We live near a University, and they have a great semi-regular program. It's called Bad Movie Night, and a professor screens fun cheap movies on the ceiling of a planetarium. The audience is mostly students, but anyone can attend.

A while back we saw a real classic: A Bucket of Blood. Of course I'd seen it. Who hasn't? However, I wasn't about to pass up a chance to see Dick Miller up there among the stars.

It was a good time, and after the show some people were hanging around. A student was speaking to the prof, and she was regaling him with information about Roger Corman. She rattled off a few well-known facts about the legendary producer-director-studio head, while the instructor smiled. He was obviously pleased that someone demonstrated a little knowledge about the guy who made the movie we watched. To tell you the truth, I was a little impressed.

She wound down her talk and concluded with this sentence: "His best film is Pirhanaconda".

I felt genuine pain upon hearing it. Not The Intruder, an important movie about racial integration in a small southern town. Not the historically accurate The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. Not The Wild Angels, not The Masque of the Red Death. I would have even preferred to hear her cite Watchers 2 as Corman's finest hour.

What happened to students discussing Goddard, Wenders, Bunuel, Bergman? Or Sam Katzman, Ray Dennis Steckler, Doris Wishman?

I remember another time. I used to hang out at a record store, and one of the regulars came in. A University student, who was also a self-proclaimed movie freak. I told him I had just seen the new Roman Polanski movie, Carnage. He had never heard of Polanski, but the mohawked scholar began to extol the virtues of Bad Grandpa.

I never went to college, and it's a sore point with me. I think of how my life would be different if I had the experience. I consider the possibilities that would have opened up in my life. Then again, had I gone I could now be working in a fast food place, still unable to pay off my student loans.

My friends and I used to frequent the vicinity of the local University. There were a couple of raucous music venues where we could see some of the wildest local and national punk and wave acts. There were cool bookstores, music shops, and funky clothing boutiques.

Now I drive down there it's all gone. Instead I see vape shops, tattoo parlors, and craft breweries. The height of culture appears to be cornhole competitions.

I'm not criticizing all college students, of course. I meet really cool ones now and then. They sometimes come to my book sales, and I see them here and there. Young people thirsty for great art, obsessed with obscure music, rabid about great books.

It's not just the college areas. Bookstores are an endangered species. Thankfully I can still drive to a couple of decent record stores. Local live music, especially ones that feature weird cutting edge bands, seem to be rapidly evaporating.

I know they're still out there. The kids who explore strange genres. Who strive to write and appreciate poetry. Who know the the work of Kenneth Anger and Maya Deren.

I salute all the young people who have passion for the arts in their guts and their blood. The ones who do not fall, but jump between the populist cracks. It can be a lonely and isolated existence, but the rewards are infinite.

Written by Mark Sieber

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry