Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Fictional Non


BENNINGTON -- Sunday morning in Bennington.

Florence and Machine for the 7th time; God, I want to interview Florence after that ragiest rage in all of rageville. The Pretenders for the 4th time; God, Chrissie was the babest babe in all of babeville. The "Grease" song and dance between Olivia Newton-John and Dog Travolta for the 3rd time; God, Kenickie has a massive chub wherever he is in the Great Beyond. Facebook to YouTube to CBSSports to Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to Yahoo to Google to Florence Welch to Chrissie Hynde to Olivia Newton-Dog to Yahoo to Fantasy Baseball -- freakin' Mike Leake GROW A PAIR! -- to YouTube to SJ to Paris Review on Twitter to Paris Review on Facebook to Paris Review on Instagram to Paris Review on Tumbler -- Paris Review be on everything social, yo -- to Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and Fantasy and Yahoo and Gmail and Yahoo and Fantasy and Twitter and YouTube and Instagram and Chrissie and Florence and SJ and Bangladesh and SJ and Yahoo and Google and Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and Yahoo and Fantasy Baseball and Yahoo and Florence and Florence and YouTube and Facebook and and and and. And! 


Looking at everything. Looking at nothing. Hey good lookin', what'cha got cookin'?

Need coffee.

Oh, lookie: 3 women across the street, tourists, hands over eyes shading eyes from sun, sunshine galore in Bennington, looking at big sticker poster of Victoria's Big Secret in the window, amused by Victoria's Big Secret. "Come in! Come in!" he waves. One of them women sees his waves of Come in! Come in! and waves back and talks her friends into Come in!

They cross the crosswalk and Come in! Well then.

One of them in blue jeans and a light purple sweater. Squint jusssst right and she's Roseanne's older sister, wearing a visor like the Ol' Ballcoach iffin the Ol' Ballcoach had a poodle perm like Roseanne's older sister. One of them in dark jeans and a blue sweater over a white t-shirt. Silver fox. One of them wears a salt and pepper sweater and specs that aren't too far off from those worn by McCain's veep.

And here we go, again.

"Yeah, that was his college thesis in 2004. His friends kept buying them so he turned it into a business. He has recycled 150,000 vinyl records. We also have The Doors and Cream and more Doors. And there are a few more over there."

"How does he get these record labels?"

"I think those are from badly damaged records, so he just takes the labels and makes coasters of them."

"Oh that is so cool!"

"Yeah, people really love these 45 desk clocks."

Minutes pass. And here we go, again.

"There's a cool story about the artist up there" turning down the dial of the volume in the middle of Terrapin Station. "His name is Brian Hewitt and he grew up in North Bennington. He was a newspaper guy for 25 years, an ad director, at the paper here in town" -- pointing out the window toward the local rag -- "and then he went to become a general manager of a bunch of papers in Maine, and then he was the ad director for Down East Magazine in Maine. So he gets burnt out in 2008 or 2009 and" -- <making quote marks> -- 'retires' to the Dominican to drink beer and surf and chase girls. Does that really well for 4 months." She's at the railing, holding the railing, looking down, listening, smiling especially at the chase girls line. "So his dad calls him up one day and says 'Son, can you come home? I need your help.' because he's 90 years old. So Brian unretires and moves in with dad to take care of him. Playing the good son. But he can't find a good job. He can't find any job to match his skill set. So he picks up a paint brush for the first time in his life, 47 years old, and" -- <hands together, holding imaginary fence post, rainbowing outward> -- does all of that since 2010."

Her eyes light up. "Wow! That is amAzing! I love the whole ..." -- <struggles to find the right word while rainbowing her hands outward>

"Yeah, the fish-eye effect is pretty sweet. That one, behind you in the window, doesn't it remind you of a house that belongs in a Tim Burton movie?"

"Yeahhh, I was thinking that, too."

"That one and the 2 in the easels make up the 'Park-McCullough House' series. Ever hear of the Park-McCullough House? (she nods no) It's a Vermont and national landmark in North Bennington. One hundred and fifty years old. They have a playhouse inside and massive gardens and that Tim Burton-looking house behind you is the Carriage Barn. The number one thing on my bucket list here is to sell that series. I hope that when I'm 47 I can find some great new artistic calling."

She nods and turns and looks at more of Brian's paintings and prints.

And here we go, again.

"Yeah, it was a bank from 1929 to 1997. Here's a picture of what downtown looked like in the '50s and '60s with the traffic cop and all these cool old cars. So yeah, in 1997 they wanted to turn it into one of those drive-thru banks like everyone was doing then. But as you can see" -- <pointing to the walls along North Street and Main Street> -- we're a corner building plus it's a marble building. No way they could've done that. So they walked away from this great piece of architecture and opened some smaller office down the street with a drive-thru ATM. So the building stayed closed for 3 years. My best friend and his wife-to-be wanted to open a gallery, and the town was desperate to get anyone in here after 3 years to get taxes again. My friend knows how to play the game and buys it for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. <6 eyeballs bulge> And then -- <pointing upward> -- they turn the upstairs, which had been bank offices, into a beautiful 4-bedroom apartment. They get married and have 3 daughters, and all of them live up there. <6 eyeballs full of amazement> Top to bottom it's the best building in Bennington."

"One hundred and fifty thousand?"

"Yep, sale of the century."

"That is amazing. Those lights -- <pointing to the central chandelier> -- are so beautiful."

"Yeah, original chandeliers and marble counters and marble floor and marble stoop. And all 3 vaults are in perfect working order. That's -- <pointing to the opera-looking box above the entrance> -- where the guard used to stand in the '30s and '40s. And see this gold-capped thing -- <leaning over the counter and pointing down> -- at the bottom of the wall? They're at each station along the wall. Well, if you tried to rob the bank in the old days, they'd push a button and teargas shot into your face before you even knew what was what -- <6 eyeballs bulging like OMG!> so yeah, you don't mess with Vermonters."

I knew where this was headed and within a minute the 3 women headed for the door.

"Thanks for the stories. You have a beautiful gallery."

<So I've heard, again. And again. And again>

No sale.

Sunday morning in Bennington.

Facebook. Twitter. SJ. Gmail. Florence. Florence. Florence.