When I launched Old Guy in June, 2017, the first comment posted was from “Young Guy,” who simply said, “Love this. Keep it coming.” Young Guy turned out to be my son, Matt. Obviously, I did keep it coming. Now I’m proud to be able to say the same to him.
As a young adult, I had two talents: tennis and writing, in that order. I began playing tennis regularly about the age of 20. I was better than I’d anticipated, and I became hooked on the sport. Most of my male friends were also tennis players.
I didn’t know I was a writer until I was in my mid-30s. After I had some articles published in St. Louis Magazine, I left education to pursue a writing career. But tennis still had seniority in my head.
Matt came along when I was 42. When I pictured him getting older, I saw him with a tennis racket in his hand. The only decision left for him to make was lefty or righty. And I just knew someday he’d whup me on the court. I looked forward to that day.
Meanwhile, in order to pay the bills I continued my mundane writing career: executive speeches, video scripts, AV shows, articles for corporate magazines. Yada yada yada. Writing wasn’t my most exciting talent; tennis was.
Matt’s 32 now, and his hand – right or left – has yet to hold a tennis racket. After years of therapy, I’ve finally faced the reality that he will never play tennis.
Luckily, Matt didn’t wait until middle age to launch his writing career. And writing definitely is an exciting part of his life. (Except for his marriage, it was the most exciting part until May 4 of this year, when his daughter was born. Maybe she’ll play tennis.)
Matt began writing and shooting videos in high school, culminating in a full-length feature film his junior year. He knew he was a writer when he was in high school. (When I was in high school, I didn’t know if I was anything, including going to graduate.) He attended the best film/writing school in the country (people debate that), and with three guys he met there, he’s a now a partner in Scheme Engine, a video production company based in New York. The company’s doing well.
Which brings me to the focal point of this Old Guy post: Buddy Guy. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) hired Scheme Engine to produce a 90-minute documentary about the legendary Chicago-based blues musician. Later this month, three days before Buddy’s 85th birthday, the documentary – “The Blues Chase the Blues Away” – will air nationally as part of the PBS American Masters series. (Tuesday, July 27, 9:00 pm CDT)
Of course, Carole and I knew about the documentary, and we knew Matt had been interviewed by PBS as co-director and editor. But when we received the Chicago PBS July program guide in the mail, we were surprised to see Buddy Guy on the cover. And when we opened to the cover story, we were even more surprised to see Matt Mitchener and a Scheme Engine colleague as the interview subjects.
But here’s my real surprise. As I read the interview, I heard this knowledgeable voice responding to questions about Buddy Guy, his life and career, the blues genre, and why Buddy epitomizes an American Master. I wasn’t hearing my son; I was hearing a documentary film maker respond to questions about his film that’s going to air nationally very soon.
We haven’t seen the film yet. It was part of the Tribeca Film Festival; we could have seen it online, but decided to wait and watch it on the TV screen.
I look forward to seeing the finished product on national TV. But seeing the film will not surpass the personal pride I already feel reading an interview of my son in a professional media journal, and being so impressed with his presence, his knowledge of the subject, and his precise responses.
When asked about the impact Buddy’s guitar style has had on American music, he responded, “…everyone’s favorite guitarist’s favorite guitarist is Buddy Guy.” I love that. Two possessives and two identical phrases in a row. He not only gets by with it, he nails it. That’s my boy.
Love this, Young Guy. Keep it coming. For me, it’s the equivalent of getting whupped on the tennis court.