There was an incident at the Memphis airport yesterday wherein the owner of a bicycle displaying a sticker from Florida punks This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb was arrested, presumably on suspicion of having a bicycle that also doubled as a pipe bomb. A terminal had to be cleared, causing traffic problems and PO’ed travelers, though no flights were delayed and no formal charges have been filed. Dude wasn’t even there to fly—just to see somebody off. On a bike. At the airport?
Anyway, this isn’t the first time that the long-running folk-punk outfit has been embroiled in this sort of controversy: In 2001, a woman in Austin, Texas, was detained at a peace rally for, you guessed it, a sticker on her bike. In 2006, Athens, Ohio, resident Patrick Hanlin lost his bike and was charged with a misdemeanor of inducing panic with his TBIAPB sticker. A similar incident happened at St. Joseph’s University in 2006.
Considering the band has been around for more than a decade— I’ve been seeing their stickers around the Southeast for probably 12 years now—I’m surprised incidents like the ones described above don’t happen more often. It raises a larger point about band names, and how far marketing an act on controversy can go. Sure, I Am The World Trade Center or Anthrax couldn’t do much in the way of planning for the incidents that made their names awkward. But when choosing a band name, it may be a good idea to stay away from names that will have your fans arrested for displaying your merch. If you’re thinking about calling your band I Have Drugs In My Bag or Baby Toucher or C-4 Suckaz or Big Fan Of Kiddy Porn, well, then you should probably think about what will happen to somebody wearing your t-shirt in, say, an airport. Or maybe you like this kind of publicity. Okay. I get it.
(Also: I like the name Baby Toucher.)