InSoc VS. TELEVISION!
(Or, reality TV discovers "Fiction")

Thanks to Rob Vincent for this HYSTERICAL animation. OMG I can't stop laughing... help me Victor! Skree?

Following is a response to VH-1's Information Society episode of their show "Band Reunion" (or whatever). Feel free to copy it and re-post it anywhere, if you like. By Kurt Harland Larson

PURE FANTASY (Or, THAT'S NOT AMANDA!)

   VH-1's website about the "Band Reunion" (whatever) show has a picture of the band from appx. 1990. It's a nice picture, but... that woman is not Amanda. It's Sally Berg, who we hired to play drums with us for a while. It also has this blurb about InSoc:

"In the mid-'80s, the techno-pop band was a world-renowned dance club sensation. But clashing personalities and a mysterious departure ripped the group apart. In 1983, three high school friends from Minneapolis – Paul Robb, Jim Cassidy, and Kurt Harland – formed Information Society. With the addition of Amanda Kramer, the group was off and running. Performance art, hip-hop beats, and innovative sampling gave the band a rabid following. But soon after they topped the charts, Amanda Kramer made a sudden departure. Founder Paul Robb and singer Kurt Harland continued to butt heads… until they walked away in 1993. It's been almost two decades since these four musicians shared the stage. Can we bring them together for one last night of pure energy?"

   This is a rather embarrassing mix of junior-high-school-level journalism (surf the web before going to bed, write the report on the bus) and creative writing. All through the interview, and again reading this, I got the impression that their method was to cast a large and cursory net onto the web, (heh) and connect the dots between whatever really random stuff they found to form a story-arc that would sound good in a 30-second TV ad for the show. They knew some stuff that was bizarrely obscure, but didn't seem to know what was relevant and what wasn't. And, I don't really care that they got a picture with Sally in it instead of Amanda, but I think it again displays the ad-hoc, random nature of their scattershot journalism.

   More to the point:

   This story they drew in the air about how "clashing personalities and a mysterious departure ripped the group apart" is just wishful thinking. People like stories that have certain shapes, and TV content producers know this. They pound facts into the story shape with sledgehammers.

   The truth is, Amanda was no longer in the band by September of '88, after having only been IN the band for two years. We had just STARTED to climb the charts, and we were pretty much over the "mysterious departure" by January of '89.

   Lots of strange but unimportant factual errors bewilder me:

   - We started in '82, not '83

   - Adding Amanda was in the FIFTH year of the band, so I'm not sure what they mean by "with the addition, the group was off and running". There were 6 other people who had been in and out of the band by that time.

   - Calling us "world-renowned" in the "mid-80's" is a non-fact I would be embarrassed to say. If you call the "mid-80's" 1983 - 1987, then we were known only in Minneapolis, Miami, and NYC.

   - I didn't walk away in 1993, the labels walked away from US. Somehow they managed to entirely miss the fact that I put out another InSoc album in 1997, and that I didn't quit the band until 1998. I mentioned that to the voice talent they had interviewing me, he had no clue. That's fine, I don't fault them for that... but with all the trivia they unearthed, and supposed investigation they did, how did they manage to miss an entire ALBUM? It's still listed on Amazon, ferchrissakes! How hard could that have been to find? What, they can figure out that Amanda had a drug problem 16 years ago, but they couldn't find DBA?? Near as I could tell, they missed the existence of the InSoc website also. ( http://InSoc.org )

   Furthermore, Paul and I had been "butting heads" since the fall of 1982, and we continued to do so all the way up to 1993 when Paul decided that having just been dropped from TommyBoy/Warner, and with a new wife and a baby on the way, he would rather to go back to school and work on his music production career than try to scare up a new record deal. He and I managed to "butt heads" for 11 years without it ever breaking up the band, and when the time came for us to stop doing the band together, we were friends.

   So what IS this strange TV show that appeared on the air out of nowhere, confusing and disappointing hundreds of people? What was meant by all that was said, and whom can one believe? Read on, dear reader, if you dare... prepare yourself for a tale of intrigue and conflict, scurrilous machinations and desperate loyalties... read on, the story of:

InSoc VS. TELEVISION!

   (Music swells, something gritty but nothing that will offend people in Kentucky. IS vs. TV theme song starts: Lyrics: Whatchya gonna do when TV comes for you, ooohhh whatchya gonna do, HEY! whatchya gonna do? How ya gonna think then the lights make you blink, yeaaaaaah when TV comes for you, OH! when TV comes for you... Cut to commercial)

WHAT HAPPENED (or, THE SULLYING)

   In early august, some woman, I forget her name, (She's in the show) who was in the employ of either Viacom (The parent company of VH-1) or "Evolution USA" traveled to the building in which I work in order to defraud the company. She lied to some people who work here, and said that she had come to visit because "her cousin" was a huge fan of the Soul Reaver series of games, which our company produced. She said she wanted to get a few autographs of people, among them, the person who composed the music. Since we have had things like this actually happen before, no one thought much of it, and she was brought to my office, where I signed something for her. She was very friendly, and smiled a lot. Then she left.

   Later I figured out that her sole purpose had been to locate my office. She was the source of the little map you saw in the TV show.

   She called back about a week later and said she had called to thank me for signing something. Then she said that "her cousin" had really liked it, and that she had made "a present", and asked if she could give it "to the audio dept.". Now, normally, by this time, red alert would have been engaged in my mind. But remember, this woman was presented to me by others at my company whom I trusted. She asked if tomorrow was ok. It was. She asked if 3:00 would be ok. It was. I was more annoyed and bewildered than anything, and just said "yeah, ok" until she hung up. I assumed that like before, someone else would wrangle her.

   The next day my office door opened without a knock. I hate it when people come in my office without knocking. Anyway, about 12 people come in the room, with lights and several cameras and a voice-talent guy with a microphone. Whatever. I pride myself on being pretty unflappable. Now, Crystal Dynamics has had people come to the building from gaming magazines MANY times, so I just assumed these people were game press. I thought they were rather hype-ey, but whatever, maybe they were from that cable gaming station I had heard about. Again, whatever. Be camera-ready, right?

   The voice-talent guy comes in and says "Kurt Harland, what are you doing!?!". "Ok, " I thought, "game press. Right." Then I started talking: "Well... This is 3D Studio Max 6. I am using it to create what we call 'sound volumes'. I basically match the architecture of the environment in which the player is with boxes, and these boxes then control how sound propagates (or doesn't) around the environment. This allows us to set up a sort of simulated occlusion, and..." And so on, for about 90 seconds. Throughout my spiel, I notice that voice-talent guy and everyone are getting more and more antsy. I figured they probably didn't really want to be in the audio dept. anyway. Finally he interrupts me by saying "Well, we're from VH-1!"

   It was like one of those moments in Pulp Fiction. The moment in which something new and much much worse happens, and the character's entire context has to shift and move about, like a giant transformer-robot encompassing one's entire reality.

   Ok. Not game press. Ah. VH-1. TV. Information Society stuff. Hm. Ok, they're probably not too interested in 3D Studio Max then. Mm. And since they're TV-MTV kinda thing, they probably aren't really too interested in anything I might say or do. Just smile and nod. Yeah.

   With my newly re-aligned context, I faced my tormentors. "With whom did you clear this?" I asked...

HOW DID THEY GET IN THE BUILDING?

   If they had tried this at Microsoft, or Citibank , or (god forbid) Electronic Arts (shudder), they would have been arrested. Unfortunately, Crystal is a nice, semi-informal atmosphere. We have about 125 employees, and everyone gets along fine. The doors are locked, but we don't have "security people".

   The "production assistant", to whom I will refer simply as "woman-who-lied", the one who had been out a week earlier, had apparently gone to the door and used the outside phone to call someone to whom she had spoken before. (Not me) That person let her in, I'm guessing. She was then intending to open the door for the camera crew. Of course, what she DIDN'T know was that you can't open the doors from the inside without a key. That's why you saw them standing at the door acting sheepish. But, since a lot of nice and trusting people work at Crystal, someone saw them and assumed it was game press, and let them in. Darn.

BUT KURT! YOU AGREED TO PLAY THE CONCERT! I SAW YOU!

   Did you?

   So they explain their show-thing to me. Let's summarize:

   Viacom Inc. (VIA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) has hired a production company called Evolution USA to send out a team of uninvited television production people to accost musicians who have moved on to other things, and invite them to perform services for free, which Viacom Inc. will then own and use to create television products for which they will sell advertising to enhance Viacom shareholder value. (This is not too surprising of a model for a company which, according to the Washington Post is known to flagrantly violate U.S. hiring laws.)

   Oh, I mean, "To get the band back together!!". Yeah.

   On Evolution USA's website, we find this page about their reunion show, in which they say:

Shock, embarrassment and sometimes anger are just a few of the reactions host Aamer Haleem find [SIC] as he shows up unexpectedly and surprises each band member with the possibility of being reunited with their former band mates.

   On that page we have the obvious disclosure that they are attempting to go out into the world and MINE people's discomfiture for profit. Evolution USA needs a spell-checker, and honestly, we don't need their or Viacom's help to "get the band back together". We're all doing just fine. I'm MUCH happier in the games industry than I was in the music biz. Paul has had a VERY successful career doing film and TV music over the last 10 years. (He won a Cleo, ferchrissakes!) Jim has a god-damned MASTER'S degree! IN SCIENCE!! And Amanda is touring with the Psychedelic Furs. Does that sound like people who need Viacom to "get the band back together"? Paul and I talk on a regular basis, I've seen him many times over the years, and I've kept up with Jim somewhat as well. Besides, Paul and I even did some new songs a few years ago when we briefly considered doing another album. We thought about it, Paul shopped the idea around a bit, and it was decided that we wouldn't go with it. Moral: We are in control of our lives just fine, thank you very much Viacom, Inc. (VIA.N: Quote, Profile, Research)!

   But anyway, 12 people (why do they need so many people?) are in my office, asking me to agree to do an arranged pseudo-concert. They asked me several times. These were my answers:

   Voice-Talent Guy: Kurt! Will you do the show?

   Kurt: Surely you know that this is not how contracts to perform concerts are arranged. (People who know me know that yes, I really would say something exactly like that.)

   This first response was not aired.

   V-T Guy: But, will you do it??

   Kurt: Look, I would have to talk to Paul before I would agree to anything. I'll talk to him and get back to you.

   (at this point someone handed me a pen and an album cover to sign, which I did, reflexively)

   This second response was not aired, although it is the one they eventually accepted, with which they went away that day.

   V-T Guy: But, come on, will you do it?!?

   Kurt: No.

   THIS one they aired. It's right there, they showed it, you can see that I'm starting to get annoyed. (After, let's face it, being a pretty good sport about the whole entering-without-knocking thing) I clearly state "No". I kind of wonder why they aired that one, since it's so damaging to their credibility.

   After this, something very strange happened. V-T guy lowered the microphone, sort of... slumped... and adopted a kind of "off-camera" demeanor. (Which was odd, considering that he was on-camera) He leaned in and said more quietly:

"Yeah, but, come on" as if to say, "Come on, I need the shot".

   THEN I did that sarcastic "yeah whatever" that they aired. Suddenly they all erupted into this weird pre-arranged behavioral routine. It was frightening... like when a large flock of birds all suddenly take to the sky around you at some unseen cue... They all began this sort of teen-age cheerleader simulation; jumping up and down, saying "yay" and "woo" and things. I was a bit startled.

   IMMEDIATELY after that I said "I will talk to Paul about it, I'm not agreeing to anything today." That's when I first met Chuck.

CHUCK, THE NICEST MAN ON EARTH (tm)

   Once they had delivered their cheerleader payload, the crew sort of disassembled and switched to some other mode. V-T guy drifted away, and I was approached by a very nice man, about my age, soft-spoken, short sandy hair, who told me his name was Chuck. Chuck spoke to me in warm soothing tones. He assured me that everything was going to be taken care of. He assured me that whatever I needed, he would see to it that it would be taken care of. He asked me if I needed anything to drink.

   I recognized this behavior. It was the way people would talk to me on video shoots. Honestly, at those times, I needed it. But this was MY OFFICE. I wasn't some Perrier-deprived rock star. I was a guy at work. I was SUPPOSED to be working on creating 3-D sound volumes. I declined his offer of a drink, wondering from where he would have GOTTEN it, and asked them if THEY wanted something to drink, since I was the only one in the room who knew where the drink fridge was.

   Throughout the time they were in my company's building, and in the weeks that followed, Chuck was my attentive, sensitive, caring liaison to the Viacom corporation. That may sound sarcastic, but it's absolutely true, he was all those things. Chuck was SO nice, that I felt really bad and guilty whenever I said 'no' to him. I now wonder whether that isn't part of the reason he's the one they had handling me. Chuck begins to explain what's REALLY going on, which was a relief after doing all that on-camera weirdness with Voice-Talent Guy.

   Around this time I suddenly realize what's been going on outside my office. About 40 people, all working on a tight deadline, doing REAL work, (as opposed to just running around with TV cameras) had been thrown into total disarray, unable to get ANYTHING done for a few hours that afternoon. How much does 100 man-hours at Crystal Dynamics cost? I don't even want to speculate. And this entire disruption has MY NAME on it. Great. Our producer had to come out and politely explain that it is in fact not a good thing to film concept art on the walls for a game which has not yet been released. The president of our company has to come down and explain how things work in the real business world, etc., etc... and it all... has... my... name... on... it...............

   Sigh.

   Anyway, Chuck explains that they want to do a short interview, and I agree to that, since it seems harmless.

THEN WHY DID YOU DO THE INTERVIEW?

I don't know for sure. I wish I hadn't. In fact, I asked them to not use it. I sincerely and politely and respectfully said "Please don't use the interview. I know I signed you the rights to use it, but I'm asking you not to." They did anyway.

   Someone writing in a LiveJournal forum said something that made me start to understand why I agreed to the interview:

   "When one has been in the public spotlight at any time for any amount of time, the old rule is: 'always be camera ready'."

   I really think this is the start of the answer. It was an instinctive thing. Not a publicity-hungry thing, but an always-be-ready thing. A sort of professionalism. When we were in the spotlight a bit, there were MANY interviews and photo shots and whatnot that were barely planned, if planned at all. We had to be ready to just go along with whatever developed. And I think that in August of 2004, I was still READY to do my job as an entertainer, even though I haven't had that job in years. It's kinda sad, really.

   And perhaps someone at VH-1 understands, consciously or not, that people who were once in a band are still camera-ready, and that that can be exploited. Just a guess.

   So they set up a friggin' MAKE-UP chair in the kitchen. My co-workers come by and laugh at me. Good-naturedly, of course, but still. The camera and sound crew set up on the back patio, and Chuck gives me two forms to sign. One of them is a standard release, which just gives permission to use the tape they had shot so far. Unfortunately, I signed it. Whatever. The second one, however, was VERY interesting.

   The second form Chuck gave me to sign was an NDA. (Non-disclosure agreement) I am quite familiar with NDA's, since they are frequently necessary in the games industry. Basically, you agree to not tell other game companies about the game you're working on. I signed a lot of them when I was working contracts as an independent. Chuck explained to me that by signing this NDA, I would be agreeing to not tell anyone about the impending show, and (I guess) that I would be agreeing to not tell my bandmates about it before VH-1 would have a chance to accost them. Since I was contacted last, this wasn't too relevant. While they were in my office, however, I had ALREADY IM'd my friend about what was happening, so I was a bit hesitant. Upon reading the NDA, I discovered that it spelled out the exact dollar amount for which I would be liable in the event that I leaked all this precious info. $500,000.

   That's right, half a mil. They wanted me to sign a contract pledging one-half of a million dollars.

   I pointed out that I was reluctant to sign this thing. Chuck, who is VERY good at his job rushed to tell me that if I didn't want to sign the NDA, I didn't have to. That was very nice of him, but it does sort of raise an important question: If it's not necessary, then why do they ask us to sign it? More about this strange NDA later.

THE INTERVIEW (Or, the Inquisition)

   So we do this interview... A moment after we started, they tried to tell a co-worker of mine to not cross the patio. This is how people get from the parking lot to the rear entrance of the building. I got a bit upset and told them to NOT tell people they couldn't walk through. Sheesh already.

   Voice-Talent guy asks me a series of run-of-the-mill interview questions, nothing too interesting. Someone had, however, provided him with a great deal of random and extremely obscure trivia. He asked about "Bug Summer", which was a humorous term Paul and I gave to the summer of '84 when we were living together in Minneapolis. Why? It was as though they had received a grab-bag of factoids with no way to interpret them. (And of course, I expect this was in fact the case) Eventually he focused on Amanda, which was kind of odd, since she was only in the band for 2 of InSoc's 16 years. Whatever. He began to pick and pick and pick on the question of why Amanda left. I felt it was too personal for public consumption and I declined to answer. First nicely, then firmly. Eventually he says, smugly: "Well, we already talked to Amanda and she told us it was because she was addicted to heroin". I found this VERY annoying and said "Then why are you asking ME?".

   Let's be very clear here: They all knew, BEFORE the group interview, from Amanda herself, what had happened. (Although I should point out that the description given in the group interview was only vaguely related to the truth of what happened) They were HOPING that I would divulge something inappropriately. I am proud of Paul, Jim, and myself for declining to trot out this bit of personal history for mass consumption. Why Amanda chose to discuss it I cannot imagine. What irks me is that they tried to provoke me into doing something dishonorable. And it wouldn't be the last time that they tried to do that.

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER (The Plot Thickens)

   So before they leave, we discuss the fact that I haven't agreed to anything. Chuck reassures me over and over that he understands (Chuck is a very understanding guy) that I need to discuss things over with Paul, and that I need time to consider. About 10 minutes after they left I call Paul and good-naturedly berated him for not warning me about this. Ha ha ha. Anyway, did we really want to do this show? I was very dubious. He surprised me by being kind of into it. I had thought he wouldn't be, /shrug.

   Paul then pointed out that there was the possibility of a REAL reunion show REALLY happening in November in a REAL night club in which we used to play in a REAL city: New York. He wanted to try to get the Viacom (VH-1) people to send a crew to THAT event, since it would show us in a much better context. I was WAY into that. A NYC promoter was trying to get together a bunch of the artists who used to perform in his club in the mid-80's for a 1-night multi-band thing.

   Paul said he'd check into that and get back to me, so I turned it all over to him. He looked into it, and it would have been fun, but in the end we didn't do it because they weren't able to pay us enough to pay our expenses. We would have done it for no profit, but we weren't really into doing it and LOSING a bunch of money. Ah well.

   And the Band Reunion (whatever) people weren't into that idea anyway. C'est la vie. Strange that a "reality TV" show would be more into staging a fake concert than filming a real one. Is that "journalism"?

   So I told Paul I'd think about it and then I went to Burning Man. It was fun. And I came back from it filled with my usual anti-commercial zeal. Oddly enough, while I was there, some guy with a huge TV camera came into the dome while I was trying to officiate. I sensed a theme. We threw him out of the dome after he refused to participate in a dome battle.

   Anyway, on September 7th, 10 days before the interview in L.A., I called Paul. I told him that I just really didn't want to do the VH-1 show. I felt it would simply not be a good thing. However, I told him that I would do it FOR HIM, if he really wanted me to. He thought about it a minute and said that no, if I wasn't into it, it was ok with him to not do the performance. And that was the end of it.

   Chuck called me September 7th or 8th and I told him I wasn't going to do it. From that day, Viacom/EvolutionUSA KNEW that I wasn't going to do it.

WHAT HAPPENED THEN (The Plot Thins)

   Now, of course, it was Chuck's job to see if there was anything he could do to change my mind. He had to at least see if there was some problem that he could smooth out. I was very friendly with him at first, because, A), He's the Nicest Man In The World (tm), and B), I understood that he had to at least ask if there was anything he could do.

   So we talked on the phone, and I laid it out: It just didn't sound like something I would want to do, and there was nothing he could do to fix it, sorry. He asked me if I would be willing to speak with his producers, and I agreed, telling him that I was willing to explain to them why I was NOT going to do it, but that I was NOT agreeing to negotiate anything.

   The next day I find myself on a conference call with two guys who seemed like decent enough guys, although I forget their names. They also wanted to see if there was anything they could change or do that would fix the problem of me not wanting to do it. So I had to explain in great detail: No, really guys, I just don't want to be on TV. I don't like TV, I don't watch TV, I haven't watched TV in about 8 years. And if I were going to be on TV, the LAST thing I'd want to do is a "reality TV" show. On top of all that, arranging a sort of fake show seemed like the worst possible way to do anything about Information Society.

   Then the strangest thing happened... I guess that during that conference call, they had gotten the impression that I wanted to get paid. I think I said something like "Taking time off work to drive to LA to do a free show and be on TV so that Viacom Inc. can enhance shareholder value just isn't something I want to do." Somehow, they took that to mean that I was asking for money. So one of them offers to pay me. I pointed out that since I didn't want to do it, my price would be higher than I'm worth, and that when they multiply that by 4, it would just break their budget. The guy points out that he's only extending this offer to ME, and not the other bandmembers. I was STUNNED. Can you BELIEVE that? They thought that I would take money, KNOWING that my bandmates were NOT getting paid. It is unbeLIEVable! This is when I began to feel that they really had no respect for me at all.

   After talking to them, Chuck asked if he could have someone ELSE call me, and I told him (nicely) that no, I was done talking about it. He then asked if someone could E-MAIL me, and, since it is physically painful to be mean to Chuck, I said that would be ok.

   So then the next day, September 10th, I got this mail from Dave Rupel. Based on our e-mail, I think Dave is a great guy, but by this time, I was getting a bit tired of the whole affair, and so I just tried to steer the conversation away from anything relevant. As you can see in these subsequent mails, I eventually just started talking about Burning Man, and that's when they stopped.

   NOTE that these mails confirm over and over that they KNEW I wasn't going to do the show. This is demonstrated by the fact that they're trying to change my mind. Also note that Paul was the FIRST to know that I wasn't going to do it.

   I think what was happening was that the task of changing my mind was being passed around their office like a dead rat. "Oh god, now *I* have to talk to him? groooaan..." Finally, they called out the Big Gun: Kathleen French. (Or Jason Dunfer, it's hard to tell...)

   On September 15th I got this mail which was signed "Kathleen French", but which showed "Jason Dufner" in the "from" field. (Maybe ms. French is e-mail-challenged and has to have other people send her mail for her, I don't know.) This is when I really began to lose patience. I get the impression that she somehow thought she was being all psychological and stuff on me. Note that there is a continuous theme of me supposedly hurting the fans. (Who were all merrily going about their business before they heard anything about any of this.) Most interesting is her mention of the fact that they "floated the idea of the show to some Information Society fans". EXCUSE ME? Didn't I just narrowly escape signing a $500,000.00 liability contract keeping that very fact a big Secret?? Perhaps Ms. French is used to conversing with persons of weakened intellect. Maybe it was a Jedi Mind Trick, and no one told her it doesn't work through e-mail. I don't know. All I can say is that it didn't work very well on me.

   And THIS was priceless: "And just so you know -- we don't charge for these tickets." Ohhh, ok. Wow, you guys must be just... ALL about the music, since you don't CHARGE people to come be extras in your productions. Wow, it's so philanthropic. Almost makes one forget that you are being payed to create content for Viacom, Inc. (VIA.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

   This letter had finally angered me, and as you can see in this response, I finally let loose. This is what it looks like, in text, when I am angry. I'm not proud of this letter. Who really wants to be remembered for the times they were angry? But I am including it to make very clear what was happening before the interview with the other three bandmembers in L.A. was taped. (BTW, sorry, no, that show in November didn't work out, even though Paul and I both really wanted to do it. :( )

   This finally worked. I got this response from Kathleen French on Sept. 15th, two days before the shoot. Now let's be very clear here: What you are seeing here is written, signed, dated documentation from Viacom/EvolutionUSA that they were aware that I was NOT coming to do the show. Keep that in mind. They knew that I was not coming.

THE FINAL IGNOMY

   So on September 17th, Paul and Jim and Amanda go and do this group interview thing. From what Amanda told me later, they had to keep acting out meeting scenes and that it was kind of a drag.

   When my wife finally MADE me watch the thing, I was in hysterics watching voice-talent guy pensively watching the gate... "Where's Kurt? Where's Kurt? Oooooh!" EVERYONE knew days in advance that I was not coming. The FIRST person to know was Paul. Then the Viacom Inc. people. Then Jim and Amanda. EVERYONE knew. Paul, Jim and Amanda will back me up on that, and I have written documentation from Viacom telling me that they knew.

   So V-T guy is watching the gate, Paul Amanda and Jim are acting out little vignettes about meeting, even though they actually all traveled to the location TOGETHER. Damn right it would have been painful. The most embarrassing (for them) part of all of this was that he then walked in and TOLD Paul, Jim and Amanda that I had decided not to come. (Which, of course, they had heard about before he had) If he KNEW that I wasn't coming, then WHY was he staring at the gate like I just stood him up for a date?? For shame, Voice-Talent Guy. Think of George Washington. "Still hasn't arrived" indeed. For shame, anonymous Voice-Over Guy. I stood up no one. I have a paper trail that shows that you all knew I wasn't coming, no later than the 9th of September, eight days before the taping.

GENERAL RANTING

   What irritated me throughout this process, but especially when they intruded into my company's building, was that they seemed to be walking in this cloud of unreality about the true nature of what was going on. Somehow they just seemed to think that once everyone realized that "it's for TV! it's for TV!", that suddenly no one would really mind the disruption and lack of respect for real people doing real work to create real content. (Project Snowblind) As though they were just above the hum-drum reality of real people leading real lives, and that they were exempt from all social constraints because it's FOR TV! It offended me. If they wanted to do this, they could have told the truth up front, they could have made a damned appointment, they could have cleared it with my company's management. And god, they lured Paul to Burbank from Topanga telling him they were going to give him WORK! OMG! He has two kids to support, ferchrissakes. Paul didn't seem too upset by it, but I felt outraged for him.

   TV sucks. TV, and especially reality TV, and in particular, THIS reality TV show, is RIPE for a sort of reality-exposé. Someone should do one. Like, start a stealth website about the show's production offices and team, tracking their movements, and finally telling them that Led Zeppelin are getting back together, and they can scoop it... only they arrive to find out that we're doing a show about them. Post all the video to the internet.

   Yeah.

   But perhaps this is really more about the Internet vs. TV than InSoc vs. VH-1. This "Band Reunion" (whatever) show felt to me like a sort of final death-twitch of a medium desperately in need of a wake-up call. But let's not give them one. Honestly, I'd prefer they stayed asleep and let us get on with the fun of LiveJournal, Slash-Dot, and StrongBad E-mails.

EPILOGUE

   Writing this was fun, but I really don't care too much about what went down with this TV thing. I'm going to visit friends, including Paul in LA next month, Jim's staying at my house this month, and Amanda and I will get together next time the Furs are in SF. It's all good.

   Probably the best thing, (and one of the only good things) that came out of all this was that after the L.A. interview, I talked to Amanda on the phone. We hadn't spoken in about 12 years, and it was FABULOUS to talk to her again. We talked for a long time, but one of the first things Amanda said to me was "I wanted to call and thank you for not doing the show. If you had come, we would have had to have done the performance, and that would have been hell." She also described the excruciating part of the afternoon where they had to set up the shot to pretend that they didn't know they were going to run into each other... It sounded really painful. Nothing in the entire sorry incident confirmed my feeling that I was right to decline the show more than Amanda's words.

   You're welcome, Amanda. I love you too, and I love Paul and Jim too.

   Well, maybe not Jim. (I'm too jealous that he has a Master's Degree in Science and I don't.) . . . Victor! . . . Yes, master! . . . See this picture of Jim! Burn this visage into your mind! . . . Yes Master! . . . Now fly Victor! Fly to Oregon!! Destroy the Master's Degree in Science! DESTROY!! . . . Skreeeeee!