Recently, a major story of great cultural significance fell through the cracks of the mainstream media. Because we at the Sunshine Jen New Bureau (aka SJNB) believe that even the most trivial of events should be examined to death, then past death and on into the afterlife (if there is one), we have devoted all of our resources to covering this very important story in full.
What is the story? You might ask.
Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts has broken up.
That what of whom? You might ask.
Russell Crowe's rock band broke up.
Wait, isn't he that actor guy? You might ask.
Yes, but he also plays in band with other musician guys of admirable ability. Before Russell Crowe became Super Famous Russell Crowe, they all played together, and they wrote songs and made CDs, and it was fun.
Then, recently, in a somewhat cryptic letter on the band's website, Russell Crowe (or RC as the fans like to call him) announced the dissolution of the old band and the beginnings of a new band, thus sending shock waves through out the grunting world.
Always ready in these changing times, the Sunshine Jen News Bureau (SJNB) has dispatched reporters around the world and sought in-depth analysis from some of the greatest minds of the new millennium.
First, we have our ace reporter, Michael Walden, on the ground in Sydney, Australia. Michael, can you hear me?
MW: G'day, Jan.
SJ: First of all, Michael, are you in a safe place?
MW: Jan, I'm in a Starbucks right by the Circular Quay which isn't really circular. It's more of a square shape.
SJ: And what is the mood on the streets of Sydney tonight?
MW: Well Jan, the mood is very SHHHHHH and the people here SHHHHH. BANG! BANG! BANG!
SJ: Michael, you're breaking up. Are you okay?????
MW: Wait, I'm just gonna step outside. They've started using the espresso machine.
SJ: If you're just joining us, I have Michael Walden on the phone from Sydney. He is covering the ramifications of the breakup of Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts.
MW: Hello Jan?
SJ: Yes Michael, we're here. Tell us the mood down in Sydney.
MW: Right. The mood. Well Jan, the mood here is pretty much normal. People seem to be going on with their lives normally.
SJ: But surely, this is something which affects the citizens of Sydney on a cultural level at the very least.
MW: Not really. In fact, almost everyone I talked to hadn't even heard of them.
SJ: Have you been able to make contact with the other members of the band?
MW: No Jan. I think they've gone into hiding.
SJ: And we've been getting reports that US Troops might be sent in.
MW: Looks doubtful at this point, Jan. I think there are still diplomatic options available.
SJ: Thank God for that.
MW: Listen Jan, I gotta run. I've got an appointment to do the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb.
SJ: Stay safe, Michael!
MW: Peace out, Jan!
SJ: Next, we turn our attention to the letter itself. For an in-depth analysis, we turn to Professor Wilbur Weatherby. Professor, welcome.
PWW: It's a pleasure, Jen.
SJ: Tell me, Professor, what is your overall impression of the Crowe letter.
PWW: Well, on first impression, I would say the guy's a sentimental nutter. . .
SJ: Sentimental nutter is a very strong phrase, Professor. It almost sounds like you are dissing Russell Crowe.
PWW: Believe me, no diss is intended. The history of literature is full of sentimental nutters both good and bad.
SJ: Name a good sentimental nutter, Professor.
PWW: Oh now you're putting me on the spot, Jen.
PWW: Sentimental nutter. Let's see. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. There's no place like home, blah, blah, blah.
SJ: But Dorothy is a fictional character and Russell Crowe is a real person.
PWW: Que Sera Sera. It's all a mish mash of post modern pop cultural confusion anyway. What was his last movie?
SJ: I think it was Master and Commander Colon The Far Side of the World.
PWW: It's been awhile hasn't it?
SJ: But getting back to the letter, Professor. RC states that tofog (aka Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts) has ‘dissolved/evolved'.
PWW: Ah yes, the rhyming contradiction although I can't think of anything that has first dissolved and then evolved, can you?
SJ: Perhaps an airborne virus, Professor?
PWW: Hmph. It's all such a magical realism-play-with-words-woo-hoo-look-at-me narcissism. Look at me! I'm a poet and I know it. Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!
SJ: Does this ‘woo-hoo' then carry over into the ‘joy of writing unrestricted' that Crowe goes on to talk about?
PWW: Jen, I tell you. It's alllll about the Woo-hoo and the Yee-hah.
SJ: So can pure joy be considered narcissistic?
PWW: No. And let me make this point strongly. Pure joy is brutal.
SJ: Why do you say that, Professor?
PWW: Joy, pure and ecstatic joy, must be brutal. Otherwise, it has no weight to it.
SJ: But aren't we supposed to feel lightness when we feel joy?
PWW: No. Lightness is no feeling. It is the absence of all weight. Without weight, we are merely floating. We need gravity. We need substance! Otherwise, we'll sink in lightness.
SJ: Crowe says the new album will be called ‘My Hand My Heart'.
PWW: You're kidding???
SJ: Right here in paragraph four.
PWW: Oh. I skimmed that part.
SJ: He calls it the most satisfying record he's made and believes the listener will be seduced by its beauty.
PWW: Ah hah! He's a romantic.
SJ: That's nice.
PWW: ‘My Hand, My Heart'. That title sounds familiar. Myhandmyheart. Myhandmyheart. Ah hah! West Side Story!
SJ: I'm afraid I don't follow, Professor.
PWW: It's a song from West Side Story. Only it's ‘One Hand, One Heart'. (singing) Onnnnne Hand. Onnnnne Heart.
SJ: Thank you, Professor. Now joining us in our studio is Steve Ockman. Steve is the leading musical theatre lyricist of his generation. By the ripe old age of 26, he has had 52 different musicals on Broadway. He has won every major theatre award, and some say, he is as prolific as Shakespeare. Steve O, Welcome.
Steve O: Hey, Sunshine Jen. I just wanna say to the Professor that you fuckin' rocked on that Steve Sondheim lyric.
PWW: Well thank you. Thank you very much. I was a lyric tenor back in my youth.
Steve O: Whoa. It shows, man.
SJ: So Steve, what do you make of the letter?
Steve O: Oh man, I read the letter, and man he's just like the Gladiator man. I mean the Gladiator, he was like this guy and he like loved his wife and son but he has to go through all this shit. I mean, really bad shit. I mean tigers and shit. And he's got all these guys helping like that big bulked up dude who gets an arrow shot in his leg and that other guy---that really cool guy who was in that Janet Jackson video. But they all die---or some them die, I forget---I oughta rent it again. So the Gladiator has all these guys helping him, but in the end, the Gladiator dies, but that's okay cause he walks though fields of gold. Fields of gold. That's very Sting, man.
SJ: Actually, Sting is referred to in the letter. He and Billy Bragg are called ‘songwriting heroes who give testament to the quiet power' of his new song.
Steve O: Whoa. It's like I'm just talking about Sting, and now you're talking about Sting. Synchronicity, man, Synchronicity.
PWW: Beautiful minds think alike.
SJ: So Steve, in the letter, RC. . .
Steve O: RC? Like the cola? (singing) Me and my RC. Me and my RC. Remember that commercial with the chick on roller skates?
PWW: I thought the chick was drinking tab?
Steve O: Oh I thought the tab chick was the one in the pool.
SJ: Guys, we're here to do serious analysis, not talk about soft drinks and chicks.
Steve O: Ohhhh. Sorry, Jen. Go ahead.
SJ: In the letter, Crowe talks about a new writing collaboration as a ‘magical music collaboration'. Steve, you've collaborated with a lot of different writers. What do you make of that statement?
Steve O: Uhhhh. Well. Uhhh. Yeah. Uh. I've collaborated with a lot of different people and uh it's been uh different every time. But I wouldn't say publicly uh like that one is better than this one because that is wayyyy uncool and I'm a nice guy. I can't like do that to other people. There might uh be a guy. . .or girl. . .that I'm happier working with, but I wouldn't say. Cause uhhhh. That's just me. It's like when you go up the ladder, and you don't know who's holding it when you come down. So uh, yeah. What were we talking about again?
Steve O: Yeah. Collaboration's a bitch, man. No, wait, uh, that's the wrong thing to say. Don't fucking quote me on that. Collaboration is like a woman---full of stuff and you gotta treat her/it with respect or you don't get squat out of it. No. That's not right either. Collaboration is like a. . .a. . .like a joint. You hope it stays together and burning long enough to get high off of. And you hope that you've got some real good shit.
SJ: Thank you, Steve.
Steve O: You're welcome, Jen. And I just wanna give a shout out to the cast of my new show, Riding in Cars, down at the Neil Simon Theatre. You guys rock!
SJ: Lastly in this hour, we have Mary Jane Melville, who is a fan of Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts and actually sold her soul to Russell Crowe. At least that's what her business card says. Mary Jane, first of all, why the heck did you sell your soul to Russell Crowe?
MJM: Well Sunshine Jen, I didn't really sell my soul to Russell Crowe. I just like the imperfect internal rhyme of the line. I sold my soul to Russell Crowe. Cool huh?
SJ: I guess.
Steve O: Heheheheh. Wayyy cool.
SJ: Mary Jane, you must be devastated by the news.
MJM: Not really. Half of their last album sucked rocks. I've been listening to U2 and the Supersuckers lately.
SJ: Are you excited about the new song that's coming out in April on I-Tunes.
SJ: He said it has made both men and women cry. Will you listen to the new song when it comes out?
MJM: Sure. I mean. It's just a song, right? I like songs. Songs are always going through my head.
SJ: What song is in your head right now?
MJM: Uhmmm. Oh yeah. (sings) How does it feel? How does it feel? To be on your own. With no direction home. Like a complete unknown. . .
Steve O, PWW, MJM: Like a rolling stone!
(The sound of hands pounding on the table.)
SJ: People please! The table's not that sturdy. We must get back on topic. Mary Jane, you saw the band when they toured in 2001.
MJM: Oh yeah. They rocked! Woo-hooo!
PWW: See! See! It's the Woo-hoo! Brilliant!
SJ: And what made them rock exactly?
MJM: Everything. From Dave Kelly on drums to Garth on bass to Stewie blowing the horn to Deano and Wilkie keeping it tight with their guitars and Russell up in front. It rocked, SJ. And we were all singing and dancing. It was fun. It was Tofog.
SJ: And tell me, Mary Jane, what is your favorite Tofog song?
MJM: I don't really have one favorite song. There's a song called ‘What's Her Name?' that I like a lot. I hope they do a new recording of it for the album. I also like ‘Oblique is My Love'. It's a love song that's mathematical too. I also like the song about all the people who have the same name and I like the one about LA.
Steve O: Yeah, I like that one too. (sings) What's in LA for a southern girl like you? What can you get that you can't find here---except solid air?
MJM: 'All the White Circles'. 'What Do You Want Me To Forget?' 'Things Have Gotta Change'. 'The Night Davey Hit the Train' Yeah, I like them when they rock out.
SJ: And what's your favorite album, Mary Jane?
MJM: Ummmm. I'd have to say ‘Bastard Life or Clarity'. It rocks.
PWW: Hmmm. Bastard Life or Clarity. An either/or choice. The tension of opposites. Fascinating. Fascinating.
Steve O: Kind of cool using bastard adjectively.
PWW: Word play. Interesting. Very interesting.
SJ: What do you think of the song, ‘The Photograph Kills' which contains the line, ‘the photograph kills and your fame will destroy you'.
Steve O: Whoah dude, you screamed that right into my ear.
MJM: Yeah, that's a good song. And then there's High Horse Honey. (sings) Come on get down, off your high horse honey, the least you could do is smile.
Steve O: Nice.
MW: Jannnn, it's Michael. WOOSH.
SJ: Michael Walden in Sydney. Michael, are there any new developments?
MW: I'm on top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, Jan. The view is spectacular. The wind is blowing all around me. WOOOSH!
SJ: That's nice, Michael.
MW: I'm up here, and I had to call because Sunshine Jan, I want to marry you.
SJ: What did you say, Michael? You're breaking up.
MW: I want to marry you, Sunshine Jan.
SJ: But Michael, we've never met. We've never even been in the same room. We've only talked on the phone while you were on the ground at a breaking news story.
MW: I don't care. It's all so clear up here. WOOOSH!
SJ: Michael, please be a professional.
MW: Wow! That was a strong gust of wind!
SJ: Call me back after you get off the bridge.
MW: Right. But you won't forget what I said. I want to marry you!
SJ: We'll talk about it later.
MW: Until then, my love.
SJ: Good bye, Michael.
SJ: Where was I?
Steve O: That's so cool. I hope it all works out. It's all about the love, man. It's all about the love.
PWW: All you need is love.
MJM: Love is all you need. Are you going to take him up on it?
SJ: FINAL THOUGHTS! Final thoughts. Professor.
PWW: An attempt at romanticism in this twisted cynical world is admirable. I am curious to see what RC---the writer not the soft drink---does next.
SJ: Steve O.
Steve O: They're just a fucking pub band. Bands break up all the time. It's all okay. It's like the end of LA Confidential. Some guys get medals and glory. And some guys get Kim Basinger---which is not a bad thing cause she rocks. But at the end of the day, I think it's all okay. Yeah. I guess so. You know what I was thinking the other day, I was thinking we need more butterflies in this world. Yeah, that would be cool, man.
SJ: Mary Jane Melville.
MJM: I wrote a poem about this whole letter thing. Do you want to hear it?
SJ: Sure. It's poetry month.
MJM: You wanna write without restriction Such a beautiful conviction To land you in a peaceful prison Imprisoned by your own damn vision Me, I'm chained to my typewriter Training as a word class fighter Jab cross hook, jab cross hook Cross hook weave cross hook weave Til the wrapped-up knuckles bleed Don't take it all too serious And try to stay a bit delerious Keep it all a bit mysterious And for christsake do not weary us Cause a girl can get weary You know we do get weary When I am, I drink martinis They make all my problems teeny They get me to last call Hey Russ, this song ain't about you at all It ain't about your mind and heart It's about the farts and starts It's about disappearing reappearing And the last minute dramatic veering Don't depend upon your heroes To say you got it right Writing may have beauty But it's a god damn beast of a fight There's no white light of creation Or inspiration exaltation It's only perspiration and damnation And artificial respiration
Steve O: I want to make love to you, Mary Jane.
MJM: Sorry Steve, I've already got a date with the Professor.
Steve O: Maybe later then?
PWW: Back off sonny, you wouldn't know how to handle her.
SJ: Thank you to my guests here in the studio. See you next time on the Sunshine Jen News Bureau.