“I Don’t Like the TSA” song – music video going viral

Jonathan Mann doesn’t like the TSA, and he’s written a song to prove it. And it rhymes. Furthermore, the music video for the “I Don’t Like the TSA” song has totally made our morning.

The glory of Mann’s delightful rant is that it’s actually clever, and while it expresses a certain angst I think a lot of us have come to feel, it’s upbeat and fun. Bonus: it’s one of those songs that’s easy to dance to sitting down.

In recent weeks, perhaps in response to a mass sense of dread as holiday travel time approaches, there have been a number of attacks on the futility and invasiveness of the TSA. Our editor Grant Martin posted an article just yesterday suggesting that maybe, just maybe, the TSA isn’t that bad (Why you shouldn’t be concerned about airport x-rays and patdowns). Still, whether you want to freak out over x-rays or not is your own business.

Jonathan Mann wants you to. The video is somewhat hyperbolic (“if I refuse them groping me then they’ll treat me like a detainee”) and morphs into what seems like a serious PSA-style plea for consumer action, directing people to www.wewontfly.com. Is making a music video about hating the TSA an outlandish overreaction? Probably. But the call to action seems to be “an attempt to stop the ever increasing ridiculousness that is TSA regulation.” For frequent fliers, it’s hard to argue with that notion. There’s this ever-present worry about “what’s the TSA going to make us do next?”

So, have a watch. The lyrics are included after the jump for your singalong pleasure — and, you know, in case you want to print them out and start singing this in line at the airport over the holiday travel season. Good luck with that.

I Don’t Like the TSA – lyrics
by Jonathan Mann

I don’t like the TSA
I don’t see how they keep me safe
they scan me with their x-ray
then laugh at me when I’m at my gate

And if I refuse to show them my penis
then they insist on groping me
g-g-g-groping me
and if I refuse them groping me
then they’ll treat me like a detainee

I don’t like the TSA
taking off my shoes don’t keep me safe
they scan me with their x-ray
or they grope me which is not okay

Don’t get me wrong
this isn’t about the agents
’cause they’re just doing their jobs
this is about the policies
and companies that are profiting
and i question the safety
of bombardment with x-ray
maybe the government’s tests
we’re quite so accurate
they say the dose is .02
microseiverts but how much
is deposited in the skin?

And that’s why
I don’t like the TSA
I don’t see how they keep me safe
they can scan me with their x-ray
and then they’re laughing at me when I’m at my gate


I don’t like the TSA
I don’t see how taking my shoes off is keeping me safe
I don’t know why they gotta use that great big x-ray
and then they’re laughin’
they’re like “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha”
all the way down
the corridor … and stuff

[via @jetsetfarryn]

SkyMall Monday: SkyMall Kitties

We’ve covered a lot of SkyMall contraptions here at Gadling. And, while many of those products have improved the lives of our furry friends, we’ve never been able to truly capture the essence of SkyMall’s relationship with animals. Now, however, the video above does that for us. SkyMall Kitties, created by Nina Katchadourian, is the best use of the internet ever.

It’s rare that we encounter someone who loves SkyMall as much as we do. But this week, SkyMall Monday is honored, excited and a wee bit giddy to profile not a product, but a person whose singular passion has enriched our lives. Nina, an artist based in Brooklyn, NY, produced the song and video that pay tribute to the cats of SkyMall. Needless to say, she has a place at the SkyMall Monday table anytime she chooses to join us.

And join us she did, for an exclusive interview. You’ve seen the video on other sites, but only Gadling spoke with Nina about SkyMall Kitties, her favorite SkyMall products and the unheard voices of SkyMall Puppies.How does one become inspired to write a song about the kittens of SkyMall?
First, you develop a compulsive travel habit, almost superstitious in character, which dictates that you have to flip through every single page of the SkyMall catalog each time you get on a plane. Second, you have to wind up on a lot of planes as part of your profession, which I do-I’m a visual artist, and I travel quite a bit for exhibitions and lectures.

Have you always been a fan of the catalog?
“Fan” might not be quite the right word. “Stalker” might be more accurate. I’ve been taking issues from the seat pocket in front of me for nearly a decade.

You’re amongst friends now. We share your compulsion. But, what do you actually do for a living?
I lead a few different lives. First and foremost, I’m a visual artist working in a lot of different media, including photography, sculpture, sound and video. I also lead a sort of sub-life playing music and play in a band called The Wingdale Community Singers based in Brooklyn. I also work part-time running a program for emerging artists called The Viewing Program at a great museum called The Drawing Center in New York.

The video is obviously very pro-cat. Do you own any felines?
Three of them, in fact: Sardine, Stickies, and Minimus, who appear in that order in the “Mount Rushmore” sequence of “Sky Mall Kitties.” The fourth cat on Mount Rushmore is Ellington, who belongs to a friend.

You’re shameless with your cat plugs. More importantly, do you own any SkyMall products?
Can’t say I do, although for a long time I’ve coveted that wedge thing that lets you lie down without having to smush your face into the floor when someone gives you a back rub. [Author’s Note: Nina is referring to the SkyRest Travel Pillow, which SkyMall Monday has covered in the past and I continue to test regularly.]

So is that your favorite SkyMall product?
I can’t really pick one product, but my favorite product image is probably the one of the guy slumped onto the inflatable pillow on his tray table [Author’s Note: She’s referring to the SkyRest Travel Pillow again and that’s pretty awesome.]. It looks so ridiculous, yet every time I’m on a long flight I secretly wish I had one, no matter how dumb it looks. I am also in mourning over a picture that doesn’t appear the same way it used to. It advertises a product that allows you to connect two beds in order to make one big bed. [Author’s Note: She’s now referring to the very awesome Create-a-King Bed Doubler.] They still have the picture, but they changed the caption. The caption used to read, “Together forever…or only for one night.” It was so romantic.

Let’s go back to the song and video. Do you feel bad for saying that one of the dogs looks like a seal?
Absolutely not. That is a factual statement, so I am cold-blooded about it: that dog DOES look like a seal. Nothing wrong with seals. Nothing wrong with dogs, either, I should say; the condescending anti-dog viewpoint of SkyMall Kitties reflects the views of the SkyMall Kitties themselves, not those of the maker of the song or video.

Speaking of dogs, will there be a SkyMall Puppies response?
I am crossing my fingers someone takes that up.

If people take away one important lesson from SkyMall Kitties, what would you most like them to learn?
I’d like people to realize that even when you are incredibly bored on an airplane, you can put that time into making something that can make a lot of people happy for just a few moments. Lots of “wasted time” can be an opportunity to pull from the mundane world around you and extract something of interest or value.

At the end of the day, do you believe that the SkyMall Kitties are happy?
We raise our voices and celebrate them in joyful song, but the SkyMall Kitties are actually a bit bored, disgruntled, and disdainful of those around them, like someone who has been on a long flight and is ready to land.

Very special thanks to Nina Katchadourian for producing SkyMall Kitties and for taking the time to talk to Gadling. Nina has made the song available for download here (for a $1 fee – totally worth it). You can learn more about Nina on her website. Thanks, as well, to Matt Gross, The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, who alerted us to SkyMall Kitties via Twitter. If you’re a Twitter user, you can and should follow @frugaltraveler. Hat tip to The Awl, who appear to have posted the video before anyone else.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

There’s no one as Irish as Barack Obama

President-elect Barack Obama is truly multicultural. His heritage list has added up during this year’s electoral race: Kenyan, Indonesian, Hawaiian, and Kansas’ian? Now it turns out that, like any good American mutt, Obama is Irish, too.

According to a search undertaken by Ancestry.co.uk, Obama’s maternal roots can be traced to the village of Monegal in Ireland’s County Offaly. Apparently the future President’s great-grandfather was a shoemaker from the village who eventually emigrated to New York.

A musical group from the village, Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys, has even written a song for the occasion.

The chorus of the song says: O’Leary, O’Reilly, O’Hare and O’Hara / There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama…
and the lyrics go on to suggest that Obama is as Irish bacon and cabbage and call for the President-elect to get his jig on doing Riverdance.

During the recent election hubbub, the villagers of Monegal have claimed Obama as their own and invited him to come and visit the village, with hopes that the President-elect’s search for his Irish roots will also boost tourism to the quiet town.

“We Are The World” impersonated by the Japanese

I watched this video 3 times in a row, it is freakishly fantastic. Apparently the song has been #1 on the Japanese pop charts for four centuries. I’m not sure what that means.

Anyway, they’ve really paid attention to every detail of the original 1985 version and I loved seeing all our western stars played by Japanese impersonators; it’s funny, fascinating and endearing at the same time. Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen will make you split into laughter, Tina Turner looks shockingly real and Cyndie Lauper (have ear plugs ready for her bit) is just helium-tastic! Ray Charles will probably not like his Japanese version but Michael Jackson will love his, as Japanese style he almost looks normal. Enjoy!

[Via Giggle Sugar]

A Canadian in Beijing: Food is Free at KTV

I know that I already posted about the inevitability of karaoke here in China. What I haven’t told you about yet is the amazing KTV phenomenon. Here in Beijing, there are several locations of KTV, or “Partyworld” as it’s also called, where people come to sing karaoke as a social activity. I’m not talking about a bar here that has one karaoke machine.

This is a karaoke factory.

It seems like this is one of the most popular activities here. After going out to a bar and drinking several drinks, people often come to KTV and sing all night long. In fact, after midnight, it is significantly cheaper and a person can book a six-hour block from midnight until six a.m. And, many people do.

Not to mention the fact that food is free after midnight.

(Musician Rule #1: Go for the free food!)

These establishments are like giant hotels. At least, that’s what they resemble aesthetically, but the rooms you are renting aren’t for sleeping; they’re for singing. Group after group file into KTV and then disappear into private sound-proofed rooms to hold a microphone in a death grip and belt it out until the wee hours.

You arrive into a marble lobby with plush chairs and staff in uniforms. They usher you upstairs to one of the floors with available rooms (and sometimes they’re all booked up!) and then you are given a private room that consists of several couches, tables, a television (on which the karaoke videos and lyrics are displayed), a closet for your things and sometimes even an adjoining bathroom. Oh, and there are also percussion instruments available just in case you want to bang along. Brightly coloured, they reminded me of kid’s toys and so I bounded over to them and made a racket for a few minutes in the spirit of my inner child.

Each room has a number on the door and a circular window so that the staff can peer in to make sure all is going well and you aren’t in need of any additional beverages. It almost makes me think of a ship, these circular windows, and it made me chuckle quietly to myself whenever a server’s head would pop up in the circular window with curious eyes.

But, last but not least, the number one thing about KTV is the free food after midnight. There is a huge cafeteria-style kitchen area and between midnight and one a.m. (I’m pretty sure it’s an hour long buffet, though it could be two hours?), the food is completely free and there for the taking. So, after the night of partying, this is the place where people come to eat and then continue partying! Alcohol is not free, but non-alcholic drinks are. Both can be delivered right to your room by placing an order with a server.

When I was there, the diversity of the other KTV attendees was astounding. There were groups of young teenagers and groups of businessmen in suits and ties. Everyone looked happy and full of melody. People were singing in the hallways and humming songs as they chose food around the cafeteria. Here, singing is normal and not something just done in the shower or in the shy privacy of one’s home. And singing well is not a prerequisite. On the contrary. I think the appropriate way to sing here is just with enthusiasm… and spirit. Yes, that’s exactly it.

When I walked back to our room with my loaded food tray, I was amused by all the different sounding songs I heard coming from the various rooms. These songs were in what sounded like the insulated distance because of the soundproofing, but outside of each room they could still be heard faintly.

As I was walking slowly along the corridor, one of the doors swung open and another customer exited their room. As the door widened, it was like a vacuum of sound had been released into my ears. I saw inside for that instant and caught sight of a middle-aged man clinging to his microphone with both hands and giving it all he had. He was bent at the knees and his head was thrown back, eyes closed and focused, shirt and tie dishevelled and loosened. He was singing in Chinese and he was pouring his heart into the words. When the door swung shut once more, the image was gone and the sound was muffled again. It was just a flash but this visual will stay with me and will forever be associated with the three letters: KTV.

It was his big moment. . .

I smiled and continued down to the hall to our room and my group of friends. When I came in, two of them were in the midst of a cheesy eighties duet and singing into each other’s eyes. The rest were sprawled on the couches or sitting on stools and watching either the singers or the videos with mild interest.

I say “mild” because these videos are terrible. They’re not the original videos, of course, and sometimes the cinematography is atrocious. Especially for the English songs, they are really outdated images showing non-Asian people dressed in eighties or early nineties fashions parading across the screen. The transcription of the lyrics, too, is often wrong. Sometimes it’s so wrong that it’s hilarious, rendering us unable to sing anymore because we are laughing so hard.

What a crazy experience.

Here is a place where people can pretend they’re performing for thousands of people in the way they deliver the lyrics and pose with the microphone, but it’s just your group of friends or family looking on as though this is normal. And, after a few moments, it is normal. Anything is normal if you let it normalize, right?! In the end, there is really no performance going on at all. It’s just about singing. It’s therapeutic. It’s cathartic.

It’s the release.

The eating, drinking and socializing is a sidebar. In fact, some of my friends like to sing for six hours straight and never get tired.

That’s not me.

After my food, I was ready for bed. I took my leave after singing a few cheesy tunes like “The Greatest Love of All” and “Somewhere Out There” with my friend (it’s a duet, of course!) The English language selection is wide but super cheesy. Despite being a lover of some cheesy eighties songs (ach-hem… like Air Supply’s entire catalogue, as mentioned), I can only listen for so long before I’m ready to move on.

I left humming a tune, of course. I’m not sure which song exactly, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that my vocal chords were being used and celebrated.

I always say that everyone can sing. It’s true. Everyone can.

KTV makes it possible.

And popular.