Illustrations: TIM ROOT
It will come as no surprise to many of you that Air Guitar—that once-shameful activity popularized by heshers, geeks and geeky heshers—has exploded into an international phenomenon. And so for the second straight year, the U.S. Air Guitar Championships will stop at Dante’s this Tuesday in its search for new talent. A less familiar and markedly more revolting air sport, Air Sex, takes the stage at Berbati’s on Saturday. Both events are likely to feature outlandish, intoxicated stage antics and rocking, pervy crowds. But not all air-based activities have enjoyed the success of these two fledgling sports. So today, we remember the fallen and ill-advised air competitions: the ones that never made it off the ground.
In an unaired episode of famed ’60s TV show The Monkees (Episode 17B, “Ain’t No Business Like Monkee Business”), the group’s tambourinist/British dreamboat Davy Jones forgets his primary instrument after smoking far too much weed. When the band takes the stage, Jones asks the audience to imagine the sound of the missing tambourine, and to let it “shake your groovy mind-bells.” While that phrase became inexplicably popular with the undercover narc set, air tambourine really caught on.
Air Competitive Eating
After unsuccessful legal challenges to the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), Massachusetts-based advocacy group Citizens for Smaller Portions and More Petite Tummies (CFSPMPT) found itself at a crossroads. A federal court of appeals had found the group’s allegations—that hot dog-eating contests discriminated against the dainty and much of the Muslim world—“ungrounded and silly.” To protest, CFSPMPT staged a Boston air-eating championship in 2003. But controversy arose when one of the new sport’s brightest stars—the dapper and unnaturally slim Muhammad Al-Frank—admitted to being an air bulimic. “Yeah, I pretended to throw up,” he told tabloids in 2005. “It was a pretend cry for help.”
Air Guitar Hero
Like so many air sports, Air Guitar Hero sprang from necessity. When a group of poor children in Pontiac, Mich., couldn’t afford a PS3 or the popular Guitar Hero game and accessories to go with it, they simply made believe. Air Guitar Hero was born. Much like standard Air Guitar, Air Guitar Hero practitioners grip and shred an imaginary ax. But here theatrics are cause for point deductions and performers must direct their zombielike gaze on a fixed location representing a television set. When a local TV news crew turned its cameras to these pathetic children, the resulting outpouring of community support marked a quick end to the young sport.
Air Air Hockey
When the Air Hockey table in Baton Rouge, La., juke joint “4 J’s” went kaput—right on the eve of a huge regional competition—former LSU linebacker and 4 J’s owner Jermaine Jackson broke into a cold sweat. “I was just praying to Jesus,” he says of that fateful day. “Just praying so hard for an answer.” Then it struck him like an errant plastic puck…OK, OK, the jig is up. We just thought “Air Air Hockey” sounded funny.
AIR GO: The Portland Air Sex Competition takes place at Berbati’s Pan, 231 SW Ankeny St., 226-2122. 9 pm Saturday, June 20. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+. Contact email@example.com to enter. The U.S. Air Guitar Championships’ regional competition stops at Dante’s, 1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630. 9 pm Tuesday, June 23. $13 to watch, $20 to compete. 21+. Visit usairguitar.com to enter.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 17
[MUSIC] FEMI KUTI
He’ll always be known as the son of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, but Femi adds newer influences (reggae, hip-hop) to his dad’s irresistible stew of funk, jazz and African percussion. Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Road., 226-1561. 7 pm. $10.50.
THURSDAY JUNE 18
[DISH] BITES FOR RIGHTS
Dine out at a slew of local restaurants in support of the equitable treatment of the GLTB community. For a full list of participating establishments, see basicrights.org.
[WORDS/MUSIC] ZAK SMITH
Zak Smith is an artist, and Zak Smith also does porn. In We Did Porn: Memoir and Drawings, he ruminates on both. Tin House and Disjecta do it right by matching Smith with local writer Jon Raymond and local rockers Quasi tonight. Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., 286-9449. 7:30 pm. $7.
FRIDAY JUNE 19
Bay Area, represent! The introspective, organ-laden pop of Papercuts makes a perfect soundtrack to a sticky almost-summer night. Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside St.. 231-9663. 9 pm. $10. 21+.
SATURDAY JUNE 20
[SCREEN] VELVET GOLDMINE
Todd Haynes’ glam-slam gets revived by Fleur de Lethal Cinematheque, which means the costumes won’t just be on the screen. Which David Bowie are you? Bagdad Theater, 3720 Hawthorne Blvd., 975-5854. 10:45 pm. $5.
SUNDAY JUNE 21
[BIKE] SUNDAY PARKWAYS
It’s paradise! The city’s creating 7- to 8-mile bike-friendly “temporary parks” by closing off certain streets. This Sunday the utopia will stretch across North Portland, with a 3.2-mile loop between the Kenton and Arbor Lodge neighborhoods, and a 4.5-mile loop between Arbor Lodge and Piedmont neighborhoods. 9 am-4 pm. Free.
TUESDAY JUNE 23
[MUSIC] DAVID BYRNE
So yeah, it’s not quite like seeing the Talking Heads on the Speaking in Tongues tour. Still, it’s David Byrne, playing all the songs he’s written over the years with Brian Eno and looking cool in his all-white duds. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 248-4335. 8 pm. $36.25-$46.50. All ages.