Thursday, August 24, 2023

JFK End-of-Summer Blow Out! Plus a Minimalist Jug Band interview (also re John Cooper Clarke, John Otway)

Somewhere I have a photo of Bud Luxford and Jack "Fucking" Keating, sitting together at the Fairview, where we'd gathered to see the Wett Stilettos and the Furies, I think it was (or maybe it was Circus in Flames and the Graham Brown Band?)... but I promised Bud I wouldn't use it (didn't promise I wouldn't mention it!). 

It's fitting to see the two men together. For years, Luxford was Vancouver's Fuck Band impresario, the man who organized Budstock and put out two rather famous comps made up of celebrated Vancouver musicians, playing off-instrument and having fun. Want to hear Jimbo and the Lizard Kings -- Phil Smith's playful venture into Doors territory -- doing "Coming for You, Little Girl?" Big fan of Rude Norton (with Wimpy of the Subhumans on vocals and/or bass?). Want to hear the Dishrags in Supremes mode? Just curious what the hell the Sgt. Nick Penis band might be (different lineups included celebrated first-gen Vancouver punks like Randy Rampage, Dave Gregg, Brad Kent, Zippy Pinhead, Chuck Biscuits and/or Tony Bardach)...? Luxford's albums have the answer, a snapshot of a scene with too few bands, but with creativity to spare and bills to fill, spilling out over the edges of their more famous incarnations, trying things you wouldn't necessarily expect, often with a lot of humour, and sometimes with staying power (Ian Tiles still occasionally resurrects Buddy Selfish, though I gather he wasn't thrilled with some of the recorded evidence on the Luxford albums, and Los Popularos, whose first release, I believe, was on a Luxford record as Los Radicos Popularos, are the subject of a recent retrospective digital double album from Porterhouse).  

If you can't afford the original vinyl editions (pricey, out of print) you can actually find both volumes of the Luxford comps for download online (both from 1981, apparently, even volume two... beware dodgy ads, but the dls do work). If you're just curious, want to know more, there is a section of the Bloodied But Unbowed website devoted to Fuck Bands. You can also find my old interview with Jack Keating on the Straight website, explaining what Fuck Bands are and why he decided to revitalize the tradition; I don't know if Jack would agree that he's filling Bud's shoes here, but he's certainly curated some much-loved events over the years. And there is a new one you can go to on September 8th -- the first JFK gig since COVID swept through town! 

Jack in the wild, getting his NO FUN poster signed, maybe?

The press release for the upcoming event at LanaLou's is as follows:

End-of-Summer Rock ‘N’ Roll Blowout! Vancouver – 

JFK Productions and Northern Electric proudly announce the End-of-Summer Rock ‘N’ Roll Blowout!, featuring the return of JFK Friday, Sept. 8, 2023 at LanaLou’s (362 Powell St.). 

JFK, an all-star rock ‘n’ roll band, will be joined on stage by several guest vocalists, including Eddy Dutchman, Jimmy Roy, Dennis “The Reveller” Brock, Jen Hinton, Sinead X Sanders and more! The star-studded night also includes the World Debut of Jen Rocks with JFK and performances by the Furniture, Arsenic And Old Lace, the Minimalist Jug Band and Hula Hoopin’ with Shannon [no obvious links to that but I think literal hula hoops may be involved].

The show is in memory of Bob Mercer and Tom Harrison, two legendary figures in the Vancouver music scene and B.C. journalism. Bob died on Feb. 26, 2021 while Tom died on Dec. 27, 2022. Bob performed many times as a special guest vocalist with JFK, including the band’s World Debut show Friday, Sept. 15, 2012 at the Railway Club. He also performed at JFK’s last show Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 at the Railway. Tom, as a music writer for the Georgia Straight and The Province for 42 years (1975-2017), was a staunch supporter of the punk, rockabilly and alternative music scene, including JFK band members and virtually all the musicians performing at the End-of-Summer Rock ‘N’ Roll Blowout! 

It’s JFK’s first show in five years. (JFK’s May Day Rock ‘N’ Roll Blowout!, May 1, 2020 at the Railway was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Featuring luminaries of the local alternative music scene, JFK salutes Vancouver’s punk rock and rockabilly past and the energy and excitement of rock ‘n’ roll from 1955 to 2023. JFK, a fuck band with no limits, consists of Vancouver all-stars: Joe Rotundo (the Modelos, Joe Rotundo & The Interstellar Riders, Bughouse 5, the Enablers); Michael Van Eyes (the Rocket Revellers, Stingin’ Hornets, Trespassers, the Mike Van Eyes Band); Gord “Gorehound” Smithers (the Deadcats, the Highsiders, 2-Bit Horse, SWANK, the New V-2’s, Bob Mercer & the Red Stars); Bobby Beaudine (Torpedo Lover, Eddy D & the Sex Bombs, Frank Frink Five, Buddy Selfish & His Saviors, Mud Bay Blues Band, Bob Mercer & the Red Stars), and Kevin Keating (JP5, Kreviss). 

A bevy of Vancouver all-stars will join JFK on LanaLou’s stage for the End-of-Summer Rock ‘N’ Roll Blowout! Eddy Dutchman (the Me Bats, Ace, Eddy D & and the Sex Bombs, the Liquor Kings); Jimmy Roy (the Rocket Revellers, Petunia & the Vipers, the Do-Rites, Kelly Haigh and the Murder Birds, Arsenic And Old Lace, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys); Dennis “The Reveller” Brock (the Rocket Revellers); Jen Hinton (Arsenic And Old Lace); Sinead X Sanders (The Sinead X Sanders Band, Arsenic And Old Lace) are among the special guest vocalists. The stellar night also features the Furniture (a hard rockin’ trio of Aramis Starfish, Johnny Wildkat and drummer Lana of LanaLou’s). Arsenic And Old Lace, who have taken the city by storm since their debut show last August 24th (2022) before a packed house at the Princeton Pub, are a harmony based roots/rockabilly band led by the dynamic duo of Jen Hinton and Sinead X Sanders. Jen and Sinead are joined by rockabilly legends Jimmy Roy and drummer Sandy Bone Smith and Joseph Lubinsky-Mast on stand up bass. The Minimalist Jug Band (a.k.a. Al Mader) brings his quirky take on the world to LanaLou’s after previously opening for Nick Cave (Toronto), Petunia (Eastern Canada and the Maritimes) and the Circus In Flames CD Release Party for “Outside America” at the Anza Club. And the always popular Hula Hoopin’ with Shannon is back for another encore performance at the JFK End-of-Summer Rock ‘N’ Roll Blowout! 

It’s going to be a night of knock your socks off rock ‘n’ roll. Doors at 8 p.m. and show at 8:30 p.m. 

“It’s going to be fun,” said Lana.

Apropos of this stellar night, Alienated in Vancouver has interviewed Al Mader, AKA the Minimalist Jug Band, about his history and songwriting. For consistency of illustration, all images have been lifted from this video clip, involving both Al and his oft-collaborator Petunia. Besides the Sept. 8th gig, you'll have a future opportunity to see Al on November 4th, when he opens for John Otway (returning to Vancouver for a full gig, after a brief blip in North Vancouver some months ago). You'll also probably be able to spot Al in the crowd for John Cooper Clarke... more on whom later... 

Since Al and I are both Al's, I have persisted with my tradition of italicizing my questions, and NOT italicizing his answers. 

Al: Could you walk us through the creation of the Minimalist Jug Band? I'm presuming it began with writing; were you performing it as slam poetry before you decided to self-accompany? Did anyone's suggestions or influence play a role? Where and when was your first gig as the Minimalist Jug Band?

Al: I first performed in Toronto at an "Elvis Monday" run by host William New and his band Groovy Religion. I returned and performed regularly -- accapella, initially, then pots and pans. Then a friend, Tom McConkey, wanted to form a jugband and gave me the washtub. That didn't happen for awhile, but I did end up busking with him regularly about six months later. By then I had incorporated it [ie., the washtub bass] into my act and started referring to it as the Minimalist Jug Band. 

Slam poetry didn't exist at that time. I stumbled across it in Vancouver years later. 

If I recall correctly, you've not only named John Cooper Clarke and John Otway as influences and inspirations. With both men coming to town (in September and November, respectively), could you walk us through:

a) How you got into their work? (My first exposure to either was through Urgh! A Music War [Clarke, Otway] but it seems like you might have had more opportunities to see them in Toronto?).

b) Any experiences of seeing them live (or interacting with them) that make for a good story?

c) A specific thing that you got from each man, either as writer or performer? (Can you pin down HOW they influenced you?). Alternately, just a favourite THING about them, as writer or performer? Favourite songs, favourite lines, favourite aspects of what they do live?

d) You SAW Mr. Clarke when he was last in town. How was that? What stands out as a high point?

First time seeing Otway was at the "Police Picnic," a festival outside of Toronto with the Specials, Iggy Pop, Killing Joke, etc. He came out singing "Green Green Grass of Home," a British folkie at a new wave/ punk concert. At first I was, "What the hell is this," then I caught on to his "mock rock" self-defecating sense of humour. [Note: I am typing this from Al's handwriting but yeah, it really does read self-defecating, not self-deprecating; he even put quotation marks around it to make sure I knew it was deliberate wordplay].

By the end of the set I was a fan and thought to myself that this was an approach I could see myself taking. I had only played drums and written a couple of songs, at that point. 

But Otway pushed the boundaries of what might be considered punk, as did John Cooper Clarke. I saw Otway many times in Toronto, opening for the Cure, and"the Two Johns" with John Cale at Yuk Yuks, doing his cartwheels while playing guitar and setting his hair on fire as a tribute to Michael Jackson's Pepsi Cola ad misadventure, tormenting his roadie with his careless microphone stands...

John Cooper Clarke's music (I always thought of him as a songwriter) was brought to my attention by a girlfriend who had just come back from Australia. "Beasley Street" made an immediate impression. Never saw him live or even heard of him performing in Canada until the show at the Biltmore, which I thought was great... sharp-witted, sharp dressed, satirical and sartorial splendor, his self-contained introverted style a complete contrast to John Otway's manic exuberance. I wonder if they've ever performed together? Clarke's "Official Guest List" always cracks me up and is a good example of how, like Otway, he embraces and mocks rock success and excess. Seeing Otway do cartwheels with his guitar, set his hair on fire, rip his shirt open, then unexpectedly play a riff or two on the violin was an eye opener.  

The thing I was most influenced by was their way of carving their own niche out of stubbornness. They let their personalities flourish without constraints or expectations.

Were there other performance poets that you had a kinship with or were influenced by? I am particular curious about US vs UK poets; I mostly know the Dial-a-Poet people, people associated with Giorno, but I don't see you having much in common with them... it seems kind of odd that the poets that I associate you with (Attila the Stockbroker might also be a kindred spirit, maybe?) all seem to be from the UK... but I don't know my slam poetry; maybe you have kindred spirits in that realm?

I've seen Jim Carroll, Patti Smith, and Lou Reed perform many times. I've always thought of them as songwriters first. I've listened and paid attention to song lyrics all my life; it is hard to say what comes from where... though I suspect that a lot of the songwriters I've admired were second- and third-generation Dylan fans. Saw John Giorno open for William Burroughs in Toronto at Gary Topp's club The Edge... 

When I first started showing up at the Elvis Mondays post-punk cabaret in Toronto, a few other performers who were also regulars were Meryn Cadell and Tony Blue, AKA Tony Burgess, author of Pontypool Changes Everything. Neal Arbic of A Neon Rome also did some solo performance art at that time. I mostly opened for bands and I went to see bands and movies on the nights I wasn't working or performing. Occasionally, I'd be asked to do poetry events -- shows with late poet/ writer "Jones" (full name Daniel Jones) and long time friend Susan Parker. 

Do you describe yourself as a songwriter or performer or poet, or... Is there a niche you fit in? Who do you like, poetry-wise? 

I've been allowed to hang around the periphery of a few scenes, but probably songwriter/ performance artist is most accurate (though "performance artist" always sounds like there is grant money involved). 

As for local poets... I have a lot of admiration and respect for Rodney DeCroo's projects; from the slam scene, RC Weslowski and Fernando Raguero are my go-to's.

Do you have a Hasil Adkins story? I think you kind of admire him; did you ever interact? Since I don't know where the gold is, do you have ANY fun stories of heroes/ inspirations/ influences that you got to interact with? (A Nick Cave story? [Al opened for him in Toronto]).

Re: Hasil Adkins, Chris Houston was going to be his manager at one point but I understand the guns blazing away in the trailer gave Chris second thoughts. Listened to Hasil a lot one tour east with Petunia, his stuff is great for psyching yourself up for a gig. 

Nick Cave was great and everyone treated me well but no crazy story.

Did Bud Luxford ever see you perform? Ever cross paths?

I don't think so.

Aha. So have you been involved in a Jack Fucking Keating event before? Do you have a history with Jack? Is there some special reason he involved you in this year's JFK event? Are you doing anything particular?

When I returned to Vancouver in 1991 [after Al's years in Toronto], whenever I went to hear music, I began to notice that if it was going to be a good night, there was always this guy in the crowd. Eventually I found out that was Jack, and he is still at all the best gigs. His JFK events are a lot of fun.

I gather you like to play the ponies. Tell me a bit about yourself and the horse races. Do you have a philosophy of betting? (I think Bukowski used to advocate for just betting one horse to win, no show-or-place nonsense, and I don't think he trucked with triactas or quinellas or such).

Bet however you want, as long as you know who you're cheering for. Don't bet too much. Have fun. 

What card games do you and Petunia play? Do you play cards for money, or...? Does one of you win more than the other?

French Whist, though the French probably call it something else. Texas Hold'em (poker) for cash, other games for glory. 

Besides the JFK gig in September and the Otway gig in November, do you have any other performances planned? (You seem less active than you used to be, wonder if COVID lessened your enthusiasm for performing...?).

Nothing planned. Phone's not ringing and I have other obligations, but still have enthusiasm. 

Re; "I'm a Lousy Lay," I was just curious, did you actually read much Jean Paul Sartre? What, specifically, and how did that work out for you? (I was more of a Nietzsche man myself but I'm always curious what writers influence people, philosophical or otherwise...).

Sartre's Being and Nothingness wasn't exactly a potboiler but when I was 20ish, the Age of Reason trilogy was one of my favourites. Simone  de Beauvoir's novels also did the trick. 

Anything else you would like to say about ANYTHING AT ALL?

Go see John Cooper Clarke.

Go see John Otway.

Go see the race horses. 

[And go see Al at this year's JFK event!]

Friday, August 18, 2023

Film Noir at the Cinematheque; Blue Velvet and After Hours (after hours!) at the Rio, plus Barry Gifford and David Lynch

1. Of Barry Gifford and David Lynch

I have not kept many film books. I have a section on Cassavetes, a book apiece by Robin Wood, Carol J. Clover and Jonathan Rosenbaum, a few autobiographies (Ernest Borgnine, William Friedkin, Alex Cox), a few tomes on Yakuza movies (two by Chris D.), Cox's spaghetti western book, and a book I keep meaning to read about the whole sorry Twilight Zone affair and subsequent trial (I refer to the John Landis segment of the film, during which a helicopter explosion killed actor Vic Morrow and two children cast in the film). Many books on film noir have come and gone, but at the moment, I have only one, the sole constant since the early 1990s: The Devil Thumbs a Ride. It's a series of highly descriptive "reviews" of classic films noir as seen by novelist/ poet/ Kerouac biographer Barry Gifford, who writes in a slightly hardboiled vein himself, but with a subtle ease and playfulness. Fans of, say, John Armstrong's Guilty of Everything would get a kick out of Gifford's film reviews; you figure that if John wrote capsule descriptions of his favourite noirs, they'd come out a bit like this (Gifford is less personally revealing when it comes to tales of debauchery, mischief, and excess, however; he prefers to put that stuff in his fiction).  

Now, my favourite piece of writing in this book, the one I refer back to the most, is Gifford's review of Blue Velvet (which screens Saturday, late at night, at the Rio Theatre). It's highly unflattering, even insulting, though it does pul its punches a little -- before delivering new ones. The stories you read about how Lynch and Gifford first collaborated -- like this good one -- do not ever mention this review playing a role; in fact, I'm the only person I've yet to see speculate about this publicly. But the review predates the collaboration, even presumably predates Gifford's writing the novel that Wild at Heart is based on; which raises interesting questions. Had Lynch read the review? Was he aware of it when he was hot-to-trot to adapt a Gifford novel? Did he read the Gifford novel BECAUSE of the review? Did he and Gifford ever talk about any of this and if so, how exactly did that go down?

For the following fantasy re-enactment, if you like, you can picture the conversation in the voices of Robert Blake and Robert Loggia from Lost Highway.

"I really want to adapt your novel as my next movie!"

"Did you read my review of the last one?"

(I really hope Barry Gifford isn't cringing somewhere, reading this, going "shh, shh, he hasn't read it, just... shhhh!" I cannot imagine that being the case, however).

For you inquiring minds out there, Gifford's unkinder remarks are amplified a bit by being taken out of context, but some of them include that Blue Velvet is  "one cut above a snuff film" and "a kind of academic porn," which observation he follows by remarking that "pornography, as such, simply bores me; as soon as I know what it is, I lose interest." But while that sort of sums up his personal reaction to the movie -- it's not for him -- he acknowledges that nonetheless Blue Velvet "seems important" and is "worth discussion," and writes -- like he is actually impressed -- that it is interesting "that I can never imagine things as depraved as those that occur here, and I've always thought that I could get pretty low in that department" (pp. 21-22). 

So it's a respectful review, also looking at the film through the lens of Bunuel and Hitchcock, finding it closer to the latter (the work of "a pure voyeur.") But its summation is equally quite harsh, maybe the second-rudest image I've encountered in a film review, after Roger Ebert comparing the rough cut of The Brown Bunny to his colonoscopy: Gifford's final three word sentence is, "Real phlegm noir." 

As it works with movie reviews, this was all written and presumably published at the time Blue Velvet came out, in 1986, when Gifford had a column in Mystery Scene magazine; the review's publication in book form dates to 1988. This takes us right up to the publication of Gifford's next book, and the release of Lynch's next movie. 

As best as one can determine -- this was early enough in Wild at Heart's history that the book was in manuscript form, still, but not so early that Lynch's adaptation is mentioned on the dustjacket or anything. Sometime in 1989, Wild at Heart was shown to David Lynch; the novel came out in April of 1990, while the movie came out in May. Things happened very fast -- again, this is told at greater length here. But I would love to know specifically where Lynch reading Gifford's review of Blue Velvet came into play, how he responded to it, and when Gifford found out that he had read it. These are questions I will probably never get to ask, but I would love to hear either man's versions of the conversation. 

Back to The Devil Thumbs a Ride, and film noir. Understand, if you are intrigued and contemplating seeking out this book, it's not hard to find, but you should realize that the vast majority of films in the book are from the 1940s and 1950s, and that generally, Gifford mostly just recaps the plot details, though in a delightfully terse way (Elmore Leonard, in the blurb at the top of the book, writes that "The essays are better than some of the films he writes about"). The Blue Velvet review is exceptional -- a contemporary movie, and a review that focuses more on Gifford's opinions than the things that happen in the film itself (which Gifford does mention and comment upon, but it takes a backseat to his rejection of the movie; it's by far the most "critical" capsule in the book). 

2. Film Noir at the Cinematheque

I am not sure who my reader for this piece is, since most of my actual friends and regular readers are likely schooled in film noir -- but in case you happen to be someone new to classic cinema, it's a term for a style of film, usually in the crime genre, that prevailed in post-WWII America, often featuring doomed or defeated protagonists facing an unjust society, navigating an unforgiving, dark urban landscape, sometimes attempting to get their own back or to impose some human justice on the world (which attempt usually fails; noir heroes tend to be tragic ones). The name comes out of the writings of French film critics who recognized the value and common elements of these films, but some of the most noted proponents of the form, people like Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Max Ophuls, Edgar G. Ulmer, Robert Siodmak and Fritz Lang, were actually filmmakers who had left Austria and Germany in the 1930s, emigrating to Hollywood, often to get away from what was brewing there politically (some of them were Jewish, too). So while the French do play an important role here in the critical regard these films are held in, there is a direct influence of German expressionism on the look of film noir that is more important. There's also a powerful, American modernist literary antecedent, an anchor in Hemingway (whose "The Killers" was made into a stellar noir with Burt Lancaster) and hardboiled crime and detective fiction (Chandler, Hammett, Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, etc), some of whose books directly inform noir.  

You know all that, most likely. But whenever the Cinematheque's summer noir series comes around, if there's a film I don't know, I turn to Barry Gifford to see what he has to say about it. His reviews are seldom spoiler-free, but they're very entertaining, and often his having written about a film is argument enough for seeing it, and his writing an interesting point of reference for subsequent thought about the film. For instance, while having admitted that the plot of Out of the Past, screening tonight, is "wildly improbable," he writes that

some of the scenes are absolutely brilliant and don't fade: most notably the Mexican sequence with Greer wrapping Mitchum around her finger, seducing him like an elegant reptile, repulsive but fascinating, swallowing him whole. Mitchum is a decent enough big lug, his sleepy expression disguising his excitement until Greer gives him the big bite and takes him down for the count. She's a spiky little vixen, sharp nails, eyes, edges. She sets up the picture so well, presenting herself as the sweetest piece of pussy in the western world, when its obvious she's a super illusionist, doing more fucking with her mind than her body. A bad-news woman. No wonder Mitchum gets so disgusted, both with her and himself.

Sounds great, right? (Though is Greer really as bad news as Gifford makes out? I'd have to see the film again to decide). 

But in fact the stronger film on the double-bill tonight is Angel Face, a noir I have only seen once. Dave Kehr, on the Cinematheque website, is quoted as describing it as "One of the forgotten masterworks of film noir … A disturbingly cool, rational investigation of the terrors of sexuality." Sadly, Gifford doesn't treat it -- not even the kick-in-the-head last scene -- nor does he do another classic (though very weird) noir that I'm keen to see screened, The Big Clock (which oddly blends in elements of screwball comedy, and features husband-and-wife cast members Charles Laughton, of Island of Lost Souls/ Hunchback of Notre Dame/ Night of the Hunter fame, and Elsa Lanchester, best known now for The Bride of Frankenstein. She has giddy fun with her role, playing an eccentric painter). While the 80's remake of Out of the Past, Against All Odds, is probably not worth revisiting, The Big Clock was re-made into a pretty great 80s thriller co-starring Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters (!), and fans of that film who have not seen its inspiration will be quite delighted by it (and vice versa, people who are fans of The Big Clock should seek out the remake, because it is a superb piece of craft in its own right).  

Those are my two "picks" this year, of the noir series, though do note that if you haven't seen it, Stanley Kubrick's The Killing is an amazing film, featuring very memorable roles for Sterling Hayden, Timothy Carey, Elisha Cook Jr., and (maybe weirdest, in terms of overlap with more contemporary cinema) Joe Turkel, who was Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner. A story of a racetrack heist gone wrong, it is structured around a multiple/ overlapping timeline that informs, say, Reservoir Dogs. And talk about grim psychology! Gifford: "It's basically cruelty heaped on top of cruelty; nobody can get it right so nobody gets anything." 

Anyhow, all my readers know those films, too, prolly, but I hope they enjoyed the Barry Gifford snippets. Seriously, you should buy The Devil Thumbs a Ride. It's a really fun read. 

3. After Hours

It's not noir, it's only noirish; and it has nothing to do with David Lynch or Barry Gifford, but note, a great dark comedy -- a masterpiece of urban castration anxiety -- screens tonight at 11:30 at the Rio Theatre, Martin Scorsese's 1980s film After Hours, featuring a rare star turn from Griffin Dunne (who we all love so much from An American Werewolf in London, but whom some people out there now associate with This is Us; whaddaya gonna do?). The film actually profoundly unsettled me the first time I saw it, telling a rather gleefully paranoid tale of a hapless schmo who just wants to get laid going through a punishing all-night ordeal in Soho; I was young and filled with sexual anxiety when I saw it first run, so the consequences for the main character's lusts touched a bit of a nerve; I remember being in quite a shaky state when I emerged from the cinema on Granville Street where I'd seen it first-run, which seemed even more bizarre to me in that the film is essentially a comedy.

And as some people may NOT know, there is a weird bit of backstory to the film, which again has been written about in a few places online, involving how the screenwriter rather artlessly plagiarized a radio performance by NPR's Joe Frank that I guess he figured no one else would have heard; the first half of After Hours is very clearly based on Frank's "Lies." This led to a lawsuit and a settlement in Frank's favour, the details of which are not public knowledge. See Andrew Hearst's blog about it (and hear Frank's original radio performance, to see for yourself) here. You can also read Joe Frank's own public reaction to the plagiarism, which also omits discussion of the settlement, focusing on the fact -- which Hearst mentions -- that a friend of his, Larry Block, plays the cab driver in After Hours... though this appears to have been a coincidence! Frank is somewhat coy in his comment, "What must the screenwriter have been thinking to place himself in such jeopardy?" given the jeopardy in question was Frank and his lawyers (I guess he got enough money out of it that he could look back with a smile; he seems somewhat good-humoured about the whole affair, really). Indeed, it is curious how little effort is made to cover up the traces of plagiarism, right down to the plaster-of-Paris bagel-and-creamcheese paperweights, an easy enough detail to switch, but a telltale giveaway to leave unchanged (a good topic for a "How Not to Plagiarize" writer's workshop, if such a thing were to exist; the vast majority of plagiarism I encounter as a writing tutor is actually quite badly done, given how easy it is to cover ones tracks... but then again, if something were effectively plagiarized, I probably wouldn't even notice it!). 

I believe the recent Criterion release neglects to delve into any of this, but it's unfortunate, because it is an interesting story and already public knowledge; why not talk about it? Suffice it to say, if I got a chance to pester David Lynch, it would be with questions about Barry Gifford's Blue Velvet review, and if I got a chance to pester Martin Scorsese, it would be about the moment he discovered that After Hours was based on plagiarized source material. I've seen a documentary where Scorsese talked about having a "hard time caring" about the film while he was making it; perhaps learning that it was based on a tainted source played a role in that -- maybe he knew before the shoot wrapped? Where in the production or post-production of the film was he when this horrifying detail screamed out of the sky? How derailing might that have been?

It doesn't matter, though, It's still a favourite film of mine, and perfect for a late-night screening (11:30 tonight at the Rio). Still the only place in a film where I've heard the Bad Brains' "Pay to Cum" (docs like American Hardcore don't count -- I mean a fictional feature). I wonder if there's a soundtrack album? (the Bad Brains and Peggy Lee on the same record would be quite the feat). 

(Note: yep, there is, but it's apparently a bad bootleg). 

Urination horror: the two-headed giraffe

TMI alert of the highest order. If you do not want to read about bodily functions… turn back now.

So – having just woken up – I’m urinating, and it seems like a normal stream of urine, and all is fine.

Suddenly I feel something happen in my penis – a small subtle blip.

My urine breaks into two streams. The main track is still hitting the inside of the bowl, to the right of its previous center-course, but now, there is a brand new second stream, 30% of the flow of the previous full stream, that has DIVERTED ITSELF and is spraying “to my left,” because I can’t even see where it is landing at first. Over there somewhere!

Suffice to say, I am somewhat panicked that this is happening. I’m shifting my hips trying to make the two streams one, or at least get them both in the bowl at the same time, but they’re about 70% off from each other, and the only effect that trying to get the leftmost stream into the bowl is having is to get the rightmost stream (the far stronger flow) outside of the bowl on the right. Auggh!

This is embarrassing, even to one who is, thank God, alone at home (except for the cat; I don’t notice him until later, but he may have watched this whole sad show. Luckily he did not try to “help.”) I'm shifting around awkwardly in my shorts, bouncing and backstepping and jiggling, doing what I guess you could call a riverdance, and now also trying not to step in puddles of yellow as the flow continues. I try to “fix” matters by arresting my flow (an internal, urethral suck-it-in-and-flex that is not particularly easy to make happen, since one doesn’t have to do it often) and tugging and, well, waggling to loosen things up. Maybe there’s a blockage? I’m doing this very quickly so that I can release my flow again pronto; slurp in/ tug/ jiggle/ resume three or four times, but each time the flow resumes, it’s still a two-headed, double-necked giraffe, grazing at trees far apart.

Eventually, before I run out (of urine, that is, not as in "run out of the room"), both strands more-or-less reunite and I get a few seconds of normal urination in, to calm me down before I reach for the paper towels. 

And yes, I swear, I cleaned it all. Just as I was starting the work (find the puddles; mop up the puddles; apply cleaner; mop again), I realized that the kitten was behind me, watching, possibly for the whole time, from a comfy spot (like I say, it's better than his having tried to help). Fistfuls of paper towel and spray bottle in hand,  I sent him out and closed the door.  

He continued to try to get back in for awhile. He knows where the show is.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Remembering the Spores, plus the debut of STIFF MIDDLE FINGER (featuring Danny Shmanny!)

Do you remember the Spores? They debuted in 1984 with a killer single, "Meat Bi-Product," which packs  horror, humour, and an awareness of human degradation into just over two minutes of anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist, anti-war, and even quasi-feminist/ pro-sex worker punk politicking. The tune is undeniably catchy -- the singer, Danny Shmanny, was schooled in British street punk, among other things, so there's an anthemic quality to the song; it's leagues more playful, more fun to sing along to (or jump up and down to) than, say, (vegan death metal band) Cattle Decapitation's earnest, in-your-face "A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat" (though there's obviously some thematic overlap, meatwise). 

...But there's also an up-front, inescapable absurdity to it. A good anthem rallies you around a goal, a cause -- "I Believe in Anarchy" or something -- that you can sing along to and make your own, but who the hell wants to embrace consuming (let alone being) a meat bi-product? There's just as much chance that a casual listener is going to feel annoyed and horrified by the song as liberated and entertained, though one senses that in the band's best case scenario, you're going to be both, pogoing up and down and shouting along with the chorus while some part of you recoils inwardly: "What exactly am I singing along with, here?"

That's some rich, witty shit right there, the very essence of absurdity.  How can one not love it? But as catchy and playful and funny as the song is, it's also sonically abrasive, not all that far, in fact, from the approach taken by Michigan hardcore band the Crucifucks (though Danny's nowhere as nails-on-a-chalkboard grating, vocally, as Doc Corbin Dart, nor as angry and earnest; Dart would go on, under his later Alias of 26, to write in your face vegan anthems, but Danny's own approach is to become the burger. Not sure what it means to have a song sung by a human meat patty, but it's about as far from preachy as you can get -- nobody here is posturing as being BETTER than anybody else, no fingers are being wagged, we're all just bonding in how horrifying and ridiculous our circumstance is: Be the meat that you want to see in the world.)

Suffice to say, I loved the Spores from the moment I first heard them. I was 16 when I bought that single, probably from Collector's RPM; I may have already seen the video on Soundproof and gone looking. By that point, punk had already started to fade from the public eye. Bands that HAD put out great punk anthems a few years previous, like, believe it or not, the Payolas (check "TNT" from 1980) were already making smooth, radio-friendly consumables (hard to believe this is the same band, three years later); while on the other end of the spectrum, the people who actually were serious about the revolutionary aspect of punk rock were going to prison for guerilla activism (note that one of the b-side songs to "Meat Bi-Product," "Five Fingers," was written about the so-called Squamish Five, known to themselves as Direct Action). The Spores were one of very few bands from mid-80s Vancouver that kept the legacy of punk very much alive, and they were considerably more fun (to my mind, anyhow) than most of the other current punk from that time, like the Bill of Rights or AKOB. (House of Commons were also pretty great, mind you, but like Nomeansno, they weren't really a Vancouver band, but a Victoria one). 

I only ever saw the Spores once. It was at a gig at the York Theatre, at some sort of festival of independent music, where I can vaguely remember seeing three bands of the several that played: Death Sentence, the Spores, and the Haters. Sadly, it is my most poorly-remembered gig of my youth, where I recall only arguing with a big-haired female friend about whether Death Sentence or the Spores were the better band (she preferred Death Sentence, who I acknowledged were slicker, "but their lyrics aren't as witty") and being horrified by the Haters, who were wearing dark hoods and destroying things onstage with power tools. Absolutely nothing else remains in my memory. I have, for years, longed for a Spores reunion, but while such a thing has been discussed, it has never come to pass; I've had to make do with seeing Danny front tribute bands -- Bones in the Hallway (who do Forgotten Rebels covers; see here, here and here) and a Stranglers tribute with members of the Enigmas (no video exists that I can find). I also got to see Aging Youth Gang, which features two other Spores, Sandy Beach and Boom Boom Benson, and who do have some great songs of their own (like "Maggots," their most-Sporeslike tune, though that live clip is not really the equal of the studio version).  

If you're new to the Spores, or want to know more, I do have a recommendation: there is a fine, fine compilation CD of the very best of the Spores, also including their LP, Schizofungi!, songs off their one cassette release (including "Expo in BC," which repurposes a rather famous punk anthem to be about the 1986 Expo), and several previously unreleased recordings (like "Holy Cow," about a person on LSD who hallucinates that he is turning into a werewolf). Maybe best of all, there is also a fine presentation of their second single, "Narcs in My Pants," and its killer b-side, "PM/ Conspiracy in the Sky." It came out in 2009, to little fanfare (though I wrote about it in a print magazine called Skyscraper). 

Note that for the CD release, which improves the sound of many of these songs, Danny took care of a longstanding annoyance with "Narcs in My Pants." The song involves a "subversive" singer being hassled by drug busts, who at one point complains of having narcs up his ass; he was meaning with that image to evoke cavity searches, but for whatever reason -- a Freudian slip -- Danny managed something quite different, singing in the original version, previously linked, "Now they're in my bedroom/ now they're up my ass," which suggests gay sex more than it does a drug bust. Not what he'd intended, so for the CD reissue, Danny went into the studio and sang a single word, "suitcase," which he edited into the song (at about the 2;23 mark here): admittedly, a bit of a ridiculous thing to do, but quite delightful for just that reason.

Anyhow, that's a must-own punk CD, if you've somehow missed it, and note that there are hidden bonus cuts that people with an older computer might be able to source, including "The Weyayeamme" (with much improved audio on that clip, and none of the weird Star Wars intro; where did that even come from? I don't think it's the Schizofungi! version) and videos of both "Meat Bi-Product" and "Up the Boss." (There are other fun surprises but I'll leave them for you to discover). 

The other bit of news is that Danny will be debuting a new tribute act, Stiff Middle Finger, devoted to the music of, yep, Stiff Little Fingers, and featuring members of the Enigmas and EddyD. There is, in fact, a gig on the main drive of Britannia Beach, up near Squamish, on the 19th (it's a bit of a street party so it shouldn't be that hard to find). It an "all day street party with a dozen bands, with Stiff Middle Finger playing at 6pm; I'm told "just head up the main street and you'll find us" and to "bring food and beer."

I doubt they'll be playing any Spores material, of course. I care much more about the Spores than I do Stiff Little Fingers (or the Forgotten Rebels or the Stranglers, for that matter), but I get to see Danny sing once every five years ago or so... so Brittania Beach Saturday, here I come...!

Monday, August 14, 2023

NO FUN brings the Rich Folk Festival tonight to Queen's Park in New Westminster!

Commence press release, written before NO FUN was profiled by Stuart Derdeyn and had a surprise vinyl issue of their greatest hits... 

"Trust fund babies and wealthy old ladies and everyone goes 'cause everyone knows RICH FOLK FESTIVAL shows..."

THE RICH FOLK FESTIVAL, a West Coast musical/financial institution since 1986, is back! It's NO FUN's 37th annual iteration of the original Capitalist Folk Festival that made the world safe for ALL Folk Festivals! And this year, we're taking it outside!

In 2023, for the first time ever and by popular demand, THE RICH FOLK FESTIVAL will take place in an outdoor location, just like the Communist Folk Festivals of a bygone era. Who wants to drift like a virus around some filthy campground at a Folk Festival? Apparently you do!

Current "Who cares about social distancing?" protocols mean that attendance to THE RICH FOLK FESTIVAL will be limited to a mere 50,000 or so social climbers this year, but few local entertainers in the last half-century have been as consistently unpopular with the hoi polloi as NO FUN, so don't worry about finding a spot on the hill to spread your Gabriela Hearst Figueras Cashmere Blanket (estimated value $4000).

Because time is money, THE RICH FOLK FESTIVAL is conveniently compressed into two hours on one evening at a somewhat difficult-to-find outdoor location. Just have your driver set the limo's GPS for the northeast corner of Queen's Park, where the Centennial Lodge's magnificently pricy totem pole will glower over the festivities. There will be free water for all of your underlings in our Servant's Corral!

And yes, we still have no admission fee at THE RICH FOLK FESTIVAL, a lean, mean event with a "real world" budget that requires no incentive-sapping government handouts. As we know, the pricing model for most Folk Festivals was unsustainable, and even though THE RICH FOLK FESTIVAL once admired the vast wealth of Vancouver Folk Festivals, we always acknowledged the fact that real Rich Folk never have to pay to get into anything.

Sated attendees may wish to place some of their RICH FOLK FESTIVAL entertainment value into their RRESP (Registered Retirement Entertainment Savings Plan). Ask your financial musical advisor if this is right for you.

THE RICH FOLK FESTIVAL returned in 2018 because the world needed it, it returned in 2020 because DAVID-65 > COVID-19, and it will never stop returning, because whenever a dime falls out of the pocket of a billionaire, NO FUN will be there to put it right back where it belongs. So join DAVID M. and the whole NO FUN gang featuring Diamond Dave Dedrick and Pete Campbell Ltd. for 2023's triumphant financial return of the Richest Folk Festival of them all - THE RICH FOLK FESTIVAL!

Like Lenin (or was it Lennon?) once said: "Folk 'em if they can't take a yoke!"

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Questions for the Minimalist Jug Band

 Okay, so, Al: rather than handwriting this, I'm typing it here. The questions might get seen by a few people, but that will just whet their appetite for answers.

The questions will be: 

1. Could you walk us through the creation of the Minimalist Jug Band? I'm presuming it began with writing; were you performing it as slam poetry before you decided to self-accompany? Did anyone's suggestions or influence play a role? Where and when was your first gig as the Minimalist Jug Band? 

2. If I recall correctly, you've not only named John Cooper Clarke and John Otway as influences and inspirations. With both men coming to town (in September and November, respectively), could you walk us through:

a) How you got into their work? (My first exposure to either was through Urgh! A Music War but it seems like you might have had more opportunities to see them in Toronto?).

b) Any experiences of seeing them live (or interacting with them) that make for a good story?

c) A specific thing that you got from each man, either as writer or performer? (Can you pin down HOW they influenced you?). Alternately, just a favourite THING about them, as writer or performer? Favourite songs, favourite lines, favourite aspects of what they do live? 

d) You SAW Mr. Clarke when he was last in town. How was that? What stands out as a high point?

3. Were there other performance poets that you had a kinship with or were influenced by? I am particular curious about US vs UK poets; I mostly know the Dial-a-Poet people, people associated with Giorno, but I don't see you having much in common with them... it seems kind of odd that the poets that I associate you with (Attila the Stockbroker might also be a kindred spirit, maybe?) all seem to be from the UK... but I don't know my slam poetry; maybe you have kindred spirits in that realm?

4.  Do you have a Hasil Adkins story? I think you kind of admire him; did you ever interact? Since I don't know where the gold is, do you have ANY fun stories of heroes/ inspirations/ influences that you got to interact with? (A Nick Cave story?). 

5. Have you been involved in a Jack Fucking Keating event before? Do you have a history with Jack? Is there some special reason he involved you in this year's JFK event? Are you doing anything particular?

6. Curious - did Bud Luxford ever cross paths with you or see you perform? He seems like someone who would like what you do.

7. Tell me a bit about yourself and the horse races. Do you have a philosophy of betting? (I think Bukowski used to advocate for just betting one horse to win, no show-or-place nonsense, and I don't think he trucked with triactas or quinellas or such). Are there any writers who have influenced you as a gambler?

8. What card games do you and Petunia play? Do you play cards for money, or...? Does one of you win more than the other? 

9. Besides the JFK gig in September and the Otway gig in November, do you have any other performances planned? (You seem less active than you used to be, wonder if COVID lessened your enthusiasm for performing...?). 

10. Are there any new songs you are working on?

11. BTW, re: Lousy Lover, I was just curious, did you actually read much Jean Paul Sartre? What, specifically, and how did that work out for you? (I was more of a Nietzsche man myself but I'm always curious what writers influence people, philosophical or otherwise...). 

12. Anything else you would like to say about ANYTHING AT ALL?  

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Jennifer Lynch reconsidered: Surveillance, Hisss, and a bit on human-to-Snake transformation films

Full disclaimer: I like Hisss (which I wrote about at some length some ten years ago). The filmmaker, Jennifer Lynch, also sometimes credited as Jennifer Chambers Lynch, has disowned it -- and participated in a making-of documentary about what an ordeal it was to film, which I have not yet seen (it's called Despite the Gods and is on Tubi), but, what can I say, as a snake lover who gets nostalgic for the scent of garter snake ooze on his fingers, and as someone who used to actually imagine himself a cold-blooded creature to explain his sluggishness at running laps around the schoolyard on cold days -- I am highly partial to human-to-serpent transformation movies. There's a surprisingly long list of films, including, besides Hisss the similarly-titled Sssssss (where the snake transformation is involuntary and spurred on by a mad scientist, terrifically played by Strother Martin)...

There's also the Hammer horror film The Reptile, where the snake-creature is the result of some sort of curse connected to British colonialism in India (if memory serves)...

...Dreamscape, where the cobra-man is a nightmare figure inserted into a child's dreams by a malicious psychic, played by David Patrick Kelly of The Warriors fame...

...and possibly even The Lair of the White Worm, which Hisss has a bit in common with, in that it is the only one where the transformation at hand is related to a character being a kind of god, or, uh, god-monster, if you will. It's arguable, perhaps, whether said creature is a snake, but as you can see, there is a definite connection in the creature design to the other monsters on this page: 

It's actually a bit curious how many such films exist, given how unlikely it is for people to change into snakes, which are fairly far removed from us, morphologically speaking; there must be some sort of Jungian thing at work, though I am not steeped enough in Jung to do it justice. But Hisss combines elements of all of these films, including a somewhat deranged, cancer-afflicted scientist who is hoping to extract a cure for his condition from the cobra he has taken (whose lover, a cobra goddess, sets to hunting him); the cross-cultural elements of The Reptile, which Hisss shares (the evil scientist is white, the snake-goddess Indian); and the deliberate human-to-snake transformations of the latter two films, where a character can actually control the change and use their serpent form as a source of terror. There's also some superb, inventive creature design in Hisss, the only one of these films with a CGI-assist:

Hisss also manages to be a sort of "nature's revenge" movie (also a sub-genre I am partial to) and also a kind of feminist horror film, with the snake goddess occasionally killing other men who get in her way, including some would-be rapists ( it's also kind of a rape-revenge film!). Given all this, it would be hard for the film to fall completely flat, for me, so far is it up my cinematic alley; while I have no sense what it might have looked like had Lynch been able to bring her own vision to bear, the end result is weird-ass, coherent, and provocative enough that I've watched it a few times now, and recommend it (it also stars the late Irrfan Khan, of The Life of Pi, if you're a fan of his). 

Before Julian Sands' death, Hisss was in fact the Jennifer Lynch film I had paid the most attention to. Then Sands' body was found and I re-watched Boxing Helena, which was fascinating. That film -- see the link above -- is sorely in need of re-evaluation, offering audiences a very strange, unwholesome point of identification: Sands' character is also a sort of mad scientist -- or at least a deranged doctor -- who uses his surgical skills in very questionable ways, to dominate and re-condition a woman he is obsessed with, who becomes a sort of amputee exemplar of the Stockholm Syndrome. Lynch's ability to put herself in the mind of so deranged and problematic a character, allowing us to see things as he sees them, is a remarkable accomplishment, and that it ends up actually being a kind of love story -- Four Stumps of Pink, precursor to Fifty Shades of Grey? -- makes it even more unsettling; you can see why critics of the time howled in moral indignation, as they panned it, but it's precisely these elements that make it fascinating now... Lynch is so willing not to pass judgment on her own fantasy life, in telling such a bizarre and transgressive story, that you have to applaud her courage (even if you ARE morally outraged, which is actually kind of an understandable reaction, too). 

Spurred on by my enjoyment of that film, last night, I re-watched Surveillance. This was the first feature film Jennifer Lynch made after a fifteen year absence from cinema. It's also the film of Lynch's whose marketing, if I recall, made the most of her father's name; David Lynch served as executive producer and in at least some of the art one sees, it's his name that your eye is drawn to first:

The film is not one that lends itself to description -- it is best to enter a film such as this with as few spoilers as possible, since it has a fairly unique structure and some potent surprises in store -- but adding to what I wrote about it thirteen years ago, when I first saw it, the film shows Lynch has lost none of the fluidity of identification you see in Boxing Helena. She is able to enter the world, mind, and life-experiences of, for example, two fairly unwholesome drug addicts; two ruthless, demented, and it turns out very horny serial killers (they don't really announce themselves as characters until late in the film, but they're kind of unforgettable, once you get to know them); and two of the vilest cops ever put on screen (played by French Stewart of Third Rock from the Sun and the film's co-writer, Kent Harper), who make a hobby of shooting out people's tires and then perversely torturing them on the roadside, while keeping the guise of authority intact. I would guess there aren't many cops who enjoy this film.

There's not much more I can say about the film beyond that, but it's a very creepy, punch-packing experience, quite unique in its combined genres (police procedural/ FBI profiler/ serial killer thriller). There are also some reasonably ordinary/ mundane characters (including a spreading Michael Ironside as an aging, lazy cop and Hugh Dillon as a pretty straight family man), who are placed, along with two FBI agents and a little girl, on a trajectory where all these characters' paths will intersect. The richness of the characters confirms that the interesting aspects of Boxing Helena were not just flukes, as does Lynch's willingness to maintain identification with them through some fairly vile things (including an extremely uncomfortable sex-murder, at the film's climax). The film is every bit as dark, every bit as unsettling, every bit as perverse as her father's Lost Highway, which also starred Bill Pullman -- who gets even weirder here! -- but it's considerably more of a genre film, with a plot that at times evokes things like the Netflix series Mindhunter, say (Michael Mann's Manhunter also came to mind a couple of times, though it's not ultimately much like it).

Oh, it also has what is surely the best use of the Violent Femmes' "Add It Up" in any movie ever, even Reality Bites.  And it's way more fully-realized and well-made than either Boxing Helena or Hisss; much as I enjoy both of those movies, Surveillance is still the best of Lynch's feature films that I have seen so far. 

I'm now keen to look at Chained, Lynch's subsequent film, which also has a child's path intersecting with that of a serial killer, I gather; and her (?) upcoming police thriller, A Fall from Grace. I wonder if that will make it to the VIFF? There are pictures online of Jennifer Lynch holding up posters for it, so I'm guessing it has screened somewhere; this may be a very opportune time to be reconsidering her work. 

Jennifer Lynch has, as yet, not gotten her due as an interesting filmmaker, separate from her father, but I suspect that that will change at some point, and that she'll be every bit as noticed and celebrated as, say, Brandon Cronenberg is now. If you're a fan of David Lynch, like serial killer thrillers, are comfortable entering some fairly twisted minds, and aren't particularly fond of the police, Surveillance is kind of a must-see; if you enjoy it, Boxing Helena and Hisss will likely hold your attention, as well.  

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Satan Wants You (to see this movie)


People with an interest in the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 1990s, "False Memory Syndrome," unorthodox psychiatrist/ patient relationships, and/ or the book that began it all, Michelle Remembers, should flock to see Satan Wants You, opening tomorrow at the VIFF Centre. A documentary around the writing of Michelle Remembers and what followed in its wake, it plays seven times over the next week (all in the VIFF Centre studio). It's a remarkable film which will likely fill in basically every blank in your awareness of the story, and then some, with tons of local colour (including Jack Webster!) and fascinating, previously unavailable archival material, including snippets of recordings from the original therapy sessions that the book was based on and some eye-opening vintage television clips (including bits of a police training video about Satanic cults). There are also interviews with various people affected by the publication of the book -- including the family of both authors (though Michelle herself declined involvement, which one can easily understand; the film is ultimately not particularly sympathetic). It does NOT deal with the actual occult scene on Vancouver Island -- the words "Ross Bay Cult" do not come up, for example, though there are a couple Ross Bay Cemetery deer on view. Instead, the filmmakers choose to have bits of vintage interviews with Anton LaVey and current ones with Church of Satan chronicler Blanche Barton ( you might guess, she does not hold Michelle Remembers in high esteem). The film ultimately does take a conservative view of what "really" happened -- people who hold that Satanic Ritual Abuse was a real thing will not find their biases confirmed -- but it does so in a careful, considered, and intelligent way, holding most of its judgments in reserve until the second half; it also usefully connects the dots between the publication of Michelle Remembers and various other infamous cases, including the McMartin Preschool case and the story of Margaret Kelly Michaels (which I was unfamiliar with prior to watching the doc; as the film dips into it only briefly, it might be worth your time investigating that link prior to viewing it). Without having actually read the book in question (beyond a few pages, at least), I had made various inferences and assumptions about what "really" went on behind the scenes in its writing; I had almost all of these prejudices validated by the film, but still felt informed and intrigued by it.  

Of course, people with an eye to current events will be waiting to see if they make the obvious move and reference Pizzagate and QAnon and the current manifestations of this oddly durable brand of hysteria. Don't want to spoil it, but they do get there eventually, if briefly! (Why this malign bullshit continues to have legs is not really explained, however). 

Anyhow, it's a very interesting documentary! (And people with an interest in metal will have fun picking out the Slayer, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy covers in the background of various shots, though again, that's not really the focus of the film). 

Note for VIFF Centre noobs: the studio's seats are not as comfy as the main theatre's, so you may want to bring a pillow...