Tuesday, November 14, 2006

#1 skilled in crusin

Dear All,

This recap begins on day three of the tour. I was in Sweet Briar, VA. It was Halloween. The leaves were just turning and I was tired.

I thought this picture from the plane looked neat, like a vein or something.

Sweet Briar College was perfect and my room was comfortable and I had a small porch to sit on before the screening. On the porch I contemplated the leaves and had coffee and a brown sugar and cinnamon Pop Tart.

Then I went to the show. Thanks everyone for coming! And many thanks to the awesome Sweet Briar students (whose names have sadly escaped me) for making the screening go off without a hitch.

During the show I wandered the Sweet Briar campus alone.

Spooky, eh? There was a murder of crows in this patch of greenery. They cawed at me so I hightailed it back to the screening room on account of the fact I'm a huge chicken.

The next morning this gentleman drove me to the airport. I believe his name was Lou. When I hopped into his cab he was listening to a radio sermon on Halloween and the devil. I remember thinking that if I was in NYC I might have asked the driver to turn down his radio but in Virginia I didn't mind.

Our trip was short but on the way Lou managed to share with me a lot about his youth: he was the oldest of 15 kids born to illiterate parents; his mom used to make thicken gravy out of flour and chicken scraps, which they’d eat over quick breads; they were farmers and grew all their own food. He said he wanted to record his family history and I told him I'd send him a tape recorder and some tapes so he could tell me his stories, then he could send 'em back and I'd transcribe everything. I will do that soon. He was a pretty intense fellow and I was surprised and glad he opened up to me the way that he did. Made me realize there are stories everywhere just waiting to be told.

Day four: Clemson University. I arrived at the Comfort Inn mere moments before I was picked up by a gaggle of way intelligent Clemson profs who took me to the show where I was happy to see people running to get the good seats.

Turns out all the seats were good seats.

I totally admit to stalking this guy on account of his jacket.

I was redonkulously fascinated and after the Q & A...

I got my man.

Turns out this guy's dad played on the Manhattan High School basketball team in 1976 and that this was his warm up jacket. Aww.

Thanks a million to the way intelligent Clemson profs for taking excellent care of me before, during and after the show. And all joking aside, the crowd really seemed to take to the film and the Q & A was a lively one. I never get tired of people telling me they've connected to my work and I don't think I ever will. It's an interesting experience (and a humbling one) that my story sometimes makes people cry.

Day five: I rose early for the drive to Columbia, SC.

An advertisement I saw on the way but did not get a picture of on account of the fact I was driving, probably way too fast: a Confederate flag stuck in a giant BBQ sandwich. Hmm. No words for that, really.

Columbia, SC. The state capital.

The Nickelodeon Theater.

Larry Hembree, Nickelodeon Theater Executive Director. Larry's got an amazing thing going in Columbia with the Nick. He really works hard to bring movies you wouldn't expect to see in the South to the South. I was sad I was going to miss his midnight showing of WAITING FOR GUFFMAN. Larry, keep up the good work and enjoy your new digs (the Columbia Film Society/Nickelodeon Theatre recently bought a circa 1936 Art Deco theater in downtown Columbia and is renovating it).

This here's the old new Nick.

This is how I felt after the screening in Columbia. I felt Wow.

Day six: by 6:30am I'm on the road to Beaufort, SC. I'm meeting Carol Tuynman, President of the Arts Council of Beaufort County, who will be taking me to screen the film for the Bluffton High School Film Institute at 11:30am. Yowza. Should not have stayed out till 1am the night before.

The Army recruiting station at Bluffton High School. This is a normal thing, I guess.

Film crowd at BHS. (Note: the crowd got bigger after I took this shot; for a Friday afternoon at 3pm I think they did an amazing job sticking with the movie.)

The lovely Carol and her large salad before my screening at the most awesomely named school in the world: The Technical College of the Lowcountry (of which I managed not to snag a single picture).

Beaufort was very special for a couple of reasons.
The screening was fantastic and the crowd was one of the warmest I've ever had.

Also, Beaufort was beautiful.

And I was put up in the magnificent guesthouse of Lesley Hendricks, former Arts Council president. (Dear Lesley, though I did not get a chance to meet you, I would like to say thank you very much for allowing me to stay in your lovely guest home. Sincerely, Tara Wray.)

And my boyfriend, Josh Melrod, joined me.

He really took to this giant pig.

Goodbye, Beaufort, my sweet.

Day seven & eight: Rested on the 7th (obviously) and traveled to Orangeburg, SC on the 8th. Along the way, Josh and I stopped for an awesome lunch of cheeseburgers...

and grilled pimento cheese sandwiches.

Continuing on. This was the screening venue on the South Carolina State University campus in Orangeburg.

A building being fixed up on the SCSU campus.

The early crowd. We wound up with I'd say at least forty viewers. Many thanks, Ellen, for putting together the show!

Day eight: Asheville, NC. Sweet.

Innards of the Fine Arts Theater. Special thanks to Alison Watson, Executive Director of The Media Arts Project and Neal Reed, manager of Fine Arts, for putting together the show.
Southern Circuit, you were amazing (huge thanks to David Dombrosky and Susan Leonard). To all the wonderful people I met along the way: I hope our paths cross again. And help keep the MANHATTAN, KANSAS ball rolling: post your review of the film on imdb.com; become our friend on MySpace; tell your friends, family, mental health care providers about this film; in other words, please keep in touch.

All best,
Tara Wray


As seen on the back of a car in SC.