News / Blog

September 20, 2008

book, two records

My dearest friend:

It seems that every time we’ve written to you lately we must begin with an apology that we’ve been quiet lately, and I am afraid this time is no exception. We had hoped by now to be able to announce the release of a new record, but over the last few years, we’ve made some bad loans, and are now in negotiation with the Dorchester Board of Trade for a bailout. We have no one to blame but ourselves (off the record -we’d never publicly admit that), but it has slowed us down. We never should have loaned Peyton that money for a burrito on the day that he spent his whole per diem on a cassette of trucker songs before realizing he hadn’t eaten. And we shouldn’t have loaned Menck the money to buy the Buddy Holly bootleg set on Vig-a-Tone Records. Even though there’s something to repossess in the latter case, it’s worthless if no one will buy it. The only two guys (and I do mean guys) in the world who would buy it already have it, each with a sealed copy to spare in his parents’ basement. We’re still hammering out the terms, but in the end it looks like they’ll own 80% of the catalog, and we’ll have to pay back the loan at about 13% interest. But we still have Big Tobacco free and clear, and no one has to go without any more of a paycheck than they’ve gone without in eight years we’ve been in business. Anyway, privatized profits are so 1993.  Socialized debt is where it’s at, and we always go where it’s at. We also thought about a short sale, but couldn’t figure out what that is.Â

So, while we’ve been scrambling to reorganize Ashmont Records, Inc., Joe has completed his book, called It Feels So Good When I Stop He handed it in this week, which probably means that our phone conversations will stop going like this:

Me: Hello?

Joe: Chief, what’s up?

Me: Nothing

Joe: I gotta go. I gotta finish my book.

Me: You called me.

Joe: Gotta go. (click)

Anyway, the book is done, and will be out sometime next year. Apparently it takes about a year to release a book. I guess each copy must be hand written by Benedictine monks and then hand bound by an artisan bookbinder. I’ll have to ask Riverhead how that works (and I’ll also have to ask Megan, Joe’s editor there, if her phone conversations with him are largely like mine). The two chapters I have heard or read are very good, but you can rest assured that I will be scouring that first copy hot off the monk’s desk for libelous material about yours truly. I won’t have Joe benefitting from the drawing of a caricature of a bitter, sardonic record company toady who swooped him out of Pioneer Valley obscurity and deposited him on the glitzy world stage. (I must have dreamt that he’d turn on me like this, even before I met him. Apparently, about 15 years ago, I sat bolt upright in bed, still asleep, and proclaimed, “I’m not a cartoon. I’m a girl.”  Besides, our pal John Niven hilariously mined this sad and twisted kind of material in his book Kill Your Friends (highly recommended).

As for records, there are two in the works. I probably shouldn”t tell you all of this, because it”s how internet rumors get started, but I feel like I can trust you, especially now that we”re facebook friends. The book references a fair amount of music, and Joe and Peyton will be recording some of it for a companion piece, or soundtrack if you will, that will most likely be a digital-only release. I”m really excited to be filling out reams and reams of paperwork for Harry Fox, but I guess that”s my job. Then there”s the thing that Joe, James, Bob and Menck have been working on in my attic off and on for what seems like about a decade. That, I am told, will be handed to me for release next year, and it”s called Light, Sweet, Crude. Of course I haven’t heard any of it, but none of my neighbors complained about noise while it was being recorded, so it’s either quiet or at least good enough to not get complaints. We’re having lots of high level strategy meetings about when to release it in relation to the release of the book, but no one ever takes notes at these meetings and we never remember what, if anything, was decided. Plus Joe always ends the meetings abruptly by standing up and saying, “gotta go.” No matter when that record comes out though, we’re thinking about some non-traditional marketing schemes. Check this out – we are thinking about manufacturing some CDs and getting them into stores that sell CDs. I know – it hasn’t been done in a while, but we’re confident that aside from the value as a high-profile publicity stunt, it will work as a good old-fashioned slice of American ingenuity. Like the man said, American workers are innovative.

So, our James has been busy. If you’ve been paying close attention, you might have noticed that the new guy in the Pretenders looks a lot like James. That’s because it is James. I guess that the $2 an hour we were paying him wasn’t sufficient, especially once exchanged for pounds sterling. We’re confident that he’ll be back once he tires of the huge crowds and adulation. I mean, Menck came back. Peyton has been off playing with the Silver Jews. I guess they must be paying in foreign currency as well. And Pat is apparently playing with some sect of the Family Danielson. I’m not even going to guess what kind of currency that entails.

Charlie Ashmont has reached a new pinnacle in his career as an exploited record company mascot. I was at Hannaford’s in Quincy yesterday, in produce, when I saw a nice elderly woman with a Charlie Ashmont shopping bag. I smiled at her and said, “I like your bag.” She said, “It’s my favorite kind of dog – a Boston terrier. I thought to myself, oh lady, if you only knew. Anyway, he is good. He has come to terms with the news of his lineage and is adjusting nicely.

That’s all I have or care to make up. If you’re buying, I can sell you stuff at

Gotta go.

Dorchester, Mass.

Joyce @ 6:17 pm