A documentary about Hunter S. Thompson

I arrived at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) a bit early and was instructed to segregate myself around a barrier. On one side was the line of souls waiting to buy tickets for this night's screening Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. I stood on the other, alone — at least for the moment.

Since it was the first Friday in May, I was celebrating No Pants DayMySpace link. I was wearing a dress shirt, sport coat, black socks, Italian leather shoes, and black boxer shorts. A laminated pink card dangled around my neck. I had lazily acquired from a volunteer at the office of The Rochester High Falls International Film Festival (RHFIFF) at the last possible moment. It said "Press".

To be perfectly frank, I'm not a follower of Thompson — I had heard of his "gonzo journalism" style and had read little of his blunt, often insightful style but knew little else. I even had a crummy, expensive burger at his former haunt, Woody Creek Tavern (2858 Woody Creek Rd., Aspen, CO), and knew several people living in and around Aspen when his ashes were blown out of a cannon.

We shuffled in to the theater once it was emptied of its former contents. I sat in the back corner of the lower area as I often do to avoid having to confront any obnoxious audience member. I watched as each person found their place. Younger hipster sycophants drifted to the upper, more secluded level while their older counterparts avoided the stairs and stayed on the lower level. Each group was desperate to acquire vicariously what can truly only be done in person: to have an interesting life.

That said, the movie itself was fascinating and fantastic, covering a an engaging subject with lots of archival footage, great music, great editing … the whole deal. Afterward they revealed it would be given a mid-sized theatrical release around July 4.

But I was more interested in the concept of shooting big guns. It seemed like a great way to relieve stress or something … there really isn't another way to put it because shooting guns is like a core experience unto itself. Just like there isn't another way to explain what it's like to smash something with a hammer. I figure guns are the same kind of thing, only you get to do it from farther away.

And there's fire involved.

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Mose Giganticus and The Mathematicians at the Bug Jar (sorry, Emotron)

I headed to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) and tried not to miss any of the show. Unfortunately I arrived long after The EmotronMySpace link had finished — Mose GiganticusGarageBand linkMySpace link was just taking the stage. They were great — a really fun snyth-rock band. Following up, The MathematiciansMySpace link put on an excellent show. Their synth-driven sound covers things like rock, punk, and hip-hop seamlessly. Unfortunately they had some power problems and I got in on the fray [hopefully] being helpful and getting them to play one more song before an effects-pedal problem did them in — and I was so close to fixing that one too.

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Vito [Friscia] After [being a 9/11 first responder]

My first film at The Rochester High Falls International Film Festival (RHFIFF) was Vito After — the documentary about Vito Friscia and his battle with health issues following being a first-responder at the 9/11 attacks. It was a very nice film about the man and increased awareness of the scope of the problem: both in the cops' unwillingness to answer surveys honestly from their self-sufficient tough-guy personae (Friscia is shown marking "no affect on quality of life" despite a nagging cough), and in the mystified medical professionals who have been unable to decipher solid answers from the deluge of illness and conditions. During the question-and-answer, Friscia was there along with filmmaker Maria Pusateri. She said that the group shown doing the research was running out of money and the federal government was not supplying more — in fact, this was the only mention in the film or the Q-and-A of the government; the movie refreshingly doesn't target blame on any group as it's simply not really knowable who is "to blame".

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Coffee With … Beautiful Chaos

I headed out to Spot Coffee (200 East Ave.) this morning to catch the Coffee With … event of The Rochester High Falls International Film Festival (RHFIFF). This event is one of the most consistent winners in my book — I enjoy getting to sit down and talk with creative people. It's always semi-controlled chaos as it's never certain who (among the filmmakers) will show up and who (among the festival goers) will show up so it might be just a handful, or it could be hundreds.

This time it was in-between. The meeting area was the upper balcony at Spot and there were about 40 people there total of which there were (I think) about 8 filmmakers. It was crowded and challenging — but so personal. I got to chat with a bunch of people including Donald Pusateri who was having a ball at the festival as the husband of filmmaker Maria Pusateri (whom I also met later) — she made Vito After about her brother-in-law Vito Friscia and his battle with health issues following being a first-responder at the 9/11 attacks. I also got to meet Alex Miltsch, the president of Rochester Park Studios (789 Elmgrove Rd.) — hopefully they'll do well, even if it's a risky venture.

And — as certain as I am to run into festival director Catherine Wyler herself was Jerry Stoeffhaas, Deputy Director of The New York Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development and Nora Brown, Assistant Director of The Rochester/Finger Lakes Film and Video Office.

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