“We are stone shaped by the force of its abuse;”

“Waves crash down, unrelenting, unending. We are stone shaped by the force of its abuse; colossal mountain ranges eroded to jagged shorelines; aged cliff tops, decrepit and helpless; earthen cadavers now ripe for mining to the very core of our souls. Or so we would have you think. Magic is willpower. Willpower is magic. Self-knowledge is the key to the perfect control of the will. After destroying the decades of our youth, after being crushed under the pillars of heaven–the bonds we make and the bonds we break ever come crashing down.”

Thou, “By Endurance We Conquer” from the album Summit

In this wounded way, beast is born to wander crooked paths…

Title taken from SUMAC“Thorn In The Lion’s Paw” from the album The Deal

Artwork by Joseph Loughborough

Artwork by Joseph Loughborough


Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.

— William Golding

September 14, 1953: On this day, William Golding submitted Strangers from Within to a publisher. The manuscript was rejected, but a month later a young editor picked it up from the reject pile. With some work and a new title — The Lord of the Flies — Golding’s novel was published in 1954. [via Goodreads]

Artwork by Joseph Loughborough

Artwork by Joseph Loughborough


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Released from Hell in Ecstatic Frenetic Suffering: An Evening with the body and Full of Hell

Original Image by Keith Coombes

Original Image by Keith Coombes


The dreary, morose mood hanging in dense, foreboding clouds over Cheyenne yesterday was ideal to set the day’s tone and prepare this sleepy town for the deceptively inconspicuous arrival of two of heavy music’s most devastating forces.  For a few frenetic hours, downtown Cheyenne’s Ernie November store was home to the cataclysmic DOOM of Portland’s the body and the schizophrenic grind of Maryland’s Full of Hell, a rare and intimate record store appearance on the two bands’ current swath of decimation across the States.  While the style and tempo of extremity offered by the two groups paints a jagged brush stroke across several of heavy music’s varying subgenres, both groups are equally mired in themes of misery, rage, internal conflict, cathartic suffering, and exploration of the darkest recesses of human consciousness.  As such, their disparate sets provide a glimpse of both sides of the same desolate, leaden coin, and hint at what we might expect from their planned upcoming split album, anticipated for release later this year.

wpid-img_20150508_163220.jpg

Watching the body set up their deceptively simple-looking gear, those not prerequisitely attuned to the sonic terror and devastation offered by the duo of Chip King and Lee Buford might be tempted to underestimate the suffocating aural intensity that is about to be unleashed.  All assumptions are quickly compressed and obliterated by the first impossibly heavy notes to fill Ernie November’s space, as King’s thundering guitar rig and Buford’s gargantuan drum kit unleash psychosis-inflected hell upon the unsuspecting hordes.  King and Buford are merely tuning in their instruments, tweaking sound levels, but this is enough to draw the loitering masses in from the street.  As corpses begin to crowd into the record store’s tight back room, there remains a conspicuous barrier of space between the masses and the body, as though some shared unspoken dread is coursing through the crowd, urging us to keep a safe distance from this feral beast.  By the time the duo have waded midway through the sludgy, panicked insanity of their first song, however — with King’s trademark shrill wail cutting through the murky depths of sonic hell like obsidian — the sheer weight emanating from their very cores has consumed us and drawn us all close, mutually aggrieved lost souls marinating wearily in the aural intensity of our suffering made corporeal.

the body

Throughout their roughly half hour set, the pained severity and combative, introspective vehemence of the body never lets up.  Individual songs bleed into one another in walls of chaos and noise.  Split seconds of apparent reprieve are quickly subversed and subjugated, the air at once purged from the room just as one gasps for a desperate breath.  While the brand of extremity offered by the body is not designed nor intended to get the psychopaths in the pit churning, the sheer gargantuan and suppressive ambiance and tone of internalized fury created is enough to leave the languidly headbanging crowd prostrate once that last piercing bit of feedback and grinding distortion fades out.

the body vignette

In ironic comparison to the initially timid gathering before the body’s set, the throng congregates dangerously close as Full of Hell complete the set-up on their equipment of destruction — ironic because the experience offered by Full of Hell is the one more likely to result in potentially inimical confrontation.  Indeed, the entire place erupts into a teeming mass of flailing limbs and furious headbanging at the first lunatic sound emitted from the instruments of this demonic four-piece.

FoH sepia

Full of Hell ringleader Dylan Walker meticulously builds a monolithic wall of chaos and noise before his cohorts rip brazenly into their opening track, a method he will repeat at points throughout the set, providing the band and the crowd both with fleeting moments of schizoid sublimity in which to catch their breath before charging headlong into the next phase of exorcistic fury.  Walker flings himself around the room in erratic frenetic purgation, blurring the line between performer and participant as his feral shrieks and grating, raspy explications blend with the manic insanity of sound created by his bandmates.  Dragging around a broken leg in a cast, bassist and co-vocalist Brandon Brown weaves the low end of his instrument through the jagged, chugging riffage and feedback-laden madness emanating from guitarist Spencer Hazard’s wall of Orange, alternately bent over in rhythmic deliberation between bouts of guttural vocal scorn.

Original Image by Keith Coombes

Original Image by Keith Coombes


The true psychopath of the bunch, however, proves to be drummer Dave Bland, whose enraged, loathsome punishment of his kit leaves one keen to avoid becoming the object of his wrath.  I’m not sure how much money that drum kit owes him, but Bland is intent on collecting the balance in blood and suffering — whether plodding headlong in thunderous, leaden exultation, or charging furiously with frenetic, manic rapidity, there is no question of where the tortured, pulsating heartbeat of this group lives.  Dude is a goddamn madman, and yet by the time the final caustic note fades on Full of Hell’s set, he is likely the least exhausted carcass in the room.

Original Image by Keith Coombes

Original Image by Keith Coombes


Having moved to Cheyenne only a month ago, this show served as my personal welcoming party to the great Wyoming outback, and I couldn’t ask for a more potent, affecting, or purgative greeting.  Perhaps single-handedly injecting life into what might otherwise be a non-existent live music scene in this area is local Ernie November proprietor and savage beard tamer extraordinaire — not to mention recently annointed “Janky Promoter” — Keith Coombes.  As is the case with most other acts hosted at Cheyenne’s musical mecca, the show tonight was funded through donations from those in attendance, a refreshingly DIY approach in today’s live music world, where music fans are more accustomed to dealing with price-gouging promoters and ticketing agencies.  It seemed everyone was only too happy to kick in whatever they could, be it a few loose bills or the product of several hours skilled labor.  After all, touring ain’t free, yeh fuckers!

dylan close

To further fund their trek across the Mother Land, the body and Full of Hell brought plenty of choice merch to the party, as well.  Particularly impressive was the vinyl selection offered by the body, which nearly covered their entire prodigious discography (saved for a wealth of rare 7″ and EPs that one must in turn scour the earth for).  Full of Hell also had their studio discography on display for purchase in vinyl or compact disc format, along with a band logo patch, ball cap, and several fashionably filthy t-shirts.  Before the show, I was able to snag a copy of Full of Hell’s recent collaborative LP with Japanese noise god Merzbow (aka Masami Akita) from Dylan himself, along with a much coveted copy of the body’s 2014 collaborative EP with Louisiana’s Thou, entitled Released from Love.  (Read my review of their 2015 collaborative full length, You, Whom I Have Always Hated, by clicking here.)  

wpid-img_20150508_163409.jpg

I nearly nut in my pants upon seeing that this album was available for purchase, as I had thought the initial limited pressing was out of print and now unavailable for purchase outside of collector trade circles — needless to say, I snatched that burdensome bitch up quick!  Not content with my haul, however, that good post-show glow found me sacrificing the rest of this week’s sustenance fund to also snag a pressing of the body’s Master, We Perish, one of the remaining few outliers to their discography I lacked in possession, along with a patch from each group.  My only regret is that I didn’t try to trade a kidney, or bring more money, though a parting fist-bump and bit of fan-boy adulation with Chip King helped dull my suffering.

However, seeing as how Keith is still holding the latest release from psychedelic voyagers White Hills for me, which he was kind enough to special order, perhaps this extra kidney will still come in handy…

wpid-img_20150508_163258.jpg

The best experiences in life are often those which find one left wanting, and such was certainly the case by the end of this night’s celebratory rage party.  For the ride home, always a somber affair post-concert, I plugged in the body’s recent self-released CD-R rarity, an EP entitled The Tears of Job, which was issued to backers of the group’s recent “Help the body get a van” Indiegogo campaign.  A striking shift in style from their customarily overpowering compositions, the tracks that make up this EP are much more sparse and spacious, a fitting denouement to the evening as I drove through the ethereal fog and gloomy, rain-drenched streets of languid Cheyenne, a lonesome drifter reluctantly returning to the “real world.”

streets blue

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

streets grey

There’s more than one way to pleasure the beast…

Image by Bill Smith

Image by Bill Smith


Whilst pursuing various “scholarly endeavors” today, I’ve been listening exclusively to Converge’s entire discography — including splits (no fucking demos, though) — in chronological order. The experience is akin to masturbating furiously and then punching oneself in the dick just before climax, over and over again, with fluctuating intensity. And I mean that in a good way.


Les 3 Meres by David Nebreda

Les 3 Meres by David Nebreda

How important is intent in art?

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows


These musings were initiated, in part, by the article 5 Insane Theories That Change How You See Great Works Of Art on Cracked.com.

How important is intent in art?  Are the striking visuals of Van Gogh’s paintings any less meaningful were we to discover he was colorblind?  Do the creations of an autistic individual count for less, simply because their creator cannot express meaning in a way most of us can comprehend?  There is no indication that Fernando Pessoa ever intended for his great trunk full of seemingly random musings to be seen by outside eyes, yet assembled posthumously as The Book of Disquiet, they are his most well-known and enduring work.

Image by Tom Foot

Image by Tom Foot


Visual works crafted by non-human animals are generally controversial in the pretentious art world, largely because we cannot ask their creators, “But, what did you mean by that?”  The works of street artist Mr. Brainwash are often criticized by his detractors as uninspired, devoid of originality, the products of mimicry and rote repetition, largely due to a perceived lack of depth that comes across in his dialogue.  But, does this make work from either of these worlds any less expressive, any less worthy of study or appreciation?

Who besides the artist themselves can pretend to know the mental processes involved in the creation of a visual or aural work?  Is specificity of intent or purpose even a prerequisite — or should it be — for a thing to be worthy of appreciation as a piece of “art”?

Artwork by Sam Kieth (yes, the comic book artist)

Artwork by Sam Kieth (yes, the comic book artist)


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

With Apologies To… (A Musing on a Day)

Artwork by Sam Kieth (yes, the comic book artist)

Artwork by Sam Kieth (yes, the comic book artist)

Sometimes, there’s a day — a day that could start off like any other day, calm and unassuming and the like…

But, sometimes, there’s a day — hell, it might not even be a day. Could be a lonely desert night, Coyote howling for the Moon, the dry Southern breeze stirring up some distant echo in the soul…

But, sometimes, there’s a day — and I’m talking about today, here. Right now, the present moment in which you and I come to find ourselves conversing, confabulating on the metaphysical eccentricities of an eternally mystifying cosmic machine every bit as serpentine as anything you could read in one of them Cormac McCarthy books…

But, sometimes, there’s a… Ah, hell. Lost my train of thought!  But, I guess I done talked on this nothin’ of a day enough.

But, sometimes… Yeh just gotta Beat Yer Meat.

Schenkel, Mother Fuckers... (get it?)

Schenkel, Mother Fuckers… (get it?)


This post was made possible through the influence of, made as tribute for, made in defiance to, and made with apologies from me, offered to you… The Coen Brothers.  Everyone else I may have slandered, at this time, in the past, or the future, is just going to have to deal with it.  I can only handle one apology, and this post is senseless enough as it is…


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Just Hipster Things

Hipster Peer Pressure

I have been accused of being a “fucking hipster douche bag” on occasion. Usually the petitioner is my girlfriend (this is how I know she loves me). At first, I admit, I was a bit dismayed by the accusations. Even appalled. But, I have since learned to embrace my so-called “hipsterisms” as simply a part of who I am. It just so happens that those parts are also increasingly being embraced by the fucking hipster douche bag community (no offense, brahs). In other words, I was cool before it was Cool, man!

Hipster Jesus

What do I mean when I say hipster? So, so many things… The primary problem in talking about what a hipster “Is” is that “Hipster” is beyond definition, beyond Form. Beyond Plato.

Hipster Plato

To define hipsterdom would be to classify hipsteria and therefore place hipsters into a category. To be categorized is to be mainstream, and nothing mainstream can exist as a hipsterism. That’s how Black Holes are created…

Hipster Black Hole

Just writing that paragraph made me 13% more hipster. By allowing said paragraph to enter your delicate little eye-holes, dear reader — even if only for a moment — you have in turn become 33% more hipster. If you are suddenly overcome with the uncontrollable urge to mix flannel and plaid, have rediscovered the sex-appeal hidden behind your sweet, sweet pair of fucking 80s style Ray Bans, or are suddenly scouring the internet for a pristine, unopened vinyl copy of “The ‘Priest’ They Called Him,” do not be alarmed. These are simply the side-effects of your newfound aplomb. Embrace the impudence…

Hipster Level:  INFINITY

Hipster Level: INFINITY

In any case, as they relate to The Ryan, here are some Just Hipster Things:

1. Beards. ALL the beards! That is all.

Epic Hipster Beard Portrait

2. Most of the music I listen to is considered “indie” or “underground.” I genuinely like the band Swans. My lady turned me on to the Black Keys recently, and they are amazing. I was into folk music and post-metal before it was hipster.

Hipster Beethoven

3. I like flannel shirts and combat boots. I own several Fedoras, a stockpile of decommissioned camouflage, AND some of those Five Finger shoes or whatever they’re called. I often dress “eccentrically,” but I just wear what makes sense to me at that moment. I’m not TRYING to be ironic!

nerds-vs-hipsters
4. Tattoos. ALL the tattoos! That is all.

Hipster Face Tattoos

5. I read books by Bukowski, Joyce, Yeats, Pessoa, Kerouac, Burroughs, Thoreau, Emerson, Palahniuk, Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger, Dick (heh heh), Gibson, Klosterman, Burgess, Wallace, Kafka, Whitman, Pynchon, Hemingway….

Hipster Thoreau

6. I fancy myself a “writer,” and churn out pretentious, soggy poetry like a college kid off their bipolar meds. “Nobody understands me, I am so alone in this world…” 😉

Hipster Typewriter

7. Vinyl. ALL the vinyl! That is all.

Hipster Vinyl Skrillex

8. I think you should be able to pay for lunch with a song.

Hipster Musician

9. I studied English and Philosophy in college. ENGLISH and PHILOSOPHY. I still do… 😀

Hipster Nietzsche

10. I self-identify as Buddhist, and am interested in Eastern philosophy and spirituality in general. Not because it’s trendy, but because the Dhammapada and Zen Buddhism saved my life. #RealTalk

Hipster Buddha

BONUS HIPSTERISM!

0))). I ate this thing recently.

Romanesco gypsy cauliflower

It’s called a romanesco cauliflower. #GypsyVeggies It’s proximity to my face hole was made possible through the provisions from a food co-op with which We have recently come to participate. Steamed, buttered, and seasoned, it tasted much like a “normal” cauliflower, only slightly more bold in flavor with a hint of sweetness. I imagine romanesco cauliflower is grown by blasting TOOL songs over loudspeakers in the cauliflower fields during embryogenesis…

TOOL Woah Meme

There’s probably more, but…

In any case, my defense will always be that I do these things or exhibit these traits not to be fashionable or ironic, but because I genuinely enjoy and appreciate them; it is part of who The Ryan “is.”

Listened to "Let It Be" before it EXISTED...

Listened to “Let It Be” before it EXISTED…

In other words, I was hipster before it was hip. Hey mayne, I can’t help it if all these mu-fuckas wanna be like me!

...that boy ain't right...

…that boy ain’t right…

(Except the #CompulsiveHashtagging. That shit is fo’ sho’ #Ironic.)


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Musings, Volume I

Photograph by Roberts Birze at thescatteredimage

Photograph by Roberts Birze at thescatteredimage

— Some days, I have no idea that I am in a scornful, loathsome, misanthropic mood until I have to interact with other flesh bags. So, some days, when I have sense enough not to pursue flesh bag interactions, my scornful, loathsome, misanthropic mood might go largely or completely unnoticed. Actually, I think that happens all days, regardless.

— Why aren’t there any films or television series’ set in medieval and/or “fantastical” eras, but which focus not on the nobility, but rather the peasantry? Do we honestly accept the fallacy that the lowest class has no interesting or pertinent story or content to provide? Am I thinking too much into this?

— Something tells me that conspicuously and belligerently harassing innocent employees of a business, speciously accusing management of racism and bigotry, threatening physical harm to said employees, and refusing to leave the premises upon request is not the best way to go about inquiring on the status of your job application. But maybe I just do things differently than that dude.

— Winning an argument with willfully ignorant and obnoxious internet trolls is a lot like trying to clean up a Wal-Mart restroom by using the crusted feces covering the toilets to edit, correct, and contextualize the graffiti on the stalls. No one will appreciate you for your efforts, your earnest attempt to better the world and improve the collective intelligence of “our” species has proven fruitless, the shit and the tags remain ineffectually unaffected, halfway through you come to your senses and abandon your futile drudgery, powerless to explain why you undertook such distasteful and repulsive task in the first place, and in the end you are the one left exasperated and mired in filth.

— Sometimes I get Denis Leary rants and Henry Rollins rants confused in my head and have to willfully concentrate on separating and properly classifying said rants to their appropriate speakers. Even though they are clearly very different people, with often differing opinions as well as subject matter. I think my brain just likes to intake angry diatribes, process them through the filter of The Ryan, and then roll with that shit!

— Also, sometimes I find myself utterly convinced, or at least strongly suspecting, that I am already dead. In those moments, I am certain that one of the so-called “close calls” in my past actually in fact resulted in my demise, and everything I’ve experienced since then is merely the run-out electrical pulses of a dying organ, the muscle-memory result of synapses firing instinctually at neural receptors as the juice slowly bleeds out.

— Moments of schizophrenic uncertainty occasionally enter my mind, convincing me that certain people, places, events which I take to be real and existent are in fact products of my psyche. I’ve spent hours trying to persuade myself and prove that said people, places, events are genuine and tangible, and that it is ridiculous to think otherwise. You can see how this comic absurdity could easily turn cyclical and frustratingly oppressive.

— I like turtles.

The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich

The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich

Do you find these musings to be annoying, pretentious, fallacious, condemnatory, shallow, atrocious, or simply moronic? Feel free to leave your praises and rebuttals in the comments!


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Super Bowl 49 Because F*ck Your Fascist Numbers, Romans!

Seahawks Bandwagon Meme

I mentioned after the Championship Games a couple weeks ago that I would be boycotting the Super Bowl, and also Fuck Tom Brady and Fuck the Patriots. While the latter part still and forever hold true, I’ve had to reconsider my position on the Seahawks after the following developments:

1. Marshawn “BEAST MODE” Lynch brilliantly tells the media, his “boss”, judgmental voyeuristic douchebags, and white people everywhere to go fuck themselves in one cleverly executed move that should be admired and revered by all.

2. Richard “You Can’t Tell Me NOTHIN'” Sherman has been so deliberately composed, pleasant, and even soft-spoken in his interactions with reporters and talking heads that I can’t help but assume an undercurrent of rage, hostility, and athletically-directed aggression is broiling beneath the surface, building in pressure and intensity, waiting to be unleashed on whoever happens to be standing near him once he reaches critical mass. Hopefully it’s Tom Brady. I seriously feel like the chance to see someone butchered and cannibalistically consumed on national television has never been higher.

3. I realized my reasons for hating the Seahawks were mostly shallow, vindictive, and pointless. Other than those times they came in and mercilessly gang-raped my boys from NOLA right before my terrified, innocent eyes. Also, I DO WHAT I WANT.

Brady Meme

I also remembered how much of a man-crush I obviously have on Richard Sherman. I can’t imagine why. I mean, who else do we know who is too intelligent for his own good, is passionate about his gifts and “calling”, gets bored and easily irritated with willful ignorance and stupidity, does not suffer fools lightly, sometimes gets caught up in his own emotions, has an angry streak, and is generally misunderstood by those who would judge him? Hmm…

Sherman Thug Meme

Anyways, my point is, I’m back in for Super Bowl XLIX (that’s 49 for us simple folk)! Who am I rooting for? I’m rooting for a wildling scourge to come storming through the New England stronghold in the tailgater parking lot, raping and pillaging their way to the stadium where they will charge the field, capture Brady, lash him to a make-shift rack and proceed to flay him alive before kidnapping Gisele and disappearing into the Phoenix metropolis wasteland.

‪#‎NOLA‬ ‪#‎WhoDat4LyfeBitch‬

Brady Crying Meme


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Cobblestone Walkway of Broken Chords: Piecing Together Mine Own History of Music, Part I

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” — Victor Hugo

"Sky Pilot" by Virgil C. Stephens, www.musicalpainter.com

“Sky Pilot” by Virgil C. Stephens, http://www.musicalpainter.com

Anyone who knows me for even a few hours is aware of how ingrained music is in my life. I wish I could say that I meant creating music, but that is another project, and perhaps a discussion for another day. Here, I speak of my lifelong passionate appreciation of, and sometimes fanatic devotion to, the music created by other artists. Lately, I’ve been pondering the paths upon which my musical quests have taken me. My own Mellifluous Origin Story, so to speak. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about my earliest memories as a “fan”, even before I could have known what that meant, and about the way in which my tastes and interests in music, artists, genres, movements grew and progressed. And perhaps, in the end, reflecting on where I’ve come from might give me some insight into where I’m headed, hmmm?

(Origin Stories, You Say?)

My oldest memory is one that has stuck with me since childhood, always stored closely away for quick recollection or quiet reflection. Appropriately so, too, since that is precisely what a memory is, and is For. Time and experience have inevitably shaped and even, with subtlety or not, perhaps altered this memory, but that is not what’s important. With reminiscences, truth and accuracy do well to fall by the wayside of emotion and essential substance.

In this memory — and thereby, of course, once upon a time in my life — I am a toddler, probably no more than two years of age. I am sitting in my car seat, which is resting on the floor of the living room of our first home, a modified mobile home with custom additions and improvements built by my Pops. A Redneck Mansion, if I may.

redneck mansion

It is strange for me to think back to moments like this and remember my parents when they were younger than I am now. Those people were KIDS! And they were raising a human! But not just any human.

Ryan Toddler

ME.

What happened?!  So many things...

What happened?! So many things…

But I digress…

I am sitting in my car seat, staring in awe and wonder at the thick, bowed-glass screen of our giant wooden box of a television. On the screen towers Billy Idol. Blonde, spiked hair. Signature snarl. Punk rock attitude. Rebel Yell. I was enthralled, and I, too, wanted MORE… But, being an infant, I had neither the means nor the experiential knowledge necessary to seek out and acquire more, and so my development fell by the wayside. (Two uses of that expression in one essay! Not bad…)


From here, for a time, I entered a period known as The Dark Ages… Not much is known of The Dark Ages, because it was so very Dark.

Dark Ages Artwork by jonasdero.deviantart.com

Dark Ages Artwork by jonasdero.deviantart.com

My next major development, as far as my fragmented memory can recall, would foreshadow a significant coexistence throughout my musical travels between music and film. By fourth grade, my lifelong buddy Brandon and I had met and bonded over mutual weirdness, a proclivity towards the fringe, and a shared obsession with Billy the Kid. At the time, of course, this primarily manifested in a fixation with the Young Guns movies, and by extension the Bon Jovi soundtrack for Young Guns II. As we blasted “Blaze of Glory” and “Dead or Alive” from that sweet, sweet early 90s boom box and fashioned “I’ll Make Ya Famous” pistol stamps and collages in art class, we were convinced that Bon Jovi and the like were the epitome of bad-ass rock musicians. Later, Denis Leary would set us straight, but for now, fuckin’ “Never Say Die” was where it was AT!


From there, Brandon and I discovered music through movies we, occasionally in ignorance and naivety, attached our sensibilities to, such as Cool World and Wayne’s World. (I sense a pattern?) Not all was for naught, however. Because, in the very least, those movies introduced us to David Bowie, Ministry, Queen, RHCP, Ugly Kid Joe, Alice Cooper…actually, the Wayne’s World soundtrack is still pretty fuckin’ good!

But I digress…

None of this could have prepared Brandon and I — or the world at large, as history would prove — for what would happen next in our euphonious lives. The early 90s found us and all of rock ‘n roll on the precipice of something that was never intended to indelibly mark and reshape culture and society the world over. But nothing significant or culturally affluential ever is. I speak, of course, about the tidal wave of social hysteria and upheaval that was Nirvana.

Nirvana

Growing up in the Kirtland/Fruitland area of San Juan County, New Mexico, Brandon and I — and everyone else, really — were always, by default, a bit behind the aesthetic curve from the “rest of the world.” Occasionally, one could discover something “new” and intriguing by accident, or one of us would bring something intriguing back from The City and share it with anyone with a curious disposition. (Did I forget to mention I was raised in a 1940s dust bowl? Just kidding.) But beyond fortune and chance, you really just had to know what to look for and laboriously seek it out. Fortunately, times have changed for the Four Corners and culture. I mean, they got a show from Lamb of God last year, for Christsakes…

(Not to mention MervDezert Banditz, Ill Methods, and any other local musical acts.  Leave a link for your group or project in the comments!)


I vaguely recall the circumstances by which we came to discover Kurt and the Boys. It had to have been sometime in 1992, and I would imagine this was a brisk fall morning before the daily drudgery of our first year in middle school. The cool, dry high desert breeze…the changing of the leaves…the wafting, charcoal scent of smoke as local drunken rednecks set their property on fire doing “landscaping”…Brandon, skinny bean pole of a boy, bristling with frenetic energy, shoving a CD into my stiff, icy fingers. “Hey dude, my sister listens to this. Check it out!”

Subtlety.

Subtlety.

On the cover, bathed in aquatic blue highlights, a naked baby, arms and legs splayed in an awkward floating pose, coaxed by a dollar bill on fishing line. Nobody but no one should have any trouble immediately conjuring their own specific memory of this album at that conspicuously pervasive, instantly recognizable photograph. But, I’ve been surprised by ignorance before, so just to be certain, I speak of course of the watershed landmark album Nevermind. If you don’t know or understand the cultural, artistic, sociological, and historical significance of this album, I would like to introduce you to the internet. Pretty sure you’re using it RIGHT NOW.

This only captures about 30% of the Internet's Awesome!

This only captures about 30% of the Internet’s Awesome!

In any case, I will never forget the ingenuous awe and precipitous exhilaration that overcame me during that first listen. I can barely stand to hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” these days, a bitter casualty of hackneyed pop culture oversaturation. But, the first time that pervasive and cataclysmic riff hit my ears was fucking LIFE-ALTERING! Who ARE these feral, deranged beasts? Where do creatures like this come from? What is this frenetic sensation arising from my soul? Why are they so…so fervent, so excitedly zealous? And HOW can I get MORE?!


To be continued… In the meantime, sound off in the comments! What was your first significant musical experience, or other formative moment? Did Nirvana and Nevermind carry a significant weight for you? How far back can you remember, or what is your earliest recollection? Let Us hear from you!


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.