In the 1990s, I served simultaneously as editor at Metal Maniacs and at Modern Screen’s Country Music magazine. It made me musically schizophrenic and I oftentimes found myself referring to some sweet country girl’s album as “brutal” before I realized my mistake. Metal-wise, I gravitated towards the bands who didn’t even try to actually sing, but used “vocals” as a percussive element within the mix. Death metal, particularly, grabbed my fancy. I always thought power metal was stupid, black metal cool in a kind of horror movie way, hardcore, with its barking dog vocals, even more stupid (although I respected its sense of one-for-all-and-all-for-one camaraderie) and hair metal the worst.
Because I listened and loved good country music (the stuff that doesn’t get played on so-called country radio), jazz, blues, soul, rock ’n’ roll, folk and certain types of pop music, I didn’t need any melody, harmony or lyrical qualities when it came to my metal. I got all that from the other genres. So bands like Pantera, Meshuggah and all the thrash bands became my favorites. Sure, there’s exceptions to every rule and King’s X was mine.
My publisher made me change my name for the metal mags since he didn’t want the metal kids knowing that the editor of Metal Maniacs was also the editor of a country magazine. I argued that a professional music journalist could write about any genre given the proper materials. I lost that argument and became Mike G to the metalheads. Actually, there was another reason. I had started to get some death threats. Greenblatt is an obviously Jewish name and during the ‘90s, a virulent form of anti-Semitic white power neo-nazi bands started getting popular in the underground. I had given a forum to every Christian-bashing death metal band around yet wouldn’t cover any band who had anything negative to say about Jewish people. So the Nazis, mostly from Chicago, wanted me dead. Intellectually, those who complained about my coverage did have a point. It was cool in my pages to be against Christians and not cool to be against Jews? My mistake. (It was actually Christian dogma that they were against but still.)
All during this time I also freelanced for The Aquarian. My column was then called “Street Noise” and did I have fun! I remember one that started, “there’s a building in New Jersey where people are dying but they’re not sick.” It was about Trenton State Prison and those who were condemned to die on death row. To that end, I interviewed a few public defenders whose job it was to keep them alive. That was during a period of time when I started seriously reading a never-ending line of serial killer paperbacks. I became totally transfixed with the likes of Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, Joseph Kallinger, Dean Corll, Jeffrey Dahmer and many others. I wrote about Dale Pierre, the illegal alien from Trinidad who, in a one-time-only atrocity, forced his victims to drink liquid Drano in a case that would become the “Hi-Fi Murders” of Ogden, UT. I wrote about the Matamoros Mexico Murders and the crazy cannibal cult killings of those Texas college students on spring break who crossed the border and wound up boiling in a big pot. Yeah, “Street Noise,” for me, was a catharsis for my darker side.
Sometimes I’d take the stuff that was censored out of my country magazine and put it in The Aquarian. Plenty of country artists went against image to tell me stuff my publisher refused to publish. I rode with one act on the tour bus, smoked a lot of pot, met Willie Nelson when they played Farm Aid, danced with their wives at The Broken Spoke in Austin, TX, during the South-By-Southwest music fest, then got ‘em all in trouble with those same wives when I wrote about their sexual exploits after the gig. I mean, I made sure to say how the married guys made their excuses and didn’t touch the groupies but in my enthusiasm for recounting some wild orgy-styled goings-on with the other guys, what I didn’t realize is that THEY WERE ALL MARRIED. Every single one of ‘em! Ouch.