“Man, I can’t believe Metallica sold out.” Cesar said then lit his hash pipe and inhaled deeply.
It was early 2000 and also my sophomore year of high school. The only clique I had anything in common with at the time was the “rockers.” We would often hang out at a vacant lot about a half mile away from campus.
“Sold out? Of course! They’re Metallica! Metallica rocks! They always sell out every one of their shows!” I replied.
“That’s not what I mean, man.”
Cesar grinned cynically.
The pungent odor of marijuana hovered above us and lingered like an annoying friend.
“I know what you mean. I don’t agree with your cynical opinion.” I said while fiddling with the straps of my backpack.
Metallica is my all time favorite band. I was first introduced to their brand of Bay Area thrash metal in the early 1990s by an older cousin of mine.
I was immediately entranced by all of their songs! Especially, the songs that make up their first five albums.
1) Kill ‘Em All
2) Ride The Lightning
3) Master of Puppets
4) … And Justice For All
5) The self titled Black Album
Of course, most fans tend to believe that all the members of Metallica turned their backs on their thrash metal roots when they recorded and released the Black Album. Why? Because that’s the album that propelled them into mainstream rock status and allowed them to achieve worldwide commercial success. Metallica quickly became a household name because of that album and that didn’t sit well with a lot of their “fans.” Though, it wasn’t the first time that supposed “die-hard fans” were “let down” and it wouldn’t be the last.
I’m always baffled whenever I hear people talking about how they believe it’s bad for a band to be commercially successful. Sure, I know where they’re coming from but the sad truth is that if a band doesn’t achieve some kind of commercial success within a very specific amount of time they run the risk of being dropped from their record label and losing/owing a hell of a lot of money.
“It’s not just my opinion, man. It’s a fact.” Cesar flicked his lighter on and stared at the flame until it burned his thumb and he was forced to release and drop it. He quickly picked it up and stuffed it in his already overstuffed backpack. The lighter was emblazoned with the Metallica ninja star logo.
“Oh I see. So, when did you become a part of the fact police?” I said sarcastically.
“When did YOU become a part of the lame police?” Cesar replied then tried to quickly walk away but had to slow his pace due to him being very stoned. At one point he actually began walking in circles then ducked behind a dumpster and remained there for an undetermined amount of time.
That was the last time I hung out with him. He eventually tried to start his own band but they never did much other than get high and poke fun at just about every commercially successful band.
Several years later, I bumped into Cesar at a coffee shop. He looked relatively the same. He told me he stopped smoking marijuana because it became an expensive habit and he now had kids to support. He then looked down and noticed I was wearing a Metallica tshirt.
“You still like Metallica, huh?” He looked surprised.
I replied with:
“Hell yeah! Metallica forever!”
*Note: Cesar is actually a representation of more than one person I knew in high school. I also don’t condone the use of recreational marijuana but I do condone the use of medicinal marijuana. Obviously, for most people, the distinction is negligible.*
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