I made a band this week — sort of.
I was working at my desk, listening to jazz music, when I got a sudden urge to do something tangible. Because, thing is, when you work for an online media company, everything is done with click and types. The most active thing you do all day becomes going to the bathroom and washing your hands with that good smelling vanilla soap.
But it’s kind of hard to form a band with a desk job. So I went to Twitter and I posted, “Let’s form a band with twitter. Anyone play instruments?”
Within minutes, @jessicakroy responded: “I play the clarinet! Kind of a lame instrument for a band, though.”
I agreed — the clarinet is lame. My freshman year in high school, I thought it was so lame and frustrating to play the clarinet that I threw mine across the room. It snapped into two pieces, and that’s how I ended up playing the tuba. But beggars can’t be choosers, so Jessica was in.
It was ironic that she was the first respondent. I became friends with Jessica entirely online. She was recruited to join the now-defunct Daily Gorilla a few months ago and, though she wrote a few pieces, we never met. Even now, we work a few blocks from each other, but our friendship remains web-based. We’ve only ever met once.
The second respondent was @kn8, who wrote: “What kind of band? I play the bass and I have an electric if you want a rock band and a stand-up if you want a jazz trio.”
Now, I must admit I have a soft spot for people who play an upright bass. It’s so manly. It’s as if the long strings have replaced your vocal cords as you walk the baseline so coolly throughout the entire song. When you play the bass, it’s like you’re saying, “I’m so cool that I can nonchalantly never miss a beat while thinking about clouds, urban design and Salisbury steaks.”
That said, I know Nate from the Washington Square News. In my other life, when I was editor of that paper, I hired Nate as film editor and, since then, we’ve crossed paths occasionally. We’ve never been best of friends, but I knew he was a die-hard Phillies fan from Twitter. And that meant he’s been rooting against the Yankees for the past few weeks, which meant we were both rooting against evil. We lost.
About three hours later, @mcrawf tweeted to me: “I want in on Twitter band. I play a mean violin. I can send audition tapes if necessary!”
Now, I’ve never heard Jessica or Nate play their instruments. But I’ve heard Maddie. She rocks. I went to elementary school, middle school and high school with Maddie. She was the girl who sat directly left of the podium, in perfect view for the conductor. In other words, she was the girl whom everyone knew was the best in the orchestra. But, now, Maddie — who was a collegiate swimmer at Iowa State — works at a magazine in Alabama, and during the day, she enlightens me with tweets like, “Some days I love my job. Other days I wish my dad invented Toaster Strudel.”
And together, the four of us, make up the band.
Me on piano/tuba
Jessica on clarinet
Nate on the upright bass
Maddie on violin
All of us work in media, and we spend inordinate amounts of time in front of computers. And I can’t speak for them, but sometimes staring at a screen for eight hours a day makes me yearn for something tangible — something real-life — to hold on to. Like I said, that’s why I formed this band.
I don’t know if we’ll ever play a single chord together, but sometimes it’s just good to know that the words I type on the screen can result in tangible results. Because, frankly, I yearn for my virtual communication to manifest itself in real life.
Just the other day, I complained on Twitter: “I hate it when I reach for my Blackberry because I think it’s buzzed, but then I realize it’s someone else’s that’s buzzing my desk.”
A few minutes later, my phone buzzed. It was my friend Thomas Garry, sending me a text message: “This buzz is for you.”
Amazing how a few virtual words can set off a series of physical events, and a spurt of kindness.
When the Iran election dispute was happening a few months ago, Twitter was credited for helping get information out of the country. But for those people tweeting information to the world, it must’ve felt at least a little futile — clicking away at a keyboard while there was chaos right outside their windows.
But I think when the words leave the screen and result in something real, it means a lot in a world that is, more and more, getting trapped in a computer screen. I buy into all this hoopla about social media and online publications, but sometimes I think we forget that words need to exist beyond the page or screen. Otherwise, the things those words represent will wither away — if not in real life, in our heads.
I kind of hope this band materializes. I kind of hope we turn into the kind of band that plays at crappy birthday parties or at cheesy retirement home socials.
So, now, we need a drummer (or a rainstick player). Who’s in?