Trust me, the start-up of this blog entry may seem a bit like vanity at first. Bear with me, it weaves into my encounter today.
Not sure if I have told you this: “I was raised in Las Vegas.” Best not to play cards with me, it’s a loosing proposition. I’ve got the Sin City luck of the draw.
Even had a business there, way back in the late 80s. “Here I go again, dating myself!”
My family migrated to LV from England in 1961. Father was a tailor, turned produce king (supplied most of the hotels deep into the 90s). That explains my occasional use of British grammar and fear of Vegas buffets.
I have two sisters: One born nine years before me, and the other eleven year older than myself.
“Hey Radstone! Why are you telling us this? We want to read about your new friends. You’re becoming old news.”
Alright, here is why.
I’m driving past a small, obscure building. For whatever reason, I’m drawn to it. Almost to the point of rubber necking it as I pass. The magnetism of the place is impossible to dismiss. Even thought the rain is falling and I’m behind schedule on my day’s responsibilities, I must visit.
Finding a nearby parking lot, I walk an easy block to the address that has so smitten me. My first view is of the most eclectic artifacts outside of its door. A vintage baby stroller, some funky art, yard furniture, rusty hand truck and a few other items of equal eccentricity. “This is my kind of joint.” Turns out to be a wonderful little haunt of an antique shop. “Ah, that must be it? I dig vintage stuff!”
Entering the door I realize I’ve stumbled upon a holy grail of local culture. The shop is packed with customers. There is a “We are all family vibe” heavy in the air. I have no idea who is running the place. My first inclination is the blond lady closely checking a very cool piece of old luggage. Thinking she is quality-checking her inventory, I assume she is the shop keeper. My mind is made up (well sort of), I know something is not right, but still, I ready myself to throw her the 365 invite.
I set my approach pattern: 365 radar engaged, target sighted, begin countdown. Ten feet, eight feet, six feet, her eyes are still locked on the luggage. I take my breath, words almost ready to escape, her head suddenly pops up. I’m stopped in my track when she looks over my shoulder and says, “How much is this case?”
“Huh? Me?” All of a sudden I find myself trapped between customer and the real shop keeper. Seems he is standing behind me and I am way off in my assessment of the situation. I’m feeling pretty stupid, my hand is already reaching out with the first steps of an introductory handshake. It’s one of those caught-with-my-pants-down moments, but I follow through with grace in redirecting my body movement, converting it to a reach for a statue. Luckily my blunder goes unnoticed. Still, it leaves me a little unsure as to why I am here.
So now that I know who runs the joint, there is no option other than to move forward. I’m here, camera on back, statue in hand and new friend sighted. I’d be lying if I said I am not a touch jittery after my above referenced clumsiness, but I’m here.
Stepping up is Ron, owner, photographer, director and actor. He silently listens to my 365 pitch. Even though my delivery is not as eloquent as past invites (still feeling a tad stupid for my earlier confusion). Luckily for me, he accepts.
We talk in generalities at first. What do you shoot? How many films have you been in? How did you start this business? The conversation is enlightening, but my gut is telling me there is more. Store customers are watching, and with the endorsement of Ron, I hand out both 365 and my personal business cards.
I notice Ron studying my personal business card intensely. It’s a simple card, just has my last name on the front of it, RADSTONE, and on the back, contact info. So my name is large and apparent.
Ron starts to show a questioning smile. Looking at me he asks a series of questions: “Radstone? Do you have a sister named Tammy? Are you from Las Vegas? Was your father a tailor? Did you live on El Cedral in the 70s?”
“What the heck? Is this guy psychic?
He laughs huge! Now remember, Ron and I have never met, we are in Canoga Park, California, in a little hidden shop that for some reason has beckoned me. I can’t stop self-questioning how he knows these fact about me. “Is he CIA? Am I under surveillance?” After all, when I’m unshaven, I can look like an Al-Qaeda operative. I’m blown away away by his queries.
Why is he laughing? “I lived up the street from you and used to date your sister,” he tells me.” Is she still a tiny thing?” I’m staggered and know why I am here.
It’s happening again, the 365 voice has brought me to where I need to be. We are both dumbfounded. Ron, now happily married with grandchildren asks, “How is Tammy?” I tell him, “She is doing great, married with children and grandchildren.” He is pleased to hear the news. “I always wondered what happened to her; great to hear she is doing well?”
I call my sister later and she is also amazed at the encounter, having the same questions regarding Ron.
As I continually state, I am not spouting the spiritual or metaphysical in my blog, that is not my intent at all, but at times we have to recognize that some things are more than coincidence, don’t we?
Bob give us this advice:
“Stay honest and don’t lie. It’s always easier to remember the truth.”
Where he will be in ten years?
“Doing exactly the same thing. Hopefully, with good health.”
All in all, Ron and I spend thirty minutes or so together on this rainy Saturday. We speak of many things: life, marriage, children, film making and his war service. But nothing is as impactful to either of us as our historical connection.
I guess some meetings are meant to be. You be the judge.