Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gimme that Fish

OK, evil may be a little harsh to direct at him personally, so let's call his work wicked, his creativity nefarious and his musical ability to worm into your brain downright sinister:

"Gimme back that filet-o-fish,

Gimme that fish.

Gimme back that filet-o-fish,

Gimme that fish."

That is Josh Peck, and his 26-second earworm has moved across the country like a fast-spreading virus, taking over everything from kindergarten classrooms to executive boardrooms.

It has reached Saratoga as well, where a pleasant daytime manager named Maddie stands beneath a big sign that reads: The Fish-Fry Event at the McDonald's Restaurant on Route 50. She estimates she has sold two to three times the average amount of filet-o-fish meals since Peck's song hit the airwaves.

Gimme back that filet-o-fish, Gimme that fish.

"I wanted to do something fun and quirky," says Peck, who scribed the tune with writing partner Joey Auch.

"It's funny, I've been doing this work for years, but occasionally something like this will happen that is unpredictable," said the songwriter, who has written TV commercials for Mercedes-Benz, Disney and General Motors, as well as working with musical artists such as Mos Def and Eartha Kitt.

The Arnold Worldwide agency in Massachusetts created the McDonald's advertisement, which depicts a bearded man in a garage chomping down on a filet-o-fish as a talking wall fish starts singing to him.

"A buddy of mine who works at Arnold gave me a ring and laid out the spot. I thought it was hilarious as a concept," says Peck, who works for the Manhattan-based company, Pulse Music.

"He referenced the Bobby McFerrin track 'Don't Worry, Be Happy,' as a possible direction," Peck says. "The ultimate goal was to be funny -- to have a fish on a wall pitching a fish sandwich to a guy eating one."

Peck moved to New York City in '03 to work on his career as a musician. He says he grew up plunking down "old-school synth beats" on a Casio SK-1, a mid-sized keyboard that brought basic, low-cost digital sampling to would-be musicians in the '80s.

After making a recent journey home only to discover that his mom didn't hold on to the keyboard of his youth, Peck -- a classically trained pianist -- found one on eBay and started having some fun producing quirky synth-like tones.

From this, a talking fish was given a voice, which a good part of the country today has stuck in its head: "What if it was you, hanging up on the wall? If you were in that sandwich, you wouldn't be laughing at all! Gimme back that filet-o-fish, gimme that fish. Gimme that filet-o-fish, Gimme that fish ..."

So, has he ever tried one?

"Ha! I was just talking to a friend about that; I've never had one," the songwriter says. "But I plan on dropping in to 'catch' one this week."

A temporary page featuring the work of Peck and Auch is at

published in The Post-Star, Friday, March 13, 2009

Saratoga Bureau writer Thomas Dimopoulos can be reached at

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

After the Fire

SARATOGA - Shortly before the sun rose above her home in the town of Saratoga on Thursday, 82-year-old Marty Fink sat down on a snowbank in her backyard and watched everything she owned go up in flames.

A call came in to the Quaker Springs Fire Department shortly after 5 a.m.

When Fire Chief Sean Dooley arrived on the scene, Fink's two-story colonial home at 966 county Route 70 was engulfed in flames. Before the morning was over, the house would be totally lost, with everything the woman owned collapsed into the basement. Fink had no insurance, Dooley said,

She told fire investigators she lit a kerosene lamp Wednesday night in the bedroom, which, by early Thursday morning, had ignited the wallpaper.

"She tried to put it out for an extended amount of time by herself. One of the local farmers who was going to work spotted it," Dooley said. "She was lucky she got out."

Fink lived alone in the house and slept in a chair in her living room that was heated by an electric space heater, said Saratoga County Fire Inspector Jerry Stephen.

The house had no telephone and no running water due to frozen pipes.

To get water, Fink would go outside to a stream, break up the ice and carry it back into her house in a pail. She used the same method Thursday morning in an attempt to combat the fire.

"She went outside and began breaking the ice to get water into a pail. She went back inside the house and wet a towel and tried to put out the fire. This went on for almost an hour," Stephen said.

The pail was heavy and Fink could only carry a little bit at a time.

"The smoke and fire became so great, she had to get out," he said. "She left her home, walked out back and sat on a snow bank with just a sweater on and watched her home burn down."

Fink was taken to a neighbor's house and the county chapter of the volunteer organization After The Fire was called in to provide support. The only thing salvaged from the fire was some change in coins that she had saved in a steel container.
Fire and rescue companies including Quaker Springs, Schuylerville, Victory Mills and Arvin Hart responded to the blaze.

"I've seen a lot of things in my 11 years as a fire inspector. I've seen death. I've seen destruction. But I've never seen anything like this," Stephen said.

"After going through all this today, all she wanted to know was if we could run a lead cord from the power pole to her barn. She said, 'If you could put power out back to my barn, I could live back there,' " he said.

by Thomas Dimopoulos
published in The Post-Star. March 6. 2009.