Thursday, November 21, 2013

34_If They Fall, You Pick Em Up

Let me be clear about one thing.  I have no illusions as to what people think of my passionate love for hardcore and metal.  It's something that anyone who truly loves metal has to deal with at some point: realizing that no matter what, no matter where, you will never walk in to a random, non-explicitly "metal" bar and hear Slayer.  You will never be at a random party where someone decides "Ya know what we need to listen to?  Misery Signals."  Yes, you can always listen to it on your iPod.  Yes, you can sneak something in to the bar playlist that maybe won't go noticed, but you'll never find yourself sitting at a bar talking to a random barfly next to you about how you both absolutely love As I Lay Dying because "An Ocean Between" cropped up on the Happy Hour playlist.

So, that out of the way, let me explain a bit why I put up with that crap.  Aside from a profound love of the music, that is.

This past weekend marked the final Atlanta show of the renowned (something)core act, The Chariot.  While I'm not the biggest fan of theirs, my friend Brian is.  Months ago he put it up on Facebook that he was gathering the troops together to drive down and see the Atlanta, Georgia show.  At the time it was their final show ever, although standing in line to get in to The Masquerade right in the ATL, we found out they'd added another final-er show.  I'm going to say that that one doesn't count.

After closing the bar on Friday, I went home, drank a whiskey, packed my bags and got absolutely zero sleep.  The plan was to meet at the 195 park and ride and head from there.  I supposed I could have had Brian pick me up, but the idea of taking a cab to a park and ride at 5:30 in the morning appealed to my sense of adventure.

I met up with Brian and his friend Josh, jumped into the backseat and was asleep in minutes.  Somewhere in Virginia, I woke up and was alive for the rest of the journey down.  We stopped in South Carolina to pick up another of Brian's friends, Dave, who we met at one South Carolina's 218,841 Waffle Houses.  Proceeding down to Atlanta, blasting a variety of our favorite albums, we grew more and more excited, in a bittersweet sort of way, knowing that we were going to go see one of the best The Chariot shows ever, albeit their last.

We parked, shed our cellphones, wallets and other belongings and headed inside.  The venue, The Masquerade, is a massive place (the downstairs holds another, separate venue where an American Idol pop singer was performing that night) and to get to our room, we had to walk up a narrow flight of solid wooden stairs.  Something about walking up those stairs made it seem like we weren't just entering a concert hall.  It was really very cool.

We headed towards the front and waited.  The crowd, the entire time, was convivial, joking with us about the show, trading jokes with us about what was about to happen.  "Oh, there's a show tonight?  I just showed up because I like the bar!" and such.  On a related note, after doing a shot with the bar tender, even though she said she wasn't allowed, I never saw her again that night.  So, Maggie, if I got you fired, I'm really sorry.

There were four opening acts and by the end of the fourth, I was pressed like a sardine against the front railing, holding on with one hand, reaching out to the stage with the other.  The guy next to me talked to me about the Ravens playing the Jets.  The couple in front of me talked about other shows they'd been to.  Brian and the others were somewhere behind me.  I caught a glimpse of Brian and we nodded to each other.  Shit was about to get real.

Not knowing The Chariot that well, I opted to shove my way out of the very front to save it for someone else and headed towards the middle of the crowd.  I wasn't worried about missing out on the action.  When The Chariot came on, it reminded me a bit like the first few moments of Saving Private Ryan, when the doors go down on the landing craft and the front few rows of guys are just goners.

There was no mosh pit.  There was no simple, prescribed area where the show's energy manifested itself in violence.  The entire crowd was a writhing mass of twisting aggression, the words shouted along to the band in between jostling kicks and elbow throws.  "Remember," Dave had told Josh in the car on the way down, "nothing is personal in the pit."  And he's right.

At some point I moved towards the center of the crowd, where the most people were boosting themselves up to crowd surf.  I helped as best as I could, but when someone's foot came down directly onto the bridge of my nose, and then another right on my head, I had to head to the bathroom for a minute and splash water on my face.  I spat blood into the sink and knew that it was one of the best shows I'd ever seen.

How to accurately describe a The Chariot show?  By the end, there was no stage, there was no band and there was no crowd.  There was just a mass of people, some on a platform higher than others.  There was no single band, as members of all the opening acts were also out, stage diving, climbing the rafters or, and this is true, laying on top of the crowd beating a drum.  Oh, your show had a circle in the middle where a few guys jumped around a bit?  How quaint.

Towards the end of the show, about the time the crowd was invading the stage, the atmosphere stirred to something else.  It is times like that (I was in the back observing with a much needed cup of water) that you realize that aggression, the trait that The Chariot is most musically known for, as well as hope, fear, anger and happiness are all simply matters of energy.  Any strong emotion or passion is simply a matter of energy being released.  The screaming stage diver and the hands reaching up to catch him are acting on the same impulse.  At times like those, you begin to think that maybe there are only two states: tension and release.

Standing at the back, watching the show not so much end as taper off into a natural conclusion, I remembered something that Dave and I had told Josh about the mosh pit.  "If someone falls, you pick them up."  End of story.  And that is where the energy collides.  In those moments when someone falls and hands reach out to pull them up, even if they were the same hands that knocked them down, there is a strange sort of bond that you don't get simply by striking up a conversation with the person next to you at the bar when a shared favorite song comes on.

It begs the question:  how many friends do you have who would pick you up, no matter what?  An honest question to ask yourself at any time, it gains new meaning when you know that at that point, during that show, someone would always be there to pick you up to rejoin the pit, no matter what.  Even if it means you're going to jump back in and fall again, there will always be someone to pick you up.  Always.  You'll never find that at a Black Keys' concert.

That is why I put up with the shit that comes with loving metal/(whatever)core music.  Saturday's show just allowed me to put it into words more clearly than I ever had been able to before.

And so, much thanks, and farewell to The Chariot.
Long live.

- Kid

Monday, September 23, 2013

33_Rowan Atkinson and My Feelings about Football

Ah, Mondays.  While the rest of you all slave away at that work thing you do, I get to relax and enjoy a beautiful fall day to myself.  What makes it so great?  It's simple really:  no football.

Now don't get me wrong, I like to watch football as much as anyone else.  It's a great sport.  But after this weekend, I just do not care anymore how awesome it is.  Having to work both the post-Maryland/West Virginia game and both sides of the Raven's game the next day, I'm over it.

I don't care if you're celebrating the victory or mourning your loss.  You're drunk, annoying and immature and I just do not care why they won/lost because next time they do the opposite, you'll be saying the exact opposite.  Also, keep it down in here, there are families trying to eat dinner in peace.

I could go on, but instead, I'll let Rowan Atkinson say it, because this clip is so spot on perfect, there's no sense in me trying to out do it:

- Kid

Saturday, September 21, 2013

32_Warning: Feels.

The other night, I shared a link that was meant to be a list of things that us Generation Y kids should understand.  It didn't take long for a few of us to realize how pathetic and misogynistic this list was.  As much as we are going to create a counter list, there was one point that threw me into a rage:

#90:  You're most likely to be the cause of your own depression.

The implication being that if I were to not cause my own depression, I could be OK.  So all that I need to do is not be depressed.

Guess what.

As much as your article is categorically wrong about so many things, it is without a doubt, and offensively, wrong about this.  The depression that I deal with is not a matter of my mindset, but rather a matter of my brain chemistry.  It is not something that I can will away by simply wanting to be happy.  It is a part of who I am and it is a part of how I will be for the rest of my life.

Here's a story for you.  Once, when I was a sophomore in college, I went to get some chicken tenders and french fries for lunch.  I also grabbed some barbecue sauce packets.  But I grabbed too many.  And in that moment, I thought the worst things possible.  I thought about doing terrible things to myself because I took too many barbecue sauce packets.  No, there was no reason for me to consider those things.  But I did.

And that's what you don't get.  It's not about being sad once in a while.  It's not about terrible things happening.  It's about stupid shit that happens to you every day and the strange guilt, shame and hopelessness you feel making those decisions.  EVERY. DAY.  It's about seeing that extra packet of barbecue sauce and wanting to give up.

What people don't realize is that depression is not a weekend warrior.  It is not you just being sad.  It is a something that you deal with EVERY. DAMN. DAY.  All day.  Every day.  It's something that is a part of you.

So to hear things like this that imply that all I need to do to cure my depression is to simply not be depressed anymore is just...insulting.  To say the least.  I have built a life out of fighting my depression and I will not give up anytime soon.  It is something that I struggle with EVERY DAY. EVERY DAMN FUCKING DAY.  End of story.  But I will win.  Because, least of all, I refuse to let assholes tell me that all I need to do is smile more.

And I smile a lot.  Because I get it.  Because I have to.

- Kid

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I wrote this piece of flash fiction about five years ago.  Maybe six.  I'm not too sure, but that's sort of the point.  The point is, and always will be, that some things stick in your mind and stay there.  No matter what year it is, what time of year it is, what day of the week it is, an hour or a millennium after it happened, you're always back there in that singular moment.  A part of me is kicking myself for not posting this on yesterday's calendar day.

The greater part of me knows that this is not about that day, but about every day after it.  It is about the anniversary of every day after, compared to that singular moment.  For a while that made sense, it seemed to fit.  Until, after a while, you start to wonder why you aren't comparing yourself back to other times, to other things.  And still, we don't have a good answer to that question.

Without further ado:


He lays behind her on the bed and pulls at her remaining feathers, whispering softly to himself with each pluck: “She loves me she loves me not...” She is brushing her hair, vaguely looking out the slits between the blinds into the morning sun. It is the day of the Anniversary and he can feel the tension in her shoulders, the apprehension in her spine.

“Are you alright?” he asks. She shrugs. Her face falls into a confused sort of frown. She stops brushing and looks down at her hands, unsure of what to do with them.

“Are you going out today or staying in?” she asks.

“Probably staying in. At least until it's over,” he says. She nods.

Outside the window the city is caught in morning gridlock. Cars snarl in the hot September air, spitting fumes out at the masses of pedestrians that weave between them. He has not been to the window to see, but he can imagine the same tension that is in her shoulders gripping the city, preparing to tighten and immobilize it.

“I hate watching the clock like this, waiting for it to happen,” she says with a sigh. He plucks another feather, twirls it between his fingers and then sits up.

“You'd rather be blissfully ignorant?” he asks.

“I'd rather go back to how thing were before it all happened,” she says.

“Blissfully ignorant,” he says.

“That was so long ago I don't remember what it was like,” she says.

“All you did was sit around with wings you never used singing songs you didn't believe,” he says.

She is about to speak as the clock strikes 8:45. In unison, the city's ten thousand church bells ring once, sending a deep shudder through the streets that echoes in every alley and every foundation.

The population stops in its tracks, the tension clamping down on every leg, every lung, pressing down on every shoulder. It is the Anniversary of the day the tallest buildings in the city tumbled down. It is the Anniversary of the day the angels started to lose their feathers.

She sits rigidly on the bed, staring out the window, waiting for a breath of movement in the stifling stillness of the city. He picks at his nails. Finally he sighs and plucks out one of her last two feathers.

“What are you doing?” she hisses.

“What?” he asks innocently.

“We're supposed to stay still,” she says.

He shrugs. “And you're supposed to stay quiet.” She glares at him. He rolls his eyes and walks over to the window. He pulls the blinds up, jerks the window open and leans his head out the window.

“Hey you all down there,” he shouts, “You're dead already, you just don't know it yet.” He pulls his head back in and turns around. She is staring at him, shocked and speechless. She opens her mouth but does not know whether to speak or scream. He walks back across the room and lays down beside her on the bed. He pulls out the last of her feathers.

“How in hell did you just do that?” she asks, her voice trembling between terror, hatred and fascination.

“You're like all of them, above and below. You're immobilized by your fear. You traded in your wings for this stillness and it killed you. You just don't know it yet. I'm too angry to be held down by that sort of fear, too angry at everyone else for falling into it.”

“You're a monster,” she says.

“And you wish you could be one,” he says. She looks down at him and then stands up without saying a word. She walks across the room and slams the door behind her as she leaves. He lays back in the bed with the very last of her feathers resting on his chest.

She walks back through the city to her own apartment. She packs only what she can carry and puts a note and a check on the kitchen counter for the landlord. She walks out into the September sun, past the frozen mobs, past the rumbling, idle cars and buses. She walks to the river and, when the city timidly starts to move again, takes a ferry to the other side, leaving behind the island fortress of skyscrapers.

On the mainland, she finds a bus station and buys a one-way ticket. She decides to head south, where the air is warmer, where things move slower and where people revel in their fear of God, death and change.

* * * * *

He does not watch her go but can imagine her storming through the silent streets, propelled by her anger. He picks up the last of her feathers off his chest and says to himself: “She loves me.” He smiles and rolls over, away from the window.

God might, but he does not blame her for being afraid, for being angry or for walking out on him. “She is,” he says to himself, looking at the pile of discarded feathers on his bed, “only human.”

- Kid

Saturday, July 20, 2013

30_A True Story

The other day, actually the past two weeks or so, I was in a bit of a slump.  I blame the heat for the most part, but it just happened to be the kind of day that I was content to not even get dressed and instead just order take out while watching Netflix shows that I don't even care much about.

It happens.

So, to get out of it, on Wednesday, I decided to play a game with myself.  I started listing all of the interesting things that have happened in my life.  My thought was that if I'm the kind of person who would lay around in bed all day doing fokol (yes, this is a post about South Africa, so we're getting right in to it), it would be a short list.  It was not.  It was rather extensive and rather, well, interesting.  I was kind of impressed with myself.

It lead me to realize that I haven't talked much about South Africa in specific terms.  I mostly talk in general terms to customers on the other side of the bar.  "Hey Pete, how was South Africa?  What's it like?" "Well...[launches in to a fairly standard speech about the political/social issues]."  But I don't talk much about what I did.  In the interest of explaining how interesting I am, here is the story of (simultaneously) one of the coolest and worst jobs I ever had.

(A disclaimer:  I'm feeling long-winded tonight and I figure I owe you something on the longer side after my summer vacation.)

The Time I was a Driver for a Liquor Store in South Africa

I've mentioned this fact before, but like most of what happened in SA, not in detail.  It was something of a passing curiosity and I think the reason I never talked too much about it was because I chalked it down to the long list of odd jobs I've had.  Food service, retail, whatever category being a carny falls into and lots of others, I've had a lot of interesting jobs.  So I think I glossed over it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

29_The April Challenge: Day 33: Small Victories

Tomorrow I run my first half marathon.  To explain how weird of a feeling this is, I have to go way back.  In December, before running my first ever race, I felt like I used to feel when competing.  It was that laying awake at night, trying to calm down feeling, the anxiety bubbling up no matter how much I'd trained or how prepared I felt.  And I used the word anxiety, not panic, because anxiety works both ways.  It can freak you out, and it can make you want something more.  People forget that, this day and age.

Still I have to go back way further than December.  Three years ago, almost to the day, I was graduating from college, the realization that I had nowhere to go in life about twelve hours away from crashing down on me.  Two years ago, I was in South Africa, a four month old puppy in hand and nine months of trying to hold a crumbling relationship together ahead of me.  A year ago, I was back in the States, the idea that I needed to do something to improve myself floating vaguely through my head.

So here I am, trying to calm down, realizing that all of my disappointments with myself this past month - still too much drinking (despite a considerable cut back), not enough running, etc - pale in comparison to the past.  Have I really reached my goal this month?  No.  But what I've come to realize is that I can't call myself any sort of failure.  I plan on keeping this up.  I don't plan on stopping after this one month.  Every pound I've lost, every one I will lose, is another small victory for myself.

And apparently people are noticing too.  Which is cool.

Day 33 Stats:
Weight:  167 lbs
BMI:  27.0
Fat %:  21.0

Not As Embarrassing No-Shirt "After" Photo:

Current Crossfit Rating:

Wish me luck!

- Kid

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

28_The April Challenge (Day 2)

I was going to post this yesterday, but then you jokers would have assumed that it was an April Fool's prank and I assure you, it is not.

This month (well, a little more than a month actually.  From now until the Frederick Half Marathon on May 5th), I'm embarking on a fitness challenge including daily exercise, lots of running, a lower fat, low dairy, high protein diet and absolutely no booze.  I started back at the gym today and boy was it a doozey.  Thing is though, no matter how hard you push yourself, it's still a lot easier when you're not hungover.

So, some baseline stats:
Weight:  172 lbs.
BMI:  27.7
Fat %:  21.4

Embarrassing No Shirt "Before" Picture:

Current Crossfit rating:

Weekly updates to come.

Wish me luck!  Or, ya know, you could also do this and then we can complain about it together.  Either one.

- Kid