This Just In:

Books Responsible for Iraq War!

The other night I experienced something that can only be likened to accidentally knocking my uvula with a toothbrush. Or to put it another way, if I were posting this on undead Molly it would land squarely in the "vomit" category.

It all began innocently enough. I'm rocking the Man vs. Wild marathon when it cuts to commercials. Bear's just finished hollowing out and climbing into a dead camel (after drinking the contents of its auxiliary stomach, of course) and I need a little cuddle time with my two-year-old, Genevieve, to decompress after that intense display. With my attention directed away from the TV, I begin to hear a familiar series of plucked strings, and it takes me a second to get my bearings. Where have I heard that before? Why, it's the beginning of "Read, Eat, Sleep" by The Books! How exciting! What is this, a commercial for the Global Climate Coalition or something? Wait a second... Oh, please God, no! I am not seeing this! My eyeballs are melting! Onto the screen rolls the all-too-familiar metal monstrosity that so conveniently supports All That is Wrong With Our Country on a mere two axles and four oversized tires. The single most abhorrent status booster for those who are too pathetic/lazy/clueless to derive self-worth from actually doing something worthwhile. A mothereffing HUMMER. The Books. In a Hummer commercial.

So there you have it. I was speechless then, and to be honest, I still have no idea what the hell to say. I haven't felt this betrayed since my BFF, Todd, called one night to inform me that The Shins were playing house band for the Gilmore Girls. (No offense, Faith.) And let's face it, that's about 500 times less offensive than SELLING YOUR SONG TO MOTHEREFFING HUMMER. I just don't know anymore. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I've been drugged and whisked away to an alternate universe. Now, after some googling I realized that this commercial's been out for awhile, so I apologize if this is old news/bitching fodder for some of you. I just needed to vent somewhere, and where better than the hallowed pages of Highgate? Where, I ask you?



gd said...

also they used one of nick's zammuto tracks in another commercial.

ive heard that they pay at least $15,000 or so to use music in a Hummer commercial (casino vs japan had one awhile back and there are several Ghostly Intnatl artists too) + you get airplay royalties every time the commercial is paid.

so thats a cool $30,000 + for mr. zammuto probably. but hey he has a new baby and a new house in southern VT, why not?

id probably do it, musicians are hardly making any money on record sales these days, so take the hummer money and invest it in good things / good causes. its nice that they are at least tossing nuggets to indie artists (usually means they have to spend less money too, but oh well....)

i think its a tough situation if you are in the musician's shoes trying to make an honest living making music.

gd said...

found this on another blog comments:
"Hey, My name is Mikey Zammuto,
Im Nick Zammuto's (of the Books) younger brother. I asked him "how, why, can it be possible? Hummer?". He responded by saying, I have no problem taking their money". I laughed. He now has a nice shiny new tour van because of it."

Tanner M. said...

Yeah i agree - It's sort of like the tenets of Praying Mantis Kung-fu. stay with me now. You use your opponents momentum against them. If they throw a punch, IE, thousands of dollars in bloody, oil soaked dollars, you counter, not by blocking, (rejecting offer on ethical grounds) but rather, you take the punch, (the offer.) side step (buy a new tour van.) and throw your now unbalanced opponent into the spiked wall of death! (i have no idea what that analogizes into.)

you get my point.

Tanner M. said...

oh, and Josh is currently in the middle of helping his wife give birth to their 2nd child, so he might not be around to comment.

But i think i can speak for him when i say:

"I understand, sometimes we have to make certain sacrifices - Holy shit! Is that the head?! - in order to provide for the ones we l-Wooooah shit, loooook at this, WHAT is that! - my ire is more directed at a world that makes it almost impossible for artists, and people in general, to survive without having to navigate such murky ethical waters as t- Oh my god, OH MY GOD that is *faint*.

josh said...

First, I'm happy to report that I got me another kid yesterday. Her name's Noelle Therese, and she's kinda cute. Cheryl's labor was crazy painful and crazy quick. She started contracting at 3 cm and got to 10 cm in less than an hour. After 15 minutes of pushing, out comes the kid! For all you non-cervix techies, dilating to 10 cm this quickly is almost unheard of, and it makes for seriously intense contractions. Cheryl was an absolute champ. As was the case with Genevieve's labor, she did it sans drugs, and she's doing wonderfully today. Definitely falls into Undead Molly's "happy" category.

Second, I'm glad you chimed in with your thoughts, Greg. It's good to get the perspective of a musician who's in a comparable situation. And let's face it, it's awfully easy for me to judge sitting in a cushy office chair and receiving a steady paycheck twice a month. I guess the thing that leaves a bad taste is the timing. We're in the midst of ruining the lives of millions of innocent people, all so retards can keep their precious SUVs on the road, and Hummer is the holiest of grails for said retards. Overall it's just a shame, because I think it's going to compromise their music for a lot of people who won't bother to ponder what you've pointed out. (And who certainly won't ponder praying mantis kung-fu analogies!) That said, there's still nothing that could stop me from pulling out The Lemon of Pink and Thought For Food every two weeks for the rest of my life, so it's all good. : )

Tanner M. said...

Hey Fucking-A congratulations Josh and Cheryl!


Anonymous said...

People responded to the counterculture because its content was largely a partial critique of the old world and its values (notably, for example, early Ginsberg and Dylan). In late capitalism all art and poetry that isn’t just junk on the highbrow cultural market or a sop to so-called popular taste must be critical, if incoherently or nihilistically, of spectacular nonlife. But as culture such a critique only serves to preserve its object. The counterculture, since it fails to negate culture itself, can only substitute a new oppositional culture, a new content for the unchanging commodity-form. Cultural innovation is the reason for the hippie’s false optimism: “See, things are changing.” — Yes, but only things. What seems to have been rejected and destroyed is recreated in the piecemeal reconstitution of the world of culture. Lyrics, as well as other artistic forms, can become revolutionary weapons, but only if they go beyond the artistic by being part of an agitational praxis which aims explicitly at the destruction of the commodity and of culture as a separate sphere.

-some thoughts from the S.I. (1972)

Tanner M. said...

You had me at unchanging commodity-form.

But seriously? Sports Illustrated really went downhill after '72! Who's with me?

jay said...

First off, congrats Josh!!!

Secondly, here's a pertinent essay on this topic by Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal. He seems to take a similar approach to Greg.

Selling Out Isn't Possible
by Kevin Barnes

Are you a sell out? Yes. Don't let it bother you though, cause apparently I am also a sell out, and so are your parents and everyone you've ever known. The only way to avoid selling out is to live like a savage all alone in the wilderness. The moment you attempt to live within the confines of a social order, you become a sell out. Once you attempt to coexist you sell out. If that's true, then selling out is a good thing. It is an important thing. If we didn't do it, we'd be fucked, quite literally, by everyone bigger than us physically who found us fuckable.

The pseudo-nihilistic punk rockers of the 70's created an impossible code in which no one can actually live by. It's such garbage. The idea that anyone who attempts to do anything commercial is a sell out is completely out of touch with reality. The punk rock manifesto is one of anarchy and intolerance. The punk rockers polluted our minds. They offered a solution that had no future. Of course, if the world would have ended before Sandinista! was released then everything would have been alright. It didn't. Now we have all of these half-conceived ideas and idiot philosophies floating around to confuse and alienate us. I think it is important to face reality. It is important to decide whether you are going to completely rail against the system or find a way to make it work for you. You cannot do both -- and if you attempt to do both you will only become even more bitter and confused.

When I was younger, and supported my parents, I chose to float between the two. A lot of people choose to do this. There are so many confused young people running around now polluted by this alloyed version of the tenets of the punk rock manifesto. Of course they're confused. It isn't possible to be in chorus with capitalism and anarchy. You must pick one or the other. Very few people are willing to do it, though. The worst kind of person is the one who sucks the dick of the man during the daytime and then draws pictures of themselves slitting his throat at night. Jesus Christ, make up your mind! The thing is, there is a lack of balance. When capitalism is working on a healthy level, everyone gets their dick sucked from time to time and no one gets their throat slit. It's impossible to be a sell out in a capitalist society. You're only a winner or a loser. Either you've found a way to crack the code or you are struggling to do so. To sell out in capitalism is basically to be too accommodating, to not get what you think you deserve. In capitalism, you don't get what you think you deserve though. You get what someone else thinks you deserve. So the trick is to make them think you are worth what you feel you deserve. You deserve a lot, but you'll only get it when you figure out how to manipulate the system.

Why commercialize yourself? In the art industry, it's extremely difficult to be successful without turning yourself into a cartoon. Even Hunter S. Thompson knew this. God knows Duchamp and Warhol knew it. Some artists are turned into cartoons and others do it themselves. I prefer to do it myself. at least then I can control how my cock is photographed. Why should it be considered such an onerous thing to view the production of art as a job? To me, the luckiest people are the ones who figure out a way to earn a living doing what they love and gain fulfillment from. Like all things in this life, you have to make certain sacrifices to get what you want. At least most of us do. If you're not some trust-fund kid or lotto winner, you've got to slave it out everyday. People who wanna be artists have the hardest time of it 'cause we are held up to these impossible standards. We're expected to die penniless and insane so that the people we have moved and entertained over the years can keep us to themselves. So that they can feel a personal and untarnished connection with our art. The second we try to earn a living wage or, god forbid, promote our art in the mainstream, we are placed under the knives of the sanctimonious indie fascists. Unfortunately, there isn't some grand umbrella grant that supports indie rockers financially and enables us to exist outside of the trappings of capitalism.

The thing is, I like capitalism. I think it's an interesting challenge. It's a system that rewards the imaginative and ambitious adults and punishes the lazy adults. Our generation is insanely lazy. We're just as smart as our parents but we are overwhelmed by contradicting ideas that confuse us into paralysis. Maybe the punk rock ethos made sense for the "no future" generation but it doesn't make sense for me. I like producing and purchasing things. I'd much rather go to IKEA than to stand in some bread line. That's because I don't have to stand in a bread line. Most people who throw around terms like "sellout" don't have to stand in one either. They don't have to stand in one because they are gainfully employed. The term "sellout" only exists in the lexicon of the over-privileged. Almost every non-homeless person in America is over-privileged, at least in a global sense.

Obviously, I've struggled with the concept. I've struggled because of the backlash following my songs placement in TV commercials. That is, until I realized that the negative energy that was being directed towards me really began to inspire my creativity. It has given me a sense of, "well, I'll show them who is a sellout, I'm going to make the freakiest, most interesting, record ever!!!" ... "I'm going to prove to them that my shit is wild and unpolluted by the reach of some absurd connection to mainstream corporate America."

I realized then that, for me, selling out is not possible. Selling out, in an artistic sense, is to change one's creative output to fit in with the commercial world. To create phony and insincere art in the hopes of becoming commercially successful. I've never done this and I can't imagine I ever will. I spent seven years not even existing at all in the mainstream world. Now I am being supported and endorsed by it. I know this won't last forever. No one's going to want to use one of my songs in a commercial five years from now, so I've got to take the money while I can. It's the same with pro athletes. You only get it while you're hot and no one stays commercially viable for long. It's not like Michael Vick is going to be receiving any big endorsement deals anytime soon. As sad as it may seem, one of the few ways most indie bands can make any money whatsoever is by selling a song to a commercial. Very very few bands make enough money from album sales or tour revenue to enable themselves to quit their day job.

Next time you see a commercial with one of your favorite bands songs in it, just tell yourself, "cool, a band I really like made some money and now I can probably look forward to a few more records from them." It's as simple as that. We all have to do certain things, from time to time, that we might not be completely psyched about, in order to pay the bills. To me, the TV is the world's asshole boss and if anyone can earn some extra bucks from it and they're not Bill O'Reilly, it's a good thing.

Undead Molly said...

I have copyrighted the words "vomit" and "happy". Please cease and desist or become the object of my wrath.

josh said...

Can I still use "retard" as long as I don't capitalize it?

Tanner M. said...

oh snap, Josh! you just got told!

Undead Molly said...

You can use retard, but not fucktard, gooftard, or spaztard.

josh said...

So fuckwit's fair game? YES.

josh said...

BTW, given my Franklin County roots, I feel I have every right to place a great big ol' TM next to fricktard. Can I get a what-what, Tanner Mc?

Undead Molly said...

I grew up in Lamoille County. Does that mean I say 'fricktard' too? How about 'stupid fucking Quebecoise. Too bad you don't souviens how to drive!'.

Tanner M. said...

a what?

josh said...

Yes, you are more than eligible to use both "fricktard" and "stupid fucking Quebecoise..." You also have the right to run Quebecoise cyclists off the road and still consider yourself a pacifist.

Now, I've been called spaztard by several people the past few months. Should I give you their names and applicable information so you can press charges? I wouldn't normally rat out friends, but there's no frickin' way I'm taking the chance of having Howdy Doody doll show up under my bed. I spent a full year hunkered down on my parents' bedroom floor after watching the clown scene in Poltergeist, and I really don't want to relive that at 30 years old.

Tanner, are you kidding me? A what-what. Clearly you still have much to learn about the lexicon of the greater hip hop community.