Long, Strange Trips Exploring The Stupid Journey
Published Jun 01, 2000Imagine you¡|re taking a trip by yourself, and things go hideously wrong. Your car dies and you have to hitchhike. In the rain. Then you discover you have no money with you because you left your wallet on the bed when you were packing. So after waiting beside the highway for seven hours - hungry and drenched with cold mud sprayed by 18-wheelers - you get your first ride... with a 350-pound fish cleaner from South Porcupine named Cletus. Squeezed in beside him in his tiny car, listening to his dense ranting and raving, you think to yourself, "This is stupid."
Now imagine taking a trip like this on purpose. Jonathan Culp travels like this all the time. Jonathan runs Satan MacNuggit Popular Arts (a video and zine distributor), is a video activist, musician, and the writer and publisher of an intelligent, personal and intriguing zine called The Stupid Journey: Thumbing the Canadian Wasteland. A 60-minute audio cassette, "The Sounds Of Stupid Journey," is included with every issue, featuring music, sound effects, and surreptitiously recorded dialogue with people he met along the way.
The Stupid Journey is Jonathan's four month coast-to-coast Canadian odyssey. Jonathan set out to videotape the Newfoundland Sound Symposium, which takes place every two years in St. John's. He left with a 70-pound backpack and no tent. After being caught in the rain, sleeping for two hours, and waking up with the flu exactly one day into his trip, he got his mother to send him a tent. "There is something intrinsically stupid about subjecting yourself to the kinds of conditions that I seem to do while on the road," he says.
Arriving in St. John's, he shot his footage and then headed back in the opposite direction, all the way to Victoria, BC, for a small film festival that he was taking part in called Antimatter. Jonathan¡|s zine becomes almost a travelogue on how not to travel, detailing weird coincidences and chance encounters on his way to Victoria, with guys like John the Plumber. "I think I lost some brain cells f/articlephoto-231b.jpg" align=right hspace=8 vspace=5>
1995 to 1998
There's trouble in paradise, and Gurewitz, unhappy with the contract and looking to spend more time with Epitaph, leaves the band. Graffin takes over sole leadership and puts his evolutionary biology studies on hold. "I knew something would have to suffer." Former Minor Threat and Dag Nasty member Brian Baker is recruited after having spent a few years in Great White clone band Junkyard. "It was like when Bobby joined," says Graffin. "You get these really talented people sitting in where there was some deficiency and it opens up a whole new direction of creativity." That line-up records, releases and tours for The Gray Race (1996) and No Substance (1998).
Bad Religion head to Hawaii to Todd Rundgren's studio and records The New America, an album significant for its retro look, sound and overall feel, which recalls the band's earlier days. "For me it was natural to gravitate to some of the original punk motifs," says Graffin. "I wanted to champion the cause of pioneer punk, because it doesn't get enough credit. It's a reflective album with a lot of sentimentality and also a little bit of warning about the future." It also contains the first post-split contributions from Gurewitz in the form of a co-writing credit and guitar solo on the track "Believe It." "Working with Brett again was a great step in the right direction," Graffin states. "It was refreshing and it made me remember how good it is when we write together. It was such an uplifting experience and we're going to do more of it on the next record."
The first stage of the New America tour sees the band hit the road with Blink 182, a move that stuns many observers, who feel Bad Religion is somehow above touring with a bunch of punk pretenders whose audience members are only a few tattoos and piercings away from being at a Backstreet Boys show. "They were always huge Bad Religion fans," Graffin says of the Blink trio. "Unlike the bands we supported and gave a lot of visibility to whe