The Knights of the Auto Order Proudly Present: The Auto Body Estimate: Vol. II, #47, July 2001


I love the romance of Post-It notes. Really! The idea that such a profitable and useful product is the result of failed science really tickles me. As I understand the story, Dr. Spence Silver, of 3M's Research Department, discovered a new adhesive. Unfortunately, it wasn't very sticky. His coworker, Art Fry, upon losing his place in his church choir music, thought that he might use the shoddy adhesive to make a sticky bookmark, and the rest is history.

When talking about the invention of Post-It Notes people use the term serendipity, mostly to impress others with the big word. I think an even better word needs to be discovered for situations when the unplanned discovery is also the product of screwing something else up. Like when chemists Paul Hogan and Robert Banks, trying to make high-octane gas, accidentally clogged up the Phillips Petroleum lab equipment with some goopy white junk and subsequently discovered plastics. Or when Christopher Columbus failed in his attempt to sail to Japan and paved the way for Home Depo.

On only a slightly less grand level, the naming of our group was similarly the result of fortuitous bungling. I heard Tom Hambleton say something about an "auto body experience" causing me to laugh, and Tom to look at me blankly. It turns out that decades of bad electric guitar had damaged my hearing; he’d simply made a reference to an out-of-body experience.

Sadly, the term serendipity is probably more than sufficiently grandiose in describing the greatest of my personal discoveries/adaptations: I recently overheard someone describing a televised fencing competition. It seems that each participant has a series of sensors on their bodies that detect when their opponent’s sword touches them. These sensors then report the contacts to a computer that displays where the breaches in defense have occurred. I think this is underutilized technology. Imagine a young man giving a young woman a T-shirt as a gift, then subsequently asking her out on a date to a venue (perhaps a rock concert) where a T-shirt would be the accepted attire. Outfitted with the proper sensors, the shirt could transmit the location of the young man’s hands on the girl’s shirt back to the secret underground lair of his perverted drinking buddies who could cheer him on as the display screen indicates he's touching her belly button (or whatever).

Of course, just as the Internet was first created for scholarly communication but was eventually discovered to be best suited for distributing pornography, alternate (and conflicting) uses of the same technology are often discovered. A cautious father might allow his daughter to date a questionable young man if she'd agree to wear a garment that contained this same sensor apparatus and transmitted its results to dad’s den for proper oversight.

My neighbor Lorin pointed out that this parental plan breaks down when clothes are removed. I first responded by suggesting the technology is only suitable for preteens, but upon further reflection I decided that the sensors should simply be embedded in the flesh, and then I began to laugh maniacally.

No respectable father would ever permit his daughter to attend an Auto Body Experience performance regardless of transmitting devices: a corollary of the Groucho axiom applies: Any venue that would hire this band is immediately suspect. Not so much because such establishments would likely be hotbeds of lasciviousness, but simply because good taste is so obviously in extremely short supply. On Friday the 13th of July we'll return to the Coffee Cottage in River Falls Wisconsin where we’ll play OUTSIDE from 8:00 to 10:00 PM. On Wednesday, August 29th we’ll be at The Fine Line where hard copies of our post card will admit one person for free - call me at 651-699-6393, let me know how many cards you’d like, and I’ll send you cards (for free) in the mail: the decision of whether or not we can return to the Fine Line is based on the number of cards redeemed so don’t hesitate to call. One last thought - as the August gig is pretty far off, a Post-It Note reminder might be an excellent idea.

-Scott Yoho, Grand Pooh Bah, The Auto Body Experience

Fri, July 13 - 8PM Free! Outside! - The Coffee Cottage, 456 S. Spruce Street, River Falls, WI - (715) 426-5130

Wed, August 29 - 9PM: Free With A Postcard - The Fine Line, 318 First Ave North, Minneapolis, MN - (612) 338-8100

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