The Big Shiny Prison by Ryan Bartek - HTML preview

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“THE BIG SHINY PRISON” conceptual cover art.

“Ellis Gharib” manipulation by Klaus Von Valkenburg






ATTN: To all recipients of the promotional PDF for “The Big Shiny Prison”


This electronic document is hereby offered to the public domain. 

File sharing is approved and encouraged by its author, Ryan Bartek.

Having spent a Herculean effort on this project, his only wish is that it be circulated.


Mr. Bartek himself retains the copyright & trademark to “The Big Shiny Prison.”

He currently seeks a publisher for the physical print run of this manuscript.


Mr. Bartek has one prior book release to his credit (“The Silent Burning;” 2005).

He’s been a freelance contributer to periodicals such as Metal Maniacs, AMP Magazine, 

Hails & Horns, PIT Magazine, Real Detroit Weekly & others.


Currently he tours as an acoustic artist under the alias “Jack Cassady” He is also

vocalist/guitarist for the grindcore act Sasquatch Agnostic as “Benedict Badoglio.” 

Under his real aegis, Ryan Bartek has accomplished two national spoken word tours &

performed dozens of gigs. When in the United States, he lives and works in Seattle.


To schedule an interview with Mr. Bartek, or to inquire about the manuscript, please

contact him directly through or 



Thanks in Advance,

June Mansfield

Anomie PR













(HISTORY OF A YEAR: 12.20.06-10.13.07)

c/o Dr. Ryan Bartek, GhostNomad & Benedict Badoglio































“I had to travel about ten thousand miles before receiving the inspiration to write

a single line. Everything worth saying about the American way of life I could put

in thirty pages… Nowhere else in the world is the divorce between man 

and nature so complete. Nowhere have I encountered such a dull, 

monotonous fabric of life as here in America… 


We are accustomed to think of ourselves as an emancipated people; we say that

we are democratic, liberty-loving, free of prejudice and hatred… Actually we are

a vulgar, pushing mob whose passions are easily mobilized by demagogues,

newspaper men, religious quacks, agitators and such like… 


The whole white world has at last been turned into an armed camp...”


 --Henry V. Miller 




























To Sutter Cane, Keyser Soze, 

 And All Who Get The Joke

act vi vi vi





















Introduction: SAWDUST CAESAR 


by Benedict Badoglio, former ambassador of The Alus Republic


This Book, called by its author, “THE BIG SHINY PRISON,” is actually a

long tract on what happened within the span of three-quarters of a year. During this period, Ryan

Bartek sacrificed himself to the most absurd of all addictions. Against all logic, against all laws of

self-preservation, against all conventions to which a young man his age normally submits, he

willingly & fanatically became a character in his own living novel -- the hapless, tragic pawn of

an organic manuscript shaped wholly by the winds of fate. 

Despite the lunacy of this decision, his aims were clear – he would present to the world a

frenetic expose of extreme journalism. He was determined to unveil in a fashion never witnessed

before the secretive underworlds of American fringe. He would encompass the beat and the

gonzo, lunging headfist into the deepest of tribal undergrounds in punk rock, extreme metal,

industrial, the experimental & avant-garde. He was determined to showcase the true state of

American counterculture; to challenge the academia’s status quo of travel literature. 

Thus begat the struggle, and so began the endless parade of freaks, mongrels, rock stars,

metal gods, punk icons, psychopaths, hobos, street crazies, ex-cons & clowns

 From December 20th 2006 until October 13th 2007 – for 297 days – he lived in a stasis

between worlds knowing that every action & line of dialogue, each twist & turn of fate would be

recorded. Once it began there was no escape, no life but the road. His only compass would be an

internal sense of where the manuscript should theoretically lead, and his only coordinates the

most engaging and immediate story at hand. 

In fact the title of this book itself is a fitting double entendre – not only was Bartek

journalistically sculpting his country into a dark caricature of social/political prison, but he was

literally trapped within his creation as well – imprisoned by this glowing, shiny promise of

adventure and personal rebirth. 


Yet for all the turbulence to follow, it is of utmost importance that we begin this tale with the

past, for the turgid history of Ryan Bartek is a depraved saga. True, THE BIG SHINY PRISON

begins its odyssey on December 20th 2006 -- but the chain of events which brought that moment

still cannot be explained without considerable effort.

The circles go far into the past and into the future – all centered right there, that

frostbitten December eve when the broken man charted a lone Greyhound destined for California,

his legacy concluding in utter humiliation and defeat. The man once cursed or acclaimed as one

of the most important counterculture journalists in Detroit’s history was then a mere bundle of

tired flesh, an uncomfortable superfluity -- a grotesque ghost that had once achieved a media

prestige none of his tribal background had ever acquired. 

For within a single year he’d gone from prominent figure in a multi-million

redevelopment deal that would have saved Detroit to none other than haggard trailer trash -- a

desperate, powerless Sawdust Caesar handicapped by poverty; drowning in booze, curtiled by

sundry highs, grimly watching his life’s dream irrefutably crumble into nothingness…


The pre-BIG SHINY PRISON caricature of Bartek, with his shaved and shiny block of a head,

his pouting lower lip, pugnaciously out-thrust chin, his bantam-rooster stance, arms akimbo, belly

and chest straining against a $3 pin-stripe suit fit for a Jean Claude Van Damme villain -- these do

not seem the features of diabolicism so much as they do that of low comedy.


We tend to think of him as a kind of eighth-rate pseudo-dictator, a wannabe revolutionary

genius, and ultimately, a failed insurrectionary. The fact is that Bartek is both worse than this and

far more important precisely because he built the edifice of his particular shuck upon the

emptiness of deception, delusion, and fraud. He cannot be rehabilitated. 

As distinguished historian T.J.A. Paylor puts it: “Our principle interest in Bartek derives

from his authorship of the so-called ‘Pan-Tribal Socialist Manifesto.’ Yet this ‘Pan-Tribalism’

proves to be a highly elusive subject, for in the end, this great antagonist of society had no

ideology… He was a mountebank who governed by press statement. His leadership was corrupt,

incompetent, empty.” Empty at its core, an avatar of that very heart of darkness into which Mr.

Kurtz gazes in and can repeat but a single phrase: “the horror, the horror...”


There is no doubt that Bartek had been more popular in the Detroit underground than any other

local journalist since the early 90’s. He elicited the favor of a great majority, for he was one of the

people. His mad carnival was like a counterculture Vaudeville -- propaganda offensives & street

teams, publicity stunts & radio appearances, interpersonal meetings with ambassadors from every

subculture splinter in the city. In time he’d networked a beast that grew to phenomenal

proportions, gracefully moving through the gamut of underground politics from extreme to


At his peak he booked shows for dozens of bands, hosted 2-3 concerts a week, engaged in

political activism, informed admiring radio DJ’s what their playlists should consist of, gave

dozens of “homework assignments,” physically worked to restore a half dozen venues, disc

jockeyed downtown. He performed spoken word gigs, ran international PR campaigns, assisted

contacts throughout Europe & South America, crafted 3 popular weekly music/political columns,

was a music editor at another well-respected local paper, and vital in the promotion of a

numerous Detroit record labels. 

As a journalist he’d written quite a few newspaper articles on Detroit unity, but as a

politician, he nearly succeeded in rendering his intended transformation. He created, through the

power of media, a great drama of fringe history in which 20,000 elite Detroiters were the

protagonists, and the outside world the astonished spectators. He always knew how to speak a

language the people understood -- he had all sorts of feelers and antennae that made him grasp the

trend of popular mood and suggested to him the right attitude, the right slogan to whip popular

passion to a frenzy.

There were few major problems of our times to which Bartek did not offer his dazzling

answer. His tone always suggested self-assurance, if not megalomania. Dilettante, approximate,

and rambling in his views, they were, nevertheless, expressed with magniloquent eloquence. The

outside world offered its powerful co-operation by admiring the performance and attributing

wondrous qualities to the chief performer. Who would deny he was a great man, when they

themselves cultivated and solidified his myth?

Yet the attribute of greatness that was once so lavishly poured on him is applicable to

only one of his characteristics, which was the predominant one of his character. He was the

greatest “HAM” that ever existed -- the most intelligent imitation of what, according to him, was

propagandic genius. Sometimes he overplayed, sometimes he was astonishingly effective -- but a

ham he was all throughout. 


The recollections in his autobiographical writings, as well as the declarations by his henchmen

and associates, are self-serving or, more to the point, self-mythologizing. One would search in

vain for a rational, evolutionary pattern to his development. “Illusion is the sole reality of life,” he

proclaimed, and Bartek lived his maxim to the fullest.

Facts are hard to come by in the early life of Ryan Bartek. Whatever else he would

become, the boy born on April 4th, 1981, in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, would be almost

always and above all a huckster. He is eager to paint his adolescence in hues that presaged his


Lex Luthor-like dimensions of permanent greatness as foreordained and inevitable, but most

likely, his development was not unlike any other vicious problem child with a flair for artistic

creativity. Certainly he was persecuted as an outsider, but it also seems clear that he equally

brought this upon himself and, indeed, even cultivated it. 

It is typical of the angry, disturbed loner over time to gain confidence by projecting of

himself the ice-cold persona he so wishes to become. It is a natural tendency to overcome despair

through re-creation of the self. In 90% of cases, this tendency manifests itself as short-lived

rebellion during the teen years, running its futile soft-belly course. 

But not for Bartek; from the age of 14 onward he was a die-hard that espoused every

fanaticism of his era – socialism, tribalism, anarchy, occultism, anti-right wing militancy. By the

time he’d integrated himself into the burgeoning Detroit underground, he’d already set upon the

creation of his rebel empire by combining dozens of youthful factions throughout the

Metropolitan area. He had a term for it – “The Prozac Nation” [which, Mr. Bartek claims, was not

in any way inspired by the book of the same title].

By 16 he’d gone from isolated, suicidal loner to being a figure of some importance. He

was respected among his brethren; an outspoken, miniature dictator, commanding his own crew

of thugs and vandals. In the language of mainstream America, he was a gang leader – a sort of

trench coat mafia” prototype, as the term developed in the late 1990’s. He was a prime example

of the pre-Columbine “Dark Age,” yet neck-deep in punk ethos…   

As 1998 began, “The Prozac Nation” collapsed under the stress of internecine – fist-

fights, drug addictions, theft, suicides, overdoses, prison terms, tethers, ideological zigzags,

mental hospital internment. From the ashes a dramatically small circle was left who, within due

time, soon ruthlessly devoured each other. It was from this chaos -- the abysmal year of 1999 --

that Bartek spiraled into a drug-laced, suicidal maelstrom lasting 3 long years. 

In the end, fleeing to self-appropriated quarantine, he embarked on the creation of his

first book The Silent Burning. It was equally an attempt at brutal self-therapy as it was hypnosis

propaganda meant to radically terraform his generation into sending the gates flooding wide open. 

It took two years of expanding his influence before he discovered that very outlet as an

intern at the 2nd largest free weekly in Detroit. With 70,000 copies per week and an estimated

readership of 150,000, Bartek thrust everything into his mission. 

His first order of business was not learning how to be a professional journalist -- it was to

maintain the hostage situation he now held over the media, and milk every last drop in order to

leave psychological claw marks upon world history so savage that they would likely take

centuries to heal. His untainted freedom of speech was mainly due to the editor’s appreciation of

his fiery rhetoric, and the editorial department’s gross ignorance on the subjects in which he was


For the first time in history, a major Detroit newspaper was promoting militantly

aggressive punk rock, Scandinavian black metal, horribly insulting death metal and grindcore; the

most debaucheries industrial, the harshest governmental conspiracies, the most fringe authors and

subcultures. The media, unaware of his demented agenda, went along for the ride, spreading his

myth and gazing onward with approving smiles. 


The intervening years were crucial ones for Bartek, full of drama and, at first, triumph. What

began as a far-fetched scheme developed into something far more substantial. Suddenly this

nerve-shot, haranguing freak became the “Voice of Detroit” in many international eyes. Aided by

the amazing network dozens of press agents blindly left in their wake, he assumed more than

3,000 media contacts from across the globe, and formed his own press release company


In true P.T. Barnum fashion, he began promoting himself as if he were John Gotti, and

answered all online correspondence as if he were one of two young attractive females working as

secretaries for him. The prank was astonishing in its effectiveness. The underground spread its


legs wide open, the media jumped on the band wagon, and all bands were anxiously waiting to

work with the mysterious giant who had single-handedly taken Detroit by storm.

He convinced major radio to start backing underground bands, tailored a solid network of

musicians, venues & promoters -- widely augmented demographic album purchasing patterns the

midwest. He directed tour traffic, convinced larger labels to check out dozens of small bands,

pulled every ace out of his sleeve. There seemed to be nothing that could stop his adventures.

The centerpiece of Bartek’s strategy was pompously called “ANOMIE

INCORPORATED.” His alternative to disunity in the music scene was one blanket

production/promotion company meant to assist in the regulation of activity amongst all who were

swindled into it. 

ANOMIE INC was a thing to behold, although it was, of course, seething with

corruption. Its imposing structure was like that of a building that has no trace of sanitary facilities

or of sewage. Still, it was a propaganda machine that found him integrated directly or indirectly

with hundreds of live music shows. 


Bartek worked hard to counterpoint the image of a steel-hard ideologue with that of a humorous,

intellectual, freak mutant. Most were impressed by the charming, smiling, soft-spoken manner he

adopted in private -- a welcome contrast to his strident public persona. They always convinced

themselves to view him in the best possible light, and they accepted the charming self as real and

the swaggering, hellfire self as mere play-acting for public consumption.  

The exercise of media preeminence had brought but few changes in his habits or tastes.

Recording Industry Illuminati and Press Elite were always ready to go the whole way to please

him, although never stopped being on the qui vive for they knew he was strange and different --

and certainly not one of them. Nor did he feel at ease with them.

If Bartek had a driving need to amass power, it was not so he could live like a king. For a

man of his position his personal life was rock bottom. He worked up to 4 odd jobs at once, barely

scraping by, every dime fed into the ANOMIE INC machine. His relationships with women were

stormy at best, and generally traumatic. He picked cans, ate out of dumpsters, lived off the

Wendy’s $1 menu. He duct taped his ragged Payless shoes together, shoplifted at every

opportunity, sold bags of grass when money was tight. For this all powerful media tyrant was

quite shabby, unshaven, and ill-kempt in person. Bartek could have had more, much more. 

He worked hard, staying up for days at a time building his designs. Often he was so

distant he spoke only to friends & family as if they were crowds at a public gathering. His only

official public appearances were scant, and all other times remained a shadowy chameleon,

unable to definitely finger in a crowd. Everyone knew who he was, yet no one knew what he

looked like. There were rumors that he had facial reconstructive surgery every 6 months in


Night after night he locked himself into his computer, shutting his door as if he were a

man sealing his own tomb. When broken from his trance he could be found silently drinking

coffee unnoticed at a donut shop or 24-7 Coney Island. Often in the middle of the night he could

be discovered at Onyx’s trailer, haranguing street kids and shit-faced madmen at 4am, or fondly

battling them in the streets with lead pipes and boa staffs. 

Yet he could have at any time partied with The Pistons, Kid Rock, ICP, Ted Nugent, Bob

Segar, always refusing any possible invitation into those worlds. Professional models, burlesque

dancers, stunning females always eyeballing him in public. Was it agoraphobia or misanthropy

that kept him in isolation? It is yet another mystery to which we have no answer. 


Not knowing where to stop and not being strong enough to stop, Bartek was going to be ruined no

matter if he won or lost the media war. He vaguely comprehended this as he decided the time was

ripe for a coup. His moment, he believed, had finally come. 


He then seduced the local publisher Elitist Publications to release The Silent Burning

amidst considerable apprehension, assumed the editor post at the other local free weekly Jam

Rag, began throwing 2-3 shows a week, formed his long-awaited band FILTHPIMP, and

simultaneously was handed 3 weekly columns and unlimited free reign at Real Detroit Weekly


He inked the contract, built up his books release amidst sensational hype, and waited as

the seconds ticked by for the grand release party on Saturday, January, 8th 2005. Cackling as he

realized his master plan had finally come to fruition, he muttered, “I’ll cook ‘em a stew they’ll

choke on...


The coup was comical in its failure, acute like the forebodings of immediate ruin. Ironically, The

Silent Burning created the exact reverse effect of everything he had worked so diligently to

achieve. Within the span of 2 months, his book had ushered forth what was perhaps the highest-

speed career suicide campaign in the history of the city. 

Many times the people had thought that Bartek had gone too far, too controversial, or

vastly overextended himself, and every time they saw him coming through as the avenger of

mediocrity. The Silent Burning, as far as the people were concerned, was his wrong turn. 

It might have been all right to plunder the character assassinations of local celebrities,

give scathing reviews equal to that of a prison reaming, install puppet dictators as the bookies of

venues, pimp GG Allin onto 14 year old children, declare black propaganda guerilla war

campaigns on major radio, bully bands into mutual proactivity, hustle his henchmen into media

internships; to sensationalize, to hype, to blackball, to obsessively prattle on about the coming

New World Order and The Illuminati… Demagoguery and the spirit of the carnival could go a

long way in making bearable even the most absurd rhetoric -- but The Silent Burning was quite a

different thing. 

For Detroiters who’ve never known such filth-ridden, insulting, brutal misanthropy, it

was a shock of alienation which coursed through all the circles. The inner circle felt it much

before the greater whole. Once The Silent Burning had entrenched itself into local consciousness,

Bartek’s stranglehold was doomed. 

He became desperately unpopular in Detroit. Bands refused to book with him, venues

promptly fired him, radio stations ignored him, Jam Rag dropped him, local papers blackballed

him, scenesters decried him, editors heavily censored him, labels shunned him, distributors flatly

declined to sell his book. 

The wooden, cardboard setting of ANOMIE INC started crumbling to ruin, and he

appeared pitifully helpless. He had no stage and no audience. When that grotesque mask -- with

its square jaw and beady red eyes fell almost of its own weight -- it revealed an utterly desolated

spirit. The only answer Bartek gave to the maelstrom was to feebly say over and over again,

“…it’s my ruin, my complete ruin...” 

Bartek had created all the conditions which make betrayal inevitable, deluding himself to

feel a link in a long, long chain -- a segment of a universal, almost cosmic conspiracy. In the

minds of all at Real Detroit Weekly there was but one question differently phrased: could the

media do without him? Was or wasn’t Bartek’s dismissal the only guarantee of survival for

credibility? Some wanted him re-installed and reinforced. Some wanted to have him cast aside.

Some just plainly didn’t know what to do with him.


But practically no one was afraid of Bartek, as if his ties with all factions, even that of his most

fanatical supporters, had been cut -- and all factions were united in bringing the lurid episode to a

close. He was the pawn of the game, not the one who plays it – and his dismissal & blackball

from public view was a solid reality.

For there was no revolt against the newspapermen, not a single crustie decided to go out

and burn a stack of magazines for him. Instead the advertisers streamed in, he was replaced by a


fiery young clone, and the scenesters -- not seeing any press possibilities in Bartek -- felt that

nobody was a supporter, that nobody ever had been, and the whole thing had been a long, ghastly


He was always a baffling character, but nothing he ever did was as baffling as the way he

vanished. His hostage situation over Detroit had, overnight, melted away, and the large majority

of scenesters went hoarse shouting “DEATH TO RYAN BARTEK!!!” He was still closer to them

then any other journalist or promoter, accustomed for years to paying him lip service, but this

time as an immediate, tangible object of execration. The most frequently heard comment, aside

from “Watch out or he’ll silently burn you,” was “Death to the Freewheeling Monkey.” 

In those weeks of popular rejoicing the people acted as if, once Bartek had vanished, his

pull amongst the International Heavy Metal Illuminati had disappeared with him. Yet from that

night onward, he was replenishing his resources in ever growing strength…


Perhaps, he thought, he could still re-conquer the confidence of the people. He had a key, “a

secret key,” as he said, that someday he was going to use and things would thoroughly change. In

light of June 6th, 2006 (6.6.06), we know what his secret weapon was. 

He would wave again, as in the days of his youth, The Black Flag of Pan-Tribal

Socialism. He would appear once more as “The Revolution” and by going radical, he could

outflank his rivals. In this void “THE ALUS REPUBLIC” was born. 

THE ALUS REPUBLIC was a direct reference to the Nostradamus prophecies. The

“Fourth And Final Beast” was said to be a conglomerate of all the factors embodying the end of

times, all backed by what seemed an ideology vastly more disastrous to human kind then

Marxism, National Socialism, or NSK. 

First, Nostradamus stated, would come “MABUS;” Second “ALUS.” Recruiting a lineup

of degenerate mercenaries to spread their filth-ridden musical wings, Bartek changed his band

name from FILTHPIMP to A.K.A. MABUS, and abruptly declared all that was left of his empire

in Detroit as “THE ALUS REPUBLIC.” 

A.K.A. MABUS’ beginnings were messy, and nearly all shows terrified the audience

with half gazing hypnotically at the bestial madness on stage, the remainders pressed against the

wall, if not walking out the venue in sonic protest. Too punk for the metal crowd, too metal for

the punks, too soft for the hardcore, too aggressive for the indie, too zany for the hardboiled, too

experimental for the rockers, A.K.A. MABUS was like Frank Zappa with a bullet belt and

corpse-paint, the Marx Brothers gone grind with a Discharge flair. 

A mountain of televisions onstage emitted hundreds of clips from horror films,

pornography, propaganda newsreels. Small Jehovah’s witness-styled pamphlets were distributed

before their performance declaring the coming of MABUS with the group members themselves

as prophets of this coming era. They dressed wildly different on every occasion, playing different

characters, lyrics making a complete mockery of rancid music scenes worldwide. It was a last-

ditch attempt to deliver one final savage and fatal blow to the Detroit music scene. 


Unleashed on 6.6.06, “The Mabusvanian Conspiracy” was both the heralded ideology that

Nostradamus forewarned and simultaneously Bartek’s attempt to build himself on the

international level. It was the sum equation of all he’d ever believed and fought for, this self-

styled revolution he dubbed “Pan-Tribal Socialism.” Here Bartek presented the world with his

dark vision of the future. The career suicide of The Silent Burning was then turned into

Millennium Falcon warp speed overdrive. 

Under the alias of “The Propagandist,” Bartek aggressively transmitted this manifesto to

all corners of the globe; a transformational propaganda manual of sorts advocating multi-

spectrum radicalism. The glue “The Mabusvanian Conspiracy” uses to weld his disparate ideas

together runs the gamut from guerilla media infiltration, to mind control, to belligerent empirical

designs on international subculture. Its theories are extremist, immoral, absurd, even comical in


places – at times an absolute caricature of itself -- and seem to promise catastrophe if taken


Despite the attempts of many fringe notables to champion him a gutter philosopher of

exceptional caliber, his contribution to the history of ideas can rather be found in his clear and

forceful articulation of numerous shtick already in circulation rather than any thoughts of his

own. His influences were more than likely the high-brow satire of LAIBACH and the CHURCH

OF SUBGENIUS. But somehow The Conspiracy has been embraced by a growing cult fan-base

and its lunatic plan has actually been put into effect.

This was the last dream of his downfall. For his position, his role in Detroit history was

now the stake of all games. But actually it was late, far too late. He could only watch around him

people play games in which he had been the supreme master. Starting from his dismissal at Real

Detroit Weekly, these last 393 days gave to the underground a repeat performance in which the

played out old mimic offered the public a gruesome, demonic imitation of his former self. 

For Bartek at the end of his career rendered the service of presenting all of Detroit with

the most sordid, undiluted form of psychological warfare that was such as to ruin the memory of

all his past performances even in the most uncritical minds. 

The entire underground community resisted. They mocked his Pan-Tribal manifesto,

ignored his journalism, refused to attend his shows, deleted him from MySpace, declined to play

alongside A.K.A. MABUS. They acted to his face as if he were invisible, and when cornered,

abruptly blew him off or looked the other way. 

Bartek and his few remaining acolytes were made to feel they had no power, that A.K.A.

MABUS was not punk rock, that they were not “true” metal. But the most important thing was to

make them realize they were a joke – just a freakish assemblage of doomed men who for some

reason were enjoying a too-prolonged stay of execution.


The writing was now blazing on the wall. By September 2006 all rational hope for victory was

long extinguished. His last months were blackened by terrible shows, personal apocalypse,

substance abuse, financial stress, automobile difficulties, barren weather, and a thousand jaw-

dropping betrayals…

A.K.A. MABUS bickering endlessly, his mother battling cancer, his street family 10,000

miles away & all remaining close friends spread across the breadth of America. His ex-wife in

prison over one Vicadin, his brother on life-support from dead kidneys, His freshly ex-girlfriend

pregnant by another man & his latest romance sent away on Valentine’s because she was going to

do 6 months in jail over a single roach… 

By early winter he’d suffered attacks described as “nervous collapse” and “an absolute

loss of energy and intelligence.” He was perpetually sleeping 12 hours a day or more, staring at

the ceiling from his broken mattress, lost in torrents of the slowest, most punishing doom metal in


The more he shut out the world, the more the PR people came at him. At any moment he

could have members from Judas Priest, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Emperor, MANOWAR

call his house. He could travel to New York or Los Angeles for invite-only record release parties.

He could tour with the bands he worshipped in his youth writing lengthy stories about his

experiences for Metal Maniacs, PIT Magazine, Hails & Horns, AMP, or any of the dozen zines he

now wrote for. Yet he simply would not pick up his phone, haunted and jaded by the emptiness of