One of heavy metal's most influential artists is dead today, following a dramatic and tragic four-week standoff at a Zurich, Switzerland restaurant. When Celtic Frost frontman Tom G. Warrior (a/k/a Thomas Gabriel Fischer) entered the tony Chez Ray eatery a month ago, no one expected anything out of the excursion but a meal ordered, paid for, and eaten.
Longtime collaborator Martin Ain was there from the beginning. "We got our menus, and I was a little surprised ? I said 'Tom, this place is sehr expensive ? you're not going to ask me to pick up the check, are you?' I meant it as a joke, you know, as he and I squabbled over money many years ago. I should have known better. He got up from the table with a dark look on his face, and asked the owners if they had a fax machine he could use."
Twenty minutes later, the following press release was faxed to news outlets around the world:
"Once again, it appears that the pursuit of beauty, excellence and creative freedom has met with utter mockery by the so-called 'mainstream.' My desires for gastronomic experimentation have been rudely attacked by a member of CF, forcing me to choose between what I know in my heart to be a satisfying and memorable meal, and the petty barbs of those who zealously guard the purse-strings, even unto the point of penury. Our fans and those few visionaries in the media who support me know that I shall never back down in the face of such miserly sniping. Notwithstanding, it is a dark day for the stomach of heavy metal."
When Fischer returned to the table an hour later, Ain had left, opting to eat at a McDonald's down the street. Undaunted, Fischer ordered a sumptuous meal, providing a detailed list of clashing flavors, asking to see and modify the restaurant's secret recipes, and insisting on having dessert first, garnishing his ice cream with capers, and eating in the wine cellar. When his waiter balked at such a complex order, citing the fact that the restaurant was now scheduled to close in five minutes, Fischer sought the owner and demanded that the waiter be fired.
?At that point, we asked him to leave,? explained owner Ville Marsala. ?He then tied himself to his chair with our velvet rope and refused to go anywhere, claiming that 'if I can wait out Noise Records, I can wait out you plebian destroyers of true culinary creativity.' I wasn't sure what to do - I thought he might be dangerous, so I left and called the police. They took the situation rather lightly, and advised us to leave him there until morning."
"My men had no idea the situation was so dire,? explained police captain Viffley Sneedgarbe, on condition of anonymity. ?We've had to deal with this screwjob--uh, I mean, the deceased--before. Once he spent four days hiding in the rafters of a music shop, angry because they would not give him a free guitar in exchange for an autographed photo of Ron Marks. Eventually, we thought he would just go home."
In the following days, the restaurateur tried to strike deal after deal with Fischer, all of which were rejected out of hand by the temperamental musician. Facing a growing scandal, not to mention thousands of dollars in long-distance bills thanks to Fischer's neverending press releases, Marsala finally made Fischer one last offer ? anything he wanted, forever, for free. Fischer's final press release, scrawled on linen napkins and tied to the leg of a carrier pigeon, refuses even this offer:
It is for genius to create, and for cretins and oafs to sell. Ever since my induction into the cosmic Passion play of yearning and denial that we laughingly call 'the arts,' it has been so. The cheap, shoddy, insulting offers made to me regarding my sustenance are now compounded with an arrogant, mocking condescendence, an attitude which I cannot in good conscience tolerate. If it is to be that my legacy requires the ultimate sacrifice, well, it is one I have been well-trained for my whole life. In spite of my many efforts at creating a mutually beneficial mealtime situation, other factors have made the situation most unfavourable, to which I can only answer with a sad shake of the head and a rumbling belly.
Less than 24 hours later, despite an attempted last-minute force-feeding, Fischer was dead. "As I was trying to stuff a sandwich down his throat, he was writing a press release on my pants-leg, decrying his unfair treatment at the hands of former friends," Ain relates, shaking his head sorrowfully. "I kept asking 'why? Why didn't you just go get a carrot out of the fridge or something? You were in here for a month!' He whispered that he refused to go into the crisper of Ray's... and that was it."
Plans are underway for a massive benefit concert in Zurich, featuring many of the leading bands in the metal scene, and a double-disc tribute album, all of which are expected to be denounced by ghost-written press release in the days to come.
- Keith Bergman