Nature and my imagination. As a kid, those were two of my favorite things to explore.
I grew up with acres and acres of woods directly behind me, and I fell in love with going outdoors. I’d challenge myself and see how many frogs and salamanders I could catch, examine and then set free in a day. I would impulsively turn over every rock I could muster the strength to budge in an attempt to catch sight of a new bug before it scurried away into the dirt or brush. I’d research all the different animals that casually strolled through my backyard, from deers to foxes to wild turkeys. I even got my first glimpse of a black bear as it meandered past my house right before dinner time.
All of this built up my excitement towards nature, but I still spent a good portion of my time inside. I couldn’t always explore outdoors when I was busy getting lost in my own fantasy worlds. Whether it was a book, tv show, movie or videogame, I loved any medium that fueled my creativity and scope of imagination. I took the worlds crafted for me and pictured adventures for myself and the main characters after the stories had come to a close. To this day, I find something very enjoyable and rewarding about exploring the world both around and within me.
by David Shames
*Warning: video links embedded in text may not be suitable for viewers of any age. Discretion advised.
If you look at pop culture today you can get the sense that nothing offends anybody anymore. That’s not to say that there aren’t pockets of ultra conservative types or sensitive PC types that take issue with one facet of culture that’s either eroding our values or eating away at our chances for a tolerance-based utopia. But these causes and their proponents seem more fragmented than the big generational based culture clashes of the 20th century. Just look at pop music. In the 20s and 30s it was jazz, in the 60s and 70s it was rock and roll and in the 80s and 90s it was gangsta rap, but in every case it was content standing in as a proxy for behavior.
So what gives nowadays? Are Rihanna and dubstep just not the slightest bit edgy? Parents too burnt out and jaded for uproar? Pop music/culture too tame or commercialized? Well, maybe we all have just come to the point where we’ve seen too much for anything to be shocking.
If that’s the case, it may seem like the days of debauchery are over. Cause isn’t half the fun of doing something subversive knowing your actions flare up like sciatica on society’s puritan nerves? Is it even possible to be subversive anymore? What about the Internet? Everyone knows there is some real sicko stuff to be found online. Most likely you’ve seen videos of extreme sports gone wrong, videos featuring quick jump cuts between bone-crunching accidents. There is plenty of this kind of content that appeals to the rubbernecker inside all of us. If we’re trying to pinpoint where the real darker stuff is out there, though, these videos pale in comparison to the portfolio of death videos that resides on the web. Some of these recordings amount to sensationalism, like the video of a machete-wielding man in Times Square who was gunned down by police last summer. Others, like the execution of Saddam and people falling from the WTC buildings on 9/11, land heavier on the senses due to the strong gravity of history. But all of these videos are the product of the technological advances that that make shooting decent quality footage so fatalistically easy it is all but inevitable.
In light of videos like the WTC jumpers and Saddam’s hanging, it is worth asking what compels someone to film or watch death. Is there a difference between craning your neck to check out wreckage on a highway shoulder and watching that same crash online? Is there a difference between watching a car crash and watching footage of an autocrat getting hanged? While it may seem like I am splitting hairs, the follicles I am splitting fall apart into two strands. One is called impulse, the other intention. The motives behind filming a crash or an unstable man’s clash with police are knee-jerk, ranging from “holy shit check this out” to “lets drive these ratings.” Whereas the motives behind filming an execution or terrorist attack lie more along the lines of archiving a death for posterity. In either case, mother culture will tell you that these recordings of death, these so-called snuff films, are a corrupting force that will wreck you and hollow you out and leave a dried up rind of a human being if you watch them. When it comes to depravity and subversiveness, these videos may be the last frontier.
Micron Pen & Sharpie
by David Shames
With the economy shedding freezer burn as the Great Recession gives way to what many economists have termed the “Great Defrost Cycle,” job-seeking hopefuls are cautiously sticking their heads above ground. They’re shaking the dust off their resumes. They’re fine tuning their elevator pitches. They’re getting handshake consultants on retainer to firm up their grip.
References from jobs past have been called up, shot emails, asked how they are doing, references so old the recommendation letters they send smell of Vicks Vapo-Rub and mothballs. Craigslist’s Jobs section has been reporting traffic figure on par with a rush hour in Times Square when the presidential motorcade is rolling through. Big box retailers in China have released sales numbers indicating growth so robust in the faux silk clip-on tie sector, they have reported a simultaneous flood of applications citing Mandarin skills and experience in the knotted fabric industry. LinkedIn analysts reported the staggering, just sphincter-loosening figure that over 97% of registered users have added fake info to their profiles in the past week alone.
“Normal people didn’t listen to hardcore [punk], and we liked it that way!” said Vic Bondi of Articles of Faith. American punks (there are different ‘types’ of punks, but let’s not get sidetracked) may not have been the first to do so, but they carved out their own counter culture niche. Rather than focusing on musical talent, teenagers and twenty-somethings put forth all their energy into creating pure, raw musical energy. They cut down songs, some hitting a mere 45 seconds, with primal anger and undiluted thoughts channeled into a microphone. During an age of disco, Reagan, and family values, American punk was just what the youth needed to channel their disdain for the status quo and consumer culture into a movement.
by Alex Smith
Do you all remember the old lady that swallowed a fly? She swallowed a fly? Perhaps she’ll die. And then this crazy, old woman swallowed a spider and a bird and a cat and this insane list of animals escalating in absurdity until she swallows an entire horse. She swallowed a horse? Oh, she’s alive and well of course.
As far as teaching kids about the dangers of invasive species goes, it’s actually pretty effective. If you introduce something new, even as a tiny as a fly, to a delicate ecosystem like an old woman’s body, which is arguably one of the most delicate ecosystems, there’s going to be an imbalance. And more often than not, the imbalance is going to have to be dealt with, whether it’s adding a cat to deal with the bird or a dog to deal with the cat or whatever. It’s an important lesson to understand when learning about the natural order of different environments and how easily that order shifts to chaos.
Welcome to the Buffalo Wing Dispatch!
This is a chronicle of our relationship with our collective favorite food: the buffalo wing. Not only will be sharing insight into our own wing making experiences, experimenting with technique and sauce, but we are always on a continued journey to find the best wings. We’ll be planning trips soon to take on some of the wing challenges around New York, New Jersey, and New England, especially if a t-shirt is involved! Before you embark on this journey with us, we want to share a little bit about why we love the wing. Bur first, to kick things off, here’s a tantalizing video to tease your tastebuds:
by Alex Smith
The future of football is here. In fact, we’re already two years into the new league. Yeah, the game of football is always evolving, always has been, but there have only been a few moments when the game has truly changed.
When I think about the classic games, I think of the games where players struggled for every yard in snow and fog. Now, with more and more games played in domes and on artificial turf, our chances to see another epic mud bowl dwindles and the prospect of a cold weather Super Bowl has become, according to Joe Flacco, “retarded.”
And each year new rules come into play. For next year, blocks below the waist have been outlawed. This past year saw the kickoffs moved up to the 35 yard line. Before that, new overtime rules came into play. In ‘99, instant replay and the challenge system was implemented. And, in ‘94, they added the option of the 2 point conversion.
But still, these rules just contributed to the evolution of the game, they haven’t shifted the entire dynamic of the league.
In 1906 the forward pass became an option and the quarterback became the most important position on the field. Sure, defense may win championships but only if they can stop the opposing quarterback. Whether it be a game manager or a member of the “elite,” the quarterback needs to be both competent and confident.
Be an individual. Be your own man. Just, be yourself. Simple. Profound. Of course, it can also air on the side of really lame and cheesy. It’s advice we’ve heard a million times over from our moms during moments of conflict and turmoil.
And as the cliche goes, it is easier said than done. Trying to pinpoint every way in which society and culture tries to mold you is a daunting, hypothetically impossible task. TV, radio, movies, stories, poems, novels, myths, religions, philosophies, friends and family are all influences in the modern life, and that’s just naming a few. Trying to discern which of these factors you genuinely agree with is enough to make your head spin. It can leave you feeling uncertain to the point that you are no longer sure if the person you are is authentic or a fraud. As you attempt to decipher who you truly are at your core it can leave you confused, conflicted, frustrated and many other adjectives.
Two close friends of mine, Alex Smith and Dave Shames, and I just started up a new blog. Our aim is to have new content up every 3 days, whether it be a drawing/cartoon, a piece of satire, a podcast, an in-depth article, or what ever strikes our fancy really. It’s called The Fresh Funk Gazette, and why not learn more by checking it out for yourself at www.thefreshfunk.tumblr.com.
'twas a slow day at work, so I started drawing