Generational Thoughts in Austin

This should be a very fun week for yours truly, as I’m about to spend a lot of time listening to pop music. But as it happens I’ve been undone by allergies. I’m feeling better than I did last night, and my hope is that I’ll be in good shape by the afternoon. Assuming I can pick up my badge by 4 PM I should be in good shape. SXSW Music technically begins on Wednesday, which means I have some breathing room, but I also have a lot of work to get done before then.

Last night, I saw an old friend, Kieran Fitzgerald, who has just sold his brilliant feature-length documentary, The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez, to PBS. Kieran is one of these quietly intelligent, highly intense people who draw people in. He comes across as wryly methodical, and he is careful and measured in everything he does. So it’s no surprise to me that he’s made such an impressive film.

Another old friend, David Modigliani, just premiered Crawford, which will be a critical smash. That or critics are insane. David (or “Modig,” as we called him, mostly affectionately) has always been extraordinarily charismatic — he fills a room with a slightly goofy energy, yet he can also focus with the best of them. I first met him during an audition for an improv troupe. Now, my theory is that I was too “insane” for this particular improv troupe. I was later told that I didn’t make the cut because it was obvious that I didn’t work well with others — entirely true, though I hope I’ve gotten better since then. David, in contrast, did work well with others, despite the fact that he had real star power. He was as generous as a performer as he was as a friend, which is saying something. Some of my fondest college memories are of doing the improvisational equivalent of the dozens with David during a weird summer in Edinburgh. My only hope is that filmmaking won’t keep David from pursuing a career in physical comedy or, better yet, freestyling for food and shelter.

It’s nice to see both of these guys flourishing, and doing exactly what it is they should be doing.

We’re growing up, dudes. Another close friend, the best friend I made in college, is now in Pakistan, hanging out with the extraordinary Imran Khan and working on a new project. I have to say, hearing from and seeing these guys makes me miss performing and otherwise manufacturing happenings.

I think a lot about my cohort, both because I’m alienated from it in some important respects and because, as an overeager media consumer, I’ve mainlined it. So far I’m pretty pleased with how we’ve turned out, though I suppose we have several more decades to go before we can reach any firm conclusions.