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.

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