The shindig went down at Salon Tress. In addition to stupefyingly great readings by the other participants Rachel McPadden, Katie Rife, Nithin Kalvakota, Dan Gleason, Gregory Jacobsen, Bob Goblin—as well as reality metal air guitar virtuosity by Nordic Thunder and Cannonball Mavin—I read the following compositions.
1. Rosemary’s Brooklyn Baby
The film Rosemary’s Baby debuted in theaters on June 12, 1968. I was a mere womb banger at the time, waiting to debut myself two months and nine days later.
The woman brewing me in utero, Moms McBeardo, was a stick-skinny blonde with wide blue eyes who already bore resemblance to Mia Farrow, the Rosemary of Rosemary’s Baby.
Since Moms was hugely pregnant when the movie came out, fri ends and strangers alike commented on how much she looked like Mia. Her choice to sport a boy’s haircut, as Ms. Farrow famously did on screen, and don psychedelic print maternity frocks of the day only further drove home the doppelgangerism— AND THEN SHE FLIPPED HER PIXIE-CUT EVERY TIME PEOPLE POINTED OUT THE RESEMBLANCE!
This is akin to a knuckledhead who used to drink at a bar I frequented called Dowtown Beirut. He was fat guy with a huge jet-black pompadour, who’d wear giant wraparound sunglasses, and he’d order drinks with a southern accent and then say, “Thankyu vurrrry muchhh.” Every so often, you’d be sitting there, and all of a sudden you’d hear this goofball explode, “DON’T CALL ME ELVIS!”
This characteristic of Moms’s, however, is telling. She certainly passed it on to me. By age four, I was a full-blown fanatic of Dracula and Frankenstein and their ilk and it large part it was because they TERRIFIED me. I’d stock my bedroom with scary posters and fright masks, then I’d lie awake, petrified at the reality I MADE of being stuck alone in a den of monstrosities.
And that’s not even counting the fact that, from infancy onward, an image of Satan hung on my wall. He was getting his horned skull stomped by St. Michael the Archangel, but still…. And who placed that picture there? Who else? My own blessed mother.
HAIL LIL’ SATAN!
2. One Tin Boner
During a 1977 folk mass at my fantastically cool Uncle Freddie’s church in Cedar Grove, New Jersey the congregation sang “One Tin Soldier”. It was the theme song from the drive-in masterpiece Billy Jack and had since become massive pop radio hit. The words say there won’t be any trumpet blowin’, but the church actually had a trumpet blower that day.
Prior to that, the name group that performed “One Tin Soldier” always freaked me out Coven and with good reason: they were called Coven and they were the actual first Satanic rock band!
I’ve long lamented the ’70s brand of post-Vatican II Catholicism in which I was raised. Gone was the blood-and-thunder Son of a Vengeful God Jesus; now the Savior was like this Divine Flower Child who just loved the little children of the world. And in place of black-clad priests swinging incense and chanting in Latin, we now had groovy nuns strumming acoustic guitars under felt banners of fish and rainbows.
Some Garden State usurper snuck a taste of the Old One True Faith into the liturgy that day though, by way of a band whose debut album is titled Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls—again, a position with which the Church of Rome would hardly be at odds.
“One Tin Soldier” lays out a thoroughly Biblical tale of greed-driven genocide in the name of hypocritical righteousness.
“Go ahead and hate your neighbor/Go ahead and cheat a friend/Do it in the name of Heaven/You can justify it in the end…”
The gravity of the words never struck me until, at age eight, I read the lyrics off the mimeographed hymnal.
Eight years old or not, that’s some heavy shit, man.
The song condemns humanity wholesale as evil and irredeemable. It damns us. It really, really damns us. Just like the Church used to. It felt so damned good to be damned DAMNED that morning.
Years later, I’d try to revive that feeling of giddy perdition while making love to a photo of Coven singer Jinx Dawson in the gatefold of that Witchcraft album.
The Nordic blonde sorceress and Indiana native is splayed out nude as a human altar during a Satanic black mass. Many a sacrifice have I made to Jinx Dawson’s graven image.
Just recently, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a photo of me with an interview regarding IF YOU LIKE METALLICA. I’m wearing a Coven t-shirt in it, emblazoned with that very naked black mass photo.
Jinx herself wrote to me on Facebook:
“My Dearest Mike: I was so aroused to see thee wearing that irreverent Coven t-shirt. Thou art truly most wicked!”
So all’s well that’s ends well in a puddle at your feet. And then in a sock.
HAIL JINX! HAIL BILLY! HAIL THE KIDS AT THE FREEDOM SCHOOL!
3. KISS Your Pants
KISS scared the piss out of me on The Midnight Special in 1978. Not instantaneously—I didn’t just explode urine on the spot as I watched Gene Simmons spit blood and Wolfman Jack go, “All right, babies! Yeah! Spittin’ blood, babies! Allriiight! Breathing fiiii-yah! Yeah! Ahwoooo!”—but I immediately turned the TV off and went to bed, praying to not think about KISS. I awoke in the morning with soaked pajamas.
Until then, KISS existed on my radar only tangentially. My pot-smoking, longhaired uncles, on whom I relied for access to the rock world, laughed them off as clowns and it only the most unappealingly unwashed kids I knew would write “K-I-S-S” on their gym sneakers.
Summer 1978 brought with it a KISS onslaught, however. While my focus remained primarily on the Grease soundtrack and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell—the title of which I kept hoping my mother wouldn’t catch on to—I now felt myself drawn to the spook-show Kabuki supervillains whose Destroyer album blared through the very air itself
wherever you went and who were now peddling dolls during cartoons on TV and about to star in their own Hanna-Barbera-produced TV movie.
One afternoon I amassed enough skee-ball tickets at the Fun City arcade in Keansburg, New Jersey to get something better than a back-scratcher (which means the points must have numbered in the millions).
Trading in my torn-off bounty for prizes, I asked the lady at the counter for the requisite 500-year-old Bazooka bubblegum and some plastic spider rings that immediately sliced into your finger and then, before I could stop myself, I said, “And a pack of KISS cards!”
What had I just done?
Frozen and excited at the same time, I hauled my loot to the dunes along Raritan Bay, opened the cards and looked at them one by one. Loving them. Loathing them. I actually said out loud: “I hate KISS. But, secretly, I like them.” Then I buried the cards in the sand, making sure the spot would be easy to remember, as it now housed evil.
Afterward, I walked up along the shoreline and wrote “KISS STINKS” in the wet sand and watched the tide wash the words away.
Like a prayer.
Fuck you, Madonna.
HAIL THE DEMON! THE STAR CHILD! THE SPACE ACE! THE CATMAN!
HAIL THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK!
4. Stairway to My Sweet Satan
The music of Led Zeppelin scared me as a kid, but the adolescent hoodlums bedecked in Led Zeppelin baseball jerseys scared me way worse.
Zeppelin seemed like the natural teenage soundtrack to stolen car joyrides and stray cat back alley executions by fire—dirtbag music for the sort of dirtbag who’d stuff you in a bag and bury in the dirt—sixty-six-point-six feet under.
“Stairway to Heaven,” however, loomed inevitable.
Shortly before my eighth grade graduation, the Daily News reported that various reverse record-spinners had cracked a backward message in “Stairway to Heaven” that stated: “Here’s to my sweet Satan/ the one who’s little path would make me sad/He will give those with him six-six-six/said Satan.”
For a spell, then, this expose put me off “Stairway to Heaven.” Alas, there came the Our Lady Help of Christians graduation dance.
An OLHC alumnus in a Panama Red t-shirt spun platters that included hits of the day, but tilted heavy toward the 8-Track collection everybody’s seed-and-stem-flecked older brother. Just before midnight (of course), the DJ announced that we had come to the last song: “Stairway to Heaven.”
I had just been shaking my non-moneymaker to “I Love Rock-N-Roll” with a quiet classmate named Ann Martin. This presented an opportunity for us to slow dance. No passing that up.
Alas, I found a solution: I waltzed to “Stairway to Heaven” with Ann Martin while, in my head, I rapid-fired off round after round of “Hail Mary”’s. When it got to the “there’s two paths you can go by” part—where the backward message was located—I upped the volume of my inner paens to the Blessed Mother so high as to drown out whatever coded bedazzlement might have been trying to violate my psyche and imperil my mortal soul.
Maybe it worked. I suppose, one day, I’ll find out. For sure.
HAIL OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS VS. SATAN!
4.4. Say You Love Satan—With Lasers
Throughout my high school years, the Hayden Planetarium drew ganja-zonked denim wearers en masse to its various weekend night laser shows. I saw them all: Laser Floyd, Laser Zeppelin, Laser Rush, Laser Van Halen, Laser Who, even Laser The Police.
The one, and only one, I passed on, however, was Laser Sabbath. I truly believed that if anything could conjure the Dark Lord
in the ungodly flesh it was the collective loose-joint-unhinged consciousness gathered in cabal before the alchemical technology of light-beams shaped like Pentagrams.
I was so terrified of Laser Sabbath, in fact, I couldn’t even listen to the radio commercial for it. I’d hear this bottomless-pit-deep voice announce, “Ron Delsner and the Hayden Planetarium Present….” And I’d have to shut it off, pray, and then down to my basement lair so I could watch and re-watch Faces of Death just before masturbating to Traci Lords videos, relieved and confident in the knowledge that I dodged undying hellfire.
Until the next dodge.
HAIL SATAN, MOST PARTICULARLY IN TRACI LORDS FORM!
Next up: making love to German piss lesbians accompanied by Napalm Death, and the might of Judas Priest vs. The Musk of Naked Man.
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