Several People (Including Myself) Who Are Not Dust Function (Part Three)

The main reason I'm moving on to Brandon Heffley, aka brandon the wolf, isn't that I suspected and then cleared him of being Dust Function. I never suspected for so much as a moment that Brandon Heffley might be Dust Function, so I never bothered to investigate the possibility, let alone clear him, which is beginning to make me think he might be our prime suspect.

But that's neither here nor there.

What is, in fact, both here and there -- and quite possibly everywhere -- is that the story of how I met Brandon typifies how I prefer to meet the artists I sign to my label: in person.

I met Brandon "the wolf" Heffley several months ago when bass-plunker extraordinaire Michael Kelly asked me to teach his music business class one day while he flew somewhere exotic to play with the incomparable Femmes of Rock.

"Are you kidding me, Michael Kelly?" I said to Michael Kelly. "A chance to share my hard-earned knowledge and wisdom regarding the music business with a room full of eager young minds? Sold!"

"Actually, I just need you to show them a YouTube video," Michael Kelly said.

Of course, I knew that was code for "I want you to tell my students all about this new label you started a scant month-and-a-half ago and do everything within your power to get them to download, stream, and otherwise consume your music in a way that might financially benefit both you and the only other artist on your label at the moment, Timothy Simmons!"

How Michael Kelly knew of Timothy Simmons, I have no idea, but I was so eager to teach his class the mantra that has guided me to where I am today -- Try not to lose too much money! -- that I forgot to ask. Instead, I got right to work preparing to teach his class by watching old episodes of Vinyl and memorizing all of Richie Finestra's best tirades, all of which began and ended with "Whatever happened to rock'n'roll?"

My thinking, of course, was that nobody had actually watched Vinyl, so nobody would know that I'd pilfered all of my material. Little did I realize that come game-day, I'd find myself face-to-face with the only other person in the tri-state area who'd made a point of watching every episode of Vinyl as well.

"Whatever happened to rock'n'roll?" I roared, climbing up on a desk and shaking my finger at all of Michael Kelly's students before I'd even taken my coat off. "Rock. And. Roll. Whatever happened to it?"

"Werfasnerin," a lanky man in a plush wolf mask said. "Erfanankurnbile?"

At least that's what it sounded like. A moment's pause, however, gave me the opportunity to run a quick mental algorithm to correct for tone, acoustics, and other sonic variables that were muffling the voice of he who dared to interrupt: Wait a second! Isn't that from the Bible?

"No, it's not from the Bible," I said. "It's from Vinyl."

With this, the wolf tore of his own head to reveal a human head underneath.

"That's what I said," the erstwhile wolf said. "Vinyl."

A tense moment followed during which all of the other students in the room pretended to be more interested in what was on their phones than what was going on at the front of the classroom. To a number, I'm certain, they were all thinking the same thing: This is just like the legendary confrontation between Uruk and Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh! Given that historic and mythic precedent, I can't help wondering if this tense standoff is actually the beginning of an enduring friendship!

And so it was, for beyond my initial questions about the current whereabouts of rock and roll, I had forgotten the rest of my lecture. The seemingly insubordinate suggestion that I'd plagiarized the lecture that I'd plagiarized had, in the end, relieved me of having to fill the gaps of my stolen speech with original material. In short, the student's interruption saved me.

"What's your name?" I said to the student.

"Brandon," he said.

"And you wear a big, fluffy wolf mask," I said.

"Only when it's cold out," Brandon said.

"Very interesting," I said. "Any interest in signing to my label?"

At no point did anyone mention either dust or functions.


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