Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Madison to Columbus

Last night the screening of TEA in Madison drew an international and well traveled audience. Many had been to the middle east at some point in their lives. One woman had vacationed in Syria in 1961. The women who run the Madison Morgan Cultural Centre are all richly drawn Southern characters.
I invited several black students to attend, but they did not show up. Apparently the center has made an enormous effort to develop an integrated audience, but cannot attract a wide demographic.
I was thrilled to see Hank, the town oracle, approaching the theater. He is man with many good tales and he knows how to tell them. It was an honor that he made the big effort and attended my film.
Bill, a Mark Twain look-alike, brought me a box of handmade chocolates...the first gift I have received from an audience member. The chocolates were very tasty so I ate them all. Pralines and truffles should always be taken while fresh.
I left for dinner while the film played. The projector was composite so the picture was very compressed and weird - staggered motion and the metallic skin tones. As I returned to the performance hall, a young woman was leaving. She explained that she liked the film but that it was giving her motion sickness.
Later, at the reception a man was told me that the film a good man on the street piece but neglected politics, so I pointed out that the film subtly addresses many political issues, but is politically overt in a couple of scenes. As I recounted the obvious scenes, he turned to his wife and asked if she remembered one of them. She replied, "I must have missed that part when I was sleeping." (As they have two sons, she is only getting 3 to 4 hours of sleep each night.)
The post screening reception was delightful, but I never made it into the reception room as I spun from one conversation to the next in the doorway. A journalist asked me to come in for a photograph several times, but finally gave up and shot me in the doorway. She is writing an article about the film this week. A young Brit who has an investigative journalist program on local television bought a copy of the film.
On my way back to the excellent Brady Inn, I heard a strange rustling-clicking noise at my feet. It was herds of enormous Palmetto insects scurrying out of the way of my footsteps on the sidewalk.
I passed by Dog Eared Books on my way out of town for one last moment in its magic walls. It occupies an entire house. John moved into this space recently with the help of several hundred town residents, who formed a bucket line and passed books from the old to new store for 3 hours. Wish I had been there to make a short film of that long line.
I got off to my long drive a bit late after spending the morning and lunch time exploring Madison with Bill (Mark Twain). We visited the cemetery that was all dressed in little confederate flags and flowers. A Baptist funeral was underway. Instead of discussing the life of the deceased, this sect uses the occasion of the funeral to put the fear of death into their flock.
The ride to Columbus was all rolling dairy and horse farms and small towns with big Confederate monuments. Outside of Madison there is an art gallery set amid cattle ranches - Steffan Thomas Museum.
Georgia is a wet state. I have probably driven over 65 creeks, rivers and past 107 ponds - many of them have trees growing out of the water.

As I was settling in to my home in Columbus GA, Gates house, I met the woman in the room next door and we decided to go out to dinner. She is originally from China, but studied in Tokyo for 7 years and moved to the U.S. ten years ago. We went to a Korean BBQ. When the owner/cook realized that she had forgotten to prepare our second course, she pulled out her guitar, sat next to our table and performed a traditional Korean song in which an abused woman curses her ex-husband. She looked happy and serene during the performance as her husband, a veteran of 30 years service in the army, busily tidied the empty restaurant.
Jing had a hard time parallel parking when we returned home to our very lovely B&B, so I took over. I am unaccustomed to the driving mechanisms in a Prius, so she was switching the gears for me as I maneuvered the car into the space. I forgot to photograph the beautifully parked vehicle.
We decided to go back out and bar hop with TEA posters. A young man who deploys to Afghanistan on Friday will come and invite his friends who are scheduled to deploy to Iraq. He seems like a gentle and thoughtful fellow, so It is heartbreaking to know that he will soon be placed in harm's way. His friend, a young woman who lived in Greenpoint Brooklyn until 4 years ago, gave me pointers on accessing Fort Benning.
The Riverbank Performance Center agreed to grant free admission to members of the armed forces.
The Riverbank Center is new and extensive. They have a fancy digital marquee. Jing and I sat in the middle of the street waiting for TEA ON THE AXIS OF EVIL to pop up in large red lights...big fun in Columbus.
When I returned to the Gates House, I opened my email and found that I am supposed to do a radio show in Florida tomorrow morning - via telephone.