Monday, August 20, 2007

Why Can't I Get Just One Shipoopie?


There... Are .... FOUR ... Lights!
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
OK, I'm going to use the F-word so much in this post that to avoid getting marked in various search engines as 'unsuitable', I'm going to substitue the word "shipoopie" for it. OK? (Remember when your Junior High School Did "The Music Man"? Now remember "The Girl Who's Hard To Get!" That's shipoopie people!)

OK, we begin with the day after the Official Watching of Viva Las Vegas Starring Elvis and Ann Margrock on our Anniversary, we took the kids to see Happy Feet at Pere Marquette Park. They seemed to take forEVER to get the movie started, what with all the sponsor commericals (that they had to show twice because the played annoying disco music over the audio the first time), and then clear all the kids out of the way, since later that annoying disco music was actually accompanied by video test patterns that made the place look like a giant rave bar, and the kids couldn't resist shadow dancing in front -- my Sammy included. And he was cute, dammit. Stella loved the movie (I had to assure her that unlike Charlotte's Web, our protaganist wasn't going to die), but exhausted Sammy slept in my arms round about the part where Mumble meets up with the mexican penguins. I put two sleepy, happy kids to bed, and set out to Linneman's, only to miss a band I was looking forward to seeing (for the first time since last fall), the Mandates.

Actually, I caught three songs and wow, have they polished up! Still sweet 'n' snarly, with guitarist Mike taking most of the vocals and Mandy on bass providing not only the bottom, but the grit. I need to see them more. I liked their sound last fall, and further, I like them. They're genuine, musically and personally.

Between sets, I found myself admist a sudden gathering of various characters whose names dot the virtual pages of this blog, all putting in appearances and passing about the gossip. The next band, FSFI (which stands for Frank Says Shipoopi It). It's Tom Lesions, Chris "Smitty Werbenmanjensen" Lehmann and this guitar shredder guy named Patrick O'Neill, and theyr'e an electrified, punked up result of mixing up Tom's other bands, Mr Wrong and his classic X-Cleavers. Except they're older, snottier, louder, raw-er, but stillold pros, comfortable on and around stage, and confident enough in themselves to put out 100%. Andy Aeros Kaiser pointed out "They're certainly fun to watch, and its perfectly natural." I liked them for the same reason I liked Mr Wrong when I saw them: you can tell they're doing this primarly because they want to. They're named perfectly. It's like they ran into Frank (whoever Frank may be), and they were talking about being musicians, and however they made or didn't make it super big and were sighing and Frank cut them off and said, "Shipoopie it. Just Shipoopie it. Play what you wanna play. Play old Greg Kihn songs, not because they're cool or not, but because you like them. Shipoopie it. Play the bass while drinking a Blatz. Play the guitar like some kind of gnarly old shredder. Shipoopie it. Wear a shipoop’n cowboy hat that comes off after the first song. Shipoopie it. Play old songs from your other bands. Re work them. Don't rework them. Shipoopie it. Have a bunch of merchandise for sale. Jump around on stage even though you're in your 50s. Shipoopie it. Shipoopie them all. Just play. Have a good time. Make enough money to cover your gas. Play loud. Shipoopie it. Have a set list that defies any kind of order or thought. Shipoopie it. Still sing songs about frustration. Shipoopie it. Shipoopie! Shipoopie! Shipoopie!" and then he takes a drag from his cigarette, flicks the ashes and finally pronounces: "Shipoopie it. That's what I say." And they all stroked their chins and said amongst themselves, "You're right, Frank. Shipoopie it'." And Tom gets on the phone and calls some club owners and says "I wanna play at your club. What's the name of my band these days? Frank says 'Shipoopie It." And a clueless club owner writes down not just "Shipoopie It" but the whole phrase, and a Radio Unfriendly band name is born for actually, a pretty darn radio-friendly (provided your radio is tuned to frequencies lower than 92 mhz) band.

Again between sets, I catch up with updates in the scene. The Cactus Club isn't open yet, and I know this because proprietor Eric Uecke is in the audience, enjoying FSFI's set as well as his beer and company, including his contractor Lehmann. He reports that Lollapalooza was worth braving Chicago traffic for. Miss Lemonie Fresh is there to cheer on her old Riverters bandmate, Miss Mandy Mandate. Whispering Jeff is there, I ask him when I'll be Djing at The Pub, and he replies "I am no longer associated with The Pub," and I find some room in my mouth to put my bunion and callous encrusted foot. Milwaukee Rock Threatre's Melanie Beres is there, with copies of her latest venture, CitiGal, in her hand and she's excited about MiRock's latest production, some Madonna story I can't wait to see. Paul "the Fly" Lawson is shuttling back and forth between Linnemans and Riverwest Commons (where Eat the Mystery is opening a set for a group from NYC). I was going to do the same thing, but I've been running around all week and I just thought to myself, "Shipoopie it. I'll just stay at Linneman's." Fly reports that Trash Fest is all set for one night at Points East, and already people are calling with their ideas. Fly and I came up with a colossal idea, an idea so huge it might need its own night. An idea so splendiforiously trashy it might be even too big for Trash Fest. An idea so brilliant Fly and I just laughed about it for a good three minutes, diaphragmic belly laughs before we came down and said, seriously, we have to do this. And what is this idea? We'll tell you later. It's better as a surprise, but rest assured, the few people we've told about this all have the same reaction: "Aw, shipoopie. Shipoopie, you think she'll do it?" "Shipoopie, yeah!"

Next on stage is the wonderful Floor Model. Last time I saw them, they had scribbled on some equipment, "Shipoopie Bush", now their sentiments towards the lame duck in the white house are incorporated right into their amp. Jeff Callesen rips up the stage with all the political and emotional punk angst that I wish more parents of 1st graders had. Before the set, we're talking about how I've trained to be a girl scout leader, and how their beautiful little girl can get involved with Brownies. During the set, they're shipooping the Establishment right where the Santorum flows from. They're not all political, but they have that intelligent, angry, ticked off early 80s SoCal sound with the literacy and musical sophistication of their East Coast brethern. And I finally recognized who Callesen got to play bass -- it's the Chop Top Toronados' Mark E Lee! That's what you get living in the Midwest, bands that synthesize all elements of their genre, lots of bands that swirl about mixing personnel and thus influences, and these shipoopiers are no exception. They give away copies of their homeburned CD (on 100% Free Records) and it's got a track called Riverwest Punk Rock Grrl, a song title and topic long overdue.

I haven't been reading the newspaper lately, and its obvious because I missed out on the hop topic of gossip this week, The Lawsuit. Oh, please, after, what, 20 some odd years since Chrissie Hynde noticed the Femmes busking outside the Oriental? The timing of this is what raises eyebrows. You mean for the past 25 years Brian Ritchie's just been stewing in this, angry that not only was Gordon the one all the girls wanted to shipoopie (as my class of '83 college girlfriends swooned, "Seems to us there's absolutely no reason why you can't get just one, or perhaps more than one, shipoopie"), but he was getting all the credit for the songs! How dreadful it must have been, being second fiddle all these years. How awful it must have been, standing on the stage of Madison Square Garden before a packed house! How terrible it must have been, having access to state of the art recording, live sound mixing, and a-list musicians! Oh, shipoopie! The pain, the pain! But why now? What was the trigger?

Having a song you weren't even credited for used in a Wendy's commerical! Shipoopie! Everybody knows you could have gotten more $$$ at McDonald's if you'd held out just a wee bit longer! As Ritchie actually quotes bloggers in his lawsuit (or so says the Associated Press), let's do a quick comb of the blogosphere for some of the buzz on this as well:
  • First, from The Wall Street Journal Law Blog:
    "So I guess this is what 8 was for."

  • Locally, here at OnMilwaukee.com, edited by a Femmes fan there's a lot of vitriol over this. Publisher Andy Tarnoff (who points out his previous blogpost on the whole Wendy's commercial thang is quoted in the lawsuit) proudly posts the text of the complaint. It's boring legal reading, summarized by any number of AP reports you can read by googling it up. And you can follow back to the original post, where the commenters get really nasty about this whole "selling out" shipoopieness. Anyway, a particularly vitriolic comment:
    ...someone give Ritchie a chew toy….maybe then he won't bite the hand that feeds.

  • Finally, from Trouser Press:
    "Totally unfair judgement of someone I've never met, but I wonder how concerned Ritchie would be about fan reaction to the Wendy's commercial if royalties were being split evenly?"

My take? Let's put it this way: I'm getting old. And here's how you can tell. Back in the early 90s, when I saw a commercial for Nike featuring Lennon's Instant Karma, "my heart sank." But then, I was still living in a $300/month flat in the boho neighborhood and had no other real expenses. But last year, when I heard "Lust For Life" being played for a ocean cruise liner commercial, while I was balancing my checkbook after my auto-pay mortgage payment went through, the first thing that popped into my head was "Good to see Iggy's getting some well deserved $$$!" Sellout? No! Is David Bowie pissing and moaning about how he helped write that song? No? You know why? Because David Bowie has a perfectly good catalog of his own songs that he can live off of. Shipoopie, that's all I have to say about that.

Anyway, I enjoyed a local microbrew, went back into the room to catch the end of Floor Model's set, knowing that if "You're Not The Fonz" ever popped up in a fast food commercial, my first reaction would be, "Well, good for them! They'll be able to send their little girl to college, no problem!" And by the time that little Brownie is in college, I can't see Mark E Lee coming back and suddenly demanding a scholarship for his kid. Because, everybody's a shipoopin' whore at some time or another, and as I wrote in a song once, the shame's in being cheap. And you know what Frank Says.

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