T-Shirt, gone. Band, happy.

I’ve known some authors who just rock at self promotion. I’ve known others who would rather stick their tongue into a poo-flavored light socket than self-promote. I myself have long been a wallflower in the second camp. I suppose that’s why the source file idea makes so much sense to me: it’s about as behind-the-scenes as it’s possible to get.

Meanwhile, I watch Almost Famous a lot. The last time, a particular scene jumped out at me. If you haven’t seen the film, it’s “a think-piece about a mid-level band, struggling with their own limitations in the harsh face of stardom.” (He’ll wet himself, har har.) After a good show, the band, Stillwater, is back stage flying high, when their manager surprises them with a box of their first t-shirts freshly arrived from the record company.

They’re all stoked until they see the picture on the shirt:  Russell Hammond, the lead guitarist, owns the foreground alone. Everyone else has been shunted into the background, their faces and forms blurred out. This strikes a match to lead singer Jeff Bebe’s always-smoldering jealousy of Russell.

The scene plays out thusly:


Russell Hammond: Can we just skip the vibe, and go straight to us laughing about this?

Jeff Bebe: Yeah, okay.

Russell Hammond: Because I can see by your face you want to get into it.

Jeff Bebe: How can you tell? I’m just one of the out-of-focus guys.

Russell Hammond: Here. Take it. Let’s take a good look at it, all right? See, you love this T-shirt. It lets you say everything you want to say.

Jeff Bebe: Well, it speaks pretty loudly to me.

Russell Hammond: It’s a T-shirt. Do you give a shit about a T-shirt?

Larry (the bassist): I’m just hungry, man. Let’s just go out and find some barbecue or something.

Jeff Bebe: I’m always gonna tell you the truth. From the very beginning, we said I’m the front man, and you’re the guitarist with mystique. That’s the dynamic we agreed on — Page, Plant, Mick, Keith — but somehow it’s all turning around. We have got to control what’s happening! There’s a responsibility here.

Russell Hammond: Excuse me, but didn’t we all get into this to avoid responsibility?

Jeff Bebe: I can’t say any more with the writer here. (Gestures toward William, our hero and POV owner)

Russell Hammond: You can trust him. Say what you want. He won’t write it.

Jeff Bebe: I work as hard, or harder, than anybody on that stage. You know what I do? I connect. I get people off!  I look for the one guy who isn’t getting off…and I make him get off. Actually, that you can print!


The scene, naturally, always makes me think about promotion, since Jeff is such an attention-ho, and they actually designated marketing roles for each other. Then of course I have to try to apply the “guitarist with mystique” tag to promotion styles I’ve seen, and I came up with a list:

The Russell Hammond: the guitarist-with-mystique type (aka the “You might hate me but I’m still very talented, therefore relevant” type)

The Jeff Bebe:  the attention-loving frontman (aka “The D-bag, and when I say D-bag, I might also mean diva” type)

The Paris Hilton: the Oops-everyone-accidentally-on-purpose-look-at-me type

The Rush Limbaugh: the agenda-laden shock-jock type

The ObiWon Kenobi: the talk-softly-carry-big-stick type

The Martha Stewart: the militant-self-promoter type

The Kanye West: the public-train-wreck type (followed naturally by…)

The Taylor Swift: the all-honey-no-vinegar type

This could go on a while; it’s fun, and bears examining, I think. Would adding “style” to a plan make it any easier for us don’t-go-into-the-light types?






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