Musicians, by and large, have always had a bad reputation. Now, certainly, it's deserved at times. Axel Rose has refused to play concerts to tens of thousands of exasperated fanatics for want of a lamb shank. Ozzy Ozborne once staggered into a suit-and-tie meeting with some label executives and, after releasing a jacket-full of doves for dramatic effect, chewed one of those doves' heads off. And surely, no father wanted his daughter bringing G.G. Allen home for supper. I mean, unless that father was a masochistic coprophiliac, and then, well, who's judging who, really?
But there are countless other cases of musicians maligned for dubious motives. Nicolo Paganini and Robert Johnson were long assumed to have dealt with the devil for their prodigious skills, and, suffice it to say, you don't often hear the words "Faustian contract" associated with tree surgeons. The Italian composer Antonio Salieri has been fingered as Mozart's poisoner with evidence that could best be described as "suspicious," "arguable," or "made up by some whack-job." Hell, even Britney Spears---certainly no rock of pious chastity---has been slandered to the extent that if you read a "Brit Chairs KKK-NAMBLA Co-Convention!!!" headline in the grocery store, you really wouldn't be surprised.
Now, Birdmonster, well, we're pretty wholesome folks. Sure, we've got a collective unquenchable thirst for Quaaludes, but, really, who doesn't? Otherwise, we're the sort of people who do your dishes rather that breaking them in half and stabbing your pets. We're the salt of the earth over here. I mean, look: no devouring of peaceful birds, no lamb-shank-related bribery, no contracts with Beelzebub, no horseplay with fecal matter. No big deal, you might protest. Nothing to be proud out. These things are givens. No one, in real life, actually does those things, you'd say, and then we'd go back to playing cribbage and chatting politely about the news of the day.
Of course, you'd be wrong.*
See, a few weeks ago, I was at my straight job, doing what it is I do at my straight job. Namely, that's conversating with lawyers or sending angry letters to those selfsame lawyers demanding all manner of documents and evidence even though I really have no idea what I'm talking about. Essentially, then, I'm paid to out-bullshit professional bullshitters. It's fun in that not-at-all-fun sort of way.
At any rate, there I was, on a pleasant MonsWednesday, staring at a letter I'd received from a partner at a Defense firm. It was an especially haughty missive and it forced me to mutter this gentleman's surname aloud.
"Damn you, Jenkins!" I said, pounding my fist on my desk.**
"Jenkins?!" exclaimed a passerby. "JENKINS! You know about Jenkins, right?"
I knew he was a horrible pompous ass, but beyond that? "No," I replied.
"Hold on," said our passerby, who scurried off to his desk, grinning in a not altogether healthy way.
I went back to working. In fact, I sort of forgot about the whole exchange. I was neck deep in a letter to Mr. Jenkins himself when our passerby returned.
"Ok," he began, evidently fighting off some serious glee while he handed me a legal document. "So Jenkins got fired from his old job and his employer sued him. But this is Jenkins' cross-complaint for breach of contract. Skip down to the fourth page there. See what I highlighted?"
I saw. I read. I winced.
"Jenkin's rage carried over into the late night hours. At approximately 2:27 a.m. on April 23, 2003, only a few hours after the dinner meeting, Jenkins returned to the San Francisco office. While there, Jenkins destroyed the computer equipment in his office, left papers and files scatted about his office, and placed piles of his feces in his office and on a mouse pad on top of a cabinet in a common area near the kitchen. Jenkins also smeared feces on one copier and one of the sinks in the men's bathroom.
...Jenkins' mess was discovered later in the morning on Staff Appreciation Day by Julia Monroe, Office Manager…"
First off, let me tell you it was incredibly difficult for me to not mention that in the letter I was writing: "Plaintiff seeks responsive documents, including but not limited to sales records, product specifications, and please, please don't shit all over them, Jenkins." Second, while I know lawyers don't enjoy the reputable social status that nurses and firefighters do, they are rarely lumped in with the Lady Divines of the world either. Which brings us to our moral: never judge a person by his job. Or, more universally, you never know who's crapping on your mouse pad.
* and of course, I'm winning in our imaginary cribbage game. Double run for 8, sucker. And I got Knobs.
** for the record, his name isn't "Jenkins." I did one of those "names have been changed to protect the innocent" things they do on Get Smart.