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Confessions of an FSM Intern

Installation #2: It's Interesting...

By Jason Comerford

It's interesting...

After a week or so in California, I've found myself settling into it very easily. More easily, I think, than I'm comfortable with. I'm a country kid at heart, after all -- I never lived in a city until I started college. I'm used to rocks and trees and forests and animals -- cars and sidewalks and buildings and traffic are not as second-nature to me as they are to so many people. Put me in the middle of nowhere with a matchstick and a pair of pliers, and I can build you a house, but put me in the middle of Los Angeles at rush hour with a map and an automobile, and I turn into a six-year-old lost in a shopping mall, screaming for Mommy.

Nature has rhythms that I understand and can sense. I can look at the sky and tell where north is, but I look up in LA and sometimes all I can see are the tops of buildings and smog. I can walk around in the woods and figure out what to eat, what not to eat, how to build shelters, where to go when it rains, what not to do in a storm. It's all second-nature to me, interacting with the wild. But the city is a whole other story. People are less predictable than nature, I think, and I think this is why so many people like to visit the wilderness. They need something whose rhythms they can fall into without worry, something that won't turn on them without letting them know first. After all, you can tell when a storm is coming. You can feel it. You can't as easily feel a carjacking coming.

I've always been one of those people that gets antsy when I look up and can't see the stars. My roommate Mike (a Massachusetts boy, and a Red Sox fan, much to Lukas' delight, I'm sure) says he gets antsy when he's too far from the sea. I wonder if folks weaned on city life get antsy if they look around and can't see an overpass or a stop sign. I don't mean this in a negative way -- I just wonder how city-born folks do when they go out in the middle of nowhere and there's nothing manmade around to save them. I look around in a big field and all I can think about is all the different things that are going on, naturally, that I can't see. City kids that I've taken on hikes before wonder about how far they are from the car. To me, the more distance between me and the car, the better.

But here I am, in "Tinseltown," falling into the rhythm of hitting Starbucks every morning, ordering a mocha and sitting down with the LA Times. For a country boy that would rather be out amongst the trees, I feel oddly content. And I'm starting to understand how people can become accustomed to -- even addicted to -- the life lived in a city. There are rhythms here, too. The traffic, the unpredictability -- those are currents that people can ride and make a life with. And while I doubt I'll ever become content with city life -- I like my wide-open spaces and my trees more than I do my mochas and newspapers -- I can certainly understand why people can live here all their lives and never blink an eye, and never look back.

It's interesting...

The Film Score Monthly office works so differently than I imagined. From the energy and enthusiasm that is evident in its pages (well, most of the time), I always conjured up a spectacular mental picture of a bustling, energetic office. In my mind, there were always people coming and going -- Very Important People with Very Important Business. There were always stacks of CDs and backissues hovering like handmade Leaning Towers, ever-threatening to spill everywhere, but never quite making it. Most of all, I imagined a group of wild-eyed film-music nuts banging away on computers, looking around maniacally and occasionally trumpeting a disparaging comment about the latest piece-of-shit score to cross their desks.

But as I've come to find out, my imagination worked quite a bit overtime. It's always a little discouraging to meet someone whom you're familiar with, like a movie star or something along those lines; there's always a point where you become disappointed, because there's something missing. Before I met Mel Gibson, I expected him to be a huge monster of a man, towering over me with those nutty Martin Riggs eyes. Then I met him, and you know what? I'm taller than he is. In hindsight, it's pretty funny.

The Film Score Monthly office is the same way. From Lukas' terse emails, I always envisioned a pissed-off, foaming-at-the-mouth tyrant, ranting and raving about deadlines and the secrecy of the FSM CDs. First off, Lukas is hardly ever at the office, and when he is there, he's always grinning and inviting me to play softball. Now, maybe this is because he now has more people to take the load off -- it would make sense. But Tim Curran is just as hospitable and cheerful -- but he's never there either. Lukas and Tim both sweep in to check messages and check in with Jeff, Jon, Al, and myself, then whoosh! they're gone again.

I always thought Jeff Bond would be one of those nutty writer-type guys, bouncing from cubicle to cubicle, stopping only to pour that great writing of his into a computer, then bouncing around some more, making life bright and cheerful. Jeff mostly sits silently in his colorful little corner, speaks only when spoken to, and hardly makes a sound. There have been times that I have wandered into his cubicle to pluck a CD from off his racks, not even realizing that he was there. He's not antisocial -- he's silent. (I hope I don't get into trouble for this, but I'm only relating what I observe.) And when he does speak, he talks in a low, glum tone, like the world is about to end. I've seen him smile perhaps twice. I may be catching the estimable Mr. Bond on a bad week -- if so, I hope he feels better. If not, I just hope he smiles some more.

Jon and Al Kaplan are a pair of -- I'm not sure what. They grin a lot and speak in muttering tones, wandering around with slightly off-kilter looks in their eyes. They remind me of Robin Williams' treatise on Khadafi: "Doesn't he remind you of Omar Sharif crossed with Charles Manson? He's got the handsome face, but the eyes are going, Helter-Skelter! Helter-Skelter!" Jon and Al have that same Manson-esque gleam in their eyes. The other day I was working at my jerry-rigged work cubicle (a table stolen from downstairs, with a wonderful view of a Thunderbirds Are Go! movie poster and a wall), and Jon and Al were standing behind me, muttering together like they were conveying nuclear secrets. Jon walked over with a script in his hand and asked me, "If you were a fat woman, would this offend you?" and pointed to a paragraph of descriptive text. I glanced at it, said "No, I don't think so." Jon grinned and walked back to Al, and they continued conveying nuclear secrets.

Keep in mind, fellas, that no offense is meant at all. (I wonder if there's some sort of hazing ritual that I have to undergo at the FSM office in order to be accepted into the inner circle.) But I have a pathological terror of pissing folks off, so I (usually) bend over backwards to ingratiate myself. At the same time, however, the little demon that lives in my mind, the one that catalogues the idiosyncrasies of the world for future use in fictional material, has been working overtime since I hit the City of the Angels, and the FSM office has proved to be a gold mine so far.

You interest me, is all.

Jcomerford79@juno.com


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