By: Dean Haspiel
January 5, 2024

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of metal records from the Eighties (1984–1993, in our periodization schema). Series edited by Heather Quinlan. Also check out our MÖSH YOUR ENTHUSIASM playlist at Spotify.


Image courtesy of the author


November 16th, 2005. I was about to leave my apartment for the night when my landline telephone rang. It was the police in Des Moines, Iowa. They were calling family members to tell them that Michael David Haspiel had passed away. My brother. Dead at age 37.

I’d spoken to Mike a few days before. Having suffered nerve damage from a recent diabetic coma, Mike was in a lot of pain. Near blind, he lived very small on government assistance while cleaning bars during the day to make extra cash. I was working full-time as a freelancer making comic books. He said something like, “You’re living the dream.” I asked him what his dream was. He wanted to make a stop-motion movie featuring all his classic Mego action figures. Toys we used to play with together as kids, plus so many more he’d collected and custom designed over the years. I don’t remember what the story was but I think he wanted to mash up Marvel, DC, and Star Trek characters with celebrity dolls and others. This was way before the idea of a “multiverse” became a household phrase.

When we were younger, we had Action Jackson dolls that were supposed to compete with G.I. Joe and failed. One summer, while playing in the ocean, Mike and I played with our Action Jacksons and a big wave slammed into us, washing away our beloved toys. Lost to the sea. We were devastated. Thirty yards away a Long Island man was fishing and he caught something in his line. A fish? A shark? No. It was our Action Jackson dolls. Both of them. They were wrapped up in each other’s arms. It was a miracle.

Growing up, Mike and I split a bedroom in our family’s Upper West Side apartment. We shared the same love for comic books, action figures, and baseball cards. But we drew the line at music. I was into hip-hop, funk, and soul while my brother was into rock ’n’ roll and heavy metal. He loved Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” — a sentimental power ballad that I liked, too. Still, we fought over the record player until my parents split up. Mike went with Mom and I stayed with Dad. I can’t tell you how many times I played Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” over and over, in that half-empty bedroom, alone. I didn’t have “Home Sweet Home.” That was Mike’s song.

When my mother and brother moved to Brooklyn, I would visit them sometimes, but he started to evolve into a very different person. I think it was the neighborhood. The pals he made. The things he did. I didn’t feel like I knew him anymore. After a while, I didn’t feel like I knew Mike at all. And when he got addicted to drugs and had to spend time in the hospital to recover, the doctors gave Mike a chance to rehabilitate elsewhere. He chose Des Moines, Iowa. Mike was nervous. Scared to make such a dramatic move. But he made a leap of faith and I was proud of him. I knew it meant that I wouldn’t see or hear from him as much, if ever, but a shift in space would allow him a fresh start. Thankfully, Des Moines agreed with Mike, and he made great friends and girlfriends who would do anything for him.

I abandoned baseball cards but I kept collecting comic books, music, and movies. My apartment became a hoarder’s wet dream. I never figured out how to create a home that would welcome a family. So I kept busy creating stories. Reading and watching other people’s stories. Wondering if I made a mistake becoming an artist. Wondering if I was too much of a coward to create a family of my own.

Sometimes when I think about the concept of home, I can hear Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” in my head.

I think about those Action Jackson dolls and how they held onto each other. And I think about my brother Mike.


MÖSH YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Crockett Doob on Metallica’s ENTER SANDMAN | Dean Haspiel on Mötley Crüe’s HOME SWEET HOME | Jack Silbert on Poison’s TALK DIRTY TO ME | Adam McGovern on Dio’s INVISIBLE | Mariane Cara on Faith No More’s EPIC | Heather Quinlan on Blue Öyster Cult’s SHOOTING SHARK | Steve Schneider on UFO’s DIESEL IN THE DUST | Carlo Rotella on Primus’ JERRY WAS A RACE CAR DRIVER | Erik Davis on St. Vitus’ BORN TOO LATE | Greg Rowland on Motörhead’s ACE OF SPADES (remix) | Kathy Biehl on Twisted Sister’s WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT | Nikhil Singh on G.I.S.M.’s GAS BURNER PANIC | Erin M. Routson on Metallica’s ESCAPE | Holly Interlandi on Helmet’s MILQUETOAST | Marc Weidenbaum on Celtic Frost’s I WON’T DANCE (THE ELDERS’ ORIENT) | Amy Keyishian on Living Colour’s CULT OF PERSONALITY | Josh Glenn on Scorpions’ STILL LOVING YOU | Alycia Chillemi on Danzig’s SOUL ON FIRE | James Parker on Godflesh’s CHRISTBAIT RISING | Miranda Mellis on The Afflicted’s HERE COME THE COPS | Rene Rosa on Type O Negative’s BLACK NO. 1 | Tony Leone on Slayer’s SOUTH OF HEAVEN | Christopher Cannon on Neurosis’s LOST | Brian Berger on Black Sabbath’s HEADLESS CROSS | MÖSH CONTEST-WINNING ENTRY: Tony Pacitti on Metallica’s THE CALL OF KTULU. PLUS: CONTEST RUNNER-UP: James Scott Maloy on Accept’s MIDNIGHT MOVER.




Enthusiasms, Music