photo manipulation by nacrowe
so i know everyone has their opinion on GAME OF THRONES (HBO, 2011-2019) and their last season and yadda yadda yadda. i'm not interested in that. i loved the series but it took some warming up to it initially.
this is that story.
i was teaching secondary ELA in VENEZUELA in what can best be described diplomatically as a "challenging" setting. the school culture was crumbling due to poor management, which seemed to mirror the wider national political/economic climate which was teetering from unstable to full-on death spiral. to date the only more unpredictable situation i've ever encountered was living in NIGERIA, which at the time was already in the throes of a corrupt military dictatorship that was met with violence and threats thereof as a mater of due daily course.
anyway back to GAME OF THRONES. it makes perfect sense to me now that my high school students were so intrigued by it. put aside the silliness surrounding dragons, dire wolves and elaborate sigils and you have the palace intrigue that defined VENEZUELAN politics.
my students were constantly trying to get me to watch it, to which i would dismissively retort with some conflation to the effect of "i'd love to but i'm really not that into Dungeons & Dragons or Lord of the Rings." which is true. my students would immediately respond by empathically stating that "nah Mr. Crowe, there's so much more to it. you gotta watch it." when i would ask them to explain they would talk about how crazy violent it was and how much sex there was in every episode. hmmmm, i told them i'd think about it. i borrowed the first season from a colleague and i was hooked. it's true that it was crazy violent and beyond sexual, but it all seemed a means of both securing and maintaining hegemonic power, just like in reality.
as an english teacher i appreciated the consistent structural implementation of red herrings, which are clues, situations and characters that lead the plot nowhere. heaving lots of dead ends is commonly used in suspense and mystery fiction, but GAME OF THRONES, famous for killing off beloved and hated characters without a second notice, turned this trope into an exhilarating experience.
in retrospect this connection i saw between VENEZUELA, GAME OF THRONES and the pugilistic nature of politics has expand to the modern american political climate, so obviously my appreciation of this series has shifted with it. if anything i think the series has informed the american public of the perils of being in a political system of never-ending infighting and gamesmanship. as long as our census is politicized and our voting districts gerrymandered, i think we are unfortunately in for a GAME OF THRONES reality far beyond the shelf-life of this 8 season TV series.
photo by nacrowe
somewhere along the way, legendary guitar player SCOTT IAN of THRASH METAL icons ANTHRAX learned he had a real gift for storytelling. his obvious mentor in this regard was HARDCORE frontman HENRY ROLLINS of BLACK FLAG/ROLLINS BAND fame who has maintained a longstanding second career as an in-demand spoken-word artist.
given his stature, IAN has seen things over his 30+ year career and his second memoir ACCESS ALL AREAS: STORIES FROM A HARD ROCK LIFE (DA CAPO PRESS 2017), which he penned himself, maintains his acerbic wit, cadence and voice. reading through this it is not hard to imagine him standing beside you performing each narrative as a spoken-word routine, which is definitely a compliment. there is a reason why most musicians don't write their own memoirs, and IAN proves himself a highly capable narrator. his style is very much utilitarian in that he doesn't get too wordy or overly clever with descriptions, which in a way describes his iconic no-sense rhythm guitar work and that of his musical idol, MALCOLM YOUNG of AC/DC.
obviously i don't want to give away any of the stories, but i will say that they deal with his outside pursuits regarding professional poker, moonlighting in tv shows like THE WALKING DEAD and GAME OF THRONES, relationships and of course touring. highlights include stories that include the pranks of legendary PANTERA guitarist DIMEBAG DARRELL (R.I.P.), hanging out with MADONNA and the wardrobe choices of the immortal LEMMY KILMISTER (R.I.P.) of the almighty MOTÖRHEAD.
IAN comes off as a hardworking musician more than aware of how fortunate he is to have his career and the respect of his peers and this book, along with the previous I AM THE MAN: THE STORY OF THAT GUY FROM ANTHRAX (DA CAPO PRESS 2014), seem to be a celebration of that community of musicians. a celebration of how they touched his life, so in that regard i hope he keeps writing.
also keep a look out for the dude in concert. just learned he's touring with MR. BUNGLE in 2020. MIKE PATTON and SCOTT IAN sharing a stage. man, life certainly does not suck.