Sunday, November 5, 2017


My new memoir GARAGE MOVIE: MY ADVENTURES MAKING WEIRD FILMS is now available for purchase on Amazon. Check out the latest episode of THE BURNZO VIDEOS (below) in which I discuss everything and anything GARAGE MOVIE. I also take phone calls from some very special fans!

Download a free sample of GARAGE MOVIE on Amazon today and read yet another free excerpt below!


Gas was shot during the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. After an entire year of not making a film, I had the itch again and, boy, I had the itch bad. I bet you’re asking why the itch was so bad. Or, ok, maybe you’re not asking, but what I’m saying is please ask, “Why?” 
What’s that? Why? Well, let me tell you:
See, that summer, I had landed an internship at Warner Brothers’ (aka WB) Boston news affiliate WLVI Channel 56, which, incidentally, no longer exists. On paper, I thought this prestigious internship would provide good video production experience for me and look great on a resume. In reality, the internship was boring as all hell! I’ve never confessed this before, but I did NOT like that internship, not one single bit. It was so dumb and half the time I was just killing time, trying to find something to keep myself busy around the newsroom. One of my dumb*** duties was to call a list of police stations in various Massachusetts towns and ask them if anything juicy was going down in their town—you know, something that I could maybe get a scoop on. Nothing was ever happening and that one time when something WAS going on? They weren’t at liberty to discuss it anyway. 
When I did actually have something important to do, I somehow managed to always f*** it up. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I transferred improperly. My very first day on the job I accidentally hung up on a lawyer my boss (the news director) was waiting hours to schedule an interview with. My boss was not happy with me, nor was the lead news anchor Karen Marinella who gave me a scowl so hairy that my self-esteem has never been the same since. 
Looking back on my time at Channel 56, I can only say two good things about it. The first thing is I sometimes took phone calls from celebrities, though, when I say “celebrities”, I should probably say “celebrity”. Yes, the one and only phone call from a celebrity I took was from the actor David Boreanaz who was the star of the WB channel’s show Angel at the time but now you may know him as the star of the hit TV show Bones. Truthfully, I had no idea who David was when I spoke to him on the phone and it wasn’t until after the call that I realized whom I had just spoken with. But I must say…he was super-nice, you guys. So, if there’s nothing else you get out of this book, please know that David Boreanaz is a super-nice guy!
The second good thing about my internship was when they did live shots in the newsroom. Trust me, you know what I’m talking about here. Live shots are when you see the reporter doing a report from the super-busy newsroom with super-busy reporters working super-hard in the background. Now, I realize what I’m about to reveal is tantamount to telling a child the Easter Bunny isn’t real, but all the busy-bee newsroom action you see in the background? It’s all bull****, kiddos. They’re putting on an act for you like background extras in a movie. I know this because I was once one of those busy-bee extras. I can’t tell you how much fun I had creating the illusion that I was a super-busy reporter in the background of live newsroom shots. I would alter my performance—just a liiiiiitle bit—every time and do something a liiiiitle bit different. Sometimes I would run from my computer over to my boss with papers containing “breaking news” when, in reality, the papers were blank, or, at best, one of the hundreds of press releases that got faxed into the station every day (yeah, sorry Bill of Bill’s Barbecue in East Mendonwick, MA., Channel 56 News wasn’t interested in your fundraiser for the local Boy Scout troupe, no matter how many times you faxed in your press release). Or sometimes I would just stay at my computer, scratch my head, look intense and then answer a pretend phone call. One time my boss and I even coordinated a football-esque handoff of a news tape that was totally blank. In other words, it was all razzle dazzle, man. One big show.
Anyway, my point here is that—live shot background action notwithstanding—my internship at Channel 56 was a boring waste of my time. To offset this non-creative, soul-draining internship, I felt compelled to do something extremely super-creative. What I’m getting at here is I wanted to make a new film. 
CUT TO: around the middle part of the summer. I believe I had just watched Steve McQueen’s movie Bullitt and I thought to myself, gee, I wonder if I could make some sort of a car chase movie with no budget and no professional stunt coordinator. I thought that, through careful editing, I could maybe, just maybe create the illusion of an exciting car chase. What did I have to lose? Nothing. So, I decided I’d give it a try. And, thus, Gas was born.
In terms of plot, Gas was about two teens named Fritz and Theo who are playing Mario Kart (Nintendo 64 version—the best version), Theo gets pissed that Fritz beat him, Theo says, "Wanna take this outside?" and then a real-life car chase ensues—not between Fritz and Theo, mind you—but between Fritz and Theo’s bodyguard played by my friend Jeremy. Reality mirrors fantasy and all that deep stuff that makes the blood flow into a film critic’s [censored version; purchase book on Amazon for uncensored version]. So, the car chase ensues, which eventually ends up in a foot chase; then, Theo’s bodyguard beats up Fritz in a riveting fight sequence but, then, spoiler-alert, Fritz ends up killing the bodyguard in a surprise twist ending. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Revisiting Powell-Peralta Skate Videos

Just recently, my nephew reminded me that his birthday was a couple months away and he already knew what he wanted for a gift. I, of course, asked him what it was he wanted. His response?

No more "Ninjago" Legos.

No more "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.

No more hockey goals or Lacrosse sticks or Nerf guns either.

He wanted...

A skateboard.

Ah, that word was candy to my ear canals. Both my brother and myself had been skateboarders -- oh, pardon me, I meant to say "thrashers" -- during our childhood years and I thought the skateboarding gene may have been successfully passed on to my nephew. His sudden interest in skateboarding seemed to indicate that this gene was, indeed, present in his DNA and this gene would be GOD DAMNED if it was gonna spend its living days in a recessive state.

This was all very exciting to me, the thought of my nephew possibly becoming as passionate about skateboarding as I was when I was young (heck, I'm still passionate -- or maybe I should say 'stoked' -- about it now). My mind flash-forwarded eight or nine years to when my nephew would be in his teens. Would he still be skating? Would he be the next Tony Hawk or Natas Kaupas or Julien Stranger or, even better (in my opinion), the next Rodney Mullen?

Rodney Mullen (doubling for Christian Slater) in the highly-recommended skateboarding film Gleaming the Cube (1989 starring Christian Slater, also with Tony Hawk).

Then I realized, damn, maybe this wasn't strictly a matter of nature. Maybe it was up to me -- Uncle Matt -- to nurture his sudden interest in skateboarding. He was already heading down the right path, the skateboarding path. I needed to keep him on that path!

I immediately dug into my old VHS collection, which was located in a large plastic bin collecting dust under my bed. I rifled through my VHS versions of E.T., Indiana Jones (Last Crusade) and, um, You Got Mail, then I found what I was looking for:

1991. Powell-Peralta Productions. A 40-minute skate video simply called "Eight". As soon as I picked up this video and held it in my hands I could hear the Archangels sing from the heavens. It possessed powerful energy. It made my flesh tingle.

Powell-Peralta's "Eight".
In the late 80s and early 90s, former Dogtown Z-Boy skateboarding pioneer Stacey Peralta produced a library's-worth of super, kick-ass skate videos, one of which was "Eight". These videos featured the "Bones Brigade" skateboarding crew, consisting of such skater greats as Tony Hawk, Mike McGill and Steve Caballero. In Stacey's words, (paraphrasing) "I was a great skater but it wasn't until I got behind the camera that I really shined."*

I dusted off my VCR, hooked it into the coaxial jack on the back of my TV, popped in the Powell-Peralta masterwork, adjusted the tracking just a liiiiitle bit and I stood in front of my TV absolutely mesmerized by what I saw...

Opening skating sequence: Mike Frazier thrashing upon an enormous vert ramp somewhere in Florida. Catching major air. Nailing nasty grinds. Tail slides. Nose slides. Kickflips. Heelflips. Tail-grabs. And even a nasty hand-plant that he holds for about three seconds, maybe more.

After the Mike Frazier sequence came three street skaters: Adam McNat, Chris Senn and Pat Brennen. Holy crap. These dudes were pulling the nastiest of tricks. We're talking nose manuals. Regular manuals. Ollying stairs. Nollying stairs. Fifty-fifty grinds down railings. Five-O grinds. Nose grinds. Manual grinds. Board slides. Dark slides (okay, no dark slides, I got carried away). In short, they were friggin' ballerinas on boards, man. Screw The Nutcracker or Swan Lake; street skateboarding should be on the same level, if not on a higher level, than ballet. It's considered the lowest of the low "sport" or "hobby" but it should be the highest of high art.

Oh, and what was it about California, man? I mean, seriously, they literally designed all their towns -- the concrete, the benches, their railings, parking lots, post offices, banks, even their friggin' picnic tables -- in a way that begged for a skateboarder to come and thrash it all up. Why didn't they do that on the east coast? The Northeast had no school parking lots with curved lips in the concrete that could be skated upon as if they were gnarly quarter pipes. In fact, everything about California schools were so skater-friendly. A jungle of concrete. A playground for skaters. All the world's a skate park.

Watching "Eight", I felt a rush of energy take me over. All I wanted to do was thrash and thrash hard. Then I remembered how, when I was young, I would watch these Powell-Peralta videos over and over again, go out and skate, and I would hum the skate video's music to myself while I grinded curbs and copings so nastily. The video fueled me with so much energy that I actually skated better after a viewing.

"Oh man," I thought, "I gotta show this video to my nephew. 'Eight' will absolutely blow his mind! Surely this video will provide the nurturing he needs to become the next Rodney Mullen!"

So, next chance I got, I sat my nephew down on the couch, asked him if he was ready to have his mind blown for the first time during his eight years on the earth, then I popped in the Powell-Peralta special, AND...

My nephew wasn't too impressed. He said he had seen much better tricks on a video he saw on YouTube. He wanted bigger ramps. More insane tricks. Tail-grabs weren't impressive enough. Neither were hand-plants. And as far as the street skating went? Weak sauce, bruh. He didn't share my sentiment about street skating being a more advanced form of ballet.

"But...but...don't you...don't you see what I'm seeing...all the...all the grinds...and the nose manuals...."

No. He didn't see it.

I was heartbroken. I expected a reaction more along the lines of, "Wow, Uncle Matt, what in the world am I watching right now?" and my response would've been, "What you're seeing, nephew, is the energy of God manifested in the form of skateboarding." And then I would become his favorite uncle because I had exposed him to such a sick skateboarding video.

Nah. Didn't happen that way. YouTube has basically sucked the fun out of, well, basically everything. Gone are the days of acquiring one sick skateboarding video that you watch over and over again until the tracking withers away into a windy storm of analog and then a snow blizzard and then eventual oblivion. Now you can surf YouTube and you're exposed to the best of anything and everything you want. In short, YouTube has made us jaded. Nothing impresses us anymore, or, well, it takes a lot more to impress us, that's what I'm saying.

But I guess I sound like a fartzo viejo right now. Yes, that's Spanish for old fart. You probably got it but I was just making sure. Well, technically old fart would be velocidad viejo so I guess I should've said it's Spanglish for old fart. Semantics, though, dude. Friggin' semantics.

Anyway, that was it for me. My attempt at nurturing my nephew's (potential) skateboarding gene failed. I leave it up to nature now because if he's not impressed by Powell-Peralta videos then, in my eyes, he's a lost cause. If my nephew becomes the next Tony Hawk, that's great. But it won't be because of me.

Oh, I'm just kidding. I'll still nurture him. Sort of. Just kidding not kidding. Opposite day regular day. Fingers not crossed fingers crossed.

* Quote taken from the documentary Bones Brigade.

The full "Eight" video. This thing is sick:


MATT BURNS is the author of MY RAGING CASE OF BEASTIE FEVERJUNGLE F’NG FEVER: MY 30-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR W/ GUNS N’ ROSES and I TURNED INTO A MISFIT! Check out these books (and many more) on his Amazon author page HERE.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tripping Down Grunge Music Alley

With the death of Chris Cornell, I decided to revisit early-to-mid-90s Seattle-born grunge music. My journey took me to Soundgarden (obviously)...with a little Audioslave thrown in there for good measure...but then to Stone Temple Pilots...and then, finally, to Alice In Chains.

Surprisingly, in the end, I became more focused on Alice than Soundgarden, though, had it not been for Cornell's death, I wouldn't have rediscovered Alice. So thanks to Chris for leading me down the rabbit hole.

In particular, I became fixated on Alice's EP from 1994 entitled "Jar of Flies". I played it from beginning to end and all sorts of memories flooded back into my mind. See, "Jar of Flies" was the very first CD I ever bought. It was the sixth grade and I had just purchased my very first Sony CD player at the local Lechmere department store. I was all excited that I had "gone CD" (from cassette tape) and I wanted my first CD purchase to be something real special. But, at 12 years old, I was more or less a music ignoramus. I had no idea what bands I even liked.

I browsed the selections of new releases at a store called "Tape World" located in North Attleboro's Emerald Square Mall. I saw that there was a new album by Alice in Chains out. I figured, shit, I loved that song "Would?" that always played on the radio circa 1992/3. Surely I would love this new Alice in Chains album.

So I purchased the album and, at first, I was a little disappointed, mainly because the entire album was...acoustic. Yuck! I wanted electric shit, man, like that "Would?" song or, wait, now I remember the other one that played on the radio: "Man in the Box". That one rocked hard, too!

But acoustic? Fiiiine, I'll give it a shot. I felt obligated to, anyway. I had spent a good fifteen dollars of my paper route money on the album and it was my first and only CD. I HAD to listen to this CD lest I waste money. I had to play SOMETHING in my new Sony CD player.

Well, the album grew on me. And grew on me. And grew some more. Listening to it today, it's almost like a soundtrack for my entire year in the sixth grade. Every single note triggers memories of my time in Eleanor Johnson Middle School...the teachers I had...the friends I hung out with...the skateboards I thrashed upon...the girls I started to crush on...the album encapsulates all those memories for me, mainly because that album was the only thing I was listening to at the time.

But did I ever give the EP the appreciation it deserved? No. I didn't. No way. I was 12 years old. I didn't know better.

Listening to "Jar of Flies" today, I'm absolutely blown away by how beautiful it is.

But I'm also blown away by how f***ing sad it is.

You can hear melancholy in every note. You can also hear the heroin that numbed the melancholy of the lead singer Layne Staley. Layne's voice drooooooones in each and every song, like it's already a ghost moaning from another dimension. He, of course, was destined to become a ghost sooner than most. He died of a drug overdose in 2002 at the young age of 34.

So it's weird. This blog should be about Chris Cornell, right? Well, it is, in a way. His death lead me to rediscover one of the first grunge-era casualties, not including Kurt Cobain. Layne went first and, more than any of the others, he embodied the depressed, toxic-blooded vibe of the grunge era. Then STP's Scott Weiland died, only a year and a half ago. Also a drug overdose. Then Chris went...suicide due to depression.

Eerily, all three of these melancholic bands were my first three CDs. "Jar of Flies" was first. But then "Superunknown" was my second. Third was "Purple" by Stone Temple Pilots. All three albums were fantastic, all born out of the grunge movement but so unique from each other as well.

Anyway, I post one of my favorite "Jar of Flies" songs below called "Nutshell". If you're in a good mood, I warn this song may make you sad. If you're already in a sad mood, this song may make you more sad. If you're in a deep state of depression and you listen to this song? Well, I gently caution you to stay away from any loaded gun or bottle of sleeping pills or especially a noose that looks strong enough to hold your bodyweight.

"Nutshell" unplugged...

"Nutshell" album version...


MATT BURNS is the author of MY RAGING CASE OF BEASTIE FEVERJUNGLE F’NG FEVER: MY 30-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR W/ GUNS N’ ROSES and I TURNED INTO A MISFIT! Check out these books (and many more) on his Amazon author page HERE.