Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits: Collaborations of All Sorts

--I've been thinking about Harold Ramis who died yesterday.  You may think you don't know who he was, but if you were alive and conscious of popular culture in the late '70's and 1980's, you probably know who he was, but you don't know you know.  He was the sidekick in many a Bill Murray movie.  For me, I remember his character in Ghostbusters most deeply; but for many of the rest of us, Groundhog Day will be his signature work.  This NPR article gives a lot of background on the actor, the movies, and the trajectory of his career.

--I love the collaborative nature of the work he did.  I love the fact that he realized that he had skills that would be useful behind the camera too.  If he was ever jealous of his friends who made themselves memorable in front of the camera, he hid it well.

--I've been thinking about collaboration in regular life too, in all the ways we help each other.  Yesterday, my spouse and I helped our artist friend take down her MFA art show.    The friend and I put all the art and podiums and materials in the cars, while my spouse dealt with repairing the walls.  It went very speedily. 

--It was strange to think of all that effort leading up to the show, and suddenly, poof, it's gone.

--Last night my spouse craved milkshakes, after seeing lots of commercials for the Sonic fast food place.  But the nearest one was 10 miles away.  So we went to our local grocery store.

--Our local Publix has a very strange vibe.  For one thing, it's the smallest Publix I've ever seen.  It's near the downtown Hollywood area, so there's an inner city vibe, but it's also near some ritzy neighborhoods and high-end condos.  Last night, it seemed the world had converged on that tiny store--many of them in their pajamas.

--Many of the people wandered around the grocery store as if they'd never been to a grocery store before.  One staggering guy who didn't seem quite altogether-with-us looked at a girl choosing movies out of the Red Box vending machine as if it was a fascinating casino game.  Would she win?  Why were the rest of us walking by, so oblivious to the wonders of the red box?

--Tonight I go to a different struggling neighborhood--downtown Ft. Lauderdale, on a field trip to the Girl's Club gallery.

--If I had plenty of money, what kind of business would I create in a struggling neighborhood?  I'm most drawn to artsy stuff, like galleries.  But a bar would probably be my best bet at making some money back from my investment.

--I had a Facebook exchange the other day, as we dreamed of designing clothes.  From there I mentioned Thomas Hood's early Victorian poem, "The Song of the Shirt," where the seamstress is sewing a shroud as well as a shirt.  I said, "Our new company name? The Seamstress Shroud? It will appeal to some of our darker sensibilities, but perhaps not the way to sell frocks!"

--We talked about seamstresses and the birth of the modern labor movement with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  One friend fell in love with the word "Shirtwaist."

--I offered, "Seamstress and Shirtwaists: Sounds like a cool café where people also sew and have poetry readings.  Like Busboys and Poets in DC."

--Then we talked about bar names and bar drinks.  I said, "Frills and Frocks--that would be the name of our very hip bar where people dance the night away and have fruity drinks that are good for them but also deeply intoxicating."

--Then it was time to sign off.  A neighborhood friend and her daughter came over to have us help with a real-life sewing project.  The daughter has to go to school in the costume of a historic character and we were helping transform a grown-up's black skirt into one the child could wear by taking in the waistband and hemming it up.

--Soon it will be off to work, a place where happily, I have many collaborators whom I truly like.  In my poetry break today, I'm working on a pantoum about sea level rise and neighborhoods declining into high crime areas.  I'm basing it on a pantoum that I wrote years ago.  Here's the first stanza of that pantoum:

We expected mushroom clouds and radiation.
Instead we changed the chemistry of the atmosphere.
Chunks of glaciers break for freedom and sail across the sea.
Ice caps melt, and the sea swallows islands.
--I'm collaborating with myself!

--I wrote that pantoum when a friend in a different city suggested we try our hand at writing a pantoum.  Ah, collaboration of a different sort!


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