Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rejected Article Ideas

By Brian Polk

Sometimes meetings can be productive, and brilliant ideas flow like urine after a night of cheap beer and melon-flavored kamikazes. Other times meetings are pointless endeavors that bear some of the vilest, most rotten ideas ever imagined my human minds. Below is a list of the latter concepts that thankfully never came to fruition.

Super Drunk Me
Premise: In the vein of Super-size me and Super High Me, we figured we get drunk for a month and document the experience via a sprawling serial article.
Why it didn’t work: We get drunk all month every month, and we more or less document it via this zine. Subsequently we figured we needed an idea with more pizzazz.
Killing quote: “Why don’t we write an article about the effects of listening to punk rock and drinking cheap beer for 30 days? Hell, we might even be able to develop a whole zine on that concept.”

Proclamation Infiltration

Premise: We figured we’d disguise ourselves as sports-loving frat dudes and infiltrate and record the drunken high jinks of Denver’s notorious Lower Downtown bro orgy.
Why it didn’t work: No one wanted to do it.
Killing quote: “No way, I’m not going down there.”

Hot to do What We do
Premise: Who doesn’t like “how to” guides? Pretty much everybody. Still, we considered the prospect of devoting an entire issue to the how-tos and what-nots of making a zine.
Why it didn’t work: After careful consideration, we realized what we did (i.e. making zines) was completely irrelevant. We figured we might as well make a “how to” handbook about changing a typewriter ribbon (which actually would have been covered in the handy zine manual.)
Killing quote: If we’re going to proceed with this idea, “We should probably also teach a journalism class and show kids how to dub cassette tapes.”

Anti-Consumerist Agitprop
Premise: The cavalcade of excessive merchandise and hackneyed advertising continues to eat away at the soul, slowly dissolving any vestige of original thought and artistic merit. Soon we will all be slaves to our fickle desires, wasting our meaningless lives as we work to buy an endless amount of the tacky crap that makes us boring and stupid.
Why it didn’t work: Utilizing an arsenal of comics, articles, and other what-have-yous, we got this area pretty well covered in our past issues.
Killing quote: “Why don’t we hold off on that until next issue…”

Undercover at the Erotic Massage Parlor

Premise: Someone actually pitched the idea to go undercover in an erotic massage parlor and describe in detail what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a “happy ending.”
Why it didn’t work: The day we find someone who wants to read about it, we’ll certainly give it a shot. (Pun not intended. Seriously.) Besides, we didn’t want to give an artistic justification to someone who really just wanted a handjob.
Killing quote: “The Yellow Rake has been described as journalistic masturbation more times than we can count. Let’s not prove them right in such a literal sense.”

You Don’t Have to be a Suit to be an Asshole
Premise: This was going to be an impossibly long article defining and describing all the assholes in our culture.
Why it didn’t work: We make zines not multi-volume encyclopedias.
Killing quote: “Suits may be the biggest assholes, but they’re certainly not alone. Besides, we’d have to include ourselves on this list.”

Shitastic Plastic is not Fantastic
Premise: This was going to be the title of one of our anti-mass-production articles.
Why it didn’t work: We originally cut it for fairly obvious reasons: It’s kind of stupid in a cutesy ironic way, which is the stupidest way to be stupid. However, it did work in a way because we eventually ended up running it.
Living quote: “This doesn’t have to die. Let’s run it in our ‘worst of’ issue along with all the other bullshit we’ve come up with over the years.”

Rejected Article Ideas
Premise: We thought we’d jot down all the horrible ideas we’ve ever concocted in order to amass them in one huge master-piece-of-shit article.
Why it didn’t work: You’re reading it.
Dying quote: Brian: “Let’s never do this again.” Everyone: “Agreed.”

Work: part one, by Nate Stone

Work: part two

Work: Part three

No Money No How

By Brian Polk

You can tell how broke you are by how low you're willing to let your bank account go before you start worrying. Back when I was making the big bucks ($20,000 a year), my brain would swell with anxiety if my account wandered below the $100 mark. During this last year, it was $20. Currently, I have $9.62 in my account and I'm confident that I can get at least another meal out of it before it hits zero. That's because I make no money and I'm poorer than I've ever been in my entire life.

And it's weird, because I'm also happier than I've ever been in my entire life. I'm in a great mood most of the time. I don't totally hate my job (though I do pretty much hate it, which is actually a marked improvement in the story of my life). I don't spend all my time wishing I were dead. I'm listening to all my old punk rock records and loving every minute of them. For once, it feels good to be alive.

But that’s not how it’s supposed to work, is it? There’s supposed to be this apparent parallel between money and happiness; that is, if you have an abundance of the former, you will have the latter in spades. My own observations and experience, however, have dictated quite the opposite: the more money I earn, the more I worry about spending it on shit I don’t need. Then I spend it all on shit I don’t need. And I end up with piles of possessions that don’t enhance or benefit my life in any way. Eventually I say to myself, “You make so much money and have all these nice things and you’re still not happy. WTF, dude. WTF.” (Actually this last part isn’t true. I would never speak in acronyms. The rest of the quote is pretty accurate though.)

So we’ve all heard that money doesn’t buy happiness. This sentiment is nothing new. But why do you think more people don’t get the clue?

There is a reason for this, and no one summarizes it better than the author, Kurt Vonnegut. In his novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, Howard Campbell Jr.—the main character from another of his stories, Mother Night—expounds on why poor Americans always yearn for greener pastures…

"America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves … Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters … Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue … Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times."

So as poor folk, we’re explicitly taught to be ashamed of our economic situation. And since we’re not filthy rich, we are deemed unsuccessful and subsequently we invite the wrath of pity upon ourselves. In our country, only the insanely rich are worthy of wisdom, virtue, and happiness, and everyone else can wallow in their self-inflicted poverty.

Aside from the obvious repercussions that this sentiment breeds—being a “treasure for the rich and powerful,” as Vonnegut puts it—there are other dire consequences. When people hate themselves for being poor, they will do anything to remedy the situation. And in a country where the individual is judged almost exclusively on his/her appearance, we have this thing called credit that can eradicate the shame of supposed indigence by securing all the frivolous “necessities” one could ever desire. Buy it now and pay for it later, future creditors promise. If you don’t have a house, car, fancy clothing, or jewelry? Don’t worry about it. Get yourself a credit card and stimulate that economy now! (Of course, you’ll have to pay it back later with a hefty interest charge…) But what does later have to do with now?

Awhile back, I was listening to an episode of This American Life and a couple of employees from a credit company were discussing the worsening financial situation of a lot of their clients. “We have people that tell us how they’re desperate and have no money,” one of the credit employees said. “And we look at their bank statements and they’re going to PF Changs and Ruby Tuesdays and Starbucks, 7-11. If you go to 7-11 a couple of times a week, that adds up to $50 really fast. But nobody’s thinking about that. They’re not changing their habits to adjust to a reduction in income. Instead of changing habits, they’re changing paying [their bills].”

It’s such a mind fuck. People are willing to dine out and splurge on non-essentials just to save psychological face. “I’m not poor,” they tell themselves. “If I were poor, I wouldn’t be eating out all the time, driving a car I can’t afford, and living in a house with a mortgage that I haven’t paid in months.” It’s pathetic really.

We wouldn’t have this problem if people could just look deep into their empty wallets and say, “You know, even though I can’t afford nice things, at least I’m happy. And to hell with what anyone else has to say about that!”

There’s $9.62 in my account. I ride around town on a bicycle. I live in a modest, easily affordable house. My clothes are disintegrating off my back from overuse. Opting against dining out, I make all my meals for myself. And I feel great about everything.

If wealth were measured by happiness instead of money and material possessions, I’d be among the richest people I know. But since it isn’t, I suppose I’ll have to settle for poor and happy. Either way, it’s a pretty good life.

Review: NOFX

Frisbee (the CD is called Coaster)
LP, Download
Fat Wreck

I dig Fat Mike’s point of view: Religion is for anti-intellectual dimwits (“Blasphemy: The Victimless Crime,” “Best God in Show”). Doing drugs and drinking are both fun (“First Call,” “I Am An Alcoholic”). Conservatives still suck (“Suites and Ladders”). And punk rock should be fast and loud (the whole album). If that’s not a platform you can get behind, I don’t know what is. Frisbee is a NOFX record replete with NOFXy sounding songs and NOFXy style lyrics. In other words, these new songs will in no way take you by surprise. But it’s actually nice to know that the band never felt obligated to reinvent itself (read: no crappy metal albums or shameless appeals to the mainstream). Sure Fat Mike and company isn’t inventing the wheel, but sometimes consistency is an apt punk rock trait.

When Brian Ran For Mayor

By Nate Stone

Brian received exactly two votes, and he didn't even vote for himself. He's considering another run in 2010.

Review: Accordion Crimes

A Higher Quality Version Of This

If you were officiating a game of tug-of-war and at one end Modest Mouse and Built to Spill were tugging viciously against Shellac and Fugazi, you’d have a really shitty metaphor. On the other hand, you’d have an interesting tug-of-war match that refused to leave the CD player. After listening to A Higher Quality Version of This about a hundred times, I have come to accept that Accordion Crimes is a perfect band: its songs are maddeningly catchy, its lyrics thoughtful, its soft/loud dynamics executed with the seamless expertise of bands like Nirvana and the Pixies. The highlight of the disc, “Planes,” has the ability to reach deep within the very core of your soul and demand an emotional response: the intro is melodious and cacophonic at the same time. The drums and bass kick in a minute later like a sack of bricks across the face. The heart-on-the-sleeves lyrics are downtrodden with a shrug of inevitability—the most poignant way to sing the blues. The backbeat swings. The singer sings his fucking heart out. If you’re looking for a new favorite album that will remind you of the late summer of 2009 years from now, find a copy of A Higher Quality Version. If you end up regretting it, I’ll buy you a beer.

It’s all about the Music

By Lorien Nettleton

Some people use their status as rock stars to extort special favors from the world. For a lot of people, it’s about being entitled to special treatment as a star.

For me it’s all about the music

All I can think of while receiving a blowjob from a 17-year-old groupie is how important music is in my life. If it weren’t for music, I would have killed myself long ago. I never would have gotten to do cocaine with David Bowe, or heroine with Thom Yorke.

Yes sir, it is totally about the music. I’m not in it for fame, or for money, or to see how many girls I can tit-fuck in three days (17) while playing back to back shows in Detroit. All I want is to set my soul into a melody.

Each time I cup the pert breast of a woman whose name I will never know, all I can do is sing the praise of the healing power of music. As another woman grinds her tight fishnet-and-mini-dress ass into my groin when I’m relaxing backstage, and two she-males perform mutual fellatio, and coke-filled baggies litter the couch like Easter eggs, I thank my lucky stars that writing songs is my only passion.

I just wish it wouldn't burn when I pee.