BOSTON — While the crime rate nationwide remains at a 30-year low, my city is being terrorized by…the Fruit and Vegetables Gang, apparently so named because “several of the youths have worked in produce departments at grocery stores.” Now, it sounds like these kids are a public service message gone bad — “What’s your gang do?” “We eat our fruits and vegetables!” “Word!” — but I wouldn’t want to get in a fracas with them, especially considering their proclivity for beating people up with baseball bats. Still, if I have to live in fear, does it really have to be of the Fruit and Vegetables Gang? Not only does it jettison that much more of my already tattered masculine self-image, but it also inspires some measure of nostalgia for the tougher sounding Bloods and Crips gangs of yore. The transcendental question with regard to all of this (you knew there was one, I’m sure): If they remade The Apple Dumpling Gang today would it look more like Menace II Society?
I couldn’t help thinking of the Fruit and Vegetables Gang and the discrepancy between something that sounds so foolish yet must unfortunately be taken seriously when I recently came across an interview with Emperor Magus Caligula of the Swedish satanic black metal band Dark Funeral. Among a slate of unremarkable questions about the band’s unremarkable music, the stage make-up festooned singer was asked to describe his feelings about a rabid fan, Roberto Orias, who had murdered an Italian Catholic priest in Chile last year.
Here is what Caligula — who during a 2003 meet-and-greet had burned an inverted cross into Orias’ arm with a cigar at his request (apparently to match the pentagram branded over his heart) — told the Swedish magazine Close Up about the vicious, demented slaying, according to a Blabbermouth Translation:
People ask us if our music caused the murder. I don’t think so. Sure, we sing about killing Christians and blood and feathers falling from angels are present in a lot of the lyrics. Maybe the music triggered him somehow, but he probably would have harmed someone even if he hadn’t been listening to [Dark Funeral]. He was not well. But I have to say that I’m…er, SOMEWHAT impressed. He deserves some credit. You’re not supposed to say that, but I don’t care.
One wonders what it takes to fully impress Caligula. After all, Orias nearly decapitated 69-year-old Father Faustino Gazziero moments after the priest finished saying mass in front of hundreds of parishioners, and then, according to the Herald Sun, Orias “smeared his face with the victim’s blood and then stabbed himself several times in the chest and neck.” Gazziero had been in Chile since 1960 and helped run four schools in Santiago.
While no one can place the weight of this crime on anyone’s shoulders other than those of the 26-year-old Orias (who was ultimately found mentally unfit to stand trial), Caligula’s comments are still worth pondering if for no other reason than out of pure wonder at the fact that such an eminently silly man who makes a living playing Viking dress-up, saying spooky things, and working under an utterly ridiculous stage name, can hold such sway over the fate of living, breathing human beings. It looks as if the fantastically disturbing Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground — which detailed the church burnings, human sacrifices, sometimes even cannibalism some European Black Metal bands have engaged in — is going to need a sequel.
More frightening still is the nonchalance with which Dark Funeral guitarist Lord Ahriman acknowledges this may not be an isolated incident.
“Before we found out the name of the killer, I thought it was another fan,” Ahriman said. “A guy in Santiago just stood there crying when he met me. He knew everything about Dark Funeral. It was creepy. He’d bought the same guitar as the one I have, a BC Rich Warlock, and he had desecrated graves to honor us. He said, ‘My Lord, give me an order and I will execute it.'”
Desecrated graves to honor them? Full preparedness to receive and execute satanic orders? And I thought girls throwing their underwear at eighties hair bands was demented. Of course, the true tragedy in that was always the lack of self-respect these women had for themselves. Likewise, it is utterly disheartening that to face the fact that there are people out there so forlorn and disconnected from their humanity that they do not see bands such as Dark Funeral for what they are: human cartoons churning out laughably absurd paeans to evil — one of the band’s records is titled, Teach Children to Worship Satan — in a sort of faux rebellious stance.
After all, it’s hard to imagine a netherworld where the Prince of Darkness is impressed by such theatrics. Emperor Magus Caligula may be willing to burn impressionable fans and praise them when they strike out in violence, but when it comes to actual pillaging and virginal sacrifices the guy is M.I.A. One gets the impression this Satanist would be in a world of pain if he ever stepped wrong in the Fruit and Vegetables Gang’s hood.
This isn’t an argument for euphemism. It’s a plea for truth in advertising. There are enough vivid, properly named terrors in this world without having to add the foolish and laughable to that list. None of us deserve to be marked for eternity with the epitaph that we perished at the hands of the Fruit and Vegetables Gang or the perverted disciple of a bunch of guys whose job prospects were so nil they were forced to paint themselves up like Tammy Faye Baker might have had she married Anton LaVey instead of Jim.