Friday, July 25, 2008


My buddy Coody from the band Ninja Gun was asked by Mass Movement magazine to write about one single event that changed his life. Here is his incredibly insightful and disturbing response:

The Death Squeal
I am a product of the American South. I was born and raised here on a farm in Southern Georgia. Every aspect of my life has been shaped to some degree by this place. It's a mixture of the extremely beautiful and the staggeringly profane. It's fried food and Jesus. It's somebody's granny saying, "Come let me hug your neck." It's blood, dirt, and diesel and a paycheck on Friday. It's racism with a smile. It's the heat.

Things move slower here and people's lives are governed by moral obligations and social expectations. There's a ready-made life just waiting for you. All you have to do is accept it and get on with it. Most folks do. You adopt the belief system of those around you and this guarantees that you will be accepted into "The Good Old Boy Network." You work the accepted jobs,you marry your girlfriend when she gets pregnant, you hate the right people,and best of all, you don't need opinions or ideas of your own. It's all laid out for you and life can be so easy if you don't step out of line. I was about 10 years old when I realized I was different.

It would have been a hot, humid summer morning in the late 80's. I would have been lounging peacefully on the couch my mom was so protective of. I was probably eating a fried bologna sandwich and watching Saturday morning cartoons without a care in the world. I've always been a daydreamer and it's always been a drag when someone calls me back to reality. On this particular morning that call came in the form of my father's gruff voice saying something like, "Put some clothes on. I need you to go help me cut some hogs." For those of you not raised on a hog farm, this phrase would translate to "I need you to help me castrate some male pigs." Now, at this point in my life I was vaguely familiar with the practice of cutting out a pig's testicles so the pork wouldn't stink, but I had never been asked to participate. With much reservation I put myself together and got in my Dad's big red '87 Dodge and headed down the road and through the field to the slab (big concrete slab covered with a tin roof and sectioned off into about 8 big pens with a long hallway going all the way down). The sticky South Georgia heat and humidity have a way of really bringing out the true essence of hog shit and on this day the slab was particularly foul. As the pungent odor filtered through me I fought to keep from vomiting. We climbed over the fence and into the pen with the hogs to be cut. My dad produced a few tools of the trade which included a scalpel, what looked to me to be a pruning shear, and some powder. I was told to grab them by their back legs and swing their torsos between by legs and hold them tightly with my knees and keep them steady so he could do the cutting.

Now I had been working with hogs my whole life and I knew the smells and the temperaments and tendencies of hogs, but on this day I learned something that transcends the boundaries of species. As soon as I grabbed the first one and the procedure was happening I experienced the most violent scene that I had ever been exposed to. My father yelling at me callously to "Hold him still damn it" while blood, piss, and shit shot everywhere. And then I heard it. The most primal noise ever created by man or beast. A vocalization so piercing that it cut straight through me and permanently adhered to my soul. The pure sound of urgency and desperation. The Death Squeal. It has haunted me since that day and I guess that's what put the rock n roll in me.

Urgency and desperation are the heart of the greatest rock n roll and in an environment that seeks to castrate and confine you sometimes you've got to squeal.


After reading this, it made me think a lot... mostly about the fact that Coody should write a book about his life. Good job, dude.

No comments: