What do you think you're doing, holding up the building?"
-- A police officer in “A Night in Casablanca" reprimanding Harpo Marx a few seconds before the silent Marx brother stops leaning against a building and walks away. The building then collapses.
I was leaning against the side of Main Street’s Kearns building and shooting a standup.* An acoustic guitar in my hands and one leg bent beneath me, I was attempting to strike a troubadour-like stance and lip-sync to a preproduced musical soundtrack.
A security guard approached and ordered me to stop leaning against the building. Panhandling, or busking, he said was not allowed.
I explained that I was actually shooting a segment for the news but not even the presence of photographer Mike Sadowski or his video camera a few feet away dissuaded him. Neither did the fact that I wasn't really singing and couldn't play guitar to save my life.
The truth was I was singing (I use that term loosely) a news story (I use that term loosely, too) about Ken Saxton, a barefoot long-distance runner from California. The Forest Gump look-alike was in town to run the Deseret News Marathon.
The Ballad of the Barefoot Runner
He says he doesn't mind the sticks and stones
and doesn't mind the heat
and running without padding
is really better for the feet.
Ken was pretty passionate about the subject and felt we would all be much better off if we removed our shoes more often. For whatever reason, it seemed like the right thing to write a song about Ken Saxton and talk my way through it.
He's a barefoot crusader
with anti-sneaker views.
He's a rebel...without a pair of shoes
The security guard didn’t appear to be in the mood to hear any of this.
No, I was not a pedestrian-harassing musical panhandler. I was a tone-deaf, guitar-faking television feature reporter.
And they’re even worse.
*Standup: The obligatory 15 seconds of videotape, edited within the body of a TV news story, of a reporter attempting to say something intelligent.