Posts Tagged Brooklyn
In the face of ongoing gentrification, Brooklyn-based act Biohazard is now forced to qualify ongoing lyrical references to their formerly notorious hometown.
“There was a time when you could just say ‘Brooklyn!’ to invoke being a hard-ass that won’t take crap from anybody,” sighed guitarist Billy Graziadei, “but now we gotta be extra clear on which parts we’re talking about, or we’ll look like a bunch of jackasses.”
Indeed, many districts in Brooklyn have become renowned for housing some of the largest enclaves of hipsters and upwardly mobile urban youth in all of North America. The band’s depictions of blight and violence have been replaced by a proliferation of coffee bars and Urban Outfitters storefronts in areas that were previously fertile ground for Biohazard’s videos, album covers, and lyrics.
“We have a new song called ‘Back on the Streets (not Williamsburg)’, that talks about life in Brooklyn, specifically the eastern side heading towards Ozone Park,” said Graziadei, shaking his head. “It’s still pretty brutal over there, though nobody knows it because they’re shopping at their stupid thrift stores in Brooklyn Heights. We also have a scary one called ‘A Day in Bushwick’, because you know that area is still pretty hairy. Then again, I hear they recently got an American Apparel outlet. Oh my God, we’re so screwed!”
Indeed, the once-fearsome foursome from the wrong side of the tracks now finds their lyrics completely hampered with overly-specific descriptions and disclaimers of their previously forsaken borough.
I’m on the run/and I need a new gun
Talkin’ about Brooklyn – no, the other one
When you’re s— outta luck/and you don’t give a f—
And that don’t include the parts that got a Starbucks
With all the upswing of commerce and rising property values, it seems that Biohazard are among the few Brooknites who are suffering. Whenever the band plays classics like “Urban Discipline” or “Tales from the Hardside”, their harrowing portrayals of Brooklyn is often met with incredulous laughter from those who were too young to remember when the entire area was an urban death maze.
Graziadei continued, “We get people coming up to us going, ‘Are the hipsters really that dangerous?’ or ‘I guess you guys have seen some serious s— go down in those fair-trade coffee shops’. Jesus Christ.”
Ultimately, it may be the end of the line for bands that trade off the bad reputation of their hometowns. Crime rates have lowered across the nation, and city centers are being reclaimed by upwardly mobile young people and large developers.
“The entire north side is undergoing a tree-planting project,” exclaimed the increasingly agitated guitarist. “Trees! In Brooklyn? Used the be the only planting we did was putting bodies in the ground, you know what I’m saying? I can’t write about urban renewal!”
At press time, the band has announced plans to relocate to the Bronx.
Chances are, if you are an American under the age of 85, you remember where you were the first time you heard “Punishment” by Biohazard. As Brooklyn became “the next Seattle” in the mid-1990s and New York City Hardcore took over the Billboard Charts and Top 40 radio stations, Biohazard became the band that defined a generation. It was the time of full body tattoos, doo-rags and ordinary Americans spending their days dressed like characters in “The Warriors”. However, a recent report by The Dartmouth Journal of Advanced Medicine and Spreadin’ The Hardcore Reality, has called into question the veracity of one the band’s best known lyrics.
“Punishment” became the successor to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the most popular song on the planet in 1992. The song is particularly memorable for the lyric “In reality, we all must face the fact that the majority of people are out there smoking crack.” The words were based on exhaustive research done by the band on the use of crack-cocaine by Americans. According to the album’s footnotes, 56 percent of Americans were “out there smoking crack” at the time the song was being recorded.
At the time of the albums release, some researchers questioned whether that many people were really hooked on the dangerous, highly addictive substance. Harvard scientist Kenn Nardi looked on Biohazard’s findings dubiously when he first heard the song. “Alright, yes, there are many people addicted to crack. But, for Biohazard to put forth the thesis that a “majority” of people” were hooked on the narcotic was a bit of an overstatement.”
Nardi, who received his PhD in New York City Hardcore Studies in 2003 and has extensively studied the cultural context and metaphysical meaning of Biohazard lyrics, went on to say, “I question if their sample size was large enough to justify the generalization. And, honestly, I’m not clear how they would define “out there”. Do they mean to imply this is only a study of outdoor crack users?”
However, the recent Dartmouth study has conclusively proven that the majority of people in 1992 were not “out there smoking crack”. According to studies’ co-author John Emery, “There are significant errors in Biohazard’s findings. First of all, they oversampled metropolitan areas. Data collection was also an issue. We have concerns that several of the studies participants were actually local winos who were paid in bottles of Ripple, Night Train Express and Maddog 20/20 and were willing to say anything in order to get their next drink.”
Current members of Biohazard have yet to respond to these charges of academic fraud. However, former lead singer turned actor Spyder Jonez did take a moment away from the filming of his new action film “Member of The Beast” to say that he “unequivocally stand(s) behind both the qualitative and quantitative methods used by the band and reject the possibility that issues like the cohort effect or some of the microfactors that hampered the work of Reinhart and Reigoff have impinged on the efficacy of our data collection and textual analysis. Most people is just crackheads, yo.”
Biohazard’s new album, Ermine Discipline, is expected out in the Spring.
Vinnie Stigma has been many things in his long and intriguing life. The enigmatic guitar player from Agnostic Front has been an actor in the hit film New York Blood, a professional stunt car driver and even the Secretary of Agriculture in the state of Oklahoma for a short time in the 90s. However, few people expected his recent career change. Stigma has become a renowned children’s author.
“You know, I was thinkin’ about how stupid kids are today with all of the hugging and sharing nonsense they get in the schools. I want to rap them upside the head with a newspaper and say ‘What’s a matter with you?’ So, I wrote this book to help them not be so freakin’ dumb. Teach’em some stuff that could make them so they don’t get their skulls smashed in everyday and whatnot,” said Stigma on the steps of his Brooklyn townhouse.
The book, which is the story of five streetwise but cuddly rabbits from Coney Island, takes place on the seedy streets of New York after dark. The rabbits are drawn to a convention of animals that takes place in the Bronx where they discuss a truce between all the other animals in the city. However, after the wise fox named Cyrus who called the meeting is gunned down, the Rabbits are pursued by the other animals who believe they killed him.
Most of the story centers on their journey back to Coney Island and their battles with rival groups of animals for survival. The climax of the book is an all out fight between the rabbits and the rats out on Coney Island Beach. Reviewers are already excited about the book, comparing his work to early Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein.
“Stigma has written a beautiful parable for the ages,” remarked noted New York Times critic Dwight Garner, “he captures all of the magic and beauty that children experience when hitting another child in the head with a tire iron for the first time.”
James Wood, book reviewer for The New Yorker, was even more effusive in his praise.
“Young people today are just too soft,” wrote Wood, “this book teaches them important life skills like how to hotwire a car and how to make a Molotov cocktail. Things that our liberalized school systems have omitted from their curriculums in the name of political correctness.”
“I Thought You Were My Friend” is intended for children 3 to 7 and includes pop-up police snakes along with scratch and sniff sewers and subway cars. However, Stigma believes the book will resonate with everyone, from toddlers to adults.
“Wanting to beat and maim someone because they are in your way is a simple human characteristic,” said Stigma. “If adults don’t read this book, fine. I’ll go to their house, put my knee into their chest and read it to them. People need to understand that this book has an important and timeless message and if I have to give a beating to every single American to get the message across, that’s what I’m going to do.”