If part of the process of self-distributing an independent documentary film (and hopefully building community, and possibly modeling best practices for launching a non-violent revolution against the status quo) is surviving the pitfalls that come when planning screenings in the partitioned ballrooms of hotels like the Hilton Doubletree Resort, 440 South Alvernon Way in Tucson, Arizona, then I’m proud to report that I’m getting by. I should be clear that the hotel itself exceeded my expectations: a warm chocolate-chip cookie on arrival, a comfortable bed, appropriate landscaping. The challenge was assembling an audience for an event planned in conjunction with a professional conference that ended a full 35 minutes before the event was set to begin and watching the conference attendees vanish like spit from a corners of a thirsty cowboy’s mouth in the desert heat. Other hardships to that point included the staggering temperatures of the American Southwest in August, milquetoast AV techs and passive-aggressive event-coordinators, guilt over not spending more time in New York this summer with my girlfriend in favor of constantly being on the road to place myself in situations like this, and monsoons.
Well, we did it. By we, I am referring to all my dissociative identities, over 150 audience members, and an exceptionally well-qualified panel of scientists including University of Arizona Dean Joaquin Ruiz, world-class astronomers Chris Impey and Tod Lauer and Astronomer-Journalist-HubbleRoadshowGodfather Rick Fienberg, moderated by astronomy educator Stephen Pompea. In truth, I should also give credit to Lisa, the bartender at the Old Pueblo Grill, who revived me earlier in the day with a cold beer following a half mile crawl across the barren sidewalks of Tucson, past the prickly pear and saguaro, in a desperate attempt to eat something other than rice and beans from the fajita bar at the hotel. Mom, you were right, an oven is a dry heat too.
A word about the audience: it was awesome. Loud belly laughs throughout, whether they were professional educators with the conference or astronomy fans from the University or the city. If you were with the conference and you flew out early (or if you blew off the movie to eat shit fajitas at the hotel restaurant), well pilgrim, you missed. You are hereby obliged to sponsor a Saving Hubble screening at your research institute, high school or observatory, and you won’t regret it. Do you hear the buzz? It’s because we’re cooking up something special and we want you on board.
A quick shootout to two big supporters: SkyBar in Tucson and Oceanside Photo and Telescope. SkyBar is a groovy solar-powered astronomy bar that sports its own telescope and hosts a riotous open mic night. They also made us some free pizzas from Brooklyn Tony’s next door. I’m wary of any pizzeria that lays claim to New York-style from the safety of the high desert, but Tony Vaccaro tosses some serious pie. Oceanside has offered a whole other level of kindness to the Roadshow over the past year. Supporters of two screenings to date, we are truly in debt to this early, enthusiastic supporter. Craig & company: know that what we are achieving is your success too. Thank you, deeply.