ADVENTURE! LOG! #4: FINAL LEGS

December 21, 2010
By Zack Carlson

Portland, Eugene, Santa Cruz, San Francisco & Los Angeles

We were shaken awake by an earthquake. We bowed our heads in utmost respect to Dormarth’s spectacular VHS collection and repacked the van for our trip to…

PORTLAND: Our first event here was at Reading Frenzy, an incredible book n’ zine store that has existed for many, many years in the omnipresent shadow of Powell’s Books downtown. DJ Hwy 7 showed up with two crates of ‘80s soundtrack albums and punk 12”s, playing only music from movies that featured punks. This man had done much homework, and friends and strangers danced along to forgotten gems.

Leaving the store, we found that the side door of the van had somehow malfunctioned and been popped open for hours in one of the less desirable sections of the city. Our laptop and luggage and everything else lay open to the night. But! a herd of crusties had set up camp nearby and defended our belongings from any burglings. We’re broke as hell, but we paid them as best we could with Doritos, root beer and powdered doughnuts. They didn’t frown.

We then met up with lifelong celluloid comrade Dan Halsted to run ROCK N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL at the Hollywood Theatre. Dan is the superhuman responsible for rescuing hundreds of kung fu prints from rotting into nothingness, and Portland is shamefully fortunate to have him.  You can read more about his discovery here.

We then slept at our friend Jeremy’s house. It made noises like it was haunted but it probably wasn’t.

EUGENE: This city has truly bone-snapping used bookstores, a great comic book shop and the very best Chinese food we have ever eaten in our entire lives. The movie theater – the Bijou Arts Cinema — is equally impressive. A former funeral home, the theater recently had a patron run out halfway through a screening after she realized she’d attended her father’s pre-burial services there two years earlier.

My old pal Brandon drove up for this show, and we followed him back to scenic Grants Pass, OR to stay at his dad’s riverfront hotel. It was 1:30 AM when we arrived, and the pool area had been closed since 10:00. Nevertheless, when we walked up to the office, a completely naked lady rose from the jacuzzi and ran back to her room. Too rude! Much more exciting was the fact that Grants Pass is home to three independent video stores, two of which still regularly rent VHS in 2010! POWERRR!!!

SANTA CRUZ: This town was a butt and a half. Sex-starved fratties and frowning artists stained the streets. The movie theater was beautiful, but no one turned out for CLASS OF 1984 so Bryan and I left after our introduction, only to have an unexpected adventure!

After wandering the closed boardwalk from THE LOST BOYS and KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, we investigated the massive nearby wharf. Halfway across it, the sound of crashing waves was replaced by a chaotic mess of “ARP! ARP!” noises. We peered over the edge to see an abandoned dock completely covered in gargantuan sea lions, squirming in a massive bedtime heap just 20 feet from where we stood. One particularly large one locked eyes with us, freed himself from the pile and backed up to where his tapered rump hung over the edge of the platform. Steeling his prodigious gut against his writhing bedmates, he proceeded to let loose with the most ear-shattering colonic expulsion either of us will ever hear, a deafening fartblast that lasted no less than 40 full seconds. Bryan and I stood frozen in pure shock, the spell only breaking when the overpowering stench of decaying fish entrails slapped us back to reality and made our eyes water like we were watching the last 30 minutes of E.T.

It was one of the greatest moments of our lives.

SAN FRANCISCO: After surviving the winding Santa Cruz freeways, we found a hundred dollar bill on the ground at a gas station. Sorry, Jesus; we kept it! We then entered San Francisco just in time to ingest tremendous burritos and visit outrageously fun bookstore Needles & Pens. We spent more money than we’d ever hope to make there, and then were off to The Roxie for our double feature of TIMES SQUARE and rule-free ‘80s party comedy SURF II! While introducing the latter, the fashion-conservative Bryan was assaulted by a man who shaved his Jerry Lewis haircut into a wickedly off-center mohawk. It was upsetting.

Afterwards, we spelunked the theater’s basement with new pal Mike and saw some sexually graphic graffiti from the 1940s. I didn’t realize humping had been invented yet!

LOS ANGELES: We barely made it in time for our first screening at the single finest movie theater in the universe, The Cinefamily! The event was called TV PARTY, and was a collection of punk clips from sitcoms, TV dramas and the evening news. It culminated in a full screening of afterschool special THE DAY MY KID WENT PUNK, which was hosted by its writer/director/producer Fern Field. A true Hollywood veteran, she was wildly amused by the entire affair and the crowd of punks and movie spazzes loved her to the megamax.

The next show was a screening of the incredible TIMES SQUARE with writer/director Allan Moyle. The charmingly embittered filmmaker swore this was the first time he’d actually sat and watched the movie in its entirety on screen, and his compelling Q&A afterwards filled us in on countless secrets about TIMES SQUARE’s stars and its dark-hearted producer.

Next was CLASS OF 1984 with director Mark Lester and star Lisa Langlois. The crowd went ape-nuts for the film and it once again established dominance over any other juvenile delinquent epic, before or since! This was followed by a midnight show of Lech Kowalski’s crucial punk doc DOA, which was possibly screening for the first time in 25 years!!

Janet Cunningham and Maggie Ehrig

The following afternoon was spent at bookstore/toystore/art emporium Wacko, where we were united with several pals of the book. Filmmaker Charles Pinion, punk casting specialist Janet Cunningham and SUBURBIA‘s Maggie Ehrig arrived to say hello and reminisce and make fun of our appearances. We rushed back to The Cinefamily to catch the weekend’s climax: a double feature of homemade punk masterpieces by LA punk lifer Dave Markey! His personal hardcore document THE SLOG MOVIE took everyone back to the dawn of early ‘80s California youth rage, which was completed perfectly when the Cinefamily warriors showed up bearing delicious Oki Dogs (the primary staple of post-punk show diets). The grand finale was a mega-powerful screening of rags-to-rags supertale DESPERATE TEENAGE LOVEDOLLS! Dave was joined on-stage by cohorts Jennifer and Jordan Schwartz, who had the audience howling with their Q&A. I can’t pinpoint exactly where things degenerated into chaos, but Dave Markey ended up dancing with a ghost piñata on his head, so the evening was clearly a major rager!!

* * * * * *

Needless to say, immeasurable thanks to every single person who assisted, supported, tolerated and attended on this trip. Bryan and I will be selling multiple internal organs to bring a similar comedy of errors to the East Coast by mid-2011. If you wanna help us set something up, for chrissakes EMAIL ME!: zack@punksonfilm.com.

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