A First…

Today I saw something that I’ve never seen before – someone jogging while talking on a cell phone. Not one of those bluetooth/Borg/in-ear ones either, an actual hand-held cellular telephone. While jogging. AND running a dog on a leash beside them.

I’m no Luddite – I love my cell phone, and technology in general. I had just never seen such a thing before. It seems like a one-or-the other proposition to me – jog or chat on the phone. If you are jogging and you get a call you want to take, answer the phone and power-walk for a bit. Or something.

I was riding my bike when I saw this, and decided I needed a picture. But it’s a small town, and I probably know the person who was jogging, so I didn’t want to be too blatant about it. I pulled my camera from my pocket, took the leather case off with my teeth (all while still biking a partially icy/snowy road) and, once I was at least a block away, took the following picture over my shoulder:

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If you look really, really close, you can see what may or may not be this jogger over there on the right. Sorta. Good shot of the side of my head, though. And my shoulder.

Look, I know what I saw. You’ll just have to trust me.

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Manitou Springs, CO show…

Here’s the theatre in this cool little town where I was performing…

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Here’s a Barry’s-eye-view of the soon-to-be-packed but currently empty theatre –

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And here’s a shot of the backstage setup – that part with the light on, right under the cowboys, is my dressing room area.

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And here’s me, opening night, engaging in my strenuous pre-show ritual. I like to get really pumped up so I can bring that energy to the stage with me…

And yes, I do have the equivalent of a small convenience store’s worth of snacks spread out before me. I have needs.

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I’m always looking for little “signs” before a show, especially on opening night, when I’m sometimes a little nervous. I found a great one on this night…

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Pretty cool, huh? I mean, this clearly says that me that I am, you know, in precisely the right place, for life and stuff. Of course, one of the requirements for guiding one’s life by such “signs” is the ability to be very selective. For instance, had I not had the ability to pick out this little “sign” from its less-than-encouraging surroundings and context, I might have come away with a very different message:

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Preview For Manitou Springs “Jesus” Shows…

Here’s a little bit of press for my upcoming shows in Manitou Springs, CO…

~~~

Jesus walks
… and you, too, can live in his basement!

by Pete Freedman
Colorado Springs Independent

As a confused twentysomething, when Barry Smith had nowhere else to turn, he, like many before him, turned to Jesus.

In fact, Smith will tell you he “found” Jesus. But there’s just one small difference between Smith and the thousands of Colorado Springs residents who, at this point in his story, feel a strong similarity: When Smith speaks of finding Jesus, he means it quite literally.

Smith had learned that the second coming of the messiah was in, of all places, Montana. And Jesus was perfectly OK with Smith, a devotee, but otherwise a complete stranger, crashing in his basement for a little while. Three years, actually. Now that’s divine.

Fast-forward 10 years or so. Smith’s hindsight is 20/20. He says he’s not crazy, and believes he never was. But he feels his story is worth sharing — if not for his own sake, then for the amusement of others.

His one-man show, Jesus in Montana, which he developed from his spiritual odyssey, won the Outstanding Solo Show award at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival. It has also taken home similar accolades at festivals in Montreal and, just last month, in Vancouver.

This weekend, though, Smith could face his toughest crowd yet. He’ll be performing a three-day run of Jesus in Manitou. And, he admits, the more he learns about the conservative religious nature of the greater Springs region, the more pause he has about performing here.

He hopes, however, that people “get” where he’s coming from with his story.

“It’s an explanation of my rationalization,” says Smith, a spoken word poet and humor columnist for the Aspen Times. “My show is not anti-religion. But it’s also not pro-religion. A sense of humor is a must, despite your religious beliefs.

“It’s really not worth picketing.”

The show, Smith says, is just an attempt at rationalizing why a small sub-sect of the eastern religion Baha’i, comprising of no more than about 150 people, is so convinced that it has found Jesus. And it’s an attempt for him to explain his own belief.

“I was just curious,” he says. “I’ve always been willing to follow my intuition, no matter how weird a place it would lead me.”

It’s easy to understand Smith’s naivety. He grew up in a religious home in Mississippi, but as a teenager, swore off religion and moved to California. By the time he moved to Colorado, he says he honestly didn’t know what to believe. When he caught wind of Baha’i being taught around Aspen, he was intrigued and signed up for the teachings.

It all seemed normal enough — enlightening, in fact. So when his instructor, on the last day of class, dropped one last bombshell, he listened with excited ears: Oh, by the way, that Jesus we’ve been talking about? He’s back, and in Montana. How ’bout that?!?!

“This is potentially apocalyptic,” Smith recalls thinking at the time.

When the end never came, Smith concluded that the man he once felt sure was Jesus, probably isn’t.

No hard feelings, though. Smith’s done OK for himself. And oddly enough, he’s pretty sure this path has led him to his higher calling: humorous-self-deprecating-one-man-PowerPoint-slideshow performances.

“People will ask, “Wow, you actually want people to know that about you?'” he says. “Apparently, I’m marching to the beat of a different drummer. It just seemed like the next obvious step.”

Jesus in Montana

Manitou Art Theater, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs

Thursday, Oct. 19, through Saturday, Oct. 21, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $15, all ages; call 685-4729.

I Fear Change…

I returned from my 2-week trip to find this scene near the post office:

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It may not look like much to you if you don’t know that when I left there was a wooden walkway where the cement one now lies. If I had a picture of the wooden walkway, I’d post it here, giving you a simple before-and-after example. But I don’t. And why would I? It was a wooden walkway, something I saw and used every day, no big deal at all. Hardly worth a photo.

And now it’s gone…

Here’s an example of what it looked like:

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You know, a wooden walkway. Maybe it’s even called a “boardwalk,” but I’m not sure about that. Imagine the above, only stretched the length of the cement walkway in the earlier picture. And imagine it in advanced disrepair, with loose boards, rickety foundation, nails sticking out…a splinter factory. I think replacing it was probably a wise move, from both a moral and legal standpoint. But I feel nostalgic for it.

AND it made me want to start snapping pictures of the things all around it, the things that may be gone tomorrow and I’ll have no record of them. Like this…

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If I went to the post office tomorrow and this red thing, that seems to be chained to a post so no one will steal it, was not there, I’d REALLY wish I had a picture of it. Like I now do. I don’t even know what the red thing is , or is for, but I felt the need to capture it in time.

And what about these makeshift “Parking For Official Vehicles Only” sign? The ones people ignore so they can run up and drop off their video:

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Some day it may be replaced by a more permanent sign, and I’ll be glad I have this little snapshot. And so will you.

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Pile of bricks in the corner, how I’ll miss you when you’re gone. But this picture will help ease the pain.