Not! a Rebel Song Minus Zero


Dear John Francis,

Hey friend, did you see I changed the sidebar so that instead of seeing a “song of the day,” you see “Faux Jean interviews fellow Duluthian Robert Zimmerman?” It’s basically a silly sound collage that I did as an assignment for my audio class at Madtown Tech. I also changed the video in the sidebar to a silly piece I did for a 3D Animation course I took there. The premise is that Unsustainable Honey is the only cure for a new affliction striking people who consume excessive amounts of chia seeds— the disease is called “Chia Butt.” These are temporary things. Please know that I am aware that I am hogging the sidebar and am willing to cede the video to you at any moment that you create a lyric video for one of your songs—preferably done in your own, legendary handwriting.

Anywho, this tune that I am sharing with you today has the dubious honor of being 19 years old…maybe twenty. It is one of the first things I tried recording when I first got my hands on a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. I made a handful of mixtapes of my first experiments with four-tracking and gave them to a couple people. My guy PAV from Steel Shank listened to the tape and said: “If you care about your musical career, never let anyone hear these.” I think he must have been referring to this song specifically, as it suggests a person who is not well. The chintzy Radio Shack mic that I employed was the least of our worries at this point.

This particular digitized version of the song came to me from Melissa D—, who had the tape I’d given her burned to CD by a friend, at a time when that technology was wildly impressive to me. I had given her this mixtape of my quirked out shirked out songs— I think because I wanted her to like me. Further proof that I might not have been well at that point. Do you remember sitting with me and her outside a coffee shop when I threw a cup of coffee at a truck driver who blew her a kiss and wound up just spilling coffee all over myself and looking like a jackass? Man, those were the days. Kinda like that time on Park Point when there was a turtle in the road and we were trying to save it and a car full of girls we knew was driving toward us as we frantically tried to get them to veer away from the turtle but they interpreted our wild gestures as waving hello in a weird way and splat, they killed the turtle that we had perhaps ultimately distracted them from seeing? It is so hard to do the right thing sometimes!

Oh yeah, back to the song. So the title includes both a Bob Dylan and a U2 reference. And in reality, I think I was trying to do a kind of dirty Prince slash Subterranean Homesick mash up on this cut— and show off the fact that I had purchased a Farfisa organ. Bob Dylan and Prince, of course, loom large for you and me, John Francis. Dylan grew up just a few blocks from where we grew up in Duluth, and Prnc (the lack of vowels are mine), grew up just down Highway 61 (now I35) in the emerald city of Minneapolis. I can’t necessarily gauge the aesthetic impression that these things made on me, but the fact that you dubbed “Bringing It All Back Home” and “The Freeweheelin’ Bob Dylan” for me around 1984, and then lent me “Dirty Mind” by Prince, which I dubbed myself (unfortunately on a crappy boombox)— I can’t tell you how many times I listened to these things. They are imprinted on my brain— they made me who I am. And they’re pretty brilliant for local music. (For the record, Parade is my favorite Prince record.)

I should add that you, John Francis, deserve critical/aesthetic kudos, as you were loudly proclaiming to anyone who would listen—long before Purple Rain was released— that this Prince guy from Minneapolis was a genius— that he was going to be the next big thing. I also remember you saying you were super into Joe Biden (who was challenging Walter Mondale et al in one of the primaries of that era, saying that he was going to be the next Jack Kennedy.) And I also remember the day Reagan was shot— not because I was freaked out about Reagan— but rather, because of the fact that you had to go home sick from school that day, the reason being that you had chewed so much tobacco during recess (6th grade) that you turned green. Am I right on this memory? Red Man was the brand of choice, no? And I also remember when you were airlifted out of Mongolia after your face seized up and you were flown to Hawaii to get better, you wrote me a letter about taking up chewing tobacco again to help alleviate the boredom and being hospital-bed bound. Does any of this ring a bell? I’m going to find those letters one of these days!

Man, I keep getting distracted from talking about this song. I’m actually going to hold off on transcribing the lyrics for a bit, as they are just kinda silly. Just go listen to the song, I guess. Tell me if you think it makes me seem “not well.” (cue smiley face and drone shot NOW!)

I remain your humble servant &c.




p.s. I know when you proposed that we write letters to each other as a blog about our songwriting, you were probably thinking of a more forward looking vibe (i.e. new songs), and I swear, I’ve got a bunch of new stuff, but I’ve got a hard drive full of ideas that are driving me insane, and until I can carve out more time when nobody is in the apartment so I can record, I might lean on old new stock. I hope this does not try your patience, my dear friend.


Where I come from they don’t wear no shirt they don’t wear no shoes no underwear and they say it’s like Paradise, they kick you outta there if you ain’t be acting nice. Shirk it on out.





Dumb Donald’s Booty Jam

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.

My bedroom 4 track set up at 1728 W. Lake St. in Minneapolis. Kinder’s old Colorado license plate hangs in the window, upper right.

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.

Anchor Bar after a Tug Boat ride on the icy anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (L-R: Carmen Schindler, Thomas Schindler, John Kinder, John Francis Klun.

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.