Monday, May 30, 2011

On the Road Again - Impossibly Funky Book Tour Notes Pt 1

Day five of the Impossibly Funky Book Tour.

Today's one of the two days amongst the tour dates with no official items on the agenda. The next one will be Thursday.

Andrea and I drove through a lot of Pennsylvania on Thursday (5/26), stopping for dinner in State College, PA for some dinner and narrowly avoiding an oncoming storm. We drove ahead of the storm front for a while before it caught up with us just outside of our evening's destination, Hazelton, PA. The radio was alive with storm warnings and reports of tennis ball-sized hailstones.

All was calm the next morning when we made our way to Jersey City, NJ to stay at the Holland Motor Lodge; a stone's throw from the Holland Tunnel. We had quite an adventure trying to get from Jersey City to NYC via the PATH train. We rode back and forth between two stops, changing trains three times before we finally got the right one to take us to the World Trade Center stop. A quick trip on the E line got us up to Lucky Strike, a nice little eatery where we met up with friends -- Dylan and Christine from Paracinema Magazine, Lisa and Alan from the Cinekink Film Festival, Impossibly Funky contributors Leon Chase and Skizz Cyzyk (all the way up from Baltimore), and Cristina from 92Y -- the host of that evening's activities.

92Y really surprised me. There wasn't just the one theater but a few spaces. The room where we screened Miami Blues and Shock Treatment sat about fifty people. A few more friends and acquaintances showed up to the screening. I got a lot of compliments about Miami Blues. Most of the folks there had missed it on its initial theatrical release and never caught up with it on video, afraid it was "just another Alec Baldwin movie" -- apparently The Marrying Man soured a lot of people. I tend to bill it as a Fred Ward movie, despite Ward taking a back seat to Baldwin's terrific sociopath character. I found out last night that some people thought director George Armitage was "something like an Alan Smithee" -- having never heard of Armitage before, and since the movie felt and looked a lot like a Jonathan Demme film. This makes my determination to find Armitage for the upcoming Projection Booth episode on Darktown Strutters even more of a priority.

When I originally pitched movies to Cristina I suggested Phantom of the Paradise and Shock Treatment as kind of a Jessica Harper musical double feature. She was able to get her hands on Shock Treatment but then found that Phantom was set to play a few times in the NYC area.

Okay, how about Miami Blues, Cockfighter or The Woman Chaser as kind of a Charles Willeford tribute? Cockfighter was out as they'd shown that before and, apparently, The Woman Chaser is embroiled in legal trouble. But she found Miami Blues.

All right, then, how about a Miami Blues and Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins double feature? Could be a "first movie in a series that never happened starring Fred Ward" night?

Alas, no. Miami Blues and Shock Treatment it was. Now, I'm a fan of Shock Treatment, though I know it has some serious flaws. Yet, I kind of knew that I'm in the minority on that one. We got some Rocky Horror fans and even some Shock Treatment "shadow casters" at the screening but I don't think anyone else walked out without sharing the same sentiment of, "Well, I never need to see that again..."

Books Sold: 3

The next day we drove up to Schenectady NY -- not to be confused with Synecdoche, New York. There's a film society co-run by long-time Cashiers du Cinemart contributor and fan Paul Kazee called It Came From Schenectady. They played a double feature of Greydon Clark movies, Without Warning and Satan's Cheerleaders on Saturday night to a pretty good-sized crowd. I think there were more people -- and definitely more people I didn't know -- in the audience than I had in Manhattan. Schenectady should be proud that there are so many film fans around the area.

Not only did I get to meet Paul after all these years but I went out to dinner beforehand with Bob Plante (and his lovely wife, Tammy) of Gravedigger Video. That's one thing I love about these book tours is finally meeting up with folks I've talked to online or even through letters (remember those?) for years.

Books Sold: 3

Day three had us driving farther north through the beautiful scenery of New York up into Canada, arriving in Montreal in the afternoon.

Montreal, and maybe Quebec overall, is a strange place.

I grew up close to Windsor, Ontario, and always found it interesting how everything in Canada has to be bilingual -- displaying English and French versions. Packages, menus, street signs, etc. all had to have the two languages. However, driving into Quebec yesterday I found myself at a loss, only seeing French signs/messages with a paltry amount of English. Do the Quebecois not have to display the two languages the same way that other provinces do? I'm also curious if the provinces farther to the west display French and English or if it's only Ottawa.

Thanks to my pal Dion Conflict, last night the Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Cinema Space played a 16mm copy of Greydon Clark's Angels Brigade (AKA Angels Revenge AKA Seven from Heaven). Blue Sunshine's space is terrific. It's big enough to be comfortable and small enough to be intimate, like watching movies in your friends' living room. About a dozen folks showed up including a lot of folks I've talked to on Facebook. The screening went really well and the best part was hanging out and bullshitting about movies before and after. I hope Montreal knows what a service Blue Sunshine provides. If I lived here I'd be going to their screenings every chance I got. Even in this next week they're showing amazing stuff that I wish I was sticking around for including a 16mm print of Joe starring Peter Boyle.

Books Sold: 5

More reports fro the road when time permits... Starting tomorrow (Tuesday) night the Black Shampoo begins with the first of four(!) screenings.


Bob said...

Shock Treatment is sadly underrated, but I am so happy its magic does not elude you, Mike. With all the union striking and mad upheavals during the production, it's a wonder it got made at all. Such a gorgeous freak of a film and a pretty amazing forecast into a future where mindless masses live non-existent lives through the tepid machinations and sterile stupidities of fast food corporate "entertainment." It presaged the inundation of reality television. Perhaps when we gain more distance from the current cultural climate, then people can grow to see the film's social relevance and humor.

Mike White said...

Hope you heard my podcast all about Shock Treatment -

Bob said...

Thanks for sharing the podcast, Mike. I learned a few new things about this sadly neglected gem. Glad you're out there doing what you do! If you're ever in Portland, Oregon, look me up.

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