There was an episode on the old Rod Serling anthology, "The Night Gallery," in which aging hipster Randy Miller (played by John Astin) finds himself in a door-less, white-walled room with a bunch of old people who are sitting around, watching a slide show of somebody's recently completed vacation...to Tijuana! All the while, there is incredibly lame music coming from a record player, but, despite his best efforts, he can't seem to turn it off. Randy tries to figure out how he got there, and suddenly remembers that, right before finding himself in the room, he had been in a terrible car crash. He realizes that he had died in the crash and is now somehow in the Afterlife. Having been a dissolute rogue for much of his life, Randy always assumed he would end up in Hades, but now wonders where the fire and brimstone are. Eventually, The Devil appears and explains to Randy that he is stuck, for all eternity, in his own personalized Hell. And the funny thing about it is that, for the other people in the room, it's their Heaven.
That story flashed through my mind while I was talking to long-time Pima County Sheriff Bob Krygier about his rather eccentric life away from the badge. It has been said that the most successful members of the law-enforcement community are those who find a way not to take the job home with them. If that's the case, Bob may be the most successful cop-type guy ever because as soon as he clocks out, he turns into Heavy Metal Man—part roadie, part groupie (in a strictly platonic, non-gender-specific way), part hard-rock historian. But mostly, he's a big-time fan.
When I spoke to him, he had just returned from a three-day Memorial Day Weekend festival called Rocklahoma: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Rock! Headliners included Godsmack, Linkin Park, Queensryche, Slayer and Breaking Benjamin. (Just last week, Breaking Benjamin's new album, "Dark Before Dawn," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Who knew?)
In all, 95 bands were scheduled to take the stage during the festival, including acts with delightful names like Butcher Babies, Upon a Burning Body, Well Hung Heart, Motionless In White, and Screaming For Silence. There was even an act that played the Campground Pre-Party the day before the festival named Anu. You would think that he would be spending the off-season practicing in hopes that we could all erase the memory of the Fiesta Bowl, but...different strokes.
That weekend was during the time that Texas and Oklahoma were receiving rainfall of biblical proportions. "Oh Man, it was crazy," Krygier recalls. "Tornado warnings, massive thunderstorms, lots and lots of really loud music. Five inches of rain in the campgrounds. Two firefighters died, got swept away."
Apparently, such has it always been for Krygier. He remembers his first concert like it was yesterday. "I was 16 years old and I went to see (Chicago punk-rock band) Naked Raygun at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago."
(By the oddest coincidence, National Republican Committee Chairman Reince Priebus—who is the same age as Krygier—grew up wanting to see Naked Reagan.)
During his formative years, Krygier saw the absolutely terrible made-for-TV movie "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park." Now a cult classic along the lines of "Plan 9 From Outer Space," the movie was so awful that, for several years after its airing on NBC, no one working with the band was allowed to mention it within earshot of the members. Krygier saw it, loved it, and was hooked on a musical genre.
Now, lots of people go to concerts to let off steam; not all of them are column-worthy. What sets Krygier apart is the sheer volume...of the volume. Besides the metal-fest in Oklahoma, he figures that he'll see 150 or so bands this year and he'll fly all over the country to do so. He and his wife already took the Monsters of Rock Cruise, which, if you Google it, appears to have been just as hideous as it sounds. His and his buddies' wives often dress up like KISS-ettes and have a good old time. (I've been married a long time, but the thought of my oh-so-proper wife attending a Parliament/Funkadelic concert with me gives me the Shudders.)
His favorite concert of all time was a triple bill of Faith No More, Guns N' Roses and Metallica at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. But he also enjoys seeing formerly famous bands play at smaller venues these days. "It's actually kinda' cool to see bands playing in a bar. I've been to shows where there can't be more than a couple dozen people (in attendance), but the bands still play their asses off."
Do you feel bad for them?
"At first, you think, 'These guys used to play in front of thousands of people every night,' but then you realize that this is what they do. They're doing what they love. If you hang around after the show, you can have a beer with the band members, get to know them a little, even help them pack their gear away before they get on the road. I've done that lots of times."
The worst show he's ever seen? "Too many to count. Plus, I've still got a long way to go."