Scientists have identified the No. 1 virus that infects San Diegans. It's not AIDS, nor herpes, nor whatever fecal particle that has a history of sneaking into Jack in the Box's tasty burgers.
The scientific nomenclature of the leading virus is called Santerium Sublimum-commonly referred to on "the streets" as Sublime. There are many negative ways the virus affects its victims, including, but not limited to, wearing "wife beater" tank-tops, driving large trucks, referring to strangers as "bro" and becoming the only known humans with the ability to smoke marijuana prior to getting in a bar fight.
"The main host bodies for this virus are FM radio stations 91X and 94/9," said Scott "Big Dawg" Sampson, a recovering addict who's now dedicated his life to Sublime awareness. He lifts up his arm to show a large band of black ink encircling his bicep-with razor blades and some hackneyed style that vaguely evokes images of old, wrinkled brown men smoking carved wooden pipes. It's called a "tribal tattoo."
"One night, friends and I were sitting on the sea wall in front of the old Taang Records shop, drinking forties and smoking some chronic," he recalls. "There was a keg party at a beach house nearby, and they were blaring "40 Ounces to Freedom.' It seemed perfect, and we all started singing along. One thing lead to another, and I woke up with this tat.
"I look back now, and I wish I had just a little bit of awareness of what Sublime was doing to me. Johnny Cash fans don't wake up with a stupid fucking tattoo. I'd even rather be a Sufjan Stevens fan-being a total wussy is better than what I used to be."
Scientists have traced the origination of the Sublime virus back to three Caucasian males in Long Beach in 1988. Together, they formed a band that mixed punk rock with reggae and dub-the latter two genres, scientists say, white males have no business tinkering with.
"They couldn't have imagined the Caucasianization of dub-based music that they were about to start," said researcher Lou Douglas, a researcher at Sublime Terrorism Operations Program (S.T.O.P.). "But the virus goes way beyond their existence. The effects can be seen mostly in San Diego's coastal communities, where we estimate there are between 400 and 450 "dub-punk trios.'"
Douglas knows how damaging such viruses can be. In the '90s, he and other concerned members of the audio-scientific community helped stem the tide of the blink-183 virus, which caused white males to wear their baseball caps askew, speak obsessively about masturbation and play mind-numbingly simple music called "pop-punk."
"Had Patient Zero-Bradley Nowell-not died of a heroin overdose, this never would've happened," Douglas suggests. "If he hadn't died, Sublime would have gone on to make many mediocre "latter stage' albums, thus diluting their lore. Instead, Nowell became a martyr for millions of beach-dwelling males with a predilection for experimenting with methamphetamines."
Radio experts estimate that 91X and 94/9 distribute some strain of Sublime-whether it be "Santeria," "40 Ounces to Freedom," "What I Got" or "Wrong Way"-approximately 2,467 times a week.
"When I walked in for my interview, the program director had this mangy looking Dalmatian named Dudebro," said one former radio deejay who asked to remain anonymous. "There were posters of Sublime everywhere. There was even a little papier-mâché action figure of Brad Nowell that some listener had made for the station. It had these shin-length cargo shorts on-pretty creepy.
"I should have known," he said. "In my first week, one of the deejays accidentally said on air that Sublime was from Hermosa Beach. No one ever saw him after that. His time slot was given to a former roadie for Slightly Stoopid."
Walking with "Big Dawg" along the boardwalk in Mission Beach, he points out victims. Every few feet, he'll walk up to a muscular 20-something with a shin tattoo and a chain wallet.
"Hey bro, can I talk to you for a minute?" he always starts. After a few minutes of waxing nostalgic about how cool Sublime was in order to create a bond, he ends with the same routine. "But, bro, it's gotta stop-it's time to move on," he says. And then he'll pull a mixed-CD out of his rucksack and hand it to his target.
"Listen to this," he says. "It's music that was made in the last decade."