Friday, March 9, 2012

Heroes of Our Time

I don't want to be a snob. I prefer Duke Ellington and Burt Bacharach but when I hear something modern that has some muscle I'll pass it along. Dragonforce is like a dream come true for every aspiring 15 year old shred guitarist. And that's enough because no one buys more merchandise with dragons on it than 15 year old boys. The name itself seems like it was picked by a teenager. "And I want two incendiary guitarists and a singer with a voice like a demon." Ok.
Where Lamb of God dominates the percussion side of metal, Dragonforce has no equal on the six (12) strings. These are sick sick solos. Herman Li is the long haired guitarist using something called a hot hand wah filter (that black ring of power on his picking hand) Look close to see what effect he gets from it like a magician coaxing screams from his instrument without picking a string. I almost want to get one.
I swear these lyrics read like they were assembled randomly from a fortune cookie factory in Hell's Chinese restaurant. Or maybe they went through Metallica's shredded garbage and pieced a song together.

"Across the endless sands,
Through the fields of our despair,
Dream for all eternity, we stand, yeah,"

Yeah? Yeah, what? Dream for all eternity? What does that mean? Endless sands? Fields of our despair? This isn't even good enough to pass as a B-side song by Boston or Queen. None of the lyrics mean anything except as vague metaphors to teenage boys. Again, in heavy metal, that's enough. Stairway to heaven is no different. It's junk food for the guitar hero generation and I like it. Rock n roll demons and fly through falling stars, ride on flaming meteors of your ego.

Here are the lyrics since I couldn't understand anything the singer said. Be warned, if you want poetic expression of Yeats or Kipling then keep looking...this is the stuff of dreamy teenagers scribbling lyrics in lined notebooks as tattoos for paper dragons and plastic demons:

Lost in a dream, finally it seems,
Emptiness and everlasting madness,
See the sadness grow, watching as we know,
Blinded for our journey for the world,
Call for us, the power in all of us,
So far beyond the blackened sky tonight...
Glorious, forever more in us,
We are victorious, and so alive.

We'll all find our sacrifice tomorrow,
Our journey on towards a brighter day,
Silent tears we left behind, still so far away,
Across the endless sands,
Through the fields of our despair,
Dream for all eternity, we stand, yeah,
Rise above the universe tonight,

Fly towards the storm, see the world reborn,
Feel the pain inside, the voice, the sorrow,
Across the distant shores, find the open door,
Stand alone, in judgment for tomorrow.

Years of pain still haunt us all, we saw the last sunrise,
Take me home, in freedom, for a lifetime...
Praying on for the silence, and the last tears will blind,
So glorious, this fight inside, united we stand.

And we'll all find our sacrifice tomorrow,
Our journey on towards a brighter day,
Silent tears we left behind, still so far away,
Across the endless sands,
Through the fields of our despair,
Dream for all eternity, we stand, yeah,
Rise above the universe tonight,

Free from this world, here for the last time,
Oceans collide inside of us all,
Believe who we are,
The phoenix will guide us,
Freedom will rise once again.


Save us tonight, the last hope for all of us,
Light-years gone by, we're still holding on,
Save us tonight, a star shines in all of us,
Far beyond our lives, still our glory lives on.

And we'll all find our sacrifice tomorrow,
Our journey on towards a brighter day,
Silent tears we left behind, still so far away,
Across the endless sands,
Through the fields of our despair,
Dream for all eternity, we stand, yeah,
Rise above the universe tonight,

Our kingdom come, we stand as one,
And we will live for always evermore...


This really is a crazy series of events. First I watch "127 Hours" about the kid who goes into a canyon and a boulder rolls on his arm and traps him so he carves it off at the elbow and escapes. I'm watching it and thinking that it's such a small chance of that happening. 1 in a billion. But you could say it's his destiny, the rock waiting for him since the beginning of time.
So, there was nothing he could do to escape it....
So, I go to walk to the mail box down the street to drop the movie in the slot. Netflix shuffle.
And what else? So, I wait for a few cars, a truck speeds by and I stop. Seconds are counting. I jog across the street and then shuffle past some kids with slouching jeans and ass cracks smiling hello to the world. I frown at the state of the world, knockout gangs punching Brazilian dishwashers for a game and posting it on facebook to brag. Go ahead, take a swing, I think. Last thing you'll ever do. But the kids walk on.
I stop at a car with a busted out window and a flat spare tire, riding on rims. two seconds tick by.
Then I continue to walk on and smiling and bopping down the sidewalk in my bell bottom jeans....then I see out of the corner of my eye a door open. A furry shape moves toward me and all I hear is, "blah blah blah...won't bite."
The next instant I have a short ball of fur and muscle trying to tear my right arm off...exactly at the spot where Aron Ralston cut his arm off...the exact spot...the dog has circled me and had anywhere on my body to bite but it attacks my right arm at the elbow driving his canines into my muscle and cowering after I aim an Oggy finger into its eyes.
The dog rushes back to his owner who is horrified, a man who had never seen his dog do anything untoward.
"6 years old. Blah blah blah. Man, I'm sorry."
"You never can tell," I mumble looking at the bleeding bite.
I have horrible luck with dogs. I was raped by a huge Great Dane when I was young. Yeah, it's not funny. It hunted me down with 6 foot strides down Richards Ave and tackled me and humped my ass while all my friends pointed and laughed as his sharp claws dug into my shoulders and hips and his slobber and semen covered my neck and back. Real funny.
Then I was walking down a dirt road in Ecuador, stoned out of my mind of South American weed, and I was attacked by a hoard of rabid dogs and defended myself with rocks and screams until the locals came with shovels to save me.
Then I was in Arcata, Ca, and a miniature poodle darted out of a house like a bullet and before the lady could yell a word the dog had taken a big chunk out of my calf and darted back to the safety of the car as I limped away. Oh, I hate poodles.
There was a mother dog in Santa Cruz who attacked an old woman in front of a library, then attacked a homeless person who shattered a bottle in the dog's face after having his entire shirt torn off. One puppy fell through the slots of the wooden pier and drowned while stoned hippies gaped in wonder and my crude redwood branch crutches crumbled in defeat.
There was the dog in Labrador who chased me for the fastest quarter mile of my life. It's a long list that has the latest chapter added to it.
But the circumstances surrounding a dog attack that involves my right arm while returning a movie where a person loses his right arm is too strange to ignore. It's destiny. That dog had been waiting 6 years to cross my path and bite me. He had an exact window of about 2 seconds to walk out of his house and see me and run from his owner and attack me. 1 second either way and that attack never would've happened.
Chances are good that will be the last thing the dog does as the owner had its neck in a fatal choke-hold as I limped away. Midwest people have rules and if you are a dog and bite someone who isn't robbing the house then your next drink will be injected into your neck and you will be cremated and replaced before the sun goes down. There are lots of dogs and it's up to the dog to figure out who is a threat and who isn't. Dogs are tools like screwdrivers and when it's worn out it goes in the garbage. The dog was thinking it's better to bite now and ask questions later but I'm pretty sure there won't be a later for that dog. Unlike that fucking shit ass poodle who definitely lived a long and healthy life, this dog is doomed. But I'm stuck with a one armed deep flesh wound bleeding so I have to type with one hand. Bullshit, but it's destiny.

Cripiltude and Cosmic Rays

The tale of this particular affliction dates far back into an era we called "The Nineties"
No, wait, this started even earlier as the eventual crippling of my toes and foot was actually the result of a totally different injury. I was on the surgeon's table in England as he sharpened his knives to cut tendons off but then he decided it was better to wait. The actual injury is hard to pin down but it involved breaking the heel bone off at the Achilles tendon in the other foot so that the bone rattled around under my skin like a fishing line baiting demon trout. That started a chain reaction that debilitated me in  number of ways as I spent three years on a series of makeshift crutches. That's three years of quietly plotting my adventures, dreaming of when I could walk again. I once limped into the bottom of Death Valley, 97 degrees at 11PM, coyotes and snakes scurried on the perimeter of my campfire and I stayed awake to fend them off by attaching a survival knife to the tip of my walking stick. "Come on, motherfuckers," I yelled like Scarface. It was better than the surgeon's table.
Blah blah blah, bicycle trip to Alaska, blah blah blah, agonizing 6 months digging concrete dust from the bottom of a offshore supply vessel cement tank off the coast of Texas blah blah blah 150,000 white pine trees planted in the strip-mined Kentucky coal country. Santa Cruz was actually the nail in the coffin as I remember limping to the Food Not Bombs kitchens with a bag of day old bread as my donation, eschewing every form of motor vehicle, dragging my juggling pins and plywood guitar along, protesting to return the land to the Ohlone Indians whose clam bakes and deer blankets were preferable to heroin needles in polluted storm drains by the roller coaster, fixing my bicycle in the pouring rain using found objects from the railroad track scrapyard. But the whole time my toes were splaying out like the webbed feet of a duck billed platypus. Permanent damage to tendons and bones. blah blah blah. Abusive girlfriend turns into crack whore...blah blah blah. Boo hoo Oggy.

But the latest chapter was the lobster processing gig that tore the walls of my abdomen, took ten years of cartilage from my wrists and wore a hole into my toe until it was a bloody pulp.

So, I thought this was going to be the end of the toe and I'd have to amputate it with my Leatherman like Aron Ralston did to his arm in the movie "127 hours."
But then I found this toe straightener device in the geriatric section of the goodwill and decided to give it a shot. It's merely three elastic bands that fit around the arthritic toes and pull the down and when you wear shoes the toes don't rub against the leather and tear the skin off.
It doesn't take the years off my once chestnut colored hair or take the meatloaf crumbs from my chest fur but it does provide a little relief and at this end game portion of my heart diseased life when diabetes is sweeping the country like the boll weevil and Asian long horned beetle, I need anything I can get.

On other fronts it's hard to be pessimistic when you see kids practicing baseball in hooded sweatshirts, healthy and looking forward to the new season. I got my Bob Wills songbooks to learn my western swing set. There's a dance club in Europe that uses the kinetic energy of the dance floor to squeeze particles that generates current that then powers the air conditioning machine. And I saw on PBS that rocket scientists have invented a jet powerful enough to reach Mars in 4 months...because Man is not content to look down at his arthritic toes. As one astronaut said of deadly cosmic rays, "There are inherent dangers with space travel. All you can do is minimize them and move forward." We'll get to Mars and beyond. Me and my crippled toes probably won't make the trip but the ravaged planet earth won't be Man's final grave.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.