It’s almost that time – the Doors documentary “When You’re Strange” releases in select cities next weekend, April 9. Other cities to follow.
For those in Atlanta, it will be playing at the Cinefest Film Theater, near Georgia State Univ. Email me or leave a comment if you need directions. I’m planning on going with a crowd on Saturday.
Seeing as how I’ve been patient oh, the last two years waiting to see this latest film by award-winning writer/director Tom DiCillo, I printed out some fliers and hit the town to spread the word. The 5-day journey proved to be interesting, almost like the stars were falling into perfect alignment.
Below is my 5 days journey. My thanks to Tom for sending me the flier, Willena for going on the photo excursion with me, and Diane for the enthusiasm, help, and the beer.
Day 1 – Doors fans are cool
Doors fans are amazing. There’s something in their spirit that transcends the daily irritants and fosters a connection between all human beings. This energy brightens up the most humdrum of days.
I begin my quest to put out fliers for When You’re Strange by going to the copy/print shop to get some pricing estimates for fliers. The guy behind the register, maybe in his middle 30s, looks at the sample I’ve brought with me, admires it and says, “I just love these guys.” He gives me the price breakdowns; I tell him I’ll figure out how many I need and get back with him. I start to walk toward the door and am only steps away from exiting when he asks, “What’s the name of that film again?”
Smiling, I walk back and show him the flier. He tells me about his trip to the Tribeca Film Fest a few years back. I mention that I’m trying to spread the word on WYS, and that the film starts on 4/9 at the Cinefest in Atlanta. He grins wide. “Theaters like the Cinefest are the best places to see films like these,” he says, still admiring the WYS poster photo of the young Jim, Robby, Ray and John. We chat briefly, I wish him a good day and walk to the exit once more. With my hand on the door, ready to leave, he pipes up and says, “You know, I really like what you’re doing. I could probably take another, oh, 10% off your order.” I smile, say thanks, and I’ll let him know. He recites “When You’re Strange” to himself, as if to memorize the title so he can tell others. I hand him my flier and tell him to keep it, to hang it up and spread the word. Beaming, he takes it.
I’m in a great mood the entire drive home. While a brief encounter, this simple exchange made the day seem brighter. Doors fans are everywhere; there’s an undeniable vibe.
Day 2 – It all comes full circle
After the usual Internet updates (I’ve become a Facebook, Twitter, MySpace expert these days) to spread the word about all things Doors related—the updated web site, a 30-second clip of the film, a great review from the Wall Street Journal—I take fliers in hand and venture out into Atlanta.
So many places are conducive to Doors music; it’s almost hard to know where to begin. But that doesn’t stop me; fear of too many choices only results in paralysis. The trick is to just start somewhere, and always keep moving. So I hit my share of artsy coffeehouses, eateries, eclectic art stores. Everyone is charming, everyone is more than willing to let me leave a few for their customers and to pin up a few on their main store-front window pane. As I drive away and head toward my last stop, “Roadhouse Blues” starts to play on the radio. I can’t help but think Jim Morrison is watching, mischievousness in his eyes, happy to see word is spreadin’.
I save the best place for last: a 1970s style pizza/beer place near my house. There aren’t many pubs/hangouts nearby, so this laid-back atmosphere with its tie-dyed spiral graphics on the walls and posters of Joplin, Dylan, and The Doors pinned up is more than a favorite hangout. It’s where the subject of The Doors naturally comes up.
I stop by early, before the crowds arrive, and see my buddy Diane who waits tables there. A Doors fan herself, she’s one of those rare types who has a pint of my favorite beer ready when I walk in. If the place is crowded and there’s a wait, she brings me pints in line. For years now, I’ve loved her youthful and down-to-Earth spirit.
She’s expecting me, approaches and says, “Whatcha got for me?” I hand her a stack of WYS fliers. She hands me a beer. I consider this a great exchange. She tells me to relax and look at a menu, she’ll hang them up.
The place gets busy; she’s flitting around and about the many tables, taking orders and serving drinks. I figure she’ll put up the fliers during a break or when her shift is finished. To my surprise, a few minutes later when I look up from reading, she’s hung them all over the place, including two on the main window by the entrance, where everyone who walks in can see it.
I haven’t been by in a few weeks, so when she comes to take my order, she says, “Where you been? You’ve been a stranger. And you know, people are strange, when you’re a stranger…” and she hums the Doors tune. I laugh, loving her odd sense of humor.
I drink my beer, happy and content, and “Break on Through to the Other Side” starts to play over the speakers. I chuckle to myself at the coincidence. Particularly because I don’t believe in coincidences.
As wonderful as it is to be there, and have fliers hung up on the main entrance, on every wall, and several left over for customers to take with them, I can’t help but also feel a bit melancholy. This spot is more than a place to hang fliers; it also has a history. Back when Tom went to Sundance with WYS, he wrote a poignant post about a young woman who’d approached him, her eyes welling with tears, and complimented the film. She then mentioned how much her father loved The Doors, and he’d passed away the week prior.
I remember reading Tom’s post and being touched, but I didn’t realize how much. About a week after that, my husband and I went to dinner there. I found myself describing that post, and the emotional floodgates opened—and wouldn’t stop. I’d seen my own father lying in a hospital bed one month prior, with every doctor telling me he wouldn’t make it out alive. Amazingly, he did—yet this extremely close call, combined with reading Tom’s post, sent my tear ducts into overdrive.
Diane noticed my effort to cry, talk, and breathe at the same time (not a good look for me) and she immediately plopped down two drinks on the house. Gulping them down, I tried to collect my emotions, and once I had, I told her about that post and the Doors film. She mentioned she loved The Doors, and when the film came out, I could hang up fliers there. That was January 2009. Now, over a year later, I sat in the same place, drinking beer and watching her go to town with pinning up fliers to help promote the film.
It strikes me that things have come full circle, and I can’t help but smile and think there is a pattern, however obscure, to all of life’s moments.
Day 3 – Photos, anyone?
I’m beginning to have fun with this documenting fliers journey, but I’ve forgotten my camera. So I take it and hit the town, stopping by some key places I’d been one day earlier, taking photos of WYS in the window. I recruit one of my friends to take pictures as I hang up fliers in more windows and put them on car windshields. We hit a few gyms and music stores. All have bulletin boards or windows to pin fliers. Atlanta is a driving city, so I have the radio on between stops. “Touch Me” starts playing, and I honestly laugh out loud at how many Doors songs I’ve heard during this excursion—more than ever before.
This unique coincidence (or, as I prefer to see it, sign) urges me on. I stop back by the pizza place. A guy tossing dough in the air looks at me, dubious, as I take photos of their front window. I step inside, wanting to reassure him that no, I am not trying to overtake the world’s pepperoni supply, I’m just trying to get some photos of the flier. To my surprise, even though it’s daytime, Diane is working again. She grins wide when she sees my camera. “Documenting your flier journey?” she asks. I hug her, amazed at how much she understands this grassroots movement of promoting WYS.
I stay for a bit; we chat; we laugh. In the midst of our talk, “Break on Through to the Other Side” comes on once again. I didn’t believe in coincidence before. I am utterly convinced now. There is no such thing as coincidence.
Day 4 – Radio bursts, and there are Doors fans at work, too
I go out to lunch a few minutes before noon, and upon starting the car, “Light My Fire” plays on the radio. I am no longer surprised; it’s as if the Doors music now keeps me company as I work to spread the word about the film. What DOES surprise me though, is seconds after the song ends, the DJ starts talking about WYS. She says she can’t wait to see this incredible Doors documentary, starting in Atlanta in April. I am stunned and yet elated. And her announcement happened during lunchtime driving traffic. I laugh out loud, thrilled for this shout-out for the film.
Later in the afternoon, I email her (along with other DJs) and tell them how much I love hearing Doors music, and I list the WYS web site, Tom’s site, the theater’s web site, and how much I’m looking forward to the film…and any shout-outs or info they can spread is appreciated.
I meet a friend for drinks later that night. As we part ways, I give her a few fliers. She knows many Doors fans and says she will also put up the flier at work, where everyone enjoys their music. I set aside the last few fliers to bring to work myself, knowing one of my sixty-something buddies loves not only The Doors, but independent films. And he has several film buddies he can share the remaining fliers with. We chat every Monday, discussing whatever films we happened to catch over the weekend. Like me, he’s been waiting over a year to see this film.
Day 5 – Web Grassroots is Building
It’s been a productive few days. 100 fliers passed out and good times have been had. I check back on the Internet, where I’m thrilled to see the news and updates still “a buzz” with info. The event with John and Tom in LA at the Apple Store has over 1000 viewing the link, spreading the word and getting “When You’re Strange” into people’s consciousness. Tom’s press event in NYC also has lots of buzz, and I’m happy word is spreading.
But most of all, even with all the updates and keeping abreast of all the news, I am utterly thrilled that on April 9, I will finally be able to see this film. And I plan to go back on April 10 with more friends.
What seemed to take forever will now be shown on the big screen, and in my city, to see. Atlanta is already beginning to see more people out in the evening hours. Cherry blossoms and white lacy blooms adorn all the streets, making the city look like she’s dressed for a party. And on April 9, what a party it will be. Join me, won’t you?