Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Rappin' Rabineau

B-Town's Raconteur of Renown
Vale mas un grito a tiempo que hablar a cada momento

Baltimore is a city of characters but no Charm City character is more curious than Michael Rabineau. Long a fixture on the public access television scene (usually in the company of videographer-about-town Eugene "Gene's Scenes" Balbierz), he is renowned for concocting grandoise networking schemes like a cigar-chompin' backroom Hollywood producer. One thing about Michael Rabineau is a given: it is virtually impossible to go to any free talk, art opening, film screening, outdoor festival or museum tour downtown without spotting him there. Like Kilroy, he's ubiquitous and at any social gathering one can most certainly say without hesitation, "Rabineau was here." Given his apparently limitless amount of spare time, his employment status remains a mystery; either he is independently wealthy and slumming about town in denial like some sort of latter day Howard Hughes, or he is gainfully unemployed. Either way, he never seems have scheduling conflicts when it comes to attending any and every happening around town and can often be seen in his weather-beaten yellow down jacket power walking (he does not own a car or take mass transportation) to and fro the many events listed each week in the City Paper Events Calendar.

I first met him about 10 year ago when Scott "Unpainted" Huffines and I were first airing episodes of Atomic TV on Baltimore City's public access TV channel, which now calls itself Community Media of Baltimore City (CMBC) and airs on channel 75. Every time I went to a parade or festival or First Thursdays in the Park event downtown, Rabineau would approach me and chat me up about how he could introduce me to this guy or that guy who knew this guy who knew someone at some cable network who could take Atomic TV national. I had no idea who this total stranger was, so I just thanked him for the interest and moved on. But after repeated encounters, I realized that he wasn't just a stalker or some crazy street person.

He's actually very articulate, reportedly attended Harvard Law School, knows his Latin and Bartlett's Quotations like a turn of the century English schoolboy, and has an innate ability to connect seemingly disparate subjects, finding the three degrees of separation for any topic that comes up, be it about the person he's talking to, local history or himself. He's like Jacques Kelly when it comes to Baltimoreana, minus the byline. But of all his gifts, his greatest (other than figuring out a way to live without working - which I'd like him to teach me!) has to be his gift for gab. The man's a talker. He'll talk your ear off till it feels so sore you'd swear Mike Tyson just chomped on it, spat it out and then stomped on it some more. Hence my name for him: Rappin Rabineau.

A few years ago when I was bored with Atomic TV, I decided to take all my video footage of Rabineau rapping on various subjects and make it into a public access TV show. Following are some clips that resulted from that idea, finally uploaded to YouTube for mass consumption by Atomic TV CEO of Technology Scott "Unpainted" Huffines.

Rappin' Rabineau Intro

"You'll laugh, you'll scream, you'll roar with delight!" This is the intro to the pilot episode that never was, featuring the spot-on theme song "Talk Talk" by Talk Talk.

Rappin' Rabineau - "Christmas Wrapping"

Mayor's Christmas Parade circa 2001...Scott Huffines and I were on The Avenue in the hipster mecca of Hampden to film Suzanne Muldowney's appearance in the parade as 1960s canine cartoon superhero Underdog. Never one to miss out on a significant cultural event, Rabineau also posted, and went into a Quotation Frenzy, dropping ill lines from the great minds of Western Literature, including Shakes the Bard, E-Z E Hemingway, Dashiell "The Bird Is the Word" Hammett, Edgar Allan Hoe, T-Wolfe, and "The Great G-Man" author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Rappin' Rabineau - "Techno Babble Mix"

This is what happens when you mix Rabineau channeling Robert Frost as set to the music of The Chemical Brothers. "The woods are lovely, dark and deep," but the Brothers have many beats to keep and Rabineau has miles of lines to go before he sleeps.

Rappin' Rabineau - "Underdog Meets Rapping Rabineau"

Like Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, this was a momentous historic rendezvous from which there was no turning back: The Mouth That Roared meets The Dog That Flies! The occasion was Suzanne 's appearance at the Mayor's Christmas Parade in Hampden, where Suzanne was "in character" as '60s canine TV superhero Underdog. Rabineau and Stella Gambino coax Suzanne to sing. But the twosome are in frisky moods, much to the displeasure of Ms. Muldowney, who scolds Stella for behavior "not fit for children!"

Rappin' Rabineau - "Rabineau's Guide To Mackin' On the Ladies"

Though public access television remains his one true love, Rabineau is not immune to the visual pleasures of female eye candy. As he waxes so eloquently, "Some girls are hard to get and some girls get you hard."



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