This Summary Of David Pelicane's Essay "My Eleven Minutes Of Fame On The Open Mike" Chronicles This Writer's Attempt To Fulfill His Quaint Dream Of Performing In Front Of An Audience

825 words - 4 pages

David Pellicane, the writer of the essay "My Eleven Minutes of Fame on the Open Mike," worked as a high school English teacher at an American-style school in Damascus, Syria. For most of his life, he had also been an amateur musician in his free time - amateur in every sense of the word. He couldn't play guitar exceptionally well, he had only written a few original songs, and his audience had only ever consisted of college friends, his students, or his wife. Nevertheless, he had always possessed a desire to share his talents with others, to claim his "fifteen minutes of fame," as Andy Warhol put it.David's opportunity came in the form of a small coffee shop in Vermont - The Radio Bean. His friend hosted an open mike night at this quirky, provincial establishment. In this eccentric little coffee shop he found a chance to express himself. He went into the shop with preconceived notions about the performers he'd meet there - he expected them to be members of an "amateur freak show." He supposed the place would be full of strange, mediocre performers - pompous poets who took themselves too seriously, hippies singing about forgotten governmental grievances, and old men playing rusty tunes on instruments that belonged in museums. These modest visions are what gave David the courage to perform; he might possibly look good in front of the backdrop of his supposed "freaks." At least, he envisioned, they wouldn't make him look bad.Once he arrived at The Radio Bean on the night of his debut, though, he realized that his foresight had been incorrect. What he found as he walked through the doors was not a congregation of freaks, but a gathering of talented artists. His emcee friend, Rob, opened the night up with a few well played Tom Petty covers, and was followed by other gifted people - a singer with a "beautiful voice, like one of the Indigo Girls," a poetry slam winner with a "clear and mellifluous" voice, and a handful of excellent guitar players. There were a couple mediocre acts: an arrogant poet who wished he had brought a guitar and a somewhat lame standup comic (although Pellicane gave the comic credit for preparing fifteen minutes of material - that was an accomplishment in itself.) Still, the collection of talent that filled the room had David doubting his decision to perform.David's confidence was dwindling after watching these talented individuals play, but he still had enough poise to get up on stage when it was his turn. He kept on telling himself that, although he wasn't especially talented in the musical department, the strength of the lyrics in the songs he chose would carry his act. He walked up to the corner where the musicians performed (The Radio Bean was too small to house a stage) and took a seat in front of the microphone. David started playing a guitar that he wasn't used to, as his had been left at home in Damascus. His "Sicilian fingers" were rather clumsy on the strings, and the chords he played seemed out of tune. He asked for assistance from his friend Rob, who was playing backup for him, and was embarrassed to realize that he had been pressing the wrong frets. David wasn't off to a good start. The first song he played, Bob Dylan's "115th Dream," was mildly disastrous. He made a blood blister on his hand (he was used to strumming with a pick), and he played too fast out of anxiety, missing chords and strings. However, he was determined not to give up; he had to fill his fifteen minutes. So he played his next song, a Johnny Cash cover, which went a bit smoother, although he was disappointed that the audience didn't pick up on the ironic lyrics. Then, he closed out with an original: "I Am Not Retarded, I'm ADD and Broken-Hearted." The audience thankfully picked up on the humor of it, as it was less subtle than that of the Cash song.David got into the music once the audience laughed at his jokes, and finally found his musical niche. Although he only took up eleven of his fifteen minutes, he had "sung one of his own songs to a real audience in a town that had a music scene." While his turn on the open mike wasn't quite what he had expected, David had finally performed in front of spectators, and could now cross that off of his life's list of things to do.


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