Sent: April 21, 2002
Subject: Re: You win

Lois,

Now that you have begun paying him, Strapping claims that you will now be witness to see the Golden Era of English Essayism. He says, “Hemingway? Fuck him. I am the master of the written word.”

Doubtfully,

Kevin

The Name Game:
A band Identifies Itself

It's a beautiful evening in Fort Collins and I'm watching a garage give birth to a band. Five kids, ages nineteen thru twenty-five, lounge on folding chairs and coolers wearing blue jeans, T-shirts and rock and roll instruments. I'm on a stool in the corner.

How to start a band:

1. Get instruments.

2. Get people to play the instruments.

3. Get a place to play

4. Get songs

5. Get a name

Items one, two, three, and four: check. This band has guitars, drums, guitarists, drummers, a garage, and an hour's worth of songs.

But a name...

Drummer Carlos says, “We need something that describes us and is original and catchy.” He plays paradiddles on his snare, “Like Big Chief and the Clock Watchers.”

Guitarist Tito says, “That's lame.” Tito is wearing extraordinarily tight jeans and a tweed blazer.

Singer Sherry, who chain smokes generic cigarettes in order to make her voice husky, adds, “And Native Americans might think it's an insult.”

Carlos says, “Let's vote on it.”

Bass Player Brad picks some gum off his shoe, “How ‘bout we toss a couple more names out and then vote on the top five?”

With a great deal of effort, Tito removes a piece of paper from the front pocket of his trousers and announces, “Good idea. I wrote down a few...first off there's Herman and the Melvilles then we have William Shakes Beer and then Licey Yum and then—“

“Hold on,” says Bassist Brad, “Let's go around the room and everyone just throw names out until we hear something good. I'll start with The Train Wrecks.”

Tito: “Oedipus Wrecks, with a W.” Sherry: “Oed, with an O.” Carlos: “Dogshop.” Brad: “The Glory Hounds.”

“Wait!Wait!Wait!” hollers Tito, waving his arms, “I got it: Glory's Hounds. Get it? If you say it fast enough it sounds like ‘Glory Sounds' “

Sherry points out the obvious, “Then why not call ourselves the Glory Sounds in the first place.”

Tito jabs back, “You're missing the point.”

“No way,” says Carlos, “People will think we're a Christian band. A Glory Hound is the opposite of a Hell Hound.”

“I like it,” says Tito.

Carlos: “The GORY Hounds! That's not Christian at all.”

Sherry points out the obvious again, “We're also not a death metal band.”

Brad asks, “What's wrong with a Christian name?”

Carlos, “Dude. Are you a Christian?”

Brad, “Yeah, I thought we all were. We have songs like ‘Second Coming' and ‘Heavenly Bodies'...”

Carlos, “Those songs are about gettin' it on.”

Brad, “What?”

Sherry (pointing out the obvious): “The songs are about sex. All our songs are about sex.”

Brad, “Are you serious? I think we need to re-evaluate our goals.”

Tito, “One thing at a time. First let's get a name. We can change our entire repertoire later. How ‘bout Cage of Steel?”

The names fly faster than I can write them down. Neat She, The Willa Catheters, Urethra Franklin, Pee Wee Germans, Michael Jacksonville Age People, Dan Rather Not, Cage of Turd, Where Does the Pope Shit?, Wicca Riders, Steely Resolution, Trojan Horsemen, High Speed Chaste, Backhanded Compliments, Black, W.E.B., Journey to Apocalypse, Four is Apple, Flame Dipper, Hard Pore Corn, Speaker Cones, The Self-Referentials, Coffee Stains, Indefinite Articles, Fire Hydrants, Dry Rot, Fire Cage, The Flame Throwers,

Next comes a wave of Somebody and the Somebodies:

Johnny Twister and the Cyclones, Chairman and the Boreds, The Adams and Eve, Alpha and the Omegas, Cageboy and the Tamers, Handsome Brad and the Branded Hags, Anderson McGilapee and the Cereal Kilters, Slutty Bombshell and the Fingerfellows...

Random words from a copy of “Fellowship of the Ring”: Tipped, Setting, Hooray, Hearth... Random words from the liner notes to a Ricky Nelson record: Slipping, Echo-Chamber, Coasters. .. Random names from the phone book Leo Milan, Michael Zyzda...

Random synonyms for feces: Pooh, Crud, B.M., Brown Sausage...

Medical terms: Growth Inhibitors, the Bleeders, Suture Yourself, Compound Fractures...

It goes on for hours. People stand up, sit down, justify, ponder, and interrupt. No one is even listening to anyone else. They just wait until a moment of silence and toss in their newest contribution to this stream-of-consciousness exercise. There's no laughter. I want them to stop. Give up. If you can't name your band, how do you expect to write a press release, buy a van, spend your money?

Although I am merely an observer, I can remain silent no longer. I say, “I got one!” Everyone clams up. Tito says, “Let's hear it.” It's the dumbest thing I could think of. Pretentious, thick, too long for a marquee. They'll have to laugh. I present it like it's the secret ingredient in the Colonel's Chicken, somber and seriously. They rub their chins and suppress smirks.

Guitarist Tito says, “I kind of like it..”

“I agree,” says Carlos, grinning like a man whose dog just caught a rabbit.

Sherry, for once, completely disregards the obvious, “I love it.”

Brad thinks for a few minutes while the others stare at him. Finally he gives in. “Let's use it. Who's with me?”

The band clasps hands and tries out the name a few times. They look like they've just survived a war. They're no longer thinking straight.

They all thank me, sincerely. Then they plug in their instruments, start playing, and I go home.

And that, gentle readers, is how I came to name a band That Which Smells So Sweet Is A Nose By Any Other Name.

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