Scrap or Die: Metal Thieves Are Tearing Cleveland Apart Piece by Piece
One sweltering afternoon in July, I found myself breaking and entering into a derelict warehouse on the east side of Cleveland. I was in the middle of a crash course in metal theft from a man named Jay Jackson. Dressed like a plumber with a crumpled blue baseball cap on his head, Jay’s muscular physique belied the fact that he was once a crackhead. These days his life still revolves around illegally acquired goods, but not ones smoked, snorted, or injected: Jay makes his living stripping copper and steel from abandoned buildings like the one we were sneaking into, selling his yield by the pound to scrapyards for quick cash.
“Scrapping is just like being an entrepreneur,” he said, leading me toward a gaping hole in one of the warehouse’s walls, which we then scurried through. “It’s just a job, and you can make as much money as you put into it.”
Earlier that day, I’d used Google Street View to map out our jaunt through the epicenter of the city’s thriving scrap trade, the neighborhood known as Central (counterintuitively located on the east side of town). But the building Jay and I broke into looked completely different from what I had seen on my computer screen. The photos on Google, taken in 2009, showed a tidy vacant office building with nearly all of its windows intact and sturdy wooden boards blocking off its many entrances. But now it looked like the aftermath of a drone bombing in Afghanistan: every window was blown out, every orifice torn open. The stinking carcass of a rodent was splayed on the floor. The drop ceiling had been ripped down, revealing empty tracks where ventilation, piping, and wires once snaked through the building. I couldn’t believe that we were only a ten-minute drive from the stadiums, skyscrapers, and fine dining of downtown Cleveland.
The place may have looked like a dump to me, but to Jay it was a treasure trove of unknown proportions. “I could bring my torches in here and cut that steel box right over there,” he said, tiptoeing as he critiqued the work of the scrappers who’d already hit the spot, rattling off a litany of different ways to dissemble the building “properly.”
In part two of Fresh Off the Boat - Mongolia, Eddie checks out some questionable meat at a market in Ulan Bator, attends a massive outdoor metal festival, and learns how to make khorkhog at one of the country’s first truly modern restaurants.
Watch Fresh Off the Boat – Mongolia, Part 2
On a busy side street an hour from the center of Bogotá, Colombia, the Communidad Pantokrator meets every Saturday to rock out in the name Jesus Christ.
We spent an enthralling evening in Pantakrator’s mosh pit of raw emotion and got a glimpse of how some cast-off rockers have found community and resurrection in the crashing cymbals and sweet arpeggios of Christian metal.
In the 1990s, as grunge and rap surged, metal faced a crisis. Bands were forced to enter survival mode and, consequently, did weird things to adapt. In Volume 1 of Metal’s Lost Survivalist Endeavors of the 1990s, Chunklet examines the case of German shredders Helloween.
Truckers in the Wild: NYC
Truckers in the Wild is a six-part series on VICE created in partnership with Hellmann’s. The show follows New York City chefs, brothers, and cookbook authors Max and Eli Sussman as they explore the food-truck phenomenon by finding the best food trucks in six vastly different culinary cities across the country. Together, the brothers learn about the trucks in their natural habitat, and then drive with them out of their comfort zones to see how their menus stand up in completely unnatural environments.
In this episode, the Sussman brothers take the cutesy New York cupcake from the chic streets of Soho to a Brooklyn heavy metal bar. Can cupcakes tame the hearts of these hardcore rock ‘n’ rollers?
Watch the episode
is this the best use of Metallica Font ever?
Remembering Dimebag Darrell, Because No One Else Seems To
Why doesn’t anyone give a shit about Pantera anymore?
Last Friday, I attended an organized tribute/toast to my favorite (dead) guitarist, “Dimebag” Darrell. Though the venue billed the event as “annual,” this was the first New York-area “Dimebag” memorial I had heard about since the Pantera guitarist’s death in 2004, and I did not want to miss it.
I own a fair amount of Pantera gear, but I decided to keep it low-key and sort of preppy that evening. I was hoping to walk in the bar and have all these metal dudes think, “Who is this fucking nerd? I bet he doesn’t know shit.” And I would be like, “Au contraire,” and rattle off a bunch of Dime facts and take a lot of shots, so the metal dudes would be like, “Holy-shit, this dude fucking rules.”
The toast took place at a bar called Idle Hands on Avenue B at 11:59 PM the night of December 7th (Dimebag was shot to death on the 8th, the same date as John Lennon). The flyer promised five-dollar “Black Tooth Grins” (Dime’s signature cocktail) and a Pantera Power Hour to begin promptly after the toast at midnight. We arrived at 11 PM, hoping to beat the crowd but were surprised to find the bar already packed with drunk people. I had never been to Idle Hands before and didn’t really know what to expect, but I was surprised by the straightness of the patrons. They didn’t seem like quintessential Pantera fans. But, then again, neither did I.
The venue was vaguely 90s hard rock themed, complete with Porno for Pyros posters on the wall and “Spoonman” on the stereo. I guess I was hoping for more of a “Duff’s”-style metal bar, but I wasn’t too disappointed. My group of friends was lucky enough to find a table, so I went to the bar to grab enough Black Tooths and beer to last us through the toast. I turned to the long-hair immediately to my left, gave him a friendly nudge on the shoulder and said, “Fuckin’ Dimebag, right?”
He gave me a confused look and replied, “Um… No thank you.”
OK, I thought, wrong dude. I turned to another guy and tried again.
"Coke or weed?" He asked. "I didn’t even know they sold dime bags anymore."
Frustrated, I headed towards a guy wearing a Morbid Angel shirt standing near my table.
"Fuckin’ Dimebag, right?"
"Darrell?" He replied. "Yeah… Pantera’s cool."
The metal scene is traditionally a very macho place. Think long, sweaty manes coiling down the backs of men in black leather, licking their Flying-V guitars as they thrash on stage. Metal is a nerd’s night out. It’s just weird like that. The pit in generally a boys club too. Of course, this has changed. It’s not 1980 anymore. The big-haired, high-cut-bikini-wearing metal groupies are now metal mosher’s or metal musicians themselves. The gender issue has been talked about, but what about black women in metal? Lita Ford has spoken, but where is Tamar-Kali?
In her debut book, What Are You Doing Here: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation In Heavy Metal, music journalist and hardcore metal devote Laina Dawes uncovers black woman’s voices and stories of participation in punk and metal. Being a fan who was tired of the “what are you doing here” looks at shows, she decided to rip open the subject by talking to other black women in the scene. Covering topics from racism, to black woman’s sexuality to personal interviews with women such as Sandra St. Victor, Tamar-Kali, MilitiA and Diamond Rowe, Dawes vowed not to miss a beat. I wanted to know what it was like for Dawes trying to find the black female perspective in the super macho world of metal, so I asked her about it.
VICE: The second chapter of your book is “Metal Can Save Your Life”… how did metal save yours?
Laina Dawes: Metal is commonly perceived to be the outlet for white men to vent their frustrations, to release anger and to escape from their everyday pressures. As a black girl growing up in small-town Ontario, I found that metal helped me express my feelings of alienation and frustration when no one else would listen, or as I thought at the time, cared. What interested me about this project was that many of the women I interviewed felt the same way. As women, and as minorities, the ‘voice’ of black women’s experiences is commonly ignored, and the music served as a way to get those feelings out, and to create an individual way of expressing themselves. You can scream, pump your fists and allow yourself to feel in the same ways as ‘white men’ are ‘allowed to express themselves in the metal scene.
As a girl who plays in a punk band I understand the gender part for sure. Punk/metal are not commonly a woman’s place, especially metal, which is very macho, traditionally. Did you ever play in a band?
No. I do come from a family of musicians, so music was an integral part of my growing up. But I did take guitar and played bass in high school. I lost interest was because I thought that there was no way I would be able to join a band. Who would want me?
Take a Stroll… with Rob Delaney - High on Fire
Dear Matt Pike of my favorite band High on Fire,
How in the name of Fuck do you rock so hard? I can’t even handle it. Your music fuels my days and nights. I am indebted to you for traveling to distant lands to study the filthy ways of the diabolical metal tomahawk assassins and bringing their fury back to my face and ear drum holes. I am but a little Nancy boy and would probably be eaten by a Death Falcon the moment I dared step off the edge of the Earth to follow you.
Anyway, I read that you’re in rehab now. And really, why wouldn’t you be? You make Frodo look like a very seriously embarrassing pussy. You would have hit one chord on your blood covered Les Paul and Sauron would have pissed himself and flooded his subterranean weapon forges with sissy piss, halting all operations and allowing Gandalf the freedom to just fly around on the back of a dragon, drinking Wizard Fresca and banging fairies and shit, instead of having to help Hobbits all day like a chump.