Hello fellow procrastinators,
I gotta tell you, I love to bitch. I was BORN to do it. I can go from zero to insufferable snark faster than the new Tesla can make a passenger shit their seat. I’m the friend people refer to as Bitchy McBitcherson behind his back. If you haven’t guessed: I’m a classic bitcher.
Which is why NO ONE lets me in front of clients. The head cheeses at TL are in charge of all the BS (boozing&schmoozing) that happens outside the office. Me? I’m way more comfortable getting lost in the frames of a rough cut.
BUT – as a guy who makes his living off of pretending to know how to play piano – life could be waaaay worse. How much worse? What follows is a story born from the stuff of nightmares.
It was a particularly hellish week. One of those weeks where every single note of music that leaks out of your fingertips has that dead-behind-the-eyes quality of an 80s Steve Winwood song. A week where you spend countless hours clawing at anything to make a creative spark happen – old demos, virus-filled freeware VIs, drunk late-night eBay binging unplayable esoteric Mayan instruments. To make it worse, the client I was working with had just one-eighty’d on musical direction. After myriad discussions detailing a “need for the gravitas of Michael Nyman’s soundtrack from The Piano,” they now wanted something morefun – “you know, like Smashmouth.”
Why write music when we can troll the Oakland A’s?
I was pulling my head off the floor to slog into the studio when my wife (yeah, I’m stunned that someone married me too) reminded me our kid has a group music class. Now – my kid is great, but he can also be a real asshole. That’s pretty much because he treats sleep like Trump supporters treat immigrants. And today was no exception. BUT – I was so desperate to find ANY inspiration that enduring thirty five minutes of a Wheels on the Bus while wrangling a pissed-off, groggy 3-year-old seemed to be a reasonable entry fee.
So off we go. As we enter the doors, we see a giant gawdy sign that reads “THE AMAZING BARRY SHOW!” in kid-written, rainbow-colored letters. Behind the letters are an assortment of clip-art assembled by the mind of the criminally-insane: unicorns frolicking on mushrooms, leprechauns bowling, kids with deranged grins climbing breast-shaped mountains. Given how much time was spent on making this sign at Kinko’s, I had a glimmer of hope that Amazing Barry may put on the fucking show of the century.
Amazing Barry was the exact mess you would expect to see playing to a bunch of bleary-eyed, milk-mouthed toddlers every Tuesday at 8:15 am. Beat-up Converse sneakers from 1998 that at one point were white, but had transitioned to a color somewhere between bong water and Amstel light. Pants that were sized about 30 lbs prior. A button-impaired blue shirt with artistic splatters from Jackson Pollock’s “chicken vindaloo” period. Hair that had been freshly combed with a balloon. A face that was 42 going on life support.
We walk in and sit down in front, criss-cross apple sauce. Amazing Barry is playing “Daddy Finger” (the creepiest kid song of all time, IMO) on a goddamn Ovation acoustic. On cue, a dad about ten feet away from us spills coffee all over the floor. In between lyrics, instructions are barked: Daddy Finger, Daddy Finger – where are you? AMAZING BARRY DOESN’T CLEAN UP AUDIENCES MESSES. Here I am, here I am – how do you do? THERE’S A MOP IN THE BACK, PLEASE GRAB IT AND SQUEEGEE THE COFFEE INTO THE BUCKET.
The performance cringes along with A.B. angrily eyeing the dad sopping up artisanal brew off the romper room floor. Meanwhile, the dad’s kid takes this opportunity to perform a fuck-you marathon run around the room. This prompts everyone else’s kid to do the same. Amazing Barry keeps playing like nothing is happening, all the while snarkily commenting about everyone’s kids whenever the lyrics have a pause.
That is until some chubby kid on his third fuck-you lap stops in front of Barry, crosses his eyes, then bazooka barfs all over Amazing Barry’s Converse sneakers.
I’m out. I grab my kid, rush to the Starbucks down the block, line up the WiFi, and power watch 45 minutes of Yo Gabba Gabba. Then I head back to the studio, artfully craft a pop masterpiece to picture in 1 hour, and send it to the client. They love it. No changes. Okay, a few changes.
It could be worse.