Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Heavy Metal Enabler

A Tribute to The Man Who Rocked Me

I've often wondered how young people get into heavy metal music. After some thought, I've come up with an idea. I call it the enabler theory. In the jargon of counseling, an "enabler" is sometimes defined as one who allows others to progress in their unproductive patterns of behavior. If the heavy metal lifestyle isn't an unproductive pattern of behavior, I don't know what is!

My enabler was my cousin Vinnie Policastro. He's the fellow on the right in the picture below. That's Winger guitarist Reb Beach on the left.

In the late '80s and early '90s, Vinnie had a business called Ground Zero Custom Guitars. He had specially built the axe in the above photo for Reb Beach and gave it to him in the hopes of getting the guitarist to sign on as an endorsee. No such deal ever came of it.

Vinnie gave me my first guitar--a very cheap, nameless thing--and was really instrumental in aiding and abetting my heavy metal habit. He showed me how to play Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," the finger-tapping passage from Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" guitar solo, some Yngwie Malmsteen stuff and more.

Though he was some 10-15 years older than me, he never minded me hanging out around him. I would frequently spend hours just absorbing the rock vibe in his bedroom in the basement of my grandfather's home in the working class town of Union, New Jersey. Vinnie was always very kind to me and for that I remember him fondly to this day.