Thursday, April 19, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird

As part of the Florida Film Festival there was a free outdoor screening of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in Winter Park's Central Park. The film is 50 years old, which makes us both the same age. I drove to the park straight from Full Sail when it let out at 5PM. The movie wasn't going to start till around 8PM when it got dark. That left me a whole lot of time to sketch before the movie started. I invited my wife, Terry, to the screening but she was swamped at work. She then changed her mind saying she would meet me for a drink or dinner. I started this sketch to see how far I could get before she arrived. When she did arrive, I abandoned the sketch and we looked for a bar or restaurant. We ended up eating at a Tai restaurant a block away on Park Avenue. The price for a cup of wine was too high so the idea of a drink was abandoned. I ordered Pad Tai and I didn't particularly like the dish. I had 3 cups of Coke so I would be buzzing like a humming bird when I returned to finish the sketch.

Film Festival staff and volunteers were on the stage setting up the portable movie screen. A series of aluminum struts were pieced together as the outer framework for the screen. Several ropes were threaded over the band shell roof supports and the ropes were pulled tight to raise the screen. The vintage black and white movie was actually a DVD which was inverted and then projected onto the back of the screen. When my sketch was done, I moved closer and watched the movie from backstage. A policeman, two stage hands and later a waitress were the only other people who watched from this vantage point. On the Central Park lawn, couples had picnics with wine and candle light. It was actually chilly and I rubbed my bare arms for warmth.

When the 14 year old Atticus Finch was given a gun by his father, he was told that the urge to shoot at birds would become too great. He could shoot all the Blue Jays he wanted, but he should never shoot a Mockingbird. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy... but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

It felt good knowing this film about racism and courage was being shown in Central Florida. When I first moved here over 17 years ago, I went to a counter demonstration, because the KKK were demonstrating at the Jewish Community Center in Maitland. I ended up face to face with the Grand Master or Poo Bah, whatever he was called. He held a huge can of mace, aiming it at my face. Angry, I muttered, "Go ahead." There were a few police on hand and it would have been nice to see him arrested. Turning the other cheek doesn't always work but never throw the first punch.

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