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Bubb Rubb is a pseudonym of Lynell Griffin, a Bay Area resident who appeared in a local news segment on the controversial trend of “whistle tips,” a custom-modified exhaust pipe that generates deafening sounds of whistles during motor operation. While the news story focused on local residents’ complaints of constant noise in the neighborhood, Worrel stepped up to the camera in staunch advocacy of the whistle tips.
On January 13th, 2003, KRON-TV Channel 4 in San Francisco Bay Area covered a story about strange noise problems in the streets of Oakland, California, caused by a piece of metal added onto cars’ exhaust pipes. Among the local residents interviewed were Lynell Griffin, who who identified himself as “Bubb Rubb," and his associate “Lil Sis,” who also defended the use of whistle tips.
Reporter: Can you tell me about the whistles?
Bubb Rubb: The whistles go WOO-- You wanna WOO WOO--
Reporter: Some neighbors are saying it’s “way too loud.”
Bubb Rubb: …That’s only in the mowrning. He’s supposed to be
up cooking breakfast or something, …so it’s like an alarm clock!
Shortly after the broadcast of the interview segment, car hobbyists started passing around links to the original KRON news clip on automobile-related forums like VWVortex, Tundra Solutions and HondaSwaps. One of the VWVortext forum users, Mark Leinhos, sampled Bubb Rubb’s quotes and created a hip-hop infused tune titled “Ghetto Hooptie Woo Remix”, which was uploaded onto Leinho’s website under his online handle “Evil Shift Key.” Within two weeks, the song was downloaded more than 25,000 times.
The interview clip was eventually removed from KRON-TV’s website, which led the University of California San Diego student Matt Durand to set up an entire website devoted to Bubb Rubb, featuring the original news clip, Leinho’s remix song, as well as various photoshopped images and flash animations. In the first week of launch, a link to the website was posted on FARK, Metafilter and Milks & Cookies receiving over 45,000 visits.
KRON’s Cease & Desist
As Durand’s website continued to gain traction, KRON sent a cease-and-desist letter asking him to take down their video from the website. However, Durand wrote back and pleaded that the site was part of his senior thesis--therefore exempt from copyright infringement--eventually getting the station’s permission to host the videos online.
Throughout 2003, the audio / video remix phenomenon continued in the form of flash animations, audio soundboards and YTMNDs, where Bubb Rubb would become one of the most popular exploitables of all time within the community. The original YTMND site featuring Bubb Rubb’s “Woo Woo” soundbite with the 1996 English rock single “Song 2” by Blur, was uploaded on May 3rd, 2004 by user oldmangimper. The site remained low-key for another year until June 2005, when several Bubb Rubb mash-ups featuring pop culture icons like Darth Vader, Sonic the Hedgehog and Zelda’s Link began to surface. In 2006, over a dozen parodies of Bubb Rubb were submitted, many of them remixing the footage from another local news report about The Crichton Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama.
The first YouTube version of the news segment was uploaded by user LILOUTLAW209 on January 25th, 2006. As the whistle tip video began to gain momentum on YouTube, it led to creation of more spin-offs and remixes on YTMND. The popularity of Bubb Rubb fad peaked sometime in 2007, spawning a high-quality assortment of more than 100 derivatives. One parody in particular, Zelda: The Bubb Rubb of Time, still remains as the 4th highest rated YTMND site ever created.
With the “whistle tip” interview clip dominating the blogosphere in the first quarter of 2003, Lynell would hook up with the administrators of the website BubbRubb.com who started selling Bubb Rubb-themed T-shirts, underwear and even ringtones. The website also went onto promote and sell a DVD documentary titled Chillin at the Mansion, featuring Lynell himself.
Occupy Oakland Interview
On November 3rd, 2011, an article published by The Guardian about clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators during Oakland’s Occupy protests included a brief statement from a man who identified himself as “Bubb Rubb” about the actions of a rogue group of black bloc protesters.
Bubb Rubb, from Oakland, was unimpressed with “these people in black clothes, with black flags”. “They bamboozled us. They wanted violence,” he told the Guardian.