you’ve got to trust the man in blue.

I mentioned earlier that Sandy had taken a job with a PR firm, as a writer. She did press releases for a variety of clients, and then pitched stories to the media. In a short time, she got really good at it.

She told me we needed a fact sheet. And then she wrote one, all professional-sounding.

To go with the fact sheet, Rich gently told me that my “punk rock” logo was really bad, so bad that you couldn’t really read it. So he cleaned it up and used his rapidly-growing graphic design talents to make the logo that would become our really cool logo:

 

dromedary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much better than what we had, I’d say.

Sandy also suggested that we do a release party at a local club when the CD came out, and donate all the proceeds to charity.  She had become involved with the Center for Food Action in New Jersey, and had become pretty passionate about working with local food banks.

She also felt that there would be some value in promoting the label to the local newspapers.  “You never know who’s in a band, who’s reading these local papers.  Plus, some press helps legitimize you.”  She was right, of course, and since I didn’t know anything at all about local media, and she was very good at it, we agreed that she would be responsible for local media.

Eventually we got a small blurb in a local, freebie newspaper, advertising the fact that we had a record company, and were working on a compilation of New Jersey artists.

So one day, in the middle of all this, I made my customary trip home to eat lunch and collect the mail.  I had received another promotion at work, and now had a large cubicle with a fax machine at my disposal, so I would go home at lunch, open up dromedary’s mail while I ate, head back to work and do dromedary work for the remainder of the day.

To quote one of my indie rock heroes, I was taking stuff from work, and goofing off on the company time.

Anyway, one day I go home for lunch.  I’m there for about five minutes, and there’s a knock on the door.  I go down the steps and look through the peephole, and find that there’s a police officer on the other side of the door.

Naturally, I open the door.  The officer introduces himself and shakes my hand.

“Is there a problem?” I ask.

“No.  No problem at all.  I read about you in the paper,” he said.

I stood there.  Clearly he had confused me with someone else.  “What did I do?” I asked.

“You started a record company.”  Okay, so he didn’t have me confused with someone else.

“Oh!  I did!” I said, somewhat relieved that he didn’t have me confused with some drug dealer or criminal.  “We’re not really a record label yet; someone told me once that we’re not a record label until we have CDs all over our living room.”

“Well, I think it’s great that a local guy is starting a record company.  I’m somewhat of a musician myself.”

Uh-oh.

“Really?” I asked.  Stupid question coming.  “What kind of music?”

“It’s rock,” he said.  “But with a really positive message.”

“Oh,” I said.  Another stupid question coming.  “Do you have a record label?”

Really stupid question.

“No, not yet,” he said, “Although I’ve been talking to different people.  I’d really rather have a local company do it.  Can I come in?”

“Umm, well, I’m actually just home on my lunch break,” I stammered.  “I have to get back to work.”

“It won’t take long,” he said.

I let him in.  Sambuca started growling.  I had to put her in her cage – she had gotten pretty big at this point, so putting her in the cage (where she slept) wasn’t easy.

“Have a seat,” I said, coaxing him into the living room.  The kitchen was a mess – we washed dishes about once every two days.

“Do you have a tape player?” he asked.

“Umm, I really have to get back to work.  Now’s not the time to play demos.”

He continued as if he hadn’t heard me.  “See, kids today don’t have any positive role models.  All they have to listen to is “Cop Killer,” “Cop Killer,” “Cop Killer.”  That fuckin’ Ice-T is making kids think it’s okay to kill cops.”

Uh-oh.  UH-OH.  I’m about to have a conversation I don’t want to have, and instead of shutting my mouth, I said it:

“Well, Ice-T isn’t really advocating that people kill cops.  He’s playing a character.”

“Oh, he’s a fuckin’ character, all right.  You have no idea how many cops would like five minutes alone with that character.  You don’t actually like him, do you?”

Now, I’m stupid, and sometimes I talk too much, and sometimes I say things I shouldn’t say.  But not this time.  “No,” I said.  I was, in this case, wise.  

“He’s telling kids to kill cops,” he reiterated.  It struck me for the first time that this man had a gun, and he was sitting on my couch.  “And kids have no positive influences anymore, with all this rap stuff and this Satanic heavy metal.”

Again, he had a gun.  And I was late for work.  I wanted to get him out of my apartment.  “So you started a band?” I asked.

“Well, not really.  I wrote a song.  I think that kids need a positive influence.  I think the music they listen to shouldn’t scare them away from cops – kids should know that police officers are there to help them, not to hurt them.  So I wrote a song.  It’s a rock song, and I recorded it with some other guys, in a studio.  I’m looking for a record company to put it out.”

Uh-oh.

“If kids hear this song, they’ll finally have a positive influence,” he explained.  “Radio stations will want to play it, because there’s no music out there that’s positive anymore.  They’ll have to play it.”

“Oh,” I said.  “Sure.  Makes sense to me.”

“Plus,” he continued, “the record company that puts it out – if they market it right – will get tons of press.  Tons.  Who has the stones to put out a song with a positive message that’s actually pro-cop?!”

He stood up and walked over to my stereo.  I could preemptively feel the pain my ears were about to endure.  I couldn’t help it.  “I really have to get back to work,” I said.

“It’s called “You’ve Got To Trust the Man In Blue,” he said.  “It’s not a long song.  I just want you to hear it.  I won’t bother you – if you like it, we can talk about it more.  If not – no harm, no foul.”

Said the man with the gun in my living room.

He pushed play.  A drum machine.  Poorly-recorded guitar.  Bad vocals.  The drum machine was an old-school, early 80s machine.  You know, “boop – BOP – boop boop – BOP” with the high hat going “tit tit tit tit tit tit” in the background.  Lyrics about not being afraid to approach the man in blue.  Because, you know, you’ve got to trust the man in blue.

When I was in college I once got a CD from a guy named Tom Arico.  It was the worst piece of music I’d ever heard.  I literally could not listen to it without bursting into fits of hysterical laughter. I played it for the other guys at the station and they had the same reaction.  They called the guy and asked for giveaway copies, so we could all have one.  Whenever we had somebody new over, someone would feel compelled to put Tom Arico on so we could all laugh.  I kept that CD well into my twenties, and played it for everyone I met.  It was the World’s Greatest Party Trick, and no matter how many hundreds of times I heard it, I would laugh.  The CD is long gone, stolen by someone at a party or something, and I still laugh when I think about it.

This was worse.  

But I couldn’t laugh, as that would be insulting.  Plus, the gun.

So I patiently waited for the song to end, which, mercifully, it did.  “I can’t give you the tape, it’s my only copy,” he said.

I paused for a minute and then decided that it would be worth some small amount of pain if I could put an end to this quickly.  “I’m sorry,” I said.  “My company is a punk rock label.  As much as the song has potential, and I like your message, the music really isn’t for us.”

He stood up and looked at me for a split second (an agonizing eternity), then said “Okay.  I understand.  Will you keep me in mind in case you meet someone who might be able to help?”

“Sure.  Of course.”

He took his tape, put it into his pocket, and started toward the door.  “You like the song?”

“It’s not really my kind of music,” I said.  “I like the message.  Kids need a positive influence.”

He shook my hand and thanked me.  He walked out.  I went back to work.  My life went on.

It was very uncomfortable, though.  I didn’t trust the guy.

~ by Al on January 17, 2009.

2 Responses to “you’ve got to trust the man in blue.”

  1. […] as “50 B Circle Drive” and the mail would get to us, but no psychos could find us (Officer Friendly and psychotic techno-crap […]

  2. […] when we had our Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth CD assembling party, and she protected me when Officer Friendly invaded my house to play me his demo.  And of course I spent an entire day shoveling a year’s worth of her […]

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