Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Behind the Music

Gheorghe: The Week continues with a pair of first-person recollections of one of the great conflations of music and sport in recorded history. Back in the early 90s, Igor and I owned an interest in a pair of Washington Bullets season tickets. I can't really remember how we afforded them, but one of the great perks given to season ticket holders was a team video called 'You the Man'. It defies description, frankly, so you'll need to take my word for it (and view one of its two incarnations below). On at least one, and more like a hundred occasions, we'd return home drunk, pop the cassette into the VCR (Google it, Mark) and sing along with our Bullet buddies.

Many years later, in a quirk of acquaintance and coincidence, we realized that two of our favorite female FoG:TBs not only knew the makers of the video (and its sequel), they actually participated in the filming of these epics. Sit back in your easy chair and/or cubicle and let KQ and Shlara tell you a little story.

(Fade out, then slowly fade back in. Soft music plays. KQ enters the frame.)

When you work for a professional sports organization, you occasionally get some pretty cool gigs. Most of the time you get overworked and underpaid, but there are some moments that make it all worth the hell that is late night Capital Centre coupon distributions: "I need more Papa John's coupons at the Eagle entrance NOW!!" Getting to be part of the making of the Bullets "You the Man" video was by far one of the highlights of my short but storied career at Washington Sports and Entertainment. 

The song: I don't remember a lot about this part of the process, except that Dana Mozie and Jesse James did a helluva job with it. They had a little more trouble capturing the essence of the Caps theme song, but still very talented individuals. For a laugh, watch this earlier version of the You The Man video, then watch the Caps video. A slight contrast in enthusiasm?

Since my memory is a bit spotty, what with the weeks of planning, shooting, the 5 am train to NYC to edit the video for 15 hours and the 1 am return train, and the fact it was over 15 year ago, I'll share some of my favorite moments from the video: 
  • The Price brothers look completely out of place. White point guards shouldn't dance. (Reminds me of PR guy Jim Delaney's story about getting on a team flight where Legs, Jimmy Mac, and the Price's were sitting in the back. Legs motioned to him, "Hey Jim, come sit back here with us in the suburbs")
  • At :24, a really young Nolan Smith. Love him.
  • Those scenes in the arena were filmed after (before?) a team practice. The fellas weren't too excited about it (ie completely pissed they had to do it), quite a bit of bitching and moaning if I recall (see Shlara's addendum) but they eventually got into it. Chris and Juwan were great, definitely the leaders, lots of ball busting. I didn't do a lot of player appearances, but anytime I worked with Juwan he was fantastic. Great attitude, great guy. Love his little break dance during the credits. I do seem to recall them all giving us a lot of shit about the song, the video, the script, etc. 
  • Big Gheorghe's centerfold moment (1:02)
  • A young Tim Legler (:56) before his teeth looked like Chicklets and hair looked like Jimmy Mac's (:59). Oh, and nice fist pump Jimmy.
  • Jimmy Mac pulls off the slack jawed yokel look at 1:18.
  • John Nash and Coach Lynam. They used to come into the office and sit in the sales pit and shoot the shit with the staff. We'd get the best inside stories, fantastic entertainment. Coach was hysterical. They'd often wander into our marketing office for a chat as well, as did Derek Smith, who would sit and chat for a long time. He was the best. Ever. (You also get a little glimpse here of how efficient we were at the office, when not watching the Caps accounting staff walk to the snack closet every 20 minutes.)
  • Radio DJ's are dorks, especially when they feel the need to add an exclamation point to the end of their name. And wear mom jeans.
  • 1:57. Can't remember why we were filming Big Gheorghe and Ahmad Rashad in what appears to be somebody's basement?  The Gheorghe/Ahmad—that’s footage from when NBA Inside Stuff (required Saturday morning viewing in the 90s) did a feature on Big Gheorghe. We think this was the same time as when were filming a commercial with Big Gheorghe. I don't even remember the original concept of the commercial, but Gheorghe struggled a bit with some of the lines, and we ended up just cutting a blooper reel of him trying to say "Call 301-NBA-DUNK."  Hanging with Gheorghe that morning was awesome - he was funny, chatty, engaging, had just gotten a new dog (Great Dane, natch), even let me try on his leather jacket. On me: the jacket brushed the floor, and the sleeves went past my knees and it weighed more than Rob.
  • 2:02. The Caps. Possibly the highlight of the filming for me (outside of all the time spent with Tim Legler). Great guys: Brendan Witt (who was what, 18 at the time?), Olie the Goalie, and Ken Klee (my birthday buddy). Peter Winik was our awesome camera guy from NBA productions and was a huge hockey fan. (Oh the irony). So he was all giddy, we filmed the whole thing on the ice and the players let us play with their sticks (not nearly as dirty as it sounds) and taught us how to shoot the puck. They were laid back, down to earth guys and a lot of fun to hang around. I gained a lot of respect for hockey players that day.
  • The other celebs in the video we were just lucky to catch at a game, and were all great sports about being involved. Sorry, can't remember any stories about that.
What you don't see on the YouTube version is the intro we added for season ticket holders, who all received a copy of the video as a gift. Yes, it was still VHS. That was a fun mailer to assemble. The premise of the intro was Legs and KQ/Shlara fave Calbert Cheaney walking out of the locker room after a game. They sit in the front row and say "what a great game" "yeah the crowd was really great tonight" "wow! these are great seats!" "yeah, and the fans that sit in them are the best blah blah" "yeah they are." (Tim turns to the camera) "from all of us at the Washington Bullets, thank you for your support!" Clearly, I did not write the script.

(Fade back in, with Shlara in frame. The final notes from the song quietly echo.)

We filmed the '94-'95 version - the first one - out in front of the Lincoln Memorial one day after practice, shortly after the big Chris Webber trade and Juwan Howard signing day that turned the franchise into a contender overnight. (It also sent my buddy Googs out to the west coast…sad day for Shlara.) Here’s what I remember—ALL of them complaining about getting on the fancy motor coach to go downtown, hating the sandwiches we got for them, grumbling about being asked to wear their Bullets gear and whining about the whole thing in general. The saltiest one was Scott Skiles—he thought the Bullets were a Mickey Mouse organization and didn’t seem to like anything we did, ever. But once we arrived downtown, and the music started playing and the crowd started gathering, they stopped yelling at me and lip-synched and danced and acted goofy, resulting in the best team music video of all time.

We had to re-cut the video in KQ’s first year due to trades. Since the song and video were such a big hit in Year I, we decided to go all out for an extended version and upgraded production values in year two.

And so you see it above, ladies and "gentlemen".....yooouuuuur Washington Bullets!

We'll be happy to open up the mic for questions.

(Fade to black to the sounds of "Muresan...You the Man, You the Man!")


Dave said...

i can't wait to watch this, but i will have to wait until i get home. and now i know who kq is! and mr kq!

Marls said...

Several points, since I have been away for several days buried at work, recovering from Gheorghefest, and doing laundry....

First, thanks again to all who set up the fest, especially Shlara and Jessica. To the extent that my general dipshittery detracted or enhanced the evening, I'm sorry or you're welcome.

Second, fantastic job by TR. Saw it live on the TV's in the office where I proudly announced that I had been hanging out with him last weekend. I somehow failed to mention my liquid transgressions.

Third, "You Da Man" is an all classic, but I am disturbed to learn that Jessie James was involved in this. Apparently, Jessie was an NBA free agent in the early 90's also doing "Go NY, Go NY, Go" which was a favorite of teenage Marls. Did JJ approach the Bullets or did the Bullets reach out to him?

Looking back I love that he lauds Charles Smith's ability to dunk.

Finally, why is nobody talking about Manning to the Cowboys? All the leaks are pointing to the Dolphins, Jets, Cards & Skins. Call me all wet, but I think he would want to go to a team closer to winning now than the fish, cards, or skins. The Jets or Cowboys fit this bill, but would have to cut their current QB's to make this happen. I just don't think that Romo is any less uncutable than Sanchise at this point.

Danimal said...

with wayne weaver gone here in j-town, the chances of the jags just TALKING about a deal with Manning have gone from 0 to just slightly above zero. shahid "shakka" kahn is shaking some trees here. although...with blaine gabbert behind center, the necessity here isn't quite as great. #imfunny
in all seriousness though, i am very pleased that the "bounty" story will exit stage left.

nice video, duly impressed. there's a shit-ton of talent in this group let me tell ya.

rob said...

jim mcilvaine's first appearance is actually in the guinness book of world records as the whitest thing in history.

T.J. said...

This post is glorious.

Shlara said...

Marls--Jessie James was secured through NBA Entertainment--he did a few team jingles in the 90s.

T.J. said...

Maniac, brainiac, winning the game...
I'm the miracle Jesse James

Geoff said...

This is excellent. I'm in.

Marls said...

Apparently Jessie Jaymes, aka Jessie Eric Isler, of Roslyn, Long Island, is married to Sara Blakely who is the founder of Spanx.

He made over 50 tunes for pro sports teams. The money from that he parlayed into founding Marquis Jet. If Shlara had called greasetruck studios/random idiots instead of NBA productions, Igor and Dave would be flying around in a private jet at this point.

Danimal said...

the shave club is great on so many levels - the commercial is grande.

rob said...

temple to the big east. when the a-10 implodes, it'll have big ramifications for the caa. could get richmond and charlotte, could lose half the league to a new one, esp if odu and jmu move up to d-1 football. downside for w&m could be patriot league. upside could be a really strong hoops conference.

Marls said...

Ron, don't you think Yeager would tell the Spiders to go fuck themselves?

Marls said...

Ron or Rob can reply.

rob said...

ron thinks yeager would really enjoy twisting the knife in spidey, but would ultimately recognize that richmond is a pretty good brand that would make the league stronger in hoops.

TR said...

I assume we're talking Ron Swanson here...

Kevin McDermott said...

But wait... there's MORE