Saturday, December 9, 2006

Idealism and the Iraq Conundrum


Much is being made of the recently released Iraq study group findings here in America. This is a blue ribbon panel of mostly ex-statesmen of extremely high repute. Their words portray a bleak assessment of Iraq, describing the situation as "grave" and "deteriorating." It is easy to not see the silver lining in the clouds, especially while it looks like its raining and the rain will never stop. The words "grave" and "deteriorating" could easily describe many situations in the history of our country. Washington's winter predicament at Valley Forge, the cause of Texas freedom after the battle of the Alamo, the Union of the United states after Lee routed the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville and, since this is the 65th anniversary of the Pearl harbor attack, the period from Dec 7, 1941 to the June 1942 battle at Midway, all these were "grave" and "deteriorating" situations that our country has faced. In every instance, and so many more, this was also a time when the American spirit of independence, perserverence and resourcefullness rose to the occaision and led to some of the greatest moments in American history. Which is to say, some of the greatest moments in the history of the world. It is an unfortunate reality that the media is not looking for that certain triumph that is neccessarily born out of "grave" and "deteriorating" situations, but instead wishes to assist the enemies of freedom throughout the world by trying to convince the American people that the hand of certain, inevitable doom is upon us and we are bound to fail. Worse, the media often try to portray America as deserving to fail. But failure is not an American concept.
World War II was a popular war for the American people in that it was easy for the entire country to get mobilized behind the war effort after being directly attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. It also didn't hurt that the American people could easily see it as a war of survival. A battle between the forces of freedom and totalitarianism. The Japanese at least had the (decency?) to attack a military target. How is it that in the wake of an equally costly (in lives) attack against a civilian target on September 11, 2001, the country is so willing to avoid the fight that is necessary. YES NECESSARY!! For this is just as much a war of survival.
In the aftermath of the attack, President Bush vowed to go after the terrorists, and the states who support them, wherever they are found. At the time he had what appeared to be an angry, indignant nation behind him, ready to do anything that was necessary to bring the wrath of the United States against them. After the quick disposal of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein foolishly went out of his way to make himself an enemy of the United States.....again. A plethora of arguments can be made for and against attacking Iraq. Certainly there turned out to be no substantial supply of weapons of mass destruction, but after 9/11 would you be willing to give Saddam's regime the benefit of the doubt? This is a regime that violated 16 UN resolutions since the conclusion of the first gulf war. After destroying his army in the field, we, GENEROUSLY, allowed the government to continue as this was the wish of the members of the coalition that joined us in that engagement. We had every reason to expect, and every right to insist that he follow the terms of the surrender agreement. He had every reason to expect and we had every right to carry out his destruction for failing to live up to the terms. It is as simple as that. That Saddam was being uncooperative with the international community and himself having dealings with certain members Al-Qadea in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was extreme suicidal foolishness on his part. I have no problem with destroying him.
I even have a particular fondness for some of the thinking behind President Bush's actions. The idea of seeding a free and democratic government into the middle east is truly thinking with foresight, despite what his detractors would have you believe. Rather than accept the "reality" of the middle east and look for "practical" and "pragmatic" solutions for dealing with it's ongoing problems, the president chose the bold approach of attempting to alter the reality of the area. (or, as Captain James Tiberius Kirk would say: "He Changed the conditions of the test.") Now that is the kind of thinking that is uniquely American.
I have recently seen a couple of speeches on cable TV by both former President Bill Clinton and Senator Barack Obama. Amazingly they use such similar language in promoting their own personal agendas, as well as in their criticism of President Bush's policies. They both criticize his "idealist" approach preferring to, as they put it "live in reality." Their approach in dealing with Iraq and the middle east (and really everything else as well) is to assess the situation and look for "practical" and "pragmatic" solutions. This has a high minded and intellectual tone to it, and it may even sound reasonable when spoken by charismatic politicians such as these, but it fails to answer the primary question in dealing with the issue of Islamic terrorism: How can you be reasonable with unreasonable people? Those people who seek to undermine freedom in the middle east are themselves idealists. Their ideology is a particularly harsh and fascist brand of Islam. They are fighting a religious war and therefore so are we. Mainstream and supposedly moderate Islam has failed to address or condemn the actions of these groups. Therefore they act with courage and conviction with idealistic principles and, in their minds, with the endorsement of their God. It provides them with an unrestrainable ambition to fight against the "unbelievers" of the world. How are you going to be "practical" and "pragmatic" in dealing with people who will strap a bomb on their own child to blow up an infidel or apostate muslim? The only way to defeat an ideology is to meet it head on with a superior ideology, delivered with just as much courage and conviction as they bring against us. Fortunately we have a superior ideology, for what is America if ideology. That which has made this nation literally the greatest nation ever to exist is not its land, economy or even its fiercely independent people. It's the principle "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
After the unprovolked and undeserved attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon it was our right, and our entire duty to project the full weight of American power against those who dared to strike us. We could have been extremely vindictive and annihilated everything in the middle east. The infernal celebrating and dancing in the streets of Islamic cities could have been stifled in seconds if we had wished. We could have (and still could) destroyed every nation that ever in any way supported the Islamic extemist terrorist groups that brought us to this. Instead, we quickly and efficiently eliminated 2 governments and, in a move that once again shows the uniqueness of the American spirit, we then brought our ideology to that part of the world. And with that ideology, the promise of all the freedoms and individual rights that go along with it. Where we could, by right, annihilate we instead offer....a chance. A fair chance at that. Inserting our ideology into the middle east was not only a bold strategy on the part of this president, it was the right strategy. It takes a leader with ideals and principles to do this as these are the very weapons being drawn agaist us. Now is not the time to get weak and impatient.
So what do we do now to deal with this so called "grave" and "deteriorating" situation? The answer is as blatantly obvious as it is peculiarly unpopular with the American people. WE STAY IN IRAQ..INDEFINITELY!
Our policy should be based on an American presence in Iraq for a minimum of 50 (yes, I said FIFTY) years. We should immediately establish permanent (ie. safe and defendable) military bases with the intention of maintaining our influence in both Iraq and the region for the next half century. I know what you are thinking, this goes against what everyone from the president on down has tried to convey to the American people. However it is the only strategy that will work. We cannot change Iraqi society in the short run, except to make it worse. If we withdraw now, Iraq will sort this conflict out itself. There is no doubt that a Shiite leader will rise to power after enough people have been killed to pacify his opponents. Then what will we have? A fundamentalist Islamic regime that will act as our enemy. What will the American people want to do when a terrorist attack against America is traced back to Iraq, just as the 9/11 attack was directly traced to Afghanistan. You KNOW that it will happen as that would be the exactly correct thing to do if you were part of this Jihadist movement. How could a future president re-invade Iraq after the debacle an American withdrawal will produce? Even though he must. No. Regardless of the current cost of this situation, leaving will make it worse. We must stay.
Here is why staying is the only strategy that can succeed...and why it will succeed. The model, in as much as you can have one, is Japan. After they were vanquished in their failed war against America, we likewise insisted on not dealing with the reality of Japan as it was and had always been. We insisted on changing their reality just as we now find ourselves changing the reality of Iraq after vanquishing that government. We did not allow the Japanese government to continue to operate as it had before the war. The ideals of democracy and a free market economy were set upon them even though, like Iraq, they had no history of such ideals. The lives of Japanese people were thrown into turmoil by rapidly-implemented democratization policies and dramatic social and economic changes. Though we are all aware of how well the Japanese have prospered under this system of government it is often forgotten that this prosperity really did not begin to assert itself until the late 1950's. Things don't change overnight. And here is something to consider: America STILL has military bases there. This is the type of commitment that is likewise required in Iraq. We need to keep a presence there so long that this generation of people that have, and continue to tolerate, political and religious totalitarianism will die off and be replaced by younger generations that will grow up with freedom and democracy. We need to monitor their school systems and government institutions and make sure that anti-western and anti democratic ideology is not tolerated. With force when necessary. Thats what you do when you conquer someone. As an idea it is quite simple. In the world of American political realities, and the general impatience of the modern American public, it may turn out to be impossible.
Why are the American people so impatient? Why doesn't the President make clear that this is the only policy that will work? The United States kept an occupation army in the old Confederacy for 12 years (1865-1877) after the American Civil War! This was in a place that had the same government philosophies, spoke the same language and practiced the same religion. 12 years! We have been in Iraq only 4! How can any so called "practical" and "pragmatic" people expect Iraq to be a stable self-sustaining democracy in this short period of time. It has NEVER happened before and there is NO model for it. This is clearly where President Bush has been at his weakest, for he is trying to placate an American tendency toward Attention Deficit Disorder. Apparently the indignation the country felt after 9/11 has worn off.
If we are to be successful against Islamic extremism and keep the fight out of America, we need to keep a military presence in a forward position in this War On Terror. Iraq is just such a position. Given time, and a constant presence and readiness, this war will cool down as our enemies see that it is us who has the stronger will to persevere and survive. In this manner, time is actually our ally. Sure we should continue to train the Iraqi army and let them take the primary and dangerous role of patrolling their country and keeping the peace. That will only happen if their is a strong American military commitment to back it up. Withdrawal is a foolish policy.
Maintaining an American presence in Iraq may, inevitably, require a greater sacrifice on the part of the American people to support it. So be it. This is a war of survival. Contrary to critics of the President's decision to invade Iraq, this was not an optional campaign. It was the next logical step following the battle for Afghanistan just as certainly as Okinawa was the next logical stage in the war against Japan after the battle for Iwo Jima. Wars are not often defined by single campaigns. The American soldiers seem to understand this. Their dedication and commitment is truly impressive. The American people need to match their dedication and get behind this President, and the soldiers in the field, instead of looking for a quick and easy way out. The fighting won't end until we put an end to our enemies. If we withdraw from Iraq, all we will accomplish is moving the battle elsewhere. Perhaps, with the aid of a weapon of mass destruction, right here.
No Mr. Clinton, Mr. Obama, and our esteemed "Iraq Study Group, the only "practical' and "pragmatic" solution that will succeed in the "real" world, is to show the idealists of Islamic extremism that our idealism is superior to their totalitarianism. America is an ideology. Does anybody believe in it any more? Or is everyone too concerned with their own individual pursuits to see what is coming against them?
An unpopular perception of the situation I am sure. But this is how I see it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The MASTODON Conspiracy

The MASTODON Conspiracy

I read too much. It's true, and believe it or not, it's not all history or conspiracy related. Every month I go to the bookstores in Montgomery and grab a stack of magazines. Most, but not all, are music related magazines. There are the obvious ones you would probably expect me to read like Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and Metal Hammer etc. that mostly cater to hard rock and heavy metal, but I also read the ones that hover more in the mainstream like Revolver, Uncut and Rolling Stone. Between these magazines and music websites from all over the world, I find myself reading hundreds, maybe even thousands, of reviews of new records every month. Reading record reviews is something I have enjoyed my entire life. Of course I don't buy most of these records. No one could. But I do find the various opinions offered on a plethora of artists and musical styles amusing. It has always led to the discovery of new and interesting music.
There doesn't appear to be any discernable patterns as to what constitutes a "good" record. All too often two records that are remarkably similar will get remarkably different opinions from the same reviewer. Likewise no two music critics see things the same way. You can always find someone who loathes what someone else loves. It is from this volumous reading of reviews that I have, in fact, discovered a disturbing conspiracy being perpetrated against fans of heavy metal all over the world. The evidence is unmistakeable and having unraveled this monstrosity I cannot avoid the inevitable conclusion: Mastodon is the worst heavy metal band EVER and their new CD "Blood Mountain" is the worst record ever made.
I know what you're thinking. I am sure many of you have read a review somewhere of the new Mastodon CD and the reviewer fawned all over it as though it was gold. That, as it turns out, is the problem. They are ALL good reviews. I haven't found anyone anywhere willing to say anything negative about it. That is entirely unnatural. I know I have been known to say that heavy metal as a genre and a culture has become entirely conformist but this is going too far. When I see this type of uniformity of opinion I immediately have to suspect that manipulation is at play.
Think of all the great rock albums of the past. The ones that are almost universally percieved to be the pillars that support the entire rock music culture. They all have one thing in common: At the time of their release there were plenty of people willing to slam them down and deride them as inferior works. Check it out. "Dark Side Of The Moon," "Led Zeppelin 4," "Back In Black," "Master Of Puppets," and more than can be listed. All records that, over time, have proven themselves to be landmark recordings that are the cornerstones of rock music. None ever recieved the kind of pandering praise that Mastodon is recieving for "Blood Mountain." In fact most of these records at the time of their release recieved what could be called undo criticism for the very reasons that have come to have them regarded as landmark records. Universal praise of the kind currently pampering Mastodon has historically been a death sentence for an artist. Terence Trent D'Arby anyone?
So where does this leave Mastodon? Damned to a conformist hell thats where. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is pandering to this Atlanta band. Expectations were high for them, this being their first release on a major label. Their previous release Leviathon," recieved a healthy dose of adulation itself....but nothing like this. To an extent, you can expect this pandering praise from the rank and file media of the metal establishment like BW&BK, Unrestrained or Metal Hammer, but even the mainstream music media like Uncut, Revolver, and Rolling Stone are in on it. Rolling Stone having a history of being unfriendly to metal bands. That in and of itself should tell you something is awry.
It's not limited to the print media either. There are hundreds (really thousands) of websites all over the world that do critical reviews of rock records. Lo and behold they are all towing the line, fawning all over this band. This type of critical fellatio does not happen by accident....but by design. Purchased by their enthusiastic new label who is apparently willing to do whatever is neccessary to keep everyone in lockstep with their program. They are counting on the fact that most people only read a couple of reviews, if any at all. Hear me my friends for I am hear to warn you. You are being manipulated. Resist! Resist!
This won't end well for Mastodon. It can't. A metal band often takes pride in it's resistance to the whims of music critics. Bad reviews are almost a neccessity for a rock band to help create an us against them mentality. Now, poor Mastodon, IS THEM. To be pandered to, and pampered by the media will inevitably lead to a huge backlash. After all....pampering is so NOT metal.
Is Mastodon's label reaping the financial rewards they desired by initiating this grand conspiracy against heavy metal. So far, at least, the answer is no. Divine Justice may ultimately prevail yet again. I read somewhere (I can't remember who said this) that Mastodon would be the next Iron Maiden. Well I don't know about that but since both their new records came out close together it does make for a nice comparison to see what commercial rewards this pact with the devil has brought Mastodon. Iron Maiden's new CD debuted in the US top 10. Mastodon debuted significantly further down. As the two records ease their way off the charts as heavy metal records tend to do the Maiden record always stays well ahead of Mastodon's. Since Iron Maiden is no longer on the roster of what is considered a major label anymore, and therefore not squandering a bloated promotional budget, their record will be profitable and no one can deny that it is a commercial success. Mastodon's budget was higher. The expectations were higher. Therefore the performance will be regarded as a disaster. I guess it turns out that the next Iron Iron Maiden.
Will Mastodon get a second bite at the major label apple or are they doomed to be a one shot deal like Cradle Of Filth? Does this mean that the major labels will look upon this as further proof that heavy metal is no longer a viable force in the music world and condemn us to still more investment in the hip hop culture? Worse, was this a planned failure by someone who wanted to prove that very point? Why were they put on this pedestal? To fail publicly? Time will tell.
The question may need to be asked: Is the record really just so good that it DESERVES all the critical praise it is recieveing. Personally I don't think it's relevant to this writeup. It may be that good but the pampering will destroy them anyway. Universal praise ALWAYS precedes universal damnation. Especially in the world of rock music. Since everyone now has the foul aftertaste of fellating Mastodon's commercial ambitions in their mouths, I can't wait to read the reviews of their next record, no matter what label puts it out. It will be a bloodbath worse than the "St Anger" massacre......And deservedly so.
P.S. If you find a negative review of this record somewhere, tell me where it is. I would like to read it!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Save The Metal Zone


About a month ago I was just browsing through the names of users on myspace, looking for people that I might have known (hey, I live in Greenville Alabama, what else have I got to do?), when I came across someone in Tuscaloosa called Dave "The Metal Guy." He had a picture of himself with Judas Priest's Rob Halford, so out of curiosity I wanted to see who it was that would refer to himself as "The Metal Guy." When I clicked over there I found that he does a metal show on the radio station at the University Of Alabama, WVUA-FM. He referred to it as the "longest running specialty show of heavy metal in Alabama." Suddenly I was very familiar with what he was talking about. I knew because as it turns out I knew that very show. I was the guy who started it back in 1982/83. Once upon a time I went by the radio name of Ace. Sort of a tribute to Ace Frehley.

Now over the years I had heard that the show had continued to exist from time to time. Someone had told me it was still going as late as 1996, but that was all I knew about it. No other details about it found me. When I graduated from the University back in 1984 I only made a few trips back to Tuscaloosa. None beyond 1985. So naturally I was interested in contacting Dave to find out the details of the story of the shows survival. I was impressed with what he told me.

It turns out, much to my surprise, that the show didn't have but three hosts between me and him. A grand total of five over 24 years!! Perhaps even more surprising to me was the fact that I knew all of them. Of course It stands to reason I would know Patricia, the girl to whom I passed the torch. She was followed by Tom "the Metal Warrior" who I also knew. Strangely enough, he and I were a members of the same Fraternity. I know what your didn't think they let long haired heavy metal rockers into fraternities at Alabama. Well they don't. I was an aberration. Literally the only one. It probably had a lot to do with the particular frat. Delta Sig. If you look for it now you won't find one of their chapters at Alabama anymore. Who knows, things like this may have had something to do with that. But thats another story. Probably the most shocking of the cast of characters who would become the host was Pat Seigler. Shocking to me because I would not have thought he would still be there in 1986 to do the show, let alone continue it till 1993! He was from the state of Washington so he was far from home. That meant he was at the University for 10 years. I'm thinking "proffessional student." C'mon Pat, find me and tell me the story here! It was at that point 1993 that Dave took over and he has been there ever since. No, Dave lives in Tuscaloosa and has graduated so he is not a "proffessional student." However being from Tuscaloosa to begin with, he had the unique distinction of having heard every version of the show.

For those who don't know, and anyone who cares, I can remeber exactly how this show was given birth. It was the fall of 1982, (Could have been the spring of 83 but I don't think so), that graduate student and WVUA manager Jon Peterson approached myself, and my friend and fellow communications student, Eric Stewart about doing an all heavy metal radio show on friday nights. It was Peterson's idea to put specialty shows on from 9-12 every night. The rest of the time the station ran a rotation of Album Oriented and college rock. Several genres were represented in the specialty shows from reggae to blues to punk etc., but friday night was the night chosen for metal. I can remember being somewhat apprehensive about doing the show on friday nights. My fear was that everyone would be out partying and no one would be listening. I should point out that this was a golden era for partying at the University Of Alabama. The drinking age was still 19 and, to be honest, If I wasn't doing the show, I would have occupied a spot in "The Booth" like I did every other night. Yes, I mean EVERY other night. From 6-9 all the draft you could drink for $3.00 followed by as much as 8 for 1 shots of mixed drinks afterward all night...........Utopia?

It turns out I was wrong to worry about the show being on friday night, as it was a resounding success from the start. Really, the only one of the specialty shows that could claim that, although the punk show did well and was also well done. We called the show "The Heavy Metal Experience" as Eric was quite the Hendrix fan, and we even had us a cool slogan: "Home taping is killing music and so are Eric and Ace." After one semester Eric didn't want to do the show anymore so I continued on by myself until I graduated.

This was probably the best time to do a Heavy Metal specialty show. The "New Wave Of British Heavy Metal" was peaking with bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard still climbing in popularity. I was getting regular requests for bands like Venom, Tygers of Pan Tang, Angelwitch and Demon. It seems looking back as though this show was a great introduction for all the bands that would later be the supergroups of the 80's. I played Metallica, Anthrax, Ratt, Twisted Sister, Queensryche, Dokken, and a host of others while they were still independent unsigned acts with barely a record out. Metal was on an upward spiral and all those bands and many more would go on to sell millions of records. Kerrang magazine, the leading European metal magazine at the time, even gave the show a mention in its pages. That credibility went a long way to getting some of the metal record labels to start sending some records. Otherwise, for the most part, ithe show was built around my record collection. Fortunately, a sizeable one. WVUA even sponsored an air guitar contest and an air guitar show and the audience that showed up for these events was primarily the audience for the metal show.

There was one event above all that stood out to me as showing just how powerful this show had become. There was a campus church group that arranged to have a seminar on campus on the dangers of rock music. I first became aware of it when I saw posters all over campus embazoned with the words "Rock and Roll Hell" ( at the time a current KISS song!), and a picture of a young Jim Morrison. I had been to a few of these things before and knew that they pretty much amounted to only a small group of people preaching the evils of rock music to people who don't actually listen to the stuff. So being a generally mischievous personality, I couldn't resist giving this seminar some free publicity and encouraging the listeners to show up at this thing. I said I would be there and they should be there as well. They did not let me down. When I got there no seats were still available. This was one of the larger lecture halls on the campus that held a few hundred people. You could tell that the presenters were not prepared for such a "partisan" audience. It was a rather humbling experience to realize that I had made that happen. There is still a girl here in Greenville, who was a student then with the organization that put that seminar on, who gives me dirty looks to this day. It was one of the better seminars of its type and some of what they said even lingered with me enough to be the subject of Babylon Mystery Orchestra's second record:"On Earth As It Is In Heaven." The bottom line is that "The Heavy metal Experience" was popular and the audience, as all heavy metal fans tend to be, was dedicated and loyal.

A lot has changed since then. Heavy Metal went on to peak in the late 80's and I am sure the show never lost a bit of its popularity through those years. However metal took quite a hit with the grunge movement in the early 90's. It became, essentially, an underground form of music again. This is where Dave comes into the story as he inherited the show when metal was at its lowest period. That the show survives to this day is a testament, I believe, to his willingness to stick with it. I believe it would have been easy for WVUA to just let the show drop if he hadn't stayed with it past his graduation. A show like this one can only be done well by someone who is willing to buy a lot of music. Although I know the labels send him way more music than they sent when I was doing it, you still have to have a sizeable personal collection or the show won't have all the elements that draw people back time and again.

Now I hear that after all this time, and with heavy metal music back on a big upswing, that WVUA is considering dropping or moving the show. This probably stresses me out the most because I have just recently rediscovered the show and really for the first time listened to the thing. Its a totally different experience to hear it than it is to do the show. Thanks to the "magic" of internet radio I can listen to it. That is one thing I am truly envious about. I wish we had that back in 1983. I am sure the novelty of a metal show in deepest darkest Alabama would have been irresistable to the preconcieved notions of metalheads worldwide. I know it would have attracted attention. Maybe the strangeness of that wears off after 24 years. However Dave tells me that people from all over the world are at some point listening and let him know. Does anyone really believe the proposed replacement of a rap show would have any lure beyond the guys doing the show? Lets be honest. Have you ever heard of a rap artist toiling away for years putting out records that barely sell enough to keep him going? Heavy Metal has literally thrived on such artists. From Jag Panzer to Iced Earth and way beyond. What purpose does it serve when a noncommercial radio station starts devoting too much time rap music which only glorifies the "bling." Rap music already dominates commercial radio and video stations. Does Kanye West need this too? Heres the deal though: A rap show will have a smaller audience than the metal show. Rap music can be heard everywhere. People wont stay home to hear it. There is not, from what I have seen , anywhere near the sense of "community" that has long been developed in the metal world. that is what builds an audience for a specialty show. And yes, I will go ahead and say it. All that rap stuff sounds alike anyway. So there!

The metal show has proven itself over the years. Tamper with something that isn't working and leave it alone. Now if Dave were not willing to continue I could see how there could be a problem. That problem may in fact arrive in the futre. I am sure he won't do it forever. But even then, an attempt should be made to find someone with a sizeable collection of heavy metal records to try and keep it going. Most students currently at the University were not even born when the metal show started.

The shows survival over a generation speaks volumes about its quality over time. So why not on friday nights at 10:00 give it a shot the way I do. Go to and listen to it. Dave calls it "The Metal Zone" these days. Even though I know they are now in a different studio, the show still has that sound and feel that makes me picture what it was like to be there 24 years ago. A good blend of old and new, popular and obscure. Done the right way, where the music is the focus, these shows are hard to beat.

Just to set the record straight. When the show started none of the other DJ's at the station liked this type of music. New wave was the big musical movement. The powers that be, aside from Jon Peterson, didn't give it a chance. The Talking Heads were going to change the world. If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times: "David Byrne is a genius." That was important music. heavy metal was already a dead genre. Who got the last laugh?

Sidney Allen Johnson



P.S. For anyone who remembers the original show and, subsequently, me. Let it be known that I am not entirely a bitter old metalhead.Though I am back to living in Greenville Alabama with 2 cats 2 dogs and a grumpy old man (my not so well father). There is good news.... I just saved a bundle on car insurance by switching to Geico....And I still have ALL of my LONG hair. I survive intact so I win! See for proof. Pat! Tom! Patricia! Where are you? I'm talking pictures here. I never surrendered. Manowar would be so proud. DEATH TO FALSE METAL!!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Eye Of The Needle


Everyone should live on the edge once in awhile. I have been trying to make up my mind which song to put up on the internet from the new Babylon Mystery Orchestra CD "The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity."

It has really come down to a choice between two songs. Either the very heavy and very mean song, "King Of The Earth," in which our favourite rebel angel lays claim to the entire inststution we call Christianity; or "Eye Of The Needle," an acoustimetalsong about some very real people whose names were not changed to preserve their guilt. Since I have chosen to call this essay by the title of "Eye Of The Needle" you know which song is going up. Unlike most artists, I actually like for everyone to know something about where my songs come from. So lets look at these people who are the subjects (combatants?) of this song.

In the CD booklet I introduce the two main characters with their own words. First there is the Reverend V. Eugene Robinson, the recently and controversially elected homosexual Bishop in the Episcopal church. He has this to say about himself and his relationship with his "fellow man:"

"I believe that God gave us the gift of sexuality so that we might express with our bodies the love thats in our hearts. I just need to tell you that I experience that with my partner. In the time that we have, I cant go into all the theology around it, but what I can tell you is that in my relationship with my partner, I am able to express the deep love thats in my heart, and in his unfailing and unquestioning love of me, I experience just a little bit of the kind of never-ending, never-failing love that God has for me. So its sacramental for me."

Then there is one of the most colorful characters in all of American religion: The Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka Kansas. His statement is direct and to the point:

"God Hates Fags!"

If you are unfamiliar with the good reverend I would suggest you take a visit to his web site, conveniently. Trust me. It will amuse you to no end.

Though there is no evidence that these two people have ever actually met each other, they are contestants in the same game. Each one trying to prove his point and win the right to be a leader in this most influential of institutions: the Christian Church. To be sure, if Eugene Robinson truly believes that his relationship is "sacremental" and compatible with the word of God, he is free to establish a church with those very concepts of homosexual tolerance built right into the doctrines and creeds of his new church. Neither I, nor probably any other reasonable American, would deny that this is his right as an American citizen. However this is not what he has it? No, he has brought before an existing body of believers this controversial line of thinking, with full knowledge that MOST of them will not want to go along with it. He has become a knowing and willing divider of the very people, of whom, he was supposed to be a leader. Is he doing this out of some sort of moral conviction that homosexuals are a discriminated segment of society? This could be possible, but his method is the equivalent of Malcom X demanding civil rights from the Ku Klux Klan. Homosexuality is clearly unacceptable in Bible based Judeao-Christian teaching.

So why would he do this? Money and power. If you truly believe that homosexuality and Christianity are compatible, you could start your own church. Unfortunately you will start with nothing but your beliefs. To any person with a belief system of their own this may seem like an honorable and reasonable thing to do, but if you have a greater agenda you need something else. That something else is capital. Both financial and political. How much better is it to gain acceptance in an existing church, with all the wealth and resources of that church to back up your beliefs. This is why it was important for V. Eugene Robinson to be elected a Bishop in the Episcopal Church. A denomination with some three million members. This is in fact the policy of the homosexual agenda. To force others to "tolerate" their beliefs even where there should be no reasonable expectation of such tolerance. If the Episcopal church does as it is threatening to do, it will divide over this issue. Dividing their wealth and marginalizing their influence. If they do not divide, then you should expect another denomination in the very near future to suffer a similar conflict of conscience. The big winner? That infamous fallen angel who truly is behind all of it. Divide and conquer he will.

Then there is Fred Phelps. He is he complete opposite of V. Eugene Robinson. Rev. Fred is at the cutting edge of Christian intolerance. The man has a history of showing up at the funerals of homosexuals, particularly if they have been the victims of murder, and waving his "God hates Fags" signs. He gained worldwide attention for these shenanigans back when the case of Matthew Shepard was in the news. As of this writing, according to his website, Matthew Shepard has been in hell 2660 days!! ( And he has a picture of him there to prove it ) He has a history of knowing all the people who are going into hell and announcing it on his site. You might expect someone like the pope to be there for his tolerance of the pedophile priests ( hey, there is a Babylon Mystery Orchestra song about them on the new CD too!), but did you know Bob Hope is in hell? Bob Hope?? There are even wonderful literations about the tsunami and hurricanes doing God's cleanup work. Recently he has even taken to attending the funerals of fallen soldiers with his protest that they are dying for a nation that defends sodomites.

Though he may truly have the literal interpretation of the Bible on his side for his arguments against tolerating/accepting homosexuality, he certainly doesn't possess much of Jesus' spirit in him. Funerals are less about the dead than those friends and relatives left behind. Jesus said "blessed are those who mourn." It is those people that inevitably have to suffer through Rev. Fred's unsolicited vicious diatribes. The good reverend can never know the whole story behind all these people. If he did then perhaps he wouldn't be there. Apparently he thinks he, like Jonah before him, is on a crusade to save America from itself. Where is a whale when you need one? Rev. Fred needs a "timeout." Perhaps that is why his Westboro Baptist Church is in Kansas. There isn't much risk of whales swallowing him that far from the ocean. America may need some sort of "revival" of its spirit to save itself, but it won't come from him. Once again we see only one big winner in all this. Our bright and shining fallen angel who seeks to decieve and divide us.

Did I mention that the premise of the new Babylon Mystery Orchestra CD is the satanic infiltration and domination of the institution of Christianity? These two characters, and their televangelist charlatan comrades, provide a wonderful study of the modern day influence of Satan over HIS churches.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

An Essay On The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity

An Essay on "The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity"

Satan is smarter than you are....Believe it.. The entire concept of the new Babylon Mystery Orchestra CD, "The Great Apostasy: A Conspiracy Of Satanic Christianity," can probably be boiled down to that one statement. I will attempt here to explain some of the thinking that went into this work.

"The Great Apostasy," as can be deduced from its title, is an exploration of how the church has not only failed to live up to its promise and potential, but has actually been used as an instrument of deception against the very people it was meant to serve.. The idea that Satan could infiltrate and dominate the very apparatus designed to bring believers together in the name of God is not an idea that will sit well with the masses of church goers, but with the world spinning towards a certain inevitable apocalypse, the time has arrived to present and consider these ideas. When Jesus was brought before Pilate he told him "My kingdom is not of this world," yet even a casual observation of the church and its history reveals an institution not only "of this world" but obssessed with this world.

At the beginning of the book of Revelation, Jesus has a message for seven churches that existed in the first century. These were real bodies of believers that gathered to worship and glorify the ressurected saviour at a time when the new Christian religion was being persecuted as an outlaw cult.. I have during my lifetime encountered many explanations as to what these messages to the seven churches are supposed to disclose, but never have I heard or read any interpretation them at their simplest and most obvious meaning. Of the seven churches, five of them he compliments on certain attributes of their faith, but then he has something against each one.. He chastises each of them for allowing something in their teaching or behavior that he finds unacceptable, and warns them of the consequences of continuing on those paths. A sixth church is already so corrupted that he calls its works dead. Only in the one church, Philadelphia, is he totally satisfied. To this one church, and to this church only, does he issue the promise to be kept from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world. Combine this with Paul's first letter to the Thessolonians 4:16-18 and you have the foundation for one of the modern churches favorite beliefs...the pretribulation rapture.. However, it is quite clear that since only the church of Philadelphia would even be eligible for such a thing, every church ever since that time has made it a point to find some way of marking themselves as either Philadelphia itself or its rightful descendant.. If the rapture had occured in the 1st century AD six churches would have been "left behind." The modern rationale is that everybody elses church is in a state of apostasy but not yours. Its the only way to keep them filled.

So what really happened here? There is a tremendous statement being made in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation that needs to be trumpeted loud and clear because its entirely to obvious: These churches, the very first churches that were spawned in the same century that Jesus walked the earth, were under direct Satanic attack! Already Satan had managed to infiltrate five churches by planting a small seed of compromise in each of them. Such things may have seemed harmless to the fledgling churches but Jesus is warning that it is anything but harmless. Only Philadelphia was promised to be kept from the hour of temptation. One church, Sardis, was already corrupted to the point of being called dead. Six out of seven churches compromised. By any standard of measurement 6/7 is a very impressive ratio of success for our favorite fallen angel.

Now lets step back and extrapolate the history of the church since that time from this point of observation. If Satan had established this firm foothold in the churches from their inception, we should be able to see evidence of his influence throughout the church's history. Lo and behold what do we find? Unsurprisingly we find a church wallowing in the affairs of the world at the expense of the real Kingdom of God.

Perhaps the single biggest accomplishment of the early church was to rise from a small persecuted cult in the first century to the religion of the state in Constantine's Rome. With the Christian church enshrined as the official religion of the state we have this unholy marriage that set the precedent for a thousand years of church intervention into government and international affairs. Along the way accumulating more wealth and more influence for itself as an institution and its leaders. The church even went so far as to finance wars, from the obvious Crusades to the Spanish Armada of 1588 (a bad investment for the church on that adventure!). Inquisitions, wars, schisms, the selling of indulgences and my personal favorite:: The St. Bartholemew's Day Massacre of 1572, when as many as 100,000 Christians may have been killed, by Christians, for not having the right Christian beliefs. Of course these are just some of the bigger events in church history. What was that Jesus said again? "My kingdom is not of this world." No small wonder that churches don't spend any time teaching the history of Christianity.

It must be mentioned here that a large part of the success at diverting the church's attention away from where it belonged was due to the total control the early church maintained over access to the Bible itself. A priest could easily go his entire life never seeing the actual written word of God for himself. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that all copies of the Bible had to be written by hand until the invention of the printing press came along. However the church didn't see it as important that the majority of its representatives be involved in the actual reading or interpreting of the word of God. Were these populations of Christians therefore putting their faith in God or in the institution of the church? Satan had successfully manipulated the church into an institutional heirarchy, with levels of authority and control over information and resources, and a large part of that success, at least in its early history, was achieved by limiting access to the word of God. These people were willing to follow their church leadership on the mere hope that they were honest and faithful perveyors of God's wishes. Now thats blind faith!! The church, at least at its highest levels, was obviously not operating with regard to God's words or their congregation's needs..

With the arrival of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation you would think this would resolve itself. Luther being the first dissident cleric to take advantage of the new technology of the printing press and print contradictory views of church doctrine.. Eventually he would go so far as to print the Bible itself in his own native language with the idea that any and everyone should read it for himself. Such heresy! Did this have the effect through history of actually reforming the church or did it just open up the competitive floodgates, releasing a variety of interpretations on an unsuspecting public? To be sure we in the modern world enjoy a tremendous freedom to explore the word for ourselves as well as interact with the views of others. Yet looking through any newspaper today you will find a world still fervently at war with itself over religious ideology. There are so many denominations with so many alternative interpretations of the Bible that one can't help but think there is an intelligent design behind all the confusion and acrimony, and of course that is the case.. Alternative is almost synonymous with satanic in the modern cultural lexicon. The result has been a diversity strewn path to perversity, with the church as the battlefield and their flocks as the casualties. All of it intelligently designed and manipulated by Satan, who permits enough truth in the equation to bait the faithful lambs into his trap only to shear them at the time of the great harvest at the end of days.

Still think its impossible that the church, your church, could possibly be a victim of such an insidious satanic conspiracy? Then consider the mystery religions of Mithra. The earliest lore surrounding this prechristian diety suggests that Mithra was a benevolent intermediary between the creator God and humanity. He was even refered to as the "Redeemer." Mithra was supposedly was born in a cave where he was visited by herdsman bearing gifts who were guided to the site by a star. Does this sound familiar? There are historical records that indicate Mithra worship goes back as far as 1400 BC. In fact, the persion religion of Zoroastrianism is a direct descendent of the Mithra religion. Zoroaster himself supposedly was immaculately concieved and survived an assassination attempt while he was a baby. How does this apply to our topic of satanic control of the church? Well for starters, many intellectuals have used the Mithra and Zoroastrian religions as an excuse to deny the existence of God and the viability of Christianity altogether. It predates Jesus by over a thousand years! Therefore the Christian religion is likened to a modern rock band that plagiarizes what has come before and claims it as its own. However the person of faith should have an entirely different perspective altogether.

We know that though Jesus was born as a living breathing being in on our world over 2000 years ago, he no more began on that day than he ended at calvary. Quite the opposite. Only his physical existence began with his birth that day. He has always existed and the angelic power we call Lucifer knew him, and had known him for thousands, perhaps millions of years. Here is the danger: Satan knew how Jesus would enter our world, why he would enter our world and what he must do to redeem us, and he knew it in significant detail. With this information he did what he has always done.. He replicated the messiah in alternative religions thousands of years before Jesus was born by Mary in Bethlehem. Confusion, distraction, replication and always alternatives are the satanic method of operation. Those alternatives have been multiplied exponentially to this day, even within the Christian churches.

Still think it can't happen to you? Consider one last thing. Biblical scholars will argue about almost anything especially details concerning the birth, life and death of Jesus. However they are pretty united in one thing, Jesus almost certainly was NOT born on December 25. You want to guess who was born on that guessed it:: Mithra's birthday was celebrated on December 25th, a thousand years before Jesus was born. Consider also the "wise men" that followed the star to Bethlehem. They were Zoroastrians!! Members of the very religion Satan created to replicate and confuse Christ's birth were looking down on him as a child!!

Now ask yourself: Who has us celebrating Jesus birth on December 25th? Who has raised this as an issue that you should say "Merry Christmas" and look upon the phrase "happy holidays" as an attempt to remove Christ from the national holiday? Who fights for the right to have manger scenes depicting the three "wise" Zoroastrians bearing gifts looking down on the baby Jesus? Of course the church has been teaching these things all these years. Like you, the church was being decieved, even before it was born.

Paul said in Ephesians 6 to "take unto you the whole armour of God." Make sure you wear that armor to church. Satan is smarter than you and he is there with you IN your church....Believe It..