Were I a hip-hop impresario, I’d call myself Channel X. I’d swagger on stage in baggy station logo-wear, spit mad tracks into a ridiculously crunked-up Bob Barker microphone, pour out my 40 ounce Sprite for each and every one my dead camera batteries, while a pasty-white overnight editor turned deejay scribbled furious beats out of early-80 news music. Why, it’s just the kind of groundbreaking performance that could launch a whole new career, bring me valuable endorsements and send my children into permanent hiding. For their sake, I’ll hold off on a rap career until they’re off in college. By then, I’ll be a middle aged white guy with a bigger paunch, fewer hairs and even less rhythm. I'll be DOPE!
Okay, my act needs a little work.. But spend three days smelling deep-fried twinkies and prize-winning pig-shit, and you too will grow a bit punchy. Besides, this Channel X persona is one I’ve cultivated for years. Lemme ‘splain: Despite my parents’ best intentions, my given-name is pretty unremarkable. ‘Stewart’ (and it’s many unfortunate permutations) conjures up visions of turtle-necked board-game nerds or homicidal cartoon babies. “Pittman’, while a fine and noble surname, doesn’t exactly scream ‘Remember me!’. Together, the four syllables sounds like the name of your average I.T. guy. Until I get it etched onto the spine of a white-hot hardback, those fourteen letters won’t throw open a lot of doors. Not like Channel X will.
Just ask your local receptionist. Whether she’s fronting for a car dealership or a congressman, she’ll usually drop whatever she’s not doing and patch me right through to the boss, once I penetrate her first line of office-defense.
“May I ask who’s calling?” comes the oft-repeated, icy refrain.
“Sure,” I say, “it’s Stewart…from Channel X.”
Now, I don’t actually say ‘Channel X’. Instead, I mutter the highly-marketed moniker of my current employer, a catchy combination of animal imagery and whole numbers. But whatever the household name and numeric, it has the same effect. Instant ingress. Why? Well, lots of reasons. One is the ubiquity of the brand. You see, Channel X floats across the living rooms of much of the state every few minutes or so. People fall asleep to it, wake up with it, half-ignore it when they're making lunch. Also, there’s the Trumped-Up Authority Factor. Like midnight rubberneckers at an inner-city drive-by, front office folk will promptly clear a path for my logo under the assumption that I belong there. Couple that with fear of being over/underexposed and a walloping dose of personal vanity and you have but a few reasons why I’m pretty much welcomed just about anywhere. How else could a grumpy schlub in a rumpled shirt garner instant and extended access to the movers, the shakers, the con-men and the debutants of an entire region?
It ain’t my rappin' skillz.