|| Bullet Train,
Nagoya to Tokyo -
Now that I've read The Rules and
decoded womankind's mischievous new dating encryptions, I've graduated to
political consultant extraordinaire Roger Ailes' book "You Are The Message."
Ailes' techniques, which helped elect Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, will
help me use my voice, vocabulary, body language, facial expressions, and
attitude to make a positive first impression in seven seconds and convert even
my most stubborn detractors. Should these methods fail me, I'll resort to Nixon
henchman G. Gordon Liddy's tactics of slander, blackmail, thuggery, and
general detractor destruction. Either way, I come out on top, and that's
good news for the good ol' U.S. of A. Lest you think that I'm writhing in
the grip of a conspiracy-theory hallucination, I assure you that my enemies
are many and well organized. Behold the following indisputable evidence:
The terrorist takeover of Japan's embassy in Peru. The liberal media has
neglected to mention the hostage-takers' call for my immediate death at the hand
of a big hammer-wielding mouse. Does that suck or what? Terrorists are real
The investigation of Indonesian contributions to the Clinton campaign. Key
suspect John Huang and I discussed my role in the Clinton cabinet over a bowl of
borscht in October. I picked up the check, and now
the feds are on me like peanut sauce on Pad Thai.
Madonna's refusal to acknowledge that I am baby Lourdes's true daddy.
This Asian tour masquerade. Yeah, right. Like I'm supposed to believe that
these so-called "Japanese" aren't just actors, that this scenery isn't a
holographic hoax, and that I'm not being dissected by veiny-headed aliens in the
basement of a Yonkers brothel.
As I write this, Larry King is pointing at me from within the TV, saying "I'ma
gonna get you, Altman.... You're goin' down..."
All right, dammit -- I'm just stir-crazy, road-weary, homesick, tuckered out,
flick-deprived, desensitized, bleary-eyed, bagel-craving, horny, and I miss my
blankey. Please come fetch me. I've been a good boy and I'm ready to come home
and behave. Help...
Hey Rockappendages! Do you suffer from
obsessive/compulsive neuroses? I never used to, but now that I'm dangerously
ensconced in my not-20's, I have adopted an idiosyncratic code of personal
I avoid touching public lavatory surfaces and handles; instead, I use my feet,
elbows, and buttocks to open doors and flush toilets.
I wash my hands raw upon exiting public bathrooms.
I only dry my hands with paper towels; hot air dryers are rumored to blow
ionized feces onto unsuspecting users' hands.
I eschew bowls of unwrapped restaurant after-dinner mints; my brother-the-
doctor told me they contain traces of urine from people who don't wash their
hands raw in public lavatories or who have barehanded the tainted doorknob upon
I aggressively floss until the basin swirl resembles the shower scene from
This conduct may not seem extraordinary, but
it's absurdly inconsistent with my other distinctly non-hygienic bachelor
behavior, notably: eating floor-dropped pizza, tolerating weapons-grade bathroom
scum, cultivating an award-winning collection of mutant-sized dust bunnies,
competitive nose-picking & flicking, undies adorned with Mack truck-width
skid marks, and indiscriminate spit-swapping with women of questionable
character. So you see, I'm selectively fastidious; it's ok for my
house-guest to drink from the milk carton, but god help her if she leaves a
This issue has special relevance for Rockapella on tour, as our
post-concert "meet'n'greets" (aka "beat'n'meats") find us shaking hands
(and trading germs) with thousands of our delightful fans. Scientific
evidence proves that the common handshake is singularly responsible for the
spread of most respiratory ailments and garden variety cooties.
Cold-paranoid opera singers are notorious for wearing gloves or refusing to
shake hands altogether; but what's a down-with-the-public rock'n'roll choir
to do? Shake away, that's what! My gratitude and affection for our audience
is so great that I would rather be rock'n'roll's Typhoid-Murray than not
warmly embrace a fan's hand, no matter how calloused, clammy, or arthritic.
Heck, I'd even shake Bob Dole's claw were it not for that scary razor-honed
pencil. Also, the way I figure it, whoever shakes my hand has got as much
to lose as I do, given my penchant for bodily imprudence. To quote Billy
Joel's "Goodnight Saigon": "We will all go down together!"
Rules Are For Fools
||Osaka - December
Our week of tireless promotion and press
ended with one last formulaic radio interview in which we discussed our fave
Japanese foods (Pocky Sticks, Yunkeru energy serum, still-alive sushi, and Lotte
throat lozenges), our spiffy new CD, and our impression of Japanese women (shy,
feminine, good kissers).
Now we're in concert mode, and our entourage has swelled to an
impressive ten non-bandmembers. A simple maneuver like crossing the street
has become an unwieldy military operation; we're a multi-national,
semi-literate centipede, half of whose legs don't work and whose brain
synapses misfire helter skelter between bouts of bilingual Tourette
Syndrome. The benefit is that there's an abundance of unfortunate salarymen
to schlepp our satchels, enabling us to be unencumbered ugly-American divas
of the lowest order. To further embrace the classic Yank-as-brute image,
I've taken to rampant jaywalking, proudly asserting my boorish Bronx
scofflaw persona in the face of traditional Japanese rules adherence.
On the subject of rules meant to be broken, my on-tour reading
list includes the paperback "The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing
the Heart of Mr. Right." The stated goal? "Marriage, in the shortest time
possible, to a man you love, who loves you even more than you love him." As
one of the nation's most eligible divorced bachelors, it's my business to
know the opposition's current tactics. Here's a few of the more abhorrent
Rules: "Don't Call Him & Rarely Return His Calls," "Don't Accept a Saturday
Night Date After Wednesday," and "Don't Rush Into Sex." If followed, these
three Rules will decimate my social life, as my typical weekend is a
revolving door carnival of last-minute, hastily scheduled one night stands.
This book is a bestselling sensation so I'm understandably panicstricken
and in need of an effective counter-strategy. Thus, to minimize the
frightening likelihood of my being rolled by a scheming "Rules Girl," I'm
presently only dating illiterate women and those with acute dyslexia.
Please send resumes and proof of illiteracy/dyslexia to
||Tokyo - December
Behold Rockapella...the a cappella walking
dead. We just completed our fourth jam-packed promotion day: eleven hours of
shameless mugging, lusty pratfalls, manufactured comradery, hairbrained lyrics
fractured to suit Your Radio Station's Particular Needs, and endless bow-laden
introductions to media strangers with unpronounceable names. Like the
downtrodden '50s performers who were deprived of royalties but were occasionally
thrown a bone in the form of a Cadillac, we are irregularly plied with heaps of
sushi and beer to keep us logy and incapable of rebeling against our
handlers. Today we sang a Rockapelobotomized TV version of the Bee Gees'
"Stayin' Alive," taped a ten-song concert for a TV documentary, and joined a
Japanese a cappella group for radio duets of "Stand By Me" and other faves.
Between events we argued over the purchase price of our fancy-shmancy new
tee-shirts and ate crust-challenged sandwiches and Mentos.
For this tour I took a page out of Elliott's idiosynchratic
road-trip survival guide and brought a supply of food provisions from home.
I gnawed through the last of my NYC raisin bagels yesterday, but I still
have a supply of instant coffee, Fiber-One cereal and powdered skim milk to
keep the trains moving through Christmas. Dinner on the record company
nickel, however, is a cruel test of a hungry rocker's restraint: the table
crawls with impossible Asian delights and the beer glass never gets below
half before it is topped off with surface tension-defying efficiency. This
is a dangerous nightly scenario for an aging crooner with a insatiable
palate and a cocker spaniel's eating disorder. At times, only my precious
vanity prevents me from tearing through an entire species of spiced
just-slain crustaceans Daryl-Hannah-in-Splash-style until my stomach
implodes. Sadly for me, the Japanese aren't hep to Western innovations like
Fat-Free Fiddle Faddle, Skimpy-Treat, air-popped corn, and Uncle Sam's
dressing-on-the-side phenomenon. The gym-slim craze hasn't yet begun here;
but now that MacDonalds and KFC are as ingrained in Japanese culture as
seaweed & rice, it won't be long before some wily Yank makes a killing here
hawking washboard ab-rollers and Thighmasters. Until then,
Gochisosama-deshita! (Thanks for the great meal, Dude!)
Tokyo - December 8, 1996
Sashi booty (long time no see),
Rockapedestrians! After our year-long absence we were greeted by a throng of
well-wishers (Rie and Atsumi, the Eastern wing of Rockapella Center) and the
following Japanese magazine description: "Rockapella - a gimmicky acapella group from
Manhattan." We take all constructive criticism to heart and, as such, our
first inclination was to immediately excise all traces of gimmickry from
our show -- the manic grins, sassy butt-quivering dance moves,
Disney-on-speed perkiness, insufferably coy patter, ice-capadesy
synchronized bows, and the biggest gimmick of all: that annoyingly cheeky
"harmony" thing. Rockapella would blaze a proud new trail of manful
truckdriverly unison singing, with no distracting rhythmic counterpoint or
gratuitous dynamics. Upon further reflection, however, we decided that it
was more expedient to don fatigues and firebomb the magazine headquarters
at midday to insure maximum fatalities and bigtime revenge. So, you see,
we're still the same old loveable Rockapella, now with one less
The miracle anti-jetlag drug melatonin failed me last night; at
2 a.m. I woke up scared, disoriented, and unpleasantly moist with what was
probably sweat but may have been pee. I'll ask the chambermaid. After a
spirited iron-pumping gym session I joined the band for nine straight hours
of TV and radio promotion including our 1st-ever live performance of "Land
of a Thousand Dances," the chorus of which is the word "na" repeated nineteen
times. I think Dylan wrote it. More poop in a couple of days, friends! Dewa
mata nochihodo (see you later)!
||New York -
November 21, 1996
Hey, Friends! Behold these actual emails
earthlings! My Halloween rant "The Dukes
of Has-Been" garnered much praise, sympathy and -- from Rockapella's
manager -- admonishment! Check this out:
As always, a "rant" reflecting genius. However, to characterize
yourself as a has-been is detrimental to your professional health. No
kidding here!! Please don't continue to do this. Thanks for your immediate
and comprehensive cooperation in this matter. There might be some value in
identifying this as a transitional period pointing toward bigger and better
Love and business, The Manager
Geez, after all the commissions I've paid you, I think I at
least deserve a "Dear" before my name. Your point is well taken, but my
strategy with this essay was to elicit outraged cries of "You're not
has-beens, Rockapella -- you're never-wases," and "You're not getting
older, Rockapella - just balder," and perhaps even a pity one-nighter from
a sympathetic groupie. Also, I think our loyal fans revel in an occasional
glimpse behind our "happiest-band-in-the-cosmos" facade. The bloodthirsty
public never gets to see celebrities kvetch, except in David Cassidy's
book, in which he whines like a little girl. In truth, I don't think we're
has-beens; I just miss being able to tell eligible chicks that I'm a
bona-fide mid-level TV personality. Gotta ramble, Boss -- I'm late for my
overnight taxi shift.
P.S. - Can you get me David Brinkley's old Sunday morning ABC
gig? "This Week With Sean Altman" has a phresh-phat-dope ring to it, my
toupee is shinier than Sam Donaldson's, and I have a much higher forehead
than Cokie Roberts. Please work on this pronto.
Why would you refer to yourself as a has-been? You are one
luscious, talented, unique, gorgeous, rhyme-making, heart-breaking,
head-banging (literally) guy. Your popularity can be seen in the eyes and
reflected from the hearts of your loyal fans. We all love you and the
entire group, so hold those incredible cheek bones high and proud. Most
sincerely and with much love,
Laura in Chicago
I'm smothering you with cyber-love and gratitude! I haven't been
called "luscious" and "gorgeous" in the same sentence since my last
900-number call. Speaking of my prodigious head-banging, my boo-boo from
that blasted protruding Alabama soap dish has healed nicely, dashing my
hopes for a more rough 'n' tumble look. Still, as our manager says, this is
an exciting transitional period which will yield a mightier Rockapella,
replete with louder crescendos, longer sustained notes, better
annunciation, and correspondingly higher ticket prices. Gotta go, Laura --
I'm late for group therapy with Boy George, John Oates, Wham's Andrew
Ridgely, and Dexy's Midnight Runners. Today, Pete Best is guest lecturing
on the anti-depressant properties of macrame.
You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity. Do all
those stories you tell actually come to you or do you work on them? My
mother said you should cough up that dictionary you swallowed. If those
postcards you put on the Internet are your lame attempt at a joke, believe
me, it's not working. You need to get some help.
See all the nice things I just wrote to Laura (above)? NONE of
that love is coming your way, honey! What do mean by calling me "little?"
For your information, I am, height-wise, in the top 1% of humanity! "Sad"
and "strange" I can't argue with, however; and I willingly accept your pity
in lieu of cash. As for your mother's advice, I get enough from my *own*
mom, so kindly tell yours to get off my back. Gotta run, Lisa -- I'm late
for my all-the-pork-you-can-eat lunch pig-out with Kate Moss.
Dear Rockapella Center:
Re: Sean's postcard "The Dukes of Has-
Been." All I have to say is a quote from Joe Pesci in his role in
My Cousin Vinnie. "Everything that man just said is b***s***!"
Love, Holliday, Illinois
Hey! Hey! This is a *family* web site, my cussing friend -- I've
got a mind to wash out your virtual trash-mouth with Woolite, and spank
your virtual buttocks crimson. On the subject of My Cousin Vinnie,
however, let's elevate the level of discourse, zeroing in on its one truly
memorable scene: Marisa Tomei in bra and panties. Gotta dash, Holliday --
I'm late for my thumb-wrestling match with Bob Dole (I'll *whup* him
Dear delightfully warped Sean:
You wrote: "Maybe I've mutated into Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids On The Block -
you know, a motorcycle guy in a moped band."
As a motorcycle chick in a Volvo guy band, I know how you feel!
Come on up to Boston and we'll form our own "not-quite-over-the hill
speed-metal a cappella band". All the members will be in their 30s and will
be selected solely on the basis of hair length and tattoo quantity. To
forge the "group mind," we'll hold an elaborate initiation ceremony
involving nipple piercing and satanic incantations. We'll tour the country
on Harleys, trashing hotel rooms, missing gigs, and cultivating a
reputation for being "unruly and difficult to work with." Tragically, one
of our beloved members will die in a bizarre gardening accident, thus
ensuring our space in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Unable to recover from
the shock, you and I will retire to the tropics and spend our remaining
days in oil-drenched erotic bliss, until the Horned One comes to collect
our wretched souls.
Eternally yours, Denise
I'm licking the screen with electromagnetic delight! With you
and your spiritual kinsbabes in our fan base, I believe there's hope for
Rockapella after all. I won't, however, pierce my nipples, as this would
hinder my future plans as a world-class breast-feeder. Will clip-ons
suffice? Gotta split, Denise -- I'm late for Richard Simmons' aerobic
I recently attended an auction at Sotheby's in NYC and purchased
-- at great expense, I might add -- one of Sean Altman's braids. How can I
verify its authenticity?
Damn that mischievous shrew Bo Derek! She's been pissed ever
since I copped her look, and now the wench has flooded the market with her
bogus forgeries. My sixty braids remain in an air-tight acid-free container
in my safe deposit box. When Rockapella Center decides to sell them, you'll
know, my sad-sack friend. Until then, you've been duped! Gotta go, Kevin --
I'm late for my Stairmasters Anonymous 12-step meeting.
Thanks for writing in! Have a great Thanksgiving and remember:
that turkey died for your sins...so eat up! Love,
The Dukes of Has-Been
||New York -
October 31, 1996
In these post-Carmen days, my apocalyptic
vision of the future finds my band sardined into one square of a vertical neon tic-tac-toe
board, nervously awaiting those dreaded words, "I'll take Rockapella to block."
I had forgotten what it's like not to be on TV -- being banished
to the restaurant seat with a view of the toilet, getting stuck with the
hotel room abutting the 24-hour ice machine, paying full-price retail
(Minoxidil is way expensive!), no longer receiving "special bonus perks"
from the masseuse, enduring the vacuous stares of once-fawning women,
waiting in vain for the brunch invitation from Woody and Soon-Yi, and
suffering in line behind other former TV stars just to take a wiz at the
homeless shelter. This sucks!
I've decided, however, that if I'm going to be a has-been then
by gum I'll be the BEST DAMNED HAS-BEEN I CAN BE!! Manhattan has the
highest concentration of has-beens in the world, so boning up on
has-beendom is as simple as checking out the "Has-Been Self Help" section
at Barnes & Noble. My autumn reading list includes:
o Growing Up Brady (I Was a Teenage Greg) by Barry Williams
o Come On, Get Happy by David Cassidy
o Take a Monkey Like Me by Mickey Dolenz
o Damn, I Was a Pert Little Number by Barbara Eden
o Brother Can You Spare a Bone? by Lassie
o Outta The Senate & Onto The Dole by Bob Dole
o I'm Nothing Now by Ringo Starr
o My Anonymous Misery by Molly Ringwald
o I Want To Die - Please Help Me Die by Adam Ant
o Why I Picked Up That Transvestite Hooker by Danny Bonaduce
Still, nothing compares to actual intimate contact with a bona
fide has-been, so last week I attended a lecture/seminar by former teen
idol Bobby Sherman. When I was in grade school, all the girls had Bobby
Sherman stickers on their books; his snappy/smarmy "Easy Come, Easy Go"
fouled the radio-waves; and Bobby's woodchuck grin, groovier-than-far-out
hairdo and crotch-hugging duds graced the cover of every teen mag. Still,
here he was in a fluorescent- lighted hotel meeting room, a 51-year-old
L.A.P.D. advanced First Aid technician addressing sixty of his aging
I arrived early, armed with a just-bought used vinyl copy of
1971's chart-topping "Bobby Sherman's Greatest Hits" and his new book
"Still Remembering You" for autographing. Bobby currently teaches Los
Angeles cops how to perform CPR and other emergency medical procedures, so
his motivational speaking chops and presentation skills are nicely honed.
Throughout his two-hour reminiscence I squirrel-jerked my eyes back and
forth between book photos of the young, swinging '70s Bobby and the
in-the-sagging-flesh oldster with the same Dippity-Do coif in front of me.
Heck, if being a *recent* has-been is a bummer, then being a
25-years-later has-been must be unfathomably suckish.
It's called the "double whammy." True evil, you see, occurs in
pairs -- Bonnie & Clyde, The Menendez brothers, Buttafuoco & Fisher, Nixon
& Agnew, Ma Barker & her game-show host son Bob, The Captain & Tenille and
the Olsen twins, for example. But none of these demonic duos is as cruel to
celebrities as the diabolical team of OL' FATHER TIME and his bitter,
merciless, Indian-giving, middle-management cohort...THE GREAT
HASBEENIO. First the sum'bitches steal your fame & fortune and then, like George
Romero's persistent zombies, they come after your skin tone, hairline,
metabolism, eyesight, gums, virility and, ultimately, bowel function. Only
one mystical force is powerful enough to subvert this treacherous twosome's
collective guttersnipe will: The Mighty One known simply as...SYNDICATION.
To Bobby Sherman's credit, he seems truly content with the
rotten hand dealt him; and with two grown kids, a job he loves (he
gleefully demonstrated the Heimlich Maneuver on a fan), an alimony-free
ex-wife, and a not-too-protruding gut, he is one smiley old dude. Most
importantly, he is delving full throttle into the exciting world of
"Has-Been Resurrection," the lucrative business of being formerly huge.
With his new book, upcoming concert tour, and an up-with-people-who-buy-my-stuff
twinkle in his eye, he has all the ammo he needs to pull a Tom Jones and parlay
his retro-kitsch value into piles of crisp greenbacks. I, for one, am rooting for
Here's your lesson, Rockapellicans: save every tchotchke and
scrap of Rockapellabilia, no matter how puny, and stuff it in your piano
bench for safekeeping. In twenty years when I'm wearing a bad tux, a worse
toupee, an impossibly-stretched face and a reconstructed smile, and I'm
hawking my memoirs, "Where In My Bedpan is Carmen Sandiego?" -- you, my
wily friends, will be sitting on piles of gold! Happy Halloween, friends!
||Birmingham, AL -
October 17, 1996
Behold my boo-boo! As part of my ongoing
pursuit of things thespian, I reenacted Hitchcock's bloody "Psycho" shower scene
by accidentally gashing my brow on the head-level protruding soap dish at the
Comfort Inn. I played Janet Leigh's screaming victim opposite the malevolent soap
dish's uncanny Norman Bates. The ambulance medics were Carmen fans so I got to ride --
restrained -- in a stretcher and have my vitals taken (everything OK except
for the alien incubating in my tummy, they said). At the hospital, the
Alabama doc stuck my brow numb with a whopper anaesthetic needle,
pulverized my arm with a foot-long tetanus booster, and then crocheted me
shut with six neon blue stitches. I cried like a wuss throughout the
ordeal, pausing only to revel in my newly toughened-up "Scarface" persona
and to ponder my inevitable fame as Hollywood's next "Crooning Pirate."
Today's Highlight: touring Tennessee's Jack Daniels Distillery, where I
disinfected my wound with gift-shop samples and then cauterized it with the
tour guide's breath.
Rockapella's Finest Touring Moment: watching "Basic Instinct" on the van
VCR and, mouths agape, slo-mo-ing Sharon Stone's infamous leg-cross 27
times. Elliott swore he saw Heaven, Jeff swore he saw Hell, Scott swore he
saw two nuns dancing the Macarena, Barry swore he saw his long-lost high
school ring, and I just swore like a sailor.
Dixie's Most Enticing Convenience Store Delicacy: pickled pigs' feet
floating ominously in red dye, to the right of the cash register, next to
the Garth Brooks tapes.
Things I Miss Most About Home: the lumps of my own mattress, the contours
of my own toilet seat, the curdle of my own sour milk, the stench of my own
rotting mice, the tip-toe of my own crack-deranged prowler and the sniper
fire of my own detractors.
Hey gang, our Carmen is officially off the air, replaced by the
new Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego? One bright note - my pal David
Yazbek and I wrote the "Where In Time" theme song, and the original theme will
appear on the forthcoming "TV's Greatest Hits" set on TVT Records.
True Tales From The Seanosphere
||New York City -
September 26, 1996
Hey Gang! Behold these actual mail excerpts
from friends and foes!
You are The Greatest Pop Lyricist of All Time. We all know you
and Stephen Sondheim must have been neighbors in the primordial ooze -- how
else can one explain your penchant for internal rhyme ("If you run I will
spurn you, if you turn love will burn you..."), or your ability to use the
word "sclera" in a song about Las Vegas? Your talent is so spectacular that
fans have long overlooked your obvious under-the-table payments from the
National Dairy Council, the Mormons and the Prince of Darkness. After all,
who can survive these days without corporate sponsorship? I still consider
your lyrics to be golden droplets from Heaven's honeypot.
Your loyal subject, Amy
Your letter saddens me deeply, as it makes me contemplate how
much more sublime my life would be if everyone had your impeccable taste. I
adore you. A zillion thanks for your praise and support.
What was Sean's major in college? He has such a solid and unique
writing style in both songs and newsletter messages. His uses of metaphors
and turns of phrases are unparalleled in both song and prose. He obviously
takes great care in choosing his words, and the results are fantastic. So,
is this raw talent, or did he hone his skills through formal training? I
have nothing but respect for the guy, with his combination of both a
perfect voice and written communication skills.
Sincerely, A Friend
My Ivy League political-science degree looks great hanging on
the wall, but it has never seemed to impress the American record companies.
The only times I've successfully melded my two fields of expertise are the
song "Capital" from the "Carmen Sandiego" album, and my
"Ode to Dole" poem. I thank you for your kind words, Friend.
[The next email and its equally vituperative follow-up letter (too loopy to
print even here) are so deliciously venomous that I'm busting with pride
at my ability to provoke this kind of emotional reaction. I've responded in
the maggot-infested body of the text.]
I would assume that the idea of the postcards is to connect with
the underlings to make us clamor for what will come next. It's
disappointing to see that instead of giving us the details of their
upcoming album -- something we are dying to hear, delight is taken in
responding to a sick question with an answer that is sickening
[This splendid curmudgeon is referring to my tour de force effort entitled
"I Can Ride The One Up To Hades."]
As a long-time Rockapella fan who has invested a lot of time & money to import
their albums from Japan, MANY of us wonder what this has to do with the group
& their current activities?
[Ahh, my cranky detractor...that's just it! You mistakenly believe that
"Postcards From Sean" is designed to be a report of group activities. Nope!
Like a sugar-crazed toddler in a sweet shop, I get to write about anything
my sordid heart desires, with the full protection of the First Amendment.
Yahooo! You, similarly, have the right to avert your squeamish gaze; or, if
you so choose, kvetch pell-mell. The latter option, though legal, is
It's too bad that attempts at humor are forced...
[OK - That's it! Now you've done it! You've attacked my comic charms and
truly dissed me! Come on! Right now! You & me, Punk! Out back! Let's throw
down! Yeah you!]
...instead of occasionally replying to any serious questions
people surely must ask.
[I assume you refer to the most common queries: Fave color? Fave movie?
Fave Charlie's Angel? Fave method of executing a mouse?]
Readers have obviously discovered that their questions probably
won't get posted & answered, unless it refers to something ridiculous.[and
in *this* category, you have no peer.] I'm just curious as to why creating
controversy seems to be more important than broadening, strengthening &
solidifying your fan base?
[Jeez, with fans like you it's a wonder we have any career at all!]
Unfortunately, the ones most likely to enjoy these ranting soliloquies....are kids.
[Then CHEERS to the Youth of America. Rebel against the oppressive
censorship of your party-pooping, belly-aching parents! You, my wee
followers, are the future of Rockapella and the future of America. Stand
Tall! Spend your allowance on candy! Refuse to do chores! Intercept your
report cards and give yourself all A's. Pee anywhere but in the
bowl. And when your folks gripe about the stereo volume, remember what to say:
"If it's too loud...you're too old!"]
Sincerely, A Nearly Former Fan
[Ahh...Big bluster from the cowardly shadows of anonymity. Hmm...this
presents a neat challenge -- how to rid Whoville of the Grinch....Wait!
I've got it! More ez-fun backwards Thai song titles to send the faint of
heart running for John Tesh's happy-go-sickly website: "Atnas Si Dog,"
"EsiuLed Mod Si Dog," "Reppilf Si Dog," "VTM Si Dog," and "Smleh Essej Si
I'm considering getting a tattoo....could you suggest an image
and location for that image?? I also don't want to infringe on any
copyrights...You have such good taste...I'd appreciate any comments from
Your trusting fan, Connie
The ultimate homage you could pay me would be to get a full-size
full-body image of me tattooed to your entire body: my face on your face,
my hands on your hands, my biceps on yours, my navel superimposed onto your
navel. It might look a little weird below the belt, but a good tatoo artist
can finesse it. Thanks for consulting me!
To All Rockapelladom:
I truly enjoy your correspondence! Keep it coming! To those who
enjoy reading the bile I'm belching, I offer my warmest thanks! To those
who don't...please direct your mouse to click elsewhere; I hear Michael
Bolton's site is warm 'n' fuzzy.
If I Were King Of The Band
City - September 1, 1996
The following material is specifically
designed to offend. Do not read on lest your senses be assaulted with the
ickiest form of smut. There are no actual cuss words, but there may as well be,
given the abominable subject matter. The opinions expressed in Sean's postcards
are Sean's alone. They do not reflect the opinions of other bandmembers, management,
or Rockapella Center. Oh my God...you're still reading... PLEASE TURN BACK! DON'T BE
A DANGED FOOL! SAVE YOURSELF! AARRGGHHH!!!!! (Oh boy...now you've done it...)
"Democracy" is a wicked she-beast with the face of a napalmed
hog, the 5 a.m. breath of a garlic-addicted hobo, and the sieve heart of an
unrepentant murderer cackling at her victim's funeral. She carnival-barks
"liberty and justice," but litters her wake with yank-tooth compromise, the
clumsy disfigurement of once-handsome dreams and the maggot-encrusted
carrion of resentment.
Lately my band has adopted "Robert's Rules," a heinous corporate
system of motions, seconding of motions, majority-rules voting and other
oppressive police-state devices, the overall effect of which is to mute
discussion, quell dissent, stuff Rock'n'Roll Jack back in his box and
shroud us in the mouldy leaden robes of THE MAN. Nothing is safe from the
role-call vote's sniper aim: hit songs iced, tour-dates scuttled, photos
buried, wardrobes burned, hair hacked off...heck, what's next to dictate?
Stuffing vs. Potatoes? Phresh vs. Phat? Pony vs. Macarena? Bowel movement
frequency? 1-ply vs. 2-ply? Butterbuds vs. Buttafuoco? In the words of that
bald TV self-help chick: STOP THE INSANITY!!
Rock bands aren't supposed to *vote*, damnit! We're defined by
our propensity toward infinite hallucinogenic rumination, beer-soaked
contemplation of our navels, outbursts of deadly passion around the
deli-tray, dressing room walls punched Swiss-cheesy, fiery sofas flung from
hotel windows, clandestine video-taping of bandmates' love exploits with
chopped liver, and a delicious abhorrence of all things "grown up." So
what's up with us? Maybe it's because Carmen's going off the air and we're
antsy about our career without the teensy weefolk. Maybe it's because,
gym-devotion notwithstanding, we're aging and our rebellious spirit is
going the way of our collective hairline. Maybe we've whored ourselves for
so many IBMs that we're morphing into what we disdainfully call "the
client." Maybe a crisp greenback in the bank is looking prettier than a
Monet on the wall. Maybe it's premature Alzheimer's. Maybe one guy says
"tomayto," another says "tomahto," and the agent says "Who cares? My tasty
bite is 10%." Maybe I've mutated into Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids On The
Block - you know, a motorcycle guy in a moped band. Most likely, though,
I'm just pouty and pissed because I want to be the undisputed (insert
trumpet fanfare here)... KING OF THE BAND.
Behold...A taste of "Seanarchy": I would be a stately and
gracious ruler, sucking in my kingly gut, maniacally waving a greazy
mutton-leg scepter, spouting foul gobbledygook in a Scooby-Doo-on-crack
growl, rarely allowing my spittle to hit the floor before slurping it up,
and clenching my royal tuchas muscles to prevent the atonal passing of
wind, all while walking somewhat taller than my normal 6'2". My benevolent
reign would allow all to live in harmonic peace beneath me, save those who
questioned my omniscience - those blasphemers would be beheaded,
hammer-smashed like my house mice or, like old Eskimos who have outlived
their usefulness to society, shoved off on an iceberg to chew leather.
Rockapella's schizophrenic musical vision would be laser honed
to...well, mine. Every song would contain my fave three words: Butter,
Missionary, and Satan; and would explore the popular themes of love, sex,
divorce, strip joints, and eating disorders, all in a three-minute, hook-laden
pop format. For wardrobe, we'd bust a hep move with retro/mod/hippie wear -
big yellow smiley faces, squirting sunflower lapels, peace-sign earrings so
massive that they threaten the integrity of our lobes, scratch'n'sniff
butt-patches, roach-clip barrettes, and laugh-out-loud embroidered
references to "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" and ol' Tricky Dick Nixon. We'd
be shaved bald, each with his own scalp tattoo of a different Beatle (Jeff
gets Pete Best). And "Nay!" to traditional concert venues - we'd tour fish
markets, women's prisons, dog pounds, toll plazas, sanitariums, Earth Shoe
factory outlets and Motor Vehicle Bureaus; and we'd charge an extra buck
for tickets so we could have the pleasure of giving everyone a crisp
one-dollar bill rebate at the gig. Fans could use that buck to garter-tip
the octagenarian lingerie go-go grannies who would flank our stage.
Sprinkler systems would douse our audiences with top-shelf tequila, and
we'd pitch limes and shovel salt from the stage. After concerts we'd eschew
the typical autograph signing in favor of slobbery French kisses for all
women and hardy firm-grip handshakes for the guys. Best of all, our new
boffo band name: "Rockapella's Rollicking Good Time Funfest, Now With XXXtra
Fun For More Fun!"
This doesn't have to be a pipe dream, Rockapellicans. Make your
mighty voices heard! Rise up! Keep the ROCK in Rockapella! ANOINT ME KING
AND I'LL SPARE YOU AFTER THE REVOLUTION!!!
Love, Your Humble Servant,
I Can Ride The One Up To Hades
||New York City -
August 24, 1996
After reading many months of your postcards, I have a question
for you. Are you like obsessed with Satan? You are always referring to him
in one way or the other. Please let me know why. Thanks!!
Your Ever Devoted and Caring Fan of ROCKAPELLA,
In fact I have a lucrative endorsement deal with the Dark Lord
which requires me to mention his given name, Vincenzo Satansky, or his
various aliases: Satan, the debbil, dybbuk, the Deuce, Beelzebub,
Mephistopheles, the Dickens, El Diablo, Lucifer, Senor Caliente, Big D, Hot
Diggity-D, Grandmaster D, Old Nick, Old Horny, Old Gooseberry, Old Blazes,
Old Poker, Old Hot'n'Crusty, Wickedy-Split, King Crimson, The Prince of
Darkness, Vice Roy, The BBQ Chef, Succuba Bob, The Great Goblin, His
Blistering Badness, Inferno-Man, Sir Bake, The Fabulous Flamer, Mr. Hot
Stuff, Sizzle-Me-Badd, His Royal Heinous, The Sin-Surfer, Pitchfork Willie,
Barney, Lambchop, Raffi, Mary-Kate & Ashley, Buttafuoco, Newt, and
If you saw Rosemary's Baby, you know that Satan cuts deals
with many show-biz types; but, unlike Mia Farrow's character, I refused to
put out, which is why I've achieved only moderate career success. John
Tesh, on the other hand, was a veritable love trampoline, and he's now
reaping the rewards. In return for my postcard plugs, Satan gifted me with
the song "Capital," and has helped me out with an occasional lyric (the
"gefilte" line in "Everything to Me"), some song tricks (the unintelligible
talk-in-tongues "Come My Way" bridge), and some choreography (that sassy
synchronized jump in "Fliptop Twister").
I met him backstage at a Rod Stewart concert in '86. Seems Rod
got "Maggie May" in return for his participation in some racy tour-bus
shenanigans which Satan wanted on video. We shared a couple of brews and
got to talking about rock'n'roll hairstyles. I was leaning toward a
bee-hive, but he turned me on to the whole "braids" concept, and we signed
the deal soon after. Nightclubbing with Satan in the highfalutin late '80s
was a blur of guestlists, VIP rooms, scantily-clad model-chicks and the
ubiquitous Richard Simmons. Nowadays, we meet on Tuesdays at Barney
Greengrass and share the lox & sturgeon combo #3 and an egg cream while
discussing what wickedness I can dispense to counteract Jeff Thacher's
confounding goodness. Our latest stratagem: Thai song titles for ez-fun
backwards playing. Enjoy my new ditties "Yag Si Dog," "Poop Tae," "Suelb
Renob," and "Tnil Levan Gid" on Rockapella's new CD "Ood-Ood."
Thanks for your keen eye and frank question, Lacy! Keep 'em
Flipping The Bird
||New York City -
August 10, 1996
My name is Shannon. I love this Web site, especially Sean's
postcards! I named my two birds Scott and Sean. Unfortunately my favorite,
Scott, passed away today. I played four Rockapella songs during his funeral
Your flattering yet sorry tale led
me to reminisce about the only bird whose talons ever gripped my heart,
not counting the Orange Chicken at
Hunan Cottage. I am referring to Bubby
and Grandpa Max's Yiddish-speaking
parakeet, Poopsie, apparently named for his
proclivity toward helter-skelter defecation.
Poopsie was a beast of prolific, if indiscreet, bowel
performance; this foul fowl knew the power of a well-placed turd. Like Neil
Armstrong on the moon, Poopsie proudly staked his claim to every horizontal
surface in the flat until none remained untainted by his chalky excrement.
The kitchen table resembled aerial photos of Vietnam after the Tet
Offensive, but with more feces. My grandparents' Brooklyn home ecosystem
was a wonder to watch in action. Without the presence of natural predators,
Poopsie ruled the eight-foot sky with pterodactyl arrogance -- terrorizing
houseflies, moths, mice and us grandchildren with his Tourette outbursts of
Yiddish gibberish and hair-trigger rectal explosions.
Grandpa Max was a classic parakeet enabler, buying into Poopsie's
divinity and nurturing the crazed avian louse. To my brother Adam's and my
chagrin and glee, Grandpa Max fed Poopsie by chewing whatever he happened
to be eating into a fine cud, spitting a glob onto his pursed lower lip,
and allowing Poopsie to peck away happily. Poopsie's fave meal? Poultry,
from which he plainly derived cannibalistic joy. He met his demise one
memorable Passover seder; after slurping all the Manishewitz from Elijah's
cup, he flew kamikaze-like into an overdone matzoh ball and died instantly
when his beak pierced his brain. He was sealed in tin foil and put out with
the next day's trash.
Despite Poopsie's reign of terror, I miss his Donald-Duck-does-Jackie-Mason
diatribes and the manic cheer with which he gobbled the bile-laden ooze from
Grandpa Max's peck-scarred lip. I've tried to get girlfriends to feed me this way,
but none of these stuck-up East Village babes will play ball. Perhaps if I chirped
my request in Yiddish while flying around naked....
P.S. - Shannon, is Sean regular?
I Am The Bugman: Cuckoo The Jew
||New York City -
August 6, 1996
Just because Siskel & Ebert gave it a
resounding "thumbs down" doesn't mean you oughtn't rush to see the new flick
"Joe's Apartment." This MTV production features 50,000 singing-dancing animated
cockroaches, a few of whom are your fave human tunesmiths sped up beyond
recognition. I was hired by the production as a vocal arrangement consultant,
and various Rockapellas sing on the eight roach ditties as part of a larger
ensemble. Rockapella pal/collaborator Billy Straus ("Change In My Life," "Falling Over
You," "I Found Sugar," "Rock River," "I Walk With You") co-produced the roach
songs. Sadly, there will be no soundtrack album. Happily, by performing
admirably as a singing bug, I've paid off a burdensome karmic debt for the
zillions I've savagely squashed and the entire species of tree caterpillar
I exterminated with my jack knife in the summer of '67. It feels good to be
even-steven with the insect world. I want to audition for the remake of
Willard to make things right between me and the rodent universe, but I'm
waiting to see if my mouse snuff film scores big at Cannes or Sundance.
Behold the authentic viewer mail:
I'm wondering if your opinion of vermin in general, and
cockroaches in particular, has changed now that you have performed as one.
Now that you have crawled a mile in their carcasses, so to speak, do you
feel any differently?
Love and Kisses, Kathleen
The hostility I feel towards Satan's army of wee henchmen festers
as before; but now that I've broken bread with the enemy I am filled with a
hideous self-loathing assuaged only by the fat sum I was paid for the gig.
Love and Feelers,
My Sweat Tastes Like Miso Soup
||New York City -
July 30, 1996
I have air conditioning, but with Carmen
going off the air and my income in jeopardy, I'm being frugal with the house
money. I'm also conducting biological warfare, which requires me to keep the
apartment at a lusty fahrenheit boil. You see, my non-rent-paying housemates,
the vermin who have thus far avoided Sean's Mighty Hammer, get logy in the
oppressive heat and lose their elusive OJ moves. In my newfound equatorial
paradise, I'm able to meander over to the slovenly, panting beasts and stomp
them flat like cigarette butts. Rapid disposal is essential, for decomposition
begins instantly, and nothing taints a first date like a rotting rodent
cadaver in the kitchen.
My ongoing critter war is striking evidence of the failure of
America's education system; damnit, I should've been taught this stuff in
Home Economics. Instead I learned tasks that Rockapella's management now
handles -- laundry sorting, defensive napkin placement, flossing etiquette,
anti-mugger eye-gouging techniques and the obligatory "she loves me, she
loves me not" petal pluck. Now that I have a home of my own, my personal
home economy is in shambles: I can't balance a checkbook; I can't access my
own band's website; I own hundreds of CDs, all in the wrong cases; my
picture is on the scofflaw wall of every utility company in New York; the
dust bunnies procreate like real ones; my coffee tastes like dirty diapers;
and the one thing I know how to cook is mouse, and that's only due to the
kind fans who sent recipes (Mouse Foo Yung rules). A splendid Yiddish word
describes the helter-skelter, do-you-have-the-tickets-cause-I-sure-don't
state of my daily life: "farblondjet."
In short, I am in grave need of one of three things: an intern,
a spouse, or a really smart dog. I am currently accepting applications for
any of these positions; ideally the same candidate would be suitable for
all three. Please submit a resume, a full-body bathing suit photo, and a
"worms-free" certificate from a vet.
Last Will & Tasty Mint
||New York City -
July 8, 1996
After having read the "Mouse Execution" and other postcards, my
family has decided to adopt you. We all agreed that you have our humor. We
hope that you will accept this honor that we have bestowed upon you.
I'm truly flattered by your family's decision; and you may count
me in...if you send me documentation of my irrevocable inclusion as the
primary beneficiary in the wills, pension plans and insurance policies of
your family's well-heeled elders. With "Carmen Sandiego" going off the air,
I'm exploring other income sources -- this may be the holy grub grail I've
been looking for. I agree to immerse myself in the unique dysfunction of
your family life for one year. For all interested parties, here's how it
I WILL DUTIFULLY:
Take your family surname as one of my middle names.
Attend six significant family gatherings. A popular package might be
Christmas, Thanksgiving, graduation, family therapy, divorce mediation
and a trip to Club Med. A bris counts as two; three if I have to hold
the kid down. No extra charge for me humming "My Home" at funerals.
Seders count as one, except if I officiate - then it's free, as I need
the practice. In family pictures, I reserve the right to wear nose
glasses or a paper bag. An appearance on "Family Feud" is a freebie as
I'm a huge Richard Dawson fan from his "Hogan's Heroes" days.
Cheer lustily at Little League games (you provide 6-pack and pistol -
good for threatening umpires).
Borrow your BMW, barf in the trunk, wrap it around a tree, and walk
away unscathed. If I'm injured it counts as three family gatherings;
four if I'm killed. My own funeral (your nickel) counts as a fifth
Perform admirably as a conjugal surrogate. If I should, in my zeal,
become the primary partner, or if you desire my skills as a paternal
donor, then it becomes a union gig and you're liable for all dues,
fees and laundry costs. All children, regardless of gender, will be
Send inquiries and a non-refundable $666
Love, your fave relative,
Sean Lipshitz Trump Stands-With-a-Fist McEnroe Qadhafi Castro Buttafuoco
Brown-Simpson Menendez Bork Ghandi Navratilova Packwood Kaczynski
Boesky Lovelace Your-name-here Altman X
Last updated: December 14, 1998
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