Troll 2 and (the Joy of) Miscategorized Metal

Tower Records and Musicland didn’t seem to have much the other day.  So I went by Camelot music instead. I was wearing my old green Slayer demon head shirt. I had built up points at that store, and they gave me a free purple shirt with their logo on it. I hated the shirt and donated it to Goodwill.  In the metal section was the cassette soundtrack to Troll 2. I was almost certain this was a mis-categorization.  I didn’t have the money to buy it that day and it sold out before I could get my hands on it.

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Metal Works as Stepping Stones

Until now, metal works (albums, EPs, pieces, etc.) have been regarded as products, even by those who would assume anti-commercial postures. Why this is so, why the underground metal community still sees albums as products and so judge them in that light, has to do with the history of metal as arising from the general rock business context. Black Sabbath as the foundational metal band followed this path and they were also the first metal band to sell out, though there never was much to sell out. In any case, they did not really know what they had and quickly devolved into rock-ized (standardized) “improvements” on the gold they had struck at first, instead of exploring those new sounds and ideas regardless of the commercial context, regardless of the business prospects (gigs, deals, etc.). We must understand, however, that the ideal of metal beyond rock, beyond trends and commercialism, only arose with the Mayhem cabal. Their commercial activities, it should be understood, were a means to something greater, as can be seen from the meticulous selection of albums that came under the auspices of Deathlike Silence Productions.

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Weathering the Storm as a Republican Metalhead

November 8th, 2016.  Manhattan, NY.  Election night.  I was there.

Wading back and forth between a crowd of suits and red hats gathered outside the Fox News building on 6th ave and a similar group gathered a few blocks north outside the Hilton hotel where the soon-to-be President-Elect was present, I celebrated ecstatically as electoral college results came in showing my favorite politician on the cusp of capturing the presidency.  All of us were over the moon with excitement and bliss, particularly because New York City had seldom presented a place where support of the man the media branded as Hitler 2.0 could be expressed openly.

While walking home and passing virtually every media truck parked for a mile along the road where America’s next President prepared his victory speech, a young NPR reporter excitedly rushed over to me with her microphone and cameraman after seeing the ridiculous “Trump 2020” pins on my shirt.  I agreed to her request for interview and explained why I thought Trump’s non-interventionist foreign policy and realist economic objectives would benefit the country’s middle and working classes.  Admitting her surprise to learn that I was a compliance director working near Wall St. and not the basic redneck Trump voter the media had branded us as, she asked if I was excited about the likelihood of supporting Trump being more socially acceptable now that he was president.  “Yeah” I said “It finally won’t be taboo now!”

We could not have been more wrong.
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Brett Stevens Nihilism: The First Lecture

In Brett Stevens Nihilism, the author introduces an article consisting of a series of twelve lessons which he describes as an awakening to the reality of life.  A tinge of morality seemingly colors the lessons, but upon closer look, the prescriptions given are described in a way that one can see them arising from causal, qualitative observations.

In all this, there is, of course, the singular opinion of the author.  In approaching a discussion and description of said ideas, the latter will be kept in mind, opting to expand, interpret and focus.  Also, in order to respect the integrity of the book wherein these appear, they will not be spelled out either in their titles nor in their original exposition.
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PCU‘s Dark Forecast

A few times every decade, a work of literature or film comes along that astonishingly predicts the future with unbelievable accuracy.  Back in 1994, we were given a dead-on glimpse of the social climate that we’re currently living in across modern western civilization through a seemingly harmless silly, good times college comedy, as it advertised itself to be. But instead, PCU showed us the world we would be inhabiting twenty years later.

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Star Wars: Tie Fighter 1994 LucasArts

Throughout literature, film, and any other telling of the Arthurian legend there is usually a hard line stance taken on characters or ideas being indisputably good or evil.  The heroes and villains are on conflicting sides of a fundamental and absolute morality despite reality often being much more complicated.  The Star Wars franchise followed this school of thought- casting the Empire as the evil and soulless reflection of Western history’s teaching of the axis powers of World War II.  It parallels the post-French Revolution narrative that all democracy is good and all imperial reigns are heinous and wrong.

It is because of this that we can remember LucasArts’s 1994 PC flight simulator Tie Fighter as such a refreshingly bold and surprising experiment in a world of video games where the narrative is always fixated on “the good guys.”  In Tie fighter, you are- from start to finish- fighting on behalf of a faction that the movies portrayed as dark and merciless dictatorship that is completely void of humanity.  No change of heart in your character halfway through (as in this year’s disastrous Battlefront 2), no surprising twist- you’re essentially waging war with all that is good and just in the galaxy.  It’s one of the first and possibly few games that take this perspective, and – for one of the first times for a mainstream game of this caliber-  Tie Fighter gives the player a unique chance to embrace the understanding that morality is often a form of perspective.

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Meditations on the Death of Wishful Thinking

To be a writer, if you are any good, is to be a blasphemer. Humanity is an entropy engine because each person decides on what view of the world makes them look the best, and so the constant weight pushing down on us is that of the herd, of a group of individuals united only by selfishness, come together into a mob for the purpose of asserting their right to be different and unique, constantly leading away from an understanding of the world around us and any meaning that can be found in it.

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