It all started with the Les Paul guitar he didn’t get for Christmas.
Sure, he didn't even ask for it, admits McSweeney’s contributor and Atlantic Records employee Kennedy, but that didn’t quell his disappointment. It was the first ticket to cool that never got punched except in his fantasies, which the author relates with cinematic clarity. It wasn’t his last disappointment, bad move, or crushed expectation. “I’m lying in bed feeling like blind optimism’s one-night stand,” confides Kennedy. Fantasy: he will be a smokejumper. Reality: “a caveman forest custodian cleaning up after it all.” Fantasy: he will operate an espresso franchise. Reality: he sucks nitrous oxide from the whipped-cream cans while hiding behind his espresso cart. “As days go by, incredible things are not happening”: Kennedy is hungry to break into the music scene, but his first gig is pulling records at a music warehouse. An alternative music man, he heads for Texas to make his mark . . . just as Seattle takes off. (“I’m still not catching on to the fact that I’m in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”) He actually manages to line up a show, but he can’t play his guitar and doesn’t know any music. He decides to move into advertising copywriting and approaches his job interviews with brio. At one agency, he is told they need a miracle worker. “ ‘Rock it up on,’ I blurted loudly and nervously, trying to muster some excitement and confidence. (Pause. He was just staring. I was very still, hoping the tongue-tied words would somehow disappear from the air between us.)” We’d guess it was his agent who did the talking on the book deal. It’s good to know who you are, and Kennedy does (check the title); he’ll have you laughing, simply glad you aren't him.
A little gem, but it’s excruciating to imagine paying the price for the material.