Category Archives: Thought and Opinion
I stood fourth in line at the Quik Mart this morning with nothing but my customary 20 oz coffee in hand. A ritual that I’ve been following most mornings since becoming a working member of society.
While my thoughts were fixated on the day ahead and the consumption of hot, golden deliciousness I happened to notice the plethora of items that sat neatly on the store counter available for quick purchase.
There were small, red plastic bottles filled with a fluid that promised an extra boost of energy in the event you found yourself dragging during the middle of the work day. Bags of Swedish Fish beckoned to my inner child with fairy tale urges of sugar rush. Truthfully, had it not been for the fact that it was 5:30 in the morning, a package or three would have left the store with me and my coffee.
As I continued to stand behind customers purchasing everything from gasoline to cigarettes, I discovered that one of the patrons in front of me was also purchasing a pack of Freedent chewing gum along with their Marlboros.
Now there is one of life’s greatest mysteries. A 5,000+ year old product that has always confused me. For no matter how often I chew it or how many bubbles I blow, inevitably two questions always come to mind whenever I consider gum of any sort:
First of all, why is it that we as a society can invent things like the Internet or build a hover craft the size of a pea and land it exactly where want it to on the surface of Mars, but still can’t figure out how to make a stick of gum’s flavor last more than 15 seconds?
Second, and even more importantly: Has mankind ever really considered the true power of gum?
Gum itself has been taboo for years. Back in my school days it was contraband and one of the quickest ways to earn a visit to the principal’s office. It was off-limits on school grounds, and only the fool would dare risk life and limb by sitting in an Earth Science class chewing like a cow on Hubba Bubba.
Of course, that didn’t deter
In between classes, when no one with a teaching degree was looking, there was plenty of gum to be found. Sometimes it was bartered in bathroom stalls or doled out behind locker doors. I confess, I was one of the offenders and did partake in the reverie. And yes, there were many times I raided my mother’s purse before school just to bring the goodness of spearmint to campus.
Gum’s power was just to big for me to ignore.
For aside from the short-lived flavorful chew just before it became a bland piece of rubber, gum synthetically gave me something more. Why just having gum in my possession gave me popularity, courage and the confidence to do things I’d normally never do.
Case in point: The only time I ever had the nerve to talk to any of the girls in school was if there was a pack of gum in my pocket. And any attempt to open the line of communication without it was only met with sweaty palms and heart palpitations.
I was never one of those guys who could ask a cute girl what she got for question three on a homework assignment, much less invite her to a dance. But put a pack of Fruit Stripe in my Garanimals and I instantly became a teenage Casanova. Because as long as I had a five-pack of gum, I knew that I could fearlessly ask her if she wanted a piece, and nine times out of ten knew that she was going to answer in the affirmative.
Which leads me to this conclusion. Stronger than any threat of a nuclear mushroom cloud or zombie apocalypse, I really believe gum might be the one thing that could bring about world peace.
What if John F. Kennedy had offered Nikita Khrushchev a stick of Bubblicious fifty years ago? I’m thinking Kroosh (I would’ve called him that) would gladly have accepted and instead of having a Cuban Missile Crisis there might have had a bubble blowing contest.
What if Ronald Reagan had offered Mikhail Gorbachev some Freedent at one of their many summits? Not only would it have not stuck to their dental work, but I also believe it might have ended the Cold War sooner. What if all the differences amongst all the nations could simply be resolved over a stick of gum?
The truth is, we may have only just begun to scratch the surface of what gum can do for the good of mankind. But whether it encourages young love in school classrooms or summit meetings between rival nations, one thing’s for sure:
The simple pack of gum has five chances to turn any enemy into a friend.
The other day I watched a video clip from director Peter Jackson’s upcoming movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; part two in a trilogy of films based on the classic 20th century novel by J.R.R Tolkien.
Jackson, as you may know, was also the director of The Lord of The Rings trilogy of films (the sequel to The Hobbit) which netted him Oscar nominations for all three, as well as the coveted Best Picture Award for the final film “The Return of The King”.
The Hobbit is one of my favorite stories of all time, and one of the few books I like to re-read every few years. Seeing this awe-inspiring video and realizing that the new movie was coming lit the fire for me, so I once again decided take the plunge. But as I dove into my worn, weather-beaten paperback copy of The Hobbit, I quickly became reacquainted with the same gnawing feeling in my gut that happens every time I read it (or any one of the other “Rings” books for that matter).
I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy worlds with dragons, wizards and trolls. Perhaps it’s the chivalry of noble men with magic rings or the notion that good always triumphs over evil that keeps me coming back. Or maybe it’s the fact that I was consumed with playing Dungeons and Dragons growing up. In any case, I love stories about bands of brothers who stick together on a journey and see it through to the end.
And that’s where my problem with Gandalf comes in.
Gandalf is the wizard in the story who “nudges” poor little Bilbo Baggins (the hobbit) on his journey with a bunch of dwarves to slay a dragon and obtain a ransom of wealth. Gandalf is one of those dudes who can pretty much destroy the whole damn world if he wants to. So why he seems content to send little people out on a dangerous quest is a mystery.
But it’s not the fact that he takes hobbits and dwarves off to fight dragons that upsets me. It’s the fact that Gandalf also likes to play “Now you see me, Now you don’t” that really pisses me off.
You see, Gandalf is one of those guys who likes to get everyone together, tells them how horrible the journey is going to be and even promises to go with them on what seems like an impossible quest. Then at some point early on during the course of the adventure, he conveniently pulls the disappearing act, and his 23 skidoo tends to occur just after an early battle. Gandalf will say something like: “Urgent matters to attend to, if you must know” or some other such nonsense. And no amount of tears or pleading from the little guys will make him change his mind.
What’s worse than Gandalf actually leaving the group is the fact that he somehow “magically” returns dozens of chapters later, just in time for the final battle and to obtain a share of the glory. Then all the way home Gandalf never has to leave again. Nope, travels with Bilbo every step of the way for months at a time. WTF?
As I finished the last page where Gandalf and Bilbo are laughing about their “adventure” together, I couldn’t help but imagine if something like that happened today. Suppose you and a team of others were building a state of the art high-rise building. Early on, your best crew member (Gandalf) leaves for no reason, but then comes back months later to hammer the final nail and claim he was a part of it. Instead of gold and glory, I’d be willing to wager Gandalf would be sporting a black eye.
Oh, you may have fooled the hobbits and the dwarves Mr. Gandalf, but not me. I’m on to you wizard.
Today is October 5th, 2013: My 44th birthday.
Truth be told, it’s sometimes hard to believe that I’ve made it this far. Especially when you consider the fact that it was only yesterday when I was the youthful teenager laughing hysterically at my parents for being in their 40′s.
I suppose there’s a certain sense of immortality you have when you’re younger that lets you make fun of your elder’s age without fear of retribution (or karma ever catching up with you).
Little did I know.
When we’re young, the whole world seems to be filled with endless possibility, and I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait for the chance to break free and start my future. The only problem was, that future always seemed like it would never get here.
Last night, I stumbled upon my 1980 Easton Area Middle School ID Badge under a pile of old memories and immediately recalled the day I first received it. Although I didn’t care much for the goofy grinning picture of myself on the front, I do remember it was what was printed on the back of the worn, laminated card that really caught my attention.
For the first time, I saw the words “YR GRAD-87″ and believed that the year of my high school graduation (1987) was so very far away. To this shy, cheesy-grinned, eleven-year old boy, seven years seemed like seventy and the idea of me one day living in the year 2000 was equivalent to being in a Star Wars movie. It was impossible for me to even comprehend it ever happening.
Fast forward, and here I am celebrating a birthday twenty-six years post graduation and nearly fourteen years beyond 2000. A brand new century. When did I close my eyes and wake up a middle-aged man? Back in 1980, it seemed like all I had was time and now, it sometimes feels like time is running out. Why just the other day, I was given the sad news about a high school classmate who had unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 43.
If what you’ve read so far sounds a bit depressing or makes you feel old, I apologize. This post wasn’t meant to bum you out.
On the contrary, 2013 has actually been one of the best years of my life. In just these last few months I’ve been able to accomplish something I’ve always wanted to do with a dear friend – write and publish my very first book.
In addition to that, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and write articles with many of the artists and performers I admire most. A pipe dream for the little boy you see in the above picture.
I’ve also made a conscious decision to start doing something different for my birthday every year. Beginning this October, I’ll be using my age number as a benchmark to do something to help others in some way. This year, I decided to use the equivalent of my age (44) in dollars and use it to hopefully put a smile on a sick child’s face.
Who knows, maybe next year I’ll take the “45″ and divide it up into hours; donating my time over the course of the month to volunteering or raising money for charity. Then maybe at “46″ I’ll donate forty-six signed copies of my #1 New York Times Bestseller (hey, it could happen) to a charity auction. Nothing is too small and anything is something.
Which got me to thinking, what if every one of us did something similar? How about instead of just receiving well wishes and birthday cards for making it through another year, what if every person used their own special day as an opportunity to do something for the greater good? Instead of making it a day all about ourselves, what if we made part of our day about helping someone else? One day set aside that you’ll always remember (I mean, how could you forget? After all, it IS your birthday). What better feeling can there possibly be than knowing you made this world a better place, and did it on the day you were born!
Here are some ideas of things you can do to really “celebrate” your birthday:
1. Volunteer a few hours of your time at a local food bank/soup kitchen/animal shelter.
2. Walk (or run) in a marathon to raise money for research.
3. Spend part of your day gathering up unused clothing to donate to a needy family.
According to my calculations, most good work would be done on September 16th (the most common birthday) and the least, February 29th (leap year).
As for me? Well, you can add candle #44 to that birthday cake. This year, I’d like us all to imagine a world where someone is doing something to help someone else, every single day of the year.
Impossible? Maybe. But then again, that’s what I used to think about 1987 and 2000 too.
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In life, there are only twelve months to any given year. A dozen different containers of days divided up evenly into four seasons. Each month, its own thing of beauty. Each one a chance for new beginnings.
I’m sure at some point along the way, when all of these months first got together, there must have been arguments over which of them should be considered the greatest.
I can already picture January bragging about the fact that he’s always been first. The first month to ring in a new year. The first month where resolutions are made. Then February would chime in about being the lover’s month; April would mention something about “showers”; May would talk about Moms and June would talk about summer and being the month that most weddings occur in.
And I’m quite certain December would eventually state his case for being great because of the whole Christmas thing.
Not one to brag or voice his discontent, October would just smile and watch the others bicker. For you see, he (much like I) already knows which month is the greatest.
October is the GREATEST month of the year, and here’s why:
1. October is National Breast Cancer and Rett Syndrome Awareness Month: Thirty one days in which to raise funds and awareness to help find cures.
2. Columbus Day: It’s the day America was discovered….. DUH!
3. Oktoberfest: Time to get your drink on.
4. October is the only month where Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry cereal are all readily available in stores. THAT alone is cause for celebration!
5. For baseball enthusiasts, October means only one thing: The World Series.
6. October is the month when fall colors are at their peak. Sure, the Autumnal Equinox “technically” starts in September, but leaves are still green for the most part in September. And by November, the foliage has turned into a dull, brownish color. For those of us in who live here in the northeast, the best days of all are actually when the weather is overcast with a threat of rain. Seeing bright-colored shades of red, yellow and orange leaves beneath the gray sky is one of the most beautiful sights there is.
7. Halloween. Nothing more needs to be said. The final day of the greatest month of the year is the only day where it’s OK to get dressed up and scare the shit out of people. It’s also the only day of the year where you can go walk the streets and beg for candy and not get arrested. Trust me, I’ve tried.
But the absolute real reason October is the greatest month of the year does not lie in days of awareness, cereal consumption or trick or treat. No, October is the greatest month of the year because of what happened on the 5th day of it back in 1969….
I was born.
I can’t say that I remember it as if it were yesterday. Heck, I was just on the verge of turning four on September 20th, 1973 and about the only thing going through my mind at the time was probably wondering whether or not Sesame Street was coming on anytime soon. Although I have no personal recognition about that day in particular, I still feel as if I were somehow there.
It’s hard to believe that forty years have passed since the lives of Jim Croce, Maury Muehleisen and four others were tragically cut short when the twin-engine plane in which they were traveling crashed shortly after takeoff. Croce and Muehleisen had just finished performing a show in Natchitoches, Louisiana and were en route to another show in Sherman, Texas when the crash occurred.
As I look back now, I wonder if Jim and Maury were aware of the impact they were going to have. Because I can still remember the very first time I ever heard their music.
It was sometime in the mid 1970′s when my father took me and my brother on our first overnight camping trip to a place called Camp Hugh Beaver.
At the time, I recall being extremely excited about going camping; that is until after we had actually arrived at the campsite and the realization of being away from home hit me like a ton of bricks. From that moment on, I immediately wanted to go home and let my father know it every chance I could, through both tantrum and tears.
Dad initially ignored my pleas, but by the next morning just couldn’t take it any longer and finally gave in to my childish demands. Shortly after breakfast, we packed up our things and began making the long drive home.
Why do I remember this you ask? No, it’s wasn’t because it was one of the many times I was being a spoiled brat (although I was). Rather, the real reason I remember this so vividly is because on the drive home the song “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” came on the car radio…and I was mesmerized. I distinctly remember asking my father who it was that was singing the greatest song any seven-year old had ever heard in his life and finding out all about Jim Croce.
Dad told me all about Jim and his other great songs like “Time In A Bottle” and “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”. How Jim had appeared on television shows and how his songs and stories related to the “common man”.
Then he told me about the plane crash and how Jim and his lead guitarist, Maury had both died. In the naivety of youth, I didn’t really understand what he was saying to me at the time. I thought Dad telling me that Jim and Maury “died” just meant that they went away and would eventually be back. Sadly, it wouldn’t be long until I discovered what death really meant and realized that we (the world) had lost two of the greats.
Less than two months after Jim and Maury’s untimely deaths, Croce’s “I Got A Name” album was released. Songs like the title cut (which still gives me chills listening to it to this day), “Workin’ at the Carwash Blues” and “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song” only remind me of what could have been.
“I Got A Name” is also an apropos title, considering the names Jim Croce & Maury Muehleisen won’t soon be forgotten. Sure, it may have been the last album from two guys whose careers were only beginning to take off, but here I am still thinking about them and their music, forty years later.
What’s all the hub bub about these periodical cicadas? Legend has it that once every seventeen years, these little buggers come out from their little hole in the ground, make a bunch of racket to attract a mate and then disappear for another seventeen years or so.
Well, we’re well past their arrival time here in the northeast and so far, I haven’t seen a single one. Curious, I decided to do a little research and find out a little more about them. I got this information from Wikipedia:
Magicicada is the genus of the 17-year periodical cicadas of eastern North America. Although they are sometimes called “locusts”, this is a misnomer as cicadas belong to the taxonomic order Homoptera, while locusts belong to Orthoptera.
Magicicada spend most of their 17-year lives underground feeding on xylem fluids from the roots of deciduous forest trees in the eastern United States. After 17 years, mature cicada nymphs emerge at any given locality, synchronously and in tremendous numbers. After such a prolonged developmental phase, the adults are active for about 4 to 6 weeks The males aggregate into chorus centers and attract females for mating. Within two months of the original emergence, the life cycle is complete, the eggs have been laid and the adult cicadas are gone for another 17 years.
What a boring description. I’ve always been more into relating something with sociology rather than science. So I suppose that’s why this funny thought occurred to me. Even though I’ve yet to see one of these little creatures, I began to contemplate the possibility of their behavior pattern existing in humans.
Think about it. What if a man lived in his man cave and only ventured out once every seventeen years for a little nook-nook? As long as the bills were paid and the lawn was mowed, I wonder how many married women would mind?
The pattern would probably go something like this:
Dude comes up from downstairs after watching nearly two decades worth of Fast and Furious movies and sports. He starts singing a Justin Bieber tune (an annoying sound similar to the one the bugs produce). Then the woman says, “It’s been seventeen years already? Oh, alright! You’ve got ten minutes. But then you better get your ass back downstairs and not come back until your kid graduates high school.”
It could happen.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I beg to differ. Quite often (and more often than not), it’s annoying. When I was growing up, it wasn’t good enough to just go to school wearing Members Only jackets and Jordache jeans. In the 80′s, a lot of the kids at my school routinely liked to show up at our educational establishment mimicking their favorite entertainers.
I kid you not, some girls would actually come to school with the exact same haircut and wardrobe ensemble as Pat Benatar or Madonna. Then there was a section of the student body who felt obliged to pay homage to Boy George from Culture Club on a daily basis. And don’t get me started on the dudes who came to school wearing a replica of the jacket Michael Jackson made famous in the “Beat It” video.
Which leads me to yet another atrocity of copy cats I’d like to discuss - the doppelganger world I see whenever I stroll down the cereal aisle at my local grocery store.
As if it weren’t already bad enough that I can only get Count Chocula at Halloween time, half of the shelves that once housed such morning goodness as Quisp, Frute Brute and Waffle O’s are now home to the wannabes; generic cereal that’s been cleverly disguised as some of my all time favorites.
You don’t fool me.
Sure, grocery chains tout that by purchasing generic brands, consumers can still enjoy their favorite breakfast cereal and also save money at the same time. Although there is some truth to that statement, these same people who claim to know what’s best for Americans seem to have forgotten about one very important thing – the fun factor.
Time is a precious commodity in this day and age, and there’s only a certain amount of it we get to spend using it on breakfast. Personally, I’d much rather spend mine with Lucky the Leprechaun, Toucan Sam or Fred Flintstone than with some stranger trying to imitate my homies.
I find it funny how these generic brands of cereal attempt to make themselves out to be alternatives to the name brand by using slightly different names (and characters) in their promotion. For instance, compare the use of the word “swirl” in Fruit Swirls with the “loop” in Froot Loops; an obvious Jedi mind trick. Oh, and look! How convenient…a monkey pitching the product. Could it be that both a monkey AND a toucan might be found in the same deep jungle? I’m sure it was just a coincidence. NOT!
Sometimes, the characters used to pitch generic versions are more blatant than others. As is the case with “Fruity Bits”; a knock off of my beloved Fruity Pebbles. You’ve got to give them credit for using a dinosaur to appeal to the Jurassic customers who’ve regularly indulged in the name brand for years. Sorry, but eating a bowl or these bits doesn’t even come close to the euphoria I’ve experienced by having breakfast with Fred and Barney over the years.
And what’s with the word “bits” anyway? Bits sounds like something you’d give to your dog. It’s not as manly as “pebbles”. Sure, it might sound like you’re eating rocks (and who knows, maybe you are), but this is the stone age we’re talking about, right?
If it were me and the decision had to be made, I’d go with the name brand cereal every time. If for no other reason than I would much rather be sitting at the table in the wee hours of the morning reading about the games Fred and Barney have in store for me than contemplating if it was really worth it to save thirty cents just to buy some knock off. You can’t put a price on happiness.
And as for the grocers who think it’s cool to not stock Count Chocula and some of my other favorites in order to make room for products like these, there’s a special place in Guantanamo for you.
I should have known better. No, really I should have. I was the one who spent the last few dollars I had at the store last week with no concern of replenishing my supply. I have only myself to blame.
Last night, with empty pockets and time to spare I could have easily made the quick trip to tap the MAC machine. But I was too lazy sitting in my nice, comfy sweatpants and t-shirt. “It can wait until morning.” I said to myself.
I really should have seen it coming. The fact is that even though I work with them all day long, machines don’t like me for some reason.
Every so often my procrastination leads me to have to go to the bank early in the morning on my way in to work to get funds. And in order for me to avoid getting dinged with outrageous service fees by using a foreign machine, I am forced to visit one of my bank’s local branches. But ever since my bank consolidated offices, the “local” isn’t so local anymore, and the trip ends up taking me well out-of-the-way of my normal route.
There are two ATM machines I can go to on my way in to the office; neither of which is very convenient. But in the end, I decided to choose the one that had drive-up service (you know, so I wouldn’t have to leave my nice warm car). As I pull up alongside of the machine, I am warmly greeted by the familiar neon “Welcome” that’s glowing off of the terminal in the early morning light. I eagerly insert my debit card to begin the transaction.
What follows is a dramatization of the conversation between me and the machine:
Machine: “Hello James, you handsome devil. Would you like Fast Cash? If so, how much?”
Me: Why, yes. Yes I would. How about $80?
Machine: “You’ve got it James. Would you also like a receipt?”
Me: No thanks.
Machine: “Ok… I’m sorry, temporarily unable to complete this transaction. Want to try again?”
Ok. no need to panic here. The machine probably just doesn’t have enough funds for $80….
Machine: “Hello James, you chisled abbed male model. Would you like Fast Cash? If so, how much?”
Me: Yep. Uh how’s about $40?
Machine: “Sure. Would you like a receipt?”
Machine: “Ok… I’m sorry, temporarily unable to complete this transaction. Want to try again?”
The realization that I may be screwed is starting to set in….
Machine: “Hello James you….”
Me: Look, shut the hell up you piece of sh$t! Just give me $20 NOW!
Machine: “Sure. Sure. Would you like a recei..”
Machine: “Ok… I’m sorry, temporarily unable to complete this transaction. Want to try again?”
At this point it is all I can do to not scream. This particular machine has screwed me over many times in the past, but it’s usually when I drive up and see the “Out of Service” sign in my time of need. This is the first time I have ever been duped after first being welcomed.
Moral of the story? I don’t know, I’m too pissed to think of one right now. But while I do, can someone do a brother a solid and lend me a buck for the vending machine?
It doesn’t take debit cards.
Did something happen while I slept? Since when did I wake up and everyone else got old? Last night while trolling around Facebook, I came across someone I haven’t seen in years and it started to make me worry a bit.
The person I saw is a year older than me and a good friend of my brother; who lived next door to us growing up. I recall standing on the corner with him at the bus stop every morning during school years, waiting for the big yellow taxi to carry us off to education. I also remember all of the Sunday afternoons where he and my brother would get a gaggle of kids together from the neighborhood for a game of tackle football. Good times.
But, as what typically happens in life, once school is over people tend to go their own separate ways, and ours was no exception. I went to West Chester to study music and he wound up moving to Florida to take on a construction job. It was the late 1980′s and we were young; ready to take on the world. It was a time when life’s possibilities seemed endless.
The thing is, once I saw the profile picture he used on Facebook, I began to reconsider that last sentence. For although I’d often see him over the years when he’d make his pilgrimages back north to visit my brother, the person I now saw in the photograph sure didn’t resemble the same dude I remember.
He was sitting on a couch, wearing a t-shirt and worn out blue jeans. A Ford Racing baseball cap adorned his noggin, much the same way as I remember him. He didn’t look sickly or unhealthy at all. For all I knew, he was the healthiest man alive. The only difference was for the first time, to me he just looked…well:
I saw an old man sitting on the couch. A forty-five year “old” man. A man who is only twenty months older than me.
Now, this is not to be meant as a knock on him. After all, it’s life. But it did make me begin to wonder how people really see me. As much as I’d like to forget about it, every morning I see the grays in my beard; have to deal with the trick knee acting up and the fact that my daughter is growing up way too fast. I’m constantly being reminded about my own mortality. Where did those endless possibilities and Sunday football games go? Sure, I can still pass by the places where we used to play and picture everything in my mind. But in my vision, we’re always kids.
I’m sure that if I were to see my brother’s friend today it would probably be just like old times. We’d probably joke around and laugh about the great games we used to have on the grid iron, or the days standing on the corner in the freezing cold waiting for the school bus. Although this time we’d probably be laughing about them over an adult beverage rather than the Kool-Aid Fruit Punch we had to drink back then. But I like to think the effects of the beer would help soften the blow that we were now the same age our parents were when we enjoyed such reverie.
I was always able to see people as they were in the past, and not as they are in the present. Oh sure, visually I still see the age mass and the gray hairs on the head that indicate years of life lived, but I was always able to look beyond that. I was always the forty-four year old, still being that fifteen year old teenager waiting for the bus. But now, in a strange way and for the very first time, I’m beginning to see the future.
I was never a big fan of Slayer, but when I saw this letter by their (presumably now former) drummer Dave Lombardo, I had to post. Not because he had some concerns that there may be some shenanigans going on with the band’s finances, but rather to pose this question:
When did the music take a back seat to this nonsense?
Whether you’re into this kind of music or not yourself, take a minute to read Dave’s note and let me know what you think. For those not aware, Dave is a founding member of Slayer, a Grammy award-winning band with sales estimates in excess of twenty million records and also credited as being one of the “Big Four” thrash metal acts, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax.
Statement From Dave Lombardo Regarding Slayer Australian Tour 2013
I want to personally apologize to all of our fans in Australia who have bought tickets for the tour expecting to see me in my usual place on the drums.
So that you all know the truth, as of the end of the business day on February 14th, I was notified that I would not be drumming for the tour in Australia. I’m saddened, and to be honest I am shocked by the situation.
Last year, I discovered 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses including the professional fees paid to management, costing the band millions of dollars and leaving 10% or less to split amongst the four of us. In my opinion, this is not the way a band’s business should operate. I tried rectifying it by letting my band mates know, and Tom and I hired auditors to figure out what happened, but I was denied access to detailed information and the necessary back up documents.
I spent the Christmas and New Year holidays realizing I had toured all over the world in 2012, but yet, had not been paid (except a small advance) or provided a proper accounting for a full year’s sweat and blood. On top of this, I was told that I would not be paid until I signed a long form contract which gave me no written assurance of how much or on what basis management would deduct commissions, nor did it provide me access to the financial budgets or records for review. It also forbade me to do interviews or make statements having to do with the band, in effect a gagging order.
Last Monday, I sat down with Kerry and Tom to rehearse for Australia and to propose a new business model that I felt was the best way forward for Slayer to confidently protect itself so we could do what we do best . . . play for the fans. Kerry made it clear he wasn’t interested in making changes and said if I wanted to argue the point, he would find another drummer. On Thursday, I arrived at rehearsals at 1 pm as scheduled, but Kerry did not show. Rather, at 6:24 pm I received an email from the lawyers saying I was being replaced for the Australian dates.
I remain hopeful that we can resolve our issues. But once again, I sincerely apologize to all of our fans in Australia who spent their money expecting to see the 3 of us original Slayer members.
I look forward to seeing you in the future.