Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Was that really me?

Many years ago I attended a college reunion of the campus radio station I worked at -- KLA from UCLA. A fellow member hosted it at her house and we had quite a good turnout. I remember going, seeing folks I hadn’t seen since we were all stoned, and a good time was had by all.

What I didn’t remember was a video that was made. One by one we were on camera saying hello and trying to be funny (with varying degrees of success).

Recently, one of these attendees got in touch and mentioned this video. I had never received a copy so asked if I could see it. She graciously sent me a DVD.

Like I said, I don’t recall even making this.

Two things struck me upon watching it: The first was how much younger (and hairier) we all were. That reaction comes from looking back at any reunion.

But the other, and this I didn’t expect, was watching myself. Since I have no memory of this it was like watching someone I didn’t know. As that person spoke into the camera I had no idea what he was going to say. It was a weird experience. (like being in the BOURNE IDENTITY)

For me it wasn’t the first. When I was a Top 40 disc jockey I never prepared for my shows. I know there are program directors who frown on that, but I wanted my shows to be spontaneous. And I figured if I couldn’t come up with one funny thing to say after a three-minute record there had to be something wrong. So I winged it and my shows had lots of comedy despite my lack of preparation.

Years passed.

Every so often someone on the internet will unearth a recording of one of my shows from the ‘70s and post it. And since I said stuff off the top of my head I made no effort to remember any of my material.

So it was like listening to someone else. I had no idea what was going to come out of his mouth. I have to say that half the time I was quite pleased. I’d think: I thought of that? Wow. But there were other times I cringed. I said some real stupid shit on the radio. Overall, it was somewhat surreal.

But the strangest experience of all was driving home one night after a very late rewrite, listening to the radio, and hearing a commercial. I thought to myself, “I know that voice. Who is that?” After about fifteen seconds I realized: It was ME.

Talk about an out-of-body experience. Yikes. Has anything like this ever happened to you?

32 comments :

Troy McClure said...

C'mon! You're not gonna show us that clip?!

WB Jax said...

Not quite that experience, Ken, but recently I came across an old mousepad with a collage of postcard images my sister put together, images from a time when I had work that provided me with the means to travel any place in the world, any time I chose...a life so far removed from my present one that now it seems like someone else's (life).

Salad Is Slaughter said...

I was looking for some computer code that I could reuse for a new program I was writing. I found what I wanted and marveled at how well it was written - it was not only exactly what I needed but optimized so beautifully.

I looked at the header to find out who had written such a masterpiece. Yes, it was me.

Steve Gangsei said...

My first radio gig was KLA from fall 1980-Dec. 1981. A fun time. We all learned a lot and figured out just how fast those early Beatles songs end when you haven’t picked the next record.

Nick Archer said...

Heard my own voice at an exhibit at the Hoover Dam, it took me 10 seconds to recognize my own voice. I forgot I had recorded it two years prior. My son grabbed a tourist couple and said, "That's my dad's voice and here's my dad." They asked if I was being paid to be there in person.

AlaskaRay said...

I don’t remember that, was I in the clip?

Pat Reeder said...

When I was going to college, I was taking a full course load, pulling an overnight shift on the local commercial radio station to pay my way through school, co-hosting the campus radio morning show with my still-partner George, and the two of us were writing and producing six daily comedy features a week. Every so often, I hear an aircheck from that era and have no idea what the young guy on the air (me) is going to say. But I do notice that it's unfailingly brilliant. I chalk it up to fatigue.

Michael said...

I grew up dreaming of being the Dodger broadcaster. The first time I heard my voice on a recording, I decided to change career plans. But I'm often interviewed about historical topics that I study, and so I get many opportunities to see or hear myself ... and turn away as quickly as possible!

Rich Johnson said...


I was working at a tiny station in suburban Portland in 1975. I did a 30-second spot for a barber shop that had a trade-out deal (got a couple of nice haircuts before leaving in late '75). FOUR years later I'm visiting family and I hear that spot on the station. Maybe a bit muffled because it was the same piece of tape rolling over those cart machine heads for FOUR years.

Alan Light said...

I took thousands of celebrity photos primarily between the years 1986 to 2000, at various Emmys, Oscars, Grammys, movie premieres. Wikipedia uses a few hundred of them on celebrity entries, because I share them for free. (i.e., the main Wikipedia photo of Jim Henson, and I'm even seen in a picture WITH Jane Fonda on her Wikipedia page that they used to identify as her with Robert Redford, but they corrected that). Anyway, at least once a month I will come across a photo on the internet somewhere and think "I wonder if I took that one" and it was me.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alan-light/collections/72157623934468367/

blinky said...

Let's see the video! Roll tape!

VP81955 said...

I'll occasionally come across some of the newspaper articles I wrote back in the '70s, '80s and '90s -- places such as newspapers.com and newspaperarchive.com have them stored -- and I can't believe some of the things I wrote (bad) or the turns of phrase I used (good).

Oh, and speaking of radio anniversaries: KNX celebrates its centennial this week as one of three stations with a 100th anniversary in 2020 (the other two are WWJ in Detroit and KDKA in Pittsburgh). At :17 after the hour, you can hear centennial segments on KNX's history -- and on Thursday, the actual 100th anniversary, KNX will broadcast classic jingles, sounders and sound bites throughout the day.

While Ken grew up with Top 40 radio and baseball on the air, I'm sure he often listened to KNX for the likes of beloved morning man Bob Crane (before he moved into TV acting) and others prior to its conversion to all-news in April 1968.

For more on KNX's rich history, visit https://knx1070.radio.com/articles/knx-100-year-anniversary.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Gads! Post the video. Why, this was before Vincent G. Thomas became Albert Flasher, as I remember. And didn't Steve St. John work part-time at KUTY in Palmdale, soon-to-be the first stop of a former Marine and ex-railroader by the name of Don Imus??

This "life thing" is passing by too fast. I need a nap.

Mister Charlie said...

Yes. Years after I had left a radio station I was driving through the area and turned to my old station. After listening to some music an EBS alert was broadcast and it took me a minute to realize that it was me announcing it. They had never re-recorded the announcement. SO that was a bit of an out of body experience.

Brian said...

I have a voice that, if people I support (I work in IT) don't know me, must be convinced I am not selling them something or if I am a recording.

Here is my brush with "celebrity", if you will: I recorded the phone trees at my old job (Press 1 for sales, Press 2 for Soupy, etc.) and since I was a tech suppor supervisor, I had to handle the irate calls, which was usually not a lot of fun. My job was threatened, I remember one call that put one woman in tears and a fellow smacked a chair with his fist.

What calmed some of these folks down?

"Tech Support, Brian speaking."

"Yeah, this is _____! Your software doesn't work and I can't get anywhere and I'm ready to throw this thing out of the window [Just like, "Well, THAT happened!" is a TV clichè, all PC's eventually will be thrown out of the window-Ed.)"

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Well, you BETTER figure something out because I...wait, is that your voice on the phone that I heard before?"

"Yes, that was me."

"Oh, cool! So, is there anything we can do to fix this..."

100% of the time, if someone just recognized my voice on the phone tree, they calmed down and more times than not, we fixed the problem, but even if we didn't, they ended the call calmer than they started.

Anonymous said...

I went on a commercial shoot with infamous surfer Miki Dora and at Leo Carillo State Beach, where all the surf/beach movies where made. A few days later we went to a screening of the footage. It was small, boring, wave after wave of Miki, when suddenly there was a really good sized wave and someone took off, did some great moves and dove off the end of the board at the end. It wasn't untill the dive off did I realizes it was me. And that was the shot they used. Miki got paid, I didn't.

Cap'n Bob said...

A couple of years ago I read some things I'd written in the eighties. I was brilliant.

Troy McClure said...

Ken, I don't know if you intend to visit a cinema again this year. But if you do, a heads up if you and anyone else plans to see Tenet. Try and find a subtitled screening if you can. The audio mix is about 60% incomprehensible.

I was worried it was my hearing, but upon googling I found that everyone who's seen it is saying the same thing. For a convoluted film in which 90% of the dialogue is plot information, not being able to hear what characters are saying is frustrating.

I eventually gave up and just enjoyed the ride, but I'll be going to a subtitled screening for my second viewing, which is why I recommend everyone saves themselves the hassle and sees it subtitled first.

marka said...

I was watching the local news one day and saw myself being interviewed. Except it wasn't me, it was someone who looked exactly like I did. Same everything. Had people for weeks telling me they saw me on the news.

Jeff said...

That has long been something that pops up in my dreams -- that I show up in a movie or on TV or in some kind of video clip and I have no memory of ever having done it. I look at myself in disbelief much as you looked at yourself.

Doug Thompson said...

So Ken, we're NOT going to see the video?????

By Ken Levine said...

The video itself is not that exciting.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Friday Question: What do you think of the new Oscar guidelines?
Is it just a failing award show continuing to dig it's own grave, and ruining what and how movies are made, or is this a necessary step in the right direction?
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2020-09-08/academy-oscars-inclusion-standards-best-picture

VP81955 said...

I now have this nightmare that one of my screenplays will be disqualified from Oscar contention because I did not capitalize "black" when describing a character's skin color (sorry, but I won't capitalize "white," either).

Roger Owen Green said...

I've been writing a daily blog for 15 years at rogerogreen.com. I have discovered, thinking of something that I might want to write about, that I ALREADY DID. In 2008.

Russell Walks said...

Hey, Ken - Just wondering if you remember this:

https://www.vintag.es/2020/09/miss-beautiful-ape.html

Seems like it's right up your alley...

Troy McClure said...

I hope it's not cheating if I say here that I loved your ten minute play. This line in particular is gold.

"Members of the First Family have been called much worse. By the president himself.

Trump Lied, Americans Died said...

Oh look, what's this? Secret phone recordings have revealed Trump privately admitting in March that Coronavirus is deadly and deadlier than the flu and also admitting he likes to play it down and will continue playing it down.

I know you won't publish comments by Trumptards but I really would love to see what mental gymnastics they would deploy to explain this away like they have every other grotesque comment from him.

These recordings will cause such mammoth cognitive dissonance among Trumptards who've called it a hoax that their heads are liable to explode.

Brian Stanley said...

As I was being put under for surgery, I heard the anesthesiologist started singing “Fly Me To The Moon.” I remember thinking “This guy enjoys his work. I wouldn’t buy the album but at least he’s on pitch.”
Hours later, a nurse said the room was amused by my vocalizing and I realized I had given the most impartial self-assessment of my singing ability that’s possible.

TodBrowning said...

@Brian "I recorded the phone trees at my old job (Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Soupy, etc.) "
I love it.

D McEwan said...

I have had that experience. Once, years ago, a friend and I went to a screening of a documentary made as a student film about "Sweet Dick" Whittington, my mentor and friend. At one point a somewhat familiar voice was saying stuff on the sound track and my friend nudged me with his elbow and asked, "Isn't that your voice?"

Well, it was indeed my voice. I had no memory of saying any of what I was saying (Though I agreed with all I was saying), of recording any interview for the film or, indeed, of ever even meeting the student film maker before. And I did not have the excuse of decades of time passing. The entire film had been made within the last year before I saw it.

I saw Deborah Kerr on "The Dick Cavett Show" once sat that it sometimes happened to her. She'd be watching a movie of herself, and there would be scenes of her saying dialogue she had no memory of ever playing or saying.

Peter O'Toole had a fun one. Talking about how very, very long the shoot for Lawrence Of Arabia was, he mentioned that there's a scene where his character is talking to another character, that had some reshoots, so "There I am talking to someone when I'm 26. They cut to another actor then back to me, and I'm suddenly 28. They cut to the other actor and then back to me, and I'm 26 again."

Brian Wilson said...

Sort of. One day I was driving home listening to Sirius Xm and they played a Fox News promo with a familiar music bed underneath. I thought “I’ve heard that song before... what is it?” About 15 seconds in I remembered it was a track called “Shelf Stable”... And I had written it. It was from my production library “Sledgehammer One” a few years prior. I need a brain defrag.