Not long after reporting that we were “open for business“, an order was placed — from a new fan in San Diego! How did they find us now, say, and not eight months ago when we were touring California? To make a hilarious story short, while researching pirate-themed artwork from “good girl art” illustrator “Coop“, they found a recent appearance of a pirate band on a radio station named “Co-op”. Strange but true!
Who knows, we thought, maybe we’ll find ourselves in demand in the internet market of the commons. Maybe stuffing envelopes with our sweat and voices will eventually become another humdrum chore, ultimately abstracting high art down to crass commerce. But not yet! Opening the long-neglected “mail art” drawer from back in the postcardx days, this, our first order, from someone who we’ve never even sat in the same room with, was fortified with seven essential vitamins and nutrients. Yes, our CD packaging is grand as it is. Yes, Peter Guindon’s liner notes artwork gives him a place in the “good girl art” pantheon of his very own. (One held up with chunky-thighed caryatids, please.) But there’s no package so great that it can’t be improved with some monkey stickers on the front, an old copy of Brad Yung’s “Stay As You Are” and a plastic alligator carefully packed in a cardboard sleeve marked “Bliss”.
Little did we realise that our new friend (who for reasons of privacy we will be referring to only as… “Tzar Ethers Eels“) was similarly inclined toward the mail artistic persuasion, where sending anything less than a package would be … slackage!
Now, because a picture is worth a thousand words, allow me to save everyone a whole lotta typing.
The package arrived, setting off both pets with its conspicuous disproportionality relative to the $20 it was expected to contain. Perhaps the postman accidentally delivered us someone else’s package? (But no, there’s my name, surrounded by flattering superlatives!) Maybe we had been paid the twenty dollars in loose change? (An impish urge ultimately a losing proposition by post, except in cases where postage has already been paid by the recipient corporation.) Surely the customs manifest would clarify. Hmm… postcards, a DVD… a map?! TOYS?!@#$%
Between shots, the lighting conditions changed and the pump organ became a better backdrop for our mad loot. (Beethoven doesn’t agree about the lighting conditions, hence the hat, but that stony-faced downer will be busted either way.)
First out of the package — our friend’s favorite movie, on DVD: Joe Versus the Volcano. Two burned CDs (the letter discusses the convoluted logic involved in pirating music from one indie band for another; sending music to a cover band is like sending it to a radio station — ultimately it’s a zero-sum compromise at worst and if the tunes catch, we all win.) And what’s that little card? Can we get a close-up?
It is difficult to imagine from what deck of cards that one originated, and what activities might be featured on the other face cards, but when a fortune-teller draws it from her Tarot deck, you know you’d best hop to it! But wait, this is just the tip of the iceberg! There’s more, much more, in that box!
Two postcards from “Lather Seer Zest”’s favorite historical period, the Harlem Renaissance, plus a kinky one celebrating Killer Shrimp! (He was just an ordinary shrimp until one salad roll pushed him too far…) Then there’s a two-page letter written on Bettie Page stationary, and finally an envelope containing a titillating hint of peep show.
And then there’s a world map, celebrating “Ester Ha Seltzer”’s favorite charity. But does the map have any secrets to reveal? Where’s the legend? Where is the treasure buried? By my ancestor’s bones, what spot does X mark?
And then there’s a whole other envelope in the box! From the sounds of things, a very submissive envelope trying to set terms for a bit of rough trade. It’s enormous! For comparison, here’s a full-sized banjo, to scale. (Just kidding! It’s another banjo ukulele, and it’s also not for sale.) What’s in it? Where are the alleged toys?
Sadly, our digital camera does not have a zoom function sufficient to demonstrate the full extent of the miniaturization of the itty bitty bottles of liquor which were contained within the padded envelope, the world’s smallest dram of Jamieson’s whiskey and an eighth of an eighth of Hendrick’s gin (and where is Rumblebucket to enjoy it with us?) They were like models for a doll-house of sin. They were like homeopathic hangover remedies for last night’s bender. They were like… well, we’ll take this opportunity to reiterate the stage banter from Blackbox’s first show as a Plank, at Blim’s Night of Sad Songs. “I used to think that the saddest thing in the world was animals smoking cigarettes, but after some reflection I can report that the saddest thing in the world is in fact drunk children.” Now you know that you can send booze internationally in the mail as long as you call it “toys” on the customs manifest. (Candy is dandy but…) We absolve ourselves of any of the numerous horrible potential consequences of your application of that forbidden knowledge. (Hence our obfuscation of our happy customer’s name, to, er, protect the guilty.)
And finally, flying around loose in the box, almost an afterthought, payment for the CD in American currency, helpfully indicating to us that their monetary designation has moved from dollars to Jays. (I always thought that it would be us here in BC who would move to using jays for currency first, but this is what happens when you get a brother in the White House.)
Here are some perplexed Planks at practice posing with a portion of our package’s portentious possessions. Blackbox and Daisy-Jones are holding the tiny bottles of liquor in their hands, lest a stiff breeze carry them away, while Ludwicka bears the whole world in her hands. This surprise interlude wasn’t just an exciting discovery but also educational: we learned some New Math for how to divide one shot of booze among a band of over a dozen people — put blueberry tea to shame and mix it with your pot of Bengal Spice to help give everyone a warm glow on the last night of winter. Breakfast tea of champions!
If these kinds of shenanigans are what operating a virtual storefront will entail, then we’ll be expecting a full return on our investment plus interest dividends yielded in whimsy! But we’ll spend so much time scheming surprise and documenting delight that our musical activities will necessarily grind to a halt. Perhaps it’s better to keep these extraordinary exchanges just that… that said, the bar has been set if anyone wants to surpass it!