“I’m a joker/I’m a smoker/I’m a midnight toker/I sure don’t want to hurt no one/’Cause I’m a picker/I’m a grinner/I’m a lover/And I’m a sinner/I play my music in the sun…”
– Steve Miller
While I want desperately for each of my homemade movies to be Cecil B. DeMented-esque, shot-on-the-fly genius, alas, not one is even worthy of preservation (read: the tapes have all been destroyed for the world’s sake, lest they kill unsuspecting viewers, a la The Ring). Then again, I suppose I may have given up a little too early. The last independent camcorder venture I can recall was a so-called music video for the Steve Miller Band’s “Space Cowboy,” made by me and middle-school pal Leiana.
I don’t think we did much but dance around my living room wearing rubber alien masks and cheap, wrinkled children’s kimonos, but we could not have been more plainly ridiculous. (It didn’t help that Leiana was an elfin bean pole and I looked like a raised-by-wolves couch potato.) Mouthing lyrics we didn’t really know, the soundtrack is primarily overdubbed with our incessant schoolgirl giggles and the tinny air of a cassette-playing boombox in the background. Merely reflecting on that sad affair turns my stomach in shame, though I understand that kids these days actually try to look stupid in their videos (which they certainly do not produce on giant, one-eyed shoulder robots that only record on full-sized VHS tapes), and that there’s some sort of incentive for their antics on YouTube.
As for me, I’m glad to be (just) old enough to not care about those modern things, and to have imbibed enough substances to permanently cast a comfortable shadow on the shameful memory of my childish cinematic indiscretions.
More than moviemakers, Leiana and I fancied ourselves musicians. While we had neither instruments nor know-how, we formed a band with mutual friend Erica. Her parents let us wash their cars repeatedly and perform other odd jobs, and after less time than it should have taken, we managed to purchased a drum set. From JC Penny. With Erica on drums, we’d then hold band practice with me and my starter-kit acoustic Fender, which I chose over hula lessons, and the bass Leiana borrowed from her big brother. Since none of us knew how to play anything at all, “band practice” was not much more than extensive snacking and gossiping about boys.
But the coolest thing we did—in our quest to do, well, whatever it was—was hike to “Rainbow Ridge” in Olinda and lay in the field where Jimi Hendrix had allegedly held a concert, in a long ago time we didn’t really understand but still wished we were a part of. We thought that by being there we might channel Jimi’s lingering energy and miraculously learn how to play our instruments.
Leiana ended up going to high school at Seabury, while Erica and I were off to King Kekaulike. We got in some sort of argument over that dumb JC Penny drum set, and I never much spoke to either of them again. But I do think of them fondly, about as often as I think of rekindling my pursuits in filmmaking and guitar playing. Maybe it’s not too late to discover my hidden genius.