BUT I DIGRESS: When I say I’m an unapologetic metalhead, I mean it – sorry, not sorry
It seems I rankled a few hackles with not only the sentiment of last week’s column about hipsters and metalheads, but in my replies to some folks who disagreed with the sentiment of that column. First and foremost, let me assure you, I have not been asked to apologize, nor would I, had I been. That isn’t that kind of ship we’re currently aboard, and we should all be grateful for that.
But as deliberately annoying readers may be out of step with the general demeanor and message of NEPA Scene as an entity, I’ve elected to attempt to tone it down. Having said that, allow me to opine…
I am not sorry.
This isn’t an open forum; it’s my opinion. We all know that no one will ever change anyone’s mind about anything if they don’t want it changed.
Consequently, voicing a dissenting opinion of what I’ve said is as effective as farting in a windstorm and does little else but inspire me to gleefully take my finely honed potshots at those I find offensive and encourage like-minded individuals to join me in the figurative public flogging of said offenders that inevitably follows.
Not because I actually care or feel the need to defend my statements, but because, as I’ve said, this isn’t a public forum, it’s my column. It’s the principle.
Tom Flannery (fellow columnist, musician, and all-around good dude) related this bit of wisdom from his father, the great columnist Joseph X. Flannery:
“My father wrote 4,000 columns in his newspaper career. His writing was overwhelmingly positive, but occasionally he’d ruffle some feathers. And, as our name was in the phone book, at night he’d frequently get calls from his readers. He’d listen patiently to their complaints. He was never rude, but I always knew he’d heard enough when he’d say, ‘When you get your own column, YOU can write about anything you want.’ Then he’d thank them for calling and hang up. He said to me once, ‘I don’t like upsetting people, but it sure beats boring them.’
And his greatest advice ever? He told [Scranton Times columnist] Chris Kelly, ‘They [the columns] can’t all be steak, son.’”
I neither make claim to being as worthy a columnist, nor as kind a soul as either Mr. Flannery, but I am in total agreement with the sentiment.
As for the flame war that inadvertently erupted in the aftermath, the primary bone of contention was a mutual misunderstanding betwixt myself and a very intelligent and good-natured individual who simply wasn’t aware that I was writing in a satirical manner, and my reaction was based on my own erroneous assumption that he was being intentionally obtuse. Once we were both made aware of how we’d drifted off course, true amends were made.
Then there were the three thousand or so stereotype-enhancing, tongue-in-cheek heavy metal memes posted by myself and several partners in tomfoolery that were directed at an entirely different person who was an obvious troll looking for a more serious and vitriolic reaction from me.
The rebuttals and memes were posted only to amuse ourselves; however, and as evidence to the accusation of trollism, this lampooning has gone totally unnoticed by the object of our mocking so, as far as I can tell, no actual feelings were injured during filming.
The acerbic, sarcastic responses were, as was the actual piece that was the grounds for contention, not to be taken seriously and done only for amusement purposes. Sorta like a literary Joker Poker machine.
(I’d also like to point out, for those who have difficulties in recognizing the minutiae of such things, that the responsibility for the content of this column and the babbling about subsequent opinions is only that of the columnist (that’s me, yo), and not the publication that said column is contained within as a whole, though the editor wouldn’t run an article if he felt it didn’t fit within NEPA Scene’s overall mission or a healthy discussion of the arts and entertainment scene in general. I’m not in the habit of dragging folks down with me if I go, so I just want to make it abundantly clear that I and only I am responsible for my words and deeds, both here in the hallowed halls of NEPA Scene and anywhere else in the universe. Same goes for all y’all, so keep that in mind.)
In short, I wrote a satirical column which focused on the overwhelming similarities between two subcultures and used a single, yet substantial variation between them as the basis for satire. Also, I made plain my love of all things metal and I am stating here that I stand behind that work and its contents.
The folks I took to task were those who, for whatever reason, only read what they assumed had been written, inserting words and ideas that were not on the page and therefore arriving at erroneous conclusions, either by simple misunderstanding or by intentional objection rooted in their own biases.
However, the troll I mentioned earlier had compounded their intentional misinterpretation of my sentiment by asserting that because they didn’t like the content, I was incorrect and they were, conversely, superior.
Nuh uh. Not havin’ it.
So, as you can see, apologizing for injuring the sphincters of those whose sphincters may or may not have been bruised would be a deed that is absolutely contrary to my words, completely dishonest, and would fly in the face of the beliefs I hold as absolute truths within every fiber of my being. An apology would brand me the lowest of all humanity – a hypocrite.
I am not sorry.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me try and shed a little light on who I am for those who know me only from cursory glances at the first paragraph of this spastic commentary I irregularly submit in order to qualify not my opinions, as they are opinion and therefore need no qualification, but rather the well from which these opinions are drawn.
First and foremost, I am not a dick.
Although I occasionally play a dick on TV to provide amusement for myself and others, generally speaking, folks who partake in self-deprecation in order to provide a giggle for others at their own expense are exhibiting a willingness to give that is unrepresentative of the inherent qualities of legitimate dicks.
As I display said non-dick-like traits by virtue of the act of stating that I am, indeed, a dick, I negate any possibility of actually being a dick. There are those who would disagree, but as are all others who disagree with me, they would be simply incorrect.
Basically, my proclamation of my dickism is sorta like the converse application of hipsters confirming they are hipsters by their denial of being hipsters… but I digress.
I am, admittedly, radically, profoundly, and proudly rebellious. I do not kneel, bow, kotow, submit, accede, comply, bootlick, scrape, curry favor, or serve. Say what you will of me otherwise, but this is fact.
If any of these actions are demanded of me, or if there is so much as an inference of such things being expected of me (or anyone else, for that matter), the direct, swift, and diametrically opposed reaction to the prescribed reaction assumed by whichever “authority” is attempting to assert its dominance will ensue. Without fail.
As I have previously stated, I have the phrase “Ni dieu ni maître” (Neither god nor master) literally etched into my skin.
I am respectful and mindful when asserting or discussing my disagreements with those who are equally respectful. However, if that mutual respect is beached or, worse, if passive aggression is employed during a discussion (especially smug false flattery… GRRRRRRR!), all bets are off. When this dog’s off the leash, honey, look out, ‘cuz somebody’s ass gonna get bit!
I will go ridiculously out of my way to fulfill a simple request, and I will go equally as far in denying any demand.
I can proudly say that each and every single one of the people I consider true friends are equally unwilling to kiss ass. Sure, there’s an allowable amount of “keeping it under your hat so as not to screw yourself in the long run” involved, but there are also well-defined parameters that are not negotiable. When enough is enough, it’s enough. Period.
This is true of all my true friends, without exception. I’m proud of that. I’m proud that they consider me worthy of friendship. And I’m proud of them for who they are.
This rebelliousness has as much been nurtured as it is my nature.
It was encouraged in me as a child. I was made aware of the injustices inflicted on the have-nots by the haves. My opinions were helped to form as much by Woody Guthrie as they later would be solidified by Rage Against the Machine. I was never once told to sit still and be quite. I was never made to feel inadequate.
In my house, there was no “Do as I say, not as I do” horseshit. There was only “Question everything!” Children were, as the light of the future, to be seen and heard, even if the grownups didn’t like what we had to say when they saw ‘em.
And I’m not just talking about my baby boomer, hippie-esque parents. I had insanely forward-thinking grandparents and extended family members as well.
“Eat your veggies.” “Why?” “Well, because remember last month when you had the flu and felt really bad and couldn’t go outside to play for the whole week? Eating veggies can help keep you from getting sick and having to stay inside.” Fair enough, pass me that gross broccoli.
“Turn that racket down!” “Why?” “Because I said so!” I think not. “GENERALS GATHERED IN THEIR MASSSEEEESSSSSS!”… this one goes to 11…
I still only listen to music that excites the part of my spirit that is oppositional. I like sappy, syrupy love songs because they make me weep against character. I love well-composed music of any genre simply because of the fact that someone wrote something amazing, which is, in and of itself, an act of rebellion against the acceptance of mediocrity that pervades society at large.
I listen to Diamanda Galás, despite her absolute lack of musicality, talent, or relevance, simply because I despise her (also so that I can effectively use my disdain of her to annoy a friend who claims to find her listenable. Know thy enemy, yo).
I listen to metal, or any aggressive music for that matter, because it is the music of the fringe, the disaffected, the ostracized.
“Aggressive” music can fall under the umbrella ‘60s tunes such as “Gloria” by Them, as its inclusion in the filmed version of S.E. Hinton’s ode to rebellion “The Outsiders” reignites the primordial rebellion of my youth whenever I hear it, no matter my age or current circumstance.
The aforementioned quiet, gentlemanly lyrics of Woody Guthrie, or the blatant “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” of Rage Against the Machine.
My innate rebellious nature is why I find it impossible to tolerate the contrived, manufactured pablum of commercial radio. “Yo, Fifth Harmony talentless hacks, I ain’t givin’ you a goddamned thing! If you were worth it, y’all wouldn’t be begging!”
Rebellion fuels my disdain for bands who allow their success to manifest in soft, bloated content, losing the hunger and fire of an artist struggling against a corrupt business/world in the face of insurmountable odds of “Get Your Wings” or “Toys in the Attic” and replacing it with the banal grumblings of just another comfortable suburban middle-aged commuter of “Pump” or “Honkin’ on Bobo.”
Lemmy’s refusal to change a goddamn thing about his lifestyle, opting for death instead of compromise; Prince’s refusal to have his vision dictated and revised by non-musicians in suits; Rage Against the Machine’s bound, gagged, and naked protest against censorship; Howlin’ Wolf not accepting a Cadillac from Leonard Chess, as well as refusing to address Leonard as “sir” as instructed; Mick Jagger’s eye roll as he’s forced to sing “Let’s spend some time together” or Jim Morrison’s exaggerated “higher” on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Dave Grohl’s hand-biting acceptance speech at the Grammys; Ted Nugent’s radical right-wingnut rantings in a sea of go-along to get-along, politically correct, über liberal rockstars; Rob Halford coming out in the grossly macho world of heavy metal… the muck these acts rake, the feathers that are ruffled, the stuffed suits being forced to jam a nitro tablet under their collective tongue to avert the inevitable cardiac arrest these acts of rebellion cause them are goals to aspire to in my circle of understanding.
Refusal to do what I’m told is my 9 to 5, only it’s 24/7.
Feel free to call for my head if you’d like, but be aware that I’m but one head on but one of thousands of the hydra of rebellion that stoke your disdain and ire. I’m a mere tooth on a cog in a vast engine of disagreeability and nonconformity that those who are willing to accept their current fate use as a touchstone to generate their own anger.
To those who would consider myself and my ilk with disdain, disgust, unacceptance, and anger… you need us.
Your assumptions that you are conformists and we are the rebels are just smoke and mirrors, window dressing, the mere trappings of conformity.
Because your objection to our rationale, your abhorrence of our ethos, the solidarity you share with like-minded individuals over your dissent for our lifestyles, ideas, ideals, music, clothing, beliefs, and undertakings is an act of rebellion against us.
Rebels at the gates threatening change will cause the Luddite status quo to take up arms in rebellion against that change, a common end to opposing goals. The walls that both sides assume have separated us come crashing down, filling the voids and levelling the playing field.
You can protest as much as you’d like, but protest by nature is an act of rebellion.
So thank you, and you’re welcome.
How ya like me now?
Comic by Ole Ivar Rudi
John "Fud" Zavacki has been a working musician since the age of 15. He owns well over a thousand LPs in every musical genre and erroneously presumes this makes his opinion noteworthy.