For Whom the Bell Tolls

I wrote this some years ago. It was a meditation on a concert that was, for me and my friends, a life-altering event. A day-long adrenaline rush. A law-breaking, property destroying testament to the main act. It altered the face of that venue forever.

Concrete and reinforced steel barriers replaced the fences we managed to throw ourselves through. Zombie-rushing the guards, who didn’t stand a chance.

As I write this, I’m basking in the afterglow of a Fear Factory show. I was fortunate enough that the band (minus Burton) came into the bar where I was sipping a beer.

They are a band that I have been listening to since Demanufacture dropped in the mid-90s. They played that album end-to-end at the show. I got to buy drinks for the band. They laughed and joked and were laid back and humble.

The biblical quote at the end of the piece had more to do with what I was doing – training for the Army and Afghanistan – in the middle of what now seems like a childish and incoherent thought experiment.

Your Monochromatic Friend,

Max; VXX


I fucking hated adolescence.  Looking back, it seems I spent most of it gut sick with anxiety.  If given the chance to do it over, I’d pass . . .

I remember cold days in late October.  I was bruised from elbow to ankle, covered in mud and old sweat.  I took my beatings.  Then I packed my pads into my locker and walked the two miles home.

I could hear the shouting from outside.  Locked in my room, I turned up the volume to drown out the other noise.

They will never make Master of Puppets again.

Sleep through class.  Fight in the hall.  Fight in the gym.  Fight in the locker room.

An hour under the weights, then back into those pads.  The smell of yesterday’s sweat.  Metallica in the locker room, as loud as we could make it.  Life of Agony.  Fear Factory.

Warmup laps around the field were silent except for the rattling of pads.  Then hitting drills.  Big would chuckle, hit like a truck.  More bruises.

More shouting.  More fighting.

We sat in my basement watching “A Year and a Half In The Life Of . . .” Big had his amp turned down low, tuned for distortion.  He could play almost the entire catalog.  This is how it was through the off season.

Then the divorces.  First my parents.  Then his.

Anger.  Anxiety.  Noise.

These were our only constants.

The Concert was my first.  Nothing I’ve seen since has been able to eclipse it – one bright spot in a blur of bad memories.  Three hours of thrashing and shouting and violence.  A wall of fire.  The Four Horsemen in their glory.

It was more than just noise then.  It was our Faith.  A ragged Fuck You fist waved in the face of all comers.  It was Our Way or no way at all.

Privately hoping for something better.

More than ten years later it all seems like another life, lived by another person.  I can look in the mirror and call up that anger, but I’m not sure who to recognize there.  The fat, optimistic boy?

He died somewhere on the road.  Full of disgust, self-loathing, he left.  Unable to bear the sight of himself.

Glutton.  Victim.

I ran.  Through weather, through pain, with only my breathing for company, and the sound of my feet.  Vomit and keep going and don’t look back.

Just days away now, another concert.  As I meditate on this – what lies between these milestones – I am filled with anxiety.  The Apotheosis of that event, what it meant to us, will be impossible to duplicate.

Or will it?

A very hard road lies before me.  I exorcize these ghosts knowing that I must put them to rest.  I’m trying to draw a line between Past and Present Self, hoping to reconcile the two.  I’m tracing back the fractures, and finding only faults.

I want to close my eyes and undream this, but I can’t.

18 Our heart has not turned back,
Nor have our steps departed from Your way;
19 But You have severely broken us in the place of dragons,
And covered us with the shadow of death.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God,
Or stretched out our hands to a foreign god,
21 Would not God search this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

23 Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord?
Arise! Do not cast us off forever.
24 Why do You hide Your face,
And forget our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
Our body clings to the ground.

– Psalm 44


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