Given all the new beneficiaries of President Obama's economic stimulus package -- first-time home-buyers, small business owners, unemployed bloggers -- the American rock music industry seems to have been cruelly overlooked. For just a fraction of that $787 billion, many singers and rappers at risk could be pulled from the brink of ruin. Here are some targets for the Obama/SPIN.com stimulus spending plan:
MAKEOVER BY CELEB-STYLIST SALLY HERSHBERGERBeneficiary: Kanye WestCost to taxpayers: $700Why dude thought a Larry Blackmon-style mullet-fade was a good idea is beyond me. I'm sure the reason is even beyond LeVare Burton, who sported a similar 'do when he was cruising on the Starfleet wearing his electromagnetic spectrum visor on Star Trek: The Next Generation. To prevent a nation of Dolce-clad hipsters from shaving off their sideburns, we need to get Kanye in the barber's chair. Stat.
LEGAL FEES FOR DIVORCE FROM IMPENDING BRIDE MANDY MOOREBeneficiary: Ryan AdamsCost to taxpayers: $50,000I wish them the best. Ryan's Heartbreaker is one of my all-time favorite albums, and Mandy seems like the coolest and most down-to-earth genetically-engineered starlet in Hollywood. But I just finished reading Ryan's new book, Infinity Blues (choice poems include "Wow, I'm Insane" and "Million-Year Fuck-Face Convention") and... I give them a year.
ANGER MANAGEMENT CLASSES Beneficiary: Chris BrownCost to taxpayers: $10,000Not to make light, but after Chris's lackluster -- and obviously forced -- public apology for laying hands on Rihanna, I have a feeling the only way he'll deal with his anger issues is if the government foots the bill.
VOICE LESSONSBeneficiary: T-PainCost to taxpayers: $15,000T-Pain's tremulous robo-tenor has plagued airwaves long enough. We must stop him from encouraging tone-deaf musicians to take up the mic! We can't allow any more talented singers (Bon Iver! Why?) to suck the soul from their voices by flirting with AutoTune! The only way to save our ears is for T-Pain to learn to sing. If a 10-year-old dog can win Westminster, anything is possible.
FUNDING FOR RAP CAREERBeneficiary: Joaquin PhoenixCost to taxpayers: $500,000Question of the week: hoax, crack-up, or bonafide rap bid? All I know is I want to see more -- more interviews like his gum-smacking tirade on Letterman, more YouTube videos of him stumbling off a Vegas stage after 90 seconds of unintelligible, er, flow. More and double-more facial hair. It's America's duty to help him realize his dream -- or extend his hallucination.
MUSIC FESTIVAL RESUSCITATIONBeneficiaries: Bands, concertgoersCost to taxpayers: $2 millionLangerado pulled the plug on its annual concert this year, disappointing everyone in South Florida who was looking forward to seeing Snoop Dogg share a stage with Death Cab for Cutie. Ozzy, too, cancelled his fest -- though he claims it was so he could focus on his new album, which sounds dubious. Since no one buys albums anymore, bands depend on tours and festivals like this to pay the bills. So unless Obama wants more stringy-haired, tight-jeaned Converse rockers fighting for Starbucks barista gigs, I suggest we throw these festivals a bone.
GUITAR LESSONS FROM JOHN MAYERBeneficiary: Lil WayneCost to taxpayers: $75,000Lil Wayne recently took up the electric guitar. "Now at my shows, I get to play like John Mayer," he told SPIN in November. No, he does not. He gets to play like a junior-high shop teacher. Madonna could strum a Fender with more panache. But perhaps high-priced private sessions with Mayer (who already has the hip-hop stamp of approval from Jay-Z and Kanye) might make Lil Wayne into a halfway passable guitar hero.
HUSH MONEY/MEDICAL BILLSBeneficiary: Blink-182Cost to taxpayers: $3 millionThe last thing Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker, and Mark Hoppus want to do is get back together. They just made that dour comeback announcement at the Grammys because Travis has medical bills to pay, Tom's Angels & Airwaves didn't end up making "the best fucking album anybody has heard in 20 years" like he promised, and Mark... Well, I have no idea what he's up to. He's probably just strapped for cash. So, let's save them the trouble of reforming for one subpar album ('cause how can you improve on an album title like Take Off Your Pants and Jacket?) by just giving them a million bucks each. Word to the wise: Don't invest it.
Editor's note: The blink-182 entry above stirred quite a response. Click here to read Ellen Carpenter's follow-up.