What's That Noise?! [Ian Kallen's Weblog]

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20070315 Thursday March 15, 2007

Deja Vu

Do you ever meet somebody who reminds you of someone else and have to remind yourself, "No, don't mix up the two"? An odd moment fell upon me when I accidentally found myself watching Some Kind of Monster on TV the other night. There was a flashback. And then a flashforward. Ya see, when I was a teenager, our crowd, we hated the music industry and wanted to subvert it by any means necessary. Disco music and the just-following-orders spineless vermin that ran the press establishment and radio stations (the program managers) amused and sickened us. I had a radio show on KUSF and actively tapped underground music scenes, looking for that undiscovered stroke of worldchanging noise. Perhaps my efforts of the last 15 years or so building applications on the web are an extension of the same jaded disdain I have for the media establishments. They're in-bred pay-for-play following-orders brain-washers. Let me tell you how I really feel. Complacency is not an option.

I haven't seen them for a few years but when the lot of us were teenagers, I used to fervantly headbang with my pals in Metallica. They lived in a house on Carlson Street in El Cerrito. We drank a lot. And listened to New Wave of British Heavy Metal acts like Tank and Angelwitch. And though they weren't Britons, we listened to a lot of Merciful Fate, too. Here's a picture of us, long straggly hair, pimples, listening to Venom no doubt and expressing a whole cargo ship full of fervor.

Photo courtesy of umlaut, thanks again Brian!
Fast forward to the 21st century. In the past few years, I've run into Jeff Veen a number of times in professional and social situations. I don't hob-nob in the web 2.0 "scene" much but when I do, there's Veen. He's not famous for too-loud/too-fast/too-go-f*k-yerself sounds of pummeling. He's not famous for alienating fans trading his goods on peer to peer networks. But he's known for his web design sophistication. He's usually a bit happier, too. See, look at the picture. Happy guy!

What does Jeff Veen have to do with James Hetfield? "He looks like James Hetfield of Metallica." I mean, they both have first names that start with "J". Coincidence? I think not.

Hetfield rides tricked out choppers. I don't make it to San Rafael much except to visit Bubbe (I hope I make it through the long haul the way she has!). But if I lived in San Rafael I'd probably run into Hetfield all over the place; our kids are similar ages so we'd probably share Thin Lizzy on a boombox while the offspringlings are in the sandbox. When I was living in The City, I'd run into Kirk Hammett all of the time (like, the vegetable isle at Whole Foods).

On the other hand, I work in the South-of-Market part of The City and Veen is oft spotted tooling around in a mini-cooper. I don't think he's into Merciful Fate or Thin Lizzy. But then, I've never asked him.

"Hey, what's James doing driving 'round here in that? Oh, yea... that's Jeff Veen."

Hetfield and company have composed sonic booms such as "The Frayed Ends Of Sanity" (And Justice For All)

Veen on the other hand published about The Art and Science of Web Design

Hetfield goes on stage and exhorts about anger, misery and suffering. 50 thousand pairs of finger-and-pinkie horns are raised in response. And 50 bucks will get you a t-shirt.
Veen goes on stage, dressed a little smarter and discusses design principles. 50 million web pages get their style sheets revised (a subject I'm inept with, judging from my markup skillz). I don't know about the web design merchandising potential, would you pay 50 bucks for a microformats t-shirt?

Hetfield doodles on his guitars.

Veen draws Venns.

So they're about the same height and share some conversational mannerisms. Maybe their hairlines are about the same. The spectacles and goatee look might do it, too. But (rational voice) these guys are nothing alike and the context I know them from are completely different. And yet the introverted sensing part of me always draws the association when I run into one of them face to face or flipping TV channels and stumbling upon VH1; there is the odd familiarity of Hetfield when I run into Veen. I should invite Veen to share a bottle of stolichnaya and crank up Black Sabbath to see how he takes to it, maybe it'd just come naturally.

Silly grins. Coincidence? I think not.
  < Hetfield   |   Veen >

Of course, Metallica did change the music industry. But it changed them, too. And damn, I've got it coming and going: young enough to get pimples still but old enough to be all salt-n-peppa gray on top. OK, 'nuf musing. Back to subversion.


( Mar 15 2007, 11:52:20 PM PDT ) Permalink