by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
I could have sworn I wrote a blog post or a Newsgroup post or a story or something about the first time I met Chris McGinty but for the life of me I can’t find it. I will then commit to this blog that story and just so I don’t kick myself next week when I come across it on while looking through my 28 gigs of personal data I will make sure this telling is really complete (as I can remember) and worth having re-written.
The year is… oh wait. If I am going to do this right better do it all the way… jump in…
The year is 1998. I moved back into Fort Worth from Joshua to The Hills apartments off Normadale in Far West Fort Worth. I got Charter cable which came with the Fort Worth Public Access channel (channel 46). I had already been interested in public access thanks to my brother who years earlier had told me about a crazy guy on TV who had a sock puppet on his hand and was doing some crazy stuff. This guy was on TV! This piqued my interest but I was already interested in this sort of home-grown entertainment.
Let’s jump even further back to my… I don’t exactly know… I guess my childhood. In the early 90’s my family had bought a camcorder (this is when camcorders were starting to be just one unit, not the big camera-VCR on a strap combo). My brother Matt and I made some videos with various family and friends. I tried all sorts of craziness and still have some (if not all) of that on VHS somewhere. I also did ‘audio shows’ with my friend Eric. We would take a tape and sit in his room and ad lib everything from commercials to unknown episodes of Star Trek (and I mean ADLIBBED). It was all silly stuff but it was really fun. I still have that stuff too. We recorded them on those crappy Centron brand tapes so the quality degraded a lot. I did eventually convert them into MP3s but I won’t let anyone listen to them because they are so hideous. I liked doing all this creative stuff and it has stuck with me all these years.
Back to my brother telling me about a channel on Fort Worth television that broadcasts shows that you yourself can put out there! It was amazing! The first chance I got after moving to the city was to get public access and watch…
I kid you not, the public access channel was 98% religious programming. Mostly black churches broadcasting their services as well as religious talk shows and other home-grown stuff. I applaud their efforts but rarely did I sit around and watch the shows. You will find a lot of jokes about the amount of religious programming on public access in our shows and sketches, like this jewel!
Then one day I tuned in and saw a couple of guys goofing off on public access. They didn’t just turn the camera on and ham it up. This was an edited show with a plot line (somewhat) for each segment. They actually wrote and preformed sketches. This was great. This was what I was looking for! When the episode ended some very blocky credits came on the screen with their names, emails, and a website. I wrote it all down and got online and emailed the mastermind behind it all Miguel Cruz.
I might still have those first few emails in my archives. I will have to go look sometime. I basically said I saw the show and could I help. I didn’t know at the time that Miguel and Chris had basically shot everything they would ever shoot together as a team on their show: Sniffles. I got to talking to Miguel and he promptly asked me to call Chris’ publicly advertised (on the show) phone line and say some things to him on Miguel’s behalf. Before I get into that, Chris’ phone line was basically a creative project where he would record a LONG message on an answering machine and people could call in an listen to it. I think they were VERY short stories, tales, opinions, etc. Chris can clarify that for me. It was called the Pubic Domain.
Miguel and Chris had a big fight and basically broke up (the inspiration for Season 2 of our show). Miguel wanted me to call and leave this message for Chris basically saying that they should still be friends and hang out. I did and mended that bridge of friendship. Awwwww.
Miguel came over to my apartment on a few occations and we would hang out and talk. He hadn’t been doing the show for a while but was keen to have me help out and do some sketches. I think during this time he and Chris did mend fences and began talking again. They also began recording an audio talk show on cassette called… you guessed it: According To Whim. IF you want to learn a bit about the audio show read this blog post I did in February or you can go listen to some of the shows here! By the time I joined in on the audio show they had already done several but I tried my best to fit in.
Back up a bit. So it was early 1999 and I found a new place to live six months after having rented that apartment on Normadale. I found this converted garage/guest house on Collinwood, further East off Camp Bowie. This was a great place and I wish I could have afforded to continue living there.
ANYWAY on February 22nd 1999 Miguel came over and brought Chris McGinty. Chris being the consummate showman was outrageous and every bit the character he played on television. I think I might have had a few doubts about him in those first few hours. Chris brought his tape recorder and continued recording the evening for the audio show. I remember we made some prank calls to Video Bob (I’ll let Chris tell you about him) and possibly to Fake Richardson (I leave that to Chris too). The show was mayhem and went on deep into the night.
About about 1AM we headed out to Wataburger on Highway 80 to get something to eat. Back then I was a security guard so staying up that late was no big deal. Now a days my bedtime is 11PM (7PM if you listen to Chris) and such an outing would have been double the nightmare. So we get to this Wataburger and order. We are still doing the audio show and there are about five people in the place (apart from the staff). Chris sees his big opportunity to make a scene so he makes this lame joke about a Wataburger fish sandwich which ends in him screaming at the TOP of his lungs in the middle of the restaurant ‘WHALE!’
That night was my first experience with Chris McGinty. After that night Chris toned it down a bit (I guess it was a test to see if I would bolt). Apparently I didn’t run away in embarrassment since Chris has become my best friend and creative partner. I would love to have said that equally about Miguel but his creative flame has died down quite a bit. He still hangs around but is not as involved as Chris and I.
We both went on to create a public access television show of our own called According To Whim (you might already know that).