Tiny Rascals

Mr. Entertainment and Boise Bob declare: "Novelty or Death!"

Forget about the dictatorship of the proletariat. Their revolution will be funny. Socialism is seriousness is death. What's most important is to labor without feeling alienated. "You get to the point," says Toth in a reversal of the stereotypical young rocker's fear of eventually having to settle down, "where you have to decide if you're going to keep up this grind for the rest of your life." Subsidized by phone-company savings and his wife's generosity, Toth has dedicated himself to not making money with music.

Working a partial-week schedule, Spector is a champion of use-value. "I collect things I like," he says of the toys and cheap guitars that fill his trailer home. He is especially happy with his Sears Silvertone guitar, he explains, "not because it's worth anything but because I like how it sounds kind of ugly."

The guitar is a recent obsession. "I was born in 1954, when rock 'n' roll started," says Spector, "and I haven't been playing for even five years. My guitar player died. I had no choice." Spector sang and wrote songs for the duo Boise and Moss from 1988 until the death of his partner, Pete Moss, in 1996. "And now I've written 50 songs since then just as a way of dealing with Pete."

We are now sitting on a bench in front of the Rascal House, shooed out by our waitress, who was eager to fill our table with another round of tippers. As Boise Bob explains his faith in the novelty song, the parking lot shuttle chugs to the curb. "Novelty music is where I come from; that's where my heart is," he notes as an elderly woman slowly pulls up in a large sedan. She taps the shuttle from behind and squeezes the portly driver against the steering wheel.

"Idiot," hisses an octogenarian watching from the entryway. Toth jumps up to tell the management but is blocked by an elderly knot shuffling out the front door to witness the incident.

While we wait for Toth to return, relieved to see that the shuttle driver has recovered sufficiently to curse the offender, the onlookers notice the red Princess phone. "Did you call the police?" jokes one oldster.

"Maybe you have to put a nickel in it," another suggests, dating himself.

As the manager comes out to attend to the driver, Toth takes his seat on the bench. "Humor is everything," observes Spector. "To me the death of music is seriousness."

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