80s generation

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Antique Fountain Pens: where to buy and how to use them.

Published September 30, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

Writing is difficult enough as is nowadays. Can you imagine that somewhere during 1955 through the 60s all public school children were taught how to use a fountain pen and ink well? According to one such tutorial website I gleaned some helpful insight into the often ignored bygone use of a fountain pen.

Oh… are those the fancy quill pens with a beautiful, graceful feather, right?

 

Well, okay, maybe those can be included too…but I was more inclined to add the Calligraphy pen/ fountain pen, and one thing that had always piqued my interest was whenever my great grandmother would write me snail mail letters. She would always write in this extremely fine penmanship that was lost to my generation. How can I describe her penmanship? It was dainty-like. Her cursive always straight even in cards and pages that weren’t notebook paper. Her penmanship was always graceful and it  always garnered my interest. It was always the same ‘sepia-tone’ brown ink, sort of faded that I knew wasn’t possible from a standard ball point pen. And I knew that no writing pen no matter how cheap or crappy could produce such eye-catching legible lines. In fact, it had me so curious and I never did ask in my letters to my great grandmother what type of pen and brand of ink she used. And for the life of me, I don’t know why I never asked. I only recall one time when she wrote to me in pencil and that was something that was very out of character for my great grandmother to do when corresponding in all the years we wrote to each other. I knew then something wasn’t right and my intuition was correct, sadly.

When my great grandmother could no longer write me back, I continued to write to her (wishing, hoping and praying) for a response only to no avail. By this point I had no idea how badly her mental health had declined. I was kept in the dark about a lot of the horrendous details of what went on while she was still alive. She required the assistance of a caregiver who didn’t look after her well at all. Were my letters thrown in the trash unread? I began to think to myself. They were getting delivered to somebody since I never had one returned to me during the entire time, so who knows.

I was intrigued, and me being… well, me wanted to teach myself this lost form of fountain pen penmanship, and as luck would have it, I purchased an old antique Palmer’s fountain pen writing instruction red soft-cover book. The book had been around with black ink stains on the cover, and a partial missing corner from its cover. I was missing two more things: a fountain pen and ink. The ink I use is India ink and a very helpful antique store owner told me to always water down the ink with cold water prior to use or else the nib of the fountain pen will get gummed up and the writing won’t appear as fluent nor clean, and always allow the page to completely dry first before folding it and cramming it into an envelope. I thanked the antique store owner (her name is Carol), but she couldn’t help me track down a bottle of brown ink and didn’t know if any even existed or not. So, the curiosity regarding where my great grandmother’s mysterious ‘sepia-toned’ brown ink came from will forever remain a mystery since my great grandmother is no longer alive to tell me or even show me.

It still didn’t stop me from picking up something a new form of long lost writing. And oh yes, I LOVE to write. I love it so much that I’m known to write incredibly long snail mail letters to family and friends and always have loved doing so. I’ve been told by strangers even that my penmanship is beautiful, graceful and very legible.

“Legible?” I think to myself. “Why wouldn’t my penmanship be otherwise?”

And here again my quest for knowledge was never-ending and I wanted to know why. I don’t ask, silly me. 😛

Instead, the answers I sought was a long time in coming, but eventually I would see why. I see a younger generation’s writing and doesn’t just stun me, it makes me nervous. It makes me crook my eyebrow and scrutinize every word and line. I cool it on my inner need to ‘proofread’ what they wrote. That isn’t part of my job requirements, but making sense of their writing is important, and if I can’t understand it, then miscommunication often occurs. And not to down on anybody that was born during the 1980s and are part of the millennial crowd, but boy howdy, I never knew chicken scratch was a perquisite to learning how to read and write while in elementary school nowadays. Actually, most of it I can’t even say is chicken scratch, it’s likened to pre-school scribbling and its coming from a twenty-something youngster.

So maybe it will sound as though I’m being hard on these millennials, but their writing is atrocious. Any English teacher would cringe if they saw it turned in on a hand-written assignment and their butts would be served to them on a silverplate platter because of it.

In my line of work I have to jot down any information that would be pertinent if ever a situation arises while I’m on the clock. There are days when nothing happens, and then there’s the hectic days where anything can happen and it needs to be logged.

And then there’s the pre-school scribbles that often appears and misspelled words. I try to decipher it the best I can, but the writing is often very illegible. Now I see why I’m told my penmanship is legible and this is thanks in part to my older brother who taught me cursive writing when I was young as four or five years old. Yes, that young believe it or not because he didn’t want me to go through life not knowing how to read or write since public schools would barely cover the bare bone basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic (a bygone name for mathematics). My older brother was already in school at the time and was a few grades a head of me.

In retrospect, I sincerely believe we came from the last generation that was taught cursive writing when it was still being taught in public schools during the 1980s. I later read that anybody that attended public school post 1955-60s lost out on learning how to use a fountain pen and ink well though. And it brings me back to the antique writing instruments of yesteryear. They can range in price from a dollar on up to a few hundred. And it depends on the make of fountain pen and when it was produced.

When I attended college in 2013 (per my course requirement), I had to log into a message board to converse with the instructor and fellow students, and while on there, somebody chimed in how excited they were to receive a fancy pen with a very fluent, sensitive response. Well, they weren’t talking about a pen you write with. They referred to a stylus pen for their Kindle or some other technological touch-screen device.

I barely batted an eyelash when I figured out it was a pen for a touch screen device.

I don’t get all s**** and giggles over technology. In fact, I don’t find myself running out to buy the newest updated computer setup. I don’t have any new generation Kindles on my wish list and all of my stylus touch-screen pens came straight from the Dollar Tree where everything’s a dollar. However, I do collect antique fountain pens and antique ink wells. Some are very basic heavy glass, I’d say likely used in the rural public schools way, way back when. And other ink wells I have are slightly more fancy with a pen holder and two ink wells with silver caps. And another one I turned up recently has a brass design around it. I don’t know the specific dates when these ink wells were produced, but the fancier ones I’d guess were produced in the 1800s or very early 1900s. The basic no bells or whistles ink wells could likely date anywhere in that same time frame. The antique fountain pens I have scattered in an old wooden cigar box are plastic with brass nibs, which tells me they were produced post- 1930’s probably in the 60s or 70s maybe. I have about four or five fountain pens that go way back to the early 1900s and these I didn’t acquire all at once. I would occasionally run across them in the antique stores from time to time, and if they appealed to me, I’d buy them. At least fountain pens are a light-weight antique item to collect unlike my Bavaria porcelain dishes and silverplate.

And so I’ve returned to practicing my fountain pen writing. This is something I enjoy doing in my spare time when I can make the time that is. I do it mostly for fun nowadays and I’ve read that it isn’t so much what you write but how you hold the pen which is balanced on your knuckles and not clutched between the thumb and index finger. It was awkward for me to try at first, but once I quickly got accustomed to it, my writing was less complicated and flowed onto the page a lot easier. And this is all for my blog about antique fountain pens and ink wells. If interested I’m sure places like eBay, Etsy, and Ruby Lane might have fountain pens and ink wells for sale. Thanks as always for reading, liking, blogging, commenting and sharing. I truly appreciate it.  🙂

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Music in the Pre-Internet era; How fans kept updated on their favorite bands.

Published August 2, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

In this blog I have scoured the annals of time to present some fascinating back issues of the music magazines my 80s generation just loved! Some of us had subscriptions to these music magazines, other times, we didn’t and/ or couldn’t afford it. Therefore, we would wait anxiously (in a good way) for the next issue to hit newsstands.

The time is 1989. Twitter doesn’t exist. Cell phones aren’t even discussed as a technological possibility. We have no computer in my household. The internet is non-existent to a large majority of the population. Computers were a rich kid’s plaything and the newest computer is still the Apple II used in a few public schools and not every school had them. Everything is researched in books checked out from the public library and a card catalog system consisted of a span of pull out drawers chalked full of index cards with the author’s name, circulation number, and title. Information is jotted down on pen and paper, or if you were me, then pen and index cards. That’s how I complied information back in these old days.

Metal Edge 1989 Music news traveled by word of mouth, in print (in the music magazines), MTV and the radio. Who’s opening up for who again? Was it Guns n’ Roses or some upstart band calling themselves ‘Slaughter’? I just used this as an example even though Slaughter did open for KISS on their HITS tour in 1989.

And Sebastian Bach, lead singer of Skid Row blurted out on the American Music Awards program, “Well… shhh-iver me timbers!” since swearing wasn’t allowed on national television. It made me laugh so hard when he said it after receiving an award because I hung onto every word. Am I fan of Skid Row? Around this time, no. However, my older sister simply adored this new rock band that was quick to grace the covers of all the music magazines: Metal Edge (pictured), RIP, Circus, etc.

I was a Kiss fan at the time, and despite what my parents told me about this particular band and how infamous they were, it made me love them even more. Shock rock at its finest. The only other rock star that achieved such a reputation was Alice Cooper. My mom saw Alice Cooper in concert back in the 1970s, and she took my uncle to his first Kiss concert around the same time, too. They lived it and are original fans from an era not too different from that of my own.

But the sound was magical. There was special meaning to those chart-toppers and power ballads—every new and veteran band had to crank out at least one of those in the late 80s. Kiss had theirs with ‘Forever’. Alice Cooper had his with ‘Poison’. I remember hearing Alice Cooper’s new song on the radio and my mom would crank up the car stereo whenever the song came on the air. And maybe somewhere we related on some level. I realize that a parent isn’t supposed to be their child’s best friend, far from it. And I also realized at the young, impressionable age of Twelve that parents are meant to be respected and feared. I grew up in the era where we respected our elders. We’d have hell to pay if we sassed back to adults and those in authority. Discipline was dished out as a parent saw fit.

I didn’t like Alice Cooper when I was Twelve and really couldn’t wrap my head around his shocking theatrics. The guillotine act was a show stopper.

I kept my nose in those rock magazines constantly. ‘Dear Mama Ford’ (Lita Ford’s mother) had an advice column in Metal Edge. She fielded a lot of problems my teenage generation were experiencing in their lives, no matter how serious or minor. A lot of it went over my head when I was thirteen, but I thought Mama Ford had sound advice and she was a lot like a “Dear Abby” to readers of Metal Edge magazine. At this time Lita Ford was my biggest fashion inspiration. Her two hit songs Kiss Me Deadly and If I Close My Eyes Forever were still popular on the radio even though they were previously released in 1988. (I had to do some quick research on when they were released). My opinion of Axl Rose and how I thought he was so mean to his fans didn’t change. I wouldn’t say I was a fan of Guns n’ Roses simply due to his onstage antics, but in another sense I wasn’t really giving this band a chance. Yes, they had some hit songs I really liked. I remember my older sister and I would make fun of the song, ‘Paradise City’ and sing, “Take me down to Paradise City where the girls are green and the grass is pretty,”

The real lyrics go: “Take me down to Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty,” We needed to do something to alleviate typical teenage boredom we seemed to collectively experience. We just changed the lyrics around for the fun of it.

And those magazines we bought didn’t survive into adulthood. Some pages were removed (by us) because we loved to tack those color band pinups to our walls which our parents hated because they felt it made our bedrooms look tacky. Yet we kept tidy rooms and it didn’t look like a tornado dropped a bunch of dirty clothes, empty dishes and a haphazard array of LP’s and cassette tapes tossed on the floor. And those rock magazines were neatly stacked either on our nightstands or kept on a bookshelf. I had all three copies of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and a mismatched set of Child Craft encyclopedias.

Out of anything that ties in with 1989 that I saved was a book mark that depicted a shark and the words, “I Said Hands off!” I bought that bookmark from a book fair hosted at our local school. I used to hate these book fairs because we had to look through a circular and check mark the books we wanted to buy. Well, I didn’t want to read whatever this Weekly Reader cranked out and I didn’t want to spend my allowance money on them either. I also walked my neighbor’s dog for extra money too. I certainly didn’t want to pester my parents to ‘please give me money for books I’ll never read’. I observed these circulars as being ‘forced’ to read some boring cheesy preteen books that wouldn’t keep me interested in turning the page.

I guess there was a problem with my generation experiencing an increase in the  illiteracy rate and there seemed to be this huge emphasis for the book fair to get kids excited about reading, when instead, it did the exact opposite. And we had to promise the promoters of this book fair and the school librarian that we’d read the books we ordered. Well, I skimmed the circular. I can’t find any books on my favorite new rock band Kiss that’s because I missed the boat on scaring up some Schoolastic books that featured Kiss from the seventies. I can’t find any subscriptions for RIP or Metal Edge magazines in this book circular either. This bites! :/

I wasn’t a fan of Circus magazine, but that was my older sister’s favorite. All I saw were the average Highlight magazines for children (grades K-3rd). I was in the fifth grade and a twelve year old. I considered Highlight children’s magazine to be pre-school reading material. All preschoolers read, right? Maybe I was an exceptionally rare breed when younger. I was onto bigger things and wasn’t a fan of those Babysitter Club books, either. I liked those Choose Your Own Adventure books but this book circular didn’t list any. Hmmm, alrighty then!

I wanted to read about Ace Frehley. He was my favorite guitarist in the entire Kiss lineup. I wanted to read more about Peter Criss who was the original drummer. It was around this same time frame I had a fascination for drummers, in general regardless of their style of music because my dad played drums and was in the drum and bugle corps for his high school. And my mother played in a few bands here and there and there’d always be a drummer. From a very early age I was drawn to drum kits no matter if the drums were a famous brand or a cheap, crappy kind.

I’ll never forget the time I accidentally put my foot through my brother’s snare drum on his three piece drum kit (cymbal, snare and kick drum, if my memory serves me correctly). I was about knee high to a grasshopper when I had done that and my brother was infuriated with me. I never learned to play drums, but naturally seemed to gravitate to percussion and cymbals. And when I was still a little child, I was fascinated by drummers that played in bands. I would go up and bug them during band practice whenever my mom would cart me along because she couldn’t always find a babysitter at the last minute.

I never sat down and asked my dad who his influences were and why he decided to pick up the sticks and learn how to play the drums other than his favorite band was Black Sabbath. I can’t put words in my dad’s mouth and say Bill Ward was his musical influence. I will have to ask him because it garners my curiosity.

I’m sitting at my desk in the fifth grade skimming through the Weekly Reader, page open to a check list of books for the upcoming book fair. It brought back negative memories of when I had to complete those stupid book reports for the Book It! Program during the 80’s. I hated Book It! because I couldn’t read fast enough to finish a certain number of books in a single month, then go into a mind boggling, soap opera strung-out dramatic, slapdash outline of what the book was about and how special the protagonist(s) were to me and what lessons I took away from what I read. I was a very slow reader and one of those kids you didn’t want to call on in class to read a paragraph aloud. I loathed reading unless it was on my terms and given free reign to read what I wanted. I seem to recall the Book It program had very strict criteria what type of books students were allowed to read and it was very boring! :/

Also, the page count gradually increased with each new book selected. I didn’t like the very narrow reading selection we had to chose from. It didn’t leave any room to broaden my literary horizons at all.

Nope… can’t make me do it! was my new defiant attitude at ten years old. I viewed the Book It! program as this mandatory course that no student could get out of no matter how hard they tried. As a reward Pizza Hut would give a student a free personal pan pizza (very itty bitty pizza) only if they could produce their Book It! button and a free coupon signed by the teacher. I thought this was so wrong because not many students could get a personal pan pizza.

I scored only one personal pan pizza by happenstance because my teacher made a mistake. I had already taken the coupon down and got my free pizza the same evening and naturally couldn’t give it back.

Metal Edge November 1989 mag

RIP magazine November 1989 Price: $2.75 (in 1989)

My penchant for those rock magazines was my quiet way of rebelling, I suppose. I’d never come right out and say what was on my mind. I would draw out my frustration and began keeping a diary (still have it to this day) and that was my creative outlet to vent all my emotions, worries, fears, hopes, etc. I took a semi-serious interest in writing and fact-checking at twelve. I wasn’t keen on citing my sources when I first started out and was told that plagiarism is a major no-no when I hit the fifth grade. Plagiarism is also a serious offense that’s not taken lightly, and what plagiarism is is where a person copies a paragraph, article, or a whole book word for word and claim it as their own and don’t (or in some cases) won’t give credit where its due.

I would sit there at my desk, happily jotting down quotes by various musicians and doing my best to cite my sources. I loved writing when I was twelve even though I never had any writing credits to my name yet. I was a nobody and made an easy target to pick on. I probably fell somewhere in-between the geek and nerd category by the time I hit Jr. high.

1990-91: Censorship abound, ‘The Metal Wire’ never comes to fruition.

The concept was great because I thought up the name and had a design in mind. There was something edgy and new when it came to conceiving my first ‘music’ newsletter back in 1989. I loved the idea of being my own executive editor, journalist, layout designer even though I had no access to any kind of design program since computers weren’t available. At twelve could I have sat for long hours trying to make Adobe Photoshop to work? Likely not. I didn’t warm up to technology in the least and wouldn’t for a good decade or so.

I decided to find something else and took up a hobby at twelve. I discovered 8 track tapes and the 8 track machine when I was in the fifth grade like they were these long lost ancient artifacts often overlooked in thrift stores. I would fix the cartridge tapes using whatever I had at my disposal and cleaned the 8 track players with cassette tape cleaning solution. And in a pinch I would use record (LP) cleaner for 33 1/3’s and long q-tips designed for cleaning electronics, and when those became scarce, I would tape a regular q-tip to the tip of a pencil and clean the tape heads and capstan that way. I loved to hang out in my attic bedroom working for hours on a solution how to piece together an 8 track tape that got eaten by my Lloyd’s 8 track player that was discarded in the trash at my grandparents house. I took the little 8 track unit home and cleaned it up, let it air dry for a few days and tested it out with those damaging pillow cushion over-the-head earphones. My mom promptly made me throw those headphones in the trash because she was very worried I’d damage my hearing and they could produce a much louder sound than ear buds do today. The old pillow headphones were heavy I might add and caused me many a headache from long periods of wearing.

I received my first hand-me down Walkman that ran on four AA batteries in 1989. The newest features this used Walkman had were fast forward, rewind, pause and stop. At the very least, the inexpensive less impressive cassette tape Walkmans only had play and stop. Depending how much money a person was willing to spend, the more expensive models had rewind, record, and fast-forward and maybe bass boost and both FM/ AM included.

Growing up me and my siblings had the basic Walkmans that lacked a radio. To conserve battery power I believed that using the fast-forward and rewind buttons would drain the batteries completely and so would turning up the volume. Walkmans were a new novelty to me when I was a kid, but how I love them still to this day and miss being able to hear one. I did find two at my local thrift store recently but didn’t buy them and now I’m kicking myself for not doing it. They were off-brand cassette Walkmans, but still that’s old school technology that’s collectable nowadays.

And the rock magazines filled the gap between catching concerts (if a person was made of money and had the chance to get tickets). Backstage passes I heard cost somewhere in the thousand-dollar range and that was unfathomable to me at twelve years old. I dreamed of attending a rock concert as a kid, but there was some intimidation holding me back. I worried about getting hurt at the concert and this is what turned me off from wanting to go to one. I heard horror stories and didn’t know that a nose bleed section was down front. Stage diving existed, but the barricades looked like the Grand Canyon in the live concert pictures in the magazines. But my height (or lack of it) went against me. Unless I could sit on a person’s shoulders I wouldn’t have been able to see the show.

The concert-going excitement was infectious, no doubt. There’s nothing like it in the world that can compare to it. When I listened to Kiss Alive II on 8 track and played the Alive! LP into the ground pretty much, I could be transported to that specific time. I could close my eyes and imagine being there in person to see the action, hear the amped up drums, screaming loud guitar solos, and vocal harmonies and the ‘sing-along’ audience participation that is typical of any band pretty much. And for that brief moment, I could see myself there among the throng of fans that were a wild emphasis of the 70s.

I returned to my rock magazines and thumbed through the articles. I may not have understood a lot of what I read at twelve since a lot of it went over my head, but I loved to read about the popular songs and bands climbing the charts. Metallica. Uhn, that’s a new band. Actually, they began their career in night clubs and bars. Fans used to call them ‘Alcohol-ica’ because the band members liked to drink. Okay, whatever. I didn’t get what ‘drinking’ was all about at twelve and didn’t care. To each their own, I thought. I had formed a crush on Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica. He had long hair, almost a ‘Lost Boys’ look about him even though he wasn’t a vampire. The Lost Boys had long-haired young male teenage vampires that were typical ‘bad boys’ of the silver screen. At twelve my parents still forbid me to rent that movie. I do remember vividly when it hit theaters in 1987. I wanted so much to go see it and glad I had waited until I was an adult. It wasn’t the R-rating this particular film received. It was due to one particular scene where the vampires attack a group of people partying on the beach that’s gory and very graphic. Now I see why my parents forbid me to see the film. Still, for its time the teenage vampires were handsome and the special effects makeup was impressive. I read on a message board that the film also used some CGI (computer graphic imaging) for some of the scenes and other die-hard Lost Boys fans dispute this and think it was contact lenses, fang caps, and a well-rounded cast of new young actors that really gave this horror movie its shock factor.

Either way The Lost Boys is an excellent 80’s cult horror movie that’s worth owning. I was happy to purchase an original vhs copy of this movie for 10 cents at my local thrift store a month back. I have the dvd to this movie along with the film’s series. Like always though I wanted an original vhs copy too. But yeah, the ‘Lost Boys’ look as I summed it up back in these days, all the rock musicians seemed to have a similar look about them. Long hair, tight jeans, ageless beauty, fame, fortune and so on. Oh, yeah and scores of girls, but that comes with the territory when you’re a rock star.

Had I been the intrepid reporter I strived to be with my newsletter I would have included critiques of albums, chart toppers, pictures, news, more credit where credit’s due, first-hand experiences by those who lived it, especially my [then] P.E. teacher related a story to me at recess one day of his concert-going experience seeing Kiss and that it was, “Loud like crazy.” He took his daughter to one of their shows and that was sometime when the band was already famous, so I guessed it was around 76’-77’ which happened to be the bicentennial year for our country (1776-1976).

I didn’t add that last part to my diary. I just quoted my gym teacher’s concert-going experience. And he added that on the way home from the venue he saw a lot of white-painted faces and he was shaking his head as though he didn’t understand it. That’s where I filled him in that the early generation of Kiss fans always painted their faces up like their favorite member of the band. By the time Kiss was touring in the 80s they had long since removed their signature makeup. He was quite impressed by my knowledge and the conversation ended when I had to return to class. And then another teacher waved me over and told me about the time she and a friend of hers shared an elevator with Kiss and her friend began to hyperventilate. It was only when the band stepped off and the doors closed, her friend said, “That was Kiss!” and that was before the band removed their makeup. I need to interject here that a photo of Kiss without their makeup was leaked in Creem magazine in the 1970s. I know this sounds like general knowledge to most nowadays, but back in 1989 this ‘famous non-makeup picture’ was still floating around as just a rumor. It was oral history like this that I penned in my diary so many years ago and reflect back on it like a kid that I was with insatiable curiosity.

 

Bulldogs, Not-Man and Doris Lady Justice- Mascots galore!

 

The bulldog depiction was my grade school’s mascot. In 1989 I received a gym shirt with the school’s name and the depiction of a fierce-looking bulldog. Instead of groaning, “Do I have to wear this?” I thought the t-shirt was so awesome, yet sadly, it never survived. I also had a school folder with the same depiction. The folders were glossy white with the name and bulldog in green outline. When the folder was opened there was a printed ruler and times table along with some typical useless public school highlights that wouldn’t benefit me once I got out into the adult world.

 

Not Man was Anthrax’s mascot, and I believe one of the members of Anthrax would don a head covering that resembled Not Man and go out in the audience to excite the crowd. Not Man is a cartoon depiction on their albums and t-shirts.

 

Doris Lady Justice is Metallica’s mascot. In 1991 one of the rock magazines printed a flyer for the band’s Justice For All album and Doris Lady Justice is photo-shopped out with the phrase, “…find out in twenty years.” For long-time Metallica fans out there I will need some clarification if my memory serves me correctly about this. But I remember seeing something to this effect either in RIP or Metal Edge.

And that about does it for this blog post. As always thanks for liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, tweeting, etc. I truly appreciate it. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrash and Speed Metal (a wild, exciting time 1989-1991):

Published July 31, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

“…a face obscured by hair leaving just a dog like snarl while playing devastating music, how very thrash…”- Harry Callahan, Youtuber

And that sums it up in a very sweet, poetic way when describing Megadeth. I didn’t hear about this speed/ thrash metal band until I was around the age of 12 during which time I was still going through my classic/hard rock/ heavy metal faze of the late 80s. Yes, I was one of the many in my youth that would ‘head bang’ to this very fast-paced, almost break-neck speed music and play air guitar. Oh, and can’t forget about that huge, long spiral, wavy hair that would obscure and twirl about Dave Mustaine’s face.

And it was the tale end of an exciting era for many in my upcoming generation as the late 80s ushered in the very early 90’s. It took me awhile to warm up to seeing the likes of Vic “Rattlehead” for the first time and I believe I saw the album Peace Sells But Whose Buying and So Far, So Good, So What and the reader might be thinking, “Who?”

Vic Rattlehead is Megadeth’s ‘see no evil, hear no evil, do no evil’ skeletal mascot very much like ‘Eddie’ is Iron Maiden’s recognizable mascot. And the sound that graced my [then] young ears wasn’t mumbling, guttural or shouting that to me remain undecipherable and unattractive, personally.

I don’t want to put down any newer music that would trample the thrash/speed metal time period, it’s just me expressing my opinion. The mainstream thrash/ speed metal music I was introduced to at the time for me had to have that certain ‘edge’ or magical appeal rather, and the lyrics must be at least 50 percent understandable for me to either like a song or few or not at all.

Could I relate to the aggression, angst and mediocre music industry standard supply with demand? I didn’t view any of the thrash/speed metal as angst-ridden or even depressing. Sure there is mention of death, dying, wars, destruction, etc. but the meaning had an opposite effect on me growing up. I was neither made sad or depressed listening to it. It was the perfect music to skateboard to or just hang out in my bedroom drawing and sketching and maybe hum along to the song. To me it was exciting and passed the time between studying and homework. The lyrics might sound ‘dated’ nowadays, but the newness never left.

‘Symphony of Destruction’ was the first song I heard on the radio by Megadeth and it was popular right around the same time frame that we were in the Persian Gulf war. So no, our country was not going through ‘peace time’. I was fourteen at the time and didn’t take an interest in politics and I certainly didn’t like seeing all the violence that the war coverage brought onto the small TV screen on the evening news. In those days we didn’t have flat screens because they weren’t thought of yet.

On the eve of the Persian Gulf war though, a few acquaintances I had made during this time spoke of the ‘what-if’ scenario of what we would do if we had been caught up in a draft. Simply put: we’d become draft-dodgers like that of the 1960’s/1974 generation. I can’t speak for my entire 80’s generation but we certainly didn’t believe in taking up arms or be shipped off to some foreign country we likely couldn’t point to on a map only to then return home in box. And none of us were even old enough to vote, be turned loose with our first driver’s permit, or even apply for our first stepping stone job.

We saw plenty of war depiction music videos to show us that war never solves anything. I remember I wept when I first saw Metallica’s 1989 video “One” when I was twelve. I was so shocked by the brutality and felt this hopeless sadness for the fictional soldier who can’t speak and is missing his limbs. I had to ask my older brother if what Metallica showed in that video really happened to soldiers when they go off to fight for our country. My brother glanced up from repairing a stereo speaker, grim expression and told me, “Yes, that’s a real possibility when a soldier leaves for war.”

I never learned about the behind-the-scenes of warring nations because public school will gloss over this and how wars get started. I remember there was a major push to tie a yellow ribbon on everything that wasn’t nailed down to show patriotism and if a student was indifferent or didn’t take any interest being patriotic, then they were bullied relentlessly in school by their peers.

I don’t miss those school days from my youth because I was indifferent when it came to wars and never liked to be a neutral party to anything ‘war’-related once the aftermath of two custody battles in my family was still on-going. A year before I had to play mediator between two arguing sides that just made false accusations. Finally, at thirteen it drove me nuts and I was a nervous wreck because of it. When I turned fourteen I had decided I didn’t want no more of that adult responsibility of fielding the phone calls. It was very difficult on me to hear my grandparents putting my parents down constantly, too. Parents don’t come with a handy ‘rule book’ just like teenagers won’t quit their dramatic, turbulent times when puberty hits.

All I wanted was to get happily lost in this new thrash/ speed metal music that I found fascinating. I wanted to forget about trying to act all ‘adult’-like at fourteen and just skateboard until my heart was content. I wanted Eddie Van Halen to amaze me on 8 track tape since I bought two of Van Halen’s albums in 1991 from a thrift store: Van Halen (self-titled) and Van Halen II. I played those 8 tracks until I wore them out. And David Lee Roth could sing! And he had long hair and was cute too I thought. My mom had a very different viewpoint (from a well-meaning concerned ‘parent’ perspective) and made me throw out the black and white poster depicting David Lee Roth chained to a chain link fence, bearing his chest looking at the camera with a sultry stare. Yep, too much sex appeal was my guess as to why my mother made me throw away that poster. It was very mature to be tacked to a teenage girl’s bedroom wall.

Oh, yeah, and Peter Criss still had to put a shirt on and quit showing off those leather studded bandoleers across his chest even though my parents had trashed my first Kiss collection the year prior. My mom thought the Peter Criss picture was too suggestive, and I believe I tore that out of a Peter Criss 1978 songbook that was given to me by my friend’s uncle who was a die-hard Kiss fan and grew up during the time the band was in their heyday of the 1970’s. But he expressed to me as he placed that song book in my hands that I could have it under two conditions: I keep it safe because in thirty years from the time he gave it to me in 1990/91 it would become a valuable collector’s item if kept in good condition, and secondly, that I never, ever do street drugs of any kind. Those were the two promises he made make to him. I didn’t follow through on the first promise to keep the song book in good condition, but I kept it safe as possible when it was in my brief possession and should it ever surface in my lifetime by remote chance unknown to the universe, I’ll know it when I see it because I colored in the KISS logo on the first inner page and put my contact information on the back inner cover and it’s missing one of the three color pages too. I did uphold my second promise to my friend’s uncle and never touched street drugs, by the way.

And there’s too much ‘male’ manliness going on an average typical healthy teenage girl’s bedroom, I suppose. 🙂  Although at the time the word ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ don’t enter into my teenage vocabulary at all. In fact, I’m very much uninformed at fourteen because I don’t ask twenty questions and the word ‘hormones’ doesn’t exist yet since everything seemed to me at the time to be strictly taboo in my household. The word and definition of hormones finally enters my vocabulary when I’m in my early 30’s. And no, this doesn’t make me inept. I simply have to locate the word and look up its definition, then do a palm smack to my head, say “Doh!”  and laugh it off. 😀

Due in large part of the heavy censorship in my household growing up I never got to see the new video by Megadeth for Symphony of Destruction since MTV was scrambled on the cable box. However, many years later I did see the video, or at the very least, a very well put together fan’s tribute to the aforementioned song perhaps. There were two different videos for Symphony of Destruction. One video depicts a mock (fake) presidential campaign where a fictional presidential candidate or senator gets assassinated. And there’s the other version where a group of WWII soldiers parachute behind enemy lines from their cargo plane that gets struck by enemy fire, and before the fiery plane explodes and later crashes, one lone soldier bails out in the neck of time and lands safely behind occupied enemy lines. The rest I won’t spoil for those who may not have had a chance to see either Megadeth video. But the latter version appealed to me, not for its gory, horrific and traumatic depiction of war, but I felt the lyrics matched up better for the visual story-telling of the song.

And Megadeth’s song Hanger 18 was about the Roswell incident from what I heard about and the song became very popular on the radio in the winter of 1991. Again, I never got to see this music video either, but enjoyed seeing Vic Rattlehead depicted as a main character in the Hanger 18 video many years later instead of seeing this mascot as a one-dimensional depiction on Megadeth’s album covers and in magazine album announcements.

Vic Rattlehead

Megadeth ‘Rust in Peace’ 1991. No copyright infringement intended. Used for entertainment purposes only.

I never bought the cassette tape of their newest album “Rust in Peace”, but did have the magazine album announcement taped to my bedroom wall for the longest time. I elected not to buy the album because I knew my parents would have thrown it in the trash since they still ruled the house with a ‘zero’ tolerance policy in regards to the music we were allowed to have. I always heard from being a [then] young ‘metal head’, if you couldn’t name at least a band’s first three albums or even know one popular song, then you weren’t considered a ‘fan’ by any stretch of the imagination. Nowadays, I’m happy to see this is a thing of the past. I’m also very pleased to see the older music being embraced and loved by a whole new generation as well, although the special meanings might get a little confusing since my generation got to experience it and live it first hand and the new generation is discovering it like staking their claim to a new land mass.

But this thrash/ speed metal wasn’t all about to annoy the parents or crank it up so loud that they’d gladly throw out their teenager’s stereo setup. And that’s how some 80s ultra conservative more strictly religious parents dealt with noise pollution in their households from what I later heard throughout the years. I thanked my lucky stars that my stereo speakers just had too many miles put on them when I bought them second hand, and my parents never went that overboard. Sure, there was some questionable lyrics dripping with sexual innuendos that flew over my head when I was a teenager. I didn’t ponder or even analyze the meaning of the lyrics growing up. If the visual appeal of the album covers caught my eye, I wanted to hear a sample the music. And how was this possible? You can’t hold an LP or a cassette tape up to your ear like a sea shell and hear the music.

And what I’m about to describe is what I seriously miss about music shopping nowadays since everything is instant with a few clicks of a mouse button. Have you ever seen those price check scanners throughout stores they have nowadays? Well, back in my day this ‘listen before you buy’ of hearing a song was made possible by scanning the barcode of those old single-song cassette tapes and it was phenomenal!

I remember my older sister showed me how to scan the barcode of the albums and we listened to a snippet of several songs by different bands one at a time and smiled. I remember I was a little worried about the red laser that scanned the barcodes since in my [then] young mind I still considered these laser scanners as being potentially harmful which didn’t turn out to be the case. I was twelve years old at this time and you couldn’t expect me to know everything about laser technology advancements. I was both awed and intimidated of the laser barcode scanner because I viewed it as part of the mark of the beast we heard so much about growing up. This isn’t to say we were living in the dark ages, far from it. And my older sister and I certainly weren’t living under a rock. The information about what exactly this ‘number of the beast’ was all about became muddled from one religion to the next.

Now scanning the barcode and hearing a one-minute of music was something very brand new and revolutionary that was launched sometime during 1989 when I took new keen interest in music. And like some new technological advancements, this barcode music sampling vanished very soon after for reasons then unknown to me. The department stores I patronized growing up had all fazed out this way of hearing a snippet of a new album and I didn’t see anything similar take its place until a good eighteen years later when a song from a CD could be sampled in similar fashion.

Most of the time Wally World’s music sampling scanner was out of service and I didn’t like to listen to it through a pair of headphones. To me I found putting on a pair of publicly shared headphones was gross and very unhygienic, for one. Secondly, the excitement and thrill was lost when the music could no longer be heard blaring throughout the electronic department. And if you were still using the model T of computer connections, mine was the incredibly slow ‘dial up’ since it was cheap, then often I’d have to wait about three hours for one new song to download without it re-buffering or the connection being lost. But that was the downside of sampling music nowadays. The album can either be worth the money or a waste of it if it doesn’t have any good songs.

I didn’t buy any new albums for a few years once the five dollar or less cassette tape bin became non-existent. I still loathed compact disc and the compressed, flat sound it produces. There’s no bass boost. The lead singer sounds like their crooning out of a Mason jar. Did they find the guitarist in a garage band? And was the drummer pounding on pots and pans or trash can lids? And did the bassist just decide to go back to their day job?

What’s become of music nowadays… I shook my head in dismay and often didn’t bother to give the album or band a second glance in most cases. I will forever be an LP, 8-track tape and cassette tape-collecting aficionado because those are my creature comforts that I’m familiar with and know well. 🙂

Megadeth never released an album on 8 track tape to my knowledge. Please dub one of their albums on a recordable 8 track cartridge tape for me and I would be a happy camper. Anything is possible with an 8 track player recorder and the proper stereo setup. I’ve done it before as a test in the past so I know its possible to dub from cassette onto 8 track tape and vice-versa because I wouldn’t settle for hearing these early formats of music being re-vamped, polished, digitized, compressed, and to my ears, ‘lost’ on a compact disc. Now Iron Maiden I know released some of their early albums on 8 track tape, but boy howdy, those are extremely rare and are way out of price nowadays when they do surface.

Am I regretting the time I downsized and threw out almost all of my cassette tapes? No, because they were so worn out there was a lot of bleed through and the music had begun to oxidize. That’s where the music becomes ‘whisper quiet’ sounding and this can be due to touching the tape thus ruining the magnetic pickup that reads and plays back the music and of course as the years pass by this can speed up the oxidization process.

Stay tuned for more and as always, thanks for liking, sharing, re-blogging, commenting, tweeting, etc. I truly appreciate it! 🙂