Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Life Events

Practically everywhere in the working world, it's "Open Enrollment" time. You know what Open Enrollment is. And if so, If you have ever dealt with HR at your company, you know about the term "Life Event." It's usually something that warrants a change in your health insurance coverage that has to go through paperwork, especially if it's not "Open Enrollment."

It's a business term for what used to be called rites of passage (although one wouldn't necessarily call a birth a "rite"), it's still a time when a profound change in life occurrs and is somehow acknowledged. It's just that the term "Life Event," like other bureaucratic terms, seems to reduce things down to just some ink and paper.

I will openly admit that like Framber (Frank Chandek and Amber Chandek nee Lawson), our wedding was originally intended simply to satisfy legal and business paperwork that would make things like health insurance, custody of our (eventual) children (not a Framber issue, but still), ownership of our real estate and other property a lot easier to manage on an administrative level, not to mention an economy of scale. Heck, our invitations even quoted John Lennon: "Intellectually, we didn't believe in getting married. But you don't love somebody intellectually."

And so when Amber told us about a year ago she and Frank were going to make it legal and use it as an excuse to throw the best party they could, I believed that sentiment. Except that, like these Life Events tend to be and often catch us by surprise in doing, it was much more than signing some paperwork here, here, here, and here.

It was downright beautiful.

That Amber was ravishing in her deep blood red Edwardian/Gothic gown, and that Frank was spiffy and handsome in his Get-Me-To-the-Church-On-Time top hat and tails, goes without saying. That the decorations which transformed the Miramar Theatre from a rock and roll showcase into an elegantly glittering ballroom, with subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) elements of the sci-fi geekdom that Framber (and a lot of their guests) revel in were magical in their detail and scope also goes without saying. But this is also a fun couple. This is a bride whose processional was "Imperial March (Darth Vader/Anakin's Theme) From Star Wars." This is a groom who entered the ceremony to the 20th Century Fox Fanfare theme, and, when asked, "Do you take Amber to be your wife" answered, "Yes!" as if to say, "DUH!" These are people whose musical taste was reflected in the three (count em, THREE) bands they chose for their reception: a big band swing orchestra from Tosa, the wonderfully eclectic Cooler By The Lake from Chicago, and the straight up snotty punk of Floor Model. Oh, and the food rocked too, topped off by a delicious Eat Cake cake.

But this is also a couple whose ceremony readings would include a (potentially stuffy) legal brief, In this case, the Majority opinion of the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision affirming same-sex marriage:
"Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family....It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects..... Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition."


Yes, these are people who can make a legalese justification of a life event bring me to tears -- on a number of levels and for a number of reasons. Life event, indeed. This is a couple who are indeed not only committed to each other, but to the concept of fairness and justice. Without going into detail and getting more political, let's just say they're pretty high up on Maslow's Hierarchy and leave it at that.

I was too exhausted the next day to make it out to "celebrate" another Life Event, in this case, Matt "The Ratt" Davis' "retirement" party-- his last show with the Uptown Savages. The word is not that he's moving back to England, he's just, in a very Detective "I'm getting too old for this shit" Murtaugh way, decided he's done. Except I'm not convinced he, or anybody else who slams the rockabilly, can ever really be too old for this. Still, it's a life event. Retiring from a successful band you helped found after what, eight years, can't have been an easy call.

I was also too nervous about shooting this life event to make it the night before over to Potowatomi to see yet another of life's events -- this one being Chief opening for their heroes, Thin Lizzy. Chief chiefster Chris Tishler posted on Facebook the next day, "I guess pretty much all that's left now is climbing Everest."

In the meantime, Life Events go on. I bridged a handful of Brownies to Girl Scouts today in a ceremony that includes candles and cake. Sunday my kid will complete his Tiger Cub Scout year and become a Wolf. My good online friend's sister is going into labor any day now. Karmic HR might be getting a bit overwhelmed.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Halloween Mystery Box

We start the Halloween entry with a visit, on Gallery Night, to the Grand Opening of Stoney Rivera's new Dominion Gallery, featuring dark work from Clive Barker. He's dark. Not all necessarily ghouslish, but this man has some clear demons and it's obvious he's exorcising them through his work. I was actually looking very forward to seeing Kymm Sandum's offerings, but the Londoner's work got stuck in customs, so I will have to come back another day. Rivera has taken the old Acme Agency building in Riverwest (which actually used to be the old Crazy Shepherd offices, back when they were a monthly, then a bi-weekly, then a weekly) and spruced it up. There's beautiful wood flooring I never realized was there (I don't remember seeing the floor on any of my visits to the old Shepherd offices...), the walls have been scrubbed down and painted up, and the gallery shines as homage to the dark side. The artwork-- arresting and interesting -- is reasonably priced. This is Riverwest, after all. I then drove a few blocks north to check out the Art Bar's annual Fear show. Full disclosure, I was part of a group of artists that participated in Fear a few years back. Because it's Halloween, people expect dark shadows and creepy things, but if you want to go beyond that, it's a tricky theme to grab. This year's show did grab it. One artist who worked in oils picked up on the space alien theme and treated it well; others went for creepy characters in dark alleys, and a group of photographers played with exposure and color manipulation to get some great effects.

A weekend later, we're still hitting the high art, this time a viewing of Dracula at the Milwaukee Ballet. Friends accompanied us; and for a few logistical reasons, they were not able to make the 7:30 curtain. Look, I understand that if you don't make curtain, you need to wait until a lull in the performance to be seated, so you don't bother other people. But they closed doors even during artistic director Michael Pink's welcoming speech -- which only the haughtiest of snots would have objected to accommodating latecomers during. And what would have been the harm in putting the latecomers in the rafters (which they eventually did anyway)? And what would have been the harm in being polite to them? My friends weren't the only ones upset by this; a lovely couple who sat behind us during Act 2 told a similar story (and recognized our friends from the disgruntled crowd.) "At least I didn't have to be a raving bitch about it," my friend said, "Because somebody else was!" So that kind of put a damper on an otherwise splendid show.

The Friday night performance is always a toss up, because the opening night cast performs on Thursday and Saturday -- but this year I was mighty impressed with a cast led by Joshua Reynolds, a relative newbie to Thursday's David Hovhassian. Reynolds was downright untouchable as the count-- elegant, intense, somewhat evil, but more like an animal doingwhat he can to survive. Parts of the show where he suggests bat-like movement were amazing to the kids; and fortunately the homoeroticism of a lot of the scenes went over their head. Almost. As Stella told me afterwards, "Uh, that was messed up."

The next day we got up, did our chores, and Sammy delivered the best line of the evening as we set out to Bay View's nighttime trick-or-treat: "Mom, I have a feeling I'm going to get a lot of Kit Kats," he said, grabbing a few from our bowl, "... so I better get used to them." There's a few houses in Bay View that are already are on the famous list: the "scary" house on Lincoln, the "book" house on Homer, and then there's Ted's house, where his annual Mystery Box game turned into a recreation of Let's Make A Deal, complete with stage lights, microphones, and horrendously outdated suit and tie. The kid before us had racked up some three full-sized candy bars and other treats, but gave it all up for What's In The Box. He went home with.... a delicious can of cocktail wieners! Stella on the other hand, did not get zonked. She gave up a couple of Tootsie rolls and ended up with a movie-theatre sized box of Dots. Now for me, that would have been a zonk. But Stella loves Dots, so score!

Now we're into November, and so back indoors for music and mayhem. And probably more punk. I seem to be getting too cultured lately.