SHOOTING FM RADIO

It was hard for everyone not to use swear words around the child actor in our music video. The child actor was 9 years old. At one point, around 1:00 AM, we were sitting with him in the back of a giant white van, and we tried to explain to him that he should not start using swear words, even if he hears us use them. We were parked on River Street, in Williamsburg, and the van was our trailer because it had air conditioning. We said, “If you start using swear words now, you’ll get hooked, and it will rot your brain.” We looked at each other and tried to stop swearing for the rest of the evening. The kid was being good, and his mom was around.

And yet, as the shoot dragged ever onwards, constantly stopping and starting because of the rain and the thousand technical problems caused by the rain, each of us was brought to a place where we could only swear. After fourteen hours we still had not done our first take. We had arrived in the land of swears. It was not uncommon for the director to say things like, “Don’t fucking touch the buttons on the TVs when you fucking move them SORRY when you move them.”

In the van with the kid, I wondered if this whole experience was going to mess him up later in life. It was after midnight on a school night, and pretty soon we would be asking him to act cool with a pair of drumsticks over and over and over again. I thought of some former child actors who grew up to lead less than wholesome lives, and I wondered if we were giving this kid that. I thought about saying something to him like, “I know being an actor seems cool and you have a girlfriend, but don’t let this fuck up your life.” But that would have required using a swear word, and besides, the kid was a part of my band’s first music video. I was not willing to sabotage our next big thing by talking him out of it. So instead, we told him to go take a nap in his parents’ sedan.

In the meantime, the members of my band and I sat in the air-conditioned van and watched as our best friends toiled in the rain in the middle of the night. We had asked them to help with the shoot, which meant carrying televisions around and setting up lights between takes. We were not allowed to help them because it would have messed up our makeup. So we just sat in the van, which was the only place to sit at all, and we waited for the rain to stop while our friends scrambled to cover all the electrical equipment. Some of them took their shirts off while I fixed my hair. I wondered if this was the beginning of the process by which people are transformed into soulless bastards. I wondered if I was now becoming the type of soulless bastard who sacrifices his own friends and ruins childhoods to make a sexy music video.

Was this music video really going to get made? Was it going to change our lives the way it was supposed to? Sitting in the van, I looked for reasons to be superstitious. I found two: earlier in the day, when Tommy and Marco were driving to the shoot, they saw Kevin Nash cross the street. That was the first sign. I wasn’t in their car when it happened, but that was OK. While I was driving over the Williasmburg Bridge in my dad’s car, the same car that inspired the first verse of FM Radio, “Fantasy,” by Earth Wind and Fire came on CBS FM. This was the second sign.

When I drive to gigs, I have to listen to the radio, so as to receive messages from the Gods of Rock and Roll. This is actually something I have a lot to say about, but for now I’ll keep it short: I search for meaning in the songs that get played on the way to gigs. And for the purposes of communicating with the Gods of Rock, driving to my first music video counted as a gig. Plus, that morning, I had held a session of my Dungeons and Dragons game. So it was truly a day of Fantasies. And hearing that song was proof of something. But proof of what? I didn’t know.

Around 1:45 in the morning it stopped raining and I thought of Earth Wind and Fire. They had banished rain from their band name, and perhaps also from our shoot. We picked up the televisions and started rolling tape. The child actor woke up and did a good job. Our friends did not appear to hate us, even though their clothes were still wet. We were finally doing it; we were actually making the video, and I started fantasizing again about whether or not this would change our lives in the next days and weeks and months.

After it was all over, I got back to my apartment around 5:45 AM. Somehow I succeeded in finding a parking space that was on the right side of the street. If I was supposed to receive divinations from Earth Wind and Fire, maybe it had been about the parking space all along. What did that mean for the future of the band? I walked two blocks home and called my girlfriend, because she was in Italy, and it was already tomorrow there.

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