Some Cheap Monday Night Nostalgia

I remember a time when I listened to The Locust every day. Loud. Around this time, I also had short black hair full of pomade, wore tight-ass black jeans, and thought myself rather hardcore. This was around the time I picked up the nickname "Grindcore," which has, not surprisingly, garnered many friend requests on myspace from grindcore bands, and many jealous messages from naive facebook members who think it to be my "real" last name.

I remembered very vividly today being at a Lightning Bolt show at Ocean's Coffee on Waterman St. in Providence. People were hanging from the pipes on the ceiling, and it looked like they were going to come crashing down. Not exactly comforting in the same state that had the ol' Great White Station Nightclub Fire.

(I have decided, while writing this post, to detour momentarily from the dance mix I was making for no particular occasion to listen to some of the music I used to be pretty obsessed with. Right now, that's Le Shok. Wow, I really, really liked them. Still pretty amazing, but it kind of reminds me a lot of being 19.)

I remember getting a Providence accent when drunk. That really hasn't happened in quite awhile. Maybe if I drank a lot of whiskey? No, that's a bad idea ihregahdless.

There was the time at the end of my first year, when I boarded the Greyhound for my 36-hour trip home -- much to the trepidation of many of my Ivy League classmates -- on which I sat next to an enormous rapper from Brooklyn with whom I spent the overnight portion through Pennsylvania discussing the parallels between punk and hip hop. I remember running through Port Authority with two huge duffel bags, a backpack and a guitar -- my whole dorm room, practically -- climbing breathless onto the full bus, having him ask me if I'd sing him to sleep, and deciding this was the man to make friends with if I was not to be fucked with.

Amy (pictured) and Becky took me to Narragansett before my bus ride. They couldn't believe I'd grown up without ocean.

I miss the set-up at 72 and 72-and-a-half John Street. On a night like tonight, where I don't really feel like going out, I'd love to be able to walk across the yard and up the steps to hang out with Taylor, Mark, Ryan or Alex and while away the hours with Rolling Rock and video games. Those were amazing nights. A lot of what I miss about Providence is the spontaneity of it all. I feel like we hardly ever made plans, just kind of ran into each other or stopped by or people stopped by the cottage and we went from there. And the parties seemed different somehow, too. I think part of it was just that people had parties more instead of going to the bars, and then there was always the walking from party to party in large groups, forgetting the distance of the walk, the temperature, or how much your feet hurt or how drunk you were. Somehow you always made it there. (And then there was the Valentine's Punk Prom, where Darin carried me halfway up the hill because my feet hurt so much from wearing Katy's heels that I had started walking barefoot on the snow -- Darin heaved me up on his back and ran from Benefit Street all the way to the main gate at Brown. And speaking of the main gate, there was the time Alex Provan and I were standing in front of it, both of us freshly turned 19, drinking whiskey from a flask quite obviously, when a Providence Police car pulled up, the cop got out, asked "You kids Brown students?," and to our trying-to-keep-it-cool "yes" response replied "Have a good night.")

After Valentine's Punk Prom 2003, before bundling into really warm clothes, turning around and heading back downcity to catch the Greyhound to New York to take part in the major pre-Iraq anti-war protest, sleepless, freezing, wandering the city, drinking in Brooklyn.

I'll never forget the trip to Boston the night of the "Spring Forward" time change. Some of the group was going to see Milemarker -- and I took a detour just now, because I don't remember who I went to see, but no matter -- we all took the Greyhound up, went to our respective shows (I remember it was at the Middle East), got out of the show too late to take the T and so got a way too expensive cab because this is before we all had cell phones to coordinate that the other show goers had actually been waiting for us and were on a Night Owl bus, anyway, we all get back to South Station and realize that we have no idea when our 2:30 AM bus back to Providence will be leaving, considering that the time changed immediately from 2 to 3 that night. After an hour of us tired, smelly punk kids wandering around the station that no one else seemed to be in, shouting about our bus not existing, we found it would go at the new 3:30. An hour later, we all stumbled up the hill back to our dorms, groggy from a bit of bus sleep, wrapped up in our little emo kid scarves, our freezing chucks, our too-thin jackets, not at all suspecting that our "look" would, unbeknownst to us, be picked up by MTV and Seventeen a few years later.

(I've taken a bit of a detour during this last paragraph, looking back over an archive of my old blog from those years, trying to find out what show that was. Didn't find that, but did find a lot of other unbelievably cocky posts about how absolutely rad/sad bastard I was. So much of it, I can't believe I wrote. And now I just found it -- we had gone to see Tristeza and Interpol, right after Interpol's first EP dropped. February 23, 2002.)

There was a pretty great feeling to being 19.


That's a Wrap

Yesterday was the last shooting day for Coons, the USC film I've been working on. I had a really good time with it, and I certainly learned a lot.

It was funny how many times I was softly criticized for living in Nebraska, though. Even when I'd say I'd lived on the East Coast (i.e. I've seen another place, decided to come back), or explained the luxuries I have here (an inexpensive yet large house, the fact that I built a darkroom in my basement -- which, note to self, I should really use more), these all seemed to fall on deaf ears. (Part of the problem may have been that the local crew outside of me were all people who hadn't really "gotten out" yet; the "sell" to come to L.A. probably worked better with them.) And you know, it really doesn't make sense for me to be in L.A. If I want to film the landscape here -- if that's what inspires my experimental work -- then why should I leave? Sure, I may make more money if I unionize, but though I had fun gripping for a week, would I want to do that all day, every day? Probably not. And that's just the way L.A. seems to me: you get your track, and you stick in it.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like the best part of the Brown program for me was that you learned a little bit of everything, but weren't cordoned off into one area or another. As much as it's great that I can now tell a cardellini from a platypus clamp, a flag from a griff, a combo from a c-stand -- and as much as I value the beautiful images created by meticulously setting up a shot with several grips keeping bounces in place -- I'm so much more charged by the incidental image that occurs when hundreds of birds suddenly fly up from between the cornstalks or the magical silhouette of a church in front of the rising sun. And, call me a purist, but the true magic is when those things happen naturally, not when they're set up. Even when I don't have my camera with me, those are the images I'll never forget.

As my key grip/gaffer Ryan said as he drove the grip truck back in for the last time, beer in hand, "That's a wrap."



An ol'hand in "the business" called me Lizzie the Lil' Grippette today. And I'm living up to my nickname. The last three days, I've put in full-on work days on the set of a USC graduate thesis film shooting on gravel roads somewhere between Plattsmouth and Louisville, NE.

(more photos coming soon. bill, the owner of the rig and giver of my nickname, is sending me some he took.)
It's been cold and rainy on set, but that's actually meant I've learned a lot more about gripping/gaffing. Today, we set up the rigged truck and had to put up a 20' x 20' griff (big tarp but with a reflective white surface to bounce light) diagonally over the whole trailer to keep the rain off the actors, lights, camera, oh yeah, and so we could put up lights and reflectors to make it look like a sunny day. The movies, they are indeed magic.


She works hard for the $

This morning -- a bright, beautiful Saturday that I should not be spending in my office -- I got the grand fortune to chat with Robbie Wilkins online for a bit. Turns out he recently met Heather Matarazzo, the actress that played Dawn Wiener in Welcome to the Dollhouse. We also decided it would be great to make a music video where a group of people are watching Donna Summer on TV and trying not to masturbate.


I should write a damn post, not just put up links

I was going to write something about this a long time ago, and then I never really got around to it. Such is life at a hurry-up-and-wait job: plenty of time to do something on the side, but never enough of a guaranteed stretch to avoid breaking the flow.

A few weeks ago, Nate Young and I went to an expositional screening of films from TIE, the International Experimental Film Festival that accompanies Telluride each year. This collection was their anniversary reels, a catalogue of highlights from the past 7 years of the festival. It also included a couple premieres, including a film from South America that had been intentionally water damaged, resulting in beautiful coloring.

It was an incredibly rainy night -- pouring, really -- and at times during the screening, during silently screen reels or during the deliberate stretches of leader placed between films to give the viewers time to process the imagery, the rain on the metal roof of the theater offered a texture to the viewing that was irreplaceably special.

Though all of the films did something for me in one way or another, upon reflection, I'll bring up the ones that really hit hard. There was a beautifully ambient documentary called Den of Tigers, shot in India. The interplay of sound and image is very nice -- it is non-sync, with resonances occuring naturally, never too deliberately. It fit very much into my ideal of experimental documentary -- a film that transports you in either time, place, or both, gives you some explanation/informantion, but mostly just sends you into another world. Beautiful. Aesthetically, it was often like a well-shot travel home-movie; it was truly the editing and the soundtrack that brought it to a higher level of being.

The program included a Martin Arnold film (Passage a l'Acte) that I saw the first or second week of film production classes with Leslie Thornton, the screening that made me want an optical printer like it was nobody's business. This film takes a tiny clip from an old sixties film -- a scene at the breakfast table where the kids are about to leave for school -- and incessantly plays with its frames, repeating anywhere from a few to one frame several times in a row, then slipping to a set-up a few frames later and pursuing a variation on the effect. Hypnotic, funny, and all done on film. Amazing.

Alpsee, another Austrian film, made me write the note "film your childhood" on my program. Highly psychosocial, color-coded, and with the kind of attention to detail that once again just transports you into another place, another perspective.

My favorite film of the night by far was A Fall Trip Home by Nathan Dorsky. This one layered imagery of leaves and forests, football games and cheerleaders, a family in the yard -- all interlaced in varying ways on top of each other, all to a low and sparse pan-flute soundtrack. It was unbelievable. Slow and beautiful. It really did move me to tears, with the sound of the rain on the roof only heightening this effect. I couldn't shake this imagery out of my mind for days afterward -- I made my entry to the Middle of Nowhere Film Festival based on seeing this film -- and I would love to see it again. It could have gone on far longer than it did; it was just so lovely.

The last piece in the program was The Dante Quartet by Stan Brakhage. For this, he painted on IMAX -- 70mm film -- and we saw a 35mm print. This is the kind of stuff you just can't rent the DVD for, and seeing it on screen, projected was quite an experience.

Which brings me, finally, to the TIE manifesto: FILM ONLY. It says on their website:

Why Film?
For over 100 years, film has been the standard that other mediums have striven to achieve. Unlike it's electronic contemporaries, the finer nuances of the format have remained unchanged. Film speaks a language all its own, and when combined with an artist's vision, images are given a life that only film can provide. In a world dominated by new moving image technologies, when we see film, we know we are taking a special voyage.

And they're right. It is special to be in the presence of projected film. I felt that instantly when I was in the theater, and was intensely reminded of it the next day when I began my digital editing. It is not the same to work with video. Practical, yes. But more than anything, I left the screening with a drive to shoot on film again, to force myself to deal with the cost. I'm now also on the lookout for a Steenbeck flatbed editing table.


oh how i love stairway to stardom...


Kleeb makes the front page

...and the people swoon.

NE-03: The Cowboy Candidate
by mcjoan
Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 01:58:50 PM PDT

Several weeks ago I wrote about rumblings in the West, a potential rural revolt in what have traditionally been very Republican, very conservative parts of the West--eastern Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana.

Judging by the success of a political newcomer, Scott Kleeb, it's time to add Nebraska to the list. Like Jon Tester in Montana and Peter Goldmark in Washington, Kleeb has well-established, native roots in Nebraska as well as a masters in International Relations and a PhD from Yale (he wrote his dissertation on the history and economics of cattle-ranching in the West). What's more, he's an authentic cowboy, a fourth generation rancher.

Not just a cowboy, but in fact a bull-rider. I have to admit that fact jumped out at me immediately from his bio. I've known a few bull-riders, and have to admit that they were among the craziest and wildest of the ranchhands I grew up with. You have to question the judgment of anyone willing to hop on to the back of a ton of twisting, bucking, Brahma rage. But one thing you have to say for these guys, they're fearless. And fearless is what you need running as a Democrat in the sixth most Republican Congressional district in the country. This is an open seat for Nebraska's third district, a seat that has been held by a Democrat in just two of the last 70 years.

But fearlessness is paying off.

A new poll conducted by national polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates September 20-21 shows that the 3rd District congressional race is up for grabs as we enter the last six weeks of the campaign.

When asked who they would vote for "if the election were held today," 41 percent of definite voters said they would vote for Adrian Smith and 37 percent said they would vote for Scott Kleeb. The margin of error for the entire sample is ±4.87%.

With echoes to the Larry Grant campaign in Idaho, his GOP opponent, Adrian Smith, has been almost entirely funded by the Club for Growth. Which is an ironic choice for the Nebraska GOP, since this is one of the top-ranked agricultural districts in the nation, where cattle probably outnumber people. The Club for Growth is virulently anti-ag, wanting all price supports to farmers and ranchers eliminated. Smith has also had to call in Dick Cheney for fundraising support. That's nice company he keeps, and it's not appealing to all the district's GOP voters who've been holding fundraisers for Kleeb.

"I feel pretty strongly that Kleeb is the better of the two candidates," Gene Koepke said. "When you talk to people about this, they say, `You're a Republican?' `Yes,' I say, `a lifetime Republican.'"


"What disturbed me the most in the primary," Kearney businessman Tom Henning said, "was that Club for Growth gave Adrian Smith $325,000. They (Club for Growth) are in favor of eliminating the USDA. I'm not certain what Smith's motive was."


Another Republican from Kearney listed as a host, businessman Brad Kernick, said he "doesn't want to be painted as a turncoat," but he is worried about long-term economic prospects in rural Nebraska.

"The most pressing issues are survival of smaller communities, which is directly linked to agriculture," Kernick said. He said water shortages and water disputes also worry him.

The reality for people living in the rural West, and really all of rural America, is that the GOP has failed them. That's why candidates like Scott Kleeb, whose understanding of the challenges and the needs of farmers and ranchers is bred in the bone, are so compelling in their districts. Kleeb has positions on some issues that are frankly not going to be as compelling to the Daily Kos community, on abortion, on Iraq, on a number of issues where he's been tagged a "Nelson Democrat." The important thing to remember--Nelson Democrats can win in Nebraska.

Kleeb appears to be a Democrat who can win there. He's going to be the downticket beneficiary of a strong DSCC-finance GOTV effort for Nelson. He's been more than competitive in the money race, he's young, energetic, and has been covering the district like crazy for the past year. He even has some creative and compelling ads (see, in particular, "Listen").

NOTE: Given the extraordinary events of the last few days, I would have postponed posting this a day or two. But as I was finishing up this profile, I found out that Scott had devoted some time to diary here today for the first time. Instead, he's going to live blog with us in the comments. Welcome, Scott!

Scott's Website