Monday, November 7, 2011

Interesting Tidbit of the "True Story" Variety

 I almost wasn't the Cap'n.

 Not as in "I almost didn't call myself Cap'n Howdy when this blog thing came together" but as in my life almost went in an entirely different direction. For most, if not all of high school, my nickname was "Matt Pinfield." I guess that doesn't mean as much nearly fifteen years later, but the host of MTV's 120 Minutes for the 2nd half of the 90s was the basis of comparison for my friends because I wasn't the "movie" guy - I was the "music" guy. I haunted record stores, read anything about bands I could, made cassette tapes of college radio playlists, and was constantly turning people on to random bands. Blame it on a healthy dose of Rolling Stone, Flipside, CMJ, and Maximumrocknroll, or whatever else I was listening to (CMJ was fun because of the free cds), but my VHS collection was secondary.

 The fact that I was maybe, kind of, hooking two VCRs up and making tapes from the piles of movies rented from Carbonated Video was a minor part of high school Cap'n. Er, Matt Pinfield. Having half a dozen Nirvana bootlegs or knowing what Sentridoh was (and having the Sentridoh cd) or finding a used copy of The Concert for Bangladesh on vinyl at The Record Exchange was what I was known for. That and dozens of things I'm forgetting about - getting copies of Breeders Digest and buying nearly everything the Deal sisters released... or having a Slant 6 cd (and I still think Inzombia is quality low-fi fun). I wasn't encyclopedic by any means, but I knew a lot of obscure bands and I followed tangents by artists to their logical extension. For crying out loud, I had a duped copy of The Body Has a Head on cassette after seeing the King Missile / John S. Hall / Dogbowl reunion show at the Local 506. That last sentence most likely doesn't make sense to people.

 Anyway, I've been trying to remember when the shift happened from music to movies. Films were always in the background, the other strand in my pop culture DNA, but they didn't really assert themselves until college I think. It might have been from discovering Ain't It Cool News junior year of high school, but I think what happened was that at UNCG, the local cd store and the local video store were next door to each other. Crunchy and College Hill Video. Crunchy was cool - you could find Danzig albums mixed in with punk and ska (oddly enough, the Cap'n owned the first Operation Ivy record, even though I hate Rancid), but College Hill video had *ahem* bootlegs.

 Bootlegs, the heretofore unseeable, obscure, or forgotten films on a store bought tape with black and white labeling. To be fair, the guy who ran the place (and who is, now, a mostly reputable producer so I won't identify by name) did make cover art for the boxes, and we were grateful to be able to watch Bad Taste or the director's cut of Army of Darkness or Eraserhead, even if he'd just taped the porn he couldn't rent out last week. He was providing us a service - the complete Twin Peaks or Battle Royale; a VHS port of the Criterion Brazil laserdisc. Slowly but surely I drifted away from Crunchy and towards College Hill.

 When I went back after home after freshman year, I worked for a movie theatre - the one from Adventures in Projectioneering - and despite the fact that I was still absorbing the Complete Miles Davis and John Coltrane Sessions, films were winning. The summer of 1999 was an exciting period for film, even if it doesn't seem like it in retrospect - The Phantom Menace, Eyes Wide Shut, American Pie, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, The Sixth Sense, Payback - it seemed like every week had something to look forward to.

 If I had to pinpoint where film won, it wasn't sophomore year, when up and coming freshmen were knocking at my door asking to challenge the "movie game guy," although that amuses me now, or even the fact that I was "renting" out movies I brought to school (many of which never came back), but the summer after. In 2000, out of school indefinitely and unsure of what to do, I interviewed at Camelot Music, and with the handy knowledge of who Ani DiFranco was probably had a job waiting. But then a friend of mine wandered in there and hit it off with the staff, and I decided to go back to the movie theatre, where I quickly ascended from concessions to projectionist.

 Being surrounded by film, not just figuratively but on any given shift literally, I slowly phased out of biographies about Jim Morrison and into books like Gilliam on Gilliam. Film became more interesting, more fun. To me, despite all of the dress rehearsal that came before it, down to working at a Suncoast during Christmas of 1995, those quiet shifts sitting amongst the projectors really turned the switch and created the Cap'n as you know him now.

 I still have that Sentridoh cd, by the way.

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