I had an awesome time at the Carnival of Madness. I thought the show was awesome, but my favorite part was seeing how many metal/hard rock fans there are around here. The cool thing to see what how many different walks of life seemed, from appearances anyway, to be represented.  Young and old, cool and dorky, big and little, ripped and flabby, dressed up and (ahem) dressed down. And there we all were pumping our fists and our devil horns in the air. 

At this point, hang with me...

The other day one of my best friends called to tell me that I need to practice how I make my devil horns. He'd seen a picture of me with Leigh Kakaty from Pop Evil that I posted on Facebook (look up my page, Road Signs Radio). It is not a great picture of me. I don't look super cool like Leigh; I look more like, as my friend put it, somebody who needs to stand in front of a mirror practicing my devil horn face and posture. Of course, my friend pointed out that I might not want to make devil horns again for a picture until I can practice it a bit. So then at the Carnival of Madness, we were all--geeks and dorks, cool folks and pretty folks, inked and pierced, rockers and renegades--flashing the devil horns without much practice. 

Ever since Ronnie James Dio first made them cool (though he said before he died that he was no more responsible for flashing the horns than he was for inventing the wheel), the devil horns have been a symbol that rock fans were totally into what they were experiencing. Now, maybe some folks think that the horns were a symbol of devil worship (as those same folks perhaps interpret rock in general). But those are the same sort of folks who thought that the Eagles' "Hotel California" was about devil worship, somehow overlookin the possibility that the whole album could be (as it truly was) a statement about the excess of living life subservient to excess and crass materialism. The origin of the devil horns seems to be an ancient Mediteranean way of WARDING OFF evil and harmful spirits. The cool thing about that is that instead of inviting evil or harmful spirits, maybe we are collectively shunning them. The oolest part of rock, for me, is that the bombastic sounds are an honest statement (rather than a denial) of all of the anger, hurt, and frustration that is true to life. Flashing the devil horns may just be a bigger, more subliminal way of saying that we don't care if anybody else understands it or not, we are going to deal with our crap whether it's pretty or not. 

During Shinedown's set during the Carnival, Brent Smith and Zach Myers performed a short acoustic set that included the rock hymn, "Simple Man." The crowd raised their hands in the air, fists and devil horns, singing in full voice. It hit me that our country is on the verge of military action in Syria, still trying to extract ourselves from the war in Afghanistan, and all of us there were dealing with God knows what. What if that was a different kind of church, an unwashed congregation that knows it's unwashed?

If that's the case, maybe I don't need to practice my horns. One of the reasons I'm friends with that guy is because I can tell him to bite me; I'm busy warding off evil spirits the best way I know how.