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Actor serves up help for burned ‘Vision’ icons

Sat., Jan. 28, 2012

Actor Matthew Modine is in Spokane this weekend, in part to promote fundraisers to restore two iconic Spokane landmarks.

He’s helping raise money for Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle and Ferguson’s Café, two Garland District historic buildings badly damaged in a Sept. 25 blaze.

“I see the value, when somebody slips and falls, in putting your hand out and helping them up,” he said. “There’s so much joy and happiness here. It’s a real pleasure to be here and do something to help the community.”

Modine played the role of high school wrestler Louden Swain in “Vision Quest,” a coming-of-age film that was shot in Spokane in 1984 and featured Ferguson’s. On Friday morning, he joined a group of fans at another “Vision Quest” locale, Riverfront Park, for a flash mob – a gathering that’s typically promoted through word-of-mouth and social network websites.

“I just think it’s a lot of fun for everyone to get together to celebrate Spokane,” said organizer Holly Jones. “It’s awesome. It’s really a testament to how much he cares for the fans.”

After chatting and signing autographs, some fans ran the bridges around the park, just as Swain did while training in a scene in the movie.

Modine agreed to raffle off $500 to a fan if 250 people showed up to the flash mob. Far fewer came, but Modine decided to do the raffle anyway. However, the crowd urged him to instead donate the money to Ferguson’s and the Milk Bottle.

“That shows the heart and the beauty of Spokane, why it’s so special for me to come back,” he said. “I’m glad the 500 bucks will go to good use.”

The Spokane Fire Department estimated the blaze caused more than $1 million in damage. It was initially unclear if the buildings could be saved, but the community is rallying to get them up and running again.

The Garland Business District also took bids on a dinner for four with Modine.

Terry Davis, the Spokane author who wrote the book “Vision Quest,” was supposed to join Modine but is hospitalized and undergoing treatment for a serious head injury he suffered after falling off a ladder.

“If it wasn’t for Terry, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “I was really looking forward to seeing him and I know he was really excited about being here. I’m just really happy he’s going to make a full recovery.”

After “Vision Quest,” Modine went on to star in “Full Metal Jacket” and numerous other films and television shows.

Many in Spokane were ecstatic about the visit.

“It’s a cult classic,” Don Winant said of “Vision Quest.” “I’ve probably watched it 100 times. I love it. You just never get tired of it.”

Modine also showed his new short film, “Jesus was a Commie,” at the Spokane International Film Festival.

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