- Posted September 7, 2012 by
Charlotte, North Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Sights and sounds of the DNC
GONZO in Charlotte
My names is James Cartee and I'm a local indy theatre artist in Charlotte, NC. Some might say I'm just a madman... Now what was my experience with the DNC here in Charlotte? I put together a free night of theatre, music and drinks in the Arts district: NODA. It was at a space called the Wine Up, a local joint here in NODA that serves unique drinks tailored to the events going on. All served up by one of the best bartenders and drink mixologist around- Michael Ford.
SO there we were... Citizens of the Universe (COTU), bringing two one-man shows to NoDa’s Wine Up on September 5th. It was a double dose of political discussion with Marx in SOHO and Gonzo: A Brutal Chrysalis, aiming to explore a wide range of issues from the viewpoint of two very different historical figures: Hunter S. Thompson and Karl Marx.
We started off at 2 p.m., followed by Gonzo at 3:30 p.m. and after a short intermission with local artist- DJ Crabtree, we started it all over again at 8pm. When the final bell rang on the second showing of GONZO, the musical group- the Collectives, took over to jam until 1 a.m.
A bit about the shows- James Lee Walker II takes on the mantle of Karl Marx in Marx in SOHO, which sees the father of communism bother the authorities in the afterlife for a chance to clear his name - but while Marx intends to show up in London, he lands in New York thanks to a bureaucratic error. The show explores the core ideas of Marxist politics through his own words as he attempts to clear up misconceptions about certain actions taken in the name of his ideology.
Then, it's the 1968 DNC all over again as we leap from discussing the rise of the American nightmare to wrestling with the death of the American Dream. It was time for me to step in as Hunter S. Thompson in 'Gonzo: A Brutal Chrysalis'. The story follows Thompson through the prolific journalist’s early career - namely, 1968 through 1970, with a special focus on his political nature. The show tails Thompson through the 1968 Democratic National Convention, his coverage of the Hell’s Angels, the famous “Battle of Aspen” sheriff’s election among others.
I had shaved my head for the part a few days earlier and was in constant rehearsals leading into the DNC, that is when I wasn't working. Once in character though, I was all about being on the street. James Walker (Karl Marx) has been a vocal leader of the occupy movement here in Charlotte so I decided to check out what all the fuss was about in full Hunter getup. They loved it. The police were a little more weary. Walker even went back on the 6th and did Marx in SOHO for the whole gang down there. I attempted to but the threat of rain along with the fact that the bus system was severely hampered (I didn't want to drive in that mess!) made it so that we couldn't make it out until almost 6pm. In full Hunter garb again, my compatriot in arms- Tom Ollis- and I surfed through the masses until finally we made it over to the park. Occupy was put way- waaaay away on the other side of the 277 loop. I was hoping to offer them some free theatre but as our luck would have it... they were leaving to start their final protest. I figured what the hay... join them! And we did! The cops were first class in dealing with the crowd.... and there were tons of them. TONS. I mean Richard J. Daley would have been impressed. Instead of a police riot, everyone was thankfully graced with a certain sense of calm. It was interesting to be part of this gang... so I just started to rattle off lines from the show just for the fun of it. Those around me thought it was great... I overheard a reporter standing with us in the protest talking with someone from NPR say, "I never thought I'd be here covering a political rally with Mr. GONZO Thompson himself standing here." Rumors of my untimely demise are grossly exaggerated- if mostly true.
But alas, work the next day (breakdown for the Daily Show at Imaginon) and dehydration (I failed to take any water with me) ment jumping out early. All and all, a great time for me personally- as an artist and a spectator. On the 4th, I hit the streets as Hunter with Adam Parrish (AKA: The Holographic Biscuit- the media visual improv artist for GONZO) and spent the evening with the Stonewall Democrats and the LGBT crowd for their after parties... I had one of the best performances of my life on the 5th along with the fact our day of music, theatre and good drinks was a success. The 6th had me with the protesters, and I finished back up in NODA munching on tater tots at another local dive while watching Obama give his speech. To be fair, we weren't the only event going down. My good friend and fellow artist from over at Machine theatre, Matt Cosper, had arraigned events all over the city for the Quasimodo Project. In fact, I was enthralled by dancers for the project invited up from Mexico on my final exit from the protest.
So yeah, as I go to take down lights and sound for the Daily Show- right back to the same place that had started me on this whole twisted journey into the heart of this fun adventure- I can say well done Dems. Well done. See you later space cadets!