What's Your Stargate?
by Ernie Schenck
In the movie Stargate, archaeologists working on the Giza Plateau in 1928 discover a strange ring of stone with carvings unlike any hieroglyphics previously known. But this is no ordinary relic. As it turns out, it’s a portal to another planet on the far side of the galaxy. It seems far-fetched until you realize that you’d be hard-pressed to find an astrophysicist on the planet who doesn’t acknowledge the existence of wormholes—shortcuts in the space-time continuum that can whisk you from New York to Endora in the blink of an Ewok’s eye.
I’ve never been through a wormhole. But I know places like that. Creative wormholes. Weird locations where the ideas come racing fast and furious. Odd places that for some reason seem to thrum with creative energy like nowhere else. The booth near the window at Pizzeria Uno. The passenger seat of a 2006 MINI Cooper in the rain. The third stool from the end of the bar at some skivvy dive on the other side of town. Don’t mean to get all Yanni on you, but these places exist, I swear.
Not long ago, I put out a question on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I wanted to see if anyone else out there had his or her own private creative wormholes.
“The small front section of the bar at O’Callaghan’s in Chicago. The spot is uncanny. I can be bone dry for days, but I grab a stool in that section of that bar, and something just starts happening. Doesn’t work anywhere else in the place. Just that section. Weirdest thing.”
Yes, it is. Until you hear about the tree.
“I used to have a tree I’d climb at World’s End in Hingham, Massachusetts. I called it the creative tree. Bad name. Awful and stupid, I know, but it really was a creative tree. I’d climb up there, sitting in those branches stretched out over the water, the Boston skyline in the distance and stuff would just come to me. Was it the tree? Was it me just thinking it was the tree? Who knows. Something was going on up there though.”
And then there’s Pizzeria Uno.
“We had this Pizzeria Uno near the office. One time, my partner and I decided to duck out and run over there for a late lunch. Ordinarily, we’d just grab something and take it back, but it was raining pretty bad, so we figured, let’s grab a booth. By the time we got out of there, we must have had half my Moleskine loaded with ideas, storyboards, tons of digital stuff. That never happens. Not like that. Not that fast. I mean, we’re like regulars over there now. One afternoon, there was an old couple in the booth. Our booth. We gave them 25 bucks to move somewhere else.”
To anyone else on the 7:50 Metro North train into Manhattan from Connecticut, it’s just another seat by the window. Third car from the engine. But it’s not just another seat. Because there’s at least one commuter on that train that swears by all that is holy that she wouldn’t be where she is now, if it weren’t for that seat.
“Sounds like a Twilight episode, right? Hey, maybe it is. When I moved out here from Oregon, we bought a house in Connecticut and I started taking the train into the city. A couple of weeks into the job, I got on one morning, pulled out my laptop, started working. The stuff I came up with by the time I got to Grand Central went on to make the short list at Cannes. And it wasn’t just that one time. It’s happened a lot."
Me? Well, if you were a Foursquare friend, you’d know that I spend a lot of time in libraries. One in particular. There’s this little room for what they call quiet study. The quiet study room. For quiet study only. It says so right on the door. I assume not many people see this sign when they come in here since it’s only slightly quieter than the quiet car on the Acela. Nevertheless, it is my wormhole. My Stargate. Not as quirky as the tree in Massachusetts or the Rod Serling train to Cannes, perhaps, but there it is.
What about you? What’s your Stargate? CA