Dear John Francis,
I am sitting in the waiting room at the hospital while my wife does Occupational Therapy, typing away on my new keyboard that hooks up to my iPad and acts as a protective case as well. In short, my tech game is on point. Also, I finally went down to the tech store and got the keyboard replaced for my iMac—the delete key and the apostrophe key had died in September or so. I’d come up with some excruciating workarounds, and brother, that was annoying. Now I am unused to the luxury of a delete & apostrophe key. Also, I replaced my iPhone 6 with a 7, as the two year trade in was up and the home key had been dead for about a month. I had workarounds to get into my phone. But yeah, my tech game was hurting there for a sec. Good news is Emily finished her first 8 weeks of chemo and now has a 12 week run of a new kind of chemo and then should be done. And then we can have some fun. Speaking of fun.
I can’t remember what night of the week it was on, but I can only assume you were always watching “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” at the same time I was with my siblings. (After Hee-Haw and Lawrence Welk on Sundays, perhaps?) I still remember a specific episode where Marlon Perkins explained in a jubilant tone that that day’s episode was “all about fun!” And rather than going to the Serengeti and learning about poachers, he went to a circus and watched fez-clad chimpanzees drive go karts around, among other amusements.
It is in a similar spirit that I write this letter to you today, John Francis, as the song I have chosen to share with you is “all about fun.” Indeed, it is an instrumental vamp. This one is built on a beat I made on a Yamaha drum machine that Jean D’ax let me use through our partnership. It was a 12-bit RX-7. Prince is said to have used one of these early on. I created this beat and let it record for about a minute and fifty at 157 BPMs and then started adding guitars on the 4-track cassette recorder. I just had the riff idea and not much else, as you will glean from a single listen. I think I DI’ed the guitars and bass straight into the tape deck, so there is some good solid-state crunch. That old cassette tape I then input to my old pc tower using some sort of HP CD Burner with a quarter-inch input. This ur-track I then punched up in GarageBand to add some synth flavor. And that is the song. It’s pretty loud. And I tagged some stripped down beats at the end if you want to work on your break dancing skills.
I was living on Lake Calhoun with John Kinder at the time I tracked this and he was often popping in to my bedroom slash 4-track studio and giving his two cents about whatever song I was working on at the time. (Or if I was really excited, I’d beg him to come in and listen to my new idea.) He was indispensable as a first set of outside ears— he could let you know with a pained grimace or a big smile and a bouncing head if an idea was garbage or worth pursuing to the next level. I think with this song, he was a little concerned about the arrangement (understandably, as that has never been my strong suit) but liked the overall energy. He can also be heard speaking at the intro about the need to eat some salsa. I still miss John.
As you may recall, John was a semi-pro thrift shopper, and he was always picking things up that he found amusing, in addition to vintage Levi’s and Air Jordans etc., which he was able to sell to Japanese collectors through a friend. For instance, he had a large collection of Scripto lighters, because he loved the kitschy scenes that you could see through the butane.
One day he came home with a few cassettes that he’d picked up at the DAV on University and Dale, and one of the tapes was titled: “Latin Booty Jams.” Boy, we thought that was a hilarious name for a compilation. (This was pre-internet) At the time, I was working up this vamp and had been playing around with German lyrics that read:
- “Bumsen schlafen und gar nichts Schafen / auf dem Tanzboden geschlechtsverkehr als waffen.”
So this song somehow got the working title of “Teutonic Booty Jam,” thanks to Kinder.
This one has haunted me. I actually wound up using the lyrics on a collaboration I did with DJ ESP (Woody McBride) which he called “Deutsch Ass.” But every time I open this file and think, o.k., let’s put the words on this, I always end up vamping and forget about getting around to recording vocals. So then, to change the title of this vamp to “Dumb Donald’s Booty Jam” seemed like a natural progression. I have always envied jazz cats who get to name their instrumental songs whatever they darn-well please, as there is no vocal hook that begs to be in the title. (Speaking of that, I am still wondering if you have a better title for my previous song, “Undecided (In a World with Love.)”)
Now, when 45 came along, I thought Dumb Donald was going to be trending big-time—huuuge-time, if you will. But, since Cosby is the creator of the Dumb Donald character, technically, maybe folks were reluctant to embrace this easy shoo-in of a nick name for the guy who came up with Crooked Hillary and Lyin’ Ted, as Cos’ has become tantamount to toxicity. And now with all this Stormy Daniels stuff going on, “Dumb Donald’s Booty Jam” just seems to make sense. I’m going for it. Maybe we can get Dumb Donald trending after all.
Let the record show that I believe the man is not well. That said, I voted for Bernie in the primary, so I can only hold so strong a grudge against people—people who perhaps don’t follow politics so much as celebrity— who voted against Hillary in the big game. Rage against our fellow man is not the answer, we must cultivate these lost sheep who hold or don’t recognize the hate in their hearts. We need them to line up on the dance floor, almost as if spooning, and start shaking to “Dumb Donald’s Booty Jam.” Perhaps this is the way forward: Love. I would appreciate your feedback on this.
aka Faux Jean
p.s. I was in a coffee shop for the last couple paragraphs, while Emily went to Henry’s class to volunteer. Like I said, my tech game is on point.