It was recently brought to my attention that this month’s newsletter marks the 10-year anniversary of one man’s tireless attempts to deliver the goods (or at least tip the wink) to an ever-increasing Tool Nation. Really? Ten years! It doesn’t seem that long ago that I remember telling a fellow named Adam that I would give it a shot for a couple of months until they (Tool) found someone better equipped for the job. Back then, when the band’s guitarist asked me if I’d be interested in being the writer/content manager for Tool’s websites, I repeatedly told him that, while I greatly appreciated the offer, I didn’t think I was the right person for the position.
First of all, I hardly knew anything about the band’s music. Secondly, I had little or no interest in the goings-on of the dramatis personae.* Thirdly, I knew very little about the current music scene, and finally, I was severely challenged when it came to computer technology. Hell, I didn’t even have a tattoo. “That’s okay”, Adam replied, explaining that the band members didn’t want the site to be focused primarily on Tool, but, rather about things that were of interest to them. He went on to say that while “most of the other bands’ websites were mainly about themselves”, Tool “wanted to do something a bit different.” “So what should I write about”, I asked? “Write about whatever you want. It can be one page long or a dozen.” Still, I resisted for several months. There had to be someone better suited for the job. But Adam was persistent. One day out of sheer exasperation he said, “You’ll just do it!” At that point I reluctantly agreed to try it for couple of months. At the time, I could never have imagined that it would last for a year, let alone 10 years. Yet, the most ‘frightening’ thing of all was after telling Adam that I would eventually run out of ideas, his response was, “No, you never will.” Never?..
* I was, however, a close friend of Danny’s at the time, having met him prior to the formation of Tool. Back in those early days, Dan was somewhat hesitant to talk about his new alternative metal band, knowing that I was a bit of a prog-rock ‘snob.’ Even so, I did see Tool perform in the dingy Hollywood clubs before they became a Lollapalooza sensation. In fact, I was at the Coconut Teaszer on the occasion that they signed with their first manager as well as when they got their first record deal. I’ll never forget the day when Danny asked me if I wanted to go to a party hosted by Zoo Entertainment head honcho Lou Maglia. There would be plenty of food and drinks there, he assured me, which sounded pretty good as both of us were nearly destitute at the time. At some point during the festivities, Lou tapped his glass and proposed a toast to Tool for their first platinum record (I don’t think it was gold?). I was dumbfounded. “You’ve got a platinum record?”, I asked Danny. “Yeah”, he replied, “Pretty embarrassing. None of the really good bands have platinum records.” It was around that time that he began to hang his RIAA gold and platinum record awards in the tiny bathroom at the loft. Today, all of them are still there, dusty and piss-bespattered; although I don’t think he has ever bothered to receive the plaques for “Lateralus” and “10,000 Days.” Actually, I don’t think any of the band members have. It was also around this same time (well, 1996) that I anonymously published an article about Tool on the Internet. This was a spurious exposure of the band engaging in black magic and possible ritual human sacrifice in order to increase the record sales for Aenima. Although I don’t remember who asked me to write this, I believe it might have caught Adam’s attention, and could very well have been one of the reasons that he asked me to be a writer for the band’s websites.
So… I connected with my dial-up and stared at a blank screen. What next? The only thing that I knew for certain was that much of the content, news or otherwise, was going to be from my point of view. Keeping in mind the band members’ well-known insistence on privacy (which was even more so back then than it is today), how, I wondered, could I keep readers of the site informed about things directly related to the band? After all, the content couldn’t all be esoteric discourses, forays to secret military installations, and drunken reports from the official party talebearer. Could the answer lie in cryptic allusions? Other than that spoken in strict confidence, certain things could be divulged to people if it occurred in realms supersensible (parallel earths, for example). Yes! From now on there would be a lifting of the veil of things normally hidden from mortal vision. (Note: in the event that the band members had a problem, I hired defensive attorney Nathan Thurm.) Naturally, I would be berated by those die-hard fans both unable to embrace this revolutionary concept of not focusing primarily on the band (as the band members, themselves, wished it to be) and having to make the Herculean effort to interpret puzzling passages for whatever Tool treasures were hidden in a labyrinth of confusion. Still, others relished in taking the meandrous path to disentangle the Gordian Knot. The only problem was that now everything – no matter how seemingly banal - contained hints and clues that needed to be deciphered.
As for my critics, when I addressed this growing discontentment to the band members, I was advised to simply ignore it. It was, they pointed out, the same people over and over again. Of these whiney little bitches, some, it was suggested, probably even had plastic army soldiers stuffed in their pockets. At any rate, the malcontent were free to get their info (i.e. rumors) elsewhere.
Despite pleading my case over the years, today, besides the usual ‘shoot the messenger’ mentality, I still have many detractors who apparently don’t have a clue as to my involvement with the websites. Therefore, allow me to use the 10-year anniversary issue to clear a few things up – hopefully, once and for all. The main thing that I think people should know is that I am NOT, nor ever have been, nor ever will be the site’s web-master. As previously mentioned, I am the writer/content manager, which means that, using my trusty admin controls, I write all of the news posts, promos, articles, and newsletters. I also update the tour section (once dates are confirmed by the band’s management), add photos, and generally make decisions as to what and what isn’t newsworthy. On the other hand, I am also NOT responsible (nor capable) for diagnosing and fixing problems, site upgrades (other than to make suggestions and help with the design), implementing pre-sales, and maintaining the store. This would be the web-master’s task (other than many of the store operations, which are handled by the one known as “Merch”). Another thing that readers need to understand is that because this IS the band’s official site, I am obliged to wait until certain information is confirmed as is stipulated in contracts with concert promoters, radio stations, record companies, etc. before posting it in the news section. The more verbally abusive vituperators out there don’t seem to understand such constraints.
As for the band’s fan site, “The Collective Unconscious” (sic), which is better known throughout the multiverse as the “ToolArmy”, although initially I wasn’t too thrilled by the idea, feeling that it didn’t fit with what I perceived to be the band’s ‘ideology’ (mindset, would be a better word), I nevertheless agreed to contribute ideas and help with certain design features. I now have to admit that it was an interesting social experiment, with much of its woes today being far more of a reflection of its members than its creators. Hopefully, its next incarnation will be a vast improvement, with members policing themselves, and abusers of the system paying for their bad deeds, as voted upon by the majority. And while I’m on the subject of policing the site, as content manager and a permanent council member, let it be known that I have NEVER banned anyone from the site. Nor have I lowered a member’s karma (even though I have PLENTY of karma shots to denounce someone). Actually, over the years, there have only been a handful of members that I would like to see banned, and all of them for shit that they’ve said about people that I truly care about, rather than about myself. Writing for the Tool sites, one becomes thick-skinned, indeed.
In spite of certain challenges, overall, being the content manager has been a great experience. As a writer, researcher, and self-styled “mysteryologist”, the opportunity has undoubtedly opened many doors that might otherwise be closed. Thus I am grateful to the band for giving me a chance to be read by a much larger audience. Conversely, I feel that I have contributed things of value to the band, as, over the years, I’ve often been called upon to share my areas of expertise.
Readers of the site might also like to know that in ten years of doing this I have NEVER been edited or censored by a single band member. I have also never been told what to write and/or publish (other than the occasional photo). Although from time to time they send me things that they’d like posted, it has always been with the utmost courtesy, with them usually asking if a certain plug or news item is deemed newsworthy. Think about that. A band member asking me if their own side project or thing of interest is newsworthy on their own website! As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, the band members are more inclined to promote their friends’ projects than their own, even giving a shout out to those who they don’t know personally, but who they have great respect for.
Although (and rightly so) I’ve NEVER been paid by anyone for promoting something on the site (including the Coleman Company… and I don’t recall having ever been given a free beer at the Baked Potato!), admittedly, the job did come with certain perks, including being one hell of a tax write-off. Especially when it came to traveling expenses. This included adventures with Adam in communist Cuba and in the archaeological zonas of the Yucatan and Oaxaca, field research to Rennes-le-Chateau in the south of France with Danny, partying at the large European festivals with Justin, and being taken on a personal tour of Maynard’s Arizona terroir. There were also dozens of trips to Area 51 in Nevada, as well as Roswell, Dulce and Aztec in New Mexico. Tool concerts in Hawaii weren’t bad working vacations either. Even Disneyland. Besides spending the better part of the day in a Nuremberg bier garden, or on stage next to Pamela Anderson Lee (and NOT noticing her – talk about being a Tool fan!) at a California outdoor concert, there were super bowls at Chili John’s (and living to tell about it), excellent catering prepared on numerous occasions by a tour chef who also cooked for Faith Hill and Obama, and an acrobatic Wendy’s patty on a hard-braking bus. Did I mention Japan? Whether reporting from foreign locales or right here in the good old USA, for a notoriously press-shy band, I made every attempt to bring the reader along, often taking them right into a band member’s own living room. This is something that no magazine or television reporter would ever be allowed to do. Points?
When asked what my favorite newsletter was, I told people that it was the one that I wrote during two weeks in Japan. Unfortunately, though, after MUCH though, I decided not to publish it. Hiroshima jokes might have had something to do with this, although someday maybe I’ll make it suitable for public consumption. Another newsletter that never got published was Part III of “Disneyland/Pinocchio” – an allegorical Graal Quest that was, according to one prominent occultist, “too bloody revealing.” And then there was a particular X-mas issue written by the crackling fireplace at a local pub. This was going to be as tasty as sugarplums in hard-marbled dark chocolate until my computer bit it. After the holiday, the gag simply didn’t work (i.e. I couldn’t remember what I had written).
In the past ten years, I would have to say that the most priceless moment occurred during a large festival in Germany when a very hung-over Danny (remember the half day in the bier garden) was handed a set list by Maynard that included both “Ticks & Leeches” and “Triad.” Of course the vocalist said “Good luck.”
Having shared that with you, let’s check to see if there’s any current news for the 10-year anniversary issue: While the summer tour dates have been posted, I’m still waiting for a decision to be made with regards to at least one other city. I am also waiting for the support band to be announced, although I’ve a fairly good idea who this will be. As soon as I receive the word, this will be posted in the news section. Also, with the success certain Karcists are having with the fragments from the grimoire entitled “Libri Of Veneficus Pro Tool”, it would appear that I should get my passport renewed. Once that’s taken care of, hopefully I’ll have a few extra bickies to finally purchase that ILC DOVER-manufactured Extravehicular Mobility Unit that I’ve been yabbering about for years. Remember, the suit with its 3D-Textile “Red Ned” stain proof hydrophilic fibers and polyurethane-coated nylon pressure bladders (hopefully they kept in mind the problem of Chocolate Ripple Biscuits). No wucking furries about the new Assassin spider, but there’s still the usual suspects!
Finally, there’s one other piece of news concerning the website’s writer/content manager. Earlier I mentioned that doing the site has opened doors that might otherwise be closed. Well, I’m pleased to tell you that things are looking very good indeed for the television pilot that I submitted to the History Channel for a series called “Masturbation MonsterQuest.” The show would be based on the documentary television series “MonsterQuest”, in which men who call themselves “crypto zoologists” use all kinds of high-tech equipment to search for legendary creatures in the wild. These creatures include Sasquatch, Hogzilla, chupacabra, pterosaurs, giant arachnids (Come on, who could believe such things!), Hillbilly beasts, Ogopogo, ShamWow-man and other things that simply can’t exist. Under the pretext of tracking down these elusive creatures, it seems evident (to me, at least) that these men are actually just trying to get away from their wives and family in order to jerk it in the dense forests. The only problem with this is that, for every action, there is a reaction elsewhere, and unbeknown to these deep-woods sausage-slappers, they are creating actual monsters on the astral plane. That’s where my team of world-renowned occultists come into play. Using the latest in magickal techniques, we seek out and destroy these qlippoth breed, psychic monstrosities, and all type of aethyric pandemonium created as a result of those doing the five knuckle shuffle. Something to think about the next time you butter your corn.