Remember, remember that Year in November (1991)
Ah, remember back during the year of 1991 when things were fun, simple, and far less complicated that today's total outlook?
There was less racial strife compared to today, well, aside from the Rodney King beating and Bush senior's "War on Drugs". No agitators like FOX News doing shit stirring, no Twitter Wars, Toxic forums filled with basement dwelling trolls, or frivolous Cancel Cultured Pseudo Justice Warriors who call out the "misdeeds " of others as a means of some self-congratulatory blowjob!
No one stirring at their portable devices, and you can call your friends and relatives via phone, then "Texting"! There were only two genders, there wasn’t any narcissistic attention whores all over Two-facedbook, Instaspam, or Tik-Tak and when you met a woman for a date, it didn’t depend on being “swiped to the right” or whatever.
Operation Desert Storm was over in a matter of months compared to the 20-year clusterfuck in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was original television and none of this Reality TV garbage, MTV played music videos?? Yeah, we Gen Xers the so called "Slacker generation" had it much easier than you Millennials and Gen Zs!😜
While it’s true that most individuals especially within developed nations, would often list December as their most festive Month of the Year (Because it's fucking Christmas!) but me being the contrarian bastid I'm known for, chose November as my most favorited month of the year since say, 1991: which began when I landed a seasonal nightshift job at Toys R Us near Herald Square, NYC at the time.
I often have fond memories of me chopping it up with both coworkers and a few customers like Jesse Falcon who at one time, worked for Marvel and several years later, ran the Toy Biz company! I had the privilege of handling the action figure Isles that were stacked with Transformers, Marvel's Toybiz line, Masters of the Universe and those damn Teenage Mutant Turtles who dominated the toy sales and were the store's highest revenue! Oh by the way, I would be remised had I not mentioned the G.I. Joe line especially when Hasbro had released the 12 inch "Hall of Fame" version of their popular A Real American Hero figures like Cobra Commander, Duke, Stalker and Snake Eyes. I managed to get, and by that, I mean purchase- both Stalker and Cobra Commander. Duke, I never cared for as his uniform mirrored the soldiers of Desert Storm which was probably done on purpose as this "brilliant marketing strategy " yet he looked too vanilla compared to the 3-inch counterpart. Snake Eyes was immediately sold out so that was a given.
After putting up with bs from upper management, we used to hit the nearest diner ate, drank, and afterwards play a few rounds of pool. Sure, there were a few scandals between my coworkers (Even one situation involving a Conveyer belt! 😆) but at the end of the day, we were just having fun while making the most out of a grueling 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM schedule and then there were the irate holiday season costumers of course.
However, one of the highlights during that time, was making enough money to buy a Sega Genesis console from my store. After a year of "playing with power", as
in the Nintendo Entertainment System, it was time for an upgrade as in 8-to-16-bit graphics and Genesis proved that it does what Nintendon't.
Packaged with some unknown game called "Sonic the Hedgehog" as part of the bundle, the Genesis had an awesome array of titles that I managed to get my hands on for dirt cheap from a Korean gaming outlet. Sure, the cartridges were used but with some alcohol and a few Q-tips, they worked as good as new and the day before Thanksgiving, I was up all night playing exclusive titles like Sonic, Forgotten Worlds, Thunderforce 3 an incredible side scrolling shooter with a kickass Techno synth soundtrack, Strider was yet another amazing game with a memorable score and gameplay and one of my all-time favorites, Dynamite Duke!
Despite being a very obscure 3rd person title, Dynamite's concept had instantly garnered my interest; A soldier enhanced with a bionic arm that can not only throw a mean right hook, but when he's all charged up, Duke can deliver a punch of devastating proportions! This game is a hybrid of G.I. Joe meets Deathlok so now you know why I grabbed this title the minute I got my Genesis and to me, that day felt more like Christmas than Christmas (December 25th) itself!
Usually, I dislike platformers especially when it involves cutesy characters as the protagonist (Mega Man being the noted exception.) but Sonic was a more enjoyable experience than the overrated Super Mario Bros series. What makes the titular character so appealing is his no nonsense attitude especially when it came to his toe tapping animation,
From that day on, as part of an ongoing ritual, November was often known as the month that I would get my hands on a brand-new gaming console if money and scarcity weren’t a problem which the latter is more of a concern these days.
Prior to getting a "Genny" November 1991 served as another landmark and by that, I'm referring to the debut of one of the greatest Metal albums ever! Corrosion of Conformity’s "Blind" is the title of a once Hardcore Punk band, now evolved into the genre of Metal with a pinch of what's called "Stoner rock".
This was the same album that brought the Raleigh, North Carolina band onto the mainstream thanks in part to MTV's Headbanger's Ball and mostly due to powerful songs that dealt with socio political topics. It seems that the band despite acquiring a different sound, has not abandoned their Punk roots.
In "Mine eyes are God" , Frontman Karl Agell belts out striking verse throughout the song that while not necessarily attacking organized religion, it closes with damning lyrics, " not the stars or the cross or the moon".
"Painted Smiling Face" from what I had interpreted, this track referred to the horrific massacre and mistreatment of Native Americans. The song had an impressive Guitar Funk solo that further embellished the psychedelic groove aspect during the latter half and it’s of no surprise, why "Painted Smiling Face" was among my top favorites from the album.
"Voting with a Bullet" had driven home the importance of politics while discouraging apathy.
The clever idea of adding an electronic tone to Pepper Keenan's vocals during the verse, was ahead of its time and no doubt preceded the Autotune sound.
But what really made "Blind" my favorite Album of 1991, was the penultimate song "White Noise", an unapologetic scathing attack on White Supremacy backed by Agell’s vocals of conviction that begins with him embracing his White heritage yet would not condemn anyone who is of another race.
With charged Guitar riffs, fast paced and with angst social commentary, C.O.C. had revisited its Thrash/Punk roots and the song's final lyrics be it nihilist, or alarmist is foreshadowing and still rings true to this very day:
"When they cracked the whip, nothing was said, when the flames burned, nothing was said. When innocents cried in the face of the guilty, no one said ANYTHING..!!"
"Blind" will always be cherished for its overt sociopolitical themes which most Metal Bands with the minor exception of Megadeth, would not really "go there". I would rate "Blind” well over Metallica's Black Album and even C.O.C.'s follow up, "Wiseblood" which the latter had debuted in 1994. The great intro and outro- These Shrouded Temples further compliments Corrosion of Conformity’s breakthrough album that became a mainstream success!
On a sad footnote C.O.C. Drummer Reed Mullen known for his impeccable use of cymbals during "Blind", died in January 2020. Rest in Power.
November is often associated with the Thanksgiving holiday, and I am grateful that I had one of many great experiences during the Month of November.