The Lost Wages of Norbert Fragg

Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 11:16:03 EDT
From: Bknt at aol dot com
Subject: The Lost Wages of Norbert Fragg

Dear Fraggophiles,

A pliant plaint, posted in the on-line diary of the dyspeptic and occasionally apoplectic guitarist Norbert Fragg, has filled the fetid offices of Reactionary Records with endless grief. It seems that Fragg has told his Japanese hosts that he will not make a subsequent Thing Dismal recording because he feels he has been inadequately compensated for the trouble, toil and dribbling he contributed to the latest Thing Dismal recording, the Power to Reweave.

This Fraggmatic refusal has sparked an investigation on behalf of Her Magesty's Ministry of Ineffable Twaddle. Borrowing a phrase recently used to describe the overall honesty, integrity and reliability of the American news media during the recent Iraqi war, presiding magistrate Lord Bupkes, a Thing Dismal enthusiast since the release of In The Court of the Bilious Barrister, exclaimed that the "Fragg Matter" was rife with "crock and bull," and vowed to "separate Fragg from friction."

The following are excerpts from the off-going investigation:

Lord Bupkes: Mr. Fragg, you stated that among your uncompensated acts was sending a rough mix of the current Thing Dismal recording to a marketing and focus group agency that played the record before housewives and cats. Can you tell the court why you should be paid for this?

Mr. Fragg: For music to come into the world, it is sometimes necessary for it to be despised by married females as a loud, dissonant, polyrhythmically hopeless preoccupation of their aging mates. In addition, in Eastern musical traditions, which are far superior to the West, the quality of music that causes feline species to vomit spontaneously is considered to be inherently superior. The Thing Dismal song "Cat Puke" began a process that is continues with the current composition, EmetiKc. Both are about about the law of Unintended Retchedness.

Lord Bupkes: According to documents before the Court, EmetiKc, was originally titled Another Fine Fraggture. During a recording that ditty, you have stated that you developed an itch on your left forefinger, causing you to play an A minor chord as an F sharp, and for this you did not receive payment.

Sir Shpilkes (acting as solititor for Reactionary Records): We have replayed the relevant passage, your Lordship, and we have not been able to identify any audible evidence of such an event. As our friends in Germany might say, der itch ist nicht!

Mr. Fragg: In my inestimable, disagreeable and far too humiliating career as professional musician, which has lasted 37 years, 2 months, one week, three days, sixteen hours and 27 minutes, I have developed abilities that some may call psychic. For example, I can identify individuals who are thinking about possessing cameras and recording equipment, regardless if these individuals have this equipment in their possession or have the capability to operate the equipment properly. This ability manifests itself as an irritation, annoyance, a great, gasping, heaving orb of despair that descends like an obese London music journalist upon a post-performance meet-and-greet buffet spread. This ability is more remarkable, because, given the generally unsupportive, vindictive, materialistic and unbathed nature of Thing Dismal fans, most are incapable of coherent thought.

Sir Shpilkes: So you do their thinking for them, Mr. Fragg?

Mr. Fragg: For which I have not been paid! I cannot begin to explain how irritating this is.

Sir Shpilkes: Indeed. If I may, your Lordship, introduce before the Court an insubstantial entity named Ish Kabibble. Mr. Kabbible is the Good Fairy whose assistance Mr. Fragg cited as crucial in the completion of the previous Thing Dismal studio recording, The EruKctation of Spite. Mr. Kabbible, have you received any compensation from Mr. Fragg for your spiritual contribution?

Mr. Kaddible: Not a fraggin' farthing! And then, when I reads in the trades that ol' Norbie's finally popped his noggin to make a new record, I shows up in Knishville with me bag o' tricks, all set to render me usual services, and I'm told to bugger off, as I been replaced by a Machine!

Lord Bupkes: It is the judgement of the court that, rather than demand payment for talents that are, at best, unique, at worst, manifestations of personal compulsions that have little, if anything, to do with music, Mr. Fragg must acknowledge that, in having an artistic existence that remains long, vital, meaningful, valuable and, despite his best efforts, APPRECIATED in ways that even this court cannot fully catalog, Mr. Fragg owes far more than he can ever repay. It is our hope that he continues to make his music available to those who will pay to hear it, and that he develops other, less dubiously psychic abilities, that will remind him of the abundant richness that has been given to him to share, and that gratitude is its own reward.

Case dismissed!

Bill Kent

Mike Stok