Curious curator has plates in his head

If you find yourself at Stardust Video & Coffee anytime between next week and the end of April, and you notice that your personal area is neither neat nor tidy, you have one man to blame: Patrick Greene.

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The host of a monthly experimental-arts night at Stardust, Greene will literally clean up this Monday, April 16, when the opening of his multimedia installation, Le Busboy, finds him with one foot in the gallery and one in the kitchen.

Confused? That's OK by Greene. A film and TV production staffer by trade, he's also a culture-booster whose output (and indeed his thought process) tends toward the free-associative. "Le Busboy," he says, is a museum-style collection of artifacts that trace the career of a legendary restaurant worker. This visionary, who lived and labored in the France of the World War eras, pioneered the concept of busing tables as performance art. Dada, surrealism ... he dabbled in them all. His eventual return to America, however, found the great man struggling to keep up in a culture that doesn't readily acknowledge the sub-waiter stratum as a haven for genius.

The tale, of course, is totally fabricated. (Ssssshhhh!) Greene says it's based on the legend of Nat Tate, a painter whose made-up biography was accepted unchallenged by the New York art world three years ago. Greene's busboy will receive a similarly thorough backstory at Stardust, where photos of his family and former roommates will hang alongside other respectful memorabilia. There will also be pictures of Marcel Duchamp, for no reason Greene deigns to fully explain.

"I want you to feel as if you're in a historical museum," he says. As research, he visited memory palaces of every caliber, from the Orange County Regional History Center on down: "The best ones are the ones with no budget, because those are the ones I can relate to.

Greene can obviously relate to Jerry Lewis, whose oeuvre is referenced twice in the installation's short title. The "le" denotes the comic's alleged godhead in France, while "busboy" harkens back to -- well, The Busboy, one of Lewis' classic filmed farces. (Others include "The Bell Boy," "The Disorderly Orderly" and "The Insufferable Egotist Who Hasn't Been Funny Since Steve Started Shaving." Or did I just imagine that one?)

Performances on April 20, 21, 27 and 28 will augment the exhibit with live theatrics, video footage and music, as supplied by Greene and his on-stage foil, avant-garde muso Michael Welch. Opening-night festivities will include the appearance of a real live busboy, who Greene is paying $20 to sign autographs. (His name is Dave. He works at Sage.)

Were there anything logical about "Le Busboy," I'd call it a logical extension of the regular gig Greene has had at Stardust since last fall. The first Wednesday of every month, he hosts a variety show consisting of nontraditional music, video, film and (sometimes) spoken-word poetry. Officially titled "The Annual Report" but colloquially known as "The Pat Greene Show," the night was founded by Greene and Steven Garnett, his former partner in free-form combo Numb Right Thumb.

We had talked about doing a play based on "Magnum, P.I." to disrupt the open-mike night at Chapters or something," Greene recalls. "Annual Report" won out instead.

The show goes on hiatus in June, when Greene leaves for a vacation in Latin America. After that trip, he'll begin a residency at New Smyrna's Atlantic Center for the Arts -- as a writer, no less.

How "Le Busboy" will advance his own, already esoteric career, it's hard to say. He's realistic about the reaction it's likely to engender: "There definitely has to be a feeling of, ‘Why did I bother?'" Greene admits. "But hopefully not too much."

Sucks to be Utah

Searching for a reason to be thankful that you live in Orlando? Here's one: It's not Salt Lake City. The bastion of Mormonism has cast a vote of no confidence in American High, the teen-watching reality series that began a 13-week run on PBS last Wednesday, April 4. Salt Lake's KUED-TV Channel 7 has refused to air the show, deeming the words and deeds of its young cast unsuitable for family viewing.

Sadly, the station wasn't alone in its verdict, joining a roster of holdouts that included broadcasters in Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina and South Carolina. Carol Wonsavage, director of broadcasting and communications at Orlando's WMFE-TV Channel 24, says that her station won't follow suit.

"We're airing it," she assures. "We'll carry the whole series."

"American High" co-producer Jonathan Mednick, who teaches at the University of Central Florida, claims to be neither "outraged, incensed [nor] surprised" by the flap, though he feels that the show's hooliganism is pretty mild, and its occasionally trash-talking protagonists more "sweet" than thuggish. (Kids this isn't.)

"I'm a pragmatist," Mednick says. "I'm delighted that the show is on. [But] I'm open to the idea that other people have a different attitude."

Let's watch Magnolia

While you're checking your VCR for correct recording of "American High," you can also set its controls for the heart of "Downtown," an entertainment-and-culture forum that debuts at 12:30 p.m. this Saturday, April 14, on WRDQ-TV (Action 27). Executive producer and show host Willie Clark promises a weekly half-hour devoted to the "people, places and events" that shape downtown Orlando. The first episode includes pieces on the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival and the aforementioned history center. If I sound noncommittal, it's because the show wasn't finished in time for preview. And no, its camera crew isn't still looking for a place to park.

The Tokyo tapes

The Anime Gaijin America fan club hosts its latest monthly screening of Japanese animation classics at midnight April 20 at Loews Universal Cineplex 20. According to member Karen Trudeau, attendance was between 180 and 250 at two previous programs, which spotlighted the "Gundam Wing" and "Sailor Moon" fantasy franchises. This month's offering is "Macros Plus," the feature-film version of an OVA (original video animation) series. To be shown on high-grade VHS, it carries the usual, affordable ticket price, which is "free." But no swords or cell phones, please.

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