Archive | October 2016

Green Hell has your Halloween Misfits fix

Halloween season means a lot of things. It means that the coffee shops of Gotham are rancid with the odors of pumpkin spice. It means full-grown adults are planning to spend time and energy on Halloween costumes. It also means that horror punk fans can look forward to Misfits cover bands and tribute bands coming out of the woodwork to play shows.

For those not familiar, The Misfits pioneered the genre of horror punk in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Their songs are simple and fun and punk fans have enjoyed singing along to their “Whoa”- centric lyrics for many years. As such, punk musicians started forming Misfits cover bands and tribute bands so local fans can get their Misfits fix for Halloween.

I am fortunate or unfortunate enough to play bass for Green Hell, one of New York’s Misfits cover bands (others have included Psycho 78 and Ghouls Night Out, an all-female Misfits cover band).

Green Hell is the band that can bring a lot of fun and get a crowd to be drunker and louder than is necessary or normal Misfits songs led themselves to crowd participation. The annual Green Hell reunion became a favorite part of the fall season. The five of us would start messaging one another to try to schedule rehearsals and shows. We’ make time for fewer rehearsals than we thing we needed, spend a good portion of that rehearsal or rehearsals drinking and goofing around, and then play a few very fun shows anyway. Since we’ve been playing the songs for so long now, we do a pretty decent job despite ourselves, and are usually not as sloppy as the real Misfits.

Through over-commitment, habitual aggression, and a pure not-giving-a shit punk ethos, Green Hell became the vessel of pure, unadulterated fun that every band should aspire to. It was the highlight of the Halloween season for many of us.

Green Hell didn’t play last year. Our singer and drummer each moved out of town and too much other stuff has been going on. Two of us have kids now. It was the first year Green Hell didn’t play since the band’s inception in 2004. It made Halloween less fun.

But this year the two guys that moved out of town, singer Marc Sucks and drummer Joey Bones, made plans to get themselves to New York and wanted to play Green Hell shows again. Green Hell offers those of us less active in music now a chance to enjoy playing out again. And Green Hell is fun because it exists with no ambition other than to have a fun time with other people who like the same music. It’s not a complete reunion, unfortunately. Circumstances beyond my control have led one member to sit out this year for the sake of keeping the peace, but I am determined to have a full roster next time around. We wouldn’t be keeping with the spirit of the Misfits if some of us were pissed at each other about something.

We have two shows this weekend: this Friday at the Shillelagh Tavern in Astoria, Queens and Saturday night at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn. It’s been nearly two years since we’ve played these songs and we haven’t had a rehearsal yet. We have more shows than rehearsals scheduled and we wouldn’t be Green Hell if we didn’t.

Earlier this year, members of the Misfits reunited with original lead singer Glenn Danzig for two shows at Riot Fest concerts in Denver and Chicago for a reported $2 million. Green Hell will be happy to get a few drink tickets each. Our crowds will be a fraction of the size and we’ll be spending more money getting to the shows than we could ever hope to make, but I guarantee we will have as much fun playing on stage as you can have.


Hunting is good for you and the environment

New York City was treated to a Hunter’s Supermoon to start the week. It was fitting and inspiring, as hunting season is getting under way.

The fall is time for harvest and as we celebrate harvesting crops we also celebrate harvesting the animals that have traditionally been hunted in these parts. In the Northeast that is deer and turkey. The Northeast as an abundance of deer and it can be a problem. Housing development has taken away land the deer need and put them in closer proximity to humans. Overpopulation of deer causes more traffic accidents and make it more likely that deer will die of starvation or disease.

At the same time hunting is attracting fewer participants. I’m happy that it’s still very popular but there was a time when people of every kind would hunt regularly. I’m proud to say that I have a very wide variety of friends, but among my friends I’m one of the few that goes hunting.

Living in New York City, there is no legal place to hunt within the five boroughs and very little in the immediate suburbs at all approved for hunting. And the densely populated areas of Westchester to the North and the Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk mostly only allow bow hunting. Bow hunting is great but it is much more difficult to hunt that way.

I’ve heard the arguments against hunting: that we can somehow coexist with an overpopulation of animals that raid our gardens and run in front of our cars or teach deer to use birth control. That hunting is somehow cowardly because it involves killing an animal. Unless you are a Level Five Vegan, your life is made possible by the deaths of animals. I would be a hypocrite if I ate meat but wasn’t willing to go hunting.

Taking an animal’s life shouldn’t be taken lightly and many experienced hunters have let deer escape their sights if taking them doesn’t feel right. I don’t take a shot unless I have a very clear kill shot. There may have been deer that I could have taken if I was willing to wound them first and then track them and kill them, but the idea of letting an animal die a slow painful death is not something I’m willing to chance. And I guarantee the deer I take from the woods and eat has a much more pleasant life and death than the average steer that winds up as hamburger or steak.

The hunter that doesn’t treat animals with respect is no real hunter at all. Hunting isn’t easy. It means standing in the cold for hours at a time for the chance to take a shot you might miss. Sadly there are plenty of mindless cream puffs who want to treat hunting like it’s a video game, but these are a small minority who lack the patience and discipline and will soon tire of having to hunt in the real world.

You can also donate venison to the hungry. It’s nutritious, free range, low-fat meat and food pantries will take it if you’ve got too much.

So start by taking a hunter safety course. You’ll enjoy spending time outside and having some fresh food to eat.


Fear no battle: face your enemies to love life

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were forced to say nice things about each other at the end of their most recent televised debate. It was the highlight of the debate and the question each candidate did the best at answering in my opinion.

There are deep ideological and cultural rifts coursing through this country, though is probably most consensus on things than people realize. Still, our politics reflect that and why shouldn’t they? There’s not a lot of consensus on things and we’re going to have to fight it out in the area of our legislatures and other corridors of power.

I submit this idea: there is more damage done by people trying to avoid fights than by engaging in them. Honestly think about that. We’re all so afraid of conflict that we will upend our lives to avoid them rather than face them head-on. Why?

Years ago when I was in college, I was active in a debate society and one of the officers was impeached and put on trial. It was trivial stuff that college kids love to blow out of proportion, but an entire meeting that would normally have been dedicated to debating the issues of the day was spent putting someone on trial with counsel and a judge and the society membership acting as jury. Debating the fate of the officer lasted into the wee hours of the morning, and he was convicted of several offenses but then not removed from office. Discussing this a year or so later, a member of a rival debate society thought this was the worst thing ever and boasted that this would never happen among their member. I told him, in the most diplomatic terms possible, that he was full of shit.

A life devoid of conflict is not life at all. And life is about resolving conflict, not avoiding it. What appeared to outsiders as a fratricidal bloodletting was business as usual for our group. We thrived on debate and emerged from the impeachment ordeal stronger and better. Sure there were hurt feelings and bruised egos; when aren’t there. A real debate society will never turn down an opportunity to debate.

Our state of politics is the same. It’s not comforting that the U.S. has widely disliked candidates heading our major parties’ tickets. But let’s have it out politically and fight our fights. Of course it’s going to get negative and nasty. Our statesmen of old were every bit as negative and back-biting as our politicians of today. The difference is that they didn’t pose and shirk their responsibilities to engage and fight it. That’s how things move forward. You’re not going to win every fight; but a battered fighter is worth ten times an unscathed coward.

Our Congress can block things and refuse to allow Supreme Court candidates or other candidates for important positions to come to a vote. That’s the most wuss thing you can do. Do you not want a candidate to hold office? Vote against them. Take a stand and let the chips fall where they may.

When battle lines are drawn, advance upon them, don’t retreat. Great nations were never built by people who avoided fighting for what they wanted.

New Yankee Stadium still sucks, but fans make their own fun

The New York Yankees represent a great tradition that goes back more than 100 years. They are the pinnacle of baseball and represent a dynasty that is the envy of the professional sports world. The Yankees also perfected another long-standing tradition in professional sports: screwing over their own fans in a grab for cash so shameless it would embarrass Ayn Rand.

The company I work for had a group social outing to see the Yankees play the Boston Red Sox in what happened to be a somewhat historic game. Boston’s David Ortiz, known as “Big Papi” was playing his last game at Yankee Stadium, so there would be a special ceremony there to bid him farewell.

Our small office closed early on the appointed day and we took the subway to Yankee Stadium with many of my coworkers honoring the tradition of sipping beer concealed in coffee cups on the way up. Meeting up with our boss and his son outside the Yankee Tavern, we headed to the Stadium.

The Yankees won’t let you print tickets if you order them online from certain places, so the one coworker who had the tickets had to open them in an email on her phone. The rest of us stood there waiting while she tried to get reception on her smart phone and then we could all enter. Why can’t someone print out one of their own damn tickets like everywhere else in the civilized universe? I don’t know but someone in the Yankee organization figured that they’d make a few more cents per ticket making things miserable for their fans.

The real Yankee Stadium was torn down years ago. It was a historic place, though much of its historic innards were destroyed when the stadium underwent a poorly-done renovation in the 1970s. The new Yankee Stadium fails as a baseball stadium in just about every way possible. The entire field is not clearly visible from every seat.

This stadium was built to sell overpriced merchandise with watching baseball as an afterthought and it shows. This game was no exception. There were long lines for the expensive concessions. The one central concession stand that serves the bleachers was crowded and some fans waited on long lines only to learn that they would have to stand on a different long line at the same counter if they wanted French fries or chicken. A stand-alone hot dog stand had a grill full of foot-long hot dogs, but the woman running it told a long line of people that none of the hot dogs were ready yet.

Our group had left-field bleachers, which are not good seats. The right-field bleachers, in the old Yankee Stadium was a notoriously rough place with merciless fans. Life in the bleacher seats of Yankee Stadium, like life elsewhere in New York City today, is a soft-pedalled and safer version of what it was. It plays at being the old days but doesn’t pull it off.

However, the fans in the bleachers still insist on having their own fun and being the voice of irreverence that the game desperately needs. It brought enjoyment to the game that is dulled by the frustrating shit-show that is Yankee Stadium.

We got there early enough to see David Ortiz get some gifts. It was great to see Yankee great David Cone come out onto the field to congratulate Big Papi. Like many other Red Sox, Ortiz was fun to hate. He was a tremendous hitter though and was a nightmare for any opposing team. Like many other star players of this era, his abilities were supplemented by performance-enhancing drugs. Fans broke into chants of “Let’s go steroids!” and plenty of Boston fans were there to repeatedly chant “Let’s go playoffs!” referring to the Red Sox superior position in the divisional rankings that guaranteed them a playoff berth.

As the innings wore on and the beer continued to flow, the chants and backtalk between the Boston and New York fans got more colorful. One of the most popular concessions at Yankee Stadium today is the chicken bucket, a serving of eight chicken tenders with a large helping of French fries served in a plastic bucket. Into the fifth inning fans began chanting “Chicken Bucket!!” in the cadence of the traditional “Let’s go Yankees!” chant.

“CHICK-en BUCK-et!” —clap, clap, clapclapclap—

“CHICK-en BUCK-et!” —clap, clap, clapclapclap—

As the chant wore on, Red Sox and Yankee fans would take turns hoisting these buckets into the air for all to see and appealing to the crowd for applause. Though Boston fans were numerous, Yankee fans still had the upper hand and would win more applause with the proud display of this snack souvenir.

Some of the insane banter and shouting from the fans made it more entertaining than the game, and Yankee fans got bolder as the Bronx Bombers got the upper hand and took control of the game. What helped was that the star of the show that brought out so many Boston fans, David Ortiz, was taken out of the game after only a few at-bats with a poor showing. It was great to feel the energy when he walked off the field, as Boston fans surely must have felt cheated to see their hero play so little. These tickets weren’t cheap for them either.

I was also heartened that another time-honored tradition of baseball, sneaking into more expensive seats later in the game, lives on. This new Yankee Stadium was built to prevent that and has a much-talked about “moat” to separate the rich bandwagon fans from the rest of us hoi-polloi, but my boss is a baseball fanatic and knows how to beat the system. He managed to get along the first base line as the innings wore on, watching the action up close from a seat that would have cost him more than all of our bleacher seats combined.

Listening to the people around us restored my faith in Yankee fans and the game itself. No matter how badly the Yankee organization craps on its own supporters, they can’t kill the spirit that brings so many to the bleachers of their shitty stadium. Yankees Inc. may insist on being every bit the evil empire, but Yankee fans won’t let those bastards destroy the game entirely.

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