Friday, January 20, 2017

Faithless and Phoneless

Today's first priority was representing the 5%.

VCU's Real Life Film Series was showing "Mobilize," a documentary about the dangers of cell phone radiation and the difficulty politicians face in trying to pass cautionary legislation to address it. That's how I discovered that 95% of US residents have a cell phone.

Hell, 33% of 11-year olds had their own cell phone and that was in 2010. I'm the last of my breed, I know.

What was fascinating to me was listening to scientists, concerned legislators and researchers explaining that the WHO has put cell phones on their list of carcinogens, that phones must be kept away from the bellies of pregnant women, that men who carry their phones in their front pockets have reduced sperm counts and that the younger children begin playing with a phone the greater their hyperactivity and likelihood of decreased memory.

What was tragic was hearing from people diagnosed with brain cancer linked directly to cell phone usage.

Yet somehow, I was the one considered weird during the post-film discussion (the look on the face of the electrical engineer prof who led the discussion was priceless when I copped to no phone), not the people who can ignore all that. Go figure.

It was the event, not me, that was the oddball when I headed to Southside for "Grouped: Art Show," staged in a recently renovated 1955 house that's about to go on the market. But instead of staging it with furniture, it was staged entirely with art which will stay up for the open house this weekend. Clever, right?

You read right, 86 pieces of art - everything from sculpture to paintings to prints to neon to photographs to bird feeders - were on display in this 3-bedroom house, nearly filling the 8' walls and they were all for sale.

Adding to the vibe was DJ Marty spinning funk, soul and R & B 45s on a vintage '70s portable double turntable. I could have lingered all night listening to that stuff.

It was all very cool. Also gratifying, since I already own a total of five pieces by three of the artists represented in the show, although my 10' ceilings allow for salon-style hanging which a '50s house most definitely does not. Their loss.

My loss was that I'd gone in knowing I had no business buying another piece of art tonight, much as I was tempted.

I only stayed for an hour or so, but managed to run into all kinds of familiar faces - the print collective director, the record store owner, the artist I'd interviewed last night, the aging yet handsome hipster, the muralist - before saying my farewells and descending the flagstone steps.

That house is going to be a popular stop for the next few days.

When I got to Plant Zero for 5th Wall's production of "Luna Gale," the usher greeted me by name, led me to a prime center seat and expressed surprise that I was alone (I'd struck out despite inviting three potential dates) to see the first of the Acts of Faith entries this year.

So, yes, in case you were wondering, they do allow heathens at the Acts of Faith Festival, perhaps hoping for conversions as a result. Didn't happen.

A joke at last year's Artsie's characterized 5th Wall plays as being "full of smart women hollering at each other," but tonight's production zeroed in on major family dysfunction, a crazy Christian mother and the machinations of a burnt out Child Protective Services worker in deciding what's best for meth-addled teen parents and their infant child.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't such a joke.

Even the 5% know that sometimes nothing's harder than doing what's best. But best for whom?

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