CONFESS by Rob Halford

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With Ian Gittins. Hachette books. 355 pp.

Full of honest, humble, and heavy duty experience comes a memoir you will never want to put down.

Rob Halford from the “Black” Country of Birmingham, England grew up to be the front man for the heavy metal band Judas Priest.

He relates stories of family life in a post-war landscape. Nothing was ever assured. The only thing Rob knew early on was that he was not like other boys.

This is really the story of how a gay man went from being a scared, lonely, and frustrated boy into an honest, sober, and loving person.

Since this boy was to become a world famous rock star we have the memoir of the year.

Rob goes into great detail of his many misadventures with straight men. He had run-ins with police too.

He describes his identity this way following a painful breakup in the late 1970’s:

“It was five years since I’d been seeing Jason. Apart from the odd snatched, random fumble, I had been alone ever since…not just alone, but forced to suppress my longings, my needs, myself. I had to live a stifling life, or kill the band I loved.

Outside of that bedroom door, I was Rob Halford from Judas Priest, macho talisman and emergent metal god. Inside it, I was Robert John Arthur Halford, a sad, confused late twenties bloke from the Black Country, longing for the forbidden fruit of intimate male company”.

Rob Halford pg.134.

Judas Priest’s first line-up disbanded before Rob showed up to audition. His sister Sue was dating the band’s founder, bassist Ian Hill who is still in the group today. She insisted he try out. Their town, Walsall breeds humble people. Rob was told by Ken Downing that he was in the band.

British Steel became their watershed moment. Named for the filthy foundry plant in their village, recorded in a house once used by The Beatles, owned by Ringo, and used by John and Yoko for their Double Fantasy album, sold millions and spawned the now classic, ‘Living After Midnight’.

The group adopted an all leather look. They went full in as a metal band. Rob could not believe his mates did not realize he was a gay man.

Well before this time Rob had written a song called ‘Raw Deal’ about a doomed romance on Fire Island! He had never been there but imagined it.

The song ‘Metal Gods’ off British Steel was inspired by Frank the robot on Queen’s News of the World album. Rob Halford’s rock hero was Freddie Mercury. In the polarized homophobic culture of those days all of this remained unknown.

Priest fans will discover so much about their favorite group. Nicknames like K.K. Downing for Ken were used, but they were going to call Rob, ‘The Queen’. That would not have gone down well in my opinion.

A humorous book as well. He describes his arrest for lewdness in America. The cops knew who he was and asked what he was doing. Being famous can be like armour.

Rob Halford would encounter his idol, Freddie Mercury on the Greek island of Mykonos, a prime destination for gay men. They were at a yacht party. He describes a crowded space. His nerves got the better of him despite receiving a wink and wave from Freddie.

After all these years Rob Halford was ready to Confess. In his words it feels great and was just good for his soul. Perhaps it will do the same for his readers.

Back To “Normal”

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There has been a lot of talk lately about returning to normalcy. Before the pandemic hit America the nation was struggling with many issues. There were several fissures in the body politic. Never before this moment had the country been torn asunder by an invisible threat.

Our economy has been the engine that drove us through recessions and social upheaval. The wages of workers stopped rising after 1980. Remained stagnant through 2020.

If you grew up in America between 1955 and 1985 you were indoctrinated into a man’s world. Captains of industry were male. Physical strength dominated. Being smart was deemed weak or ‘gay’.

What men hide is the ability to empathize. To express emotion in a normative way is suppressed. We as a society are paying today in political divides and fringe pursuits of false ideas that support a nation in isolation.

When I was a kid boys always acted strong. Being physical was the primary motivator in boys.

America was so busy working and living mostly private lives decades before Facebook that boys’ real needs could be missed.

The politicians pass laws. Parents do their best. Why were our kids killing one another before this crisis?

The gendered kids of this time and place are wondering what happened to them. People who cannot conceive of anything outside their prescribed norms are angered or scared that gendering could be wrong.

Has anyone asked if closing the schools could end school shootings? Recently a lot of people have suggested this crazy notion. Actually, without schools kids lose crucial development of social skills. Those with limited resources miss meals that schools provide.

America has yet to really tackle the social pandemic of massacres, addiction, and lack of empathy.

A return to normal? What normal are people longing for?

Vaping was killing kids, socially isolated boys were killing classmates, and adults were being killed by opioids.

The rising tide of Anti-Semitism was killing innocent people too.

Police brutality has resulted in a renewal of civil unrest not seen in fifty years.

Leadership is absent.

Should we not imagine a society that is anything but normal?

Trans people, Women, and Racism must be addressed. Just to name a few issues.

During the recent Memorial Day holiday states were informed that if they met certain metrics they could begin re-opening.

I walked around my city. Central Park was full of people socially distancing. Picnics were few and far between on the lawns. Children played. But it was just New Yorkers this year. Anything but normal.

I read the paper every day to check in on the latest concerning the virus. The pandemic has hit the poor the hardest. And economies that have all their eggs in the hospitality basket are in serious trouble.

Has the pandemic stripped away people’s illusions surrounding capitalism? Now we have a clearer idea of just how fragile our social system has become in the last 50 years.

People throw around new wordage to describe our ‘new normal’ but this is a much more serious matter.

Re-opening is not a race. States are finding new outbreaks where there were none until people began to disregard safety measures.

The virus has managed to do what Russian interference could not: push Americans to the brink of a new Civil War.

People who have not fallen ill are voicing their anger toward officials for closing their states.

As New York attempts to re-open let us all hope new cases of Covid—19 do not return us to square one.

The Covid Age is just beginning…

Tao Of Bob

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh, hard times, come again no more.

—–excerpted lyrics from Hard Times by Bob Dylan (1992)

Updates from New York City/ Random Thoughts in Downtimeland

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  • The New York Times today gave voice to the famous since they are lacking a platform. What do they miss about their beloved city?
  • Dear readers I can tell you what I don’t miss. The noise. The crowds. The expense.
  • I have a strong immune system. I go out everyday.
  • I danced in the middle of 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, Lexington Avenue, and intersections that now stand empty. I do not miss traffic.
  • No sympathy for Disney. Are we not capitalists? You take risks with your investments. The government must stop their welfare for the wealthy. If Disney fails let it go away. Some other thing will come along for the 21st Century.
  • This just in, Disney+ using Hamilton as bait for more subscribers! It’s meant to be seen live.
  • The 7 pm banging of the pots has started to fade. Less and less volume now.
  • That homeless dude on the 6 train was right 2 years ago. Anyone of you may be jobless tomorrow. Did anyone listen to him? nah!
  • I do not “like” any of our politicians. They do not know what to do.
  • The people with means left the city months ago.
  • Some days are better than others. Just like before the pandemic.
  • I wonder how suburbanites will survive. They have to drive everywhere.
  • Now is the chance to lower subway fares. Ridership will not return to previous levels. Why run empty buses? We need to build a new transportation system. Monorail!
  • Our current Mayor will close streets to cars. Pedestrian only zones so people can walk and be distant from one another.
  • How about motorcycle only roads? A Harley highway.
  • New York City was all about luxury for the wealthy before this hit. Now that many of them have left for good how about converting the completed condo units into affordable homes for the rest of us? A rent strike for universal suffrage. Rents should fall back to 1960 levels.
  • Convert failed retail spaces into community use areas.
  • Our primary is now a go! Yay democracy.
  • Delegates count. It affects the party platform.
  • Haircuts? Hey guys, let it grow! We need non-conformity! Learn about rebellion. You can stand out. The Constitution allows for it, lol.
  • We should support Amazon’s workforce. This is retail today. The virus will not go away. Physical stores will never feel safe again. It’s nice to shop at a click with a solid returns policy.
  • Movie theaters are going to have to do a lot more to get us back. YouTube has a lot of great films from all over the world, no CGI needed. Stories about people are making a comeback following a decade of shlock from Marvel (Disney).
  • If independent book shops opened across the city with a medium size sales floor people could enjoy the experience. A no children under 16 policy would be nirvana. Book shops should sell books. No toys, no stationary.
  • New York will remain closed until at least May 18. Politicians are biding (pun intended) their time.

You Tube Allows Discovery For Viewers

World cinema abounds on this platform.

https://youtu.be/3Y2pPaqcHtU

Cut and paste the above address to view a beautiful 30 minute French film about a family that takes a sea voyage around islands and sees whales. The boys swim with dolphins, explore sea life, and enjoy what looks like one amazing childhood.

The choices are yours on YouTube. Why are you wasting money on the banal service of Disney?

Heavy Metal Rules

The corporate record labels forced metal away from the mainstream. It made the culture stronger. Metal listeners are hundreds of millions of people from over two dozen countries. We love Lemmy, Ozzy, Priest, Maiden, Metallica and a zillion other artists who play amazing music. It will last forever. A creature comfort. And always regains its stature when things go South.

Metallica are still America’s best metal band. “Hardwired To Self Destruct” is amazing.

The wearing of masks is so metal! Rock on. Up The Irons! Bang thy head that doesn’t bang.

That’s it for now! Just a quick update inside the city of New York 2 months into the pandemic.