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Piece de Resistance

Marketing Mike & the Suits

Marketing Mike & The Suits are funny and subversive enough to almost pass for revolutionaries

By Traci Hukill

THE FANTASY went like this: Jeff Feldman, a.k.a. Marketing Mike, was actually putting his lefty ideals where his money was. A spy in the house of Corporate America, he'd infiltrated The System posing as a public relations man and worked his way into the vest pockets of the captains of industry.

From his vantage point inside the belly of the Silicon Valley beast, he watched and waited, collecting dirty industry secrets at top-level meetings and working long into the night to disseminate them via a clever, politically charged Web site mastered by Paula Jones, his wife and fellow revolutionary.

He communicated with sympathizers in other ways--namely through two music CDs, Marketing Blues and Business Blues, that called into public view the stupidity, hypocrisy and greed that infest the corporate world like vermin. Sure, he looked like a well-behaved Suit by day, but in his off hours he was a guerrilla soldier in the war with Big Business over the soul of America.

Wrong.

The fantasy, I recently discovered, could not have been more inaccurate. A few subtle clues tipped me off.

Clue #1: First off, 13 years ago Feldman "re-evaluated his priorities" and went for the bucks. A journalist by trade, he bowed out of the Fourth Estate upon realizing he would probably never become a homeowner on a journalist's salary. An understandable decision, but not an idealistic one.

"A lot of people think that if you go into journalism you can make a difference," he says. Then he laughs abruptly. "And you get out of school and it's not that easy. Journalists are low-paid."

Clearly Mr. Feldman is not aware of the lavish lifestyles Metro journalists enjoy, and in his ignorance he decided to join the public relations industry.

Clue #2: Feldman emphasizes that the stress and frustration of his new profession drove him to make the two CDs that led to the birth of Biz Blues Records, his and Jones' label.

"The thing is, you gotta laugh, y'know?" philosophizes Feldman, who now owns FS Communications in Mountain View. "I did this because if you can't laugh, you go crazy. I did this for mental therapy."

And what, exactly, did he find so annoying about his vocation that he had to exorcise it through music?

Well, voice mail for starters, followed by cubicles, pointless meetings and snitches who rat on indiscretions blurted at the company Christmas party. Against a straight one-four-five blues background supplied by The Suits (a few blues musicians, including Brian "Brain" Mantia of Primus), "Marketing Mike" relates in a gravelly Blues Brothers-inspired voice the following sentiments in "The Company Christmas Party":

    Careful what you do
    Careful what you say
    Beware the company Christmas party
    It could blow your raise away

    Put tape across your lips
    This party's all politics
    The ones who aren't drinking
    They're doing the thinking.

It sounds like a bitter man's song (or a bitter woman's--Jones also writes lyrics), but Feldman insists he's psychologically whole.

"I make recordings," he explains serenely. "I'm not upset anymore."

Clue #3: The lyrics on Business Blues are rich, all right, but the Web site with its looming letters spelling "Does Your Job SUCK?" is a little more hard-core. Nevertheless, Feldman denies any affiliation with the Resistance.

"No, no Ché Guevara," he laughs. "It's not political."

Links to layoff reports listing major corporate "rightsizing" crimes--not political? Or to Miriam Joan Hill and Robert Anton Wilson's Encyclopedia of Conspiracies--not political? What about the Worst Companies link, which lists environmental and humanitarian atrocities by corporations like Intel, Texaco, Microsoft and Coors? At the very least these links are rabble-rousing. But Feldman doesn't budge.

"Bear in mind, I very much appreciate my business position. I enjoy my business--it's just that you see stuff that is so ridiculous that it doesn't make sense.

"I read somewhere that all comedy is based on incongruity, and incongruity is based on absurdity," he muses. "And if you can see the absurdity, then you can laugh at it."

Sure enough, anyone who's ever been trapped in a voice mail loop, endured the reign of terror that accompanies a downsizing or been denied a well-deserved raise can relate to Marketing Mike's lamentations. But it's best not to pin too many ideological hopes on the guy.


Marketing Mike & The Suits' albums "Marketing Blues" and "Business Blues" are available through the Biz Blues Web site.

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From the Oct. 16-22, 1997 issue of Metro.

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