Book Report: Sonic Warrior by Lou Brutus (2020)

Book coverMy beautiful wife, who also gave me Louder than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Heavy Metal last year, gave me this book for my birthday or our anniversary this year. So, in between Executioner novels, I picked it up.

Lou Brutus is a longtime DJ working in various cities, apparently culminating in working for SiriusXM and has been a hard rock/heavy metal fan for probably two and a half decades longer than I have. One of the local rock stations used to run his syndicated program HardDrive XL every night at 7pm, so I would catch snippets of it in the car when I was out later than I should be. So, know, gentle reader, that I could hear Lou’s voice in my head as I read the book and heard his inflection on just about every line. Oh, yeah, and you know, the Dave whose Iron Maiden poster I quoted to win my beautiful wife? After he mustered out of the Army (Airborne, natch, since I know more former Airborne than former Marines), he ended up on somewhere on one of the Deagon coasts as a DJ, so, of course, he knows Lou Brutus (as I often pointed out to my children when we heard him on the radio–I know a guy that knows that guy).

The book describes not so much his love of rock music, but more his interactions and funny anecdotes at concerts or music festivals or when meeting rock bands professionally. He got started as a kid in New Jersey going into New York to see concerts and ascended the ladder. You know, when I took broadcasting classes at the university, one of the professors talked up the fact that you had to move around a lot and go city to city to rise in broadcasting. Coincidentally, that was about the time I decided I was not going into broadcasting. I never wanted to leave Wisconsin again! Er.

So it’s a great book. The voice is humble and self-deprecating but not neurotic. You know, at this time, I would summarize a book a bit, but ultimately, he goes to a lot of concerts, meets a lot of musicians, and sometimes impresses them, but sometimes does not.

It’s a great book. I enjoyed it and actually bought a CD based on it. We’ll get to that in specific things I flagged, below the fold (a.k.a. when you click More.

Been There. Done Something.

Brutus’s first concert was at Madison Square Garden:

The current Madison Square Garden is the fourth building in New York City to have that name, the first rose up in 1879, while the current one was built in 1968 with a major renovation in 1991. It seats approximately 20,000 people for a concert. I honestly believe it to be the most famous and awesome hall on the planet. Everyone needs to have a thrilling experience inside of it at least once in his or her lifetime.

As you might remember, gentle reader, I visited New York in 2005, and one of the things we did whilst in town was visit Madison Square Garden for a preseason hockey game between the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders. Being St. Louis Blues fans, we had no turkey in the fight, so we rooted for the home team, who lost. When I returned, one of my co-workers asked if we went to see a show. “We saw Blue Shirts on Ice,” I said. “How was it?” she asked. “I didn’t like the ending,” I said. She was not a hockey fan and did not understand, but another co-worker, a Canadian, sniggered.

I Made Ted Nugent A Rock God

This was years before Ted Nugent went batshit crazy with politics. On this night in December 1976 there was no talk of current events, he simply called down the power of whatever rock gods there are who smile favorably upon those artists who wear a raccoon tail, swing across the stage on a vine, and shoot flaming arrows past their bassist. Nuanced? No. Entertaining? Yes. Oh, yes.

When I was at the university, I took a class in Mythology my sophomore year. The professor assigned us a paper wherein we were to create a myth of our own. I wrote up a little bit where Hermes tries to steal Apollo’s lyre only to break a string and drop it when Zeus hurls a thunderbolt at him. It falls in a vacant lot in Detroit, where a young Ted Nugent picks up the electified six string lyre and lets out a howl when he gets shocked by it. The professor liked it for all the details I put into it, including Hermes bumping into Ganymede and things like that. So she had me come down in the lecture hall to read it to the class. So I stumbled my long-haired, denim clad self down and did so with gusto.

Wait, this is Lou Brutus’s book. Why am I stuffing its report with my memories? Because it’s my blog, that’s why.

Because I am a pack rat, of course I can put my hands on this paper on its 3.5″ floppy disk that fit into my Packard Bell 286 computer and present to you this very paper, written in the first semester of my sophomore year, right now:

Prometheus awoke with a start. “I must have dozed off,” he thought. His wrists were chaffed from where the chains prevented his customary tossing and turning in his sleep. His side ached from where the eagle had been gnawing at his liver, and to top it all off, his right leg was asleep.

He lifted his head and looked about him. The sky over Scythia was dark and foreboding, as it always was, making it a fitting location for him to be confined. As had looked over the bleak landscape many a year and thought Zeus had chosen wisely.

One thing he noticed was the absence of the vicious eagle sent by Zeus to tear at his liver. Prometheus sat up as far as he could and looked at his side. The wound, ever present before his nap, was sealed; all that remained was a vicious scar on his abdomen.
As he pondered this revelation, wispy details of a forgotten dream presented themselves to his conscious mind. In some distant past, Heracles, mighty son of Zeus had freed him and Prometheus had shaken hands with Zeus and made up all around. When the dream’s plot became apparent, he realized why he had slept so fitfully. It had been a pleasant alternative to his present predicament.

“How long did I sleep?” he wondered. It could not have been more than a few hours, perhaps days at the most. It had been a long time since his last nap. The missing eagle still bothered him a bit. He shifted position and rapped his foot against the side of the mountain to restart the circulation to his leg. To his surprise, the chain shackling him to the mountain broke.

He examined his chains closer now. Once the most adamant iron forged by the mighty Hephaestus, it was now rusted and brittle. He need not use his Titanic strength to finally free himself of his bondage. At last he was free, yet the thought plagued him: “How long has it been?”

His first impulse was to return to Athens, one of his favorite of the Greek cities. It lay across a great stretch of land, which Prometheus crossed with the speed only a superhuman could match. Many puzzling mysteries had he seen en route. Great metallic hawks of Hephaestus’ design. Glistening giant beetles with men in their bowels. Had Hephaestus gone mad or become overzealous with his forge?

Athens, the once beautiful city of marble and stone was now a sprawling city of shining steel and tarnished brick. There hung over the city a dark cloud not designed by Zeus. The avenues were merely queues of the beetles moving among the tombstones that reached the sky. Prometheus realized that much time must have passed for the change to have been drastic. No more was Athena’s olive tree in the center of the Parthenon, which itself was in ruins. “Are the gods dead?” thought Prometheus in a sudden panic.

To answer his question he flew by land to the towering majesty of Olympus. Atop the mount, he found the palace of the gods much as he remembered. There were many inside, assuring him that some of his former allies against Cronus yet lived.

The mood of the palace was somber. Ganymede carried the vessels of nectar without any cheer and passed Prometheus in the foyer without a greeting. The great hall, normally filled with the sweet voices of the Muses, was dark and silent. After much searching, Prometheus finally found Zeus holding counsel in a smaller chamber.

“The mortals do not yet recognize the wrath that befalls them,” he said to the other gathered Olympians. Prometheus recognized among them Hera, the wife of the thunderer; Ares, carrying his spear and glowering at the others in the room; Eris, the goddess of discord, benevolently silent; Apollo, son of Leto; Artemis, the Huntress; and Poseidon, the earth-shaker.

“We must cast more plagues upon them,” shrieked Eris. “Call upon Hades to release the children of Nyx once again.”

The other gods and goddesses murmured among themselves and Prometheus was appalled at Zeus’ apparent ruthlessness. It was the Zeus of old returned again, the benevolent thunderer replace when mankind fell away from the Panthenon. Prometheus fled from the doorway of the chamber from whence he had been silently observing and to the doorway of the palace.

He looked out upon the world and saw the plagues thus released. The children of Nyx had been busy, he saw, and mankind was staggering under the weight of its burdens. “Before I have aided man in its time of need,” thought Prometheus, “so shall I aid them now.”

He pondered of what to give man to ease his burden. As he wandered the palace, pondering his decision, he encountered a particularly forlorn looking goddess brooding in the corner of the majestic recreation room. She stared into the empty fireplace and sighed. Prometheus recognized her and called to her. “Oh Hestia of the Unknown Epithet, what ails you this day.”

Hestia turned her gaze toward him and recognized him. “Oh brave Prometheus, benefactor of mankind, my problem is harsh. I am out of a job. Nobody has hearths anymore.” She threw herself into a fit of weeping and Prometheus, knowing not how to console her, left.
And as he wandered, he heard the distant sound of the lyre of Apollo echoing through the corridors. Prometheus knew the answer to his question at that moment. He should give man a new form of music to sooth him in his agony.

He followed the sound until it ceased. He was left at a dead-end corridor with but two doors to choose. He selected the one on the right and peered into it.

Inside he found the cleanshaven visage of Ares, blindfolded. Ares held two spears and was facing a wall covered with a map of the world. He threw both spears and removed the blindfold. The spears struck the map in Asia Minor and in the sea north of Hippolyta’s domain. Ares cackled with glee. “The evil dictator in Middle East and a coup in the Caribbean! I love this job!” Prometheus stole away and peeked into the room opposite.

Apollo’s lyre was hanging on a stud. The sun-god was not in sight. Prometheus looked about, and was about to step into the chamber when a hand grasped his shoulder and held him back. Fearing the worst, he turned.

The youthful face of Hermes grinned at him. “Hold on, Prometheus,” said the messenger of the gods, “if there’s any thievery to be done in this palace, I shall do it.”

Prometheus was about to reject the young god’s offer when he was silenced. “Besides, YOU’ll get chained to another mountain for eternity again, but Father Zeus will merely laugh at my antics,” said Hermes. Prometheus saw the wisdom and let Hermes in on the scheme.

Hermes glanced about and tip-toed into the chamber of Apollo. He sneaked to the wall where the lyre was hanging and looked about again. He then reached up and snatched the lyre from its place. There was a sharp twang as one of the seven strings caught on the stud and broke. Hermes handed the musical instrument to Prometheus and shrugged. “It’ll sound better that way. Yeah, that’s the ticket,” said he of the glib tongue, and left.

Prometheus slinked to the entrance of the palace before Apollo sounded the alarm. “My lyre! The one thing I could love without it turning into a tree or getting knocked in the head by a discus! It’s gone!”

Prometheus need no further urging to take his leave of the palace of the Olympians.

“Look, Father,” said Athena, using the owl-eyes she is said to possess. “A Titan flees with the lyre of Apollo!”

Zeus followed his daughter’s pointing finger and squinted to see the fleeing Titan. “It’s Prometheus! The benefactor of man!” He spat in disgust. He then shook his right arm to loosen it up, took a thunderbolt, and hurled it toward Prometheus.

Prometheus, meanwhile, passed great Oceanus and his beautiful kin with haste. He was nearing the great continent when he heard the whistling of Zeus’ thunderbolt. He half-turned to see the impending doom descending on him. Fortunately, Zeus had not thrown a thunderbolt for some years, and the aim was a little off.

The thunderbolt collided with the lyre with a great crash. The glowing lyre was swept from Prometheus’ grasp. It sailed through the air over the far continent until it fell to earth in a city in the center of the continent.

The glowing lyre landed in a vacant in Detroit. A young man named Nugent spied the instrument and picked it up. He gave it a strum and received an intense shock even as the lyre produced a shrieking crescendo of music. The young man let out a howl. It blended so well with the music of the six-stringed electric lyre that he did it again. People gathered to listen, and they forgot their problems and were happy. And so a new form of music was bestowed upon man to ease his burden.

Which is not as cool of a story as Lou Brutus’s story, but I have to work with what I’ve got.

We Proudly Serve

Ah, Boone’s Farm. The preferred wine of mid-seventies rock fans on a budget. So overly sweetened that one could fall into a diabetic coma after just a few sips.

As you might remember, gentle reader, we had Boone’s Farm at our Atari party in 2005:

The same year we went to New York.

Is it just me, or do my stories seem to stop in 2005, the last year before we had children? Only my rock-and-roll stories, gentle reader. Only my rock-and-roll stories such as they are.

Even My Boys Know That

Opening the concerts [for Motley Crue] would be Faster Pussycat, a glam metal band out of Los Angeles named for the Russ Meyer exploitation film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

As you might recall, Daddy always says, “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” when encouraging other cars to speed up.

Brutus titles the chapter and the story “The Time Motley Crue’s Roadies Showed Me The Grossest Thing In The History of Western Civilization”, but, c’mon, man. At least his name is not in the Motley Crue The Dirt in a disgusting fashion.

I Bought My First KISS Album Because….

Brutus tells the story of entertaining Gene Simmons one night by taking him bowling. Brutus says:

Gene Simmons is one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the human race.

I am not fucking joking. Everything he threw was a strike. Not only that, he was doing it with trick shots. He was bowling between the legs, behind his back, and with double balls that could crisscross on their way to the pins. Gene threw strikes backward and forward. He threw one strike with his eyes closed.

Gene Simmons bowled the manliest balls any of us had ever seen.

During a break, I finally asked, “Gene, how did you get so good at this?”

He answered, “Lou, I have been on the road for many, many years. I neither drink nor take drugs. THERE’S NOTHING ELSE TO DO OUT THERE. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m also the greatest darts player you’ll ever meet. I’ve also seen every major motion picture released in theaters since 1974.”

The whole story of how they first try to go to see live music but everyone at the only club playing live music recognizes Simmons, so they decamp to avoid creating a distraction. The owner of the bowling alley puts them in a dark corner away from the other bowlers, but a crowd gathers as Simmons is again recognized, but they stay a respectable distance while he bowls. After, he’s signing autographs and whatnot and wants to thank the owner. Apparently, his daughter is a big KISS fan, but she’s away at school and can’t meet him. So, on the spot, Gene Simmons calls the girl at school.

After reading the story, I ordered a copy of KISS’s album Destroyer which Brutus mentions.

I think it’s the best story in the book, actually. And I’m not just saying that because the week before last I bowled a, what, 140 game when I threw four frames between the legs. I used to bowl that way all the time since my normal bowling average peaked at about 140 when I was trying normally, so I switched exclusively to the trick shot and got up to about a 100 average, including strikes from time to time. Still, it’s been twenty years since I bowled that way exclusively, but I’m looking forward to my first strike that way again.

Okay, so I loved the book, and I hope he writes another. And that my wife gives it to me.

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