’ve heard, it all sounds like total crap amid a sea of static.

As for all of the running around and loud taunting of spirits that occurs in every episode of a Ghost Adventures – what the fuck, guys? I’d like to believe that ghosts really do exist, and maybe they DO. I don’t know.

I do know that if I was a ghost and had any power in the material world at all, I’d love to snatch Zac Bagans and feed him to Satan’s demonic hoards, just because screaming dorks wearing bad fashions and over-gelled hairdos irritate me. Sadly, I have my doubts that the afterlife works in such ways.

Occasionally, these groups of ghost-annoyers bring along a psychic or two, who almost always proceed to cold read people that have witnessed ghost activity at the site. Again, maybe there are real psychics out there, but these cable spirit-hunters definitely seem to have a flair for the dramatic that borders on acting. Another show (whose name escapes me) consists of a group of college-aged kids, and they generally have an “occult expert” among their dopey ranks. This expert seems to dish out pseudo-Wiccan expertise and uses such brilliant techniques as using the cross to scare off malevolent spirits. Mind blowing.

In any case, I get the appeal of these shows. The production costs involved with following around a few overly dramatic clowns while they psych each other out and run around screaming in the dark HAVE to be about as low as they get, and people love these dumb shows.

And that’s fine, I think lots of silly stuff can be fun to watch from time to time. I just wonder how many viewers actually believe the stuff they’re watching is real. It’s appealing to see “proof” that ghosts are real, because that would verify that death is not the end, and that’s a very appealing idea for most people.

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Remaining Childless Does Not Mean A Person is “Selfish”

With adults of a certain age range, a cold war is going on, and there are two definite camps:

Those that have kids and can’t imagine why others wouldn’t want them, and people that don’t want children and don’t understand why other people do.

Now, the vast majority of people are not at either of those extremes. Like a lot of lifestyle issues, they just don’t care what other people choose to do. Most parents I’ve known don’t care if their friends have kids or not, and the same thing applies the other way around.

The are lots of things that both of the extremes say and do that are pretty shitty. I’m not going to call someone a breeder for having or wanting a kid, but I really don’t understand parents that think the childless are somehow morally deficient or “selfish.” Sure, there ARE some people without kids that claim they are too selfish to have them, but that’s not something that can be applied across the board.

To those reading this that have kids, I ask that you understand that I’m not bashing people with children. I like kids myself, although I’ve never had any great desire to have one of my own.

I’m merely countering the oft-cited criticism which tells us that childless people must be more selfish than those with kids.

First of all, what would be the basis of this perception, besides the occasional individual that claims selfishness as their main reason for not wanting kids.?I don’t recall electing those folks as spokespeople for the rest of us.

It seems to be a sad condition of human nature that humans tend to bond closely with those most like themselves, and often lack the open mindedness and empathy needed to at least get along with people that don’t share the same lifestyle choices.

It’s relatively common to find parents, especially new parents, who suddenly expect that the world should change to be safer for their kids. This is understandable, as the world can be a scary and dangerous place, but it’s off-putting when people that you know, who were going clubbing and partying a few years earlier, suddenly look at their old friends as being irresponsible for doing the same stuff they once did.

So what happened? They had children, and that’s scary. They started to see their former lifestyle as potentially dangerous to the well being of their offspring, and the primal drive to protect their kids has made enemies out of former friends.

And of course, a lot of the time those former friends resent losing their party buddies to parenthood. After a point those friendships might even be abandoned, as all parties gravitate to other individuals living lives more similar to theirs.

In any case, not having children and not wanting to have them is not some inferior moral choice. Nor is it automatically selfish, anymore than the desire to have children is automatically selfless and beneficial to society.

I would argue that having children can be seen as a more selfish act for a variety of reasons, but primarily because the people that benefit the most from having kids seem to be the parents that have them. I guess most parents hope that their kids will grow up to be super geniuses that will in some way better the world, but that’s no more likely an outcome than their offspring damaging the world.

I’m using extremes to make a point, but every murderer in history started out as someone’s kid, and while most people’s children won’t grow up to be monsters, there’s always that possibility. It’s probably as likely as them growing up to be the next Albert Einstein.

So who is likely to REALLY benefit from someone’s choice to have children? It seems that in most cases it’s the parents themselves that eventually benefit the most. Having kids offers them the possibility of a survival network should that kid and his parents live long enough for the aging parents to need care.

I’ve even had parents argue to me that I need to have kids for that very reason. So who really benefits from another person’s choice to have children?

In any case, I’m not arguing that there is something wrong with wanting to have children. It’s a hard wired human need for most people, I just object to the idea that by choosing NOT to have kids, I have revealed myself to be selfish in some way.

Can people see the level of my generosity based on whether or not I produce offspring?

What about the huge numbers of bad parents out there? The ones that treat their kids negligently or abuse them? I’ve heard a lot of people try to claim moral superiority over the years by claiming that they’re good parents, but to paraphrase an old Chris Rock joke, “you’re supposed to.” People shouldn’t get credit for doing what they’re supposed to do. The only thing that proves is that they’re better than the bad parents out there.

You don’t get brownie points for doing the right thing when you’ve initiated the conditions that make doing that thing necessary. If I take in a stray cat, nurse it back to health, and then beat it viciously, does that make me a good person? It would’ve been better for me not to adopt that cat at all, would it not? When you decide to create a little human, you better be up for the job. Maybe once he or she grows up, then you can sit back and get some form of credit, but until then, the parent is expected to do the right thing.

The is undoubtedly a lot of pressure put on people with kids that childless people don’t deal with. That doesn’t make parents eligible for sainthood, nor does it mean that by rejecting the choice to have children that childless adults are somehow morally inferior, selfish, or homogeneous in their reasons for making the choice they did.

In the end, I’m happy for my friends with kids, and in most cases I like their children. When a friend is excited about impending parenthood, I’m really happy for them too. In almost every case I can think of, the people I know who have had kids have felt that their lives were greatly enriched by becoming parents, and I’m happy for them.

I just get sick of being told that people like myself must be more selfish, or that we don’t know what we’re missing, or any number of other lame things that a few parents have told me over the years. I’m a fairly intelligent human being. I think I can at least get an idea of what it must be like to have a kid, to be a parent. My life is far from empty, and I don’t regret my choice a single day. We’re not all wired the same way. That doesn’t necessarily make one choice superior to the other.

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That Song Is Gay! Homosexual Rock Stars And Songs That Slipped By Without Much Notice.

It’s pretty obvious that gay people are everywhere, and I
truly feel sorry for the straight folks that are still
seriously icked out by what other consenting adults choose
to do with their genitals. While I feel sorry for those
heterosexuals that harbor bad feelings towards gays, I don’t
feel inclined to tolerate their intolerance.

There is a strange disconnect that many straight people who
aren’t particularly supportive of gay rights seem to have in
regards to certain entertainers, and this goes way back. How
else do we explain the popularity of guys like Liberace or
Paul Lynde among straight audiences, from the 50′s onward?

Did straight people just think “Huh, those guys are
flamboyant…they’re entertainers!”, and accept the obvious
gayness of those entertainers and others like them without
making the obvious conclusion that yes, Liberace probably
fucked men on glittery sequined sheets when no one was
looking.

It just seems weird that during time periods where being a
gay person might quite literally get you killed in certain
places, our grandparents were happily watching old
queens like Paul Lynde or Charles Nelson Reilly ham it up on
The Hollywood Squares.

And that mental disconnect seems to have extended to rock
and pop musicians too, which is strange to me when you
account for the sometimes homophobic nature of many rock
fans. I still remember being in a junior high when Culture
Club hit the scene, and having everyone from the school’s
jock lunkheads population to a few of the teachers express
shock at how a “faggot like Boy George could be popular.”
That’s an actual quote from a teacher I had back then, by
the way.

So, in no particular order, here are a few of the pretty
obviously gay music stars and the songs about gay sex that
somehow were embraced by straight audiences without much
comment.

Queen – “Don’t Stop Me Now”

As strange as it seems in retrospect, Queen seems to have
had it both ways. They definitely cultivated an image that
toyed with gay themes early on, but they were also embraced
by mainstream rock fans, a lot of which were guys that
probably weren’t particularly nice to gay people. It also
seems ludicrous, but no one seemed to really make the
connection that Freddie Mercury was gay until pretty late in
the band’s career.

In actuality, he seems to have been bisexual. Mercury had a long
term girlfriend, despite apparently living more fully as a
gay man as time went on. He was pretty secretive with his
personal life, and a lot of folks just seemed to miss the
obvious.

Anyway, the lyrics to this song seem to reference sex with
men and women. Something pretty kinky is definitely going on
here:

“Tonight I’m gonna have myself a real good time
I feel ali-i-i-ive and the world it’s turning inside out
Yeah
I’m floatin’ around in ecstasy so,
Don’t stop me now,
Don’t stop me
Cuz I’m havin’ a good time, havin’ a good time

I’m a shooting star leaping through the skies
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I’m a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I’m gonna go go go
There’s no stopping me

I’m burnin’ through the skies yeah
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I’m trav’ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you
Don’t stop me now
I’m havin’ such a good time, I’m havin’ a ball
Don’t stop me now
If you wanna have a good time, just gimme a call
Don’t stop me now, cuz I’m havin’ a good time
Don’t stop me now, yes I’m havin’ a good time I don’t wanna
stop at all
Yeah

I’m a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite I’m out of control
I am a sex machine ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to
Oh oh oh oh oh explode!

I’m burning through the sky Yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I’m trav’ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

Don’t stop me
Don’t stop me
Don’t stop me
(Hey hey hey)
Don’t stop me
Don’t stop me
Ooh ooh ooh
(I like it)
Don’t stop me
Don’t stop me
(Havin’ good time, good time)
Don’t stop me don’t stop me
Woooooooh (alright)

***guitar solo***

Ooh I’m burning through the sky yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I’m trav’ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don’t stop me now
I’m havin’ such a good time
I’m havin’ a ball
Don’t stop me now
If you wanna have a good time (alright) just gimme a call
Don’t stop me now (havin’ a good time)
Don’t stop me now (yes)
Havin’ such a good time, I don’t wanna stop at all!
La da da da da daa, la da dada la dada da da da,
La dada da da da da da………”

All that “I’m a sex machine ready to reload” and “I wanna
make a supersonic man out of you.” Yeah, I’m going to make a leap and
assume that’s about sex with guys.

2. Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side

A great song, and one that got, and still gets, a fair
amount of radio airplay. Probably the one legitimate big
hit Lou Reed had with mainstream rock audiences. And the
lyrics are all about the gays that Lou knew from Andy
Warhol’s Factory scene. Besides the obvious “Shaved her legs
and then he was a she” tell, there’s that whole section
about Candy Darling and Joe Dallesandro:

“Holly came from Miami F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side,
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.

Candy came from out on the island,
In the backroom she was everybody’s darling,
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She says, hey baby, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls go,

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Little Joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City is the place where they said:
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side

Sugar Plum Fairy came and hit the streets
Lookin’ for soul food and a place to eat
Went to the Apollo
You should have seen him go, go, go
They said, hey Sugar, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side, alright,
huh

Jackie is just speeding away
Thought she was James Dean for a day
Then I guess she had to crash
Valium would have helped that bash
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls say

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo”

3. Pete Townshend – “Rough Boys”

Pete Townshend has left a few hints that he enjoys the touch
of another man, but the lyrics to this song make that pretty
clear.

“Tough boys running the streets
Come a little closer rough toys
Under the sheets nobody knows her

Rough boys don’t walk away
I very nearly missed you
Tough boys come over here
I wanna bite and kiss you

I wanna see what I can find
Tough kids take a bottle of wine
When your deal is broken
Ten quid she’s so easy to find
Not a word is spoken

Rough boys don’t walk away
I’m still pretty blissed here
Tough boy I’m gonna carry you home
You got pretty pissed dear

Gonna get inside you
Gonna get inside your bitter mind

Rough boys don’t walk away
I wanna buy you leather
Make noise try and talk me away
We can’t be seen together

Tough kids what can I do?
I’m so pale and weedy
Rough fits in my hush puppy shoes
But I’m still pleading

Tough boys running the streets
Come a little closer
Rough toys under the sheets
Nobody knows her

Rough boys don’t walk away
I very nearly missed you
Tough boys come over here
I wanna bite and kiss you
I wanna see what I can find”

Yeah, there are a couple of mentions of a “her,” but
everything else sounds like an anthem to fabulous gay
leather sex to me. I just wonder how this song was
originally accepted by The Who’s male fans.

4. Mott The Hoople – “All The Young Dudes”

The song was written in the early 70′s by David Bowie who
was busy pissing off homophobes with his Ziggy Stardust
persona, so maybe it’s not surprising that this classic rock
radio staple has gay references in it. It’s a great song,
but again I wonder if rock fans back then just mentally
scanned over the line about “Lucy, (a “He”)dressing like a
queen.”

“Well Billy rapped all night about his suicide
How he kick it in the head when he was twenty-five
Speed jive don’t want to stay alive
When you’re twenty-five
And Wendy’s stealing clothes from marks and sparks
And Freddy’s got spots from ripping off the stars from his
face
Funky little boat race
Television man is crazy saying we’re juvenile deliquent
wrecks
Oh man I need TV when I got T-Rex
Oh brother you guessed
I’m a dude dad
All the young dudes (hey dudes)
Carry the news (where are ya)
Boogaloo dudes (stand up come on)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (I want to hear you)
Carry the news (I want to see you)
Boogaloo dudes (and I want to talk to you all of you)
Carry the news

Now Lucy looks sweet cause he dresses like a queen
But he can kick like a mule it’s a real mean team
But we can love oh yes we can love
And my brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his
Stones
We never got it off on that revolution stuff
What a drag too many snags
Now I’ve drunk a lot of wine and I’m feeling fine
Got to race some cat to bed
Oh is there concrete all around
Or is it in my head
Yeah
I’m a dude dad
All the young dudes (hey dudes)
Carry the news (where are ya)
Boogaloo dudes (stand up)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (I want to hear ya)
Carry the news (I want to see you)
Boogaloo dudes (and I want to relate to you)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (what dudes)

Carry the news (let’s hear the news come on)
Boogaloo dudes (I want to kick you)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (hey you there with the glasses)
Carry the news (I want you)
Boogaloo dudes (I want you at the front)
Carry the news (now you all his friends)
All the young dudes (now you bring him down cause I want
him)
Carry the news
Boogaloo dudes (I want him right here bring him come on)
Carry the news (bring him here you go)
All the young dudes (I’ve wanted to do this for years)
Carry the news (there you go)
Boogaloo dudes (how do you feel)
Carry the news”

5. Judas Priest – Take your pick, really

Ok, Judas Priest is a favorite band of mine, and has been
for at least thirty years. I discovered them in their
heyday when I was a young teen in the early 80′s. I’ve been
around the metal scene for that long, and while it seems so
obvious now, metal fans didn’t seem to realize that Rob
Halford was very clearly a gay man. I almost feel like he
was being playful and seeing how far he could take his
leather daddy image without the band’s fans figuring it all
out. And that’s without the obvious lyrical content of many
of their songs. Let’s see…we have:

“Eat Me Alive”

Wrapped tight around me
Like a second flesh hot skin
Cling to my body
As the ecstasy begins
Your wild vibrations
Got me shooting from the hip
Crazed and insatiable let rip
Eat me alive
Sounds like an animal
Panting to the beat
Groan in the pleasure zone
Gasping from the heat
Gut-wrenching frenzy
That deranges every joint
I’m gonna force you at gun point
To eat me alive
Bound to deliver as
You give and I collect
Squealing impassioned as
The rod of steel injects
Lunge to the maximum
Spread-eagled to the wall
You’re well equipped to take it all
So eat me alive”

Ok, so I “guess” this could be some S&M tune involving
heterosexuals, but I’m going to take a wild guess that it’s
about guys getting it on based on everything else I know
about Rob Halford.

The song kicks ass by the way.

Then there’s

“Hot Rockin’”

“I’ve done my share of workin’ out
I wanna go some place where I can scream and shout
Show me the lights, where I can find
The only thing I need to give me peace of mind

I wanna go
I wanna go
I wanna go
Hot rockin’

I wanna go
I wanna go
I wanna go
Hot rockin’

Where is the spark that kicks the air?
Where is the energy that charges everywhere?
I see the crowd, I hear the roar
I feel my body start to leave the ground and soar

I wanna go
I wanna go
I wanna go
Hot rockin’

I wanna go
I wanna go
I wanna go
Hot rockin’

I’m goin’ out in search of the bright lights
Somehow I feel that tonight is the right night
I’m almost there I’ve got the vibration
It’s coming strong from this generation

My blood is hot, from now on I’m set free
My pulse is hot, so don’t try to stop me
‘Cause this is it and I’m hot rockin’

Don’t let it stop, don’t let it end
Please let it carry on and on and on again
I get so high knocked off my feet yeah
This is the only way I want, I want, I want, I want

I wanna go
I wanna go
I wanna go
Hot rockin’

I wanna go
I wanna go
I wanna go
Hot rockin’

It’s all I want
It’s all I crave
I just want to go
Hot rockin’”

To be fair, there’s nothing particularly “gay” about the
lyrics to this song…until you see the video that goes
with it. Then you get footage of the band working out,
lifting weights shirtless, then hanging out in a sauna
together, before moving into footage of them playing on
stage where they are “flaming”. Literally, stuff is on
fire.

And it’s another great song.

Then one of their biggest hits.

“Living After Midnight”

“Livin’ after midnight, rockin’ to the dawn
Lovin’ till the mornin’, then I’m gone, I’m gone

I took the city ’bout one a.m.
Loaded, loaded
I’m all geared up to score again
Loaded, loaded

I come alive in the neon light
That’s when I make my moves right

Livin’ after midnight, rockin’ to the dawn
Lovin’ till the mornin’, then I’m gone, I’m gone

Got gleaming chrome, reflecting steel
Loaded, loaded
Ready to take on every deal
Loaded, loaded

My pulse is racing, I’m hot to take
But this motor’s revved up, fit to break

Livin’ after midnight, rockin’ to the dawn
Lovin’ till the mornin’, then I’m gone, I’m gone

I’m aiming for ya
I’m gonna floor ya
My body’s comin’
All night long

The air’s electric, sparkin’ power
Loaded, loaded
I’m getting hotter by the hour
Loaded, loaded

I set my sights and then home in
The joint starts flying when I begin

Livin’ after midnight, rockin’ to the dawn
Lovin’ till the mornin’, then I’m gone, I’m gone

Livin’ after midnight, rockin’ to the dawn
Lovin’ till the mornin’, then I’m gone, I’m gone
Livin’ after midnight, rockin’ to the dawn”

Sure a lot of talk about being “loaded”, and…it just
sounds like it’s about gay leather sex.

I’ll take a moment to step on a small soap box in regards to
Judas Priest. Heavy metal fans are often accused of being
degenerate scumbags, and being so macho and intolerant that
gays are mistreated within the subculture. While there are
certainly homophobic metal fans out there, I’ve found that
by and large the fans don’t care, and in the case of high
profile gays like Rob Halford, they are incredibly
supportive.

Anyone that could like heavy metal and disrespect or
mistreat a guy like Rob Halford is scum with no sense of
what that man has done for this form of music. Metal simply
would not have been the same without him, and his
contributions to metal music and culture cannot be
diminished.

Fortunately, most metal heads seem to “get” that.

For my final example, I’ll move on to one of rock and roll’s
original stars.

6. Little Richard – Tutti Frutti

Yep,it’s pretty obvious to modern folks that Little Richard
is some sort of gay or bisexual alien, and that his
contribution to early Rock and Roll can’t be trivialized.
His banshee howls are such a part of the music that maybe
only Chuck Berry really offered any competition way back
then.

I don’t know if mainstream audiences back in the 1950′s knew
Little Richard was gay, but I’m guessing not. More likely
the squares just thought he was another dangerous and crazy
Rock and Roll-playing black man that was going to corrupt
young white kids, and I bet the kids just ate the music up
without really noticing or caring that Little Richard dug
dudes.

But the lyrics to “Tutti Frutti” made his homosexuality as
clear as glass, since some of the original lyrics, the
ones he’d been using while performing in what passed for gay
clubs way back then, included these:

“A wop bop a loo mop, a good goddamn!
Tutti frutti, loose booty
If it don’t fit, don’t force it
You can grease it, make it easy.”

So that line got changed when he recorded the song, although
the teens that were the major audience for early rock and
roll might have benefitted from the original version. I can
see lots of scary conversations after the sock hop:

“Golly gee Peggy Sue, you can still technically say you’re a
virgin if we just stick to anal. Little Richard
approves!”

How Little Richard survived in the South as a black gay man
in the 1950′s I’ll never know, but I’m glad he did. I assume that,
like the other musicians on this list, he benefitted from a
form of mass delusion, where normally intolerant people just
somehow collectively decided that the rock stars they loved
couldn’t possibly be gay or be singing about getting it on
with other dudes, because…they just couldn’t be.

So it’s been going on since the very beginning. The next
time you hear some Neanderthal rock fan call gay people
something nasty, remind him or her that the very music they
love the most has been shaped by gays since its invention.

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Nope. Not gay at all.

 

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I’m sensing a trend…

 

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Obviously gay in the 1950′s South. If that’s not a rock and roll rebel, nothing is.

 

Your House is The Town Asshole – The Trouble With Giant Houses in Old Neighborhoods

Before I begin this entry, I’m going
to come clean – I generally hate the giant modern homes that
so many people seem to love. “McMansions” generally make me
think the person buying or living in them are spoiled people
with more money than taste.

That’s not to say that I think a big house is automatically
indicative of some sort of creepy need to impress other
people, or because the people living there are greedy, although I
admit that those thoughts do cross my mind. I try not to
judge people I don’t know, so I generally try to avoid those
conclusions, but it’s hard sometimes.

Whatever my own feelings on the growing trend towards bigger
and bigger homes in this country, there’s no debate that new
houses are indeed getting much bigger over time.

I knew this intuitively, because I witnessed it happening as
I grew up. In the 70′s and 80′s a 2,000 square foot house
was considered large, and certainly large enough for a
family to comfortably live in. The only people I knew that
lived in bigger homes were a handful of folks that were
genuinely wealthy, and even in those cases, their homes were
usually smaller than the enormous new homes that many people
seem to prefer now.

These observations are not unique to my experience, it has
been studied in depth. A recent USA Today article makes note
of the fact that:

“At 2,306 square feet, the typical new home is about 50%
larger than its 1973 counterpart while the typical family is
10% smaller and the typical household 15% smaller.”

So, families are getting smaller, while house sizes are skyrocketing. A person born in the early 80′s to an upper
middle class family might not even realize that a house over
2,500 square feet was once considered very large, and
still IS a lot of space. As individuals we tend to believe
that what we grew up with is the norm, but that’s not always
the case. Many postwar homes built in the 1950′s and 1960′s
are less than 1,500 square feet, some a lot less. I myself
spent over fifteen years living in a two bedroom home in
Central Houston that was less than 700 square feet. With
roommates and significant others.

Somehow, I survived.

So it’s not that families CAN’T live happily in less
space, it’s that over time more people have become self-indulgent to the point that anything less than a 3,500
square foot McMansion with a media room and a “Great Room”
is somehow roughing it.

Now to me, I don’t have a problem with desiring more space.
It strikes me as a human need. We don’t do particularly
well crammed into really tight spaces, especially with
other people. But many of the newer home features that
people seem to want were once only in the homes of the
extremely wealthy. The cathedral ceilings and granite
countertops that new home buyers are attracted to these
days were rarities until relatively recently. Like most
trends, they will eventually fall out of favor too. But my
own taste aside, it’s not a desire for space or pretentious
sounding rooms (looking at you again, “Great Room”).

It’s the redevelopment of older neighborhoods.

OK, there’s a difference in slow gentrification of obviously
shitty neighborhoods. If you live in a area where it’s
easier to score a crack rock than it is to walk your dog,
then maybe gentrification is a good thing.

When it’s the case of a neighborhood where the main
cultural event is weekly cockfights, then there’s nothing
worse than seeing carpet bagger, scumbag developers start
to circle like buzzards. And if the neighborhood begins to
quickly become popular with upscale younger people, the old
residents are essentially fucked.

I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with quite a few developers in the process of redeveloping an area of older homes, and they have almost all been lying scum.

One recent specimen kept saying the mantra “I build good homes” sounding a lot like a man that beats his wife and kids but says he’s a good dad.

This particular developer was lying directly to my face and tried to build in a lot next to me without having permits approved yet. Real gem of. Human there.

This new breed of developer sees nothing but a quick buck, and they’ll do whatever they have to to get it. They have no concern for the neighborhoods they’re building in, they see their projects purely as a way to gather wealth for themselves.

Sadly, my hometown of Houston is a prime example of this at
its worst. Since the city doesn’t have zoning, and very few
neighborhood protection regulations, developers there
have been systematically reinventing the neighborhoods
closest to downtown for the last couple of decades.

Neighborhoods that were once working and middle class places
with small to medium sized homes with nice big yards, are
almost completely covered with hideous cookie cutter
“luxury” town homes and McMansions built ten feet from one
another, and covering the entire lot.

But hey! They have cathedral ceilings, great rooms, and a
“media center”! What more could some pathetic urban dweller
want or need? They certainly won’t need a yard, since most
of them never spend any appreciable time outside anyway.
It’s a waste of space to them, they could have a bigger
bathroom!

The problem is that this kind of redevelopment kills the
original personality of the neighborhood, and often that was
what attracted the first wave or two of yuppies to begin
with.

On another related note, I find the attitudes of some people
who seem to feel entitled to the giant house to be puzzling.
A lot of the ones I’ve known have been tireless champions of
the poor and oppressed. Do they not see the hypocrisy in
wanting to live in an enormous luxury home that may have
displaced long time residents of lesser financial means? How
do they reconcile their pursuit of lowering their carbon
footprint when they also play into a trend that’s decreasing
any green space a neighborhood might have once had in
exchange for almost total concrete coverage?

There’s a disconnect there. Or a lack of self awareness. I’m
not sure which.

If a person has the means to buy a 10,000 square foot house
that’s not destroying the character of an older
neighborhood, or negatively affecting the environment, then
go for it. Build that sucker on two or three acres somewhere
and enjoy. But if you buy a house that’s over 3,000 square
feet big in a neighborhood where most of the other homes are
older ones that are a little more than a third of that size?
Then your house is the equivalent of a pushy asshole that
will get what he wants by any means he can.

Do you want to live in the house equivalent of the town
bully? I wouldn’t.

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That certainly looks good. Doesn’t look out of place at all…

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Must be nice to look next door and see…. That Abomination… I mean… Large house next door.

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The Kids Aren’t Alright – Why Older Generations Hate Modern Music.

Over the last few years I’ve spent a significant amount of time on online guitar forums. I play guitar, have been in bands, and it’s something I enjoy talking about. I’ve made a few good friends on those forums, but I’ve also become sadly aware of a mindset that’s incredibly common among musicians.

The attitude that any music outside of what they personally enjoy sucks.

There is often a generational dynamic at work here. It’s sad, but a lot of people, particularly older ones, seem to think that music is at some all-time low as far as quality goes. That music just sucks now, and that the kids (it always seems to be the assumption that young people have caused this) have terrible taste these days, and have in some way caused a degenerative effect on music.

I have a few things to say about this. I’m currently in my early 40′s, and am a member of “Generation X”. I distinctly remember growing up and coming of age under the shadow of my parents’ generation. Many of the Baby Boomers I grew up around seemed to possess the attitude that they had experienced the best period for youth culture and music to ever come along, and that nothing else would ever happen to rival it.

I’m not saying that every person over the age of 35 was a boorish asshole when I was a teen, but I certainly did hear a LOT of criticism over the music that was popular with people my age, and was told that in some cases it was worthless or even “dangerous.” It’s an interesting thing to be lectured on the morals presented in modern (at the time) rock music by people that had lived through a youth culture that seemed centered on sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Now, I’m not here to take potshots at Baby Boomers specifically, or at the music and youth culture of the 1960′s and early 1970′s. It’s pretty clear that the time period WAS a high point for rock and roll, but I think some of these older folks forget that what they’re really celebrating is their own youth. Something long gone now, that is just a song away in their memory.

That’s what music does, one of its functions. It’s a way to reconnect to one’s past. So of a person was 17 in 1972 or so, it makes perfect sense that to them, that era is the “best music ever made.” For them, that’s the case.

The music that we listen to when we are young will always be precious to us. If, the first time you got laid, a song by “Moby Grape” happened to be on the radio, you’ll always have a soft spot in your heart for “The Grape,” but try to explain the appeal to a teenager today. Good luck with that. Of course there are a handful of bands that are just generally accepted as being “classic,” and will often appeal to young people today as much as they did 40 years ago, but those are the exceptions. There has always been a lot of shitty music being made, and the ratio of throwaway garbage to gold hasn’t changed that much.

Back to MY youth. When I was coming of age in the 1980′s, adults often dismissed the music my generation listened to as garbage.

In my case, I basically turned my back on mainstream music and gravitated towards underground music of various types. I am thankful for that, because it opened my eyes to a world of possibility that I might not have known existed had I continued to listen to the music my parents grew up on.

But the music that me and my friends listened to was as precious to us as the music my parent’s generation had embraced in their youth. Most people will always think that the music they loved between the ages of 15 and 25 is the best ever made.

And young people NEED their own identity, and music of rebellion. Those needs aren’t going to be filled by listening to the same rock bands their grandparents listened to. How could they be?

So now I come to a sad realization about some people my own age. We DID live through another true golden age for rock music, perhaps the last generation to really grow up to a soundtrack consisting largely of music that could be accurately called “rock.”

And while rock music probably will never truly die, it doesn’t own the market share for today’s youth that it held for the previous several decades. How could it? There’s nothing awesome about jamming to the same songs your grandpa and grandma had sex to. Young people today want their own experiences and that requires a soundtrack of their own too. So popular music will continue to warp and mutate as time goes on. Sure, there will be a few bands that try to ape the sounds and look of the past, and that’s cool. But it’s a put on.

So when anyone over the age of 35 is lamenting the state of “music today,” remember that what they’re really belly-aching over is their own aging process. There has always been great music, and likely always will be. Just because a format one person specifically likes is not as popular on the radio as it once was does not mean that it has disappeared or been destroyed by “rap” (a commonly criticized form of music that seems to particularly anger old fogies), it means that you might just have to look for it a little bit harder.

In fact, I would say that today great music is more common and varied than ever. There’s just not one genre that dominates the airwaves. That’s a good thing really.

It disturbs me when I see people my age criticize the music of today’s young people. Does a lot of it suck? Yes, absolutely. But that’s always been the case. And always will be.

Remember what it was like to have old people call the music you and your friends listened to “garbage”? Don’t be that old person today.

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This “might” be Led Zeppelin. There were really cool.

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But there’s still a lot of cool music being made. Also, nice neck wear.

The one good thing is that being told their music and experiences are worthless will inspire a small number of those young people to pick up instruments and make some noise. Some of it may even be great some day. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Let’s Talk About “Cunt” – In Defense Of A Troubled Word

It’s funny, but I think that there has been an acceptance of vulgar language in our society. People routinely drop words like “bitch” or “asshole” as if those words are no big deal. Even fuck” and “motherfucker” are common enough to have lost a lot of the impact they might once have had.

But there is one word that still seems to elicit shock when it is uttered.

CUNT.

For reasons I do not understand, the C-word is apparently one of the last profanities that still freaks people out. It’s the verbal equivalent of an atom bomb, and can silence a room when it is used to refer to a women.

I’m a man, so some will question my right to assess the hurtfulness of a word, but I’ve given this a lot of consideration simply because it seems that the outrage over being called a cunt often exceeds that of other similar profanities. It’s as if people just decided that it’s somehow worse than other vulgar words.

There is understandable anger over the use of vulgar words for female genitalia. Sexism is alive and well in our culture, and women have been and still are oppressed because of their gender. I can understand the anger that many women have when they hear a word like “pussy” used to indicate a state of weakness.

But there’s a difference with the word “cunt.” When a woman is called a cunt, it usually seems to be because she is powerful.

The following is from a very good article on this subject from the website Jezebel by Katie J.M. Baker:

“As Laurie Penny argues, “there are no other truly empowering words for the female genitalia” besides the c-word. “Cunt” isn’t scientific, it’s erotic. “Cunt” doesn’t refer to a baby cat or a treasure chest. It conveys purposeful sexual power, not submission. It’s mature. Women get called cunts when they reject sexual advances and assert themselves in the workplace; in other words, when they don’t play nice.

People who use ethnic or racial slurs propagate long-held systems of oppression. But “cunt” doesn’t have the same type of larger, disturbing historical context. Slate ran an etymology explainer post yesterday explaining how the word went from street name-suitable in the 13th century (“Gropecuntelane.” Nice.) to vulgar (Francis Grose’s 1785 A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue defines “cunt” as “a nasty name for a nasty thing”) to scoring the #1 slot in a 2000 BBC ranking of the most offensive words of all time.

Seriously? Why do we let “cunt” retain so much negative power? The only possible explanation is because so many people still think the worst crime a woman can commit is to be unapologetically sexual.

I can understand the argument that calling a woman a “cunt” is akin to telling her that is all she is: a brainless hole that needs to be filled, etc. But since so many politicians and comedians and cops and college kids seem to think that anyway, the solution isn’t to be afraid of the word and therefore scared to admit we have cunts — and are capable of acting like cunts, if the situation calls for it.”

At one point, use of the word seemed rare in America, and “bitch” was generally used more commonly. But now, “bitch” has been assimilated into popular culture and speech to the point of it losing most impact. Seeing some middle classed mom wearing a “Super Bitch” shirt at Walmart illustrates its fall from power as both a curse word, and as an indicator of a female that doesn’t submit to any old authority. It’s basically the equivalent of some elderly man in a “Grumpy Old Fart” shirt these days, and since men are often referred to as “bitches” now, it’s not exclusively aimed at women. The same can be said for “cunt” really.

But when used derogatorily towards a woman or group of women, “cunt” still feels like an indicator of power, not weakness, to me. I think that by embracing that attachment as a power word, women would rob the creeps that use it to insult them of a lot of their power. You know what scares sexist men? Women that don’t back down and don’t let things like unmentionable words upset them.

I also considered the other commonly used slang terms for female genitalia, many of which are used as insults. “Twat,” “pussy” and “snatch” all sound worse than “cunt” to me. One indicates a small cat, the others just sound gross. Cunt sounds warm and pleasant by comparison. Even “vagina” sounds horrible to my ears. It’s just an ugly sounding word. It’s also Roman slang for a sword sheath. Sort of the equivalent of “pussy” somehow becoming the preferred scientific term for lady parts after a couple of thousand years.

I’m sure I’m getting written off of some of my female friend’s Christmas card lists for writing this, because as a man how dare I take a position on the use of a bad word for female genitalia? But all I’m saying is that allowing the word to have such negative power really just arms the sexist assholes that are most likely to use it to try to “put a woman in her place.”

Besides, I kind of relish the idea of seeing middle aged women wearing “Bitchy Cunt” t-shirts at the local mall in a few years without the cops getting called on them.

The Jezebel article I quoted:

http://jezebel.com/5987317/cunt-should-not-be-a-bad-word

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Couldn’t think of a good photo to use for this article, so here’s a picture of mt beloved dog Bitsy… Who really wants to reclaim “Bitch” for her canine crowd