Wednesday, March 30, 2016

NUCLEAR ASSAULT: Autographed Crap — Up for Grabs!

Autographed Crap
Up for Grabs!

As a collector and admitted
super-fan, I love getting my
hands on rare, autographed
memorabilia from my fave
bands. How 'bout you?

I first met world-renown guitar-shredder, Anthony Bramante, when my band, Dead Serios, was an opening act for his band, Nuclear Assault, while on their first U.S. tour in 1986. By the early '90s, our bands had performed together several times, and Anthony and I had become regular pals. We still are.

Chillin' in my pool with Anthony Bramante - July 1990.
So when Anthony discovered a stack of forgotten, autographed Nuclear Assault memorabilia hidden away in his office while conducting a little recent spring cleaning, he called me up and asked if I'd assist him in hocking his crap, here on The Show Biz Guru. And since he still owes me $5 from back in '89, I figured that this might be the only way to finally settle our account. You can scroll down to see what's up for grabs!

GAME OVER - 1986
CD cover signed by Anthony and Glenn
($30 + $4 S&H)
CD cover signed by Anthony and Glenn
($25 + $4 S&H)
DVD cover signed by Anthony and Glenn
($30 + $5 S&H)
All items are personally signed by Anthony and Nuke drummer, Glenn Evans. All purchased items will be authenticated by a personal photo of Anthony holding said item. Interested collector / buyers can reach out to me via my private email address (below). At that point, I'll put you in direct contact with Anthony. And be sure to tell him that I'm still waiting for my $5!

-Christopher Long
(March 2016)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

THE PERSONAL IMPORTANCE OF NINE INCH NAILS: Or, Why I Despise the Song, "Closer" (Guest Post)

Or, Why I Despise
the Song, "Closer"

First-time Show Biz Guru
contributor, Chad Laston,
gets nostalgic  dishing
unique insights regarding
his favorite band, and his
least favorite song.

I grew up in Toledo, Ohio during the 1970s and '80s. It was a great place to live back then and a good town to grow up in. Of course by the time I reached 18, I couldn’t wait to get out of that town. But I can look back now and see that it was generally a good city and a great period of life. Our neighborhoods were pretty safe back then. School was pretty safe and I spent most of my time doing kid stuff: playing Star Wars and G.I. Joe outside, riding bikes, trying (and failing) to skateboard, going to the park, doing homework, delivering papers on my route and going to church on Sundays. We didn’t have cell phones. E.T. on the Atari 2600 was cutting edge graphics. We didn’t have the Internet yet, and cable TV was just in its infancy. I didn’t realize it back then, but life couldn’t really have gotten any better.

Mom worked at the hospital and Dad was a firefighter. We were not rich but we didn’t want for anything. I still remember when they ordered the cable TV box that was installed on the basement TV. That was such a big deal, man! Overnight, we had easily five times as many channels as the day before and it seemed like it just kept expanding every month or so, with more channels going live all the time. The cable box had an “A” and “B” selector that we could get up and manually slide over to go to a whole new world of TV shows. The “B” selector soon became my favorite switch option because THAT was where MTV landed. The early days of MTV were magical times with artists, bands and producers experimenting with videos in every way imaginable. People didn’t care if a video told a story or made no sense at all. It didn’t matter. It was a new art form and it was spectacular! It was the dawn of MTV and whether I was watching the "Moon Man" jumping across the lunar surface to that familiar MTV theme song, watching the golden mane of Adam Curry as he delivered the music news or watching Van Halen's “Jump” for the 333rd time – it was by far my favorite channel of all the options on cable TV.

MTV: One giant leap for mankind!
As more and more bands came to MTV, I began to really like some of the more obscure artists with great songs, such as “Mexican Radio” by Wall of Voodoo and “Don’t Pay The Ferry Man” by Chris de Burgh (sorry... I liked it). As time passed, the newness of MTV and the bands playing on MTV quickly started to tarnish and weather. Music had really started to become mundane and less than exciting to me. It picked up a bit when 120 Minutes started on MTV, but it was always on late at night and I seldom saw it, so I remained somewhat segregated from many of the more alternative bands that were emerging. During my junior year of high school, I came across Bob Marley while on Spring Break with my family in Clearwater, Florida, and my island vibe phase set in for a bit. I wasn’t into the metal bands at the time. Ozzy didn’t do it for me. Although Eddie was really cool-looking, Iron Maiden Nah, I wasn’t into them either. I kept on with my reggae kick and just dreamed of living somewhere warm and sunny. Everything changed in the last half of 1989 and the onset of my senior year of High School.

I didn’t get to see my aunt and uncle and cousins from South Carolina very often, so it was always a special treat when they came up to visit. I was always excited to see my cousins; especially Nick, the only boy cousin from this side of the clan. Nick was a cool guy! In my book, he was everything that I wasn’t. Nick had a cool southern accent. He was a surfer with that surfer hair style that can only be created through repeated abuse from prolonged exposure to the sun and salt water. He had the golden surfer tan and he wore killer surfer clothing with names like Billabong and Rip Curl. Nick was the type of guy that I wished I was, but didn’t know how to be. He had an edge about him that I clearly was lacking. Nick was living that island lifestyle that I wasn’t living in Toledo, Ohio.

During Nick’s visit he pulled out a cassette tape that he had obviously recorded himself. On the tape label was scrawled, Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine. Nick asked me if I had ever heard of this before. But this wasn’t anything that I had yet seen on MTV and I was pretty sure that I was aware of most of the bands out there. Nick handed me the tape and I lifted the clear cover of the cassette player. I inserted the tape, snapped it into place and closed the lid. I pressed the play button and as the player engaged, it began to hiss. I sat in anticipation within that brief moment of silence at the start of every cassette – waiting for the tape leader to clear and the actual music to play. And then… it began.

And then... it began.
From the very first sounds that hit my eardrum, I knew that there was something different about this music. This was certainly NOT Bob Marley or Peter Tosh. There was little that I recognized about the very feel and soul of this music that was playing. It was mesmerizing. The first song was titled "Head Like a Hole." The lyrics started “Bow down before the one you serve! You’re going to get what you deserve!” The words came out of the mono speaker and hit me hard between the ears… “Head like a hole! Black as your soul! I’d rather die than give you control!” The synthesized beats and loops coming out of my tape player traveled straight into the pit of my stomach and stood the hair up on the back of my neck. This was music that was unlike anything that I had ever heard before. There was nothing like this on the radio and I had never seen it on MTV. The music was poor fidelity on this copied tape, but the fact that it was copied in such poor quality, in addition to the harshness of the music itself, made it feel even more raw  and more dangerous. At the time, you simply couldn’t find this kind of music anywhere if you wanted to. No one at school was listening to this, and now it would be mine. Oh yes – it would be MINE! I was now officially a NIN fan.

High school meandered to its non-climatic closure that year and soon it was time to go off to college for the next phase of my life. With newly discovered music in hand, I was off to a new world – a whole 30 minutes away from Toledo, in Bowling Green, Ohio. Far from being my the island dream, I would have to settle for the corn fields of the Midwest. Even though it was only half an hour away from home, college really was a different world – full of all new faces and experiences. The internet was in its infancy but it was rapidly opening up an entirely new world of musical discovery that quickly drew me in. NIN, Jane's Addiction, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers quickly became some of my favorites. I sought out anything that was different from what was playing on the radio at the time. I didn’t want to be like everyone else and I didn’t want to listen to what everyone else was listening to on the radio. I didn’t want to be like them, think like them, pray like them… I just wanted to be different.

Grey would be the color… if I had a heart.
I didn’t really have to try and be different. I was different. My social skills through high school left much to be desired. Ok, I'll be honest… I had zero social skills. I was an extraordinarily shy kid all through school. I didn’t have a girlfriend in high school and I didn’t go on dates or to dances or proms. I was that shy, awkward kid that just kind of did his own thing. I still am that same guy at many levels, but not at the awkwardly weird “paralysis” level of shy like I used to be. Because of being so shy for so very long, I felt very alone and segregated from the world all through school. College was, however, my chance to try and reinvent myself. It can be hard to escape who you are in your attempt at reinventing, but I tried like hell and NIN was one of the catalysts that kept the transformation going. The song lyrics on Pretty Hate Machine were able to express all the feelings and emotions that I had at the time, but was unable or unwilling to express. The album had its moments of pure aggression and the next second could transition and drop you to your knees in emotion. I don’t remember listening to any album at the time that could make me think, I’m so pissed off right now I could take on the world… wait a minute… what am I crying for?! I’m so mad that I’m crying right now… I’m even more pissed off!” I must have listened to Pretty Hate Machine  hundreds and hundreds of times, and pretty soon I knew every lyric, every beat and every breath of that album. I felt every lyric as if they were my own. It seemed as if some of the songs were written specifically for me, just so that the lyrics could fill the holes that I carried inside. With song lyrics that proclaimed Grey would be the color… if I had a heart, this album gave me license to know that I wasn’t the only person that felt like this and it gave me a way to release all the crap bottled up inside.

I remember waiting outside of the local record store, Mad Hatter’s, for the midnight release of NIN's Downward Spiral and listening to the freaks and geeks pontificating on how ground-breaking this new CD was going to be, and how we were in the elite crowd that would have it at midnight. True superfans! There was no Amazon to deliver it next day, or downloading the song from iTunes. If you wanted it first, you were going to wait in line all night long if need be. Once in-hand, I raced back to the apartment to put the CD into the player and I listened to the tracks over and over all night long. I remember the lyrics to the song ‘Heresy’ stating that, God is dead and no one cares! If there is a hell… I’ll see you there! and I believed it at the time. We were a small group of lost souls looking for our niche in the word, desperately striving to figure out why we felt different from other people. We found solidarity in NIN and we found an outlet in our preacher and teacher, Trent Reznor. I can say that when Downward Spiral came out, NIN was without question my favorite band!!

My love affair with NIN would soon end tragically.
About a month later my love affair with NIN ended tragically. The song ‘Closer’ had been picked up on the radio in a ‘clean edit’ version and was now blaring from every third vehicle driving down the street. Worse still, every frat boy and sorority girl had selected this song as their default mating call theme song. I remember watching in horror as drunken frat boys, double fisting draft beers from the 2-4-1 happy hour at the bar, would grind against the closest willing female on the dance floor. The couples would ooze up against each other with perfect knowledge of the songs rhythm and drunkenly sing out the lyrics word for word. That was the evening that Nine Inch Nails died for me. I never traveled past the ‘Downward Spiral’ in my relationship with NIN because of this traumatic scene that is still burned into my cranial synapse. I wasn’t trying to be elitist or a scene snob or anything like that. It was just at that moment I realized that this particular music no longer belonged to me anymore. It now belonged to the masses. It was now officially commercialized and I was breaking up with NIN. It was now normal and the mysterious aspects of the band that made them so dangerous and unique were now gone forever – and I was genuinely upset about it.

I moved on from that point further down the musical relationship rabbit-hole to bands like Skinny Puppy, :wumpscut: and Unter Null, in my quest to be different and to recapture that magical feeling of hearing NIN for the first time. I can say that Skinny Puppy was my rebound relationship after things with NIN ended, and they are my favorite band to this day. BUT, I don’t think I ever duplicated that first listening experience I had with NIN and PHM. I have not listened to Nine Inch Nails much over the past ten years because of their ‘not cool’ status. I might watch the news from time-to-time and get so irritated that I play “Burn” and “March of Pigs” just to blow off some mental steam, but I had not listened to the entire Pretty Hate Machine album in many years. As I sat here listening, all of these memories came flooding back and prompted me to write this post. While the magic of that time back in 1989 can’t be repeated, the album still elicits many of the same feelings and emotions. It’s amazing how music can act as a time machine and instantly transport us back in time and memory, by just pressing the play button.

My musical rebound relationship.
Something is different now in how I look back on this history. I’m 44 years old, and I’ve had 26 years of life between now and that first listening session with Trent Reznor. I've changed and grown in so many ways. I often have expressed my disdain for my hometown of Toledo; just as I have for NIN after “Closer” came out (oh how I loathe that song). But I sit here now, recalling all of this through aged eyes and I can really see the truth of those days. Toledo was a damn fine place to grow up, the '80s and '90s were great years, and Nine Inch Nails was a damn special band at the time – one that had a profound impact on me as a person. I can’t say that the path the music took me down was the best path, but it was my path. And it was the one that God placed before me. I came out of this path having a very eclectic view of the world and many experiences that most “normal” people will not have experienced. I came out of the path much wiser knowing that God isn’t dead, people do care, and I don’t plan on seeing any of you in Hell. I also came out recognizing that the all of the ingredients of the place, the time and the music of the day, combined into a mystical moment in my life that can never be repeated.

So, I say to Trent Reznor… Thank you for NIN (except for “Closer”). Thank you for making the music that you did and thank you for that moment in time. Thank you for making music that can transport a 44-year-old guy back to 1989 and unlock the mind to all of these memories that I forgot were still in my mental floppy drive. Thank you for taking me back and giving me the opportunity to re-evaluate the past from a new and wiser perspective and the truth that… those really were the good ole days, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

-Chad Laston
(March 2016)


Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my site is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine — just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

12 YEARS SOBER: If I Can Do It, So Can You!

If I Can Do It, So Can You!

March 17th  one of my
four favorite holidays. NO,
it's NOT St. Patty's Day!

It's been proven to be the most savvy and successful con since "you know who" rolled up on Eve in the Garden of Eden. But you ought not feel like a dope if you've been duped. I too was once a slave to that oh-so clever marketing scam — a blind sheep being led to the slaughterhouse — gleefully guzzling "soul poison" — gallons at a time.

March 17, 2004  one of the single greatest days of my life. It was the day when, at age 41, the "light" finally came on, as that last shot of sweet liquor slid down the back of my throat. Oh, NOW I get it — this is STUPID! I've recounted the details of my sobriety so often over the years that most of my longtime readers can probably recite the story verbatim. However, should your curiosity be piqued, I've attached links (below) to my various past anniversary features.

In the immortal words of Pete Townshend,
"I won't get fooled again!"
Please be sure that the motive behind my annual anniversary posts is NEVER to judge or condemn anyone. I don't even take any personal credit for my sobriety. That definitely was a gift from above. Thanks, Jesus — I owe you, BIG TIME! Truth be told, I love people. And maybe, just maybe, through sharing my personal story, some sort of hope and encouragement might be received by others.

I understand fully that for some, the testimony of an aging, washed-up, wannabe rocker like me might seem preachy. And for others, even the horrifying, irrefutable alcohol-related accident and death statics still fall flat. So, to commemorate my (now) 12 (quality) years of living sober, I thought I'd have a little fun today and attempt to dispel a couple of Madison Avenue-driven, good-time, "sex, drugs & rock and roll" alcohol myths through revealing a few ridiculous, yet extremely accurate photo illustrations. Wow, drinking really IS stupid, isn't it? 

It would be funny, if it wasn't so sad.

The TRUTH will make you FREE!

Should you currently find yourself struggling with an alcohol-related issue, and in need of encouragement regarding getting, and living sober, I welcome you to reach out to me anytime via my personal email address. But remember, I'm NOT a licensed counselor. I am, however, a nightclub DJ — which is kinda the same thing.

-Christopher Long
(March 2016)

Don't miss my other
sobriety features: 

- Lucky 13 Edition (2017) -
- A Decade of Sobriety (2014) -

Discover the latest books from
author Christopher Long!

(Coming April 7, 2019)


C'MON! -

Thursday, March 10, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Bill O'Reilly "Killing Reagan"

Killing Reagan
Bill O'Reilly
w/Martin Dugard
(Henry Holt and Co. Publishing)

As a U.S. history buff with
a particular passion for
presidential U.S. history,
I knew that this installment
in the popular "Killing"
series would be right up
my alley. But what I
didn't expect, was that
O'Reilly's book would
thwack me so profoundly.

JUNE 22, 1987 - 11:00 AM

Sweltering summertime temperatures already hovered near 90° only further magnifying my flu-like symptoms.

My dad had worked for Dictaphone, a Melbourne, Florida-based electronics manufacturing plant, for nearly a decade. As an immediate family member, I would also be granted entrance into today's special on-site, outdoor event — Dictaphone's 100th Anniversary celebration. The scheduled guest speaker — the most powerful man in the world.

During the early 1960s, Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, had become well-known for making numerous cross-country trips — meeting with, and speaking to, workers at similar plants as part of his contract while hosting the popular weekly "General Electric Theater" T.V. program — before I was even born.

I remember first learning about then-California Governor, Ronald Reagan, in the pages of My Weekly Reader magazine, somewhere around 1970. As a second grader, I was fascinated to discover that Reagan had a fondness for jellybeans, as they'd helped him recently to quit smoking. Jeepers! I love jellybeans too  just like Mr. Reagan! My seven-year-old self was also quite impressed to read that Reagan would often treat young visitors at the Governor's mansion to complimentary samples of the tasty candy. Wow — Neat-o!

But this was all now of little personal significance. In the summer of '87, I certainly would not have preempted my morning hair metal Praise and Worship ritual simply to see a former Hollywood A-Lister, or a one-time Governor of some faraway left coast land. The man who was to speak today at Dictaphone was (now) President Ronald Reagan — and nothing would, or could have kept me at home — not a 102° fever, not the arena rock-sized crowd that I'd soon face, not even a half-mile walk from the final security checkpoint to my ultimate destination a prime piece of real estate located as close to that podium as possible.

President Ronald Reagan making a
June 1987 appearance at Melbourne,
Florida's Dictaphone Corporation.
The President's speech exemplified classic Reagan, plain and simple. After extending several opening pleasantries to plant management and local political figures, he quickly fired off a couple of lively jokes regarding Dictaphone's 100th Anniversary. "I'm always glad to be addressing something that's older than I am," Reagan confessed. My chest swelled with pride as the President energized the crowd of nearly 1,000 with his bold pro-America, pro-manufacturing, pro-trade, and pro-working class message.

I'd had the privilege of meeting then-presidential candidate George H.W. Bush at a campaign rally during the 1980 primary season — I was just 17-years-old. It was during that speech when I first realized on which side of the political fence I actually stood — the right side. Bush's ultimate alliance with Reagan, as the Vice Presidential nominee at the 1980 GOP convention paved a successful path to the White House — and my political passion became turbo-charged. In 1984, Ronald Reagan was the first presidential candidate for whom I was old enough to vote. And throughout the two-term Reagan / Bush administration, my true political identity became developed fully.

Ronald Reagan touring Melbourne, Florida's
Dictaphone electronics plant in June 1987
But now, at age 53, even many of the fondest memories of my personal early political awakening have begun to blur a bit. And that's what made Killing Reagan such a fantastic, personal treat. Bill O'Reilly managed to transport me back to those glorious days via a well-written type of time machine. Instantly, I found myself once again, sitting on my parents' shag-covered living room floor, taking in historic GOP convention speeches and legendary presidential debate battles. And some of those memories that O'Reilly stirred within me were particularly chilling. I suddenly recalled with great clarity, walking into my after-school job at the neighborhood record store on March 30, 1981. "Hey, what's going on?" I inquired innocently  noticing my boss and several customers standing around, glued to the TV set located near the back of the store. "Aw, some idiot just shot the President," my boss replied, in total shock.

I learned long ago that politics is a bloody, full-contact sport — one driven by raging egos, and fueled by an unquenchable thirst for power. And in that regard, O'Reilly endeavors successfully to offer readers a seemingly "no-spin" narrative — revealing a good, bad, and often downright ugly "fly-on-the-wall" glimpse into not only Ronald Reagan's life and administration, but also those of Presidents, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, the great Richard Nixon, and John F. Kennedy. A treasure trove, to be sure   especially for an admitted presidential history geek such as myself.

This fabulously life-like cardboard
Reagan stand-up was the closest I ever
came to actually groping "the Gipper."
O'Reilly's detailed accounts of Reagan's Hollywood days, early political ambitions, and the often contentious relationships between various First Ladies all appear well-researched and add significant zing, while the disturbing side story of Reagan's would-be assassin, John Hinckley Jr., delivers plenty of tension.

Kudos to Mr. O'Reilly, and also to co-author Martin Dugard, for presenting such a riveting read. Well done, indeed! 

-Christopher Long
(March 2016)

Killing Reagan

Available NOW at:

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...