I wrote “Calamity Song” shortly after I’d finished reading David Foster Wallace’s epic Infinite Jest. The book didn’t so much inspire the song itself, but Wallace’s irreverent and brilliant humor definitely wound its way into the thing. And I had this funny idea that a good video for the song would be a re-creation of the Enfield Tennis Academy’s round of Eschaton — basically, a global thermonuclear crisis re-created on a tennis court — that’s played about a third of the way into the book. Thankfully, after having a good many people balk at the idea, I found a kindred spirit in Michael Schur, a man with an even greater enthusiasm for Wallace’s work than my own. With much adoration and respect to this seminal, genius book, this is what we’ve come up with. I can only hope DFW would be proud.
Michael Schur, co-creator of Parks and Recreation, former writer for SNL and The Office, has this to say:
The band’s manager, Jason, contacted me through his brother Michael (with whom I went to college) and asked me to direct a video they were planning that referenced a section of the book Infinite Jest. The Decemberists are my favorite band, and Infinite Jest is my favorite book. This was tantamount to telling me I had just won two simultaneous Powerball lottery jackpots, on my birthday, which was also Christmas. Thus, my response to him was that, although I was pretty sure this was an elaborate dream I was having, if it were in fact real, then yes, I would be interested. The production team on Parks and Recreation, many of whom are also big fans, volunteered their time and energy, and we shot the whole thing in one day in Portland. Infinite Jest geeks will hopefully enjoy all of the specific references and small details, but we tried to design it so that those with no knowledge of the book at all would be able to understand and enjoy it, as well.
The King Is Dead stays winning.