After Monster Mania con, after the ups, after the breakdowns, after the downers, there was the comedown. 4 AM in my bed, completely and utterly disoriented. I thrashed around in a habitual search for my phone. To my horror, not only was my key to figuring out what year it was MIA, but I was also still fully clothed and made up. I snapped, my head feeling like a bobble that had run loose. I staggered into my living room, hoping, praying that I might find all of the things that I thought may had burned in a fucked up fire. I could have fallen to my knees in praise of whatever fallen god lives in the floorboards bellow me; it was my purse. Wallet, ID, debit card, keys, phone. Check, check, check, checkity check. Who’s a boss ass bitch? I’m a boss ass bitch. My biggest problems seemed to be limited to the fact that the last member of the lineup seemed to be dying, and so I was I. But I could live with that. I staggered backwards, falling back into bed, letting the fluffiness of my blanket weave into my limbs that were feeling like four popped rubber bands.
With my last floundering ambition, in the comfort of my casket, I clicked on that little red “1.” A dying woman can’t depart without knowing the last fuckboy to hit her in the Facebook inbox.
That’s when I saw it. My phone beeped desperately out of fear of me never knowing the truth; the thirst never quenches.
It was Captain Shorthaired Man, staring back at me stoically.
Sadly, those souless eyes were no stranger to my DM’s. Taquito McNeckbeard had been trying to make it happen since 2011. He was a friend of my older sister’s ex’s turned friend, and we met on a Facebook thread that my sis’s boy had both tagged us in. “Who’s your friend Jenna? She’s cute <3 <3.” Despite being well into his twenties and me still being in high school, Taquito immediately messaged me and sent me the Bandcamp for his band that, if I’m remembering correctly, he was later politely asked to leave. Me being young and not really knowing how to say no when I’m not interested (still working on that one; I’m starting to think that faking your own death is the best option), I chatted back and accepted his friend request. I noticed that he was one of those people that posted…a lot, as if everyone was dying for him to weigh in on whatever hot button issue or his current thoughts on love. One day my freshman year of college I had had enough. He was railing on fat chicks. Certainly people are entitled to their opinions, lord knows I have a couple, but I think I’m also entitled to not have to constantly see them when I’m just trying to keep up with who from high school has gotten knocked up and what’s good with JoeJoe the Capybara. So, I quietly unfriended the T-bag.
But do you think I saw the last of his dad jean-wearing bitch ass? Hell nah.
In the true fashion of the incestuous, basement-dwelling Maryland metal scene, sometime last year this kid came across my profile once more and re-added me. I re-accepted just out of curiosity as to what he wanted. He immediately started commenting on my pictures and tagging me in posts about his new band, and it became evident that he was completely unaware that we had ever spoken before – a sad attempt to slide into the DM’s under the façade of networking. I went to see Crowbar out in the Deliverance-ass town where he lives (the same place where I documented my sorrows at the Maryland “Doom” Fest) and GUESS WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON I SAW STANDING IN THE DOORWAY. FUCKING GUESS. YOU CAN BUY HIM AT 7-ELEVEN. THINK YOU GOT IT?
Unfortunately, he had liked too many of my pictures by this point not to recognize me, and I, of course, couldn’t low key walk past him without having my arm grabbed and being coerced into exchanging formal introductions. Ah, nothing like finally getting to meet the dude who forgot he had already met you. My pussy’s dripping just thinking about it. The worst part of it all is that I was meeting another dude inside who I actually really liked, and despite his hand being around my waist for the vast majority of the night, every time Taquito walked past me, he couldn’t seem to help extending a touch and talking into my ear. At least that was one benefit of the show being at a biker-boner dive in the boonies; the acoustics are so potato that you can’t really hear anything over the sound of the band hitting the paneled ceilings. I just smiled and nodded while my manfriend tried to suppress the urge to punch him in the face.
The next morning, I opened Facebook to find a post longer than the goddamned Magna Carta, penned by no other than everyone’s favorite lukewarm tortilla-shrouded mystery meat. His band, who had been one of the local openers at the show, had been tragically cut short after just two songs so that Crowbar could make their set time. While I acknowledge that that’s a pretty shitty situation, the way he chose to deal with it seemed to be by taking the low road, writing off Crowbar as a “princess national act” and asserting that his band was the only one of the night that got the crowd moving. As the months grew on, his posts only seemed to get increasingly holier than thou. Cut to 2016, and he’s taking harsh stances against Beyonce’s Superbowl performance and just generally falling down the “I’m not racist, but…” shit hole. Media blackouts, tinfoil hats, and that mystical thot on food stamps that drives the Lexus that likes to come out every third full moon when the fog rolls in off the harbor to terrorize the community. Yeah, no thanks. I’d rather hear about what JoeJoe’s being for Halloween. And so, I quietly unfriended him.
But like having herpes and children, some people, no matter how many times you try to send the polite signals that you want them to leave you alone, don’t (and then, yano, go wag their fingers at other people with accusations of being entitled).
So that fateful still drunk/hungover morning, I clicked on his face to see what in the tit-licking fuck he could want now.
“Hey jenna. You were cool, curious as to why I was deleted :/ or if it was my crazy ex that went through and deleted people… Sorry if this is weird or bothering. Just want metal peeps :D”
I dropped my phone right in my face and writhed into my pillow in agony. I couldn’t believe my eyes, yet I could. I got myself back to sleep under the pretenses that I was just going to ignore it, but I woke up a few hours later even angrier. Someone needed to take one for the team and finally put this kid in his place. I sat up, got my phone on the charger, and prepared to deliver some home truths all the way out to the boondocks.
“If I remember correctly I saw a post about ‘libtards’ on the wrong day.” Send.
“Oh, politics,” he responded. I could hear the scoff through his words. “I just don’t like radicals.”
“Your views on race seem pretty radical to me,” I shot back. He proceeded to hit me with tried and true classics such as but not limited to “some of my best friends are black” and “I hate everyone equally.”
I didn’t have the energy to even entertain such lame responses, so I decided to just get petty.
“You also hit on me when I was 15.”
Oh, queen. That did it. I had set off the domino that unrolled the soggy tortilla. He blew up my inbox trying to deny, deny, deny, even though the receipts from 2011 were right there in our chat history.
“But after those false ridiculous claims. Thank you for removing me. Cheers!”
“You asked, I answered. You’re seriously going to message me a question like this and then accuse me of being a liar. Who do you think you are? Seriously. I don’t owe you and explanations in the first place. Cheers!”
He kept the messages flooding, but I didn’t even bother to open any more. I had said what I had needed to. Yet, I was still so damn heated, and I hated myself for it. I decided to go out for some air. Upon further inspection, my car key was missing from my ring, so I figured I should go investigate whether my sister had borrowed it while I was sleeping to go to work or if I had lost it during the prior evening’s shitshow. I stormed around the block to see if it was where I had parked it before I went to the bar. To my relief, I assumed it must have been safe and sound with my sister when I saw it wasn’t there. In retrospect I was too pissed off about Taquito to consider the possibility that someone had actually stolen both my key and my car. I continued to stomp my cowboy boots down the sidewalk, trying to work out in my mind why this kid, and all of the other kids of his ilk, drive me up such a blessed-ass wall.
2 miles later, what I came up with was this:
I get construed as overreacting for not wanting to look at your articles proclaiming roaming gangs of black youth are public enemy number one, yet you’re not overreacting when you get so butthurt over a simple unfriend that your ass is dripping blood. I’m oversensitive for writing a few sentences in defense of GLOSS, yet you spend all goddamned day behind your computer screen constructing every facet of your fucking Facebook in such a way that attempts to validate your fragile opinions. “Wow, everyone is so easily offended now,” he says, proceeding to spend the next two hours in a comment thread because someone disagreed with him, keyboard warriorying between hits of his vape. After all, there’s hurt pride to be salvaged. The great American neckbeard: the biggest crier of them all.
I wish I could just brush them off, but I have trouble doing so. I hate that they get to me, mostly because I feel like I’m falling into a troll trap. But, when I really start to think about it, there’s a good deal of honestly and conviction behind what they say, and when people call them on their bs, they hide behind the world’s laziest “oh, you can’t take a joke” defense. Additionally concerning, and also in complete contradiction to their own assertion that what they say should be taken with a grain of salt, is that they want to bury their biases behind some sort of feigned objectivity. One more time for the cheap seats in the back: I write gonzo style, not because I think my experiences are that interesting, but because I think it’s irresponsible to pretend like they’re not low key shaping my perception of whatever subject it is I’m trying to convey. But despite having a general passion for memes, these kids couldn’t adopt a meta mindset if they tried. In their eyes, everything they say, and every fringe .net “news” website that they try to use as a source, is literally rooted in Aristotelian logic.
So, you say you are about forming some idyllic metal militia, and I’m hindering that by being such a frigid bitch. Yet, here you are, alienating national acts — bands that mean a lot to and have influenced countless people, Yet, here you are, alienating entire races of people, and doing so completely devoid of any sense of self awareness, comedy, or apology — all presented as fact, but defended under the bullshit guise of “don’t be mad, I hate everyone equally, lawl.” It doesn’t get much more insidious than that. *Tips fedora*
I am in no way trying to come to the defense of the SJW’s here. In fact, I think they hinder progress by making a mockery of valid problems and essentially breed these Mountain Dew boner brother goon squads. I guess that’s where the heart of my anger lies; people acting superior when really they’re one of the same. The hypocrisy of it all.
It was one of my more productive walks, I’d say.
After the whole mess of that weekend, I decided to lay low for a while. My patience and liver were running thin and couldn’t withstand much more testing. But to all rules, there is an exception — Eyehategod. Oh yeah, and Discharge. They were playing Baltimore Soundstage and no mortal nor bodily limitation was going to keep me from being there.
The Fireball cannon ball exploded in my sister and I’s apartment; makeup, music, and mayhem spread itself out, wall to wall. Stumbling off our front steps, carefully trying to avoid the gauntlet woven by the spider who had started squatting, and into the backseat of our Uber, ready and eager to tell us about how his nagging wife wasn’t going to be invited to his birthday party at the cigar bar. I started wheezing a bit from force-laughing.
“Can I ask you ladies a question?” he said as he turned the corner in front of the venue. Clearly he had one last gem to get out. “Why do y’all wait until 3:00 in the morning to wake me up and tell me what’s wrong?”
We didn’t miss a beat.
“Ha, we like to let things stew,” I said.
“Yeah, we have to decide whether or not we want to be mad about it,” Julie added, opening up the car door.
I gave him a little wink as I slid out behind her.
“Thank you ladies. You look beautiful. Have a good ni–” I shut it closed.
“Damn, we caught a live one,” I said while draping my hand around her shoulder to regain my balance.
It had been a minute since I had been to Soundstage and I couldn’t believe how much it had changed. The hot spot I used to frequent in college when I was under-aged and unable to form a coherent sentence had been replaced with one of those police state venues (I’m looking at you, Chameleon Club). The TSA agent checking my bag sneered when she shined her flashlight on my camera.
“You’re lucky this show is open photo.”
And so it had begun.
“Uhh, well I have a photo pass waiting inside so…”
“Well there’s no barricade tonight so that’s a waste anyway.”
“Well, just trying to cover all my bases here.” I turned and went on to get carded before something pettier fell out.
Standing front row, attempting to take some test shots of Toxic Holocaust, I quickly began to accept that trying to shoot with no barricade on a night where a fast band is headlining is as futile as trying to turn a taquito into a burrito. I don’t always go to shows these days, but when I do, I prefer to not fear for my life, or more, importantly, the life of my lens. That drool-stained Sleep shirt is pretty tightly stapled to my soul. All I want to do is be able to zone out and take in the groove, but someone’s child with shit to prove had stage diving directly into me .005 into Eyehategod’s set on the agenda instead.
I fell right backwards and sprawled to the floor, my limbs spread out all over everywhere — kind of like what I’d imagine that spider to look like if I ever get the courage to smack it. I could see a few hands spinning over me, but I was done. I just took a minute to lay.
“Are you okay?” I could hear a man’s voice ask.
I supposed I had to get up at some point, so I grabbed the good samaritan that refused to withdraw his arm.
“Are you okay?” He reiterated as my bare legs stretched back up, his shaved head reflecting the obnoxious blue lights. I grabbed onto his motorcycle jacket to try to re-stabilize. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure of the answer to his question, but I nodded anyway, desperately trying to shake off the pangs of embarrassment.
Meanwhile, Randall fucking Blythe, who was probably praying that he wasn’t seen near me when I ate shit, was doing a hell of a job filling in for Mike. His performance was so magnetic that the ghost of Peter Steele could have rode in shirtless on giraffeback and I probably wouldn’t have noticed. With every fucking shriek into the mic, every swing of a lock, his heart was nowhere but fully present. I closed my eyes and the vertigo drifted off.
As per usual, it felt like I blinked and their set was over, but before Discharge could take stage I dis-afuckingpeared into the back. I wasn’t about to take any chances.
Teetering back and forth from foot to foot, trying desperately to stay awake, I contemplated my complicated relationship with punk. So, this was d-beat. I can’t say I was particularly core-shaken, but it was at least pretty damn humbling to have the founders of such a monumental movement right there in the fuckass city of my own. And hey, you never know. I could come into Discharge as a decades-late bloomer, kind of like I did with the Cro-Mags, who I resented for a while after I nearly broke my pussy bone in the pit when they opened for Eyehategod last year. But after letting them marinate a bit, they’ve become nothing but a driving force in my life. Sludge — the gateway to hardcore, apparently.
Much like Harley and John J, Discharge wasn’t too rough on the eyes neither. I rubbed the bruises on my elbows, wishing I could be that solidly built.
As things wrapped up, Julie and I made a quick exist past some mohawked chick arguing with an agent about being readmitted to close her tab. I wasn’t sure what was more shocking; Soundstage security actually giving a shit about where you go, or a crusty with a credit card.
“You know your ass is hangin’ out, right?” some rando shouted from behind me as we walked to the curb to meet our Uber.
I sighed, disappointed that I hadn’t quite managed to escape the night unaccosted. I had grown so tired of it over the summer that I had put all of my high-waisted shorts into retirement. But to all rules, there is an exception — Eyehategod. How else was I supposed to woo Brian Patton, love of my life?
“Don’t acknowledge it, don’t acknowledge it. He just wants a reaction,” Julie whispered.
“I’m just saying your ass is hangin’ out of those shorts. It’s sexy, though.”
Without turning, I slid into the back of Ahmed’s gold Town & County.
Some things never change.