Exposing yourself to drug dealers: For broadcast? - Israel Story Exposing yourself to drug dealers: For broadcast? - Israel Story

Exposing yourself to drug dealers: For broadcast?

Zev Levi

For a story about a smartphone app that matches marijuana dealers with potential customers (“Striking Green”), I recorded myself downloading and using the app – Telegrass. My first draft of the story involved most of the “good tape” I had collected; tape that ‘put the listener in the room,’ tape that captured emotions, tape that set the scene, tape that caught unexpected or interesting moments, tape free of microphone-bump sounds, tape that covered essential plot-points, and so on.

There was one scene that made for great radio, or so I thought. Three drug dealers had pulled up in a dingy old car. Laughing at my inexperience and Hebrew mistakes, they told me to get in the back seat. I did. We drove around and talked business. They drove me back…

Mishy Harman (narration): Before exiting the car, Zev looked down and realized that his ridicule wasn’t done for the night. As he prepared to heave himself out of the drug dealers’ tiny car, he realized that he shouldn’t have ignored the troubling sound he heard when first getting into the back seat. His black shabbat pants had ripped. And the entire time he had been in the company of these underworld footmen, he was more exposed than he knew.

Hodaya Green: [laughing]

Zev Levi: It’s so good that I’m wearing black underwear.  

Hodaya Green: Did they realize?

Zev Levi: I’m pretty sure they realized when they turned to me and looked at me, as I got out of the car, and they could see my crotch.

Unexpected or rare interactions make for interesting radio. How many people have had a romantic-comedy-style first encounter with their drug dealer?! I thought this scene was a shoo-in.

But in review, the editor said this scene didn’t play well. To a listener, it wasn’t interesting. Or engaging. It sounded self-indulgent. Like someone at a party telling a story they think people love but no-one really cares for.

The question I faced was whether to push back against the editor or not. Maybe the editor held a minority opinion, and the draft was fine. Maybe the draft didn’t set the scene well enough, so the insert didn’t seem engaging. (A rewrite would fix this, and save the scene.)

I decided not to fight for the scene because the editor was more convinced that it didn’t work than I was convinced that it did.

The scene didn’t make it into the next draft. It’s as if it never happened. Publishing the story of that night, without reference to that part of it, can feel like a bit of a waste. At my most vulnerable point, I was literally exposed…

But that’s why we have editors. That’s why we work in teams. If I wrote that story now, I’d still include that scene in my first draft. But I still wouldn’t fight for it. I’m not telling stories for myself. I’m making it for listeners. And it turns out my underwear isn’t as interesting as I think it is.


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