Xpress Platinum Countertop Cooker

  • Basically a George Foreman grill that can also fry, broil, and bake (and steam with the steamer attachment, sold separately)
  • Sits on your counter all like “yeah, I’m basically like a bunch of appliances in one, it’s cool”
  • Open it up to double your grilling pleasure, double your grilling fun
  • Pans are dishwasher safe, but you can still scrub them by hand if you’re into greasy dishwater
  • Model: Xpress-PCBB (we actually applaud cramming the whole brand name in there for easy Googling, but that hypen makes it impossible to double-click the whole thing to select - so close to greatness)
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X is the Punkest Letter

Hey, Meh writer @JasonToon here. The brand name of this Xpress Platinum Cooker always reminds me of the '90s, when all of the sudden everything was “Xtreme” for some reason. Then I realize that the whole Xname gambit is at least as old as the X-Acto knife. I guess every generation must rediscover the selling power of X for itself.

But that’s not all X is good for. Its visual energy - two brutal slashes colliding - and its connotations of forbiddenness, rejection, anonymity, pornography, and consumerism made it the perfect letter for xploitation by punk rockers. First, there were the two great bands who just took the letter itself as a band name. The better-known X was from Los Angeles. “We’re Desperate” is a typical X tale of decadence in male-female harmonies over rockabilly punk riffs:

On the other side of the globe at the same time, another band called X came snarling out of Sydney. This X brought metallic power and post-punk space and angularity to sneering, sarcastic sentiments with the odd shot of humor. Somehow, the whole mess turned out really catchy, too. Here’s “I Don’t Wanna Go Out”:

X-Ray Spex was the perfect name for a near-perfect band. They were like nobody else in the London 1977 punk scene, with teenage Asian-British smartass Poly Styrene yelping indictments of consumerism over a churning guitar-and-saxophone brew. They only lasted one album (Germ-Free Adolescents) in their original incarnation, but what an album. Check these weirdos out on “Identity”:

Speaking of consumerism, a more commercially-minded band on the London scene also used the power of X to make a name for themselves. Years before Douglas Coupland’s novel and the grunge marketing appellation, Generation X cranked out a stack of irresistible punk-pop singles like “Wild Youth” and launched the very lucrative career of one Billy Idol:

Over in Amsterdam, the Ex started out in 1980 as a pretty standard clattering, sneering punk band. They’ve since become a sprawling international art collective, dabbling in everything from free classical to Ethiopian jazz. But I personally think they were at their best on noisy blares like “Human Car”:

Countless other bands across the global punk diaspora used X to punk up their bandnames. From the Xdreamysts in Belfast with “Right Way Home”:

To San Diego’s X-Terminators, with “Microwave Radiation”:

To North Carolina new wavers the X-Teens, with “Johnny’s Having Fun”:

Sydney, for some reason, was a particular hotbed of Xness. Along with the X we mentioned above, there were the XL Capris, known for their punk take on their hometown’s traditional anthem, “My City of Sydney”:

And the Rejex, authors of the twitchy antiwar screed “Who Wants to March?”:

Southern California had another important X up its sleeve, too. Geza X (born Geza Gedeon) produced recordings by most of the key bands of early California punk, by the likes of the Germs, the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, and the Avengers. His own band, Geza X and the Mommymen, were as sarcastic and funny as the bands he produced, as on “I Hate Punks”:

By 1980 or so, punk was splitting in two: the artier end was turning into post-punk, the loud ‘n’ fast contingent was mutating into hardcore. Both camps found their own uses for X. Some suburban hardcore kids started a puritanical straight-edge fad (militantly anti-drug, anti-alcohol, sometimes anti-sex and anti-meat), called “sXe” for short. Their mark of belonging was an X on the back of their hands, originally a way for venues to keep track of who was too young to drink at the bar. Boston’s flagship sXe band, SSD, recorded the song that gave the city’s key hardcore record label its name, “X-Claim”:

Meanwhile, the robotic, herky-jerky connotations of X were also right in line with the postpunk mood. Here are early New Jersey synth oddballs Xex with “Fashion Hurts”:

What does any of this have to do with the Xpress Platinum Countertop Cooker, a kind of deeper, more versatile take on the Foreman grill? Maybe nothing… maybe… everything. I don’t know what that means either, but at least I crammed in some description of the product down here at the bottom of this weekend playlist.

Our weekend playlists aren’t always unlistenable racket:

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