Peter Meets Liberal Progressive Celebrities? (A Pretend Letter)
Peter Tatara - August 14, 2006
Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Secret Admirers,
I've previously written to you about my new job in video game Shangri-La. While I believe I faithfully captured the succulent ambrosia that is my position, I've only recently become aware of a most bizarre, vexing, and hidden perk.
In my previous job, I couldn't listen to music. I was yelled at a few times for having my iPod in the office and listening to Morning Sedition podcasts. "You kids think you can do homework and watch TV at the same time," my boss scolded me. "But the brain can't multi-task!" Yeah, whatever.
Well, after a few days at my new POB -- that's "Place of Business" for those of you not hip to Manhattan corporate parlance -- watching all my officemates working with headphones on as well as the fact iTunes was on my desktop on my first day, I kinda got the hint. Since then, my 9-to-5 aural diet's consisted of non-stop servings of Democracy Now, Luxuria Music, and Air America Radio.
Gosh, Peter, you've written an essay about listening to the radio at work? I always thought you were lame, but now I know you're really lame.
Now, while that lame bit may be true, this little story's yet to even start. Everything preceding this sentence's been written to establish only one thing -- I listen to Air America Radio. I've been doing the liberal progressive radio thing since the network first launched. She's changed, lost some good talent, gotten a lot more corporate, is rumored to be as financially sound as, say, a brick can float, and didn't write back when I sent in an unsolicited resume. Still, I listen daily. I've got Air America T-Shirts, buttons, mouse pads, key chains, and even a coffee mug. I took in a few live Morning Sedition broadcasts, went to Sam Seder's FUBAR: America's Right-Wing Nightmare book signing (and met David Cross in the process), and my girlfriend got Al Franken's autograph for me. Mr. Franken's autograph reads, "Nice Girlfriend."
Golly, Peter, not only are you really lame, but you're long winded. You like hearing yourself talk, huh?
Moving the story along, the Wednesday of my second week at my new job, as I was heading home, I saw a woman smoking no more than 15 feet from my office. I looked at her. She looked at me. She looked familiar. As I walked by the woman, I couldn't help but immediately notice her uncanny similarity to Randi Rhodes (host of Air America Radio's The Randi Rhodes Show, airing weekdays from 3 to 7 PM EST). I passed her, only working up the mettle two blocks later to ask the woman if she was Randi Rhodes. Of course, had I gone back, she probably would have been gone, or if she was still there, I'd come off as an obsessed freak. Contemplating this, along with the fact Stargate SG-1 was almost on, I continued walking. I thought the encounter was an odd footnote to my day, nothing more.
Jumping ahead, though, to the Friday of my second week -- only two days later -- after working a bit late, when I left for home, there, 15 feet away, was a man who looked just like Sam Seder (host of The Majority Report, airing weeknights on Air America from 7 to 10 PM EST). I looked at him. He looked at his cigarette. Surely, I was just seeing things. I didn't say anything to the man and continued on my way. Still, what were the odds of spotting two New Yorkers who looked just like Air America hosts in the same place in the same week?
I laughed it off. Air America Radio is, as described in its corporate literature, "Chelsea-adjacent." I didn't think 6th and 20th was Chelsea-adjacent. Note, though, I'm retarded when it comes to Manhattan neighborhoods. A friend earlier this year mentioned she lives in NoHo. I had never heard of NoHo and presumed she made the place up for two or three months before Wikipediaing it. She didn't make NoHo up. I was wrong. And I apologized for calling her a blind whore in front of her parents.
When I got home after seeing Sam Seder's clone, after turning on another episode of Stargate, I visited the above-mentioned Wikipedia, quickly learning Air America Radio's exact address. No, really? Air America Radio is right next door! And, armed with this knowledge, I'm beginning my third week in the video game business. What's it mean? What will the future hold? Dunno. But, next time I see Randi Rhodes or Sam Seder on a smoke break, I think I've got the balls to say hi.
(What do you think? I'm a pussy? I won't say anything? I won't see either Randi or Sam again? That last paragraph was where this story originally came to an end, written on the subway on my way to work on the Monday of my third week at my new job, but, now, only none hours later, I have an epilogue.)
Today, after my workday came to an end, I admit I was anxious. As I neared the door, I pondered who'd be outside filling their lungs with an unfiltered slim. I laughed. I realized that my first two encounters were coincidences. I let go.
But, then, there he was, puffing on a cigarette, the ruffled, disgruntled troubadour Sam Seder. Tired, wrinkled, and whispering hexes into the air, Sam looked like a wreck. I took a step forward.
"Are you Sam Seder?"
"I read your book, FUBAR."
"Oh yeah, what'd you think?"
"I liked it. I listen to your show almost every day."
"Say, what's your name?"
"Nice to meet you, Peter."
"I really appreciate what you're doing. Keep it up."
"Thanks. I'm trying."
"It was nice meeting you, Sam. I don't want to take up your time."
With that, I gave Sam a salute. He, then, extended his hand. We shook. I headed on my way home. He continued sucking in his cigarette. A nice meeting, I think. Not at all creepy. And, should I see him again, we'll see what happens. Walking away from Mr. Seder, I imagined our run-ins occurring on a regular basis and us trading quips in 1920's slang. Eventually, maybe, I'd be invited up to Sam's studio and eat pizza.
Of course, no sooner than I was eating an imaginary pizza in my head did I encounter a frosted blonde volunteer for Children.org. He asked if I'd like to sponsor a child. I made up excuses about why I couldn't. He told me, if I changed my mind, to visit Children.org. My invisible liberal pizza pie disappeared under the realization I'm too petty to spend $18 a month so a kid from Botswana could have shoes on his feet. I thought about how a conversation would go with a Children.org volunteer if I told 'em I was already sponsoring a child. Would they congratulate me? Would they tell me to buy another? I thought about sponsoring a child on the subway ride home. While I may be an ass sometimes, if I was making sure a kid in the Third World had food in his belly, I could be pretty smug in pretty much any situation.
But, now, here I am. At home. This little story coming to its end. The Majority Report is on. Sam's talking about how the show may be canceled. I Googled Children.org hoping to find the entire thing's a scam, but it looks legit. I'm going to keep on making excuses until I fall asleep.