Several years ago New Jersey musician Adam Bird, aka A Bird and formerly of Those Mockingbirds, created a Tumblr page called ‘The Last Time We Spoke.’ I thought it was an incredibly fantastic idea and a fascinating social experiment. The format was simple. Call everyone on your phone’s contact list and just find out how they are doing right at that moment. That’s it. Little did I realize how addictive his posts would be. I could not stop reading. I spent hours pouring over the calls and could not look away. It was the internet equivalent of binge watching a television series.
The experiment was short-lived however, going only 6 months in 2012. One day when Adam and I were having a drink I told him if he ever wanted to continue the experiment I thought it would make a compelling series on You Don’t Know Jersey. He agreed though we made no formal plans. A few months later and we discussed it further. Well that time has come. We decided to make it happen.
Starting next week Bird will pick up where he left off and start calling his contacts. He ended the original blog with “I”. He will begin with this series with “J”. First article shortly after.
Get ready…the experiment continues!
Below is a sampling from the original, now defunct, site.
The Last Time We Spoke: Adriana is one of those people who I always see thru a newly revealed mutual friend. After not seeing her for about a year or more, Adriana showed up at a friends house about 6 months ago, when she dropped her dog, Dracula, off to be dogsat for a few days. Dracula absolutely hates me for some reason and viciously barks at and bites me whenever he sees me, good thing he’s a terrier.
When I Called Today: Adriana answered and seemed utterly confused as to who I was, and/or why I was calling. I told her it was me and not to be alarmed, I was not calling to report some bad news (I hadn’t foreseen this, but now Im sure some people are going to think this). Once her brain put it all together, we caught up in a very roundabout way about her meditation practices and my recent touring with Those Mockingbirds. I asked how Dracula is, to find out that he is spending most of his time relaxing in upstate NY, though I failed to ask if he has made a new archenemy in my absence. Adriana had to grab a bite to eat, so the whole call lasted about 2 minutes.
The Verdict: Not gonna lie, this was a bit awkward, but this is what the experiment is about. I did expect a bit more of a warm reception, but I’m not taking it personally at all, its totally bizarre for me to have randomly called her and I need to remember that as I continue, because its going to get far more awkward than this one.
The Last Time We Spoke: Kaitlin has come out to see Those Mockingbirds a bunch of times, and supports us in the kind of way that gives a band confidence to kick more and more ass. The last time we spoke was at our record release show in Hoboken in January.
When I Called Today: My first ringback tone during this experiment! We talked about her seeing Janes Addiction a few years ago when they opened for Nine Inch Nails. Kaitlin mentioned that she saw my friends in the Venetia Fair last nite and had a great time. Then, we got onto the topic of roller derby. Kaitlin joined a team which she is very passionate about and tried to explain to me that roller derby is more than “chicks beating the shit out of each other on roller-skates”… i am not so convinced.
The Verdict: This was a fun and informative conversation with someone I don’t know very well personally. Glad to have had it.
The Last Time We Spoke: I don’t think I’ve spoken to Gary in about a year or so. We used to share a rehearsal space when Those Mockingbirds first started, and he collaborated with us on a promotional effort for our first EP. Though i’m now remembering we each wished each other a happy birthday this past year.
When I Called Today: Gary didn’t answer at first, which is common for him, so I texted him and he replied with “the last time you called I ended up with a sheet over my head”, I guess I should explain… Gary is one of the most famous internet memes ever, he is The Numa Numa Guy (link goes to his video). The guy has been in commercials, a Weezer video and a South Park episode, just to name a small few. When Those Mockingbirds put out our first EP, we had already been friends with Gary due to sharing the rehearsal space, and we came up with a plan together to promote the record, culminating in us kidnapping him. Now that the text is in context, Gary did eventually call me back and he said he didn’t answer cos he assumed I was drunk dialing him due to it being St Patrick’s day when I called, I assured him that no, I was simply driving from Texas to NJ, which might be worse. Gary is a big fan of Mega Man, so I told him that I had recently been browsing the Mega Man wiki page for no apparent reason, and it reminded me of him, to which he was pleased to hear. Gary then caught me up on his band, Nonetheless, who is recording right now, and I made him promise to invite me to the next show they play. I had to wrap up our call at this point because I was beginning to lose service somewhere between Waco and Dallas.
The Verdict: Gary is one of the quietest and shiest guys I know, which is pretty ironic because of how famous he became. I always think he doesn’t want to talk to me due to this, but whenever we do speak, I’m happily surprised to hear from him, and I remember all over again that its just the way he is.
The Last Time We Spoke: Last week, when we got together to work on a song together.
When I Called Today: I called Dave from the Poconos, and he mentioned that he loves the ocean similarly to the way I like relaxing in the woods. We mentioned how being in a calming place helps with songwriting, which led me to tell him that one of his songs, “Smile Annie” which he does with his band New London Fire, is one of my favorite songs of the last few years. Dave revealed to me that even though its a pop song, its got very heavy subject matter. I didn’t ask what, just in case it wasn’t my business, but I did mention that Those Mockingbirds song “Coast To Coast” similarly has some very personal lines. Dave asked if its about the radio program Coast To Coast AM, and I told him that I did in fact name it after the show. I also sent an email to the producers of the show, when we were getting ready to release the song, to ask if they’d be interested in playing a song on the air that was named for their show. They replied by asking me to send a CASSETTE OR CD for consideration… clearly no one there is under 50. Dave laughed at this story and said he had to go “kill himself now” and hung up the phone. I called back a minute later to make sure he was just kidding…he was, and hung up again by telling me he was going to go kill himself.
The Verdict: Dave is a very funny guy, i always enjoy talking to him a lot.
Left Voicemail, however, I owe this dentist money, so hopefully I mumbled my call back number…
The Last Time We Spoke: About 4 months ago.
When I Called Today: This person and I had a fantastic conversation which caught us up on the last few months of both of our lives. We grew up together but didn’t become friends until the last few years. He’s been living out west in a state I wont mention because it might give a clue as to who this is. After living there for a bit with his girlfriend, they decided to pack up and head back to NJ. In the weeks leading up to the move, he also decided that he wasn’t exactly happy anymore in this relationship. Moving day came and the two began the 20+ hour drive home to the Garden State. Just two hours into the drive, she began crying and said “i feel like this is the beginning of the end for us”. Because of his high level of respect for her as a person, he decided not to blow smoke up her ass and was honest that he wasn’t exactly feeling it anymore. The next 5 hours were silent. The couple-on-a-thread arrived some time later at a hotel to catch some sleep, but when they got to their room they couldn’t help but dive right back into a tear filled and emotional conversation which went on all nite. Finally, they fell asleep. The next morning he awoke alone in the hotel room, to a note that informed him that she had left for the local airport, to fly home, because her heart was too broken to sit alone with him in a car for the next 15 hours. He understood fully, and drove back to NJ in the rain.
The Verdict: I omitted my friends name at his request, for the privacy of his now ex-girlfriend. I felt that this story was just too intense not to share.
The Last Time We Spoke: I am proud to say I haven’t ordered from First Wok in many months!
When I Called Today: I ordered chicken lo mien and a white rice. It was fantastic. They finally gave me a respectable amount of duck sauce when I said “can I have a bunch of duck sauce?” cos you know how THAT usually goes.
The Last Time We Spoke: Approximately 4 months ago, we spoke for the first time in about a year. Just a quick catch up though. He moved to Chicago about a year ago, from CT. I know him via my bandmate, Tory.
When I Called Today: Mike and I talked about working in the music industry and things like that, and then chatted about one of the like… 3 mutual friends we share. This is all boring though right? Fear not, I have a remedy. Mike and I wrapped our convo up by him re-telling me a story his dad told me (and showed me, in fact) about a year and a half ago. Mike’s father was working on a record, producing, engineering or whatever, and he was told that Slash (yes, THE Slash) was going to come in to contribute a guitar solo to one of the tracks. Obviously he was thrilled to work with him. So Slash comes in and says hi and everything, and then gets to work… he plugs in and Mike’s dad hit record, and when the solo came, it sounded AWFUL. Missed notes, out of time, and just an overall mess. Mikes dad assumed Slash needed to warm up or something, so as he was about to tell him to do another take, Slash just walks into the control booth and says something along the lines of the fact that he thought it was a great take and that he was gonna leave. I had the pleasure of hearing the original take, next to the “cleaned up” one, and if that really was in fact Slash… whoa.
The Last Time We Spoke: The day commonly referred to as “Easter Sunday” 2012. Sam and her boyfriend, Eric, visited my family because they were in NJ from Maine. They moved to Maine a little over a year ago, after growing up here. Eric and I played in Perfuma together for 5 or 6 years, and I knew Sam for most of that time. After so many years, you transcend the “friends significant other” thing, and become friends on your own accord, as Sam and I have.
When I Called Today: Sam and I kicked our conversation off talking about the fact that she is on Day 2 of being unemployed, and she is already filled to the brim with wild ideas to spend her time with, mostly different blog concepts. I told Sam that she should get a job at a place like McDonald’s, or another company that most people would general consider themselves “above”. My argument was based in the fact that, with her strong education, she would rise to the top quickly, and while there would be that initial time where she wasn’t making much money, she would soon be climbing the ladder. Sam then told me that our mutual friend, Joe, actually did this in his teens, and became a McDonald’s manager within a year of hiring. I cant wait to talk to him about that… From here Sam and I got onto the topic of cats, and she told me how much of a bastard her cat, Avery, is. Apparently Avery is stealing earplugs, either for hoarding purposes or eating purposes. Sam thinks the cat’s insides are lined with foam now. At this point in the conversation is where I discovered Angry Birds Cheetos and became totally distracted, and derailed. Though, Sam is probably playing it right now.
The Last Time We Spoke: Angela is one of my best friends. We graduated from being “ex’s” a few years ago, and just became closer than ever, but platonic. I talk to her every 2 or 3 days at the least.
When I Called Today: Angela and I mostly spoke about Tom Gabel of Against Me! coming out at transgendered and how significant her announcement is. There have been a few cases of popular musicians proclaiming that they are transgendered, but no one has ever done it while a “current” artist, to my knowledge. Angela and I both expressed sadness at seeing people on our Facebook newsfeeds who otherwise display themselves as progressive thinkers, and believers in equal rights, calling this issue “weird” or saying “they don’t know how to feel about it”. First off all, this leads me to wonder why these people are supporting the other topics they claim to feel passionately about if not this one. Secondly, who the hell do you think you are to proclaim that YOU don’t support what TOM is doing with HER body? Its not your body!! Fucking people… Anyway, it was a long conversation as I’m sure you can guess.
The Verdict: I just want to give Angela credit where credit is due. She is very much the reason why this blog exists. She listened to my stupid idea and pushed me to actually document it as I am. Not only that, but she has contributed more to my eye-opening experiences on gender issues, race issues and sexuality issues than anyone else I have ever known. She has been an amazing teacher for me, and I have never told her this but I really think she could make a huge difference teaching others as she has me.
The Last Time We Spoke: About 9 months ago (or so) on a PATH Train coming from Manhattan into Hoboken. It was super late at nite, Lisa and I hadn’t spoken in months, but we saw each other and had a good chat the whole way home. I have absolutely no recollection of what it was about though.
When I Called Today: I was hesitant to make this call because I always had a sneaking suspicion that Lisa wasn’t very fond of me. Not really sure why I felt that way, but I did. Regardless, I called and Lisa answered the phone with an extremely warm welcome. I was surprised and asked “do you know who this it?”, in as polite of a manner as possible, and she did. From noticing posts on Facebook, I had gathered that Lisa was pursuing a career in law enforcement, so I asked her how that was going, and she told me that she is applying for jobs now. The only reason I have Lisa’s number however, is because I played drums for her band at a rehearsal one nite about a year and a half ago, so naturally, i checked up on that. Apparently they are just reforming now, and looking for a drummer again. Looking back to an entry from 2 months ago, I suggested she contact Dan DiLiberto, who is a fantastic drummer friend of mine who is looking for a project.
The Verdict: Lisa asked me to call again soon, which was a far cry from what I expected, so this was nice.
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Where’s YDKJ This Week? – August 19th–August 25th