Zachary Lipez (Freshkills, Publicist UK) Talks Kirin J. Callinan’s “Embracism”

Kirin J. Callinan’s “Embracism” isn’t my song of the summer yet, but it will be. This song, this lurching life-dirge of Frank Tovey covering...

Every summer, there’s that song. The song that’s everywhere, that defines those sunny days and balmy nights, the one you’ll always associate with a specific time and place. This week, Talkhouse writers talk their song of the summer of 2013.
— the editors of the Talkhouse

“A man has to put his body to the test against another man.”

Kirin J. Callinan’s “Embracism” isn’t my song of the summer yet, but it will be. This song, this lurching life-dirge of Frank Tovey covering Xiu Xiu’s never-recorded version of “Sex Dwarf,” will be my summer jam. This song will make me get shirtless with so many dudes with shitty politics that Morrissey will write an entire album about me. In a few days I’m going to a show: Sheer Terror, whom I love unabashedly, and the Templars, whom I like well enough, but have a fan base that is made up of people I have historically not gotten along with. This is a skinhead show. And it is a skinhead show on a boat, with alcohol. I will be surrounded by men I have 86ed from bars, and men who have thrown chairs at me. One of my only friends there is someone I met when he punched me in the face while I was attempting to break up a fight at the old Mars Bar on 2nd Avenue in the East Village. There will be men there that, if they remember me at all, will hate me.

I can’t wait.

“If you work that body you don’t need to trust nobody.”

Am I going to fight any of these men? HELL no. I hate fighting and am pretty terrible at it. But I do like a fucked situation when it arises. And this will be entirely fucked. I will be singing “Embracism” the entire time. It’s the sort of summer “Eye of the Tiger” for the eternally scrawny that gets good boys pummeled. And I can take a punch if the soundtrack, either on stage or in my head, is right. I can also imagine “Embracism” as the soundtrack to My Beautiful Laundrette 2 for those who prefer their skinhead wrestling romantic. And with songs like this, who could blame them?

“A man can meet another man in a bar, on the sports field, at his place of work, or in his own apartment, or on the internet… RIGHT NOW!” [Drums kick in.] Hell, know what? My whole summer is going to be this song. I just found out some friends run an MMA/boxing gym near my house. I’m doing it. I’ll test my strength against a bag hanging from a chain and I’m going to brag about it on social media, shirtless and blasting “Embracism.” It will be like Fight Club but without Angelina Jolie’s fellow baby hoarder and all I’m gonna DO is talk about it. I’ll never be tough and I’ll never be Australian but I will sure as shit get all my pals together to re-enact the cover of Welcome to the Pleasuredome and blast Kirin J. Callinan ’til the cops come. Then we’ll find out if we measure up or if we still have work to do.

I want this song as my beach song, shirtless; I want this as my street song, shirtless; I may go to work to this, shirtless. Restaurants best change their rules for the season, because “Embracism” is 2013’s “You’re All I Need” for punks, skins, and summer goths and none of us are going to stop flexing long enough to put shirts on.

We’ll still wear shoes though. Barefoot in the city is just gross.

Zachary Lipez is the singer of the band Publicist UK. He is the co-author (with Stacy Wakefield and Nick Zinner) of a number of books, most recently 131 Different Thinks (Akashic 2018). He is a freelance writer in NYC and tends bar at 124 Old Rabbit Club.