If you asked us who on the New York Times masthead was most likely to be well-schooled in the art of air shredding, we would would have guessed columnist Nick Kristof. (Dude just has something metal about him.) Wrong!

It's Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak. He wrote the definitive air guitar piece in the Times back in 1985. Since then, he's judged the U.S. Air Guitar Championships a couple times. (The 2010 Championships will be held in July.) Today, Above the Law interviewed Liptak about the elusive concept of "airness":

ATL: Performer Juris Rocktor (Georgetown law student Mike Sacks) described "airness" to ESPN as being "like Justice Potter Stewart's quote about obscenity - you know it when you see it." Can you offer a better description?

LIPTAK: I must respectfully dissent from that view. I simply apply the standard of airness, as understood at the founding of the rock era, to the performances presented. I leave my policy preferences, personal history and musical taste outside the doors of the 9:30 Club, and I just call air balls and air strikes.