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Backstory: Strongest Fanboy Impulses

By: Paul Heintz, Seven Days

It's a good thing I mostly cover hard news. Unlike Seven Days' valiant arts and culture writers, I rarely find myself interviewing celebrities or artists whom I particularly admire.

When the bosses do let me cover the occasional story outside my beat, I tend to blow it. Take, for example, when I encountered Phish drummer Jon Fishman — one of my favorite musicians — testifying at the Vermont Statehouse in April 2015. Suffice it to say that, while interviewing him, I nearly pissed my pants.

"I'm wondering why you're such an awesome drummer," I actually asked.

That episode nearly repeated itself in June, when an old pal approached me with a wild story. Nick Charyk, whom I'd gotten to know in his days as a political operative, called to tell me that his band, the Western Terrestrials, had collaborated on a new song with another of my favorite musicians, Old Crow Medicine Show bandleader Ketch Secor. If I wrote about it, Charyk suggested, I might get to interview Secor.

Didn't take long for me to say yes.

When I connected with Secor over the phone a couple weeks later, I held my fanboy impulses in check — at least, for a time. Only toward the end of the call did the gushing commence. I didn't quite say, "Dude, man, I really love your music." But it was close.

Speaking of unprofessional, a good reporter never accepts anything of value from a source. But, come September, I heard from Charyk again — and this time he was offering me a cameo in a film adaptation of the Secor collaboration, called The Ballad of Ethan Alien.

Once again, I said yes.

Charyk told me I'd be playing a television news reporter — OK, a bit of a stretch for this scruffy scribe — and promised to get me my lines ahead of time. He didn't. And when I showed up at the set at Middlesex's Camp Meade, I learned that I'd be improvising. Not exactly my strong suit.

What followed was an excruciating period of line-flubbing, bad acting and general awkwardness. I was amazed Charyk's crew didn't fire me on the spot.

Like I said, a good reporter never accepts anything of value from a source. But when Charyk handed me a tall boy of Upper Pass Beer's Fred Red Ale to compensate me for my time, it again didn't take long for me to say yes.

Paul Heintz is a staff writer for Seven Days. He previously served as political editor and wrote the "Fair Game" political column.

Original Story, here.

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