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Wesley Willis

Wesley Willis

When you're listening to the radio, do you ever stop to think about how few songs are played by obese schizophrenic black musicians from the streets of Chicago?  I know that I think about this all of the time. The airwaves are cluttered with alternative rock, rap, and R&B; meanwhile, the "obese schizophrenic" musical genre is severely underrepresented.  That's why everyone should start calling their local radio station and requesting songs by Wesley Willis.

Wesley Willis is 6 foot 5, weighs between 300 and 350 pounds, and likes to greet people with a headbutt.  Shortly after he made his first album, he was diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia, and he now claims to have "schizophrenia demons" in his head that take him off of his "harmony joy rides" to put him on "torture hell rides". willis.jpg (7687 bytes)

Wesley Willis,
Mozart of the
twentieth century.

Never heard of Willis before? Until recently, no one had. He lived on the streets of Chicago, homeless, selling his city landscape line drawings and playing music on his late 80's Casio keyboard from K-Mart. After saving for a while, he pulled together the money to cut a few albums, and suddenly his musical career took off. Willis was "discovered", and is now an artist under Dino Paredes and the major record label American Recordings. He has released at least 20 albums as a solo artist and with his punk rock band, the Wesley Willis Fiasco, and has over 400 songs in circulation.

You might think that fame and riches would have spoiled Willis, but this isn't the case at all. The background music in nearly all of his songs is still provided by the same demos on his Casio keyboard. You may find it rather lazy of him to use the keyboard's built-in music, but this isn't the case either -- Willis makes sure to press the "fill-in" button at regular intervals. Besides, the focus of Willis' compositions is not on the cheesy synth music, but on the lyrics. Just so that you can get an idea of Willis' lyrical genius, let's take a look at the words to one of his most popular songs, "Alanis Morissette":

You are a rockin' maniac.
You are a singin' hyena.
You are a rock star in Jesus' name.
You can really rock Sadam Hussein's ass.
You are so lovable to me in the long run.
ALANIS MORISSETTE!
ALANIS MORISSETTE!
ALANIS MORISSETTE!
ALANIS MORISSETTE!

wescover.gif (20236 bytes)

Fabian Road Warrior,
Wesley's latest album.

Willis' music has to be heard to be believed. That's why I suggest you immediately visit this page at CD-Now, where you can listen to samples from many of his best songs, including "I Whupped Batman's Ass", "The Chicken Cow", "Rock and Roll McDonald's", and "I'm Sorry That I Got Fat". If you'd like to hear more, you should purchase his latest album, Fabian Road Warrior -- it contains "Alanis Morissette" as well as 23 other original compositions including the hit songs "Suck a Cheetah's Dick", "Suck a Pitbull's Dick", and "Suck a Donkey's Bootyhole".

Philadelphia may be a seven-hour bus ride away from Pittsburgh, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from seeing Wesley Willis live in concert.  Ethan and Brendan weren't quite so enthused about the idea of a weekend jaunt to Philadelphia, but they eventually agreed to go along for the ride.  After all, Ethan needed something to take his mind off of his OS assignment, and Brendan needed to be dragged away from Everquest for awhile.


Ethan and Brendan could scarcely contain their
excitement as they waited for the Greyhound bus.

After we missed two taxis that morning, Ethan came up with a new idea: "Let's just go to Taco Bell, instead of Philadelphia!"  I countered with the suggestion that we go to Taco Bell and then  to Philadelphia, with a stop at 7-11 on the way to pick up Slurpees and Corn Nuts.  This plan met with general approval, so several hours later we found ourselves at the bus station downtown.

Wesley Willis was playing at Nick's Upstairs, a tiny, crowded, smoke-filled bar one story above Nick's Roast Beef Restaurant.  We filed quickly into the bar just before the bouncer returned from the bathroom.  Avoiding eye contact with the bartenders, we took up a spot next to the stage and directed our attention to the eardrum-splitting opening act, a band called "Stars Over Scars".

Ethan bought the opening band's CD, but I thought that their noise-to-talent ratio was much too high.  They had this unpleasant habit of generating screeching feedback noises by holding their electric guitars right next to the loudspeakers.  It wasn't long before the crowd began chanting "Wesley!  Wesley!  Wesley!"


When your band opens for Wesley
Willis, that pretty much says it all.

 

We could feel the suspense mounting as Wesley Willis pushed his enormous bulk through the dense crowd and climbed the stairs to the stage.  He sat down slowly at his keyboard, set his book of lyrics on the music stand, shuffled the pages, and selected a song.  He regarded the page with careful deliberation, frowning fixedly.  He coughed, turned to the next page in his book, and smiled.  He checked the settings on his keyboard, settled comfortably into his chair, lifted his microphone to his lips, cleared his throat, and waited until the audience was completely silent.  The tension in the air was electric.

"LICK YOUR ASS!" he shouted.  "LICK MY ASS TOO!"

The crowd erupted into cheers.

 

As Wesley plays, he regards the keyboard intently, his brow furrowed deeply in intense concentration.  He strikes each key deliberately, methodically, forcefully, grinning when he finds a chord progression of which he is particularly proud.

Wesley doesn't like taking requests.  "Quit shouting those rerun songs at me!" he exclaims.  "I'm doing what I want to do, and I don't care what you think you need!"

"Play that song 'Jesus is the Answer'!" suggests a fan from the back of the bar.

"Come up here on stage and play with my balls," suggests Willis in return.

 


Much to our satisfaction, Wesley did play
one "rerun song": I Whooped Batman's Ass.

The circular bruise on Wesley's forehead is the product of years and years of head butting.  Head butting is Wesley's form of friendly greeting.

One woman asked Wesley to write a song about her and perform it the next time he came to Philadelphia.  Wesley wrote down her full name, address and phone number.


"Say raaawh!" shouts Willis as he prepares for a head butt.

"Can you pick me up from the airport?" Wesley asked the young woman.

"I suppose I could do that, Wesley," she answered.

"And can I stay at your place for the night?"

Custom Willis songs don't come cheaply.

 

"What did you think of the song 'Lick a Bulldog's Nasty Asshole'?" Wesley asked me as he autographed my CD.

"That was a great song, Mr. Willis!" I told him.  "I hadn't ever heard that one before!"

"That's because I made it up special for the concert tonight," he revealed, beaming.


Wesley Willis really whips a bactrian camel's ass with a belt.

Sometimes I wish that Willis had written a song about a particular topic.  The other day, for instance, I found myself wishing that there was a Wesley Willis song about slurpees.  Now, thanks to a little CGI magic, all of your Willis wishes can come true.  Just type a couple of words into the Wesley Willis Song Generator, and out will come a brand new custom-tailored lyrical composition in the style of Wesley Willis!

Type in the song's title here:
Type in a noun describing the song's subject here: