Hello friends. It is with great wonder that we announce to you now that our humble rock and roll band will performing this Thursday night on reputable network television program Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Yes, for three and a half glorious minutes, Titus Andronicus will invade the living rooms of America, sweep out all the cobwebs of our bankrupt society and replace them with the seeds of a glimmering punk utopia. Right? The show will air on the National Broadcasting Company, which was Channel 4 the last time I checked, at 12:30 am - also appearing will be "Rescue Me" star and singer-songwriter behind perrenial classic "Asshole," Dennis Leary, a man as smart and funny as Dennis Miller and as subversive and challenging as Timothy Leary, or something like that.
So yeah - that should be pretty interesting. You can be a part of this historic event too, if you so please. There is such a thing on the show as a "band bench," I have learned - the musicians perform on a stage which is unlike the stages we usually perform on, in that there is standing room for the audience above, rather than below, the performer. It can be you that has this bird's eye view on the proceedings, if you follow the instructions at this here website. I encourage strongly all of you Titus Andronicus fans to join in, lest we be surrounded by ambivalent tourists fresh out of Mars 2112 or the ESPN Zone or whatever it is.
I'll say this about Jimmy Fallon. He was never exactly my favorite Saturday Night Live cast member (though he certainly got his share of chuckles out of me) and I don't like how he made fun of my favorite local coffee shop, Cafe Grumpy (where I sit even as we speak), when they made available a $12 cup of coffee (as though he had never spent as much or more on an equally or more frivoulous item, but I guess that's comedy, right?). He did do one thing, though, that I thought was pretty remarkable. Remember the big fuss back in 2008 when the race for the White House was in full swing, Tina Fey did her seminal impression of Sarah Palin, and a lot of people theorized that this impression, as it was so convincing, did much to sway the public's perception of the real Sarah Palin? And remember how this raised so many questions about our post-modern condition and the ever-widening gap between public perception and reality and all this? Well, that was certainly an impressive feat by Tina Fey, but I believe that Jimmy Fallon did it first, albeit on a smaller scale - think of him as John the Baptist to Fey's Jesus. I am referring, of course, to the classic Celebrity Jeopardy skit wherein Fallon played Adam Sandler. This is a post-modern quaqmire to begin with, as Sandler too was an SNL cast member, and it could easily be argued that Fallon was his aesthetic successor. What made this skit, and Fallon's performance, so special was how, to my friends and I, at least, it successfully inserted itself into the "Sandler canon," if you will. I speak not of his films or his many great sketches on SNL or even his underrated and still-enjoyable comedy albums, but rather, the long, rich succession of one-liners and catch phrases, which have been repeated ad infinitum by youngsters for decades now. There are too many to list, but you know what I am talking about - "That's something that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!" "That's quacktastic!" or even the humble, "GOOO!" In today's world, where Twitter and Facebook and all of our "youth technologies" scramble to compress our Earthly existence into bite-sized, instantly digestable nuggets, perhaps it is this sort of canon that will be the greatest indicator of an "artist's" success. Anyway. Fallon, as Sandler, had two dynamite moments - the first was when he said, in a voice which began in a bumbling mumble and crescendoed into a manic bellow in classic Sandler fashion, "One time I was out with my friends on a boat and this guy on the boat was, like, 'COME TO THE BACK OF THE BOAT!'" The second was his answer in Final Jeopardy - "Abby dooby." Both these things are funny things to say, in their own right, and can stand alone as funny things, but in the years that followed, as my friends and I indulged in our favorite Adam Sandler quotes, it was easier to insert these particular "Sandler" quotes, even though Sandler himself had never spoken them - they became as common as "Nudie magazine day!" or "He spit in the cooler." I guess the point I am trying to make is this - when James Bond says something like, "You know what I can do with my little finger," it doesn't really matter that much whether it is Daniel Craig saying it or Pierce Brosnan or Sean Connery or whoever else, in much the same way that when "Sarah Palin" says something foolish on Saturday Night Live, it might not make much of a difference to the public whether it was Sarah Palin or Tina Fey saying it, just as it didn't matter whether it was Sandler or Fallon doing "Sandler." Is it true that actors, or any public figures, though they are human beings, are becoming characters? Becoming recognizable "brands" that are not necessarily attached for all time to their human progenitors? It would seem that Jimmy Fallon proved it was so, by doing "Sandler" as well as Sandler, by the standards of the "canon" discussed above. Whoo, kind of a roundabout way to say that, no?
Speaking of Tina Fey, there is something I have been meaning to tell you for a while. On an episode of "30 Rock" from last season, entitled "Argus," the Jenna Maroney character describes a new boyfriend, saying that he "works for a bankrupt circus." This immediately brought to mind the Silver Jews song "Horseleg Swastikas," from their great 2001 album Bright Flight
, wherein David Berman sings of "working for a bankrupt circus on the wrong side of Saturday Night." Of course, I immediately reached out to my pal Andrew Cedermark, who is as much of a Silver Jews fan as myself, and pointed out that David Berman and Tina Fey had in common the distinction of having graduated from the University of Virginia, he in 1989, and she in 1992, making for one year of them sharing the campus. Did they ever meet? Ever develop a friendship? Or perhaps even a romance? Or did Tina Fey learn of Berman as a common UVA grad and develop a long-lasting appreciation for the Silver Jews that would result in such an allusion? Maybe none of these things, and it is just a coincidence. I dunno, just something to think about.
Okay, so, what else is going on. Thanks to all of you for snatching up all the tickets to our show with Free Energy at Maxwell's on the 19th of August. With luck, we'll soon surpass Luna as the Band to Have Sold Out the Second Most Shows at Maxwell's (no sense in trying to compete with Yo La Tengo). There are still tickets available for our August 18th show at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn, where we will play with Bad Credit No Credit and Bottle Up and Go. The show is a benefit for Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, so please come and support this very worthy cause.
Still more tickets are available yet for our show at Webster Hall on September 25th. This show is also with Free Energy, and the last show where we will potentially be selling a limited-edition, tour-only seven inch, which has us on one side and Free Energy on the other. Our contribution is a cover of "Anixety Block" by Television Personalities, from their wonderfully rewarding record They Could've Been Bigger than the Beatles, while Free Energy gives us their version of the highly underrated Bruce Springsteen tune "I'm Going Down," from the nigh-perfect B-side of Born In the USA (Sorry, Sarim, but "My Hometown" is just not it). I think there are going to be, like, three to five hundred of these things. Surely no record collection will be complete without one. This is an exciting prospect, though listening to our side makes me a little sad, for it is one of just two recordings made by the short-lived Titus Andronicus 4.0, which included Andrew Cedermark and Ian O'Neil on guitars. Man, imagine what that group might have accomplished. Oh well, onward and upward.
All right, I guess that is all for now. Must go and meet my friend Kevin, for an afternoon of playing Guitar Hero. Woo hoo! See you soon.