Category Archives: film fests

NOT a Tour Journal: Total Badass, Bob and Chad at Chicago Underground Film Festival

Not really a Tour Journal, per se, but hopefully, we’ll finish the tour journal at some point (waiting for Chad, duh)… but in the mean time, here’s a recap of the Total Badass screening at Chicago Underground Film Festival:

The Chicago Underground Film Festival hosted the Midwest premiere for Total Badass and it was killer. http://www.cuff.org

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 1 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) – BOB:
I had such a good fucking time in Chicago. You might not like to hear this, but I’m personally not sorry to report that I spent a lot of time doing stuff I can’t write about. But I will say that doing the stuff I can’t write about, was sooooooo fun and badass and thrilling, that it’s a shame I can’t share the joy with you. I didn’t really get started doing the stuff I can’t write about until later in this night, but I continued to do the stuff I can’t write about as much as possible, once I started doing it. And if I had my way, I’d still be doing and would continue to do lots more of the stuff I can’t write about. But first things first:

When I got to Chicago, I met up with Amy Boyd, the hospitality coordinator. She’s so amazing and hospitable, that she was hosting me at her house for several nights of my stay. Did I mention that she’s a badass and super-nice, to boot? On this night, however, I would end up staying with another festival staffer, Emily Oscarson. Emily is a crafty and fun filmmaker who’s just a hoot to be around. Hell, I spent most of my time hanging out with Amy and Emily, as they are totally badass. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before the partying fun began, I caught the freaky, fun and oddly engaging opening night film, Some Girls Never Learn. Then I hit the after-party. Fun! I re-met up with Amy and then met the other fellow who’d be staying at her house, Scott Braid. Scott’s an old pal of Amy’s from back in her Baltimore days. He’s a programmer for the Maryland Film Festival, and as it turns out, Scott is a hell of a lot of fun to hang out with. Amy, Emily, Scott and I would end up hanging out a lot. We’d see the sun at night more than once and we’d soon be having one hell of a time.

Back to the after-party. We partied at the Bottom Lounge: booze and such. I redact the story at this point, because that’s when I got my first taste of the stuff I can’t write about. The following day, I would taste and re-taste the stuff I can’t write about. But I can confirm that it was fucking awesome! If I had my druthers, I’d do the stuff I can’t write about all day long. And obviously, all night long as well.

CUT TO:

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 2 (Friday, June 2, 2011) – BOB:
Doing the stuff I can’t write about is the best way to start any day. Period. No question about it. And I know this to be true because I started this day doing the stuff I can’t write about. The rest of the day pales in comparison. So lets get on with it.

I met up with my trusted triad plus the festival director, Bryan Wendorf, for brunch and booze. Not much to report here, mainly brunch and booze.

Chad got into town this evening. He made his way down to the Gene Siskel Film Center for a brief chunk of time.

I saw The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, a doc about the loving relationship between Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his muse/lover, Lady Jayne. The film gets weird, but this is an underground film fest, so it should. At one point, the couple underwent plastic surgery in an effort to transform their bodies to look more like each other.

I wanted to see the movie that followed this, the Muslim sex-worker flick Profane, but had to eat. So I ducked out and ate Mexican food and slurped giant margaritas before hitting the after-party at Quenchers Saloon. I met up with the film fest folk as well as Chad and his pals and we drank the requisite booze and smoked all the weed you’d expect us to smoke. Then we hit the late night bar and boozed it up some more, took some pics and danced like gaylords.

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 3 (Saturday, June 4, 2011) – BOB:
I think I kinda took it easy and then ate some pizza w/ Amy on Sat. That sounds right. I don’t recall seeing any films during the daytime, so I’m gonna just go with that.

A bit later in the day, I met up with my buddy Michael Galinsky and his brother Adam. We had some drinks. What the hell did you expect happened?

I saw Galinsky’s doc Battle for Brooklyn. The flick is a fine piece of well-crafted and engaging filmmaking. It’s also an important film about the abuses of eminent domain laws and land grabs by wealthy and powerful corporations. It not only entertains and enlightens, but it’ll kind of piss you off as well.

Then back to the Bottom Lounge for the after-party, karaoke-style. Guess what. Both Emily and Amy can belt out some tunes. I have pics. Dig them:


Yes, I realize that these pics are not evidence of their singing ability, but witness how great they look singing and don’t question me on their chops, you bastard.

Speaking of pics, C.U.F.F set up a photo booth. There were props, including a cool banner that Emily and Amy had made. More pics:

 

My new buddy Scott was also at the party. As was Jeff Krulic, the filmmaker behind the cult-classic Heavy Metal Parking Lot. We all had some of the free booze and partied until last call.

Scott, Amy, Emily and I all partied well into the night. We closed down the bars and headed back to Amy’s pad for more fun. When we saw the sun coming up, we all bolted for bed like cockroaches in the light.

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 4 (Sunday, June 5, 2011) – BOB:
The first 12 hours of this day were so packed with doing the stuff I can’t write about, that it was this half-a-day that was undoubtedly the pinnacle of my time in Chicago. It was unbelievably spectacular. Sadly, at the end of this 12 hour period, I’d do, for the last time, the stuff I can’t write about. But talk about saving the best for last. Hot damn!

Oh yeah, my movie screened in the middle of this 12-hour chunk. So, there’s that. Also, I nearly missed my own film and Q&A because I got so caught up with doing the stuff I can’t write about. I have no regrets about this.

I’m not sure how the screening itself went, as I was late as fuck, but I did make it in time for the Q&A. Chad made it also. It maybe wasn’t our liveliest of Q&As, but it was pretty decent. We got some laughs and had some fun. There was some tech problem and the film that was to screen before Total Badass ended up screening after it instead. This turned out to be a stroke of luck for me because I did get to catch the short. It’s a weird narrative called The Forest about a woman who fucks a deer and has some sort of man-deer husband and a boy-deer son or something like that. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what it’s about. But I liked it.

I snuck out and smoked some weed with Chad and hung out with our ex-Austinite pal Chris Young. It turns out that blazing a bowl in front of a TV station with a cop parked about 50 feet away is indeed the safest place to get stoned.

Once high, I ventured back into the cinema to catch some short films. I really wanted to see Tyrpps #7 (Badlands) as I’d hear it was an incredible mindfuck and best seen when stoned out of your mind. Unfortunately, I was getting stoned and missed it. I did catch The Observers, a Frederic Wiseman-ish doc about a weather station in the super-windy and cold-as-tits outpost of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, where the wind gusts hit upwards of 231 mph.

The climax of my adventures of doing the stuff I can’t write about was after this screening, and if I could write about it, I’d go off for several pages here. I ain’t gonna do that. But talk about ending with a bang! The best was saved for last, for sure. No doubt about it.

After the awesomeness, I hauled ass back down to the cinema and caught Heavy Metal Parking Lot on the big screen. That was a real treat (not nearly the treat that was doing the mind-blowing stuff I can’t write about, but not too shabby). Alongside HMPL were a couple other flicks: the weird and fun drum solo flick, Moby Dick and Jeff Krulic’s newer doc in the metal genre, Heavy Metal Picnic. But for me, re-watching HMPL (and getting to see it on the big-screen) was the high point of the eve (I mean, other that all the doing the awesome stuff I can’t write about, which blew any movie out of the water, duh).

I hit the after-party and awards ceremony at Delilah’s to cap off the night. There’s one movie I regret not seeing. I probably got caught up doing the super-fun stuff I can’t write about and missed it. The flick is called Snow on tha Bluff and it looks crazy-fun. However, I did get to meet Damon Russell, the filmmaker behind the film, and he’s promised to send me a screener. That was cool. As it turns out, Snow on tha Bluff won the narrative film award at the awards ceremony I’m currently writing about. So Damon had better send me a copy.

It was at the after party that I was really starting to become aware of the fact that I had spent the day blissfully doing so much of the fantastic stuff I can’t write about that I had not yet eaten. So I snuck off for a bite. I snaked back in and met up with Michael Galinsky, Scott, Amy, Emily, Bryan Wendorf, Lori Felker (fest coordinator & asst programmer), Chad and several other old and new friends (including Damon and the filmmaker behind The Forest, Steven Summers) and we slurped up the last of the free booze.

What with no late-night after-parties and no more doing the terrific stuff I can’t write about (damn it all!), this eve was a tad anticlimactic. However, the fest did get a hotel for Chad and me on this night. I must admit that I miss partying until the sun comes up with Scott, Amy and Emily (and certainly would love to do more of the fantastic stuff I can’t write about), but sleeping in an insanely fancy hotel was kinda nice. I mean, as a third option.

Chicago Underground Film Festival – Day 5 (Monday, June 5, 2011) – BOB:
Unfortunately, on this day, I was no longer doing the super-amazing-fun stuff I can’t write about. But the last time I did do the mind-blowing stuff I can’t write about, it was so fucking awesome, that it would have been hard to top. I would have loved to try. Fuck it, I would have topped it. And damn fate for not allowing it to be done! And, aside from not doing lots and lots more of the wonderfully marvelous stuff I can’t write about, I have no complaints. In fact, I have nothing but terrific memories of this trip to Chi-town. That, and a ton of new friends. Double-score!

 

Friday June 3, 2011 – CHAD:
I took a cab to the airport here in Austin, and the cab driver was this old guy who was very engaging. He was playing a CD of The Buena Vista Social Club, and very much wanted me to hear and appreciate them. My house is only about a ten minute ride from the airport, but he played me the better part of at least three songs, intermingled with his translations of the lyrics and stories about the songs or the band as a whole. As we rolled into Bergstrom, he was narrating a song about a woman who had gone to sleep with a candle still lit and burned down her house, but it was actually a metaphor for old men not getting laid. I remember being both relieved and a little let down that he didn’t elaborate.

The plane was an express jet, and it was the first time I had been on one. I get a little bit nervous from flying. I mean, I’m able to sit there and do the crosswords or watch the little television… even engage in some small talk, but deep down inside I’m usually convinced that everyone is going to die, and my innermost efforts are devoted to coming to grips with that. The express jets get whipped around by the wind a little more than the big airliners, so that’s particularly hard on me, because my perceptions of sensory data are irrationally heightened when I’m on a plane. I’ll detect the slightest change in the hum of the engine, like if the pilot speeds up or something, and even though I never say it out loud, all I can think is, “Do y’all hear that shit? We’re going down!” Whenever I think about air travel in science fiction terms, I imagine a world in the not too distant future, after the advent of whatever technology comes along and keeps planes from falling out of the sky, and I think about a little kid going on a flight with their grandpa. The grandpa is telling stories that he heard from his own grandparents about flying on “airplanes” back before they had boosters or anti-gravity or whatever little adaptation has come along, and the kid asks, “What did they do in the old days, Grandpa, before the repulsion-chute, whenever the plane broke down in mid-air?” Then grandpa would have to explain that they all just fell to the ground and died in a crash, as ridiculous as that may seem. In retrospect, we will look like some of the bravest, craziest people to ever exist on the planet. The modern day businessman-on-the-run will seem like an apache warrior or a kamikaze or some shit.

I landed in Chicago at O’Hare airport and took the train into the city. I loved the ride in because it was out in the open and you could see all the buildings and porches and shit as you rode by the city. At one point I imagined myself as a destitute old pervert who rode the train all day, hoping to see naked people through their windows. I met up with Austin expatriate and Whoopsy! Magazine sportswriter, Trey Elling. I stayed with Trey most of the time I was in town. First place he took me was his favorite Latin American food place, I forget the name and the country of origin, but they put this cabbage in all their food that made everything taste like bilge water. Seriously, I took a bite and before I realized it was the cabbage, I was like, Holy Shit somebody mopped the fucking floor and then made my tacos in the same water. After that, we met up with my friend Abby Wallig, who some of you from Austin might remember from her stint there. We got some weed somewhere along the way, and I guess just went out to a series of bars before eventually winding up at Quenchers for a party that was a part of the Chicago Underground Film Festival (heretofore known as CUFF). Since there’s no such thing as bad publicity, I’d like to mention that everyone I talked to that night or that weekend, whenever I would mention Quenchers on the itinerary, they’d go, “Quenchers? What the fuck were you doing at Quenchers?” Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure Quenchers was the end of the line that night.

Saturday June 4 2011 – CHAD:
We had a huge day in Chicago. Trey and I got up and walked around the city, ending up over at the “beach” on Lake Michigan, watching Justine Hayes and some of her friends play volleyball. Trey and I played a game against some guys, and I totally sucked. I would have liked to have played a few more games to get the hang of it. After that we went swimming back at his place, or they did at least and then I even squeezed in a forty-five minute nap when a thunderstorm rolled in. After that, we went to Maifest, which was basically just a German street festival with all the stereotypes you’d see at Wurstfest in New Braunfels; lederhosen, polka bands, big ass mugs of beer… everything but the swastikas. While I was there, I decided in my head that it is time for Germans to maybe not necessarily embrace the swastika, but at least start rolling out their WWI and WWII flags and memorabilia at events such as this, and just be like “We fought in the World Wars. Who cares whose fault it was, we fought and died like everybody else.” In the interest of disclosure, I am one quarter German, but my ascendants moved out of Germany before the rise of Hitler, thus clearing my conscience of any holocaust guilt. Conveniently, they also arrived in America after slavery, so I’m covered there, too. Anyway, Maifest was a fucking blast, as was Division Fest, a more conventional street festival that we went to later.

I almost got arrested at Division Fest. As much as a boon as it would have been to Total Badass’ overall street credit if one of us had been arrested on yet another movie trip, I’m glad that I wasn’t. It was all a matter of finances, really. In theory, there was no fucking way I could have afforded to go to Chicago for even a second, much less an entire weekend, what with the quitting of selling of weed back in November, and all. However, once the plane ticket was taken care of in what was a combination of hospitality, luck and the borrowing of money from friends, I realized that it costs just as much to be broke in Chicago as it does in Austin. Living like this, one of the things I do is, I’ll hang out at the bars all fucking night, but most of the beer I drink is bought in convenience stores and guzzled down in the streets of surrounding neighborhoods. So, I’m walking around in this neighborhood and go into the store and buy a big-ass miller light and start to crack it open right as I’m walking out the door. I walk right into this lady cop who looks exactly like Meg Ryan… so much so that I want to say Meg Ryan actually did play a uniformed officer in a movie once, but I might be imagining that because this lady looked so much like her. She told me I was lucky I hadn’t opened the beer all the way, or I would be going to jail, but the beer was literally foaming over with a frothy head and shit, so I don’t know if she was serious. It took everything I had not to hit on her, or tell her she looked like Meg Ryan, or some seductive combination of both.

We had been hanging out a lot with this buddy of Trey’s named Peter Rowell. We were over at his place later that night, and this big group of Indians (as in India, not Illini) came walking up to the place next door. They were his neighbors, and invited us up to a party. They had this food set out, a chicken dish for sure and then I don’t know what else, but it was fucking delicious. Later we were at a completely different party that was a lot like that one and I was rolling a joint at the kitchen table…. Several of us were. The owner of the place comes up, and was like… “Ah, you are doing marijuana. That’s ok, just don’t start stealing my shit.” I thought that was weird, but whatever. Later on we were out on the porch getting stoned with the womenfolk, and they were like, you know so and so’s husband is a cop… talking about homeboy. Eventually, we ended up at a club which I currently forget the name of for another CUFF party. This one had an audio visual deal set up where a guy would take your pictures in front of a white screen and then project them to the whole party. Here are some of said pictures:

Sunday June 5, 2011 – CHAD:
We got up Sunday and went and ate breakfast in the middle of a book festival. It was festival week in Chicago, apparently. From there Trey and Justine dropped me off at the Gene Siskel Film Center for the screening. I didn’t even think to film the Q and A, or anything else all weekend, for that matter. Whoopsy! The crowd at the film was decent, and we fell into a bit of good fortune. They played a short film called The Forest by Steven Summers. He was at the screening as well, and told Bob he was a high school teacher. Well, some of his kids and their parents had come to see his movie which was supposed to play before Total Badass, but due to technical difficulties played right after it, so they sat through all of Total Badass, as well. Some of the high school boys though my daughter, Jessica was fine, so I’ve got that going for me.

One of my old friends, Chris Young came out to the screening, and I ended up hanging out with him for the rest of the day as we returned to Division Fest and watched A Place to Bury Strangers (A Reason to Bury Faggots) and, more importantly, Big Freedia, the transgender rapper from New Orleans. Big Freedia is a part of the social phenomenon of extreme ass-shaking which has apparently arisen from the New Orleans transgender rapper scene, and will almost certainly prove to be one of black peoples’ most significant cultural accomplishments since wearing hats sideways, or perhaps the “crip walk”. Seriously though, if you haven’t seen Big Freedia shake his ass in person, you need to go ahead and put it on your bucket list… it’s awesome. Me personally, I have no problem with a bunch of people up on stage fucking the air with their ass out while some big nigger dressed up like a woman yells “Ass everywhere! Ass everywhere!”, but I found it odd that the citizenry of Chicago would see this as fit to fly into town and have at one of their public festivals with families and shit. Then again, someone spent $450 bucks to fly me out there to show a movie about me dealing drugs and getting blowjobs, so maybe this shit is considered fine art up there, hell I don’t know.

Later that night, I made my way across town to the CUFF final party at Delilah’s, which is apparently a sister bar of Austin’s Casino El Camino, as the owners are friends. By the time I got there, I was completely exhausted from the weekend, and just sat there watching television and listening to the metal they were playing on the jukebox. Good stuff… Iron Maiden, Danzig, Rainbow, all kinds of shit. I hope nobody thought I was being lame or anti-social there, but I really was on my last leg. The funny thing is, when I first landed back on Friday, I had immediately texted Bob, “Just landed. Where’s the drug-fueled pussy party?” He’d keep texting me shit that was going on, but I kept making it clear that whatever he was talking about didn’t sound like the drug-fueled pussy party that I had been promised. I went so far as to finally decree that I wasn’t going to be satisfied unless I walked into a party, and they had this laboratory-type set up which included a disembodied human pussy in a jar being fed drugs through various tubes and whatnot. I talked a big talk, but in reality I haven’t been preoccupied with pussy at all lately, especially with having a girlfriend who lives far away and being accused of rape on that last movie tour we went on. All that has combined to dull down my mojo a bit. Don’t get me wrong though, there was pelt all over Chicago, especially in the film festival crowd.

The film festival put me and Bob up in this really nice hotel our last night in town. I forget the name of it, but it was easily one of the best I’ve stayed in. I left Delilah’s really early and checked in and went straight to sleep.

Monday June 6, 2011- CHAD:
Bob and I flew home out of Chicago O’Hare. We were sent to the wrong gate by the airport, and had gotten there so early that we both just kind of drifted off fucking around on our computers and ended up realizing at the last minute that something was wrong. We made the flight by less than a minute. Other than smoking a joint at the airport, right outside the terminal, that is about the only exciting thing to report from the journey back to Austin. I really had a good time in Chicago though, and loved the city.