By: Ben Johnson
Co-Bozo Kelly alerted me to the fact that there is an Ebola scare currently happening right in the middle of CMJ events in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Dummytown, USA. She wanted me to write something about it, but I’m at a loss, because both Ebola and CMJ are set to the “off” switch in my brain where I go “oh yeah, that Idiot Thing which is vaguely menacing and which would upset me greatly if I took the time to learn about, but which regardless I will have no control over, PASS.”
I am not a hundred percent sure what CMJ actually is.
I get that it’s a music industry conference, like South By Southwest, where a bunch of bands and artists play music for the people whose job it is to decide what music to put in a Sprite commercial. I understand that the economic structure of the current “music business” is set up to cater all possible musical sounds directly to people who call themselves “reps.” And I understand, prejudicially, that these are the kind of people who would wear wingtips without socks and pay $150 for a haircut that makes them look "cool" in the way that it's technically a definition of "cool" to unflappably go on about the rest of your day without even caring that some unusual scythe accident just happened to your head. I feel as though, without knowing any of the real details of it, I understand the concept of CMJ just enough to find the whole concept repugnant, which is to say that as far as I'm concerned, I understand it totally.
What I do not understand is the name. To me the letters “CMJ” mean “Country Music Jamboree” or whatever The Nashville Network is called now on TV. I know they have an awards show, one of the many faceless Country Music Awards Shows, one of which is surely occurring at this very moment, with that one country guy from The Voice being obviously buzzed on free Bud Light and saying some kind of sub-clever double entendre and smiling shiteatingly at the camera like he invented language itself. I don’t know. I am not a fan of country music. What I am is both profoundly lazy and recovering from about a 12 year blackout, and so a great deal of my knowledge base is formed from what happened on cable TV circa 1997, which is probably wrong and outdated in a way I am okay with. I enjoy living in a world where “CMJ” means “Country Music Jamboree,” and I refuse to hear it otherwise, even though it probably means College Music Journal or Commercial Money Jams.
I have been to Williamsburg a few times. I do not understand it either. It seems like the real estate version of one of those goofy post-Nirvana A&R reps who signed Steel Pole Bath Tub to a major label deal. It's probably the same people, only now they’re paying $38,000 a month rents on a Bedford Avenue storefront, two doors down from the Old Polish Gravestone Dealership which now doubles as a smack house-slash-"flex space", for a restaurant that only sells French toast. I like Steel Pole Bath Tub and French toast as much as the next guy, but you don’t throw around Coo Coo Corporate Americabucks at either entity while saying things such as "this is the new IDEAS economy." Like I say, I’ve been to Williamsburg. It’s just a regular shitty garbage city street area that looks like Funyuns bags and fishy windowless auto body places that seem like they're full of shivering, terrified imported sex slaves. And yet: dear god, the prices. It’s like America’s dead zone where the Cool To Money Conversion Calculator app goes haywire and the result is a gleaming billboard for Cluelessness.
It is the perfect setting for CMJ, in other words, and also the perfect setting for an Ebola scare.
I also don’t understand much about Ebola. I get that it is a potentially deadly disease. It killed Kevin Spacey and it damn near killed Renee Russo, and they were going to drop a nuclear bomb on it until Cuba Gooding Jr. flew Dustin Hoffman under a bridge in a helicopter and then Dustin Hoffman told Donald Sutherland to pretend it was wind shear, and luckily they got some monkey juice from David Schwimmer’s pet. So it’s really not anything to worry about. Ha ha ha.
But seriously. People are dead. 4,881 human beings in Africa. Dead.
I just looked that up. That sucks. It sucks that 4,881 African humans are dead from Ebola almost as much as it sucks that 4,881 of the “reps” at CMJ, due to basic Western hygiene practices, will not die from Ebola. Ebola is a motherfucker like that. There should be a deadly disease which is transmitted instantaneously by socksless wingtip. Instead we get shit like this that kills Africans, who are having a rough enough time already. The whole idea of Ebola, apparently, can originate from a person eating an infected fruit bat. Think about that. You’re like “I’m so hungry I could eat a diseased fruit bat,” and then you DO and then you DIE OF EBOLA.
I could see there being a Diseased Fruit Bat Store in Williamsburg, though. That’s the kind of business that has growth potential in today's IDEAS economy. Plenty of people in Williamsburg would pay like $1,500 to directly handle a diseased fruit bat if they saw on Gothamist that Coco Gordon Moore had Instagrammed it.
Anyhow, there’s an Ebola scare in the middle of CMJ, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Moneyshitville, USA, and it’s the reason why you can catch a DJ set by ?uestlove with only 15 people at it, and if like the rest of the “reps” that seems cool and important enough to you to pay $2,500 a month to rent a tiny apartment across from a KFC currently surrounded by crime scene tape, you are already dead and you don’t know it, so a little Ebola is not going to hurt you. It might actually improve your street cred since it's, like, big in Africa right now.