Time to Settle Accounts
December 17, 2011: Art’s fine.
“I’m at Clark and Lake,” Rayme said early Friday night. We were meeting at the Fine Arts Building down on Michigan Ave for a party with some of Rayme’s friends, including the producers of The Mark of the Maker, an Oscar-nominated documentary short from 1990, and I had beat her there.
“Where should we meet?” I asked.
“Head to the eighth floor,” she said, so I stepped onto the elevator with four others and said 8 please to the elevator operator.
The man leaned forward from his stool, shut the iron gates, and pushed the lever to take us to the top. I got off at 8 while everyone else continued upward. I walked the halls. An orchestra was rehearsing at one end, and there were a few people in another room rehearsing in a guitar trio, but no party.
I walked up the staircase to 9 and listened. Chatter. I walked down the hallway and found a group of people in sweaters drinking wine and eating cheese and bread and laughing and listening to Bob Dylan. I slowed as I passed them, looking in, and then went to the end of the hall. Finding nothing, I returned. “Excuse me.” They stopped and looked. “Are you a group of documentary filmmakers?”
“Some of us,” said the man in the front. He wore a flannel shirt and a thin tie and smiled with the confidence of a liquored mind and a creative soul; bald, wrinkling, spirited.
“My name is Jack. I’m Rayme’s friend.”
“And she sent you here to prep us for her magnificent arrival. That it?”
I laughed. “That’s it.”
“Good then. My name is Dave. Let’s do names,” and he pointed around the room to each person and introduced me.
The conversation was bountiful and varied. I spoke for 30 minutes or so with two people about the affect of new media on journalism; they were about fifteen years older than I and curious to know more about twitter. Present in the room was a world-renowned malacologist, a folk singer, a Huffington Post contributor, an FBI agent, a few actors, and at least two filmmakers. There were four bottles of red, two blocks of cheese, two loaves of bread. Rayme brought a bottle of Maker’s Mark, and Dave matched her with a bottle of Bison Vodka he had stashed in the fridge. The iTunes played Sinatra and Dylan and Iggy Pop. All was well.
Some time later, attention turned to the computer in the room’s corner. “Is this it?” Rayme asked one of the filmmakers, pointing to the open youtube window.
She pressed play, and we watched Life Boat, a story of a man who takes the ache of city life into his own hands. The crowd was impressed, with Dave particularly taken.
“Damn Coulter, that is good. I mean, that is really good.”
“Thank you,” Coulter said.
“I mean, that is just really, really good! Where are you showing it? How many fests are you in?”
“We just did one.”
Dave’s body sputtered. “One??!!! You god damn idiot! This is brilliant! You gotta get it out there!”
“Those applications are expensive. I gotta eat, you know?”
Dave shook his head, and Rayme pressed play on the next one, a short called Meter Maid. We liked that one too.
At 10 o’clock Rayme and I started rounding up our belongings. Rota was having a birthday party at Salud in Wicker Park, and we were headed that way.
“You’re off, huh?” Dave said.
“Keep teaching,” he said, referring to my True Star journalism instruction. “It’s important. Give these kids hope. Only two of them will make it, but they all need hope.”
I grimaced. “That’s awful.”
“It’s true though. And if you don’t tell them at that age then I have to do it when they come to me.” Dave leaned closer, placing his hand on my shoulder. “We’re tough on artists in this country, but it makes for better art. I really believe that.” And then he shook my hand and said, “Now go! But do come back again.”
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