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HELLS YES!

Metal Hammer is back!

My partner Stephanie called with the news on Saturday afternoon, when I was up in Los Angeles, coincidentally getting ready to have dinner with a Metal Hammer writer visiting from the UK. Steph advised that a supremely-reliable source advised that the mags had been purchased back by Future Publishing and that an official announcement would follow on Monday. Turns out that Future — the company that sold Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Prog magazines to TeamRock for £10.2m in 2013 — bought back the magazines, events and license for the Team Rock digital radio service for £800,000. How’s that for arbitrage?

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At this point it’s not entirely clear who’s back from the old staff or how it’s going to look. Future also owns Revolver, which sustained the repentless devastation of a dying print industry, and which now operates as a bi-monthly publication. Could these magazines return as their former selves? I sure as shit hope so, though some are already predicting that the mags might see smaller staffs at the helm. As I type this blog, I just received a text from our beloved editor that we’re back to work and that details are forthcoming.

If 2016 ended on a somber note, 2017 is beginning as a year of triumph, not just because of this news but across the board. My social media retreat yields bigger rewards every day in the form of creative inspiration and time spent on things that actually make me happy, instead of trolling my Facebook feed compulsively, liking all of my friends’ posts lest anybody wonder why I didn’t. Oh man, how’s that for self-centered fear? And while I could certainly see that underlying thinking from within the social media vortex, the view from the outside looking in is much broader in scale. I could be back tomorrow or I could be back in five years. For now I’m happy to have no plan and no idea.

leica-akademie-1001378How have I been spending my time? Writing, reading, dog parenting, socializing, meditating and connecting with friends. I also took my first class at the Leica Akademie this weekend (hence my trip to L.A.), which delivered way more practical guidance than I could have ever hoped to receive. Not only did I learn the ins and outs of my Leica M typ 240, but the most excellent instructor took us out on a street photography expedition. I’ve never been a street photography guy, mainly because it feels so intrusive; almost like a paparazzi type vibe, except most street photographers I’ve seen appear obsessed with the other end of the social spectrum. Where the paps hunt celebrities, many street photographers I know focus on the destitute, homeless and forgotten. I just don’t have it in me to go up to a homeless guy and take his picture, just to slap it on some media page and collect likes for how “real” and “gritty” my style is. No thanks. I do have to clarify that I don’t have a moral issue with this type of photography – in the right hands and with the right vision, it’s a beautiful expression of humanity, rendered with compassion and empathy. I’m only saying that I’ve never been inspired to give it a go.

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But like so many other things I’ve learned, street photography can be so much more than what I think it is; in fact, it can be whatever I want it to be. As a writer, I don’t have to slavishly regurgitate the forms and styles of the authors I admire. We all have to find our own style and that holds true for photography as well. Once our Leica instructor showed us how to zone focus and to compose our frames with other incoming elements, the act of taking a picture on a busy city street took on invigorating new possibilities. Within minutes I was snapping away at the denizens of Beverly Hills as they trundled up and down the boulevards with hands clutching shopping bags, cell phones and dogs on leashes. Nothing I shot on Saturday is remotely original, but hopefully this is the first step toward finding my style.

In the meantime, we’ve also learned that the issue of Metal Hammer that was prepared before Christmas is now on sale. The magazine appears as a split cover- some feature Sabaton, some feature Halestorm and some feature Asking Alexandria. I wrote both the Sabaton and Asking Alexandria cover features, which mark my second and third times notching a cover story. Proud as hell, to be completely honest.

Off to kick-start the week. No mercy.