Last weekend, while partaking in Record Store Day festivities, I was sipping a sample of Ale Asylum Hopalicious—now in cans, by the way (I’M A COMPANY MAN!)—outside Bullseye Record and Comet Cafe. There, I was watching a break dancer and flipping through CDs arranged randomly on a folding table for the record shop’s sidewalk sale. After pondering and ultimately deciding against the re-purchase of a used Dillinger Four CD…that I likely sold to Bullseye in the first place, my attention was drawn to an object in the distance.
At eye level on a nearby Irving Street telephone pole, I spotted a pristine ivory-colored piece of paper that was newly affixed atop weathered parchments bearing details of past events, lost pets, and ineffective advertisements for a stand-up comedy class. The bright piece of printer paper taped to the pole was marked—no, accented!—by the unmistakable matronly visage of a familiar face from television’s renaissance. It was none other than Phylicia Rashad, the gorgeous and sage thespian who portrayed the sitcom spouse of he who shall not be named. Clair Huxtable. I was instantly hit by competing waves of nostalgia and attraction. But mostly, I was struck with a sense of utter confusion.
The accompanying print only served to magnify my puzzlement. “HAVE YOU SEEN HER?” the document inquired in all-caps Arial font in, say, 22 point intensity that was emphasized with an underline. I hadn’t seen her! What happened to Phylicia? Was she all right? I didn’t even know she lived here, though I know Gene Wilder has local ties. Did they ever work together? I don’t think they did. Wait, is she all right? This has to be a joke. This is a pretty winding route to a Cosby rape joke. I hope it’s just a joke.
That’s roughly the string of thoughts that ricocheted about my internal monologue the moment I finished reading that four-word sentence. I spun to dispose of my empty Hopalicious (now available in cans!) and ventured back to the flyer to read on.
“I’M LOOKING FOR MY QUEEN. I KNOW THAT SHE’S OUT THERE FOR ME. IF YOU KNOW HER WHEREABOUTS, PLEASE CALL LOUIS YORK IMMEDIATELY AT (917) 342-2771 OR VISIT CLAIRHUXTABLE.COM”
That bit of text at least helped clear up any uncertainty regarding Rashad’s well-being, at least until this Mr. York and his all-caps desperation got to her, that is. Still, I wasn’t quite confident I had the proper handle on this situation. Someone was either seeking the actress on the east side of Milwaukee of all places or issuing a request for a strong, confident, intelligent, and wise-cracking woman who embodied the essence of Clair Huxtable’s character. I thought I recalled 917 being New York City’s area code, but I wasn’t about to call the number of a person who purchased a domain name matching a fictional woman’s nomenclature. Instead, I tore off one of the strips with the website on it, snapped the photograph above and went on my way.
Cleaning out my pockets Tuesday, I was reacquainted with this mysterious url. Finally, I typed in the name, making sure to omit the E usually at the end of Clair. It was a re-direct to LouisYork.com, the same name of that fucking creep looking to make a cuckold of longtime NBA Inside Stuff host Ahmad Rashad. Before I knew what was even happening, a music video began to play.
As an acoustic guitar was gently plucked, a man sang:
“She likes to read books on philosophy.
She only eats at small cafes.
She questions every single part of me.
She makes me better every day.”
From there, the narrator used the forum of a cookie-cutter R&B song to pine for his own Clair Huxtable, with whom he could have some “Lisa Bonets” and grow old. Meanwhile, scantily-clad candidates vied for the position one pelvic gyration at a time. So after all that thought and confusion, I was duped into visiting a website of an unknown production duo that, as I would learn, has absolutely no discernible Milwaukee ties and tricked into watching a run of the mill video for song I didn’t even like.
All things considered, though, I’m not even upset I was a pawn in this case of coerced consumption. Instead, I was actually impressed. As modern music continues on its staggering course of unabashed saturation, artists are releasing material at a stream-of-consciousness pace. In an age of acts having twice-annual EP release shows and in the midst of an epoch of promotion that so often consists solely of casting out half-composed Facebook event invites where bands and venues are left hoping half those “Maybe”s feel like showing up so the show can break even, I commend musicians (even uninspired out-of-market musicians with one song to their credit) taking a strange, new, and meandering approach to being heard by some dude drinking on a sidewalk states away.
A piece of paper with Phylicia Rashad on it convinced me to listen to a song. As a person who has quickly become conditioned to deleting publicist’s emails at an alarming clip, and who can so rarely “happen upon” something organically that hasn’t been already halfheartedly thrown my way in one of exponentially many ways, that’s quite a feat. So get out there and beat the streets, Milwaukee musicians, artists, comedians, and whatever-the-fuck-elses. Register for some dumb domain names and take extra steps to direct people to your art—even if it’s technically re-directing them to your art. The city…THE WORLD is one massive telephone pole just waiting to have shit stapled to it.