The Plan

The Plan
Spotify Playlist, 437 songs, 26 hr 46 min.
Created for the Marble Hill Camera Club.

Of course, everyone was utterly fascinated by the foreign exchange student who joined the highschool film club. Who wouldn't be? However, it is safe to say that I was the one most in love.

This unknown variable in the domestic rabble added a distinct element of style to the mix. It ratcheted up the competitive intensity of the arguments that took place after and sometimes throughout the screenings. Occasionally, the exchanges became so spirited that we had to pause the movie to untangle the dispute. Unfortunately, this process invariably caused even further disagreements, as the image frozen on the screen became yet another inflammatory topic to trigger a debate. Some simple fool would interrupt the current melee and blurt out an absurdity like, "Stop—look at that—Antonioni couldn't construct a frame like that in his wildest dreams!" An incendiary burst like that could take forever to manage, and I suppose in retrospect that one should never join any organization without carefully weighing who the participants might be, especially if membership is free and you will be meeting in a small windowless space.

We watched movies on a barely functioning audio-visual cart VHS player squeezed into a dark storage room packed with all manner of forgotten items. The television's tube had, without a doubt, lived several lifetimes past its expiration date so that the faint screen made even contemporary films look old, which was fine by us. That relic was a beacon of future possibility on which we observed tantalizingly unknown worlds while surrounded by mutilated wood desks, half-functioning instruments, abandoned dioramas, broken props, and the lost and found box's eternally unclaimed contents.

The smell of that space was unforgettable to anyone who entered, even if only briefly. Many generations ago, somebody had left something on top of the clanging radiator, and it still produced a burnt waxy aroma. That smell combined with the distinct perfume of the ditto machine's duplicating fluid, and this new spectral fragrance saturated everything. At one point, we proudly thought that we had been moved and overwhelmed with mature emotion from the swelling romantic crescendo of Bernard Hermann's score for Vertigo; however, most likely, we were only buzzed from the fumes.

We sent out meaningful glances and conspiratorial winks in this half-lit educational morgue, not yet having realized that there is nothing quite so confusing and counterproductive as an amateur conspiratorial wink. Our imaginary film festival sequencing ricocheted off the peeling walls to hopefully meet their intended recipient—the import. These fanciful cinematic playlists never came close to their mark; however, releasing them into the wild was just enough at that time to allow us to maintain the illusory chance of something happening. We imagined connections spontaneously forming, of having our vaguest sentiments be precisely understood without resorting to the use of actual, specific language. These mixes were simultaneously both our thumbprints and also appeals.

Recollecting those late Thursday afternoons in February, I feel compelled to reassemble my plan's specifics and share them with you. We never determined our effort's potency because we never implemented "The Plan," as you can imagine. My fantasy setlist is now shrouded in an aniline purple haze and so far removed from my current life that it might as well be from an alternate cosmos. Nevertheless, film by film, it should do the job reasonably well of sketching out a juvenile psyche under the spell of moving pictures, both domestic and foreign. At the very least, you can bank on the fact that the mixtape will run for roughly twenty-four hours, and with that, my surrogate will serve as your intimate companion for the waking and sleeping hours of your day.

I am looking forward to spending time with you in that small, dark place where we imagine what we hear.