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  log entries by harry kollatz

On Politics, Protest And A Gustav Klimt Umbrella

I write now with my jeans cuffs sopping wet and my socks removed and draped on the foyer radiator because me,Dirk and my good friend Joe Johnson scampered out in miserable frequently driving cold rain to witness the silent walking of Richmond's chapter of the Women In Black protest against the war.
It started as a fairly calm morning but I went out to buy coffee and creamer and on the way down Cary Street peered into a coffee shop spied Joe sitting among a group of acquaintances. Joe was there because he'd volunteered to leaflet cars and people with anti-war materials but the dreadful weather made that operation pointless.So, they convened, quite naturally seems to me, in a bustling coffee shop called Betsy's.
There we spoke with our friend P., who related of his recent marriage to a Cuban woman which would be unrecognized by the U.S. since we do not maintain political relations with that island nation 90 miles off our coast.So, she cannot leave the country until P., who is a Canadian citizen, works through back channels to have her brought to Canada.
Joe and I returned to Colonial Avenue, the weather deteriorating, to have him meet Dirk and we discussed the attributes of the Mutation project. From there, we launched into the rain, umbrellas in hand, to see the Women In Black march. We could see black figures and a white sign way off in the distance and unless we hurried we'd never catch up to them. Joe was concerned that perhaps they didn't have umbrellas and he suggested if they didn't, we should put ours over their heads. Very dramatic. So, partially dashing, we caught up to them just past the Virginia Museum of Fine Art.
I actually stood on Boulevard's median to get the full impression of the long, silent line of women garbed in black clothes. Most of them also held uniformly dark umbrellas, except for a few and one particularly colorful one that was an art print pattern and I made out the signature, "Gustav Klimt."
The Boulevard is one of Richmond's formerly grand avenues. During the early decades of the 20th century three rows of linden trees lined its median and side walks, from Monument Avenue all the way to Byrd Park. It was the longest line of urban linden trees, even than of Berlin's Unter den Linden. But, disease, age and roots upsetting sidewalks, and poor maintenance, too, eventually caused the demise or removal of all but a few of the great old linden trees. Highway construction in the 1970s at the Boulevard's southern end sadly eliminated a stand of the last, most venerable surviving trees.
The houses, churches and museums along the Boulevard are quitely dignified and surprising in their variety. Against this backdrop, in pouring rain, the women marched toward Monument and passed alongside the statue of Civil War General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
Our curiousity dampened by rain, Joe, Dirk and me trooped back to Carytown and while avoiding puddles carried on a conversation about politics and culture, and the frightening hard-heartedness of the current U.S. president who sees protests as justifications for his righteousness and only stiffens his resolve.In a situation such as this, as Dirk observed, a protestor can never be on the right side of the issue. Joe pointed out that the administration is basically polarizing the country into a simplistic, for us or against us situation. It is a dangerous way to run a country and why, in a heavy rain, about 60 women chose to walk and quietly protest, with signs at either end of their column, "WOMEN IN BLACK NO WAR IN IRAQ."
by harry kollatz, richmond

Near-Midnight Meditations On A Week With Germans
It's Friday in Richmond, Virginia, a damp, chilly February evening; Dirk and I just walked from the Byrd Theatre where we saw Eminem's hymn to himself, "8 Mile." Better than I expected it to be but rather a 2003 version of "Rebel Without A Cause" mixed in with a little "High Noon." Brittany Murphy in this case is a rather slatternly Grace Kelly.
So, Dirk and Niels pushed through to Richmond, emerging through the snowy mists like great Teutonic myths. These guys are tall! Since then, we've been careening around the city, meeting, talking, spreading the word of Mutation to all who will hear us, looking for those who connect with the notion of the emotions and can dedicate their varied talents to its purpose.
Perhaps the highlight thus far was going to "The Wax Museum" hip hop showcase in a tiny little bar above the Chop Stix Chinese restaurant. Here, men and women of all colors, mostly under 30, but some older, primarily singles, but a few couples, gathered to hear records spun and scratched. We were treated to the antic near-preacherly rapping of white-face painted African American "Kilamanjaro" who operated his own sound boards and stood on a chair and sung and rhymed about peace, love and the state of things in this messed up world of ours. Very interesting.
This afternoon Dirk and Niels met the executive committee of the Firehouse and we discussed scheduling and the logistics of making this Richmond aspect of Mutation work best for everyone. Stay tuned.
Tonight we attended a reading of two graduate level writers from Virginia Commonwealth University's fiction writing program. In between I spoke of Mutation and wondered if I made any sense. I said in part, that I remember, that it is time for the makers and creators, 'the unacknowledged legislators of the world" to seize the opportunity Mutation provides.
And now, sleepy, from a long week of cultural activity and work at the magazine I am climbing into the Great American Sleep Machine. This is Harry Kollatz Jr., signing off.--HEK by harry kollatz, richmond

Hazy Shades of Richmond Winter

So the power abruptly went out at the office this morning not 10 minutes after I hiked through the slush and frozen sleet to get there. I had better grip because Amie loaned me these slip on spike treads that really give good traction.
I met in the dark with my editor about a special seciton I'm writing about this summer's grand reopening of the downtown train station. I called the magazine's social photographer on the editor's cell phone to tell her that I'd hitch a ride to the "Gods and Generals" movie premier with her; I'd meet her under the marquee of the Byrd Theatre.
I thought: this is great, I'll see Dirk and Niels and be able to spend some get-to-know-you time before I have to don the tuxedo and go downtown. Yes, a tuxedo, with tails and everything. Shame they'll miss seeing me in that.
So I am shoveling more snow and ice from the front steps and sidewalk when Amie, alerted by the shovel-scraping sound that I was home, addressed me from the upstairs window, saying that it was doubtful that the Germans would arrive here before 7:30 tonight. I of course have this premier I'm going to.I may cut it short at the intermission (this film about the U.S. Civil War, from beginning up to Gettysburg is three and a half hours long (!)).
It is pretty here, everything is white, but treacherous and slippery. --HEK by harry kollatz, richmond

Germans Stymied By D.C. Snow--Richmond Ice Bound

Dirk and Niels, at last word from Isaac at about 5:00 p.m.--which, if conditions were normal, meant they'd be rounding the bend for Richmond--are stuck in Washington D.C. In terms of places to be stranded, they could do far, far worse. Penn Station in D.C. is a 24-hour-a-day operation with fine and fast foods, movie theaters, shops and diversions. Isaac was trying to find them a place to bed for the night and Amie here has a friend in D.C., who loves theatre, and has called her, thinking they might be able stay with her if it works out--her house is within walking distance of the station. Amie and I in fact stayed at her place and walked there ourselves.
So, the crazy weather nudged the Iraq and Korea stand offs for a few hours and we could revel in the frosty beauty of winter and appreciate the basic need for warmth. In Carytown, I had a cup of hot chocolate, sat in a sidewalk chair and watched bundled pedestrians slosh past. People were in good spirits. It was an unexpected day off work.
People accustomed to such depths of snow--like people from Northern climes--may point and laugh at us while our entire city grinds to a halt for three inches of packed ice and sleet. Dangerous stuff. I've not seen conditions like this since 1979, when a series of snow and ice storms in late January kept about a foot or more of the white stuff on the ground for a few weeks. My high school was closed for days on end. There was another severe ice and freeze back in 1995. I remember that because the Firehouse Theatre was still owned by the city then and it was appropriated to house street people. That was an event, let me tell you.
So we are looking forward to the Germans arrival. Amie scattered rock salt on our steps which I earlier hacked a walk path up the middle. I just imagined Dirk, laden with a huge backpack, trying to heft himself up slippery steps and falling. What an auspicious beginning to the Richmond part of the project!
So, I go back to the magazine tomorrow. Dirk and Niels arrive. I look forward to greeting and their meeting Richmond and Richmonders.--HEK
by harry kollatz, richmond

Dirk and Niels coming to Richmond: Preparations

Dirk and Niels are coming at an interesting time--the country is in the jitters with various colors alerts over would-be terrorism and Richmond this weekend is experiencing its typical February mood--wet and dreary and cold.
We are picking up around the house and I am realizing I don't know what Dirk wants for breakfast? We need more coffee and probably beer and oatmeal (does he even eat oatmeal?) and thank goodness there are inexpensive restaurants around...
The Firehouse will be accessible to them, Isaac. If we arrange things--I think --and Dirk and Niels, feel free please to put in your opinions here-- to see some of the rehearsal for 'Curse of the Starving Class' which is opening unfortunately just as they leave. We can arrange something. I just want to speak with them to see where their heads are at and what they want to know. I look forward to showing the city off to them. What a grand adventure in art and life for them!
--HEK by harry kollatz, richmond

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