David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 302: Katy Perry (Firework)

November 20, 2023

If I had died on July 1, 2017, as apparently some part of me was trying to do, I might have ended up being remembered as going out as a Firework. This wouldn't have meant that I went out with a bang (I would be more of a whimper guy, I am sure), but that the last musical association with me would have been Katy Perry's "Firework." That would have been a cruel irony (I would have been much happier, albeit still dead, if it had been Blue Oyster Cult's "Fireworks"), as I don't think I had even heard the song prior to early June 2017, and certainly wouldn't have wanted my legacy somehow tied to camp pop.

Allow me to explain. In the days before my cardiac arrest, I had participated in an SMC faculty member's Art Appreciation class's project, a lip-dubbing (us old guys would have called it "lip-synching") to Perry's poppy "Firework," students and staff dancing around our campus. Even though I was being asked to get into my racquetball outfit and to lip-synch to a song I didn't even know until mid-June, I was game as the project was part of the class's unit on "art as performance." I knew enough about performance as I do about art, so how could that possibly go wrong?

So I started to bone up on Perry (hmm, note to self, edit that phrase prior to posting) and "Firework." I had heard of Perry (I wasn't completely living in a cave) from her 2013 hit "Roar." My first shock with "Firework" was that it was older than "Roar," already seven years old, having been released in 2010. If I wasn't living in a cave, I certainly had wrapped myself into a pop music cocoon. I quickly realized that the song was pretty addicting. Perry's voice explodes like her mythical fireworks, and while I generally eschew pop lyrics that take us into the world of self-empowerment, I could understand the power of lines like "you don't have to feel like a waste of space/you're original, can't be replaced" to teenagers, let alone why those lines might resonate especially with college students in an Art Appreciation class.  That and the "oh, oh, oh" certainly could lead to some immovable earworms among the younger generation.

On the other hand, I could live without the "boom boom boom/brighter than the moon moon moon" line, and generally the song seemed derivative of "Roar" (or, I  suppose, the other way around). Who was I to judge at this point? An old hippie/punk can't have everything in 21st century pop music.

So, on June 21, 2017 (I have had to look at some old emails to retrace this timeline), I got into my racquetball clothing, threw on my safety goggles (remember, always safety first, kids), grabbed my racquet, and fully embarrassed myself for about a minute.

SMC "Firework"

That's me at the front of the camera in the opening shot, as well as the uncomfortably older guy with his back to the camera in the rock wall glow light segment. However, my crowning moment occurs between the 1:00 mark to the 1:20 mark in the final video. You’ve got to admit the dude's got some ball skills. Of course that full-court basket really happened. 

We needed one take (or maybe one take was all that was going to happen) and I left thinking life would go on. I might have been a little naive, as 10 days later, within hours of the final product being sent to me, I had my heart attack, and if not for the power of miracle, teenager CPR training, and amazing emergency and health care professionals, the lasting image of me would have been that green SMC t-shirt, that bad lip-synching, and that amazing full-court shot. All would have been so not me.

Luckily, I did survive, long enough to remember I had done the video, long enough to see Katy Perry hook up with Orlando Bloom (as a former Dungeons & Dragoner, if I had to choose an association for my final days on earth, it might have more likely been as Legolas' dwarf companion, not as a pop singer's firework), long enough to see that basketball court overhauled into a fantastic venue for our resurrected basketball and volleyball programs, which meant long enough to see my beloved racquetball courts sacrificed for locker rooms.

Oh well, not everything was better when I came back to life.

Perry, Katy. "Firework." Teenage Dream. Capitol Records, 2010. Link here.

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Day 303: Hall & Oates "I Can't Go For That"

See complete list here.