Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My First Stolen Drum Set

It’s 1994. Sadiq and I, bored, head down to the UA-150 on 6th avenue. It was demolished in 2002, but back then, they were sort of like the Crest, showing 2nd run movies for $2. It was also a place where junkies and the homeless would hang out and get high or just sleep. It was kind of a cool crusty old theatre, if you didn’t mind the riff-raff. It was built in the late 60’s and was huge inside. It had a curved screen and a curved curtain that lifted up before the show.

Anyway, Sadiq and I get there super early and there’s no one inside. The only other person in the building, as far as we can tell, is the person taking money in the box office out front. (And if memory serves, that same person would run the projector too. It was a really a crappy operation.) So we’re wandering around the place. I remember looking behind the screen and seeing an old stage and a bunch of rigging and stuff. I kinda wanted to climb up in it. Right in front of the screen was a little fence made of yellow fabric that basically kept the bottom of the screen from being seen. And right behind that little fence, sitting at the bottom of the screen, was a bunch of drum set pieces: some roto toms, some cymbals, and a hi-hat stand and pedal. They look a little bit beat up, but otherwise good. Who knows how long they’d been sitting there. Maybe they belonged to a staff member whose band practiced there on off nights. Or maybe they were left there in the 1970’s when some concert happened. Who knows. Sadiq – who has been talking me into doing bad things since I was six years old – suggests that we take them. Back in '94, Sadiq and I had a band called Mah Jong which was just making a transition from folk and rap to disco and funk. (I know, I know.) So getting some drums makes sense. But just as I’m about to reach down to grab something, a patron walks in. Sadiq and I act natural and wander back up to our seats empty handed. There Sadiq hatches a plan: We wait until the movie is going. Then, when the movie comes to a dark scene, we walk down and pick up the drum pieces as if nothing is out of the ordinary, and simply walk to the side door exit.

By the time the movie starts, the theater is about half full. The movie is Carlito’s Way – which I am barely watching, because I’m too nervous about The Plan. Finally, Sadiq signals the time is right (it’s a night scene, giving off very little ambient light) and he goes first. He walks calmly down the aisle, reaches over the fabric barrier and grabs the hi-hat stand, pedal, and cymbal, and begins to walk toward the door. No problem. Then it’s my turn. I walk down and grab the roto toms and turn around. Just then the scene changes to a full daylight scene and the theater is filled with light, which is bouncing off the shiny drum heads as if they were mirrors. All heads swivel to me. After a moment’s pause, I calmly walk up the aisle as if I’m supposed to be doing this and meet Sadiq at the side door. Once we’re on the other side, we’re laughing and running toward the car with our stolen goods.

To Sadiq: Good luck in Israel. We’ll miss you.

10 comments:

An Angel in the Petri Dish said...

all good music comes from stealing. good luck in the holy land, sadiq!

Carlito said...

As a musician, I cannot condone stealing musical instruments. Especially during one of my best acted scenes in one of my best movies. David, if you ever need roto toms, I have a set in my garage you can borrow.

The Devil's Advocate said...

Hoo-ah!

Pete said...

I saw Star Wars there 30 years ago. Just the other day I was down at the Seafair offices on the next block, and stood for a moment, gazing at the weedy lot and the remaining deco tiles in the sidewalk where the movie theater used to be.

Where will I watch Star Wars now?

(cue Princess Leia's Theme)

leia's theme said...

I've got a video iPod and a popizon

Obi Wan Carlito said...

(sp) PAPASAN

Ignited Harpsichord said...

I preferred the sequel, Carlito's Late-night Wing-Ding.

leia's theme said...

on the internet, popizon is also a correct spelling (do a search). everything's spelled korectlee on theh internewgydyb5%%%%%%%

JohnA said...

Well, I actually worked at Pier 1 in high school (we stole a lot of cookies from the back room, but that was about it). WE spelled it "pappasan". In fact, the only reason I got that job was to buy one of those chairs at a discount. They're really stupid chairs, actually.

leia's theme said theme said...

Help me, Pappa San Carlito, you're my only hope...