Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Need for, and the Imminent Resurgence of Mix Tapes (Cassettes)

I have given this much thought over the past few days, and I believe that the mix tape, in cassette form, should return to its original and significant vitality. The nature of our pop culture and media, our society and the ever-important pursuit of the individual is requirement enough for the return of this very powerful and exciting tool of the creative mind.

What can we achieve? A cassette is reliable, handy, and it requires an art to manipulate the media to it full potential. For example, simple RCA cables connected to your tape decks inputs allow you to a) record your voice or other sounds, b) record from DVD, VHS or television (samples), or c) dub from similar sound sources. You can create libraries of specifically selected music, your own music or perhaps poetry, audio literature or even audio dramatizations, straight from the grand age of radio. As you create a tape of your original work, or if you are making the classic mix tape for friends and family, the options for its uniqueness are endless!

How would this benefit our culture? This style of media is indicative of the DIY movement and method of thinking. Each tape is not limited to the words or music recorded; the tape, itself, becomes a canvas for artwork, indigenous to its creater. As I have already mentioned, this opens doors for spoken word and any other creative outlet requiring sound, such as music. Musicians can and have experienced the benefits of bootleg or intentional distribution of their music; mix tapes are an easy way to do just that, and they have more character than an ordinary CD, requiring more thought and effort, which makes the endeavor more rewarding in the end. This opens up into my final point...

What are the advantages? As we already know, real music and real musicians are rarely played on popular radio, nor do they receive exposure in the media-drenched cesspool of American excess. That is why, as independents, we must unite, stick together, and stand strong in our beliefs, supporting each other throughout. The exchange of music, art and cinema should not be restricted, within reason. That is why mix tapes are ideal, since mix tapes are safe from the imposed piracy and theft safeguards that never protect the artist, but the fat pigs at the record labels and their parent corporations. Mix "CD's" are more awkward than cassettes, and are susceptible to the further proliferation of the recording industry's hold on freedom in the media. You can mix song after song from any CD you want, and record it to a cassette!

On the other side of the fence, I have to say that is important to always support a true and worthy musician by buying their art and their music! I have listened to and even liked many songs, even in todays pop music scene, but I would not pay for a Justin Timberlake song, or whatever, and I would not feel bad about dubbing it. I would, however, pay full price for a Joni Mitchell album, a Tony Romanello or Syren CD, or a Melissa Auf Der Maur album. Always pay for local artists, and if you dub their music, then spread it around!

Take back your music! Defend your right to listen...put down that Starbucks latte and do something magical for a change!

Thoughts from Seattle (Reflections on Cinematic Decay in OK)

Within a day or two of trying, a venue has been
established for the Seattle Fest, and without bold
claims or rehashed slogan simply happened
by focus, and an honest spirit. It is small, don't
get me wrong, but I founded the MicroFilmFest as a
cozy interpersonal event, where the people can mingle
and interact in a more realistic fashion than a larger
fest. My past experience at OK Film Fests (I have not
attended the Uncensored, which I hear is amazing, nor
have I attended Deadcenter) were overblown and over
hyped, with a lack of detail toward the most important
thing at a film festival: the film! One of my entries
[at a festival] began mid-tape! And not everyone is
as approachable as they claim, granted, I do not have
the fortune of talking to everyone, but I do the best
at being a single individual. In that, I have fared
quite well. I have made myself visible, presented
myself to everyone and have entertained questions when
they arose, as they often do. At other Fests, the
so-called-founders never show! And so I take this
wisdom, this experience with me to new places.

I wanted to take this time to point your attention
away from the scantily-clad bloodsucker or other
demoralizing acts of give proper exposure
to the very same thing I have supported and championed
for four years now, in the sanctity of the Blue
November MicroFilmFest: the empowerment of women
behind the camera.

Our first year, we had a variety of women who decided
to create behind the camera as opposed to being
exploited in front of the same. Anna Biller, Rebbecca
Faerstein and Ashton Elder are fond memories,
especially Ashton. At the age of 17, she 'barely'
entered the Fest after being coaxed by a friend of
mine...and she won! I remember her return the next
year, and I also remember her growth as a director.
It was an honor when she asked me to pen a letter to a
University in New York, where she would study film and
the creative arts. I willfully did so, and she
submitted said letter. I understand she has
redirected her energies toward politics, although her
love of film has not wavered.

Our intention is to promote those who are worthy, and
who have a voice, and as I have said before, having a
voice does not make money but it does say a great deal
about your integrity as an artist, and therefore, as a
person. This is why I seek these films.

One such film is Purgatory House. Not only is it
directed and produced by a woman, it is written by its
star, a fourteen year old girl, mentored by the
director! This amazing relationship between
writer/star and director is shadowed only by the
issues of teen depression and suicide prevention. It
is not the 'most downloaded', but it doesn't need
false claims to carry its weight. During the weekend
of November 3rd and 4th, Bret will debut this film in
Tulsa; the following weekend in Seattle, I will do the
same. Click on the link below to see for yourself...

I remember in 2000, I attended my first film
"festival", deep in the heart of NE OK. I felt as
strongly about supporting women in cinema then as I do
now. I spoke with a young woman there who directed a
film about magazines, or something to that effect.
She found my questions about women in cinema
ridiculous and irrelevant, saying that it shouldn't
matter. She's right. It shouldn't matter, yet it
still does. Just as prejudice and hate still exist,
so does chauvinism. And until it doesn't
matter...until "Karate Cheer Squad", "Big-Breasted
Bloodsuckers" or "Blatant Excuse for Boobies in a
Film: The Movie" takes a backseat to REAL independent
filmmaking, you can bet that I will be there...fist
raised in the air! It's wonderful to have a
passion for something...

Captain out.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Living as Death

Unfortunately, kiddies, this is not a sinister excerpt of fabled Halloween lore, although it is the season! Instead, I bring you another stark revelation in everyday observation that no one will understand.

Last night, I acquire a flat on Ol' Blue; this morning, I drive the car, with its spare in place, to the Discount Tire down the street. I walk home, wait and then return later to retrieve the car. As I breach the perimeter of my apartment complex and hit the overpopulated highway, I begin walking against the grain of parasitic automobiles, plaguing the beauty around me. I take note of the drivers and passengers in their picture window tombs, their expressions read of rigor mortise and soulless vacancy. A young Asian girl's head is attached to her cell phone, her head cocked to the side, leaning into the device and her face like a discarded wad of paper. The scene remains the same from car to car. I don't think it is a problem of people not living as much as the reality that people live in a chosen state of decay, living as death.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Screening of the Films

I am reviewing the films I have, jotting down times and notes, trying to enact a game plan of sorts. I have less than a month to nail it all down, and even less for the sake of the poster and website. I now have my featured artist, but I would like to have one more musician. The press releases are done, and they have been sent. All systems are go.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Festival Seattle: The Blue November MicroFilmFest 2006

I am proud to announce that the Festival has officially secured a venue for this year's proceedings in the Greenwood District of North Seattle, at the Green Bean Coffee House! The date is set for Friday and Saturday, November 10th and 11th, from 7-10pm. The admission will be free, and the cost of entering or participating will be free as well.

This is a true coffee house. They serve their coffee in a mug! They also serve fair trade organic coffees, they support art and expression and community. They hold benefits for various causes and one such cause may be included in the Festival.

I had scheduled a meeting with the owner at 11:15am on this sunny Saturday, and Fae and I arrived, had a wonderful breakfast and met the owner. I presented my portfolio, we discussed the parameters of the Festival and she was very excited at she saw and heard. The feeling was mutual, as she explained the mission of the coffee house and their efforts thus far.

I will be programming the films soon, although there will not be any competition, so no awards will be made or presented this year.

Stay tuned for more developments.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Buck Rogers

I have enjoyed the past several weeks. Fae bought the complete Buck Rogers series on DVD for me in Christmas past, and we have been going through each episode, one by one. This is great for Fae, since she has never seen them...and it is wonderful for me since I am reliving a powerful, youthful memory that inspires me to this day.

I had the chance to meet Gil once, in Tulsa. I would love to meet him again. It is uncanny that I live in the same city as the Science Fiction Museum, where three integral models from the series rest on display: Buck's Defense Directorate Starfighter, a Draconian Marauder and Theta Station from the episode "Space Vampire". Take that, Trekkies!

Searching for Bret...

...has anyone seen him?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Anna Biller and VIVA!

One of the most amazing filmmakers I have encountered, is Anna Biller. Her stylized film work is colorful and stunning, and I am honored to have witnessed her creations, and to have screened one in particular at the first of the MicroFilmFests.

For the last three years, she has been hard at work on her first feature film, VIVA! As the release sits comfortably on the horizon, I have to offer my best regards to her as she goes where I will be going in the months to come. I admire her work, and I wish to share it with everyone.

Poetry does not have to rhyme!!!

We've been here over a month, and we have done well in our exploration of the foreign terrain we now call "home". I desire a place to read poetry, exhibit film and offer a performance venue for Fae's lyrical song craft. The search took us to Greenwood, on this Sunday afternoon.

I had great plans to visit Pioneer Square, after canceling last Wednesday's proposed efforts to do the same. So, this weekend would breach another boundary! I also had another agenda for this weekend: the final acquisition of my bass amp!

A quick history into this search is this...I have two basses, both are Fender Musicmasters, named Gordon and Clayton, respectively. I have yet to reach my potential as a musician, but it will happen. In the meantime, I practice when I can, if only for five minutes. I know what I want in tone and sound, I know what I want to play and how I want to play it; it just takes the right time. So, in the meantime, I have researched amp possibilities. My only amp has been a Peavey Microbass with a Pyle speaker upgrade. It is okay, but not much on tone...the EQ is almost nonexistent! I am grateful for this little amp, and I will more than likely pass it on, or sell it on ebay. I began shopping on Musician's Friend many moons ago, and I read many reviews on various amps. At first, I wanted a small Fender Bassman, and then they restyled the line, which appeared much better than the first. Still, I had a difficult time finding any feedback on this amp until recently. My search continued with Ibanez, Crate, SWR, the G-K Backline Series, Peavey, Ampeg and Roland. The features I want are tone, sound flexibility or simplicity, and reliability. Most combos these days are equipped with all the necessary outputs required for live applications (XLR out) and for recording (line out), and I found it disappointing to see the Peaveys without this simple feature, and the cost was the same as other products equipped with such a feature. So, the long-story-short is the other end of the spectrum, simple!

Fender tube amps are incredible, so much in fact that I would eventually purchase a new tube amp for my guitars. Well, it just so happens that Fender made a Musicmaster amp in the 70' of the old silver face amps! I use to own a Vibrochamp, and it was amazing! So, I always thought it would be cool to own the amp that shared the same name as my basses. I have looked on ebay more than once, and I simply did not have the money. Currently, I do have the money, and I noticed such an amp on Craigslist in Ballard.

I contacted the guy, and we played e-mail tag for about a week. He said he would call, and then he didn't. Okay...he e-mailed again, and said he was simply busy, so I understood. We finally make phone contact, and play phone tag, finally resulting in our meeting today. I, with $300 in pocket and a bass in the trunk, drive through Greenwood into Ballard to his condo. We meet his wife, two black cats and the most beautiful transparent orange Fender Precision I have ever seen! Tangent: I love Fenders! So, I plug in and fumble over Clayton's fret board. The tone is pristine, and the amp, which weighs almost nothing, is immaculate. I was impressed by the fact that he had the original speaker rebuilt! That gave me a good feeling about this purchase. I released myself from three hundred dollars, and now I can proudly say that I have the bass amp for my sound requirements, and it will also serve as my guitar amp as well!

With that done, we returned to our original plan: exploration! After driving through a vast stretch of Greenwood, we decided that we no longer had time for Pioneer Square. So we returned to plant roots for the afternoon/evening and to seek out the Wayward Coffee House for their Open Mic.

After parking, we began our walk. We checked out a few store windows, and then we discovered the Wayward sign, walked in and ordered a coffee and a latte in a disappointing paper cup. We sat and admired the space, which has potential. Our mood settled low as we saw one patron reading, amongst five others sunk into their digital realms of social solitary. Our disgust left our cups empty and our feet ready for movement.

We walked around the corner to the Green Bean, the place we should have gone! I had a delightful conversation with people who are working on film projects with children in Mexico, if memory does not fail me, and I inquired about their open mic, which [unfortunately] is censored due to reasons of "family atmosphere", but I liked the vibe of this place and I would oblige their wishes. In this place, though very small, I may have my first chance at a venue for the Festival.

Our attention turned to Olive You for dinner, and then back to Wayward for their version of Open Mic.

The emcee was a very timid woman who read her own poetry throughout the event, and it was quite good. The first performer was an acoustic singer/songwriter who wrote clever lyrics and was enjoyable. The first poet reminded Fae and I of the typical Gypsy poet....and why does every poem have to rhyme?!?! Poetry is a collection of should flow, it should be uncaged! Very disappointing. The next poet was real, and I liked that. After her, was Laptop Bob! No joke...and he was very entertaining, to say the least. Finally, a woman from Montana who happened into town played two wonderful acoustic songs that were upbeat and beautiful. Then we left.

In summarization of it all, I have to say that my discovery of poetry in Seattle thus far, leaves a lot to be desired. At this Open Mic, I felt no magic, no didn't click! I expect more than occupying a time slot! I expect mentors and apprentices, magicians and wizards...there must be the eager mind ready to teach and learn at the same time. Leave all pretensions at the door, and aspire to elevate yourself. That was what I saw...everyone was on the ground floor. Not that I am a guru of spoken and written word, but I have my place, and I am comfortable...not too comfortable that I cannot learn, but comfortable within myself.