Welcome to the radio arm of Strike Magazine. Radio Strike will produce Strike Magazine content in a radio format through interviews, music, readings and other related topics. Our first episode will give some background about the origins of Strike and dig deeper into the meaning of art with issue 4’s featured artist Adam Turl. In this first episode we present the talk Turl gave at Socialism 2013 Conference it Chicago. Turl’s talk will focus on Ernst Fischer and is titled “The Necessity of Art”. Following the talk our very own editor, Raul Alonzo, conducts a brief interview with Turl.
One of the films the STRIKE crew is pretty excited to catch at the upcoming South Texas Underground Film Festival is SubCCultured: the Rise of DIY Rock in Corpus Christi, a documentary detailing the vibrant punk and metal scene of the sparkling city from 1985 to 1995. Here, STRIKE talks with Richard Guerrero, the filmmaker, as he details the ups and downs of the project, what fueled his desire to undertake it and what he has planned for the future.
Strike Magazine: First off, how long has this project been in the works, and how much research, info-gathering and compiling did you have to go through? Did you have any help?
Richard Guerrero: The project first began as a blog series for a live music blog that I launched in the last few months that I was employed by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in 2006. After several months of collecting email responses to a questionnaire I wrote up about the late 80s hardcore/thrash scene from about 40 participants, I published the first installment of a five-part blog series called “Do It Yourself: The Rise of Hardcore Punk in Corpus Christi” in January 2007. The blog series was published in real time, meaning I published as the subsequent installments were written, and so the last chapter was published that summer. Here are the links:
I was pretty amazed at the amount of interest that the blog series generated. And I still had a handful of old VHS tapes of some of the bands that were referenced in the blog series. I should add that I am a big fan of documentaries so making one about the Corpus Christi underground music scene made sense.
Although I originally planned to focus on the hardcore/crossover scene, my conversations with music-makers and fans alike very quickly convinced me to broaden my focus to include the city’s metal scene. I missed the boat on a lot of the thrash bands from those years as I was pretty caught up in the punk music of the day but I quickly learned just how amazing some of those bands were and how determined some were to make a mark on the national thrash scene.
I began interviewing participants on weekends and vacation breaks in 2008 and to date, I’ve probably interviewed about 50 people for the documentary. It’s amazing that after just 20 years so many details can be lost and that turned out to be my biggest problem. So I had to keep looking for additional participants who could fill in the blanks for me when the details were too sketchy.
Strike Magazine: What were the most difficult parts of completing this project?
Richard Guerrero: The most difficult part of this project was finding the time to record interviews and then in post-production, making sure I had enough time to edit a whole sequence at a time. I’ve got a full-time job and a family and also try to stay active musically so this project was on the back-burner for a few years. But I never stopped working on it. And so here we are.
This doc has a pretty unusual history. In 2012, I at last felt that I had enough material to pull together a “Rough Cut Edit” so I announced a final cut-off date for participants who were dragging their feet on photos and videos. I got the House of Rock to agree to host a screening on Dec. 26 and told everyone that I would stop taking their videos/photos in mid-December. The truth is I think I was still getting emails three days before the RCE screening. I spent a full week pulling together the Rough Cut Edit and presented that version to an audience of about 300 on 12.26.
I think that was the catalyst for the participants who were still dragging their feet to get moving on sending those contributions in to me. The official edit, which will appear on DVD in December, will closely mirror the edit that I will present at the South Texas Underground Film Festival. But as this is a historical project, I reserve the right to keep editing as quality artifacts continue to surface. And believe me, I keep finding new items under rocks every so often. So it goes.
Strike Magazine: What drew you to undertake the project, and how did you know where to start?
Richard Guerrero: I started my journalism career as a zine writer when I was in high school. Gerald Alvarez had a zine called “Blood and Guts” and so I contributed a few reviews to that before he decided to hand the editor job over to me. I think I published one or two issues before I called it quits. We were both in The Krayons, a crossover band that quickly went punk, and we stayed pretty busy doing that. I’m also a bit of an archivist so I had some of the old fliers and zines from that era. And then there were the VHS tapes of old shows that I had collected. So all of that source material was reason enough to consider the project even if I was missing more than half of the materials produced during that fertile period. Since I pretty much experienced the entire era referenced in the blog series and the movie, I used my own experiences as a starting point but asked participants to give their recollections or share what they remember hearing about a specific event or band. I was amazed at how different some of those recollections were compared to my own.
Strike Magazine: Who is covered in the documentary? For those of us who were not born yet or were just wee ones in the time period covered, what sort of insight does the documentary give on the scene at that time? What were you hoping to capture, and do you think that was achieved?
Richard Guerrero: The bands and individuals that make up this documentary represent a pretty large cross section of active bands playing self-written material for audiences in Corpus Christi in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The movie makes the point that this was the beginning of the underground music scene in Corpus Christi. Prior to this scene, there was just a handful of acts making very different types of noise in obscurity in a hostile climate that favored cover bands or blues combos. So some of the metal bands include Final Assault, Devastation and Anialator; on the crossover/hardcore side, there’s Angkor Wat, Subversion, DMZ, Joywax and my band The Krayons as well as Brutal Poverty. The ’90s are well represented too with representatives from Loser, Right Turn Clyde and The Wrong Crowd setting the story straight.
In terms of what I was hoping to capture, I think I got about 95 percent of all that I remember from that time. Of course there were a few bands that I wasn’t able to include in the main feature but if you pick up the DVD, there will be additional content that might mention some of those bands.
Strike Magazine: What is your personal experience with the subject of the documentary?
Richard Guerrero: As I’ve said, I was pretty much there for most of this timeline. I first began playing live with a rock band in 1984 and co-formed The Krayons in ’87, which ran until 1995. So the timeline of the documentary is purposely meant to mirror my experience. I view this as an eyewitness journalism project in which I build on my experience and cross-check it with others to tell a more thorough story.
Strike Magazine: Was there anything you had to cut or that you wish you could have included but couldn’t find any information on?
Richard Guerrero: I will say that I was really heartbroken that I could not find any local photos of Milwaukee punk act Die Kreuzen’s one gig here in ’86 nor the video of San Francisco punkcore trio Jawbreaker playing a house show here in 1990. My pal Luciano De La Cruz shot a video at the JB gig and I saw it once so I know it exists. But now it’s MIA and so I had to make the movie without those elements.
If you saw the Rough Cut Edit, you might remember the Disco Kickers segment or the Basic Language sequence. Well I had to make some tough editing calls and so those two sequences do not appear in the final edit. They will appear as bonus features on the DVD though. I also had to keep info on The Hershey Squirts to a bare minimum since most of those guys moved on to other projects. And I do wish I had more photos and video of Brutal Poverty. I lucked into a seriously poor quality clip from their debut gig at the Galvan Ballroom in February 1988 but wish I had a better copy of it as well as later footage. Brutal Poverty played until the late 90s and so it’s a shame I wasn’t able to score something from their club days but I asked and no one spoke up. Oh well.
Strike Magazine: What has the reception been like from the screenings you’ve had for the documentary thus far?
Richard Guerrero: So I’ve had two screenings for the Rough Cut Edit. The first one was very well attended — 300 paying customers at the House of Rock — and so there was lots of support and praise for my efforts as well as honest criticism as to what the project lacked. Hopefully, I’ve addressed some of those concerns in the final film. The second screening took place at Zeros Hard Rock Club on a Sunday afternoon in February and while it was modestly attended, I got some really great feedback at that event as well. Most people know that I had zero budget for this project and bought everything as I needed it. Aside from a borrowed camcorder or two and borrowed video editing software, I bought everything as I went so I always warned my participants that the production value was going to be modest. Hopefully everyone will remember that when they watch the movie!
Strike Magazine: Are you satisfied with the completed work?
Richard Guerrero: Am I satisfied with my movie? Honestly, I’ll say that I’m happy with the movie I was able to make given the extreme conditions I was working under. As a mostly one-man show, I can own up to numerous dead mic problems that immediately rendered an interview dead in the water. So while my movie might have been a bit different had I had professional monitoring levels and metering for light throughout the whole process, I was able to fill in enough of the blanks by asking somebody else the same question.
Strike Magazine: With the DVD release at the STUFF screening, are there any other developments you have planned for the film in the future?
Richard Guerrero: I probably should have said this earlier but the project is a benefit for TFC Rehearsal Studios. My brother Roger opened TFC Rehearsal as an extension of his DIY record label, Twenty First Century Records, in 2010 so it’s a logical extension of the DIY principle that is expressed throughout the movie. So following the STUFF screening, we will create a FINAL edit for DVD and make them available in December. We hope to cram a ton of extra content on the DVD and what we cannot fit on the DVD will show up on a YouTube channel that I will build over time. So the work continues.
In closing, I’d like to thank all of the participants, the bands who are featured in the project and all of the supporting individuals who sent in photos, video and gave me access to their personal collections. I hope I was able to do right by all who were featured. And I would like to also acknowledge the work of numerous uncredited videographers and photographers who took the time to document the moment. Without your work, we would not have been able to create this movie. Thanks.
You can catch SubCCultured: the Rise of DIY Rock in Corpus Christi (1985-1995) at the South Texas Underground Film Festival on October 5th, 12:45 PM with the screening location at the House of Rock.
With the second annual South Texas Underground Film Festival (STUFF) kicking off in early October, we here at Strike have taken the opportunity to chat with the founders and organizers of the event. In this interview founders Mariella Sonam Perez and Robert Perez talk about the meaning of STUF, the film festival and the development of the medium in South Texas.
Strike Magazine: How did South Texas Underground Film come to be?
Mariella Sonam Perez: We kept seeing the politics and were tired of hearing from other organizations that not only our films but other films and visual pieces didn’t have substance. It felt like other organizations, not all, wanted to see things that would make money. That’s not what this is about. This is about expression and being creative first. STUF was created so that filmmakers and video artists could have a place to screen their work without people ripping apart what they have created. We wanted to do things year round. You don’t learn something by doing it once a year. We wanted to learn from, and work with, other filmmakers and artists.
Strike Magazine: How long has STUF been operating in South Texas?
Mariella: We’ve been around since July of 2010. We started with our first filmmaking challenge in December of 2010. It was a Horror Film Challenge. In May of 2011 we had the Sisterhood in Film and Music during ArtWalk. Later in 2011 we held Corpus Christi’s first LGBT film festival. We’ve done Basic DIY filmmaking workshops with the AutismSpectrumResourceCenter for the kiddos. After putting in a lot of hard work, we decided that we should put on STUFF, which would combine Underground, Sisterhood and LGBT cinema.
Strike Magazine: What are the aims and goals of STUF?
Mariella: The goal for STUF is to give a chance for aspiring filmmakers to learn through ‘hands on’ participation, to network and eventually work with fellow artists.
Strike Magazine: Why is it important for filmmakers to maintain aesthetic and creative independence?
Mariella: This is so important because this is how artists find their voices and style. I know I don’t want to see cookie cutter projects or revamping of things that I’ve seen before. I truly believe that the underground is where the heart and soul and substance of art is at. The perspectives on story telling and self expression are amazing. In the words of Bjork, “DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE!”
Strike Magazine: How does STUF go about creating a space for that kind of expression?
Mariella: I would say that STUF goes about creating a space for independent expression by not censoring. We let people know that the films are not rated and they don’t have to watch them if they feel they might get offended easily. We show films and video pieces that have things to say. You may not like everything that we show. But that’s ok, because the festival is about artist finding their audiences. We provide a public platform. That is not to say that there isn’t something for everyone. I recommend going through the program, watching the trailers that are available online and reading their descriptions. It is a great way to figure out what you would like to see.
Strike Magazine: How has the film medium developed in the last several years in South Texas?
Rob: To answer honestly there are a lot of strides being made in Corpus Christi filmmaking. But I think people are in a seasonal frame of mind. They make short films once a year. There are some filmmakers breaking away from that trend. There are a few exceptions that have been making features and shorts on a regular basis. We need something more to have a deeper impact. Several years ago, San Antonio, I feel, was in that state of mind but as their film festival’s developed, you started to see more homegrown features being produced. Now you see a celebration of feature films, a celebration of a variety of films within their community. It’s awesome.
Strike Magazine: American cinema seems to be often dominated by corporate interests and the big budget blockbusters that flood the market each year. Do you think this trend is detrimental to film as an artistic medium?
Mariella: No, because this makes artists like us to go out and create new movements, like French New Wave, to counter the glut of American Cinema. Big budget blockbusters are made because that is what makes the money. When it’s about money you lose something because the people with the money have control of what is being made. I’m not saying, I don’t like those movies. The Blockbusters are like having a name brand. People like name brands. It makes it harder for the smaller films to be seen. This is why we need festivals. Festivals help the smaller films find an audience.
Strike Magazine: This will be the second year for the film festival in Corpus Christi. What was the experience of organizing STUFF 2012 like?
Mariella Perez: STUFF 2012 was very exciting to plan. There were plenty of times when we didn’t know how things were going to get done because we had very little funding. Everything up to that point was out of pocket. We, to this day, rely on volunteers and people who are passionate about the arts. We’ve been fortunate to have made great friendships and partnerships with Art Center of Corpus Christi, Film ExChange, Del Mar Culinary and now RealmsCon. We feel that when you align yourselves with other people and organizations who have similar goals in mind and who mutually respect each other (especially respect between artists) things only grow and become better. If we are partnered with people and entities it’s because its something positive for the artists. This year we were also able to get a grant from the Corpus Christi Arts and Cultural Commission to help us pay for some things that we need as a festival.
Strike Magazine: STUFF 2013 is set to kick off in early October. What can participants expect this year?
Mariella: There are so many great things planned for this year. First, we have selected films and video art pieces that people will enjoy. This material will challenge the viewer to look at things differently and hopefully people will discover and appreciate non-mainstream work. We are fortunate to have Del Mar Culinary(DMC) choose STUFF to host their annual Tea Party. Their Tea Party is their mid-term. The students will be graded not only on taste and aesthetics of the pastries but also the presentation of the Tea Party itself. Chef Jessica and Chef Randy from DMC have also created the menu and will be cooking our Welcome BBQ. Also on Opening night we will be having the Inaugural PubCrawl where participants will be playing STUFF instead of BINGO and prizes will be given away as well as great drink specials. We will close every night with an After Party. Mixers will also take place everyday from 5:30-6:30. The parties and mixers are really cool opportunities to get to know filmmakers, artists and musicians. This is where lifelong friendships are made as well.
With the South Texas Underground Film Festival (STUFF) 2013 set to kick off in early October, we revisit Strike #2 and this brief interview with STUFF “Up and Coming Filmmaker” award winner Niko Kostet.
(Finnish Filmmaker Niko Kostet at STUFF 2012)
By Julia Arredondo
While collectively contemplating the name change of their local filmmaking support group, South Texas Underground Film continues to struggle with active community input. Perhaps the term ‘underground’ scares people away or challenges Corpus Christi’s fascination with mainstream culture; whatever the case be, it’s due time Corpus
Christi steps up to the plate.
Specializing in alternative cinema and film shorts from around the country and giving local film curious movers and shakers opportunities to produce multiple features,
South Texas Underground Film ceases to gain stamina and prepares for the 2013
South Texas Underground Film Festival.
Although local turnout at the 2012 STUF Festival was sparse, those who did enjoy a week of international films and free beer were blown away. Bringing in national and
international filmmakers and boosting Corpus Christi’s status as a filmmaking destination, South Texas Underground Film gained international media attention whilst remaining virtually unheard of within Corpus Christi.
To attest to the success of the 2012 STUFF, Finnish filmmaker and winner of the
2012 STUFF Up and Coming Filmmaker Award, Niko Kostet relays his experience at
the festival and reflects on his time in South Texas. Having featured his film
‘Christian Dreadful” about an ex-choirboy rockstar attempting to save his fans
from eternal damnation by the hands of his antichrist manager, Kostet found a
supportive venue for screening his film and plans to continue screening future
releases in Corpus Christi.
(STUFF 2012 mixer)
Julia Arredondo: Give us an overview of your
experience at the STUF Festival.
Niko Kostet: STUFF was a film festival for filmmakers by filmmakers. There were a lot
of interesting panels and workshops and the festival was planned very well.
Everything was close by and they had a great variety of films from different
cultures and countries from all over the world. Everybody was treated like a
movie star plus the after parties rocked.
(Screening space at STUFF 2012)
JA: Have you gained attention as a filmmaker due to winning a STUFF award?
NK: Oh yes! Since we arrived back home, the local press has been very interested, and we just got two big screenings for Christmas at the new local art center called Logomo. It’s going to be an awesome event here in Turku, with all the cast and crew getting together and celebrating our award winning movie! I also met a bunch of filmmakers from all over the world, and they are very interested in coming to Finland. It is very rare that a Finnish feature gets to go abroad and our movie is a low budget feature, but it still got awarded and that means a whole lot.
(Niko and crew on the set of his new film “Pyro” that will debut at STUFF 2014)
JA: Do you have plans to attend the 2013 STUF Festival?
NK: I promised the STUF crew that I’d collect the best of Finnish independent and underground films from the past year and showcase them at STUFF 2013. Hopefully, the Finnish filmmakers will join me there. My next feature, “Pyro”, won’t be released until 2014 but we would be delighted to have our US premiere be at STUFF with all the cast and crew present. It would rock the house for sure!
Julia Arredondo is a sub-cultural enthusiast with an uncanny ear for rhythm. Arredondo divides herself amongst various career paths including professional printmaking, editorial writing, and doing the supernatural boogie woogie. For excerpts from her zines and travel adventures, visit www.viceversapress.com
Niko Kostet is a filmmaker living and working in Finland. He is the winner of the STUFF 2012 “Up and Coming Filmmaker Award”. His film “Christian Dreadful” premiered at STUFF 2012.
by Mike Linaweaver (with contextual assistance and translations by Jess Martin)
This interview was conducted in March 2013 and originally appeared in Strike #3
The 1948 invasion of Palestine is remembered by Israelis as the Milkhemet Ha’atzma’ut, War of Independence. For Palestinians it represents al-Nakba, The Catastrophe.
Following the conflict, 600,000 to 800,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from homelands which they had occupied for centuries, effectively becoming refugees. Many Palestinian refugees found themselves remanded to small parcels of land known as the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean Sea and the West Bank on the banks of the Jordan River.
Today Gaza is confined behind barrier walls and miles of fences. Here, behind the wire, artists like Islam Ashour struggle to give voice to the grievances and hopes of Palestinian people separated from their homeland and their families in the occupied territories of former Palestine.
Mike Linaweaver: Tell us about your background and where you are from.
Islam Ashour: My name is Islam Ashour. I am a Palestinian refugee living in the Gaza Strip. Originally, I am from Ashqelon, a city in Southern Israel just North of Gaza. Ashqelon has been under Israeli occupation since 1948. I studied fine arts at the University of Gaza.
Mike Linaweaver: What motivated you to create art?
Islam Ashour: I’ve always had an interest in art and drawing. My uncle, Ismail Ashour, is an artist. After my studies I began to receive a great deal of encouragement for my work. My cartoons have appeared in a number of Arab electronic sites and magazines. I’m doing my best to be well known among the supporters of Palestinian resistance.
ML: We have seen recently that Palestinian artists in the occupied territories have been under attack by Israeli security forces. What has that experience been like?
IA: It’s enough to say that the Israelis terrorize Palestinian artists, poets, singers, musicians and actors a great deal. Many young men who are active in the struggle against the occupation and against racism have been arrested. By doing this the Israelis believe they can suppress our ability to express ourselves and our free opinions against the occupation.
ML: On Febuary 16 Palestinian artist and cartoonist Mohamed Shaba’aneh was arrested by Israeli Defense Forces at the Karemeh border. Subsequently he was sentenced to five months in prison by Isreali authorities. How have Palestinian artists reacted to his detention and what actions has the art community undertaken to fight for his release?
IA: As a cartoon artist, I can say that the arrest of our colleague Shaba’ana provoked anger and frustration among many of the cartoonists. Shaba’ana is a pioneer in cartoon art, with solid standing in the Palestinian community. We all sympathize with him because we see his arrest as an encroachment on freedom of speech. He has every right to express whatever topic his mind touches upon.
Art is our language and the language of everyone who expresses those things which surpass words. Since his arrest we have exerted our efforts in every way possible in order to try and release him, including by way of our art. Many of us have drawn new cartoons on his behalf in order to raise awareness and to expedite his release to freedom, God willing.
Artists and journalists also organized a number of peaceful sit-ins and solidarity demonstrations in front of the various human rights organizations in the occupied territories.
(A Palestinian woman voices her rage and frustration at the seizure of her lands for illegal settlements by Israeli Defense Forces)
ML: What has your personal experience with the occupation and the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) been like?
IA: My own experiences are like those of any Palestinian citizen living in Gaza. We suffer through the sieges by the IDF. Electricity is often cut off, sometimes lasting for hours. I can’t really summarize all the things that have happened, nor do I like to talk about them. In 1987 the occupation forces arrested my oldest brother. He was imprisoned for 5 years. In 1990 the occupation forces violently entered my aunt’s home and arrested all of her children. All of this is in addition to the 2009 war in Gaza. During that incursion the IDF completely devastated Tel al Hawa, the region where I live. They brought wave upon wave of destruction on Gaza. They demolished the home of my wife’s family in the Karameh neighborhood in the northern part of GazaCity. The 2012 war on Gaza took huge psychological toll on me and my family. We expected death at any moment; we waited for the fall of a rocket. Those were very difficult days. I’m still uncomfortable recalling them.
ML: Do you have hope for a free Palestine?
IA: Yes, I do. It is our hope and aim to liberate our country through the efforts of all Palestinians. We intend to do this through a peaceful, popular resistance that will lead to the recognition of our legitimate rights.
ML: Thank you, Islam, for your time and patience in talking with us and answering our questions.
IA: I’m pleased and grateful for your help in sharing my cartoons and drawings. Art is for me a hobby. I’m not a professional artist, but I believe art has a part to play in the liberation of my country. Thank you for supporting and standing alongside the Palestinian people.
The Images (Translations and contextual assistance by Jess Martin)
The two panels in this image are contrasting the relatively economically privileged situation in the West Bank with the dire poverty in the Gaza Strip, and the politically ridiculous demands in the West Bank while people in Gaza don’t have fuel to cook with or heat their homes.
The right panel references Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of the Palestinian Authority. Like most key PA figures, he is known for passing out bribes for political support. He is also closely aligned with the U.S. and has major policy disagreements with Hamas.
It is at the same time criticizing U.S. capital influence in the West Bank as well as Hamas. “Ana mish Kafir” is a popular song by Ziyad Rahbani throughout the Arab world. It’s a leftist response to Islamist accusations of traitorous behaviour by Islamists. The basic argument is that secularism isn’t the problem; The problem is western consumerism and capital.
In the left panel, the people are protesting high gas prices, poverty and their separation from family and friends in the West Bank as well as the internal political divisions between Hamas, Fatah and other secular Palestinian groups. Elements of Hamas are calling the people traitors and collaborators for protesting the economic situation instead of maintaining a loyal silence in support of Hamas. The weapons pointed at the people demonstrate that Hamas and secular groups within the Palestinian Authority are operating against the interests of the people.
(Translation: “How many times will you have to travel? And to what exile will you return?”)
This image refers to the Yarmouk refuguee camp. Yarmouk camp is a major refugee camp for Palestinians in Damascus, Syria. The situation for Palestinian refugees there has become dire since the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. The image reflects on the fact that Palestinians are not only refugees in Syria but also exiles in their own country.
In this image the red, green and yellow clothing of the people in the front represent the colors of Palestine. The people in the background represent the revolutionary crowds in Egypt and Syria. Represented here is a critique of Palestinian leftist youth. Despite their politics they are paid off by the Palestinian Authority to keep their demands small and not directly challenge the power structure, while, in contrast, Syrians and Egyptians are calling for the ends of their governments.
Islam Ashour is an artist living and working in the Gaza Strip.
Mike Linaweaver is one of the founders of Strike Magazine and serves currently as an editor.
Jess Martin is an Arabic translator and Palestinian solidarity activist