A Need for a Metal Music & Special Collection’s Library in NYC

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I’ve decided to add the task of starting a Metal Music Library to my list of life goals. As a side effect of all the research I’ve done, nothing feels more professionally fulfilling to me than merging my two loves at the moment – metal and librarianship. Living in New York, it just seems so senseless to me that there isn’t already a physical manifestation of some sort of metal library and collection here. I guess I’m finding it hard to stomach because New York’s history is rich with metal culture and ephemera. We are the birthplace of some of metal’s most notable bands like Anthrax, Dio, Kiss, Life of Agony, Manowar, Nuclear Assault, Tombs, Type O-, etc., Not to mention more extreme metal bands like Brutal Truth, Cannibal Corpse, Demolition Hammer, Immolation, Internal Bleeding, Malignancy. Mortician, Suffocation and on and on. Some of these have spearheaded entire sub-genres of metal.

When I worked at the Met, the Costume Institute Department had a number of music-related exhibitions like, Punk: Chaos to Culture, AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion, and Rock Style. I can easily see these kinds of exhibitions displaying the material culture of heavy metal, perhaps record collections, even the fashion, which believe it or not, there is. Just take a look at how the latest Kardarshian brood is co-opting our style.

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Or just celebrities in general:

And I’m not posting these images to make metal-heads angry; on the contrary, it’s says a lot about mainstream culture appropriating and encouraging a heavy metal style, even if its a misinterpretation. Is heavy metal music becoming more acceptable, and if so, why? How are perceptions changing and what is the historical importance? Preserving aspects of “our” popular culture and subcultures are important for a variety of reasons.

Take a look at fellow WordPress blogger and musician/scholar Jason Netherton’s book, “Extremity Retained: Notes From the Death Metal Underground” in which he collects an oral history of death metal music from the musicians and people involved in the early scene. Additionally, he’s been scanning and making available early death metal zines from the 1980’s and on, in his blog Send Back My Stamps! – talk about preservation and accessibility!

As I research and work alongside my metal academic comrades, I see further evidence of the need for preserving metal music and it’s material culture. My colleague and fellow librarian, Brian Hickam, maintains a wonderful online bibliography for the International Society of Metal Music Studies (ISMMS) with categories for searching via books, articles, chapters, etc. It’s been very helpful in my own studies.

There are other institutions such as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives, which, of course, collect under rock-and-roll, but also includes a variety of subgenres, metal being one of them.

Over in the UK, there is The Home of Metal, a project started as collaboration project with the Black Country Arts Partnership, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Wolverhampton Art Gallery to celebrate and preserve the birthplace of heavy metal in the West Midlands.

Gary Shafer, the man behind Heavy Metal Museum, is also catering to heavy metal preservation and offering a platform for sharing and selling metal memorabilia. And if I couldn’t push the case for Metal Music studies and libraries being important, this article from the Wall Street Journal does the job for me.

In my own home library, here’s what I’ve been collecting and hoping to preserve for my daughter…(it’s very much a growing collection)

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You like Death Metal Music….Really???

For some time now, my husband has been playing death metal music and exposing and explaining the nuances of the genre to me; I would say from the very beginning of our dating days, circa 1999.

Back then, I was in high school and mostly still listening to grunge, punk, and new wave bands, having been exposed to Metallica’s black album as my only form of understanding anything metal. I didn’t know it at the time but my husband was slowly bringing me over to the dark side.

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Hodge-podge: Graphic novels and Punk Rock Grows Up?

Next week I’ll be having a nice little break as my job let’s us have 2 holidays, Election Day and Veteran’s Day. I’m told that we’re lucky since it seems the rest of the world does not get these days off. I do appreciate it. I think it’s going to finally give me some time to play catch up. With that said, next week will really be a hodge-podge sort of week. 

First up on my list to do over the weekend and during the week, is to finish up reading all the articles due for my Anthropology classes. After that I’m hoping to find some time to do some leisure reading.

For example, I really should read all the graphic novels that have been piling up on my night stand. Last year,  Vish got me the entire series of Bacchus by Eddie Campbell; a series that’s right up my alley. It’s got that crude literary edge that I love but it also manages to appeal to my whimsical side too.  The author, Eddie Campbell also has a great blog. Check it out here.

In some ways, the Bacchus GN reminds me of Garth Ennis’ Preacher; my all time favorite GN series. If you’re bored, love the South and are a crazy Christian, you might find it extremely appealing. On the other hand, you might find it extremely offensive. You be the judge. It’s my favorite graphic novel thus far and I’m not sure what that says about me. I heard rumors here and there that Hollywood was going to make it into a movie but I lost faith a long time ago in Hollywood’s idea of remaking/rebooting just about any book or comic.

On an unrelated note, NPR has a great story on the punk music scene. Though I can’t claim ties to the original punk scene (I’m not that old), I did in my day love listening to and dressing in the punk style (i.e. plaid bondage pants, spike necklaces, the whole deal).

Traditionally, October has always been the month where my husband and I listen to nothing but the Misfits and Danzig. So it was interesting to see NPR’s article discussing the punk scene and how punks have grown up.

Robert Siegal of NPR interviewed director Andrea Nevins about her documentary film, “The Other F Word“, which answers the question, “What happens when a generation’s ultimate anti-authoritarians — punk rockers– become society’s ultimate authorities — dad’s?” The mini interview on NPR got me thinking. I started wondering exactly how we decide on when to let go of an image, especially an image so integral in forming our adolescent identities?I couldn’t remember exactly when I traded in my punk attire for a suit jacket and a string of pearls, but it might have been somewhere along the job interview process. In any case, see Nevins’ interiview and then watch her documentary which has clips with Tony Hawk and Burkett of NOFX.