Pulling Down The Tents

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Pulling Down The Tents

The thing you never think about when you do your little dreaming is – what happens if you get to live that dream? What then?

Good question.

Though first, let’s take a moment and appreciate the dreams when we can live them. It’s not all the time, unless you have very narrow focus and dream small, which is fine, but sometimes, SOMETIMES it’s the big dreams that really push you. Sometimes it’s the big dreams that make you stretch. If nothing else it’s the big dreams that keep our hope alive. Even if it’s a dim and distant hope. Hope’s what drives us through life, and without it things get awful bleak.

We recently decided to put an end to my baby, the Flint Horror Con. This was a decision made for many reasons but for now, and maybe for good, it seems that it’s an idea that has run its course.

I have had many dreams throughout my life but as an adult one of the ones I had was to see a horror convention in Downtown Flint. This is a story that anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows so I won’t go into it again. It was thanks to some amazing friends, the trust of some great folks, and a lot of hard work but we pulled it off and the Flint Horror Convention had four fantastic years. We had our bumps and bruises, we had our stress, but we did what very few manage to. We did it our way, and we did it following our rules.

For me, and for the group that did the show, we started things as fans and remained fans throughout. And as such, it was about the fans. Too many conventions focus on hanging out with the celebs or on everything but the fans. It’s the fans that are the reason to DO a show. It’s the fans that make horror so special. And in Flint, there are a lot of fans. The thing is, we were a one day show, with a limited budget, and we weren’t going to try to drain every last dime from those fans. I figured ten bucks was a good price to get in. It is low enough for casual attendees to try and leaves people money for celebrities and vendors. And the thing is that you can do as well as you want at the gate but if the celebs and vendors don’t do well you’re screwed and the show was a bust. It’s a hard line to walk. But if you don’t walk it you don’t do future shows. I am sure we could have charged more, but I am glad we didn’t. Same goes for vendor tables. I have vended shows for twenty years and the costs are outrageous. I get that most shows are huge these days and that you have to charge according to cost of the show and the size of the guest roster but for smaller folks like me there was just no way I could make the table cost back. I would love to say I could but two hundred and fifty to three hundred dollars for a small writer like me is a LOT of money. I still did the shows, so I am not complaining that loudly but I also was keen to that when we did our show. For many vendors this is their livelihood and they have to be able to make money. For us, by treating the vendors well we got a LOT of good will from them and in earning their trust and respect we earned a lot of allies. That’s worth much more than money. Each of the four years we had to turn vendors away, something you hate to do but which happens…if you are lucky.

We built a community, and I am happy about that.

Not everyone loved us. Not everyone was happy with us. But that’s the way of the world. We did things our way and we stuck to it.

We built a show that we hoped was family friendly and tried to stick to that because every monster kid has to get their inspiration from somewhere and from something and we hoped we’d be part of that inspiration for some kids.

I am really happy at the work we did in the community. From the start we wanted to partner with charities and people in need to help as much as we were able. I am not sure what kind of impact we made but for four years we did the best we were able to bring in some extra funds. We tried not to beat that drum too loudly because charity shouldn’t be about taking credit but about helping people in need. We tried our best.

Unfortunately in the kind of business like cons you have to beat the drum a little because you need the attention and the exposure. You need the help. We had a LOT of help from people. From fans, to celebrities, to vendors, to friends, and to some local sponsors we had a LOT of help. We were never able to bring in much sponsor money but that’s blame I’ll take because I am sure there’s more I could have done. What, I am not sure, but there had to be something. As it stands we had more support than I could ever have dreamed of having. This began as my dream and became a dream a lot of people began to share. That’s what’s so humbling to me – that so many people believed in what we were doing and supported it. We had never put anything on of that scale, I know I never had, and we did it. For four years.

For four years we put together shows large and small where were able to showcase artists, musicians, and movies many would never have seen. We had an outdoor movie night at a local park. We helped other events with their shows. More than anything we tried to create fun, inexpensive things for fans to do.

Doing the convention I learned a lot. We all did. Sometimes you can build it and ‘they’ don’t come. Just how it goes. Sometimes people don’t care, don’t have time, and don’t have the information they need to come out. Sometimes things don’t work. All you can do is learn, learn, learn and move forward.

I believe in conventions and more than that I believe in doing small shows like we did. Shows that can be intimate and affordable and fun and family friendly. I believe that you can do some amazing things with shows that size. I think the super shows have their place and have their importance but not everyone can make it to those, or afford them, and those fans still deserve to get the benefits of going to a show on a budget. Heck, small shows can build a love for conventions that makes them want to go to bigger shows. Sadly, I think the days of DIY shows like ours are coming to an end but if we can do it, anyone can do it. All it takes is a little money, a lot of heart, and a lot of trust.

I am honored that we got the opportunity to do our show for four years. I cannot believe we did it. It’s sad to let it go, but we’re not letting go completely.

We still plan to do locally produced shows focused on horror that will be smaller but just as fun and just as passionate. This will allow us to be more experimental and still remain active. We are no longer the Flint Horror Con but are the Flint Horror Collective and we aren’t done, not hardly.

If you supported our show, or me, or us, or even gave half of a damn about any of it we thank you. We truly couldn’t have done it without you.

Thanks.

Chris Arrr

www.flinthorrorcon.com

www.meepsheep.com

Building Change

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Cities like Flint are struggling. Cities built to support one or two industries which leave, cities built to support and reflect a moment, and cities built by individuals not groups. And when those industries left so did the people and so did the city and all that remained were ghosts, excuses, and blame.

Luckily, the human experience tends to be a wheel that keeps turn, turn, turning and opportunity has a way of coming back around. Enter the 21st Century and a chance to bring back Flint and some of the other cities of America that focused too much on one industry and lost it.

I think we humans forget the power of cities. We forget that a large city is the heart that pumps the blood outward into the community. It’s the engine that drives the economy. We don’t like to think that because so many of us have a country/suburb view of the world when we reach a certain age. We have learned to fear out cities because so many people abandoned them for the suburbs and while we turned our suburbs into small cities the opportunities disappeared with the interest and poverty rose and so did crime. When we abandoned the cities, some to greater degree than others, we abandoned the people there too.

The pendulum has swung back though and our interest in cities is back on the rise as we start to realize that those places are hubs for business and entertainment and they are not things to be abandoned. Neither are people.

The only way the system works is if it’s treated like a system.

Like a body.

You need balance to make it survive.

You can’t abandon the cities and run to the literal and figurative hills because you’re taking the baggage of the city and its many affectations with you. Malls. Traffic. People. Crime. All of it follows the exodus so that the city never really leaves, it just changes shape. What we forget is that we are the cities, the buildings are just the form that it takes but we’re the city, and wherever we go, it goes.

The problem is that the suburbs throw up their hands and shake their heads and say NO to the notion that if the city fails they will fail, not realizing that cities are what they are and were built where they are because they are hubs for business, travel, entertainment, commerce, and more. They are built near travel lanes to make all of that easier. And we have to work together. If cities fail then it’s only a matter of time until the towns fail. We humans cannot get past our ingrained tribalism and need to have enemies, even if they are implied. City people are still Americans, are still PEOPLE, and they are still part of the same system as the folks in the ‘burbs. And vice verse. People in the ‘burbs are just trying to do what they feel is best for their families by heading out to where there’s more land, less people, and more serenity. And both groups of people are fine. We are so silly. We let race, and religion, sexuality, and beliefs separate and do everything we can to build more and more walls around ourselves never seeing that we’re building prisons, not homes.

Ah, but cities.

The issue with places like Flint is that too few voices are forging the new cities. Too few ideas and too much money. The intentions are good, I believe that, but they are also full of politics, both personal and political. Business is targeted as are the owners so that you get an interpretation of a city, not a genuine city. A city is organic. A city is a patchwork quilt of people, ideas, and ages. No doubt, there will be a lot of failures and you have to be ready for that but with those failures will come unimagined successes. You have to trust that the right people, if given the chance, will create something wonderful. Flint has become a city of medicine with three hospitals within fifteen minutes of one another – two of those within five minutes of each other. We are a city of colleges with two satellite schools for major national universities, a nationally recognized community college, a globally recognized engineering school, and a handful of business schools. We have a LOT of students here with nothing to keep them here. In Downtown Flint there are a small handful of upscale restaurants, and bars that serve food. There are two, maybe three spots that are more laid back for food but there is a distinct lack of thought about the many students here. The bars are not clubs, they are bars. You don’t dance there so much as twirl drunkenly. The music venues skew to small rock clubs, bars, or spots that trend younger than most young adults want to frequent. There are no places for mid-range concerts outside of a large concert/events hall that programs for middle aged people. As for clothing, the options fall to a very small variety. The grocery store in town failed and was never replaced. There is one hotel and one convention space, which seems fine until you realize that it creates a monopoly on pricing at both. There are no music stores. No bookstores – a college bookstore isn’t the same. No downtown diner or spot for people to gather at odd hours. And there are no jobs.

Yet – we have a world class cultural center. We have an amazing farmer’s market. We have some fantastic free and inexpensive summer festivals. We have an arts community. We are close to major highways. We are an hour from Detroit, Lansing, and Ann Arbor. We are resilient. And the biggest thing is that in a city the size of Flint you can have a huge and immediate impact on this area if you have the right idea and right methods. But the opportunities have to be there. The space is there, but the opportunities to INHABIT the space need to be there as well. People need the chance to find and live their dreams.

Let the market decide who survives and who doesn’t.

Let the downtown reflect the people who inhabit and frequent it.

Business isn’t about charity, it’s about self-perpetuating. It’s about growth, expansion, and safety. A city is not a business though. People are not a business. The city of Flint, and cities like it need its leaders and funders and the people who hold the purse strings to let go, just a little, and let people have a chance to shape the city they want to see. We have a lot of space that’s unused in Downtown Flint. Space that could be rented. Space that could be used. Space that could become something. We talk a big game about fostering business and incubating it but let’s really do it. Let’s get rid of the vanity businesses that exist but are not open and are not part of the community. Let people who want to add to the city and the downtown have a chance. We have so many assets here, it’s a shame to let them all wither. The groundwork is laid, some very nice moves have been made but it’s time to let the people have a voice in how the downtown is re-built. And once the downtown is thriving we can finally, FINALLY, turn our attention outward to the other parts of the city that need attention, hope, and opportunity. Not money, but opportunity. People have thrown enough money at Flint’s problems, at the problems of cities like Flint, and it didn’t solve the problem, it just eased some consciences. Change comes from work and investment and it’s time for change to finally come.

…c…

www.meepsheep.com

The Reason and the Why

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The Reason and the Why

I can’t claim to have many fans of my writing. I think everyone who publishes would like to think that there’s this group of people absolutely chomping at the bit for the next release but I am not much for lying to myself. Those people just don’t exist for me. I have people that support what I do but I don’t really have fans. Ah, well, maybe I have one. There’s a little old lady from the Flint area that writes really lovely poetry who I met years and years ago at an open mic event and whenever I see her we talk for a little while. She is, I think, a fan of the Meep Sheep books. I remember after I finished the second book, The Kreep Sheep, she kept asking me when the next was coming and for a long time I wasn’t sure. I ran into her again this past summer and she made sure to pick up the last of the Meep books and all was well with the world.

I think.

I ran into her again two weeks back at Flint’s monthly Art Walk and she had read The Last Sheep and had questions for me. Questions I didn’t necessarily have answers for. It was frustrating at first but then I realized that this was someone so invested in the series that she had genuine, thoughtful questions for me. It’d be great if I had clear and simple answers to give her but that fact was that I didn’t. I don’t. And that’s OK.

The thing about my writing is that it’s all done by ‘feel’. That’s how I approach anything artistic I do. I don’t necessarily have a plan, I just dive in and see what happens. With the last Meep book I had lots of ideas but a lot of them changed and I know the core of the plot was jettisoned. Not because I didn’t like it, I think it would have been a compelling book, it just didn’t fit the story that was unfolding. And that’s how I write. I sure as heck don’t know if I am any GOOD at it but that’s how I write – by feel. I keep thinking of things from my zombie novel Cemetery Earth that bother me until I force myself to remember that I know how I write, and why I make the choices I make. I just need to trust myself. I was thinking about the ending of CE last night and was pondering why I made a certain choice and was worried for a moment about the believability of the ending but reminded myself – it’s a book. It’s a story. It’s not reality. If people want reality they can go read a biography or some such. A story works by its own rules and logic and if it keeps to those rules and to that logic then you can’t worry about the rest. It doesn’t mean everyone will like those rules and that logic. It doesn’t mean that anyone will. But if the story is true to itself then that’s all you can ask. Sure, we all read a book that drives us crazy but it’s usually because it broke its own rules. No one wants to pick up a Winnie the Pooh book where Pooh Bear is never discovered when he gets stuck in his tree’s knothole and he dies there. It breaks the rules of the story. Saying all that I’d love to have all the answers as to why I write things the way I do but, honestly, I don’t really think about what things mean, I write what feels right and let it go at that. Now, maybe that’s a mistake but heck, if I am not going to be disrupting some huge fanbase and creating internet havoc somewhere then who cares?

Saying all this though it’s nice when someone does have thoughtful questions and general curiosity about something you pour so much of your heart into. That’s a thing someone could get used to.

…c…

www.meepsheep.com

For Those Who Stay

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For Those Who Stay

 Sometimes the wisest thing you can do is leave.

Just…go.

In the end sometimes you just have to look out for yourself.

In Flint that’s been an issue that’s plagued the city for decades now and it’s something I find it hard to argue with. But sadly, the landscape of America is starting to look a lot like Flint.

The jobs are all but non-existent and those that exist are given to friends, or family, or the jobs are outright eliminated.  When the recession hit the corporations took it as a cue to cut their staffing with claims of poverty and those cuts have extended out to raises and benefits. Corporate poverty is a phantom epidemic where the workers are punished for the mismanagement of the business interest. The street philosophy of ‘I gotta get mine’ was born in the penthouse and finally hit the streets only to be re-invented once more on high so that ‘getting mine’ meant you were willing to wade through a virtual river of blood to make sure you got it.

The government is broken, almost beyond repair. Everyone is in someone’s pocket. Everyone owes just one favor which becomes three, which becomes six, which becomes strange servitude. The Left and Right waste their tenure arguing and whining and complaining and do the predominance of their work in front of the TV camera where they lie out of hand as if it’s the most natural thing they do. It feels anymore as if there is no way to fix a system that can only be run by the wealthy and even the eager do-gooder will eventually be bought off or pushed out.

The school system has been decimated, the entirety of it a scorched earth of politics where robber barons took the funding to push towards needless wars and pointless plans. We have bankrupted the cities and broken the school system and all of those children who were once trapped by district boundaries are freed to go wherever they want. Suddenly the suburban schools are becoming overcrowded and the problems that plagued the city schools are starting to break the backs of the suburban schools. We are blind to the obviousness that without the next generation, and the generations that follow there IS no city, no state, and no country. We forget that we have to invest all we can into them if they have any chance of succeeding. It’s bad enough that college is mandatory to get a job as we price it so that these kids will spend decades paying off their loans and live in an infinite debt that we cannot fathom how they’ll ever get free.

The smartest thing we can do is run.

When the systems break, when the hope runs dry you run.

But here’s the thing – where are you going to go?

Therein lies the rub.

With Flint it is almost assumed you’ll leave and the city doesn’t do much to encourage you to want to stay. There is so much city corruption, so much politicking, and the system is so overburdened and broken I cannot tell you how it can be fixed.

Yet…

Where will you go?

There are always better places, better options, better ideas…but the troubles, the big troubles, are yours no matter what you do and the problems with the System are like weeds – they spread and they spread and they spread until they kill everything around them. The problem has become that so many people run instead of stand that the wrong people get elected and re-elected and the wrong people are making the decisions. Will staying fix things? Not on its own but when you stay you invest yourself in the area, the culture, and the people and that’s when you become willing to fight.

For those who stay you are the last line of defense, not of some grand notion of AMERICA or FLINT but the last line of defense for yourselves and your friends and family. It’s you that makes a town, a city, a state, a land what it is. You that feeds it and supports it. It is you that puts events together, and fundraisers, and awareness campaigns, and you that digs out your neighbors when the worst times hit. The System is broken, was born broken and we have spent hundreds of years fixing it but the truth, the truth of this land and every land is that it’s us, the people that make these vast areas of land a home.

Sometimes we need to run.

Run far, run fast, and find a new place to call home.

Sometimes we have no choice.
But a day comes when you have to stop and put down roots and make someplace home. There comes a time when you have no choice but to, well, stand and fight. And fighting can just mean giving a damn what happens in your kid’s school, in your neighborhood, and to the people around you. It can mean voting. It can mean doing things that help people forget the stress, or helping people dig out from under it. It means that you have stopped running and are willing to find ways to be a part of the world around you and to not keep looking for the escape hatch. Sometimes staying is simply caring for and inspiring those around you and showing them that that greed and jealousy and rage and hate in the world are just parts of a larger world and larger picture but are never the only thing there is.

Sometimes you need to stay.
And for you that stay don’t you ever forget that when you stay, when you stand you will find that there are a lot of people around you to catch you should you lose your footing and begin to fall. If you run, the only place to go is away.

Sometimes you need to stay.

And sometimes, staying can make all the difference in the world. 

The Last Sheep – a novel

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When I started writing I didn’t think I would one day produce nine books. Not ever. Even when my first book came out. It just…it wouldn’t have computed. It still doesn’t. I have put my ninth book out just before I turn 40.

So strange.

For me The Last Sheep is the end of a journey. A journey that began in the mid-2000s and which ends now. A journey which began with Bumble Kitties and lead to Meep Sheep as I would muse over these weird creatures with a friend at our vitamin store job. Those silly animals soon became a story that was inspired by a friend and which allowed me to change gears and to write something that wasn’t overtly dark and horrific. The story became a chapbook that I took to comic conventions with other chapbooks and my first book in the hopes of making some sales and getting my work out to the world. Once I discovered Create Space and started putting books out again it became clear that there was more to the world of the Meep Sheep that I wanted to tell.

The Meep Sheep was an experiment and three have been. The first was to see if I could tell a fairy tale and not to let the darkness overtake the story. It was also an experiment in layout and design. I had never designed a book before I started with Create Space but suddenly I had to consider the book as a whole – the writing, the layout, the cover design, the back cover text, the book size, paper type, and what I do with it once it’s done. The thing is though that all of that is fun. It’s MORE fun if you are not under the gun due to some weird pressure you put on yourself but, you know, life ain’t all lemondrops and candy canes.

The experiment continued with The Kreep Sheep, the follow up book. This book began as a Tumblr blog where I wanted to occasionally tell stories about the world of the Kingdom of Man and to fill in some of the history. What I found though was that in telling random stories of this world it made me fall in love with it all over again. I had never really built a world before. Not one that I wanted to keep going back to. Sure, when I write there’s a world beneath it all that is oft-times connected but this is different. This is a place that is molded completely by me and it’s intoxicating. You can see why people write fantasy – you craft everything and can make and remake the world as you see fit. It’s not a god-trip as much as a creator trip where you get to see what you can come up with. After a few stories I realized that this project was a book that I just hadn’t been ready to write but which served as a bridge to a bigger story. It told histories, side stories, and built the first part of a bridge into the next and final story.

That’s where The Last Sheep comes into the picture. As I sat and stewed on Kreep Sheep I started to wonder what came next? What happens when the Queen’s reign is over? What happens if the past came back to haunt her and the whole world? It began with another side story, a short that leads off Last Sheep that introduces us to the Son, a thing driven towards revenge and conquest that is the first spark of a coming war. That story was meant to be a standalone and little else but it became something fare greater as it served as its own spark that started me thinking about this last Meep book. One last story to wrap up the loose ends and to open the door to a million more stories.

I wrote The Last War – the title changed so it would blend more easily with the other two books so Last Sheep it became –  between February and March 2013 and writing it was like a fever dream. I kept pushing myself and every obstacle I just pushed past until it was done. The book wasn’t what I had first thought it would be, which is usually the case, but I love what it became because it surprised me. Its trajectory surprised me.

I am proud of this book, a book about war, a last war that would decide the fate of the world. It was a tale of the end of an age and the beginning of a new one. I got a chance to say goodbye to a lot of characters I love and love writing about. And I got to put a cap on the series and my publishing.

Last War indeed.

I think if there was one thing I was most dodgy about it was the cover. I wasn’t sure what I wanted outside of wanting to do the art myself. What ego I have I try to direct towards my art and writing and not towards the other aspects of my life…which isn’t always easy or possible but I do TRY. I am not a great artist but I started toying with ideas and came up with one I liked and began working on it. The coloring of the tree was the happiest of accidents. As I was coloring it digitally something got screwed up and there were little spots here and there that were separate sections so that you had to individually color them in and as I did I started to play with the colors because the tree it represents in the book is sick and rotting but is also full of life so the color changes fit that idea and it came out pretty neat.

I truly love this book and if it is the last book I ever produce I am content with that and happy to be able to cap this series, which deserved one last story before I turned out the light.

You can find the book on Amazon, Kindle, and in the e-store.
It is 380 pages and retails for $15

https://www.createspace.com/4748543

Thanks

 

For any of my books you can find links here – http://www.meepsheep.com

The Last War…er…Sheep

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Book – The Last – is finished. 

Huzzah. 
Boo. 

Hiss. 

Whatevs. 

Still not sure what I feel about it. I am the worst  judge of my own work because I am very hard on myself and am not sure I think anything I write is more than OK. All of this is prolly why I am lousy at self-promotion. I hate it. But, that’s something I’ve said more than enough about. 

The Last Sheep, as the book is now called wrapped up this weekend. I was happy to see there weren’t as many fixes as I had anticipated and that I kept a pretty good through-line through the whole thing. It was a year since writing to editing and it held together well. It was good to be able to soften some of the hard edges of the book and to change some things, add some things, and to bring some of the emotional tones more to the fore. It’s a dark book, though it didn’t really get any darker than I had anticipated. How ‘all ages’ it is is a big question. There’s nothing overtly adult about the book – no cursing, gore, sex, language or the like – but the tone is dark and there are very dark aspects to it. 

Darker than Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings and so on? 

No. 

But then those are also considered classic works now and this is just a book about a kingdom with flying sheepies. 

It’s dark though. 

I do think this does a nice job of wrapping up the threads of stories that were begun in the first book – The Meep Sheep – and carried into The Kreep Sheep – and I think this caps things without betraying the reader or the integrity of the story. 

The last thing you wanna do is invest a lot of time into a series that hamstrings you at the end for drama’s sake or just because. You can’t sell out your reader, even for the sake of your own need for twists. If it fits then do it, but to do it just for drama’s sake is not playing fair with someone who has invested a lot of time in your work. 

I think I need to live with the book a little longer to get a better feel for it. I don’t hate it, so that’s a very good sign. I like the arc of it, I like where people begin and end up. So, there are things I like. Just wishy-washy about the entirety of the work. 

Now is the fun of figuring and doing a cover. I had it too easy with the first two books so this one will be a little more difficult. I will sort it out but man-alive it isn’t much fun. 

The problem I always have is doing a cover that represents the work but doesn’t alienate the public, something I haven’t necessarily mastered. I hate handing off the book cover to someone else because I know the book and what I want to convey and this is the one thing, the book, that I get to let my ego run wild on so for egos sake I like to do it all, or as much as I am able. 

GAH!
As for the title, I really liked The Last War as a title because that’s what the story is about – the last war that will destroy the world. The thing is though that the title fit the work but not the series. Another thing I had never thought about since I never wrote these to be a series. Well, a compromise was struck. The new title – The Last Sheep – fits the book (oddly it took the editing for that but darn it, it still counts) and it fits the series. 

Double bonus. 

So, expect to read more about the new book. The 360 page fluffy beast that it is. 

I will get a proper write up about what it is and all that to post next time I talk about it as well. 

– c

Saying Goodbye But GOD WHAT A RACKET!

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The things that stay with you are strange. Memories thought forgotten that are just lying dormant but there, waiting for a trigger. Such is the case with me today as I learned of the passing of DAVE BROCKIE, the singer of gore-rock band GWAR. For many GWAR was just a gross metal band that lived to offend, and there was definitely that aspect of them. You can’t argue that point. The thing is though that beneath that there was more going on. GWAR was a very political and opinionated band that just happened to use shock and awe to get their messages across.

And you know what?

They knew what they were doing.

Sure, the messages the band was conveying would be controversial to say the least but if you want to get the disaffected and angry kids to listen you go to their level, ergo punk music and bands like GWAR, which brought theatricality to their performances and personas and truly WERE, for all intents and purposes, a band of outer space miscreants.

There’s a sort of defense mechanism the disaffected have where you hate everything and fight everything because many times you care about everything. It’s easier though to put up the front, the wall, so you are better defended. GWAR’s music was like that. To listen to the lyrics they hated everyone and everything.  Nothing was sacred. Literally. The thing is though that when someone does that it forces you to start looking at what YOU care about and gets you more invested in those things. They were truly a throwback to the classic Punch and Judy form of theater mixed with the grand guignol – the band perverted reality, mocked it to prove a point. One of those big points was we really need to get over ourselves. We need to stop treating everything and everyone as if they are untouchable. We need to hold leaders accountable. We need to question things.

And we need to have a darn sense of humor.

That was the thing, they were SO funny.

So funny. So ridiculous.

I discovered GWAR as a teenager when my friend bought their second release SCUMDOGS OF THE UNIVERSE. They were so weird, so over the top, so GORY that you couldn’t ignore them. The record was fantastic and I remember singing along with it in the car as I finally began to drive at 18 . It was a perfect summer record. They had taken this schlocky sci-fi horror and mixed it with Lovecraftian lore and did it all with a punk DIY attitude. So much was missed about what they were doing. Such as – THEY MADE THEIR COSTUMES and everything they did. These were artists and art punks who had taken their creativity and used it to make this larger than life rock band. A band that GOT BIG, even just for a second. They were so outrageous that the popular culture couldn’t resist them. They were at once a firebrand for the religious conservatives to rally against and a lightning rod for young people to rally around because they were everything that adults hated about rock music but turned up to eleven.

And the music was fun. It was loud, silly, offensive, but it was solid and they used it to create this mythology about the band and the world, a mythology that the fans ate up. Again, these were terrible, freaky, horrible people…who were terribly creative, talented, and were doing what they loved. OH, and they loved their devoted fans right back.  Be honest, how many famous people give a damn about their fans? How many rock musicians honestly care? These folks did. I recall running into Brockie after a show and he was the most laid back, down to earth guy you could meet. Heck, he was pretty funny as he hit on a friend of mine. And that was the thing, as brash as he and the band was they cared about the people that invested their time and money into them. They may hate the establishment but they loved the people that made up the machinery.

So many memories flood back about this band. I remember countless shows and standing far enough back as to not get gory but kind of regretting that I was built that way, built to stay in the background. I recall their doing a number of shows in Flint at the Capitol Theater and how beloved they were in this area. Even if you didn’t dig the music you LOVED the band because they put on an incredible show. And it was always about the show. It was always about the outrage. But you know what…love the modern pop stars as much you want but this was a band that made their stuff, wore huge outfits, played an aggressive show, and put ON a show all as they played live. To think that more and more performers can’t or won’t sing live is shameful when you see what some smaller performers did. And why? Because they loved their fans and they loved performing.

They were a phenomenon in the ‘90s. The music, the videos, and so many appearances on anything that would have them. And here’s the thing. Even if you hated everything about them you had to respect how they stood up to the establishment. How they kept doing what they did as they were denounced and derided and decried. They would appear on talk shows as themselves and talk about censorship as they also were utterly ridiculous and silly. They mocked the system that hated them as they took it on. They never once backed down and even ramped up their attack using their music, shows, and their home videos to show how ridiculous the people behind the censorship issues were.

Nothing was sacred.

And we needed to hear that.

I am still in shock over hearing about the passing of Brockie. In shock that such a firebrand is gone, his last Tweet as outrageous as any that came before them. I hope this isn’t the end of the legacy of GWAR. The band will probably disappear but I truly hope that their music, their act, their influence and legacy live on. They deserve it. They were such a weird, fun band that the industry never quite figured out and which the mainstream grew bored with but they never stopped doing what they had always done – entertaining the hell out of their fans. There is a sort of legend that is befitting people who work hard on projects and ideas even knowing that though their work won’t reach everyone, won’t affect everyone, do it just the same because it matters to SOMEONE.

GWAR is a part of me and my past, a part of time that was happier than I thought back then and part of that happiness came from this ridiculous band from outer space. I never knew Mr. Brockie personally but I admire his being true to himself and to his band and doing what he did for almost thirty years. That’s a heck of an accomplishment. That’s a heck of a legacy, and one which is blissfully covered in fake blood.

Thanks for so many good times and so many good memories.   

Rest In Peace