Not that insane
Picture this. I’m walking across the Longfellow Bridge at 1:45 yesterday. Its cold and windy, a little bit damp, and the wind from the Charles is whipping the hell out of me. Suddenly, my phone rings. I don’t recognize the number, and even though nine out of ten times I let that stuff go right to voice mail, I decided to pick it up.
“Hey, this is Nate from Comcast Sports Net. I’m a producer on Celtics Now and I was wondering if you’d like to be on a panel discussion for the show?”
“Well, yeah, sure,” I squeeze out, stopping dead in my tracks in the middle of the bridge. It probably sounds like I’m standing on top of the Prudential building there’s so much wind blowing into my phone.
“Well, here’s the catch. You have to be in Burlington in an hour,” Nate says.
Obviously, I wasn’t their first choice, but I threw caution into the wind and said I’d be there, even though I was standing direclty in between Cambridge and Boston with no car, about six days worth of beard growth and hair that looks something like early Donald Trump and Don King.
I quickly call my wife, interrupt her at work and tell her I need her to pick me up in fifteen minutes in front of the Kendall Square barber shop. Thirty minutes later, I’m driving from Brookline to Burlington at break neck speed, trying to rehearse a few catch phrases, or something, anything to make sure I don’t pull a world class freeze up. After all, this is television, there are lights, big cameras and worst of all, they don’t do any hair or makeup, so what you see is what you get. I have visions of Albert Brooks in “Broadcast News,” uncontrollably sweating at the anchor desk, dooming any future career at the television station.
I practice a few jokes in the car. “I look as out of place at Patrick O’Bryant up here.” Que the laugh track. “What happened, was Lucky and the Slamrocks not available.” That’s a good one. “The Celtics are beating up teams the same way I beat up Mike Holley in a game at Basketball City back in 2003.” Terrible stuff. I decide to play it straight, be intelligent, concise, professional.
In short, be Mike Gorman.
Amazingly, I make it in time to Comcast’s headquarters in a quiet office park near the Burlington Mall. I rush in the door, in my requisite sports coat and no tie look — the uniform of sports writer types — and get checked in for the show. Wow, just an hour earlier I was standing on the Longfellow bridge and now I’m going to be on television.
My fellow panelists are Marc Spears from the Globe and Pete McKenzie from WZLX’s morning radio show. Our topics of discussion are…Well, the show hasn’t aired yet so you can wait. I’m sitting in the tiniest green room in the world with Spears, who’s cool as a cucumber, while I make some jokes and small talk with him. He’s never heard of our site (so he says, but you know how nonchalant people like to act in front of celebrities) but he’s psyched nonetheless that we exist. He’s a big Kendrick fan.
I see Michael Holley, an old acquaintance from back in the day. Although, I’d like to stress that Michael Holley is one of those guys who’s friends with everybody, because he says hello to everyone and takes time to talk to people. I used to see him at the Sports Club LA and he was probably the most popular guy in the room, couldn’t move five feet without guys sticking out their hand.
Anyway, we get pulled into the Celtics Now studio, which looks like a cross between the Starship Enterprise and a strip club on Rue De Saint Catherine in Montreal, I mean this place is funky, I half expected them to serve me a neon green drink with some dry ice in it. It’s also freezing in there, maybe 50-degrees, which is good, because I’m a sweaty kind of guy. It’s in my blood. They have me sit in the first seat next to Michael Holley on my right and Marc Spears on my left. Basically, I’m dead in the middle of the main camera lens. This is where I start to get nervous because I’ve done some on-camera work in the past and I have always, always, been thrown by the uncompromising, unblinking camera lens pointed at my face. It’s like I get lost in it’s unrelenting gaze. “Pull it together,” I tell myself, staring at the three huge monitors in front of me that show my somewhat pasty complexion, “breathe.” I take a few deep breaths and sit up straight, try to notice what angle my head looks best at and wait for the cameras to roll.
The first segment is only 90-seconds, which kind of sucks because it means you have about 20-30 seconds to get your point across and the questions don’t really offer you a lot of nuance. Further, I’m third in the lineup, so I know that whatever point I came in with will probably get made by the Boston Globe beat writer, or the radio host. I can only hope that they leave me a little room to wiggle. As soon as we start rolling, I keep trying to tell myself to loosen up and relax, after all my tightness will show on television, no matter how much oops-I-didn’t-mean-to-be-so-sexy beard growth I got going on.
Finally, it’s my turn and somehow, someway, I start speaking and I manage to make a fairly concise point in my alloted time. I’m even able to throw a little nuance in as well. Hopefully, I don’t sound like that guy who did all the speed reading ads back in the day. We cut the segment and they all say good job to me. I can breathe a little easier as we get through the next segment. By the time we’re done, I’m feeling very comfortable up on that space ship, so much that I wish we could talk for about ten more minutes, maybe I could have used that Patrick O’Bryant joke, or done my Dick Cheney “Meet the Press” imitation. But, alas it’s not to be, my time in the limelight is over. I shake everyone’s hand and walk out of the studio. I feel vaguely let down that no one seems to be celebrating my triumphant cable television debut.
After the show I grab Skip Perham, Comcast’s media relations ace and demand to know how far down the list he had to go to get my name. Skip is a pro, so he assures me I was only the second guy they called. Apparently, it was between me and Patriots defense tackle Vince Wilfork, but they didn’t think he could get there on time. Seriously, Vince Wilfork. I’m in the big leagues baby.
I thank everyone, promise to keep in touch (sort of like at sleep-away camp) and walk back to my Honda Civic in the parking lot. I look at the watch on the radio. It’s only 4:40. Could that have only been an hour long?
As I’m driving on the Middlesex Turnpike to get on I-95 I realize something. That was the first time I’ve ever used my real name associated with this web site. I’ve never used this site for anything other than a creative outlet and now I’m outing myself on television? Does this mean that the guys at FreeDarko, Detroitbadboys, Celticsblog, Blue and Gold, Need4sheed, and others that I have flamed over the three years I have done this blog will finally have the ammunition to crush me? Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea? On the other hand, wasn’t it me the other night who was saying “why is that guy on the show and I’m not?” We all make our trade offs in life. If trading a little anonymity for furthering the cause of the beast is my punishment than so be it. Perk is a beast and somebody has to heed the call.
So, my friends, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Hopefully, you’ll go easy on me when you watch the show. It airs tonight after the game.