Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Are You Damned In Hell?
"Satan Sitting...And He's Smiling" - Black Sabbath
"Satan Watches All Of Us, Smiles As Some Do His Bidding" - Slayer
"Now, Hail Satan! Yes, Hail Satan" - Mercyful Fate
"Satan Records Our Best Note" - Venom
While teaching/hosting KZSU's recent Metal S'Heshin (A History of Heavy Metal - 1968-85) one of my students asked me if I believed in Satan. My answer was "no" but I had also said that it's interesting yet highly outdated concept. What I forgot to mention is why I've come to that specific conclusion. On one hand, a guy with a pitchfork, horns on his his head and a tail isn't very threatening. (Well, maybe if he's 40 feet tall but let's keep things in perspective). However, living in a concentration camp sure as hell is. Having your relatives blow up by terrorists is. Having your kids taken away from you and drafted into a senseless war sure is. Living under a dictator is.
All these examples are pure hell.
More to the topic of this blog, I've seen far too many album covers, seen too many horror movies, read too many "satan-o-spoiltation" books and seen too many "satanic panic" topics on talk shows to ever believe in an all-encompassing "evil one". Having said that, my teen years were much different mindset. I experimented with the idea of Christianity. That is, I read the Bible or at least all of the references I found from my albums: Revelations in particular because it's so focused on the apocalypse and living "in the shadow of atomic fea-ah" (as Discharge would say) it made sense. Plus, I read bits of Exodus (still not as good reading as "Bonded By Blood"), Genesis (which still makes NO sense to me) and some random Proverbs. I went to church with my mom a few sporatic times. This was a pretty inclusive, liberal Presbyterian church in Pleasanton. They were pretty harmless. Boring but mostly harmless. My friend at the time, Danny on the other hand was a born again Christian. Who's like every other Born Again I would know, was a major hypocrite. In fact Danny was just like a certain Alferd E. Newman lookalike we all know and loathe There's an entire write up in the old print version of "Stoner Wall" but the snapshot is:
- Born Again Christian and Grandson of an Arkansas preacher
- Told me multiple times that I was "going to hell" for not knowing things in the Bible. I mean, not just saying it but threatingly saying it. That warped my 7 year old mind and pissed off my parents (who instantly hated him).
- His sister was friends with my high school's only real "mod" (and one of at least 4 not yet out of the closet gay guys)
- Had odd ideas about "devil rock" Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen were OK but NOT: Iron Maiden, Ozzy/Black Sabbath, Dio, Slayer, et. al.
- Said he was never, ever gonna take drugs yet I got high plenty of times with him in '86 and the last time at the Metallica/Ozzy show @ The Cow Palace (June, 1986)
- His house had a big 'ol bloody Jesus nailed to a crucifix in the hallway - so obvious that they put it in the line of the door. So anytime they opened the door - it's "Hey you non-believing asshole - look what your sins did to me! It's ALL your fault! Now worship me you sorry bastard!"
- I later drove around Foothill Road (creepy, narrow road near our High School that went out into Sunol and more serene environs) with him, my friend Steve & Darren whilst listening to King Diamond while he was egged on by Steve in wanting to experience the urban legend of the "the white witch of Niles (Canyon), dood!"
- During his senior year in high school he came back from a weekend of "taking sooo much acid at the 'Dead show".
- While he hated "queers" and "niggers" yet seemed OK about his sister listening to Culture Club and also he his favorite athlete was Tony Dorsett and his favorite comedians were Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy. Yep, just like that scene in "Do The Right Thing".
- He later told me that he thought "backwards masking was bullshit". So, for a short time there was a glimmer of hope albeit one still stained by his hypocritical gay bashing & racism.
My friend Chad was a counter-balance to Danny. He actually had a copy of "The Satanic Bible" AND "The Necromonicon" yet he believed in neither that or not much of Christianity either. He just had a facination with the occult and "the underworld". Since I wasn't much of a 'joiner' to these things I was certainly open to reading about it. "The Satanic Bible" was a bit of a hoot, I later understood LaVey's cyncism a bit better in college. Amusing but silly at times. The Necromoicon was something else. Albeit fantasy, myth or (if you believe the "Evil Dead") real? it was something evil yet beyond mere "satan" and "god". This was about the Ancient Ones and some bizarre life forces from thousands of years ago with crazy names like Yug-Soggoth. Sounds more evil that Lucifer.
Sometime in the spring of '85 I found a 4" crucifix in my backyard. I have no idea where it came from but I promptly hammered it up-upside down that is above my door. Admittedly it creeped me out and so the upside down position stayed for only 6 days. Hence my belief then in god, Jesus AND Satan seemed to all balance things out. So I flipped it to the "normal" position of toes downside Jesus. The Gideons (yes they actually exist) gave out Bibles at my school and I read more of Genesis and some stuff about Noah and the flood. (more impossibilities). The orange pocket bible had some intro page with an American flag on it. Which in my initial punk/"fuck the government" years I drew flames over then immediately ripped apart. I don't regret that decision.
In later years (1996 to be exact) I carried on a great tradition started by my Uncle. I was staying at a hotel in Austin, TX and found a Bible. In the first blank page I wrote "Best Wishes, The Authors" and also threw in "P.S. - It's all made up!" I think David Cross had it dead on when he said that the Bible was the funniest book ever written. Since really there is so many improbabilities such as the "loving god" hating Sodomities yet letting Lot procreate with his daughters?!? I suppose I don't need to list the litany of hypocrisy's of that book as there's plenty out there doing it for me.
Getting back to Satan, it wasn't only music that drew me to checking out the darkside. Comic books like Eerie, Creepy and even Ghost Rider warped my young mind. Around 1984, I took a road trip to Santa Cruz with my mom & her then boyfriend, Bob. One of the main stops was the Bookshop Santa Cruz. This was back when it had that real "homey" feel to it: wood panelling, windows that hadn't been washed in months, the occasional cobweb (or 5) and the bookstore cat. (Always a good sign). I looked through the sci-fi and horror section for a bit until a book popped out at me. It was Piers Anthony's "Faith of Tarot" which was part 3 of his "Tarot Sequence". Something about a Reverend named Brother Paul. I flipped through a few pages until I got to the vivid descriptions of hell. The sentence "shit in the mouth of God!" was in there somewhere and based on that and uh...this:
I knew I HAD to have this book. My mom didn't balk at it (always one to encourage reading, he-he!). Now I just eat satan er...seitan instead of being spooked by him.