-- Charles M. Schwab
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
-- Oscar Wilde
Brent and his friend Seth have lived in San Francisco about a month, and like many creative souls who make the pilgrimage to the city, they have a dream -- to promote their band, get some gigs, and build a following. This dream may not be as eloquent or prophetic, and certainly not as relevant, as that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; nevertheless, it is still their dream. And despite an utter absence of promotional funds (as well as a steady bass player), they have given birth to a killer idea that will make their goal come to fruition.
But brace yourself for what is about to unfold. Brent and Seth's idea will strike you as absolutely disgusting, an advertising master plan so repugnant, so blisteringly foul to the eyes and ears you may not be able to finish this article. This method of publicity should not exist by any conventional moral standard; only through the grace of Satan himself has such an unholy plot been allowed to infect our city's streets. Even more problematic, their scheme seems to be alarmingly effective.
Two weeks ago, Brent and Seth visited San Francisco cafes with a stack of fliers and posted a hand-scrawled message in each, which read simply:
We need more boogers
P.T. Barnum and Ripley, step aside, and on your way out you can roll up those sideshow banners, because folks, there's a new kid in town. Just when we thought it could sink no further, America's long history of hucksterism and salesmanship has not only hit bottom, but actually burrowed underneath the surface. We're now dealing with a marketing plan that operates on the level of a 3-year-old's fascination with bodily excretions. It could be the newest thing going.
"Random people just call and want to know what it's about," says Brent. "Depending on how they act, I tell them different things."
Sometimes he flat-out asks them for their boogers, or sometimes his response will be more vague:
"We just need more boogers. However you deem the word 'boogers' to mean, we need that."
And sometimes he just gives out their address, and the two wait for whatever might arrive in the mail. You're no doubt wondering what sorts of items are sent to these entrepreneurs. Actual boogers?
"Some people, yeah," answers Brent matter-of-factly. "People have written poetry, or asked us what in the hell it's about. It's a nice way to meet people."
Response to Brent and Seth's plan was much different in New York City, however, where up until a month ago they had periodically performed the same stunt.
"Some people have gotten mad -- 'What the fuck!?' " says Brent. "They actually get pissed off. They want to know what it's about that bad, they get angry. They get antsy about it, like they think it means more than what it says."
And what about the curious citizens of our fair town by the bay?
"They want to understand, which is nice. They say, 'What is this booger thing about?' "
Now aren't you glad you live here?
This vile experiment originally manifested when Seth and Brent were hanging out in New York. Like so many other business epiphanies, it just popped up in conversation.
"It sounded like fun," remembers Brent wistfully. "We decided we'd make a bunch of signs and hang them up. They'd been up a few weeks, and then we made signs that said: 'We don't need any more boogers, thanks,' and we put our phone number on it again. People called that, too, and wondered why we said that we didn't need them anymore. It's just a way to meet people, you know? Maybe tell people about our band."
Yes, their band. Cleveland Funk Tribe has released a CD, Stompalomp, in New York, but this Sunday, March 3, at Boomerang marks their West Coast debut, as Brent persists in mentioning every five minutes throughout our conversation. When pressed for a description of their music, he comes up with "brand-new, upbeat, goofy, funny."
But while they diligently prepare for their live appearance, there is the matter of the boogers that are still arriving at their Haight Street apartment. What exactly do they do with them?
"I don't know -- just look at them," says Brent. "Write the people back. Say, 'Thanks. If you ever want to come up and hang out with us and your tissues ...' "
Where are the tissues at the moment, I find myself asking.
"They're just sitting on the desk right now. We're trying to figure out a safe place for them."
I suggest to Brent they might try freezing them.
"I don't know," he says with some amount of humiliation. "We don't even have a freezer."
But with an outlook this positive, and a plan this foolproof, you can bet Brent and Seth won't be without a freezer for long.
Address all correspondence to: Slap Shots, c/o SF Weekly, 425 Brannan, San Francisco, CA 94107; phone: (415) 536-8152; e-mail: Slapshawts@aol.com.
By Jack Boulware