NORMALLY, WHEN you worry that weather will keep people away from your fundraiser, it's bad weather you're concerned about. For this year's Rotary Club of Baltimore Oyster Roast, however, the sun was out and the temperatures were downright balmy. That had some of the Rotary folks a bit on edge.
"You never know whether the good weather is a good thing or a bad thing," said Rotary officer Howard Weisberg. "The best attendance we ever had was when we had a bad snowstorm the night before."
Worries rapidly dissipated as hundreds of folks poured into the Fifth Regiment Armory. Lines quickly formed at the pit-beef and beer stations. Over at the half-dozen oyster-shucking stations, the crowd was at least a dozen deep.
"The weather is working in our favor," noted event chair Keith Novak. "In good weather like this, wives want husbands outside working. You can't go play golf. But, if you gotta go to a charity event, you gotta go to a charity event."
For many of those attending, this roast is more than just a charity event. It's an annual tradition.
"Good times, good friends and a good cause. That's why we keep coming back," said Bob Boyer of Langhorne, Pa. He and a whole table of his American Legion post buddies make the trek here every year.
Meanwhile, this was the first visit for a trio of college students, twins Tom and Anthony Marzilli and Scott Fowler. They were guests of Tim O'Steen, whose dad had been coming to this extravaganza for many years.
"This is fantastic," said Fowler as the three finished plates of food and got up for a stroll. "We're going to eat some more, gamble some more and drink some more."
Many guests had similar plans, eating and then heading to the poker, roulette and craps tables. Or they gathered at the game wheels, which offered prizes like alcoholic beverages, power tools or 9-pound boxes of bacon.
For volunteers Kelly Collins, Andrea Grissinger and Steve Smith, this year was proving much more productive than last year. Their job was to sell raffle tickets for a Baltimore Ravens jersey autographed by Ray Lewis.
"We had a much harder time selling these tickets last year," said Grissinger. "But not this year."
Making an art of daily life
Filmmaker Matt Porterfield grew up in Baltimore's Hamilton neighborhood. A graduate of New York University's film school, he taught kindergarten at a Hebrew day school in New York, then worked as a server at the Chameleon Cafe while making his first film, Hamilton. It has been on the film festival circuit for the past year, and ran for three weeks in October at Baltimore's Rotunda Cinematheque. Porterfield, 29, shares a home in the Old Goucher neighborhood with wife, Sara Gerrish, a kindergarten teacher, and cats Francis and Noah.
When someone outside the film industry asks you what kind of movies you make, what do you say?
Maybe [about] a kind of extraordinary daily life. People engaged in routines, but encountering exceptional emotion. [I like] to explore character through the minutiae of daily life.
Is that Hamilton?
Yes. I want the audience to get to know the characters and care for them without relying on narrative contrivance to sustain their interest.
Where do you catch inspiration?
I have dreams a lot where I wake up and write down ideas.
OK, we're going to stop talking about work ...
Yeah, I know. I'm a dull boy. All work and no play.
Is that true?
No. But I run the risk.
Does Sara keep you in line?
She does. But she really works hard too. But, because she works in a completely different field, the time we spend together is our time. It's not connected to our careers.
What do you two do on your own time?
We cook a lot. We hug our cats. We go out with friends. ... [We also go tend] our little garden. It's part of the city parks program. It's $20 a year. We really enjoy it. This'll be our third year [with it]. We strike a balance between [planting] good-looking flowers and things we can eat.
You guys really enjoy city life.
I can't imagine not living in an urban environment.
Tell me something silly about you.
I take it very seriously, but I love to sing karaoke. My niche is urban R&B; boy bands.
Do you have any heroes?
There's a long list of filmmakers I could mention. And my grandfather on my mother's side. He worked incredibly hard to support his family -- his children, his grandchildren and his wife. He always maintained composure and patience. That's nothing like me.
Yeah. Really extremely impatient.
Do you list that in the top five of your faults?
What are the other four?
My ego is huge. And that's a fault. Hmm. Three more to go...
Do you have words you live by?
I have this one. It's funny, because it comes back to the Hebrew day school where I taught. The school was named after this Judaic scholar named Abraham Joshua Heschel. This was the motto of the school, but I take it to heart -- "Build your life like a work of art." As corny as that is, the nice thing about it is that it has nothing to do with the arts, but the choices you make in creating your life. It acknowledges that we should have that choice. We don't always. And I think "build" is the key word, not "art."
Girls Night Pajama Party
Benefits House of Ruth
Women only, wine, hors d'oeuvres, buffet dinner, makeup consulting, fortune-telling, cooking demonstrations, dance lessons, spa treatments, overnight all-suite accommodations, continental breakfast
Tremont Plaza Hotel, 222 St. Paul Place
6 p.m. (you can check in at 4 p.m.)
410-727-2222 or baltimore pajamaparty.com