This Is Not A Test

Flashback: New York City, January 2020.

I planned the “Only You (DJ Latenight Remix)” release for Valentine’s Day (duh), and needed a simple music video idea quickly. What we came up with now feels eerily prescient.

“What if it’s like a Warhol screen test?” my pal Whitney Mattheson suggested.

I Googled “Warhol Screen Test.”

“Yes! That!” I responded.

Simple enough, right? Tripod, white wall, straight to camera.

So I listened as I shot, thinking about and somehow trying to subtly embody the song (a remix of my cover of the 1982 Yaz chestnut) without going full cornpone.

“You didn’t give me much to work with, bro,” Christofer said. “Luckily, Jamie did.”

Now, some eight weeks from inception to premiere (This is it! This is the premiere! Go watch it now!), the split screen is eerily reflective of Life In The Time Of Coronavirus; FaceTime, YouTube, Zoom, Netflix, live streams, Disney+, webinars.

Watch me! Watch me! Watch me!

Here In The Time Of Coronavirus, there’s something extra meaningful, extra beautiful, in what Christofer created from our Screen Tests: the silence, distance and longing feel extra relevant.

There’s performance to our on-screen lives now, rife with verbal arrhythmia and mediocre lighting. We are distorted, buffering pixel ghosts stretching ourselves across an ultimately impermeable divide.

It’s a close facsimile, and — in the age of Social, né, Physical Distancing — our only option. But screens are cold, unyielding. Our Zoom’d world scratches the human connection itch, but only inflames the longing, heightens the distance. Italy seem abstract, theatrical. Governor Cuomo is ever-present, but fully-ephemeral.

Swipe… Click … Next!

Is it any wonder, then, that the girls climb in our bed every night? That, in a nearly-universe of limitless video options, Elsie self-selects “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” every morning? That Maggie has taken to burrowing into her covers to re-read Harry Potter for the sixth time?

Lately, when the girls are asleep, I put on my headphones, leave the cul-de-sac, and pace the empty high school parking lot across the street. I walk it end-to-end, over and over, tunes cranked, cold beer can in hand (who’s really going to care?). I stare up at the stars, dancing in dim-lit anonymity, singing to myself far out of frame.