Saturday, November 5, 2016

Time of the Season

Belatedly I learn that Holmes is disinclined to read through numerous paragraphs of my blog posts just to get to the parts where I mention him.

So let's get right to it, shall we? When I announced that it was time for me to leave, my friend Holmes put a red vinyl 45 of the Damned's "Thanks for the Night" on the turntable in farewell. That's a good music friend.

There, unnecessary reading prevented.

My night began at Reynolds Gallery for Sally Bowring's opening of "Weather Report," nearly a dozen wooden panels capturing what Sally observed  - green Novembers, soft blue February skies, the pinks of summer - while going about her life over the past year.

To my eye, her glorious use of color makes it clear that the artist is female, observant and experienced.

Back on home turf, I head to Gallery 5 for "Wastedland," a gallery-wide installation by Andrew Shirley that begins with a mostly black tableau that was all about the audio/visual and shrouded in smoke.

Satellite dishes of varying heights, a cassette player, a weather radio, rabbit ear antennas, a megaphone, ladders and pendant lights were all spray painted matte black with occasional orange dribbles.

Behind it and nearly touching the ceiling was a sculpture, part sea creature, part spacecraft with interactive rolling wooden pieces. Spinning several in succession next to a stranger doing the same, we agreed it felt very child-like.

Going up the narrow stairs brought new challenges since each tread was at least 50% covered in crushed aluminum cans attached to the sides. Upstairs, pieces of corrugated boxes became animals on a wall staring out, while nearby was a cardboard shack with a blue tarp roof. Inside a TV showed mindless twaddle and was wallpapered with panhandler signs.

Jesus was a traveler
Passing thru, ALL love helps
Traveler Broke & Hungry
Lost in life, Looking for Direction

I spotted a male figure in overalls with a wolf head and paused ever so briefly to determine if he was real. Nope. Moments later, I had a surreal moment when I saw a man in overalls with a wolf head striding toward his inanimate twin.

But of course it's art.

In the center of the gallery, I spot an activist friend and without thinking, hug him hugely and offer condolences about the shared loss of our mayoral candidate. Behind me is another activist pal just as distraught.

We're all still feeling a bit shell-shocked at the news but with only three days till the election, feel the need to lay out our stands on alternate choices. None of us want a pawn but none of us desire a corporate whore, either.

There is banter about what role Baliles might be given in the new administration. It's crystal clear to us that he must have a significant one - "What we'll need is a Jedi Council of people who really know the city to help advise" the new administration, the PLF maestro concludes - and we three fervently hope Stoney sees the wisdom in this.

It's both depressing to talk about a mayor we wouldn't have chosen and comforting to think that there's enough of a groundswell to keep the focus on Richmond's creative strengths in whatever the next four years bring.

My final stop is, yes, at Holmes' humble abode, where we begin with a classic Mary Angela's dinner - green salad followed by his favorite pie, pepperoni and mushroom - enjoyed in the dining room listening to a recording of music he made with his brother and a friend decades ago.

A beautiful folk song comes on and Holmes blows us out of the water by sharing that the song had been recorded in that very dining room where we now sat, our fingers greasy with pepperoni oil.

"We hung a couple mics from over there," he says, pointing at the back window, "and had the mixer in there," gesturing past the pocket doors to the living room.

I don't know if I'll ever experience such a unique coincidence again in my lifetime or if I can properly convey how cool it felt to be hearing a song recorded where I sat.

After a proper chocolate dessert, we headed downstairs to where the turntable and monster speakers reside and Holmes promptly put on the Byrds.

"When I was in Paris in '65," he begins and we immediately tease him for his nonchalance, but he goes on to tell us how strongly he recalls being a teen with his own hotel room on family vacation hearing "All I Really Wanna Do" coming up a French alley from an unknown source where the 45 was on constant repeat.

Mais oui, that's one way to reach an impressionable young mind.

Good as it was, it was mere window-dressing for tonight's main event, the two-disc, four-side "Time of the Zombies," a 1974 song compilation that led off with "She's Not There" and Holmes' painful memory of attempting to sing that song at karaoke in Nags Head.

Apparently his range left a bit to be desired.

All four sides were fabulous, channeling everyone from the Beatles to Phil Spector to Herman's Hermits. I could have danced in my bar stool all nigh.

Most surprising was the Zombies' stellar cover of Gershwin's "Summertime" from "Porgy and Bess," but I was in love with it all, from "Tell Her No" to "Time of the Season," a song Holmes said came out after the group had already broken up and which we listened to twice.

Along the way we discussed Beloved's first bikini, purchased for a Carnival cruise to the Bahamas in '77 and no doubt part of the reason she enjoyed the company of the ship's purser, Kurt during their time at sea.

Apparently her Mom had spotted Kurt just as the elevators doors were about to close and commented how nice-looking he was and her daughter had taken it from there.

Female spunk was big in '77, for those who weren't there.

The most charming part of the story sounded like a mere post script when she shared it. "He called me a couple of years ago." He what? "Yes, on the downstairs rotary phone."

Consider, if you will, that I know a woman who still has a rotary phone, not to mention the same phone number as 39 years ago and you can perhaps appreciate the rare birds among those known as "Karen's people."

For the record, since Kurt called, she's given up answering the rotary phone. She's not there.

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