Monday, September 1, 2014

Alcoholism: A love story - Part IV: End of the line - Part I: Detox

Back in summer 2009 when my drinking habit was so extreme and the physical dependency so bad that each day was constant suffering, I reached this point at which I decided life like that was no longer worth living. So I committed suicide. Well, actually I didn't, I'm still here, but I did the next best thing: Decided it was time for a change.

Getting into a detox clinic is actually easy as pie. You go to a doctor, say you need to go to detox, get a referral to a hospital, then call there, talk about what you need for a few minutes, then call every day before 10am or so to ask if a bed is available. I did that for about a week, then the nurse at the phone told me to pack my stuff and come over. It's actually kind of amazing that I remember the daily phonecalls, as I don't remember getting the referral or packing my stuff, but I know I did those two things. Life was extremely weird for my memory back then, something either stuck or it didn't. But I digress. I sort of packed stuff and asked my mother if she would kindly drive me there, though not before I had a good number of morning drinks, because I was scared and needed to calm myself. She agreed, and off I went.

I know somehow I ended up in the hospital and some talking to the nurses was done, of which I remember nothing. I do remember I was tested with 0.25% blood alcohol, which seems accurate for my mornings. Had I arrived in the evening the number might have been a tad more over the top. I know I somehow got into the room I would sleep in for the coming two weeks and my stuff ended up there, too, but again memory of that escapes me. After that, things began to clear up a lot though...

...and I don't mean that in a good way. For alcohol, you can quit cold turkey, but there is a risk of death because withdrawal simply overwhelms your body. So it is generally recommended to use a mix of drugs to help keep your body somewhat settled so that you can quit without the risk of death. This mix of drugs does not actually make the withdrawal any less excruciating (despite the generous amount of sedatives), but it keeps you alive, and at the time I sort of thought that was a good thing. The big problem is that these drugs also interact with alcohol, so they are not supposed to be given above a blood alcohol level of 0.08%. And THAT was the really hard part. Because as you know, I suffer from heavy panic attacks already, that's why I did the drinking in the first place, and alcohol withdrawal strongly amplifies the panic attacks, which is why I wanted to quit drinking. But the time span in between the 0.25% I came in with and the 0.08% I needed was one of the worst times of my life, because I literally thought I was dying the whole time. I couldn't breathe worth shit, and I couldn't feel my heartbeat, my head experienced the strangest sensations and numerous parts of my body went numb at irregular intervals. Add some serious chills to that and you just know this is what you feel when your life comes to a slow and horrifying end.

When the time came for me to get the mix of drugs, which felt like eternity and left me feeling like a wreck, it was quite a liberating experience, because while the sedatives didn't do all that much, the mere fact that something was given to me had a very calming effect for me at the time. I still had bad panic attacks after that, but the most horrifying part was over, I felt like I was being taken care of and not left to die. That kind of describes the rest of the day after the excruciating first hours: A lot of  panic attacks, but a somewhat calming feeling of being in a hospital and being taken care of.

The next few days were more of the same but in different intervals. The panic attacks were no longer as frequent as to completely prevent me from going outside for a smoke and talking to other patients regularly, which made things a lot easier, and while my drugs were gradually reduced I got the feeling of my body settling down into a state that could be managed. The only big issue was that the doctor at the ward clearly didn't know what he was doing as he prescribed me 10mg of fluoxetine (Prozac) for my panic attacks, which I know now is the most ridiculously low dosage of one of the most ridiculously ineffecient antidepressants.

The remainder of that week got a little better every day, still with panic attacks, but no longer those extreme ones you get from alcohol withdrawal but the "standard" ones I as a person with panic disorder just have. Then after a week we had one of those days you just don't want to experience in detox, with a suffocating 37C with high humidity. That's really bad timing, nature! Unfortunately for me that ended up in my having an epileptic seizure. You know, it's not uncommon for people in booze detox to experience seizures, but when I first talked to the doctor when I got into the clinic he said it was prevented in 99% of all cases. So yeah, I'm officially a one-percenter (just had to do that reference). For me, it was really no big deal, I don't remember it, you never do. But it meant staying another week, and it sure as hell frightened my mother who was visiting when I had the seizure. They did a lot of tests on my brain anyway, and I am told that I am not epileptic and that I will probably never again have a seizure, and to this point I never did, so all is well.

Really, overall it was mostly a boring experience, so for all of you who are reading this and currently drinking heavily, but too scared of detox I can say it really isn't all that bad. The big catch really is the first day, and you just know a day like that feels like eternity. But if you would rather kill yourself slowly than make it through one horrible day, that's kind of a backwards logic. I think dying from liver failure might be a tad more awful than one day of a continuous and horrifying panic attack, besides the fact that the latter is indeed horrifying, it is over the next day and you're alive. I wouldn't want to repeat the experience, but it certainly was a thousand times better a decision than the alternative.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A punk rock story - Part II: In memory of Erdélyi Tamás

So yesterday it happened. Erdélyi Tamás, better known as Tommy Ramone, the last remaining founding member of The Ramones, has passed away following a hopeless battle with bile duct cancer. You know how way back in the early 80s Crass claimed that punk is dead, and how The Exploited quickly and rightfully countered that it is indeed not? Well, yesterday things have edged a little closer to Crass' side, as punk has died a little, suffering the loss of the last remnants of a vital organ that was instrumental in pulsing life through every fiber of its body in the very early days, long before I was even alive.

If you asked me what my favourite Ramones song was, I couldn't answer. I hardly even know a handful of their titles, they never struck a chord with me. But I know very well that without them, countless bands I love and cherish would never have been the same. It's like as a lifelong metalhead I know hardly anything about the proto-metallic hard rock band of the late 60s/early 70s that were instrumental to the development of great acts such as Black Sabbath or Judas Priest, it is enough for me to know the legacy their work has inspired. The Ramones in turn were so instrumental in shaping a whole loud, raunchy and rebellious subculture by never stopping short of hitting harder than anyone else in their time, that to not appreciate their legacy you have to be either deaf, dumb or blind.

When Joey Ramone passed away in 2001, Jello Biafra dedicated one of his infamous spoken word pieces to how he first attended a Ramones show at a young age. No one thought anyone could be this loud or positively off the hinge as they were at their peak, and the mere impression alone of showing a young generation how you can take loud and rebellious music to a new level unlike anything heard before was enough to shape a generation of young musicians that would themselves revolutionise the passive and sedate idea of counter-culture the hippie movement left prior. Peace and love was over, it was time to desecrate the status quo.

As someone who is a lifelong and perpetual metalhead, and who views punk rock not as a personal lifestyle but a force of nature metal itself owes an eternal debt to, it may not be my place to say what it means or doesn't mean to the subculture itself, but it can very well be assumed that without the initial impact of The Ramones, and the further explosion destructiveness delivered by those directly influenced by them, so many of the greatest developments not only in extreme metal - starting right there with Metallica, who may or may not have ended up sounding more like Deep Purple and Judas Priest with added speed - but in subversive art in general could never have happened the way they did. Whether your drive to rot society from the inside to make way for a new world comes from Napalm Death, Slayer, Darkthrone, Demilich, Godflesh, D.R.I., Morbid Angel, or hell, even Burzum, none of that would ever have come to be the way it did without The Ramones breaking so many of the barriers so long ago.

So today, after the last remaining founding members of this great band - not a personal favourite, but great nonetheless - has departed from this world it has bid to pound to dust, let us all remember what a great debt we owe to these guys and show our respect for their work, their legacy and the sheer power of what they did. Rest in piece, Tommy, along with your three long-gone bandmates, we'll keep it loud and heavy for you today!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ten of the best metal albums of all time - Part I: Sempiternal Deathreign - The Spooky Gloom

Many people track back the origins of death/doom metal to either or both Paradise Lost's slowing down the ugly death metal that swept over from overseas on their debut and Winter's apocalyptic deadening-up (opposite of livening-up, if you've never heard the term before it's because I just made it up) their massive Celtic Frost influences. And rightfully so, these two bands really got this sub-subgenre kicking and provided a template for following bands to expand and transcend, or in some cases merely imitate. That does not mean, however, that there weren't some early pioneers going for a similar approach. These must not be considered more influential because they did their stuff earlier, like some historical revisionists would have you believe, but looking back from the mid 2010s to the late 1980s they can give you a good insight into how young musicians approached the idea of coalescing death and doom metal influences into a new style of music.

Alongside Americans Dream Death, who basically took a Celtic Frost template and injected a little more of a death/thrash type of aggression into the heavy parts while slowing down and expanding on the slow parts, Sempiternal Deathreign from the Netherlands is most likely the closest to proper death/doom metal the 1980s ever came. They might actually have had their share of influence on later bands, as a whole slew of Dutch death/doom bands would follow in similar footsteps, and it is possible that even Asphyx might have been familiar with them and drawn ideas from them. Outside of the Netherlands, however, I don't know if there were all too many people familiar with them before the rise of the internet made them all the more accessible.

Sempiternal Deathreign, completely lacking any advance knowledge of what death/doom metal was supposed to sound like by 1990s standards due to their limited psychic abilities, crafted a sound that was unlike anything else at the time and is unmatched to this day. Not content with simply slowing down parts of the death/thrash that was so prevalent in the underground in the 1980s, they are one of the few examples of bands to play what I call "literal death/doom", as in literally taking influences from both death metal (in its mid-to-late 1980s shape and form) and traditional doom metal, rather than just the former with an emphasis on slow parts. In fact, the traditional doom metal influences on this album have such a strong 1970s sound to them that they couldn't be further from "slow death metal". It's kind of hard to pinpoint the exact sources, as my knowledge of 1970s music is thankfully limited, though Black Sabbath is always a safe bet. But quite frankly, many note progressions in this album's atmospheric doomy parts, such as the guitar solos in the opener and closer, or the opening riff of "Devastating Empire Towards Humanity" (after the intro), remind me a lot more Flower Travellin' Band's Japanese interpretation of Black Sabbath's sound. Whether this is a direct influence, or whether the Dutch and the Japanese simply interpret Black Sabbath in a similar way (with the Dutch you never know), I do not know, but it's the closest comparison I can make. Some of the more meaty doom parts in which the rhythm guitar dominates also have a Pentagram feel to them, and there are a number of bits and pieces that might not have looked out of place on a Witchfinder General album.

But no matter what their direct influences were, they most certainly succeed at giving this album a unique hazy feel, like something you would hear in a morbid hippie commune intent on murdering Hollywood stars, had the hippie movement extended its reach into the 1980s. What really drives this image home is the sheer viciousness and malevolence of the equally important death/thrash type of parts. Sort of a cross between early Slayer and Possessed after one too many cups of coffee, they rampage through your speakers like the Tasmanian devil on the worst choleric fit of his life. That the band is not as tight as aforementioned American professionals (though not sloppy in any way, either) further enhances this feeling, as if the whole band is literally releasing all the pent-up rage of a lifetime. What really helps drive this point home is that the vocalist sounds completely off the hinge in a way that was far ahead of its time and probably is without match to this day. I can sort of compare it to Pestilence's/Asphyx's Martin van Drunen or whoever does the high-pitched vocals for Macabre, but much more honest and far less gimmicky than either. I can't help shake the mental image of the crazy, long-haired guy from Police Academy when I listen to his performance, he literally sounds like he has all screws loose in his head, and a few extra in his pocket. The way this is laid over the frantic blasting of the drums and the often nearly grindcore-like buzzsawing of the guitars makes these parts deliciously barbaric.

However, it would matter little how great the doomy parts and the fast parts are individually if they were put together poorly. And this is really why I praise this album so highly, because the songwriting, the crafting of a uniform whole from the disparate parts is impeccable and nothing short of amazing. There never is one transition which does not exhibit a coherent flow, parts go from one to another seamlessly and show an effortless talent for musical storytelling, taking the listener on an emotional journey from low to high and back again without any of the shifts in mood ever feeling abrupt or out of place. The forgivable horror camp of the lyrics aside, I feel myself transported into the world of prehistoric barbarians, with scenes of battle and scenes of pre-religious spiritual experiences showing different sides of their lives.

In essence, this is a perfect album to lean back and enjoy the experience. But it does not end there, as it is just as perfect for many other purposes you would want a metal album for, such as having a few beers with friends, or living out some pent-up emotions, or simply appreciate just how amazing this form of art can be. It is one of the most "complete" metal album I know in this regard, as there is not a time or situation in which I would find it inappropriate to play. An absolute classic in metal history, and the history of death/doom metal in particular. And an essential purchase, should you find a decently-priced copy. If not, be glad that we live in a time in which every classic is being reissued, and that this album may hit the market in an all new version soon!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Elliot Rodgers story and life as a ticking time bomb

Okay, so this is my first post in a long time, and this is about a story that has been on everyone's mind lately. Some freak with Asperger's killed a bunch of people in California, apparently because girls rejected him because they prefer normal guys over guys who think they are entitled to a girlfriend because they are descended from British royalty, no matter their interpersonal shortcomings. Whatever.

A lot of people are debating this from a lot of angles, mostly women whining about how guys want to kill them if they don't want to go out with them, politicians whining about how there are too many guns and will somebody please think of the children (vote for me!), and, in a more background kind of debate, how people who are considered "freaks" by society are ticking time bombs and preferrably should be locked up against their will in some mental institution on grounds of being different.

Yeah, the first two are big, everyone talks about those two. The third one, well, people don't mention it too openly, but the further anyone delves into the subject of this particular case or any similar such case, it comes up. The guy had a mental illness. He wasn't normal. He didn't behave normally. Anyone who behaves the way he did will end up doing the things he did. Can't we do something about people like that? Can't we somehow remove them from society? We all know that if we don't, they will end up killing people. They are ticking time bombs. All of them. Look how they act, hear how they talk, just look at them!

Well, let me talk a bit about being a ticking time bomb. I mean, yeah, what that guy did was fucked up as hell, and I cannot and will not utter a word of defense or justification. But take a minute to reflect on the life people who aren't "normal" face in today's society.

I knew I wasn't "normal" the minute I first entered kindergarden. I was thinking differently than the others, I was perceiving things differently, and I acted differently. And I was treated accordingly. I couldn't form any healthy relationships with other kids, the best I got was kids pretending to be my friends so I would reveal things they could use to humiliate me at a later point. Sounds whiny enough? Certainly does, but hey, pointing out reality is always "whiny" if you're one of the undesirables.

What do you think puberty does, then? You want to have any sort of decent teenage life if you can't conform to the given standards because your mind won't let you behave how everyone else behaves? You're hovering between treated as an object of ridicule and treated as a non-existent entity every time you utter a word. You're not trying to do anything to offend anyone, and you're certainly trying to be accepted, but your mind does not work the way that of the majority works, you can't fit in, your brain is wired differently than that of other people. This is not your choice, this is just how it is.

And that is when you begin having these really ugly thoughts. You want to see blood, you want to see pain, you want to see people begging for mercy. Your mercy. You are starting to think you are a monster for having these thoughts. Anyone with half a brain can tell you this is a normal coping mechanism of the brain, to keep you alive, but society tells you that if you have such thoughts, you are worse than the love child of Jeffrey Dahmer and Adolf Hitler. Your brain just wants to make it through the day, but everywhere you go, you are pumped full of ideas of you being a ticking time bomb. Look at how the media lash out at everyone remotely different from the norm every time there is a school shooting or some other killing spree.

So that's me. I'm a ticking time bomb. I can't make heads and tails of life, and my brain lashes out at people in my imagination, and it can get quite ugly, but like millions like me, I will never act on it, because I respect life and the right of others to live. But I'm not normal. I'm not like the others. So it is only a matter of time until I pick up a machete and start to slaughter people, right?

This is the true, underlying war our society has been waging. It does not matter if Elliot Rodgers hated women, or that he got a ton of guns legally. That's the type of stuff that is debated on the surface, but that's not people's true concern. What matters to people, truly, is that there are people out there who don't fit in. And people who don't fit in are ticking time bombs. They are out to slaughter our friends and family. Something needs to be done about these people. People like myself. And with each passing year, with each passing media hype over isolated incidents, more will be done.

This has happened before, every fellow German knows from what we learned from a certain period of our history. This is the beginning of history repeating, only this time on a global scale. And for ninety percent of the people who read this post I can safely say that you will be contributing, and that you will be glad you did, and when the dust has settled, you will deny any wrongdoing. You were only protecting yourself, your friends and your family.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My thoughts on "true" black metal

Black metal should have been left to die twenty years ago. Everything that needed to be said had been said by then, and everything since then has just been attention whoring with shitty music.

So-called "true" black metal, the way I see it, is even below the retro thrash and retro doom trends that have sprung up in recent years. The reason it is below those is because those two were just passing trends that a lot of people picked on one day and that were gone two or three years later. "True" black metal has been going on non-stop since all the way back in the early 1990s when the first bands began to imitate Darkthrone, Burzum, Mayhem and other big names. It has had nothing to say that was worth saying from the beginning and it remains unchanged in its monotonous inanity to this day. Why can't that fucking trend die like the others? It is as torturous as being force-fed Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste knock-offs for two decades. Why do people feel the need to play the same music that's been played a million times, paint themselves like clowns and moan about Satan or nihilism or whatever other shit they dig out the cliché box? Shut the fuck up, you're pathetic.

There is nothing "true" about this garbage. Dressing yourself up like Dead on the Live in Leipzig cover or Zephyrous on the A Blaze in the Northern Sky cover and calling yourself "true black metal" makes about as much sense as dressing yourself up like George Washington and calling yourself a "true freedom fighter". There is nothing fucking "true" about dressing up like those who were.

I get that albums like Under a Funeral Moon and Det Som Engang Var are really impressive. I get that a band of violent church burners and murderers playing such great music is a really captivating thought, too. And I get the psychological connection of wanting to be a part of this by association. I get all that because I can relate to the feeling, because I played black metal in the past, I did the music, the face-paint, the stereotypical lyrics, the unreadable logos, the tapes limited to half a copy, I can relate. However, once my body rid itself of the last remains of puberty hormones I quickly came to the realisation of how pathetic that whole circus really is. Think about it: You're taking something that was once great and making a cheap mockery of it. And you're making an ass of yourself in the process with your shitty music, painting yourself like a clown, copying logos, spewing random lyrics that have no worthwhile message, and so on. You're not going to become Varg, Fenriz, Dead or Euronymous in the process, you're only going to be a pathetic loser.

You're really pissing on a legacy here. It became hard to even listen to one of Darkthrone's classics without any association to the shit idiots like Kanwulf or Akhenaten played soon after springing up. You are defiling something that, despite the obvious hype making it seem bigger than it was, had a sense of grandeur and nobility to it, if left to stand as a monument to itself. You are the type of people who, seeing great achievements of civilisation such as the Great Pyramid would fuck it up by building a thousand of your own pyramids around it. Entering the pyramid, seeing the ancient hieroglyphs that have endured millennia, you would have nothing better to do than smear every wall inside the structure with your own hieroglyphs like urban ghetto gangta vandals. You're not "keeping the spirit alive", you are hammering nail after nail in its coffin with every note you steal from Transilvanian Hunger.

Then, to make it worse, you feel like you need to slap your own twist on it and pretend it's the "true spirit of black metal", making your band about suicide and proclaim that's what black metal was always about,  making your band about racial purity and proclaiming that's the "real" message of black metal from the start, or how about reading a few books on occultism and mangling the contents through a thesaurus? Yeah, you are really making a unique statement here, and always make sure yours is the only statement that reflects the spirit of black metal and everyone else gets it wrong, because you are the expert with your band formed in the 21st century shortly after you've heard your first black metal album. You and the thousands of other "true" black metal drones sounding just like you.

If something is great, you don't need to repackage it and sell it as your own. That's not "true". That's false. Appreciate the greatness of the original and leave it as a unique product of a unique set of people at a unique time. Because that's what it will ever be. The only actual "true" black metal is the black metal released up to 1994. What came after that is just a bunch of losers trying to get a piece of the glory-pie. Don't take part in it, don't support it, don't condone it, don't tolerate it, don't give it the time of day. Black metal is a rotting corpse thanks to you people. There's no need to further defecate on its grave, is there?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Restoring sanity to veganism

Parts of this post are taken from this post at the Seitanic Vegan blog I am a co-admin at.

I'd like to devote this post to talking about veganism. I was inspired to write this post by my co-admin of the blog linked above complaining about nobody reading said blog. The thing here is that nobody who isn't into veganism doesn't like to read about it, and there's a reason for that. Let's face facts here, veganism isn't commonly associated with normal, good, decent people eating a different diet. It is associated with nutjobs like PETA, the Animal Liberation Front, people who throw buckets of red paint at others, people who demonstrate at McDonalds, people who call everyone else murderers and animal abusers, people who, if you mention eating a non-vegan diet to them, use every slur in the book to paint you as a horrible bigot and "speciesist" as they like to call it. People who use their lifestyle choice to feel morally superior to others. People who want everyone else to be just like them, and if they refuse, they're worse than Hitler. In short: Assholes.

This, in a nutshell, is why regular people avoid veganism, avoid reading about veganism, and avoid talking to vegans. Because they don't want to waste their time with assholes and don't want to become assholes themselves by association. The public image of vegans and veganism is somewhat akin to nutjob cults like Scientology, being this brainwashed mass of zombies with no free will or purpose beyond what they are fed by the cult and whose only goal in life is to indoctrinate others. No one wants to become such a person, no one wants to talk to such persons, no one wants to be associated with such persons. Why would they? The people and organisations mentioned in the first paragraph are worthless scumbags and I certainly wouldn't want to be associated with them in any way despite my dietary choices.

So what we need to do here is restore sanity to veganism. First, to shun such people described above in every possible way. And second, bring to the public's minds normal, decent people such as ourselves who made our choice for a variety of reasons, but not to see ourselves as morally superior or others as morally inferior, and not to indoctrinate your loved ones into a soulless cult of obedient drones. Regular people, no better or worse than anyone, who simply eat different food than most people but are otherwise just like everyone else. People of all colours, cultures, classes and creeds. People who won't hate or condemn you if you eat a steak or an omelette, but simply make a different choice of what to have for dinner. People such as myself, my Seitanic Vegan co-admin and girlfriend, and many others who have a sane approach to veganism. And believe me, sane vegans are by far the majority, they are simply drowned out by the more vocal, loudmouth nutjobs who hog all the attention. And this post is my first step towards diverting attention from PETA and its braindead cronies and shift the focus of the public towards those who don't misuse veganism to give their miserable lives a purpose and a feeling of moral superiority, but simply want to live their lives like everybody else.

As for myself, I am not actually fully vegan yet. I did quit eating meat altogether, and I have quit eating eggs, and I gave up most dairy (cheese, yogurt, etc.), but because in Germany soy milk is twice as expensive as cow milk and I drink a lot of tea I am currently still using cow milk while I am short on cash. I am hoping that within the next three months I gain the financial security to embrace veganism fully. Still, considering that a bit of cow milk every day is the only non-vegan vice I have left in my life I am hoping to be able to contribute to this blog properly.

I am the type of person who, not only because my venture into vegetarianism and soon veganism is fairly recent, but also because I currently see insurmountable odds, am not particularly preachy about this choice. The reason I see the odds as so overwhelmingly against veganism is because, quite frankly, most of us haven't even learned yet to treat other human beings with respect. We can't even manage to do that. We still hurt people because of the colour of their skin, insult them for what type of relationships they desire, enslave them because of what continent they were born on, exploit them because of what social class they were born into, and so on. All the while toasting our planet, poisoning our oceans and decimating our forests. It's obvious the vast majority of us are nowhere near mature enough to embrace a sustainable lifestyle.

Gloomy outlooks aside, while we can't make choices on how others run their lives, we can still make choices on how to run our own lives. We might not save the world or even make a dent in the system of decadence our vast majority embraces, but we can live our lives in a way that feels good for us. We can make sure not to gorge ourselves on poison that causes all sorts of diseases, decreases our quality of life and contributes to making us less happy altogether. And why shouldn't we? You have to weigh what you are losing - chunks of chewy stuff that without spices doesn't taste much like anything - and what you are gaining - a rich diet full of flavours and textures. And an overwhelming abundance of nutrients, most of which you didn't even know existed.

I have made this choice to live a healthier life by adding all these nutrients and removing all the poisons that come with animal products, and to live a more satisfying, rewarding life by treating myself to all these different flavours and textures. It's not a choice I made to save the world in between tree-hugging sessions, it's a choice I made for myself, to help me feel better, or more succinctly put, to make my life better. I think this is something everybody could get into, but they don't have to. Besides one brother, all of my family and friends eat meat and animal products, it's no big deal to me. They simply made a different choice than me, and that makes them no better or worse than me, and I am not going to judge or condemn them, because they aren't actually doing anything wrong. They are just living their lives the way they enjoy it, as we all should. Of course I would like veganism to be on the increase, and I'm pretty sure it is, but why harass people and make them feel uncomfortable at best and aggravated at worst just because they live their lives differently? Isn't that how most vegans complain we are treated? Shouldn't we treat others the way we would like to be treated?

So here's my offer: Show up at The Seitanic Vegan some time, read our posts, find out more if you're curious. If you don't want to, that's fine, too. We're not here to push our lifestyles on you. And seriously, fuck PETA.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Alcoholism: A love story - Part III: The strangest night of my life

So in the previous installment of this series I have talked about the very worst time I had during the years of excessive drinking, in a future part I will talk about some of the very good times I've had during these years, but for this part I am going to get into one particular night that sums up just how excessively I did live my life back then. Must have been some time around 2007, but I really don't remember, weeks, months and years kind of blended into each other back then and I couldn't really tell what was when besides certain key dates such as relocations. I know it was in March because it was related to a friend's birthday, but what exact year I really don't know anymore.

It started off as a fairly normal day waking up in my old apartment, doing my thing browsing and chatting around the internet like I have done since 2001 or so to this day. Had a few drinks, had some food, regular day. I was invited to the birthday party of my friend Oliver (not his real name), though, and I was looking forward to it. I was a much more social person back then. Never had many friends, could count them on one hand, but I enjoyed being with them and was generally more outgoing thanks to them. Again, not much more, but compared to the time since I lived in my current apartment with almost no contact to anyone I was definitely more of a people person. Oliver just had a new apartment - his first - near the city center like mine, and it would be a good opportunity to meet him, drink beers, meet my other punk friends and have fun.

I have to add that while I considered myself a metalhead (heavy metal fan to those who don't know) for most of my life, I never really hung out with any other metalheads. All those people ever talked about was work and cars and dick size comparisons and other working class prole things, it just wasn't for me. I despised all those things. I was always a guy who was more for hanging out with the punks. Rarely the clueless punk kids who just acted out because daddy didn't love them, but the guys who were a bit older and actually meant it. People who truly embraced the lifestyle out of conviction. Those were the people who were much more compatible to my lifestyle of misanthropy and self-destruction (at the time) than any working class stiff metalheads. Just felt I needed to add this paragraph for perspective.

So in the evening I went to Oliver's place with a slight buzz already. We went to the grocery store to buy a ton of beer, and one by one a handful of people showed up, mostly the people I described in the previous paragraph plus two or three more "regular" alternative people. So we drank. In between beers, a few guys had pot with them, and while my pothead years were long over (quit smoking it regularly in January 2004), when I was drinking with friends I didn't mind a hit from a joint every now and then. We definitely had a good time enjoying each others' company and the increasing mental haze caused by the beer and the pot.

Eventually a decision was reached to go out. We were all in great moods, and the evening needed to continue at a different location with more people. Back in the day, like today, there was really nothing ever going on in this city, except back then we had monthly goa/psytrance (I never did know the difference between those two genres) parties at the local "alternative" club. Basically, the music is fast techno type of stuff with psychedelic effects, the decorations at the parties also had a psychedelic tone, the crowd was mixed between hippies and alternative people for the most part, a good number of techno people unfortunately, and all sorts of extreme outsiders that did not fit anywhere else. As you can imagine from this description there were a lot of drugs going around, especially since back in the day the cops had not yet caught on to what goes on at those types of parties. Initially I just came to drink beer and meet friends, but things don't always go as you originally thought they would go when you're drunk...

It all started when I was offered a line of amphetamines (aka Speed), then another, then a third. I really didn't care about these things back then, especially when drunk. It's a decent drug, I had used it before, but just a small handful of times because it is expensive and as a jobless drunk I was chronically out of money. Kind of comparable to a high dosage of very strong coffee, fires you up and motivates you. Not bad when you're at such a party and want to stay awake and energised. Eventually I met my friend Martin (not his real name) and we talked about this and that, he was a good friend at the time and I spent a lot of time with him. Soon after we met we got the idea of acquiring some Ecstacy. I was extremely short on money, so was he, so we could only get one pill for both of us and each had half. That one's an entirely different beast than amphetamines. It's sort of a "happy pill", and in fact there are antidepressants with similar active ingredients, except at a much lower dosage and chemically dampened. Imagine it in a way as relating similarly to antidepressants as amphetamines relate to coffee, with the former in each case being a dozen times more potent. Suffice to say I was really hyper and spaced out at that point.

But, you know, I was a drinker, so my main priority was more beer, and that's how it went really crazy, as I was out of money and had to ask my friends if I could have some of their beer. Eventually I began really phasing in and out of reality, which I attributed to the Ecstacy, but my friend Martin was beginning to wonder why half a pill would affect me so much. After a few minutes he met up with me and told me that my friend Thomas (you guessed it, not his real name), who I had scored a full bottle of beer from, had told him that he forgot to tell me he had liquid LSD in the beer he gave me. Nice thing to forget. If you have read my previous posts you know that I suffer from an anxiety spectrum disorder, meaning my mind frequently gives me panic attacks, which is why I have stayed away from hallucinogenics for all my life. The potential for horror in my mind is just too big. But there I was, on a wild cocktail of various drugs with LSD topping it all off. That surely promised to be a night to remember.

I cannot really tell you that much about the hours that ensued, because all the stuff I had in my system didn't do much good for my memory, but there are a few things I clearly remember, and a few things I've been told. I remember that a guy I hardly knew but who was friends with the friends of mine who were there was taking care of me almost the whole evening, keeping me in good spirits and keeping me distracted so I wouldn't drift off into something dark and horrid. To this day I am thankful to him for that. The other thing I remember is that for an hour or so while I was sitting at a table with that guy, a young girl I didn't know was at the same table, yelling at me the whole time about how I was wasting my life. It seemed like a dangerous combination with the drugs, but it was really quite entertaining, and I was amused at her whining more than I was bothered by it. One thing I remember is that it was too noisy for me inside the club and half the time I didn't understand what she said, so I asked her if we could continue talking outside, and she gave me this really disgusted look. I was thinking of outside the door where everyone could see us, and I didn't get what freaked her out about that at the time, but in hindsight I quickly realised what she must have been thinking my idea was. Oops.

As for the rest of the evening, I do not remember a thing, but I was told that I was wandering through the club in sort of a Johnny Depp Fear & Loathing meets Pirates of the Carribean impression and that I was obviously enjoying myself and that everyone was glad I handled it so well. Somehow I ended up home and slept it all off, and life continued as normal. I never had such an experience in my life ever again, I never touched more than one hard drug in one evening since then, and even touching a single one at all only happened a handful of times in the following year or two until I moved to the suburbs and cut off contact with everyone. I certainly never touched LSD again, despite having a good time in that one evening. It was an experience that would forever stick with me as an adventure, but also as a warning, and it is not something I would ever get into again.