Misadventures in Heavy Metalling

Why I Wear My Battle Jacket to the Senior Center, Baby Showers, the Yoga Studio and Circumcisions

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Illustration by Matt Smith
Illustration by Matt Smith

After so many seasons spent swearing and tearing and stitching it up in the battle jacket abyss, I’ve elevated the artistry of heavy metal needle and thread to a whole new level somewhere far beyond your usual reality.

Not only are my artistic endeavors impeccably crafted in terms of their composition and monochromatic denim staining, but my complete and utter lack of subtlety when deploying them in public is a highly provocative and vulgar display of power unto itself. High school graduation ceremonies, destination weddings, Irish wakes, ballet recitals: you name it, and I’ve got the perfect piece of crusty attire ready to rock the scene like a motherfucking hurricane.

So you can bet your ass that when I show up for my weekly readings to the assisted living deadbeats at the senior center, that’s my old school death metal jacket’s day to shine. Nothing sets the mood better than a few Death, Carcass, and Obituary patches in plain sight as a nuanced reminder about the impermanence of life in a setting where everyone is already about to die anyway. And it doesn’t really matter whether or not they can actually understand me while I death-growl passages from Marley and Me, because when I finally get to the scene where the old dog gets youthanasiazed at the end, the whole nightside atmosphere eclipses the poignancy of an Edgar Allen Poe poem like a swallowed sun blotted from the sky on a morning that never even came.

And speaking of such tranquil darkness, no one can deny the beauty wrought when my funeral doom jacket arrives uninvited at baby showers. A word-wise Swedish skald once said that order stormed the surface where chaos sets the norm, and I like to think of my doomsday machine-stitched vest as the sort of gentle storm that brings the vital energy of grief and regret to the starved and ever-changing pastels of happiness and hope. That’s why I went all out with the black denim look and usually double-up on the dark vibe by giving the gift of antiquated bootlegging for all those special edition pre-releases ordered nine months in advance. Yeah, they might still all be embryonic, but in the end we’re all just children of the grave anyway, so why not enshrine them in a little sludgy Pagan Altar to kick-start their hearts on the highway to hell?

And while we’re on the perennially favorite topic of infants and paganism, there’s nothing quite like unleashing the primordial horned gods of folk metal at every bris I get the chance to attend. When the mohel moves his knife down that sacred left hand path of destruction to snip off the disposable part of the little hero, I forget English entirely and start chanting archaic Finnish incantations about vodka, tequila, beer, more beer, being served pints of beer, a deep longing for beer, and the importance of resuscitating the dormant magic hidden deep within the mystical trees, streams, and lakes of the ancient boreal forest.

But circumcision and the accelerating annihilation of Mother Earth are an ultra heavy duo, so to lighten the mood I like to head over to the yoga studio, which is my main stage for the power metal jacket. I used to think that the yoga studio was where metal went to die, but that was before I discovered just how much sweaty women in spandex love HammerFall and DragonForce. Plus, there’s just something subliminally epic about that moment when the hippie yogi music is amping up over the speakers and I’m struggling against 40:1 odds not to collapse from the downward dog position that I’m barely managing to hold while night is falling simultaneously in Middle Earth down my spinal vertebrae and I’m so far back in my mind that I can barely imagine emerging victorious on the other side. But I battle through the fire and flames, overcoming the odds and rising back up to throw my double-fisted horns into the air, and I bang my head like a true Manowarrior refusing to drown in a turbulent sea of double x-chromosomes.

But when it comes to metal shows, I’ve just always worn whatever the fuck I want.

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