Way back in the bad old days, when some of us inexplicably thought it might serve us well to gain a theoretical basis for the act of argument, we signed up for high school debate classes, where we learned instead to twirl Bic sticks around our thumbs and sneak cigarettes while waiting for the next round. I don't remember what our national debate topic was that year, but a few words and phrases from the briefs stick in the memory, including my introduction to the word "euthanasia," which has since, of course, entered the popular lexicon as Dr. Jack Kevorkian's favorite hobby. Many of the not-so-shining lights among our colleagues (usually the same dolts who kept asserting casual relationships between phenomena when what they meant to say was causal) thought it a great joke to confuse euthanasia with "youth in Asia." Those kinds of yuks -- along with the fact that no girl with the standard number of limbs would even consider dating a guy who spent all his time smoking cigarettes and twirling his Bic around his thumb -- eventually led most of us away from debate class, and I thought that the unfortunate play on words had been left in the permanent dust of adolescent humor until late last year, when hairmetal band Megadeth resurrected Youthanasia as the title of its latest CD, going so far as to commission a realistic painting of a washerwoman hanging up infants (to dry?) on a clothesline.

The art got the album banned in Malaysia and Singapore, of all places (presumably, you can still buy it at Wal-mart), providing enough publicity to drive it to gold status right out of the gates and prove once again that you'll lose all bets underestimating the commercial power of adolescent stupidity. The new disc offers more of what Megadeth is famous for: speedmetal guitars and singer Dave Mustaine's goofy hair and labored political conscience. And just to make sure the band doesn't miss any promotional opportunities, the tour kicked off in Phoenix on Friday the 13th and Megadeth is holding food drives at each stop along the way (each of the first 200 ticketed people to bring 10 pounds of non-perishable food will receive a backstage pass and "a letter of thanks from the band"). I'm going 'cuz I'm overdue for a metal binge, and the band's multitudinous loyal fans will sure as hell be in attendance, but unless you're one of those geeks writing a term paper on the metal subculture, I can't think of a single reason you should go. So stay home.

-- Brad Tyer

Megadeth plays Friday, January 20 at the International Ballroom. Corrosion of Conformity opens. Tickets cost $20. Call 629-3700 for info.


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