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IT’S LIKE THAT: McMusic Memories

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People get weepy when stadiums close down (see: Yankee Stadium) and legendary music venues go out–or are forced out–of business (see: CBGB’s), so it should come as no surprise that one can get a little nostalgic when certain fast food restaurants are leveled to the ground (see: Shaler McDonald’s).

This week, one of our Indie Ear contributors (the one who’s nuts about Madonna) informed me that my former place of employment back in Pittsburgh, Shaler McDonald’s, was whacked with a wrecking ball and is no more.

I spent seven-and-a-half years of my life in that building. Most of those years were spent flipping hamburgers. The other years (if you want to keep count) were used to figure out how I was going to quit and find another job, flirt with a girl who I would later marry, sneak my friends extra cheeseburgers and apple pies when I worked the drive-thru window, and make countless memories along the way (many of those related to music):

1.) McDonald’s first all-female punk rock group: Psycho Bitch
2.) Jason Andracki, McDonald’s heavy metal connoisseur.
3.) Milkweed performing one of their first shows in pink McD’s shirts.
4.) D-Boiz borrowing some McDonald’s attire for a photo shoot.
5.) Another musical group formed at Shaler McDonald’s: Deck-of-Jack
6.) McDonald’s uniforms made for great soccer uniforms.
7.) World Cup Champions (1998)
8.) Deck-of-Jack’s McDonald’s-inspired concept album, Shock Box

When I started working at McDonald’s we had one muzak channel that consisted of nothing but contemporary instrumental music. Imagine the joy that filled the grill area when a new muzak system was installed giving us the option of three channels: 1.) Contemporary Instrumental 2.) Adult Contemporary w/ Lyrics and 3.) Pop/Rock. Guess which one we chose? Boyz II Men and Def Leppard ballads never sounded so good. Years and years of classic McDonald’s sing-a-longs ensued.

The grill area–my place of expertise–was also a great place to talk music. The Morrison brothers loved talking about country music, the Craft brothers–who always wore their uniform pants way under their butt cheeks–listened to nothing but hip-hop, Jason Andracki was a heavy metal encyclopedia, Bob Kurtz loved Tool and Pantera, Eric Lengyel adored Dream Theater, and Doug Behling, well, he would punch you as hard as he could (no lie) if you didn’t listen to anything but hard rock in the crew room. Though I hated getting punched, I have to give Doug credit, because he was the first person to introduce me to Black Sabbath and Nirvana (he was also the first person I ever saw with the Nevermind album).

In the early 90’s, McDonald’s also inspired me to start a rap group. For one reason or another it seemed like a good idea to have a rap crew called the Mickey D Boys–who dressed up in McDonald’s attire and rhymed only about the golden arches. Fortunately, the odd conception in my head never came to fruition, although I did eventually start a rap group called the D-Boiz, and years later–more of an ode to the Beastie Boys than McDonald’s–we began dressing in McD’s jumpsuits that we borrowed from our store’s maintenance man.

My crowing McDonald’s musical achievement though, came in the summer of 1997. My goal was to start an all-female punk group consisting solely of McDonald’s crewmembers. Taking the role of Malcom McLaren, I decided to christen the band with an over-the-top, Sex Pistols-inspired moniker: Psycho Bitch.

The girl I flirted with (aka, my future wife) was really good on guitar, so she was my first recruit. The lead singer was also an obvious choice, since she was as punk rock as they come. She didn’t dress like a punk rocker or even listen to punk rock music–but–one day when the nearby Burger King began a promotion promising any McDonald’s worker a free Big King sandwich if they came in wearing their uniform, not only did Natalie take them up on their offer, but she also took the free sandwich out of its wrapper, said a couple expletives, and spiked the Big King off the floor–special sauce and all. How punk rock is that? Burger King called the police and Natalie became an instant celebrity.

Once Natalie’s friend Emily caught wind that she was going to be in a punk band, she also wanted in on the action, so Emily became our bass player. Since drummers are hard to come by–let alone female drummers–I decided I would play drums (although I made sure to stay way in the back, so all the focus could be on the girls).

That summer we wrote six songs together, taught Emily how to play bass (it was quick learning, since she was only responsible for playing 3-4 notes a song), and Natalie took it upon herself to horde up on pig Beanie-Baby Happy Meal Toys.

At the end of the summer, during my annual Wiffle Ball Classic festival, where a bunch of local bands would play out of my garage, Psycho Bitch made their debut. A lot of McDonald’s workers came, expecting it to be a joke, but midway through the set, I looked out from behind the drum kit and saw pure surprise and joy on everyone’s face–Psycho Bitch was actually GOOD!

The set culminated with a song called “Little Piggie.” During the chorus, Natalie tossed hundreds of Beanie Babies out into the crowd (the same ones she was smuggling throughout the summer). Fittingly, my dream of starting a female punk group consisting of my fellow McD’s co-workers came to life on the same day I saw pigs fly.

Like Yankee Stadium (see: above) Shaler McDonald’s is being rebuilt. The new multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art store will be prettier on the eyes and more spacious than the previous McDonald’s, but I can tell you this, it’s gonna take a long, long time before it even comes close to matching the memories that took place in that old pile of rubble.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.