Charlie Pauken spills how he created Stories About Prince
Photo courtesy of Charlie Pauken
On Thursday, Gimme Noise shared Stories About Prince with the world. For a follow-up, here's an interview with its creator Charlie Paukin, who moved to Minneapolis since 2005 "to go to school, majoring in a subject that I haven't put to use since graduating cum laude." And he got enough inquiries about knowing Prince that he started the aforementioned blog of fake stories about a poorly attended taco party at the Purple One's apartment and witnessing some awkward exchanges with Morris Day at a sandwich shop.
In addition to Stories About Prince, Pauken makes a lot of jokes about Craigslist band postings here, and has a band. (He's also got the same name as a guy who drives monster trucks pretty successfully.) Pauken paused a Michael Caine movie he was watching to chat briefly with Gimme Noise about his Prince stories, which he does NOT lump into the fan fiction genre.
Gimme Noise: About how many times have you been asked if you know Prince?
Charlie Pauken: I was asked probably about two, maybe three times if I had met him, but it was never serious, just friends clowning off after I moved here -- "Hey, man, you met Prince yet?" Actually, people tend to freak out a little more when they find out that Ted Nugent is a distant (please note the emphasis on the word "distant") relation to one of my uncles. I was asked repeatedly for an entire evening if I could ask Ted Nugent to perform at a fundraiser, which made me uncomfortable.
What's your writing/blogging background?
I started blogging in 2006 as a means of joking and sending open letters to friends back in Bowling Green, which is all the blog ever was: Jokes for my friends. Granted, it's in a public space with no privacy settings enabled so anyone can see Stories... or [my other blog] Sound Design and Assembly but the blogs - SD&A in particular -- are riddled with in-jokes that I suppose only six people will get. I used to liken my style to what would happen if you put George Costanza on the cover of Black Flag's Damaged LP. I don't know what it is now. I tend to not think about it too much because that would mean I actually take it seriously.
What fan fiction had you read prior to starting Stories About Prince?
I've never read a scrap of fan fiction in my life. I don't even consider Stories... to be fan fiction, really; I'm just taking the piss out of the guy.
How do you take a SAP idea to completion, and why did you choose to hand-write the stories?
The usual writing process goes like this: "Oh, shit. It's Wednesday. Don't I... Yeah. I do. Goddamn it. OK, so what did Prince do this time? Think. Think. Think... Shit, I should get a pork chop out of the freezer to thaw before I forget." And it goes from there. I deliberately try to sabotage them instead of completing them. I like the idea of having a sort of anti-punchline; after having built up such a massively convoluted and mundane scenario -- like say, "Prince Calls His Credit Card Company About Air Line Miles" or some equally boring premise -- to just deflate it with a completely simple outcome... "And then Prince and I said goodbye. Then I went home and watched a Michael Caine movie."
I hand-write the stories because that's how I did the first one. I was just writing notes in this journal that I have on me and I thought it was pretty stupid but probably also good for a goof, so I scanned it on a Wednesday and posted it to SD&A. (That's also why it goes up on Wednesdays, just habit.) Later that day, I registered a new blogspot domain for it.
I came to like the idea of having it look like a creepy journal entry, almost like a junior high kid or a Jane Austen character or what'sherface from Heavenly Creatures would have. I hope it helps the reader to read the posts with an innocent, almost childlike voice in mind.
Are your ideas based upon actual occurrences in the Twin Cities?
I think they're too doofy to be based on anything that actually happened, but I do use places that I've been to for settings. You can pretty much tell if I've been to the bike shop recently or if I've been up to Kramarczuk's because those places will be fresh in my mind. I mentioned the State Fair in one precisely because the State Fair was going on and I avoid that thing like the godawful plague. Fried [blank] on a stick in hundred goddamned degree weather with over priced beer in a crowd of people is not my scene. Otherwise, no actual events have influenced the stories. I mean, then they would be topical or interesting and my goal is to make this alternate reality Prince as boring as possible.
Which story encapsulates the Stories about Prince idea for you?
"Prince Hosts a Taco Bar" was pretty good, that one has an Easter egg hidden in it, too. The laundromat episode was pretty good because I got to make fun of a short person, the butcher shop one was good because I got to mention "Pussy Control" (that has an Easter egg, too), and the ramen one was OK because I got to make a (first of many) reference(s) to "When Doves Cry", which is Levi Murphy's favorite song of all time. You have to print that part: Levi Murphy's favorite song of all time is "When Does Cry", you know, so your readers can post that song to his Facebook timeline ad nauseum. Believe me, he won't mind. It's his favorite song of all time. [Note: We have no idea who this Levi fella is.]
Really, it's a toss-up between the taco bar episode and the ramen eating contest. If pressed, I think I would pick the ramen eating contest because it is a plainly ridiculous premise. And one that I've been thinking of doing a sequel to for a while now.
What would you do if you actually did run into Prince?
I'm assuming that any encounter I would have with Prince would involve some cease and desist order which I understand the guy is rumored to love to issue out. You mean if it were a chance meeting? I kind of have doubts that Prince and I have the same haunts unless he goes to the same liquor store I go to. I guess I might give him the ol' cool-guy-head-nod and go on about my day.
Incidentally, how does it feel to have the same name as a monster truck driver, and has this caused any confusion in your life?
He was brought to my attention about eight or nine years ago; one of my brother's coworkers thought that guy was his brother. Then, one time, I got a Facebook friend request from a woman who thought I drove Grave Digger. That's the extent of it. I want to make a joke about that guy being a cunt and ruining my life but A) I've seen a video of him and he comes across as an OK guy, even if he is the cunt that ruined my life and B) we are, to some degree, related so, even if he is the cunt that ruined my life, I'm not allowed to say that he's the cunt that ruined my life. Also, despite that he's the cunt that ruined my life, I like how I can Google myself and then, when someone comes in the room, I can pretend to be Googling monster trucks. That's handy.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.