Afterwards, he told me he'd mentioned our little documentary to the show's producers, with whom he later connected me via email. Friday night after work, then, found me thirty-six stories above Sixth Avenue, alone in Sirius' massive, space-aged lobby. My interview on Father Dave's Busted Halo Show was scheduled for 8:20. Sure enough, Executive Producer Robyn Gould appeared before me with a huge, rock 'n roll smile just seconds prior. And just an instant after shaking hands with Father Dave and producers Brett and Brian, I was on air.
Now, you may be wondering, why the Catholic Channel when I'm lapsed, and Mister Rogers when he was Presbyterian? And why now, when the film's not even done?
I look at it this way. It's not about the film, it's about the assignment. Mister Rogers told me to spread the [deep and simple] message," so I'm going to seize on any opportunity to do so; it's only going to broaden that message's reach.
Moreover, specific tenants of Christianity never really seemed to be the point. True, Mister Rogers was an ordained minister who treated the space between himself and his audience as sacred, but his values (articulated so well by Bo Lozoff) were core to the world's religions: take time to reflect, be wary of materialism.
So there I was, rambling about my day job (came to learn that Father Dave used to work for my supervisor), my music (specifically, how Mister Rogers gave me the courage to be myself), and the film. Father Dave was quick and hip and funny, and connected it all with a through line of "cool," identifying and inquiring about my "PBS mind in an MTV world." I was self-deprecating (perhaps too much so), characterizing myself as "the least cool guy in most rooms" (which may actually be true. And while the conversation stayed mostly philosophical, Father Dave gently brought it home in the end.
He played a clip from Mister Rogers' last episode in which he says,
I'm just so proud of those of you who've grown up with us, and I know how tough it is some days to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead. But I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were younger: I love you just the way you are. And what's more, I'm so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you'll do everything you can to keep them safe, and express their feelings in ways that will bring heeling in many different neighborhoods.
Afterwards, Father Dave said, "And that's it, right? God loves us just the way we are, whether we're cool or uncool." And as he wrapped up the interview, he asked when the film was going to reach theaters.
I rambled a bit and finally said, "Sometime next year," then added -- knocking on wood as an afterthought -- "God willing."
To which Father Dave replied, "Looks by what you've accomplished thus far, God is willing."
I spilled out onto the chilly city with a smile, and strode west. The streets were streaked with rain, reflecting the neon lights as if everything were run through with brightly-lit, high voltage. I dialed up Coldplay's "Life In Technicolor" on my iPod, and walked on absolutely gobsmacked that everything is in its right place.