As if things couldn’t get any weirder…

I ended up driving in a Demolition Derby on Wednesday night in Cananduigua, NY. It was myself along with 17 other cars, all respectively driven by fellow BMXers from differing companies in the BMX industry.
Going into it, I was pretty ambivalent about the whole prospect, reasoning to myself that it was yet another form of muscular bravado hidden behind a machine and perpetrated by redneck culture. Boy, was I ever wrong!
As we drove into the arena (which was probably the size of about half of a football field), I started to get kinda excited about the prospect of being surrounded by a good number of people I count as dear friends, hellbent on smashing the shit out of each other’s cars. The crowd cheered, we entered back into our vehicles (mine, an early 80s Pontiac Grand Prix), and the flag was dropped.
For about the next 15 minutes, any hint of rationale I once had was gone. It was me, the instinct of defensive driving (which I previously did not know I had), a shitload of mud, and nothing more. I remember hints of what happened, lots of stalling out on behalf of my car’s engine, a few mimicked moves I’ve seen in bad cop movies, and pure carnage. If you know me and you’re reading this, then you probably know that I’m not a very aggressive person. Well, for 15 minutes on this past Wednesday, I may as well have been Hulk Hogan, Rocky Balboa and Mel Gibson circa Lethal Weapon 1-3 all wrapped into one. And it felt good.
When all was said and done, I placed in third after my radiator over heated. My car had no more tires. I was soaked from head to toe with water and mud, and everyone around me was attesting to how amazing the event was.
It was a “BMX” event, so to speak, but there were no bikes and no pressure from anyone to do anything one way or another. And ironically enough, a BMX event involving no bike riding at all was what it took for me to remember what I love about riding my bike and all the amazing people I’ve met along the way because of it. At the end, we were all dirty kids standing amid the wreckage of 18 American-made cars from the early 80s, reveling at the fun we had just encountered, dodging the smoke of over-heated radiators and trying to wipe the mud off of our shoes.
My life keeps getting stranger by the day, but I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world…

Well, it’s not Billy Idol….

But last night, I did bump into Keith Morris, Black Flag’s vocalist before Rollins was part of the band, and the founder of the Circle Jerks. One week ago, he was featured on an IFC (Independent Film Channel) documentary about punk music, and then I randomly run into him at a bar in New York. I said, “Hey, you’re Keith Morris!” And he said, “Yeah I am, how are you?” I said, “I’m good. I just saw you on a VH1 documentary last week.” He froze, staring blankly at the wall, and asked, “What the hell was I doing on VH1? Do you mean IFC?”
I originally did mean to say “IFC,” but I’ve got 4 or 5 different music channels all with three letter names, and after a few drinks, they all blend together into one giant mess of reality programming, Howard Stern, R. Kelly and Ashton Kutcher. And then I told Keith Morris that I had just seen him amid that mess as well.
I quickly recanted, but the damage was done. I may as well have said, “Hey, I just saw you on BET (Black Entertainment Television) last week!”
Keith Morris walked off into the bar’s nether regions, wondering how his fans could confuse his work with the same station that hosts ‘Celebrity Fit Club….’

Lungfish anyone?

I wrote the following thing about the Washington D.C. band Lungfish after the last time I saw them. To be honest, when I first heard them, I really didn’t care for them. But man (and woman), time, as Lungfish has said, “is a weapon of time.” Over time, I appreciate Lungfish more and more with each album they create.
Essentially, they’re all not that different, and most people will attest to that fact. But there’s something about them, and the fact that they continue to unabashedly pursue the sound they first realized in 1988, that makes me a bigger fan with each album they produce.
I know there’s eventually going to be a time when I won’t be able to expect a new Lungfish album every year or so, and though I don’t look forward to that time, I am aware that it approaches. Maybe that explains why I’m so entralled by their music? Becuase I’m ultimately surprised that the band is still doing something that they set out to do a very, very long time ago?
I honestly can’t explain, I just know whom I was, whom I am now, and additionally, that Lungfish has been there for a good portion of it. That speaks to me (duh!)….

To exist is to change. Nothing created can remain static throughout it’s existence. It is the nature of evolution and the law of life, something Baltimore’s Lungfish has been ducking since the late 80’s.
Lungfish has played what some might call “the same song” since around 1988, maturing in slightness through the droning two-chord structures of hypnotic and meditative repetition; but still adhering to and refining the “sameness” aesthetic that was created over 15 years ago in a Baltimore practice space.
It is this consistency of “sameness” that has remained with Lungfish throughout their existence. Outside of writing songs, making records and the odd tour, there are no preconceived notions of growth, promotion or fame among the band. The one seemingly true goal among the collective members of Lungfish is the music, and that fact has neither faded nor faltered. The song (and aim) has consistently remained the same.
Lungfish, by definition, is a band. Yet, the parameters that define the business driven, marketable motivations of many current independent bands is nowhere to be found among the four members of the “band.” Interviews are rarely given, the band members remain staunchly guarded over their personal lives, and the only form of promotions outside of releasing new records is the live Lungfish show; an exercise in espousing the other-wordly imagery of Daniel Higgs’ lyrics, filled with riddles of organic creation, existence, and the devolution of being.
The Lungfish live show, though prophetic in deliverance, is not a common occurrence. Lungfish tours are sporadic, as band members split their time between playing with other bands, writing books and working as tattoo artists. It is this start and stop rhythm that may well attest to the band’s longevity, as well as the band’s “sameness.”
As periods of activity give way to periods of inactivity, the collective members of Lungfish separate and regroup, only to start over again with each new album released on Washington D.C.’s Dischord Records.
With each new album, Lungfish regroups to write the “same song,” growing organically from within, more accurate and slightly more mature. (Just not enough to let a true fan feel as if the familiarity of their old friend Lungfish was gone.)
Impervious to the notions of time and change, the members of Lungfish exist. It is this static existence that has bore them a status some would call legendary. But for Lungfish, it seems that a static existence simply allows Lungfish to be, Lungfish. Lungfish exists because their “sameness” allows them to.

The latest Lungfish album, ‘Feral Hymns,’ is available from Dischord Records, online at www.dischord.com.

I was gonna say narcissism….

But it actually pertains to a “love for one’s own sexual organs,” not the more widely believed “love or interest in one’s self. If you think I’m lying, look it up on Merriam Webster. So instead, I’ll be using the word egocentric, which means “limited in outlook or concern to one’s own activities or needs.”
And why would I be using either term. Well, as you might have heard or saw or read about today, there was a terrorist attack in the London Underground and on a London City Bus. A large number of people on their way to work in and around the Liverpool St. Station were injured, and a good portion of them lost their lives.
And how does the U.S. centric media react to this tragedy? They immediately start examining what is being done to protect America’s public transportation systems, instead of offering consistent, consice information on the London attack. They offer images of police and dogs in the Hoboken train station, show troops in the NY subway system, and even display alternate routes people can take to work tomorrow to avoid public transportation.
Sure, we got brief glimpses of the attack on London, and random maps and first hand accounts, but the majority of cable news I actually caught focused on the mass amount of security weaknesses in and around the NYC area’s public transportation systems, and what was being done to quell the fears of the local population in the greater NY/NJ area.
Yeah, I understand people get scared and want some feeling of comfort in times of stress like these, but man, what a slap in the face to the millions of people directly affected by this bombing. If America was a person, here’s what I think it’d be saying to London today:

America: “Thanks a lot for reminding me about all this terrorism crap. We were just getting over all this shit, and then, you had to come along and slap it in our faces again!”

London: “I’m sorry you feel so overburdened America. The sad truth is, we had an attack, and we suffered losses because of it. Have you no empathy?”

America: “As a matter of fact, no. Do you think most of my citizens even know about the Madrid bombings from last year…”

It would continue on and on with no solution, and make me even more mad to finish that imaginary conversation. The truth is, everyone in the world is affected by the effects of terrorism, but I get the feeling from the US cable news networks that we’re not supposed to care about it unless it’s on our own soil, or that we’re only supposed to worry about ourselves, instead of the hundreds of people that were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time on Thursday morning in London. Some might call it narcissistic, I call it egocentrism.

Meaningless Reviews

I applied for a writing job for a website simply looking for reviews of just about anything you could think of. On paper, it sounds like a good idea; grab a bunch of writers that can tackle a varied number of topics from porn to liquor to music to clothing, pay them a nomial fee to review whatever they encounter in life, and make a website out of it for people of all shapes and size to enjoy. I doubt it’ll amount to anything, but I decided to apply, and so i wrote a review of some cheap whiskey I found at the local liquor store. See what you can accomplish when it’s raining and you choose not to watch TV? It’s a big world out there, full of meaningless shit to review for the Internet. What are you waiting for?

EARLY TIMES KENTUCKY WHISKEY
$10.99 for 750 ml
40% ALC/VOL
80 PROOF
by Brian Tunney

My local liquor store, like most taverns in the area, is square-shaped. Each wall is divided into types of liquor. Beer graces one wall, wine another, hard liquor still another, while the remaining wall is divided up between mixers, party favors such as peanuts and pretzels, and a refrigerated section.
The store is arranged to feature the more expensive, higher quality beverages of each sort in the center of their respective walls, with the cost and quality of the beverage lined walls depleting as you move away from the center and outwards to the corners of the store. If you’re looking for Jack Daniels, you’d look somewhere in the center of the wall, but if your wallet isn’t quite up the task of paying for a night out with Jack, then you’d begin your nightly excursion outwards into the corner.
This is the home of Early Times Kentucky Whiskey, sitting in a row of dusty bottles under the artificial light of a Budweiser display. I get the feeling that the owners of my local liquor store don’t even want their customers to find Early Times Whiskey along the walls, but after an exhaustive search with only $12.00 in my pocket, I had uncovered the holy grail and simultaneous downfall of many drinkers: cheap whiskey!
Early Times Kentucky Whiskey is from Kentucky (duh), and claims to be aged in oak barrels to unleash its special smoothness and flavor. The Early Times Distillery has been knocking out their brand of whiskey since 1860, and it’s formula features “crystal clear Kentucky water, select grains and a special yeast.” Unfortunately for Early Times, I’ve been to Kentucky more than a few times, and aside from the bottled water I’ve had while in the state, I can safely say that I’ve never seen any actual “crystal clear Kentucky water.” I’ve seen all shades of brown, but nothing that could ever qualify as “crystal” or “clear.”
All label discrepancies aside, Early Times Kentucky Whiskey isn’t what you’d be led to believe by either its price or location within my local liquor store. Upon first opening the bottle, it smells and tastes like any cheap whiskey shot you’d down in a bar for $5.00. But it goes down remarkably smooth with little to no burn, leaving the drinker with the familiar warmth of what’s to come, never drowning the moment in sharpness or bitterness.
Aside from the water claim, Early Times does seem to be living up to their bottle spoken claims, as the whiskey emits a genuine down home taste without nary a hint of artificiality or overpowering alcohol. One could in fact say, Early Times’ taste is as subtle as its placement on the wall in my local liquor store.
Then comes morning. I’ve been told that hangovers go hand in hand with cheap liquor, and judging from my past experiences with various whiskies and vodkas of plastic-bottled origins, the theory seems to be right on the mark. Early Times is bottled in glass, but the facade ends there. While it does go down remarkably smooth, it also has the ability to leave the body in remarkably rough shape when overdone. So in a way, it may have earned its placement in a dark, dusty corner of my local liquor store. Maybe the owner had a bad run-in with Early Times himself, who knows?
Early Times Kentucky Whiskey isn’t all bad. When taken in moderation, it does have the ability to fool even the toughest whiskey connoisseur, but when taken a bit far, Early Times translates into rough times. The label may be a bit misleading or over the top, and the aftermath isn’t something anyone should want to get to know, but hey, $12.00 for whiskey that can you fool Christmas party house guests with isn’t too bad at all. Give em a shot or two, tell them it’s Jack Daniels, and go searching that corner in the liquor store for more hidden treasures….