720. Golden Brown

(In the midst of the Kickstarter campaign, somehow you guys still managed to trigger a Saturday post, too! So here it is. -ctan)

The Aesthetician came by The Hangar to measure us all for wardrobe more than once. We also had a couple of production meetings there instead of at the office so she could figure out some logistics about building the stage. We weren’t going to take a custom-built stage with us to South America but if a US or European tour shaped up we might. Depending on the venues. Meanwhile the South American stage had to be worked out with regular sections that could be easily rented and built no matter where we went. This meant we had to finalize how many musicians we’d have and where they would be.

At one such meeting the main topic of discussion was my hair. No, I’m not kidding. No, I wasn’t happy about it. I’ve never been comfortable with people fussing over my appearance.

It had started out as a discussion about Ziggy’s hair, a discussion that had gotten into subjects I hadn’t known were discussed like this. Mills was on speaker for this one.

“I feel it’s passé to do the midnight black with blond streak at the front,” Linn said.

“But it’s a signature look,” Ziggy pointed out.

“Your old signature,” Barrett, who was there in the war room of The Hangar with us, said. “Unless you want to be stuck with that same hairstyle ten years from now.”

Ziggy relented at that.

“What about red? A rich auburn?” Linn suggested. “There could still be some highlights in it.”

“I like that direction,” Mills said via speakerphone. “Honestly my worry about his natural color is that he’ll be too quickly identified as Latin. I have serious worries about this record being pigeonholed into urban. You know I do.”

“Dance music isn’t black music anymore,” Barrett argued. “Not with all the European rave stuff coming over.”

“Facts have never stopped the American public from being wrong,” Mills countered. “If we’re going to keep the appeal wide we have to keep his image white.”

Ziggy snickered. “What color do you think my natural color is?”

Mills dodged the question: “Linn, going with auburn would be great, as long as it looks natural and not, you know, fire-engine red or like a failed dye job.”

Barrett tapped the eraser of a pencil against the table we were gathered around. “My only concern about red is I want to avoid too much comparison to Bowie.”

“And I have to work with what he’s got for a start.” Linn fingered the edges of Ziggy’s hair in the chair next to her. His hair was currently midnight black and somewhat shaggy. “And I’d like to give both of you some matching element.”

“Me?” I said, surprised.

“Yes. You’re going to be the member of the band most visible.”

“Is the band even going to be visible?” I asked.

“Oh, yes–”

Mills cut her off. “Marks, is that you?”

“Sure is.”

There was a moment of silence when nobody talked, then Barrett cleared his throat and Linn plowed ahead. “There will several points where the band is featured, and you in particular during one important costume change.”

“Ah. Makes sense.”

Ziggy tapped his chin. “What about giving the band and dancers the old blond streak while taking me in a different direction?”

“Now that’s an idea,” Barrett agreed.

“That still doesn’t settle what to do about Ziggy’s look,” Mills said.

“Going all green or all blue is right out,” Linn said. “That won’t fly in South America.”

“Or here right now,” Barrett said. “I’m not visualizing it well. Linn, can you bring in some headshots of models we could compare or something?”

“Of course. We can pick this up tomorrow.” She slipped out of her seat and raked her fingers through my hair. I paid attention to her instead of to Barrett and Mills finishing up the call. She had long fingernails and they felt weirdly good against my scalp.

“Are you attached to all this hair?” she asked me.

“Kinda. It’s taken years to grow it out and I don’t want to have to start all over.”

“It fits your image of yourself?”

“Yeah.” I suppose it did.

She nodded thoughtfully, still playing with it. “A small streak. And perhaps some colored extensions. Perhaps some colorful undercoat, which could match each other.”

“Uh, sure.”

As the meeting broke up I asked Barrett, “That wasn’t the first time Mills realized I’m doing this, was it?”

He shook his head. “He’s known for a while. I don’t think he knew how much a part of the team you are, though.” Barrett then gave me a shrug that I took to mean: if Mills doesn’t like it he can go suck eggs.

After we finished rehearsal that night and I was going around shutting things off, I asked Ziggy though, “Wait, what is your natural hair color?”

“What color do you think it is?”

“I’ve always thought of black as your base color but that’s obviously not right now that I think about it.” After all, I’d even helped him to dye it black.

“It’s brown,” he said, sounding supremely uninterested.

Let’s put it this way: Ziggy was as uninterested in the natural color of his hair as I was in the natural sound of my voice.

Site news! Only six days left on the Kickstarter! Ends this Friday at 5pm!
We only need $316 to make goal, and we’re only $900 from adding two scrapbook pages to the omnibus paperback!

This is your last chance to get some of the goodies being offered as rewards! Some items will only be made in limited quantities!

Temporary Tattoos!

of Daron & Ziggy’s tattoos
For only a $5-$6 donation to the Kickstarter (not here on the site), get your choice of any of the temporary tattoos and your choice of any of the ebooks.

Custom Guitar Pick

A reward of a custom guitar pick is $8, or for $10 have it on a necklace chain!

New T-Shirt Design

dgc hand logo t shirt draft
Since Linn the Aesthetician liked that handprint of Ziggy’s that Daron wears, I thought why not make it into a shirt?

Various other bundles and rewards are available including custom songs written by Daron or Ziggy, pages from their notebooks, and of course the omnibus paperback itself which the Kickstarter is raising the money to produce!

Click here to see the full rewards and contribute: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ceciliatan/darons-guitar-chronicles-third-omnibus



  • steve says:

    Kristin Hersh, asked her natural hair color, replied, “Who can remember?”

  • s says:

    Color coordinating your hair with Ziggy’s is taking this to a whole new, and slightly ridiculous, level. Ironically, if I were ever to color my hair it would be a deep auburn I’d chose.

    Btw, if anyone else is still melting down over Prince, VH1 is doing a tribute all weekend long.

    • G says:

      Watched it. Cried often.

    • daron says:

      Honestly I feel less weird about color coordinating our hair than I do about the idea we’re probably going to wear matching costumes of some kind on the stage.

      • s says:

        Ok but you signed up for a tour with dancers. Matching costumes, while cringe-worthy, should be expected. But hair? You do realize you and Bart and Chris get to play a set BEFORE Ziggy’s? With matching hair? Which won’t make sense to anyone until you’re with Ziggy and there’s a couple dozen clones on stage? Idk, man, that sounds worse to me.

        • chris says:

          This chapter and discussion has me thinking about others that start to look similar, even hair styles… and questioning if it was intentional or not… Adam Lambert when through a phase where he wore his hair very similar to Tommy Joe Ratliff’s very distinctive undercut… Joe Perry and Steven Tyler have a long history of matching hair… down to the blond steak….other acts like the Stray Cats used clothes and hair as a branding tool… hmmm

          • s says:

            Sure, matching clothes and even hair as Ziggy’s backing band, while creepy from my perspective, is one thing. But they’ll have to have this matching hair thing as the opening band too and that just doesn’t fit for Daron, or any of them really, personality wise. Daron is a unique individual, not a cookie cutter puppet. He must REALLY love Ziggy. Lol

  • Jude says:

    Everyone’s just messing with you right now, D. Take heart from the fact that Mills’ face probably looked like he’d bitten into a lemon after that conversation.

  • sanders says:

    keep his image white

    I’m finding that and Mills’ comments about Ziggy being pegged as “urban” far, far, far more alarming than any discussion of hair, and kind of disturbed that the take away in comments so far is appearance. Linn is almost as creepy as Mills, and I’m much more concerned about how Ziggy’s processing this steaming heap of bullshit and being pressured to pass in so many ways than how Daron’s dealing with the possibility of hair dye. I know Ziggy’s partly in it for the money and fame, but at what point does it seem more like prostitution and selling out one’s identity? How does he rationalize it as being worth it?

    • s says:

      Shit, I meant to comment on that. Yesterday was crazy and I read the chapter and didn’t get to comment until several hours later and I forgot. I took this as par for the course with Mills. He already told Ziggy he has to appear straight, why not white? I honestly don’t listen to much that douche bag says. He’s that boss everyone flips off behind his back then go on about their day like he hadn’t spoke. It probably wouldn’t hurt for Daron to make sure Ziggy is ok though.

      Linn is creepy and as I said in my post, slightly ridiculous.

    • G says:

      I completely agree, sanders. Mills can fuck off. First of all, what is so bad about the “urban” market? He doesn’t want minority support for Ziggy’s music? And I’m really pissed about him wanting Ziggy to pass. Same thing Ziggy’s mom wanted him to do growing up. I say Ziggy should tan himself to a golden brown and speak Spanish during the tour. Mills is a complete fucking asshole.

      Linn, though weird, is doing her thing. I think she’s harmless and not thinking about “whiting” everyone up.

      Does anyone think Ziggy and Daron have really thought about who their audience will be and who they want to appeal to? Does anyone care other than Mills? Was their silence just them blowing him off? I only vaguely remember when one of their songs was played on a soft rock station Ziggy was a little bit horrified. I don’t remember Daron’s reaction.

      • daron says:

        I was the one a little bit horrified about being on a soft rock station, although I thought at least the cool thing is that soft rock actually seems to be about the song and the music and not about “genre”, which I liked. Pretty sure Ziggy just wanted our songs to be played on every radio station ever and didn’t care beyond that…

    • Bill Heath says:

      Sanders, we completely agree. Making him straight is bad enough, and coounterproductive.. Making him white is as well. The next step is denying he can speak Spanish.

      Ziggy already knows he prostituted himself when he sold body, mind and soul to Mills. Consequences entailed a close call with his Daron relationship, and an album over which he had no real control. Now it’s extending the “pre-packed performer” to his ethnicity also. Look for more to come

      If Ziggy rebels against Mills to an extent tht Mills believes he’s threatening control, things could get very ugly. None of the cross-suits is settled. A request for an injunction prohibiting Daron from leaving the U.S. (fleeing jurisdiction to avoid being held accountable) only needs one judge somewhere and the tour is in deep doo-doo. I have no doubt Mills knows friendly judges and stupid judges. And, I’m sure he has every corrupt one in the country on speed-dial.

      I kind of like G’s view of Linn.

    • ctan says:

      I had to sit on his hands to keep Ziggy from replying. We’ll all find out his feelings on the matter eventually, I promise. 🙂

      One thing to remember is that although Mills’ comments about “keeping him white” are abhorrent, they’re completely par for the course in the music business of the time (the white/black divide in music marketing and sales was considered uncrossable–just one reason why Prince was such an incredibly powerful figure). This is not Mills being a lone racist with a lot of power. This is the norm in the fucking industry. The other thing to remember is that as far as we know, Ziggy has successfully passed to the point that as far as Mills knows, Ziggy *is* white, and his concern is that regardless of his actual racial background Ziggy could be re-categorized in a way that’s damaging for his career/image/marketing potential.

      I’ve told the story before about Madonna being categorized by radio programmers as black when she first hit the scene — songs like “Holiday” “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” were “ghetto-ized” to the urban radio stations because some Top 40 stations were afraid they’d sound too much like the black dance music stations if they played them, or they restricted playing them back to back with actual black artists, etc. It wasn’t until the record company went all in on the Like A Virgin videos for “Material Girl” and “Like a Virgin” (and MTV put them both into heavy rotation) that her image was sufficiently “whitened” in the minds of the public that Top 40 stations felt comfortable moving her back into the white category. (Also those two songs were much less urban-dance sounding, unlike “Into the Groove” from that same album which the dance stations jumped onto immediately.)

      It’s possible Mills doesn’t even know Ziggy’s actual racial or ethnic background so much that he fears Ziggy being interpreted as nonwhite regardless. Ziggy of course loves to be misinterpreted by everyone constantly because Ziggy.

      (Mills is still a dick, of course.)

      • Bill Heath says:

        In 1970 I visited New York and heard a new sound called “Disco.” I immediately wrote a piece for my band in the genre, called “Dancing Dream.” Coincidentally, it actualy sounded a bit like the eventual ABBA hit.

        We couldn’t get anybody to record it. As we were told, “Disco is Negro and homosexual. It will never catch on.”

        • ctan says:

          It’s like even as capitalists these execs fail. It’s the same stuff as the Hollywood execs who claim they have to cast white stars as the leads in their movies or the movies won’t make money, despite the fact that the number crunching shows that films with racially diverse casts make more money at the box office. They also try to argue that female stars don’t have the star power to draw at the box office so women’s movies make less money…while the data show that actually the more equitable the gender balance in the film the more money it makes.

          They make a basic failure of perception and logic–that because their companies are successful and they have engineered various commercial successes therefore what they justify liking must be what will be the safest bets. Given that everyone else in the industry agrees with them, there’s little incentive to change that behavior, since if they buck the status quo and a project flops, then confirmation bias kicks in and they won’t take that chance again.

          • Bill Heath says:

            The most successful financial investment in film for the past decade has been Will Smith. The most successful in television has been Oprah Winfrey.

            After Smith, the two most bankable stars are Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock.

            In a quarter century as a top-tier global management consultant, I found this typical across industries. Most of my clients were stifled by a belief that “We are so unique, the laws of nature do not apply in our company.”

            And almost nobody wants to go first. That is actually supported by number crunching. Facebook was the third big-investment social networking site launched. The first one, now failed, tried to be too big. MySpace tried to be too small. Zuckerberg played Goldilocks.

          • sanders says:

            What strikes me as hilarious about Hollywood right now is it was just confirmed in the past couple of months that we’re getting 10, count ’em, 10, Fast & Furious movies. Every one of them, ignoring Tokyo Drift, because that shit did NOT happen, has been a fairly large commercial success built around groups of people usually involving a token white boy among extremely capable, compelling men and women of color, and white women, even embracing two featured characters who largely communicated in Spanish (without subtitles at times). Ugh. I could write thousands of words about the beauty and complexity of the casting of F&F and how it stands as a screw-you to Hollywood norms, but let’s just focus on how it brought Gal Gadot, Tyrese, Ludacris, Michelle Rodriguez, The Rock, Sung Kang, and Vin Diesel together in one insanely pretty cast.

            Mills is/was definitely the norm in the industry. Honestly, not so much has seemed to change, aside from the advent of the featured rapper on white artists’ work to give it broader appeal. A show like Empire is fueled on the fact that music is still a very segregated and very genre-conscious industry, not to mention the ways that sexuality and gender still limit how artists are marketed and perceived. I actually wonder what Ziggy would make of Empire, but that way lies fanfic I haven’t got time to write.

            I think Mills’ comments were such a gut-punch because they came on the heels of Prince’s passing and so much thinking about race, gender, and sexuality can intersect in music. It would have been gross any other day, but the timing made it even worse, especially when it’s put into context with where Prince’s career was at the time.

      • chris says:

        When Prince was first climbing the charts, in the mid-west (St. Louis area), the emphasis was that he was Italian. He was marketed as Italian in 1980 in St. Louis…

  • Stacey says:

    Hahahaha. Picturing Mills’ face as he realized Daron was sitting RIGHT THERE…

    On the other hand, I was more than a little horrified by the “we have to keep his image white” remark. And yet — I remember 1991, and it’s true, the only non-white rock bands I remember were In Living Color, who always got billed as something of a novelty act, and Fishbone, who weren’t really rock at all, were they? I’m not sure what genre Fishbone qualified as, but I came home from one of their shows in 1992 with a mild concussion — good times.

    Anyhow, the conversation just reminds me, I guess, how far we’ve come. And how far we still have to go. Ugh.

    (Disclaimer: I grew up in an insulated pocket of SoCal! My memory may be warped by this!)

    • ctan says:

      Fishbone were nominally ska, in that subset of ska that was also a subset of punk. One of my favorite bands from the 80s. I lost track of the in the ’90s but they must have had a couple more albums because they get played on the “Lithium” 90s alt/grunge channel on SiriusXM and not on the “FirstWave” 80s alt/new wave channel.

      Although I swear they change their minds every year where FirstWave is supposed to leave off and Lithium start. Before the Sirius merger with XM, the XM 80s new wave/alt channel included a wider range of music and songs and included Nirvana’s Nevermind. After the merger, Nirvana was banished to “Lithium” (the 90s alt/grunge channel) and so were most of the REM and Red Hot Chili Peppers songs, even the ones from the late 80s that were clearly not “90s”. Interestingly enough THIS WEEK all of a sudden I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Suck My Kiss”, as if they suddenly remembered that “FIrstWave” supposedly covers music through 1992.

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