Sunday, December 13, 2015

Yippee-Ki-Yay, Comrade

Just another December day chock full of sewing, sunshine and silent movies in the heart of hipsterdom.

Still Life with Clementines and Pincushion

Driving to southside with the windows down, I'm listening to Juliana Hatfield singing "Everybody Loves Me But You" likes it's 1992 again.

Beauty and brains are all that I've got
I've got a cold, cold bed and a broken heart

South of the river I find a friend playing gardener while I set up camp sewing on her screened-in porch, somehow sure that Richmond women have a long history of sewing aprons on porches and that I'm merely the latest in a long line of needle-pushers doing so.

I bring along my Shaker pincushion and my friend immediately pegs it for an '80s purchase, which it was.

Because the right tool for the job is essential, I'm using a Kenmore sewing machine circa 1970, back when they were still made of metal and not plastic. It's remarkably similar to the '68 Singer my Washington, D.C. grandmother taught me to sew on, which I still have.

Despite J. Roddy Walston's admonishment, I do manage to break the needle, but replace it like the pro that my grandmother taught me to be.

I dip out as my friend begins preparing dinner from a new recipe for her homecoming warrior who's been off for a fortnight's hunting (deer) and gathering (tall tales probably), apron duty accomplished.

All the Young Middle-Aged Dudes

Hard labor behind me, I primp to go out, recalling a peculiar conversation I had with a favorite bassist the other night. Topic: big hair. That descriptor's been thrown my way plenty and the bassist cops to a full-on "Jew- boy 'fro" when his stylist-to-the-stars goes on vacation, meaning we both know the pain of a big 'do with nowhere to go and being crowded by clothing and scarves.

As men go, he's the exception who gets that. Hell, he mentioned it first.

The Byrd was filling up as I walked in to find lots of familiar faces to say hello to - Mike, Trent, Todd, Don, James, Nate, Josh - all suspiciously male. When I note as much to a former editor buying Non-Pareils ("They're really the movie standard," the concession girls pronounces) while I purchase popcorn, his response is, "Now you're here to balance us all out."

Not my job.

Of course a screening of Chaplin's "The Kid" with legendary guitarist Marc Ribot is going to attract every guitar geek over 30 who knows he's played with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, et al. As for the visuals, I'd already seen the movie at the Silent Music Revival back in April 2013 with Wolf//Goat improvising a soundtrack.

A guy sitting alone in the row in front of me must have been a Byrd virgin because as I sat down, he was snapping photos of the large popcorn wedged between his thighs. Odd, I thought, but eventually, he turned his phone up to document the chandelier as well and I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

If I am to be honest here, the movie was a bit of a blur, not for any reason you might readily guess but because the entire day was. I only had one contact lens in. Getting lost in the musical score to a plot I already knew was as effortless as it was enjoyable as he nailed the moods of the story on his guitar.

Waling out afterwards, a guitarist friend summed it up. "That may be the best thing I experienced the entire year." And that's saying a lot considering how fab this town is these days. As a photographer and chicken owner neatly observed to me yesterday, "We sold out Dream Syndicate. In Richmond!" And it was amazing, as we both had seen.

So it was dark but not late when I left the Byrd. Movie Club was showing "Diehard" and I think we can all agree on what a Christmas Eve classic that is, but the timing didn't work with Silent Music Revival at Gallery 5, so I had to give up seeing Bruce Willis save mankind.

Vamp Him

It was worth it, though, because the SMR organizers had turned G5 into somebody's Christmas rec-room with a fake fire, Christmas lights strung along the stage and a live tree top decorated in a container. The neighbor's tree had been too tall, so when he sliced off the top, my friends had adopted it as their micro-Christmas tree.

Reuse and recycle, friends.

The grooviest of J-Ward neighbors were in the house with their friend, a petite woman who happens to be a stonemason and shared wildly immature things men have done to her on the job. As she put it, what grade are you in anyway?

Best random thing said to me by the guy to my right: "Never take acid and watch that film." Duly noted.

We were treated to a series of holiday shorts with Antiphons improvising along through drama (Scrooge-like rich neighbor and large, happy poor family), my second viewing of "The Insects' Christmas" (2011, also at SMR), a film I called a classic, garnering many laughs when organizer Jameson repeated it, and "The Snow Man" that starts sweet and goes south quickly as he becomes a snow monster who eats small animals and eventually gets a sword in the anus.

But my favorite would have to be "Soviet Toys," a Soviet propaganda film with a Christmas tree made of soldiers who hang various people so that the workers can rise to the top and presumably do egg nog shots in celebration.

The kind of film where you'll feel guilty for contributing to a capitalistic society by eating Non Pareils while a farm-wave sad rock band plays.

Chances are, the kind of film that could go either way on acid. Your call.

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