Terrible Tim At The FDR Boardwalk. Image Credit- StatenIslander.Org

Terrible Tim! Terrible Tim! Exclusive Interview with Staten Island Underground Music Cult Icon

If you’re a real Staten Islander, you probably know of Terrible Tim.

From the open mics on Bay Street. From his CTV show. From word of mouth.

 

Terrible Tim is a beloved local legend, and his fame now extends worldwide, thanks to YouTube.

His most popular track has over four million views on Google’s video platform. That’s not insignificant.

His tunes are memorable. And if you listen to older Terrible Tim tracks, Tim can really shred. His electric guitar skills are impressive.


On Tuesday morning, one of Staten Islander’s associate editors interviewed Terrible Tim at the Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier located along the South Beach F.D.R. Boardwalk.

While it was brutally hot outside, we managed to find seats next to a concrete table with an inlaid chess board. Thankfully, there was a constant spray of mist pumped into the surrounding air from above, making the meeting more comfortable than we could have imagined. That was a nice touch, something that transformed a spot with a great view into a paradisaical refuge from the heat.

Talking with Terrible Tim was exciting; we’ve been fans for decades. While the interview was underway, other  fans walking by and recognized Tim and struck up conversations with him.

He’s that popular.

Even the crows stopped by to listen; you can hear them (and see them if you look carefully!) throughout the videos.  Maybe the didn’t know exactly what Tim was talking about, but they found him interesting, nevertheless.


Impassioned islanders who didn’t know him even chimed in, as Terrible Tim addressed some controversial topics. There was a small crowd gathered, listening to the unusual things Terrible Tim was saying.

They hung on his every word. There were people of all backgrounds listening: religious Muslim folks, couples speaking Russian, and lifelong islanders, identifiable by their thick Staten Island accent.

Terrible Tim At The FDR Boardwalk. Image Credit- StatenIslander.Org

Terrible Tim At The FDR Boardwalk. Image Credit- StatenIslander.Org

At one point, we paused so that Terrible Tim could give a cigarette to an elder woman demurely asking for a smoke. And a light.

Twice, Terrible Tim put the interview on short hiatus as he gave his fellow islanders money.

So is Terrible Tim a musician or a saint? A foul-mouthed folk hero or a philosopher? You decide. Perhaps, it’s all of the above.

His songs, what he describes as folk rock, are often shockingly puerile, his lyrics sometimes about as scatological as it gets.


But that’s not all Terrible Tim is about; if you can’t get past the doo-doo references, you’re missing more than you might guess. Terrible Tim gets mad deep. Tim throws philosophy at his audience with ease; some of his lyrics should really get you thinking.

While born in Brooklyn, Terrible Tim moved to Staten Island when he was very young. He lives by the beach these days, and has for decades.

Tim survived Superstorm Sandy back in 2012, but his beach home, and most of his belongings, including his electric guitar, were trashed.

His home’s since been restored, but now he plays his trusty acoustic, exclusively.


We were even granted a special treat, Terrible Tim performing “Brotherman Bill,” his top track, sitting on the rear cargo bay of his hatchback in the parking lot.

Terrible Tim even gifted us with a poster, dating back to his one and only album, put out back in the ’90s. In fact, unbeknownst to Tim, one of our interview questions focused on that very image!

He’s created too many tracks to remember. But his devoted following remember, and tribute videos can even be found on YouTube.


What does Tim sing and strum about? Like any true folk singer, it’s usually about people. And current events. Places. Experiences.

He explained that many of his songs were inspired by the colorful characters that peopled the CTV studio back in the 90s.

But that’s not all. There are also songs about our local “feedback learning community” GANAS in Stapleton, which Tim calls a cult.


And, tracks focusing on some “conspiracy theories,” covering topics from 9-11 to the present COVID-19 pandemic. And more.

Remember, as Terrible Tim says, there are no conspiracy theories, there are only conspiracy researchers.

Terrible Tim is an imposing figure, and could have slipped in easily as a club bouncer. In fact, he once worked security, a job that allowed him to save up for his first home.

He’s is a sharp-minded thinker, a hulking philosopher-poet with a ready laugh and sensitive, bright eyes. Terrible Tim does not miss a beat.

Terrible Tim Spreads Love Poster.

Terrible Tim Spreads Love Poster.

During our interview, the time flew by. Everyone sitting nearby had fun. Terrible Tim is not shy, and reality engaged in friendly discussion with anyone willing to converse.

Tim is all about community. He brings people together. Tim is funny, but his style of humor is actually rather sophisticated, and sophomoric, at the same time.

He’s for real, and whether you like him or hate him, you’ve got to admit at least that much. His act is so polarizing, that he always gets a reaction. That’s the point.


The Terrible Tim Nation is real, and his fans are devoted. Yet another underground Staten Island phenomenon that the world, at large, totally misses. To their detriment.

It’s difficult not to get the impression that he’s purposefully testing our limits, of both free speech, in the tradition of Lenny Bruce, and like George Carlin, in that he challenges everything, all the presuppositions we take for granted.

When it comes to matters of faith, Tim admits that he has no clue what or why the universe is, but acknowledges that philosophically, there must have been a first mover, that there must be some meaning, otherwise there would be eternal nothingness, and not all that we see. “Life is ephemeral,” said Tim, a truth none of us can deny, regardless of our personal philosophy or belief system. His conception of life after death?

As TerribleTim explains it, something like Saint Peter going through the new charges, cataloguing each: “idiot, idiot, sheep, idiot, ah….Terrible Tim! Welcome home!”


 

TODAY’S THE DAY! Videos of our interview will be uploaded shortly! Thanks for your patience, Islanders! 🙂

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