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It’s strange how one goes from casually listening to music to cultivating one’s interests.  Part of me likes to think that’s the process of becoming a teenager.  Typically, those are painful years where one’s personality and identity are often under constant self scrutiny and evolution.  For me, my teenage years started, earnestly, in Bermuda.  Much of the aforementioned pain didn’t come until after my family moved to Belgium, but the whole shaping of teenage identity got a foothold as I entered and completed 7th Grade.

That was also the year I started listening to heavy metal.  Let me back up a moment, first.  Being a child of the 1980’s, one of the big fads to hit — years late, of course — the military community was break dancing, especially with such vaunted cinematic exercises like Breakin’ 2: The Electric Bugaloo.   A lot of kids on Naval Air Station Bermuda were wearing head bands, big sneakers, and fat, multi-colored shoelaces.  A large number tried getting good at doing back spins and a bunch of other maneuvers.  Failing at that, a lot just simply did “The Robot” all the time and called that “Break Dancing.”  I was one of those pathetic white kids, who, rhythmically challenged, harbored that breakin’ delusion.

Paul, my older brother, certainly thought so, as he teased the shit out of me.   At the time, he styled himself more of a metalhead, and he had begun growing his hair out which would be, for the longest time, a point of contention between him and my mother.    Still, being a metal kid, my brother saw fit to do the most honorable thing possible, and that’ s pick on his twerpy younger brother who had yet to learn how uncool it was to be in the Boy Scouts.

One time, while he was “playfully” beating me up, I yelled, “It’s not you doing this time, it’s that Ozzy Osbourne!”  Where that came from, I don’t know, but in retrospect, there was always talk in the 1980’s about how metal was the tool of Satan — an aura that Ozzy and others readily exploited for shock value.

Strange thing is: in a matter of months, I had ditched my silly breakin’ uniform and started inheriting my brother’s cassettes, has he moved from metal into thrash.  (Around this time, he had bought Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” at the Navy Exchange.  So, I myself had gone from listening to The Fat Boys rapping about food to Metallica and “Master of Puppets.”  But then, that’s getting farther into my life in Belgium, and my time in 8th grade …

(And as an act of revenge, the photo is of my older brother) 

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