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(by) Brandon Wetherbee (who) hosts the talk show/podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody most Monday nights at the Looking Glass Lounge and in Brooklyn and Chicago once a month. Listen to it online at youmethemeverybody.com. He’ll be at vitaminwater uncapped LIVE this Thursday, May 26 performing, “Brandon Wetherbee Reads the Classics Vol. 2: “Pump Up the Volume.”

Have you seen “Pump Up the Volume”? It’s not a good film. For some odd reason, I’m guessing pity or a publicist that sent really good blow with review copies of the film, it has a 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is not an 81% good film. In fact, it’s not a film. It’s a movie that should be enjoyed by people that are not influenced by guys in their twenties playing a guy in his teens that sounds somewhat like Jack Nicholson. The positive reviews make sense. I’m sure most critics felt a certain kinship to a social outcast that rails against the man and happens to be in great shape.


I saw this amazing piece of awesome in college. My favorite literature professor taught a class about Hemingway, Faulkner and Bellow. He was able to tie in “Pump Up the Volume.” I’m not sure how. I’ve seen this movie a few dozen times and I was never able to understand how. Jesus Christ this is going to bother me. Let’s just say it’s because Hard Harry bucked the system. That seems like a B paper thesis.

“Pump Up the Volume” is about Mark Hunter, a teenager that hates life. That’s typical. He runs a pirate radio station under the alias Hard Harry. That seems fun and antiquated. Every night he steals a signal with equipment sold at Radio Shack and is able to reach miles upon miles of listeners. That is not possible. In seemingly no time, he amasses a large listenership because most teenagers in 1990 waited around their radio for that evenings entertainment. His celebrity grows. Hard Harry becomes the Che Guevara t-shirt of some Arizona high school but Mark is still miserable. A very sexy 20 year old playing a 16 year old figures out Mark is Harry and is so nice she decides to visit him while on-air, kinda seduces him outside, takes of her sweater and, surprise, she’s not wearing a bra! This is the point where I began to laugh out loud. That’s some unrealistic shit. I’ll believe that some kid is able to reach 100x more listeners than his equipment allows. I’ll believe his parents are so detached they have no idea their basement is a radio station. I’ll believe a teenage outcast that never exercises has a 6-pack. What makes no fucking sense is how some other teenager looks like a 20 year old, figures out someone’s secret identity and shows up ready to fuck. Bull shit. Other stuff happens. A kid commits suicide, a microwave explodes, the FCC shows up in SWAT vans and we all learn to “Talk Hard!”

The beauty of this film is that it’s a decent time piece. Pirate radio kinda thrived at one point. Zines were purchased and read. I can attest to this. I did both. Did I talk hard? Of course I did. I did every abstract thing a teenager could do. I also raged against the machine, fought for my right to party and caught the wave of a new generation.

It’s easy to identify with Harry. It’s easy to hate the man and complain and listen to music that would be given at least a 7.5 on Pitchfork. It’s easy and it’s really bad and that’s why it has been deemed a classic. For one special night, I will read this classic aloud. Why? Because it may be the only thing dumber and more fun than starting a pirate radio station and saying things like, “Talk hard!”


“Empire Records” was volume 1. It was my teenage self. Super involved in every aspect of teenage depression/music/girls I wanted to date lives. “Pump Up the Volume” is exactly who I am now. I preach to disturbed teenagers on a nightly basis and, sooner or later, some random 20 year old lady not wearing a bra and willing to take off her top without prompt will stop by and teach me how to talk hard.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful night.