April has come. April is GONE! Thank GOD!!! OY! What a month!!! The Easter long Weekend was the last peaceful weekend I had that month. Then renovations started in my apartment building and everything in my apartment was in the process of being disshelved; That was on the weekend of the 14th of April. It’s 2012, and the 14th of April marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Realizing I’d be spending the rest of the weekend shamblizing my place for this, that and whatever else had to be done, I spent the 14th (Saturday) at my mom’s, watching Night to Remember; THE ultimate Titanic version. Odd, how I was…reflecting on the lives of people I didn’t know. But how can you not feel for people who have mortality staring them in the face, in the very place they were soooo sure they were safe. How’s that for a jumping-off point for a sermon? A humanist wouldn’t care for it! That’s okay, because I’m not a humanist. And that’s not the point of this post anyway. This is just a vent….an observation of the last month. Assurances that we seem to have, that everything will be as it was, don’t always play out in ‘real life’. There are unpleasant surprises. On that chilly April night, a good forty miles from the nearest body of land (Newfoundland) hundreds of people huddled in lifeboats; watching as the ship that ‘GOD HIMSELF’ could not sink, as it dipped deeper and deeper, into the icy cold North Atlantic Ocean. If the sight of that ‘Unsinkable’ liner going under wasn’t enough of a tragedy, there were still people on the ship! Either on deck, or trapped in steerage. Many assuming that they were safer on the deck of the mighty Titanic, than freezing in dinky little lifeboats, that would be brought back, anyway, when the ship was repaired, or everyone would be bought aboard a rescue ship on time, worse coming to the worst! There are some things the mind is not equipped to deal with.
And speaking of things the mind isn’t equipped to deal with…. one day after the one hundredth anniversary of that horrific night, I set about preparing my place for a huge spring cleaning and clearing out of stuff I wanted to get rid of anyway. All week, off and on, I’d be having work men, showing up at ungodly hours of the morning, to do whatever, so I wanted all that done by the end of the weekend so I wouldn’t have to deal with it during the week. But before that, I decided to check my emails, which is when I found the letter that I should have waited til the end of the day to read. I was cranky enough; having to turn my apartment into the replica of an explosion at a rummage sale without adding grief to the mix!
By some strange irony, that I wouldn’t have even considered, seven years earlier, the same guy who gave me the news I got on Sunday, April 15th, 2012, was the same person who gave a lot of us MUCH BETTER NEWS on Monday, March 7th, 2005.
I remember reading the page on a Brian DePalma fan forum. Disbelieving what I was reading, and then, when it sunk in that I was actually SEEING this, I made some kind of noise that the computer tech in my class mistook for a sound someone made upon seeing a mouse or having a stroke! I do not remember what that sound was, though I can speculate. And for the rest of that day, and the month and a half that followed, a MILLION fears circled my head. 1) Cancellation. 2)Terrorist attack 3). The EVENT would be sold out before I got a ticket… Thankfully, NONE of these dire predictions materialized, although I was nearly denied admittance when the top half of my ticket tore off. But Doug knew me somehow and let me in! That night, I got to meet two people that I just about grew up with! And as well as being on screen, they were IN the Garrick. But one in particular. The actor who embodied the character, who kicked some serious butt!
If you’re reading this, I assume I don’t have to tell you who Winslow Leach was. I don’t have his complete back-story, (bio of his life before he arrived where we see him), but I’m fairly quirky in the same way, so I could almost imagine it. Though a guy named Bjorne Rostaing did that in 1974, with a book of the same name (Phantom of the Paradise). I didn’t care for most of it, that I didn’t recognize from the movie. However, I do have a new appreciation for the background of that character’s life. With age comes wisdom, all that stuff.
“Why Winslow?” you ask. “Why not Swan? He was cute. He had power.” True. And I did have a crush on both character and actor for a while. I’d go into detail, but that would turn this post into a NOVEL! This will have to do.. http://www.mywritersworkshop.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=whatever&thread=46&page=1 I believe chapter 5 (Hello, I’m Winslow Leach~Profile of a Hero), should set that question to rights.
And now, to Winslow’s wiser brother, William (Finley). http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog/index.blog?topic_id=1059031 In my early grade school years (grade one and two ) Jim Henson had become a teacher of sorts, through the Sesame Street Muppets. Through those furry, Felt and feathered creatures, I learned about numbers and letters. Apart from math, though, which I didn’t really care for, I didn’t pay much attention to number. Letters were my favorite because letters were made into words, which were made into sentences. These sentences could be constructed into paragraphs. A whole lot of paragraphs together became stories, which fed my imagination.
I didn’t know I even wanted to become a writer when I met my second ‘teacher’, one drab Sunday in 1975. I probably didn’t even realize that I had met my second teacher until a bit later; once my initial infatuation with Swan ( the blonde guy with the boyish smirk) wore off and I saw him for the scuzz he was.
Ya know… I scanned over this page and realized I didn’t happen to mention said film associated with the two main characters I’m talking about, but if you’re reading this, chances are, you already know. If not, then one of the listed tags should help.
Anywho, where was I? Oh, yes…my former infatuation. Like so many other girls in my age group, I fell for cute, and stayed with him because I didn’t have the strength of character to stand up for myself, or the guy I found myself really liking. As soon as I decided I liked writing, (following a class assignment that found its way into the school newspaper) I found I had the courage to take Winslow’s side, especially when the other girls had moved on to other teen crushes and whether I liked ‘Swan’ or didn’t no longer mattered to them. So I was free to root for the good guy, who stood up to an enemy he’d earlier mistook for a kindred spirit, creatively speaking. I recall either before or just after Phantompalooza 1, getting into a good-natured debate with one of the event organizers, about the sins and virtues of Winslow Leach; and decided I liked Winslow better as a flawed human than a faultless super-hero.
When all is said and done, though, Winslow (by way of William Finley) became my unintended second teacher, as I learned as much from his mistakes as I did from the actions he took to regain the work that his naivete had lost him. But he DID stand up for himself. And while he didn’t get back what was his, he LITERALLY died, TRYING! In so doing, that ‘nobody‘ kid from ‘nowhere‘ U.S.A. accomplished more for musicians and the creative community than some of the most established names in the game! He was the Underdog we all feel like, but still did what he needed to do to get back what was his! Oh,sure, Winslow could have just sat and stewed over being screwed over, but who wants to watch a movie about a guy having an ulcer!?
To that end, it was a singular HONOR to be able to say THANK YOU to William, in person, for the impact he and Winslow had on me!
Last month marked the 7th anniversary of the original Phantompalooza event, and while the occasion was decidedly more somber, because of William’s passing, THE one plus was that, 7 years earlier, we got to tell some long time friends that we appreciated them! I’m glad Mr. Finley took the risk and came to Winnipeg to find that out!