Wednesday, February 14, 2007

more on the northwest passage

I had almost too much fun talking to Mike Lastra on the radio. When I get that excited, it doesn’t sound very professional. But when Mike told me how the material for his film Northwest Passage, to be premiered tomorrow night at Cinema 21, was from the ‘seminal period of 1978 – 1983’, that was, well, music to my ears.

Everyone is going to have a certain fondness for what happened in their youth, but even people who were not young in that era have agreed with me about it. Mike pointed out that the sound of Nirvana, so singular to many, have its roots in the Wipers, in a very obvious way and nothing they wished to hide. I recall when I first heard Nirvana – I was 3000 miles away from the Pacific Northwest, but I thought gee, this sure sounds like someone I knew.

While I was invested before 1978, 1983 also marks the year I bailed. That’s the year I left the record business and changed ‘careers’ – or rather, got one. As an import buyer, I felt I wasn’t paid very much for having to keep up on so much. After all, Aquarius Records back then was a cultural Grand Central and my job was taking some kind of pulse on London, Berlin or Tokyo and bringing it back to SF.

That pulse by 1983 had changed – not necessarily for the worse, just different, and in fact for many people, it would be better. The die had been cast and the makings of a hundred different future genres were in play. We had just passed through a brief time, as Mike pointed out, in which few labels had yet been applied. We all played together and we belonged to no specific camps. Once the camps started being established, I intuitively wanted out.

I still liked the music, but it didn’t carry the same kind of weight. Any kind of creative activity, to stay involved, requires commitment. But I still held on to art.


C said...

Good radio with Lastra. You two like to talk. I counted about sixty-five thousand words in just 53 minutes.

See the preview for Northwest Passage

There must be similar films either made, or in development in a dozen different cities, our dopplegangers held other cameras, other microphones and other bleach bottles in Detroit, Phoenix, and Boston - that I know of.

Was it a magical moment? Was it a magical moment in Detroit? I walk past the old Earth Tavern everyday and MLC kids are out front, Jimbo is sweeping, Pamela is hanging dresses in the trees. I remember that show, and I remember thinking, gee the most disorganized guy in the room is taping this stuff - how prescient! How forward thinking! I felt right at home. Just watching Mike, and John Shirley, and Greg, and Kim + KT, and all the others gave me hope, because prior to these sorts of experiences I thought I was stuck in Detroit circa 1979 and that was a bummer.

But it was also a technological moment, when portable video was possible, when the mainstream club scene had pooped out and bar owners were willing to try something, when Fred Cole was selling used guitars downtown, when mailorder records could be found in the back of NME, which started being racked at Rich's about 1975. A confluence of pop culture, like dropping Little Richard records on kids in Liverpool...

C said...

Try that URL again

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this clip, C!
It made me even more excited to see this film.

daniel said...

COOL! thanks for the heads up about this movie eva! im gonna watch it!
sheesh...1983! i was born in 1983!