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  The Violent Years  
  The Black Halos  
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Okay, put the laptops down and back slowly away from the programming consoles. Step slowly through the doorway of your closeted "studio" and head down the hallway toward the door. You know the door. It opens, and you can go outside. You can remember outside, can't you? Don't get sidetracked by the art-school trendsters off in the auditorium, waxing their random bows and twiddling their seventeen pre-set distortion pedals. Keep moving. The rock we call a planet is just outside that last door, whipping 'round in dizzy-mad circles in an endless vacuum, waiting for you to join the punch-drunk parade.

You can do it. I believe in you. No, just skip right on past the rock-stars-trying-to-prove they're-difficult-and-still-alienated-despite-the-wealth-and-arena-venue-sellouts café. There's the door. It goes outside. No, don't wait until you get there to meekly push it open. Kick the goddamned thing open with your laced-high leather boots, all in good stride.

Yeah, that's it.

It's night outside, in the real world. Not a night from poetry classes or film-noir clichés. Not a night from some goth-wannbe dream world of living dead. It's just night, outside, in the real world, where the only living dead are the freaks who wonder down the streets of oblivion with you. It's raining and cold, and you're kinda enjoying the stupid misery of it all. The guy up ahead, mirroring your walk -- he could be your best mate or the next great random fight of your life, or he could just brush right by on his way elsewhere. It's all good. It's night in the real world, and it's raining and cold, and by the time you get wherever it is you're going you're going to have a nice wad of phlegm built up in the back of you throat. And that's just fine.

Off to your left, down an alley that smells of dog shit and human piss you hear a muffled beat. A crunchy g-chord feeds back on itself for a minute, then the bass kicks in to mimic the kick drum and floor toms. It's stupid. It's simple. It's perfect. You veer.

By the time you make your way through the bouncers and money-takers some rail-thin goon is swaying in front of a microphone. He'd be heroin-chic, if not for the junk tracks down his bare arms. He's got more tattoos than muscle at this point. He hangs on the mic stand just to stay alert. This is Johnny Rotten with his manic-intelligent eyes on the world, only without the intelligence.

And that's okay.

He starts to sing. The phlegm you've been nursing in the back of your throat for four blocks feels it first. The band is held together by snot and piss and excrement. It's a stupid cliché of rock. It's a mindless gig into the heart of the vacuum. It's a spin-drunk twirl on the edge of the world. It's stupid. It's simple. It's perfect.

Between the noises you pick up words. "Whoa! Start the violence!" "They're no tomorrow girls." "The one percent of you that I don't resent."

"Some things never fall."

Yeah, that's it. If you're lucky, someone will throw a punch and you'll end up covered in blood. If you're really lucky it won't be your own. Either way, it's all good. What the rain doesn't wash off on the walk home will be concealed by the night, outside, in the real world.

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