Sunday, May 24, 2015

Gerry Fialka Interviews David Ocker

Last November I was asked by Gerry Fialka if I would consent to be interviewed on his series called MESS.  He set a date nearly 6 months in the future.   I announced the interview here on Mixed Meters and then promptly forgot about it except when I tried to imagine what it would be like, what he would ask me or how I would respond.  That happened only almost every day.  I had no answers for the first two questions so answering the third question with any accuracy became quite difficult.

Gerry Fialka interviewer at the UnUrban May 9 2015

As the date slowly loomed closer and closer I did some research by looking up Gerry's interviews on YouTube.  For example this one.  And this one.  Or this one.  While I didn't necessarily know who the interviewees were, I did get a sense of what Gerry wanted to know.

His questions definitely don't cover the who, what, where, when and why stuff.  You might call it more of a meta-interview.  Apparently he's been asking questions like this of all sorts of people for decades.  At one point Gerry says
"We try to talk with artists or musicians or filmmakers and not so much ask them to tell us what their art is about, because as I. A. Richards taught us, the artist is the last person you want to ask what their art is about.  But we talk about the philosophies of life."
The questions ran a gamut from what I thought was the best thing for a human being to what I would do if someone threw a bag a shit at me while I was in a vat of vomit.   My research into Gerry's previous interviews helped only a little.  I had a few prepared answers but was surprised to find that some of my spontaneous responses were much better.

Gerry Fialka and David Ocker at the UnUrban May 9 2015

Gerry suggested that I should take the task of recording the interview into my own hands.  I used the point 'n shoot in my pocket to record video of most of it and also made a backup audio recording.

As I've reviewed my performance, I am relieved not to be cringing too much at what I said.  There are a few places where I didn't express myself as well as I might have and other places where I wish I had expounded more.  I still pretty much remember what I meant to say so feel free to ask about the incomprehensible bits.

I decided to share the interview here.  I knew I would.  After all, this blog is specifically about things I have to say so what could be more perfect than two hours of me saying things.

Gerry Fialka and David Ocker at the UnUrban May 9 2015

Here are some points you should probably read before watching:
  • This video is as a massive selfie.  At Gerry's suggestion the camera shot was framed to show only me.  The room was not well lit, so the video also qualifies as film noir.  
  • I was distressed to learn at the last moment that my point'n'shoot would take no more than 30 minutes of video at one go.  I managed to stop and restart it twice.  If you're quick you can see my arm reach out to the camera just as a few words are dropped from the conversation.  Alas, I didn't restart he third time, so at about 90 minutes the recording switches over to audio only.  I added some fifty of my photographs to satisfy the visual nature of the medium.
  • In spite of all my facial and hand gestures and all my photographs, this is essentially an audio document.  If you listen without watching you won't miss much of anything.  In a hurry? YouTube gives the option of faster playback: 1.25 and 1.5 are still understandable.  Double time is not.
  • I am grateful to all the people who attended.  The room was small but well filled.  Some old friends showed up to mingle with Gerry's regular audience.  One questioner, who might well have been drinking, didn't belong to either group.  He's the one who asks me for a hug.
  • Gerry and I share the experience of having worked for Frank Zappa.  There are a lot of Zappa-related questions.  If you're interested primarily in my experience working for Frank, then you should check out this interview from the mid-90s.  Or this interview about Francesco and Frank.
Okay.  That's the end of my preamble.  Here's the main event . . . .


Waldo Ham said...

"I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me on the street" is from "Who Needs the Peace Corps."

David Ocker said...

Thanks Waldo. You are, of course, correct. On the other hand we ended up talking about Trouble Everyday Day, I think, which is about race riots and television news and is a hugely prescient song, totally relevant to today's news. I don't think "I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me" is Zen in any sense (except possibly as satire). Who Needs The Peace Corps is just silly screed about hippies.