Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman

Reg Dunlop taught me stuff. My shipwright friend Woody was working as technical hand on a film they were shooting up outside of Damariscotta Maine, a place they call New Harbor. To some location scout, it looked like the North Carolina setting of the movie they were filming, Message in a Bottle. (They eventually moved production to Wilmington NC.)
For me, the star of the movie was the Concordia that Woody was reassembling. Because it sure wasn't Costner.
The other crew said this old guy had fired his studio-provided driver because the driver was too slow. (Strange terrain, cow and deer paths with pavement here and there and turns that sent you either into a marsh or a thicket of scrub pine, tourists appearing out of nowhere in their tacky beach ensembles. Yeah, I could see driving slowly.)
But not for Paul Newman.
Paul Newman would fill up the blue-tarp-lined trunk of the ludicrous studio lease Continentillac with ice and beers, and go visit the techies. And that's the story I'm allowed to tell. I was going to be Woody's best man (even though he wasn't marrying Sophronia, which was a little sad), so I got to hang around as an extra hand if needed and completely ignore the film-making process. I spent a lot of time chatting up the costumers at crew parties until I twisted my ankle on an icecube and spent the rest of the evening falling for a local ceramic artist who had crashed the party.
It was hard not to talk to her about "Paul and Joanne," and how love always endures among artists, and I spewed as much amateurish mawkish romantic blather as I could muster to impress the willowy blonde in the funky leather jacket.
We were together for three years.
But Newman, after shooting whatever "folksy wisdom" scene on the set that day, would drive off to be with Joanne at the community theater she was starring at that Summer. It did seem like the greatest life, the life we were all meant to enjoy -- doing what you do best because you like to do it while your partner does the same. And help out the little guy.
And I'm glad that I had the chance to shake his hand and tell him that.

Visit this site and do what you can in his memory: The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp.

No comments: