Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Having It and Liking It

I was overdue for Pru.

The combination of my girlfriend's busy love life and her 9 to 5 job had prevented us from meeting up for weeks but I knew I could lure her out with a good French film with a Hemingway inspired name, "En Avoir ou Pas," (also known as "to have or have not") and part of the VCU Cinematheque series at the Grace Street Theater.

Even better, it was a French film directed by a woman (her first film, at that), shot by a woman (who'd worked with Goddard, no less) and about a woman who loses her job, abandons her boyfriend and moves to a bigger city to find a new life.

Kind of like the old Mary Tyler Moore show, except without throwing her hat in the air and showing all her teeth every time she smiled.

Only a French woman would go buy a cute, flower-flecked dress and champagne in order to tell her boyfriend she'd been laid off and was leaving him.

And yet, I kind of understood her thinking.

Moving from Boulogne sur Mer and an assembly line job in a fish packing factory, the unlikely-named Alice moves to Lyons where she takes up residence at the aptly-named Ideal Hotel while she looks for work.

It's there she meets a recently dumped soccer-playing construction worker with limpid eyes and long hair who is suffering from depression about the state of his life.

So of course we know that they will end up attracted to each other, but because it's a French film, it happens slowly, realistically and more with glances and emotions passing across faces than contrived, meeting cute scenarios.

Because the film unfolds slowly in a most European way, it's almost the end of the film before there's any real acknowledgement of growing feelings between the two lonely people.

Like anyone with baggage from their past, these two manage to reach one simple conclusion, "That's what matters, living in the present."

Please allow the voice of experience to assure you that living in the present is a whole lot more pleasurable when you have, rather than have not, at least what matters to you.

Then Pru was off to bed and I delivered the car at home so I could walk over to Saison for tonight's battle of the record stores.

Jackson Ward's pride and joy, Steady Sounds, was competing with Oregon Hill's finest, Vinyl Conflict, in a spin off, with people voting for their favorite with dollar bill earmarked for FeedMore.

There was only one stool available when I arrived, but it had my name on it, or at least I pretended it did after checking with the guy next to it to make sure it was unoccupied.

Almost right away, I was spotted by a favorite scooter maven, her main squeeze and another regular show-goer, so I made my way to their table for hugs and hellos.

Back in my stool, the women to my right were finishing up with a chocolate tart with mole crust and cilantro ice cream, leading to a discussion of desserts.

Women just naturally want to talk about sweets.

I'd considered ordering the tart until I'd seen its size and realized it was better suited to sharing.

"You can get it and eat half and take the other half home, " one woman suggested before rethinking it. "Who am I kidding? If I took that home, I'd eat the rest of it by morning."

Exactly. Which is why I don't need to order it.

Next she wanted to know about what was going on and I first explained how Tuesdays were vinyl nights at Saison but clarified that tonight was a special occasion.

Yes, there was still vinyl, but for a good cause, yadda, yadda. She thanked me for bringing her up to speed.

Leaving me to the guy on the other side, they soon departed sans leftover dessert. Wise move.

My first question to this guy was if he lived in the neighborhood. Negative, but he worked here.

When I asked for more specifics, being the curious sort, he said he was a builder, a fabricator, who had a shop in the alley behind Comfort.

I knew exactly where he meant, having walked that alley many times.

Turns out his degree is in architecture, but that bored him while building things with his hands gave him great pleasure.

That led to much conversation about following your bliss, not letting stuff "own" you and the singular satisfaction of creating out of whole cloth.

A discussion of the difference in acknowledging your own talent versus being cocky landed us squarely on the same page.

I'd lucked into a like-minded soul and even when we danced near the topic of religion, discovered almost identical takes on that mess. We talked about the Ward and how it needed more than just Nick's and Lift for low price options.

He wanted to know what I was currently working on and I asked the same of him.

He sheepishly admitted that he had an order for 45 small maple boxes he needed to complete by Sunday.

They were destined for the South X Southwest music festival as part of a promotion by, get this, Drop Box. I found it hilarious that the file hosting service that lets you keep all your stuff in a cloud wanted physical objects as promotional pieces.

When I pointed this out, he laughed out loud, saying that hadn't occurred to him but he saw the irony.

I don't go looking for it, but when it's dropped in my lap, it's hard to miss.

A couple of friends had come in while he and I were talking lifestyle choices and they came over to chat about his new trainer (who allows him one "free" day - Saturday- and that's when multiple Sugar Shack doughnuts and tofu fried in butter are consumed) and his partner's long-ago training regime.

I recall it well because he used to postpone plans with me so he could meet his trainer, at least up until the point he got the body he wanted, had pictures taken and went back to normal life without the trainer.

They too had come to hear tonight's spin-off, although one of them had to ask how to tell which DJ was playing at any given moment (I explained) before changing the topic to Beyonce.

For the record, no Beyonce or anything approaching Beyonce was played tonight. It was an evening of punk, thrash, garage rock and the like.

My new fabricating friend and I voted with our dollar bills, me for Steady Sounds and him voting equally for both, but admitting to me that his preference was for electronica.

As one who has been rolling in the shallow and deep of electronica for some time now, it was refreshing to hear someone express how much they'd like to see a more vibrant electronic scene in Richmond.

We can only hope, but for now, I'm just happy there's a neighborhood place where I can end up on a Tuesday night and hear DJs spinning vinyl to a boisterous crowd while chatting with somebody new and interesting.

The fabricator and I call that living in the present and agree that it's what matters.

Sometimes it takes a French heroine in a new dress to remind you of it.

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