Monday, July 30, 2007

Oh, Ignoble Sport!

Around the time I turned 19, sports began to recede from my group of interests. I didn’t know why, nor did I care; blissfully, I stopped straining to check box scores, stopped debating the merits of interleague play, and stopped pacing in front of the TV during important games. An apathetic athletic year passed, though I tried to convince myself I still gave some sort of shit: I remember staying up until three in the morning in January 2004 while somebody in America gave me the play-by-play of the Jets’ last-minute playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But my heart wasn’t in it. I was trying too hard, like a boyfriend trying to talk himself into liking the girl he’s been dating for a couple of years.

So, like any terrified boyfriend would do, I went to relationship counseling with sports, and gradually built my interest back to somewhere near where it used to be. At this point, I’m too old to believe that sports matter very much, but I let monopolize my downtime and I’ll even watch a game once in a while. I’m pretty consistent with watching playoff games, and I’ll rarely miss a championship game. I’m what my sports-loving friends would call a casual fan, and what my religious friends would call a sports addict.

I attribute my waning interest to how spoiled I was during my formative sports-loving years. Between Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, and Jerry Rice, I saw the best athletes to ever compete in hockey, basketball, and football, respectively. Babe Ruth is the only “best ever” from the four major sports whom I didn’t get to see. I also had Pete Sampras in tennis, Tiger Woods in golf, and Carl Lewis in track. Unbeknownst to be, the mid-to-late nineties was a golden age in sports, and the athletes were, literally, the best ever. I was too young to have perspective, and so I assumed that every generation hence would offer the same sublime levels of talent and transcendent sports moments.

For the most part, I was wrong. Joe Carter’s walk-off home run in the 1993 world series ( is still the greatest single sports moment I’ve ever witnessed. No one’s even approached Gretzky or MJ, and the only football player to enter the “best ever” discussion since Rice retired (Tom Brady) is a white bread, do-gooder quarterback playing for a faceless team. Swiss tennis star Roger Federer and Woods are the only two active transcendent sports figures, and neither of them plays a team sport, let alone a major sport.

Meanwhile, each of the majors is in turmoil. Hockey, for one, is hardly a “major” anymore after the disastrous lockout a couple of years ago. The NHL does not have a good TV contract, has sagging attendance, has only one marketable star (Sidney Crosby), and receives virtually no media coverage. In the grand market, hockey is worse off than ultimate fighting. The other three majors—basketball, football, and baseball—are mired in crises of their own. Basketball faces the worst internal struggle of the three, as it recently came to light that referee Tim Donaghy bet on games in which he officiated, and quite possibly fixed the outcome of numerous important contests.

The NFL, however, has the worst public relations issue, as Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick—the Falcons’, and perhaps the league’s, most recognizable star—was indicted last week on federal dog fighting charges. Dog carcasses and dog fighting equipment were found on his property, and all evidence points to his involvement in one of the cruelest, most senseless, and despicable types of crime.

Of the three sports, though, Major League Baseball has the most persistent, pain-in-the-ass dilemma: steroids. Years of speculation that name-brand stars, as well as lesser players, took illegal muscle enhancers have come to a head with Barry Bonds’ pursuit of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record. This is bigger than Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chasing Roger Maris in the summer of 1998—this is one of the five best players of all time, and certainly the most reviled player of all time, standing on the precipice of breaking the most hallowed sports record of all time. It’s impossible to believe that Bonds did not take steroids, but the lack of concrete proof means that millions of devoted sports fans have to sit by helplessly while a nefarious, ornery cheater rapes sports’ most glorious benchmark.

Thank God I’m not one of those millions. Anymore.

Stay Subdued, Sports Fandom
DJ Detached

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

iTunes: iLike Them

It’s a wonder that I listen to good music. I came up on my parents’ Billy Joel and R.E.M tapes, in much the same way that lifelong Beatles fans are spawned at an early age in their parents’ minivans on road trips to see their cousins in Buffalo. Exposure to Joel, the prince of failed marriages, left in me an indelible predilection for sniffing out the genius in well-orchestrated, indulgent, ornate rock ‘n roll. I’m convinced that Billy Joel subliminally pointed me towards Queen, Rufus Wainwright, Elton John, and even Axl Rose. Some time thereafter, I became heavily involved with the Counting Crows, but only “August And Everything After.” Then, suddenly, Metallica and Rage Against the Machine and Korn and Anthrax and Black Sabbath and Megadeth and Deep Purple (and even Everclear) were all I knew. My tastes shifted from happy, positively directed pop/rock to deeply angry, thrashy sonics. I wasn’t alone—everyone I knew forged years-long relationships with some pissed-off band, and we were broken into camps: my tribe undulated in our rooms with Metallica, some skipped the foreplay and went right for Slayer and the Deftones, while others trod the middle ground and spent their teenage careers on Pantera and Sevendust.

I was especially enamored with Metallica. My first real concert was the S&M show at Madison Square Garden in November 1999, when years of agonizing over every single note of every single guitar solo climaxed in a 3-hour orgasm. Metallica and the St. Luke’s Orchestra pleasured the hell out of me and 20,000+ other pumped motherfuckers. I was just beginning my freshman year at an all-boys’ yeshiva high school in Teaneck, NJ, so, like anybody else in that position would have done, I let Metallica’s adrenal phantasmagoria have its way with my system of beliefs: I knew—knew—that I was a Metallica lifer. Like all the 50- and 60-somethings at MSG with me that night, I took Metallica as my one and only, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health.

Then three things happened. First, I embarked upon a steady diet of substances and Pink Floyd. The combination opened my eyes to perverse pleasure and misery far beyond what Metallica could offer. Second, Metallica released the album “St. Anger” and the movie “Some Kind of Monster,” the latter of which documented the near-breakup that preceded the former. I’ve never been more let down by an album or a band’s self-centeredness, and I began to question 1999’s post-S&M Metallica marriage. Third, I went to Israel after high school, and by interacting with dozens of new faces I realized that I knew nothing about music. Nothing. While I knew virtually everything about the 15 or so bands that I loved, I couldn't identify a single detail about anyone else. I couldn’t name an Allman brother. Couldn’t put the Beatles’ catalogue in order. I thought “Hit the Road Jack” was something the New Jersey Nets wrote for when an opposing player fouled out. I knew about 2 Rolling Stones songs, and they were both "Satisfaction."

So I went to work, compiling a borrowed library of thousands and thousands of new (for me) songs, and put myself through an abbreviated education in popular and unpopular music. I consumed everything from Beck to Berlioz, from Radiohead to the Roots. I burned CD’s, made mixes, and spent hours poring over my friends’ iPods. Besides, I was mired in yet another all-boys’ institution, this one in a Jerusalem bedroom community, and there was nothing else to do. Metallica became a thing of the past, as did Rage and System of a Down. I became a clearing for something new.

But nothing new ever stuck. While I had previously fixated on a few groups and let the others slide, I now confronted the opposite problem: I let nothing slide, but I didn't fixate on anything, either. My tastes became an expansive, level, unbiased showroom where no car stood out from any other. Meanwhile, I was getting more serious about playing bass, and single riffs and phrases became just as important as whole songs or lyrical messages. In other words, at the same time that nothing in particular caught my ear, I just wanted to hear music—experimental and out-of-the-box, regardless of how reputable it was or wasn't.

Enter Sigur Ros. The Benevento/Russo Duo. Electoronica, house, dance, trance, techno, and all kinds of hip-hop: Michael Jackson, Blackalicious, Wu Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, Common, and R. Kelly. Afrobeat. Country. With high school and its socio-musical pressures gone, I could sit back and take in anything I wanted, without a clique to satisfy or a lunchroom conversation to dominate. Eventually, smaller ensembles got redundant, and I introduced big bands and orchestras into the mix. World, West African, protest, pop—it all had a place in the pantheon.

These days, I sit before my computer, scrolling through iTunes and hoping for something novel to pop up during a shuffle. Tonight, it’s Bobby Sanabria’s “Big Band Urban Folktales,” and yesterday it was Ryan Keberle’s “Double Quartet.” Tomorrow, it could be anything. Even Metallica.

Stay Swinging, Sanabria
DJ Drum Solo

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Avi Shimon Christopherson Returns

Avi Shimon Christopherson was back in Far Rockaway this weekend, sporting a freshly groomed beard and a minimally withered figure. Nutritious eating is not the hallmark lifestyle staple in Tsfat that it is supposed to be here—I suppose a box of Wheaties and apples don’t mix well with mysticism and soul connectivity. Said assumptions in hand, I stood in a living room in Far Rockaway on Friday night, white-clad and looking very much like the captain of a secular Jewish cruise ship. I lifted my eyes across the room, where Mr. Christopherson was in a transfixed fit of prayer, and wondered where all my inspiration had gone. Certainly, I thought, a spatial reunion with my foremost spiritual mentor should provide some clues as to why I went from cave-room hippie to neo-college boat impresario. Unfortunately, my gaze revealed nothing, and I remained as bereft as I came, not so much searching for answers, but half expecting them to be there anyway. Like an anti-terror agent in Baghdad, I wasn’t necessarily hoping for a development, but I was puzzled as to why there weren’t any. Not distraught, not forlorn, and far from broken, but underwhelmed.
My languishing spirit not yet explicated, I commandeered my outfit to my dinner destination just as a pair of borrowed flip-flops began torturing the web of skin between my toes. I drank wine. I ate chicken. I had dessert. I pretended to take an interest in politics. I defended Snoop Dogg. I realized that, no matter where I go, somebody wants to know if I’ve ever met a rock star. And that, whether I say yes or no, that somebody assumes I have, and wants to know, further, if I can introduce them to a rock star. And that, whether I say I can or I can’t, that person forgets about the whole thing in 10 minutes. That’s hardly surprising, with the shelf life on celebrity worship being what it is, but it’s mildly insulting, since when they forget that they enjoined me to do something, their forgetting disenfranchises me, both in conversation and in general. Since it happens so frequently, furthermore, I find myself thoroughly disenfranchised, such that I’m almost sure I have a sadistic, festering knot of identity issues that I have to suppress. And who has the time?
I’ll try to catch Avi Shimon Christopherson at least once more in the upcoming weeks, and perhaps a few times overall before he lands back in the Mediterranean sun, in the comfortable, charged pocket whence he came. With non-existent expectations and a cynical ethos, I will not be disappointed—regardless of whether I find the answers I may or may not be looking for. I just want to spend a few more Friday nights atop marble parallelograms in a Long Island living room, dressed like a strip club mogul and ruing my religious indolence. If, in that moment, an answer truncates the interminable procession of unanswerable spiritual questions, I will not be upset. But I will not be thrilled, either, because with clarity comes responsibility. And who has the time?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Isn't He Lovely

So much for enlightenment. That was all I had to say, to myself, as I watched Stevie Wonder battle for vocal supremacy with Grover. In 1973. On Sesame Street. Well, on YouTube, but you get the picture. I was entranced by Stevie, of course, but far more transfixed by Grover, and envious of the latter’s nonchalance in relating to superstars. I’m much more of a sycophant than Grover, and I would certainly never tease Stevie Wonder.

The pair made me giggle. The whole way through, I chuckled like I was 8 years old and talking to my best friend about boobs. And that’s when it hit me: so much for enlightenment. So much for Candide, Foucault, Wordsworth, Einstein, Leibniz, Darwin, Van Gogh, and everyone else who never had Jim Henson’s hand up their ass. After years of pursuing intellectual perfection, I found it staring back at me from my pock-marked 12” iBook G4. And it wore two faces, one a soul wunderkind and another a faded, dingy blue puppet. For all the strides I’d made in breaking away from and growing out of Sesame Street, I was right back there, my cerebral wanting sated by a 33-year-old childrens’ television program. I bestow this gift upon all of you:

Serendipity drove me to this clip, but it was fortuitous—if not planned—since Stevie Wonder has been a recent obsession. “Songs in the Key of Life” is such an effective opus, in fact, that I often wish to have grown up black in a segregated society just so I could better identify with his music. His musicianship and efficacy are virtually unparalleled—the top layer of male Motown solo artists looks like this: Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, and even Michael Jackson fail to resonate as brilliantly on as broad a range of material as Wonder and Gaye.

Between that top pair, though, Wonder clearly has the edge, since he is the far more virtuosic and prodigious of the two. He signed with Motown Records when he was 11, had his first hit single (“Fingertips (Pt. 2)”) when he was 13, sold over 100 million records, won 22 Grammy Awards, had nine #1 hits, and plays about 8 instruments. Furthermore, while you could spend your entire life arguing over who has the better voice, and while the answer lies exclusively in a given peson’s taste, I’m tempted to give Stevie the edge, but not just over Marvin—over everyone. His timbre, phrasing, rhythm, melody, harmony, lyricism, range, and charisma are the best I’ve ever heard, including…dare I say it…please don’t tell him I said this…and I won’t say it again…Justin Timberlake.

Not enough has been made of his triumph over his lost faculties. It’s not just his sight; in fact, the same year he appeared on Sesame Street, Wonder permanently and completely lost his sense of smell in a car crash. Operating without 40% of his base senses, he released “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” the next year and “Songs in the Key of Life” in 1976. Between the years of 1974 and 1977, Wonder won three of the four Album of the Year Grammys that were awarded, for “Innervisions” in 1974, “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” in 1975, and then “Songs in the Key of Life” in 1977 (Paul Simon won the award in 1976 for “Still Crazy After All These Years”).

Public television is blessed that Wonder traded vocal phrases with Grover 33 years ago, with primitive bling hanging from his neck, and an unbridled supernova's spry confidence entrenched on his face. I have finally found enlightenment, and it is truly a Wonder.

Stay with Stevie, Sesame Street
MC Melismatic

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Once I Figure Out How To Get Famous, I Will Be Famous

The only difference between Bob Marley and me is context. Sure, he may be dead while I may—may—be alive, and he may have hailed from Jamaica while I was born and bred in a great-to-do New Jersey suburb. Macro-culturally, however, the only thing that separates him from me is his universal acclaim. At its root, we’re both folks who decided to pursue music via a stringed instrument. His context, however, far outweighs mine: he is a “poet and a prophet,” according to Anthony Kiedis, a venerated human rights revolutionary, the subject of documentaries, biographies, tribute albums, posters, and Jamaican national pride. I am a semi-lazy bassist who primarily plays alone, or, if not, in front of no more than a couple of hundred people. Our essences are the same, however, just as Michael Jordan and I are both people who play basketball, or Buzz Aldrin and I are both interested in outer space. What makes the former a hero and me a nobody is simply context—Aldrin is, culturally, a celebrated astronaut, and I am not. Jordan is a sports hero of unparalleled prestige, and I am not. But that has nothing to do with Jordan, or Aldrin, or Marley, per se. The world could just as easily ignore them as it does me or anybody else, and then they, too, would be people who perform a certain task to little or no fanfare. Popular lionization is what truly separates the men from the boys.

With that in mind, there is a varied pool of heroes in which we tread: Marley, Jordan, Aldrin, Hendrix, Marin Luther, Martin Luther King, Paul Revere, Einstein, Jonas Salk, Shakespeare, Gandhi, Suess, etc. Some are more hallowed than others, but all are regarded as indispensable cultural fixtures. I, on the other hand, am not. All of these people somehow struck a chord with the general public, and enlivened in others a profound desire and need to exalt them. Perhaps these icons’ excellence aroused in onlookers a hint of their own potential transcendence, so that the latter latched on to a vicarious greatness. Or, more likely, there is a definitive psychosomatic formula for greatness, such that if one achieves the finite checklist of “great” qualities, one will be worshipped as a result. In short, the only difference between Bob Marley and me is context, sure, but the ACTUAL difference is that Marley fulfilled the prerequisites for that context, and I have not. Marley discharged (ha!) the basic elements that assure canonization, while I continue to listen to the Damnwells and drink watery coffee in my room.

Just think about it—not all of those people deserve their “hero” status. Paul Revere was instructed to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that, as we all know, “the British are coming.” Revere managed to tell a few others along the way, and the next day there were about 40 riders carrying news of the impending British offensive. That’s all he did. He didn’t fight a battle that night, he didn’t run on foot for hours on end, and he didn’t save a cat from a tree. He simply did his job (and, by the way, he didn’t even do it alone; both he and William Dawes went on the “midnight ride,” which is an absolutely spectacular name for any activity that takes all night and involves two men and two horses); yet, he is an patriotic hero, and Dawes is not. Many men lost their lives in the Revolutionary War and were never to be heard from again; such was not the case, however, with Revere.

I don’t know exactly what those things are that make someone occupy a worshipped context, but I will figure it out. And when I do, I will exploit that knowledge for my own aggrandizement, and I will prey on fawning, loving people for my own hedonistic gains. Til then, it’s back to the Damnwells and diluted Hazelnut. But not for long.

Stay Sublimated, My Own Glory
MC Marley

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

From a Barcalounger to a Barstool

We’ve entered a new stratosphere of blog luxury (or “blogulence,” if you will). I’m reporting on the universe’s most pressing concerns from my new leather semi-recliner, which came with a matching ottoman and a supernal twenty degree TV-viewing angle. I’m just a crack pipe and a Canon PowerShot away from being kicked off Facebook forever.

The first item I will address from the black throne (metaphor?) comes courtesy of Sexy Bensy, who queried in response to a previous blog about whether or not the word “bastard” applies to girls. The answer is yes, both linguistically and conceptually. On the linguistic front, a bastard refers to anybody, boy or girl, born to unmarried parents. Furthermore, in our increasingly vulgar patois, virtually anyone or anything can be a bastard, including women, inanimate objects, disagreeable philosophical positions, and traffic. Conceptually, bastard is seen to be even more universal, as the notion of something illegitimate or born of sin far outreaches gender-specific confines. Still, calling a girl a bastard, or having her call herself one, is weird. Maybe that’s because we’re socialized to believe it’s uncouth, or perhaps there really is some linguistic validity to limiting bastard to the males among us. I don’t know. All I know is that Paul McCartney is a bastard for strumming his ukulele in an iTunes commercial. And so is Bill Simmons, for taking a vacation last week and leaving his obsessive minions with nothing to read for days.

And then there's this--I’m thinking of taking up bartending, for the following reasons:

1) The training takes a week and is relatively inexpensive (about 700 bucks, I believe)
2) Quick, easy, untaxed money
3) I could work nights and make my own hours
4) I love booze
5) I find it cathartic to listen to people lament their problems
6) I could finally get a car

Reason number 6 is the most intriguing. I’ve been without a car for about a year and a half, the last year of which I’ve been in Queens, where virtually everybody has a car. Access to vehicular transportation is viewed as necessity rather than luxury. Still, with the benevolent aid of buses, subways, and my own legs, not having a car has been completely painless. Recently, however, my universe has come out of alignment. I find myself pining for a car, especially these days, when a motor vehicle’s cool, air-conditioned environs would provide sweet respite from the heat and humidity, not to mention my physiological drive to outfit a car with a totally bitching stereo system. The downside, though, is cost—between the purchase/lease price, gas (damn you, Fallujah. Damn you), tolls, insurance (damn you, being less than 25. Damn you), oil, tickets (damn you, alternate side. Damn you), and possible accidents (damn you, capricious fortune. Damn you), we’re looking at a big money suck. Although, if you think about the money I’d save on metrocards and things to occupy myself on the train—books, magazines, young babies—I’d be saving a bit. Well, not really. But I could tell myself that.

Don’t delude yourself into thinking that reason number 6 is predominant, though; I seriously love booze. I’m passionate about it. It matters to me what people drink, how much they drink, how often they drink, and how much they enjoy what they drink. Isn’t that what a bartender is supposed to be? Someone who can suggest a good drink, monitor those who have had too much, patronize the regulars with the occasional free quaff, and take authentic pleasure in seeing a room full of people spilling cocktails on themselves and dancing robotically to Bon Jovi tunes? Throw in the occasional credit card swipe and a conversational disposition, and you’ve got yourself a 1A bartender. I can’t wait to start stealing bottles.

Stay Supple, New Chair
MC Macallan

Monday, July 9, 2007

Dude, You're So Gay

I lead an exceedingly obsequious professional life, since my access to food and shelter hinges on how much people like me. Booking writing jobs isn’t a function of literary merit; rather, it is an unctuous practice, marked by both kiss-ass and earnest diligence. Inclusion is victory and victory is inclusion—if someone requests your presence at an event, that is tantamount to a promotion, and just like a promotion, you don’t turn it down. And, just like a promotion, a special request for your presence is as sporadic as it is sought after. So, when I was invited to a private screening of “The Godfather of Disco” at the beginning of June, I elatedly said yes.

What I overlooked in my mirth was that this particular film was to serve as the opening event for NewFest 2007, the The 19th New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival (you can ogle their silver-haired avatar at It chronicles gay icon Mel Cheren’s role in cultivating disco music, particularly in New York, as an employee at West End Records.

Who invited me, you may ask? A PR agent, looking for coverage in some major newspaper. Mistakenly assuming that I have access to anybody important, she invited me to the movie as well as to “private drinks” afterwards with herself, Mel Cheren, the film’s director, and a couple of hangers on. The movie was pretty innocuous—it was about disco, mostly, and also touched on the AIDS crisis of the early 1980’s. It had about a dozen people giving testimony about Cheren, particularly concerning his role in sustaining the Paradise Garage, a gay 1970’s nightclub whose DJ, Larry Levan, spawned some of the greatest disco hits of all time (though I can’t remember a single one. I’ll Google it later). Even more important, though, was what transpired after the film—when the MC asked for Cheren and the director to rise and field some Q & A, my entire row got up. Both men were sitting directly next to me, and, upon closer perusal, almost every single one of the film’s interview subjects were also in my row. I had come alone, so the demographic in row F was as follows: everybody in the movie and me.

I was the first one out of the theater after the presentation. My popcorn was stale, my ass was asleep, and I needed to step outside and stare at chicks on 34th Street to bring myself back to sexual homeostasis. Drinks afterwards were uneventful—I chatted up Cheren about AIDS and disco (he’s older and hobbled by now, and barely speaks audibly), spoke with the PR agent about scotch and Justin Timberlake (she loves him, er, both, also), and told the director that I thought the film could have used a website, because, well, that was all I could think to say besides for, “A movie about gay women would have been way more up my alley.”

I returned home with a scotch headache and big disco backbeats sloshing in my cranium. I shot over to the kitchen, poured another thick glass of scotch, closed the door to my room, and queued up some iTunes. Here’s to NewFest, I thought, as I poured half the glass into my mouth and the other half on my chest. Here’s to NewFest.

Stay Soaked, Pink Floyd T-Shirt
DJ Disco

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Computer Toss '07: Rebellion's Future

Whether it was Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar or Kurt Cobain running roughshod over Nirvana’s equipment or the Who laying waste to any instrument unfortunate enough to be theirs for the night, musicians have been trashing their instruments for years. The statement is always the same—we own art. We own music. As much as we may be owned by it at times, and as much as we love it, cherish it, and devote our lives to it, we are still liberated from it, and we do not obey its rules. There is a musical code of conduct, a restraint and respect mandated by, and expected of, the music community, and we are flouting that code and flipping that community the bird. Destroying instruments was always the best way to do this, because those were the tools with which one made music. They were the most direct, appropriate metaphor for music at large—by incinerating his guitar, Hendrix was, in fact, incinerating wide-held conceptions about how musicians relate to their craft, themselves, and their audience.

With that in mind, the events of this past Sunday night beg enormous canonization: the image of one young man, performing music onstage, picking up his laptop and throwing it into the crowd, instantly ruining his computer, and with it, any chance at normalcy for the group on stage.

While a more beneficent destiny may have been to witness this incident as a spectator, such was not my fate. I was directly to this young man’s left, hammering out bass lines and trying to navigate the tangled mess of wires, microphone stands, and foot pedals on the Knitting Factory’s main stage. A co-member of the Nineteen-Sixties, I was actually facing the other way during a few portions of the technological homicide, so I couldn’t fully appreciate what will be forever known as “Computer Toss ’07.”

But here’s what happened:

The laptop was on the stage because one of our band members (who shall remain nameless) was using it to sample some P-Funk and Beastie Boys clips over our first song. Once he was done with his computer, our bandmate left it onstage, sitting open-faced on a chair just behind him.

In the middle of our second song, its owner jumped in the air and accidentally came down right on top of his computer. In the seconds it took him to right himself, he realized that the screen was broken. Assuming (either correctly or incorrectly, we’ll never know) that the entire computer was ruined, he held up the computer for the crowd to see, placed it on the floor, and stomped on the keyboard. Next, he held up the computer for the crowd once again, and then lobbed it into the audience. It landed harmlessly at a girl’s feet. She politely picked it up and put it on the side of the stage.

It wasn’t until Computer Toss ’07 that I realized that the trash-your-guitar model of musical rebellion is painfully outdated. Popular bands simply don’t do it anymore because, in the last decade or so, the physical instrument has been supplanted as the most effective device for making music. Its replacement: the computer. Just think of all its applications—computer programs have long since replaced analog, reel-to-reel recording. Many DJ’s and mix-masters spurn instruments altogether, opting instead for computers and digitalized turntables. In fact, the two types of music that have remained essentially unaffected by technology—classical and rudiments jazz—have virtually no commercial viability. 99% of the music you hear every day was somehow created, shaped, edited, enhanced, or changed by a computer. Simply put, the computer is far more important and vital to contemporary music production than is the instrument.

“Computer Toss ‘07” is the modern adaptation of slamming your guitar into the ground. Sure, it might have been nothing more than a capricious sum of booze, adrenaline, dance music, frustration, and bad judgment, but the message after the fact is undeniable—we are still flipping the bird to somebody, still showing our independence. In fact, destroying a computer is a far more global symbol than ruining a guitar, since the computer has come to dominate and own us not just in music, but in almost every significant facet of our lives: how we communicate and interact, how we work, how we do research, how we conduct war, how we shop, how we make friends, how we read the news, how we gather information, and especially how we think of ourselves in the contexts of others and the world. While Pete Townsend was breaking the chains of musical bondage, my band broke the chains of ubiquitous, all-encompassing enslavement.

We are the Nineteen-Sixties. Thanks for coming out.

Stay Quixotic, Whichever Band I’m In At Any Given Time,
DJ Destruction