Dirty Money

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On the peak of my head, where the bones melded together during infancy, I’ve got a curious indentation. It freaks me out when I think of it, which is, mercifully, rarely. Though I’ve been assured that my skull did, indeed, fuse correctly and into solid form, it sometimes still gets me wiggly to think that a sharp pencil and a wee push could probably turn me into a retard.

I thought of my skull concavity when I came across the following line in the debut issue of Placenta, a punk-rock parenting zine produced out of Austin: "Oh, and all babies [sic] heads are soft on the way out."

I went on a shopping spree at Clovis on Saturday and picked up several little pubs. I can’t say how Placenta ended up in my bag–I don’t have kids, I don’t plan on having kids soon and I can’t stomach punk-rock flag-wavers.

(I never could stand Maximumrockand-roll, for example. I can’t read–not to mention purchase–a publication when I already know what’s contained therein. Too many times have I offered my time to the dogma rags only to find the same righteous proclamations and calls to action and blanket condemnations. Almost always, I find myself holding 10 pounds of predictable indignation crammed into a five-pound zine.)

But Placenta charmed me. I was skimming through, smiling fond at the tips for non-corporate parenting, and came across the Top 5 Albums to Listen to with Little Humans. Contributor Ben Snakepit listed "anything by King Kong," and I was sold. Back when I had a real home, before I sold my records and dry-docked my turntable in my friend’s basement, I could often be found dancing around my apartment, high as a Chinaman, singing along to Old Man on the Bridge or Funny Farm or any of the seven-inches I’d bought when King Kong was still touring in their first incarnation. (Placenta can be found at www.geocities.com/placentazine.)

I also grabbed the March issue of Elemental Magazine, a Brooklyn-based hiphop and graffiti glossy that was good on its own but was made great for its zine-style insert for Sirius Satellite Radio. The 20-page, semi-digest advert presents the Sirius "to whom it may concern" manifesto:

how many times has music played second fiddle to corporate agenda?… when was the last time someone spun a song just because they believed in its ideas?… music is about change…unfortunately the music sometimes gets hijacked and distorted for personal gain.

Until a couple years ago, I earned my F.U. money writing ad copy for such brands as Kamel, Winston, Bongo jeans and Killer Loop sunglasses. I was also hired to engage in guerilla marketing for an internet radio startup. For several weeks, I blanketed Usenet and web guest lists with news of the latest videos playing at the site. Part actor, part spammer, part promoter, part asshole–I made a couple thousand dollars posting messages to alt.music.moron.fans.nin that the latest Nine Inch Nails video was in rotation and that everyone should really, really check it out.

Funny thing is, it worked. We showed decent results with very little backlash. Maybe they were more innocent days, or maybe my years as a teenage BBS lizard paid off in my ability to disguise the pitch with the right mix of in-the-know enthusiast and sadsack fanboy. Either way, it felt dirty. I wonder if the team that produced the fauxzine for Sirius–a publicly traded company that listed its total assets at $1.34 billion at the close of Q4 2002–feels the same, or if they’re proud of their little charade.

I know better than to make any lifelong declarations, but I don’t expect to write any more corporate ad copy. Although not exactly for moral reasons. I loved taking fat money from Kamel in exchange for a weekend’s work. I’ve just done enough of it. I’m done pretending that I can bring down the master’s house with his own tools. These days, I’ve got my sights set for purer projects, for cleaner money: script doctoring. My first assignment arrived via FedEx on Saturday morning. I’ve been hired to punch up the jokes in an upcoming Tim Allen/Estelle Getty/Don Cheadle triple-buddy-cop picture.

Finally, work with a clean conscience.

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