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Tuesday
Aug262014

What Makes a New Yorker

Lets say it's Friday night, no, early Saturday morning.  You're out.  Out in the coolest neighborhood in the coolest city in the world:  Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, New York.

You're at some trendy bar or nightclub and you're talking to a cute girl, maybe she's 22,23 years old, and she's talking about how she loves New York, and loves Brooklyn, and loves her cute little cat named Mr. Bojangles.  

Then you ask her where she's from and she says, Brooklyn.  No hesitation, no consideration.  She knows she's from Brooklyn.  

Then you ask her what high school she went to.  This time she stops to think, she stutters, and finally,

"uhh, Montclair."

That girl is not from Brooklyn.  She's not from New York.

But who is from New York?

She says she's from New York City...

Every year, thousands of people move to New York City.  They live here, they work here, they pay taxes here.  But, they're not "from" here.  Unlike most other places in the world, there is a certain pride in being "from" New York City.  It matters, so you can just move into a studio apartment, unpack a cardboard box and start calling yourself a New Yorker.  It needs to be earned.  This much, most people can agree on.

At what point you earn it?  That's not so clear.

Never.

Some people think like that old lady from Jaws, if you weren't born here, you're not from here.  Not ever!

You're not bourn here, you're not frahm here. End of Storrry.

Now, while this answer is simple, it creates quite a few problems.

- What about people from other countries?

- What about people who moved to the city as young children?

- What about people born in NYC but don't live there anymore?

Long story short, this answer helps to blow up native New Yorkers' egos triple-size but it doesn't make much sense.

You're a New Yorker after you've lived here for X amount of time.

I like this one, at some point you just have to draw the line.  But where is that line?  1 year? 5 years? 10 years? It's too subjective.

You're a New Yorker if you have a baby that's a New Yorker or you married someone that is a NATIVE New Yorker.

I have no problem with either of these.  The only caveat is that you need to self identify as a New Yorker.  So if your hubby is from Astoria but you always introduce yourself as a small town gal in the big city... you might not be a New Yorker.  Which leads us to our next requirement.

You're a New Yorker if you have never lived anywhere else in the U.S.A. and you self identify as a New Yorker and ONLY a New Yorker.

A lot of first generation immigrants like to call themselves New Yorkers but then still have their native country's flag plastered to the side of their minivan.  Having pride in your heritage is fine, but New Yorkers are all or nothing type of people.  You can't have your cake and eat it too.

 

A New Yorker is like a pie, no matter what you put on it, its still a pizza. Except pineapple, fuck that.

So who is a New Yorker?  Are you a New Yorker?  Am I a New Yorker?  Probably not, yet.  I still usually explain where I'm from by saying "Live in Brooklyn, originally Connecticut."  But if I was on Wheel of Fortune I'd tell Pat I was from Brooklyn and if I rescued a kitten from a burning building the New York Post headline would be "Brooklyn Man Saves Burning Pussy."

There are a lot of different ways you can slice it.  But whether or not you go with original or Sicilian just remember the variety is the beauty of it.  One of the best things about New York City is that there's so many people from so many places.  Dozens of cultures all rolled up into one super culture.  Everybody is completely different from the person next to them on the train, but they're all New Yorkers.

Now, what d'you think, this side walk was made for you?  Get outta the way!

Sunday
Aug242014

Random Movie Review: Return to Oz

A movie seldom celebrated but left a great enough impression on the masses of youth born roughly between 1978-1988 that if you mention it to anyone born in that time their likely response will be something along the lines of "Oh My God, yes!"

Return to Oz was panned by critics for being too dreary and frightening.  Both slights are true.  Those wheelers scared the bejesus out of me.  I cannot overstate how creepy the idea of princess that can change heads is to a 6-year-old.  But, it's a funny thing, looking back it's far more memorable than a lot of other live action children's movies because it was a little scary.

I don't want to oversell Return to Oz, it's no Neverending Story or even The Ewok Adventure, but it had imagination.  It had personality.

To quote Jules Winnfield, "Personality goes a long way."

Also, easily Fairuza Balk's best movie (maybe that's why she never made that many).

Return to Oz, just a smidge Underrated.  

Saturday
Aug232014

Gentlemen's DisAgreement - August 23rd - 2014

Will Neville joins the pod this week to reflect on Robin Williams' career and the Ice Bucket Challenge.

0:00 - Robin Williams

35:00 - Ice Bucket Challenge

53:00 - Your Opinions!

Listen HERE!

Friday
Aug222014

Random Music Review: Aerosmith

 

It's the age old question: is it better to burn out or fade away?  Be The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

The story of Aerosmith is nothing new.  A band that was once great, then larger than life, then slowly descended into lame, boring, marginality.  They used to sing about banging ladies in an elevator, now they have a so-so roller coaster in Disney World (it's okay, but like love in an elevator, over much too fast).  

Steven Tyler used to be the model rock star.  Howling, untouchable, with the occasional drug problem.  Then he became a gracefully aging woman sitting next to J-Lo on American Idol.

J-Lo can only pray she looks that good when she's 65.

Aerosmith fans still worship the band while also being convinced that they are perpetually snubbed by the rock gods and are the Rodney Dangerfields of rock n' roll.  Are they right?  Well, it depends which era of 'Smith you look at.

Peak of Their Quality: Toys in the Attic (1975)

Like early Scorcese, Aerosmith was largely overlooked during their greatest years in the mid-late 70s.  They would go on to greater success but they'd never match the musician ship and raw energy of their early classics, "Dream On", "Back in the Saddle" and "Sweet Emotion".  That energy would inspire many a future rocker including legendary rock band: Guns N' Roses.  Guns idolized Aerosmith, and much of their early musical stylings are modeled after 1970's Aerosmith.  They would later far surpass their 70s fame, but never again reclaim the quality.

Peak of Their Fame: Get a Grip (1993)

The band was churning out radio hits like babies from a catholic maternity ward in the 80s.  Four years made the gap between Aerosmith's pinnacle of success between 89's Pump and 93's Get a Grip.  Both spawned a slew of radio hits and while there is little question which was the better album (Pump, which also had one of the band's best songs "Janie's Got a Gun"), success is built up like a garbage heap and Get a Grip tops it off.  Also, "Cryin" played a very important role in my developmental years with the 17-year-old daughter of Tyler performing a strip tease for Alicia Silverstone in what is still a pretty risque music video to this day.

Peak of Their Hubris: Armegeddon (1998)

Michael Bay doesn't just ruin movies.

The downfall of Aerosmith began with one of their biggest hits.  While I personally always begrudged the existence of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for it's topping the Goo Goo Doll's "Iris" (My first love in music) there was no denying it was everywhere.  EVERYWHERE, like on my mom's easy-listening radio station light 100.5 WRCH everywhere.  It's not a terrible song, but the full orchestra and sheer schmaltzy-ness of it all were signs of things to come.  It wasn't long before they were emploring us to "Just Push Play" and everything was "Jaded".  Blech.

In the end, I paraphrase Stannis Baratheon:  Love them for the band they were, not the band they became.  Underrated (early career)  Rated Right (prime years) Overrated (Late Career).

Monday
Aug182014

The Ice Bucket Challenge: Overrated, Underrated, or Rated Right?

Go to www.alsa.org to make a donation and learn more about ALS.

Some people love it, others can't stand it.  Either way, the Ice Bucket Challenge is everywhere.

It first started popping up right around the end of July as a way to raise awareness and money for ALS (also known as Lou Gherig's Disease) when it was done to honor Pete Frates a former Boston College baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012.  It has since been done by LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Timberlake, Bill Gates, former Yankee Kevin Youkilis and has raised millions for research and has indeed raised a great deal of awareness for what was still somewhat  of an obscure disease.

ALS is a truly terrible disease.  The muscles and nervous system in the body gradually degrade and atrophy, the afflicted loses the ability to walk, eat, talk, and eventually breathe.  The afflicted does, however, retain full mental awareness as their body fails them.  Not only is there not a cure, frustratingly little is known about the disease.

So why, do some people have such a problem with it?

Don't just dump, DONATE!

When the Ice Bucket Challenge first began it was not specifically meant to be for ALS, but rather a general fundraising movement in which the cause can change from person to person.  One of the more creative (and ridiculous) complaints is that that the Ice Bucket Challenge has effectively "stolen" donations from other causes by being so popular.

While this may be true on a small scale, the fact of the matter is most of the people that have donated money to the Ice Bucket Challenge don't allocate money to charities or research regularly.  They aren't donating money they would have otherwise donated to AIDS research, it's money they would have spent on a hamburger.

There are no shortage of laughable reasons people claim the Ice Bucket Challenge is really just stupidity run amok.  One of the most hilarious being that it is insulting to countries with limited drinking water.  

To me, it seems a lot of the hate getting thrown at the Ice Bucket Challenge borders on people just hating to see others having a good time.  That is a shame, because I think that is an aspect those suffering from ALS probably enjoy seeing the most.  People aren't just talking about ALS they're smiling and laughing, it helps create a feeling of optimism where there wasn't before.

Some people take issue with the way it has spread on social media, with people dumping water on their head much in the same way they were dancing gleefully to the "Harlem Shake" and "Gangnam Style".

When it comes down to it, the real problem dissenters have with the Ice Bucket Challenge is the way certain people are doing it.

Particularly when it first started to catch fire, most of the people doing it were athletes and exercise enthusiasts.  People very into having a strong, good-looking body.  This began to set a precedent that the Ice Bucket Challenge was also a very convenient way to film a little video of you with your shirt off dumping water on yourself and put it out on social media.

Indeed, for many, the Ice Bucket Challenge is more about their desire to show the world how crazy and fun they are, and oh yeah, by the way have you seen my beach body?

And that is the rub.  The Ice Bucket Challenge is NOT about you.  It is great that you do it, but you should want to do it whether or not anyone sees you.

A great video for raising awareness that ALSO provided a website to donate to.

A shockingly high percentage of videos posted for the Ice Bucket Challenge don't mention donating money to ALS or even mention ALS at all.  In all of the videos I have seen only two, actor Brian Baumgartner's and Paul Bissonnette's, have provided a link to a place where you can actually donate to ALS research.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a fantastic movement for ALS research but, it is also easy prey to the lazy self-serving nature of hashtag activism.  If you're going to make a wacky video, make sure the real message doesn't get lost.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a great thing and very UNDERRATED. Do it, but don't forget why you're doing it and don't let the people who see it forget either.