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I've Met My Match: "Rammstein's Heavy and Cathartic Camp"

True story: I had the cutest day yesterday. My magical lady coworkers joined me at the office in happy florals and polka dot ruffles in response to the warm and sunny weather. One of them brought in a divine cake for us all (lemon and chocolate with Bailey's, served with fresh fruit) that was a work of art--calling it Pinterest-worthy doesn't do her craft justice. As she suggested, her cakes are more like Buddhist mandalas, all the more beautiful for their imminent mortality. Anyway, you can't take a picture of how good it tasted. Nomnomnom.

When I arrived home from work, I met my daughter out front as she got off the bus, and then we walked back through the yards to pick up a little neighbor friend at her stop so they could play Minecraft and sing silly songs together all afternoon while her mom ran an errand. But while we trekked over to the street behind us, we were chased down by a ferociously happy, trembling, excitable, tiny little puppy that came streaking across two backyards to lick my daughter. A tiny little boy chased after the puppy but couldn't quite manage to wrangle it, so I helped carry the little nugget of glee back home to the boy's mother, who was busy holding a super cute baby.

When the bus arrived a second time to release our little neighbor friend, the other children on the bus waved their arms enthusiastically at me, shouting, "HI NUX'S MOM!" over and over again. The little puppy boy's big sister, another friend of my daughter's, got off at the same stop and said hello before she skipped away to her house.

My daughter and her after-school buddy and I walked back up the grassy hillside of our backyards, through a profusion of flowers and songbirds, and the girls giggled for hours while I passed out snacks, finished up a writing project, flipped through a magazine, and made a brightly colored stir fry.

At one point, my daughter made fun of me by telling her friend, "My parents listen to grandpa metal! On CDs!" Like, who does that? When her friend asked what grandpa metal is, my daughter took a deep breath and announced in quite a gusty tone for her sweet little voice, "RRRRRRammstein!" with a beautifully rolled R and everything. Until then I'd had no idea she paid any attention to the things Daddy and I did in our own room while she was shut away practicing her anime sketches elsewhere. Yikes.

Thankfully, the conversation quickly turned to Ariana Grande, Fortnite, unicorns, and whether doing the floss is now so uncool that it's cool again.

So yeah, there was a part I skipped over in the account of my sunshiny afternoon, and that is that on the commute from work to home, I opened up ye olde CD player and slid in Rammstein's new untitled album (follow that link to see a really cute puppy picture, I pinkie swear). Confession: I turned down the volume when I had to pass by the local Catholic church/school, where I sent my heathen daughter to preschool not long ago, at a slow and residential speed while other parents--maybe some who would recognize me--were turning into the parking lot to pick up their kids. It would have been funny for folks to see me rolling past in my twee Nissan Leaf, wearing my floral church secretary shift dress, screaming along to the profoundly and deliciously disgusting song "Sex," but I just couldn't. I pulled around the corner to where I could drive fast again and then cranked it back up.

Because you know what, Rammstein is for FORMER angsty teenagers of the Gen X / old Millennial persuasion (and, of course, all the new kids who just "discovered" the magic of Rammstein during their tenderly brief existences). This new album is unadulterated fun.

Following is the most lucid description of the ecstatic experience of Rammstein that I have ever read (including all the things I've written here on the Magic Nutshell), from "Rammstein's Heavy and Cathartic Camp" by Amanda Petrusich, in The New Yorker:

Something gets rearranged inside you. I have found that, if I listen to enough Rammstein at the right volume, I, too, turn into a kind of overexcited, gnashing maniac, reminiscent of Beavis in the 'Cornholio' episodes of MTV’s Beavis and Butt-head, in which he consumes too much sugar, pulls his T-shirt over his head, and demands toilet paper from strangers. It is possible to disappear into the squall, gleefully and completely. If we define fun as the unknowing acceleration of time, then Rammstein’s particular brand of self-obliteration, in which time collapses entirely, is a guaranteed good time.

And you can't JUST listen to the albums, in your bedroom with your husband or in the car as you cruise past St. Gerard. The ultimate experience of Rammstein is the live show--which I hope to experience one more time--praying that they tour Amerika in 2020. As I've been saying for years:

For Rammstein, the concert experience can feel more revelatory (and, occasionally, more artful) than its records, in part because watching the band perform compels audiences to both account for and laugh at the entire notion of mortality. In an interview with John McCarty, for his book Splatter Movies, the director David Cronenberg talks about the existential appeal of this sort of imagery, and how it can become a powerful sort of truthtelling: 'They are films of confrontation. They aren’t films of escape. And what it is that the audience is forced to confront are some very hard truths about the human condition, which have to do, in my films particularly, with the human body and the fact of aging and death and disease and the loss of people close to you.' By turning existence into a spectacle—exaggerating it, rendering it in preposterous proportions—the band manages, however counterintuitively, to comfort us.

To tell you the truth, listening to Rammstein helps me break free from the cycles of anxiety that drag me down when I consume all the real-life horrors playing out in the news. With camp and cheesy horror and sick humor and serious, vicious-burn social commentary and thrusting power thrash, Rammstein blasts me to a place where I can laugh and relax and appreciate all the gorgeous people in my life and enjoy the sunshine and the flowers.

Ich einfach fort mit der Musik!


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