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Jan-June 1996
Rockapelypse Now
Boston - June 27, 1996
Dearest Rockapompadours:

As part of my ongoing effort to rotten up Rockapella's apple-pie image, I've decided to confess a delicious secret: three years ago today I donned a black Hugo Boss suit and was married in a Jew-nouveau ceremony witnessed by 100 friends and family including Greg Lee, who gifted me and my bride with exotic matching bathrobes. Now ladies, before you curse my eyes and redirect your amorous attentions to one of my less appreciative bandmates, let me assure you that I was single a mere eight months later. So, you see, everything is still the same; I remain perfectly unattached except now I have a wee bit more rock'n'roll credibility and the road-tested, been-through-it-all aura that only divorce can provide. Take further solace in the happy fact that I've channeled my angst into tuneful inspiration for your aural pleasure and my financial gain. May the rice one day rain again!

Next Week: Sean Admits To Intravenous Salsa Addiction!

Summit Like It Hot

Rockapella Headlines The A Cappella Summit (6/21-22)

One doesn't automatically associate Union City, NJ with a cappella royalty. We blubber whales who noisily flop in the tadpole pond of instrument-free insanity believe, quixotically, that we deserve a city with a Starbucks, but for now I guess a Port-o-San must suffice. The Park Performing Arts Center is Union City's Radio City Music Hall, which makes us last weekend's Rockettes, even though Scott is the only one who can fit into the costume. The theater has a gritty old-world charm, accentuated by the lack of climate control and the pungent aroma of vaudeville history, basement flooding and imprecise urinary aim. We debuted two songs on Friday - Scott's "77th Floor," and Billy Straus' and my "I Walk With You."

Saturday's seminars included me on the prestigious "Vocal Arranging" dais, as I am claimed to have some warped expertise in modern a cappella orchestration. But when the first two distinguished panelists distributed sheet music with actual musical notes and other mystical symbols to the 150 attendees, I succumbed to Freud's dreaded "impostor complex," the symptoms of which are gushing armpits, hysterical weeping, the belching of bile and an absolute certainty that death is imminent. My flint'n'scrapple contribution to the fray was a gory dissection of my song "For The Love," including a fits'n'starts demonstration of its birth on guitar. Nobody jeered at the presence of a contraband instrument, but a cappella mogul Deke Sharon quietly whisked me off the stage into the men's room and beat me bloody with my own 6-string.

Jeff Thacher's vocal percussion seminar was a brilliant display of his knowledge, charm, technical facility, and burgeoning talk-show-host aspirations. I was especially proud to call him "bandmate" when he successfully used the terms "tonguing," "double-tonguing," "diddling," and the phrase "drumming from the diaphragm" within one minute. I suppose vocal percussionists are held to a leaner moral standard than the rest of us.

Falling Over You, Love Potion #9, Heard It Through The Grapevine, Follow Me to Heaven, Let's Get Away, 77th Floor, I Walk With You, Kingdom of Shy, Last Night, Pretty Woman, My Home, Bed of Nails, 60-Minute Man, Carmen Sandiego / Ellie My Love, Zombie Jamboree, Up On The Roof

Falling Over You, Nowhere, For The Love, Don't Do It, 77th Floor, Fliptop Twister, Last Night, Just You Just Me, Long Cool Woman, My Home, 60-Minute Man, Carmen Sandiego / Ellie My Love, Zombie Jamboree, Keep On Smilin' / Surfer Girl, Up on the Roof
Politics Unusual
New York City - June 18, 1996
Our manager just delivered the sad news: Rockapella missed the election filing deadline, which means that we can't run for President this year. We're all pissed because, with "Carmen Sandiego" going off the air, the presidency would have been a sweet four-year gig. The acoustics in the oval office are legendary; Nixon's delicious in-drag Ethel Merman impressions and Veep Spiro Agnew's yodel-fests are all captured on the infamous tapes. The Press Room would have been great for trying out new material on the likes of Wolf Blitzer, Bernard Shaw, and the foxy Cokie Roberts. Air Force One puts our van to shame, except for Jeff's collection of Swedish movies. The White House wine cellar is renowned, but we'd also need a beer-keg cellar, a Diet Coke cellar for Scott, a chocolate-milk cellar for Jeff, a macrobiotic lentil-swill cellar for Elliott, a ketchup cellar for yours truly, and one more cellar to lock Barry in so he won't scare the staff. Deficit reduction? No problemo - with our political clout we would command exorbitant fees for concerts and jingles and we'd dutifully deposit it all into the Treasury, including the under-the-table cash we'd get from the Sultan of Brunei's nudie pool parties. Health Care? What better role model than our own Scott, who has less body fat than an ant. Military preparedness? We'd beam a permanent Bat-signal-in-the-sky image of Barry scowling and gripping an axe. Welfare Reform? We'd release a phat phresh remake of the classic "Get a Job" -- it goes we've got 100% employment. Race relations? We'd make The Persuasions Vice President. Send suggestions to In the meantime though, here is my friend Bea's and my unabashedly liberal collaborative poem.
Love to you all.

An Ode To Dole

Meet Bob Dole and his shriveled hand of doom Can't run the USA - can't even operate a loom His right hand grips a pencil - a mangled demon claw His left hand pounds the Senate gavel making meanness law

His mouth spews forth inanities just past the speed of light Sometimes he's leaning left, sometimes he's leaning right The dude's a dithering Pleistocene, a fabled missing link Alive before man stood erect, pre-Engelbert Humperdinck

Some theorize he's been embalmed, he's foxy as a fossil He worships cloven-hoofed deities, Ralph Reed is his apostle His rotting brain synapses misfire - the old salt's mind leaks scrapple And what's with that absurd last name? Is he man or pineapple?

The guy's a shifty freeze-dried fop, a canned homo erectus A scowling schizoid mammonist, whose "faces" scream "elect us!" And now he's up and quit the Senate - to him we sing "good riddance!" Get thy foul butt back to Kansas where sheep put out for a pittance

Watch out for biking witches, Bob, and pencil-filching twisters And mad-cow beef and farm-grown spleef and hicks who sleep with their sisters And Liddy, dust those golfing clubs, brush up on your badminton Stock Geritol, DentuGrip, Prep H and prunes - ol' Bob ain't no Bill Clinton

(c) 1996 Sean Altman & Beatrice Moritz
Random Ravings
New York City - June 9, 1996
We played outdoors in Boston last Saturday for a thousand Boy Scouts. The youngsters were exceptionally well behaved until the "Carmen Sandiego" theme song, whereupon they mutated into a writhing, foam-mouthed demon mob - moshing and rough-housing in a manner that is funny until someone loses an eye or ties an award-winning knot in his buddy's tongue. I did quite enjoy peering out into a sea of matching Scout blue though; in fact we're now going to make it a contract point that all audience members must wear color-coordinated uniforms and carry flags and mug money. Onstage, we're experimenting with a nouveau retro/'50s look a la Seinfeld's "Kramer." This style is also convenient for our habitual post-gig bowling rumpus.

Last Monday we met one of my fave rock stars, Canada's Bryan Adams, at a WPLJ-FM live radio broadcast in NYC. I had intended to ask him if he really got his first real 6-string at the five'n'dime, if he truly played it 'til his fingers bled in the summer of '69, if the guitars strings cut like a knife into his fingers, and if this sensation indeed "feels so right," because it sure sounds like it hurts like hell. In the heat of the moment, however, all I could muster was "Canada...Where's that at?" His new album is called "18 'til I Die," which inspired us to tentatively call our next album "Old 'til We're Older 'til We're Dead." We learned the Beach Boys classic "Surfer Girl" today and it sounds wicked fab! We will perform it at "The Loser's Lounge tribute to The Beach Boys" next weekend (6/14 & 6/15 at 8pm) at The Fez in Time Cafe (corner Lafayette and 3rd Street). Twenty performers will cover Beach Boys tunes. We'll be the group with the color-coded zinc oxide noses.
Love to you all,
Did You Miss Me?
New York City & Boston - June 6, 1996
Writer's block is a terrible thing, especially when it's accompanied by lethargy, creeping desperation, rampant physical deterioration spurred by time-warp aging, bubbling sexual tension and a perverse reliance on nonfat ice cream and near-lethal doses of air-popped corn. My pleasure receptors are so discombobulated that I almost believe that French fries, when sufficiently doused with ketchup, are an adequate substitute for French kissing. On my birthday recently, my pal and collaborator Billy Straus treated me to a palm reading at El Teddy's, a phat downtown Mexican eatery. The self-anointed psychic, Melissa (a lame-o name for a mystic; she'd be better served by "Destinya," "Holistica" or "Shoveldunga"), wore an Indian- pattern sundress and milked my hand like an engorged udder. She announced that my right hand had "the rings of Solomon," indicating wisdom. I explained to her that I had just carried a really heavy suitcase and that my palm was somewhat scrunched. Realizing her folly, she modified her reading, claiming I possessed "the rings of P.T. Barnum," indicating gullibility and an affinity for dancing elephants. Her overall assessment: "You are personally and professionally shell-shocked and a career change is imminent." So there it is; in NYC, 25 bucks is the going rate for getting your hand held while being insulted. Fortunately I'm able to get berated gratis by my loving public, as evidenced by the following authentic correspondence:

gender: M
age: 31-40
state: CA
concert: Yes
record: Yes
Favorite-Song: A Change In My Life
source: newsgroup
Comments: I am a big fan of the group, and I have been since seeing Rockapella in San Rafael about 3 years ago. Your show turned me on to contemporary a cappella, and for that I will always be grateful; Rockapella has a special place in my heart. Because of the high regard I have for you as musicians, I am moved to express some (admittedly unsolicited) concern about Sean`s character as expressed through his "Postcards" on this web site. His frequent references to lustful thoughts, actions and images portray a man who is obsessed with perversion. Undoubtedly this obsession springs from profound loneliness and a lack of truly fulfilling relationships. I could suggest a course of action, but that would be presumptuous; suffice it to say that I am concerned about the detrimental effect this proclivity for perversion will have on his professional and creative accomplishments, not to mention his personal life.
Mark H.

Dear Mark: Thanks for your concern. Sadly, my situation is far worse than you can imagine. The tempered references to lustful thoughts, actions and images which make it to the website are merely the wispy foam head on the hearty stein of foul brew which seethes below. Our vigilant editors excise my most powerful invective lest it burst through your screen, affix itself to your nipple and leech every last drop of purity from your soul. You're correct about the "profound loneliness" however -- ever since I offed that mouse (see my Seanecdote, "Why Sean Killed That Mouse"), I feel like I'm one furry friend shy of a real shindig. About the only truly perverted thing I ever did was fold the Land O'Lakes Butter chick's knees up to her chest so she looks awesomely stacked, and that was only at Rabbi Gottlieb's urging. The "course of action" you allude to is out of the question, as I can't risk blindness or hairier palms. In the final analysis, Mark, the only "truly fulfilling relationship" I desire is with you, my loving public; and I trust you'll stand by me as I do eternal battle against Satan's handmaiden. If I'm victorious we can take turns looking up her skirt.

P.S. - I know you are but what am I?
Why Sean Killed That Mouse
New York City - April 7, 1996
The following query came from LeeAnn Weller:
"I really enjoy Sean's postcards on the web, and I have to ask....did he *really* execute a mouse with a hammer... and have to brag about it? Oh well."

Dear LeeAnn: As a great proponent of animal rights I'm sad to confess that yes, I did in fact slay a mouse in my home...but it was in self-defense. As legal precedent, I submit the time-honored holiday favorite "The Nutcracker" which graphically depicts an army of giant dancing mice terrorizing a well-to-do suburban home. The vermin are slain by sword-wielding children defending their families. When the deceased ambushed me, my sword was at the blacksmith for its weekly whetting, so I used a nearby hammer. Tyranny, LeeAnn, cannot be tolerated in any form. Bullies must be opposed, whether they be in the schoolyard or squirming helpless in a glue-trap. Had the hammer not been available I would have been forced to use my electric toothbrush, which I think would have been cruel and perhaps messy. Despite my compassion, make no mistake: the villanous creature who violated the security of my home and threatened my life was one of nature's foulest mishaps - a snarling, wheezing, twitching, cussing, foam-mouthed, trained assassin who I suspect was in cahoots with Castro or maybe even the Unabomber. In defending myself against the vulgar beast's assault (in truth the rascal jumped headfirst into my hammer) I saved my own hide and likely averted the slaughter of thousands of my neighbors. In my heart I know that I am a hero, but I'm not lobbying for a citation from the Mayor's office or a luncheon in my honor. I just want to return to my simple life as a tunesmith, safe in the knowledge that I have done my share to protect mankind. Please forward mouse-meat recipes to
The Laughing Man
New York City - April 1, 1996
Dear Rockapella Friends:
I hereby give my highest endorsement to David Yazbek's debut album "The Laughing Man." Yazbek is my close friend and bandmate from high school, college and beyond. You know him as my collaborator on Rockapella faves like the Carmen Sandiego Theme Song, My Home and Everything to Me; and as the co-producer of both Carmen CDs. Yazbek is one of my biggest songwriting influences, and every song on "The Laughing Man" is a pop gem, even the ones I didn't sing backup on. It's on W.A.R.? Records - if your local merchant doesn't stock it, I urge you to slug him silly.

Here's the plan for Tuesday 4/9: come see Rockapella at The Bottom Line at 7:30. After our show follow me two blocks east to see Yazbek's 9:30 gig at The Fez (380 Lafayette - 533-2680); and then come back to The Bottom Line for Rockapella's 10:30 set. Continuous live entertainment from 7:30 to midnight - kinda like Woodstock but with less mud and easier parking. If we're lucky Yaz will do his punk-polka version of Carmen Sandiego, and we'll all cry tears of joy. Join us, won't you?

To subscribe to the Yazbek mailing list, send an email with the word "subscribe" (without the quotes) on a line by itself in the body of the email to: yazbek- (The software ignores the "Subject:" field in the header, so placing this information there will not get your message through.) The purpose of this list is to disseminate information about upcoming Yazbek concerts and appearances around the world. It is not a discussion group, so mail sent to the list will not be sent to subscribers.
Now It Can Be Told!
Why I Cut My Braids

New York City - March 21, 1996
Schmo Derek, Stevie Blunder, He-bro, Braidboy, Dred Dude, Jamaican Bacon, Snake-for-Brains, Eel-Head, Noodle-Pate, Worm-Dome, Damned Hippie Freak, Schmuck-with-the-Braids -- For 10 years I answered to them all. I wore my hair in braids for an entire decade, beginning before Rockapella even existed. I relished every bit of misguided attention and recognition that the dangling sumbitches afforded me. Even when I was off-duty my hairdo was working overtime, shouting "Look at me! Notice me! Aren't I offbeat?" The premier 1986 version was a scraggly brown Medusa concoction held together by sun-melted rubber bands, fly-by insect body parts and the pasty fecal matter of kamikaze pigeons. The most recent incarnation employed little gold twisty leaves to fasten metal beads onto 50 bleached blond braids.

During the lean-income years when Rockapella lived in a dinghy at the 79th Street boat basin, my bandmates routinely trolled me through the Hudson River to catch mutant fish with my head. Like Samson, my braids were my strength and my protection; they shielded my skull from the impurities of urban air, filtering out such nuisances as soot, lint, dust bunnies, falling acorns, acid rain, nuclear fallout, UVA & UVB rays, and the bullets of my ubiquitous detractors. I was also granted admission to many trendy clubs and discotheques including one that catered exclusively to Native Americans. Being clenched in the epicenter vice grip colon of the cutting arse of hair fashion was not without its price, though. Pain, my friends. Severe, searing, Marathon Man "Is it safe?" pain on and around the scalp and brain. The life span of a typical braiding was six weeks, the last two of which were spent negotiating the schedules of the army of sycophantic unbraiding/bleaching/re-braiding personnel whom I made wealthy with my vanity. Then, with military precision, the surgical strike assault on my nut would ensue: yanking, raking, ripping, hacking, screaming, oozing, begging, and me cussing in a manner befitting childbirth - and this was just to determine the fee! When the hellish "day of beauty" was over, my swollen cranium would throb in a heartbeat rhythm worthy of Leather Night at the Mishnock Barn. It was a painful shtik, a weird shtik, perhaps even an unflattering shtik, but dagnamit, it was MY SHTIK, and I clung to it like Bob Dole's shriveled hand of doom clutches its pencil prop.

On the first day of Carmen Sandiego taping, the producer took me aside and told me that the Grand High Exalted Mystic Creative Lords had determined that I was to lose my braids. I steadfastly refused, reminding him that Rockapella was hired as Rockapella, and that my worms' nest coif was, for better or worse, part of my Rockapella image. I was happily vindicated when that same producer told me at the end of the season that he had changed his mind - now he LIKED my hairdo. How poetic then, that four years later I would choose to have my 50 appendages cut off by host Greg Lee on the final episode of Carmen. The moment was brilliant, as only Greg, the producer, director, make-up person and I knew what was about to happen. My oblivious bandmates were told to play along with a "fake haircut gag," and the whole sneaky ruse was worth the looks on their faces as Greg lustily hacked away ten years of hair in 45 seconds.

So why did I do it? After scouring my innards with the latest arthroscopic equipment, a divining rod, and a piece of string with chewing gum at the end, I concluded that I no longer wanted to be known as "the guy with the braids." Rather, I preferred to be known as "the guy with the high cheekbones" or "the guy with the widow's peak" or "the guy with the oral fixation" or "the guy who loves ketchup more than sex" or "the guy who was expelled from nursery school" or "the guy who video-taped himself executing a trapped mouse with a hammer" or "the guy who made Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci sweep up his horse's grapefruit-sized droppings" or "the guy with a song on his lips, a tear in his heart, and a ratchet in his soul." Even "4-eyes" will do in a pinch. The detached specimens lay in a baggy, waiting to be sold for charity at a date to be announced this year. As for the bygone braid decade, I have no regrets, except for the $1200 annual maintenance costs - that $12,000 (more with accumulated interest) would pay for a lot of cappuccino dates now that the sun-virginal nape of my neck has made me a veritable chick-magnet. Wanna buy a braid?
Presenting: The First-Ever Occasional Bitter Limerick
New York City - March 1, 1996
The Rock'n'Roll lords wouldn't book us
For a Family Act they mistook us
'til we got us a hit
Now them lords drink our spit
And light every fart from our tuchas

Thank you. I'm aware that "mistook us" and "tuchas" is kind of a cheater's rhyme, but it's my first try, so cut me some slack, you pompous naysayers! Speaking of "trying real hard," here's my most humiliating gig experience ever: 1985 at the original Ritz, NYC's greatest-ever rock club. My big-haired happy-go-pop band Blind Dates was the opening act for the then-popular Aussie group Eurogliders. The place was sold out and teeming with festive new wave nubiles - today they'd be known as "phat sweater-fill" or some such fractured tomfoolery denoting what my Grandad simply called "dishes." I was onstage emoting from a deep-dark'n'mystical place somewhere between my soul and large intestine in a manner belying my Simon LeBon codpiece and Boy George coif. I soon turned my attentions to the most visible babe in the place - tenfolk deep, high on her boyfriend's shoulders and some hallucinogen. She was a startling hippie beauty - sweat-drenched tie-dye, eyes pinwheeling, head tracing slow-motion figure eights, arms floating poetic as if she were blessing her Woodstock minions. "Alright..." I thought. "a kindred spirit...and well into puberty, too..." I shifted into aspiring pop-star turbo drive, focusing all my romantic zeal and every sweat-gland in her direction like so many testosterone fire hoses on wet t-shirt night. My toes gripped the edge of the stage through my Joe Jackson "corner-dwelling roaches beware" pointy shoes as I strained toward the piggyback princess. "See me, feel me, touch me, heal me..." I pleaded telepathically, and then added for good measure "Scratch me, bite me, spank me crimson with the back of a hairbrush, tie my braids to the bedpost, make me wear a corn-husk diaper to shul, lock me in the closet and call me a naughty tunesmith." And then, miraculously, above the precision-pop din welled a heavenly chorale, signaling her impending response. Her eyes blossomed, she smiled a Venus grin, her arms reached toward me and then...THE FINGER? Yes...The Middle Finger! In plain view of a thousand people at the packed Ritz, the chicken-fight chick on her boyfriend's shoulders gave me the damned finger! I felt like Sissy Spacek's "Carrie," covered in hog's blood at the prom, but without her handy telekinetic powers to make Fingergirl explode or to burn down the club and all its witnesses. I glanced down, and to my delight I spied a water pistol at my feet - likely a wily club-goer's cooling-off remedy. My instant reaction: I picked up the water pistol, took aim and fired upon the finger-wielding girl repeatedly until she was forced from her exalted-yet-prone position atop her beau's mammoth shoulders. Her clumsy fall brought mocking cheers from the audience. In the words of Ricardo Montalban: "REVENGA!" I savored the transfer of power, and I hadn't even skipped a lyric! For a brief, glorious moment victory was entrely mine, but the sight of her peeved and emasculated boyfriend goring me with his cretin gaze, slamming one fist into the other and carefully mouthing the words "I'm going to kill you..." dumped me back into my spiritual foxhole. I avoided his manic stare for the brief remainder of the set, walked proudly but quickly from the stage and promptly barricaded the dressing room door. Ten minutes passed and still no beer-sputtering battering ram. Had the splenetic leviathan been bluffing? Had his boozing drained him of his manful rage? Had Fingergirl's twin-kegs-of-Dortmunder thighs clamped around his head triggered premature Alzheimer's? Then a polite knock on the door and my mom's cheery voice. I allowed her to enter after insisting that she slide a photo ID under the door - this to prove that she wasn't in fact the murderous miscreant using a phony voice. "It's ok, Sweetie. I saw what happened, so I went up to the guy and said 'Please don't hurt Sean - he's my son and he's trying so hard...'" Oh God. Oh no. Not this. Sweet merciful God, anything but this. Protected by my Mommy? Aarrghh! My manhood hobbled by my own flesh-and-blood parent! Perhaps she had always wanted a girl and had waited until this gig to orchestrate my castration. Only my most basic animal instincts of self-preservation prevented me from rushing out into the crowd screaming, "Come and get me, you skanky neanderthal! Bludgeon me, maim me, Squirt me... Just give me back my pride!" To this day, I am haunted by this memory, as evidenced by the fact that sweat is cascading off my fingers between the qwerty keys and a bulbous vein varicoses ominously from my temple. But now, belatedly, I will attempt to erase this wussy-stain from my otherwise impressively macho Life-Resume. If by some splendid chance any of you knows 1985's Fingergirl or her Cyclopean dullard boyfriend, please deliver this message: "Sean Altman Fears No Man, No Matter How Aesthetically or Pituitarily Challenged!" Thanks, friends, for your time. Love,
Prez Ruins Sean's Eve; Montel Williams Snubs Rockapella
New York City - February 15, 1996
Tonight I timed my Chinese food grunt fest so that I would wolf down the last gristly hunk of roast pork (trafe...mmm), hit the deli to procure movie-contraband popcorn, and waltz into the theater, pockets bulging, right on time to see "Heat." One could say I had my movie ducks lined up in size order, alphabetized, and patiently waiting for me to icily gun them what went wrong? I was foiled by the nation's guru of gun control himself: President Clinton! My fave Prez's NYC speaking engagement was next door to the movie theater and the entire street was blocked off for 45 minutes by crabby cops who were unsympathetic to my filmic plight. This incident reminds me of another celebrity snubbing at the hands of talk-show host Montel Williams in 1993:

The myth of TV-star camaraderie burst in Rockapella's face at Newark Airport. We spotted the famous hairless bronze cranium and impressive physique and I, ever the publicity hound, smilingly approached him. "Would you take a photo with my band, sir?" I queried in my most sincere you're-much-more-famous-than-we-are-and-likely-don't-even-know-who-the- heck-we-are voice. Montel wrinkled his glistening I-can-see-myself-in-it pate, flexed his Popeye battle-scene-etched biceps, and barked, "Hey, look - I'm on vacation, all right??!!" which rendered me quivering like a wee mouse-man in a vermin band. This vile display of flash-in-the-pan-celebrity hostility toward fans makes Rockapella's collective blood bubble with rage, like a fiery crimson cabbage soup. Why? Perhaps it's because we value our fans, and retch at the thought of OUR devotees experiencing this kind of humiliation. Perhaps it's because we rail against ANY affront to human dignity. Perhaps it's because we abhor all violations of airport etiquette. Perhaps it's because Montel has designer luggage with matching tags and we're loyal to PBS telethon tote bags. Perhaps it's because "Montel" spelled backwards is "Letnom," which is Latin for "dog who fouls his own path." Or perhaps it's because, at the time, we thought he was Michael Jordan.
Crystal Dissed At The Bottom Line Braid Auction
New York City - February 12, 1996
It's a madhouse! A Maaadhoouuse!!"

Combined Setlists: Falling Over You, Nowhere, Love Potion #9, Have a Little Faith, My Home, Long Cool Woman, Fliptop Twister, Kingdom of Shy, Follow Me to Heaven, I'm Your Man, Julie Gone, Tornado Man, For the Love, Heard It Through The Grapevine, Let's Get Away, Come My Way, Bed of Nails, Pretty Woman, Last Night, 60-Minute Man, Carmen Sandiego (Leave stage, mop sweat, gulp Yoo-Hoo, bound back onto stage with triumphant grins), Ellie My Love, Zombie Jamboree, Up On the Roof, Keep On Smiling (Collapse offstage into vat of Diet Coke, more triumphant grins during autograph-signing, walk home alone, greet mice in foyer, reheat Swanson "Halibut Surprise" TV dinner, call various 900 numbers, tweeze flies from flypaper, fondle recently exposed nape of neck, sofa channel-surf topless with tongue beached on drooly lower lip, contemplate navel as it collects drool spillage from preceding activity, doze off in moronic bliss).
Thanks for coming to the gigs.
Sean Defends His Character
New York City - February 4, 1996
Ms. Ruth Dempsey writes:
Dear Rockapella website:
Jack and I just went to the recent opening of the Hub -- a coffee house/cybercafe. We went to sample the decaffeinated lattes (yum) and check out their web access. The local ABC channel came in to fill a "last word" for its six o'clock report and seeing a family grouping of average father, mother and devastatingly beautiful daughter around a terminal, decided to film us. It just so happened we were checking out the WWW page of a certain four-man, one maniac a cappella group -- and they came over to film us downloading soundbytes of "Bonefish" (rattled their speakers!) and "Come My Way" (local features anchor said 'oh, he's got a great voice' -- little does she know the evil that lurks within that innocent facade). Downloaded postcards, Marirose left a line on the guest book -- after reading the postcards, my husband Jack says if Sean comes anywhere near her, he's dead.
- Ruth Dempsey

Sean responds:
Dear Ruth: Thanks for being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing: sucking down coffee products while basking in the cyberglorious warmth of your fave four-man-one-maniac fivesome. I won't mention the "maniac" slur to Barry, as he's sensitive despite his enormity. About the so-called "evil that lurks within (my) innocent facade," I think you're right - I need to toughen up my fascade so it better coincides with my innards. I'm thinking of getting a face tatoo of a heart with the word "Marirose" within. Is she of age? Tell Jack that his daughter could do worse than an Ivy-League TV star songster who makes a fine living and has a washer/dryer combo in his well-appointed-but-lonely-&-in-need-of-a-woman's-touch NYC apartment on a tree-lined street. I even cut my braids to make myself more palatable to prospective inlaws. In light of Jack's not-so-veiled threat on my life, however, I shall delay my advances until I have his blessing. All the best, Ruth.
Industrial Giants
New York City - January 30, 1996
Hola, Rockapaellas! We're doing a lucrative corporate gig in the Sunshine State, absorbing the warm rays into our pasty-white skin and the sublime greenbacks into our burgeoning bank account. What exactly is a "corporate gig?" you ask. Our role in these events is strangely similar to our "Carmen Sandiego" role: over-acted skits which segue into insufferably coy musical sound bites squintily read from teleprompters displaying fractured lyrics of tired rock tunes. Instead of singing about Eartha Brute's mysterious theft of Bob Dole's ubiquitous right hand prop-pencil, a corporate gig may find us musically extolling the virtues of a new highly absorbent panty-liner, a deodorant which doubles as insect repellent, or a genital wart cream that tastes good too. The clients fly us to resort locations to add pepper to their otherwise bland sales conventions. We deliver big-time, and they pay dearly. If we were paid in one-dollar bills, there'd be a whole darned roomful of money, piled high and ever-so-bouncy! These gigs are the dirty little mercenary secret of many national acts: low-profile, unpublicized, big-dollar events. Do your act, tell the client you love their company's product and would use it yourself if it weren't made of ionized fish excrement, smile your winning lotto smile, collect your paycheck, and slink home. Everybody's happy, except the pesky inner creative demon who gnaws constantly at your earlobe, taunting you for expending your artistic energy on behalf of an anti-balding hair tonic which sips like Chardonnay. Are we prostitutes? Emphatically, yes! Are we great in the sack of commerce? The best, darn it! Do they keep coming back for more? Amen! Step to the rear and wait your turn!

Here's a glorious tidbit: three original radio spots for Mounds\Almond Joy will begin airing nationally in February. One is tribal\rhythmic, one is Caribbean pop, and one is 100% Mills Brothers. Bottom Line tix are moving fast for 2/7 & 2/8. Don't miss the concert debut of at least three new songs! Call 212-228-6300 and make the trip, or wander the earth for all eternity in an undead sullen malaise-stupor and bad shoes. I speak the truth.
Carmen Bites the Big One
New York City - January 26, 1996
Hey, Rockapellagras! Don't be alarmed, but "pellagra" is a chronic niacin deficiency disease, marked by skin eruptions and digestive and nervous disturbances; but with "Rocka" as a prefix it sounds like a sundrenched island paradise! Brace yourselves, friends, as I heave a veritable medicine ball of news at you: "Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego?", the PBS-TV series that made us legends in the field of live-in-your-home on-your-small-screen entertainment and which earned us the label "insufferably coy" from Entertainment Weekly, will not be renewed. In its place will be a new show, "Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?", with new sets, characters, music, and a new cast with the exception of Lynne Thigpen, who will remain as The Chief.

That's it. Mop the pool of awestruck spittle from your collective lower lip. The Acme Curtain has fallen, the flourescent house lights are up, our pupils have contracted to pinholes, and the house band is slogging through a harrowing "Goodnight Sweetheart." We've sung our last "warrant," stuttered our last "P-P-P-Patty," barreled through our last "chase," danced our last map dance, lipsynched our last theme song, slouched in our last director's-style chair personalized with our names scrawled on masking tape, crammed our five manly frames into our last office door window, squinted at our last teleprompter, grinned our last manic Disney-on-speed grin, and stepped out of our last limousine to the admiring stares of our easily-impressed neighbors. After five years and 295 episodes, we are muddled by mixed emotions: on the one hand, we're elated at the prospect of shooing the infernal "kiddie-show monkey" from our back and re-inventing our image; while on the other hand we're distraught that our geography education will end before we know what in heck that "France" thing is. Get your fill while the trough is full - reruns will air through September.

Come October, we hope to see you all at bi-weekly AWOCS meetings (12-step rehab for Adult Watchers of Carmen Sandiego). Don't worry about us, though - you'll likely see us sardined into a single Hollywood Square trading barbs with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Buddy Hackett, or at our old spot in front of the Haagen-Daz on 75th Street singing "Yesterday," or in our manager's office weeping uncontrollably. I gotta go - Greg Lee and I are slurping down some ketchup soup and then going hunting for loose change on the subway tracks.
GIG REMINDER: Wed.& Thurs. Feb 7 & 8. 8pm show. Bottom Line\NYC
Ticket info: 212-228-6300.
We will debut 2 new original songs!
Saturday in NYC
New York City - January 19, 1996
Yo Rockapotamuses! Today's social highlights: Yazbek and I saw Woody Allen's "Mighty Aphrodite" (so-so); then Jeff and I saw "Dead Man Walking" (Sean Penn is great); and then I recaptured my early 1980s youth by purchasing the entire fifteen-CD Rhino Records set "New Wave Hits of the '80's." Be prepared for a strong Dexy's Midnight Runners influence in my next batch of new songs. Speaking of which, here's a set of peppy lyrics that have been festering patiently for over a year without music. I'm thinkin' polka...

Alternate Evil Universe (c)1994 Sean Altman

Think I'm livin' in a fairy tale
In the alternate evil universe
Where milk pours sour & trains derail
& life means nothin' from stork to hearse
A pixie smiles a black-tooth grin
The armest hearts melt down to sin
A harpy screams to feed the din
Of this red rancid lullaby

Think I'm livin' in a fairy tale
In the alternate evil universe
Where hair stands crazy lickin' the 3rd rail
& happy endings go bad to worse
A foul-mouth foam on the puppy's chin
& love blood curdles to bathtub gin
The razor burns from the rusty tin
Of your bent tetanus alibi

Let's party down in the bowels of hell
In my fetchingly appointed padded cell
The frank in every blanket squirms pell-mell
In this infested maggot-pie

Think I'm livin' in a fairy tale
In the alternate evil universe
You hose me down at your fire sale
And stick me holy with your voodoo curse
A straight-laced trust takes a wicked turn
A mother's goose cooked raw to burn
The ashes of love rage 'round the urn
Like a cocoon-kept butterfly

Think I'm livin' in a fairy tale
In the alternate evil universe
Where dogs spin dizzy chasing their own tails
Happy endings go (happy endings go) happy endings go... (fade)

(Smile. Bow. Leave stage. Eat Cookie. Go Home. CNN. Pee. Doze.)
Back From Vegas
New York City - January 14, 1996
Yo Rockapebbles! We were in Vegas doing a lucrative corporate gig during the east coast blizzard of the century. I have a peculiar fondness for Vegas, as evidenced by my tribute ditty, "Fliptop Twister," which appears on Rockapella Two:From NY and Primer. Vegas is a candy- dipped pig's rump, a caramel-coated rabbit turd, a shrink-wrapped fart, a sour milkshake, a morning-breath french kiss, a gem-encrusted dustbunny chowing on a toe-cheese danish. It's Hell, with a concierge. The ubiquitous eat-til-you-hurl $5.99 buffets are a wretched commie plot to undermine the US healthcare system and inflate my over-the-belt skin tire. Slot machines are mischievously situated in unavoidable places: at the airport baggage carrousel, at the hotel check-in, in the elevators, next to the ice machine, in the closet, the undies drawer, the toilet tank, under your armpits and between your everloving cheek and gum! Believe me when I say to you that there is no escaping the awful din and manful grip of the dreaded one-armed bandit! No one is safe! Our own Jeff Thacher, normally a paragon of misguided virtue, squandered his milk money like a common street hood and was found in tatters living in a Port-O-San next to the Caesar's Palace diaper-service entrance. I, too, skinny-dipped in Satan's kiddy pool with a visit to the Adult Video Awards (the Porno Oscars), where I hobnobbed with the normally nude 'n' grimacing and collected autographs from my fave surgically-enhanced for-grownups-only stars. Scott indulged in Vegas' evil charms by embracing the local Elvis imitation pastime; he fashioned a makeshift cape from bed linens and locked himself in his suite with two cases of cheese doodles, a trunk of burger patties, 25 cans of sterno and a keg of buttermilk. Barry succumbed by seeing Siegfried & Roy a record 27 times in one week, including a cozy private showing in his room. Even the stalwart Elliott was not immune to Vegas' temptations: he strayed from his diet of mucilage and spackle and actually licked a stamp. Then, to plop a carcinogenic red-dyed cherry on our already lethal sundae, the snow slammed NYC and we were stranded for three extra days in Vegas. Elliott and I day-tripped in the Grand Canyon; more on this in a few days, after I've contemplated the oxymoronic ironies of my commemorative Grand Canyon shake 'n' snow globe.
P.S.Get your Bottom Line tix soon for Feb.7 & 8 (212-228-6300)
Sean's Personal Entertainment Recommendation!
New York City - January 5, 1996
Harken, Rockapellets! My good friend and frequent collaborator, David Yazbek (we composed "Carmen Sandiego," "My Home" and "Everything to Me"), has a rare solo gig with his slamming band next week in NYC. I will be there and so should you! Yaz is one of my key songwriting gurus, and his sparkling album The Laughing Man (on which I sing some sassy backup vocals) will be released soon in America. Here's the info: Friday, Jan.12, 8pm at a way cool alternative music club called Brownies in the heart of my fave neighborhood: the East Village. The address is Avenue A between 10th St. and 11th St. There's probably a small cover charge (maybe $10) and you must bring your ID to prove you're 18. I never get carded any more though, because I'm looking and feeling very old since I foolishly allowed my braids to be hacked off. In any case, I'll see you there - I'll be the old guy in the corner sipping Metamucil and loudly requesting Dean Martin songs. Deano passed last week, and I've been in a sentimental funk ever since. Yazbek and I were original members of the famous "Rat Pack" with Deano, Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaine, Frank Perdue and Tom Carvel. Colonel Sanders wanted in but we dissed him on account of that stained white suit. There's but a few of us left, friends. Come visit before the grim reaper does....Love,
Sean's True New Year's Eve Adventures
New York City - January 3, 1996
01/03/96 - Sean's True New Year's Eve Adventures Happy New Year, Rockapublicans! I know that your chins are slick with the drool of curiosity as I prepare to recount my sordid New Year's Eve exploits. Here goes: I met my date Esmerelda (not her real name) at her apartment where we shared a fancy bottle of bubbly and enjoyed the urbane banter to which aspiring pop stars and their dates are accustomed. Bodega (not her real name) had prepared a delightful plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries. This caused my heart to play bongos on my tonsils because everyone knows that chocolate-dipped strawberries are a devastatingly powerful aphrodesiac, and I assumed that Scallopini (not her real name) was sending me a not-so-subtle "I want you, you blistering braidless beefcake" subliminal message. In my bull-like euphoria, however, I wolfed down a dozen of the juicier specimens, lodging thousands of strawberry seeds in my teeth and leaving a translucent choco-slime covering my face.

The romance sheen thus somewhat tarnished, Jim-Bob (not her real name) and I continued our mutual seduction at a charming old-world-style Hungarian restaurant called "The Red Tulip", where I hoped that the warm wood decor and poignant violins would grease the pistons of lust. I feasted on venison (tastes like deer) and Eustacia (not her real name) chowed on filet mignon (tastes like steak but costs more). I kept the booze flowing because the wicked liquid always seems to make food tastier, jokes funnier, teeth whiter, and love likelier (other than these virtues, I find alcohol to be of no value). As midnight neared, Spumoni (not her real name) and I donned paper party tiaras supplied by the restaurant which, for the inflated prix fix I paid, should have been made of diamond-encrusted platinum. Palmetto (not her real name) wanted to dance, but the uppity Hungarian musicians refused to play a Hucklebuck, Hokey-pokey, Rorschach, Wingnut, or any of the other traditional dances we knew. We dashed into a taxi at 11:55 hoping for some meaningful privacy, which we found with our cabbie Punjab (his real name) and our radio companion Casey Kasem (real name: Morty Birnbaum), who counted us down to the first kiss of 1996, at which moment there seemed to be no one in the universe but Perogi (not her real name) and Sean (real name: Skip Foreplay). HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! Love,

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