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I Want (From 2008)

[Editor’s Note: The magnificent mundane pictures are from Square America.]

I want to participate unreservedly in American life.

I want to say hello to my neighbors. I want to send my children to school on a bus with their brethren to read of George Washington and Abe Lincoln. I want them to eat a peanut butter sandwich from a paper sack with a waxy box of whole milk to wash it down.

I want to watch the news and not think it’s an assault on my worldview. I want to watch the news and not think it’s an assault on the worldview of people with whom I disagree.

I want to read a newspaper. I want to listen to the radio. I wouldn’t mind constructing my own radio with a soldering iron and a few parts that came mail order, but I’d rather not construct the playlist of songs. How would I know what I liked if I had never heard it?

I want to order a drink from the well. I want to sit on naugahyde. I want someone to smoke. I don’t want to smoke. I want people to make music right there in front of me. I want everybody to know the words.

I want everyone to dress as well as they can for a social occasion and still be dressed badly. I want to see dress shoes and white socks.
I want to see old people. I want to see babies. I want to tell people their ugly children are beautiful. I want the ballgame to be on TV. I want the TV to be on a shelf over a bar.

I want to go to church on Sunday. I want to go to a bar on Friday night. I want to go dancing with my wife of many years on Saturday. I want to be buried in the same suit I was married in. I want people to stand there and look at my cold face and say I was no great shakes but I was alright.
I want someone to put flowers on my grave after everyone else has forgotten I was alive.

By Popular Demand… The Cubicle Drinking Song!

But you won’t stay popular very long requesting songs like this.

Anyway, the Edjamikated Redneck wanted the boys to sing Charlie and the CLM, and he’s pleasant so we hauled out the Flip camera and Got ‘er Dun.

* While it may sound like it, no animals were harmed in the making of this video.

Here are the words if you want to sing along. We sound better if you do. And have a few stiff drinks.

Charlie And His CLM

Let me tell you all the story
Of the PC LOAD LETTER
And poor Charlie’s dyspeptic day
He’d eaten Kung Pao in Woonsocket,
Walked the aisle to the printer
And cropdusted the entire way

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

Charlie lingered at the printer
As the gas cloud settled
Shoved in two reams of foolscap plain
Then the LaserJet was blinking, saying
LOW ON TONER
Charlie rumbled, and started to strain

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

Now all day long
Charlie stands at the Canon
Thinking, “What will become of me?”
Crying
There’s never any paper
In the Men’s Room holders
And he was going to need a whole Dead Tree

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

Charlie’s boss goes down
To the handicapped bathrooms
Every day at a quarter past two
And Charlie knew the danger
If he toilet bombed his bosses
When the szechuan came rumblin’ through.

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

As his lunch rolled on
underneath his spattered tieclip
Charlie looked around and then he sighed:
“Well, I’m sore and disgusted
And my bowels can’t be trusted,”
And he lay down by the fax and died.

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

A Life (Still) Filled With Nothing

This is all there is of him now.

Oh how he railed at the bankers. Mother would remind him, occasionally, that he was a banker. He’d splutter and rage and Mother would leave to see what the cook was doing and return and neither of them ever missed a beat. I’d watch the dirty urban raindrops make their way down the panes, backlit by the milky sunshine that was our ration at the end of the brownstone canyons, and wait for it all to end. The rain, the impotent rage, all of it. Now it was done.

I wander through the rooms, and they are full of nothing. I never heard it put better than that. A life full of nothing. There was always someplace to be, something that required immediate attention, something that would bring on the stemwinding peroration, to no one in particular, about the hard, cold heart of everyone who came into his line of sight when he was trying to make the column on the left and the column on the right match up. A life devoted to those damn dots.

I never could muster any awe or fear of the old man. He was volcanic, and yet the rumblings signified nothing. The threat of the eruption is daily, but the actual item never comes, and so one develops a certain ambivalence about it. It was always like waiting for the last dull minutes of a boring sermon to end. There was no sin in it, and none in ignoring it. You endured it only, but did not suffer, really.

Father had that Irishman that worked for him. The only one. He was as full of life as Father was full of worms. Father mocked him when he was not here. There was a touch of the obsequious about the guy that my Father loved. “Oh, that Hibernian tugs his forelock and backs out of here like a serf, but you know he’s in the tavern right now in his cups and laughing at me, and all his cronies with him. He’ll never amount to anything.”

Now the old man was done. Mother was gone two decades ago. It fell to me. I’ll have nothing to do with this place. It had the smell of the grave in it all along. The lawyers pushed the papers under my nose, with the same dull mechanical mannerisms and basilisk expressions on their faces as their customer, laid out like a Pharoah in the funeral parlor. I suppose they laughed later, too, when they offered me a third of the value of the place, and I took it. I would have paid them to take it.

I’m going to the tavern, to look for a man.

The World Is Being Pulled Through The Heavens By A Soul Train, And This Guy Was The Locomotive AND The Conductor

There was a time.

Tickets, please.



Hello, and welcome aboard. Please note important safety features for this vehicle, the James Brown Pan-Galactic Low-rider VistaCruiser.

There are no exits aboard this conveyance but one. None towards the front on either side, none before the wings on either side, none over the wings on either side, none behind the wings on either side, none at the rear of the freight train on either side and even fewer in the center of the upper deck on either side. We have done away with these exits because there is no salvation but one, which is directly through the middle of the stage. Please pay close attention to the guardian of this exit, as he’s so high, you can’t get over him; so low, you can’t get under him; and so wide, you can’t get around him. Don’t worry; each of the other performers has a safety slide dance step that will automatically deploy when The GFOS lamp is lit, and begins to smoke.

We recommend that you count how many seats you are away from this exit, as it will help you to determine just how cool you are. The first four rows should don your radiation suits and put on your sunglasses. In the rare case of an emergency there are lights on the outsides of the aisles to help you find a place to dance; also there are flashing lights and horn flourishes to signal the danger of an upcoming blast of turbulence. In the rare event of a loss of cabin pressure James Brown will drop down from the overhead compartment. Cup your hands over your mouth area like the flight attendant is doing now and yell please, please, please if you feel breathless.

Please ensure your high heel sneakers are secured and Sippican Cottage recommends that you have your seat in your pants and your feet on the floor throughout the flight. There are also single-breasted double-vented sharkskin life jackets and spanish heeled shoes under your seats in case of an emcee emergency.

We thank you for flying James Brown today. We hope you enjoy your flight. Now get up offa that thing, and dance ’til you feel betta.

Cubicle Farmers Of The World: Unite!


Reader and commenter Cameron, of Cultural Rumbles, wondered aloud in my little essay about the Punch Brothers if I wasn’t being too hasty when I remarked:

Oh, well; 2.3 children, a dog to kick and a cubicle makes for a dashed poor drinking song.

My favorite kind of people don’t take challenges lying down. No! They get drunk first, then lie down. Then they get up and write a Cubicle Protest/Drinking song!

Ohhhhhhhhhh,

Box me in, ya bloody bastards!
Pile them spreadsheets mountain high!
Ye won’t break me, you AP dastards!
Reconcile, then bloody die!
Reconcile, then bloody die!

A fine effort, no doubt, and long overdue, but son, stand back, ’cause I’m a pro.

First, we need a tune. Why not the greatest drinking song ever? If you’re from Boston and can’t recite (or more precisely: haven’t already recited) this grand tone poem while standing on one foot and touching your nose over and over by the side of the road, while a bemused Statie looks on, you’re no true Bostonian!

OK, all you Dilberts, sing along!

* If you don’t speak “Cubicle,” which is like Klingon but less mellifluous, go here.

Charlie And His CLM

Let me tell you all the story
Of the PC LOAD LETTER
And poor Charlie’s dyspeptic day
He’d eaten Kung Pao in Woonsocket,
Walked the aisle to the printer
And cropdusted the entire way

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

Charlie lingered at the printer
As the gas cloud settled
Shoved in two reams of foolscap plain
Then the LaserJet was blinking, saying
LOW ON TONER
Charlie rumbled, and started to strain

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

Now all day long
Charlie stands at the Canon
Thinking, “What will become of me?”
Crying
There’s never any paper
In the Men’s Room holders
And he was going to need a whole Dead Tree

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

Charlie’s boss goes down
To the handicapped bathrooms
Every day at a quarter past two
And Charlie knew the danger
If he toilet bombed his bosses
When the szechuan came rumblin’ through.

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

As his lunch rolled on
underneath his spattered tieclip
Charlie looked around and then he sighed:
“Well, I’m sore and disgusted
And my bowels can’t be trusted,”
And he lay down by the fax and died.

Chorus:
Did he ever return,
No he never returned
But his smell is still discerned
Prairie Dog coworkers
wonder who was passing
He cropdusted, and never returned.

Unlike George Harrison, The Spiders’ Guitarist Can Actually Play A Little. Other Than That, It’s A Tie For Best Performance Of Day Tripper

When I was younger and lived in LA, there were always ads in the indie papers looking for bands that would be willing to go and work in Japan. It really didn’t matter if you were any good, if you were willing to go, and could play rock music, they’d take you. It was considered a last resort, and paid that way, too.

This is the legacy of sending only desperate –and desperately bad — rock bands to Japan.

Hombre Respetable

It’s oh so good, it’s oh so fine. Los Hitters!

The original, obviously inferior version:

Rye Love Isn’t Good Love, Boys

Punch Brothers!

That’s such a mature, fully-formed sound for people so young. The bandleader’s home-schooled? Ah, yes; so was Mozart. Band’s named after a Twain story, too. That makes them a seven-dollar, kid-skin, hand-tooled, gilt-edged, Friendship’s Offering of a band, consisting of ten parts whoop-de-doo with five morsels of remorse.

Rye whiskey makes the band sound better,
Makes your baby cuter,
Makes itself taste sweeter.
Oh, boy!

Rye whiskey makes your heart beat louder,
Makes your voice seem softer,
Makes the back room hotter, oh, but

Rye thoughts aren’t good thoughts, boys,
Have I ever told you about the time I…

Rye whiskey wraps your troubles up
Into a bright blue package,
Ties a bow around it.
Oh, boy!

Just throw it on the pile in the corner, see,
You’re not alone in not being alone tonight, but

Rye love isn’t good love, boys,
Have I ever told you about the time I…

I used to wake up bright and early,
Got my work done quickly, held my baby tightly.
Oh, boy!
Rye whiskey makes the sun set faster,
Makes the spirit more willing
But the body weaker because

Rye sleep isn’t good sleep, Boys,
Have I ever told you about the time I
Took it and took her for granted?
How I took it and took her for granted?
Well, let’s take some
And take them all for granted.
Oh, boy!

I’m an older feller and wise in the ways of bills-of-fare and petticoats, and could have warned them not to chase pleasure so enthusiastically that you actually catch up to it. Oh, well; 2.3 children, a dog to kick and a cubicle makes for a dashed poor drinking song.

Punch Brothers!

Unleash The Tiger (From 2008)

If you gave the average music exec a gold brick, they’d have it bronzed and sell it with an infomercial. The music business is the ultimate manifestation of throw it at the wall and see if it sticks. In a way, there is no explaining what catches people’s fancy about one song or movie or another. The greedy, grasping, grabby people that infest the business have learned how to make the wall they’re throwing things at slightly more sticky by applying a thick coat of cocaine and bagman money to it before they throw things at it, but it’s far from a science, even with all the experience they have now.

If it worked once, they try it again in the same way. They think it was the process that worked. I have my doubts. Here’s an example. They were presented with Aretha Franklin once. They said to themselves: I know, let’s make her a Shirelle — or whatever the hell you call the sleeveless tunic dress bouffant haired gogo dancers with the black Betty Boop voices. Boop, Shoop Shoop; whatever…

Why not have her paint your house? It would make about as much use of her talent. Eventually you’ve got to unleash the tiger. If you’re smart enough to know you have one in the first place.

Month: September 2010

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