Monthly Archives: October 2010

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 5

The last interview of that first day was with Randy Ellis, down at a great old record shop, The Record Collector Store, in Bordentown , NJ. Randy booked the infamous City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. And one show in particular, known on bootlegs as The Late Bob Show, would eventually play a small but entertaining role in the film, as people came forward with very different, very funny, stories about what happened that night.

We conducted three interviews that first day, Saturday, November 21, 2009. Me, cinematographer Adrian Correia, and co-producer Jim Leftwich in my Jeep Liberty. We used a Canon XHA1 as our A-camera, and a Canon HV-20 as our B-camera, everything a two camera shoot, giving me the option to trim a story when necessary. The microphone was an Audio-Technica AT897, on a stand with boom, cabled directly into the XHA1, which itself was on a set of Manfrotto sticks. Adrian hand-held B-cam. Jim took notes. I asked the questions.

Then after what had to be a 12 hour day of shooting and driving, we headed back through the worst traffic I’d ever seen on the Jersey Turnpike. But it didn’t matter. I was already beginning to edit the film in my head.

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, movies, paul westerberg, punk, punk rock, replacements, rockumentary

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 4

Jack Rabid. He popped my documentary cherry. I had never interviewed anyone on film before. And honestly it had been over 25 years since I’d interviewed anyone at all. (My past as a music “journalist,” using the word lightly, creeps up.) So well-spoken, he recanted tales of this band that I so loved. This band that had probably saved my life, more than once. I wasn’t alone. There was other intelligent life on this otherwise seemingly barren planet. (Musically barren, at least. And I was in Brooklyn, currently home to the worst rock scene the galaxy’s ever known.) He talked about their first NYC gigs, the first time he heard the song Hootenanny, and concluded (as you can see in the first trailer), “Sure, they were just a band. But weren’t the Rolling Stones just a band?”

And listen, I know from a sales and cultural viewpoint, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan should stand alone. But they don’t. There’s a fourth member to that elusive group. And here’s why. The Replacements rocked harder than the Stones ever could, they epitomized what rock always was, always would be. They could out fuck-you Mick and company to a laughable degree. Likewise, Paul, Tommy, Bob, and Chris had personalities as distinct as John, Paul, George, and Ringo. And like that band, they could break your heart one minute, then rock your soul the next. And as great as Dylan was with the word-play, Paul Westerberg could beat him at what was seemingly his game any day of the week.

They were just that good. Perhaps this film will help everyone understand that.

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative rock, beatles, big takeover magazine, bob dylan, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, jack rabid, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, movie, movies, paul westerberg, punk, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, rolling stones, thoughts

Kilgore revisited

This is the two year anniversary of one of my saddest days. The day my dog Kilgore Trout died. I don’t think a day has passed since in which I haven’t missed the way he always made me laugh. I even had him tattooed to my forearm, so on dark days his face would peek out over my sleeve and crack me up. What follows (below the photo of my tattoo, and the shot of Kilgore which inspired it) is one of the best thing I feel I’ve ever written…certainly the most heartfelt. I present it again as originally written. Hug your pet, grab a box of tissues and read on…

A tumor the size of a grapefruit. I saw it on the x-ray, filling the space between his liver, his spleen, and his stomach. Perhaps encroaching on his lungs as well. Suffocating Kilgore Trout from the inside out.

At first we thought it was a reaction to Previcox. A drug given to him just about four weeks ago to help with his hips. He was having the worst time walking, this glorious pup who would jump, would bounce, like on a trampoline whenever he saw me.

(watch the clip that now opens my website as proof…it’s 45 seconds that will make you smile.)

At first the drug did wonders, until he stopped eating, starting vomiting. Side effects all, so many serious side effects. How could this fucking killer pill be on the market?

I am angry. I am seething. I know Previcox did not kill my dog, but it certainly didn’t help there in the end. A shot of Pepcid did for a while. But still the appetite nowhere near the vacuum cleaner-like enthusiasm with which he used to eat. Less and less every day. And the vomiting returned. Bile, from his mostly empty stomach.

More Pepcid. But it didn’t seem to help this time. Finally a trip to the vet. You could see it in her face as she checked him stomach. Perhaps we should get him x-rayed…now. The normally busy hospital would take us NOW.

So I dropped my wife at home so she could tend to our other dog, and drove Kilgore down to Central Hospital in New Haven. It was quick. He sat by my feet afterwards as I waited on word. The receptionist said the vet wanted to speak with me. She gave me the news. None of it good.

How long does he have? I asked. A few days, was the response. Or perhaps to the beginning of next week. (This was a Thursday.) The x-ray technician showed me the tumor. It was massive. All encompassing. There was nothing to do but make him comfortable during his last few days.

But a small meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken pulled from a breast was all he could manage. A few strips of it really. And a little water to follow. That would be his last meal. My dog who could eat anything and everything, from a full edition of the Sunday New York Times to financial magazines (he especially loved to “tear into” MONEY and KIPLINGER’S) to, well…anything he could find in the yard., gross or not.

Whenever I put a 12-pack of beer away, he’d wait patiently, then snatch the empty box as I pulled out the last beer and put it into the fridge. Then he’d play keep-away with it, or tug-of war. Or he’d lie right down and start ripping it to confetti. He especially loved Rolling Rock boxes.

But he could eat anything and everything, always without repercussion. Now, nothing…

He walked around on his own on Friday. Venturing out into the yard, up on the couch with a little help. He wagged his tail, but mostly slept a lot.

That night, Friday, what would be his last night (october 24), I slept on the couch with Mr. Trout. Well, he slept on the couch. I was mostly on the coffee table, but that was ok. He rested his chin on my leg, I scratched him behind his ear.

My wife and I kept asking anyone we knew…how would we know when it was time to put him to rest? Well, he told us.

Kilgore got up twice that night, went out into the yard, slowly, but surely. But then came the morning. Almost two days now without food or water. And when it came time for him to go outside, he made it through the door, but had to lie down after only a few steps. He couldn’t get up. We knew…

We had already made an appointment at the vet for Saturday morning. Originally for a check up to see if there was anything else we could do. But now I needed to call them, and change the appointment until late in the day. The last appointment of the day.

He couldn’t really walk, so I carried my friend out to my Jeep and laid him down in the back. And, the three of us took his final ride. My wife sat in the back with him, as I went into the vet office to make sure everything was ready. Then I carried him in and laid him on the table.

After a while the vet came in an asked if we were ready. No, how could anyone ever be ready? But I knew he was in pain, I knew he was so tired, and I certainly didn’t want that thing inside of him to burst.

He lay, as he always did at night, two paws straight out in front, his chin resting perfectly centered between them. I squatted down so that I was nose-to-nose with my friend. He never took his eyes off me as the doctor administered the drug that would put him to sleep.

When his eyes finally closed, I kissed his head. Something he so hated until a few weeks ago. I’d always do it at night, and he rub at the top of his head with his paws as if I’d given him cooties, or something. It was a ritual. But he was wagging tail. And in my heart I always believed he was perhaps embarrassed in front of the other dogs, like why was I kissing his head in public?

But this would be the last time I’d get to kiss the top of Kilgore’s head.

Goodnight, my sweet prince, perhaps one day we’ll meet up on the other side.

(i.miss.you.)

(so.fucking.much.)

2 Comments

Filed under animals, best friends, death, dogs, gorman bechard, kilgore trout, labradors, labs, opinion, pets, puppy, rants

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 3

Next day I pitched my way to save the film to Hansi. I don’t know if she bought it completely, but I think she believed in my passion and talent. Or perhaps I was her only hope. I don’t know, never asked. But we started working toward an agreement.

Now for anyone who’s read my earlier blog posts, you know I don’t play well with others. And I am a control freak. I know this about myself. It’s the way I am, the only way I can be about what I create. And I’m not about to change. (I have no desire to.) So I knew I could never co-direct a film with anyone.

So, how to approach this. Though I appreciated Hansi’s original footage, I had different ideas on where the film should go. Her version seemed more light-hearted. Mine, serious. I wanted to make a great testament to the band, their story, their history from that first demo tape through to their final concert in Grant Park, as told through the eyes of those who were there, who followed, who were inspired by, and who befriended them.

It took about a year to get it all rolling. I was finishing up Friends With Benefits, and hitting the film fest circuit with that film. But Hansi and I eventually came to terms, and I would not be using any of her footage in the film.

So, I was starting fresh. With the FWB fest circuit almost over, it was time to test the waters, to see if this crazy idea might work. And in late 2009, we conducted our very first interview. Ten minutes in, I knew we had a film!

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, gorman bechard, independent film, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, paul westerberg, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, thoughts

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 2

It happened like this. Hansi Oppenheimer was making a film about fans of The Replacements called COLOR ME OBSESSED. One evening a few years back now, I received an email from her asking for help. It more or less said she had no way to finish the film, and no rights to the music, so she was probably just going to post a thirty minute version for free online, and be done. Could I think of any way to help save the project?

Now I had always wanted to make a documentary. But I would only do one on a subject about which I was profoundly passionate. I really only have three: animals, new haven brick oven pizza, and rock music, most specifically, The Replacements. But I really didn’t want to do something VH1-ish, y’know “where are they now?” And I could think of no film on an extinct band that was anything more than that. The best music docs followed their subjects around in the here and now. I needed to come up with a unique take.

It didn’t take long.

That night while lying in bed with my wife Kristine, I started thinking how the Mats were Gods in my eyes. And though I don’t believe in God, a lot of people sure seem to. Yet it’s all blind faith, they never see or hear God. “What if I make a documentary where we never see or hear the band?” I spoke out loud to my wife who was reading a health magazine. “What if I give them God-like treatment, and make the viewer believe?” I honestly don’t remember her response. I think at that point I became lost in the possibilities of the myth. It was a crazy idea. And the more I thought about it, the more I loved it.

7 Comments

Filed under alternative rock, documentaries, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, minneapolis, paul westerberg, replacements, rockumentary

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 1

It’s been a long time, but I have good reason: COLOR ME OBSESSED, my feature-length documentary on The Replacements. Over the next many months I will try to take a look at the film, my process, my motivation, etc and so forth. I’ll begin by trying to answer the question I’ve thus far asked 139 times: Why The Replacements?

I could say something simple and to the point, that they are the greatest rock band of all time. That their music is timeless. Their rock purity unmatched. But it’s more than that. The Replacements transcend simple greatness. They are the cure for my cancer. (They’ve cured my cancer many times over.) They’ve kept love alive. They’ve re-invented my life. They walk on water, feed the multitudes with a single loaf of bread, and cry tears of blood. They are my religion. Jesus Christ didn’t write Here Comes A Regular. He didn’t play the guitar solo on Color Me Impressed. And he certainly didn’t sing If Only You Were Lonely. It’s the Replacements who gave my life clearer meaning, who gave me something in which to believe. So, yes, when the opportunity arose to make a film about the band, I jumped. It was like being born again.

5 Comments

Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, independent film, replacements