The plan: a movie at the VMFA and then meeting the birthday boy for a show by one of our favorite bands at Balliceaux.
The bonus invitation: a reader-turned-friend suggested meeting at Bogart's to go to a house show in Randolph before moving on to Balliceaux. Well, I did have an hour and a half free in between stops, so why not?
The Friday Film:1958's Mon Oncle, by Jaqcues Tati, the darling of French art house cinema circa the 50s through the 70s. Known for his nearly silent films (but with loads of sound effects; I loved the clickity-clack tapping of the women's high heels on hard floors) and long observational shots, the movie looked at the changes in technology and consumerism happening at that time.
Favorite period details: a horse-drawn cart, baby carriages, a charcuterie in the neighborhood, and a street sweeper (man and broom, not machine). People carried their baguettes in hand (no bag) and women went to the milliner. 1958. Wow.
The mix-up: I went to meet reader friend at Bogart's and he wasn't there. Meanwhile, he went o Bogart's and I wasn't there. Turns out we were both there and somehow missed each other entirely. On the other hand, it was my first time in the new Bogart's.
The unexpected celebration: Arriving at Balliceaux, I ran into the birthday boy, who invited me to join his birthday dinner celebration. I was now part of the party of six discussing pork belly and kimchee. He found my birthday card amusing, although he did not follow its instructions to the letter. Just saying.
The birthday dinner: After a four-course lunch, you'd think I'd order something nice and light, but not so much. I went with the heritage burger made of ancient breed Virginia beef (I think that must be like heirloom tomatoes, don't you?) and artisan cheese with truffle fries. Three of the guys at the table got the Bonger (same as mine but with pork belly and kimchee added), but I had to draw the line somewhere (before giving in to complete gluttony, that is).
The surprise guest: Mr. M.I. A. from Bogart's came to Balliceaux and joined our group. Turns out he was secretly looking for a reason not to go to the house show, so our missing each other gave him that. Now he was here to enjoy the band with me. (Side note: he had found me in the crowd by asking the bartender where "Karen who likes Beach House and drinks tequila" was sitting." And I was pointed out. No, really; I thought he was making that up, too.
The music: Marionette, as talented a band as RVA currently has, but so under the radar that most people don't recognize their name. They played a terrific show and my friend was blown away with their energy, talent and tightness. Being a musician, I have to assume he's a pretty good judge of such things. Besides, I already knew that they're one of the best things going musically here.
The conversation: All over the place. On not giving up ("I love that your blog has hope. Weren't you in a really bad place two years ago?"), on defining the right to be a musician ("They've proven they're worthy in one set"), on recommending a new band to a friend ("Okay, so you were right.").
The ending: The recorded music got ungodly loud, the lights came up bright enough to land aircraft and the temperature dropped noticeably. As I heard the bartender tell a guy half-heartedly looking for a place to throw away his half-full PBR, "Just down it and I'll take the can." When it's 2 a.m., it's time to close the bar, friends.
The final analysis: Great movie, charming and so French, interesting conversation, jovial celebration with friends and outstanding local music.
In FB parlance: Like.