R.E.M.'s Doll Parts

When R.E.M. played Detroit they had a tremendous time, except that somebody

nicked their band mascot. Since the beginning of the Monster Tour, the band

has been lugging around a twelve inch plastic doll/puppet named Hugo. For

the initiated, Hugo is more properly dubbed "Hugo, the man of a thousand

faces," and is the property of film maker Lance Bangs. (Yes, he is a distant

relative of the late, great rock critic Lester Bangs.) Hugo has appeared in

many of Bang's films, which are shown on the huge screen behind the band (We

think it's because the bald doll looks just the teeniest bit like Michael

Stipe. If we can be so bold, we don't think we're the only ones who've

noticed, since Hugo usually bunked with Stipe.) What happened that fateful

night of June 8 was the band and crew were leaving for the show at the 42,000

capacity Michigan Palace when Hugo's "minder," and R.E.M.'s art director,

Chris Bilheimer handed the doll over to the concierge at the Townshend Hotel

in Birmingham, Michigan, along with a couple of cameras, and some gear, that

he didn't want to schlep. The concierge was momentarily distracted by a phone

call, and voila, two fans that were skulking around the hotel lobby made off

with the doll--and left the expensive cameras behind! Bilheimer told ATN

news that this is no joke; they want Hugo back. "It's got an amazing amount

of sentimental value," said Bilheimer. "Whoever has it, please call the

Birmingham, Michigan police at 810-644-3405. There will be no questions

asked. We don't want to turn this into a stupid publicity stunt, we really

just want Hugo back." To which we can only ask all ATN readers to begin to

chant: "Free Hugo! Free Hugo."