Book review of Welcome to Hell by “Bad” Billy Pratt
I’ve been reading Bad Billy’s blog Kill to Party for many years. In a sphere of game and neoreaction, his site is more a mix of personal dating horror stories and thwarted romantic dreams presented through the lens of pop culture as he attempts to pull apart what the hell happened to GenX.
Welcome to Hell is a collection of these blog posts but it also holds together as a book because the themes develop throughout.
Rather than blame everything on Boomers, his attention is focused inward:
Despite all the nihilistic postering, it’s important to remember that Generation X wasn’t the one with all the school shootings. The murky attitude was as shallow as the cuts on their wrists; it was a fashion accessory, it was an act, it was total bullshit. Even if they didn’t become noteworthy go-getters, GenX eventually had to grow up into lame adults.
Though carefully outside the mainstream Manosphere, Billy gets drawn into the last decade’s Manofads. One of the most interesting chapters is about his addiction to kratom, which he describes alongside the self-destruction of the Stone Temple Pilot’s lead singer:
Kratom isn’t heroin. The decline isn’t sharp; it’s subtle . . . Double the dose, double the productivity. (. . .) Actually, I was posting on Twitter more than I was doing any real writing . . .
Compensating for his failing body, Weiland doubled-down on his drug use, but what had worked in the past to push him to his spiritual limits had only served to destroy what was left . . .
Know the rules of the game and decide how you want to play: a long life of potential mediocrity or a creative energy that burns with the fire of 1,000 suns. The defiant man can make this decision for himself and deal with the consequences of his actions.
Dating after one’s teenage years is a game of chicken:
This is your first date, and you’re a sucker if you let her think you like her. She wants to feel your contempt . . .
This is what you get for being single at 40. Meaning dies the further you get from your teenage years until you’re whisked off into the middle of the ocean to drown. Middle-aged women read books about being brave while starting inspirational Instagram pages; men learn the right worlds to say, in the right order, to get to the end of the game. If you’re looking for meaning in any of this, you lose.
Billy’s main thesis throughout his writing is that true love is only possible in one’s teenage years. Let that high school sweetheart slip away instead of knocking her up, marrying and making the most of it, and life becomes increasingly absurd; endless dead-end dating with people who are too similarly corrupted to ever bond again.
Billy’s life has paralleled my own in many ways. It’s eerie, actually:
I’d get to work [extremely early] and watch old MTV videos on YouTube. Stuff you couldn’t have fully appreciated upon initial airing. When I got to 1979 (1996), I found myself watching on repeat, my eyes welling with tears, in what would become my morning ritual for the rest of the year.
Where we differ is that he sees his teenage years as the foundational part his life and thinks that anyone who dismisses that age is a heartless monster. That’s probably because his experience of youth was different to mine. Some of us prefer not to think about high school anymore and are relieved that it’s over. Old age is a blessing for some.
Still, the early bonding observation is legit. Most of the people I know who married, got married young. If not to a high school sweetheart then to a high school friend or someone they met in their 20s. After 30 or so, something snaps in both men and women who are still unmarried. Dating feels like play-acting and we feel too old for the game. Slightly embarrassed. Knowing it won’t go anywhere. I’ll get bored, she’ll pine for the famous DJ who banged her out when she was 21.
I don’t know what the solution is for Billy. For me, it’s acceptance. Attempt a serious relationship that feels a bit stilted compared to teen romance, remain a cad or become a monk. What else is there?
In any case, most of those who marry their high school lover end up in one of the above categories anyway. The swoon we get from a sixteen-year-old snog does not persist once we’re forty and yelling at the kids to turn down that Godawful racket. It’s a different kind of love by then, they tell me.
Welcome to Hell is a unique book – at once a nostalgic trip through 90s film and music, an autopsy of modern relationships and an honest memoir. It is sometimes as dark as the title suggests but not, in my opinion, self-pitying or bitter. It is an attempt to describe a hidden truth.
The cover, by the way, depicts Casey Anthony, who allegedly killed her toddler so she could keep partying. Hence, ‘Kill to Party’. What better icon for the lost remnants of GenX.