Sunday, July 24, 2016

2016 DEFINING THE NORM AWARDS

WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL SITE FOR THE 2016 INAUGURAL  
DEFINING THE NORM AWARDS.


 Discovering Comedy Normality. 

Here you will find important information about the Defining the Norm Awards being presented at this year's Fringe Festival for the very first time by ordinary, non-challening, industry-friendly comedian Will Franken (www.willfranken.com) NEWS AND UPDATES UNDERNEATH THE "WHO WE ARE" SECTION BELOW

KEY DATES

24 AUGUST -- NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED
27 AUGUST -- WINNERS ANNOUNCED
28 AUGUST -- AWARDS SHOW  

WHO WE ARE


Will Franken ("Mock The Week", "Have I Got News For You") is pleased to announce this year he will officially present, along with special guests, the inaugural Defining The Norm Awards at this year's Fringe Festival. Shows will be judged on conformity to industry standards, marketable status, adherence to shared political opinion, and audience pandering. Special categories for shows consisting of safe targets, stifled free speech, and lack of original or perceptive messages will also be recognised, in addition to most marketably correct and expensive flyer and poster combination. If you feel you have a show that is uniform, systematic, and average, you could be a winner.

UPDATES: 24/7/16 JUDGING PANEL CURRENTLY BEING ASSEMBLED. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE PART OF OUR JUDGING PANEL, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO SARAHBECOMESHER@GMAIL.COM WITH YOUR CREDENTIALS 

UPDATES: 24/7/16 NEW CATEGORIES ANNOUNCED TO HONOUR THOSE BEHIND THE SCENES. "MOST SYCOPHANTIC REVIEWER", "MOST PREDATORY PROMOTION COMPANY", "MOST EXPENSIVE PR LADY", AND "MOST KOWTOWING AND INEFFECTIVE AGENCY" 

UPDATES: 24/7/16 POLITICAL COMEDIANS EXCITED ABOUT THE DEFINING THE NORM AWARDS ARE DUSTING OFF THEIR UKIP AND NIGEL FARAGE JOKES TO SAFELY PERFORM IN A SETTING OF LIKE MINDS.

UPDATES: 24/7/16 DONALD TRUMP IS COMING TO SCOTLAND AGAIN? WELL, SORT OF. HE'S HOPPING THE POND IN THE FORM OF SAFE JOKES TOLD BY COMEDIANS FROM AROUND THE WORLD IN ADVANCE OF THE 2016 AMERICAN ELECTION. CONVENTIONAL COMEDIANS SHOULD BE HAPPY HE'S RUNNING FOR OFFICE.
 
UPDATES: 24/7/16 FEMINIST COMEDIANS ARE HARD AT WORK TRYING TO SOLVE THE AGE-OLD RIDDLE OF HOW TO AVOID DISCUSSING RADICAL ISLAM'S TREATMENT OF WOMEN IN THEIR SHOWS AND STILL BE LAUDED AS BRAVE. CAN THEY DO IT? IF SO, ONE LUCKY FEMINIST MAY BE THE RECIPIENT OF OUR "SIDE-STEPPING THE UNPLEASANT TRUTH AWARD"





STAY TUNED FOR MORE NEWS AND INFO.

c) 2016 DTN AWARDS

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

BREXIT: THE FRONT OF THE QUEUE



BREXIT: THE FRONT OF THE QUEUE
By Wm. Franken

I say the following as an expatriate Yank who has a deep love for both his native homeland and his adopted one of Great Britain: there is great reason to foresee positive consequences for American and British relations as a result of the Brexit referendum. I say this based upon the principles of choice and merit that are the philosophical underpinnings of a shared history and culture. 

I did not move to Great Britain because I have a burning passion for globalist super-states led by a centralised group of unelected officials. I did not move to Great Britain because I believe all cultures are equal and the flight out here was simply shorter and cheaper than the one to Turkey. I did not move to Great Britain to whinge about the perceived evils of the St. George’s Cross, the Union Jack, or the concept of nationalism more generally. 

I moved here because, ever since the age of fourteen, after seeing my first episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” on our local PBS affiliate in Missouri, a lifelong fascination for British culture was set in motion –  for its history, music, literature, and most especially, its comedy. 

There are times I recall an interview John Lennon gave to Tom Snyder during Lennon’s final years in New York. At one point, Snyder asks Lennon why he wants to remain in the US. To which Lennon answers, “Because this is where the music came from. This is what influenced my whole life and got me where I am today.” Well, that’s what I feel about Britain. It’s where the comedy came from. (Not to mention The Beatles) It’s where so many things came from that influenced my life and made me the person I am today. Britain is not just another place for me to live and work. It is the realisation of a childhood dream. And I thank my stars every day that dream has come true.

In my earliest months out here, I would often respond to strangers who inquired about my desire to relocate, that my love for British culture is akin to my love for women. There’s a beautiful congruence at something being very similar to me in many ways, yet still possessing a delightful plethora of intriguing differences to maintain my fancy. 

To be sure, not all of those differences are necessarily attractive. During one of the referendum debates, I voiced to a friend my persistent surprise at how nakedly some pundits express their contempt of the working classes and proceeded to compare this with how everyone in America at least pretend they come from humble beginnings. Which is why Hillary Clinton will always inject a bit more down-home soul in her speeches when she’s lobbying for votes in poorer communities.  And which is why, having been born and raised in a small Midwestern town, I have such identification and affinity for those regions that voted to leave the EU, such as rural Yorkshire and the Welsh Valleys. 

The United Kingdom I fell in love with at such a young age, the United Kingdom from which I learned irreverence, surrealism, and satire, the United Kingdom of the Magna Carta, John Locke, and Winston Churchill, the United Kingdom that was ever in my thoughts as I pursued a master’s degree in Restoration and 18th Century British Literature – whilst others in my graduate class were beginning to murmur about “white privilege”, “Western bias”, and other academic forerunners to the modern university “safe spaces” – that United Kingdom awoke with a mighty lion’s roar on Thursday, 23rd June, 2016 following what seemed an irreversible sheep-like trudge into globalist rule. In the waning hours of that night and well into the following morning, I, along with many others the world over, witnessed something unfold and claim its rightful place in history; something I had previously thought could only exist within the dusky confines of Biblical lore: 

David had beaten Goliath. 

If this ancient metaphor seems a tad hyperbolic, one simply has to consider the tidal wave of propaganda the Leave supporters had to successfully weather in order to bring the long-forgotten principle of national sovereignty to bear. Bucking not only against the raging waters of the EU transnationalists, but the overpaid and undertalented celebrity elite, the monolithic pull of the mainstream media, the clearly misguided yet unfortunately energetic youth, the ivory tower academics and their penchant for elevating fear above hope, the self-interested pleas from major corporations like Virgin and Ryanair, the meaningless mantras of uncertainty and anxiety repeatedly hammered into the public psyche by establishment figures in both the Tory and Labour parties, and even the veiled threat from the Obama administration about heading to the “back of the queue” – the Leave voters, with the quiet reserve so characteristic of this nation’s people, maintained their course with firm conviction to the result so many desired, yet dared not expect. In fact, it would not be amiss here to compare the calm steadfastness of subdued principle in the face of such rabid opposition to the exploits of this nation’s most beloved naval hero, Lord Nelson. For a battered ship had survived a tumultuous storm in the hopes of bringing to these shores once more the promised bounty of national sovereignty.  

Of course, if the Biblical and military metaphors are still a bit too grandiose, there are numerous variations one could choose from to characterise the referendum result. In my more light-hearted moments, I can also liken the success of the Leave campaign to the triumph of the Delta Fraternity over Dean Wormer in the 70s American screwball comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House; (Dean Wormer being alternately represented by Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, or George Soros.) The hardworking underdog citizenry of this nation, once esteemed for their sacrifice and selflessness, had made themselves heard, much to the chagrin of the establishment. The dispassionate globalists, the one-worlders with allegiance to neither flag nor country, bureaucrats and self-appointed experts who had for decades deviously – and to their own recent detriment – conflated nationalism with racism, could only stand by fuming, egg dripping down their disappointed faces, as history changed direction in the course of a single night. The spectacle was pure comedy at its anti-authoritarian best. 

The theme song for the referendum could very well have been David Bowie’s anthemic “Changes”, although some reworking of the lyrics would have had to have been undertaken. Given the demographic breakdown of the results, it wouldn’t have made sense to sing about “these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds” For it was not only the working classes but the older generations, those who could remember a time before the EU super-state undertook to over-regulate and gut their vital industries whilst the Labour Party simultaneously insulted their intelligence and social status – all the while incredulously and patronisingly expecting them to vote in their favour! –  that ushered in what we can only hope at this stage to be another glorious revolution. Whilst the children, the millennials too often looked at to lead the way – a continuation of the inverted hierarchy established during the 1960s of youth over experience – were stodgily resisting any change whatsoever.

With notable exceptions worthy of recognition for standing outside the pack and resisting the full thrust of political peer pressure, the younger generation, by and large, were calling for nothing more dramatic than the prolongation of a dismal and destructive status quo. And given the naked ageism and classism that has permeated both mainstream and social media in the wake of this referendum, it has become clear the “children” are now the ones doing the spitting. 

Over a week has now passed and I still occasionally see Remainers sporting their glittery “I’m In” T-shirts and find myself wondering how passionate one can truly be about an institution so patently glum, sedentary, and corrupt as the European Union. I deign to envision another corollary besides rooting for a multinational bank by which one isn’t even employed, but invariably come up short. 


 I can, however, always understand passion for one’s own nation. It’s unfortunate that a good portion of the Remain camp cannot. To a multinational, populist passion is always suspect. And to nullify any potential threat to the establishment, mistruths about motives are invariably ascribed to nationalist sentiment –  xenophobia and racism being the chief rhetorical weapons. For in the EU schemata, as in the larger globalist world view, there are no nations, there are no sides, there is no better and there is no worse. The jihadist hotbed of Belgium, the failed economy of Greece, the non-integrated asylum state of modern Germany, were all, until recently, placed on an equal footing with Great Britain at the table of collective and crippling compromise. 

No. Remaining in the EU was not a passionate position, but rather the manifestation of mass gullibility in blindly accepting a series of ad hoc rhetorical equations. For every conflation of nationalism with bigotry, there was a converse conflation of multinationalism with enlightenment. The EU, for example, being conveniently equated with Europe and Europe being conveniently equated with culture – wine, cheese and arts funding, if you will. Whereas a cursory glance across the political landscape of the continent, with its struggling unified currency project and the abject failures of its undemocratic centralised powers, empirically demonstrates the EU is diametrically opposed to the very European culture it purports to foster. I myself adore European culture. One could in fact say I’m passionate about it. Which is exactly why I have always decried the erosion of national identities that is part and parcel of an EU vision. Great Britain may have been the first to leave, but let us hope, for the prolongation of broader European history and culture, she will not be the last. 

But the EU is merely a symptom of the wider ideological pathology of globalism. A pathology that, like its smaller counterpart in the European Union, comes equipped with its own reductive inferences: Individual nationhood is distasteful, whereas the global community is, ipso facto, a virtuous thing. Can anyone actually mouth these sentiments with a straight face given that the global community today contains a theocratic Iran, totalitarian North Korea, and an increasingly militarising China -- all the while as the Islamic State continues to slash and burn their way across the hemisphere and beyond? 

Finding themselves flailing in the face of reasoned polemics, there were moments during the televised debates when the Remain camp desperately reached for the Nazi card, sanctimoniously emphasising that that, too, was a nationalist movement. Unsurprisingly, they had little to say for the fact that Nazism was also a socialist movement. A socialism predicated on the flawed presumption that certain successes are ill-gotten and therefore invalid – the same premise that served as lifelong justification for Hitler’s unabated hatred and genocidal practices towards the Jewish people. 

Of course, no one should argue that the European Union is the second coming of the Nazi party, just as, conversely, no one should draw similar comparisons to the nationalist policies of the Brexit campaign. What can be said with any certainty, though, is that continued adherence to the multinational socialist outlook of the EU would only lead to the further diminishment of British exceptionalism. The fact that Britain is now poised to reverse a decades-long slide into this quagmire, thanks to the outcome of a single referendum, should be encouragement to patriots across the Atlantic that the deleterious effects brought about by eight years of Barack Obama’s denigration of America’s own exceptionalism can be just as easily undone. 

It is telling that, during the final debate, self-proclaimed “citizen of the world” Barack Obama’s name was bandied about numerous times as a fait accompli case for remaining in the EU. That is, until one MP courageously pointed out that Obama, thankfully, was not going to be president forever. Why it took so long for the Leave side to respond to the invoking of the president’s name testifies both to how deeply affixed Obama’s cult of personality is on the global stage as well as to the underlying fear that going against his endorsements would lead to false accusations of xenophobia. For what differentiates a xenophobe from a nationalist is that where the former would incorrectly blame immigrants for stealing their culture, the latter would accurately blame their leaders for giving their culture away. And though, undoubtedly, the Obama administration has given much away, Brexit is now a signpost revealing how to get it back. 

Perhaps Great Britain in particular and Western Civilisation in general may be slowly awakening to the reality that there is no virtue to be had in self-flagellation. I myself wouldn’t want to live in a United Kingdom that endlessly apologises for its world status in the manipulative tones of guilt and shame. I want to live in a United Kingdom that, whilst not glossing over its historical transgressions, nonetheless endeavours to highlight and capitalise on its many successes – a Britain that loves itself as much as I love Britain. We often hear, for example, of disenfranchised minority youths in Western societies becoming radicalised. Far too many leaders have sought an answer to this problem with more apologies and more accommodations. But the question must be raised, are these youths disenfranchised because the West has not apologised enough or are they disenfranchised because the West has apologised too much?  After all, why be loyal to a nation whose rhetoric and actions are steeped in self-hatred? It’s virtually impossible to love a doormat. Moreover, if the leadership of Britain and the US were to widen their lenses and truly act upon the principle of “thinking globally”, it becomes readily apparent that many enemies see apologies as opportunities. 

Great Britain is by no means out of the proverbial woods just yet. They have acknowledged the futility of a doomed relationship and have expressed a sincere desire to move on to other opportunities. In reaction, the EU leadership, sobbing like a jilted lover, has screamed “Fine! Pack your bags and get out!” And that is exactly what Britain needs to do, lest it backslide over the course of two years into the same political morass from which it has only recently voted to extricate itself. Yet the machinations within the Tory party following David Cameron’s resignation portend grim challenges for the future of Brexit; most particularly with the ascendency of Theresa May as the major contender for the premiership, herself a Remain candidate from the exact same government. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” the electorate might have hummed as they heard her make the astounding assertion that “voters want more than a Brexit PM” – belying, of course, the fact that Britain needs a new prime minister precisely because of Brexit. Furthermore, the two chief architects of the referendum and the ones who made the most prodigious use on the campaign trail of Americanisms like “Independence Day” – Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – have both exited the political stage, the latter having been betrayed by his fellow Leave-ally, the Machiavellian upstart Michael Gove. Meanwhile, north of the border, Nicola Sturgeon and her contingency are clamouring on again about independence for Scotland in order that they can continue being dependent on the European Union. As an expat watching all this infighting, backstabbing and manoeuvring unfold, I can only sit back and paraphrase Ray Liotta’s narration in Goodfellas after Joe Pesci gets whacked: “And we had to sit still and take it. It was among the British. It was real greaseball shit.”

Despite all this political negativity, however, optimism must and will prevail. For it was optimism that defeated the scaremongering of the Remain camp at the polls and it will be optimism that goes forth to guarantee the people’s wish that Britain once more claim its rightful place in the world, this time on its own terms. Brexit is about many things – sovereignty, trade, and immigration, to name but a few – and yet all these could easily be distilled into two distinct principles: Choice and Merit. 

From its very conception in the aftermath of World War Two, the European Union was based on no grander principle than geographical proximity. This is not to discount the altruistic motives certain European leaders had in reviving war-torn regions of Western Europe, but when considering American initiatives at the time geared towards the same goal of post-war revivification, most notably the Marshall Plan, the idea of proximity alone justifying a political and economic union – especially in this postmodern age of internet commerce – is utterly absurd. Imagine how disgruntled, to put it mildly, Palestine would be if it were finally granted statehood only to be told, because of proximity, it had to immediately enter into a political and economic union with its arch-nemesis, Israel. The unpleasant historical fact is, with Britain’s exit from the EU imminent, the only Allied nation has left the European picture, leaving a map composed of areas that were either neutral, occupied, or Axis powers during World War Two. Whereas in order to account for historical merit in the context of the global conflict often cited to justify the creation of the EU, one must zoom outwards to incorporate allies such as the Commonwealth nations, Russia, and, most revealingly, the United States. Nations with which a post-Brexit Britain now has the freedom to choose to foster improved relations.
 
How ironic it is that by abandoning globalism, the world suddenly gets much bigger.
 
It has been posited by some in the Eurosceptic movement that the EU is, to some extent, a protracted attempt to assuage German guilt. If that indeed be the case and Germany wishes to continue making the culturally suicidal mistake of shaming itself out of its Leibnizes, Beethovens and Einsteins, let them. But not at the expense of requiring Britain to do the same with its Shakespeares, Elgars and Darwins – or, by extension, America to do so with its Jeffersons, Gershwins and Twains.

Brexit has the clear potential to represent a victory of merit over quotas and informed choice over convenient proximity. And perhaps it will also prove the long-desired harbinger that the flat-lined pulse of Western culture will beat once more. Most importantly, however, it can be the opportunity for Britain not only to inspire other nation-states within the EU to reclaim their own national sovereignty, but to reverse and consequently invalidate Barack Obama’s meddlesome naysaying when this determined nation finds itself at the front – not the back – of the queue. 

“Let us go forward together.” – Winston Churchill.

Friday, September 24, 2010

DO YOU LIKE WILL FRANKEN COMEDY? THEN SEE WILL FRANKEN


HEY DO YOU LIKE COMEDY? FUNNY COMEDY? FUNNY COMEDY THAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?

DO YOU OR NOT? ANSWER ME? 




Or do you like comedy that makes you think. . .and reflect. . .

WELL YOU CAN HAVE both. 

SEE THE SHOW THAT everybody is TALKING ABOUT! EVEN DOGS!

Will Franken Rises From The Ashes 
The Purple Onion Comedy Club
140 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco 
Friday, October 1st and Saturday, October 2nd, 
8pm both nights
$20 at the door


Monday, December 07, 2009

You're Excused


When I think of all my sins in their magnitude, it embarrasses me to admit. . .

. . .sometimes I don't like to say "excuse me" when people are in my way.

You see, I believe if I can improvise a trajectory around them without having to actually touch them--no matter how physically-convoluted that trajectory may be--there's nothing to be excused.

First off, saying "excuse me" can be quite socially draining when all I really want to do is just get past the person and continue on with the rest of my life. Why should I have to start a new relationship with a total stranger just to imply that I don't want to be near them? I'd rather not open that can of worms. It's much more convenient to circumvent their bodies awkwardly, come really close to falling into them, and then surprise them (and myself!) by remaining upright.

For instance, consider this large black lady on her cell phone at the pizzeria today. There couldn't have been more than a single foot of room on either side of her between the counter and a large vinyl booth near the exit. Once I was handed my slice of Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, and anchovies, the only two ways out of the restaurant, as I saw it, were to either say "excuse me" or squish myself together as tightly as I could and hold my pizza box far above my head, sliding ten to fifteen baby steps in the narrow strip of floor left over by her enormous posterior.

I opted for the latter.

Twice I stumbled and almost fell into her. Once, after banging my knee against the Formica table and then again, when I attempted to turn myself around prematurely in the erroneous assumption that I'd already traversed the width of her waistline. Sadly, there were still a few more inches to go before I could safely say to myself: "Olly-Olly-Oxen Free!"

Eventually, I extricated myself from this daredevil position. Yet I only had a brief second or two in which to congratulate myself on the completion of yet another physically difficult, almost Chaplinesque, circumlocution of a human form without having to say "excuse me"--when suddenly I noticed a look on the black woman's face that could have killed a white boy.

"Don't you say excuse me?" she huffed.

"I didn't want to hurt your feelings," I returned.

That was a glib response, to be sure. However, by the time I arrived home with my warm slice of pizza--who knows how cold it might have been if I had taken precious time to stop and say "excuse me"--I realized that I had been right after all.

That is to say: what is the purpose of saying "excuse me" to somebody that's in my way? I'm the one that has to perform the over-the-top acrobatics if I don't take the time to say it.

Aren't I the one that's doing them a great favor--a social good, if you will--by not calling undue attention to the fact that they're preventing my egress?

This afternoon, as I stuffed myself with salty bits of anchovy on tomato paste, I realized once and for all what a truly kind person I am. Not many people in today's fast-paced and computerized society would take the time, as I do, to both not touch someone and not make manifest the painful truth that they're placing limitations on my Constitutional guarantee of free travel.

Say what you will, but at least I care enough about my fellow human being to consciously and courteously refrain from uttering two of the most hateful and hurtful words that the diabolical lexicon of modern man has ever contained:

Excuse me

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Why Can't Women Think Of Me As A Brain In A Jar of Formaldehyde?


It's so disappointing to me that every time I meet a woman, she's always raving about how cool it is that I'm a man with a male mind and a male body complete with male genitalia.

Why can't women look beyond my physical appearance and treat me like an asexual, disembodied brain doused in a jar of formaldehyde?

Do you have any idea how boring I find it when women express a desire to have sex with me? As if I were a human male?

Puh-lease.

Is it too much to ask to be treated like lumpy gray matter in a petri dish? Why can't I find a nice lady to poke me with a stick and ask me to form a theory about her ongoing relationships with men of lesser intelligence?

Why must I always be sought out by the fairer sex for orgasms instead of advice?

Just for once, I would like to be treated with the same dignity and respect as a magic eight-ball. I, too, am perfectly capable of being shaken up by women to generate random predictions on romantic and vocational aspirations that don't concern me in the slightest.

How can it be, night after night, that every sexual contact I have with a woman is always direct and never vicarious?

Isn't there one single woman in this godforsaken world of casual encounters who's willing to look beyond my male physique and accompanying heterosexual appetite to see the electrodes attached to my cerebellum?

I suppose I wouldn't mind sating my carnal desires as much if women would only return the favor every now and then by using me as a convenient social mirror to help alleviate any uncertainty they might have about their own intelligence.

Oh, what I wouldn't give to be the guy who finishes every polysyllabic word they start but can only remember the first syllable to--instead of the pathetic schmuck in their beds the following morning, eating scrambled eggs and drinking black coffee!

I want to be the guy they should go to bed with, but don't. I want to be a genderless idealization instead of a male actuality.

I swear, if I see another hot young lady this week sitting on my lap in her bra and panties, I'm going to throw up. I'm still young -- I have yet to experience all the wondrous adventures of being a neutered Facebook acquaintance to an uploaded photo of a good-looking girl nestled in the arms of her hipster boyfriend!

The repetition is killing me. Every night it's the same thing. Meet a good-looking girl (yawn) make out with her (yawn) get an erection (yawn) go back to her place and get undressed (yawn) and then fuck her so brutally that every framed family photo and Japanese lithograph in her apartment falls to the floor and shatters, while the unrelenting and hellish banging of the headboard against the wall continues unabated for upwards of three hours until an earth-shattering, cosmos-dividing, mutual orgasm at last provides the concupiscent punctuation mark that concludes the run-on sentence of our sexual satisfaction and enables us to finally disengage our glistening bodies one from the other in order that we may roll over and light up some well-deserved Marlboro Reds--despite an earlier admonition by her that "smoking is not allowed in the house."

(huge yawn. . .)

I'm sorry, ladies, but I was not given a penis for the sole purpose of sticking it inside hungry vaginas night after bleeding night. As pleasing as these casual insertions have been for many of you over the years, I'm afraid this cock of mine is endowed with far more nobler functions. For example, if you had taken the time to ask before rudely demanding that I tear off your underwear and "shove it in as deep as it can go", I might have drawn your attention to the sheer biological brilliance which allows my "it"--as you say--to serve me diligently both in the arenas of micturition and onanism.

(That is, of course, during those extremely rare moments when I'm actually in a position to either urinate or masturbate--seeing as how my penis is almost invariably lost inside some tightly-clenched vagina!)

Far exceeding in importance these aforementioned additional qualities of my cock, however, is a function both necessary to my growth as a polite and unassuming Ken doll and one that I hope will be encouraged through the kindness of a very special lady with the courage and insight to see in me not a mere mortal man with common carnal desires, but an ethereal entity existing outside of space and time--namely, its ability to lie limp and unused while she prattles on about what a "brain" I am.

I suppose I shouldn't complain, though. After all, none of the above is true.

I am the guy who wrote the essay at the end of The Breakfast Club.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Where Judas Priest Went Wrong




--ed. These are just some random thoughts on Judas Priest as I wait for someone to finally call my phone so I can test out my new "You've Got Another Thing Coming" ringtone.

1. DID JUDAS PRIEST REALLY “GO WRONG”?

The assertion that Judas Priest somehow “went wrong” is less controversial of a statement than at first it may appear. I am willing to wager, in fact, that most experts in the field of 1970s-1980s heavy metal would agree that, through certain avoidable errors in composition, editing, and promotion, Judas Priest sacrificed their chance to attain equal footing alongside such luminaries as AC/DC and Black Sabbath in the lexicon of metal greats. Though their status today is still a far cry from one of complete obscurity, it is nonetheless one of a secondary nature. This is because Judas Priest -- much like the original Judas -- did indeed "go wrong".

2. DOES THE FAULT LIE WITH JUDAS PRIEST ALONE OR WERE THERE EXTERNAL FORCES AT PLAY?

Here is where the real controversy begins. In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of 1970s-1980s heavy metal, even those who uphold the notion that Judas Priest “went wrong” are still hesitant to ascribe the blame solely to Judas Priest themselves. Yet unlike the late 1960s/early 1970s pop group Badfinger, for example, Judas Priest was not the hapless victim of shady entertainment lawyers or obtuse management.

Hard rockers are no strangers to pills. Nevertheless, this one still remains difficult to swallow: Judas Priest had the metal world in the palm of their hand and they let it all slip away. In fact, William Shakespeare might have said it even better:

The fault, dear Judas, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.

3. SO WHERE DID JUDAS PRIEST “GO WRONG”?

In the following sections, I will adumbrate two major areas of fault in which I believe Judas Priest went wrong. The first deals with errors in composition and editing; or, more simply, the musical aspects of the band. The second deals with promotion.

ed.--There might be some confusion as regards this second area of fault. That is to say, does not promotion, being a managerial task, lie outside the scope of band culpability? And if so, wouldn’t Judas Priest have been a victim of an external force after all? In a regular entertainment and promotional sense, the answer to this question would be yes. However, as we shall see later, lead vocalist Rob Halford, it turns out, had been sitting on a major promotional opportunity throughout the entirety of Judas Priest’s career and had failed to act in time to capitalize on it sufficiently. No management company or record label could have forced him to undertake such a promotional opportunity. The decision was his and his alone. His failure to act cost the band dearly. And by the time he did act, Judas Priest, as we knew and loved it, was no more. (more on this in due course)

So let us proceed with with the musical error.

A) The Negative Implication Of Poorly Constructed Metal Prologues.

As we examine the first area of fault (musical), let us do a little role-playing. Close your eyes and take a trip back to your childhood. You’re in your best friend’s older brother’s bedroom rifling through a stack of LPs. Suddenly, you come across one from a band with a rather sinister sounding name: Black Sabbath. On the cover is a blurry figure waving a sword. The title is Paranoid.


Even though you’re young, you already know that your Uncle Steve has recently been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Your curiosity gets the better of you and so you urge your friend to play the title track on his brother’s hi-fi.

A mercilessly driving guitar riff sharpens your brain cells as you prepare to undergo an auditory crash course in abnormal psychology. Yet instead of learning about the etymology of the word “schizophrenia” (split mind; of Greek origin) or what demographics are most often affected with your uncle’s recently diagnosed disorder, you hear a young Ozzy Osbourne complain that he’s “finished with his woman” and that he’s “frowning all the time” and that “nothing seems to satisfy”. But none of this matters. The intended effect has been achieved. At this point, you’re ready to break into your friend’s father’s liquor cabinet.

Later in the afternoon, slightly aglow from a gin and whiskey and kahlua cocktail, you come across a different album from a band with an equally--if not more so--sinister-sounding name: Judas Priest. The album is called Screaming For Vengeance.



Even though you’re young, you already know that “vengeance” is what your Uncle Steve was screaming for when the ghosts had taken over your grandmother's attic the night he was removed in handcuffs and placed in a white van.

One title in particular leaps out at you: “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”. The title sounds mean. The title sounds tough. The title makes you think, in your 9-year old inebriated brain, that one listen alone would do for you what Popeye's spinach did for him. “Put it on,” you tell your friend with a snarl. And he obliges.

The first thing you hear is a steady sludge of drums, bass, and rhythm guitar, chugging out an easily comprehensible pedestrian beat. Over the top, a lead guitar blankets this rhythmic mattress with three descending power chords. Following a few quick and simplistic downstrokes of the final chord, the descending pattern is repeated a second time. There’s nothing incorrect with it musically. Everything sounds in tune. Nonetheless, you’re feeling an impatience that you hadn’t felt during the opening bars of “Paranoid”. Twenty seconds of your young life have already passed with nary a cry of vengeance from lead vocalist Rob Halford. You’re about to give up and return to warm embrace of Black Sabbath, but your friend urges you to hang in there. He’s heard it already. And he knows for certain the promise of vocal vengeance will soon be fulfilled.

Finally, you hear a voice that rivals even Osbourne’s in viciousness and disregard for public decency. A beautiful, diabolical warbling emerging straight from the depths of hell makes you shudder at the prospect that one day you might be called upon to murder your parents!


Rob Halford starts out his anthem of vindicating selfishness with relative slowness. You have no idea what he’s saying, but whatever it is, you know it can’t be good for you. One wicked line wraps effortlessly around the next, until--like a linguistic waterfall gushing forth with frothy Satanic pride--Halford’s syllables start to out-pace the instruments. It is at this precise moment--as the freefall begins from verse to inevitable chorus, like a helpless grain of sand passing through the unforgiving vortex of the hourglass--that you know, unequivocally, the music is there to serve Halford and NOT the other way round! Fasten your seat belts, motherfuckers. Here we go!!!!!!!

If you think I’ll sit around as the world goes by
You’re thinking like a fool, cause it’s a case of do or die!

Out there is a fortune, waiting to be had

If you think I’ll let it go, you’re mad!


You don’t need to follow a lyrics sheet to know where this is going to end up. . .

You got another thing coming!
You got another thing coming!


Pure. Metal. Ecstasy.

But how long did it take you to reach this musical satisfaction? Or, more to the point, were the means themselves by which you arrived at this anthemic resolution as engaging as what was to follow when Halford’s vocals finally appeared? Qualitatively speaking, how does the Judas Priest prologue to "You've Got Another Thing Coming" compare to the prologue of Sabbath’s “Paranoid”?

And so here it is--the major musical mistake that ultimately helped to prevent Judas Priest from not just obtaining equal footing with the likes of Black Sabbath, but of possibly even surpassing them in the Pantheon of Metallic Victory.

Judas Priest was deficient in the establishment of memorable metal openings.

Black Sabbath, meanwhile, was abundant in the structural gifts that Judas Priest lacked. That’s why the length between a song’s first chord and Osbourne’s appearance so often varied from track to track in Sabbath's discography. Indeed, the one constant between the brief opening of “Paranoid” and the grandiose prologue of “Luke's Wall/War Pigs” is the obvious level of comfort the band feels about its ability to be engaging, with or without the presence of Osbourne’s vocals.

The same can be said for other bands whose strength was not solely contingent on the dynamism of the lead singer; whether one is referring here to the crude, even childish, guitar riffs and drunken chants of "Oy!" that introduce Bon Scott's passionate ode to unprovoked violence and pre-teen molestation in AC/DC’s “T.N.T." Or, even better, the elaborately-syncopated instrumental onslaught that parts the curtains for Ian Gillan's maniacally screaming entrance to Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”.

In fairness, none of the above is to suggest in any way that the band Judas Priest (sans Rob Halford) was without musical talent. It is, however, to suggest that a necessary hierarchy was sadly overlooked; one which should have rendered the band consistently subservient to Halford’s vocals (with, of course, the exception of the obligatory lead guitar solo).

This deficiency could have been remedied in one of two manners. During composition or rehearsal, the introductory riffs could have been significantly shortened to decrease the wait for Halford’s heavily-anticipated appearances. To be sure, some creative egos may have been bruised--but it was Halford's duty, as leader of Judas Priest, to crack the proverbial whip if the integrity of the band was to survive intact atop the scrap heap of memorable metal.

Remember, too, that in the fine art of 1970s-1980s heavy metal, a bad prologue to a song is not just bad, it’s also pretentious. Metal should come from the spirit naturally and not through brute force.

And, speaking of brute force, it is with a brutally honest condemnation that we conclude our discussion tonight with the second, and greater, misfortune of the Judas Priest legacy:

B) Halford Came Out And No One Was There. . .


Now, no one would blatantly suggest that one’s homosexuality be exploited for promotional purposes.Yet it is an undeniable fact that in the field of 1970s-1980s heavy metal, a lead singerof a prominent metal group coming out of the closet would not only have created a fresh idol for the gay community, but would also have enshrined his band at the very vanguard of postmodern counter-culturalism for years thereafter.

It is true that quite some time before the advent of Judas Priest, Lou Reed had already opened up about his particular homosexual experiences--both in his music and in his lifestyle. However, Lou Reed, it should be noted, wasn’t wed to any particular musical genre--unlike Halford. Rob Halford was a visible entityin the world of heavy metal; a world replete with images of bulging cocks in tight pants and big-tittied backstage whores.

Open homosexuality in 1970s-1980s heavy metal had never been attempted before. And thanks to Halford’s shoddy decision to remain in the closet until after leaving the band in the 1990s, it never would be. The reader will understand now why it was stated earlier that this was a promotional opportunity only Halford could have elected to undertake. Just as the band Judas Priest neglected to shorten their introductions to serve Halford, Halford neglected to come out of the closet to serve Judas Priest. By failing to act in a timely manner, he not only did a disservice to the gay community, but to the heavy metal community as well.

Though not a homosexual, I still hold a certain sadness for the LGBT community when it comes to Halford’s puzzling silence. Coming out of the closet in the 1990s was less than auspicious timing. Queen had already entered the twilight of their career--with, I should add, no small amount of well-deserved fanfare and glory. So who could the gays, therefore, call upon as a musical representative for their cause other than the campy douchebag from the B-52s who yapped about a “Chrysler as big as a whale”?


In summation, to all you aspiring 1970s-1980s heavy metal rockers, wherever you end up in your respective careers, don’t ever forget the sad ballad of Judas Priest--the metal band that “went wrong”.

And to all those aspiring betrayers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, wherever you end up in your respective careers, don’t ever forget the sad ballad of Judas--the disciple that “went wrong”.