Tuesday, December 25, 2012
I grew up in the St. Louis media writing for The Riverfront Times when Ray Hartmann owned the paper. That RFT always ran a media column that I thought did a good job of stirring up the proverbial and reminding us what we were talking about and how we were talking about it.
If St. Louis still had a good media column and it was handing out media persons of the year awards, Thomas Crone would merit an award for something. Crone had a Zelig-like ubiquity in 2012, he was everywhere doing everything, and it was some of his best stuff.
I won't pretend to have kept up with all of it, but there was a Second Set series on The Beacon where Crone got nostalgic in public, but he had so much to say and said it so well that his nostalgia was well worth sharing. He also seemed to be always blogging about good things for our mutual friend Stefene Russell who keeps the gate on the St. Louis Magazine arts blogs.
I thought he did his best work of all -- in 2012 and to date -- on his own project Half Order Fried Rice, a multimedia mockumentary project. Crone invented a series of fake lists where St. Louis placed, as the city always does place in real life on assorted national lists of cities with (for example) the best drinking water, most violent crime and worst racial segregation.
A Half Order Fried Rice episode comes with a brainiac prose piece by Crone, some seriously witty and insightful post-modern banter, that eventually introduces a piece of improvised sketch comedy. Like the rest of us amateur directors in St. Louis, Crone casts his friends as amateur actors, to uneven but frequently totally hilarious effect.
In Half Order Fried Rice, however, Crone developed a problem that is new for him (but painfully familiar to me). He had so much going on that it was difficult to figure out at a glance what was going on and who should take the time to experience it.
I volunteered production advice to him, as an old friend and creative partner. I thought he should keep the brilliant title "Half Order Fried Rice" for his production company, such that it is, and retitle this web series "St. Louis: City of Lists." I thought that series title would really draw in the sizable regional audience that would appreciate what he was doing.
Alas, as usually happens when I or anyone else volunteers unsolicited production advice to anyone else, Crone kept right on doing what he was doing the way he was doing it.
I acted in a couple of episodes of Half Order Fried Rice and especially enjoyed acting in and then watching the Mumblecore episode. I thought Crone got some pretty good improvised sketch comedy out of Kevin Arndt, Amy Broadway and me playing a Mumblecore moviemaking unit.
In what was a very good year for the Crone, he also gave me probably my single most satisfying experience as a working amateur artist in St. Louis in 2012: acting in this Half Order Fried Rice episode, on the same day the great improv actor George Malich went in for his second, and final, brain surgery, in a hospital about a mile from where we were shooting on the Hill.
Photo is of Crone as Capt. Buster Jangles in the Poetry Scores movie I directed, Go South for Animal Index (which will premiere June 16, 2013 in Istanbul). Yes, Crone was all over the media map as an actor as well.