Wednesday, September 21, 2005

09.21.05 Train Tour: Portland and Pics

If you are reeeeeeallly interested in all of this nonsense, you can check out all of the pics from the tour through the fabulous Flickr service here.

Portland was OK--a great crowd made up for some lousy technical difficulties that were had. I think my grammar is improper there but hey, it's the middle of the night. Give a girl a break! The best part about Portland was that my brother and his family showed up from Salem and brought a picnic and a whole lotta love. It was rad tailgating my own screening with tupperwares full of veggie sushi!

One thing that this little Pacific Northwest tour did was get me REALLY excited for the Northeast tour in October. If the shows were all pretty good on this jaunt, in cities where I basically knew noone, I expect that they will be 100x better in Boston, NY, Syracuse and Ithaca. After all, I'll be screening in the city where I was born AND the city where punk rock was born. I can't wait.

Monday, September 19, 2005

09.19.05 Train Tour: The Kindness of Friends and Strangers

(Out the train window between Olympia and Seattle.)

The Seattle dates (4 shows at the super cool living-room-parlor-style Grand Illusion Cinema) were great because of the rays of sunshine emanated by the amazing people around me. The presence of these people made it OK that one of the shows drew an audience of only 4 people. Yes, 4, as in one-less-than-five. (Well, I said to myself, it's an absolutely gorgeous, sunny Saturday afternoon in a city where it rains most of the time, and besides, we have 3 more shows to make up for it.)
(Seth "working it" at the Grand Illusion.)

So who are these wonderful people, you ask? Well, one of them is my Seth, who came up from San Francisco to join me for the weekend in Seattle. He came, not only to share the experience, but because I had to “staff” the doors of the theatre in exchange for donation of the space. That leads me to Guerren, and the incredible all-volunteer staff at the Grand Illusion, who generously invited me to screen at the cinema and keep the entire proceeds. Amazing that once again I am screening at a place with a volunteer staff. One the one hand, it is a blessing to screen in places where people are that committed to cinema, but on the other hand it is incredibly sad that single-screen theatres have been so squashed by the modern mulitplexes that this is their only way to survive.

Finally, Seattle was amazing because of the human rainbow known as Shelly! Shelly read about the film in Tikkun magazine a while ago, and we've been kind of pen pals ever since. She is SO NICE. Not only did she help set up the screening, but she gave over her brand new only-lived-in-one-day apartment and bed to me and Seth, complete with a well-stocked fridge. She and I have too many quirky things in common to mention. She's a long lost sister for sure. It's meeting people like Shelly who make all the less-than-pleasant filmmaking and promoting experiences well worth their while.
(Me in front of the Grand Illusion Cinema. Hey! There's Shelly at the top of the stairs!)
In the end, we had a pretty good turnout for the combined shows, and because we were working the doors, I got to meet pretty much everyone who came out. So many nice and interesting people come to see my movie, and I absolutely love meeting them. There will be a lot of heartache, money, and time saved if I ever get a movie released theatrically without going on tour, but in a way I can't imagine just putting a product out there without this interactive step.

Seattle felt more like a vacation with a little work thrown in for good measure, because we had two days there instead of an in-out-quickie and Seth and I made it our business to be tourists at least for a little while. What a cool city!! Very walkable, independent-business-friendly, great views, a lovely waterfront, tons of local music, locally grown produce out the wazoo, and the COOLEST LIBRARY EVER. I don't necessarily check out the local library (no pun intended) every time I see a new city, but thankfully Shelly recommended stopping by and it was well worth it. The design nerd (designerd?) in me was in form-function heaven. I think I'd pretty much move in if I were a Seattle-ite.
(Pike Place Market, Seattle)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

09.17.05 Train Tour: Well I Went To School in Olympia, and Everyone’s the Same (or something like that)

All I really knew about Olympia before I arrived was the above line from a Hole song, which as I recall, didn’t have the most flattering things to say about the town. I also knew that bands like Hole had come out of the area, and that Olympia had been a hub of the Riot-grrl movement that I so admired in high school. (I was never a huge Hole fan but I did make my high school sweetheart wear a Hole shirt to the prom under his tuxedo jacket because it matched his pink hair ;)

At any rate, I was really excited to show my underground-music-movie in an underground-music-loving town, and my enthusiasm was met equally by the 75-or-so people in the crowd at the awesome Capitol Theatre. Just as I had hoped, Olympia rocked!
(Rad Volunteer Staff at the Capitol Theatre)

The Capitol Theatre is a funky old single screen movie house, sort of a mix of the grandeur of the Castro with the hip factor of the Roxie, for you San Franciscans out there. It’s almost entirely volunteer run which means that the folks there REALLY love movies and that always helps.

One of the small miracles that happens “on the road” happened in Olympia. Since I didn’t really know anyone in town, I was planning on staying in a hotel. This was a bummer, of course, as that would have pretty much eaten up any money that came in from the show. I was saved by an email that I received the night before I left SF. The email came from a gentleman named Arrington de Dionyso, an avante-garde jazz and rock musician/performance artist, who had recently played in Israel at one of the Tel Aviv clubs featured in the documentary, and was hosted while there by one of the band members from Punkache. Though he is touring for much of the year, Arrington happens to be in Olympia now and he offered to host me. He is the only other American I have met who has been to the Patiphone club, let alone performed there, so it was really special for me to have him at the screening and to get to hang out with him (and his adorable daughter) a bit.
(Arrington de Dionyso of Old Time Relijun)

Olympia as a city has the vibrancy that I felt was lacking in Eugene, and its location on the shores of the Puget Sound adds to its physical beauty. The people I met were awesome, too. Lon, who helped set up the show and promoted the heck out of it (you rock, Lon!), arranged a dinner with Helen from the Olympia Film Society, and his son Sasha and Sasha’s friend Gus and my host Arrington and his daughter and everyone was so cool, So you mix good people and a good city and a good screening and it’s pretty much a recipe for good times!
(Instruments at Arrington & Allison's place)

P.S. Train ride between Olympia and Seattle, along the water, absolutely fucking gorgeous!

Friday, September 16, 2005

09.16.05 Train Tour: The Mean Streets of Eugene, OR

So the train got a little less romantic as my arrival in Eugene was further and further delayed to the point where I was afraid I would miss my screening and my body started to feel like a stale pretzel left out on a park bench. However, it was all for a good cause. Turns out that Amtrak doesn’t own the tracks. They are owned by the freight trains, so the passenger train has to pull over and wait for the other trains to go around whenever they cross paths. In our case, we were delayed many times by trains piled with wood, headed to help rebuild New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina.
(My savior, Hank, in his sweeet hatchback)

But I finally arrived in Eugene (in time for my show) and was extremely happy to see my host, Troma-esque filmmaker Hank Weintraub, waiting for me at the station. Hank and his adorable girlfriend Sara were really nice hosts—thanks, guys! Hank took me out to dinner with Yonatan, who originally contacted me about bringing the film up to Eugene. I wish I had had more time to talk with him—it’s not every day you meet a former skinhead punk, turned religious Jew, with a half-brother who is a devout practicing Muslim. Seriously.
(Yonatan preparing for the screening)

The screening was at a mainly volunteer-run downtown art space called D.I.V.A. The guys there asked me to spread the word about D.I.V.A. as a potential screening venue, which made me realize that us indie filmmakers really need something that is the equivalent of “Book Your Own Fucking Life.” BYOFL is a resource for independent bands who are trying to book their own tours—it lists venues and contacts and stuff in tons of cities. So maybe this is a little project I will take on, or at least I’ll start compiling lists of all the places that I’ve screened as a resource for others.

At any rate, the show was good, and a good reality check. Despite a large picture in the Eugene Weekly and all the other flyering and publicity that was done, there were only about 30 people there. Apparently, that was a “good turnout” for this venue but still. Don’t get me wrong—I truly appreciate each and every person that showed up, and we had a really great and intimate Q & A but I sure hope the other shows prove a little more fruitful. Onward to Olympia!

P.S. Because I arrived so late, I didn’t get to see much of Eugene. When we passed through town on the way to Hank’s, it looked like the picture perfect little town. I really thought everything was adorable, with little pitch-roofed gnome houses and gardens and brick lanes. Boy, was I wrong! Downtown, near the screening, showed me another side of Eugene, where almost an entire block of buildings were abandoned and a gang of about 20 street kids were aimlessly hanging around. It was interesting to see both sides of the coin.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

09.15.05 Train Tour: All Aboard!

It’s all so romantic! Seth reminded me last night, as he dropped me off for my first overnight train trip, that I should appreciate the experience because it may be the last time I am able to take such a ride. After all, passenger trains are a dying breed in this country. That made it all the more exciting when the silver train approached, glinting and howling at the moon. I pictured myself waving a scarf out the window at Seth, with a song like “Moon River” playing in the background, a lone tear tricking down my face.

The romance continues out the window. Last night, all I could see was moonlight rippling on a fleeting body of water. Today, we’ve passed rolling hills, pine-covered mountains, cow pastures dotted with rusting silos, white cranes resting on swampy pools of bright green algae, and tiny, one-stoplight towns like Klamath Falls.

I have been on board for about 12 hours now, and in a couple more I’ll arrive in Eugene, Oregon, at the first stop of this tour.

P.S. They actually do say, “All aboard!”
P.S.S. As I embark on this trip, one of my bestest friends, Dustin, is going on a trip of his own. He is off to Japan to promote his line of super cool hand-printed bicycle messenger gear, Cadence Clothing. Good luck, buddy!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

09.11.05 Train Tour: Hittin the Tracks

I finally got a digital camera! Woo! Here I am using it for the first time:

I mention this because I am about to hit the rails with Jericho's Echo which means a new slate of blog entries, and now it will be much easier to pepper them with photographs for your viewing pleasure!

So yes, I leave on Wednesday for an overnight train trip up to Eugene, Oregon where the first show of the "Jericho's Echo Pacific Northwest Train Tour" will happen. I've never been to Eugene (and never quite imagined I would end up there) and I don't know anyone in town other than the lovely lads who have set up the screening, so it should be an adventure. After that I am headed to Olympia, Seattle and Portland....and I hope you'll join me. ALL ABOARD!