🔗 White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean


First published: .
Last modified:   .

I think my parents were some kind of hippies in their younger days, which happened to be in the '60s and '70s. They listened to a lot of American folk music, did a lot of painting and photography, and in their photos from those years they always seem to just almost look like flower children. As such, I grew up listening mostly to folk music, particularly Bob Dylan, of whom my father is probably a bigger fan than Martin Scorsese.

When I was a kid, and my parents weren't home, I used to play their vinyl records on their turntable, and I specifically remember playing Help! by the Beatles many times.

My formative years, tough, were during the '90s, which were great years for music. Rock & Roll was still Rock & Roll (and popular to boot), and people were making music left and right. I have no real data to back this up, but it seems like making music in the '90s was way easier than it is these days. There were labels upon labels just begging to put out records for artists and practically throwing money at them.

For most of the '90s, my music playlists were comprised of Oasis, the Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage and other rock bands. Those days were also the days of the Compact Discs, and the bootleg industry was at its peak. There were bootleg CD stores on every Israeli street, and a couple of friends and I used to scour them, looking for rare, unofficial recordings of our favorite artists. We bought every Oasis bootleg possible.

Before Compact Discs became something you could "burn" from your own computer, we had those bulky, proprietary external drives that became obsolete quicker than you could say "Al Bundy." I think the most common one in Israel was called "EZ-Drive", but I can't find it right now so I'm not sure. MP3's were also at their infancy, and the World Wide Web was only starting to get into people's homes, and it was slow. I remember a friend of mine once recommended I download some program that was a little over 1MB, and I told him he was crazy if he thought I'd wait around trying to download a 1MB program. Back then we had to wait until 22:00 at night to connect to the Internet because it was cheaper then. Thus, sharing music digitally was still uncommon.

A bit later, CD burners became a thing, and my father—being the technophile that he was—immediately bought one, despite their ridiculous price at the time. When a couple of schoolmates heard of my new gizmo, they came up to me and offered a deal: "We'll bring you music CDs we borrow from other people, and for every CD we'll give you 3 empty CDs to burn copies onto. This way, the two of us and you will have a copy of each CD." I said "sure, bring 'em up."

For a long time, they kept coming up to me with more and more CDs. Always Rock, but many, many CDs. More than I could really listen to. For the most part, despite considering myself a rock guy, I didn't get into most of them. I think the first CD they gave me that I really liked was Troublegum by the greatly named Irish band Therapy?, which I still think is an incredible album.

One day, they came up to me with a small pile of five or six CDs. They didn't look interesting (yes, I was judging books CDs by their covers), expect for one CD that caught my eyes, because it looked really ugly and unprofessional. On the cover were four shirtless guys wearing shorts, their heads cropped, and on their chests was written "White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean." One of their shorts featured the word "NOFX" in large letters. I was wondering if "Heeb" meant "Hebrew" (it did). It looked ridiculous and somewhat cartoonish. I decided to give it a try.

The Cover of "White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean" by NOFX

I popped the CD into my PC and gave it a listen. Well, it was awful. It was easily the worst music I had ever heard in my life. The vocalist had such a terrible voice that my most prevalent thought was "why are they letting this guy sing?", which goes to show the kind of mindset I was in at the time: someone had to allow you to be a singer.

I burned the CDs, threw my copies in the drawer, gave my friends the originals back together with their own copies, and forgot about them. Until two weeks later, when I looked back into the CD drawer, and felt like that shitty CD was calling for me. I decided to give it another try. I didn't even bother with the other ones. I popped open the polysleeve, put the CD in the drive, and gave it another listen. It was even worse than I remembered it. What the hell was going on over there? I ejected it from the drive, threw it back into its sleeve and shoved it back in the drawer.

Two more weeks passed, and I started to feel that pull again. I couldn't explain it if I tried. So I gave it a third try. "Well, I guess they do have something going for them," I remember thinking to myself. "It's like they know they suck, but they really don't care. And that singer knows he's awful, but he's doing it anyway. That's something to admire, I suppose." One of the songs was even called Please Play This Song On The Radio and featured the lyrics "Right about this time, some shit head will be drawing a fat fuckin' line over the title on the back sleeve (what an asshole!). So Mr. DJ, I hope you've already made your segue, or the FCC is gonna take a shit right on your head."

When I popped it in for the fourth time a few days later, I completed a full 180°. "This is the greatest thing I have ever heard in my life," I said to myself. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. To make a small Seinfeld reference, it was the complete opposite of every band I've seen heard. So I went on the Internet (which was leaps and bounds more exciting and informative in those days), and tried to find out who those NOFX guys were. Apparently, they were a "punk" band, whatever that was. And as I read up on whatever that was, it made and lot of sense to me. I was hooked. I became a punk.

What's punk and what did I find down the rabbit hole? I'll leave this for another day.

By reading this, you are agreeing not to hold the author liable for time wasted listening to that awful, terrible album. You'll hate it.