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The Savage Animal 4.02.14: From One Fan To Another: Nine Inch Nails (Part 2 of 2)
Posted by Mikey MiGo on 04.02.2014



"WrestleMania XXX Preview": I'm not as excited about WrestleMania as I should be. I know it's a bit pretentious to say, but I always felt a certain "spiritual ownership" of the event. I rationalize this bullshit because I'm 30 years old. I've told everyone I know and have met, probably more than a few times, that "I'm the same age as WrestleMania. When WrestleMania was 10, I was ten. When it was 18, I was 18. When I was 23, it was 23." My first Mania memory was being 3 and watching Hogan and Andre. I don't remember much, but I remember seeing it. When I was 13, I got to attend WrestleMania 13. I was in the second to last row above the entrance way, but dammit, I was there. Ten years later, I found myself in Detroit for WrestleMania 23. These are moments in my life that I hold dearly and will always cherish. Come 33, I hope to get to go to continue my streak of every ten years.This all gives me the whole excuse to attach a lame connection to the biggest event of the year. It means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it's always been something to me. Like tons of folks, Wrestling just means a lot to me.

There is not a whole lot to be excited about this year. I'm going to watch and be optimistic. By the time the show starts that electric vibe will take over me, I'll get goose bumps, I'll hold back a few manly tears and thirty years of love will come rushing at me. Outside of my parents, my longest bond and relationship has been with this silly ass form of entertainment. Crazy? Maybe. Honest? Completely.

I don't care too much about the 4-Way tag team title match. The only person in the match I'm excited to see is Cesaro. It'd be cool to see the Real Americans win the match, but as much as I'm NOT a fan I hope The Usos win. They should keep it for a little while and lose it in a meaningful match up.

The Shield is winning over Kane and The Outlaws. This is a given. People are saying The Shield are going to break up, but it can't be here and it can't be against three guys who were old during the Attitude era.

The "Andre' The Giant" Memorial Battle Royal is a cool way to get a lot of people a WrestleMania payday. I think the given is that Big Show will win. I think he deserves a big Mania moment, but I have a feeling it'll go to Sheamus. I don't like it, but I imagine it to be the case. I'd like to see someone like Dolph or an oddball like Fandango win it. I think a cool curve ball would Cody Rhodes winning it and then THAT being the reason he and his brother finally break-up.

I don't care about the Diva's battle royal. Just because her husband is going to win the big match, I'm going with Brie Bella.

I have zero interest in The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar match. You'd think it'll be a good short match up, but the problem here is that both are part-timers. Brock shows up, gets overly stiff with people and does his whole bee stung monster thing and Taker shows up and does his shtick. I'm done with the Undertaker. I'm always going to be a fan and I've gotten to see him win two titles in my own Mania trips. Him showing up every year for one match is lame. It'd be different if he could still deliever interesting and fresh material, but it's a nostalgia show that distracts people from the fact that we're watching a really old man pretend to be a "dead man" beat up guys way younger and in way better shape.

Are we supposed to pretend he's a "dead man" when it's convenient for the WWE? When he found Shawn Michaels and Triple H for those four years he spoke like a man and was "human", but when he fought CM Punk and when he's fighting Brock we're supposed to just accept the fact that he's a "magical entity"? What is this shit? The whole "He's not in the coffin… no wait! He IS in the coffin!" deal would have been lame in 1994. Seeing Brock and Heyman sell that is as insulting as watching younger wrestlers oversell Jerry Lawyer's punches. I respect Taker and Jerry, but c'mon! Of course Undertaker wins.

The John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt match is cool. I wish they had more build up and a longer storyline to make it mean more, but the fact that Cena is putting over Wyatt at the show is great. Win or lose, the fact that he's facing Cena only proves just how much stock the company is putting in him. I think the safe bet here is that Cena wins, but then gets beat down afterwards so the Wyatts get their heat and Cena gets to take a break. He's sort of lost in the shuffle right now anyway.

The biggest thing this year is Daniel Bryan. I love watching this guy wrestle. I remember showing friends his indie stuff before he showed up on NXT. He is one of the best performers and one of the most engaging of all time. Already! It's clear that he is going to have one of the best nights in WrestleMania history. First off, he's wrestling Triple H. I'm not excited about this. Triple H is a great performer, but I can't remember the last time he was scheduled in a match where I actually was excited about. He had stellar matches with Undertaker, but it just didn't make me give a shit about any of his matches. When he comes out to the ring to speak or do something it takes me out of the show. I instantly have to prepare myself for a long winded promo. He has a range of delivery, but it always feels a little "off" and lacking a legit human nature. He might be the nicest guy ever and a great wrestler, but he always just felt impersonal. Good or bad. I think it's safe to say that Daniel Bryan wins. Then there's the twist of the World Title match later in the night. I have a feeling that Triple H may put himself in the match in a big heel move OR that the Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H match ends with some kind of shenanigans where there is no winner. At the end of the night, there's really no way to end the show that doesn't involve Daniel Bryan winning the belt. By hook or by crook, Daniel Bryan wins. Maybe Vince comes back and helps him, maybe Shane McMahon, Shawn Michaels, or maybe even CM Punk. Regardless, WrestleMania XXX MUST end with a football stadium full of crazy fans screaming "Yes! Yes! Yes!". If it ends this way, I have a hard time hating the show. I seriously got a little emotional putting this conclusion to text. The problem is that I've lost my trust in the company. You can't rely on the WWE actually doing this. You almost have to anticipate the worst in order to not get your heart broken by realistic expectations.



From One Fan To Another: Nine Inch Nails (Part 2 of 2)
And Unintentional Two-Parter…
I won't get too deep into an intro this time. Last week I explained it pretty well.

This is the second part of my introspective look at my own fandom of Nine Inch Nails. I can admit that I was a super fan boy in the past. The music and existence of Nine Inch Nails has been vital to my development.

If you've ever been REALLY into a band or any art form for that matter, then you'd understand the kind of impact they have on you and the kind of connection and bond that is formed. It border lines on impressive, depressive and obsessive but in the most innocent of ways.

In part 1 I covered my introduction to the band and becoming "that guy".

Catch up with part one here: From One Fan To Another: Nine Inch Nails (Part 1 of 2)

In this half of the two parter, I jump into my fandom around the time "With Teeth" came out…

The Return

Despite the fact that a lot of critics and fans seemed to hate on "With Teeth" I fully embraced it. When the promotion and tour of this album came around it was the perfect time for me to dive deep into my fan boy ways. I had a telemarketing job, extra cash and plenty of time. I had just spent my late teens and early 20's as a professional wrestling promoter. That time and experience really ate up a lot of my time. It's odd to think back that the entire run of Maniak Enterprise Wrestling lasted in between the release of "The Fragile" and "With Teeth", but it did. I did a lot of "growing up", but was still a pretty carefree dude in his early 20s.

I paid my cash and joined "The Spiral". I lurked on their message boards, but really didn't engage much. It was just cool to see cool people talk about the band I was enthralled with. With "The Spiral", you got access to their message boards, a membership card, a shirt, a poster, and pretty lackluster web exclusives but the key here was the early access to presale tickets. I paid my money so I was definitely going to take advantage.

I got my tax check back and won a decent amount played Roulette at an East Chicago, IN casino. With this and the fact I worked at a telemarketing place for way longer than any human should… I quit!

This was followed by me spending 2 weeks hitting up a handful of NIN shows throughout the Midwest in February of 2005. It was awesome. Before this, I went to my first "listening party". The new album would be played for a live crowd in select cities to build up buzz and hype. This led me and a friend to the Metro in Chicago on a weekday. It was a long trek from Indiana, but we were obsessed. We went way early, sat in line outside on the street for hours, and mingled with our surroundings. It was a good time and one of the first glimpses into the people who are fans of the band I loved.

One thing about being part of "The Spiral" was that you'd get early access into shows. Sometimes you'd get to see the sound check and sometimes you'd get the sound check AND a meet and greet with the band. Of the six shows I went to, you could guess it… not a one was a "meet and greet" show OR even a sound check entrance. The best we got was during a blizzard of coldness in Grand Rapids, MI. They let us in early to wait in the lobby while Trent and the gang practiced "The Day The Whole World Went Away" three times in a row. The same show saw Trent Reznor get hit in the face by a flying lighter during "Hurt". He proceeded to throw over the keyboard and storm off stage. The show would end early that night. All in all, I watched from the pit, from the side seats, from the back and from just about every perspective outside of the stage itself. I knew the setlists and saw the same ones a few times. I saw the same faces of fans tirelessly hitting up every show.

It's moments like that when you realize that you're not the ONLY person who is "that guy" when it comes to something you love. It's refreshing because you instantly feel part of a community but there is also that sense of broken identity where you also see folks who are clearly more obsessed and latched on. The whole community thing is awesome though. You knew the lady who passed out tickets and organized the line, you knew the procedures, you'd hear the gossip about people from the other tour stops, and most importantly you'd have the benefit of letting your nerd flag fly with great comfort. I could see why people let their lives go the route of a "dead head" or a "Juggalo". It's nice to be part of a community. I think it's those who take it too far are sadly the ones who end up getting the attention, thus making everyone look bad. It's gotta suck because at the heart of it, it's the music that sparks the community but then the community overtakes the music and meaning. Thankfully, I never felt that way with the NIN crowd. I never encountered any NIN fans in those lines that were uppity, snobbish or above a good time. I didn't quite adapt too much into their world but it was fun to observe and take in for the few stops I made during that really cold winter tour.

I'd get out to another show or two, but that was the heart of my "With Teeth" time frame. It was easily my most engaged era with the band. All those years of being "that guy" paid off.



A Second Peak?

It would feel like forever, but 2007 wouldn't be that far off. "Yero Zero" came out and it rocked. The promotion behind it was amazing and untouched. Trent got together with a media company and put together one of the coolest fan experiences I've ever taken part of.

The album is a concept album about a horrible government ruled future. I won't get into the actual themes or anything, but every few days and weeks new stuff would happen. It would take us into a fantasy future where things are bad and people are revolting against the government. Through hidden messages, hidden websites, clues, "found" flash drives and tons of detailed plots Trent released album art, music videos, preview tracks, singles and all the basics that are released with a new album. I don't care what anyone says, it was all marketing. It was creative marketing, but the end result was to provide interest and excitement about the album and world that was and is "Year Zero". It was really fun to get lost in and have fun with. There has never been anything else on the level of coolness released or done by any other band. It was innovative, engaging, and genius.

This set the bar pretty fucking high. After getting the album and listening to it a million times this would be the last time I got "excited" about Nine Inch Nails. I didn't realize it at the time, but in retrospect this was my last hurrah of being "that guy".

I wouldn't say it went directly down-hill or anything, but the fade of my "fan boy" ways really started at this point.



The Indifference
I missed them at Lollapalooza that year because of being broke. In the past I'd have sold stuff, pawned stuff, and begged for the money. I just didn't find the value in paying THAT much for a ticket to see Nine Inch Nails with a whole bunch of bands I didn't want to see. With Lollapalooza, it seems the bands can't play the area for a while afterwards. So basically, if you're a NIN fan and didn't get to go to Lollapalooza you'd not get to appreciate the "Year Zero" tour at all. This would happen again a few years later.

The albums and releases became a digital thing. Trent trail blazed the whole "pay what you want" thing. It was innovative and awesome to have access to the music that quickly. I think missing the experience of having physical property and a proper release started to damper my NIN experience. There were great songs included, but nothing to grab my soul. He'd put out a few albums this way, including a 30-something track instrumental album. All great music and it was cool to see Trent so inspired, but this really didn't translate into me caring nearly as much as I once did.

I could tell you the release years and track listing of the albums before the "digital release" era. I couldn't tell you when "The Slip" came out or any of the albums afterwards. The only exception really being the most recent "Hesitation Marks" album because it had more of a normal release, I got lost in the digital drops and the drama. And oh man… there was "drama".

Trent Reznor was never a "conformist", but at a certain point he became cranky. It was Trent versus the world. He had problems with performing on a MTV award show because they wouldn't let him have a certain set design and he'd get more and more into his own self-contained world. He went to war with the Grammys, other artists, labels, corporations, governments, TV networks, media and anyone who "crossed" him. Whenever you'd see his name pop up on a music news site it would be associated with him being angry and combative. At a certain point "strong convictions" became exhausting.



The Exhaustion
Trent announced a "Goodbye Tour". He took the band out with Janes Addiction and got everyone to come out to see the band "one last time". Before we knew it the announcement was, "NIN is gone for a while" instead of retiring. So like any die-hard NIN fan, I made it to the local show. It was a great concert with the city of Chicago in the background. It was nice closure of my NIN live experiences.

Until ANOTHER "farewell tour" hit. Trent would do a dozen or so dates in major cities via smaller clubs. This was to be THE REAL "goodbye tour". The thing about these club shows is that they sell out fast. If you wanted to get tickets you had to have a crazy trigger finger to act fast enough to get them at face value. Instead, most people were stuck dealing with scalpers and paying an arm and a leg. Don't get me wrong, it was an amazing show. Trent enlisted in a cool cast of friends and performers to join him. Chicago got to see Peter Murphy come out and be awesome. The show was great and would end up being my last time seeing NIN live.

Trent stopped NIN for a while. He teamed up with Atticus Ross and his wife to start a new project called "How to Destroy Angels".

I was not a fan.



The Realization
It wasn't just the music that I didn't enjoy, but the whole situation.

"How To Destroy Angels" isn't bad, but it's not Nine Inch Nails. It SOUNDS like NIN, but it's not. It felt like it was left-overs from past projects with female vocals. The thing that irked me was the fact it was on a major label. The idea behind it was to get the most attention for the album and to reach the most ears. After YEARS of Trent shitting on record labels, complaining about the industry, and innovating the whole "I can do this on my own and release things on my own" rhetoric it was like it was all hype. Trent putting albums out there on his own with the "pay what you want" self-release method felt right. It felt like a natural evolution of what NIN and Trent were about. Or so I thought.

To get the new project over, he went BACK to the labels. The same labels he told his fans that were evil and bullshit for over a decade. The same labels he escaped with innovation and awesomeness. He went back.

Then the next NIN release was under the SAME label. I don't want to think this way, but it's hard not to imagine a deal where it was "we'll release your new project if you let us release your new NIN stuff too". I DON'T know the details, but it felt cheap and hypocritical. I hope there's a rational take on it because I'm optimistically always looking past this.

Trent put out a few soundtracks, won an Oscar and secured his place as an icon. To me and many many people he already was an icon, but this stuff pretty much established him with the mainstream as something more than the angry goth rocker from the 90s. This would lead to a Grammy performance for him to (rightfully) bitch about, him being the spokesman or frontman or whatever for a new music streaming service connected to Dr. Dre's really expensive headphones that tweens and douche bags love, and more spotlight in general.

In the past I felt like I was a part of all of this. It was "in the know" and anything NIN was everything me. This stuff just made me feel like I was watching from the outside. I'm happy Trent is still productive and doing his thing. The difference is that I used to feel like it was "our thing". Not in a creepy way or anything. By that I mean that I felt like I was part of a team or community, "Team Trent" if you will. The lines of being a super fan and just a fan were becoming pretty defined and clear. I had crossed over from "super fan" to just being a "really big fan".

Ironically, and pun totally intended, the line began to blur.



The Question

In the middle of putting this together and collecting my thoughts something happened. It was announced that Nine Inch Nails would go on a summer tour with Soundgarden. Soundgarden is another band I hold in high regards. When I was in professional wrestling my two entrance songs were by these two bands. As a heel I'd use "Head Like a Hole" by Nine Inch Nails and a face, which was the majority of my "career", I'd come out to "Spoonman" by Soundgarden. I read this announcement and was thrilled. I got on my facebook and posted about it, I called friends, I called my girlfriend and my enthusiasm for NIN peaked for the first time in a few years.

Then slowly and surely that enthusiasm faded. I found myself quickly moving on with my life with mild excitement. Tickets went on sale and I didn't have the extra cash to get them. I don't think they're sold out and the Chicago show isn't for another four or so months, but I'm not even sure if I'll be there. I don't have it in me to keep up on all the antics, drama, and hoopla. I'd love to still feel as excited as I was about Nine Inch Nails, but it's just different. I really hope I get to go to the NIN/Soundgarden show. It could knock something loose inside me and pull that back out, even for a few hours. I'm not going to lose sleep if I miss it though. I'd like to be, but priorities change.

I think that's what I've learned from writing all of this. Priorities change. People change. I still appreciate Nine Inch Nails. I'm just not enthralled. I don't know if it's because Trent's priorities within the music and branding of NIN has changed or if it's because my own views and priorities have changed. It's both, I'm sure. The main thing is that things are changed. I'm always going to connect to certain songs and emotions from those songs. I can't see a time in my life when Nine Inch Nails won't have a place in my heart. It's part of who I am. Sadly, I'm coming to terms that maybe… just maybe… I might not be "that guy" anymore.

To quote another hero of mine and a friend Trent, "Time may change me, but I can't trace time".


What is YOUR favorite band?

Are you still as connected to them as you once were?

How do YOU explain this disheartening disconnection?



WATCH THIS!?
"FIRST WORLD ANSWERS"




"Old Boy"

Spike Lee makes art house films. There is no way to deny this. While his "era peers" like Tarantino make artistic films, Spike makes movies that are more art than flash and controversy. At the same rate, when comparing to his New York counterparts like Woody Allen or Martin Scorscese he doesn't JUST stick to the same tones and rhythms. I really think it's his blunt and bold opinionated personality is why he's not given more credit. He is easily one of the best directors of ALL TIME. Yep. I said "all time". I'm not even a Spike Lee fan boy. I've not seen ALL of his movies, but I can call them like I see them. He has a good balance of context, substance, art, and heart. When he makes a movie, he's making it out of passion not because it's a formula that worked before or it's because he "has to make a new movie every year". I don't connect or engage into everything he does, but when I do it sticks with me. Seeing "Do The Right Thing" around the age of 10 or 11 was the first time I saw a black woman naked. Thanks for that! Later on, I'd absorb the movie and realize it was a damn good film. I learned a lot from the VERY underrated "Bamboozled". "He Got Game" is one of the most underrated basketball movies of all time. I still reference and hold "Crooklyn" at a high standard to this day. I could go on and on. If Spike makes a new joint, I want in on the rotation. When I really think about it, his style and work has been an influence on my own writing and filmmaking. The latest movie he put out is "Old Boy". It's a Japanese remake of a movie I've never seen. I read the reviews that it was a violent and gory movie, but a good one to boot. I didn't know much more than that. The story follows a sleazy scumbag businessman who gets drunk one night in the 90's and wakes up in an enclosed room where he is forced to live for years. He is basically tortured through isolation and forced to rebuild himself. For well over a decade he sat in this room and lived life. He'd occasionally be shown news footage pertaining to his family. The first news cast reveals his exwife was murdered and that HE is the main suspect. This leaves his daughter an orphan. He gets little glimpses here and there through television pieces, but all in all he's alone. This goes on until he finally gets free. At this point, he must utilize all of the martial art and physical training he did to pass the time to figure out why he was locked up, to save his daughter, to clear his name and to pretty much readjust to society. He comes out a bad ass and that is where the violence hits. It's high impact and has some "oh shit" moments for sure, but if you only see that side of the story you're missing the point. This movie is intense and never lets up. It keeps throwing more and more at you, through Brolin's character, and you don't get a chance to settle in or get bored at all. It's a movie that happens so fast that you need a few days to really contemplate what was all going on. Before you know it, you realize that you just saw something pretty damn special. I have no desire to ever watch the original because I wouldn't want to tamper with what Mr. Lee gave us in this movie. It's worth it. Trust me. Of course it's underrated, but it's a movie I'd recommend for sure. If you like action movies, thrillers, mysteries, drama, and just good ass movies then you should give this movie your time. I have a hard time accepting that anyone (that's not lame) will not appreciate this movie at least on some level. Seriously enthralling. I can only hope Spike Lee's original 140 minute cut gets released so I can see this in its full intended glory. I won't watch it again until I can, but in the meantime… YOU should see this. B+


"Worst Case Scenario" is a new take on the concept of "fantasy booking". For years professional wrestling fans would spend endless hours of thinking up the coolest things that could happen. Why waste the energy? This only leads to high expectations. "Worst Case Scenario" flips that. Instead of looking through rose colored glasses, let's take a bi-weekly look at the worst possible scenarios in professional wrestling. I'm not going to be malicious or anything too mean, but I will not refrain from letting my brain come up with the worst possible shit I can. Sadly, it seems the writers and producers of mainstream TV wrestling and the mainstream iPPV level indies are doing the same thing but charging us for it. And now…

"If WCW Bought WWE!"

Everyone knows the story of WCW. It was a big time promotion that spawned out of the NWA. It gave us some of the best wrestlers, matches, and moments in professional wrestling history. If anyone says anything about WCW, good or bad, they can never say they weren't the biggest company in wrestling for a while. They built a great legacy and then had a huge boom once the nWo stable hit big. Eventually it faded and the owners of WCW lost interest in losing money and wasting time. Vince McMahon's WWE would quickly scoop up their assets and carry on as normal. They would easily kill off the company's momentum and ignore it in no time.

What if it were reverse?

Let's say the WWE didn't have a resurrection. The Austin 3:16 and Attitude Era fails. Vince McMahon would be forced to sell off his company to Ted Turner's WCW with Eric Bischoff in charge. The McMahons would go on to put out a rival promotion to the UFC in its early stages and totally destroy it. The UFC would have flopped hard as the WWE would have taken it over with ease. This is an easy out on that part of this. Then there's wrestling, a monopoly ran by WCW.

WCW would have Starrcade as the biggest event of the year, but would still use WrestleMania to feature legends and to continue with the Hall of Fame. The IC Title would be gone. A lot of the guys who "jumped ship" would go to Japan or work the independents. Without the WWE's reach, the independents would rise to a larger level because WCW would force fans to seek an alternative. One would assume Paul Heyman could have gotten funding from an outside source (Shane McMahon?!) and rose to a prominent #2 alternative.

Eventually WCW would start a Network, cross promote with Duck Dynasty, and go PG as well.

Imagine a PG nWo…. Imagine it!



"Alan Partridge"
If you haven't seen the classic British sitcom "Alan Partridge" then you've missed out on some of Steve Coogan's best work. He's one of the most enjoyable Brits to hit the American mainstream in a while. Guys like Gervais and Pegg get tons of attention, and rightfully so, but Steve Coogan is the man. He can be a "character actor" as seen in plenty of movies and television shows, but he can carry his own just as well as seen in the amazing movie "The Trip", "Hamlet 2" and as "Alan Partridge" from his own show. The character is a broken down broadcaster who has ups and downs. There are more "downs" than anything though and that's the fun part. Seeing Coogan naively keep his head up as all of these bad things happen is hilarious. It's a quaint style of comedy, but when you get hooked into the world it's awesome stuff. In the movie Partridge finds himself in a hostage situation after a DJ takes over the station he works at. From there, hilarity ensues… I hope! I'm not lacking confidence that it will though. Coogan is king.


That's 390! Well, that's enough Nine Inch Nails talk for now. I got way too introspective over the past weeks. I know this and if it was THAT tedious for you then I'm sorry. Next week I'm going to be listening to a band for the first time for a new "First Impressions". Then from there we get into the standard fare of judging and talking about music videos, album covers and all of that fun stuff. To be perfectly honest, there is A LOT on my plate right now. I'm overwhelmed to be this busy and stressed out and NOT being even close to where I need to be. I don't know how much longer I can devote this much time to typing stuff. It's harder and harder to force myself to write a column that has become a hassle. I'm just lacking the drive to keep writing a few thousand words a week for no gain. This time can be used for way more productive things. I'll spend a few hours a week on this only to see it buried a few pages in, ignored, or completely ripped off by other sites. It's bullshit and makes this not worth the effort or time. You'd think that after six or so years it would be different, but it's not. It's the same soup just reheated. I love music, I love interacting with music fans, and I've had some great experiences writing this column but all good things must come to an end. I'm not closing the door just yet, but I'm ten columns away from 400. I've always liked even numbers. I won't keep pandering in this closing paragraph about if I should or shouldn't stop. I'll make a decision soon. Between now and then I'll continue to give you the best words I can. Like "rocktastic". Until next time… Have a Great Week!





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