Category: Thoughts

The open hand.

The first time I called a suicide hotline was when I was eight.
They were clueless and ended up soliciting me for donations, and I couldn’t explain to my parents why they were suddenly receiving literature on depression in the mail for the next few weeks. The hotline’s ineptitude actually angered me enough that I was able to externalize my feelings away from myself long enough to see the next day. I’ll have to admit that their failure yielded an accidental success.
At 20, I hooked up a vacuum hose to my car exhaust and snaked it into the bathroom adjacent the garage. I was maybe an hour in when I was interrupted and taken away. Recovery from CO2 poisoning is brutal, to say the least. Imagine your worst hangover ever, then multiply it by a thousand and add in endless dry heaving.
At 22, I took every pill bottle in the cabinet and combined them in a 32oz cup from Taco John’s. I walked around the house, casually drinking them down and then laid in bed. Since my Major wasn’t in chemistry, it’s inevitable that I didn’t get the right mix to do as intended, so I ended up laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and feeling my body tingle for a few days. I vaguely recollect people standing over me, berating me, but I was high as a kite and didn’t process them nor care.
There were false attempts a couple of times as well, but those never any real danger. Those were simple cries for help that I wouldn’t have gone through with. The good news is that I never went that route ever again. It’s been over 20 years since, and I know myself better than ever. Suicide is just an unthinkable solution for me, and I don’t even bat a single eyelash at Death, much less court her anymore. I’m happy to say that I have a lot of wrinkles to grow, hair to lose, and eyesight to diminish before I check out, and when I do, Death will need to drag me away kicking and screaming. I plan to watch the 100th Star Wars film, listen to whatever permutation of Heavy Metal exists in the 22nd Century, and hopefully play hacky sack on Martian soil. I don’t have time to die.
Do these facts shock you? Good. I really want your attention for this part.
The point of all of this is, I UNDERSTAND.
Do I know your specific circumstances? No. Have I been lost in the same labyrinth of hopelessness? Maybe. I may not have followed the same road, or been made victim the same way, or experienced anything like what you have, but I’ve been to those dark and bumpy places that roads sometimes go. I’ve stared down the barrel of oblivion, and survived. Not through strength or willpower, but mostly just dumb luck each time. My outlook changed with age, thank goodness, but it was very touch-and-go there for a long, long time.
Last night I lost another friend to suicide. He was a friendly, sweet guy, and nobody saw it coming. He had plans, jokes, and dreams, so we didn’t know what demons he wrestled with inside. He hid it well. This makes 4 friends to kill themselves just in the past 2 years. The total family and friends I’ve lost in that way has become more than I want to think about.
I can’t offer solutions. I’m not a fount of wisdom. I can only offer perspective, and an open ear to listen. I might not agree with you, but I’ll always be here when you need that voice on the other end of the line. But no matter what, when you’re that deep in a hole, and you think no one can hear you, call out. Call me, message me, email me, whatever you can do. And if not me, then call someone else. Say hello to a friend from high school, or check in on a distant cousin. Try a hotline. It might be a good one, or if it sucks, then at least it keeps you talking. We may not have a cure, but all you need is to see the next dawn, and then one more after that. It’s always just one more day, and before you know it 20 years has flown by, and you stopped counting..

Just please, reach your hand up. I promise, someone out there is waiting to pull you up.


Happy Birthday, Dad.

Today, my father would be 63 years old. Happy Birthday, Dad.


It’s been 18 years since I last shared a Monty Python joke with you, or played guitar together, or compared our painting techniques. We have hybrid cars, advances and disasters in space tourism, landline phones are practically extinct, and my cellphone is more powerful than the last desktop computer you owned. Voyager 1 crossed into interstellar space, we lost another space shuttle, and we’ve landed a robot on a comet. Pluto is no longer a planet, we mapped the human genome, and the Triceratops is actually just a baby Torosaurus. There’s more I could tell you about the Twin Towers, ISIS, and the rekindling of the Cold War, but you don’t need to hear about that foolishness.


I would like to say that the IRA came to peace with England, but it didn’t last. I would like to say that we’ve cured AIDS and Cancer, but the progress there is lacking, and treatments prohibitively expensive. I want to tell you that we have learned the care and maintenance of this home we live in, but climate science says otherwise.

Your daughter is married, and has a beautiful home, and a hard-working husband.She has a beautiful daughter of her own, who inherited the Holland talent. She works hard in a career showing intelligence, drive, perseverance, and dedication. I am very proud of her.


I was a selfish kid the last time you saw me. I’ve grown up and I have a fulfilling career as well. It has taught me a lot I never knew about telecommunications, radio sciences, and what I’m capable of achieving. I don’t know if I can ever fill your shoes, or be the man you were, but I’ll never stop trying. I may not have the charisma you did, but I will always try to find the bright side of a day, the joy in a smile, and work every day to make this world a better place. I will do what I can to spread positivity in this world that needs it. I’ll borrow your Elvis impression, sick jokes, and dry wit when necessary.

Someday, maybe I will be half the man you were. Watching you paint and build signs for so many years has made me picky about font spacing, hearing you play Spanish classical guitar inspired me musically, helping you build furniture and roofing taught me to swing a hammer, and having you mentor so many young boys through Cub Scouts showed me how to give back by being a mentor to foster kids myself.

Every year that passes, I notice less and less of your work hanging. Most of the signs have faded, or businesses closed, or logos updated. Once in a while, I still drive by one of yours (even if someone obviously freshened the lettering up with a new coat of paint), like finding a hidden personal treasure. You may not have signed your work, but everyone in town knew of it, and I feel that something vital is disappearing as it all gets replaced with vinyl-cut lettering and computer generated designs. There is an organic quality, an analog talent that just isn’t there anymore.

The world has changed, from healthcare debates to gay rights to climate concerns. Would we share any views on the issues or not? I’d give the world just to argue and disagree the conclusions, if only to have one more conversation.

I miss you, dad. I’ve wished for your opinion so many times; I’ve wanted the benefit of your experience. I have a list of questions a mile long that I never got to ask, and I had a million chances to have told you what you meant to me that went wasted. I’m trying to answer life’s questions myself, and just following the best example I can. Thank you for being that example. Thank you for the years you spent as a father to me, thank you for teaching me skills and laughter, and thank you for showing me how to be a man. I just wish I had done it while you were here to see it.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

I love you Dad. Happy Birthday.

The Song and The Sword

There was a beautiful princess. She grew up in a world of pink petunias, mauve moons, and fuchsia fireflies . Her hair trailed like golden mist while her laugh chimed like silver bells. She had a smile that outshone the stars and eyes like slivers of sky, with grace and humility to match.

Her father was a kind man, but was busy overseeing his kingdom. Her mother, as well, shared in courtly duties, so the princess was left under the tutelage of a strict etiquette teacher, with only the best of intentions for her. The Princess learned to act as a Lady, to curtsy, nod, laugh, and agree at the proper times. She was taught to be the perfect bride for the most handsome Prince, moving with angelic grace in the finest of layered silks and brocades.

None of this would save her.

She walked to her tutor’s cottage each day, singing and skipping along the way. She would traipse through a field of sapphire lilies, where the Riley twins would wave from the window of the flour mill. She would dance through the verdant grove, where she’d exchange pleasantries with Miss McMillan, whose sweetbreads would fill the air with the smells of berries and compassion. Children would weave her tiaras of daffodils, while the susurrus of the crystal waterfalls cooled the air. She would sing to the lonely endless canyon, hearing her voice echo back in perfectly timed harmony.

There was a part of the path, along the rocky edge, where she would see the amber skies push the sun below distant mountains. That burning sun seemed so far, as the dusk brought the fireflies to guide her way.

This was her routine, since was a wee little one, so far back she couldn’t remember not waving to the Riley’s, or talking to Miss McMillan. But this change of seasons brought a chill to the air, and from the Hills descended the wolves. Their cries carried through the dead of night, and came ever closer to the village.

She would walk the path, but the windows of the mill were shut. Miss McMillan no longer came out to collect berries, nor did her sweetbreads fill the air. The children weren’t let out to play, and the coldness took the skip from her step. She could hear the wolves, growling from the shadows, watching from afar. Her bright and beautiful dresses only drew their predatory eyes, and her song only drew them closer. She started walking hurriedly in silence, scared of the lupine threats.

Along the edge of the canyon, she found herself surrounded. Wolves at the front and the back taunted her, making her feel vulnerable and afraid.  They advanced, drool dripping and claws scratching stone, breath hot and lewd, and she knew her song, her grace, her etiquette would not save her. She suddenly saw The Lie.

She needn’t be any Princess. She needn’t curtsy, pirouette, nor smile when called upon to do so. She needed no Prince, no man, nor woman, nor lover to rescue her. And upon realizing this, her dress fell away to reveal the scarred armor beneath. She found in her heart a sword, and chopped away her hair, and her song became a foreboding dirge of battle, echoed in haunting minor by the canyon’s abyss. The fireflies became a rain of flame, striking the ground around her, and the setting sun burst into explosive tendrils of doom. Her dark eyes fell upon these wolves, her smoldering fury and tempered strength palpable in the smoke-filled air.

The wolves backed away, fear evident in their eyes. Glancing at each other, tails between their legs, they realized they no longer held power over her. They could not look her in the eye, seeing the shame of their own sins reflecting in her blade. They suddenly seemed so small and meek, and beneath notice. She wondered why she ever noticed them at all. Her fire burned away the darkness and cold, and the wolves ran back to hide in their hills, never to be seen again.

And with a smirk, the little girl’s dreams of swords and songs kept her brave, and the cacophonous din of predatory bullies and catcalls by the abandoned grocery fell behind her. With a thought, she had grown from the princess she was told to be into the woman she knew she could be. And she held her schoolbooks close, held her head high, and never thought about them again, until the wolves, unheard and forgotten, disappeared back into the woods from which they came.

She became her own hero, and her sword lived within her for the rest of her days.

Song and Sword - web

This Speech is Free.

I’ve seen the term “Freedom of Speech” thrown around haphazardly lately, mostly by people that obviously don’t have any grasp as to what it means. This is mostly a response to the recent debacle regarding Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, and his suspension from A&E Networks. I’m here to make the facts clear.


First, let’s look at the allegations. On the record, in an interview for GQ Magazine and in other videos and interviews in recent years, he has said the following:

  • “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,”…“Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
  • “Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil. That’s what you have 235 years, roughly, after your forefathers founded the country.”
  • (regarding Muslims and Socialists) “Why do they murder and why do they hate us? Because all of them … 80 years of history, they all want to conquer the world, they all rejected Jesus and they’re all famous for murder. Nazis, Shintoists, Communists and the Mohammedists. Every one of them the same way.” (Nazis were openly Christian, by the way.)
  • [A good woman is] “hard to find. Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ’em. Look, you wait till they get to be about 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You gotta marry these girls when they’re 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that, of course.”
  • (implying that African Americans had it better before Jim Crow laws) “Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word!”… “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”


Now, remember, Phil Robertson’s primary job was as a hunter. A&E Networks gave him an opportunity to further his financial career and raise his profile by giving him a reality show to front. This being said, ANY AND ALL such arrangements include the star signing contracts, part of which outlines their responsibilities as a face for the corporation. Gilbert Gottfried was fired by Aflac for Tsunami jokes, Lil Wayne was fired by Mountain Dew for his offensive lyrics, and Justine Sacco was just fired by IAC for a racist tweet. Phil Robertson’s job was to promote his show, and conduct himself publicly in a way compliant with A&E’s desired social image. It is understood that if at any time, he can no longer fulfill those duties, he can be let go by the corporation. They have an image to protect, and have to distance themselves from the backlash of negative affiliations, of which his statements clearly make him. They have gone on record in the past as being supportive of LGBT issues, and see themselves as a socially progressive company. The last thing they want is to be represented in the media by a bigot, nor having their logo become synonymous with exclusionary ignorance. They have shareholders to please, and a responsibility to protect their image. After all, ignorance has a channel to watch. It’s called Fox News.

Freedom of Speech entitles Americans with the freedom to speak their views and opinions without fear of government harassment, either by detention, fines, or execution. NONE OF THESE REPERCUSSIONS HAVE HAPPENED. Freedom of Speech does not, however, free you of any societal consequences nor exempt you of any contractual obligations to your employer. If you want to share negative views, expect not only to become a pariah, but also be sure you know your employer’s policies on negative publicity. This being thoroughly explained, let me illustrate the differences between the United States (with Free Speech) and countries with limited speech.

Spoiled 16

In the USA…

While in Malaysia...

While in Malaysia…







In the USA...

In the USA…

While in Iran...

While in Iran…

In the USA...

In the USA…

While in Nepal...

While in Nepal…

In the USA...

In the USA…

4 North Korea

While in North Korea…

In the USA...

In the USA…

While in Myanmar...

While in Myanmar…

In the USA...

In the USA…

While in Nazi Germany.

While in Nazi Germany.

I hope the differences are clear enough. But here, let’s simplify the issue.



A&E Networks is a privately owned company. They do not belong to the public, and do not owe a pulpit to any individual wanting to espouse a litany of racist homophobia. They have a responsibility to their shareholders to protect their company image and to distance themselves from those that speak against the company’s political stances. Every private company has that right, no matter which side of the politics they fall on, and risks the outcome of taking a stand.

Any person that throws a fit over cold fries forgets the obscene gluttony we as Americans are afforded.

Any person that complains about the quality of their entertainment forgets that we are privileged to have uncensored access to the web, books, and film.

Any person that takes it upon themselves to preach against what consenting adults do in their own bedroom, has forgotten the basic human rights our forefathers gave their lives to leave us as a legacy. They have forgotten all of the freedoms and liberties that blood bought them, and they take this nation for granted. They are the worst patriots of all for wanting to enjoy freedom while consciously robbing other citizens of it. How dare they pick and choose convenient Bible verses to support their backwards bigotry and use the American flag as a disguise for xenophobia.


They dare, because speech is free. Just as mine is. And that’s how Freedom of Speech works.

Besides, I know of at least one company that would appreciate his "Christian Values".

Besides, I know of at least one company that would appreciate his “Christian Values”.

…was once New Amsterdam…

Triton Festival is a three-day music festival of Industrial/EBM/Synthpop/Gothic bands in New York City. It was filled with top names, and the tickets were cheap, so it didn’t take a lot of arm-twisting on Kelsey and Christina’s parts to convince me to attend. I wanted to rise to the challenge of living out of a carry-on bag for the trip, so in the most impractical (and totally goth) way, I discarded comfy shoes for killer boots, filled my tiny Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash bottles with Glenlivet, Canadian Club, and Absolut, and stuck to socks and underclothes that could be discarded should I acquire too many souvenirs.

I flew from home, with one stop in O’Hare. On the flight in, I saw Fermilab in the west suburbs of Chicago, and my heart leapt a little. Smashing atoms together and discovering the secrets of the universe was my dream as a child, and working at Fermilab Particle Accelerator Laboratory is why I studied physics in college (before I switched majors to Hooch Parties and women of questionable morality). I also spent my grade school days viewing nuclear weapons as ancient WW2 technology and thought that with Fermilab at my disposal, I could do better. I may have been a bit of a nihilistic misanthrope as a pre-teen. Upon my arrival at Newark, my friend Su picked me up to play tour guide to me and make certain I made it to my accommodations in one piece.


After having some chocolates from Holsten’s Ice Cream and taking the Turnpike in, we arrived at the Hostel. We were ahead of Kelsey, so we did some windows shopping. We found antique nautical light fixtures, solid copper doors, and studded leather jock straps. I couldn’t find a suitable enough excuse to buy one. Kelsey eventually made it in, and we concluded that the Hostel was a no-go. It looked like a location for Resident Evil, and we didn’t have enough inventory slots for ammo and herbs. All it needed was ghostly child giggles and graffiti  in blood to complete the scene. Plus, the wifi was out (commence blood-curdling screams)! I called up our first choice hostel and found they had a new vacancy, so we moseyed our way uptown to claim the room.

Kelsey and Thomas
Kelsey and Thomas

The Carlton Arms was amazing! Every surface of every wall was painted by amateur artists, including the rooms, hallways, and stairwells. There was a skeleton sitting in the lobby, paint buckets nailed to the walls as signs, and complimentary cats that would waltz straight into the rooms for snuggles. Every single room had its own style, and the room for our first night was Yellow-Acid-Trip. We unpacked, I set up our mini-bar and music, and we made our way to Fitzgerald’s  pub next door to join friends for dinner.

Our Room
Our Room

I excused myself to go attend the VIP setup at the Grammercy theater. The VIP treatment that first night consisted of basically standing around in the venue early and running into the performers as they were prepping  for the evening, half of which I already knew anyway. After saying hi to Brendin Ross, Rexx Arcana, Dracos von Strecker, and Tom Shear, the crowd surged inside and the performances commenced.The sonic bombardment came in the form of the the power-noise synthhammer of Alter der Ruine, and it only got louder from there.  FGFC820 punched me in the ears with “Homeland Insecurity”, only to be followed up with Nachtmar running jackboot rhythms over the crowd. The plaintive sincerity of Tom Shear (Assemblage 23) washed over the crowd, and I found myself singing along with “Damaged” at top volume. The Cruxshadows did a mindblowing set, both audibly and visually, with dancers pirouetting to the music, violins, guitars, synths, and drums  backing, and at one point Rogue even grabbing a stool and standing in the center of the crowd to sing among his fans. This is the point at which the shortness of sleep and tightness of boots sent us sleepward, missing out on Unter Null, unfortunately.

We got up and had the most amazing bagels ever (St Vivateur included). They were larger than appendicitis, but slightly smaller than encephalitis. We had many over the next few days. Kelsey, Christina, and I walked to Obscura Antiques, known for being the shop featured on TLC’s Oddities. For such a small store, we spent an inordinately large amount of time there, attention being lost in the eclectic chaos of skulls, taxidermy, antique medical supplies, and items bizarre and unique. The apothecary jars included such anachronistic cures as Radium, Morphine, Laudinum, Vaginal Astringent, and other tonics and poisons. There were terrifying surgical instruments, bats and spiders trapped in lucite, and the lifeless, accusing gaze of a Rhesus monkey from atop the shelves. I opted for an antique syringe, not forseeing the trouble that would cause me trying to get through security flying home.

Me, Kelsey, and Christina an Obscura Antiques
Me, Kelsey, and Christina at Obscura Antiques

Kelsey and I continued on towards Jekyll and Hyde’s, a horror themed restaurant. After finding ourselves at the wrong Jekyll & Hyde’s (in Soho), we grabbed a taxi and scooped up Lynne and the other Christina so we could go to the proper location. Upon arrival, the doorman shoved all four of us into a tiny phone booth, giving us a series of knocks and passphrases to repeat. After we did such, the back wall of the phone booth opened up, releasing us into an otherwise empty room. When spikes popped out of the ceiling and started to descend, I found being the tallest in the group to not be such a great thing anymore, but a secret door popped open in time for us to escape. The next room held a creepy old man in a top hat who, upon sensing us as “Children of Darkness” made us swear an oath not to reveal the secrets beyond the secret bookcase. Therefore, I am forbidden from sharing specifics, suffice to say that there may or may not be talking heads on the walls, mad scientist shenanigans, a comedically insulting gargoyle, paintings with moving eyes, vampiric mermaids, and a doll with a knife that I made angry. I ordered us a bottle of wine, and we enjoyed wonderful food,  amusing renditions of poetry, and creeptastic hosts while trying to convince Anthony (our waiter) to come to Triton. We had such a great time that we missed the first and second bands completely, but I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

Anthony (our waiter), Lynne, Kelsey, Christina K, Myself, and Christina G hanging out at Jekyll and Hyde's
Anthony (our waiter), Lynne, Kelsey, Christina K, Myself, and Christina G hanging out at Jekyll and Hyde’s

We went to hail a taxi, but they couldn’t fit the five of us, so Christina G and Lynne went on without us. While awaiting another cab, we noticed the rickshaw bicycles, and opted for it. It was $3 a minute, but it couldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, right? And I was taking care of it, since my Canadian friends were having bank card issues plus I had a ton of overtime pay. I like to share when I can. So we got onboard, and rode through the nighttime daylight of Times Square, soaking in the sights and breeze. Tourists seemed amused by the sight of a trio of goths in a rickshaw, and were snapping pics of us as we went by, so we gave the Princess Di wave as if we were on a parade float. It makes me wish I had candy to toss. We almost almost got taken out by a taxi that turned left right in front of us, barely missing the front tire of the bicycle and causing us to veer wildly. But we survived, and disembarked at our destination. 30 MINUTES LATER. Good thing there’s overtime pay…

Nearly dying on a rickshaw!
Nearly dying on a rickshaw!

Upon arrival at the venue for the last two nights (Irving Plaza), security took away my camera, declaring it “too professional”, and leaving me with only my phone camera for the evening. The photographer in me felt crippled, and wondered how many hours of Photoshop were going to be necessary to pull of any decent photos at all. We went upstairs to have our collective socks rocked off. Psyclon 9 was heavier than a black hole and louder than a supernova, and Kelsey and I just looked at each other, maniacal grins splitting our faces Joker-style, knowing exactly what band we were going to type into Google after the festival. We are officially fans, Psyclon 9. Job well done, indeed. Faderhead followed up, pounding out TZDV like he was possessed by the geist of an angry panzermensch. (TZDV=Tanz Zwo Drei Vier, but I still like to imagine he is yelling “Cats Don’t Like Beer!!!”) I made my way downstairs, where a friend surprisingly accosted my tonsils before I could muffle an awkward “Hello”. And, being after midnight, it was obviously time for London After Midnight to perform!

They put on a good show, and were holding a raffle for Randy Mathias’ old bass guitar. I sang along to “Kiss” and “Psycho Magnet”, reliving many a night of smoke machines and black leather at Neo in Chicago. Matt Setzer spun like some giant Gothpache, while Sean crooned with a voice of decadence. They held the raffle, but no one responded to the ticket number. They finished their set, and afterward Randy came down front, looking at us, and started pushing his bass over the rails. I put my hand underit so it wouldn’t fall, and Kelsey grabbed the neck. When I saw that she had it, I let go, awaiting him climbing over, only to see him turn and walk away. WHAT!?! DID HE JUST GIVE AWAY HIS BASS!?! OMIGAWDYESHEDID. He . Just. Handed. It. To. Us. And at this point, “Us” was Kelsey, who had a smile so big she was in danger of a full frontal facial explosion, knuckles white clutching the neck of the bass in a death-grip. We went downstairs and hung with Randy a bit, where he told us stories of what that bass had been through over the years, and pointed out the signatures on it. Not wanting to be laden with a guitar (plus wanting to spirit it away to safety like a squirrel with an acorn), Kelsey and I went ahead and walked back to the Hostel, missing out on The Birthday Massacre and Dawn of Ashes. She even accidentally let a diminutive uncontrolled “Whee!” escape her lips as we stopped by Dunkin Donuts to acquire Pumpkin Munchkins. We were too excited for sleep, so we spent the remainder of the evening playing the bass and laughing it up.

The next morning began with our ritual of bagel worship (complete with random tombstone thing hiding behind the trash can of the bagel shop), and plans for clichéd tourism. We may or may not have witnessed a car robbery, discovered Nikola Tesla’s plaque (with an empty vodka offering before it), and found the official bar of How I Met Your Mother. We attempted to see the Empire State Building, but realized our folly upon seeing the throng of security and metal detectors. I decided to give it a go, regardless. I took off jewelry, boots, and belt. BEEP! Okay, here goes more jewelry and earrings. BEEP! Now the security guard was telling me to take off more clothing. I knew I had metal in my rib support (for a cracked rib) and OTHER *ahem* piercing, and weighed the option of both getting naked in public and paying $26 each to hit the 86th floor, and possibly another $17 a piece to go to the top, and decided it just wasn’t that high on my list of priorities. That’s when the security lady became the biggest (censored litany of profanity) ever, shoving the tray full of my stuff at me, yelling that I have to go now. She looked at me angrily, as if my not getting naked somehow ruined her day, and kept pushing the tub at me, while I instead tried to ignore her cuntbaggery to put my boots and belt back on. I’m sure she feels that she somehow thwarted a terrorist plot to goth up the observation deck. Who knows, we might have spilled some Nice’N’Easy #124 Blue-Black or gotten mascara smudges on the windows! Oh, the horror! I’m just too metal for the Empire State Building, apparently.

By the way, the Empire State building hasn’t been the tallest building since 1972, and is now the 23rd tallest building in the world. It definitely isn’t worth $43 to climb it, especially seeing as the Sears Tower is only $12 (and taller), and the John Hancock is free, and barely shorter. Plus, dear lady, you wear a doorman’s uniform, not Swat Team body armor. Bring the power-trip down just a notch, will’ya?

After that debacle, we decided to swing back by Jekyll and Hyde’s for drinks. I wanted to get one of the collectible steins after seeing the one Kelsey got, so we sauntered up to the bar with a couple of frozen drinks in mind. The bartender took our order, and then walked to the other end of the bar to type it in. That’s when Kelsey pointed out that the other bartender was giving me a glare. I haven’t been in NYC long enough to have angry guys giving me the stinkeye, and I tipped generously the night prior, so I was flabbergasted as to the reason for his vexing glare. Our bartender came back, and leaned over to us, in hushed tones revealing, “The other bertender thinks your ar eone of the Hardy Boyz. Y’know, the wrestlers.” My tiny knowledge of wrestling came into focus, and I inventoried my outfit. Fishnet shirt. Forearm gauntlets. Thin dreds. Oddly sculpted beard.  Black jeans. White belt. OH MY GOD, I STOLE JEFF HARDY’S OUTFIT! He must be thinking that “Jeff Hardy” really let himself go. Then the bartender asked me to do him a favor and autograph something. I acquiesced for pure shits and giggles, and he scrambled for something to write on. Living in a post-paper society, he settled for an olive jar. I had a sharpie on me (for getting autographs, not GIVING THEM), and tried to think up something douchebaggy to write to Brian, the other bartender. “Hey B, Stay Frosty! *impossible scribble*” The bartender took it over to Brian who in turn started exclaiming “I told you! I knew it!” Our bartender eventually returned, comping my drink and mug in exchange for the entertainment value. That olive jar is probably still sitting on that counter right now, with a proud Brian telling customers how one of the Hardy Boyz was here just the other day. He may even take that lid home and tuck it away, to pass on to his children.

Can you tell the difference?

Can you tell the difference?

We headed back and grabbed a bottle of cheap wine to take up to the room, throwing metal horns with Muppets on the way,  drinking as we prepared for the biggest night of the festival. After listening to some Jonathan Coulton (did I say overlords, I meant protectors!) and MC Frontalot, I skipped out early to attend the VIP meet’n’greet. Combichrist nor Grendel were in attendance, but I hung out with my friend Jonathan and the guys from MyParasites. When the doors opened, they opened the stage with an explosion of melodic cacophony, and I went upstairs to hang out on the VIP balcony. I had my camera this time, leaving the larger lens at the room so it wouldn’t look “professional” this time, and got some great photographs from the box seats. Life Cried followed up, keeping the energy building like a fusion reactor. God Module took the stage, haunting our collective eardrums with the techno-banshee wails of an electronic epitaph. The Dreaming came on next, and Chistopher Hall included some hits from his previous project, Stabbing Westward. Their whole set was amazeballs, but the entire audience sang in unison to the chorus of “What Do I Have to do”. He was also one of the most genuine, down-to-Earth guys I’ve ever met. He is good people. I would loan him money, had I not already given it to Frontal Boundary. 😛

Next was the BIG TWO. The two biggest bands I flew all the way from Kentucky to New York to see. Grendel came on, grinding metallic screams over an undertow of synths, sinuously coiling around the room with staccato machine-gun percussion. Every song was a supersonic  surgical strike, and I found myself enraptured by Miss Mel Allezbleu. Yep, Amelia Arsenic has competition for my dumbfounded blabbering. Upon meeting her afterwards, I found my tongue just as inept at conversation and my game just as dead as I was in 8th grade, clinging to the wall of the high school cafeteria during the homecoming dance, unable to complete a single line of witty dialogue or maintain eye contact. I could only somewhat half-mutter “pretty”, and I don’t think it was even in English.

Then Combichrist. No, not the Combichrist on the children’s show The Electric Company, nor the Combichrist boy band from 1992. Not the Combichrist breakfast flakes, nor the Combichrist game on the Intellivision Game System. Not just any personal saviour from silent bondage, but the One True Saviour. Yep, THAT Combichrist. And they lived up to their reputation, flagellating the sins of obeisance from our bones while giving the unholy sacrament of digitized rebellion. We bore witness to their lyrical (LIRYCAL) martyrdom, and made sacrifice of the flesh in the mosh pit. The set was an apocalyptic event, with locust guitars and blood throbbing  drums, Andy proselytizing the masses in screaming communion.

In short, not too shabby at all. 

Kelsey felt the cold clutches of sleep dragging her away, so we made our way back, skipping on the Ludovico Technique (although I hear they are pretty awesome, and they are on my to-do list). That’s okay. Combichrist is a good note to go out on, and a hard act to follow. She wasn’t the only one exhausted, either, I believe we both closed our eyes on New York City for the last time within moments of stumbling into our room.

Manhattan Island.
Manhattan Island.

Last morning, last bagels, last goodbyes. Everyone is there, Christina G, Lynne, Kelsey and I, and Kelsey points out how, with our collected luggage, guitar, and fashion sense, we probably look like a band. But all good things come to an end, and we went outside where Thomas was picking Kelsey up for their long drive back. I rode down to a record store, and then made my way to the subway to Hoboken. While awaiting Su (giving me a ride to the airport), I looked across the water at the little Island of Manhattan, and all of the big adventures that happened there in so few of days. From the deterring metal detectors to fraudulent autographs given to sharing a drink with Combichrist to shampoo mini-bars to surprise gift guitars to Hindi walls to Vaginal Astringent to ventriloquist dummies singing Britney Spears to near-death rickshaw rides to sex-offender Muppets, the last four days were a treasure. But the best part was being surrounded by friends. Christina K, the excitable bundle of joy, Lynne, the stylish woman of poise, Christina G, the sincere and endearing, and Kelsey, the sweet, intelligent, and hilarious. Su, John, Brendin, Rexx, Dracos, Mike, Neska, Iam, Anabel, Jet, Annabel, and new friends such as Matt, Thomas, Amanda, Andy, Mel, Panda, and Carl. This is why I came. If Kelsey and Christina G hadn’t implored me to come, I would have stayed home, saving money but coming out the poorer by the loss of the adventure. I love you guys. You mean the world to me.

The real reason.
The real reason.

And now, the countdown to Kinetik 7!

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