The Blue Raccoon

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cognitive Collisions Part II

Seems to me, billion-eyed audience, that there should be theatrical extravaganzas or galas in Richmond that look like this. We have the narrow Edwardian streets and a few
old and some genuine decrepit buildings. There is a sense of gloom,
finished and vanished things, and cultivated absurdity, and opposites
in extremes. Sigh. This is from the Dresden Dolls Diary, Amanda Palmer
with "Camille and Meow."
"this is the fringe," she writes. "it's the best place in the world." I suppose so; if you're in a post punk Brechtian cabaret duo with a fervid and distinctive following.

Saturday, Nov. 3, I was in a personal-type appearance at the Holiday Shopper's Fair at the Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen scheduled from 11:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m though I stayed about a half hour longer due to the numbers of people come through. This western Henrico County multiple use facility is in part housed in the rescued Glen Allen School, and it is next door to the restored 18th century Walkerton Tavern .

This event is a combination holiday sale for the region's museums. I'd never heard of it before, but plenty of other people know about it because there was a ceaseless flow of people ambling about, going from room to room, where various institutions had set up satellite gift shops.

I was there under the flag of the Valentine Richmond History Center . They'd brought 50 books when the show opened the day before when they'd sold 10. I pushed the goods with the assistance of the Two Nancys. Thank you, ladies.

Among the visitors was actor and acquaintance Raynor Scheine , who bought not one of the slender volumes, but two!

Mark Greenough, my colleague of many summers ago at Fort Harrison National Battlefield Park in Varina outside Richmond--where we both wore Union blue, and how now runs the tours of the Virginia Capitol, came by with his wife and I inscribed his copy of the slender volume, too.

One of the relief clerks--I cannot recall her name--told me that when she was walking into the place, she saw a man reading his recent acquisition while he was going to the parking lot--and he was chuckling. Stuff like this quite rewarding.

I provided sales patter: "Step right up, step right up, get your True Richmond Stories right here! Psychic horses! Ditch digger finds a diamond! Mr. Rubin predicts the weather! Dancing under the stars at Tantilla Garden ballroom! And to New Wave at the Cha Cha Palace, which some of you won't own up to now!"


"Get your True Richmond Stories! No batteries or assembly required! No booting up or downloading! One size fits all! Matches all accessories! Makes you look smarter by carrying it around! Provides ideal holiday party tidbits to impress friends in conversation!

We sold out.

"Standing O"

Amie's behind more deadlines and didn't feel up to more social gyrations so she took me down to Plant Zero, me in my black tie and tails, for attending the OPUS "Standing O" gala for the benefit of the School of the Performing Arts for Children, founded by Larry and Jenny Brown, who were in attendance. Love those guys.

Amie needed to reinstall her video display with additional credits and music. She'd babysit the "Walk The Walk" exhibit in case some of the celebrants were curious about the pieces.

There was a red carpet and a faux news crew interviewing the arrivals as though they were celebrities. I was stopped for Harrison Ford -- I suppose because of my black fedora. (In honesty, my celebrity double is Cary Elwes -- but who knows his name well enough?)

My celebrity double, Cary Elwes. Same age, much better hair and smoother skin.

The newscaster asked me how the filming of "Indiana Jones IV" was going and I retorted, "Oh! I'm too old for all that! Jumping from trains! It's awful!" I'm not sure if the fellow was stunned or amused.

I made my way down the hall to Amie, who was intent at work and I told her I'd be out in a bit to check on her. I got signed in and motivated toward one of the bars for the first vodka tonic. There was plentiful food and a fountain a raised, large-to-small arrangement of shrimp that I munched at most of the night. I ran into various folks I knew, some better than others, and I am embarrassed that I'm not better at names. Faces, I recognize.

I admired the loverlies and fairest-of-them-all arriving, exhibiting their right to bare arms and shoulders and oh, I do love the look. All those high heels clicking on the bare concrete of Plant Zero's event space. So I propelled myself out to check on Amie, and she'd already gone. So I was on my own recognizance.

The Michael Clark Band, with the powerful voice of Miss Tracy Clark in the lead, provided the Motown-funk-blues theme for the evening, and for a while, me and Melanie--she quite striking in her white with black geometric pattern dress--danced up a sweating storm. At one point she even took off her heels. The rest of the crowd did a typical Richmond and stood there holding their drinks and rocking their heads. That is, until after the break and the second set and the audience was, ah, conditioned and primed to move.

I admired the upright video monitors that for most of the evening displayed images of the region's performance arts groups. I asked Jake Crocker about who supplied them because I'd like to use one for the Firehouse's Fireball gala in March. In the evening's second half, images of the night's party were getting shown. That was instant gratification. I'd like to have gotten some of those pictures.

So I danced, drank, and hobnobbed. About 11:30 I was tired, and so I set my glass down and proceeded to walk home, across the Mayo's Bridge -- the Richmond skyline has grown in the past few years, and it makes more of an impression on foot than by car. Still, I wish either we had no high rises at all--like central Paris--or several distinctive buildings. Instead, Richmond's nighttime cityscape isn't inspiring, no symphonic declaration of urbanity. You can thank "Dallas" prompted 1980s architecture, followed by even less interesting 1990s plans, for preventing dynamism in Richmond's skyline. Most of our older, better highrises are hidden behind the glass and plastic ones, and Jefferson's Temple of Democracy, atop its hill, is also invisible. Sad.

So, in my tux, I hied up 14th to Main, thence to Sixth, up to Broad, where the street lights were out (This happens on occasion and I wonder--does the city forget to pay the bill? Is it an auserity measure? Cops messing with the heads of potential miscreants?). I felt a little anxious and obvious but got a Robinson to Belmont bus without much of a wait at all.

I checked at Can Can where chairs were already getting stacked up, then chose to go to the New York Deli. This was, in retrospect, silly. D wasn't there, none of the Club NYD-ettes, just fine pretty things and clouds of cigarette smoke. I got home, reeking of the stuff. Amie wasn't pleased, and I was too happy with me, either.

Wordy Birds

By the way, here's me getting interviewed by Liz Humes on her "Wordy Birds" program that airs on WRIR 93.7 FM on Fridays, 12-12:30. I enjoy getting interviewed by Liz. She reads the books and asks good questions. You don't always get that lucky. Trust me. Plus, she's got that throaty Debra Winger voice.

Press to play.

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