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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

HEY Joe Strummer B-Day Bash & Feral Cinema & I'm djing too!

2906 Fruth(Next to I LOVE VIDEO)
Austin, TX



featuring Alex Cox's "STRAIGHT TO HELL,"
vintage vinyl spinning by DJ GOMI,
Joe Stummer giveaways,
art gallery opening featuring the work of Sixto-Juan Zavala

Starring THE CLASH, THE POGUES, COURTNEY LOVE, ELVIS COSTELLO, DENNIS HOPPER, JIM JARMUSCH, and many more. Doors at 8pm, event at 8:30pm poster art by Sixto-Juan Zavala -

And remember, Feral screenings are one official place to submit your short film to the annual upcoming Art Outside festival in Rockdale, TX -

SALSA Y CORDITE: The Legend of Joe Strummer and *Straight to Hell*
--Marc Savlov

"Punk died the day The Clash signed with CBS," wrote Mark Perry, editor of the legendary seminal punk zine Sniffin' Glue and guitarist for the equally legendary outfit Sniffin' Glue. Here at Feral Cinema, we love it when somebody's that fucking wrong. (And, we suspect, so is Mr. Perry.) Not only did punk not die on January 25, 1977 -- the exact date of their £100,000 signage -- it continued to metastasize right alongside The Clash, who would go on to become one of the most influential rock 'n' roll (punk or otherwise) bands of all time. Who else would've had the sheer shining billiard balls and "fuck you"-hubris to follow up their impressive debut with a double album (LONDON CALLING) and then a TRIPLE ALBUM*triple-album* (SANDANISTA!) at a time when disco and A Flock of Hairdos ruled the godforsaken FM dial? Certainly not UK anarcho-punk collectivists CRASS, who gave a dissy, anti-shoutout to The Clash on their screechy single "Punk is Dead": "CBS promote The Clash/But it ain't for revolution, it's just for cash."

Punk didn't even die when Clash founder and creative driving force Joe Strummer did. Felled at the relatively youthful age of 50 by a heart attack in December of 2002, Strummer spent the years following the Clash's 1986 break-up in an inspiringly DIY, whirlwind of a life. He toured incessantly with (and without) his backing band The Mescaleros, becoming both a mentor and multi-generational touchstone for "all the young punks" worldwide. He tried his hand at acting, appearing in Martin Scorcese's THE KING OF COMEDY, Jim Jarmusch's MYSTERY TRAIN, and, briefly, in Alex Cox's WALKER.

Cinematically speaking, however, Joe Strummer's finest accomplishment was his role as Simms in Cox's unjustly overlooked and unfairly maligned scattershot 1987 masterpiece, STRAIGHT TO HELL. Ostensibly about a riotously dysfunctional quartet of bank robbers on the lam (including Strummer, Courtney Love, Dick Rude, and Cy Richardson of REPO MAN), STRAIGHT TO HELL was in reality a hastily-penned script that served as a spur-of-the-moment filmic placeholder between Cox's SID & NANCY (1986) and 1991's HIGHWAY PATROLMAN. Hasty or not, the cobbled-together, meandering storyline -- bank robbers stumble afoul into a ghost town run by manic coffee addicts, with everything in the service of the greatest spaghetti western parody/homage ever made -- is just insane enough to transcend its own limitations (little budget, lotta alcohol, and The Pogues running amuck) and reach heights of pure cinematic genius that few if any of Cox's more famous films ever achieved.

Simply put, STRAIGHT TO HELL is one of the greatest, funniest, and downright strangest films you'll ever see. It's as though the God of Coffee and Punk Rock Comedic Improvisation came down and told Cox and company, "Go to Almeria, Spain, where Sergio Leone shot A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, and THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, and go nuts. Thus I command thee in the name of kickass cinema. Hey, wait, here's a triple espresso and The Pogues. Now get to it!" Or, you know, something like that.

So punk's not dead, and neither is Joe Strummer, and the bitter black tang of burnt coffee and steel-toed Airwair Doc Martens will be the last thing anyone who says otherwise is gonna taste. Join Feral Cinema and our sponsors in celebrating the cinematic life and times of Joe Strummer, "the only man who matters."
R.I.P. Joe Strummer, 1952-2002.

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten

On the eve of the Clash's 1983 American tour and during a period of increasing internecine skirmishes among the band members, frontman and principal lyricist Joe Strummer went missing. As revealed in Temple's thoroughly exhilarating, horns-and-halos documentary, Strummer was urged to "disappear" by manager Bernie Rhodes, who believed that the media attention generated by the MIA punk rocker would constitute an ace marketing move. When Strummer asked where he ought to go, Rhodes told him to hoof it off to Austin, Texas, where Strummer's old pal Joe Ely lived. Strummer: "So I took the next train to Paris. I thought it'd be a good joke." It still is, and the subterfuge was made even more da-da-Dada by the fact that the wayward rocker ran the Paris Marathon and grew a beard in the interim. (Full disclosure: I saw the Clash on Wednesday, May 18, 1983, at the Amarillo Civic Center Auditorium, and, yes, of course, it changed my life.) Such cunning stuntery was entwined in the genetic material of (né) John Graham Mellor's remarkable life virtually from birth. Not only did this India-born son of a left-leaning British civil servant and a doting "Scottish heather" grow up to front "the only band that matters"; he also, with the fragmenting Clash in tow, worked the stage at Steve Wozniak's proto-Lollapalooza, the U.S. Festival, alongside equally outsized égoïste provocateurs Van Halen and U2 (no mean feat, that). But by the time ’83's chart-topping single "Rock the Casbah" arrived on these shores, the Clash was a band in name only. Strummer's idealistic conundrum – did he get fame or did fame get him? – has a familiar VH1-ish ring to it. But what makes all the young punks ink his crooked-nosed, jug-eared, recognizably rockabillian mug on their scrawny limbs is, in part, what came after the Clash. And it's here that The Future Is Unwritten adroitly fills in the post-’77 blanks, tracing Strummer's post-punk wilderness years: his acting and soundtrack work with Alex Cox, his stint in the Pogues, the ceaseless ease with which he created musical and lyrical agitprop, and the foundation of his final band, the incomparable Mescaleros. Director Temple (who previously helmed the far less affecting Sex Pistols doc The Filth and the Fury) has crafted one of the most compelling documentary portraits of a musician yet made. Like an early Clash number, it's by turns lovely and ugly, loud as bombs and quiet as a revolution's first-thrown stone; it acknowledges the legend while uncovering the truth. In the telling, Temple uses everything he can get his hands on, from newly minted animation sequences and long-forgotten audio interviews to Martin Scorsese (both then and now). He seamlessly edits together a series of campfire reminiscences from friends and family with impossibly rare, wonderfully raw footage of the musician himself. Here is Strummer the frolicsome 10-year-old, Strummer the hippy squatter, Strummer the sneering punk, and, most important of all, Strummer the whole human being, humbled but never hobbled, bloodied but unbowed. He was, and remains, a Sandinistan hombre sin fronteras by way of the UK and your dodgy old turntable, inspiring guerilla guitar dreams in unwritten futures forever. Punk fucking rock, man. -- Marc Savlov

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