Let me repeat that.
THE KING OF AMERICANA, CHARLES PHOENIX, WAS GOING TO BE IN SAN FRANCISCO!
I may have been a little excited.
I LOVE him. He's one of the most amusing things the Internet has ever brought to my attention.
So when I heard he'd be returning to the WDFM, where I'd first seen him back in 2013, I knew I would go. With some cajoling and some whining, I talked Seanie into going with me. Not that I had to twist his arm - he likes Phoenix too, just not quite as much as I do. (Nobody likes him as much as I do.)
So after work, I threw on my blue retro dress and Seanie grabbed his thriftstore 50s-esque shirt and we drove up to the Walt Disney Family Museum. We get there and the theater's not exactly full - I'd guess maybe 55-60% of the seats are taken. Not a surprise really, since Charles Phoenix did two shows earlier in the day, and the last show had a higher ticket price because a reception followed the presentation. Even though we arrived with only a few minutes to spare, Seanie and I found great seats in the second row. Population was generally older Baby Boomer - maybe 4-5 people in their thirties or younger.
Phoenix comes out and does the slide show, and it's pretty similar to what I saw before with Jeans. Some of his stories were new, but I'm pretty sure the slides were all the same. No matter. It's still entertaining as heck. It's so much fun to see Disneyland back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s and admire the fantastic fashion choices park visitors made for their trips. Phoenix may not label himself a Disney expert, but he knows a lot, and he dished out Disney gossip with his usual flair and charm.
After the show we went up to the main museum lobby for the reception. There were elderflower cocktails and limoncello jello shots (which are delightfully refreshing!) as we walked through the lobby doorway, and then caramel-chocolate bonbons and half-dollar sized strawberry shortcake petit fours. Sean and I were among the first trickle of people into the lobby (our young legs move faster than all the old folks) so we just sorta milled around for a few minutes while other people filtered in behind us. As the room filled, the museum employees were going around with hors-d'oeuvre trays - salad bites, some sort of 50s era meat roll appetizer with pistachio crust, deviled eggs with candied bacon, and other little snack-y things.
Sean and I did a circuit around the lobby, admiring Walt Disney's Oscars and many other trophies that line the walls of the museum. We pulled over by the doorway for a few minutes, which positioned us PERFECTLY. Charles Phoenix walked in and came straight over to us because we were closest to him, so we got to talk to him first. Really nice guy. His first question was, "So did you guys dress up for the Dapper Day?" so we talked a bit about the anniversary celebration at the park and somehow got into a discussion of mid-century modern architecture in San Jose. I mean he was on it - he knew all about the movement to preserve the Century Theater domes that's going on and asked if we had any updates about it. He was also curious about the Winchester Mystery House, one of our champion tourist traps that he has yet to see. So we talked to him for probably ten minutes or so about this and that. At the end I asked if we could take a quick picture so we did, but the museum employee was in a rush so he only took the one blurry picture and we didn't have a chance to retake it later.
Such a great picture. So sad about the lack of focus.
After Phoenix moved on to other people, Sean and I joined a table to talk to some of the other guests, and we ended up chatting with a cute older woman who KNEW THE FAMILY IN ONE OF THE RETRO SLIDE SHOW PHOTOS! She was super excited to tell Phoenix. At the table was also a woman who used to be a plaid (tour guide) at Disneyland, so she told us stories about her summer working there.
Charles (we've had a conversation, so he and I can be on a first-name basis now, right?) had told Seanie and I to watch out for a special chili he'd concocted for the event as a tribute to Walt Disney's fondness for chili. It was brought out in little paper trays, a really tasty chili with Doritos topping. I liked it and probably could have eaten more; my husband managed to pack away two or three. Alas, alas, the evening ended too soon for us to gorge ourselves. After what seemed like only a few minutes, the museum people were telling us we had to go, but before we left we went with our fellow visitor while she told Charles the names of the people in his picture and some of the details about that family. He seemed super excited, he asked her a question or two about the family (was the mom short or tall, that sort of thing) and she was able to answer the questions correctly so it seemed pretty legit and she really did recognize the family. She's going to try to get Charles in touch with the original family so he can send them scans of their family photos. His idea. Like I said - a really nice guy!