Patrick was the third friend I made when I went to film school in Florida. We formulated a supergroup in our lighting class, consisting of him, myself, Kevin, Tyler, Will, and the occasional Drew. This was where the infamous Kevin Klap was born. We built him up to be the Chuck Norris of our group, although Kevin hated it, which made it that much more necessary to continue. We would clap whenever his name was called in roll, and soon it escalated into entire classrooms doing standing ovations and confetti being thrown. Do something often enough, and people will participate. Patrick had even been inspired to write a semi-rap song about Kevin, which we subsequently made a music video for. Being in film school and all made it a given. Patrick loved comedies, but he loved music much, much more.
This led to an excruciating period of time that I call the Rock Band era. Yes, we too succumbed to the Rock Band fad. Well, it was mostly Patrick, Tyler, Kevin and Drew. I just watched. That may have been fine with some people, but I grew up simply watching my friends play in their garages and attics, so these particular months constantly spent doing hours of Rock Band sessions seemed like a watered down recap of a time once lived. I endured, however, because I knew it had to end at some point, and I also enjoyed the conversations had between sets. When the plastic instruments began to turn stale in everyone’s hands and they put the game down for good, Patrick still had that itch. Tyler did too, but I’ll get to him another time. Patrick wanted something more than playing electric prerecordings of hits once had. He wanted to make something. Thus the Variety Picnic was born. This faux band consisted only of Patrick, until we found out that our friend Scott could play guitar, and play it like a mad metal man at that. Patrick quickly enlisted these wild guitar solos into his music, and in less than a year Variety Picnic had an album release party at a small cafe that consisted almost entirely of just friends. Carlos, Shane, Jordan among many others were there to celebrate. It was a great night had by all and I still have those Sweet Jams sitting around somewhere.
Patrick was the only one I’d ever met who could rival Alex in music knowledge. While Alex remained supreme, Patrick was constantly on his heels, and I’ve only heard stories about his father’s record collection. My 2000 Plymouth Neon had yet to be destroyed, however my only choices were Floridian spanish radio or an empty cassette slot. Patrick must have overheard my frustrations one day and took them as a cry for help. I have no idea how long he worked on it, but one day in class Patrick approached me, tape in hand. “What’s this?” I asked.
“Just put it in and listen to it.” Later that night I felt the need that comes from being raised in a small town; the need to cruise. I decided then to see what Patrick’s cassette entailed. Intro music blew through the speakers followed by Patrick’s voice: “You’re listening to WEAL, the only station with all the hits!” Immediately I smiled that tooth-filled smile that not many would see until after my breakup, as That Don’t Impress Me Much by Shania Twain blasted the speakers. WEAL was eclecticism at its finest. Electric Light Orchestra, Metallica (“Phoned in” by Kevin, listener request) and Bruce Springsteen blasted through my speakers. I could cry at the effort that was put into giving me my own fake radio station to listen to. What a treat! It made for a sad day when a man had a seizure and drove through the bank parking lot while I was waiting in line at the ATM and T-boned my car, most likely destroying the tape with it. To this day when the radio comes on and I hear those words, “You’re listening to…” I cross my fingers and hope they’ll say “WEAL” and I’ll have been transported to an alternate universe where DJ Patrick is the only one who gets me.
I can see it all now. Me riding shotgun in the near future in the middle of the night, driving down a highway listening to the local radio station as I pass through some backwoods town. The DJ comes on with that soothing voice gifted to the select few, “You’re listening to…” and a drunk driver neglects to stop for the highway, bashing against the passenger side as my head slams through the glass, shards pierce my skull like bullets, and when the car stops completely my eyes are open, and I’m in a loop of that brief moment in time where I had no choice but to remember Patrick and his WEAL station made just for me. I’ll die with the radio on.