The only thing worse than opening a blog post with an apology for a lack of updates is continuing that post with a litany of reasons as to WHY said blog has been ignored by its curator.
I’ll meet you halfway by skipping the apologies and getting straight to the excuses.
Before I start whining, it’s best to retrace our steps: The entire premise of RJKT was/is peer into our city’s nightlife and culture. It’s never pretended to be all-encompassing, but its limited scope was usually dependent on my ability and/or enthusiasm for getting out and doing things.
During the month of October, I went full-on hermitcore. I didn’t go out, I didn’t talk to people, and I sure as shit didn’t write. (Well, that’s not entirely true, but more on that later.) Lots of cool things were happening around town, but due to my the seasonal demands of my dayjob–which involves coaxing literally hundreds of temporary laborers into schlepping Star Wars memorabilia at maximum speed, for 60+ hours each week–I locked myself indoors.
Usually, my seclusionary tactics were the result of sheer exhaustion. But often, I felt defeated. My rhythms and routines had been ground underfoot and scattered into warehouse dust. My little pocket of the world had been thrown into chaos and doubt. Would I ever get out to a show again? Would my friends forget about me? Would I ever redevelop a taste for fruits and vegetables after spending an entire month surviving on donuts, Red Bull, and Pizza Ranch?
I was so, so close to losing hope. BUT I NEVER GAVE UP…
…on consuming degenerate art.
Without the therapeutic benefits of human interaction, I was forced to supplement my usual diet of heavy metal and beer with healthy doses of sci-fi in the following formats:
⦁ Last-gen video games
⦁ Hardcover pulp
⦁ Graphic novels
…and honestly, these nerd ‘roids were probably the only things from keeping me from being crushed under the wagon’s wheels.
So, in the interest of getting back on track, consider this the thank-you section of the liner notes for RJKT’s unreleased harsh noise triple-album, October Crust. After we slog through this together, we can return to our regularly scheduled programming: Publicly shaming under-educated bike lane opponents and grown-ass adults that still listen to nu-metal while previewing Kato events that don’t totally suck.
But first, THE SURVIVAL JAMS:
While albums from Clutch, Kylesa, and VHÖL received a ton of pre-release anticipation, the only intelli-heavy record from October to truly cash in on its massive hype was Deafheaven‘s New Bermuda. Next to Royksopp & Robyn’s “Do It Again,” “Luna” was the only thing that effectively charged my batteries when the coffee quit working.
Incidentally, it was an entire pot of dark roast (imbibed at noon) that powered my review of the record, which the Angry Metal Guy himself graciously allowed to desecrate his pages.
While lingering in the AMG offices, my friend and colleague Grymm’s delightfully OTT take on the new Killing Joke album, Pylon, caught my eye. While only a few cuts got me deep–“Big Buzz” being the sharpest–it reignited a love affair with their 2006 opus, Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. New records from living legends don’t have to be revolutionary, they just have to stoke the flames.
Meanwhile, left field winds brought us fresh radness from Beaten to Death, who established themselves as the most effervescent band in grindcore with 2013’s Dodsfest! (which I also ranted and raved about at AMG). Their latest, Unplugged (which isn’t), whips their whims into tighter, more concise assaults, and the result is absolutely batshit.
But against all odds, the month’s king comes from the realm of death metal, as Dark Descent‘s crown jewel, Horrendous, crafted a masterpiece. Old-school DM has been the most played out sub-subgenre for ages now, especially if you still think “occult rock” has legs. But Anareta‘s blend of Asphyxiating vocal delivery, Atheist / Cynic prototech homages, and absolutely bonkers timechanges have prog-pushed the record into AOTY contention. (And actually, everyone’s favorite record-label-ad-revenue-driven heavy metal catalog, Decibel, recently crowned it as such.)
And now, some auxiliary acknowledgements, for without these non-aural cathartic devices, I’d have barely survived.
The copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution I swiped from We Got Game for $2.99 (TOP-NOTCH sci-fi stealth / RPG yarn that actually rewards you for not being a murderous shitbag, even when thrust into the cold machinations of a libertarian dystopia), bicycles, Transmetropolitan Volumes 5 and 6 (because the New Scum shouldn’t forget where they came from), bicycles, John Scalzi’s The End of All Things (proving that there’s serious legs left in the Old Man’s War saga), Fargo Brewing Company’s Wood Chipper IPA (get it?), bicycles.
NO THANK YOU / SLIT YOUR WRISTS AND LAUNCH YOURSELVES INTO THE SUN:
My janky bottom bracket, Scott Walker (the shitty one), big-ass trucks with North Dakota plates that don’t use their turn signals, Five Finger Death Punch, people that order Coors Light at Boulder Tap House, Wallace and Gromit, the loathsome old crank in the dark blue Nissan Xterra that tried to start a fight with me last winter (with his seat belt still fastened), solitude.
Whew. That felt good. You ready to do this again, Mankato?
I’ve had more verbal altercations with motorists this month (two) than I’ve had in my previous eight months of daily commuting combined. (Non-December Total: Zero.)
Either people are extra-spooked by winter cyclists, or they’re just REALLY excited for the holidays.
The first incident was pretty ridiculous; I was riding across Veteran’s Memorial Bridge into North Mankato, coming down from the crest and approaching the stoplight. Suddenly, I felt a bath of headlights, a horn blaring, and an SUV speeding around me as it veered into the left lane, well above the speed limit. (I was, per Minnesota state law, riding on the right side of the right lane, adorned with front and rear flashers with reflective tape strapped to my rear rack and backpack.)
After pulling into my parking lot–I live above one of the bars in Lower North–I was seething; dude had shaken my blood for no reason other than him being surprised that there was a bicycle on the road. And unfortunately for this driver, he decided to wait for me, take a loop around the block, and pull up to my doorstep to give me a piece of his mind. From the “comfort” of his ass-blue Nissan Xterra, of course, which is basically the Pontiac Aztek of gas-guzzling shitboxes.
Well, I know you’ve got lights on, and you’re within your legal rights to be on the road, but you’re really hard to see, and [looks me up and down] I don’t know if you’re drunk or whatever…
…and then I lost it.
Initially, I was willing to have a decent conversation with this guy the importance of noticing law-abiding bicyclists on a well-lit road, but as soon as he pulled the “you must have 8 DUIs and be high on THE MARIJUANA if you’re not employing a loan officer, an insurance agent, and the entire goddamn military-industrial complex with your transportation choices” card, I went ballistic.
Here’s the deal, people: Bicycles are vehicles. In fact, “bicyclists have all rights and duties of any other vehicle driver.” So, if you’re the gussied-up crone in the late-model SUV that slowed down to croak “USE THE SIDEWALK” at me yesterday in BROAD DAYLIGHT as you turned off the road in which we were the only two users, stick that in your Williams-Sonoma catalog and blow it up Ina Garten’s butthole.
But riding a bike isn’t all about suffering fools and bumpkins that have strong takes on roundabout construction. Sometimes, you can stop mid-ride and appreciate the beauty of your ‘hood, such as this little display behind the North Mankato Library:
Seriously, aren’t blue Christmas lights just the best? Red is terrible. Knock that shit off. This isn’t an emergency, it’s a freaking holiday.
(Yeah, you got me. It’s finals week, and this post is totally half-assed. Sorry for the filler, humans. I’ll rebound next week. Promise. ‘Til then, listen to Killing Joke and enjoy those reasonable gas prices.)