The Blue Raccoon

Friday, October 19, 2007

Are You A Conspiracy Theorist Or A Magician?

Theresa Pollak, artist, founder of what evolved into the
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
and the University of Richmond Department of Art His-
. She's shown here, en plein air, circa 1940.

Greetings billion-eyed audience for a brief report about my Thursday evening.

Last night, the rains held off. With a copy of the astonishing, rich and detailed Sin and the Second City under my arm for lulls and bus riding, I caught the 5:40 p.m to Willow Lawn. I disembarked, tipped my hat to Jamgochian's Markel Building, and walked up the odd-named sidewalk-less Old Richmond Road where I encountered a neighbohrood unfamiliar to me; quite New Frontier era, houses of sturdy brick and some vinyl, but otherwise not a row of little pink houses; an old-growth suburbia enclave.

And a good event occurreed at the Barnes & Noble at Libbie Place. Officious and gracious Kyle took care of my coffee and brownie needs and he guided me to a table adorned by a decorative fan spread of True Richmond Stories between two short towers of them. A bit intimidating it was to see all those pyramids and Kollatzes in one place.

A renewed acquaintance with some old friends, and met strangers, during the course of the evening and signed many, many books. One of the most pleasant and startling encounters of my visit was of meeting Open High School English teacher Elizabeth Archer Layne, who is a direct descendant of Gabriel Archer. He was the writer who
with John Smith and Christopher Newport, and some 20 others, who came up the James River in a shallop to explore just a few days after arriving at Jamestown.

I also met the great-granddaughter of Maggie Lena Walker, the renowned Jackson Ward pioneer; she was the nation's first woman and African-American to run a bank--and one she'd started, and lives on today, in Consolidated Bank & Trust.

Which goes to show that history here is never distant. Sometimes, she'll walk right up and shake your hand.

I was also quite happy to see Vee and Carla Davis -- I worked with Carla a few years ago at Richmond Magazine. Her mom put me into the nomination for a recognition by Henrico County about my history writing.

The most intriguing question asked of me had nothing to do with history.

Two women--holding hands--approached me, amused about something one had said to the other. The taller of the pair asked, "Are you a conspiracy theorist or a magician?" indicating her friend, who grinned and shied away. "She says you're either a conspiracy theorist or a magician."

I laughed, and replied, "Well, I suppose my magic is this book as it attracted you to me, and you both conspired to come over here and speak."

I tried to interest them in the slender volume, but as it was neither conspiracy theory, nor legerdemain, they weren't buying. Sigh.

I was given a bag of B & N swag and they even let me take the big poster of me that rolled up and put into the gift bag so that it looked as though I was carrying a roll of gift wrapping paper. And I have to say, as I passed through the warm night and ambled down to the bus stop shelter at Willow Lawn and sat down under the street lamp and began reading in Sin in the Second City, and the burble of younger folks waiting as I was for transport, I felt downright giddy with my urbanity. I was warmed by hemi-demi-semi-flashback to Berlin, where Amie and I were getting on metro trains at all hours or waiting for the raucous "night bus" that trundled around the city depositing drunk Japanese tourists and us.

So I was conveyed by bus to near Belmont Avenue where I alighted and meandered over to Sheppard Street, and mused upon strapping Carlisle Montgomery, making her excursions from Scotts Addition to Carytown, and when the disbelievers refuse to accept she makes that journey on a regular basis she just doesn't even blink and says, "That's why God gave me long legs and big feet -- to get me places when I need to." And she's got some stems, and pipes, "That's why they grew me this tall," she'll say, "so I can hit the high notes." Sigh.

Then, fresh from my stint being neither a conspiracy theorist or a magician, and in need of refreshment and wanting some amiable fellowship, I steered into the New York Deli. There I was hailed and fed beer and reminisced about the Folk Festival (called Amie on Jason's phone to let her know I'd not been shanghaied.)

Meanwhile, I've been poking around in my Sitemeter and seeing some curious referrals, harking back to my over-fascination with the Duncan-Blake Effect of the summer. Well, during that time, an interested party chose to excerpt all my writings on that event, with the over-all title Seven Kinds of Denial Just to Get Out of Bed, and place the collection on a single site. I hestitate to send you there, because of the 12 titled sections, only seven are operating.

The pieces that are functioning are: Worms & Passions, Duncan-Blake Effect and parts 2, 3 and 4, Conclusion and Blossoms Unabated. They are bobbing about out there. I need, I suppose, to add the others, if I can remember how. This arrangement was a kindness extended to me by a person I've never met, nor spoken with, or even really know at all.

By the way, I possess a copy of Theresa Duncan/Jeremy Blake's The History of Glamour, which when I get a spare half hour, I'll watch and write about, should this be of interest to anyone in the billion-eyed audience. Far as I know, Vanity Fair is hatching a piece about their lives and deaths.

Pollaks tonight, Harry in a double-breasted suit and a good time had by all, I hope, and little rain, though there is great need for the sake of plants and settling dust.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home