Wednesday, November 13, 2013

there is no question whatsoever

"Back then I was one of those people who really liked the concept of events.  Most times I would wake up in the morning and simply say the word out loud: "Events."  That was all I really needed to get my day up and running.  The mere idea of events.  The sense that yes, events were definitely on the horizon. Something to base an entire life on, perhaps.  Events were more than enough, right?  "Bring everything back to the basics", I murmured.  For of all human history, events have held our species in thrall.  We must go forth and meet them, yes, attend them, create them, learn abut them, etc.  Make them an integral part of our daily existences.  To take a religious vow, essentially, to no longer try to live without fun and well-attended events.  To live in such a backwards way would not only be the height of folly, but a surefire way to perdition and everlasting regret.

I set up a couple interviews.  The first was with Linda Harris, the events coordinator at Long John Silver's on 7th and Congress, on the northwest corner of Bigelow Park.  For those of you unaware, Long John Silver's, or LJS for short, is a pirate-themed restaurant chain.  It had its heyday back in the eighties and has been in slow decline ever since.  In an attempt to reinvigorate business and find a way of coming to terms with the public, CEO Martin Holson decided to pick a few stores here and there and see what would happen if they doubled as small convention centers, performance spaces, lecture halls, carnival sites, meet-n-greets, workshops, skillshares, religious functions, etc.  Not only fresh, quality seafood for their regular diners, but all sorts of events happening in the large separate room in back called "Captain's  Chambers."  All LJS's had been built with "Captain's Chambers" as a place to host birthday parties for children.  They were not very successful in their intended function, however, and often sat entirely empty for months and sometimes even years at a time.

Would there ever be events?  This became a burning question for me.  Waking up in the morning, looking around at the cobwebs, trying to convince myself that another day had actually dawned and that once again it was time to follow classic formulas such as "rise and shine" or "up and at 'em."  At some point there would be events.  At some point there must be events.  I was a human being like any other.  Maybe a little confused on occasion, but excited, energetic, and willing to go the extra mile if needs be, to meet them, attend them, create them, think about them, talk about them, whatever.

Another interview I set up was with a man named Rex Dirksen who worked as a booking agent/organizer for a local DIY performance space in the neighborhood.  He knew a lot about events.  How to make them come alive, as it were.  He had a ton of ideas, all of them related to making events well-attended and satisfying.  Over the years he had worked with many different types of performers.  Old fashioned circus folk, gypsies, musicians, theater troupes, stand-up comedians, lecturers, panel discussions, dance troupes, gymnasts, lightshow or strobe entertainers, mimes, religious types, all of them capable of generating various levels of excitement and interest.  I wanted to meet this man, very badly.  I felt that Rex might be able to give me some pointers.

I had worked for awhile at the Johnny Appleseed museum in Pittsburgh, and they would sometimes stage events.  Problem is, I was rarely paying attention in those days.  I was a different person back then, and didn't give a hoot for events.  My job at the museum was to sit under a fake apple tree near the entrance dressed in a Johnny Appleseed costume greeting people as they came in.  It was a simple life, for the most part.  The actual Johnny Appleseed was a known to be a voracious reader, so the museum officials allowed me to read certain books that Johnny was known to be fond of.  Swedenborg, Shakespeare, Meister Eckhart, Montaigne, Robert Burton, Cervantes.  I was basically paid to just sit there and read.  If I heard the door open, I would look up from my book, say "Hello, friends.  My name is Johnny Appleseed.  Feel free to look around for awhile." Upon which I would immediately return to my reading.  There was a full blown information desk a little further on into the entry, and if there were any questions, I politely directed them thither.

Have a seat, please. You're good kids. But you've both arrived at that delicate age where it's time to level with with you about the many different types of events you'll be exposed to, invited to, warned against, made a part of, left out of, lied to about, bait 'n switch, the whole nine, etc. Not sure how much time we have so I'll try to keep it limited to the most essential and popular categories. First off, nature events. Events out in nature, the wilderness. Camping, picnicking, hiking, Carlsbad Caverns, canoeing, what have you. Anything that occurs out in nature. Snow-shoeing is big at this time of year, right Then you've got your arts events, entertainment, 24/7, excitement. Stuff to get you fired up, thinking, maybe starting to ask some of the difficult or even impossible questions. Sports events. Easy. Anything related to sports. Opening day. Second day. Third day. Fourth day. Fifth Day. Sixth Day. Seventh Day. Eighth Day. Ninth Day. Tenth Day. Eleventh Day. Twelfth Day. Etc. The playoffs. The big game. The parades, the speeches, the keys to the city, all that. A press-conference, say. A convention. A mass autograph signing, and so forth. There's the athletes, the coaches, the owners, the families, the vendors, the memorabilia makers, the staff, and the billions of fans all over the world, all of them clamoring for a piece of the action. Ok then. Animal events. Anything related to animals. Simple. Technological events. Stuff not only centered around but probably made possible by the latest and coolest technology. Holiday type events. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Groundhog's, April Fool's, whatever. Shopping events. Commerce. Mascots, pitchmen, pitchwomen, billboards, jumbotrons, pure excitement, pure fantasy. Where you are personally invited into the kiosk or store for fun demonstrations, raffles, games, giveaways, snacks, bobbing for apples, etc. Be prepared, sweethearts. OK? Mom and I don't want you two to let the good life pass you over, like you were ditch grass or abandoned playground equipment or something. Up and at 'em."