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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fate of a Salesman Screening Tomorrow

I received an interesting email from a man by the name of Ben Crosbie. He's DC filmmaker working on an H Street focused documentary called Fate of a Salesman. Here's the summary from the film's Facebook page: "After 60 years of business, Willie Carswell and his fellow salesmen are fighting to keep their store alive on a rapidly changing street in Washington, DC."

He's still working on the final product, but you can view the work in progress tomorrow night at GWU at 7pm. A facilitator will moderate an audience feedback session after the film. Suggested donation is $10.

25 comments:

npm said...

From the photos on their facebook page, it looks like this is abou the Men's Fashion Center, 918 H St, next to Park's hardware store.

Anonymous said...

If Willie Carswell and his fellow salesmen would adapt to the "rapidly changing street" instead of complaining about it, maybe they would still be in business. I have no sympathy for these people. It's how the free-market works.

Anonymous said...

i would love to have a men's clothing store that i could walk to when i wanted to purchase clothes but unfortunately, after stopping in this store when i first moved here two years ago, i realized the stock was very dated and would not be an option. if the owners could reevaluate what they choose to stock, perhaps they would be experiencing an easier time making rent.

Ben Crosbie said...

Thanks for posting this!

To Anonymous #1, come see the work in progress film! Then maybe you will get an idea of what is going on with this particular store (which is Men's Fashion Center.)

Not sure how you can say they are complaining without ever having seen the film? You may be surprised by what you find out.

- Ben

Anonymous said...

Ben- It's just hard to imagine any story line other than the ones that Anon 1:43 & 2:54 presume the film to be about. We've heard for a long time the "plight" of these businessmen who refuse to change with the times. If we're all wrong, tell us why.

Ben Crosbie said...

I want to make clear that the men of Men's Fashion Center are not complaining about anything. In the year we have been filming they have never once complained about the changes on H St. In fact, they see it as a good thing. And neither they nor us are making any commentary on free-market economics or capitalism. This film is simply their unique story of being in business on H St. for 60 years, and living through a wide variety of changes, and what their future may hold.

I contacted Frozen Tropic to make people aware that the film in being screened and to get feedback from the community to help us complete it.

The story of "Fate of a Salesman" is complex and nuanced. I'm surprised that someone finds it "hard to imagine any story line" other than what anon 1 & 2 have referenced. Simply reading a two line synopsis, making grand assumptions about how the store has struggled or what its story may be are not helpful in understanding the greater changes taking place in Washington.

If you are interested in the story, then please come see the work-in-progress and share your polite and open-minded feedback.

Boris said...

Ben, well said. Don't have a dog in this one, but I'm disappointed how discourse of all kinds is increasingly debased by the pandemic of people who do nothing more than jump to conclusions that stroke their own preconceived notions.

More worrying is their unwillingness or inability to question their own cognitive fallibility.

H Vegas said...

Boy I wish I didn't have something already going on tomorrow night, I'm really interested in seeing this.

Butthead said...

Uhhh.. uh huh huh... he said cognitive fallibility.

John said...

For those interested in going and unfamiliar with GWU, here's the address of the Documentary Center at GWU:

805 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20052

I assume that this is where the screening will take place, at 7:00 PM.

inked said...

John,
That's it. The second link also includes a map. This should be in Auditorium B-07 of George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs Building (corner of 21st and H Streets, NW).

Ben said...

Yup, Inked is right - B07 at the Media and Public Affairs Building. Hope to see some of you there.

Anonymous said...

John 3:16

Anonymous said...

Apologies to Ben Crosbie. You're right, there is no indication of Mr. Willie Carswell "complaining" and I jumped to an unfair conclusion about his opinion about a "rapidly changing street." Guess I experience white resentment towards the occasional black who blames and complains about whites for the rapidly changing street. Racism goes both ways.

Ben said...

No problem. Willie and the other guys are incredibly endearing characters in this film. The phrase "rapidly changing street" may connote something different than we had imagined when writing that synopsis.

While changes on the street (new bars & restaurants opening, new demographic, years of construction for the streetcar) have very real impacts on all the businesses present, they are not the only factors in why a store like Men's Fashion may have a hard time prospering.

FYI, the store is owned by a white man (the son of the original proprietor), and the relationship between all in the store is a key element of the film. So it goes beyond the typical "gentrification" story.

JoshNE said...

I made the trip over to see the screening tonight, and I was blown away. We only saw a portion of the film, but what we saw was excellent. As hard as it might be for anonymous internet posters to imagine possible story lines not involving their own sense of whatever, this film is not some anti-gentrification screed.

What I saw was a moving story about a gentlemen who have worked in the same store, doing their best to do what they do, for the last 40+ years. This film could have been about auto workers in detroit, or factory workers in any part of the country. I love the fact that it was made in our neighborhood, and gives voice to the struggles members of our own community are going through.

There are many reasons Men's Fashion Center is having a rough period as of late, but if you watch this and "have no sympathy for these people," I'm really sorry to have you in the neighborhood...

oboe said...

Sounds like a great doc. When's the next screening? Maybe somewhere closer to home? (SOVA, ATLAS, etc...)

JoshNE said...

I don't know...they haven't even completed the film yet. It would definitely be awesome to have it shown at Atlas.

BenDC said...

Thanks so much for coming out Josh!

A few things - we ARE going to screen the film in the neighborhood and anywhere else we can when it's done. However, we aren't actually going to be done until some time in 2013. The film will also likely have a broadcast on WHUT.

BUT, since all of those things are a ways off, in the meantime you can watch (and share!) the trailer.

And to stay up to date on the progress and where you will be able to finally see the film, like the film on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter (the little email signup button under the main image.)

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

joshne, you just saw part of an independent film about this area that won't even come out until 2013. You may have thought you were just checking something out, but as a byproduct your hipster street cred is now through the roof!

Anonymous said...

Ben Crosbie,

It's all so telling (and pathetic), how just the mention of certain businesses on H St get negative reactions, and stereotypes start spewing like a gushing river. And, to quiet the waters you had to levy their bias by revealing the owner is not Willie the Black man, but a White man.

I guess Willie ain't the whiner, it's his new neighbors.

tiffanyc said...

exactly anon 9:55. exactly.

Anonymous said...

How many mom and pop clothing stores for males do you see existing in any part of any city these days? It has nothing to do with bars, raising land values and taxes, or whites. It's a changing method of retail and chains. But bars and whitey are an easy story line for people who refuse to run viable businesses.

Incidentally, that's the store whose sign reads "Going out of business after 40 years on CAPITAL [sic] Hill," right?

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:41pm -- so even though the movie isn't about that and doesn't say that, and even though the discussion up to this point makes it very clear that the movie and the people at the store don't say what you're suggesting, you STILL felt the need to post that?

Jeebus.

inked said...

5:41,
No. You are thinking of George's Place. the owner of George's Place retired and sold his building to the family behind Ben's Chili Bowl. Men's Fashion Center is across the street, and down the block at 918 H Street.