First Stories

Maybe I should re-listen to the first season of the Start Up podcast if I’m supposedly emulating this meta-narrative idea of Alex Blumberg’s here. Not that I’m trying to put this on a level with that series, and not that Alex Blumberg invented the idea of publicly recording your endeavors to start a new project as a way of furthering the progress of said project. But for better or worse he, my podcast hero, is what I think of as I move along with this. Particularly I think of his blunders, like when his wife made some kind of skeptical comment when he tried to leave the house for an important meeting wearing sneakers, or when he started tripping over his own sentence as he tried to deliver his “elevator speech” to an important investor. But I don’t know if he ever really paused to reflect on the dauntingness of his project and all of the anxiety and self-doubt that comes along with that.

I haven’t even done anything that can’t be immediately undone and uncommitted and still the weight of the immaterial plan itself is so intense at times it sticks me with this brief annihilating impulse that I have to forcibly back away from. And the puffed-up self-importance of it feels not merely embarrassing but dreadfully risky and scary, like an irreparable personal shame is hanging in the balance. Yeah I can confidently say that these dreary personal reflections are far beyond what my podcast hero safely ventured.

It might not be obvious thus far, but the goal of this present entry is to meditate on some first story ideas. In my last post I finally honed in on a concept for my changeling podcast. Unrelated, but I really like the name “changeling” as a podcast title. Not that I could possibly use it for my own since it has exactly nothing to do with the intended content and I only like it because it calls to mind an image of Jane Eyre sitting on Mr. Rochester’s knee as he grumbles and stares ahead unseeingly and she teases him.

Okay but without further delay and losing of my train of thought– first episode ideas:

    • How to be a videographer in Japan. I have a friend who’s been living in Tokyo for maybe two years now and has slowly clawed his way up to the point of having regular videographer-related work. I think most of his jobs have him working as a lighting director as opposed to an actual videographer or cameraman or whatever the proper term would be for those individuals who are more directly responsible for what gets captured on film. Anyway he’s an interesting guy, a perfectly skilled “self-starter” though very genuinely modest about his own talents and even self-deprecating about his own intelligence. He came here with a plan of staying for two months, and that somehow transformed into a more permanent stay plan. As far as I know, he didn’t really come here with much savings and certainly no money from his parents to support him while he found his way in Tokyo. And still he never had a thought of getting a job English-teaching or bartending — the latter of which he could have easily found on the recommendation of his conversational Japanese, foreignness and handsomeness alone. But he wanted to do video work and just jumped in and scrambled and somehow found his way. He also loves to talk you to death about the overlooked importance of lighting in creating film. He’s a good talker with a lot of random knowledge and an interesting career trajectory. If I can just pin him down from his crazy work schedule for an hour before he leaves Japan in a few weeks I think he could make a good episode
    • How to be a singer in Japan. It feels like a bit of a cheat on this one, because the subject I have in mind in my best friend. But she also has an interesting corner of Japan life to talk about. Of all of my many, many musician friends, she’s the only one I know who’s visa status is actually “Musician” and who legitimately is working as a professional singer in Japan. As far as her own personal music is concerned she’s played good venues and been invited to pretty impressive events, but, considering that she’s still in the process of releasing her first EP, her success there is still in its beginning stages. But she supports herself entirely through music, though it’s mostly high-profile commercial singing gigs for companies like Amazon, Panasonic and others. So even though she’s literally my most accessible interview subject and most enthusiastic supporter, she also really has a good story.
    • After these two, I’d like to find a Japan expertise area that wasn’t work-related. I met an interesting guy awhile back who either attends or organizes these monthly open-mic poetry events. I think he said he’s just an attendee. He plays keyboard accompaniment to the slam poets. He was a really intriguing guy– well-travelled, pretty advanced in years (like beyond middle age), friendly or at least loquacious when it comes to talking about himself. But the Japanese friend of a friend who made the introduction told me afterwards that he’s actually a pretty famous musician. I forget the band he was associated with but it was a classic rock band that I knew well I think… All the details are slipping from me now. But maybe I could attend one of those poetry nights and see if he’d be a willing interviewee

I guess my next step is to try and arrange some interviews… And even though the effort there is trivial it really feels like, by the mere request and the ensuing explanation that will necessarily follow, I’m stepping forward, casting a die and irrevocably throwing myself at its mercy.

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