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Spice Girls lip sync featuring JenMoon, Sandy, Leah

elegy for the bronze

- we were hoping to move out of our unzoned artist loft in pioneer square, and our only criteria was "somewhere near beverly." she cooperated with this scheme by keeping her eyes open in her neighborhood, and she was the one who alerted us that the turquoise house on MLK was available for rent.

- jenmoon and i were the first tenants to actually get to use the six-car garage that loomed in the backyard. it was initially crammed to the gills with the belongings of the owners, but for us, they consented to let us have the garage for our own devices, although they couldn't get the place cleaned by the time we moved in. so imagine that six-car garage packed floor to ceiling with no more space than a very small five foot square of open floor where the previous tenants (burners whose names escape me) had carved out space & held private parties. jen remembers hooks hanging from the ceiling, like a horror movie.

- plans formed immediately. the house was christened "the hellmouth," and the garage was to be christened "the bronze."

- in 2003, i had been going to annex theatre company meetings once a month for a while but hadn't actually done any actual plays yet, when i learned that a new black box show needed a male actor. i decided to audition, and offered to have the director come to my place for an audition in the bronze. by that point, we had carved out about 2 cars' worth of space on the far end of the joint, with crap and dirt and must piled all throughout the other 4 cars' worth. i auditioned and wound up reading the same monologue for matt fontaine about eight times, each time with a new twist that he suggested. i got the part, and that was how i wound up deepening my relationship with annex.

- by 2004, i had convinced annex to produce my adaptation of the principia discordia. the deal with annex for that show was that annex was super involved with producing a mammoth, nearly out of control mainstage, and the only way they'd let me direct a late night was if i took up zero annex resources in the process. we spent our time split between rehearsing in that giant backyard, and rehearsing in that 2 cars' worth of space. imagine five actors, an assistant director, and me, crammed into that room, in the heat of summer, kicking up dust at every turn.

- we kept clearing shit away in fits and starts. i finally worked up the guts to audition for singers for a new a cappella group, and one by one, people came through the bronze and sang for me. i can only imagine what it must have felt like to show up for an audition based on some ad in the stranger and seeing this ridiculous mound of brickabrack and boxes and dirt all around, and having to sing, unaccompanied, for some yahoo who sat calmly on the edge of a cleared away circle and pretended he knew what he was doing. one of the last people i auditioned was brian kinyon, who showed up with a friend of his and didn't even sing; we just knew, after a brief interview, that this was going to work, somehow.

- finally, at long last, we somehow managed to get the place emptied out. the old bluhouse crew donated a giant bar unit (blue, of course), which we picked up from nafun. the gravity bowl crew offered to share the space, and in return, put in pipes for a lighting grid and built a stage, which brian reinforced when no one was looking. brian, a professional insulator, showed up over the course of two days and insulated the entire building with our singer friend pete, so that it would be (relatively) cool in the summer, (relatively) warm in the winter, and (relatively) sound-proof year round. jen and i bought mounds of edison extension cords which we strung every direction throughout the place - power emanated from exactly one outlet in that building! we bought pin spot lights, put in a sound system, and tricked out the bar with everything we could think of. a local university freecyled its old auditorium seats during a renovation, and we hauled ass to snag 24 of them, which brian bolted to platforms that could move around the space on casters if we wanted them to. we borrowed lights from mez, from annex, from leri (some of the party lights in the space dated back to old school leri burning man camps).

- at some point, david lockhart moved in, and jen and david and i were an interchangeable team, hosting events almost monthly. we had a rule - whenever we restocked the bar, we would try to pick up one bottle of something completely unusual, just because. our bar menu was something like ten pages long, haphazardly taped to the insulation. i kept a running tally of our events in a note on my phone, many of which i hardly remember. the note reads "April dave's bday, May short play brigade vol. 1, June annex pizza night, Sandy's going away, Bret's bday, Awesome/bliss potential, 4th of july, August firefly marathon, Practice cocktail party, September actual cocktail w/ amber wolfe, October Exit Theatre workshop, Dans going away party, Halloween pre-func, November wedding screening, Comfort benefit, Sundays film festival, Un-wedding, New years eve, Jan 06 carina bday afterparty, Feb cody rivers show, Jenmoon bday cocktail party, Bret fetzer show," & then i stopped keeping track. bliss potential, my first a cappella group, rehearsed in there for hundreds of hours. i remember a dozen different lip syncs at various events, goofy hilarious elaborate fun while staring down blinding theatrical spotlights that were designed to be a dozen feet away instead of right in your eyeballs. i remember a whiskey tasting organized by rob & steph, where i learned the joys of bulleit bourbon. i remember dancing my silly ass off countless times. i remember a story about beverly coming back from training in australia and remarking to ethan, "when did the cult get its own night club?" i remember a particular first kiss, although that memory is fading faster than others.

- we tried to buy the house. it wasn't for sale, but we felt we should offer. the home inspector said the whole place needed $50k worth of work, and the bronze itself would need to be torn down within a couple years, before it fell down on itself. our offer was counter-offered with a figure so high that we felt it must have been for sentimental reasons; this was the home of the parents of the current owner. obviously we passed.

- david stayed in the house and kept the bronze open; we turned our "bronze energy" toward working at annex theatre. one of my absolute favorite memories of the bronze, though, was the afterparty following my play "interlace" at annex. when i think about the drudgery of aspects of my life, and the emptiness that lurks, it is very easy to remember the full house at annex theatre on opening night of "interlace" (indeed, staff members remember barry taking his pants off in the front row due to the heat), then a crew of us retiring to the bronze for a concert by my new a cappella group, elegant catastrophe singers. that was the most people we ever sang for, the longest set we ever sang, the most fun i ever had on stage (that didn't involve me getting married).

- brian kinyon met us at the bronze tonight with his big truck, for load out of most of our belongings. it was fitting that it was jen, david, brian and myself staring down the bronze's apocalypse (although eric showed up for a brief spell and helped tear down the lights). we wound up taking regular pulls off the stray bottles of alcohol that hadn't quite been finished - the limoncello, the courvoisier, the navan. much of the bar equipment and spare booze, and spare lights and cable, will hopefully find a home at annex. the bar is headed to pat and tanya's wedding, and we don't know where after that. brian is going to strip down the stage into its still valuable bits of plywood, to use building a shed at his house. i tore the bar menu down off the wall and have it nearby for future reference. i found an old shooting schedule from when we shot "cherub" in that garage. i found a plastic unicorn on the floor underneath something, which of course i kept.

(7/30/09)



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