Thursday, May 31, 2007

PLAIN CHUCK TAYLORS



Chuck Taylors get a lot of hate, and I'm not entirely sure why. I guess because they're the shoe of choice for annoying Indie Rock kids, but I've come to the conclusion that they are too classically awesome to be ruined. Even Will Smith waxing masturbatory over them in that shitty robot movie can't ruin them. Even Jessica Simpson's little sister and Avril Lavigne can't ruin them.


Yes, many horrible people wear Chucks. But do you know who else wears them? That's right... mother-fucking DOCTOR WHO! One Doctor Who is cool enough to counter-balance fifty Avrils. (Joey Ramone also wore them, but I won't provide a picture, thus saving you from having to look at Joey Ramone, RIP. You can thank me later.)
Lame people are attracted to Chucks like moths to flame, hoping some awesomeness will rub off on them from their footwear. No such luck, but still they try. Such is the might of the Chuck Taylor.

(I think the other reason people hate on Chucks is the absurd amount of ugly, over-the-top designs. I too am flabbergasted and horrified by the double-highs, the camouflage, the black and red, the leathers, the neon colors, the hideous patterns, and the other aberrations from a plain old 1950's basketball shoe. If my dad didn't wear them on the varsity team in 1953, they aren't real Chucks. Sorry, Hot Topic.)

I have owned a pair of Converse All-Stars, in some form or another, since middle school. At the time, Air Jordans were all the rage, and morons would make fun of you if you weren't wearing heaping piles of colorful leather strapped all over your ankles.

But now, almost twenty years later, I'm rocking the same style kicks, and all those assholes have moved on to lame-ass sports sandals (or whatever else yuppies are wearing), and wouldn't be caught dead in Air Jordans. Classics last forever! Score one for the middle-school nerd!

A nicely broken-in pair of canvas sneakers (they don't need to be Chucks, honestly) is as easy a footwear as there is. They go with any outfit (except tuxedos! never tuxedos!), and are comfy as hell. You can pull off any number of classic looks with the Chucks; east coast punk, New England preppie, coastal boater, young Howard Hughes. These are all casual ensembles that go well with either a tall boy of beer in a paper bag, or a tumbler of scotch. This adaptability is always a sign of quality footwear.

(Also, how hot is as a cute girl in a pair of old Chucks? Let us not forget the cute girl factor.)

I submit, dear reader, that the Chuck Taylor should be made the official Awesome Shoe of Summer. Can we get a notarized seal on this declaration? I think it's important to make this official. Too many lives have already been wasted in the Footwear wars.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

THE SHEARER'S BURGER


I like a burger. I really like a burger with stuff on it. The Shearer's burger takes that concept ("stuff" on a "burger") and blows it out the poophole with a V-2.

Between two halves of a crispy bun you have beef, tomato, cheese, grilled onions, a slice of beet, a slice of pineapple, and a fried egg. When you smoosh it all up together and put it in your mouth, you are surprised; rather than tasting like a bunch of shit from your grandma's fridge, it tastes like the best burger ever. So you are not only happily surprised, but happily chowing down on a tasty meal. And then the two sources of happiness get jealous of each other, and start to fight, and it's a joyous cage match in your heart.



Finally! Australia has produced something worthwhile! (Aside form AC/DC... they're Australian, right?)

You can get these marvelous items at Sheep Station in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Probably other places too, but I can't vouch for them. It's probably best just to go to Brooklyn. It's worth the air fare from most of the western hemisphere.

Friday, May 11, 2007

JOHN CARTER OF MARS

Anyone who has ever read Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars novels is already aware that John Carter (a Civil War captain who becomes a warlord on the Red Planet) kicks ass. Tarzan may have gotten all the glory, but John Carter was Burroughs' true masterstroke.

One of the greatest of the pulp characters, John Carter's adventures are so brilliantly insane it makes you wish magazines like WEIRD TALES were still ruling the news-stands. This is a character who, when suddenly stranded on a strange new world, goes about the business of CONQUERING THE PLANET, just because he's bored. Due to the gravity of Mars (Barsoom, to the natives), John Carter's rugged Earthling manliness makes him essentially superhuman. After proving that he is an unstoppable warrior, and killing anyone that stands in his way, he goes on to seduce the most beautiful woman on the entire world. That's the kind of fiction that puts hair on your oiled, bronzed pectorals.

As the Frank Frazetta painting above clearly illustrates, John enjoys killing giant martians with a sword, riding around on lizards, and having his way with Dejah Thoris (the titular "Princess of Mars" from the first novel).
Over the course of the series, he leads armies into battle, fights monsters bare-handed, unravels the superstitious Martian religions, and does it all naked.

Yes, naked.

His only adornments are belts that hold his many weapons, and a pair of boots. Otherwise, (despite his Southern Gentility) he is naked as a jaybird. His best friend is a four-armed, green martian giant, that is also naked. And his sexy wife? Naked. These books are so filled with violence and animal lust that people actually walk around nude, but for their swords and guns.

I like that kind of honesty in a novel.

Friday, May 4, 2007

DOOLITTLE


This is one of those "no duh" entries. DOOLITTLE routinely shows up on every "Best Album Ever Made" list and it would be hard, nay, impossible to argue that it's not a pretty much perfect record.
This is not news. (In fact, a quick wiki search reminds me that "A 2003 poll of NME writers ranked Doolittle as the second greatest album of all time.")

But why is it so awesome? Is it because almost twenty years later, it hasn't aged a day? Is it because it's lyrical themes resonate in dark, unconscious, Jungian places? Is it because it's fun to sing along to?

It's hard to describe the effect that this album had on me the first time I heard it. It was rock music in the purest possible sense; loud, silly, invigorating, and something that spoke to me in a way no other music had. The lyrics were bizarre and evocative in a way that reached right into my adolescent nerd heart.

If you travel backwards now, in the machine that takes us to 1992, you would find me at sixteen, driving a wee hatchback and cranking MINOR THREAT and the like in his cassette deck. What you see here is a kid who is finding some solace in the angry punk rock sounds of bands that broke up some ten years prior, but not really finding any deep-seated, soulful satisfaction. These bands are speaking to his frustration with the world, but not to anything else. This is a kid who is reading Robert Anton Wilson and discovering the myriad worlds of Ray Harryhausen and Moebius. This is a kid who doesn't mind a little silliness in his music.


(This is also a kid who wears khaki pants, tee shirts, and sneakers, and looking for a band that isn't worried much about their outfits, either.)




Then we pop in a new tape. This is a band we've heard before, in the background at parties and at friend's houses, and we liked what we heard, but we never really payed that much attention. So we pop in the tape, and all by ourselves, sealed up in that little car, driving down the highway, we hear the first loud, shrill, wild-hair chords of DEBASER. Someone is screaming at us in spanish. There is talk of mutilation. More songs and more grisly, biblical death, with some nonsense here and there to keep it light . Guitars are howling and drums are thumping hard in the distance like headhunters at midnight. Haunting harmonies sing about death and God and elusive folk named Crackity Jones. Weirdness is in the air, and this music was made entirely for you.

The Pixies took the angry center of punk, laid on the melodies and the pop-love of the Beatles, and then wrapped it up in a surrealist tortilla. This was the rock music I had been looking for since the first hint of puberty.

Some will argue that the Pixies were better before or after. (Mostly before.) Yes, SURFER ROSA is a great album, and indeed, the later albums were plenty excellent. But the deep, resonating thud you hear again and again in DOOLITTLE is more than drums. It's the wood-to-leather crack of a perfect pitch being knocked out of the proverbial park.