I Give This Polka To You, Wisconsin / 30 May 2001
Another nice thing about Maine is how easy it is to become a major mover and shaker in local industries. You can walk in off the street and six weeks later be running the place just because there are so few people here and they’re not particularly sophisticated in the ways of fraudulent paper trails.
Skipping to the most recent example, I decided to get out of the house for a little while last night, so I ambled downtown to the Harbor Cafe to knock back a Code Red, clear my head, do my first round of stretching exercises. I brought my laptop in case the — as Martin Landau once put it — “fragrant lightning of that bitch-goddess Inspiration” struck me. Well it did, as always, this time in the form of an elegant, traditional Thai dress design in the Barumpimarn style, sort of a slate blue with strong lines across the shoulder and a bold mustard sash adorned with a circular golden clasp that complements the pransid below. I don’t like using the laptop’s touchpad to draw, so I resorted to creating a likeness of the design using ASCII characters, with certain alphanumerics corresponding to certain colors.
But then Jack Shit & The Tuneless Mongoloids or whatever their name was plugs in and starts playing a set of their downhome brand of latte folk and I can’t hear myself think. It’s like, dudes, when I do something that causes an entire room to wince and look sadly at the floor, suddenly unable to finish a conversation or even successfully stitch two thoughts together, I’m either naked and reveling in the reaction or I stop, pack up my gear, and go drink myself into oblivion, hoping to forget, at least for one night, that I’m a talentless hack. But these boys have a story to tell, I guess, a story that is spread over many, many soulful ditties.
I cry a little and start scanning through various directories, trying in vain to locate my copy of Computer Sorry! to pass the time when I stumble upon the new application that I’m still trying to get the hang of. I twiddle with it for a while and come up with two new songs that manage to combine old-school amateurishness with booty-moving twitchiness.
I approach the maitre d’ of the establishment who has this expression on his face, like: “My God, I have hair in places I never had hair before.” I exchange a few pleasantries — shouted over the din — and then the fraud comes in, with me explaining my various credentials, my history in Los Angeles, the old standby: “What, you’ve never heard of DJ Sanitizer?” I display three or four websites that back up my claims.
Next thing I know, he’s shuffling Ding Dong & The Patchouli 3 out the door and I’m patching my computer into their internal PA system (which ended up adding a nice level of grit to the broadcast). I fire up the first song and everyone’s head gets knocked back, then knocked forward, and before long they’re back under manual control, bobbing in time. Toes are tapping, fingers are snapping. I made all sorts of little tweaks during the performance, sculpting the song with the many, many knobs at my disposal, sometimes going overboard and sending the signal into piercing sine waves, but I’m sorry, the setup is like this giant woman with 500 nipples, all waiting for my touch. I am only human.
The second song was mellower, bringing the people back down, chilling them for their re-entry into the drab world of their everyday lives, the bitter aftertaste of mortality poisoning each sip of coffee.
The cafe is still looking over my standard contract, but I expect them to fall in line later on today. For those of you who weren’t able to experience this event, please enjoy these tracks in your own home or place of business, and feel the healing power of music.