I’m Calling My Band “Drowning in Paper”

November 18, 2009

Poet and author Carl Sandburg once wrote, “I feel like I’m drowning. Every night, I’m carrying home loads of things to read but I’m too exhausted. I keep clipping things and Xeroxing them and planning to read them eventually, but I just end up throwing it all away and feeling guilty.” Sandburg won three Pulitzer Prizes—two for poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln—and also collected and edited collections of ballads and folklore, wrote novels, film reviews, and children’s literature—and more. He was born in Illinois like I was, and I remember his story about Potato Face who lived in the village of Liver and Onions because my grandma tried to persuade me to eat the nasty stuff by paraphrasing this tale.

I can relate to what Sandburg said. Paper sometimes threatens to overwhelm me. I find so many interesting things: odd misspellings like the want ad for a Supper Intendent or the ad looking for someone to work the graveyard shift, “Must Like Old People,“ it said. For many years now, I’ve been collecting band names. It started in the 1960s when the Electric Prunes and Vanilla Fudge and the Strawberry Alarm Clock left me wondering how a band comes up with a name. Since then, I’ve been saving pages with band names from the entertainment news in every city I visit. I want to capture them over time with a view to using them sometime. That time has come. Welcome to yet another glimpse into the pathology that is the Zinnfull life of a collector and connector.

Yesterday I picked up the City Pages in the Minneapolis/St. Paul train station and got some wonderful additions. I think they’re a found poem (I’ll probably rearrange them later):

The Moon Goons
Gypsy Lumberjacks
Reckless Ones
Ugly Fat Kids
Black Cats Kill
Dr. Mambo’s Combo
Men with Hollow Bodies
Filet of Soul
(I do love wordplay!)
Killer Dolphins with Rabies
This Will Not End Well
Grand Demise of Civilazation
(I am never sure if such misspellings are deliberate or if whoever printed up the first flyer just didn’t know and then it was t-shirts and total commitment to the wrongness.)
Primadonahue (Hooray! More wordplay!)
Luna Sea (And again.)
Handsome Deville (Yet more.)
Big Tree Bonsai (I love a good oxymoron.)
Lunar Funk Theory
Enchanted Ape
PB & The Jam
Well-Trained Monkey
Echo’s of Elvis
(Please, people, Echoes, I think; otherwise, does this really make
And my favorite: Elf Lettuce

My husband was in a band named for a headline one of the band members read in an ad in Popular Mechanics: Big Money In Electricity. Now he’s in Missing Pieces, but I can’t get a straight story about that one.

So now that you’ve gotten a bit of inspiration, here’s some BrainPlay for your next holiday gathering: create your own band names. This is a good first meeting ice breaker for a study group too. Here’s one possibility from Dr. Z’s House of Fun Sacktivities: use two paper bags. Put creative adjectives into one and clever nouns into another and draw one from each bag to get a band name. Repeat multiple times. Vote for your favorite. Design their t-shirt. Or do your own version of this game. Challenge yourself to use only nature references, or limit your words to those related to food, or, if you’re at a family gathering, come up with names based on those fond memories you share: Mama’s Spaghetti Sauce, Meemaw’s Chicken Back Preserves, or Soggy Cap’n Crunch©. As for me, if I’m not Drowning in Paper, I think I’ll be the Bashful Butter Churns.

What would your band be named?

I put things down on sheets of paper and stuff them in my pockets. When I have enough I have a book.
• John Lennon


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