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Honey, I Shrunk the Yid
New York City 02/12/98
It's truly yippee-good-news time for gastronauts of the Seanosphere: I've gone back into therapy... for *free*, courtesy of a candy bar! Rockapella's ongoing Mounds/Almond Joy radio commercials have enabled me to earn the TV union's health coverage minimum; so -- as long as I can prove my insanity week after week -- I'm on a free ride to clinical normalcy!

Simply desiring personal growth doesn't merit acceptance into the union's free shrinkage program; you've got to be a bona-fide loon to get in, and then demonstrate an ongoing nutsiness to avoid expulsion. I was thus forced to exaggerate the severity of my anguish in an official phone evaluation, which ended as soon as I wised up and uttered the following "instant acceptance" phrase: "Everything is fine in my life; I just can't keep my hands off my penis." Bingo. Greetings, Doctor Screwball!

I opened the first session by lamenting the failure of the Spec-Pac auction and the callous way I was hoodwinked by two seemingly upstanding fans. Then we talked about divorce (a.k.a. the "Altman Family Curse") and the poetic irony of my having created a tuneful cottage industry from the wreckage of my marriage.

Then I submitted to a Rorschach test in which every single ink blotch was a thinly disguised vagina. Next, we did a word-association game, during which I continually answered "Scott Leonard." The shrink was way off base when we moved on to dream analysis; he attributed my recurring nightmare about drowning to sexual anxiety, while I asserted that it relates directly to my chronic (and prolific) bedwetting.

Progress is inevitable, but through the gauze of my myriad neuroses I am haunted by one oppressive fear: that my forthcoming state of pristine mental health will render me artistically barren -- a vacantly grinning, creatively void milquetoast. What the hell good is a chipper self-image and a whoop-dee- friggin-doo joi-de-vivre ebullience if it leaves me spouting "moon-June" inanities and melodies that even Raffi thinks suck?

Let's face it, Sherlocks: the shrewd exploitation of my current personal demons is what keeps the Seanosphere aloft. No sullen malaise, no SeanSongs. No obsessive-compulsive paranoia, no Seanecdotes. No eating disorder, no knee-slapping ketchup jokes from the Condiment King. No impaired self-image, no biceps exploding with battle scenes. Am I really gonna let some psycho-babbling HMO Ph.D. oaf gut my crazy mad cash cow, just so I can feel better about my love handles?!?! Hell no! I'd rather be muzzled and strait-jacketed in a padded room, churning out pop hits between hits of Prozac. Insanity pays... BIG TIME! Van Gogh didn't need that extra ear! That's it! I'm outta therapy, freebie or no freebie! And anyway, shrinks are for pussies. Oops... gotta go, Seanatics! It's feeding time for several members of the irrepressible "Seanie Bunch" - multiple personalities 1, 17, 34 and 57. I've scientifically staggered our meal schedules so that I get to eat every ninety seconds. Yee-haw!

The Gigman Beckons
New York City 02/02/98
Happy New Year, Seanatics!

Altmania has achieved near-warp speed and shows no sign of abating. I've become a seething, writhing, wheezing, noxious-waste-spewing, high-efficiency gigging machine, capable of satisfying all your entertainment needs, no matter how sordid. I feel virtually unstoppable, so long as I stick to my morning regimen of All- Bran and prunes.

December was truly "the shit" (translation: "very good"). After two months of meticulous groundwork-laying, I emerged as a ubiquitous holiday presence on the NYC club scene. Final score: three gigs at the Bottom Line, two at Hotel Galvez, two at the Fez, and one at the Cornelia Street Cafe. I think that qualifies as the shit, don't you?

On December 12, my new band made its debut at the Bottom Line, where we jangled through a guitar-backed performance of "Presto Change-o" in honor of legendary DJ Vin Scelsa's fiftieth birthday and thirtieth year on the radio. Sharing the bill and shamelessly leeching off my draw were Lou Reed, Jimmy Webb, They Might Be Giants, Southside Johnny, Marshall Crenshaw, Little Steven, Graham Parker, Ronnie Spector and Joey Ramone, among others. Highlights: the New York Times review mentioned me, and I had a nice backstage conversation with punk pioneer Joey Ramone about our fave East Village neighborhood cheese store. Strangely, the punk legend favors brie (damn' uppity sissy), while I, the erudite Ivy-League song poet, prefer Cheese Whiz (the people's cheese; right on!).

December 20 marked the premier of the GrooveBarbers, a fearless barbershop combo comprised of former Rockapellas Steve Keyes, Charlie Evett and me, as well as "Joe's Apartment" vocal guru Kevin Weist. I brazenly hosted the Bottom Line event, which was billed as "Holiday Harmonies" and featured Five O'Clock Shadow, the Accidentals and special guests Petula Clark and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. I am proud to have roped in Flansburgh, as he's one of my fave pop stars. The GrooveBarbers backed him up masterfully on my arrangement of his jaunty "Careless Santa."

An unannounced guest at the event was my college mate (and fellow Jew), Rob Tannenbaum, a high-level music journalist who fronts his own obscene rock combo, White Courtesy Telephone. Rob and I performed his pungent ditty "(It's Good to Be) A Jew at Christmas," the lyrics of which earned us a wrist-slap from the ever politically-correct Bottom Line management. You be the judge. (All right, maybe the line about the goyim getting drunk at home is a bit unkind, but don't all myths have some basis in reality?)

All in all, the evening was a glowing success, and I further solidified my blossoming reputation as the a cappella community's "host with the most balls."

On December 30, I got a head start on 1998 with a special pre-New Year's Eve full-band gig at the East Village's cozy Hotel Galvez. My multi-ethnic backup ensemble (Matt Detro, Tony James and Bryant McNeil) has no official name, although -- when we stand motionless and suck in our cheeks and guts -- the moniker "Benetton" comes to mind. (For more dirt on this exquisite appearance, see my gig post- mortem.)

Several songs from my Rockapella repertoire have explosive new lives in my new career: "Follow Me to Heaven," "Daisy Simone," "Come My Way" and "My Home" have all mutated nicely thanks to my new bandmates' instrumental wizardry. Coming soon: a "Carmen Sandiego" theme song arrangement that'll whup your kiddie-show butt crimson and have you howling for the great Seanus' mercy.

Please come to my upcoming gigs, where we'll commune in melodic melancholia, depraved dittydom, lyrical lethargy and non-caloric, sophomoric, historic euphoria (translation: my gigs will be the shit).

(It's Good To Be) A Jew At Christmas
unpublished work (c)1997 Rob Tannenbaum

I've never known the giddy joys
Of other Christmas girls and boys
No, I never sat on Santa's knee

I've never tasted Christmas ham
Or caroled "Winter Wonderland"
I'm just not down with Christianity
You see...

It's good to be a Jew at Christmas
I like to be a kike this time of year
It's clear that we're the Chosen Ones
We got eight nights, you got just one
It's good to be a Jew at Christmas

On Christmas Day, we'll eat Chinese
Walk empty streets until we freeze
Once a year the city's ours alone

Anyone you see must be a Jew
Why not say, "Hi! I'm a Jew, too!"
The goyim are all getting drunk at home

(Oh yes) It's good to be a Jew at Christmas
I'm giddy to be a Yid this time of year
We just don't care when Christ was born
Because we're Jews, and we have horns
It's good be a Jew
Don'tcha wanna be one too?
It's good to be a Jew at Christmas!
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Last updated: December 14, 1998

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