One of Pecha Kucha’s taglines? “Thinking and drinking.” Standing at the Music Farm in a crowd of beer-holding, Buddy Holly glasses-wearing, demographic-defying participants, I’d have to say that yes, there was much thinking and drinking going on. There was also the embracing of our fair city and the celebration of the artists, authors, musicians, and doggone talent Charleston has been known to encompass. I’d say the centerpiece of this event was, in fact, the city itself, while the presenters formed a talented worship circle, idolizing The Holy City and all her historic glory.
“Pecha Kucha” is Japanese for “the sound of conversation,” and when I was asked where I would be spending my Wednesday evening, it took three tries for me to say it right. It’s a high class open mic slash happy hour, where creativity is discussed like an old friend you’ve known since kindergarten. Presenters get only six minutes, forty seconds to present, while 20 slides flash above their heads — images that make you want to believe what each presenter is saying. The event occurs in over 135 cities worldwide as an informal celebration of intrinsic creative talent, buried in the participants and perhaps, the onlookers, as well.
As I said, the centerpiece of Pecha Kucha 4 was Charleston, and this was apparent immediately, thanks to one of the only men in a tucked-in shirt, Bill Eubanks, from Urban Edge Studio. The mission of Mr. Eubanks was to make us laugh. The mission of Urban Edge Studio was slightly more important. They want to keep Charleston beautiful and not just down Broad Street (which was paid at least thirty precious seconds of hero worship from Eubanks over the course of his pitch). No, they want to go after the horrendous Rivers Avenue, turning it from a nondescript line of fast food joints into a quaint neighborhood with palm trees, without drunks and prostitutes. Of all the presenters, Urban Edge definitely made the best use of their slides.
Other highlights included painter Michael Gray, who may have missed his calling as a stand-up comedian. When he discussed “The Greatest Mud Painting Ever,” I just about dropped my notebook. DJ Natty Heavy added a live crowd sample to an impromptu mix and made even the most corporate of corporate men want to get up and dance. Children’s book author Jonathan Miller embraced the association of artists as poor and yet triumphed the profession, highlighted by a hand-written note from an elementary school kid who told him to keep getting that “cash money.”
Pecha Kucha 5 is January 21, 2010, location as yet to be identified. It is an event that embraces Charleston, and it embraces the talent inherent in this beautiful city. We all owe a lot to The Holy City, and Pecha Kucha might as well be Japanese for “Charleston is the best place on Earth.”