Venturing into the Future

A couple of days ago, Judy and I drove north to Eureka to screen her new film Pelican Dreams for some wildlife rehabilitators who helped with the project. (The film isn’t ready for release yet. She still has a lot of color correction and sound work to do. But she has achieved what’s called “picture lock,” meaning there won’t be any more changes to the visuals.) The screening was an interesting experience. It was held in a creative performance space—actually an old warehouse at the edge of town. When we got there the entrance was surrounded by homeless people who were either sleeping or just hanging out. We carried our gear inside (projector, screen, laptop, speakers) and  discovered that the power had been shut off by the utility company for nonpayment. Someone had forgotten to send in the check. The warehouse is divided into two spaces, and on the other side of the wall an industrial punk band was rehearsing. We got their attention during a break, and they let us run an extension cord over to their side. We were able to draw enough juice to power the projector and our small speakers. So that audience members could find their way to their seats, we lit the winding hallway into the theater with candles. The band had paid to rent the space where they were rehearsing, so they weren’t willing to call it a night. We had to run the first half of the film over the sound of their pounding drums, howling vocals, and buzz-sawing guitars, which were just on the other side of the wall. Somehow it worked. Everybody accepted the situation for what it was. I was most amused by two women in their seventies who ran the gauntlet of homeless people outside the warehouse, picked their way through the candle-lined hallway, and watched the show with the punk band playing behind the wall. They could have been old hippies, but they didn’t look it. Whatever they were, they were unruffled by it all.

I was thinking later that this is how the future is going to be. We’re going to live through a time where the availability of energy is unreliable. In this particular case, it brought people together. Everyone had a good time.

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4 Responses to “Venturing into the Future”

  1. Tim Mueller Says:

    Wonderful story! Can’t wait for my wife to get home so I can tell her. When you mentioned the candles, my first thought was, “Oh, God! I hope they didn’t break into a spontaneous ‘Kum Ba Yah’!” Stories, like communities, sustain us. Your gift as a storyteller will keep these images in my head for a long, long time!

  2. Glenn I Says:

    Maybe a punk rock soundtrack is what a nature documentary needs.

  3. Margaret Benbow Says:

    Loved your story about the two old ladies who showed up, were unfazed by all the different types and conditions and personalities of people, didn’t judge, weren’t afraid, and listened to the music. We should all be more like that.

    • markbittner Says:

      They weren’t merely putting up a brave front. They seemed totally relaxed. The vibe in the room was good.

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