Monday, April 24, 2006

Groupie Church, Evangelist Level

This is a follow-up to my post of April 12, 2006 called Groupie Church, Back Pew Level. Groupie Church is an internship which prepares people to become members of churches by having them follow a local band for a year. (Groupie Church is entirely farcical, but the idea is growing on me.)

When interns have followed THE BAND for 3-6 months and receive permission from said band, Back Pew level interns are allowed to proceed to Evangelist Level. At this level interns begin to bring their friends along to gigs, talk about THE BAND while at work, and share their band affection and experiences with loved ones. Interns also come to be identified as Groupies. This level of Groupie Church teaches interns the values of recognition, articulation, and financial commitment.

Recognition: By coming out as a Groupie for a band, interns identify themselves with something larger than themselves. Talking about THE BAND is a good way to share one's enthusiasm as well as introduce others to THE BAND's message.

Sample conversation starters include:
"Tony, when you were talking about US immigration policy it reminded me of a song that this band I follow called Garbage Punk does. The song is all about pygmy hippos launching an attack on the suburbs and the chorus goes..."
OR "Mom, trust me. I do understand your bunion pain. Anjellika, the lead singer/rapper in Jet Fuel wears 5 inch heels at all their shows, even the ones in open fields and on cobblestones."
OR EVEN "Yeah, baby, I love you, too. As Mao Say Tune sing in one of their ballads, 'Your love is the curdle, the wimple, the lump on the turtle, and the dimple.'"
(Church equivalent: coming out as a member of a congregation, discussing religious questions using "I" talk instead of "those people", and risking negative reaction by identifying with a religious tradition.)

Articulation: Groupies are expected to be able to articulate the essence of THE BAND to novices. At Evangelist Level, interns are expected to be able to converse freely on wide-ranging topics such as lyrics, guitar solos, the never-ending roster of percussionists, who drinks Rolling Rock and who drinks Bud, how many wives the lead singer has had, and - most importantly - who played when in what other bands. Articulation also is an entry into community building which interns cover more fully in the final level.

An example of Groupie articulation is:
Groupie A: "Dude, when Charlie was playing gut bucket for Mama's Mustache he had a certain melancholy that you just don't see in him now that he's doing washboard with The Strumpets."
Groupie B: "True that. But you know, you could say the exact same thing about Lurch when she played congas for Winslow-Homer-Simpson, and then started in as a back-up and human beat box for The Strumpets. It's like she was resurrected. Then again, that could have been the rehab."
Groupie C: "What's wrong with you two? Have you been drinking PBR again? Lurch and Charlie are chock full o' gravitas. Just listen to the lyrics of "A needle in wine". It's Sampson who brings jolly to this party. Everyone always underrates the power of the ukelele player."
All Groupies: "Good God, I love this band.Ooooh, hush hush! This is my favorite song!"
(Church equivalent: talking about your personal beliefs, understanding and sharing why you have sought a religious community, and - in my tradition - learning how to say "Unitarian Universalist" without stammering.)

Financial Commitment - When bringing friends you pay for cover charges (yours and theirs), and drinks (yours, theirs, and a round for THE BAND as an apology for bringing your scowling friend who keeps requesting Skynard or Nelly). You may also pay for a CD or two for those loved ones who claim that allergies to smoke, mold, and tacky decorating keep them out of the normal venues in which THE BAND appears. And if THE BAND you follow has T-shirts, hats, or - the holy grail of band paraphernalia - boxer shorts for sale, consider your December holiday shopping complete.
(Church equivalent: a monthly pledge of $50-$100, $5 in the offering plate every week, and more raffle tickets, brownies and other church fundraising items than you can shake a stick at. )

After 9 months of following THE BAND interns are eligible for the final step called: Groupie Church, Deacon Level. To achieve this level interns must be recognized city-wide by bouncers, bartenders, THE BAND's spouses, and other fans as Groupies of THE BAND. Significant time, money, and energy on the dance floor have been expended and, needless to say, you've gotta' be able to lip synch ALL the songs.

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