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July 2012

Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

Does it really help to announce your gigs on Facebook? Ron Arnold

Dear Ron:

Absolutely! In a strictly therapeutic sense, of course.

It's a positive, celebratory affirmation of who you are, and what you do. "Ron Arnold," you proclaim in boldface, a hand-picked profile picture removing all doubt. "I am playing at John's Pub tonight." Who would dare dispute it, and who wouldn't envy your certainty?

Then, from John's Pub, you continue, supported by still life photos, artfully shot and painstakingly posted: "I am eating these chicken wings." "I'm playing this instrument." "I'm drinking this beer on my break." "I see this graffiti while I'm urinating in this bathroom."

True, no one who comes across your posts will actually go to the gig, but the supportive outpouring of "likes" and "shares" is yet more affirmation; proof that your large circle of close "friends" embraces you, joyfully and unconditionally.

Really, the only snag is the gig itself, which makes it way too hard to post between breaks.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

A musician in my town—I'll call him Andy—is always dropping names. To the point where it's almost the only thing he can talk about. Famous people he's played with, famous friends, or even famous people that friends have played with. What should I tell him? Bassist Against Name-Dropping

Dear BAND:

I can see why that would upset you—compared to him, you've been playing in the minor leagues! The obvious question is: Why are you stuck at the bottom? Is it because of your musicianship, or your social skills, or both?

Whatever the cause, fortunately there's an easy solution. It's so simple: Just get to know Andy better; not only musically, but also personally. Voila—suddenly, you'll have a friend who's played with all sorts of famous people! You'll be able to confidently drop not only his name, but all of theirs as well. And best of all, you'll be in a position to help others just like he's helped you. It's like a giant pyramid scheme, except everybody wins!

Of course, as with other potent forces like alcohol, money and sex, name-dropping can become an addiction. Fortunately, thanks to Namedroppers Anonymous, help is now just a click away. You never know what famous people you might meet there—like my dear friend Dr. Laura, who totally digs me!

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Which is better in a solo: A brilliant idea poorly executed, or a poor idea brilliantly executed? Ken in Philly

Dear KIP:

It shouldn't surprise you to learn that P.E. was my least favorite class in high school; I much preferred the beauty of the intellect to the brutality of the body. Still, even on the football field I could have moments of inspiration. Once, seeing subtle cracks in the defense, I charted in my mind a brilliant zagging path to the end zone and persuaded the quarterback to hand me the ball.

Had I just been faster or bigger, I might have taken it all the way! Instead, I was pummeled senseless, without a shred of apology, well behind the line of scrimmage. Adding insult to injury, on the next play, Jake Ritman, a starter on the school team, inelegantly lumbered straight up the middle, squashing five opposing players on his way to a touchdown.

A jazz soloist's rhythm section enables him in much the same way as an offensive line facilitates the running back, so we can draw a lesson from the gridiron. The brilliant idea, poorly executed: A diminutive but inspired young man stepping outside his comfort zone and giving it 110 percent. The poor idea, brilliantly executed: A hulking jock smashing any poor soul who dares block his path.

The outcome notwithstanding, which do you think is better?

Have a question for Mr. P.C.? Ask him.


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