artist - musician - craftsman
and furniture maker
[June 13, 2021]
simply revland: california dreamin' (1988)
Meeting “Elvira” at her California home ...
... wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I’m quite certain she was equally dismayed, anticipating: an encounter with a blonde, full-blooded Norwegian woodworker from North Dakota, donning coveralls and a Cenex cap.
On the other hand, for some absurd, far-fetched reason, I expected the door to open to the character “Elvira,” in full wig and makeup, with a residence filled with Halloween-themed memorabilia.
No such luck. I expeditiously understood that the joke was on both of us, as we each knew I was there to take measurements for some tables I would be creating for her. The foreshadowing, however, was refreshingly hilarious and downright ice-breaking.
As we shook hands, we simultaneously chuckled, as that handshake quickly turned into a hug, like we somehow had been long-lost friends. That embrace somehow seemed naturally comfortable, and even congenial, because we each had a very close mutual connection with the incomparable Joe Cartwright. He was the catalyst through a brilliantly conceived marketing concept, all courtesy of Joe.
Joe Cartwright was a native of Richfield, Minnesota, and a 1975 UND journalism graduate. We lived together in the mid-70s before he moved to “Hollywood” (as he always promised), for his fame and fortune. I had built furniture for Joe in the late 70s, and we partied together pretty hard between 1975 and 1980. Everyone who knew Joe never doubted how successful he would be, and to have this California connection would end up being a “be careful what you wish for” moment for me.
Joe Cartwright and Family
As our meeting progressed, I soon discovered that “Elvira” had a day job as a red headed meteorologist for KHJ Channel 9, in Los Angeles. She had a high paying lucrative gig every year in October, for obvious reasons, and that extra income could afford her the luxury of purchasing some fine furnishings by a Scandinavian huckster craftsman from North Dakota. I was ceremoniously smitten in a “please pinch me” moment, and stored a boatload of humility in the pockets of my pants, only wishing I had worn the coveralls to house the rest. She was more than gracious, and I wasn’t remotely penalized for showing up in a sport coat with perfectly quaffed hair.
So here’s the deal. Joe was sales manager at KHJ in Los Angeles and had access to celebrities, especially those that work in television. When Joe approached me about his plan to portray me as someone who had yet to leave the corral….I initially thought he was smoking fruit cake, until he explained to me that the majority of the West Coast population had never even heard of North Dakota. For these future clients to actually meet a Norwegian speaking, lefse consuming woodworker, would only add to their delight, offering them something other than sushi and authentic Mexican salsa. I would essentially become an acquired taste, if that makes any sense. It did to Joe, and I placed my trust in him.
I soon would meet Chantal (Westerman), from ABC’s Good Morning America program. She did the Hollywood Report for the show, and wanted one of my signature chairs, as she had seen the one I made for Joe.
Same situation. Same portrayal. But not the same result. She was clearly perturbed by my outfit when we met. I was too slick to be a woodworker. Too polished. And she was pissed at Joe for the misrepresentation. She wanted and expected to meet ... the Other Guy.
Our meeting was abbreviated, but still resulted in a chair sale.
The Original Revland Signature Chair (1988)
Steven (Rocky) Bauer
In one of my last brushes with stardom, in 1988, I was introduced to Steven (Rocky) Bauer, who co-starred with Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer in 1983’s “Scarface.” He was married to Melanie Griffith at the time, from 1981 to 1989 (sandwiched between her marriages to Don Johnson). He wanted me to build them a deck, which I had done for Joe’s Hermosa beach home, but at the time, wasn’t in my wheelhouse. I can’t deny, however, that while dreaming, I imagined sipping margaritas with her by their pool. After all, I was still a young man of leisure, and had been granted license to theorize. Steven’s brother, Victor Rivers, also an actor, threw the frisbee with me on Redondo Beach, another episode from my (at the time) fairy tale existence. All this being said, if I could keep my shit together, this could go on for awhile.
For 5 years Joe and I expanded on this Alice in Wonderland undertaking.
I would fly out every April and October, rent a car, and temporarily lodge at the Sea Sprite on the beach in Redondo. From there, I would meet clients, do some sketches, and return back to Fargo to fabricate items that would ship back to Southern California.
The financial reward was delectable, but so were the drugs and alcohol. I was fearful this might soon be coming to a head, as the proof was in the pudding, and I was having more than my share of the gelato. Fruition, however, is but a chapter away.