Dan called me, and after a long unexpected conversation about his interest in writing publicly and how that was met inside of himself with a stronger force of resistance mired in the competitive nature of social media, his scientific profession, and how everything is fucked, we eventually landed back on the original purpose — an invitation up to Berkeley at the last minute to shoot his band at a good venue. “Brand new venue,” he said, “with great lighting.”
Twenty-four hours later, all of that great lighting collected, I sat on one sofa with a camera pointed across the green room as the two bandmates rehearsed and recorded a half-dozen versions of a message that would announce their remix album release sometime in the fall. There was a freshly-packed glass pipe and lighter next to the lead singer on the sofa, out of frame. I nearly considered keeping it in the frame — it was a reggae band, after all.
No longer on stage, the lead singer Michael fumbled a bit over the words they were writing into the air. But he kept at it, holding onto his energy between his outstretched hands despite the occasional blank spots and brick walls of recorded speech. He kept wanting November to be October. November was too far away.
The keyboardist, my friend Dan though, dang. It was as if he was November. He’d been sitting very quietly, nodding, in agreement and making comments and suggestions without too much demanding, as he normally seemed to do. But after he clipped the lapel microphone on and slipped the cable underneath his shirt, he spoke one seemingly perfect paragraph of speech into the camera, with a coherence and emotional cadence that I knew he was capable of, but still completely surprised me. He’d managed the whole thing just right there, straight in my direction, with the camera between us rolling, just perfectly on the first take.
The lead singer turned to him, equally impressed, surprised and perhaps more than a little envious. Was it just luck? I had Dan do another take, not because we needed it, just out of curiosity. It was even better than the first.
Maybe this was a bit of selective evidence with some confirmation bias, but yes, I thought, he totally should write.