“Make Air, Not War” is the personal motto of Dan Crane, the musician who decided to put his “there” guitar aside and reinvent himself as Björn Türoque: the take-no-prisoners future of competitive air guitar. Jeopardizing love and livelihood to join the ruthless international circuit of the World Air Guitar Championships, Björn Türoque (pronounced “b-yorn too-RAWK”) began a three-year odyssey to secure what was rightfully his (and America’s!)—the air guitar world crown.
To Air is Human is the riotous tale of one man’s journey through a world of wheelchair-bound Christian air rockers, spandex-jumpsuit fittings, Finnish stunt wolves, catatonic ‘80s guitar heroes, air groupies, Aireoke™, Air Supply, dry-ice injuries, and ultimately, good vs. evil (in the form of Björn’s rival pretender to the air guitar throne). But it is also a sincere and penetrating account of the pursuit of an elusive, intangible, and perhaps nonexistent goal: to achieve “airness”—that is, when air guitar transcends the “real” art that it imitates and becomes an art form in and of itself.
“Björn Türoque is so good that people with real guitars now have contests to see who can do the best imitation of his air guitar imitation.”—Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point
Actual musician and New York Times writer Crane created his alter ego, Bj rn T roque, as part of a heated but unsuccessful attempt to win the 2003 Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland, a yearly competition usually attended by thousands of fans to see who can best mime the movements of guitar solos in songs by actual rock gods such as Led Zeppelin and Guns N' Roses. With hilarious detail, T roque/Crane recounts what became a three-year, nearly full-time immersion into the cutthroat, usually drunken, but always serious world of air guitar competitors, who choreograph detailed 60-second routines of air-jumping, air-fretting, air power-chording and air-soloing in order to be "transposed from insignificance into supernatural supershredding superheroes." Crane often veers into stoned philosophizing he sees air guitar as "creating a reality in which the audience can place themselves" but overall he easily and accurately captures the telling elements of what is uniquely a visual event: one participant is described as looking "as if he's repeatedly trying to pull-start a lawnmower with a great deal of frustration," while another sporting "a Hello Kitty breastplate fastened to his chest with binder clips" has hands that move "like twin Tasmanian devils."