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July - Dec 1996
Bullet Train, Nagoya to Tokyo - December 22, 1996
Now that I've read The Rules and decoded womankind's mischievous new dating encryptions, I've graduated to political consultant extraordinaire Roger Ailes' book "You Are The Message." Ailes' techniques, which helped elect Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, will help me use my voice, vocabulary, body language, facial expressions, and attitude to make a positive first impression in seven seconds and convert even my most stubborn detractors. Should these methods fail me, I'll resort to Nixon henchman G. Gordon Liddy's tactics of slander, blackmail, thuggery, and general detractor destruction. Either way, I come out on top, and that's good news for the good ol' U.S. of A. Lest you think that I'm writhing in the grip of a conspiracy-theory hallucination, I assure you that my enemies are many and well organized. Behold the following indisputable evidence:
The terrorist takeover of Japan's embassy in Peru. The liberal media has neglected to mention the hostage-takers' call for my immediate death at the hand of a big hammer-wielding mouse. Does that suck or what? Terrorists are real stinkers.
The investigation of Indonesian contributions to the Clinton campaign. Key suspect John Huang and I discussed my role in the Clinton cabinet over a bowl of borscht in October. I picked up the check, and now the feds are on me like peanut sauce on Pad Thai.
Madonna's refusal to acknowledge that I am baby Lourdes's true daddy.
This Asian tour masquerade. Yeah, right. Like I'm supposed to believe that these so-called "Japanese" aren't just actors, that this scenery isn't a holographic hoax, and that I'm not being dissected by veiny-headed aliens in the basement of a Yonkers brothel.
As I write this, Larry King is pointing at me from within the TV, saying "I'ma gonna get you, Altman.... You're goin' down..."
All right, dammit -- I'm just stir-crazy, road-weary, homesick, tuckered out, flick-deprived, desensitized, bleary-eyed, bagel-craving, horny, and I miss my blankey. Please come fetch me. I've been a good boy and I'm ready to come home and behave. Help...
Gaijin Hygiene
Miyazaki - December 19, 1996
Hey Rockappendages! Do you suffer from obsessive/compulsive neuroses? I never used to, but now that I'm dangerously ensconced in my not-20's, I have adopted an idiosyncratic code of personal hygiene:
1. I avoid touching public lavatory surfaces and handles; instead, I use my feet, elbows, and buttocks to open doors and flush toilets.
2. I wash my hands raw upon exiting public bathrooms.
3. I only dry my hands with paper towels; hot air dryers are rumored to blow ionized feces onto unsuspecting users' hands.
4. I eschew bowls of unwrapped restaurant after-dinner mints; my brother-the- doctor told me they contain traces of urine from people who don't wash their hands raw in public lavatories or who have barehanded the tainted doorknob upon exiting.
5. I aggressively floss until the basin swirl resembles the shower scene from Hitchcock's "Psycho."

This conduct may not seem extraordinary, but it's absurdly inconsistent with my other distinctly non-hygienic bachelor behavior, notably: eating floor-dropped pizza, tolerating weapons-grade bathroom scum, cultivating an award-winning collection of mutant-sized dust bunnies, competitive nose-picking & flicking, undies adorned with Mack truck-width skid marks, and indiscriminate spit-swapping with women of questionable character. So you see, I'm selectively fastidious; it's ok for my house-guest to drink from the milk carton, but god help her if she leaves a lipstick mark!

This issue has special relevance for Rockapella on tour, as our post-concert "meet'n'greets" (aka "beat'n'meats") find us shaking hands (and trading germs) with thousands of our delightful fans. Scientific evidence proves that the common handshake is singularly responsible for the spread of most respiratory ailments and garden variety cooties. Cold-paranoid opera singers are notorious for wearing gloves or refusing to shake hands altogether; but what's a down-with-the-public rock'n'roll choir to do? Shake away, that's what! My gratitude and affection for our audience is so great that I would rather be rock'n'roll's Typhoid-Murray than not warmly embrace a fan's hand, no matter how calloused, clammy, or arthritic. Heck, I'd even shake Bob Dole's claw were it not for that scary razor-honed pencil. Also, the way I figure it, whoever shakes my hand has got as much to lose as I do, given my penchant for bodily imprudence. To quote Billy Joel's "Goodnight Saigon": "We will all go down together!"

Rules Are For Fools
Osaka - December 16, 1996
Our week of tireless promotion and press ended with one last formulaic radio interview in which we discussed our fave Japanese foods (Pocky Sticks, Yunkeru energy serum, still-alive sushi, and Lotte throat lozenges), our spiffy new CD, and our impression of Japanese women (shy, feminine, good kissers).

Now we're in concert mode, and our entourage has swelled to an impressive ten non-bandmembers. A simple maneuver like crossing the street has become an unwieldy military operation; we're a multi-national, semi-literate centipede, half of whose legs don't work and whose brain synapses misfire helter skelter between bouts of bilingual Tourette Syndrome. The benefit is that there's an abundance of unfortunate salarymen to schlepp our satchels, enabling us to be unencumbered ugly-American divas of the lowest order. To further embrace the classic Yank-as-brute image, I've taken to rampant jaywalking, proudly asserting my boorish Bronx scofflaw persona in the face of traditional Japanese rules adherence.

On the subject of rules meant to be broken, my on-tour reading list includes the paperback "The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right." The stated goal? "Marriage, in the shortest time possible, to a man you love, who loves you even more than you love him." As one of the nation's most eligible divorced bachelors, it's my business to know the opposition's current tactics. Here's a few of the more abhorrent Rules: "Don't Call Him & Rarely Return His Calls," "Don't Accept a Saturday Night Date After Wednesday," and "Don't Rush Into Sex." If followed, these three Rules will decimate my social life, as my typical weekend is a revolving door carnival of last-minute, hastily scheduled one night stands. This book is a bestselling sensation so I'm understandably panicstricken and in need of an effective counter-strategy. Thus, to minimize the frightening likelihood of my being rolled by a scheming "Rules Girl," I'm presently only dating illiterate women and those with acute dyslexia. Please send resumes and proof of illiteracy/dyslexia to

Tokyo - December 12, 1996
Behold Rockapella...the a cappella walking dead. We just completed our fourth jam-packed promotion day: eleven hours of shameless mugging, lusty pratfalls, manufactured comradery, hairbrained lyrics fractured to suit Your Radio Station's Particular Needs, and endless bow-laden introductions to media strangers with unpronounceable names. Like the downtrodden '50s performers who were deprived of royalties but were occasionally thrown a bone in the form of a Cadillac, we are irregularly plied with heaps of sushi and beer to keep us logy and incapable of rebeling against our handlers. Today we sang a Rockapelobotomized TV version of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive," taped a ten-song concert for a TV documentary, and joined a Japanese a cappella group for radio duets of "Stand By Me" and other faves. Between events we argued over the purchase price of our fancy-shmancy new tee-shirts and ate crust-challenged sandwiches and Mentos.

For this tour I took a page out of Elliott's idiosynchratic road-trip survival guide and brought a supply of food provisions from home. I gnawed through the last of my NYC raisin bagels yesterday, but I still have a supply of instant coffee, Fiber-One cereal and powdered skim milk to keep the trains moving through Christmas. Dinner on the record company nickel, however, is a cruel test of a hungry rocker's restraint: the table crawls with impossible Asian delights and the beer glass never gets below half before it is topped off with surface tension-defying efficiency. This is a dangerous nightly scenario for an aging crooner with a insatiable palate and a cocker spaniel's eating disorder. At times, only my precious vanity prevents me from tearing through an entire species of spiced just-slain crustaceans Daryl-Hannah-in-Splash-style until my stomach implodes. Sadly for me, the Japanese aren't hep to Western innovations like Fat-Free Fiddle Faddle, Skimpy-Treat, air-popped corn, and Uncle Sam's dressing-on-the-side phenomenon. The gym-slim craze hasn't yet begun here; but now that MacDonalds and KFC are as ingrained in Japanese culture as seaweed & rice, it won't be long before some wily Yank makes a killing here hawking washboard ab-rollers and Thighmasters. Until then, Gochisosama-deshita! (Thanks for the great meal, Dude!)

Tokyo - December 8, 1996
Sashi booty (long time no see), Rockapedestrians! After our year-long absence we were greeted by a throng of well-wishers (Rie and Atsumi, the Eastern wing of Rockapella Center) and the following Japanese magazine description: "Rockapella - a gimmicky acapella group from Manhattan." We take all constructive criticism to heart and, as such, our first inclination was to immediately excise all traces of gimmickry from our show -- the manic grins, sassy butt-quivering dance moves, Disney-on-speed perkiness, insufferably coy patter, ice-capadesy synchronized bows, and the biggest gimmick of all: that annoyingly cheeky "harmony" thing. Rockapella would blaze a proud new trail of manful truckdriverly unison singing, with no distracting rhythmic counterpoint or gratuitous dynamics. Upon further reflection, however, we decided that it was more expedient to don fatigues and firebomb the magazine headquarters at midday to insure maximum fatalities and bigtime revenge. So, you see, we're still the same old loveable Rockapella, now with one less detractor!

The miracle anti-jetlag drug melatonin failed me last night; at 2 a.m. I woke up scared, disoriented, and unpleasantly moist with what was probably sweat but may have been pee. I'll ask the chambermaid. After a spirited iron-pumping gym session I joined the band for nine straight hours of TV and radio promotion including our 1st-ever live performance of "Land of a Thousand Dances," the chorus of which is the word "na" repeated nineteen times. I think Dylan wrote it. More poop in a couple of days, friends! Dewa mata nochihodo (see you later)!

Feedback Frenzy
New York - November 21, 1996
Hey, Friends! Behold these actual emails from real-life earthlings! My Halloween rant "The Dukes of Has-Been" garnered much praise, sympathy and -- from Rockapella's manager -- admonishment! Check this out:

As always, a "rant" reflecting genius. However, to characterize yourself as a has-been is detrimental to your professional health. No kidding here!! Please don't continue to do this. Thanks for your immediate and comprehensive cooperation in this matter. There might be some value in identifying this as a transitional period pointing toward bigger and better Rockapella.
Love and business, The Manager

Dear Keith:
Geez, after all the commissions I've paid you, I think I at least deserve a "Dear" before my name. Your point is well taken, but my strategy with this essay was to elicit outraged cries of "You're not has-beens, Rockapella -- you're never-wases," and "You're not getting older, Rockapella - just balder," and perhaps even a pity one-nighter from a sympathetic groupie. Also, I think our loyal fans revel in an occasional glimpse behind our "happiest-band-in-the-cosmos" facade. The bloodthirsty public never gets to see celebrities kvetch, except in David Cassidy's book, in which he whines like a little girl. In truth, I don't think we're has-beens; I just miss being able to tell eligible chicks that I'm a bona-fide mid-level TV personality. Gotta ramble, Boss -- I'm late for my overnight taxi shift.
Love, Sean

P.S. - Can you get me David Brinkley's old Sunday morning ABC gig? "This Week With Sean Altman" has a phresh-phat-dope ring to it, my toupee is shinier than Sam Donaldson's, and I have a much higher forehead than Cokie Roberts. Please work on this pronto.


Dear Sean:
Why would you refer to yourself as a has-been? You are one luscious, talented, unique, gorgeous, rhyme-making, heart-breaking, head-banging (literally) guy. Your popularity can be seen in the eyes and reflected from the hearts of your loyal fans. We all love you and the entire group, so hold those incredible cheek bones high and proud. Most sincerely and with much love,
Laura in Chicago

Dear Laura:
I'm smothering you with cyber-love and gratitude! I haven't been called "luscious" and "gorgeous" in the same sentence since my last 900-number call. Speaking of my prodigious head-banging, my boo-boo from that blasted protruding Alabama soap dish has healed nicely, dashing my hopes for a more rough 'n' tumble look. Still, as our manager says, this is an exciting transitional period which will yield a mightier Rockapella, replete with louder crescendos, longer sustained notes, better annunciation, and correspondingly higher ticket prices. Gotta go, Laura -- I'm late for group therapy with Boy George, John Oates, Wham's Andrew Ridgely, and Dexy's Midnight Runners. Today, Pete Best is guest lecturing on the anti-depressant properties of macrame.
Love, Sean


Dear Sean:
You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity. Do all those stories you tell actually come to you or do you work on them? My mother said you should cough up that dictionary you swallowed. If those postcards you put on the Internet are your lame attempt at a joke, believe me, it's not working. You need to get some help.
Sincerely, Lisa

Dear Lisa:
See all the nice things I just wrote to Laura (above)? NONE of that love is coming your way, honey! What do mean by calling me "little?" For your information, I am, height-wise, in the top 1% of humanity! "Sad" and "strange" I can't argue with, however; and I willingly accept your pity in lieu of cash. As for your mother's advice, I get enough from my *own* mom, so kindly tell yours to get off my back. Gotta run, Lisa -- I'm late for my all-the-pork-you-can-eat lunch pig-out with Kate Moss.
Love, Sean


Dear Rockapella Center:
Re: Sean's postcard "The Dukes of Has- Been." All I have to say is a quote from Joe Pesci in his role in My Cousin Vinnie. "Everything that man just said is b***s***!"
Love, Holliday, Illinois

Dear Holliday:
Hey! Hey! This is a *family* web site, my cussing friend -- I've got a mind to wash out your virtual trash-mouth with Woolite, and spank your virtual buttocks crimson. On the subject of My Cousin Vinnie, however, let's elevate the level of discourse, zeroing in on its one truly memorable scene: Marisa Tomei in bra and panties. Gotta dash, Holliday -- I'm late for my thumb-wrestling match with Bob Dole (I'll *whup* him right-handed).
Love, Sean


Dear delightfully warped Sean:
You wrote: "Maybe I've mutated into Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids On The Block - you know, a motorcycle guy in a moped band."

As a motorcycle chick in a Volvo guy band, I know how you feel! Come on up to Boston and we'll form our own "not-quite-over-the hill speed-metal a cappella band". All the members will be in their 30s and will be selected solely on the basis of hair length and tattoo quantity. To forge the "group mind," we'll hold an elaborate initiation ceremony involving nipple piercing and satanic incantations. We'll tour the country on Harleys, trashing hotel rooms, missing gigs, and cultivating a reputation for being "unruly and difficult to work with." Tragically, one of our beloved members will die in a bizarre gardening accident, thus ensuring our space in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Unable to recover from the shock, you and I will retire to the tropics and spend our remaining days in oil-drenched erotic bliss, until the Horned One comes to collect our wretched souls.
Eternally yours, Denise

Dearest Denise:
I'm licking the screen with electromagnetic delight! With you and your spiritual kinsbabes in our fan base, I believe there's hope for Rockapella after all. I won't, however, pierce my nipples, as this would hinder my future plans as a world-class breast-feeder. Will clip-ons suffice? Gotta split, Denise -- I'm late for Richard Simmons' aerobic cow-tipping class.
Love, Sean


Dear Rockapella:
I recently attended an auction at Sotheby's in NYC and purchased -- at great expense, I might add -- one of Sean Altman's braids. How can I verify its authenticity?
Sincerely, Kevin

Dear Kevin:
Damn that mischievous shrew Bo Derek! She's been pissed ever since I copped her look, and now the wench has flooded the market with her bogus forgeries. My sixty braids remain in an air-tight acid-free container in my safe deposit box. When Rockapella Center decides to sell them, you'll know, my sad-sack friend. Until then, you've been duped! Gotta go, Kevin -- I'm late for my Stairmasters Anonymous 12-step meeting.
Love, Sean


Dear Rockappetites:
Thanks for writing in! Have a great Thanksgiving and remember: that turkey died for your eat up! Love,
The Dukes of Has-Been
New York - October 31, 1996
In these post-Carmen days, my apocalyptic vision of the future finds my band sardined into one square of a vertical neon tic-tac-toe board, nervously awaiting those dreaded words, "I'll take Rockapella to block."

I had forgotten what it's like not to be on TV -- being banished to the restaurant seat with a view of the toilet, getting stuck with the hotel room abutting the 24-hour ice machine, paying full-price retail (Minoxidil is way expensive!), no longer receiving "special bonus perks" from the masseuse, enduring the vacuous stares of once-fawning women, waiting in vain for the brunch invitation from Woody and Soon-Yi, and suffering in line behind other former TV stars just to take a wiz at the homeless shelter. This sucks!

I've decided, however, that if I'm going to be a has-been then by gum I'll be the BEST DAMNED HAS-BEEN I CAN BE!! Manhattan has the highest concentration of has-beens in the world, so boning up on has-beendom is as simple as checking out the "Has-Been Self Help" section at Barnes & Noble. My autumn reading list includes:
o Growing Up Brady (I Was a Teenage Greg) by Barry Williams
o Come On, Get Happy by David Cassidy
o Take a Monkey Like Me by Mickey Dolenz
o Damn, I Was a Pert Little Number by Barbara Eden
o Brother Can You Spare a Bone? by Lassie
o Outta The Senate & Onto The Dole by Bob Dole
o I'm Nothing Now by Ringo Starr
o My Anonymous Misery by Molly Ringwald
o I Want To Die - Please Help Me Die by Adam Ant
o Why I Picked Up That Transvestite Hooker by Danny Bonaduce

Still, nothing compares to actual intimate contact with a bona fide has-been, so last week I attended a lecture/seminar by former teen idol Bobby Sherman. When I was in grade school, all the girls had Bobby Sherman stickers on their books; his snappy/smarmy "Easy Come, Easy Go" fouled the radio-waves; and Bobby's woodchuck grin, groovier-than-far-out hairdo and crotch-hugging duds graced the cover of every teen mag. Still, here he was in a fluorescent- lighted hotel meeting room, a 51-year-old L.A.P.D. advanced First Aid technician addressing sixty of his aging stalwart fans.

I arrived early, armed with a just-bought used vinyl copy of 1971's chart-topping "Bobby Sherman's Greatest Hits" and his new book "Still Remembering You" for autographing. Bobby currently teaches Los Angeles cops how to perform CPR and other emergency medical procedures, so his motivational speaking chops and presentation skills are nicely honed. Throughout his two-hour reminiscence I squirrel-jerked my eyes back and forth between book photos of the young, swinging '70s Bobby and the in-the-sagging-flesh oldster with the same Dippity-Do coif in front of me. Heck, if being a *recent* has-been is a bummer, then being a 25-years-later has-been must be unfathomably suckish.

It's called the "double whammy." True evil, you see, occurs in pairs -- Bonnie & Clyde, The Menendez brothers, Buttafuoco & Fisher, Nixon & Agnew, Ma Barker & her game-show host son Bob, The Captain & Tenille and the Olsen twins, for example. But none of these demonic duos is as cruel to celebrities as the diabolical team of OL' FATHER TIME and his bitter, merciless, Indian-giving, middle-management cohort...THE GREAT HASBEENIO. First the sum'bitches steal your fame & fortune and then, like George Romero's persistent zombies, they come after your skin tone, hairline, metabolism, eyesight, gums, virility and, ultimately, bowel function. Only one mystical force is powerful enough to subvert this treacherous twosome's collective guttersnipe will: The Mighty One known simply as...SYNDICATION.

To Bobby Sherman's credit, he seems truly content with the rotten hand dealt him; and with two grown kids, a job he loves (he gleefully demonstrated the Heimlich Maneuver on a fan), an alimony-free ex-wife, and a not-too-protruding gut, he is one smiley old dude. Most importantly, he is delving full throttle into the exciting world of "Has-Been Resurrection," the lucrative business of being formerly huge. With his new book, upcoming concert tour, and an up-with-people-who-buy-my-stuff twinkle in his eye, he has all the ammo he needs to pull a Tom Jones and parlay his retro-kitsch value into piles of crisp greenbacks. I, for one, am rooting for the geezer!

Here's your lesson, Rockapellicans: save every tchotchke and scrap of Rockapellabilia, no matter how puny, and stuff it in your piano bench for safekeeping. In twenty years when I'm wearing a bad tux, a worse toupee, an impossibly-stretched face and a reconstructed smile, and I'm hawking my memoirs, "Where In My Bedpan is Carmen Sandiego?" -- you, my wily friends, will be sitting on piles of gold! Happy Halloween, friends!
Southern DisComfort
Birmingham, AL - October 17, 1996
Behold my boo-boo! As part of my ongoing pursuit of things thespian, I reenacted Hitchcock's bloody "Psycho" shower scene by accidentally gashing my brow on the head-level protruding soap dish at the Comfort Inn. I played Janet Leigh's screaming victim opposite the malevolent soap dish's uncanny Norman Bates. The ambulance medics were Carmen fans so I got to ride -- restrained -- in a stretcher and have my vitals taken (everything OK except for the alien incubating in my tummy, they said). At the hospital, the Alabama doc stuck my brow numb with a whopper anaesthetic needle, pulverized my arm with a foot-long tetanus booster, and then crocheted me shut with six neon blue stitches. I cried like a wuss throughout the ordeal, pausing only to revel in my newly toughened-up "Scarface" persona and to ponder my inevitable fame as Hollywood's next "Crooning Pirate."
Today's Highlight: touring Tennessee's Jack Daniels Distillery, where I disinfected my wound with gift-shop samples and then cauterized it with the tour guide's breath.
Rockapella's Finest Touring Moment: watching "Basic Instinct" on the van VCR and, mouths agape, slo-mo-ing Sharon Stone's infamous leg-cross 27 times. Elliott swore he saw Heaven, Jeff swore he saw Hell, Scott swore he saw two nuns dancing the Macarena, Barry swore he saw his long-lost high school ring, and I just swore like a sailor.
Dixie's Most Enticing Convenience Store Delicacy: pickled pigs' feet floating ominously in red dye, to the right of the cash register, next to the Garth Brooks tapes.
Things I Miss Most About Home: the lumps of my own mattress, the contours of my own toilet seat, the curdle of my own sour milk, the stench of my own rotting mice, the tip-toe of my own crack-deranged prowler and the sniper fire of my own detractors.

Hey gang, our Carmen is officially off the air, replaced by the new Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego? One bright note - my pal David Yazbek and I wrote the "Where In Time" theme song, and the original theme will appear on the forthcoming "TV's Greatest Hits" set on TVT Records.
True Tales From The Seanosphere
New York City - September 26, 1996
Hey Gang! Behold these actual mail excerpts from friends and foes!

Dear Sean:
You are The Greatest Pop Lyricist of All Time. We all know you and Stephen Sondheim must have been neighbors in the primordial ooze -- how else can one explain your penchant for internal rhyme ("If you run I will spurn you, if you turn love will burn you..."), or your ability to use the word "sclera" in a song about Las Vegas? Your talent is so spectacular that fans have long overlooked your obvious under-the-table payments from the National Dairy Council, the Mormons and the Prince of Darkness. After all, who can survive these days without corporate sponsorship? I still consider your lyrics to be golden droplets from Heaven's honeypot.
Your loyal subject, Amy

Dear Amy:
Your letter saddens me deeply, as it makes me contemplate how much more sublime my life would be if everyone had your impeccable taste. I adore you. A zillion thanks for your praise and support.
Love, Sean

Dear Rockapella:
What was Sean's major in college? He has such a solid and unique writing style in both songs and newsletter messages. His uses of metaphors and turns of phrases are unparalleled in both song and prose. He obviously takes great care in choosing his words, and the results are fantastic. So, is this raw talent, or did he hone his skills through formal training? I have nothing but respect for the guy, with his combination of both a perfect voice and written communication skills.
Sincerely, A Friend

Dear Friend:
My Ivy League political-science degree looks great hanging on the wall, but it has never seemed to impress the American record companies. The only times I've successfully melded my two fields of expertise are the song "Capital" from the "Carmen Sandiego" album, and my "Ode to Dole" poem. I thank you for your kind words, Friend.
Fondly, Sean

[The next email and its equally vituperative follow-up letter (too loopy to print even here) are so deliciously venomous that I'm busting with pride at my ability to provoke this kind of emotional reaction. I've responded in the maggot-infested body of the text.]

Dear Rockapella:
I would assume that the idea of the postcards is to connect with the underlings to make us clamor for what will come next. It's disappointing to see that instead of giving us the details of their upcoming album -- something we are dying to hear, delight is taken in responding to a sick question with an answer that is sickening (8/24/96).

[This splendid curmudgeon is referring to my tour de force effort entitled "I Can Ride The One Up To Hades."]

As a long-time Rockapella fan who has invested a lot of time & money to import their albums from Japan, MANY of us wonder what this has to do with the group & their current activities?

[Ahh, my cranky detractor...that's just it! You mistakenly believe that "Postcards From Sean" is designed to be a report of group activities. Nope! Like a sugar-crazed toddler in a sweet shop, I get to write about anything my sordid heart desires, with the full protection of the First Amendment. Yahooo! You, similarly, have the right to avert your squeamish gaze; or, if you so choose, kvetch pell-mell. The latter option, though legal, is unseemly.]

It's too bad that attempts at humor are forced...

[OK - That's it! Now you've done it! You've attacked my comic charms and truly dissed me! Come on! Right now! You & me, Punk! Out back! Let's throw down! Yeah you!]

...instead of occasionally replying to any serious questions people surely must ask.

[I assume you refer to the most common queries: Fave color? Fave movie? Fave Charlie's Angel? Fave method of executing a mouse?]

Readers have obviously discovered that their questions probably won't get posted & answered, unless it refers to something ridiculous.[and in *this* category, you have no peer.] I'm just curious as to why creating controversy seems to be more important than broadening, strengthening & solidifying your fan base?

[Jeez, with fans like you it's a wonder we have any career at all!]

Unfortunately, the ones most likely to enjoy these ranting soliloquies....are kids.

[Then CHEERS to the Youth of America. Rebel against the oppressive censorship of your party-pooping, belly-aching parents! You, my wee followers, are the future of Rockapella and the future of America. Stand Tall! Spend your allowance on candy! Refuse to do chores! Intercept your report cards and give yourself all A's. Pee anywhere but in the bowl. And when your folks gripe about the stereo volume, remember what to say: "If it's too're too old!"]

Sincerely, A Nearly Former Fan

[Ahh...Big bluster from the cowardly shadows of anonymity. Hmm...this presents a neat challenge -- how to rid Whoville of the Grinch....Wait! I've got it! More ez-fun backwards Thai song titles to send the faint of heart running for John Tesh's happy-go-sickly website: "Atnas Si Dog," "EsiuLed Mod Si Dog," "Reppilf Si Dog," "VTM Si Dog," and "Smleh Essej Si Dog."]

Dear Sean:
I'm considering getting a tattoo....could you suggest an image and location for that image?? I also don't want to infringe on any copyrights...You have such good taste...I'd appreciate any comments from you.
Your trusting fan, Connie

Dear Connie:
The ultimate homage you could pay me would be to get a full-size full-body image of me tattooed to your entire body: my face on your face, my hands on your hands, my biceps on yours, my navel superimposed onto your navel. It might look a little weird below the belt, but a good tatoo artist can finesse it. Thanks for consulting me!
Love, Sean

To All Rockapelladom:
I truly enjoy your correspondence! Keep it coming! To those who enjoy reading the bile I'm belching, I offer my warmest thanks! To those who don't...please direct your mouse to click elsewhere; I hear Michael Bolton's site is warm 'n' fuzzy.
If I Were King Of The Band
Dallas/New York City - September 1, 1996

The following material is specifically designed to offend. Do not read on lest your senses be assaulted with the ickiest form of smut. There are no actual cuss words, but there may as well be, given the abominable subject matter. The opinions expressed in Sean's postcards are Sean's alone. They do not reflect the opinions of other bandmembers, management, or Rockapella Center. Oh my're still reading... PLEASE TURN BACK! DON'T BE A DANGED FOOL! SAVE YOURSELF! AARRGGHHH!!!!! (Oh you've done it...)

"Democracy" is a wicked she-beast with the face of a napalmed hog, the 5 a.m. breath of a garlic-addicted hobo, and the sieve heart of an unrepentant murderer cackling at her victim's funeral. She carnival-barks "liberty and justice," but litters her wake with yank-tooth compromise, the clumsy disfigurement of once-handsome dreams and the maggot-encrusted carrion of resentment.

Lately my band has adopted "Robert's Rules," a heinous corporate system of motions, seconding of motions, majority-rules voting and other oppressive police-state devices, the overall effect of which is to mute discussion, quell dissent, stuff Rock'n'Roll Jack back in his box and shroud us in the mouldy leaden robes of THE MAN. Nothing is safe from the role-call vote's sniper aim: hit songs iced, tour-dates scuttled, photos buried, wardrobes burned, hair hacked off...heck, what's next to dictate? Stuffing vs. Potatoes? Phresh vs. Phat? Pony vs. Macarena? Bowel movement frequency? 1-ply vs. 2-ply? Butterbuds vs. Buttafuoco? In the words of that bald TV self-help chick: STOP THE INSANITY!!

Rock bands aren't supposed to *vote*, damnit! We're defined by our propensity toward infinite hallucinogenic rumination, beer-soaked contemplation of our navels, outbursts of deadly passion around the deli-tray, dressing room walls punched Swiss-cheesy, fiery sofas flung from hotel windows, clandestine video-taping of bandmates' love exploits with chopped liver, and a delicious abhorrence of all things "grown up." So what's up with us? Maybe it's because Carmen's going off the air and we're antsy about our career without the teensy weefolk. Maybe it's because, gym-devotion notwithstanding, we're aging and our rebellious spirit is going the way of our collective hairline. Maybe we've whored ourselves for so many IBMs that we're morphing into what we disdainfully call "the client." Maybe a crisp greenback in the bank is looking prettier than a Monet on the wall. Maybe it's premature Alzheimer's. Maybe one guy says "tomayto," another says "tomahto," and the agent says "Who cares? My tasty bite is 10%." Maybe I've mutated into Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids On The Block - you know, a motorcycle guy in a moped band. Most likely, though, I'm just pouty and pissed because I want to be the undisputed (insert trumpet fanfare here)... KING OF THE BAND.

Behold...A taste of "Seanarchy": I would be a stately and gracious ruler, sucking in my kingly gut, maniacally waving a greazy mutton-leg scepter, spouting foul gobbledygook in a Scooby-Doo-on-crack growl, rarely allowing my spittle to hit the floor before slurping it up, and clenching my royal tuchas muscles to prevent the atonal passing of wind, all while walking somewhat taller than my normal 6'2". My benevolent reign would allow all to live in harmonic peace beneath me, save those who questioned my omniscience - those blasphemers would be beheaded, hammer-smashed like my house mice or, like old Eskimos who have outlived their usefulness to society, shoved off on an iceberg to chew leather.

Rockapella's schizophrenic musical vision would be laser honed to...well, mine. Every song would contain my fave three words: Butter, Missionary, and Satan; and would explore the popular themes of love, sex, divorce, strip joints, and eating disorders, all in a three-minute, hook-laden pop format. For wardrobe, we'd bust a hep move with retro/mod/hippie wear - big yellow smiley faces, squirting sunflower lapels, peace-sign earrings so massive that they threaten the integrity of our lobes, scratch'n'sniff butt-patches, roach-clip barrettes, and laugh-out-loud embroidered references to "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" and ol' Tricky Dick Nixon. We'd be shaved bald, each with his own scalp tattoo of a different Beatle (Jeff gets Pete Best). And "Nay!" to traditional concert venues - we'd tour fish markets, women's prisons, dog pounds, toll plazas, sanitariums, Earth Shoe factory outlets and Motor Vehicle Bureaus; and we'd charge an extra buck for tickets so we could have the pleasure of giving everyone a crisp one-dollar bill rebate at the gig. Fans could use that buck to garter-tip the octagenarian lingerie go-go grannies who would flank our stage. Sprinkler systems would douse our audiences with top-shelf tequila, and we'd pitch limes and shovel salt from the stage. After concerts we'd eschew the typical autograph signing in favor of slobbery French kisses for all women and hardy firm-grip handshakes for the guys. Best of all, our new boffo band name: "Rockapella's Rollicking Good Time Funfest, Now With XXXtra Fun For More Fun!"

This doesn't have to be a pipe dream, Rockapellicans. Make your mighty voices heard! Rise up! Keep the ROCK in Rockapella! ANOINT ME KING AND I'LL SPARE YOU AFTER THE REVOLUTION!!!

Love, Your Humble Servant,
I Can Ride The One Up To Hades
New York City - August 24, 1996
Dear Sean:
After reading many months of your postcards, I have a question for you. Are you like obsessed with Satan? You are always referring to him in one way or the other. Please let me know why. Thanks!!
Your Ever Devoted and Caring Fan of ROCKAPELLA,

Dear Lacy:
In fact I have a lucrative endorsement deal with the Dark Lord which requires me to mention his given name, Vincenzo Satansky, or his various aliases: Satan, the debbil, dybbuk, the Deuce, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, the Dickens, El Diablo, Lucifer, Senor Caliente, Big D, Hot Diggity-D, Grandmaster D, Old Nick, Old Horny, Old Gooseberry, Old Blazes, Old Poker, Old Hot'n'Crusty, Wickedy-Split, King Crimson, The Prince of Darkness, Vice Roy, The BBQ Chef, Succuba Bob, The Great Goblin, His Blistering Badness, Inferno-Man, Sir Bake, The Fabulous Flamer, Mr. Hot Stuff, Sizzle-Me-Badd, His Royal Heinous, The Sin-Surfer, Pitchfork Willie, Barney, Lambchop, Raffi, Mary-Kate & Ashley, Buttafuoco, Newt, and Macarena.

If you saw Rosemary's Baby, you know that Satan cuts deals with many show-biz types; but, unlike Mia Farrow's character, I refused to put out, which is why I've achieved only moderate career success. John Tesh, on the other hand, was a veritable love trampoline, and he's now reaping the rewards. In return for my postcard plugs, Satan gifted me with the song "Capital," and has helped me out with an occasional lyric (the "gefilte" line in "Everything to Me"), some song tricks (the unintelligible talk-in-tongues "Come My Way" bridge), and some choreography (that sassy synchronized jump in "Fliptop Twister").

I met him backstage at a Rod Stewart concert in '86. Seems Rod got "Maggie May" in return for his participation in some racy tour-bus shenanigans which Satan wanted on video. We shared a couple of brews and got to talking about rock'n'roll hairstyles. I was leaning toward a bee-hive, but he turned me on to the whole "braids" concept, and we signed the deal soon after. Nightclubbing with Satan in the highfalutin late '80s was a blur of guestlists, VIP rooms, scantily-clad model-chicks and the ubiquitous Richard Simmons. Nowadays, we meet on Tuesdays at Barney Greengrass and share the lox & sturgeon combo #3 and an egg cream while discussing what wickedness I can dispense to counteract Jeff Thacher's confounding goodness. Our latest stratagem: Thai song titles for ez-fun backwards playing. Enjoy my new ditties "Yag Si Dog," "Poop Tae," "Suelb Renob," and "Tnil Levan Gid" on Rockapella's new CD "Ood-Ood."

Thanks for your keen eye and frank question, Lacy! Keep 'em coming!
Flipping The Bird
New York City - August 10, 1996
Dear Sean:
My name is Shannon. I love this Web site, especially Sean's postcards! I named my two birds Scott and Sean. Unfortunately my favorite, Scott, passed away today. I played four Rockapella songs during his funeral service.
Love, Shannon

Dear Shannon:
Your flattering yet sorry tale led me to reminisce about the only bird whose talons ever gripped my heart, not counting the Orange Chicken at Hunan Cottage. I am referring to Bubby and Grandpa Max's Yiddish-speaking parakeet, Poopsie, apparently named for his proclivity toward helter-skelter defecation.

Poopsie was a beast of prolific, if indiscreet, bowel performance; this foul fowl knew the power of a well-placed turd. Like Neil Armstrong on the moon, Poopsie proudly staked his claim to every horizontal surface in the flat until none remained untainted by his chalky excrement. The kitchen table resembled aerial photos of Vietnam after the Tet Offensive, but with more feces. My grandparents' Brooklyn home ecosystem was a wonder to watch in action. Without the presence of natural predators, Poopsie ruled the eight-foot sky with pterodactyl arrogance -- terrorizing houseflies, moths, mice and us grandchildren with his Tourette outbursts of Yiddish gibberish and hair-trigger rectal explosions.

Grandpa Max was a classic parakeet enabler, buying into Poopsie's divinity and nurturing the crazed avian louse. To my brother Adam's and my chagrin and glee, Grandpa Max fed Poopsie by chewing whatever he happened to be eating into a fine cud, spitting a glob onto his pursed lower lip, and allowing Poopsie to peck away happily. Poopsie's fave meal? Poultry, from which he plainly derived cannibalistic joy. He met his demise one memorable Passover seder; after slurping all the Manishewitz from Elijah's cup, he flew kamikaze-like into an overdone matzoh ball and died instantly when his beak pierced his brain. He was sealed in tin foil and put out with the next day's trash.

Despite Poopsie's reign of terror, I miss his Donald-Duck-does-Jackie-Mason diatribes and the manic cheer with which he gobbled the bile-laden ooze from Grandpa Max's peck-scarred lip. I've tried to get girlfriends to feed me this way, but none of these stuck-up East Village babes will play ball. Perhaps if I chirped my request in Yiddish while flying around naked....

P.S. - Shannon, is Sean regular?
I Am The Bugman: Cuckoo The Jew
New York City - August 6, 1996
Just because Siskel & Ebert gave it a resounding "thumbs down" doesn't mean you oughtn't rush to see the new flick "Joe's Apartment." This MTV production features 50,000 singing-dancing animated cockroaches, a few of whom are your fave human tunesmiths sped up beyond recognition. I was hired by the production as a vocal arrangement consultant, and various Rockapellas sing on the eight roach ditties as part of a larger ensemble. Rockapella pal/collaborator Billy Straus ("Change In My Life," "Falling Over You," "I Found Sugar," "Rock River," "I Walk With You") co-produced the roach songs. Sadly, there will be no soundtrack album. Happily, by performing admirably as a singing bug, I've paid off a burdensome karmic debt for the zillions I've savagely squashed and the entire species of tree caterpillar I exterminated with my jack knife in the summer of '67. It feels good to be even-steven with the insect world. I want to audition for the remake of Willard to make things right between me and the rodent universe, but I'm waiting to see if my mouse snuff film scores big at Cannes or Sundance. Behold the authentic viewer mail:

Dear Sean:
I'm wondering if your opinion of vermin in general, and cockroaches in particular, has changed now that you have performed as one. Now that you have crawled a mile in their carcasses, so to speak, do you feel any differently?
Love and Kisses, Kathleen

Dear Kathleen:
The hostility I feel towards Satan's army of wee henchmen festers as before; but now that I've broken bread with the enemy I am filled with a hideous self-loathing assuaged only by the fat sum I was paid for the gig.
Love and Feelers,
My Sweat Tastes Like Miso Soup
New York City - July 30, 1996
I have air conditioning, but with Carmen going off the air and my income in jeopardy, I'm being frugal with the house money. I'm also conducting biological warfare, which requires me to keep the apartment at a lusty fahrenheit boil. You see, my non-rent-paying housemates, the vermin who have thus far avoided Sean's Mighty Hammer, get logy in the oppressive heat and lose their elusive OJ moves. In my newfound equatorial paradise, I'm able to meander over to the slovenly, panting beasts and stomp them flat like cigarette butts. Rapid disposal is essential, for decomposition begins instantly, and nothing taints a first date like a rotting rodent cadaver in the kitchen.

My ongoing critter war is striking evidence of the failure of America's education system; damnit, I should've been taught this stuff in Home Economics. Instead I learned tasks that Rockapella's management now handles -- laundry sorting, defensive napkin placement, flossing etiquette, anti-mugger eye-gouging techniques and the obligatory "she loves me, she loves me not" petal pluck. Now that I have a home of my own, my personal home economy is in shambles: I can't balance a checkbook; I can't access my own band's website; I own hundreds of CDs, all in the wrong cases; my picture is on the scofflaw wall of every utility company in New York; the dust bunnies procreate like real ones; my coffee tastes like dirty diapers; and the one thing I know how to cook is mouse, and that's only due to the kind fans who sent recipes (Mouse Foo Yung rules). A splendid Yiddish word describes the helter-skelter, do-you-have-the-tickets-cause-I-sure-don't state of my daily life: "farblondjet."

In short, I am in grave need of one of three things: an intern, a spouse, or a really smart dog. I am currently accepting applications for any of these positions; ideally the same candidate would be suitable for all three. Please submit a resume, a full-body bathing suit photo, and a "worms-free" certificate from a vet.
Last Will & Tasty Mint
New York City - July 8, 1996
Dear Sean:
After having read the "Mouse Execution" and other postcards, my family has decided to adopt you. We all agreed that you have our humor. We hope that you will accept this honor that we have bestowed upon you.
Love, Theresa

Dear Theresa:
I'm truly flattered by your family's decision; and you may count me in...if you send me documentation of my irrevocable inclusion as the primary beneficiary in the wills, pension plans and insurance policies of your family's well-heeled elders. With "Carmen Sandiego" going off the air, I'm exploring other income sources -- this may be the holy grub grail I've been looking for. I agree to immerse myself in the unique dysfunction of your family life for one year. For all interested parties, here's how it works:

1. Take your family surname as one of my middle names.
2. Attend six significant family gatherings. A popular package might be Christmas, Thanksgiving, graduation, family therapy, divorce mediation and a trip to Club Med. A bris counts as two; three if I have to hold the kid down. No extra charge for me humming "My Home" at funerals. Seders count as one, except if I officiate - then it's free, as I need the practice. In family pictures, I reserve the right to wear nose glasses or a paper bag. An appearance on "Family Feud" is a freebie as I'm a huge Richard Dawson fan from his "Hogan's Heroes" days.
3. Cheer lustily at Little League games (you provide 6-pack and pistol - good for threatening umpires).
4. Borrow your BMW, barf in the trunk, wrap it around a tree, and walk away unscathed. If I'm injured it counts as three family gatherings; four if I'm killed. My own funeral (your nickel) counts as a fifth event.
5. Perform admirably as a conjugal surrogate. If I should, in my zeal, become the primary partner, or if you desire my skills as a paternal donor, then it becomes a union gig and you're liable for all dues, fees and laundry costs. All children, regardless of gender, will be named "Pinky."
Send inquiries and a non-refundable $666 application fee

Love, your fave relative,
Sean Lipshitz Trump Stands-With-a-Fist McEnroe Qadhafi Castro Buttafuoco Brown-Simpson Menendez Bork Ghandi Navratilova Packwood Kaczynski Sharpton Boesky Lovelace Your-name-here Altman X
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