The Obvious Child

Ok, I’ll admit that I’m just a little bit drunk.

Chris and I got home from Washington, D.C. around ten o’clock last night. I blogged, passed out, slept five hours, then woke up, took off my documentary filmmaker hat, and put on my media executive hat. Thirty minutes later, I was seated amongst senior management — including three of the five network heads — at a digital offsite at the Soho Grand. I chose my seating wisely.

“Benjamin Wagner,” a colleague said. “I might have guessed you’d be in the front row.”

“You know me, David,” I replied. “If I’m not on stage, I’m in the first row.”

The details of the offsite are, not surprisingly, off the record. But I’ll tell you this: at the conclusion of a thirty minute, group brainstorm on “innovation,” my team nominated me to represent. My heart raced, the room turned dim, and my vision became tunnelled in the moments prior to my presentation. As I stood to address my colleagues and supervisors, I reminded myself that, just twenty-four hours prior, I’d interviwed one of America’s finest interviewers. ‘I can do this,’ I told myself.

I stood, represented our politically unpopular points, sat, and breathed.

“Good job,” our HR rep said.

‘Phew,’ I thought (though that’s propbably what they told Ken Lay before indicting him).

Afterwards, we struck out to Savoy on Prince and Crosby. The network’s numbers one and two spoke. Some continued to talk work. My table, though, talked about their first band (well, I did), or their first rock show (which ranged from The Pretenders to Black Sabbath to REM). Those early experiences are, after all, why we were there in the first place.

Motivated by yesterday’s exposure to South African music, I cranked Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambaza’s “The Obvious Child” on the walk home. The polyrhthms resonated with the choas of the city, while the dense harmonies and lyrics struck a quiet, inspired place inside.

These songs are true
These days are ours
These tears are free

I smiled as I stumbed (just a little bit) along Soho’s cobblestone streets. It had been quite the two days: Tim Russert, Susan Stamberg, and senior executives, colleagues, hopes, fears and and dreams. And it promises to stay exciting. Thursday night I have a reception at the UN, Saturday night I have a rock show, and Sunday night I interview Marc Brown. Stressful. And exciting. It’s what I came here for, though. It’s student government plus rock ‘n roll plus academia. It’s crosses in the ballpark.

Why deny the obvious child?

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