Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just Call Me the Jim Henson of Hip-Hop

The Dispatch/Argus just printed our biggest special section that we do all year: Progress. It's an annual special that we do every February that focuses on "good news" about the Quad Cities - from the people that live and work there to the places that make it a unique community. Progress runs in 3 parts across a month's worth of Sundays every February.

This year's theme? "QC @ Work." It's a special round-the-clock focus on everyday employees as they go about their work week.

The paper needed someone to focus on for the 2-3 a.m. hour, so they decided to follow me through a night in the DJ booth at 2nd Ave.

It's kind of a fun piece, and my friend Matt Veto did a good job putting it together.

That said, there's one BLINDING error that I have to point out. I have NEVER -- and I mean NEVER -- played "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens (or, for that matter, Los Lobos) in a dance club in my life.

The song he's referring to in the article is a blend of Cassidy's "Drink N My 2 Step" and "Tequila," a 1958 instrumental by The Champs (that you might know better as the Pee Wee Herman dance song.) I wish I could tell you I pulled it off myself, but it's actually yet another great blend off the Crooklyn Clan website.

And the article claims I played "Row Row Row Your Boat"? Well, it's a 30-second drop into a transition mix of Lonely Island's "I'm On A Boat."

The article makes it sound like my "signature set" goes from "La Bamba" to "Row Row Row Your Boat," in which case PLEASE come slap the crap out of me.

Still, Matt's a sports guy and NOT a dance club guy, and I think he did a pretty fun job for the most part...

Musical puppeteer brings night to life
By Matt Veto,

ROCK ISLAND, 2 a.m. -- At the center of Shane Brown's attention is a two-disc mixer, the tool this musical puppeteer uses to control the grooving marionettes who continue to pour into the club as adjacent bars close for the night.

In a 25-by-4-foot corner of the 2nd Avenue night club, Mr. Brown basks in darkness, face lit dimly by the dance floor lights and the twinkling LEDs beaming from an array of audio equipment.

The bass tones rumble the guts of the dancers as the lyrics "hotel, motel, Holiday Inn" thump through vibrating speakers. Mr. Brown shuffles rhythmically between five giant compact disc books that each contain 320 discs. At 2:02 a.m. he's touched his 90th-or-so disc of the night.

"The most important thing about running the floor is tempo," Mr. Brown says. "It's all about tempo. Each song I play is a little bit faster than the song before."

Beats per minute is a mathematical element that all successful disc jockeys must master. It's "BPM" that allows Mr. Brown to assume control of the horde on the floor. The music is flowing at 136 BPM -- just about the peak of Mr. Brown's ideal top speed.

At 2:07 a.m., he cuts it to 70 BPM -- the slowest he'll go.

"It shakes up the floor a little bit," Brown says as a few dancers head to the bar for another drink, while others join in the party.

The turntable Mr. Brown is fussing over allows two discs to play simultaneously. A sliding switch in the middle -- the cross-fader -- gives Mr. Brown the ability to control which elements of each song take precedence, almost as if he is recomposing already composed music. He puts on his headphones each time he adds a song to ensure it mixes smoothly.

"I pride myself on making remixes and creating sets using songs people aren't used to hearing on the radio," Mr. Brown says.

It takes practice and patience. Mr. Brown, 39, has been a DJ in some form or another since 1986, whether working raves, teen clubs or fraternity houses. He got his start working dances at Galesburg High School, where he graduated in 1988. He's been at 2nd Avenue for eight years. The equipment belongs to the club, the thousands of CDs he uses to orchestrate his shows each weekend belong to him.

Safe to say there is some music he likes and some he doesn't.

"The No. 1 piece of advice that I can give an aspiring DJ: You have to learn to put your own tastes aside," Mr. Brown says. "You're working for the crowd, not for you."

Mr. Brown works on perfecting mixes in his kitchen in his spare time. He said DJs network and share mixes they have developed.

At 2:13 a.m., Mr. Brown unleashes what he calls his "signature set," which starts out by pairing Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" (recorded in 1958) with rapper Cassidy's "My Drink n My 2 Step" (recorded in 2007).

Which CDs he chooses at which time just depends on the faces in the crowd or the speed of the set. The tempo of each song is written on the disc.

"Sometimes you just mess around and find two songs that really mesh like butter," Mr. Brown says.

And while he tries never to repeat a mix too often, he says he finds it hard not to couple Justin Timberlake's "Bringing Sexy Back" with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" every night. He melds those tunes at 2:23 a.m. to a roar of approval.

For the next 10 minutes he continues to illustrate the DJ's art of crossing generations and spanning decades, while still holding a modern dance beat and keeping the floor's enthusiasm. At 2:38 a.m., he even manages a successful mix with a rendition of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" before dropping the beat at 2:40 a.m. one last time to prepare for a final climax.

At 2:47 a.m. he plays the night life's ever-recognizable "Closing Time" by Semisonic while he zips up CD cases and shuts down the music at 2:50 a.m. By 2:55 a.m., the floor is empty, the lights are on, and conversations are muffled as the ears of hundreds of dancers are ringing. At 3 a.m., the doors are locked.

Another night of melodious puppet mastery for the musical Mr. Brown.


Someone asked me the other day why I would want a column every week in the newspaper. I suppose there's two schools of thought:

(A): Some people need therapy to overcome the awkward and embarassing parts of their lives. I need YOU guys. I prefer to vent my frustrations through humor and a well-worn keyboard. I'm blessed to have such a wonderful outlet as the Dispatch/Argus to do so every week. It's humbling and magical to think that people like you take time out of YOUR life to read about mine. I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

Or (B): Owning a page in the newspaper that reaches over 100,000 readers is what I like to call Step One in my eventual bid for world domination. There's no problem big enough that can't be solved by a horde of evil minions to do one's evil bidding, and I'm kinda counting on you folks to step up in the evil minion dept.

But if sinister plan (B) stands a chance, I simply cannot be stymied by area businesses in their feeble attempts to wrench fame from my hands.

I'm talking to you, Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre.

This month, the IMAX is airing "U2 3D," a concert film of the Irish rockers that proved so popular during its first stop that it's back for a second engagement. And, as a novel way to promote the film, the folks from the Putnam IMAX put together a viral video that's making its way around the local Youtube circuit. In this video, they've assembled a rather impressive collection of A-list Quad Citians to lip-sync along to U2's hit single "Vertigo."

Anyone and everyone's on there. Dwyer & Michaels. Jill Green. The guy from Brenny's. Mayor Bill Gluba. Stephanie and Jan from Ross' Restaurant. Matt Hammill. It's a cool idea that works and looks great.

There's just one small problem: I'm not in it. I wasn't asked to be in it. I've watched the video and there's not even one cameo from yours truly.

What gives, Putnam IMAX? I am a Great Local Writer of Local Greatness, a beloved and cherished Quad Cities institution, but I've been left out like yesterday's news. Don't cry for me, Quad Cities. The truth is I never left you. I was right here, waiting for the phone call -- that never came.

There's Ellis Kell. My colleague Jonathan Turner. Bill Wundram and my arch-nemesis (and in reality close friend) David Burke from that (cough) OTHER paper. Yet no Shane. No offense to Mayor Bill Gluba, but surely I'm a more adept lip-syncer. I am, after all, the #13 vocalist in the world on the video game Rock Band. Who else on this list has THOSE kind of qualifications? Dwyer? Michaels? Paula stinkin' Sands? Well, okay, even I can't compete with The Paula. The Paula is a diva goddess and clearly the only human being in the Quad Cities more powerful than myself. Don't knock The Paula.

But it's okay, Putnam IMAX. I'm sure it was a tragic oversight on someone's part, right? Someone whom I trust has been given their well-deserved pink slip by now, no? Or maybe the awesome power of my awesomeness was just TOO MUCH for the Putnam IMAX to handle. My brute machismo IS somewhat intimidating.

Don't worry, Putnam IMAX. I forgive you. And I've come up with a way for you to make it up to me.

First thing's first, though -- can we lose U2? Because they kinda, umm, suck nowadays.

Once upon a time, U2 were a good band. Existing on the sheer fury of Bono's power mullet, early U2 was a wicked force. Remember the iconic scenes of Bono climbing the scaffolding and waving the flag? Or at Live Aid when he jumped into the crowd to dance with the shell-shocked girl. And I'm convinced that the only reason Band-Aid managed to help feed the world with sales of "Do They Know Is Christmas" was entirely due to Bono's spine-tingling "welltonightthankgoditstheminstEEEEAAAAADDDDDDOOOOOOOOOFYOOUUUUUUU!" When you heard early U2, you knew it was a band that stood for something. You weren't exactly sure what that something WAS, but it was entirely impressive nonetheless.

Then Bono cut his power mullet, found those ridiculous glasses, and the whole band went to heck. I have no desire to see them in concert, on film, or coming at me from a 27' screen in three dimensions. I like that Bono still tries to heal the world, but that's because it makes him occasionally stop singing.

Still, I'll put my loathe of contemporary U2 aside for the sake of fame. Just send a camera crew over and we'll shoot a quick 3-D introduction to the film. Here, I've even written the script:

A lightning strike at dawn. As the sun begins to rise, the camera swings to reveal the rooftop of the Putnam IMAX. Atop it stands a long figure next to his trusty motorcycle, which has made it to the roof on the power of sheer awesomeness alone. Like many fine Cinemax movies from times of yore, our leather-clad hero is a renegade biker on a lone search for justice. It is... The Shane.

As the sun strikes his muscular frame, he casts his eyes towards the heaven and yells. "Hoooooooooooo!" Windows throughout the Quad Cities shatter at the sound. A menacing team of ninjas appears. The Shane sighs. It is time. He flies into the air in slow motion like The Matrix. Every time he touches a ninja, they are immediately decapitated and their heads fly in 3D towards the audience. When it is done, The Shane stands triumphant atop a pile of severed ninja heads.

From somewhere down below, action star Chuck Norris yells up, "Thanks, buddy. I couldn't have done that myself."

"No problem, Chuck Norris," says The Shane. "All in a day's work when you're as awesome as me."

The wind whips up, taking with it The Shane's shirt. From all around the Quad Cities, women squeal with delight until the windows throughout the Quad Cities, all of which were replaced during the ninja fight, shatter again. Townsfolk appear with gifts. One of them is an elderly lady who doesn't see the oncoming semi truck...

Lasers shoot out of The Shane's eyes, destroying the semi truck and magically turning it into... a box of newborn kittens. The crowd goes "Awww!" as the camera slowly ascends into the sky, further and further until...

We are in outer space. As the globe spins, we see the continent of South America, where giant mile-long letters have been set ablaze in the Amazonian rainforest. The message: "SHANE IS KING." The end.

Oh, wait. Then I step into the frame and go, "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.... U2... will not be seen tonight on account of they suck. Instead, enjoy me in three dimensions while I play Rock Band, eat a ham sandwich, and compose newspaper columns in my head for two hours."


Or, if you go back up to the top and take it from the (A) school of thought, I can breathe a sigh of relief that the Putnam IMAX crew didn't come a-callin'. I'm so self-conscious that I probably would've died of stage fright. Plus Paula Sands really DOES kinda scare me a little. I'll stick with THIS gig, thanks. I really AM the luckiest guy alive.

COLUMN: Stoplight

I remember painfully little of the grade school years (a fact which I blame on the college years.) But for no particular reason, one homework assignment has always stuck out in my head.

My 3rd grade teacher, a wonderful little hippie lady named Mrs. Harlan-Marks, asked us to write a paper on who our "hero" was. Oh, and it couldn't be someone in your own family - you had to think outside the box. And thinking outside the box threw me for a loop.

My hero? Outside of my parents, I didn't really have any. I thought about it forever and ever, but no magic light bulbs went off above my head. That's when I committed my first memorable act of bull-pooing: I decided to announce to the world (or at least to Mrs. Harlen-Marks) that my hero was... Dan Tanna.

Dan Tanna was the character Robert Urich played on the short-lived 70's TV series "Vega$." I'd never even seen an episode of the show before that night, but it was on TV in the background while I was working on the paper and I was desperate. I don't remember if Dan was a cop or a detective or a mercenary or a gambler or what, but for one brief shining moment in 1970-something, he was my hero.

Twenty plus years have passed since that assignment, and nowadays it's easier to come up a list of heroes. My parents (still.) My girlfriend (always.) Dispatch/Argus Publisher Jerry Taylor (because it never hurts to suck up to your boss.) 2nd Avenue/RIBCO owner Terry Tilka (or your other boss.) Eddie Izzard. Chuck Klosterman. Dave Barry. Whitney Matheson. Musicians like Johnny Marr, drummer Loz Colbert, and the greatest songwriter of our generation, Martin Carr (look him up.) The list goes on and on, but this column involves some other heroes of mine.

Recently I got the ability to stream Netflix purchases over to my TV, and I discovered that Netflix has every episode of one of my favorite shows: Mythbusters. These two guys, Jamie and Adam, set out in every episode to dispell popular myths via elaborate experiments and, if at all possible, large explosions. It's funny, it's science, and exploding things are cool. The Mythbusters rule.

Another set of heroes? Journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein -- two guys who four-handedly brought down a corrupt American presidency through sheer determination, willpower, and by being really really annoying. There isn't a newspaper writer alive who doesn't want THAT kind of a story to fall into their laps.

And I think I've got mine. That's right, it's time for this columnist to move to the big leagues. I will now -- by the cunning use of Mythbuster experimentation and the doggedness of Woodward and Bernstein, bring down a corrupt Rock Island stoplight.

Flashback: June 2009. A horrible car accident occurs at the intersection of 24th St. & 4th Ave. in Rock Island. A semi truck and an SUV meet in a most unfortunate of ways. People are sent to the hospital, but thankfully no-one dies. Our paper runs a story with the following quote:

"After the accident, several people said the sensors, which trigger the stoplights, haven't been working properly for several months."

What the article doesn't mention is that one of those "several people" was yours truly. Every weekend, I head home from my DJ gig at around 4 a.m. Usually, that puts me southbound on 24th St. at the 4th Ave. intersection. And every night for a month before that accident, that stoplight sensor hadn't been working. I would pull up on a red light, and it would stay red - indefinitely. Since 4th Ave. is a one-way street with a turn lane I'm never in, my only choice is to become a rebel without a cause and roll cautiously through the red light.

So when that accident happened, I naturally assumed that the broken light was to blame and promptly told our reporter as much. But when the reporter questioned the police about the sensor, Lieutenant So-and-So responded (again I quote from our June article,) "sensors on the stoplight at the intersection appear to have been working properly."

Properly, my journalistic fanny. But who am I to correct a cop? Instead, I shut my yap, ignored my journalistic duty, and started taking a different way home, assuming that the light malfunction would eventually be rectified. But this past Saturday, I absent-mindedly took the old route home, found myself southbound on 24th St., and once again ended up waiting indefinitely at the 4th Ave. stoplight. It still isn't fixed.

So I can't let Woodward & Bernstein down. I need to expose this light for the broken hunk o' junk it is. I need documentation and experimentation. I need to bust the myth that this light is working properly. It's now 9:40 p.m. on Monday, February 8th. My investigative team (me and my girlfriend) are heading out to the intersection to see if we can conclusively prove that the light is failing. We know that my New Beetle will NOT set off the sensors, so we'll be in Amy's Toyota Avalon instead. We'll approach the intersection from a variety of scenarios. Wish me luck...

Okay. It's now 10:21 p.m. We have just proven beyond a shadow of a doubt... that the Acapulco Cafe on the corner of 4th and 24th has pretty good chips and salsa. Other that that, I've got nothing. It looks like the sensors don't come on until the wee hours. Right now, it's just on a timed loop, changing lights regularly regardless of traffic flow. I bet it doesn't change to sensor activation until after midnight.

Woodward and Bernstein would go back out and interview everyone who went through the intersection. The Mythbusters team would go back out after midnight and run a variety of simulations and experiments. But the Mythbusters are in California, where 5-8" inches aren't on tonight's forecast. And Woodward & Bernstein didn't have to meet Deep Throat in the middle of a snowfall. As for me? I'm home, I'm comfy, and now I've got chips and salsa.

I firmly believe that the stoplight sensor is broken, at least when it comes to 2712 lb. Volkswagen Beetles at 4 a.m. And now I've gotten that in print. I leave it to someone else to bust the myth that this stoplight works hunky-dory. I recommend Dan Tanna.

COLUMN: End of Days

Well, it's finally happened. I've received my first threatening letter from a deranged fan.

I knew it was just a matter of time. I am, after all, a Super Important Writer of Much Importance. And when you have such a massive legion of fans built up, there's bound to be a crackpot or two in the mix. I just opened my mail and there's a letter here threatening my physical safety in the days to come. Better hand it over to the authorities, I guess. Let's just see who the crackpot is that's making some threats... oh, I see. It's some guy named "God."

When I opened it up, I expected the usual "Dear Shane, you are so super awesome" yada yada "want to have your babies" yada yada "handsome, sexy hunk of" yada. Instead I get this:


Well, then. I guess that's that. At least God was nice enough to wait until AFTER the finale of "Lost."

The rest of the letter, which appears to be photocopied and is likely being sent to a goodly portion of the world, explains the "infallible proof" that the world as we know it is coming to an end.

It turns out that there's a California-based ministry called Family Stations that's led by an 88-year-old retired civil engineer named Harold Camping. He's the guy who, through careful Biblical analysis, has determined the exact date of the End of Days. How he figured it out is beyond me - I'm no good at math. But apparantly you can backtrack through all the Biblical begat-s to determine that the great Noachian flood happened in 4990 BC. 2 Peter states that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years." God tells Noah that he's sending the flood in 7 days. 7 days = 7000 years. 4990 BC + 7000 years = 2011 A.D. Noah's flood lifted on his 600th year, second month, and seventeenth day. Allowing for calendar changes between Biblical times and the modern era, the 17th day of the 2nd month of the 7000th year is May 21st, 2011.

It's just that easy, logical, and completely bat-guano. Plus, it's a Saturday, so at least our work week won't be disrupted by a pesky plague of locusts.

Mr. Camping spreads his prophecies o' doom via his Family Radio Network (and what a great name, too, because nothing says family fun quite like seas turning to blood, eh?) He published a rather comprehensive book some years ago detailing his prophecy for Armageddon. Just one problem -- in THAT book, his Doomsday was September 6, 1994. On that date, Camping and his followers gathered to bear witness to... a rather routine Tuesday, with nary a flying horseman in sight. That's when Camping sheepishly admitted a "math error," declared an Apocalypse mulligan, and announced May 21st 2011 for the do-over.

This would be bad news to the Mayan empire, who -- as we've been seeing on countless cable channel specials designed to scare the bejeebies out of us -- long ago predicted what some think is the end of the world. The Mayans were pretty good at predictions, except when it came to predicting the premature and unexplained collapse of their own society. What they left behind, though, was a primitive calendar system that makes just about as much sense at Harold Camping.

In the calendar we know, 30 days (roughly) = one month. In the Mayan long count calendar, 20 days make a uinal, 18 uinals make a tun, 20 tuns make a k'atun, and 20 k'atuns make up a b'ak'tun, as commemorated by Neil Simon in his lesser-known play "Same Time Next B'ak'tun." But instead of a Happy New B'ak'tun being a big party in Times Square, there's Mayan lore that at the end of the 13th B'ak'tun, something, err, signifigant would happen. Something signifigant enough that most of the ancient calendars don't have a 14th B'ak'tun. It just sorta stops at 13.

The last day of the 13th B'ak'tun works out to be December 23, 2012. Actually, we've already seen what's gonna happen then. L.A. will slide into the ocean, Yellowstone will erupt, an aircraft carrier will take out the White House, and our future lies entirely in the hands of John Cusack. Just so long as its not Tom Cruise, I'm kinda okay with it.

So who's right? Is it Harold Camping and we're hosed in just over a year? Is it the Mayans and we've got a couple years to prep for Armageddon? Or is it this pesky God fellow, whose Bible says that we "do not know on what day your Lord will you must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him."

As the professional consumate journalist that I am, I wanted to do my own investigating, and I've discovered yet ANOTHER potential End of Days, this one foretold from another ancient source of wisdom ahead of its time. I speak, of course, of the Modern Woodmen of America.

I received a Christmas card at the office this year from the Modern Woodmen home office, and inside of it is a shiny new desk calendar that's come in quite handy this year (moral of the story: I like free stuff.) But as I stared at this calendar pondering the Apocalypse, I flipped past February into March... April... and kept going. You will not believe what I discovered.

My courtesy Modern Woodmen of America calendar STOPS... on December 31st, 2010. It just ends, with nary a hint of January 2011's existence. So I went to a bookstore that night where hundreds of calendars were on sale. ALL OF THEM stopped on the same day. December 31st, 2010. In fact, they went as far as to call themselves "2010 Calendars," as though 2011 simply will not happen. Clearly, the world has caught on to Modern Woodmen's predictions. Fraternal life insurance society and banking institution... or mystic seers predicting the end of humanity? I could only do one thing.

I sent an emergency e-mail to my friend Tina who works at Woodmen's home office.

"What gives?" I wrote. "Mayan calendar ends on 12/23/12 and end of world is predicted. My Woodmen calendar ends on 12/31/10. Are you Woodpeople harboring the secret knowledge of Armageddon?"

"Look again," she replied. "At the top right-hand corner of the December 2010 page." Sure enough, there, in tiny print, was a handy one-month extension covering January 2011. "So I think as far as we Woodpeople go," she wrote, "you're safe."

Whew. Three Apocalypses is enough for this guy to worry about without a fourth getting in the way. I guess it's just a coincidence that 2010 calendars expire at the end of 2010. We're gonna have at least a year and a half to worry about the end of time. John Cusack's gonna have himself one boring year.

COLUMN: Pickers

(pic courtesy The History Channel)

I get excited whenever the Quad Cities gets national attention. I'm not exactly sure WHY, though.

But I've got a theory. We should all be in agreement by now that the world revolves entirely around ME, right? After all, I'm pretty cool and all-powerful in certain circles -- or at least the entirely credible and horribly important circle of locally-based humor columnists. Ergo, all of the nation's media should be pointed squarely at me and my innate coolness. Oh, and I'm humble, too -- I don't mind if the rest of you locals cash in on my fame from time to time, so I like it whenever camera crews roll through town.

Seriously, though, who wasn't excited when Charlie Gibson was on ABC eating a Magic Mountain at Ross'? Who doesn't get mildly thrilled by all the secret service detours whenever presidential candidates come a-stumping through town? And I, for one, stood up and clapped when the poor shoppers of the Village of East Davenport melted into the ground in the locally-filmed and entirely-awful disaster flick, "Megafault." It's cool to see ourselves and our humble homestead on the boob tube.

That's why I got excited when I found out that the History Channel had picked up a 10-episode run of a locally-filmed documentary series, "American Pickers." I was especially excited when I found out that "Pickers" stars one of my absolute favorite Quad Citizens, Danielle Cushman. I've known Danielle and her husband Chad for ages, and they've always had their hands in some of the coolest hipster activities in town. From roller derbies to burlesque shows, DJ gigs to farmer's markets, Chad and Dannie are familiar faces to the local arts scene.

Too bad, then, that I'm not a huge fan of "American Pickers." And it's NOTHING against the show itself. It's actually pretty entertaining and you guys should all watch it. It's just not MY thing.

Here's the deal with "American Pickers." It features a couple of guys who run an antique business out of Leclaire (my friend Dannie works in their office and runs the joint when they're gone.) In each episode, the guys cruise around the Midwest in a van, looking for crusty old farmhouses with equally crusty old owners. Their goal is to find folks who have collected mountains of old junk in barns and closets and backyards. They invite themselves in, "pick" through the junk for antique treasures, make offers to the owners, and then take their prizes home to determine their resale worth.

In a way, it's a fascinating show. The two guys are pretty funny, and they meet some pretty colorful characters on their adventures, many of whom are more than eager to share the tales behind their treasures. In the premiere episode, they meet an old guy who proudly tells the story of how he came to possess the Japanese samurai sword that the pickers found rusting away in his barn -- he got it while part of the occupying force following the bombing of Hiroshima. That kinda stuff is pretty cool to hear, and the show's full of similar stories. It's a good marriage for The History Channel, that's for sure.

My problem is this: I can't help but feel a little bad for the old folks these guys are dealing with. On every episode, the guys pick through these folks' worldly possessions, pull out some junk, and then start haggling prices. If they come to an agreement, they head home with their stuff, where they have it appraised and learn its real value. A little graphic pops up on the screen like, "Paid: $150. Value: $400. Profit: $250" while the guys high-five each other and smile.

It's neat for the two pickers, but I can't help but wonder what Farmer Joe's gonna feel like when he watches the show and realizes he could have made an extra $250. The arrival of this TV crew might just be The Most Exciting Thing That's Happened To Farmer Joe In Nigh On A Decade, so I would expect nothing less than a grand Farmer Joe Family Potluck to celebrate the show's airing. Imagine a room full of family and friends, all there to support a guy's Hollywood minute, only to find out that Hollywood used that minute to stiff Farmer Joe out of a couple hundred bucks.

But I guess the buying and selling and profiteering is the whole fun purpose of collecting and owning antiques in the first place -- it's a world I don't appreciate, it's a world I don't understand. The true miracle of this show is that there's people out there willing to pay $150 for these gross, rusted-out tetanus traps in the first place. One crusty motorcycle they bought required knocking out live, active beehives before they put it in their van. I don't know about you, but once bees set up home in something, it's theirs until winter comes.

I don't get antiques. I just don't. There's only two good places for old junk of this caliber: (a) a dumpster, or (b) free of bees, cleaned meticulously, and hung from the walls of a TGI Friday's. What these guys call "treasure troves of antiques" I call "oughta-be-condemned."

We live in a world of progress. The neat part of the industrial revolution is that new stuff constantly comes out that's better than the old stuff. Throw the old stuff away, buy the new stuff. Don't hold on to the old stuff and revere it and dream of a simpler day. I prefer my stuff to be shiny, new, and with any luck, remote-controlled. You antique weirdos can keep your hardwood floors and oak craftsmanship. I want my whole house to be, I dunno, chrome. Like a cross between "Barbarella" and "The Jetsons." And if there's a robot maid in the mix, all the better.

To each their own, I guess. While some people collect antiques, I collect music. And there will probably come a day, sooner than later, when CD's will be a thing of the past (likely replaced by some new technology where music is directly implanted into your brain stem by an Apple product called an iLobotomy.) And maybe someday I'll be an old, crusty dude who gets accosted by a pair of cocky pickers. And when that day comes, I'll do the only thing I can:

"Don't you know who I am?! The world revolves around me! You wanna buy this music? $1000 apiece or I release the hounds!" (I'll have hounds when I'm old, I'm sure of it.)