Some of my favorite songs from 2014…
Some of my favorite songs from 2014…
Where are you from? That’s great to hear. I want to tell you a story about my hometown.
“Richmond, Virginia has been called a depression-proof city.” That’s what Tom Robbins wrote in one of his novels. I don’t know if the people of Richmond would agree, and who am I to dispute Tom Robbins? I’ve never even been to Richmond, Virginia. Incidentally, I have been to a place that is nothing like that; Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. You’ve never heard of this place? No? You may have heard it in passing conversation like “the town with all the red lights” or “Let’s get the f**k outta here!”. Beaver Falls is not depression-proof; in fact, it’s depression-inducing (in every sense of the word). “..because its economy has one leg in life insurance and the other in tobacco.”, he wrote of Richmond. Beaver Falls’ economy has both hands resignedly in its front pockets. It’s an old steel town in western Pennsylvania. It was once called “Little Pittsburgh” because it was just like its big brother to the south, but smaller in every imaginable way. An old steel town is a place where a thumbs-up is a middle-finger. A middle-finger is also a middle-finger, but a thumbs-up is too. So if you ever do pass through BF, it’s to your benefit to keep your hands resignedly in your front pockets. Yes, it is currently the largest concentration of Chevy Beretta owners in the world, but it is so much more to me than just that. It’s riddled with potholes. And pot. It’s my hometown. It’s fittingly Exit 13 on the Turnpike.
Let’s talk about someone from Beaver Falls. Not a current resident of BF, you can most likely hear about those people on the 11 o’ clock news. Let’s talk about the most important Beaver Fallsian ever. No, it’s not Joe Namath. Yes, Joe Namath was born and raised in Beaver Falls, but long before an inebriated Joe Namath was sexually harassing Suzy Kolber/representing his hometown in the most accurate way possible on Sunday Night Football, there was another man who hurled himself in front of the fame train. A man of science, Thomas Midgley Jr.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably often wondered what it would be like if Rob Ford had become a scientist instead of the mayor of Toronto. Well if Nikola Tesla was the original mad scientist, Thomas Midgley Jr. was the original bad scientist. I had a recent brush with science, I made the deodorant switch to Old Spice Swagger. My skin became irritated and started to peel. With science, I realized that I was molting, taking on my new douchebag form. My team concluded that the only way to resist this transformation was to do something more socially acceptable than use Swagger; use no deodorant at all. Enough about me, let’s talk about Midgley.
He was born in 1889 in Beaver Falls, he moved to Ohio and went on to study mechanical engineering at Cornell. After college, he started working for Delco. He was given the task of curing “engine knock”. Engine knock was a problem at the time. Engine knock was a loud, unpleasant noise that resulted from poor quality gasoline. In 1921, by pure dumb luck, Tomcat discovered that a chemical called tetra ethyl lead (TEL) could eliminate engine knock. You heard right, lead. Now sure exposure to lead can cause blindness, organ failure, anemia, convulsions, hearing loss, miscarriage, infertility, hallucinations, uncontrollable rages, irreparable damage to the central nervous system, or even death, but that didn’t stop Thomas. His discovery was celebrated by auto and oil companies, and was being sold across the US. Immediately after its introduction leaded gas was problematic. Workers at the plant that produced Ethyl, as it was called, became ill and some even died. Production was halted pending an investigation, but you’ve heard the saying: “Where there’s a will to turn a profit by a corporate consortium, regardless of the clear danger presented to the public’s health, there’s a way.” So production resumed, but the public was skeptical and Thomas was like “whatevs!” So he held a demonstration to assure them that leaded gasoline was safe. Thomas was a learned mechanical engineer, but he was only a self-taught chemist. Had he majored in chemistry he may have had more respect for the dangers of certain chemicals. Thomas doused his hands in TEL and held a beaker full of the substance under his nose for one full minute.
He told the reporters he could do this every day and not experience any ill effects of lead poisoning. It was a triumphant moment . A brief, triumphant moment. When Thomas said he could do that everyday without any ill effects of lead poisoning, he actually meant he could do that one day and experience nearly all the effects of lead poisoning; it was an honest mistake. Although the symptoms weren’t immediately visible, I like to think when he walked out of the press conference like Peter Saarsgard walked out of the reactor at the end of K-19 Widowmaker. He died shortly after. Nah just kidding, he didn’t die. A few months later he took off to Europe for treatment of his lead poisoning. It took nearly a year to make a full recovery, but the same couldn’t be said for our planet. Lead is the herpes of atmospheric carcinogens; it never goes away. Even radioactive materials break down over time, lead doesn’t. He obviously didn’t invent lead, but he did create a way for people to absorb lead into their body that was unavoidable. Leaded gasoline was officially banned in 1986, but since lead is known for staying in the body, those who lived during the leaded gas era still may have 625 times more lead in their blood than people did a century ago. Old people are really just pieces of lead with skin on them.
Let’s not judge Thomas on one measly, earth-altering invention though. Everyone has a chance to redeem themselves. He came back from Europe and set out to invent a replacement to the toxic substances that were used as refrigerants at the time, and he did. He invented Freon, the world’s first commercial chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). He was so confident of this discovery and was such a showman, that in the name of Science he pushed aside the risk of cardiac arrhythmia and irreversible brain damage; he held a public demonstration where he inhaled Freon and blew out candles to demonstrate it was “non-toxic” and non-flammable. He died shortly after. Nah just kidding again, he didn’t die. CFC’s were even more successful than Ethyl. It was used in air conditioners, refrigerators, aerosol cans, industrial solvents, everywhere. What everyone didn’t know is that this seemingly harmless invention would single-handedly destroy the ozone layer. Every pound of CFC used destroyed 70,000 pounds of atmospheric ozone. And that they last over 100 years in the atmosphere. And that they are far worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. And it may never snow again.
In 1940, he contracted polio and was confined to a bed, but the ever so crafty Thomas devised a system of pulleys and levers that assisted his movements. His body was discovered entangled in the device. He had accidentally asphyxiated himself with his own invention. Ironically, this may have been his best invention considering the devastation of it was limited to only one person. Thomas Midgley Jr. is responsible for more damage to the environment than any human that has ever lived. His contributions should not be celebrated, but his mindless use of self-experimentation in the name of science is commendable, or disturbing. He once got metal shrapnel in his eyes. His doctor was unable to remove all of the pieces, so he decided to flush his eyes frequently with mercury! Between the abnormal lead levels in our body tissue that will be with us for generations, and that dark mole on your shoulder (that you really should have looked at), I guess we all have a little Beaver Falls in us; Exit 13 on the Turnpike.
There are few universal truths, but it’s safe to say one is our mutual dissatisfaction for the end of Footloose, and if you were wondering if I’ve considered an alternate ending to the 1984 classic flick yes I have, many times. I’ll share one:
I’m a sucker for a dramatic speech. Okay so the prom has just started, Kenny Loggins’ masterpiece is roaring, but then the mill gets raided by the FDA. Seems the FDA was nearby badgering an Amish man about selling raw milk and overheard the festivities down at the ol’ Lehi Rollermills; Veteran agent Mellencamp wants to investigate. So the crotchety, yet not unreasonable agent disrupts the dance and has a few choice words for those rather decrepit looking teens:
“Stop dancing! Cut the music! Who’s in charge here? Anyone? There is confetti and glitter literally pouring from the ceiling. This is a goddamn flour mill. Glitter in a flour mill uh hello! Who authorized this? Who gave unchaperoned teenagers the keys to an industrial food processing plant for a dance? This was a poor choice of venue for such an event. We will have to cite this establishment, this will have disastrous effects on your already strained local economy. Are you proud of yourselves? On top of that, I have a good mind to call my pals over at the EPA for the tractor you kids wrecked earlier in the movie that is still there, leaking oil and gasoline in the stormwater runoff. That pollution is seeping into public waterways and local water habitats. All of you are bad kids. How about the five boys we saw lying motionless in the parking lot? Who wants to explain that one? Did anyone have the civility to call an ambulance? You’re a bunch of selfish monsters. You done fucked up. All for a dance..” *fade to black*
(Reverend Shaw Moore’s speech from earlier in the film solemnly replays on a black screen)
“I’m standing up here before you today… with a very troubled heart. You see, my friends… I’ve always insisted on… taking responsibility for your lives. But, I’m really… like a first-time parent… who makes mistakes… and tries to learn from them. And like that parent… I find myself at that moment when I have to decide. Do I hold on… or do I trust you to yourselves? Let go and hope that you’ve understood… at least some of my lessons. If we don’t start trusting our children… how will they ever become trustworthy?”
(See it’s like next level ya know, even though they seemingly defeated censorship , overturned the ban on dancing, and had the repressed townspeople reconsider their antiquated ways; they must now deal with bureaucracy and the red tape associated with that. Also, those five boys do actually die.)
Another summer, another Vans Warped Tour. The lineup at this years festival is no different from the lineups of recent years: unrecognizable. The loveable pop punk bands that once permeated this festival are no more, and have been replaced with metalcore and EDM acts, but don’t worry, I’ve already attended the tour this year and would like to make some recommendations, so here are 6 bands you should see:
1. Eat My Skorts! – Petalcore at it’s finest! This all female band hails from somewhere and that’s a fact. They are diigital download darlings, because they refuse to record onto any medium that has an orifice. These anti-war, anti-tampon feministas have gained a loyal following after their debut lp Your dick is a war bond.
2. Shallow Graves Make Speed Bumps – What started as a Kickstarter ruse to simply leave New Jersey, became a band that are the perfect balance of early Sunny Day Real Estate and later Sunny Day Real Estate and have a following that is completely unaware of Sunny Day Real Estate.
3. Darkness Is Our Light – It has been said that the DNA of the members of DIOL were harvested from a grout joint in The Viper Room long, long ago. It has also been said that they were sober when they named the band, so I don’t know what to believe. A variation of the traditional L.A. hairmetal glam scene, this band includes six vocalists and a Monster Energy Drink vending machine. This band is a must-see. Cost of admission: your dignity.
4. Emmett Til Midnight – Light up a clove cigarette and be sure to catch this gothabilly act. Mostly because they go on last and are performing near the exit. Hands down the best background music to have while a eye-patched man peddling his wares whistles at you through a chain link fence.
5. GlowStick It Up Your Ass! – GlowStick It Up Your Ass! are the headline EDM act at this year’s Warped Tour. The group surfaced from the tech-support underground after a guy saw them somewhere, and have been on a FireWire to fame ever since. If the Molly don’t get you sweatin’, dancing to 120bpm in the blazing two o’ clock sun will.
6. Veranda Suicide – Last, but not least. Did I mention the Vans Warped Tour provides free filtered water to all attendees? That’s awesome.
1. Don’t wear a novelty shirt – You’re not a Female Body Inspector, and sure if you’re a portly gentleman that “I beat anorexia” shirt seems funny, unless your date actually did in fact beat anorexia. Then how are you gonna pull out of that tailspin, Goose? You’re not. In fact, being portly you shouldn’t even be attempting maneuvers like that. Maybe a Vandelay Industries one? No. It does pay homage to the greatest show of all time, but it also may give her the false impression you are employed.
2. Speak loudly – You’re a man; speak loudly. Much louder than her.
3. Talk politics – This is a topic of conversation that is sure to go over without a hiccup. It’s a safe place, and disagreements are few and far between.
3. Don’t be afraid to share some previous date anecdotes – Dates can be awkward, especially if it’s a first date. There’s a lot of pressure on both parties to keep the conversation going and it can get rather stale. We all have funny date experiences. Don’t be afraid to share one or two to bring some levity and relax her. Like that one time you had to give a date the Heimlich and you jizzed in your pants. That’s a riot.
4. Drink – So you’re a 20-something with a valid ID? Well aren’t you Mr. Perfect. You should highlight your attributes and you’re not going to be featured on the cover of Men’s Health anytime soon so don’t be afraid to drink on a date and flash that ID, but pump the brakes, William Holden; that doesn’t mean order everything on the drink menu. Be a gentleman. Your alcoholism should go undetected until you owe her money; you don’t want to scare her away.
5. Avoid awkward silences– Conversation is the key to any good date and awkward silences are around every turn. Avoid this. Even if you’re on a movie date. If you’re watching a movie with sex scene, ask her “What are they doing?”. In my experience, playing dumb when it comes to sex is a good thing. So that in the unlikely event that she agrees to have sex with you, and no matter how mediocre you are at it, your performance might actually be a welcome surprise.
6. Don’t talk sex – This is a big turn off, and it’s a matter that does not pertain to you. By this point, you’re a drunk man talking about “that time I jizzed in my pants.” It’s safe to say she knows you’re not picky.
7. Be Christian Slater – Only if you want laid. That’s right. Your voice and mannerisms should be as close to Christian Slater’s (circa Heathers) as possible. In fact, if you do a decent Christian Slater please pay no heed to the previous six tips; you won’t need them because it’s already Hammertime for you. If you don’t want laid, then just use your actual, boring human-like voice and eyebrows.
8. Wait, maybe I mean Christian Bale? – Wait, maybe I mean Christian Bale?
This was Kurt Cobain. He liked cats.
Recently, a 39-second video showing Marines urinating on corpses surfaced. I know, what’s the big deal? Well, when these Marines drained their “devil dogs” they weren’t stationed in Thailand, a place where you can do that sort of thing. This has set off a media firestorm over the proper use of frontal nudity in the battlefield and a startling breech in proper corpse desecration etiquette. Which in this part of the world is dragging the trampled remains of the victim through the streets with a stolen vehicle and capturing the entire incident on a grainy cell phone video. Golden showers are a no-no. As an American, I think it is critical that people around the world know this behavior is not typical for our Marines. In fact, this behavior is not typical for most people. Most people don’t voluntarily urinate on camera (I’m not most people). And let it be said, that these particular soldiers are in no way experts on interrogation techniques and this video may be just the thing to sway some opinions on the ethics of water boarding. I do not condone the behavior of the Marines in this video, but I do think it is important to understand a few things before we take a position of moral absolutism when it comes to whizzing on dead dudes.
Firstly, one should take into consideration that the Marines in this video are men. Everyone knows men cannot resist peeing on stuff. It’s in our genetic makeup, a vital truth that should not be overlooked. Men like to pee on stuff and they’re proud of it. This is common knowledge. Whether it be the bloodied body of a militant, or something more common, such as a plant or snow or a sleeping friend, toilet seats, a girlfriend’s toothbrush, in the iced tea dispenser at McDonald’s, in an urn, off of a balcony, on an electric fence, on a campfire, on a pair of Crocs, on a John Mellencamp LP, in your neighbor’s pool, through a screen door, on an ant hill, in an aquarium, on patio furniture, in mason jars for safekeeping, etc. I could go on forever, but you get the idea. That was just a few of the things the average man pisses on in a typical week. To think a few bodies in the most remote part of the world would not eventually make it’s way onto this list is kind of naive. I don’t mean to brag, but I can work a stream of piss like a rhythmic gymnast’s ribbon stick. But I will concede. I guess if you really take away all of the glamorous nuances of pissing on a dead man, it is rather tacky and may not translate well comedically in certain parts of the world. That said, Americans should still thank their lucky 50 stars that they chose urination instead of another bodily function as a means of desecration.
Secondly, let’s not place blame before getting all the facts. We are assuming that the reasons for the Marines urinating were purely contemptuous, but what if there are reasonable explanations for it? Maybe these soldiers were simply easing the pain of a recent jellyfish sting by urinating on……..their..gaping, exit wounds? The Aztecs commonly used urine as an antiseptic on the battlefield. Urine is a sterile liquid after all, but the most likely explanation for this episode is tooth whitening. The Romans were known to use urine to whiten their teeth and this makes sense to any rationally minded, red-blooded American in this scenario. Sure it does. Unless you hate America of course.
Thirdly, this is a perfect example of reverse-sexism in the media. Had these Marines been women, this would not be frowned upon, but celebrated. The act would be deemed the sexiest thing since Nancy Grace’s nip slip. That’s not fair.
I hope this article put some things in perspective. Mostly, that cell phones and digital cameras are unforgiving bitches, but also that we cannot put ourselves in the shoes of a soldier. These soldiers are under intense stress and huge R. Kelly fans and should not be vilified! Perhaps less hydrated, but definitely not vilified. Oh yeah, and that defiling bodies is probably not a good idea.
I’ve been going through some of my old notebooks and I’m discovering some cringeworthy entries. Truth be told, I have a knack for composing the kind of limericks that usually can only be found in an LFO album. Which only reinforces the overwhelming consensus from my peers that my future in writing is limited to tampon advertisements. Let me take this opportunity to inform those naysayers that tampon ad’s do require the skill of an adept writer. Those spots are challenging, bring about writer’s block that only a fervent diligence in the art of writing can dislodge. It takes a skilled wordsmith to stimulate a free-flow of insight, that will eventually absorb the attention of the consumer. Even if my writing career is confined to the feminine products industry, I still intend to make an indelible mark. So all of my critics, which I presume to be red with envy, should pad their arguments before they attempt to trivialize my pursuits. Let’s get on with my humiliation shall we?
First up, ‘Amber’. Is this a heartfelt birthday poem for a friend of my past or the lyrics to a Daniel Powter song? Hell if I know!
Amber is the color of
a tropical sunrise
lamp lit streets
and warm pumpkin pies
Amber is the color of
a Bengal tigers eyes
and burnt summer skies
Amber is the color of
October and the edges of dimes
a girl who is beautiful
but hasn’t heard it enough times
Amber is the color of
a girl who gives good advice
whenever I need it
and never thinks twice
Amber is the color of
a love that never dies
a girl who is pretty
even when she cries
(I actually deleted the last four stanzas for anonymity as well as brevity, I mean, how long should this have gone on?)