Taking Care of Business
Dear Faux Jean,
Your band's name has been frequently mentioned by our esteemed panel of local music judges at Picked to Click. But the honor of winning this poll--and the mettle required to live up to its responsibilities--is a stern test for youthful musicians, men and women driven by the flames of creativity and ambition but not tested by the embers of adversity and doubt. In other words, voters be damned: We don't know if you deserve to win. And so we politely--but firmly--request that Faux Jean fill out an application for the modest position of "Pretty Good Band from Minneapolis."
Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
Fill out the following job application. Please note that those submissions including puns and/or witty retorts will receive preference. The written section of the application will account for 50 percent of the job qualification. The other 50 percent will be decided on the basis of an on-site demonstration of practical skills: You will be asked to sing for your supper by busking along Nicollet Mall to see if you can earn more money in an hour than you have thus far earned on MP3.com. You will plead with strangers to listen to you play on the corner on the same day that U2--the Grammy-endorsed "Best Band in the World"--rocks out effortlessly before a sold-out audience at the Target Center.
We would like nothing more than to reward your earnest songwriting and diligent practice sessions with a humiliating "character-building" experience such as this. And, as your mother has probably also told you: Someday, you'll thank us.
Picked to Click
THE APPLICATION: GET A JOB, SHA NA NA NA, SHA NA NA NA NA
(as filled out by Faux Jean, the lead singer of the band with the same name)
Name: Faux Jean
Last position held in a band: Moderator
Reason for leaving previous band: Lack of moderation
Education and Rock Influence: Grew up in Duluth...[Watched] the Replacements get drunk and thought, "I could do that." Remember sitting in the parking lot at Duluth East in 11th grade, waiting for my sister to come out to the car. Somebody was blasting "My Favorite Thing" out their car window and this cute sophomore girl started dancing in a good way and something crystallized. Had marched around town in Zeppelin half-shirts till that point.
Expected salary (garnered from MP3.com sales): Millions eventually, I reckon. My goal is to take the money that we earn there and do what Limp Bizkit did: Pay radio stations to play our music. If the interns of [Faux Jean's record label] the New Fidelity can make it work by networking with teens in Mongolia, we'll be fine.
Most rock 'n' roll achievement (note--articles of clothing are not achievements): Being Prince's waiter. (He tips well, BTW.)
Do you have any special skills (e.g., wielding a mean drumstick, building a better bouffant, etc.)? The only skill that counts is convincing a bunch of people to learn your songs and be in your band and put up with your lazy-schmuck ass and miss watching Friends with the lady on Thursdays so you can practice and then go into a club and make sex with the audience occur.
Do you have any physical condition that would prevent you from lifting 50 lbs. of pure rock? (From the workers' safety manual: Remember to lift with the knees): Pure rock is weightless, like most ideas.
Morality test: If one of your co-workers were caught lifting guitar riffs off Sixties mod bands, what would you do? Would you contact your employer about the stolen merchandise? Keith Richards says that one does not own a song, but that the song, which already exists, comes to the dude or chick, sitting on their bed playing guitar, piano, or whatever. The only reason we want to get paid for our ideas is so we can pay our phone bills and the hired help at the villa in Jamaica. [If we] don't try lifting string arrangements based on Stones tunes, Keef should maintain his tune.
Tell me about a time you compromised your principles for a gig.
The trick is to fly without principles.
Have you received any previous awards or recognition?
ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) kicks me a little chunk [of cash] as a budding writer to keep my chin up and offset membership dues and like that, which is nice. I was also touched when Matt Wilson produced the first record I ever made with Steel Shank.
What would you like to be doing in five years? Not waiting on Prince. (Sorry, dude.)
Comments? While I have been asked to apply for the job of Pretty Good Band from Minneapolis, my ego insists that "pretty good" is dashed out and the application is held on file until U2 steps down and the Faux Jean band can be considered for Best Band in the World.
THE PRACTICUM: HE MUST, HE MUST, HE MUST INCREASE HIS BUSK!
Stop, children, what's that sound? Could it be Faux Jean: Unplugged? In order to prove that the pompadoured mod man can wield a guitar pick as well as a pencil, we ask him to complete his job application by busking in front of the Barnes & Noble on Nicollet Mall. Game for the challenge, Faux Jean grabs his guitar, lubes up his hair, and slathers bright orange balm upon his smackers. And then he's ready to go. If he doesn't succeed in making more money in an hour than his band has made in a day on MP3.com, we warn him, City Pages might offer the position to that dinosaur busker who has been jangling the classics in Dinkytown since the bygone days before Faux Jean first consulted the Avon Lady.
Perhaps he's shrewd, or perhaps honest. But Faux Jean refuses to play to audience sympathy by informing passersby that he's playing his psychedelic psalms for food. He won't wager his guitar riffs for a place to stay tonight. The only thing that will get Faux Jean strumming on the concrete is a share of the mellowing agent that killed that hero of so many international buskers--Elvis. In front of a sign that reads "Will Work for Percocet," Faux Jean begins to crank out the hits and waits for the fans to come a-runnin'.
A few fans go for the bait. The most ardent of Faux Jean's followers is a large, flamboyant-looking man with a white panama hat and quick-shifting eyes who has bounded down off the bus to stare Faux Jean straight in the face. When Faux Jean howls, "Are you gonna fall in lo-ove?" the man smiles a wide, toothy grin.
"What do you think of this guy's music?" we ask, pointing to Faux Jean.
"It's FAAAAAAAN-TASTIC!" the man bellows. Then he struts straight past Faux Jean toward the glossy rack of Dalai Lama books on display in the Barnes & Noble window behind him.
Suspicious, we ask, "You like the Dalai Lama book?" The man, still in a delirious swoon, looks back and beams, "It's FAAAAAAAN-TASTIC!" One can only imagine what this harsh critic would say about getting his car towed or experiencing a severe case of hemorrhoids.
A young woman with a ponytail stops and leans up against the building, listening intently for a good while until Faux Jean stops playing. She must be spellbound by the way his slick choruses slide into "Oooh-ahhhhhs." She must be transfixed by the sultry twang of Faux Jean's guitar. In a few days, she will become a frantic groupie begging Faux Jean to sign her chest with Revlon's Orange Crush. Did this woman come here to swoon along to Faux Jean's splendor?
"Um, I'm just waiting for the bus," she says awkwardly. Who has the Percocet when you need it?
Still, we're not the only ones misreading signals. A corporate swinger type emerges from a crowd of suits that has just slipped a fiver into Faux Jean's guitar case (so much for the economic downturn!). He's convinced he's having a grunge flashback. "Kurt Cobain!" he yells, desperately trying to get Faux Jean's attention. "KURT COBAIN!!"
Another woman stops on her way back to the office and tugs on her friend's shirt. "Wait, he's playing Violent Femmes!" she insists. A truckful of maintenance workers even stop their vehicle in the middle of the street, disrupting traffic so that they can bob their heads to Faux Jean's "Chartreuse Skirt." Did they stop solely to hear the music? "Yeah, I saw him play here last year," the driver says nostalgically. "I just love those Buddy Holly songs he plays."
When he pulls his truck away, five pedestrians, possibly mistaking Faux Jean for Bono, pull out their cameras and start flashing away.
Just before Faux Jean finishes performing, a thin, shifty-looking woman stops and looks as if she might throw in a quarter before her hands dip into Faux Jean's collection. But instead of stealing a dollar, she fumbles toward the Faux Jean stickers hidden inside. She swipes one, smiles sheepishly at Faux Jean, and walks away. Perhaps she has taken pity upon him: At the end of the hour, there still isn't very much money in there. And sadly, there's not a tablet of Percocet in sight.
FINAL EVALUATION: HE'S A SUPERSTAR, BUT HE DIDN'T GET FAR
Total earnings playing in the street for one hour: $10.03 (minus $1.25 for the sticker.)
Total amount contributed by City Pages Media Inc., in a moment of boosterism/pity: $2.00.
Average earnings made on MP3.com during one day: $2.25.
Result: Faux Jean is hired! Now someone go fetch the man a W-4, a pot of lip gloss, and some prescription downers. This guy has earned them.
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