My Good Friend Neil

Feb 5, 2024

Life has a mysterious way of matching people up. I was in Jones Beach on Long Island, sitting on the beach with friends.  It was 1969.  A guy comes along with his crowd and says, “Where should we sit?’  I looked up and said, “Sit here.” This guy’s name was Jeff.  He was a happy-go-lucky guy with a great sense of humor.  We spent most of the afternoon laughing.  One thing led to another and we realized we lived near each other in Queens.  From there I met his friend, Neil … also a very funny guy.  I dunno.  Maybe it was the mood or the pot or whatever.  But, we soon became fast friends.  Neil was a filmmaker.  Just a hobby.  He was making a film and asked me if I wanted to be in it.   I said, what do I have to do? He said, it’s just a party scene.  Look like you’re having fun.  Gee, that was tough.  I said, “sure”.  Neil finished editing the film and said to me, “how would you like to help me with the sound?  I said, I don’t know anything about sound for film.  He said, you work for a radio station.  I’m sure you know more than I do about sound.  I liked that about Neil.  He was direct and confident and also, happy-go-lucky.

But first, let’s have some bar-be-qued chicken.  I said, Neil, I’m not much of a chicken fan.  He said, Oh, you’ll like my chicken!  I repeated .. I’m not much of a chicken fan.  He insisted.  He cooked it.  Blackened .. before blackened was a cooking style.  We ate it.  He said, So, how was it?  I said, It tasted like chicken.  We both laughed

Back to the film … Neil edited the film .. it was a story about a girl who was caught in a bad cycle.  She wanted friends.  She wanted love.  She turned to food.  There wasn’t any dialogue.  Her fail attempts at reaching people coupled with her angst told the story.  My job was to find music that enhanced the mood.

Neil handed me a print of the film and his 16 MM film projector.  I lived in an artist’s loft above a movie theater a few blocks from the beach where I grew up.  The loft was pretty large with a staircase that went up one flight to the corner of the room (the ceiling was probably 18 feet tall).  I set up the projector next to my bed and projected the film all the way across the loft to the far wall.  And, I had a turntable with an amplifier to play records while the film played.  I had a stack of LPs.  I tried one, another, a third, a fourth, a fifth record.  Nothing seemed to fit the film.  And, then I played, Inagodadavida by Iron Butterfly.  Oh, my.  From the first frame of the film and the first note of the record it all fit like a glove.I think they call this kind of thing, serendipity. We had a marriage.

This was the start of my film career.