The Horrible Secret Behind the 311 Telephone Help Line

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The Horrible Secret Behind the 311 Telephone Help Line

The great city of Boston is my favorite in the continental U.S., partially because I’m from there and partially because it’s in the only state that still outlaws the female orgasm. Imagine my joy at discovering that their brand spanking new city website (which is actually really good), contains a very specific, fascinating feature.

Is the city of Boston introducing a non-emergency line or, as this button very clearly indicates, beginning a service that allows me to report any problem I may have about the band 311?

I had to investigate further.

If you don’t know who 311 is, because you either have good taste in music or a superhuman ability to avoid the shitty meme circuit, here’s a summary: 311 is a rap-rhythm-reggae band from the Kid Rock era who named their group after the Omaha code for streaking. They’re a special kind of sellout, belonging to the same brand of teenage anarchists that eventually headline a half-sold cruise ship. Classy and cool!

The Boston 311 website provided further investigative fodder. First off, it was open 24 hours a day, an apparent squandering of taxpayers’ money for a band that arguably has a maximum of two hits.

Upon first viewing it looked like a regular site, but if you mutter the lyrics to “Down” beneath your breath….come on, do it with me….

You know wedazzle like ghetto box boomin’ battles
Rattle inside your head feel redeemed like cola bottles

And voila.

While these are undoubtedly the six most pertinent questions to Bostonians taking issue with 311, I had to explore further. It’s like my muses would always say: “Are you missing us? Maybe wanting to be kissing us?
If you must, then please don’t be dismissing us.” Babes, I would never. I had to reach out.

Unsurprisingly, 311 Boston was not going to release this information so easily—the account remained silent, and I continued my search.

Why just Boston?

Turns out, it wasn’t.

311_other_cities.jpg

Holy shit.

Why was no one talking about what appeared to be a national epidemic? I hadn’t gone one hundred thousand dollars in debt to get a journalism degree for fucking nothing. Was the band’s garbage, mostly outdoor tour so troublesome that every major city in the nation needing a 24-hour hotline service to cope?

I smelled foul play, and my sneakers, and dug into the other websites. It’s like my boys would always say, “You’ve established some telepathy and tech-remote viewing,” a lyric that was certainly not composed after eating a mushroom burger’s worth of hallucinogens.

Most of the websites seemed to be a variation on Boston’s theme…

Until I reached the New Orleans website. Whoever had initiated all of these 311 hotlines had made a small slip-up, and I was prepared to track it to the source. I was going to boom shanka the original boom shankers.

311_new_orleans.jpg

Contact 311 directly? Wasn’t this a hotline to report problems with 311? As many shitty meme-sters had pissed themselves giggling at in past years, I began to think that 311 may be an inside job.

So your girl looked up the Melody Key Island 311 line, only to discover that it is for real, impossibly, how the fuck was previously owned by 311 frontman Nick Hexum. I mumbled comforting lyrics to myself before dialing:

Funk slap bass mixed with the dancehall and
Hip-hop beats and punk guitar and
Deadly on the mic is the one SA
The name is 311 and you know it ain’t easy

But it was easy. I jabbed at my phone with my stupid sausage finger —3-1-1.

“311 hotline, how may I skateboard kickflip toke Sublime poster you?” shouted a voice over the pulsing sound of bongos purchased on eBay. I’d know the voice anywhere—it was none other than Aaron “P-Nut” Williams, reporting from the merry old Melody Key island.

311_melody_key.jpg

“The jig is up, P-Nut,” I said, already planning the email I would be sending to the alumni department of my journalism program. “This is a conspiracy. Hexum doesn’t own the island anymore.”

A rattle, then Nick Hexum’s voice. “We’re hiding in the woods of the island,” he croaked in his garbage rapper voice, and suddenly I knew what Kid Rock would sound like if he were a ghost. “You want to shut this operation down? Come here yourself.”

I didn’t need to think about it. Without hesitation, I threatened to abduct my roommate’s boyfriend if she didn’t let me use her dad’s credit card to buy a plane ticket, and I was on my way to the small island off of Florida. As my nose bled profusely in a middle seat on a Delta flight, I had three questions on my mind:

1)Why had 311 set up a hotline to report their own shitty music?
2)What did it have to do with Melody Key Island?
3)Is the truth so bad? Is the truth so bad? (per “Mindspin”)

After hours of searching, I navigated around the property of the island’s current, mentally stable owners and heard the faint strain of a raspy voice—“WHY DIDN’T JAY-Z COLLABORATE WITH US INSTEAD OF LINKIN PAAAAAARK?” It could only be the lonely call of drummer Chad Sexton.

I found the boys, surrounded by cell phones, in a clearing in the woods. Attached is a recreated image of the scene.

311_cellphones.jpg

Chilling. Of course, Hexum came after me first.

“Boom shanka,” he greeted me, politely.

“And a merry boom shanka to you as well, dawg,” I answered. Hexum sized me up and inhaled deeply from his vape. “Hexum, you started the 311 hotlines.”

“I want to go home!” shouted Doug “SA” Martinez, who plays the turntables or some dumb fake-sounding trash like that. “I left my sick pipe at home! I miss my skateboard! And my son’s porn stash!”

Keep answering phones,” Hexum hissed, never taking his eyes off me. “Yeah, I started the 311 hotlines. These dummies call in from all over the country, dare to say that songs like ‘Livin’ and Rockin’’ and ‘Leaving Babylon’ aren’t masterpieces, and we take their credit card information.”

“For what?”

Hexum giggled and his vape fell out of his mouth. Embarrassed, he picked it up and resumed his villainous laugh, gesturing to the trees around him. “You’re looking at it, babe,” he spat at me, saying “babe” in a tone that could only be executed from a ‘90’s-era misogynist in denim cutoffs. “We’re taking Melody Key Island back.”

P-Nut, ever the goofball, got off the phone with a Cleveland 311 customer who was having nightmares about the lyrics of “Beautiful Disaster” again. “Hexum went broke starting his own line of vapes so we had to sell the island to Sublime.”

“CAN IT, P-NUT,” Hexum shouted, shattering his vape on the ground. Should I go take shelter in the Sublime house? Should I just leave, knowing that my ill-gotten journalism degree had been used a total of one time?

“Damn,” I told Hexum. “I wanted to toke that shit one more time.”

Hexum shook his super-sick, Flock of Seagulls haircut head with rage. “Nah, dawg,” he whispered. “Toke this.”

Before P-Nut could exclaim a warning “boom shanka” in my direction, Hexum had seized drummer Chad Sexton and thrown him directly at me, picture below. Warning: graphic.

311_drummer_throw.jpg

I felt the full weight of drummer Chad Sexton hit me, and I shouted “SUBLIME!” at the top of my lungs. Tragically, they were too super chill and stoned to hear me, and I pulled Sexton off me. Running purely on survivor’s instinct, I scooped P-Nut from his crosslegged pose and threw him back at the livid Hexum, followed by lobbing an openly weeping drummer Chad Sexton at his own lead singer. Hexum was down, but not quite out.

This went on for about three hours, the 311 phones ringing off the hook as the fighting continued. I would continue to fight for my life, and for the right of the super-sick, really dope band Sublime to own an equally dope island. Finally, I felt that Hexum was nearly defeated. (Pictured below.)

311_hexum_Defeated.jpg

Pinned down by all four of his fellow bandmates, Hexum was in tears, and I was running on adrenaline.

“I just wanted to own a successful vape company, dawg,” he wept openly. “I just wanted to be the vape king.”

I couldn’t help but feel bad for him. Poor Nick Hexum—a sweet dumb-dumb who flew too close to the sun, to the point where he thought he could toke the whole damn thing. I convinced myself I was doing him a favor. Taking him out of his misery. I lifted drummer Chad Sexton one more time, and delivered the killing blow.

Hexum was dead.

Sheeeeeeeit,” said Tim Mahoney, who wasn’t sure what he was doing in the band at all.

“Sheeeeit indeed, dawgs,” I said as Hexum released his final vape-y breath. “You are free, 311.”

The four remaining members—SA, Tim, P-Nut and drummer Chad Sexton—looked at each other with wild eyes. Where would they go now? Would they still be able to tour the globe peddling their shitty garbage music? I didn’t know any more than they did.

I turned into the woods and walked back toward the faint strains of Sublime’s “What I Got,” back toward civilization. I don’t know about the others, but I would live to boom shanka another day.

[Editorial note: When I die, someone please excavate this piece in case there was every any doubt that I contributed nothing to society as a whole.]



Jamie Loftus is a comedian and writer whose baby teeth have been bronzed and loaded into a gun for when the moment is right. You can find her some of the time, most days at @hamburgerphone or jamieloftusisinnocent.com.

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