I consider the whole process of going to the gym to be penance for past sins and work hard to make the experience as miserable as possible in order to gain good karma. Part of this is not bringing my own ear buds but listening to whatever dance music they play to pump us all up. Running on the treadmill to Kate Perry’s truly dreadful “This is How We Do,” it once occurred to me, however, that a casual observer, upon seeing me move my body to this music, might mistakenly think that I enjoy it.
I have since modified my running style in such a way as to, I believe, show that I am not in fact endorsing the music but am simply subjecting myself to it in such a way as to curry favor with the Gods. It looks weird but seems to be working.
I clearly need to find a way to communicate this when I’m on the machines though. For example a few years back I was sitting on the shoulder press machine taking a break and enduring Sak Noel’s insipid song Paso, “I don’t wanna study, I just wanna party,” when I suddenly had a great idea for a project. I had worked with my colleague Amos Gillespie on music for dancers inspired by Ben Hecht’s 1,001 Afternoons in Chicagoand was now looking for a new project that combined music, theater, literature and radio and I thought what if we turned some of those stories into a radio play?
I was so excited I jumped off the machine thinking I would hit the shower and get home right away to work. Another gym patron, however, upon seeing me jump so suddenly smiled and said, “I love this song too baby!”
It was demoralizing. But at least the project has turned out well. The film version of 1001 Afternoons in Chicago airs on Chicago’s PBS station November 19th at 10:30 PM!