God's Politics

God's Politics

Jonathan Mendez: Drop Air, Not Bombs

Twenty three of the coolest people I’ve ever met geared up by putting on costumes, make-up, and even wigs, for the grueling brawl that ensued as we all tried to wax the stage with one another in an art form whose name betrays its beauty: air guitar. As the evening’s emcee and national popularizer of air guitar, Björn Türoque (who has written a book, and been featured in a documentary and several news programs) explains, the art form’s ultimate goal is nothing short of world peace. If you’re holding an air guitar, you can’t hold a gun.
More than 1,200 D.C. fans sold out the 9:30 Club for the district’s first annual air guitar competition. The winner goes to New York in August for the nationals, in which the winners of 15 regional competitions duke it out for a chance to compete for the world title in Oulu, Finland. But last Wednesday I wasn’t thinking about future glory; I only thought about how to defeat 22 other competitors and come out on top.
Many people consider this peaceful art form “pretend guitar,” but if you perform with that approach, you will lose points. Yes, points. Like figure skating, scoring ranges from 4.0 to 6.0 as judges rank performers on three criteria: technicality (how real the picking, fretting, and strumming look), stage presence, and an indefinable criterion called “airness.” This is where you lose points if you’re just playing pretend guitar. Airness is the extent to which you push the experience for yourself, the crowd, and the judges, convincing everyone that you and the guitar you aren’t playing are one. Things like tuning your air guitar, turning on an air amp, or having an air roadie come help you set up all help.
There are two rounds: a freestyle round, in which competitors are judged on a 60-second performance from a song of the air guitarist’s choice (I performed Brad Paisley’s “Time Warp”), and a compulsory round, in which the five finalists each perform their interpretations of 60 seconds of the same, previously unannounced song – in this case, Boston’s “It’s Been a Long Time.”
At the end I came out on top, but someone came out on top of me. His stage name is Shred, a dad in his early 50’s who won the crowd’s heart. My Sojo intern community and many staff came out to support, and soothed my wounded ego with kind words saying that I was a much better air guitarist than everyone up there. But second place isn’t bad, eh? I was grateful to dedicate my near-victory to Jesus.
So enter a local competition. Do it in the name of peace, and to honor our Lord (Colossians 3:17).
Jonathan “Couch Potato” Mendez is an editorial assistant for Sojourners magazine.

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posted June 11, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Great title – caught my attention.
I have a great t-shirt that I bought last year at Cornerstone Festival (where I first heard of Sojourner)
the t-shirt has bomber planes flying accross the chest dropping guitars . . .
Great message – music not bombs!
Grace and Peace,

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posted June 11, 2007 at 7:44 pm

Congratulations on your performance! Second out of a field of 22 is pretty sweet :) Art does have a way of drawing people together. Do you ever get together with fellow air guitarists and just jam? :)

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posted June 11, 2007 at 8:02 pm

And how exactly does this contribute to world peace?

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posted June 11, 2007 at 8:54 pm

I too wonder how this competition contributes to world peace and am saddened to realize that however de minimis that contribution may be, it is still greater than the present administration’s contribution to world peace.

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posted June 12, 2007 at 10:42 am

Drop Music not Bombs!
Great idea so what ‘music’ can we expect from the radical Islamic groups on their world tour? If their opening act in NY and DC were the kick-off, we are in for one big bang. (dripping scarcasm intended)
Hillary in the White House (Bill in charge of the Interns)
Reed and Poloci on Capital Hill
Dismantle the Dept of Homeland Security
Tear down the fences and open the boarders to any and all who can get across and the US has the potential of becoming the cesspool of the world.
Be blessed –

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posted June 12, 2007 at 4:28 pm

I’m hoping to “air guitar” my sermon this coming Sunday, then sell the CDs for $19.95 plus $100 postage and handling.
Call Jonathan at Sojo to obtain your copy now!! Operators are standing by.

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Aaron McCarroll Gallegos

posted June 12, 2007 at 5:13 pm

Orale Couch Potato, this rocks. You never know what hidden talents Sojourners interns bring with them when they come to Washington.

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posted June 12, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Q: How many guitar players does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three; one to change the bulb and two to stand back and say, “I could do that.”

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Lance "The Shred" Kasten

posted June 16, 2007 at 7:36 pm

Hey Jonathan “CP” Man,
What a pleasure it was to see you for the second year in a row. What a blast and so many people would not understand unless they experienced it for themselves. Even though I edged you out this year, last year you kicked my butt in NY. Keep the faith brother-You were great!!!!! Throw a side order of cool on top of that and you have the full air platter mister. FYI- I am 45 years old and not 50+, LOL. Hit me with an e-mail sometime and I hope this was not the last we heard of the CP Man! Rock on dude!!
“The Shred”

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posted June 21, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Okay, Shred was cool, but I (the dude with the “Jesus is f’ing metal” tshirt) was kinda rooting for you, brother. Good report, and hopefully I’ll see you next year.

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