For the past 20 years, LA adman Charles Wittenmeier had been living the dream — directing iconic commercials and music videos, amassing a comfortable fortune and moving his family into a multimillion dollar Portland mountain home. Sadly, as most American Dreams go, Wittenmeier’s good luck quickly turned; after a difficult divorce, his historic, lavish (on a Pacific Northwest scale) digs were put up to forclose on May 28, 2010. In a last-ditch attempt to turn things around, Wittenmeier staged a happening: starting May 1, 2010, he would invite various musicians to stage a happening in the empty mansion, a sort of countdown to bankruptcy and an unclear new start.
In the introduction to 28 Days in May‘s failed Kickstarter page, Wittenmeier writes:
I’m at a time in my life where I’ve lost everything and I’ve lost nothing. My goal is to live a life as a positive example for my kids in finally doing what I love. This is an experiment to finish the things I’ve always wanted to finish, collaborate with people I’ve always wanted to collaborate with and ultimately gain insight into myself. One day I was sitting in the empty house after my wife moved out and I realized my life has become the Talking Heads song. How did we get here and where do we go? As American’s [sic] we’ve been sold a bill of goods, and I’ve helped sell it.
Baroque-pop act Parenthetical Girls were one of many to take up temporary residence in Wittenmeier’s creative stomping grounds almost a year ago today. Now available thanks to 28 Days in May collaborator (and Into the Woods director) Jordan Kinley, Parenthetical Girls’ performance of “Someone Else’s Muse” has the quality of a faded relic. With the knowledge that those musty fireplaces and dark walls have long been abandoned, there’s something appropriately forlorn about frontman Zac Pennington performing an ode to, in his own words, “the singular sting of relinquishing one’s place as the protagonist within their own heroic narrative to instead play a supporting role in the shadow of another.” (He insists there was no intended subtext.)
Directed by Charles Wittenmeier
Director of Photography: Guy Wagner