This Music Leaves Stains is the first book I’ve had published but it is far from the first book I’ve tried to get published, or thought about trying to get published. Here now, an annotated history of never realized JG2 works.
Untitled Dead Kennedys Biography (2002) – Stalled during the research period thanks to several factors (college course load, punk rock politics, my debilitating lack of experience). I covered the nuts and bolts of this failure for Crawdaddy! in a feature called “Give Me Convenience, Give Me Death, Just Tell Me Your Real Damn Name.” The most interesting aspect may be that I put a letter in the mail addressed “East Bay Ray, San Francisco” and it actually reached the correct guy. Your tax dollars at work.
Star Wars Ruined My Life (2005) – Ten chapter essay collection covering the weirder aspects of Star Wars fandom, including my own struggles with George Lucas’s intergalactic money printing machine (#firstworldproblems). Hired a literary agent but no publisher on Earth was interested. I didn’t have a “built-in audience,” which meant my blog statistics were not impressive enough to warrant anything. This era was the beginning of “co-opt every popular thing from the Internet to stave print’s death!” I’m sure my medium talent was also an issue (I know the manuscript lacked punch / direction). I absolutely cannot remember why but for some reason I e-mailed Jay Mohr about this book; he sent a very encouraging reply peppered with some of his theories on Boba Fett, which justified my struggle.
Untitled Oral History Of My Middle School Experience (2005) – An interesting twist on the adolescent memoir (I think): interview a bunch of people I grew up with to see how their worldview around that time differed from mine, turning the whole thing into an oral history with several narrative tracks. My lit agent loved this idea and really ramped me up about it, but then Star Wars Ruined My Life didn’t go anywhere. Representation cut me loose and without a cheerleader I cooled on the concept. Compiled about a chapter and a half, though, and several people I hadn’t spoken to since 1994 taught me a lot about where we grew up and life in general.
Untitled Field Guide To Discontinued Soft Drinks (2007-08) – New Coke, Pepsi AM, OK, DnL…I thought the world needed a comprehensive encyclopedia of every soda that’s ever fallen off the figurative / literal map. Unfortunately, the stories behind these drinks are all more or less the same (they failed because they were bad and nobody bought them), and when it came down to pitching this book few people understood what exactly what I was talking about. “Oh, like a coffee table book with pictures of the sodas?” No, a field guide. Like for birds. Maybe this idea is terminally flawed.
Untitled “Gong Show” Episode Guide (2006) – An excuse to track down average weirdos and hear about their experiences on the greatest televised competition of all-time. I think I concluded too many former “Gong Show” contestants / employees would be dead, and I also worried about the book’s marketability. Chuck Barris was hot in ’06, but how long would that last?
Untitled “Simpsons” History (2009) – At the time a lot of rumors were swirling about “The Simpsons” finally coming to an end. That didn’t happen, but I abandoned this idea mainly because I heard Morgan Spurlock was making a “Simpsons” documentary. Had I known his end product would be some gimmicky forty-five minute nonsense instead of the in-depth feature length “Simpsons” doc we deserve maybe I wouldn’t have jumped ship.
My Life Is A Screenplay! (2010) – The high school teacher who semi-successfully sued 20th Century Fox for plagiarizing his Christmas comedy script read my post about Jingle All The Way being a cursed property and e-mailed me with an offer to co-write a book about his life. I had just started work on This Music Leaves Stains so I had to turn him down. There also didn’t seem to be much else in his life aside from “I sued a movie studio and won but then they took the money back.” Also, that title. Woof.
Naturally I reserve the right to resurrect any of these properties at a future juncture. You never know when Chuck Barris might be hot again.
The following quotes are taken from recent Punknews.org interviews with singer Jello Biafra (second from right) and bassist Klaus Flouride (far left) concerning the band they used to share and are presented “oral history” style, because additional commentary is sort of unnecessary (or maybe because I just can’t bring myself to dwell on this acrimony anymore).
KLAUS: We’d recently been invited by a premiere festival that has in past years reunited bands ranging from Sex Pistols to Portishead to perform with the original [Dead Kennedys] line-up. We put forth the offer (through our manager to Jello’s lawyer—the only route), the proposition to which we were flatly refused…we have to think, he plays Dead Kennedys songs, we play Dead Kennedys songs as we both have the right and desire to, so why the hell can’t we figure out how to let our agendas go and perhaps play them together again?
JELLO: I’m still as proud as I’ve ever been of Dead Kennedys’ music and our legacy and all the cool shit we did together but I’m just embarrassed to know those guys now.
KLAUS: The reason Biafra will only talk to us through lawyers could be that he’s too embarrassed to admit he skimmed $76,000 from his fellow band mates and then lied to us about it. That’s what he did to [guitarist East Bay] Ray, [drummer] D.H. [Peligro], and myself, and that’s what he was found guilty of in the trial.
JELLO: They sued the shit out of me to walk away with everything and abuse it anyway they want. Sure, there was an accounting error on [our record label] Alternative Tentacles’ part, for which I am very sorry and for which we paid them in full dating back to something like 15 years before they sued.
KLAUS: In the early days after the trial, when we found ourselves offered tours and dates to play, I personally contacted Jello and invited him to put the past in the past and to come along with us to which he flatly refused in the form of a fax letter. Since then we’ve again offered an olive branch and invited him to sing on subsequent tours only to be told by his lawyers to not contact him directly, but to make all communications through his lawyer.
JELLO: I’m not a big fan of reunion[s] but when I saw the Stooges it was not lost on me how much it would mean to people to see the real Dead Kennedys line-up back together…but for that everybody has to be willing to get along and treat the other people with respect and they have no intention of doing that…in their hearts [the other Dead Kennedys have] become Republicans and I just wouldn’t do something like that unless we can bring back the real thing.
KLAUS: That’s kinda a crazy inflammatory comment and he knows it. What do you think? And so you can’t claim that as a non-answer answer I’ll be serious for you and state flatly, no we aren’t [Republicans], and it is sort of sad that one would even ask that question in response to yet another flagrant “Big Lie” kind of statement.
JELLO: In a way getting me back into the band would be their worst nightmare, [because I’d] make them rehearse.