Monday, May 25, 2009

Jay Bennett November 15, 1963 - May 24, 2009

Jay Bennett, formerly of Wilco died Saturday night and it's very sad news. I've been trying to write an entry about him, Wilco, his effect on me as a fan and his effect on all Wilco fans, but it's going long. And rambling. Someone posted this youtube vid below and it says everything about the guy (sorta, not really) that I'm getting at in my inability to write it all out. In short, it's so sad and really does have an effect on Wilco fans based mostly on the movie "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" which the clip below is from.

I know I've always admired Bennett's contribution to my favorite band, but I've also sided heavily with Jeff Tweedy in booting the guy from Wilco. It seemed like an impossible collaboration and although I know film can lie, I "know" people like the person Bennett was portrayed as in that film, and I could see where Jeff was coming from. Even so, I always tried to lend an ear to what Jay was up to and check it out. His contribution and collaboration to Wilco made them what they are today, no ands, ifs, buts. In fact the song "Jesus, etc." is, for my money, one of the finest songs ever created and Bennett has a ton to do with that.

Since I listen to all of Jay's stuff, about 4 months ago, I downloaded for free- per his request- his new album. And I was really digging it. Then, I heard he was suing Jeff Tweedy for royalties owed 7 years after the fact as well as for money from "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" which Jeff was merely a participant in, not a producer of and I'll be honest. It soured me on him and I tucked the CD away. I felt he was being petty and low and cheap. Then, he died Saturday. And it turns out it was from complications of hip surgery. A hip surgery that he was suing Tweedy to cover. Ugh. Ouch. As bad as I and other fans feel, put yourself in Jeff's shows. Ugh.

I have acquaintances who make fun of me for saying "we" when referring to a sports team I like or make fun on my fan boy tendencies. But you know, when you love a band or team or director, you feel on board with them. It's like church. You gravitate towards them and their message and what they bring to you. You take it personally. Like it's for real. It is real. You invest your quiet moments with these bands/teams/figures and you come together to worship and be happy for and with. And when someone who had a big part of that dies, it hurts.

So yesterday, today and for a while...I miss Jay Bennett. His last solo album really is quite great and anyone who ever saw the guy with Wilco or otherwise can attest to his brilliance. I just wish things hadn't been so messy and moreover, I wish they hadn't ended so sadly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ch-ch-ch changes

Well I wasn't lying when I posted that last blog at the beginning of the year. I've been suuuper busy. It's funny that my last post detailed my taking over managerial duties at Film Threat because now, I'm trying to remove myself from that site and find a new home for my writing. It hasn't been easy and the story behind it isn't worth getting into on here but I will say it makes me pissed, sad and frustrated.

The thing about film writing right now is....print film critics are getting fired left and right and newspapers are going under. Since it's an electronic world, many of these writers are starting blogs or jumping on board with established film websites. Since these people have a solid rep because they are paid "professional" writers, schlubs like me are getting passed over pretty quick for established writing jobs because bigger names are available. Plus, I kind of painted myself into a corner at Film Threat by reviewing mostly arty, small indie films. There's no money in writing about that stuff for bigger webpages so adding me to their site maybe doesn't make sense.

I will say that for once in my life, the nagging feeling that I totally suck isn't bogging me down. I'm confident in my writing. The timing to move on is just really shitty. So, I'm doing less at Film Threat and not running any admin stuff at all. In fact, I've really taken a break from writing since SXSW in March which was shitty for me this year. While it feels good to take a break, I miss covering film festivals and writing reviews. I have some new stuff in the works though and more on that soon.

Anyway....since we last spoke I....

- Attended the AVN Awards in Las Vegas. It's the porno awards...and it was an incredible trip. Just ridiculous and silly and I had a blast.

- I went to SXSW and had a bad time. Saw some great movies though and kept my partying to a minimum, save for a night out at the dance halls with a friend who's wife is having twins this summer.

- I went to AFI Dallas which was killer. That festival knows how to get it done. Very inclusive feeling, several awesome films, great parties and some of the bets panels I've seen. Plus, I got to be ON a panel which was alot of fun. Dallas is no Austin, but I have several friends from Dallas so it was great to see them and I made some new pals as well. That trip definitely made up for my SXSW "mood pocket."

Plus my new personal photographer, Kelly Williams, took that photo at the top of this post and that's the best photo of me EVER taken!

I've been working on my thesis which has proved more difficult that I thought. I can't get a groove going. It's only 30 pages and I've pushed my graduation back to this summer. But man...I can't get it going. I know what I want to say and I know how I want it to look so eventually it will just come pouring out of me, but until that time....I feel kind of lost and frustrated. Patience though. It'll happen soon I think.

I thought I would get back into the groove by posting here again so here goes. Sorry for bailing but I've just been enjoying being home with my wife, daughter and dog and recuperating from an insane year of travel. Now, I'm broke but feel really great about laying some seeds at festivals I loved attending. I'm going to try and come back to them this year as a juror or panelist (or, both) and then after, that, I should have my first feature length documentary ready for festival travel! More on that soon.

In the meantime....I'm BACK!