The Editor's Desk

(re)View From the Past #7


a retrospective series by Andrew C Schlett


To recap: nineteen and a half years ago, almost exactly, I and my girlfriend at the
time arrived here in Colorado with nothing more than our cats and what we each could
carry in our trucks. We had come up out of Houston, Texas, where I already had a bit of
a rap sheet anyway and had just finished doing a little over a month stretch in the Harris
County Jail on some trumped-up bullshit, and she had always hated living in Texas
anyway, so we figured it was time for us to go. I wasn’t running from the law, really, I
left no pending charges behind me that I’m aware of, but I was sure as hell tired of the
constant harassment by the local police who, by that time, had come to know me, know
my truck, and know what they were likely to find in my truck. It made sense to us at the
time that we should leave Texas, although it has recently been pointed out by a co-worker
that I should have just bought a new truck. How differently life could have worked out!


At any rate, Michelle and I touched down in Denver late in April of 1992, a few
years before some of you readers were even born, and proceeded to build our lives up
here on this beautiful Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. We got a small apartment in
Northglenn, went out and got jobs, had conflicting work schedules, made our own circles
of friends, and pretty soon life had pulled us each in our own directions and before the
passage of six months we had split. It wasn’t quite as simple as all that, but that was the
end result. How fragile, how easily destructible, is this thing that we call love! No
wonder we bang our heads! She and I have seen each other occasionally, very rarely,
over the course of time, most recently just the other day for a nice iced coffee on a warm
summer’s afternoon outside at Starbucks on her lunch break. First time in thirteen
years! She’s happily married with a kid by now, but is also the author of a trilogy of
zombie novellas (the last one is still being written at this time) called Eaters: The
Beginning; Dark Road; and the concluding Final Destination. As well, she has written a
full-length novel titled The Gardener, which won local Rocky Mountain Fiction awards
back in like 2007 and is the best damned ghost story I personally have read in quite a
long time! All these titles can be found on the Internet and Smashwords by Michelle
DePaepe. Hurry on the Eaters series, though, she’s fixin’ to sign a book deal and will
have to pull them down soon. You gotta drop 99 cents to score each one, but its money
well spent if you dig on quality horror fiction. Personal note: it was really nice to see
you again, Michelle, I’m very glad you’re doing well, you look totally great, and I hope
you just got a few more hits! Those readers who have followed my PitBlog may
remember you from the first two ‘Past’ columns, but it’s cool to reintroduce you now as a
big-time book author!


So anyway, life went on, and over the course of time all my music journalism
work, my time writing for Rivethead, my life down in Texas, even going to jail on a
semi-regular basis, all these things became part of my past. I got into line cooking for no
other real reason than that it was easy and I could do it while getting stoned and listening
to rock-n-roll. The music I had brought up from Houston was alien to these people, but
some of them did get into the grunge tapes I had also brought. This was ’92-’93 era, Kurt
was still alive and grunge had apparently not made much of an impact up here yet. All
the people I met were still listening to Megadeth and so forth. I had several jobs in those
early years, working for a time at the Perkin’s Restaurant there in Northglenn, then going
up to Central City to take a casino cooking job. It’s a real hassle having to commute up
into the mountains, though, so I left that job to work at the Hooter’s in Boulder. Now
there was a job to have! The pay sucked wang, even by 1993 standards, but the fringe
benefits were incredible! If I were asked to list a few of my favorite memories of life in
Colorado, one of them would surely be the night I spent in an outdoor hot tub with three
naked Hooters girls passing around a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and watching the moon set
over the Flatirons. Boulder is pretty far from Northglenn, though, and the pay really was
weak, so I had to quit that job and got another one closer to home, at Tug’s Bar just a mile
or so from my house, and there began a whole new chapter in life.


I ended up working at Tug’s for nearly seven years, which is a much longer time
than I’ve ever spent at any job, been with any one woman, or doing anything in my life,
for that matter. It’s easy to fall into a routine when you work at a bar, and my god the
stories I could relate here of the things that went on in those years! There wouldn’t be
room in a book! What to mention first, the rampant unchecked alcoholism and the many
times I started my shift with a cold beer and a stiff double shot? The coke-slingin’
barmaid and the miles of rails she laid out for the kitchen staff? All the food I could eat
and good friends around everyday when I came to work? The seemingly endless supply
of hot women, a great many of whom I got to know…personally. A shout-out to each
and every one of you ladies, and thank you! Tina the Red, where you at girl? There were
a lot of great times at that bar, and I might have continued to work there indefinitely had I
not gone and hamstrung myself by once again trying to fall in love. The object of this
love turned out to be a succubus from Hell, but that’s exactly the sort I tend to be
attracted to. Tall, blonde, slender, busty, young, you know the type….


She had an excellent dog, too, named Baby, and just a few years later that dog
became mine. Also mine was the rent on the house we had been sharing, what shambles
remained of my life, my terribly ruined credit, and a broke-dick douche-nozzle loser who
had been sub-renting our basement. (that fool still owes me beaucoup $$$ in rent. Good
luck ever seeing that shit again!) As a result of all this, I had no choice but to take vows
of celibacy and move the dog and myself into our own place, where we lived comfortably
as I kept working and paying the rent, taking jobs at places like Steak & Ale and Ruby
Tuesdays. We were in retreat from the world, that dog and I, until Baby passed, beautiful
thing that she was, late in 2008 at almost 14 ½ years old. All that time slipped by so
swiftly and uneventfully that, unnoticed by me, I had fallen into a horrible rut.
Without my even realizing, I found myself upon the cusp of becoming old.


It had been easily 15 years since I had listened to any new music. I think Monster
Magnet or Limp Bizkit was the last new band that I had really gotten into. My monastic
lifestyle had gone on to the point that I could no longer remember what cookie tasted
like. The dog to which I had devoted so many years was gone. All I did was work, pay
rent, and drink myself to oblivion every night. I did not understand young people, or the
music they listen to, at all, nor did I even care. Reflecting upon myself, it seemed very
much that my best days were far behind me and that I was no longer relevant to the
world, and the saddest thing was that I was cool with that. I was prepared to slip easily
into old age like good King Wenceslas from the Christmas carol, with my pipe, my bowl,
and my fiddlers three. Sabbath, Dio, and Maiden in this case. Most people have kids;
many of my age even have grandkids to hang out with. I had Jim Beam.


Then Rivethead, a far-away fading ghost from a long-gone glorious past, came
along out of nowhere to pull me out of my funk. It wasn’t immediate, but when it started
to move it moved fast. The change had begun last summer, in 2010. A young co-worker,
kitchen assistant/high school junior Kevin Trautman, came into the kitchen and found me
listening to Vulgar Display of Power. He remarked that I was probably the oldest person
he knew that liked Pantera. I took this as a huge compliment! Before long, he had turned
me on to bands like Lamb of God and 5FDP, and I was beginning to feel refreshed.


Last October, I traveled to Houston to visit the family for my mom’s
74th birthday. At that time I still did not have the Internet, had been without it for a
decade at least, and knew absolutely nobody down-home anymore except the folks. My
dad down there is fairly active online and likes to communicate through emails, so after
returning to Denver I at once ordered the Internet and fired up my computer, which I had
previously only used for occasional leisure writing or playing backgammon against an
easily-defeatable program. I got myself onto Facebook, and soon had my
first Houston friend request, from Romeo Reyna (thanks old buddy!) and that’s when it
really all started to take off. I was amazed at how many people still knew me, still cared.
Within just a few weeks Lisa E found me as well. She invited me to check out the
Rivethead Facebook page that she had opened up recently, within the previous six
months, and asked if I would donate an article of my memories of the Houston scene to
it. This article, called (re)View from the Past, as a play on the title of my old Rivethead
column (re)View from the Pit, eventually led to a series of columns (this being the most
recent one that you’re reading right here, and thanks for reading this at all, by the way! I
need all the readers I can get, really I do!) and an ever-deepening involvement with the
administration of the Facebook page and Rivethead itself. The first Past column made its
debut in January 2011, which I might point out is exactly 21 years since my
first Pit column appeared in the January 1990 issue of our esteemed little music
paper. Now we’ve got the website, I’ve become immersed in the local Denver music
scene, (for whom I am planning another special-edition column here in the PitBlog) and
both myself and Rivethead are alive again in ways that neither of us could have thought
possible even as recently as a couple of years ago! These are throw-back times for us
all!!


And yet, sadly, this is where the circle is coming full and all things seem to be
resetting to how they once were. More or less, anyway. Life seems to have put me back
at the starting line once again, bringing the present so much in line with the past that it’s
almost scary. Only the variance of detail is different. Back then I had a small white truck
and a white cat. Today I have a small white truck (not the same truck) and a black
cat. Back then, I was constantly in trouble with the law and was reckless and
crazy. Today the cops up here (or down there, for that matter) don’t even know me and I
am much more sensible and sane than I used to be. I’m proud to say that I haven’t been
to jail since 1996! Much of that trouble back then was a direct result of Texas’ harsh
stance against leafy green substances. These days I hold a state-issued medical card
(different state y’all, don’t get excited) allowing me permission to enjoy the substantial
benefits of Mother Nature, but I do find myself constantly harassed for smoking
cigarettes. My how times have changed! Now the times are going to change even
more. This time we are going all in, we are going big, and we are going home! Full
circle! What used to be will be again, but it’s different this time. This time we do it
right!


As of this writing, I am a mere 14 days away from moving back to Houston after
almost twenty years of living in self-imposed exile away from the Motherland. I am
engaged in a widespread possessions purge at this time. Everything I own must
go. When I return to Texas once again, I will do so in the same manner that I left, with
only my cat and what I can fit in my truck. I will not be bringing anything
to Texas besides my enthusiasm and my single-minded driven desire to lift Rivethead to
the finest incarnation it has seen yet. Lisa E has agreed to turn the whole thing over to
me, staying on mostly in a figurehead capacity, as ‘Founding Editor’ or something like
that. I will be solely responsible for it from that point forward.


This is all much more than I ever bargained for or wanted. I was bored and had
found in Rivethead a chance to re-live my days of glory, and have a cool hobby again as
well, but I never wanted to run the whole damned thing. It is a strange confluence of
circumstance, an unforeseen twist of fate, a random lotto pulled from the hand of destiny
that calls me to this. As I pointed out to Lisa and Michelle after her, and now to y’all: if I
had anything else to do with my life, don’t you think I’d already be doing it?


Let there be no mistake: I resent and officially protest the fact that I have to leave
bud-friendly Colorado to return to hot-assTexas where I will be hassled by the cops
simply for the length of my hair. I resent the fact that fate has just stepped whimsically
into my life and dictated what my future course is to be. I resent the cockroaches and the
sticky, thick air down there. And I resent the motherfuckin’ fact that at some point in my
life down in Houston, I probably will find myself jailed again for engaging in what up
here is my medically sanctioned and socially accepted lifestyle. We’re all Americans,
y’all, but Texas is different. Still, I also realize that I'm getting exactly what I wanted
when I got into this. A whole new life. Surely it couldn't be any hotter there than in
Hell!


All this being said, I could not be more excited or pumped up about the
opportunity to take over this legendary institution and have the creative control that it will
take to bring Rivethead to the top again!! Many of you from back in the day have said
that Rivethead played a solid and pivotal role in bringing the Houston scene together all
those years ago, and it is my intention as Managing Editor to return that focus back once
again! There will be some changes as I slide into the job once held by Lisa E and Joe
Claytor before me. I am still mostly a metal guy, in spite of all the superb hip-hop you all
might have read about on the ‘Denver Lix’ page. Rivethead will likely focus more on
metal, particularly local Houston metal, than it currently does. Our core audience, the
people who make our Rivethead family what it is, are people of the Houston metal scene,
and those are the roots that I wish to refresh in my administration. Look over the playlist
on my Reverbnation page if you’re curious as to where I am going with all this; I have
tried to spotlight only the bands that are both Houston-based and Houstoncurrent.
Houston music also seems to have come full circle; there are bands now like
Burn The Boats, PND, Heavy As Texas, and Carry The Storm, amongst many others, that
seem destined to take our scene to new levels unachieved by their predecessors. There is
a hell of a lot to be excited about down in H-town right now, and it’s gonna be nothing
but balls-out and running when I get home again! Do you think you knew what Rivethead
was before? Check us again a year from now and see what’s up!


This is likely be the last (re)View from the Past installment that I will ever
write. Before I leave Colorado I have two other writing projects to finish. One will be
the review of Mista Poedic’s disc that I have been promising for weeks now and just
never can seem to get right. The other will be an open letter to the Denver Music Scene
itself, thanking them for welcoming both myself and Rivethead into their midst, and
asking them to stay in touch with this publication, because the future has plenty of room
for both cities and both scenes. Of course I’m focusing on Houston first. We’re
from Houston. We do Houston before we do anything else. But after that… Denver…
I’ll be back! There is serious musical movement happening up here, and if we don’t
cover that as well, it will just be our own fault for missing out! People in Texas may not
give a damn, but the Internet is worldwide, and so, someday, will be Rivethead! In order,
then, here are my highest priorities: Not becoming homeless, keeping myself and my cat
fed, and this publication. Anything beyond that is gravy.


There will be some period of adjustment, no doubt, because I have no real idea of
how to run a music magazine or how to be pertinent as to what is the next big thing. I am
in no way qualified to be in control of Rivethead and have absolutely no claim to this title
whatsoever except for the fact that Lisa E has seen fit to confer it upon me. She did not
expect such a huge response when she re-launched the name. She is fortysomething,
now, with a young child and a full-time career. She ain’t got the time for this. I, on the
other hand, have nothing else to do but cook and drink. Might as well reach for the stars
again, huh? Those first early days back in Texas will be tough, but I do have a few old
friends and several new ones as well who are all willing to pitch in for the cause. People
like Ray Banks, a veritable fountain of Houston knowledge; Jeff Mikel, the well-connected
if not very talented guitar player from Academy Black who was my last
roommate when I lived down there many years ago; and Tony Watson, formerly of Urban
Assault Squad and now known for the very rhythmic PlanetZR, these guys and a few
others will be instrumental in both my personal success and that of the paper. As far as I
know, both Kit Perkins and Wes Dodson plan to remain active with the Podcasts, and I
am highly grateful for their continued input! I cannot do this alone, and thanks be to y’all
that I don’t have to! I would be remiss as well to not mention DJ MetalLord, lately of
Metal Messiah Radio on the Internet and the driving force behind Throne of Metal
Productions down in H-town, who in real life is just my bro Bryan from Pasadena, but in
DJ life is very pumped up about the return of Rivethead, and has made mention of our
website many times on his shows! We as a name, and I as the rep of that name, are
obliged for your support brotha!


If all this succeeds, if someday Rivethead is an enormous magazine magnate and
has a spacious office with an oversized desk that I sit at, then on the wall behind that desk
will hang portraits of my three bosses. These are Lisa E Sullivan, Joe Claytor, and Music
itself. I have yet to decide on an appropriate representation of music. If it does not
succeed, then in something like eight months I’ll be cat-less in some nasty, filthy
homeless shelter in stinking downtown Houston without even my pipe or my bowl to
help me make it through, to say nothing of my fiddlers three. This is a good idea, you
say?? This is freakin’ insane. In a life that has to some degree been marked by insanity,
this is one of the craziest things I’ve ever done.


So now it’s two weeks. I’m sure as hell not ready for this.


Tip those bartenders and waitresses, as always, but tip them heavier if they are
wearing Broncos jerseys!


-Andrew C


PitBlog 8/22/11: Addendum and Correction:


Faithful readers! It has been pointed out to me by more than one of you that in my last
column I was being something of a whiny little bitch about this whole moving-back-to-
Texas thing. I complain about the heat, you say, but there are something like six million
other Houstonians who deal with it. I complain about the cockroaches, but those can be
managed by the proper application of pest control. I complain about the law, which may
be somewhat legitimate, but do I not thus have an obligation to work to change it?
(in Texas? Good luck!) I complain about the sudden intervention of fate and how my
path, although clear, is now out of my hands. To this I should only be grateful, for most
people spend their entire lives waiting for such clarity of purpose, and many never
achieve it. And finally, you say, I should remember above all else how blessed and how
fortunate I really am, because nobody else on this planet has the opportunity to take over
the historic and legendary Rivethead Magazine, making it something like a one-in-seven-billion
chance! Indeed, all these things are true, and from this day forth I will look upon
my new circumstance as an honor and a privilege. Really, I have been looking at it as
such all along, but behind every silver lining is a dark cloud, and sometimes I have to see
that too, and work my way through it. Texas here we come!!


That’s all!