That’s for the cute, smiling woman who treated me to a dance in the aisle at the Bagdad Friday night. All sorts of worthy stuff happened that night – the Cort & Fatboy live broadcast, the celebration of the anniversary of Repeal Day (that day in the Thirties when we finally got rid of Prohibition), music, companionship, hats, boas, and the capper of watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in all its trippy glory on the Bagdad screen. Plus gams. Plus being able to say “gams.”
Let’s back up. (And you can start playing the podcast of Cort and Fatboy’s show, thanks to the power of the ’Net. Listen. It was a fun show.)
Cold had descended on Portland like some fabled anti-blanket unable to hold any warmth. (I write this fully knowing how the Midwest and the East are getting hammered by even worse cold; I know, relatively speaking, it wasn’t that cold. It was still cold.) How better to warm up a few hundred Portlanders than with beer, pub grub, candy and the ultimate movie about candy? And outside the Bagdad, on the sidewalk right in front of Cort and Fatboy’s broadcast table, were men and women dressed Twenties-style: trenchcoats and hats on the men, flapper dress on the women. I hope they were thinking warm thoughts, ’cause, again, cold. They were demonstrative, slinging signs saying how great Repeal is, was, or would be, depending on what era you thought they were from. (Yeah, I think like a time-traveler. And as Douglas Adams once said, time travel is hell on grammar.) Fatboy praised on-air the legs of one of the women. In fact, later he lamented that she’d gone away. Maybe she time-traveled back to someplace warmer.
The Bagdad was good enough to provide, for free, hats. Black hats, an elegant accessory for a…no, not a more civilized age, we’re talking the time when Tommy gun-armed mobs were running the drinking business, but by God a more elegant one. And I wanted to be elegant. Plus I wanted a hat. So a hat I got. For the rest of the night I wore a good-sized hat with pride. I need to wear hats more.
Between 7:30 and 9 I had a dinner visit with Mike Russell and Dave Walker, a dinner visit that WILL NOT be recreated here. Let’s put it this way: maybe the least libelous thing said at it was me comparing Shannen Doherty to the Toxic Avenger. (I mean, dude! Look at how far out of alignment her eyes are! It’s a split-level face!) So I’ll continue to be well practiced at keeping secrets. Like that secret. And that one. And that one. Oh, you can’t know what I’m talking about. Good.
In the meantime, the Bagdad had opened its theater very early for music acts and dancing. There was a flow of people into the Bagdad that didn’t turn into a line until very late, so no Ceremonial Passing of the Tots: there wasn’t enough of a group to pass tater tots out to. (On the other hand, that saved us from an idea I had: Wonka’s Chocolate Tots. Don’t ask.) Instead, I went in and floated around in a theater aisle. A young woman, the woman mentioned at the top, corralled me and got me dancing. Yes, I can dance. With another person, with the left hand there and the right hand there so you can guide the other person. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this. She grinned that I could do the dance and gave me a white boa. Later that night I gave that boa to another woman in the aisle, and she gave me her purple boa in exchange. Maybe that was a strange sight, me with my yellow coat and my blue-ish backpack and the purple boa and the black hat. But I felt freakin’ dashing. And that was the point, wasn’t it?
“What happens in the Bagdad stays at the Bagdad,” I then told Cort. “Until someone puts the photos online,” he reminded me.
I allowed myself one drink back during dinner, hours before the film, and the strongest thing I had after was an R.C. for the caffeine. I ordered a Coke from one bartender stationed next to the theater entrance, then realized he thought I’d meant a rum and Coke! Shows how much I drink (not a lot, or I’d’ve known the lingo).
The music patrons cleared out, the movie patrons herded in, and the screening began. The DJs let fly with one secret that they could de-secret-ize: January’s late-night movie, the one for charity, will be The Godfather. A classic, Oscar-winning film, and they’ll get a print of it. Plus probably an earlier start than 11 p.m., because The Godfather is, of course, freakin’ long. (They’d wanted to show a longer film for the Late-Night Movie. Their backup choice was Boogie Nights.) The pre-flick clips that Fatboy chose were Duck Amuck and the trailer to Rocky III. Talia Shire briefly reminded me of the Mythbusters’s Kari Byron. I am not saying that as a complaint.
Then things got weird. But it was the movie-weird of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, so that was okay and expected and fine. And sweet.