Barry Smith: Happy valley loses yet another friend
November 25, 2002
Here’s a little secret: I’m writing this column almost exclusively for my best friend Arman, who is, at this very moment, towing a little U-Haul full of his belongings to his new home in California. The plan is to clip this out of the paper and mail it to him, since I was too cheap to actually buy him a going-away gift.
The voyeuristic reader should get a kick out if it ? the rest of you may just want to scan down for sex and drug references.
Maybe it’s the unavoidable byproduct of living in such a transient place, or maybe it’s because I’ve lived in this valley longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere. Whatever the cause, once again my best friend is moving away, and I’m feelin’ it.
It’s a strange mixture of sadness and gratitude. I’m not sad to the point of devastation. Sure he’s my best friend, but he’s just moving to Northern California. It’s not like he’s dead, or, worse, moving to SOUTHERN California. And the gratitude comes from the fact that I got to hang out with such a cool guy for a few years.
Actually, Arman and I didn’t “hang out” all that much. Mostly we worked. Even when we did do some hanging out, we were usually talking about work.
When I say “work,” I certainly don’t mean in the traditional sense. First of all, it was really fun. Also, we never actually got paid for this “work,” which could be considered a big, nontraditional drawback.
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I first met Arman about five years ago at an outdoor movie party at my house. My friend Kevin (since moved away) and I were premiering our first-ever video short, “Jam Session,” a project which explored the fine line between tedium and comedy. After the showing Arman introduced himself and said, “If you guys ever do another video, I can do audio post.”
“Oh, yeah?” I responded, hoping it wasn’t obvious that I had no idea what “audio post” was, as it was clear from the matter-of-fact way he said it that I SHOULD know. “Cool.”
He was there that night as the guest of a mutual friend, Lee. Arman was planning on doing an eclectic radio show on KAJX, and Lee was gathering people to be a part of it.
A few weeks later I went to Arman’s studio for the first recording session of this radio show, “Flicker Noise.” It was a gathering of creative people, all looking to add something to the mix. We took our turns at the mic and Arman pasted it all together into something surprisingly coherent. After a few months of these sessions, Flicker Noise got controversial. We got kicked off the air, we moved to KDNK, we got back on KAJX, we made front-page headlines, we got interviewed, we got air time ? it was fun. And all the while Arman was at the helm, skillfully patching together this range of talent into a really cool hour of radio.
Flicker Noise gradually morphed into a comedy “troupe.” We even released a sketch comedy CD, “The Astounding World of Dirt.” There are still a few (hundred) copies left, if you’re interested. I know this for a fact, as I carried those boxes myself while helping Arman pack. Nothing is heavier than unsold CDs.
But success proved too much for Arman, and his career took a dark turn. Seduced by fame and power, Arman’s existence became a self-destructive blur of sex, drugs, violence, circus freaks, taco parties … no, only kidding. I just thought a little “Behind The Music” feel would help hold your attention. There was the occasional taco party, but ? except for the extremely lactose intolerant ? it would be a stretch to describe them as self-destructive.
Gradually Arman and I got into making comedy videos, which we’ve been doing ? with lots of help from our friends ? right up until about last week.
So, our “work” was to get together and do cool, fun, creative projects for the sheer joy of doing cool, fun, creative projects. His focus and passion constantly inspired me, and I am truly honored to have sat next to him for hours on end, pointing at his computer screen and saying, “Doink.”
(Whew ? made it through the whole column with only one inside joke.)
So, we’ll miss you, Arman. Thanks for being here for a while and making us laugh.
Oh, dammit … I kept forgetting to ask you: What exactly is “audio post?”
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