Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sunday, April 27, 2014

News Things: The Terror of a Shitty Shit Garbage Life

By: Kelly McClure

There are a lot of confusing choices offered to us in life. So many variations of pants. So many different bags of whole bean coffee. You can walk this way down the sidewalk, or you can walk that other way. You can wake up in the morning, shower, and go to work - or you can wake up in the morning, shower, go towards work, and then say "fuck this work." The options are limitless, but they all basically amount to the same two choices served up in different ways. Those choices are:

1) A Good life
2) A Shitty Shit Garbage Life

Which one are you having? And how can you tell? Well, that's a daunting task of onion peeling, but you can begin by asking yourself the following two questions:

1) Do I feel as though I'd be personally rewarded by the comfort found in standing in line for two hours to pet a cat that is more or less a prostitute cat?
2) Have I ever been dining alone and thought "this experience would be so much better if I had a large stuffed animal to share this table with me?"

There's a third question you could be asking yourself in order to suss out if you're having a shitty shit garbage life, or a life worth living, and that question is:

3) Why? Just ... why?

**Bonus Question** 
What have I done?

In Japan there is a cafe where if you are eating solo at a table, a member of the waitstaff will walk over and place a large, dead-eyed stuffed animal in the empty seat in front of you. Personally if this happened to me I would be out the door as soon as I concluded that, yup, they're meaning to bring a stuffed animal over here and make it watch me eat a hamburger. I'd feel that sort of fear felt when you can tell that a group of people are about to sing "Happy Birthday" to you. I'd feel that manner of nervous embarrassment felt when you say a funny thing out loud and say it in such a way where the person you said it to can tell you've been practicing the funny thing in your head for some time before you actually said it out loud. People seem to like it though. The stuffed animals. In Japan. People seem to prefer sitting across from a stuffed animal to sitting peacefully and eating a meal alone, and then leaving to do something else. This is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to Japan. Sure, we are mostly just learning about it now so it's easy to say "hahahaha, Oh, JAPAN!" But some people are thinking inside their heads "I would like this. I would like this to happen to me at the Burger King where I get my post self-defense class snack sometimes." The people who think this have just discovered (right now) or have felt it coming on for some time that they have a shitty shit garbage life. Don't want to eat a meal with a stuffed animal. Don't do that. What's WRONG with you? Stop it.

When I was in grade school I would, from time to time, eat my lunch in the bathroom. I would go into the bathroom, sit on the toilet, and eat my lunch while tapping my toes in a relaxed manner and staring at the closed stall door in front of me. I did not do this because I was sad and had no friends. I did not do this because I was hiding from a bully. I did this because sitting in a loud room of sweaty fart butts who smelled like Elmer's Glue and chewed with their mouths open while screaming nonsense at the same time made me sick. I preferred to quietly eat my bologna sandwich and then go outside and play tetherball. So:

1) Eating a meal in the bathroom would be better than eating it across from a large stuffed animal, unless you're a child, in which case it's mostly fine, but even then, not really. 
2) Things also better than eating a meal across from a large stuffed animal: Literally anything, aside from being a serial killer, which you probably are if you want to do this.


If you've never been, one thing to keep in mind about New York is that it's disgusting. Every surface of everything is slick with mucus, there is human feces and urine all around you, and there are rats, pigeons, and stray cats as far as the eye can see. Make no mistake, I love it here and gladly work VERY hard to hand over 98% of my money to do so.

If I were to get up and look outside my living room window right now, I would most likely make eye contact with upwards of three stray cats. There's a gang of about 20 of them on my street alone. A few of them only have one eye, one of them has a scabby infected stump where its tail used to be, and they are all completely covered in fleas, bed bugs, gum wrappers, used condom rings, and goo. Every time I see one of these cats I think "EW GROSS CAT GET AWAY FROM ME! GO!" I would never want to touch one of these cats, but if one got hit by a car or a delivery scooter I would use the side of my foot to push it into a cardboard box and then take it to the vet. This is what the cat situation is like in New York, and this is why I was surprised, (and yet not at all because everything is terrible if it ever can be), to learn that there is now a thing called the PurinaONE Cat Cafe where you can wait in a very long line outside to go into a room and touch a cat that does not belong to you, but that you have the option to adopt, but most likely won't. There is a livestream of all of this happening, which you can watch HERE if you want to ruin your day and get one step closer to having a shitty shit life. 

A few things:

1) Don't you already have a few cats?
2) Can't you go outside your apartment and wait a few minutes till you see a cat, and then touch that cat?
3) You're not gonna adopt a cat, are you?
4) Did you know that playing with a cat, earning its trust, making it feel loved, and leaving it to go on with your non-cat having day is the cruelest thing you could have done to that cat? Better to have it believe there's no such thing as belly rubs than give it a belly rub and be like "thanks for letting me touch your belly, you prostitute. Here's nothing."
5) You're gonna wait in an actual line. You're gonna wait in an actual line for hours. You're gonna wait in an actual line for hours to touch a cat?
6) People WILL find a way to cross boundaries with these cats. 
7) What is WRONG with you?
8) What's with you and cats?

A Facebook friend of mine wrote a thing about this Cat Cafe and said how it would be hard to shit on it because it's such a good thing on account of the cats being almost, but not in reality, saved from being put to sleep because no one wants them. I say it is absolutely prime picking for being shit on because looking through the window at a weirdo in a fleece vest rubbing a cat and then proceeding on to the thong store or whatever is the exact same as having a shitty shit life. You touched a cat. Good for you, shitty life haver. That cat hates you. 

You know what would be an actually good thing in place of a room where you can touch a cat and then leave it there? A cat cafe where you  bring your cat that you own and love and take care of every single day and treat it to a delicious beverage while the two of you sit in peace and harmony and make fun of the idiots looking in at you from outside the window. My cat would be like "pfffft. You can't touch me. Go away please." And I'd be like "yeah."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Corey On: Karaoke Kid Rock, The Memphis Grizzlies

By: Corey C.

I stared at the white karaoke booklet and I couldn’t decide what song I was going to perform.  The Strokes?  I’d already done “Last Nite” several times.  Kanye?  Singing “Amazing” at consecutive karaoke visits is just bad karaoke etiquette. The Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”?  The mood didn’t quite call for it. 

As the third Sublime song of the night came on, I glanced at my two friends who had finally arrived.  “Tonight is the night, guys.”  One of my friends nodded.  The other look puzzled.

I quickly scanned the lyrics on my iPhone.  “Are you looking up the lyrics?” my friend asked me.  I was quietly deciding which lines I would hit the hardest, the lines I would enunciate properly.  I replied: “Kid Rock’s spitting fire on this one.  I must do it justice.”

The song I performed on this night of karaoke is called “Cowboy”. 

Throughout the night, I had been sitting on edge at the bar, watching the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City (OKC) Thunder first round playoff basketball game.  This was the second game of their best of seven series.  Oklahoma City decisively took the first game, winning by 14.  I missed that one, but Kevin Durant lead the Thunder with 33 points, so I imagine his general dominance played a large part in their win.

This match-up between the number 2 seed (OKC) and the number 7 seed (Memphis) had turned out to be a memorable slug-fest.  The Thunder have a disciplined offensive juggernaut in Durant and maniac speed and athleticism in guard Russell Westbrook. 

Memphis are strong on the defensive end, with Tony Allen doing lots of the dirty work.  Allen cannot shoot, but his ability to harass Kevin Durant makes up for that.  Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are huge strong men who the Grizzlies deploy around the rim in order to ruin any driving Thunder player’s day.  Gasol’s no slouch on the offensive end either.  I particularly enjoyed watching him run pick and rolls with point guard Michael Conley. 

Memphis had slowly started pulling away in the fourth quarter, but a crazy comeback by the Thunder kept the game close.  A last-second lay-up from former Celtic and current Thunder(er) Kendrick Perkins sent it into overtime. 

The game was at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the crowd seemed rather into the game, in comparison to the typical listless arenas across the NBA. Unfortunately, the crowd I was physically a part of, at the bar I was sitting at, was intent in making the night as uncomfortable and miserable for me as possible.

One homely girl in a frumpy emerald green dress had shown up alone to sing karaoke.  She had performed the five most tedious and horrid songs from the modern pop songbook.  One was “My Humps.”  One was a typical No Doubt screech.  Another tune discussed her being a hero or needing a hero or both being a hero and not needing a hero.  I didn’t know the names to most of these songs.  Even though I felt pity for her deep-seeded loneliness, I could not help but get excessively annoyed at her, for she insisted upon going up to sing, over and over again.

Three Sublime songs dotted the rest of the proceedings, including that catchy one about date rape.  Aside from a tight rendition of Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, there was not a single good, amusing, or fun performance.  I was getting ready to leave, due to my excessive fucking annoyance, but, since the basketball game went into overtime, I was stuck, and I ordered another round.  And I had no choice but to sign up for karaoke.

After enduring an over-the-top and obvious “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I was asked to take the stage.  When the song started, at least two people groaned.  The schlubby karaoke supervisor/DJ man whispered to a waitress that the bartender gets five extra dollars for every Kid Rock song.

The first verse came at me fast.  I made sure to mention I was “Kid Rock up and down your block” and that I was prepared to “Give a toast to the sun/drink with the stars, Get thrown in the mix/and tossed out of bars” and so on.

By the time the chorus came around, I was out of breath.  I added in “Cowboy Baby” as raunchily as possible during the appropriate moments. 

I was barely ready for the second verse, and during the whistling part I hooted like an owl instead of whistling.  I skipped some of the second verse because I was so pumped for the last verse and I knew I needed to conserve my energy.

The third verse is easily the best part of any Kid Rock song.  It is the epitome of everything Kid Rock stands for.  The third verse is American pop music at its finest.

The third verse starts off with “Yeah, Kid Rock/You can call me Tex, Rollin sunset women/with a bottle of Becks.” 

The carefully constructed verse culminates in two parts.  The first best part: “Cause chaos/rock like Amadeus, Find West Coast pussy/for my Detroit playas.”  I messed up and said rock like Amadeus twice.  I pointed to my friends in solidarity when verbalizing about my Detroit playas.  They pointed back.

The other best part: “I ain’t no G/I’m just a regular failure, I ain’t straight outta Compton/I’m straight out the trailer.  Cuss like a sailor/drink like a Mick, My only words of wisdom are just/Radio Edit.”  I stretched out the “Radio Edit” part for as long as I could.  I didn’t want this moment to end.

As the final chorus came on, and I hammed up the fact that I was a “Cowboy, baby”, I realized I had done the opposite of winning over the crowd.  One of my friends said I did a good job of channeling all the hate in the room.

In my own terms, I had won.  And so had the Grizzlies, 111-105.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

No Duh Report: Elite Fighter Pilots Are Dickheads

By: Ben Johnson

When I found out from this report via the Washington Post that the elite fighter pilots in the Navy’s Blue Angels acrobatic flight squadron kind of act like dickheads in the workplace, I could completely believe my eyes. You mean to tell me that the kind of dudes who would have dedicated their professional lives to the precision manipulation of some of the fastest, loudest, most expensive and dangerous machines humankind has ever constructed, are kind of maybe not that great to work with? I accept that faster than immediately. That is so earth-shatteringly plausible of a thing, it barely warrants mention. It’s like you’re telling me something I already know. You could say “FYI, there are actual human people who do THIS for a living” and I’d go “man, I bet those guys are DICKS,” and we’d be exactly in the same place we are now.

This USA Today report from 2011 says the Navy’s Blue Angels have recently cost taxpayers as much as $37 million a year. Do they make up that money in other ways, for instance in the ways they are intended to make it up, as a marketing tool for the U.S. Navy’s recruitment efforts, or as a presumptive public and visible deterrent of would-be military opponents? Probably not, although there’s no real way to measure those things.

Maybe within every recent Navy recruit, procured for our Government’s strategic use without need of conscription, there’s a small child staring at the sky with their mouth agape, and now here that grown child is, joining the Navy in a resistance-free fugue state which minimizes marketing expenses. I don’t know. I’ve never joined the Navy.

Maybe also the Blue Angels are the reason there’s no such thing as a Taliban Air Force. Maybe they got right up to the part where they were about to fly their jets toward a military target and then said, “No, wait guys, look at this YouTube of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels squadron, there’s no way we’re beating these guys in the manned jet plane dogfights it is totally our intention to engage in.” I don’t know if this happened or not. I’m not a member of the Taliban. I repeat: I AM NOT A MEMBER OF THE TALIBAN.

But very probably not, and in fact of course fucking not, both of those things. Conceptually, the Blue Angels are a $37 million dollar boondoggle. There is a 100% chance of this. The Blue Angels being a tactically pointless expenditure of the U.S. Government’s defense budget is as easy to accept as the fact that the Blue Angel pilots, themselves, probably act like a bunch of unruly, arrogant, sexist cockholes.

But the Blue Angels program is also responsible for jet planes that go whoosh and do loopty loops and then fly low over a football stadium, all together, in as small of a two-dimensional space for six flying airplanes as is humanly possible. The point of the Blue Angels is to be the Blue Angels, and they are that. Very much they are the Blue Angels. Crazy flying airplanes and the crazy flying airplanes guys in those airplanes. They go vroom because America. How much? All the much. Extensively, emphatically, needlessly: America. Our country is fucking awesome, and if you don’t believe us when we say it with our mouths, here’s an annual $37 million worth of dickheads in fighter jets, flying low enough to the ground for you to feel a rumbling in the deepest seams of your jorts (if you’re wearing jorts)((of course you’re wearing jorts)).

Something we know in this country, because we are the greatest country and therefore we thought of it, is that loud jet-powered airplanes flying precision maneuvers in an extraordinarily tight formation is cool. Between the 314 million or so of us, we can totally shell out $37 million a year for this. That’s, like, a dime per person per year. We totally got that. In fact, if you throw in a t-shirt, plenty of us will pay $20. People go crazy for t-shirts. You could even put like an Arby’s logo on it. We wouldn’t care. We just want our stupid loud ridiculous pointless fighter jets. They are awesome, America is awesome, therefore they are America. Done deal.

The Blue Angels aren’t going anywhere.

Am I defending these guys for acting like dickheads at work? Sexualizing the workplace, engaging in lewd conduct and inappropriate communication, ever, anywhere, but especially when that workplace is the Official United States Government of the country we live in? Of course I’m not. Am I blaming the victims for being there in the first place? No way. If you get a government job and it just so happens to be in the same office as the Blue Angels dudes, then you deserve for that not to suck as much as anybody else deserves to have a job not suck, which is, legally, some amount.

All I’m saying is that these guys, U.S. Government employees whose job it is to be highly skilled at a loudly and stupidly awesome activity which offers essentially no practical benefit to anybody, are probably the result of a complicated system of selection biases which renders them extremely likely to be complete dickheads. They probably don’t even think they’re dickheads. They probably think they’re “just blowing off steam,” but are “good guys at the end of the day,” because that’s exactly what dickheads think about themselves which allows them to be dickheads and continue as dickheads. This dickhead line of thought is the same as with business dickheads and politics dickheads and the dickheads in charge of every industry and organization you’ve ever been a part of. They’re in charge because they are or can tolerate dickheads, and they’re dickheads because they’re in charge.

Are the Blue Angels in charge? Of course they’re in charge. They’re flying six jets right at you and then they’re turning those jets, all at the same instant, at the last possible second. That’s their job. How much more in charge can you be? You, American, have a job too. Your job is to watch them be incredible, shit your pants because of how awesome they are at flying jet planes, and not narc on them for cheating on their wives or sending dick pics on a Government phone. It’s a horrible job, but nobody has to do it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Corey On: Carsick Cars, Real Things, Really Carsick Cars

By: Corey C.

There it is. A real-life physical object. Not something I downloaded or burned or ripped. I mean, obviously I already have it illegally downloaded on my computer. How else would I know it was good before I bought it? But whatever, now I own it. It can’t be accidentally deleted or lost in a tragic computer crash. It’s official. I bought a CD in the year 2014. I bought it with fifteen dollars of paper money. No card-sliding or pin-numbering. I used Money to get this. And now it’s Mine.

But before you justifiably call me an old fart, or another stupid 90s hipster, or a hoarder, I’ve gotta further explain why this retro chic exchange had a true purpose and meaning. 

I had grabbed this dandy little creature from the merch guy at the Carsick Cars/Dean Wareham concert at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on April 5, 2014. After retrieval, I stared at this CD for a sec in total awe and disbelief and told the guy, “Hey, this is important stuff here.” And he said, “Yeah, I know.” And this lady standing behind me, she kinda screamed, “YES,” in agreement.

I nodded at the enthusiastic stranger and added, “I can’t believe I’m holding this. I never thought…” I shook my head and stared more and then finally stumbled onto Delancey Street and got on with my life.

What I was trying to spit out to the fellow fan was that I never thought that I’d ever see Carsick Cars play music again, and in fact I thought they were plain nevermore, and maybe never had been, and all this time they were a figment of my imagination. But now they were here and I had genuine non-Internet proof! 

Carsick Cars are from Beijing, China. If there are any journalistic Internet articles about Carsick Cars, chances are, the articles will immediately inform you about Carsick Cars’ country of origin. That’s their most easily marketable characteristic. This was nearly the only significant information I could find out about Carsick Cars on the Internet. They’re from Beijing, China.   

What many of these articles fail to mention is that Carsick Cars have one of the coolest noisy guitar sounds that I’ve ever heard. And that’s the type of music that I listen to most of the time, weirdo noise guitar punk garage rock, so I feel OK about shouting from the hilltops that their guitar sound is fucking awesome and better than most guitar sounds and I’ll even venture to say that I never find them boring.

More than five years ago, November 13, 2009, I saw them in person at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Looking back, the performance seems like another post-college mirage, something that happened to me, but felt more dream-like than real. I had just graduated the past spring and was still getting over the fact that I no longer had a college radio show and I was living at home again and living at home was inevitably giving me flashbacks to high school. I had PTSD. I went back to western Massachusetts to see if I still had a soul. 

My friends and I happened to stumble upon Carsick Cars playing at the dining hall. Who knows why we were on the Hampshire College campus, but what I do know was that a throng of young Chinese women reacted to Carsick Cars like they were The Beatles. By the end of the show, I understood their enthusiasm, and even felt encouraged to jump around to the last couple of their songs, and didn’t even feel self-conscious. 

Soon after that show I fell in love with Carsick Cars’ records. Their 2007 self-titled debut has their greatest song, “Zhong Nan Hai,” but their masterwork is the one I’m holding in my hands in that picture: “You Can Listen, You Can Talk.” It was released in 2009 to such little acclaim that I was almost certain I had made up the entire episode in my mind in order to placate my otherwise depressing existence at the time. But there it is, in my hand, courtesy of Maybe Mars, a Beijing CD label.

I’ve listened to that record so many times that I can’t even properly describe it without drowning in clichés or “sounds like” laziness. I can merely cite statistics to support my obsession: I’ve listened to their best two songs, “Zhong Nan Hai” and the title track from “You Can Listen, You Can Talk”, exactly 132 times each, according my iTunes library. These, of course, are my all-time most-played songs. (I sent the music to our fearless leader Ben, and he said they were like Sonic Youth, but with better songs, even though most of the singing was done in Chinese. I thought this was an apt description.)

These two records have lasted through the past five years, enduring my descent into almost complete disillusionment with modern popular culture and my ever-changing taste. Yet, over that time, I never read, or saw, or heard anything about them anywhere, ever. Even Google couldn’t tell me where to find Carsick Cars. I was stunned that one of my favorite bands barely existed.

Then, suddenly, a few months back, without any warning, there was a lead: during one of my Internet band-searching sessions I found out that Carsick Cars were back.  And they had a new album coming out, called “3.” Plus, allegedly, Carsick Cars were playing with Dean Wareham in New York City at the Bowery Ballroom. Of course, I had to go, to make sure they weren’t a hallucination.

Sure enough, on April 5, 2014, there they were, standing onstage upstairs at the Bowery, belting out the hits from their three records. And of course they ended with “You Can Listen, You Can Talk” and “Zhong Nan Hai.” They sounded great, like they hadn’t been on a mysterious five-year hiatus. It was like they had been playing and touring and impressing for the past five years and were setting the world on fire and were the hottest buzz-band in the world.   

In conclusion, Carsick Cars are real. Even if they disappear for another ten years, I have their CD. It wasn’t a dream. It was real. And the Internet can’t ever take that away.

Note: Dean Wareham was also unbelievable that night, but you knew that already.