The E-Spot

Ethan Denault

Wow, talk about ironic. Less than two weeks after lampooning Canada in what many championed as my most outrageous column to date (a Beyonce/Professor Dreher piece had potential but was nixed by the editors), my words come back and bite me in the ass like a rabid Doberman Pinscher. So I take this moment to pledge to all my dutiful Canadian readers that I will never to make fun of Canada or all things Canadian ever again. Now how’s that for an aboot turn, eh? And don’t worry lest you fear I have stopped making fun of geographic locations; Bangkok is still fair game, as you will see next week.
My dramatic change in attitude is a result of absolute silence. That’s right, just plain silence. This week the glorious city of Montreal hosts the 25th annual International Air Guitar Championships. From all across the globe faux ax-slingers will don their moon-boots and down jackets and take a dogsled across the tundra until they find themselves in front of the Asbury Stadium. It is here, in the newly remodeled monster truck arena, that fast-fingered individuals will showcase their amazing six string skills minus what was once deemed a necessary piece of equipment. For one week these virtuosos will gently cradle their faux-fretboards and rip through amazing arpeggio runs, two-hand tapping patterns, and blistering pentatonic riffs throwing the entire stadium into a state of heavy metal insanity. After each performance, the competitors go backstage, where they are met by a throng of fake groupies who will fake all sorts of groupie activities while the guitarists fake-pound cans of fake beer, otherwise known as Molsen.
But aside from all the fakeness there is the reality — the real spandex, the real hairspray, the real sweat stains, and most importantly, the real people with real talent.
Defending champion Koichi Goldbaum never expected to find himself in Canada, clutching tightly to a satchel of non-existent guitar effects, hair teased ala Brett Michaels, his tour bus thermostat set at a warm yet comfortable 73 degrees. Growing up on the streets of Tokyo, the son of a failed banker and sumo wrestler, Koichi faced the stigma of being poor and overweight, two facets which drove him relentlessly to search for meaning in life. Unable to buy a real guitar, Koichi mimicked pictures from old guitar magazines, copying the styles of Steve Vai and Pete Townshend — his two biggest influences. Slowly, the practice paid off. Persuaded by a girlfriend to enter an air guitar competition, Koichi agreed. He trumped the other competitor and won the three-shekel prize. The rest is air guitar history.
Koichi’s tourbus arrived in Montreal three days ago. “I need time to sightsee,” he told the reporters – who tagged along and willingly snapped photos of him next to every monument and memorial in sight, “I just love the history of this city.”
As to the outcome of this year’s showdown, it’s anyone’s game. Fledgling guitar hero Kimmi Blendrix wowed crows in Warsaw earlier this year when she pulled the unthinkable – the “scissor kick, two hand tapped, wah flavored tremolo pick scrape” a stunt which left 2003’s Air Guitar Champion Morton Cranshaw in the hospital with groin and coccyx injuries. Aussie Brent Thunderthumbs is also a definite contender winning England’s Shitlingthorpe Invitational by a sensational margin. Though the outcome of this year’s competition is days away there’s one thing you can be sure of – spandex bike shorts always look better with a real guitar in hand.