Last Saturday, a packed house took over Sweat Records for the 20th installment of Pure Imagination, a live performance of storytelling, music, and quantum physics. And as usual, creator Matt Gajewski's intellectual creativity was on full display.
At the record store's small wooden stage, the Mountain Dew Code Red Terror Alert provided jazzy, instrumental musical accompaniment to Gajewski dark, comedic story about parallel universes titled "Parallelism." Told in five parts, the story details the adventures of a protagonist that leaps from setting to setting through space and time, and morphs into various characters.
"In one universe, Schrödinger's Cat Stevens has a Friday evening gig at Churchill's in Little Haiti....In one universe one of your Craigslist roommates who doesn't listen to Celine Dion starts dating a girl named Peaches....In one universe you go on another first date in a bar called Russkie Brewskie."
This literary quantum leap told in a poetic free association lead one to question the randomness of the events, along with the randomness of the universe. Similarly, the protagonist engages in existential struggles, often in mundane places, throughout her leaps.
"In one universe you own a washer and dryer. You consult the tags on your clothes and follow their instructions carefully, segregate dirty laundry by color and fabric and wash temperature, whites versus colors, warm versus cold, dry clean only versus tumble dry low. You use a detergent that purports to be safer for the environment than its competitors. Your dryer sheets are hypoallergenic and chemical-free. You drive a Toyota Prius and during idle moments at stoplights internally debate whether your bumper stickers accurately reflect who you are as a person."
No random, poetic, imaginary universe would be complete without unreal beverages such as "We'll Always Have Cleveland," which mixes the literal (rum) with the metaphorical (student loans). Illustrations of the imaginary cocktails by Christina Frigo and illustrations of the settings like the Russkie Brewskie by Bridget Davis were projected onto a drop-down movie screen on the wall behind the stage.
Local musicians also collaborated with Gajewski in this multi-media performance piece. Xela Zaid (Alex Diaz) played the harmonica, percussion instruments, and radio sounds to the spoken word sets. In between Gajewski's storytelling, a series of 1950's hits were performed transporting the audience to a different place and time in unison with the story's theme. Cuci Amador from Afrobeta sang "Me Voy a Pinar del Río"; Johanna Viscaino from Sirens A. Sealions sang "Walking After Midnight"; Raffa Jo Harris sang "Blue Bayou"; M.J. Hancock from Awesome New Republic sang "Blue Moon"; and Noah Nite sang "Love Me Tender". At the suggestion of Gajewski, the singers selected their favorite vintage tunes.
According to Matt Gajewski he has always had a wild imagination. For as long as he can remember, he wrote and told stories. The literary cat has vivid memories of turning childhood school assignments into lengthy, imaginative stories. Also a musician, his love of music led him to study at the University of Miami, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music. While an undergraduate, Matt DJed at the university's student-run radio station, WVUM. At the "Voice," Gajewski first aired the radio program Pure Imagination in 2005. It featured his dark, comedic stories set to the melodies of local composers.
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The radio installment led to a series of live shows at the vinyl record store in Little Haiti, Sweat Records. Gajewski also self-published a book in 2009. The volume contains stories from the show's third and fourth season, and features illustrations from Zach Danesh. It is available for purchase at Sweat Records.