Mind Coffee: ‘Make Air, Not War’ — grab your air guitar and wail

We’ve all done it.

Let me rephrase: Most guys have done it.

Let me rephrase again: Most guys who love hard rock or heavy metal music have done it.

Air guitar. The ability to stand in front of a mirror, fake guitar slung around your shoulders, letting your fingers fly across nonexistent strings, impressing everyone (especially the girls).

Last weekend in Finland — where winter lasts 10 months a year, so you can be inside a lot practicing — the 22nd Air Guitar World Championships were held. An American, Matt “Airistotle” Burns (because playing air guitar is as much a philosophy as a skill), defended his title.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Burns, well, looks like exactly the kind of guy who’d spend hours perfecting his air guitar. But hey, congrats to the Staten Island resident. He beat out 15 other finalists who came from countries such as Pakistan, Canada, Sweden and South Korea.

You might think to be a champion you would actually have to pretend to play the guitar; you know, place your fingers in the correct positions on the guitar neck for each chord or flurry of notes. Pick in hand, bang the strings for each chord or lick.

Well, you’d be wrong.

Burns — just plain “Airistotle” when announced onstage — doesn’t do that at all. In the video for his 2016 championship performance, he basically dances. His arms, legs and head flop around to a muscular version of the Romantics’ “That’s What I Like About You.” Sometimes he acts like he has a guitar in his hands; sometimes not. But apparently that’s what you do as a professional air guitarist.

Still, for any guy who, as a teenager, was deep into music from such bands as AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Metallica or Nickelback (oops, sorry, no one admits they like Nickelback), air guitar sometimes comes naturally. In your bedroom or down in the basement, you play it by yourself; or, you and your friends act like a real band, each guy on a separate instrument. Not that I ever did anything like that, nope, never. (We burned all the videotapes, right guys? Right?)

Even today, I find my right hand unconsciously hitting a chord on such impossible-not-to-air-guitar songs as Queen’s “It’s Late” or AC/DC’s “Given the Dog a Bone” or UFO’s “Rock Bottom.” Yes, I still listen to hard rock, but also to R&B, blues, country and pop. Don’t judge.

So next time you want to make fun of these people who compete, just remember that the theme of the 2017 Air Guitar World Championships was fighting climate change. Its slogans were “Make Air, Not War” and “Airness Is Next to Godliness.”

Who can argue with that?

Contact Shawn Ryan at mshawnryan@gmail.com.


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