Just returned from an academic conference in Montgomery, hosted by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society. I was there with my documentary partner, Deej, to film and present our Westport Fitzgerald thesis to scholars from around the world.
About 175 Fitzgerald fanatics attended the four-day event, comprised mostly of academics who have dedicated their life to the study and teaching of one America’s greatest novelists.
Our objective was to interview experts on Scott’s early years and The Great Gatsby to ask about Westport’s impact on the Fitzgerald’s writing (Zelda wrote a novel called Save Me the Waltz.
The society and the folks from Troy University in Montgomery were very helpful. In the thirty-six hours we were down there, we got to speak to several leading scholars including the noteworthy German professor, Herr Docktor Horst Kruse of the University of Muenster, who has dedicated the better part of sixty years to the study of Fitzgerald and his writing.
I won’t spoil the narrative as to what we learned, but I can tell you that these people know the Fitzgeralds and the world they inhabited and it was inspiring to be around such passionate people. We came to the right event for our film!
Although our depth of knowledge of Fitzgerald’s work, friends and that era pale in comparison, we knew enough to feel at home.
Saturday night we took a riverboat down the Alabama River with the Fitzgerald devotees. The boat was packed and we ended up at a table with a couple celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary. Besides being Fitzgerald aficionados, Aileen and Elkin Thomas were in Leonard Cohen’s band when he played that famous Isle of White concert (also on the bill: Jimi Hendrix, The Who). Over the years the Thomas’s had their own musical career as well playing with such greats as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs and Waylon Jennings.
Deej and I continue to be amazed at where this Fitzgerald documentary takes us.
More on Montgomery later this week.