April 19, 2018 -- TOPEKA, KANSAS – Wahlburgers’ half-owner and celebrity A-Lister, Mark Wahlberg, wows diners at his restaurant chain’s Topeka grand-opening with an unannounced, seemingly impromptu re-union of 90’s boy band Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch. The once pop-and-dance quintet eschew their music roots for a rousing, high-energy science presentation addressing the age-old question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Over 100 attendants gnosh Parmesan fries and blue-cheese burgers as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch take to the lectern. Donning the same stage gear that launched their careers at Boston gay bars in the early 90s is titillating to some of the ladies, and some segments of the LGBTQ community….
Oh, wait. Some ladies are also LGBTQ, so not so much them...and the Q can now mean “questioning”, so they maybe do or don’t know how they feel about it. But some times the Q means “queer” so they definitely did like it, unless they were queer ladies, they maybe didn’…. Fuck it.
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch are still in their underwear is what I’m saying. After 20 years, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch are still walking around in their goddamned underwear.
Like the Dirk Diggler of Physics 101, Wahlberg kicks off the rendition with a few steps, of logic, building up to the greater hypothetical question regarding a tree falling in the forest, and climaxing with a rapturous unfurling of perhaps the greatest, and most basic science question of our time dealing with sound waves. Wahlberg asks….
“If a tree falls in the forest with no witness…? Would you hear it…? That’s a question of physics.
“A tap went dry so I just came from the basement. Marky Mark...here to talk about displacement.
“That’s a fancy name for a tree that stood tall...beaver got it now it’s headed for a big fall.
“But if that beaver wasn’t there to listen...it wouldn’t make a sound. But it would….
“….make a vibration.”
Geraldine Jacobson is attending the grand opening from nearby Rossville with her husband and two young sons. She enjoys Wahlburgers’ proprietary mix of angus, brisquet, and loin meats while her children eat from the kid-friendly ‘smahlburgers’ menu section. A former restaurant worker herself, Wahlberg fetching his own beer barrels when in town really impresses Jacobson.
Later, in a quick one-on-one prodding session with the still whitey-tighty-encased Wahlberg, I relay Jacobson’s appreciation. The actor and former musician said that his employees are some of his biggest fans; he likes to set a good example by tossing salads and plugging taps.
“I’m hands-on like a soundwave on your eardrum,” he says. “Kicked up by a falling rhododendron…
“But if your ears were allergic to pollen, the tree wouldn’t make a sound, but it would…
“….make a vibration.”
When pressed on whether pollen can actually make human beings go deaf and aren’t rhododendrons flowers not trees, Wahlberg says that those questions are best asked of boy bands impersonating ear, nose and throat doctors or environmental experts. Funky Bunch’s primary focus – at least for Topeka, Kansas – is imitating sound scientists. I ask if that doesn’t rule out that Funky Bunch might be imitating other civil-service-spanning industries at future Wahlburgers grand openings. Walhlberg said it’s a possibility.
“Hector the Booty Inspector and Ashey Ace have kids now,” says Wahlberg. “So, getting everyone together to conduct the field tests, dictate the theory exposition, and run the basic hypotheses that from here on out will go into each and every Funky Bunch performance is getting tougher. If Topeka is any indicator though, people really appreciate my rhythmic expounding of scientific principle, the Funky Bunch’s interpretive dance moves, and the restaurant’s sumptuous burgers.”
Construction worker John Turley is stopping off from a job when the Funky Bunch treats him to their first ever science exposition. After 4 minutes and 20 seconds – curiously, the exact same length of Marky-Mark hit “Good Vibrations” – he and coworkers Bob Strathmore and Louis Sobzchek had a pretty good sense that falling trees’ sound waves eventually dissipate with no nearby audio receptors. Before closing, Wahlberg opens the floor to some questions.
“I’m not scary like my brother in The Six Sense,” says Wahlberg referring to his actor-brother, business partner, and former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg. “Don’t be afraid to ask science questions...!”
“About how a falling tree can abruptly….
“….make a vibration!”
“This vibration that a falling tree makes if no one is there to hear it,” asks Turley with Strathmore and Sobzchek already protesting the corny joke. “Would you say it’s a good vibration?”
Wahlberg went on to explain that a displacement wave, like his character Detective Dignam in The Departed, is neither good nor bad but neutral. Sound waves are largely dispassionate like a Stanley Kubrick film.
Wahlberg’s happy staff laces the gastro-pub-holes of Wahlburgers insatiable diners with milkshakes and gravies right up until close. The crowd refusing to leave before the aging Calvin-Klein-wearing boy band take to the stage for a second time to explain what is, or what is not, the sound of one hand clapping.