Endless videotaping quest – “Stay vertical and don’t get shredded”

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Recently saw a film, 1000 Times Good Night, set mostly in Ireland (though it was technically a Norwegian film), and U2’s drummer Larry Mullen, Jr played a bit part.

Check this out – a little clip of the movie but also Mullen on a Norwegian talk show. Is this NOT the dorkiest thing you’ve ever seen? The film was good, if a bit preachy, and showcased the boundless talent of Juliette Binoche (and featured Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Orphan Black’s Maria Doyle Kennedy). Mullen was an unexpected bonus. It’s not his first acting gig, but it’s the first one I had seen.

His surprise appearance triggered intense memories of youth and the perils of waiting for desired – and rare – content to appear on TV and attempting to videotape it before it was too late. It’s funny how these long hit-or-miss quests to capture videos ruled my sleepless nights, drove so much of my activity, caused me to invest so much in VHS technology. Never in my wildest dreams back then would I have dreamt that I could go to a computer, type something into a search engine and immediately find exactly the video I eagerly and desperately sought, along with hundreds of other similar videos. Oh, technology, how you have changed us.

This sense was triggered again when I saw footage of a recent U2 concert in which they played “Two Hearts Beat As One” – something they had not played live, according to them, in a quarter of a century. I have recently gone back to early U2 – the Boy and October albums in particular (“Two Hearts” comes from the third album, War). I recall the tension of spending long nights awake wanting to see and record specific U2 videos – but MTV rarely played the really old ones, so it was middle-of-the-night waiting, watching NightTracks on TBS (I shudder to think about what TV used to be like, when we received “SuperStation WTBS” broadcasts among one of very few non-cable channels available), where I was as likely to see the infrequently played “Two Hearts” as I was to see Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love” (and even then I asked, “Why would anyone choose to listen to this?”… “How’d you get your pants so tight?”). I was always the one among my friends who was allowed to stay awake to all hours of the night so tried to see and record all the things my friends and I wanted to see.

One of the strangest things that I remember seeing, which I only saw three times in my entire life is a Yamaha PSA about motorcycle safety… starring Larry Mullen, Jr., on whom my best friend had the biggest crush.

I saw it once and waited literally for months to see it again with the sincere intent of recording it for her so she could see it too. I succeeded. She swooned upon hearing his voice. We shared the delusion that we would move to Ireland after high school. We had planned a kind of graduation “Ireland or bust” trip, but by the time we graduated, we were not close. She did go to Ireland, and I didn’t. She returned claiming to be disappointed by so-called mountains that amounted to little more than hills. I did not set foot in Ireland myself until many years later during the Celtic Tiger years – and my own “job interview tourism” period. I was equally disappointed – it was definitely no place I could, by that time, imagine living. Back in the late 80s, though, as foolish teenage girls, hearing an Irish accent made us weak in the knees (to the point that we would phone Aer Lingus to inquire about potential trips to Dublin, or go annually to St Patrick’s Day Irish festivals just to hear the accent), which cracks me up now. I look back at old U2 interviews and shake my head, thinking, “Drunk, high idiots!” But god forbid someone trying to tell me that back then. Haha.

And now, U2 is still out there playing (it had been my biggest dream back then to see them live, but I still haven’t!)… and who knows where my VHS tapes with Mullen and his motorbike-riding safety videos are… or where I might source a machine to play it even if the tapes could be found?