Allen Shellenberger, 1969-2009


Usually, when I write an obituary in MEDIA ASSASSIN, it’s for someone whose work has affected me in a profound way over time. People who come to mind include comedians Bernie Mac and George Carlin; writer Arthur C. Clarke; dancer Cyd Charisse; chanteuse Eartha Kitt; architect Jørn Utzon; and, obviously, singer Michael Jackson.

281x211In the case of Lit drummer Allen Shellenberger, right, who died last Thursday in his mother’s home of brain cancer, a month before his 40th birthday, I’m familiar with, literally, three minutes and forty-eight seconds of his output. But even though I couldn’t have named the drummer or his band from memory this morning, what I knew of him affected me enough to, a decade later, instantly recall that I could dig up more about him by Googling “Lit, Pamela Anderson.”

I’m speaking of the band’s hit single, “Miserable,” from the Orange County natives’ 1999 platinum album, A Place in the Sun. Most of all, though, I’m talking about the track’s eye-popping music video, top, by director Evan Bernard.

screen7In the short, sex vixen Anderson plays a bikinied, 50-foot woman, while the band, reasonably, plays their song from the pedestal of her Caucasianesquely complanate butt. They alternate this with forays about Anderson’s body, including a memorable march across Mt. Anderson’s Grand Tetons, right. (That’s Shellenberger, holding up the rear in blood-red shorts.) Though, in the end, they’re all consumed by Anderson screen17like hors d’ oeuvres, right, spending one’s last four minutes on Earth climbing all over the pneumatic pinup is, from the perspective of pubescent American male fantasies, what a way to go.

Despite what you may think, however, when I saw “Miserable,” I was less moved by the vision of 1999’s go-to girl than the way she was used as a cipher for shiny, pop specularity—bearskin rug and all—there to be coupled with the clip’s seamless technical virtuosity.

That wouldn’t have been enough to keep my attention, however. In the late ’90s, Anderson was, again, everywhere, screen18and every other everybody had pushing-the-envelope, proto-digital effects in their videos. What really pulled me in was the track’s fuzzy, beat-grinding groove, capped with the delectable form of lead vocalist A. Jay Popoff’s scowling hook, right: “You make me come…you make me complete…you make me completely miserable.”

As the other half of Lit’s rhythm section, bassist Kevin Baldes would have inevitably enjoyed a unique relationship with Shellenberger. Also, the percussionist, like he, was not related to the band’s other two members: A. Jay and guitarist Jeremy Popoff are brothers. According to The L.A. Times,

Shellenberger, who was born Sept. 15, 1969, in Long Beach, brought humor and “a certain calm to the band,” said Baldes, the group’s bass player.

“He was a very peaceful guy,” Baldes said Friday. “He didn’t like arguing, didn’t like confrontation; he just liked to have a good time.”

Even after Shellenberger was no longer able to play with the band, Baldes said, “he’d be in the garage with his drum pads trying to keep it up.

“Allen I don’t think ever really knew that he was as sick as he was. To him, it was like, ‘When I get better. . . .’ And that’s what we promoted to Allen — when you get better.”

Shellenberger is survived by his daughter, Giovanna Mackey; his mother, Connie James; and his father, Paul Shellenberger.

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 Bente on 08.18.09 at 4:58 pm

Thanxx 4 posting, and may the jorney home 4 this soul 2 be pleasent… I believe from the deepmy heartsouls like Michael Jackson, Baatin, I believe they came her 2 show us LOVE (the true essence)Nuff respect Mr. Allen! Bring it on, the 411! Much love from me, B. Peace outty! 1

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