Adam Calhoun for President?!?

Adam Calhoun has always made waves with his unapologetic opinions and stern tone in his YouTube videos. This hasn’t changed even a bit during this sensitive time in United States history. The video “Tough Time To Be A Proud American” was released on January 7th, which contains his blunt opinions on the sad events at the United States Capitol Building. Adam expresses his views about politics, his disappointment with our current president, and his disappointment with politicians in general. This seems to resonate with many Americans currently, especially after the last stimulus bill passed with much “unneeded” spending to non-American entities. After talking about this, Calhoun says he will be running for president in 2024. It seems as though he does not care what anyone says to him about it, saying if Trump and Biden can be president, “I can be president” (Timestamp 4:33). He uses strong language when talking about running for president and recent events, demonstrating his passion for these matters. Regardless of political view, patriotism may just be what many Americans need to get through the dark period we are currently experiencing.

This isn’t the first time he has referenced running for president either; he released a video on December 16th titled “I’m Running 2024”. This video, posted to YouTube about 3 weeks prior, also talks about his extreme disappointment in current politics and government. Whether or not Adam will be running for president is currently unknown. The next election is 4 years away, and many things change quickly, and weirder things have happened. Kanye West has expressed his interest in running, so Calhoun definitely qualifies if he can do it. Hearing more from Calhoun may become an exciting commodity that people won’t keep themselves from watching.

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Big Smo Has Beef With Upchurch

Upchurch is no stranger to beef and controversy. A year ago, Upchurch had a diss rap battle with rapper Scru Face Jean. Each exchanged 3 songs battling each other, which, overall, were all done exceptionally well. It was good for publicity for both Upchurch and Scru, as their fan bases grew during the aftermath. But now Upchurch has a new Beef, with an artist from his genre Big Smo. Upchurch talks about the situation with Big Smo in his video “TuH-BaCCa BArnZ” on January 9th, and something seems weird about the whole thing. Upchurch shows a picture of a comment Big Smo left on “No Jumper” under Upchurch’s interview video. Smo’s comment says, “Get the real Kuntry Rap Boss on the show,” which does not seem to be totally accurate.

Big Smo has not been a prominent artist over the last few years; however, he has spent the last 21 years in the music industry. Spotify shows Big Smo with right around 110k monthly listeners, and his most listened to song, “Where You From” was released 3 years ago. It seems like Big Smo is trying to start beef to get more popularity as Upchurch gets 1.5 million listeners every month. Furthermore, Big Smo’s comment continues by saying, “F***** dip spit bottle and no media experience, it was hard to watch!”. Upchurch is a very laid-back guy and stays honest about who he is and hasn’t been media trained like many artists. Calling it unprofessional is unfair because he isn’t trying to act like a professional. Also, due to his shorter than average career, he has demonstrated that nobody can really tell him what to do and when to do it. Does it look a bit unprofessional? Maybe, but he is also not your typical celebrity. Only time will tell if this beef will actually escalate and perhaps produce some diss tracks at each other. It will be fascinating to see in a growing Country Rap culture.

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The Machine Gun Kelly Concert Saga

I’ve wanted to see a Machine Gun Kelly concert for awhile now. Machine Gun Kelly has been around quite a while. At least long enough to see him at Warped Tour in 2012 (I feel like I’m WAY too young to already date myself). He has been mostly hip-hop music throughout his career, and to me, he has been very good. MGK didn’t fully develop his vast popularity until the drop of Tickets To My Downfall (spoiler alert, there is an article here talking about it!). I was determined, as were many people, to see him perform TTMD live, and the tour just so happened to be coming to The Big E, which is local to me. Getting tickets is the first step, right? After that, you make plans and just enjoy the show. Well… if only it was that easy. 

I found out on April 29th MGK was coming to The Big E in September, the day before tickets went on sale, April 30th at 10 am. I was working third shift (11 pm to 7 am), but I knew after work I HAD to stay up to get a chance of a lifetime. That is exactly what I did, and the headaches started. At 10 am, the Big E website decided it didn’t want to do anything that morning and crashed. It was down for nearly an hour at this point, and I had no idea at all if it was just me or the thousands of people that also wanted to go. I stayed persistent and finally, after an hour and a half, got the 7 tickets I ordered for my friends and me into the cart. Then, the checkout cart crashed 8 times as I counted. I finally got a payment receipt just after 12 pm, exhausted but triumphant. At that point, I went to bed for my 3rd shift that night. All that’s left is to plan and go, right? COVID numbers were down, I had plenty of work time, I was not worried about going.

Of course, I didn’t think dumbass people would try to cancel the concert due to his name. Many people were worried by his name, which if you have listened to him before, you would know his name has nothing to do with firearms of any sort. Some people interviewing Western Mass News also pointed out vulgar language, the debacle surrounding the tickets, and the Big E’s limited seating for the concert itself. The backlash seemed to be everywhere, and I wasn’t at all sure what was going to happen if so many people didn’t want to see MGK perform at all. It all seemed very ridiculous to me, but that is pretty much the way of the world these days, and the Big E confirmed the concert was still on. So, I took the night off yesterday (also on 3rd shift this week) and went with my girlfriend, myself, and 5 good friends.

Let me tell you, this concert was worth ALL of the headaches and issues that seemed to lead up to it. In the opening part of the concert, MGK rose up out of what appears to be a prescription bottle of some sort (video of the opener does appear on my TikTok @Wrecked_DT, as well as youtube) and proceeded to play many songs he has had over the years. Most of “Tickets To My Downfall” was played, as well as a couple songs produced during covid, and some of his a little older, very popular hip-hop music. After roughly 2.5 hours, a sore throat, and a voice I couldn’t seem to find, we all left one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.

Not from Big E show, but from same tour.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to report of the Big E itself; other than every alcohol line was long, the cheapest Bud Light you could find was $8, and there were a lot of people (about 80,000 people on opening night). Also, parking was weird, but it’s not really surprising with all the people around. If you get a chance to go see MGK live, do it. He is one of the best live performers of this generation that you will EVER see. Hell, he bought 2 kids to sing with him and pulled a kid out of the crowd to TAKE OVER ON DRUMS for a song. He ate his first funnel cake on stage and proceeded to strum his guitar with it, comparing the feel on his fingers to “semen.” That may be because he was high for the concert (he smoked quite a bit on stage, but it doesn’t change the experience) but nonetheless, take the chance to go if you can. I promise you will NOT regret it. 

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The “Field Of Dreams” Is A Dream No Longer

            I’ve hit a pretty severe writer’s block as of recently, and I couldn’t really place where it stemmed from. This was until I saw the Yankees and White Sox play in the Field Of Dreams game, and suddenly, I needed to talk about it. Based on a movie with Kevin Costner, the Field of Dreams was released in 1989, and the basic premise was one of the most memorable lines from the movie “if you build it, he will come.” This movie was legendary to any baseball fan, and now the dream has come true. Just a very short distance from where the movie was actually shot, The Yanks and White Sox teed up for what could be one of the best moments in baseball in recent history.

The intro didn’t disappoint anyone, as the first one through the corn was Kevin Costner himself, setting the cinematic scene for both teams to shortly follow. As both teams shake hands with Kevin, and they line up between 1st and 3rd base, Costner delivers an awesome speech to everyone in attendance, talking about the movie and the significance of the event. In an interview with the Fox broadcasters, he later goes in-depth as to his feelings with the whole event, including design and execution of making the entire thing possible. Then the actual game started, which was an edge-of-your-seat type game.

I won’t sum up the whole game, but it came down to 3 9th inning home runs into the corn to decide the winner. Liam Hendricks, arguably the best reliever in baseball to date, was on the mound for the Sox to close out the game in the Iowa cornfield. After a leadoff single, Hendricks locked down 2 outs, with Aaron Judge at the plate. In classic Judge fashion, he put a ball over the right-field corn for a 2 run shot, putting the Yankees within one. Liam proceeded to walk Gallo to bring up Giancarlo Stanton, whose only hit also came in the 9th, with another 2 run shot to put the Yankees up 8-7. Most people thought that the game was just over after that.

But that was only the top 9th inning. Liam gets the final out, and they go to the bottom of the inning. Zach Britton on the mound gets the first out and allows a free pass to Seby Zavala (who also hit a home run in the 4th inning) to bring up Tim Anderson. Anderson saw 1 pitch in the whole at-bat in the 9th, and it was all it took. Anderson deposited this ball into the corn in right field for a walk-off win for the White Sox. This game was a wild one, featuring a total of 8 home runs in the game, Jose Abreu hitting the first-ever in the 1st inning at the Field Of Dreams. Watching the movie as a kid, I always wondered if the movie would become an actual reality. I don’t have to wait to find out any more, the dream is real, and it was one of the most enjoyable MLB moments that I’ve been alive for. Tune in next year, as the dream is once again revived for a Reds vs. Cubs showdown

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If You Like Rare Cars Go to Newport, Rhode Island

I was skeptical at first, seeing that I have never heard of this museum. It is also a newer museum, opened sometime in the middle of 2017 in an old missile manufacturing building. The Newport Auto Museum is one of the best auto museums I’ve ever been to. Each car was meticulously cleaned and perfect, and most of them were set up on platforms with accent lighting and showed off as a piece of art. It doesn’t matter if you are into new cars, old cars, supercars, or alternate history cars; they have almost everything for every taste you could have. Pictures are allowed, so you can go and take pictures of any vehicle in the showroom, and even interiors are on full display and easy to see (no, do not even think about sitting in them, you may be escorted to the nearest exit). They do “open hood” weekends, and from what I was told by an employee, it is usually every other weekend.

The first car I walked to was the first car you see as you enter, a beautiful red Lamborghini Countach, and it’s a perfect example of a classic supercar. I knew once I saw that this museum was going to be amazing. That initial hunch did not let me down at all, as I proceeded to walk by many rare or exotic cars from a BMW I8, a 1993 Jaguar XJ220, and a 2018 Mercedes AMG GT-R, and a new NSX. For people into classics, the next area I walked into had a 1957 Bel-Air and a 1957 Desoto, with a Dodge Hellcat and Demon both lurking behind them. I won’t spoil the entire museum for you, but instead, I strongly encourage a trip to see everything they have. It isn’t the same cars all the time either, me and my girlfriend were lucky enough to briefly tour the storage area, where my eyes instantly locked onto 2 McLarens sitting side by side on battery tenders. The employee told me that they usually rotate some cars in and out monthly, so you won’t see all the same cars on every single visit.

I wouldn’t even mind if I saw the same cars because the museum was excellent, and I would go back every time I find myself in or around Portsmouth, Rhode Island. If you have yet to go, if you can’t tell already, I STRONGLY recommend paying this museum a visit.

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The EPA is Cracking Down on Modified Cars, and It’s Bullshit

People who modify cars are soon to be in trouble from many, many different angles. It does not look good for runs anyone who tunes, loud exhausts, or even everyday people who need to buy tires. Between government and manufacturers, prices are going up, or parts are being taken off the market seemingly overnight. It will become challenging to be a car or truck guy. It’s a shame to see because the price it seems to cost now to modify what you drive is already time-consuming and expensive. No company or government as a whole seems to be helping with that. 

            The Environmental Protection Agency has recently started an enormous crackdown, seemingly to pertain to diesel trucks.  To be more specific, the EPA seems to be going after medium-duty diesel trucks for tuners and emissions deletes. This has been going on for quite a few years but seems to have ramped up significantly due to the change of power in the white house. They currently estimate roughly 550,000 trucks on the road today have some tampering to emissions standards that trucks came with new from the factory. Many performance companies are either going out of business or immensely struggling as the crackdown of this becomes worse, notably H&S Performance, which after being fined by the EPA, shut their doors in 2013. In more recent events, Edge Products and Spartan Diesel Technology were both given heavy fines. Edge looks like they settled at around $500,000, and court documents I was able to track down on the EPA website claims around $4.1 million in fines to Spartan. From what I have found on forums and other websites, Spartan now goes by Patriot Diagnostic Systems, which probably changed shortly after fines were issued. It seems Edge still operates under the same name.

Now, everyone knows that one Karen who wants to “sAvE tHe EaRtH fOr YoUr ChIlDrEn,” which I agree with… to a point. But what Karen doesn’t realize is that many of the deleted trucks actually protect longevity, and in some cases, do actually run equally clean. It seems to be mostly the high-soot tunes that really hurt emissions on these trucks. Also, Karen’s Tesla they just bought to save said earth is not inherently better because “mY cAr DoEsN’t BuRn FoSsiL fUeLs.” Yes, as they drive down the road, they do not have emissions that go to the atmosphere; however, the problem lies in charging and battery production. Generally, electric cars create more carbon emissions due to the mining of rare-earth metals electric car batteries require to function properly. These earth metals, including Lithium, Nickel, Cobalt, and Graphite, are found underneath the earth’s surface and require extensive mining to extract. Electric vehicles offset this cost over time, approximately 1-3 years after driving, depending on how often or little the electric car is driven by anyone, and that does not account for battery disposal once the battery needs replacement. Now, I am NOT saying that electric cars are or aren’t the answer or the future. They say, “different strokes for different folks.” What I AM saying is that the argument for one or the other is typically made without the entire picture.

I think the emissions crackdown is important in some aspects; however, there is a fine line between saving the earth, restricting the people’s freedom, and restricting modifications to increase longevity on any person’s vehicle. However, this not only has implications for the diesel guys, as even tunes on performance cars have been “cuffed and stuffed,” if you will. Many tuners have now ditched custom tuning for fear of EPA fines, which were their way of life or livelihood in many of these shops. So, where will the line be drawn in the sand?

It seems tires are also being regulated, as many tire brands it seems will not be shipped to the states soon. The Department of Commerce has added tariffs to tires being shipped overseas to prevent what they call “anti-dumping.” Anti-dumping is when an overseas company ships a product somewhere else for a “less-than-domestic” price point. From first reading this, you may be thinking, “America hell yeah!” but look at the bigger picture. If we are not seeing many foreign tires, and domestic companies (the few we really have) will be much of the only tires we can get. We have some excellent tire companies in the US, including Goodyear, Cooper, Perelli, Michelin, Bridgestone, and others. But really think about the options you have for new rubbers for your vehicle and their price compared to just the American brands. With foreign brands going away, US companies will raise their prices without worrying about foreign competition. Companies like Federal, Attruo, Hankook will have to raise their prices a ton if they want to stay in the United States market, assuming they actually pay the tariff prices to ship here. It doesn’t look too good for anyone into modifying right now.

I would be lying if I thought the car scene wasn’t in danger. The fact of the matter is, the whole modification industry is currently on the verge of a massive revamp or shutdown. Whether you agree or disagree, this battle looks like it is going to be messy and controversial. If the EPA gets their way, there may no longer be any freedom to do what you would like with what you drive. It will worsen before it possibly gets better, so all we can really do is sit and watch.

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My Experience in the Auto Industry

            Many people think they know what they want to do for their entire life, only to start working in that field and learning it isn’t what they expected it to be. For me, that was the auto industry, and being a mechanic. I learned in just six years that service repair isn’t what I expected it to be, between garages overcharging customers, and underpaying employees, it’s not hard to see why many are packing up their toolboxes and going towards another industry.

Now, I feel like I need to preface this because fixing cars for a living is not by any means a bad career. I have many personal friends that have done it for years and have been very successful doing so. I have 6 years of holding a wrench for a living, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A lot of my closest friends came from my time as a tech. There are tons of other upsides to it too. Instead of paying ungodly amounts of money for someone else to work on your car, you buy parts and do it yourself. You would be amazed what kind of money you save doing that.

Furthermore, since I’m now into the performance side of automotive a lot more, all of the parts changes, custom applications, or anything else I may need become far easier with my background. Also, I can own older, more involved vehicles due to my set skills and keep them running longer. I have a 1998 Ranger that now has over 300k miles, and I don’t plan to fix it. I do have a much newer secondary vehicle, my 2017 Focus ST. Still, I can take on long, intensive projects that maybe the average owner couldn’t. Even if repairs exceed, say, $1,000, I have a lot of time to fix it. As I said before, I don’t really have to pay someone to do anything with it other than mounting and balancing tires and alignments. Personal gain can be had with knowledge. Still, the industry in its current state is struggling, and it will continue unless it totally gets revamped.

It’s tough to figure out where to start, as some aspects have left scars physically and mentally. But if there was one aspect that needs immediate attention, it’s warranty work. If you’re a flat-rate tech, you want to see warranty work as infrequent as you possibly can. Dealership almost never pays for the amount of work it usually takes. Manufacturers want to pay as little as possible to fix newer vehicles under warranty. As a result of this, the techs are the ones who usually take the financial hit when doing a warranty job. Basically, the billion dollar giant who built the shitty part wants the average Joe to pay when the part beaks, essentially passing the financial loss to the tech. It seems if they find techs making money on certain warranty jobs, manufacturers will lower the book time on the job, making it pay less despite it still taking the tech the same time to complete it. A prime example of this is the Takata airbag recall a few years ago. Almost every manufacturer in the world used Takata, but they were able to escape huge losses by lawsuits and screwing the little guy fixing the car. This, in turn, takes money out of the pockets of the very people that are changing parts to make you and your family safe.

Another problem is how skewed the labor rates across manufacturers are. I worked for a BMW dealership, the labor rate was $235 an hour, and I made $13 an hour as a B tech before I finally had enough. After that, the Ford dealer I worked for slightly better, as I made $16 an hour and charged $115 an hour for labor. I understand that upkeep on an auto repair shop gets very pricey, with oil removal and other environmental restrictions, but techs were always lower paid on average than the rest of the staff by job title.

It’s even more complicated when the price of good, reliable tools continues to go up. Ask any tech you know that has 5+ years in the auto industry, and 9/10 will tell you they have spent over $50,000 in tools or will tell you they won’t add it up because it makes them sick. I spent right around $60,000 in tools in about 6 years, and now I use my tools and box for my own stuff and my part-time business detailing cars. Between all that and the simple fact that it is very hard grueling work, dealers have a tough time finding and keeping technicians. Look at Indeed or another job finder website and see how many positions are being filled for repair/service technicians. It’s crazy to see, as it was much harder even for me now 8 years ago looking for a job in the industry. Until something gives, or something changes, the techs will slowly die off, and dealers will get desperate for new blood. Most dealers do offer special training classes for their brand, which costs nothing to the tech. But most dealers require some sort of background in the industry to work on cars. You can utilize a technical high school or college to “get your foot in the door” per se, but they may not show you the full spectrum of what you’re going into in the real world

         If you’re totally passionate about cars, no matter what specifically you’re into, the automotive industry can be an exceptional place for you. There is a ton to learn, and no one workday will ever be exactly the same. I would never tell anyone not to fix cars for a living, as it ultimately shaped me into who I am today, and I’m thankful for that. I did end up leaving it entirely after I worked at Ford and entered the manufacturing industry at a $22 starting wage, and now work as a Power Plant Operator for more money. The auto industry just didn’t fit me anymore, and it’s a shame because I absolutely loved what I did. Unfortunately, at least to me, the money did not match my aspirations. The auto industry just didn’t fit me anymore, and it’s a shame because I absolutely loved what I did. It is very possible that a different state or area could have been a different story. Still, here in Connecticut, that’s just not the case. 

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Why is crappy music often more popular than good music?

What makes music popular? It’s something that everyone has pondered, but there really is no answer. You have artists like Upchurch, who is huge in his respected genre, but small compared to many other artists in more popular genres. Billie Eilish released her first song in early 2016 and currently has 36 million subscribers on YouTube and over 50 million listeners on Spotify. Those are staggering numbers for someone in the music industry for 5 years, a short time when it comes to the music industry. For comparison, considered by many as the best in hip hop for years, Eminem has over 46 million subs and 38 million monthly listeners. Those are also huge numbers for an artist in the industry, so what sets them apart.

This could be partially due to label influence. Those two are both signed to big-name labels with significant cash flow and are looked at as “powerhouse” labels in the industry. On the other hand, Upchurch is independent of labels, which he takes a lot of pride in. Choosing this route has led Upchurch to have a smaller following than he might have if backed by a label; however, it also means his followers are more loyal. He can make any music he wants without a label rejecting it. As a result, he can continue to be against the norm and unapologetic about it.

At what point is there a line drawn between generic and original? Eminem can definitely be considered original, as much of his music paved the way for hip hop and much of how it looks today. From the outside, Billie Eilish has a wonderful voice. The beats and actual instrumentals to her most popular songs sound similar to most pop songs, making her more generic. There’s not a lot I can see that would totally set her apart from the crowd, but she still gets a large following for some reason.

Florida Georgia Line could be another example; they came into country music with a lot of originality, with very catchy and hip hop-like beats. It was highly polarizing, but it helped them become massively successful after just one single. Listen to some of their music now; it no longer sounds like they are trying to break the country music mold. A lot of their newer stuff doesn’t stand out on the radio, and instead of making music that sets them apart, they make music that blends in. That being said, they are still relevant, but they aren’t as talked about as they had been in the past.

Now, I’m not saying that someone like Upchurch should be getting numbers like Eminem, Eilish, or FGL. Their following is large, and big labels definitely help each of them. Still, as an artist gains a following from the outside looking in, they start making safer, more generic music to stay on top as opposed to continuing the polarizing music that set them apart. Think of your favorite artist that’s part of mainstream music. Compare their first few albums to their most recent albums. It’s a safe bet that their music at the beginning helped them establish their identity. Still, the last few are safer, more generic to whatever genre they are in, and probably more forgettable. I’m that’s having a generic sound is bad, but it is making music somewhat stale.

NF is an artist in hip hop and prides himself on his faith. He has absolutely no swears in any of his songs, which further adds to the originality of all of his music he releases. He is also influenced by everyday struggles while referencing faith and religion throughout his music. This sets him apart because it isn’t something that artists really do in this day and age. It’s possible some artists need to be generic to stay relevant and appeal to the masses, while others don’t care as long as they enjoy what they’re writing. It will be interesting to watch as music grows and changes to see if artists start to stray away from a genre generic sound and try to strive to be their own entity in music. Until then, I will continue to gravitate to independent artists across all genres, as it seems their originality causes me to gravitate to their listening artists.

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