Looking Past, Looking To The Future

While on a trip to Venice (CA) in support for the restoration of the Venice Beach poets monument wall, I had the opportunity to approach Exene Cervenka about my project.

The first thing she said to me was, “Have you heard the group from Oklahoma that I just produced? They’re amazing! You should really talk to them…they’re the future!” I was a bit taken aback, and suddenly realized that I’ve spent much of the last year (well, the last 12) looking _back_ on punk.

I’ve spent a good deal of time reading books, watching documentaries and reading articles about those early years of punk. Compendiums like the oft cited oral history by Legs McNeil, ‘Please Kill Me‘, films like ‘Punk Attitude’ and the incredibly thorough blog, ‘Fast N’ Bulbous‘. Immersing myself in that time and place, I imagined being there at many of the crucial turning points. Watching in awe as the first COUM Transmissions performance unfolded, or swaying to the NY Dolls at the Mercer Arts Center before it collapsed. I’ve unearthed new-to-me treasures such as a wider sense of Gee Vaucher‘s powerful surrealist painting and collage work. Or elevating the amazing bassists for The Germs (Lorna Doom), Talking Heads (Tina Weymouth) and Sonic Youth (Kim Gordon). My attention has been strongly held by each of these now well (and some not so well) documented moments that add up to where we are today.

It’s been an enthralling journey of discovery as I continue to learn more about those times, places and people from those who were there.

Hearing Exene’s question, I was snapped back to the present and for the first time began looking beyond what’s already happened. I’ve been blessed to live through my own adventures. Before this week, it hadn’t occurred to me to put any of that or what’s ahead into the film. Now, I can’t imagine telling this story without it. I can’t say how exactly this will inform the project, but I feel mapping a road to the past will make for a more accessible story if I also put footsteps ahead.

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