As it’s May third…somewhere to the east…

…I am in a funky place.  It’s called turning 66, a horrid number to me.

I remember celebrating when my dear Dad turned 66, and how he, the former Milwaukee detective, seemed so old….and yet not.  He had a lust for life, and though his many silent and not-so-silent strokes debilitated him, he was always strong.

As was my Mother, a short, compact Greek girl.  Unfortunately, she passed in January of 1982 of the devastation of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disesase), which precipitated my Dad’s first stroke.

66.  It means I am closer to 70 than 60.  How do I deal with that?

Almost 33 years ago (half my life!), I was sent by the Milwaukee Stagehands union,  IATSE Local 18, down here to Chicago–as a painter/carpenter person.  The LA painter boss grabbed me…and said, “She’s ours!”, before the carpys  even knew what was happening.  For the next 87 days, I was a painter, on “The Blues Brothers”–no, I’ll take that back, because on my second day on the job, I was designated “Stand-by Signwriter”, and received a substantial raise.  And there I worked, in a warehouse with 53 men.

It was hard work (7 days a week, 9 hours a day, with a lot of overtime pay)…but a really fun time.  Even though I am not in the credits of the film, I look back fondly…I made some inroads for many talented women.

I suggested the above glitter app, and got an OK from John Lloyd…and it worked out well!

I am very happy to still be among the living, YOU, my followers and readers.  And I shall spend tomorrow photographing at the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Zoo…so expect some fun shots!

I usually hate photos of myself…

Me, onstage (as if I hadn’t been there before, at 15 years old)!  Copyright 1979 Mark Mollick

…but this was taken by  a partner 33 years ago (that’s HALF my life ago) this month…as he posed me on the stage of the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, where my fellow artists and I had completed over 5 weeks of difficult work to present Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”, set in war-torn Italy after WWII.  I want to say Marge Kellogg designed it, but perhaps my memory has gone, or not?

What is peculiar are the columns, right and left.  I worked so hard to get them to look that old…considering they were made of soft foam glued on Sona tubes, then carved with matte knives and razor blades.  They were then coated with a Joint compound/flexible glue mix, and let to dry for days.  Then we could finally paint and distress, via color, even more.

I look at my hands, and see the ravages of producing Scenic Art–they actually look younger today!  The lovely boots I wore became, eventually, ‘painting boots’–hey, they were very comfortable to work in!).  The shirt I made myself…and I still prefer to wear jeans (mostly black, these days).  The hair is now mostly white, the wrinkles considerably deeper…the eye make-up is the same I’ve done for over 35 years.

Pretty boring is this artist…except when it comes to re-creating the beauty we were all given!

Just to prove…

Gosh, I look pretty tech/painter here, don’t I, especially with my ‘Streisand-look ‘do’–ha-ha?  That’s because I was…sometimes-carpy/mostly painter/sometimes-designer.

…with one of the few photos ever taken of me as an adult (which I am reluctant to post, but I guess I didn’t look too bad for being 33–half my life ago now)…

…I DID work with Mr. Howard Keel, in 1979, at the now-defunct Melody Top Theater in Milwaukee WI.

We did a ‘turnover’ every two weeks, and Mr. Keel had been rehearsing “Paint Your Wagon” the previous weekdays.

When he came off of dress rehearsal, he walked immediately back to the shop (where I, the Assistant Scenic Designer/Scenic Painter, kind of lived most of the week in that shop).

He asked one of my people if he could speak with me.  I came out from the back of the shop…a little bit scared, because I knew “STARS” could be angry about the smallest things.

He asked, “Why did you paint the floor?”

I answered, “Because it is turnover, and dress is today.  We repaint it overnight.”

“But why?”, he continued, and smiling, said, “You erased all my cues!”

He and his family, who had accompanied him to summer musical theater, were some of the most patient people, with very well-behaved children.

A great man (in my estimation) from an even greater time…when celebrities actually acknowledged those who made their lives better…on stage.

Shortly, I was called by IATSE Local 18, Milwaukee, to go to Chicago to work a few weeks on “The Blues Brothers”.  But that’s quite another series of stories I will tell.

For all you ‘likers’ and ‘followers’

This is the best I can say it:  Follow your dream and ‘keep going’.

I first held an old Kodak bellows camera, and shot, at 4 and a half years old.  I am, in a bit over two months, turning 66 years old.  And, yes, I have almost always had a still camera or a video camera in my hands, if I wasn’t holding a paint brush or a can of spray paint…or making movies cuz I was ‘On a Mission from God’.

I only painted in that mall four days…others worked several months to make it ready for the shoot.  BTW, in case you don’t believe…I was Stand-by Sign Writer here in Chicago on “The Blues Brothers”, sent down by IATSE Local 18 in Milwaukee, because I was good, very good at my art AND craft.  When you see Toys r Us and Geoffrey the Giraffe, I painted that, and the stripes that appear later, among other false fronts.

I’ve made it this far, and still, I keep going!  You all must, too.

I was told the best way to lead is by example.  Liberal or Conservative…take that and RUN with it!