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Pure Imagination

January 16, 2010
Sweat Records, Miami, FL

When most people hear the phrase “Pure Imagination,” they think of the song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. However, if you live in Miami and ever listen to WVUM 90.5 FM, the correlation you make may be slightly different.

In 2005, while attending the University of Miami, local writer Matt Gajewski came up with a unique radio program he called Pure Imagination. Accompanied by local musicians, he writes stories and reads them over the air, sometimes with the help of actors. Topics vary, but Gajewski has touched on everything from a pageant for dictators, to the heartbreaking tale of a lonely server at a pancake house on the moon. His voice is witty and oftentimes mercilessly dark, weaving tales which are always thoroughly entertaining. It is no wonder the show is now in its fifth, although final season, and has expanded into live shows and a book that includes nine illustrated stories.

Last year, the music store, Sweat Records, took Gajewski and Pure Imagination under their wing to host live installments of the show. While he reads his stories, Mountain Dew Code Red Terror Alert, a rotating band of musicians, improvises behind him. His latest story about Novelty Parking Enforcement was attended by friends and admirers who settled in for story time on couches and chairs.

Novelty Parking Enforcement, if you were unaware, not only includes handing out parking tickets, but ice cream cones too. Apparently, most people overlook the latter part, as the narrator Gajewski has created is often the butt of nasty jokes, insults, and threats. In short, disgruntled recipients have no problem telling him where he can stick his tickets.

Pure Imagination is a unique college radio program where writer Matt Gajewski reads witty stories over the air with the accompaniment of local musicians.

The second act of the story focuses on the financial hardship of the narrator and his family. With his mother falling ill, his father takes it upon himself to rent out every empty space in their entire house, including a tree house in the backyard. Here, the story becomes more interesting because of the quirky characters like Pascal, the experimental filmmaker who lives in the garage, and Cortez who was supposed to be renting out the crawlspace under the house, but instead befriends the narrator’s dad and has free reign. Eventually a tenant’s association is created to settle sleeping, bathing, and TV privileges.

Laughter spread through the room into the third act, as the narrator’s best friend Francesca, who works at a pirate-themed restaurant, woefully concludes guys only want her when she is a serving wench. Meanwhile, his Hooter’s busboy friend claims he lost his virginity by one of the waitresses. As he is interrogated, Gajewski goes back and forth between the two contrasting stories with Francesca worrying herself into sleepless nights. As the intensity built into a climax, the effect was almost hypnotic, holding the audience captivated in their seats.

While there was certainly misery and confusion involved in Novelty Parking Enforcement, the humorous plotline made for a well-done performance piece and story. If you’re interested in listening to earlier Pure Imagination stories, the entire library is available at You can also catch the show on WVUM 90.5 FM (Mondays at 11 pm) and be on the lookout for the next in-store reading at Sweat Records.

Review and Photos by Liana Minassian

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