August 25, 2009

Silent Film Night

Dennis James on the Spreckles Organ with “The Cameraman” starring Buster Keaton. Balboa Park Organ Pavilion, 2009.

Himself: Spent half the day with my computer. Tried all suggestions. Didn’t struggle when none worked. It may be back in our arms next Friday.

Herself: Very pleased to take the computer to the shop. Very unhappy to be back freezing at random, waiting a minute or two for this or that to load…or close, grumble, mutter, mutter…… Almost was late to talk with Bee this morning. Maybe I will be able to start the Alaska album this morning. It’s my last big project.

Reading: A book on the great sailing ships. I long to look them up online and see which are still with us.

Balance: The beauty of those ships in those magic old black and white photographs.

Slowly the crowds wandered in. Perhaps some started arriving for the best seats as early as four. We found great crowds perched here or there picnicking under the trees or on the grass when we arrived at five thirty.

Laying our blankets over a bench…chosen for it’s closeness to the screen and ease of access to an aisle, we sauntered toward the Japanese tea room for a light dinner.

The sun was slowly turning the sky a deeper blue and intensifying the colors around us as we puttered our way back toward our seats. There was a certain clarity, perhaps dustless, that hung in the moment.

Oh, the guilt of it to grab a potatoe chip from the Organ Pavilion vendors… of whom happened to be one of my Petco Park friends. There was time to talk. How rare that is today when everything goes by at light speed. There was time too to stop and watch the hurdy gurdy man. There was delight in the picnics with flowers and crystal and table cloths highlighting a most unusual array of foodstuffs.

We had time to see and hug the P2’s……who I assured I was feeling better. G got to have dinner with them on Saturday, but that was the day I spent in bed. No Dr. Jay, but Jay and his niece joined us just in time. We all smiled into that wonderful golden light of the setting sun. Then it was time…..the organ began to thunder out into the warm summer night, and we vanished into the unexpectedly tender love story of Buster Keaton and Sally in The Cameraman.

Yes, the over 3000 strong audience stood and cheered at the end.


  1. That sounds like such a happening. You must have had a blast. Such a strange coincidence that your old colleague was there.

  2. Such a beautifully written text, I felt I was there too, enjoying your comings and goings, and the festive ambiance. I remember reading somewhere that Buster Keaton designed his own porkpie hats, that he and his wife must have designed hundred of hats, as he would go through several hats with each movie.
    It is great that the whole audience applauded in the end.

  3. What a great event. Years ago there was a theater in Chicago that showed silent films with a fabulous organ accompaniment. All indoors, of course.

  4. Oh my God, Mage! You inherited Dennis James!? We used to see him play organ at the Old renovated Ohio Theatre, where the organ and he at it rose up from the bowels of the stage to accompanying the old silents. We saw WINGS there! He's marvelous, but I can't imagine how he might look today. Silver? Like so many of us now? And I just saw the same movie, The Cameraman, last spring at Osher!


What a delight to get a note from you. Thanks for leaving one.


Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...