Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mugshots lead to a conviction

Tyler, owner and operator of the best 404 page on the internet, forwarded a link to The Jenville Show, an internet-based cooking show featuring indie rock stars as guests. And it's a great idea; necessity being the mother of invention, it's a good bet that starving musicians are probably well practiced at working wonders with whatever foodstuffs they can scrounge together, making perfectly good meals out of, say, a box of Kraft Dinner and a jar of relish.

Anyway, I'd been ruminating over something for a while now that the Jenville page brought into sharp focus. Check out the mugshots of the guest stars on the main page, or, if you prefer, just look at the two I've reproduced here:

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This is Miles Kurosky, lead singer of the sadly defunct band Beulah.

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This is Neal Pollack, author and frontman of the Neal Pollack Invasion.

There's no way around it. The same hair, the same eyebrows, the same chin ... they are undeniably the same person.

And the thing is, I've actually had up-close-and-personal encounters with both guys. I won the opportunity to eat dinner with Pollack at a book reading for the Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature (a copy of which he forced me to buy, but I'm not complaining, because it's pretty good). And more recently, as I've mentioned, I got to make some chit-chat with Kurosky and a couple of the guys from the band after a Beulah show.* And not only do they look alike, but judging from my experiences with both and from interviews I've seen, they even seem to have similar personalities.

The A Good Band is Easy to Kill DVD shows that after I saw them at their final Toronto show, the band went back to the home of a fan to party, but the host inadvertently provoked Miles into a rather bitter debate over US foreign policy, which led to the band leaving early and Miles calling the host a real asshole in a subsequent interview segment. I can't remember quite clearly if "asshole" is the word he uses, but that's the point he's getting at. I do remember that guitarist/van driver Bill Swan calls Miles a "fucking faggot" after the latter slaps him across the face from the backseat for not heeding his backseat driving. After a long, tense minute of silence, Miles grudgingly apologizes for hitting him, but insists he should have been obeying him. Note that prior to this point, Bill has come across as very laid-back. (And he provides my favorite moment of the DVD when another band member goes into a rant about how much the Massachusetts interstate system sucks, to which he nods sagely without taking his eyes off the road, and adds by way of agreement, "Count Suckula.") So you get the idea that, despite his choice of epithet, Bill wasn't the bad guy here.

Add that to the fact that Miles and Bill disliked each other from the very beginning, way back when they were both mailroom workers, and to the interview footage that makes very clear how Miles is an erudite but very opinionated "strong personality", and you can see that the question is not why Beulah broke up, but why they ever came together in the first place. The answer is that Miles needed an eight-track recorder, and Bill had one, which is similar to how the Van Halen brothers' constant renting of David Lee Roth's P.A. system led to his eventually being invited to join.

As for Neal Pollock, he's no longer associated with former publisher McSweeney's, which Dave Eggers chalks up to his beginning to believe his self-created persona as the World's Greatest Living Writer.

I have the utmost respect for both, but you can see how they might be basically insufferable if you were locked in a room with them. This may be the reason for this apparent dual-identity thing. Maybe Miles/Neal decided his ego was simply too large to be housed in just one persona. Or could he/they have a more nefarious reason for this deception?

I really should have called him/them out on this earlier. So help me, the next time Pollack takes questions from the audience at a book reading, I will. "How, sir, do you explain that you are the same person as Miles Kurosky?" I will demand. "The charade ends here!" I'll be taking my life in my hands, you understand, but this tangled web must come unraveled.

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