I heard a creak on the stairs, followed by the slow, deliberate footstep cadence that distinctly belongs to one person in the universe.
That one person in the universe made the 17-stair descent in less than two minutes, and entered my office. I had swiveled my chair around in readiness and was internally gambling over what topic his upcoming request would involve: asking for another old camera to experiment with, or finding out if I felt like taking a short three-hour break with him to play with my 1980s G.I. Joes that are rapidly Transforming from vintage to broken.
And stepped forward to set one half of a walkie-talkie set on my desk.
I heard the plodding up the stairs, and called up a goodbye as I heard him summit and disappear around the corner somewhere.
I turned back to do whatever it was I was doing, which was something marginally higher than trivial importance, or maybe slightly lower. Then I was interrupted again. This time by crackly static. I thought initially it came from
my police scanner, until I remembered I don't have one anymore, and never have,
and then I thought it was my CB radio, until I realized I don't have one anymore, but used to,
and then I thought it might be the little yellow walkie-talkie sitting on my desk, which had truthfully been my first thought (I wanted to sneak in a reference to CBs somewhere),
- and of course that's what it was, because I already told you that a five-year old had delivered one to my desk sixty seconds before -
- then the static stopped.
And a voice came through.
A voice, a singing voice, his voice.
A five-year old voice singing Franz Ferdinand from his walkie-talkie, with all the cool fire and sneery machismo of Mick Jagger or Alex Kapranos,
as transmitted over a walkie-talkie.
I've seen Mercury Rev, and Muse, and Mates of State, and Metallica, and a hundred other concerts, some even by artists not starting with the 13th letter of the alphabet, but hands down,
this was the best walkie-talkie concert I have ever experienced. The best.
"This fire / is out of control
Gonna burn this city / burn this city
This fire / is outta control"
He finished, and I tried applauding,
but he forgot to take his sweaty fingers off the transmit button, so I think my applause was a failure;
I yelled as loud as I could, minus fifty percent:
"That was SOOO AWESOME!"
And I hope he heard me, but he might have been busy setting up a pirate radio station or building a robot out of spare walkie-talkie parts by that point.
Of course the best stories all have a lengthy summary at the end, in which it is made certain that the reader has successfully learned the correct moral insight. Unfortunately I do not have time for a lengthy summary, but the lesson I learned from this story, and you can too, should you choose, which you should, is that if you're a musician or songwriter, you need to be very vigilant about people illegally performing your work without getting the necessary rights clearance for walkie-talkie performances, because these things can and DO HAPPEN, and they have the potential to literally rob many, many musicians and songwriters of their royalties, as it is possible there could potentially be dozens of listeners listening in illegally to eavesdrop on walkie-talkie music performances.
The French-ish duo Air actually did an entire album about this danger back in 2004. Check it out on iTunes, or maybe download it on Napster. It is chilling, to realize the avenues by which it's now possible to illegally listen to unlicensed music, and potentially put ASCAP and BMI out of business.
So the concert I heard was good, but at the same time, very dangerous and very wrong, and I took the walkie talkies out back and buried them* until he can learn to be more responsible about performing copyrighted music over the airwaves without appropriate clearance.
This Fire is not out of control, metaphorically, though there are many fires right now that are, literally, and there are many other things out of control too today, like children not learning how to responsibly use technology such as walkie talkies, and for that, I blame not so much our son, and not so much society, but mostly his parents, though not so much me, because I was doing something important at the time his mother should have been teaching him ethical walkie-talkie music performance use, and I especially hold his youngest uncle, Jeremy Long, responsible, because he has never taken the time, as a musician, to educate our son about the dangers of rampant and unvetted music performances over walkie-talkie and the potential legal ramifications that could follow him forever, and for that, again I blame primarily his parents, although again I absolve myself, due to having been doing important things at the time he should have learned these things.
So please, listen to good music, and enjoy responsibly, but try not to mix music and walkie-talkies. Fair warning. Have a good night, world. Find me on channel 2. Just don't try singing me an unlicensed song, because I'm not going to prison over a lapse in judgment on your part.
*I did not, but I strongly thought about it, and it seemed like a lot of work, — with Becca Nutter Long and Jeremy Long.