Murrrrrrrrrr… Ciao!

justin Awesomeness, monkey, Popular Culture, Ravings Leave a Comment

169-vespa-GTVI think at some point in their development, every little boy just knowsthat someday he’ll grow up and ride a motorcycle. Maybe it’s the steady influx of heroes like Evel Knievel, Ponch and Jon of CHiPs or the Hell’s Angels, but it seems like there were a lot of tykes who were just ready as hell to get out on the open road on two wheels of motorized steel and just ride.

Motorcycles had that extra mystique about them because they absolutely terrified my Mother. I knew that I would get into some serious trouble if I ever came home with one, let alone adopt some of that “free-wheelin'” lifestyle that the people who rode motorcycles partook in (hey, I was like eight years old, yuppies with Harleys weren’t very prevalent).

Who would have ever though that I’d turn into a scooter person? I thought, by this point in my life, that I’d be way more “Hell on Wheels” and a lot less “Roman Holiday,” but I can’t deny what I am. I am the proud rider of a Portofino Green Vespa GTV 250 (that’s the model pictured above). Sure, I’ll get that Triumph Bonneville someday, but, damn, I love toolin’ around town on my scoot.

The first thing about scooters is that nobody looks “sexy” or “cool” riding a scooter: a scooter forces you to sit stock upright with better posture than my poor crooked back is used to, and hold your arms at a “normal” angle. You can’t help but express a shit-eating grin when you are on a scooter: it’s just an involuntary reaction.

When I first started looking at purchasing a scooter, I wanted to go vintage all the way. Old Vespas and Lambrettas are as cool as old muscle cars and hot rods in my book. What I quickly learned was that if you go vintage, you almost certainly want to purchase two scoots so you’ll always be able to have one that is in working order to ride. If one doesn’t start (which will invariably happen), just hop on the other one and hop it starts up.

As I have mentioned before, I’m all about the instant gratification, so I ditched my thoughts of vintage scoots for a while and started looking at new ones. My only criteria when looking for a new one were that I wanted some power and, if possible, a classic-y look.

The Vespa GTV 250 has both in spades. With this little puppy, I can even get up on the freeway and not be more of a danger to myself and/or others than normal. I feel a little bad in that it cheats all the general expectations of a standard scooter: it’s fuel injected and has no kick-start. To that regard, It weighs in at a hefty 322 pounds, so I really don’t want to drop it when putting down the center-stand, but I’ve got over 600 miles on it, so far, and have had nary an issue (knock on my wooden head).

Like I said before, I’ll end up with that Bonneville eventually, but I’m having a hell of a time with my current ride.

Besides, I’m a member of S.P.A.Z. now.

He was smart, he was wise, he’d profoundly philosophize…

justin Music Leave a Comment

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Violent Femmes – Out the Window” dl=”0″] 

In November 1993 my roommate to be and I jumped in his small Toyota pickup and headed off down to Austin to see the Violent Femmes play at Liberty Lunch. This was my first outing to Austin to see a show and I kicked off my long long string of Austin shows with one of the best.

Liberty Lunch (R.I.P.) was my idea of the quintessential Austin venue: it was dark, reeked of stale beer, and was surrounded by loiterers of questionable intent. In other words, Liberty Lunch was perfection. With a capacity of only 1000, it wasn’t the largest venue in the area, but it was one of the most recognizable. For me, Austin is a city of very particular venues. When I want to see punk shows, I want to see them at Emos; when I want to see the Flametrick Subs, I want to see them at the Black Cat (also sadly gone); when I want to see indie bands, I want the Electric Lounge; and when I want to see just about everything else, I want to see it at Liberty Lunch.

I remember very distinctly our little voyage down I-35. Traffic wasn’t as bad as it is these days, and we made good enough time to grab a burger at Waterloo Ice House (a definite must). After digging through the music at Waterloo Records, we headed down to 2nd street to get ready to stand in line. November 1993 was a particularly cold November. We stood in line for about an hour in our short-sleeved shirts freezing our asses off waiting in giddy anticipation to revel in the glory of the “Add It Up (1981-1993)” tour. Once the doors finally opened up we filed in and I realized that I didn’t really want to see shows anywhere else for a very long time.

That show was basically full: I’m not sure if the Femmes sold it out that night, but it was pretty damn close. We worked our way to the center of the stage around ten feet back. It was sometime between the fourth and fifth song that I realized my shoes were no longer on the ground. Not unlike the keystone in an arch, I was being pushed up by the sheer force of the people around me. During the particularly popular songs like “Add it Up” and “Blister In the Sun,” the crowd would erupt into a packed frenzy that would have been an interesting study in thermodynamics and physics. As a whole, the crowd would bend and lean: forcing everyone into painful and uncomfortable angles that would definitely be nagging me in the morning. I, However, could care less. I was in the music capital of the U.S. watching a band I never thought I would ever see: it was spectacular!

Then came the fun part: the drive home. It was around 2AM when we finally made our way back to Chris’ truck to make the trek homeward. Another friend of ours had driven his car down and we were basically in a small caravan for our journey back to Waco. Well, fate did not smile down upon us that particular evening. Our other friend drove an RX7 and was quite fond of opening it up. So, once we got well out of Austin, his little black car zipped out of view of our headlights. Right around Jarrell, TX (a city whose later tragedy with a tornado sets the scene for another of my crazy college stories) the passenger-side front tire on our truck blew. Luckily Chris was a good driver and managed to get the truck from sixty-something to zero on the shoulder of I-35.

There we were: sweaty as if we had bathed in our clothes, without coats of any kind, and stranded. Chris had all the proper tools for our dilemma, but the lugnuts just weren’t going to come off. So, we set off down the highway to head back into Jarrell to hit the truckstop and find a phone.

Chris called AAA… we waited… Chris called again… we waited some more… Chris called again. The dispatch says they came out and there was no truck. The dispatch then said he wasn’t going to send anyone else out there because he thought we were yanking his chain. It turns out we gave him the wrong mile marker, but that shouldn’t have made a difference (I thought in my frozen wet brain).

So, there we were: wet, cold, and in a truckstop in Jarrell. We were about to give up when one of the night owls at the truckstop offered to give us a hand. At this point Ed Gein could have offered us help and we would have taken it. This gentleman, of course, had the biggest freakin’ tire iron I had ever seen and he just cranked off those lugnuts like they weren’t there.

We eventually got on our way and made it back to Waco in time to go to class. We ragged on our friend for ditching us to the cannibal hicks of Central Texas and attempted to make it through another day. I was a bit tired, but boy did I ever have the best story about my first trip to Austin to see a show.

Dealing with the modified — 3rd in a series

justin Body Modification, Ravings, Stupidity Leave a Comment

deafpersonIt’s been well over a week since I last provided some advice to plainskins™ from a modified perspective, and I really thought I’d give it a break for a bit to let it all soak in. After all, it’s the holiday season and there is only so much harsh reality a person can absorb: especially with so much dogma in the air.

Breakfast with the family over Thanksgiving weekend in a crowded restaurant with tightly packed tables made me change my mind.

I live in Dallas, Texas. There are a certain amount of stares that I have gotten used to over the years: especially in certain parts of town. Don’t get me wrong, Dallas is actually more tolerant of the modified than many other places I’ve been in the world, but there is still a fair share of ogling. The phenomenon in question today, however, is the state of the modified’s hearing.

I am the first to admit that I don’t hear the best. Years and years in front of concert speakers with no ear protection coupled with my selective ADD has made me rather oblivious. Other people I know have had their ears so modified that it is a wonder that their pinna can direct enough sound into their auditory canals. Like a wise doctor once told me, “Those piercings are nothing more than obstructions awaiting infection and rejection.” (no shits, this was actually told to me by a real M.D.).

However, the patented plainskin™ gawk, especially in a restaurant or bar, has a 60% chance of the plainskins™ erupting into a discussion with their party. More often than not, the discussion tends towards the “I’d never get a tattoo,” or “How do you think she got her ears stretched so big,” or (my favorite) “he’ll never get a real job looking like that.” Opinions are like assholes, most need to be cleaned up before public presentation. To that regard, I don’t fault these people for what they think: it’s beyond the realm of their experience, and, tacitly “scary” by human nature.

What I can’t stand is that most of these conversations happen right bloody next to me. The big kicker is that while these people talk at normal or above typical volume levels, they still think that their furtive glances are what is going to give them away.

Unlike other situations with plainskins™, however, I think a proactive approach is appropriate in this case. I suggest coming up with some generic card that says “Body Modification Ambassador,” or something similar, and a link to BME on it. I would then suggest politely stating that you couldn’t help but overhear their discussion and would be happy to answer any and all questions: however candid they might be.

I see two potential outcomes from such a confrontation: gratitude or indignation. In either case, the parties involved will learn something. If all goes well, they’ll learn that many of the modified are rather pleasant and more than willing to talk about just about anything. If it goes poorly, perhaps they’ll learn to keep the damn volume down. After all, I just want to eat my sammich in peace.


justin Awesomeness, Popular Culture, Useless Junk Leave a Comment

partyratsI think it goes without saying that the singular thing that has been missing from raver action for the past several decades is the inclusion of more rodentia. Sure, you’ve always had that strange kid with the serious buck teeth X’ed out of his gourd and gnawing on the side of a table, but that’s just not the same. What has been missing is some Party Rats.

Just look at these little bastards. Who wouldn’t want them? It didn’t take a kilo of MDMA for me to figure out that these were the real deal: a vision of the future.

I’m just happy that Archee McPhee has had the foresight to provide us an outlet to obtain such enlightenment. Who knows, maybe they’ll even help quell alien invasion.

Hell, they are even ideal for night blogging: it says so right on the package!

Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimmee!

justin Awesomeness, monkey, Popular Culture, Ravings, Vice Leave a Comment

I’m a horribly hard person to buy presents for.  First off, I generally buy whatever I get a hankerin’ for and nip the whole concept of waiting to receive something totally in the bud. I’m all about the instant gratification. I know, I know, patience is a virtue and all that shit, but I really suck at it.

Since I’m attempting to be all preemptive this week (believe me, it won’t last), I thought I’d throw out a few suggestions as to what I would like this year. Almost all of it is pie in the sky, but it really doesn’t hurt to put it out there in case it sparks something in someone. These are also in no particular order, but some grouping is involved as my strange logic sees it.  OK, here we go.

1977 Triumph Bonneville Silver JubileeTriumph-Bonnie-SJ-1977(3)
I’ve wanted this motorcycle for several years. It’s probably the single reason I have a motorcycle license (though I do enjoy tooling around town on my Vespa).  This bike is pure badass. I’ve had the opportunity to purchase two over the past three years, but passed due to stupid things like one being in England and the other being somewhere in Iowa, but I will possess one of these someday. At this point, I’d be happy with just about any model of Triumph Bonneville, but my heart really really lies with the ’77 Silver Jubilee.

vanson33House Industries/Vanson Leathers Vanson 33 Jacket
This goes right along with the Bonneville.  I’ve been a huge fan of House Industries for over a decade and have really loved the direction they have taken their typography. This jacket first came out a couple of years ago and I have wanted it ever since. Gotta have the right jacket with the right bike after all.

BBON_11Vanson Model B with Bones Jacket
Long before the Vanson 33 jacket, the old-schooler in me wanted this jacket something fierce. It’s got a pre-paunch Jerry Only vibe to it, and I believe it comes with a membership to Cobra Kai. Vanson also makes a set of deerskin leather gloves with skeletal hands on them, but that might be a bit excessive. Besides, I’ve got knit gloves from Balzac that already have that (of course).

ratfink-teeHouse Industries Rat Fink Shirt
People fall into two categories: they either love Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Rat Fink, or they hate him. As with much grotesque stuff in the world, I love me some Rat Fink. Much to the chagrin of many (and probably Disney the most), Rat Fink is as much a part of popular culture as Tony the Tiger or Toucan Sam.  Hmm, Rat Fink cereal.  I might be able to get behind that.

pixies-minotaurThe Pixies, Minotaur (Limited Signed Edition) Box Set
I love the Pixies. Their music holds a prominent position in the soundtrack of my life from high school forward. The Pixies music combined with Vaughn Oliver and Simon Larbalestier’s amazing artwork makes for a seriously dangerous combination. I really can’t think of many other bands (at least any not with 4AD releases) that have album art that affected me quite the way the Pixies’ artwork did and Minotaur just gathers all of that up in a 25+ pound bundle of joy. We are talking 5 CDs, 5 LPs, 6 BluRays, 6 DVDs, two books for about 150 pages of artwork, a giclee print and a poster. To top that all off, this edition is signed by all the Pixies and Vaughn Oliver. The only thing missing is a tour of Fort Apache.

bertie-wwrAshley Wood – World War Robot – Berties
As previously mentioned, I’m a huge sucker for plastic crap and an even larger idiot for comic books. Ashley Wood is a stupidly talented artist from Australia who has been lucky enough to transition some of his cooler works into toys. As part of his World War Robot line (which was an awesome comic in itself), Ashley has teamed up with threeA to release a mess of the robots from the work.  I’m partial to the Berties and the Brambles, but I’d also never turn down a Large Martin. The styling on these little plastic bastards is just amazing and the accessories and articulation are enough to cause even the most exclusive toy collector to drool uncontrollably.

logitech-dinovo-mini-keyboardLogitech diNovo Mini
I love my media PC (even though it’s really a Mac Mini). Nothing makes watching downloaded movies and television easier than having a computer hooked up to your TV.  The one major pain is the keyboard and mouse.  With my current setup, I’ve got a Gyromouse and accompanying keyboard that handle the job, but are a pain to coordinate and the keyboard is full size.  This little bluetooth monster (it even has a little lid!) were designed with media PCs in mind. Back-lit in several colors, integrated mouse controls, it even comes with it’s own power adapter!  Did I mention I need two of these things?

flepiaFujitsu FLEPia
I love my Kindle. Since I’ve gotten it, I have been able to tote a book just about everywhere I go. Now that it has a native PDF reader, I might even be able to use it for some sort of work application (don’t ask me what quite yet). The one thing the Kindle lacks is a color screen. In fact, almost all ePaper eBook readers don’t have color screens. There are a couple with a small color feature that does little more than provide a place to click on to get through to other parts of books, but no standard color screen.  Fujitsu came out with one in Japan called the FLEPia and I want it for one reason: comic books. As I mentioned before, I have a huge comic book habit and a limited amount of time per day to sit down in my inner sanctum to read them. Much as I’ve done with the Kindle, if I had a way to easily transport my weekly comics electronically (many companies are offering digital downloads of comics nowadays), I’d be caught up. These things aren’t really available in the US yet, but that’s not stopped me from obtaining tech from those clever Japanese in the past.

the-ripperClassic Powell Peralta Skate Decks
Back when I spent all of my time trying to figure out how to get out of homework, read as many comics as possible and consume as much old-school punk as I could get my grubby paws on; I rode a skateboard a lot.  Sure, I had my share of Santa Cruz and Vision decks, but the Powell Peralta ephemera was always what I lusted for. Back then, anything done by Vernon Courtland Johnson (VCJ) was perfect and magical and a lot of those decks still exist out there in pristine condition, and many have been reissued by the reformed Powell Peralta company.  I’ll also probably need a new pile of Sk8ology display kits to go along with the decks.

That’s about it. I probably should have thought about breaking this into a series of postings that would have allowed me to go into more details on each of these tasty items, but that would have required work. Is it too late to also ask for a Red Ryder BB Gun?


justin monkey, Ravings, Vice Leave a Comment

Well, it’s that wonderful time of year again. I’m referring to that time of year where the general populace makes promises to themselves in full knowledge that they have no intention of keeping said promises. The icing on the cake is that many people genuinely get disappointed with themselves for failing themselves on something they never intended to do in the first place. No wonder we have so many ads for depression and anxiety meds on television and in print.

Generally, I do not partake in the making of resolutions because I’m horribly impulsive and also pig-headed when it comes to making changes that, while do seem worthwhile and probably healthy, inconvenience me and make me change my already meticulously orchestrated routine. At the very least, resolutions should be considered more “sound ideas” than these horrific monstrosities that everyone seems to portray them as.

That being said, I’m attempting to be proactive right now. My first step of pro-activity is by trying to change my behavior now, at the cusp of the holiday season, before I get wrapped up in the tumbling miasma of holiday “cheer,” and before 2010 shows it’s ugly, misshapen head.

Sound Idea #1: quit smoking
I’ve been a casual smoker for a very very long time. Sure, I’ve had the nicotine monkey on my back something fierce a times, but, for the past decade at the very least, smoking has been more of a social hobby for me than anything else. I don’t needthem to survive my day to day. I’ve even gone on months long jags where it just doesn’t sound good, but I always come back. Cost doesn’t even seem to be a big deterrent. While I shudder each time I shell out eight dollars for a pack, I still haven’t had the gumption to bother quitting.

Saturday I decided that I had my “last cigarette” on Friday night. The concept of “last cigarette” is a massive failure in itsself.  If you have a defined jumping off point for something like smoking, it gives you something dangerous to focus on. By deciding after the fact, I’m hoping, I don’t have the opportunity to psyche myself out with such inane thoughts as “It’s been 27 hours, 14 minutes since my last smoke.” I’m not like that generally, but I could see it happening.

Sound Idea #2: dry out a little
I’m a drinker. Unlike my approach to smoking, though, drinking rates as much more a serious hobby. There are probably six thousand psychological reasons why I like to drink so much, but I could care less: I just like the booze.

To be fair to myself, I have cut down significantly over the past several years. It is my belief that once one enters their 30s, one must either devote themselves to full time alcoholism or cut back on that party lifestyle that made the 20s so marvelous. Since I’m still scared shitless of Leaving Las Vegas, I had little choice but to cut back. By cutting back, I’m only actively seeking a night of drinking two to three times a week as compared to my five or six previously. I still probably drink too much on those nights where I get my drink on, but that’s what I would like to address presently.

I’m a social creature. When I think about going out to hang with my friends, going to a bar is the first logical choice. It’s like those places were designed to sit around in the dark with your friends and a beverage. I cannot even comprehend what non-drinkers do when they want to hang out with other non-drinking friends other than gather in their Mother’s basement to play D&D (which I’ve had a horrible nostalgia for). Therefore, I’m going to keep going to the bar.

Scarily enough, not drinking is a lot easier to do than not smoke. Since I always smoke a crapload more when I drink, I think that leveraging drinking against smoking is going to make the first sound idea work out well. My only big flaw in not drinking is that I do not drink soda products. I cut those out of my life, for some reason, almost fifteen years ago. It’s a good thing I like water. At least I’ll get a good jump on flushing out all those toxins.

Wish me luck.

Mahalo, turkey

justin monkey, Ravings Leave a Comment

tiki drinkWhat’s full of rum, a little fizzy and topped with a tiny umbrella?  Well, if it’s about 2PM on the day before Thanksgiving then the answer would be: me. A couple hours before that and the answer would be: the ridiculous tiki drink ordered at the Chinese food joint.

Work traditions are a key ritual in bonding you and your co-workers together and, at the same time, alienating your group from the other work groups surrounding them. Some groups do March Madness pools, some play fantasy football, some even power walk around the parking lot at lunch.  My group, we bond over bad food and alcohol.

For the past four years, we’ve dutifully pretended to work the half day that is the day before Thanksgiving: a day where the parking lot is empty and the people who bother to show up are granted the magical status of “reliable” by the senior staff who, themselves, don’t even bother coming in. Then, at noon, we gather up our meager belongings and head out to get our drink on.

For us, this tradition started on a fateful Thanksgiving eve when a major major project was going live (geek talk for “we let the morons who are going to break this application use it”) and Pepsi had the horrible foresight to provide us with all the free MDX we could drink.  Let me tell you, after imbibing three MDX’s, you can see the future. We were sleep deprived, caffeinated out the gills and more than a little loopy.  What’s the next logical step? Tiki drinks, of course!

From there, the tradition stuck. Two hours from now, we’ll sit down at the Chinese place and confuse the hell out of the waiter by making short order of the beverage menu. Every year the same guy gives us shocked looks as we start in on Zombies, Navy Grog, Scorpions and Fuji Volcanoes. Everyone has their “go to” starter. Naturally, mine is a Zombie, but I’ve been pretty damn happy with the Scorpion, so there may be upheaval this year.

Sure we get stares from staff and patrons as we laugh over cocktails at noon, and, if one of our group has our company logo on their shirt, we even get some panicked stares (my work deals peripherally with public safety). We eat our lunch, drink some more, and set out to get ready for our turkey comas. It’s a fun way to kick off the time of year where no one really does any real work.

Funnily enough, Thanksgiving eve is the only day we ever go get tiki drinks.

Venue Shmenu

justin Austin, Live Music, Places, Texas Leave a Comment

liberty_lunchThroughout my college years I was fortunate enough to be situated in absolutely the right place in Texas to watch amazing things happen to me: Waco. Sure there was all that Branch Davidian stuff when I was a freshman at Baylor University, but there was a lot of other really incredible stuff as well: 100 miles North, Dallas; 100 miles South, Austin.

I’ve always been a big fan of live music.  Growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to live music outside of the bands that blossomed out of my high school and New Mexico State University.  Turns out, a couple of pretty awesome people/acts grew out of both, but that’s a tale for another time. Whenever possible, I turned my young self out for some great shows at the wee tiny amphitheater-like pit outside of the studios of KRUX on the NMSU campus and watched local kids wail their little brains out for just the chance of being heard.

Go forward in time a couple of years and I was fortunate enough to be involved in the day-to-day operations of KWBU on the Baylor University campus. While we did have our fair share of the Christian music and Jazz stuff, we were able to play some pretty fantastic music and talk to some pretty fantastic talent.

One of the greatest things about working with a radio station like KWBU was the almost constant barrage of invitations to concerts. Like any music-loving college student in a similar situation, there was just really no way I could say no. With a constant supply of “plus ones” and friends with cars, getting to either Dallas or Austin (or both on a couple of days) was a piece of cake.

If you follow a band that doesn’t play massive arenas from city to city, you notice something about the sound, energy and routine of a show: the venue plays a gigantic role. I hadn’t really noticed this prior to seeing band after band play over a given set of weeks on the same set of stages.  While the crowds in Austin differ greatly from the crowds in Dallas (naturally), the biggest factor was where a band was playing. I saw bands totally tear things up at Emo’s down in Austin and then put on a half-assed show the next night at Deep Ellum Live in Dallas.

After about six months of just passively going to shows, I started interviewing bands before and after shows.  Of special interest to me was the rituals involved with playing town-to-town and what expectations from the performers was depending on where they were.

As expected, the answers were all over the board, but some commonality started to peek through when it came to venues. Artists, like fans, have their favorite places to play. Austin has a shitload of these places and some even survived the culling that seemed to happen in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

Hands down, my favorite place to see a show was Liberty Lunch in Austin. Over the few years I got to see shows there I saw everything from metal to punk to folk to Britpop. Nothing sounded bad in this joint. I knew where to perch during the opening bands where I could get to the bar easily and peruse the merch tables on the riser in the back of the venue easily enough, yet be positioned to dart down to the front for the bands I wanted to get up close to. I knew the nooks out front and around the side that blocked the wind while I was waiting for doors to open for a February show, and I loved the horribly shitty “green room” that acted as backstage. I talked to a lot of performers on the crappy old couches back there and drank a lot of bad beer (and even some good) at the giant bar up front.

Liberty Lunch “fell” around the same time a lot of venues in Austin got repurposed. It still hurts to look over 2nd avenue from Congress and see a massive concrete structure where the oddly small Liberty Lunch building once stood.  Austin Music Hall is nearby, but never had the intimate feel that LL did.

It’s almost too fortunate that I moved up to Dallas right after the venues in Austin started to fall. Sure, Dallas had it’s share of ups and downs in the venue department, but the majority of those didn’t happen until well into the 2000’s. I was able to remember the grimy holes I saw shows at in Austin with a fondness that only comes with being removed from a given environment.

If I had been living in Austin during those years, I’d probably be much more bitter than I usually am.

Holiday what?

justin monkey, Ravings, Stupidity Leave a Comment

santa_cross2I know it has been gone over a thousand times (I even saw an IHOP commercial about it last night), but what the hell is up with pushing Christmas stuff like crazy before Thanksgiving and even, to some degree, around Halloween?

I realize that for many retailers, the Christmas season marks the time of year where they can attempt to recoup a year’s worth of losses and unmet sales goals (probably the sole existence of the cursed “Christmas in July” sales), but it’s getting the point where I really do want to crawl into a hole from November 1 until the first week of January.

I’m not a big fan of Christmas. Yup, I get all Scroogey. Part of it is my annoyance at a fake obligation to be all chipper and happy-like during some of the darkest and most depressing days of the year, and part of it is the fake frantic pace at which people scramble around and generally get in my way.

Don’t get me wrong. The holiday season does bring with it some seriously amazing things: most of which are baked and contain some combination of pumpkin, cinnamon and/or allspice. I also get to wear my Dropkick Murphys shirt that says “Merry Christmas you bastards” and has a lovely illustration of a very drunk Santa and a very drunk Rudolph. It makes people uncomfortable and gives me a little bit of glee.

I think what annoys me the most is the self-righteousness that comes with the season. The Jesus Crispies get their underpants all in a wad about every aspect of alternate tradition (Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or even Solstice) “infringing” on their precious holiday. I remember back in 1998, upon leaving the theater after seeing Prince of Egypt on Christmas Day I overheard someone say “Those Jews are trying to steal our holiday.” Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?!?!?!

Christmas is a co-opted holiday. Jesus was, more than likely, born sometime between March and June, Christmas trees and advent wreaths were “borrowed” from Celtic paganism, and Saint Nick was Greek.

OK, I feel a lot better, and right in time to sit back, eat too much dead bird, partake of too much “holiday cheer” and wait for people to be trampled to death on “Black Friday.”

Merry fuckin’ Christmas.

Ooooh, shiny!

justin monkey, Popular Culture, Ravings, Vinyl Leave a Comment

hoardstackI’m the first to admit it: I’m a hoarder. Worse than that, I have tendencies towards being a completist hoarder. That’s the worst kind there is. Anyone who has been near my home “workspace” can tell you: I’m just a spark away from a fiery inferno of vinyl death. Probably my only saving grace in all of this is that I am very anal when it comes to my hoarding.  I’m relatively neat with my collecting and I’d rather not have anyone mess around with most of the pieces, so a lot is in display cases. The display cases, along with the packaging from absolutely every little piece I’ve purchased, all stack up nicely (well, as nice as a 1:20 Devil’s Peak replica of cardboard boxes can be considered).

It all started with LEGO and Star Wars figures. Somewhere along the way, I found the evil, evil Japanese company Medicom and their collaborations with Japanese horrorcore band Balzac and the Misfits. As mentioned previously, I was already in the swing of a pretty heavy comic book addiction during this time, so that also shrank my “workspace” considerably.

I ran pretty willy-nilly for several years: picking up a variety of different properties for one reason or the other; not really settling on a single variety of small plastic crap to focus on. During this “era of discovery,” I found things about the products produced by certain companies that I really liked, and aspects that just pissed me off. So, I started focusing my piles.

The first vinyl property I honed in on was Kidrobot’sDunny. I got in when the Azteca line hit the streets and quickly snatched up whatever I could find. Not satiated with the 3″ variety, I jumped headlong into the 8″ Dunny offerings as well and managed to amass a pretty good collection of moderately rare pieces pretty damn quickly without breaking the bank. That, however, didn’t hold my attention for long. Sure, I still buy the new 3″ Dunny releases, but I’ve sold off a majority of the 8″ monsters that I picked up. What can I say, I get fickle.

Somewhere in my Kidrobot coma, I re-discovered Frank Kozik. Back in college I had picked up several concert posters that Frank had done and was quite familiar with his work in that regard. I had no idea he had moved on into vinyl collectibles. As usual, I went overboard. First I tried to scavenge all of the Labbits that Frank had produced. For those not in the know, Labbits are Frank’s generic rabbit design that smokes a cigarette. Oddly enough, the form is based off of Frank’s old cat. From Labbits, I moved on to Dr. Bombs (an odd surgeon elephant thing with a scalpel and old-school bowling-ball styled bomb). That dropped me into the realm of Toy2r.

Toy2r doesn’t only produce the Dr. Bomb, they also produce Qee (their “generic” platform collectible), and several other “boutique” lines. Qee, like Dunny, are generic as hell and jazzed up by various global artists. Small, relatively cheap, and very accessible: I, therefore, must have them all.

I think you see where this is going. I tend to load up on one particular thing until, for some reason, my attentions pivot to another property or company. It really is the epitome of vicious cycle. Now I constantly lust over pieces from Span of Sunset, threeA, Super7 and RealxHead. Yup, that last one isn’t even in English and I watch it like a hawk for new releases.

One of these days, I’m just going to take the ceiling out and spread into the attic. Heaven forbid if I ever have to move all this crap out of the house. What’s that? I could change my hoarder ways and stop buying all this useless crap?  Now where is the fun in that?