by Baker Lee
in FOH at Large
Illustration by Andy Au
Illustration by Andy Au

Have the Gods gone crazy? Is there something in the air we breathe or the water we drink — or is it just entropy? Recently we lost Chris Cornell to suicide; 22 people were killed when a bomb was set off at an Ariana Grande concert and, before that, in 2015, suicide bombers killed 89 people while they were attending a show at the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris. In New York City, a crazed motorist jumps the curb in Times Square and drives along the sidewalk, attempting to kill and maim as many people as possible. Three more so-called terrorists attempted the same maneuver on the London Bridge and then jumped from their van and attempted to stab as many people as possible, killing eight.

Since 9-11, when two jet planes were overtaken by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center and brought down the buildings, it seems as though a Pandora’s box of crazy has been opened and unleashed upon the world. While one radical group or another has claimed many of these attacks for political reasons, a good portion of them have also been blamed on those inexplicable “voices in the head.” Random mass shootings in schools, movie theaters, clubs and military bases have become all too familiar front page headlines and — along with the many attacks by suicide bombers — we find our outrage diminishing as we becoming inured to a constant barrage of indiscriminate violence and death. We are now living in a world gone wild.

Craziness is not a newcomer to our world, and insanity is, in many cases, a perspective viewed from the outside. Mass murder has been perpetrated from the beginning of time, and many of the serial killers committing these atrocities were seemingly “normal” people who were leading duplicitous lives until their craziness was exposed. Other murderous types appeared to be fine until one day they seemed to just go crazy. While murder is the most heinous of crimes by these individuals, the list of mad behavior also includes such deviant actions as kidnapping, rape, abuse and torture; without even touching upon the world leaders and governments who perpetrate these same crimes upon whole populations in the name of nationalism, safety and peace.

There are laws and regulations that are on the books that have been proven to be ineffective, and then there are those rules and regulations that have been successful, but are being revoked. It sounds insane, but the lawmakers who are making these destructive decisions rationalize their actions by claiming that it is all done with the end goal being a prosperous economy. It might just be that I’m nuts for suspecting lunacy from these edicts, or maybe at a future date we, as a struggling collective, will look back and say, “Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time.”

While murder, mayhem and a whole list of horrid crimes are easily identified as insane actions, it does not imply that they define insanity, since insanity can be of a temporary nature caused by drugs, alcohol or a chemical imbalance. A bad decision that is made due to bravado, hubris, hate, fear or another personal peccadillo might be viewed as insane — and yet we see images of these crazy decisions everyday on the internet. Videos of people doing stupid things that cause harm to themselves and others are on view for the world’s amusement.

‡‡         By Definition

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a legal definition of insane is “unsoundness of mind or lack of the ability to understand that prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or that releases one from criminal or civil responsibility.” In other circles, insanity is defined by the Seven Deadly Sins, known as Envy, Gluttony, Greed (or Avarice), Lust, Pride, Sloth and Wrath.

Because it usually seems that one or more of these attributes are the cause of an otherwise “normal” person losing their rational perspective and behaving in an irrational manner, insane behavior is frequently a byproduct of these sins.

“Psychomachia” is an allegorical poem written byAurelius Prudentius Clemens, a Christian governor from what is now Northern Spain who died around 410 A.D. The poem chronicles the struggle between good and evil, with villainous characters named Lust, Anger and Greed getting defeated by virtuous foes named Chastity, Patience and Love.

Of course, the Seven Virtues never play as well as the Seven Deadly Sins when it comes to entertainment, which is why we are presented with a glut of reality shows such as Shameless, House of Cards and Homeland that depict normalized insanity. Religion at its best provides a release from self-indulgence, but one cannot forget the various insanities that religion — going back to the days of the Egyptian or Aztec empires, and beyond — has unleashed upon the world in the name of one deity or another.

We seem to live in a world driven insane by too much information and not enough guidance and with too much hate and not enough caring for the greater good. Yet we follow the same route as our ancestors did when they were challenged by the insanity of their times and circumstance, with no viable solution except knee-jerk reactions.

‡‡         The Audio Side

While it would be nice to think that we could have learned from our past, it would also be nice to think that the world of entertainment and audio has their own separate peace, although, as we have seen in our recent history, the outside world will not be denied and we cannot retreat into the safety of our monitor world and front of house positions. We cannot ignore the possible dangers of the world around us; nor can we disregard our own inner turmoil. Regardless of how much we may like our job, and as glamorous as our jobs might sound to others, there are real hazards associated with doing what we do other than terrorist attacks.

‡‡         Crazy Road Life

Anyone who has lived the lifestyle of being on the road for months at a time and going from venue to venue can attest the struggle of holding the demons at bay. Craziness can be one more night alone in your bunk, one more drink or snort or one more load-out in the rain. Lunacy can be just dealing with “it” over and over again, or it can come at you as an abusive singer who thinks that “monitor engineer” is a synonym for “whipping boy.”

Insanity can be wondering what your wife and kids might be doing and the life they are leading while you are attempting to make a living thousands of miles away from them. Madness is figuring out that, considering the 168 hours in the week you are away from home, your $1,500 salary (calculated on an hourly basis) amounts to a hill of beans. Stress and angst also arise as you try to keep from being out of work once the current tour is over. In a day and age where it seems that crazy is being normalized, it is important to find one’s bearing and stay rational. Don’t let the fear and craziness interfere with the job you love to do, and by all means ward off negativity and keep your mind active and full of constructive thoughts, since insanity has a way of filling in the empty spaces.