The Chocolate Shoe

Slowly but surely, my house is filling with a wide and varied assortment of Nike 6.0 promotional paraphernalia. Anything they brainstorm lands in my PO Box, my car and then my house before I can figure out what in the hell I’m actually going to do with it. It started sometime last year. I got a box. Inside were shoes and about 100 high-density rubber balls. I held onto them, and they’ve proven quite useful on late nights when I’m bored and the neighbor across from us parks their car in the street, complete with a ghetto-ized car alarm that goes off if you even look at the car. One ball bounce out the window and across the street is all it takes to connect with the car and make the alarm go off. I used the last ball the other night…

And then came another box a few months later. This one also had shoes, but instead of balls, there were feathers. Lots of them. I fished the shoes out, scattered feathers everywhere and quickly ran to the garbage cans in the back yard to get rid of the feather box. But it was too late; I had left a trail of feathers from the house to the garbage. Later on, after getting most of the feathers in the garbage, I had the bedroom window open, which is conveniently located next to the back door of the apartment, next to the trash bins. Then a neighbor walked through the back door to throw some trash away, and I heard, “Holy shit, someone fucking killed a chicken out here” ring through the window…

But this new package might just one-up both of those experiences. A box arrived the other day, which I thought was a pair of shoes. A very heavy pair of shoes. After I opened the box, I thought to myself, “That’s weird, there’s only one.” And then I realized what it was. A chocolate shoe. A four-pound chocolate shoe, modeled after the Nike 6.0 Air Insurgent.

It’s been sitting on our mantle ever since, next to some Austin Powers characters. And I feel the need to share this chocolate shoe with the world. So here it is, along with Dr. Evil, Austin and a fembot. Enjoy…

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It’s Never OK To Play The Bully

There’s two kinds of security guards in the world; ones getting paid to do their job, and ones that get paid to do their job but also abuse the tiny bit of authority that they’re awarded as a result of the job they’re paid to do. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the two.

The first kind are pretty straightforward about their situation. You might be riding or skating somewhere when the first type of security guard rolls up. Invariably, they’ll say, “Hey man, I know you’re not hurting anyone or anything, but it’s part of my job to tell you to leave.” Most of the times, they’re actually cool about it too. They’ll bullshit with you from time to time, and in most of my experiences, they’ll even offer up the place they’re supposed to be guarding after they leave or after they’re done working. I love these security guards, and they get my respect.

Then there’s the second kind. Who knows when they first tasted power and why they took it amongst themselves to abuse it, but somehow they did. It might’ve been someone that was bullied as a kid by school mates, parents or anything in life that exerted power and authority onto them. But invariably, they’ve chosen to perpetuate this abuse of power, under the guise of the security guard. I have no love for this kind, and as often as I’ve come to face them, I’ve made it my lot in life to not back down from them. And yes, they’re unfortunately more common than the first kind.

Tonight in Weehawken, I came across the second kind, riding a manual pad not far from my house. I saw him watching me for close to 10 minutes, but chose to keep riding. And sure enough, he walked up to me. He had a winter hat on that read ‘Weehawken Parks Department’ but was plain clothes aside from that. He was between 50-60 years old, and very round. He told me to stop riding “up and down” the manual pad. I immediately responded that I was riding across the manual pad, and not “up and down,” then asked what his definition of up and down was. He responded by saying that I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike where I was, so I asked him for some identification. He showed me a ten-year old NJ driver’s license and said he worked for the parks department and that I better “Get the fuck out of there.” I noticed a condom in the wallet. He got in my face and told me again to “Get the fuck out.” I told him to call the police and that I didn’t believe he had the authority to tell me to leave. He said, “Fine, get your phone out and call them.” I said that it wasn’t my job to call the police to tell me to leave somewhere I shouldn’t be with a bike. I have half a brain, why would I incriminate myself? He got in my face again, and said “I’m not calling the police and you better fucking leave.” I got right back in his face and said, “I’m not leaving unless the cops tell me to.” Frustrated, the meatball gave up, started walking away briskly and yelling that he was gonna call the police. When he was a few feet away, I yelled, “You better throw that condom away cause you’re never gonna find a women to use it on.” He continued walking away and the cops never came for the 20 more minutes I rode the manual pad.

When I did ultimately leave, I felt like I won a tiny little victory. I know that riding bikes and/or skating is a problem in most places, and I’m more than happy to comply with security guards when they treat me like a real person. But the minute security approaches me as an object to exercise power over, I’m going to fight back.

So the next time you run into the first kind of security guard, respect the fact that they’re respecting you. But when the power hungry security guard pokes his fat head in on your session, demand identification from them, ask explicit questions about why you’re being confronted by them and stand up for yourself. Don’t let the fucking bastards try to exert what little authority they think they have over you.

It’s never OK to play the bully.

Keep Your Eyes Open

(This originally appeared in Dig BMX issue #61.)

51atxnxgkql_aa240_.jpgSomewhere in the Washington, DC area, in 1986, the band Fugazi was formed. Consisting of veteran players in the DC hardcore scene, including Brendan Canty, Joe Lally, Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto, Fugazi took their name from a book of interviews conducted with soldiers in Vietnam. The meaning of the word, a soldier’s slang term for “fu*ked up situation,” reflected the politicized world view of guitarist/vocalist Ian Mackaye. The band played their first show on September 3, 1987. Mackaye described their final song of the set as being about “What the heck we could do if we did,” and launched into ‘Waiting Room.’ Twenty years later, even with Fugazi as a band in the past tense, they’ve heeded their own advice to “Not sit idly by.”

From Fugazi’s beginning, the band’s methods were counterintuitive to the commercial process of forming a band. In fact, Fugazi operated completely independent of the commercial music industry, forgoing profit-minded motives in favor of an autonomous musical entity that could inspire change across a broad spectrum of anything that came into contact with Fugazi (including record companies, music publications, concert venues, and yes, even the fans.) Fugazi booked its own worldwide tours, produced, recorded and manufactured their entire catalog of music, including seven studio albums, one soundtrack, three EPs and 30 concert CDs produced from Fugazi’s own soundboard recordings (through Mackaye’s own Dischord Records), maintained a ticket price that averaged $5 and rarely hit $8, and never marketed or licensed its name or likeness for posters, t-shirts, pins or other merchandise items. The band, the music, and the movement it created, for lack of a better word, was a revolution. One that hasn’t lost its grasp on the world since Fugazi went on indefinite hiatus in 2002.

Revolutions can be mysterious though. And as a group of four musicians, Fugazi remained largely mystifying for the better part of twenty years. Their records often featured only one or two group snapshots of the band, and the live show rarely, if ever, beckoned the members of Fugazi to step outside of the entity known as Fugazi. Affixed to these already confounding circumstances was Fugazi’s general aversion to publicity, including interviews. The end result, outside of the few fans that undertook painstakingly etymological approaches to Fugazi’s music and lyrics, was that fans of Fugazi rarely, if ever, were offered true candid portraits of the members of Fugazi as people. Keep Your Eyes Open, a new photographic documentation of Fugazi by iconic photographer Glen E. Friedman, smashes that perception, personifying and growing alongside each member of Fugazi throughout their 20-year history.

Friedman, best known for his work with some of the most incendiary musical outfits, including Black Flag, Ice-T, The Dead Kennedys, The Misfits, Bad Brains, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Public Enemy, as well as the Dogtown skateboarding movement (as seen in the movie Dogtown and Z Boys), witnessed Fugazi towards the beginning of their career, and vowed to photograph the band as often as possible. His impetus was simple: “I loved this band… so much that they changed photography for me.”

The 112-page, hardcover book presents an unparalleled look at Friedman’s photographic documentation of Fugazi’s members in almost 200 color and black and white images captured onstage and off between 1986 and Fugazi’s last U.S. concert in 2002. Friedman isn’t necessarily documenting Fugazi though. Anyone that has encountered Fugazi live can document the band through photo. It takes something else to step inside the band and outwardly reflect the candid mystery that kept so many of us fans wondering what made Fugazi tick. Friedman possesses whatever that is. And finally, on the twentieth anniversary of Fugazi’s first live performance (September 3, 2007), he is sharing his collection of Fugazi photography with the world.

To Friedman, the members of Fugazi were not just friends. And the energy they created was not just music. It was a new challenge, one that pushed Friedman away from commercialized artificial lighting. In the words of Friedman, “Flash photography distracts attention from where it should be focused at a show – on the band. Composing images that technically mirrored the organic, democratic, charged and generous ethos of Fugazi in an aesthetically sensible and symmetric style became my goal.” Accordingly, the goal was pursued, and accordingly, the goal was reached. Friedman’s live shots mirror the intensity, emotion and utter grit that encapsulated Fugazi’s music. But there’s more.

Though Keep Your Eyes Open is full of Fugazi in the live element, there are also pages upon pages of Fugazi the band, standing around with their photographer friend, taking snapshots. And personally, this is where the mystery of Fugazi is erased. Yes, Fugazi for myself was mythic. But at the end of the day, they were also people. And Friedman’s ability to bring out their human-ness, their vulnerabilities and their playfulness is the last great piece of the puzzle for me. Between photos of bassist Joe Lally on his laptop, group shots alluding to the sense that a joke had just been made off-camera, and the book’s inherent ability to gracefully grow alongside the members of Fugazi as they age from passionate youth into passionate middle age, the humanity of Fugazi as people, and not a band, is ultimately delivered. And that is the greatest gift that Keep Your Eyes Open has awarded the band and the mystery that once was Fugazi.

Keep Your Eyes Open, The Fugazi Photographs of Glen E. Friedman’ is available online through Dischord Records.

Shadows

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Every night I go to ride flatland in the parking garage down the street, I have to descend a flight of stairs that goes down to the water next to the Hudson River. I’m assuming that it’s lit up really bright so no one gets mugged or anything, but the lights along the stairs create some really ominous shadows of myself. Especially on the very cold nights when the heavy winter coat needs to come out.

Here are two from last night. I apologize for the ongoing Star Wars themes here, but you’ve got to admit, the one shadow looks exactly like Darth Vader standing next to a flatland bike…

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Boba Fett in New York City

It’s done. And I feel like a total dork for having wasted a lot of time on it, but at least it’s done. And I’m done writing in the Star Wars realm; it’s way too much research…

It ended up being 30 pages in MS Word, so be warned, it’s lengthy. And be warned anyway, it’s real dorky. But just in case you do like it, please spread the word. Thanks.

Go here: http://bobafettny.wordpress.com

Flying Alarm Clock

I saw this in Rite Aid last night. It’s an alarm clock with propeller-driven key that leaps off your night stand when the alarm goes off. To turn off the racket, you’ve got to retrieve the key and place it back in the stand. It’s fucking funny. Anyways, I don’t even need to do the explaining since there’s a YouTube demo. Check it below…