So There’s A Lynch Mob After You!
A primer for the beleaguered punk singer
Fat Mike, you’re having a bad week. You’re in the soup and there’s no use pretending otherwise. But I’m here to help, brother. Take a deep breath, count to ten and sit down while Poppa Weasel shows you how it’s done.
As you may have heard, I had a little trouble along these lines about 3 1/2 years ago when I slugged a woman in one of our crowds who had been showering me with beer, spit and ice cubes (including one right above the old peeper!) all night. Then I got jumped by another lady and popped her one in the kidneys for good measure. Hey, she had like six inches on me; I thought she was a giant condor. Anyhoo, it ended up in living color all over YouTube and within about 90 seconds the mood on the Internet had turned ugly. This formerly beloved, adored, highly respected gentleman was suddenly public enemy number one!
You and I both know this sort of thing barely registered a blip on the radar in punk not so long ago, but times have changed, my friend. It’s a brave new world, and you and I are a couple of dinosaurs, lumbering around, knocking into shit and making a nuisance of ourselves. The kids are not pleased. But not to worry – your PR expert Ben Weasel is here to save the day for you!
First, apologize. I know – you’ve done it. Not good enough. You need to apologize again. And again. And again. You need to keep apologizing for the rest of your life. People who had nothing to do with the incident, who were thousands of miles away at the time, and who have no idea of the context (and couldn’t care less) sincerely believe you owe it to them.
Granted, in my case, I apologized once and then dropped it, but I’m Ben Weasel; people would think I was ill if I kept saying I was sorry. But you’re Fat Mike! You play the game! Heck, you own the team! If you take the ball and go home, the game is over! So you need to play by the rules. And rule number one is eat shit. Lots and lots of shit. And when you think you can’t take any more, stuff some more shit in your cake-hole and swallow, and do it with a big smile on your face.
Second: try to understand that this is never going to end. Ever. You’ll be up on stage at age 80 bragging about all the coke you just did and trying to convince your geriatric fans to vote for Chelsea Clinton and people will still be bringing up the Big Kick. The sooner you wrap your head around this fact, the sooner you can face reality and take action.
Now, if you were me, you could play the heel and use this situation to your advantage; I’m currently making more money and playing in front of larger crowds than ever before. But you suffer from the unfortunate affliction of wanting to be liked and respected by strangers. So you’d better start getting used to disappointment, because people will be throwing this in your face for the rest of your life. It’s not going away.
Next, you’re going to need to get used to the crazies. Not just the yappers and scolders, but the ones who talk about attacking or killing you and who threaten to post your home address on the Internet. Accept that people are going to wish cancer on your kids, claim that you beat your wife, and announce that they hope your children end up doing donkey porn. Trust me brother, I’ve been there. These are the kind of morally righteous men-of-the-people whose rage you’ve piqued, and they will not be ignored.
This may seem insane to you, but if somebody threatens your life on social media, don’t expect Facebook or Twitter to do anything about it except delete the post. You can’t take legal action unless you file a suit. The cops won’t do anything about it either. You’ll have to defend yourself.
I recommend the Mossberg Persuader. Hell of a shotgun. The great thing about the Persuader is it’s got a pistol grip. Easy as pie. Seriously, the guys from Teenage Bottle Rocket could operate it (if they had opposable thumbs). And it doesn’t matter if you can’t shoot. If you fire this fucking thing within about twenty yards of your target you’re going to obliterate it and everything around, behind and possibly underneath it. I’m pretty sure it even destroys things in other dimensions when fired. I know your politics mean you’re supposed to be against guns, but you can’t count on neutralizing every intruder by kicking him in the face. What if you’re in your bathrobe and slippers after having lurched out of bed at 2 pm? Besides, being a rich San Francisco liberal means never having to live by the rules you impose on everyone else, so do yourself a favor and pick up that Persuader.
And, as a backup, get yourself an English Bulldog. Unlike a pit bull, they won’t tear your kid’s face off when you pop out for a loaf of bread, but they will savagely attack an interloper. Our guy Weezy is a peach with our kids, but somebody looks at one of us cross-eyed and he will sink his teeth into flesh and bone with a fury and purpose unparalleled in the animal kingdom. And we had his nuts cut off. Imagine what he’d do with a full set! The mind reels.
So, you’ve groveled for a few days and fortified your bunker. Now it’s time to plead insanity – or the modern version of it, anyway: enter rehab. Make sure to have your publicist spin it just right so everybody gets the message: that wasn’t Fat Mike backhanding a fan to the ground and then drop kicking him in the face when he was defenseless – it was the drugs!
Now, I see you’ve already made some tentative moves in that direction, and that’s good, but not good enough. The idea that painkillers and a sore neck made you commit a felonious attack on a friendly stranger is a bit of a stretch. You need to prove you’re a walking disaster – you need to do your 28 days. And let’s face it, considering that you’ve been reduced to a physical and mental wreck thanks to years of drug and alcohol abuse, it might not be such a bad idea anyway. And you could actually have a little fun! You’d be surprised how many of those 12-steppers have a sense of humor.
The goal here is to convince people that you weren’t in your right mind. Never mind that you’ve done plenty of this stuff before, from spitting on fans to throwing bottles at women’s heads from the stage. If it’s not documented on YouTube, it didn’t happen. You did, however, get caught on video viciously and brutally beating a fan for trying to hug you. Let’s be honest – you’re lucky you’re not sitting in a jail cell right now. Your offer to buy him a beer was hopelessly lame. Come on. The mob isn’t going to be impressed with that, besides which, the guy’s lip is so swollen, torn and bruised from its encounter with the business end of your Doc Marten he won’t be drinking anything for a week.
By the way, you need to stop having your manager stick up for you on social media. It looks dogshit. When he berates some clown on your label for making a lame, feeble joke about this incident and then the guy frantically deletes his tweet, it does not reflect well on you. This is the time for your friends to stand up for you, not your employees. Being who you are, you attract a lot of barnacles and parasites. Take this opportunity to find out once and for all who’s really got your back and who’s just there for the free blow and the opportunity to do business with you. Your employees need to shut up and stay the course.
Now, I had the bad fortune of having a petty, vindictive jagoff for a label owner back during my trouble, and his employees – and even the other bands on his label – followed his lead when he threw me under the bus. He didn’t give a shit who I punched – his problem with me was that his delicate ego had been bruised because somebody got in his ear and convinced him I’d written a mean song about him on the album I’d just released on his label. Paranoia is a hell of a drug. Like I wouldn’t have crowed and gloated till the cows came home if I’d pulled off something that brilliant! That would’ve been one of the great “fuck you” moments in punk; I’d’ve milked every drop of publicity from it and I’m deeply offended by the idea that I’d deny having done it.
But that’s the disadvantage of putting yourself at the financial mercy of a silly, vain, spoiled rich kid. You used to be on Epitaph – you get it. Those kinds of people always kick you when you’re down (hmm, maybe that was a bad choice of words…). But you – you’re in the catbird seat, my friend! You hold the careers of your employees and the bands on your label in the palm of your hand! You’re like a chubbier, dimmer Caesar! You can ruin those smart-alecks if they don’t toe the line, and don’t think they don’t know it! So make sure each and every one of them keeps his mouth shut. Let ‘em know they’ll never work in this town again if they cross you. Sure, they already know it, but it can’t hurt to underline and bold it for them. Then when the smoke clears, you can end radio silence and have your publicist set up a mea culpa tour for you straight out of rehab. You’ll be back serving your audience shots of liquor laced with your own urine in no time at all!
Finally, take some time off. Do your rehab and your apology tour, then take a break. People will have had more than enough Fat Mike by then, and if time doesn’t heal all wounds, it at least helps the scars fade a little. Get some rest and write.
Come to think of it, you were talking about writing a musical a few years ago. Whatever happened to that? This is the perfect time to pick that project back up. After my e-lynching, I hunkered down and wrote an opera about a sociopathic, egomaniacal musician and his merry band of sycophants, leeches and toadies. It’s called Baby Fat and we’re just about done recording the first act with Mike Kennerty of the All-American Rejects. Blag Dahlia from the Dwarves sings the title role; Kat Spazzy (from the great Australian band the Spazzys) sings the female lead, and I’m singing the role of the overgrown frat boy rock star, Tommy Swank. It also features, among others, Todd C. from Toys That Kill, Roger Lima from Less Than Jake and Line Dahlmann from the brilliant Dahlmanns. It’s been great fun and it helped me channel a lot of the nonsense of the past few years into something positive and productive. I’d be glad to give you a few pointers on writing a libretto (it’s tougher than it looks!) and when Screeching Weasel plays San Francisco and LA after the album comes out on Recess Records next June, we’d love for you to come out to the show; we’re hoping to raise the money to dedicate a section of our set to a mini-production of Baby Fat. I think you’ll get a kick (!) out of it.
And as I noted earlier, Screeching Weasel is playing bigger and better shows than ever. Take a little vacation out to Chicago to see us at the Concord Music Hall on November 22nd. We’re playing with the Queers, Flatfoot 56 and of course, the Dwarves. (Let’s just hope Blag doesn’t punch any ladies!)
Chin up, Fatty – great art can come from this, and you can take a well-deserved break from all the punk politics and scenester nonsense you’ve been immersed in lo these many years. Of course, you’re always going to be stuck with that footage of you kicking a defenseless fan in the face for daring to touch you, but hey, that’s better than having to settle a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, right?
So welcome to the Carnival of Schadenfreude, Fat Mike. The bad news is, you’re stuck here for the rest of your life. The good news? You’ve got me for a seatmate, you lucky duck, you!