Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ozzy and Me

Welcome to the (other) recurring section of my blog, where I discuss my various relationships with celebrities and fictional characters (there is no difference between the two) in the context of giving you a little bit about my background. Tonight's edition: Ozzy Osbourne and Chris By-The-Throat, Wonderchums of the 90's.

My first exposure to Black Sabbath was when my Aunt Steph gave me a battered tape of We Sold Our Soul for Rock n' Roll, when I was about 12. It was summertime, and I was reading the Empire Trilogy by Janny Wurts and Raymond E Feist. I listened to that fucking tape on repeat while I devoured the entire trilogy, buried neck deep in the Tsurani empire's Byzantine politics and with the thrum of Geezer Butler's bass keeping time to the march of massive armies. I still hear the harmonica bwangs from "The Wizard" every time I think of that weird order of mages they have in that series. It was a mind altering week of laziness for me, as those halcyon summer vacation days rolled by, because my already ludicrously rich fantasy life made the leap from novels to music. It was like opening a whole new world to me. Before that year, I was aware of music but only of whatever crap was playing on the radio on the school bus or in the car-I never really listened to music by choice and was much more interested in books and video games. But the scary topics and powerful riffs awakened me; I was baptised in metal and would arise weirder than ever from below.

Fast forward two years. I was 14 and it was the beginning of my cousin Jake and I getting truly close. My Tio Jay, who would later influence my taste in music with various other bands, had given me a Black Sabbath CD I didn't know existed-one post Ozzy and Post Dio, called Forbidden. Don't look it up; it is the most retarded of their records, with the possible exception of the one with Ian Gillian (Deep Purple) as frontman. Anyway, that was the summer we got our Nintendo 64s; I was spending a lot of time at Jake's house. At the time we were feasting on snack cakes and drinking pepsi while we played Shadows of the Empire, getting high snorting his mom's pills and occasionally smoking her roaches, and fighting in the Intergalactic Civil War while "Illusions of Power" (with an appearance by ICE T) blared on the stereo. It was a good summer of wastefulness and youthful decadence, as well as dreams of conquest fueled by caffeine and video game violence. We talked about taking over the world, and the ways we might do it, many of which boiled down to "Build a Giant Fucking Robot and Stomp the School" in predictable teenage fashion. We snuck cigarettes and watched Heavy Metal about 400 times and plotted how we could get those three slutty girls a few trailers over to come over and fool around. We proudly knew nothing, and yet hated everything, and wasted our time while that god awful album played in the background, and I will always remember that summer interspersed with the weird, cheap, retarded lyrics, which always has the ol' star wars blaster sound dubbed through in my head.

It wasn't until I was 16 that I got the self titled Sabbath album. The On Cue had just opened in town and it was the best place to get music, since they were the only ones that sold anything uncensored (Well, the pawn shops carried a lot of uncensored records too, usually having been sold there by parents who disapproved of their kid's purchases) and I remember walking in there all excitedly, this being that fall's high school hotspot. I had wanted this album for awhile, and it would be the first CD I ever bought with my own money. For some reason no other media stands out in my head for this record; it lives alone there, all five tracks including the longest, most awesome gonzo metal jam ever written, standing out alone against the various other fluff media sewage that fills my brain. My mom and I listened to it together the same day; I went over to visit her apartment since she had a cd player and I didn't yet, and we listened to it over and over and just talked. It was the beginning of mine and my mom's relationship as adults, and we talked about the various slings and arrows of teenage life along with our frank, cynical views of current events. For me the album always conjures memories of my mom's fornica counters, lime green flooring and rickety kitchen table in her apartment. It was a good day, and the roots of the great relationship we have now.

My coke years (18-20ish) were set to the strident tunes of Dehumanizer. I had gotten the record off of, you guessed it, Tio Jay, who generally had no use for Sabbath that didn't have Ozzy. But the music was electric rape for your veins when you're on the yay; it blazes violently through your synapses like Mongol hordes through Chinese fishing villages. I still get a sympathetic rush from hearing "I" played REALLY FUCKING LOUD in stereo, one that conjures memories of artsy independent films and the cold feeling of a park bench against the side of your nose.

Fast forward another couple of years, to the worst year of my life bar none-living with the psycho ex in my dead grandfather's house, working graveyard shift beneath a giant trundling vat of molten metal that was one bad ball bearing away from Hans Solofyin' me. My good buddy Jess and I worked at the same factory (he had the equally dangerous job of flipping around large razors on a hanging platform) and he used to give me a ride there every day. He had a copy of "Heaven and Hell" on tape which I had listened to before but not on a regular basis, and then one day it got stuck in the tape deck of his crappy red van and basically for the next six months we listened to it every night while we shuffled to work (our only break from our insufferable cunt girlfriends) and toked up furiously in the car on the way home every morning. (Our jobs were too dangerous to get baked on the way there.) That sort of became our workin' man's salvation album by default, since for the duration of that van's life the radio didn't work and there was no way to change out the tape. That was a dark year, but there are good memories attached to it as well-shooting up alarm clocks, throwing spears at an old mattress, barbequeing every day so we wouldn't have to do dishes, and getting ripped on the roof of our neighbor's house while we blared the music from the van in the driveway. To this day I hear that song and I am transported down to those dark years, but I can see the light and the beauty and the truth in them now, so that's okay-it's my portal to my lowest point, and I believe we should never forget those low points.

So I guess this is really less Ozzy and Me, and more Dio and Me, but there you have it-I have always preferred the Dio sabbath to the Ozzy, and I'd say that at Ozzfest surrounded by poseurs any day of the week. The life of Chris By-The-Throat, as told by Black Sabbath. If you think that's weird, wait until Dave and Me-my relationship with monster magnet is much weirder than my relationship with Sabbath, and tainted with much better drugs. To say nothing of Alice and Me, which I might have to take to my grave.


  1. I, for one, blame you, yes YOU for infesting my brain with Magnet. So I wanna see that one.


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