fucking purple dinosaur.

 

 

The offending picture

The offending picture

The guys in Footstone had a friend who had a pretty interesting job.  I’m not sure the company for which he worked, but his job required him to get dressed up in various costumes and attend promotional events, sort of a celebrity stuffed animal.  You see these people all the time – Mickey Mouse at a store opening, Spider-Man at a comic book store, Chewbacca at a fast food joint, shaking hands with kids and serving as an attraction to keep people preoccupied while they spend money.

 

 

One day their friend had to dress up as Barney the Dinosaur and attend the grand opening of a gas station.  The way I recall the story, it was really hot that day, and the purple costume was heavy and stifling inside.  The entire day, he had to act peppy and shake hands with little kids.  At some point during the day, someone snapped a polaroid of him in the costume, surrounded by kids.  The polaroid wound up on the refrigerator in Mark’s house, and someone had written “fucking purple dinosaur” in pencil on the white border underneath the photo.

When they created the artwork for Lippy, the band decided to include this photo inside the CD booklet, as sort of an in-joke.

And for this reason, my CD replicator would not produce the CD.

When my customer service rep called me to tell me that they wouldn’t produce the CD, she was embarrassed.  We had a great relationship – she was the nicest lady, and her company had bailed me out of a huge, potentially business-wrecking problem with Way To Go! Music.  Since then, we had pressed the nurture CD as well as two runs of Flying Suit.  Instead of going out of business, we were about to eclipse 3,000 CDs pressed in just 90 days.  

When she told me they couldn’t press the CD, I couldn’t fathom why.  So I asked “Why?”

“It’s the picture inside the artwork,” she said.

“The Barney picture?!” I spewed, incredulously.

“It’s just that – well, the kids.  The kids just love that dinosaur.  We can’t print that.  I’m sorry – you’re such a nice man.”

I could never ask the band to redo that art.  I thought back to the Wobbles From Side To Side 7″ art, which included a photo of a novelty item called the Happy Jerkoff Clown, which had a photo of a huge, erect, plastic penis on the back cover.  I’m going to tell them they can’t have the dinosaur?

“Look,” I said.  “Have you listened to the actual CD?”

“No, we haven’t.  We don’t want to.  I’m afraid to.”

“There’s absolutely nothing offensive about that CD.  I don’t think there’s so much as a curse word.  They’re just a rock band.  They write songs about watermelon.  That picture isn’t meant to be derogatory toward the character, it’s an inside joke.”  I then proceeded to tell her the story.

“Just the same, we can’t print it.  The children.”

“The children are not going to be buying this record,” I stated.

“It doesn’t matter.  We can’t do it.”

I thought for a minute.  “Okay,” I said.  “How about this: How about if you don’t have to print the art?  You press the CD and sell me the jewel boxes.  Then, I have another printer produce the artwork and ship it to you.  You do the final assembly and shrinkwrapping, and then ship me the CDs.”

She was quiet.  “If we didn’t print the art, we wouldn’t necessarily even need to look at it, right?  We could just put it inside the jewel boxes.  We wouldn’t even know if there was something offensive inside.  It wouldn’t be our responsibility.”

“Right.”

“Let me talk to my boss.  Then, I’ll call you back.”

A few hours later, she called me back.  “He said it’s okay.”

So we agreed that they would send me back the films for the art, and then they’d go ahead and produce the CDs.  I would, in turn, find a new printer who would produce the artwork and ship it to the replicator.

I had no idea where to find a printer.

The first people I called were Barefoot Press.  Barefoot Press had been recommended to me by Kristen and Jenny of Simple Machines – they had a longstanding relationship, and judging from the beauty of the Simple Machines CDs and seven-inches, there was no question that this was a high-quality printer, and one that understood the punk ethos.

Unfortunately, Barefoot Press was also pretty expensive, and specialized in more oddball stuff – special gatefolds, recycled paper, unique print methods, that sort of thing.  If I had wanted a nice, hand-crafted cardboard box with silver embossing, they would have been great.  I wanted a plain, six-panel CD booklet, and they were too expensive.

Then I called Punks With Presses, a collective of punks out on the west coast (I believe) that were often written about in Maximumrocknroll and Punk Planet.  

“Would you print a CD booklet that included a picture of Barney the Dinosaur, adjacent to the word ‘fuck’?” I asked.

“You wouldn’t believe some of the shit we’ve printed,” said the voice on the other end.  “As long as its not racist or homophobic, we’ll print it.”

But again, too expensive.

I dug around, trying to find a decent printer, for days.  I didn’t want just any printer anymore, I wanted someone who was part of the indie community, but someone who was price-competitive.  I was struggling to find one.  Eventually, I had to break the news to the band.

They laughed.  A lot.  But I think they were also pretty upset that their release was going to be delayed.

I finally found a company called Riddle Press, in Oregon.  I spoke to a customer service rep named Dave, who laughed at the problem, then offered me a fantastic price for printing.  

Riddle Press bailed me out.  And his cost wound up being cheaper than my original replicator, so I guaranteed that he would get all my future printing business.  As long as he didn’t give me shit about the art, he was going to print every CD I put out, after Lippy.

There’s some foreshadowing for you.

The only problem was that at this point there was no way that CDs would be ready before the release party.  The time I spent just looking around to find a printer put enough of a delay on things that my whole plan was wrecked.  And if I couldn’t get the CDs done before Christmas, I didn’t want them coming out until after New Year’s. 

“I’d call the pressing plant and tell them that they’ll never get any of my business, ever again,” Ralph said.

I tried to explain the extent to which they bailed me out with cuppa joe and the Mommyheads, but it was really difficult to articulate it.  I felt some sense of loyalty to them – they were ready to press nurture for free.  They saved my ass.  I couldn’t just yank the business out from under them like that.  

Rich agreed with Ralph.  He loved the CD as well, and wanted us to get it out before the end of the year.

I just couldn’t do it.  I decided to move ahead with Riddle Press, and to push back the release date of Lippy.

The band was upset – they had worked really hard to get the recording and the mix just right, and the whole time they were working on it, they were seeing the success of cuppa joe and the Mommyheads, listening to me talk about Gapeseed and Toast and Dots Will Echo and Jenifer Convertible and heaven knows how many other bands.  Now, it was their turn, and I was going to make them wait.

~ by Al on July 19, 2009.

3 Responses to “fucking purple dinosaur.”

  1. So our CD wasn’t the only problem child. Hell, in a way, every release you did had its own nightmare episode. How are you still sane?!

  2. Yep. The only release we did that went flawlessly was busy work. Unless you count spending an evening coloring sleeves in crayon as a problem, which I don’t. That was fun.

    I guess the Footstone 7″ was pretty easy, too.

  3. That was a pretty painless night – very fun, actually. So then, at least every CD you did was a problem. Hey, you learn from those situations more than the easy ones, for sure.

    It’s also funny to read about two-color printing – you mentioned it in an earlier post. It used to be the cheap compromise between one-color and full-color, but I wonder how much digital printing has made that obsolete. I know when my current band went to Disc Makers (right near where I live) in 2001 to print what was a purple-and-black job, we talked about doing it as a two-color job (that’s how I designed it), but that actually would have cost more. Who woulda thought?

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