Who knows how Uncle Donnie gets to know someone like Michael Stipe well enough to receive the gift of dishware from him?  Granted, these are strange times in which we live, so finding something like this in the memo stack was not entirely a surprise, though Mike Mills and Peter Buck might not be too happy with U.D.’s nicknames for them. —RS

TO: Michael Stipe
FROM: Don Skwatzenschitz
RE: Career Advice

Mike, thanks so much for the Basquiat dinner plates. Nothing like getting to the bottom of one of Mitzi’s casseroles and seeing a neo-Expressionist skull staring back at me.  We’d have you over for dinner, but I know you’re a vegetarian, and she puts beef broth in everything (makes for an interesting apple pie, let me tell you).

Mike, I know you and the boys got a bit of a bump in popularity last year, with the Accelerate album and the return to rocking out and such and so forth. You’re at your best when you and the nerdy one let the schlubby one turn up his amps and blow a hole through whatever wall happens to be nearby. Don’t get me wrong—I actually liked Around the Sun (leaving New York is never easy, but there’s so much more of the country to see) and Up. To my ears, Reveal is the only truly crap record you guys have made. Man, did that stink. I mean, no redeeming qualities whatsoever, aside from maybe—maybe—“Imitation of Life,” but that got old pretty quickly. You guys dropped a turd on that one. Most bands don’t recover from something that rank.

Which is why you should look out for yourself more, for your own career, your own life apart from the nerdy one and the schlubby one. I’ve got some ideas you might want to consider:

  • Go nuts. You’re a dignified, middle aged man with intellectual, political, and artistic pursuits beyond the music you are best known for. You appreciate privacy and go to some lengths to protect it. You support worthy people and worthier causes. Mike, it’s a wonder anyone knows who the hell you are. You need to pull a Britney. Or an Amy Winehouse. Go out for a night on the town without any underwear … or pants. Or put on the underwear, smoke five or six pounds of crack, and go wandering down the street on a crying jag. Better yet, get fat, take steroids, get plastic surgery to the point where you’re barely recognizable, take in a bunch of stray dogs, and do a lot of interviews about how you’ve hit rock bottom and are now bouncing back. It worked for Mickey Rourke—he even got an Oscar nomination. Speaking of which …
  • Become an actor. They’re actually making a remake of The Three Stooges, with Jim-friggin’-Carey as Curly. Michael, you were born for that role. It’s totally playing against type (unless Curly was really a shy, mumbling alternative type and we just didn’t know it), which is why you’ll blow everyone away with your “Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk-nyuks” and your “Whoop-whoop-whoops” and you “Oh, wiseguys.” Forget that whole movie producer thing, Mike. You were born to be in front of the camera. Acting like Curly Stooge.
  • Two words: Food Network. You and Mario Batali were so awesome together on that Sundance show. The two of you need to do a cooking show together—Mike and Mario’s Vegetarian Kitchen or some such thing. It’ll knock that conniving bitch Paula Deen right off the network.
  • Fake your death. There’d be a state funeral in Georgia. Flags at half-staff at the next Lollapalooza show. Courtney Love might write a song for you (or get Billy Corgan to do it and say she wrote it). Rolling Stone would put you on the cover and give every album five stars in the next Record Guide (including Reveal, which really was a turd, Mike). Warners might actually earn back some of your advance from the last REM contract. And you—you get to disappear, find a little place on the beach somewhere and live out your days listening to Patti Smith bootlegs and reading Rene Ricard collections to your heart’s content. Sound good? I knew it would.

All the best,
Don