Darth Southside — Still as Elusive as the Chupacabra

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I'm still enamored of my little Nikon CoolPix point-and-shoot camera. I try and keep it in reach as often as possible. And I have amassed a collection of rechargeable AA batteries which I keep in a constant rotation through my charger. But sometimes there are those photo-opportunities of which I find myself faltering. It was back on Thursday, I believe. I was driving to my favorite drive thru taqueria on the southside. I was on a side street across from Roosevelt Park. I pulled up to a stop sign and watched, incredulously, as some guy on an old and rusty 1970s era touring bike pedaled past. He wore a Darth Vader mask. A maroon knit cap. A small cape tied around his neck which appeared to have been cut from a black sheet. And black pants and a long-sleeved black shirt. As he glided by, I turned and looked down at the camera on the passenger seat beside me. I knew that to get a decent shot I'd have to circle a couple of blocks and try and get in front of him. But, it occurred to me that anyone who is willing to cycle around cocooned in black on a hot summer afternoon with a hundred and something percent humidity may well be capable of just about anything. I continued to my taco connection.

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It was a lazy internet weekend. I spent quite a bit of time waiting around for my landlady's plumber to show up. And I ran through a whole slew of artsy films archived on UbuWeb. There's loads of tedious crap (those fluxus bastards should be horse whipped for wasting so much footage on their meditations upon the painfully obvious). But there are great things throughout this site. And it reminded me of the power of film, even if all you can budget is 8-mm. I checked some on-line resources, and discovered that since my last foray into working with film, it had jumped significantly in price. 30%, or so. My directorial debut was a college-level independent project. “Mr. Ponygraph.” It was shot on 16-mm, with a few short flashback scenes shot on super 8.

I've a long history of film animosity. Back when I was in high-school, pissing away my time in photography class, I can recall the day when 35mm still film practically doubled in price. A couple of the Hunt brothers (of the Texas millionaire family), had cornered the silver market. I believe they got busted on it (perhaps the last time anti-trust laws had been enforced in this country). But even after it was revealed that the price of film stock had radically increased because the price of silver (a commodity necessary to making film) had been artificially bloated, the fact was, film stock never returned to its pre-1980 retail prices. So, with the advent of the digital revolution, I was quite pleased to see the handwriting on the wall. Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, FugiFilm, et al, had decided to gouge the public, and now their products were fast becoming unnecessary. Karma can move slow at times. But the problem is, film still looks mighty cool. And as I found myself thinking about a return to film — say, 8-mm — I was slapped down by yet another increase of film stock then when I last used the stuff, back in 2001.

I guess the answer is to steal it. And process it oneself in a bathtub with the lights off agitating the stolen chemicals with a stolen ax-handle. It's time to return to art as an impolite endeavor.

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