Dann Sytsma thank you. Now I know you can use earbuds as micropones that feed into your mobile, which can record audio files, later laid over the video. So we’re looking at some sophisticated multi-track action Dann’s put together here. I am inordinately pleased not only by the slam-bang audio solution (ever the bane of reasonable live improv recording) but for just being reminded that smart phones are mainly computers many times more advanced than the ones with which they staged the moon landings in Burbank. Pocket computers. I know this is blase, but seriously, pocket computers from science fiction.
Dann and I performed together in places like a coffee shop or a wind-tunnel outdoor festival or in the basement of a church. It was actually pretty good practice for the periodic humiliation of being an improvisor.
I remember also being on the phone with him talking about jazz music for about an hour one time. This is not a joke.
John Joe Scanlon is a septagenarian living on the road between two small villages in rural County Clare in the west of Ireland. He has a very soft voice, and in that area is well-known for lilting, a kind of old-timey, percussive singing that mimics the sound of traditional Irish instruments. My friend Paddy O’Donohue told me this story, as told by John Joe, about the time knackers broke into his house. Knacker is a slur for Travellers (itinerant Irish people frequently associated with social problems), many of whom live in trailer parks all over the country. This is not a respectful word, but I use it because it was used in the account I heard. Additionally, “hob” means stovetop.
This is a video of me attempting to open a jar of pickled gherkins at some point in 2006. Grocery shopping had just been done, which in part resulted in the video. For some reason it is compelling to me, even though it’s kind of silly and childish.
Particularly interesting to me are moments when people are on camera, putting out their “I know I’m on camera so I am presenting this version of myself,” demeanor until something happens that distracts them and you get a glimpse of unpolished self peeking through. This happens several times as I struggle to cope with the jar, occasionally resulting in some choice epithets.