Archive for December, 2010


11:00AM – CHAD
Well, we had a busy day today, what with the TV Show idea pitch to the Independent Film Channel and then another screening of Total Badass at reRun later in the night (I was allowed to attend this particular screening because my handler, Aaron, was in attendance). Before I get to any of that though, I have a little in-house business to attend to, if you’ll excuse me.

Hey Bob, I noticed you saw fit to add in that little snippet in yesterday’s journal and take a parting shot at the fact that I pray before I eat. Although I disagree with what you said, I fully understand the way you presented it. After seeing the way I argued circles around Raphael on video, I don’t blame you for not wanting to get in a direct debate with me about it… especially not a written one. First of all, I want you to know that I totally respect you and Raphael’s points of view as atheists or agnostics or whatever you fancy yourselves. In fact, back when I was about fourteen years old, I myself went through that great awakening period where I questioned religion, spirituality, god… all that shit. I even embraced hardcore atheism for awhile, but later in my teens I took the next step in thought evolution and realized that atheists are just as closed minded on such matters as they fancy bible thumping Jesus lovers to be, so I’ve always allowed myself to remain open about the subject. That all being said, nowadays I just don’t feel like the existence of god is something that can even really be debated… and not because it is something that can’t be proven or disproven, that side of things has gotten plenty of attention in theological arguments throughout time. My whole thing is that I can sit right here while I’m typing this and literally feel the presence of something beyond myself and my mind going on in the world around me. It’s not even something I can argue against. Since realizing that, whenever someone denies this “feeling” or “awareness” or whatever you’d like to call it, I have to assume one of three things is going on: Either that person really isn’t privy to this divine presence, be it through lack of cognizance (the range of their perceptions simply isn’t as wide as mine) or they’ve simply been denied this particular insight by the very forces at work beyond our observance, or they are just as aware of it as I am, but have spent their lives trying to deny it, just as I did back in my early adolescence. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone fitting in any of these three categories… I pity the fools.

I mean, I don’t even necessarily want there to be a god, ok? Things would be a lot easier for me if there wasn’t. Even when bearing in mind the fact that god being on my side is the very thing that puts me ahead of so many countless others, I sometimes think I’d be better off blissfully ignorant. The last thing I’d like to make clear is that when I pray before I eat and do the sign of the cross and all that crap, I’m not doing it so god will listen or grant me wishes or anything like that. In fact, I’m not doing it for god, at all. I’m doing it for everyone around me. I’m doing it so my kids will always remember that no matter how fucking insane and without reason I might have seemed to be, even I was humble in matters of spirituality. I’m doing it because it pleases me to know that there are people in the restaurant or house or wherever I’m eating who were under the impression that nobody prays in public anymore, and yet there is me, of all people, doing just that. I do it because I know there are people who see it and automatically assume they know something because they’re so goddamn smart. And finally, I do it because, with the possible exception of the fact that I never wear two matching socks, nothing about me drives the women wilder, whether they believe in god, or not.

11:01AM – BOB
A quick aside from the tour journal:  Dear Chad, as an agnostic, I’ve no need for debate.  By nature, I don’t really give a hoot about god’s existence or lack of.  On top of that, I took no shot at you praying by pointing out your sacrilege.  And I certainly don’t mind if folks choose to believe in fairy tales or old books or old men spouting off or wizards and witches or the words of “prophets” or even the nebulous “spirituality” (and it don’t make me no never mind that you pray before meals–but honestly, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to wait until you’re finished praying before I eat or what… and sometimes you do it twice, wtf? I’m hungry!  Damn these societal pressures!).  As long as the implementation of people’s various religious beliefs end where my rights begin, I’m all for folks believing whatever floats their animal infested boat.  But if my understanding of the drunken debate (most of which took place inside the pizza joint and isn’t captured on video) is correct, and it may not be as I was drunk, you misrepresent yourself as Christian.  This is a great tactic to instigate a religious polemic, I’ll give you that. Performing the sign of the cross lures people into a dialectic about the Bible (not about the existence of a god). Since you don’t seem to believe that the Bible is the word of god and Jesus is the savior (from what I’ve garnered in these discussions), but you do believe in a higher power, that’d make you a deist, not a Christian.  So the sign of the cross is a bit of a sacrilegious bait and switch, setting the debate up on false pretenses.  (I think that kneeling and facing Mecca would be a great way to pray before meals.  That’d get folks’ attention!)  Poor Raphael fell right into your well-placed trap when he argued against Christianity and was ill prepared when you switched it up on him.  He was stuck on the Bible, which is a different argument altogether.  I agree that both atheists and god-believers (especially of the organized religion flavor) are equally close-minded about this subject.    But, then again, I really don’t care, cuz I’m agnostic on the whole affair.  I will give you this: If there is a god (and that’s still a big IF in my opinion), I’d be inclined to agree with deists and not the fools and their books.  And you’re welcome for allowing you to bait me into a religious debate.  Sincerely, Bob.

11:22AM – BOB
We have a meeting at IFC today.  Right before the tour kicked off, Mia Cevallos, the badass film tour producer and the anchor back in Austin who is keeping this tour alive, bounced an idea off me.  She thought that the tour itself would be a good premise for a TV show.

It’d basically be Chad and me driving all over the country, exploring the cinematic landscape as filmmakers on the road and partying our asses off.  If you’ve been following the tour journal, you already know that crazy shit happens on the road.  Chad and I have spent a lot of hours in the car, stoned out of our minds, cooking up ideas for the show.  It sounds to us like a good match for the Independent Film Channel, as it has independent filmmakers at its core, has a bit of a travel-show vibe to it and will feature America in all its fun, craziness and glory. The one fault with the show that I have is that the idea of getting in front of the camera has no appeal for me.  In fact, it sounds like a pain in the ass.  But, I figured that if the show was a go, it’d help me get films made, and the sacrifice might be worth it.

Despite making films since the mid-nineties, I have very few connections in the biz.  Mostly cuz I don’t like people.  Or some shit like that.  But Chad, as it turns out, has a friend with an “in” at IFC.  And through Chad’s connections, we landed a meeting.  We’ve been trying to figure out the best way to go about pitching a show.  Neither of us have done it before.  Neither of us have cable TV and don’t know what the hell IFC plays.  But we figure that IFC stands for the Independent Film Channel and you can’t get much more independent than us.  So it should be a perfect fit, right?

We’re also not sure how “prepared” we should be. Should we have a clip to show? Should we write something down on actual paper?  I mean, a lot of our successes come from just being good on our toes.  Spontaneity and shit.  Chad and I did talk about the show for hours on end, so we figured that we are prepared enough.  We also made assumptions about what IFC is and what IFC wants and shaped our “pitch” to match these assumptions.  We figure to downplay the raunchy/nasty/illegal parts of the show and highlight the intellectual side of things.  These “independent filmmaker” types can be quite high-minded, so I’ve witnessed.  The long and the short of the plan is the old good cop, bad cop routine.  I’ll be talking about the show’s overall structure and why it’s good for IFC and Chad will highlight the crazy and fun things that happen to us on tour.  On our walks across Manhattan Island over the past few days we’ve been working up the pitch.  One key factor is that since Chad will be, more-or-less, the host of the show he’ll need to charm their pants off.  It is a woman we’re pitching to, so he’ll charm her pants-suit off, I guess. We’ll need to convince her that we’re (and mainly that Chad is) charming as fuck and people will want to watch us act a fool for weeks on end. And I’ll work the filmic angles.  Together, we’ll paint a picture of a show about touring filmmakers exploring the American cinematic landscape and partying balls along the way.  It’s good for the thinky-side of the brain and the party-side of the brain.  We can’t lose.  And we’re on a fucking roll.

We filmed some stuff up to, during and after the meeting.  Witness:

2:30 PM – CHAD
Ok, so we had our big meeting with the Independent Film Channel people. Going into the meeting, I had to do some thinking because I figured it was going to be hard for Bob and me to both do the talking without seeming like a couple of disorganized idiots who would say anything to get their own TV show, whether they deserved it or not. Since we had been in The New York Times, and were basically the toast of the town, I assumed that the brain trust at the network would be familiar with our work and would realize that although I might be very entertaining and a brilliant writer and all of that, it’s actually Bob who has the technical wherewithal and ability to film, edit, and produce a finished product. On this assumption, I decided that it would be best for Bob to handle all of the industry double-speak and jibber jabber while my presence alone assured them that my talents would be at their disposal. Plus, I had to film everything at the meeting, in an ironic twist from everything I just said. Anyway, turned out that approach wasn’t such a good idea, after all:


(Coming Soon – Additional Footage)

2:44 PM – BOB
Well, that completely backfired.  It turns out that the show they wanted was the one that we didn’t pitch.  They want the funny/party-balls show. In our ignorance, we figured to play nice in order to get the green light on our artsy-fartsy film show about touring filmmakers and then sneakily tweak it into a show about making a film show that turns into a party show that turns into a vehicle for getting famous. It was a solid plan.  Or so we thought.

As you saw, Chad videoed the meeting.  And maybe it was the trying to film the meeting that led to this, or maybe it was the wake-and-bake but Chad froze up and mostly sat silently through the entire meeting.  Left me hanging.  His contribution of the flavor, the fun and the crazy part of the show was nowhere to be seen or heard.  For days, we had formed a tandem plan of attack akin to business in the front and poker in the rear style of good times.  I was to cover business, Chad gets to poker. In the end, it was a bunch of me yapping about the film-tour aspect of the show, waiting and waiting for Chad to jump in with the crazy tales. The plan, as it turns out, was not being executed according to the plan.  It was way too far leaning toward the thinky-side of the brain. Massive failure.  No show.

So yeah, I blame Chad.  But I honestly wasn’t fond of the idea of getting in front of the camera anyway, so I’m not too bummed.  And aside from the 40 minutes of their time and the free bottles of water we scored, we did learn something, so all is not lost. What we learned was that The Independent Film Channel is no longer the Independent Film Channel.  It’s IFC.  Like the toxic “Fried” in Kentucky Fried Chicken, the F-word has forced a change over at the once-Independent Film Channel.  It is now known as IFC.  Our idea, we were told, is five years too late for IFC. They are no longer interested in being a channel about independent film or filmmaking in general.  They want comedy.  They love lowbrow.  How the fuck Chad and I pitch a show that is not lowbrow or funny enough for anyone is beyond me.  Going in, we thought that we had to trick the Independent Film Channel into giving us money by being more highbrow.  Oops.

But, what the hell, we took a shot. Something ventured, nothing gained.  And we filled up an otherwise empty Monday afternoon in NYC.

7:17 PM – BOB
We headed back down to Brooklyn for the screening tonight.

Aaron Hillis, the booker at reRun and film writer scored me a copy of MovieMaker Magazine.  I wrote an article for their current issue, the annual “Complete Guide To Making Movies” issue.  I hadn’t gotten a hard copy yet, so I was glad that Aaron hooked me up. I took the opportunity to film Aaron’s take on the “stunt.”  He caught some flak for it, but all is well now.  Here‘s his angle:

11:47 PM – CHAD
The screening tonight at reRun was great. Just when we thought nobody was going to show up, we get there and the first person we see is Austin’s own Billy Bishop. Bob and I were like, holy shit we can ‘t believe Billy came to see the movie while he was up here in New York for Thanksgiving, but it turns out he was just there to drop off some t-shirts and posters that ReRun had ordered from him for their 2007 Film Festival. No, but seriously, Billy and Suzanne Bishop were both there and they even brought Joey Edwards, for good measure. Austin expatriate, Carolyn Malerba was there with her fiancé Jason, who owns Fresh Salt, a bar on the very southern tip of Manhattan. There were also some new faces, namely a couple of young guys named Gene and Joseph, who I started thinking of as “Punk Rock Gene” and “Jet-Set Joseph”, respectively. Jet-Set Joseph basically assured me that he was partying all over the country and would be attending most if not all of our screenings in the northeast and throwing down with us in every city. Punk Rock Gene totally saved my ass later that night, because the subway I had to take home was re-routed all to hell and I just happened to run into him down in the tunnel. I was way too fucked up to have ever gotten back to where I was staying without his help. Speaking of where I was staying, it was with Eric Payson and his girlfriend Emily at a high-rise apartment across the street from the Empire State Building. Payson had been out of town the whole time, marooning Emily in the apartment with me and Bob. When I finally got back to Payson’s house early the next morning, he had made his triumphant return. I remember him trying to talk to me and shit, but I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I was a danger to myself and those around me.

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11:52 AM – CHAD
I dressed up as a Starbucks employee and snuck into the Jets/Texans football game at the New Meadowlands Stadium. I’m about to tell you a whole story about it, but if you want to just skip the bullshit, that’s the long and short of it right there. Feel free to go straight to the video and move on with your life.

Ok, so back before Mack Brown and DeLoss Dodds teamed up to turn University of Texas Athletics into the financial juggernaut that it is today, and god fucking bless them for doing so, this isn’t a protest of any sort, but the downside is that you used to be able to get tickets to Longhorn football games for six dollars. Now, they cost eighty bucks. I know I sound like an old coot, rambling about how much cheaper shit was back in the good old days, but this was less than fifteen years ago. You could go to a Randall’s grocery store and buy as many six dollar end zone tickets as you wanted and now those same seats go for eighty dollars. This transition in the market caused me to have to start figuring out ways to sneak into football games, so I’ve become somewhat of an expert at it. I’ve snuck into sporting events around the country in a myriad of disguises, most often dressed as someone affiliated with the food service industry. I’d like to delve off into the psychological side of all of this for a moment. You may not be aware of this, but you can basically go wherever you want in this society if you’re dressed up as a Starbucks employee. You can walk into any sporting event or concert, enter any building or business, and crash any party or event you choose while dressed in such a manner. You can be in somebody’s house… they could literally come home and catch you in their fucking house, and the first thought to go through their head would be: Wow, I didn’t know they opened a Starbucks here. (I do feel like that made for a good punch line, but in the interest of academia, I need to mention that this phenomenon is not Starbucks specific, any outfit that designates you as a cook, or waiter, or other type of servant will usually do the trick.)

How well does it work? I can assure you, I’ve never been stopped. I’ve been postponed, even turned back a time or two (got turned back this latest time, in fact) but I’ve never been stopped from eventually getting in and watching the game. The best one I ever pulled off was with Bob Ray himself, as well as Adam “Bulletproof” Reposa at the Texas/Nebraska game in Austin that year when Correll Buckhalter fumbled away a win for Nebraska on the goal line and Matthew McConaughey was prissing around on the Longhorn sideline for the TV cameras but then got arrested naked with the bongos a couple nights later and he’s not on the sidelines anymore. .. that game. I only had enough shit for two outfits and all three of us wanted us to go, so Bob and I dressed up as, basically short order cooks, with aprons and hairnets and everything, but there was nothing left for Adam. Well, this was back before 9-11, so boxes were a big part of the outfit back then. Nowadays, a box is bad news because of the way they run security, but I used to get as many empty boxes as possible from the dumpsters at restaurants and then tape them back shut and carry them in as part of the whole get-up. The fact that I was nearly buckling under the weight of seemingly full boxes of ground beef, coffee, and so on used to be the selling point of the whole ruse, but now it just looks like you’re there to blow the place up. Anyway, I had shitloads of boxes, but no real disguise for Adam. Luckily for him, he was dressed kind of sharp with a cowboy hat on, so Bob and I loaded up with all the boxes and I had Adam carry just one little empty container of hamburgers. Adam was like, “Who the fuck am I supposed to be?” so I told him, “You’re the boss, lead us in.” and we all three walked right in with impunity.

That was all back in the freewheeling days before the war on terror. Just in case I haven’t carried on long enough about this shit, I’m going to address my unique perspective on stadium security here for you people, as well as defend what I do from being lumped in with terrorist activity. First of all, if a terrorist was going to try to get into a football game and kill a whole bunch of people, then the last thing they’re going to do is draw attention to themselves by dressing up and trying to sneak in. They’re just going to buy a fucking ticket, because they’re really not worried about saving money at that point, anyway. Secondly, and I hate to point this out, but if you’re looking for the densest crowds of people possible, like to kill in an explosion, then the best place at the whole event, ironically, is at the security check points set up along the rims of the stadium. These are all things that will seem obvious in retrospect, should the theatre of war ever make a dramatic switch over into the United States. Oh, I know we’ve had some attacks in the past, but I’m talking about the real shit, when it happens every day, all over the country and nobody can do anything about it. You know how American workers will get pissed off every couple of weeks and go into work and kill as many people as they can until they decide to stop on their own terms and nobody can do a goddamn thing about it? Well, it will be just like that, except instead of yelling out “Take this job and shove it!” they’ll be yelling shit in Arabic that you can’t understand. You’ll get the point, though. Also, you might be comforting yourself with the idea that a terrorist is going to stick out in the crowd at say, a college football game, but engineering students love football, too. There’s really no point to all of this, except I must admit that I feel differently about sneaking into football games since 9-11. Hasn’t stopped me from doing it, though:

Steps one and two  – Sneaking into a Football Game:

Find a Box

Disguise Yourself as a Starbucks Employee

(Coming Soon) Parking Lot

Here, I’ll take you into the mind of a football game sneaker-inner: Keep in mind, I’m dressed as a Starbucks Employee, trying to sneak into Jets/Texans game in New Meadowlands Stadium, and they don’t even have a Starbucks there. Having never been before, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, they take their terrorism pretty seriously up there. See something, Say something.  I brought along a Starbucks box to go with my outfit, but as I suspected, boxes send up all kinds of red flags at the stadium. There are people in the line whose sole job is to check all containers coming in, regardless of what it is… purse, box, anything.

On my first run, I went straight to the employee entrance, knowing that this had its pros and cons. On one hand, I might be able to just blend in with all the other workers, but on the other, they are used to seeing workers there (the disguise offers me no novelty or advantage at this point) and furthermore, it’s their job to check the workers anyway, and make sure they are legitimate. Everyone who enters the stadium, including security personnel, must have either a ticket or a stadium ID. I’ve always made sure not to come right out and lie about anything or literally “say” that I work at the stadium or have any reason to be there, because I’m convinced that will help me in court someday, should I ever get arrested for trespassing. Well, I get up to the line and the guy wants to see the box, right away. I tell him look, all I have in the box is my regular clothes, so let’s just throw it away all together. He agrees that this is a good idea and asks me if I have my ID. I told him yes, and feigned digging it out of my pocket, but he cuts me off and tells me to show it to the ladies further up in the line.

Ok, so I’m through the first layer of defense and walk up to the ID/ticket checkers. They are two women in their 50’s who are definitely there to check your ticket/ID, but since it’s the employee entrance, they serve much more of a hostess type roll than the average fan would encounter with a normal ticket taker. These are the little cracks in security you look for.  As I’m walking up, guess what the first thing one of the ladies says is? “Wow. I didn’t know they opened a Starbucks here.” I do my best Kevin Costner and put on a big smile and tell her, “You’d be surprised what they have in here these days.” Then she points to the other lady and goes, “When you were walking up, she said you better have a coffee or a ticket.” and starts laughing. I tell her friend, “You want a coffee? I’ll go get you a coffee.” We go back and forth for a bit about whether they really want me to bring them a coffee, I make them both laugh a couple more times and then just walk right the fuck in without showing them a ticket or ID or anything. I had basically gone Carlos the Jackal and seduced my way right by them.

I was on my way up to find seating when I hear someone yelling,”Sir! Sir!” It was the guy from earlier in the line… something about me had caught his attention and he had been watching me. The Box! He goes, “Did you ever show anybody that ID?”  I was like, “No I’ve got it right here.” and proceeded to take out my wallet and give him my Texas Drivers License. He tells me, “No, no, no. Stadium ID, Buddy.”  Well, of course I’d never heard of one of these. I asked him where I could get one, and he was like, “Who do you work for, anyway?” By this time, there was a small crowd of security personnel backing him up. I told him, “CrashCam Films.” and he goes, “TrashCan Films?” and I was like, “Yes.” And he goes, “Well, you need to go to the media booth over at the Budweiser Gate, Buddy, because you’re not getting in without a Stadium ID, not in here.”

Let’s just take a minute to recognize that, had this been a terrorist attack of some sort, this guy would have been a national hero. I mean yes, I would have launched the attack prematurely, killing him instantly, but he would have stopped me from inflicting maximum damage, and would have saved countless lives. Those dumbass women I bullshitted my way past? The blood would be on their hands.

I left, seemingly towards the Budweiser Gate. Getting turned back is nothing new to me. I walked down to the next gate, saw a group of Jets employees carrying some shit up to a regular entrance, and just got right in the middle of them. We had to stop at first, because everybody but me was carrying shit that had to be searched, but then I just walked right in with the group. My Starbuck’s outfit looked just like their mid-level Jets employee formal wear. If it had been a Giants game, I’d have been fucked.

At the Football Game – Jets On Point

Chad’s Changes – Off duty

4:54 PM – BOB
I walked around a bit, making my way to the library.  I saw and did shit like this:


I’m sitting in the Mid-Manhattan Public Library. I’m writing the tour journal. You see, I’ve been driving anywhere from 3-11 hours each day.  Basically, every fucking day works out like this: I wake up tired and hung over from working so hard.  I roll up my blanket and other bedding.  Sometimes I have a bed, other times a floor or couch.  I pack up and hit the road.  I drive.  I smoke weed and stare at the road for several hours.  We arrive at the new city.  I meet up with the cinema folks, run through the ins and outs of the show, get merch set up, deliver screener disks and gear up for the show.  I meet up with the derby gals and we all make sure we have a game-plan for the night.  I intro Hell on Wheels, movie plays, do a Q&A w/derby gals, sell merch. Then we roll right into Total Badass.  I do intro, screen flick, Q&A w/ Chad, give away door prizes, sell merch.  Then I settle up (or arrange to settle up w/ cinema).  By now, it’s midnight or later.  Party.  Sleep.  Repeat.  This is all fine and well, but when the fuck am I supposed to write the tour journal?  Oh right.  Now, at the Mid-Manhatten Public Library on Day 12.

7:17 PM – BOB
We met up with an old ex-Austinite pal, Rafael Vargas. He’s some sort of big-time artist in NYC, I think:

9:43 PM – BOB
We made our way back to SoHo for some drinks. We forgot to get a pic or vid of Patrick when we were hanging out at his bar, The Living Room, the other night, so it was a nice slice of fate to walk up to this:

Patrick – The Gum Spit

1:01 AM – BOB
Later in the eve, there was a drunken debate about religion and shit.  It turns out that Chad practices a sacrilegious ritual before every meal.  He disguises it as spirituality, but in reality it’s an affront to millions and millions of Bible-thumping Jesus-lovers. Invite him out to dinner and see for yourself.  Here’s some pics that capture the excitement of a drunken religious debate, Chad has some of it on vid:

1:03 AM – CHAD
That night, I went out with Raphael and watched The Giants play The Eagles on television at a neighborhood bar of his called Mulholland’s. Eventually, this became yet another night where I have no idea what the fuck happened, but I do have video evidence of some stimulating philosophical debating that was going on:

Raphael – The God Smack

Church Slappin

2:14 AM – BOB
Then we walked back up to the penthouse where we’re crashing across the street from the Empire State Building.  NYC is filled with either drunken folks or art, see?

(Coming Soon) Pic of  NYC Art

Film Tour Website: www.badassfilmtour.com

10:43AM – CHAD
So, we have a screening today at noon back at reRun, but Bob just got a text from Aaron Hillis, who booked the screenings, explaining that he wasn’t going to be able to make it down to the movie this afternoon. Now, that really shouldn’t be a big deal, but apparently I’m not allowed over at reRun anymore without Aaron there to take personal responsibility for me. We were specifically texted not to go down there without him, so I guess he’s my official “handler” for the week. This gives me the day off to watch college football.

11:11 AM – BOB
Regarding last night, my filmmaker friend Michael Galinsky wrote this:

Posted by Michael on November 19th, 2010 in Rumur
Total Badass http://www.rumur.com/news/totall-badass

About 8 months ago my good friend Bob Ray sent me a cut of his documentary “Total Badass”. The cut was a bit of a mess but it was clear that there was a pretty amazing tale unfolding. Tonight i saw the final cut at a screening in Brooklyn and I was shocked at how much he had been able to do without changing it significantly.

The film follows his friend Chad Holt, who is a total badass. I’ll leave the explaining and the reviews to the reviewers http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/movies/19haleroundup.html but i did want to relate a post show screening story from tonight. Early in the film we learn of Chad’s exploits in his band, Front Butt. In the band he would wear a butt in the front of his pants and he would leap from the stage into a trash can. It was clear from the footage that the performance transcended schtick. The danger and the pain were real and palpable, painful to watch. The band, like all other aspects of his life was designed to transcend expectation and push the envelope in all directions. It would be quite easy at first glance to kind of dismiss the front butt, and the stage diving, and the music as a gimmick. However, it was clear that while for some people the experience was like a freak show, for others there was something transformative about how Chad pushed way beyond the boundaries to an area of danger almost as a gift to the audience. In pushing himself so far he made room on the other side for those too scared to push themselves.

In order to drum up press and enthusiasm for the screening, the booker had promised live stunts. He bought a trash can and Chad was urged to use it. While in some ways the film is a chronicle of Chad’s exploits, it is also a tale of redemption. Over the course of the film, Chad pulls his life together and is able to start taking care of his son and daughter full time. At the screening Chad said, “I don’t want to do this because I’m at a different place in my life. I’ll do this, but it won’t be authentic and it will be kind of sad. But ya’ll take a vote and if you vote on it I’ll do it.” I voted no. It was a tie. I had a bad feeling about it for two reasons. Number 1, I just thought it would be a lame gesture. Number 2, Chad mentioned that he didn’t have health insurance and I just thought it would be awful if their film tour was messed up because of this silly gesture.

After some awkward back and forth Chad brushed past me and headed towards the front of the venue holding the trash can. The filmmaker had given me his flip camera to capture the q and a so I followed behind him. When we got to the front he started to take his wallet and phone and lighters out of his pocket and dumped them on the hostess platform. A few people had streamed out of the venue to witness, but he didn’t wait around. He dove into the trash can and headed down the stairs. I felt the same hot jet of adrenalin that I get when my kids fall. He flopped painfully down a couple of steps and I knew that something was wrong. He hit the middle platform with a thud and then rolled down the next section. He hit the bottom explosively and flopped to a halt. Staring at both him and the little flip camera screen had given the whole thing an edge of surrealism.

The filmmaker, Bob has his little photo camera trained on Chad. He filmed the stillness because Chad wasn’t moving. I headed down the steps and it was clear that he was breathing but my sense of dread began to turn towards real fear. With his feet splayed at an awkward angle it seemed that he might be hurt. I also thought that he might be faking it to let those who had voted for his degradation feel some guilt. There was a lot of confusion and the stress level started to ratchet up the longer he laid like that. I searched Bob’s expression for any sense of fear or doubt, but found none, which was comforting – at first. My jacket was locked in the theater so I got the promoter to let me in. He seemed a little nervous, but excited by the tension. We were all kind of joking about it, but after 20 minutes i was starting to get nervous. The danger of it started to get to me. Sure, there was a 90% chance he was fine, but if he was hurt, or had a spine injury he needed help immediately.

We went back to the front and I checked his feet. They hadn’t moved at all. I started to get freaked out, so freaked out in fact that I felt the need to leave. Bob moved forward and peered inside the trash can with a lighter to check his eyes. He was calm but appeared nervous. He couldn’t seem to get any kind of response from Chad. Finally a guy standing near by said, “This is ludicrous, i’m calling an ambulance”

I left. I still thought it might be a performance but I was cooked. i couldn’t take the pressure and i didn’t want to get caught up in the drama. I bid Bob goodnight and took off in a foul mood. I thought about Chad’s kids. I pictured him in a wheel chair. I felt like shit and my thoughts were flying around like bats in a small room.

About three blocks from the venue I heard the ambulance on its way and i was glad to be out of there. When I got home I saw that I had a voice mail. My friend Adam had called to tell me that moments after I left Chad popped up. It had been all performance. In total badass form he talked his way out of trouble with the ambulance.

That was high art.

2:02PM – CHAD
Ok, so there’s this bar in Manhattan called Stout, and it’s like Texas Longhorns headquarters if you are in New York City. During a good year, the entire club is packed with Longhorn fans during the football games. This year, 2010, has been so shitty for the Longhorns that the fair-weathered fan base has dried up and the bar only shows the games in a dingy back room, hidden away from public view. Bob and I went to said dingy back room and ate a pizza while Texas beat the shit out of Florida Atlantic to vent out some of their frustrations over the year’s other losses. You know how a guy will get his ass kicked in a bar fight, so he goes home and beats the shit out of his wife and kids? That’s kind of what Texas did to Florida Atlantic.

10:51 PM – BOB
I’m sitting in a house in Long Island.  I know it says that it’s Day 11, but I’m really writing this from the future.  If you’ve been reading the tour journal, you already know that all my entries are time-traveling lies.  So really, it’s Day 16 (Thanksgiving eve) and I’m acting like it’s Day 12. I know this is confusing, but time-travel always is.  Anyway, my point is that I don’t remember what happened on Day 11. I know it was only five days ago, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what happened.  In fact, five days ago seem like it was about 27 months ago… maybe it’ll come back to me.  I’ll let you know, if so.

Perhaps the distraction of a possible NYC fire will liven things up:

11:45PM – CHAD
We went to visit our old friend, Patrick Holmes, at The Living Room where he tends bar. Patrick is a friend from way back when Bob and I lived next door to each other over on West Campus in the early 90’s. He’s been living in New York now for well over a decade and I look him up anytime I go up there. Shit, he came out and saw Rock Opera out there when we took it up for the New York Underground Film Festival way back in 2000. I guess that excuses him for not coming to any of the Total Badass screenings this time around. Plus, he did get us so fucked up at the bar that I really can’t tell you anything about the night, other than Patrick was there.

12:01 AM – BOB
Chad and I walked back to the crash-pad near the World Trade Center.  We found a hard-copy of the Village Voice.  The page with the review has a huge pic of Chad.  It’s the pic on the DVD cover (thanks, Jerry Milton!) where Chad is in a tumped-over trashcan, apparently naked but with shoes on and knees bleeding.  A striking pic, to be sure.  And the Voice knew this, giving it nearly half the page.

I found this cute write up:
http://www.theroadtorollergirl.com/2010/11/19/slackerstruck-a-wannabe-meets-hell-on-wheels-director-bob-ray/comment-page-1/#comment-116

Official Tour Page: www.badassfilmtour.com

12:21 PM – CHAD:
We had to wake up in Raleigh today and haul ass directly to New York City for our big Friday premiere there tonight. Along the way, we blazed through Richmond Virginia, Baltimore Maryland, Wilmington Delaware, and Philadelphia Pennsylvania. They’re all on film, if anyone gives a shit:

Richmond:

Baltimore:

Wilmington:

Philadelphia:

8:20 PM – BOB
The drive from Raleigh to Brooklyn took eleven and a half hours.  It should have taken about eight to nine, but we got lost.  The good news is that I hear that if you can make it to NY, you can make it to anywhere. (NOTE: And that’s despite the toll roads):

Toll 1

Toll 2

On the Road in the Car…

Lost

Toll 3

Toll 4

More Toll

Aaron from reRun Theater in Brooklyn had some questions about the “stunt”:

Chad’s Phone call Request for a “Stunt”

Drive/Arrive in NYC

Pulling up to the reRun Theater

9:30 PM – CHAD
Ok, so a week or two before we left for this trip, our producer, Mia Cevallos, had been talking to Aaron Hillis, who booked us our week-long run at The reRun in New York City. Somewhere along the way, they decided it would be a good idea for me to do some type of publicity stunt before, during, or after the screenings for the audience’s delight. I told Mia that sure, I would come up with something between now and then, but that it goddamn sure wasn’t going to involve me getting into a trashcan of any sort, which I already had the sneaking suspicion was exactly what the theatre had in mind. Along the way, I also started emailing and chatting back and forth with Aaron, all the while promising that I would do something spectacular, but steering the options away from anything trashcan related. I even told him at one point, you know, why don’t we announce that I’m going to have sex with a minor right there in the theatre and then at the last minute it actually turns out to be one of the Chilean miners and the whole thing had been a big play on words? This was back when that was much more topical humor, mind you.

Well, today we’re rolling up The New Jersey Turnpike about three hours before show time, and Aaron calls us. The motherfucker is at Home Depot as we speak, shopping for trashcans, talking about what color and size do I want. I’m like dude, my trashcan jumping days are behind me… but he sort of skirts around that and tells me the bar needs a new trashcan, anyway. I tell him that as long as the bar needs a new trashcan anyway, then I tend to favor the larger (64 gallon) Toter brand trashcan and have never seen one in any color but gray.  I then reiterate that I’m not getting in a goddamn trashcan but I did offer put on a clinic of sorts, where I would teach members of the audience or members of the staff or whoever was interested how to jump into the trashcan and do all of the tricks themselves. He’s like, what tricks? I explained that it’s not just as simple as jumping in a fucking trashcan like some asshole, there is actual skill involved in it, and there are specific, recognized tricks and stunts in the world of trashcan jumping (a world, keep in mind, that I saw come and go years back) many of which I had invented and perfected myself. You’ve got The Guadalupe, where it’s just like when you jump off a dock along the Guadalupe River with an inner-tube, slide the tube under your ass in midair, and splash down into the water sitting perfectly in the tube except instead, you’re jumping off the stage with a trashcan and landing inside it on concrete. There’s The Holy Diver, where it’s  basically diving head first off a platform into a barrel of water like the daredevils of yore, except it’s not a barrel, it’s a trashcan and there is no water in it. You’ve got The Grand Prize Game, which is just like the game of the same name from The Bozo Show out of WGN Chicago where the kids would throw ping pong balls into little buckets arranged in incrementally increasing distances away, winning prizes as they went, except you are the ping pong ball and you’re throwing yourself off a stage into a series of trashcans. There’s The Inch Worm, where you stand in one trashcan, bend over at the waist headfirst down into another one, and then “inch” along the floor inside the two of them while people try to break your back. There’s also The Fondren Family Planner, which is really just getting inside a trashcan and throwing yourself down several flights of stairs, but it’s actually only called The Fondren Family Planner because one of the best ones I ever pulled off was on a night at Room 710 when most, if not all of the important Fondren Family members were in attendance. There are shitloads of tricks… King Kamehameha, The Butterball Turkey, Oscar the Grouch, The Walk In The Park, The Man In The Can… too many to name, really. Back when I was into this shit, I was probably the best in the world at it and might even still be, but I’ve moved on, you know? I’m ready for a new generation of trashcan jumpers to come along and take it to the next level, which is why I was more than willing to put on a clinic for the people who were coming to the movie. No fucking way am I going to get into a trashcan myself though, because in all seriousness, I actually have done some other stuff since then creatively, like the movie I’m touring the country with, and I just don’t need that shit anymore.

So, fast forward to the theatre/bar a couple hours later. (Ok, I want to talk about something real quick. We get a lot of theatre/something-or-others on this trip, ok? Most of the places we show at, when we roll into town, it’s not simply a theatre… it’s a theatre/bar, a theatre/museum, a theatre/roller rink, a theatre/something-or-other. I just want to make that clear, to you and me both.)  We get to the theatre/bar and everything is going fine… Mark Hutchins is there early on with his wife…Raphael Vargas shows up with this fine-ass date…a girl who used to work at Cream Vintage on the drag when I delivered Whoopsy! Magazine is there… we couldn’t have asked for a better reception when we rolled into Brooklyn.

Hutchins

9:55 PM – BOB:
Aaron Hillis, the mofo who books reRun was a nice mofo.  The mofo even bought us dinner.   I had a game bird with foie gras stuffing.  Fucking good shit:

And thrust upon Chad a shoddily writer Liability Release form:

Liability Form – Evidence

10:03 PM – CHAD:
It was mentioned to me that Aaron had printed something in a magazine promising these people a stunt and he also had a couple of cameramen there to record it, so again, I start getting the impression that trashcans are becoming an issue.  The reRun Theater has a really nice restaurant attached to it and before the movie, Bob and I were treated to dinner with Aaron and one of the cameramen who was there to film me making a fool of myself. I had the filet mignon. You and I both know this was the only time in my life that I will ever dine on filet mignon as a guest of honor, so I made goddamn sure and did that while I could. Over the course of dinner, Aaron and I are going back and forth about how I’m not going to jump in a trashcan and he even gets me to sign some kind of waiver that releases him and the establishment of any type of liability, which I found to be extremely unorthodox, but I signed it and told him it was a moot point because I wasn’t going to be doing anything dangerous. Somewhere around that time, I hear a voice in my head… not one of my voices, mind you… but just the collective voice of differing opinions says, “Hey asshole… He booked your show for a week-long run. He gave you a filet mignon. Now, shut up and get in the fucking trashcan.” So, I cut a deal. I told him that if I could get someone from the audience to do a trick with me (which was obviously going to be The Fondren Family Planner straight down the two tiered flight of stairs right at the bar’s front door) then I’d do it too, knowing that nobody in the place is going to have the guts or the humility to try such a thing. I also told him that I’d take a vote after the Q&A and if more than half the people wanted to see me do the trick, I’d do it because I was convinced that having seen the movie and then heard what I was going to say afterwards, most people would understand why getting in the trashcan would be a bad idea.

Stunt I – Chad’s Acquiescence…

Ok, so it’s after the movie and we’re doing the Q&A and according to Bob, I rambled on quite a bit drunkenly and bored the shit out of everybody. In my mind though, I was delivering one of the most impassioned sermons on the state or art in our society to ever be publicly expressed in New York City. My main point was that if I got in the trashcan, it wouldn’t be art, it wouldn’t be real, it would not only be bullshit in that particular moment in time, but it would retroactively go back and turn everything I had ever created in the world of trashcan jumping into bullshit, as well. My main piece of evidence was the trashcan itself… the one Aaron had just bought from Home Depot. Not only was it physically deficient (it was a little 32 gallon piece of shit) but it was completely devoid of any soul or spirit. It had never been used. It was completely clean. In order to drive this point home, I told them the story of Alan Nelson, which is good for Alan, because he ghosted us out in New York and didn’t come to any of the shows, but it looks like he made it into the tour journal, anyway. I met Alan through his brother Pat, who used to work at Room 710 and was not only always a good friend, but he was a big supporter of the stuff I did… my writing and my shows. I always thought that was cool because he was a bit younger than me and it just made me proud that something I did could have an effect on someone from another generation. I used to call Pat Nelson “Butt-Crack Pat” because he always wore his jeans low with no underwear so when he was behind the bar, you had to sit there and stare at about a third of his ass all night. It wasn’t really as unpleasant as it sounds though, because Pat’s ass looked just like a little baby’s. Every time I’d see it, which was usually about fifty-three times a night, I’d think to myself… not in a gay way, mind you… but my fatherly instincts would come out and I just wanted to like, powder it and wrap it up and put it away for him, like he was my kid or something. Anyway, Alan moves into town, and Butt-Crack Pat really wants us to meet because it’s his older brother and he’s also a performer and shit, so Pat gets him to come out to a Frunttbutt show even though Alan was really sick with a stomach virus or something. Well, we get about two songs in, and I notice Alan off in a corner at the 710 leaning over a trashcan with it gripped in both hands, just puking his fucking ass off in the thing. My first thought was, wow, at least Alan wears his pants a little higher than his brother, Butt-Crack Pat, but I also realized that even though that particular trashcan wasn’t “in-play” just yet, it would be. Sure enough, about fifteen minutes later, I’m so covered in Alan Nelson’s puke, I could taste it, and not because any had gotten in my mouth, no, but because there was so much of it on my face, I was breathing it in through my nose and it was cycling all the way through my sinuses. This wasn’t just, had-a-little-too-much-to-drink-on-a-Saturday-night-so-most-of-it-is-just-beer-anyway style puke, either… it was sick-man vomit. Now, was there anything redeeming about being in that situation? Not at the time, no, but years later, I thought it served as a good parable about the difference between an authentic, bar-used trashcan and one that still had the fucking price tag on it. A trashcan at a bar is filled with not only physical perils like puke, spit, broken glass, cigarette butts, and so on, but it also contains the lies, the broken dreams, the tears, the laughter, the so-called good times of all the people who have gotten fucked up there. That’s what makes it a trashcan in a bar. Therein lies the art. (Did I spell it wrong on purpose? We’ll never know, will we?)

Anyway, the crowd wasn’t buying it. They still wanted to see me jump in a trashcan. I even took out the release form and showed it to everybody, trying to explain to them how ludicrous the idea of signing a release just to do one fucking trick would be after doing the shit for real down in Austin for the better part of a decade with no such legal wranglings. I singled out Aaron and the other employees of the club specifically, and told them that even though they might have found the shit amusing in a movie, if one of my old bands were to actually come up there and play a show in real life, we would fuck their place up so bad that not only would they have to stop the performance, but they’d never allow me back in the building again. Nobody cared about any of this shit… the crowd was still split, literally right down the middle in numbers of those who wanted me to get in the trashcan and those who didn’t. Well, my faith in my fellow man was so shaken by then, I just figured if these motherfuckers were there to see tricks, then that’s exactly what I’d show them.

I scooped up the trashcan, told everybody come on, I’m not waiting, and walked right out the theatre up to the front of the bar where the stairs were while everyone was still clamoring to get out of their seats and break down their cameras and shit. I took everything out of my pockets, set the trashcan down at the edge of the stairwell, got in it, and threw myself down the stairs, just like you do a Fondren Family Planner. Only thing is, I wasn’t doing a Fondren Family Planner. I had reached a little deeper back in my repertoire, all the way back to literally the oldest trick in the book. Playing Possum was always fun back in Texas, because it weeded out the people who had seen my shit before from the ones who hadn’t. Playing Possum is when you do one of your regular tricks (The Fondren Family Planner in this case) and then act as though things have gone terribly wrong, leaving you either dead or paralyzed for life. Then, you lay right there in a catatonic trance until either the very end of the night when everyone has gone home, or until the trick itself transcends art back into real life and someone calls in the proper authorities to come and take back charge of reality. As an expert trashcan jumper, I can assure you that this moment always comes… usually in about the seventeenth minute with a standard deviation of four minutes either way. Far and away, the funniest shit that happened before the fire department showed up (keep in mind I was watching all of this go down, floating above the scene of the “accident”) was when Aaron was openly lamenting that maybe the trashcan he bought was of the wrong size and the big ass bouncer goes, “What’d you get, sixty-four gallon?” and Aaron says, “No, a thirty-two. “And the big guy says, “Nah, man. That’s not big enough…”

So basically, I had people just sitting around postulating about trashcan jumping, and the little nuances of the sport, like the proper equipment and shit. I really couldn’t have asked for anything more. When I saw that the fire department had showed up and they were headed inside, I transcended back into my body, got up out of the trashcan, walked up the stairs and ordered a beer from the bar. Eventually, EMS and the police showed up as well. I was summoned to come talk to the lead fireman, and when he asked me what was going on, I told him the truth. I said this is what I do. This is who I am. I have a movie out about me jumping into trashcans. I came out here on tour with it, people came to see it, and this place begged me, amid much fanfare, to do one single trashcan trick for them, so I did one. I even did one of my oldest, most basic stunts, seeing as how they were all newcomers. We had people here filming the shit and everything. It was all very meticulously planned out. I have no idea what went wrong….

Stunt, Part II:

?

Fire Department

After the Fire Department

After-after-math

2:02 AM – BOB:
The screenings tonight were fucking awesome! These were some of the most rowdy crowds yet.  The Hell on Wheels screening was a hoot.  There were lots of derby gals (and soon-to-be derby gals) in the crowd, including a cute pack of them right front and center.  I did the q&a and only after did I realized that my pants were unzipped.  I’m sure that was a thrill for all the front row gals.  They bought merch and had me autograph some posters, and I’m certain that this was only the case because my fly was undone.  I’ll do all my q&as this was in the future.

The Total Badass screening was rowdy fun as well.  And I think Chad did some sort of stunt tonight. Fun.

Thanks Raleigh and NYC, Aaron, Hutchins, Vargas and the hot toll road dames!
www.badassfilmtour.com

5:55 PM – BOB:
I drove for about four and three quarter hours today… I think. From day one to day 5 , it’s a blur. It’s like I’m playing an incredibly boring car racing video game from sunrise to sunset. It only livens up when I see, or think I see a cop and the fear shoots down my legs. It’s a nice pick-me-up and it breaks up the monotony of the road. But getting pulled over and busted for driving around with a small mound of weed and a pile of illegally obtained prescription drugs will give you the fear. Luckily we have this cloaking device known as a Prius. No one expects to find a pair of deviants in a Prius, right?

During the latter parts of the trip, Chad got a call from the cinema in NYC.  They are demanding a stunt:

6:49 PM – CHAD
The Theatre in Raleigh is actually a regular style theatre that you’d see at any mall, so it was cool to get to show the flick in one of those, for once. The guy running the place, Jerome, was really nice to us and they even had this big tray of meats and cheeses set up that Bob and I shamelessly packed up and took at the end of the night. At one point, they paraded Bob around the theatre like a cover-boy and took upwards of three hundred and fifty pictures of him. I was laughing to myself for at least forty-five minutes, thinking of how bad it must have been pissing him off, deep down inside. There were actually a shitload of people at the theatre that night. It’s just too bad that all of them were lined up to see the midnight showing of Harry Potter…

Harry Potter

6:55 PM – BOB:
The cinema printed up a bunch of posters and are playing the Hell on Wheels trailer on a loop in the lobby. They hired a photographer to capture the magic of the night for future generations to enjoy. It was really kind of weird. I posed for about 345 pics: next to posters, under the marquee, under the Hell on Wheels sign in the theater, working on my computer, watching the trailer, eating meats and cheeses, and even one where I was talking to a dude in a kilt. There was no logic in the kilt pic, I think the theater manager saw a dude in a kilt and thought it was worth documenting. Bob and kilt-dude at the Raleigh Grande! Timeless.

About three people enjoyed Total Badass. And by enjoyed, I mean sat through it. I really don’t know if they enjoyed it or not. One was Celia Fate, the founder of the Carolina Rollergirls. Celia and I were part of the Whiskey Livers scavenger hunt team at RollerCon a few years back. It was a fluke that I was on the Whiskey Livers to begin with, but that’s neither here nor there, I’m a fucking Whiskey Liver for life now. After eight hours of drinking screw drivers in a Las Vegas pool, the scavenger hunt was to kick off at the annual roller derby convention. Emma Geddon, an L. A. Derby Doll (and a very tall and very funny gal) had an injury that would keep her from the hunt.

This is kinda like those stories or movies where they pluck a scrappy fellow from obscurity and he wins the game. Except it’s not at all like that. In reality, I was just partying balls/ovaries/etc. with this gang of ass kickers: Celia Fate from Carolina Rollergirls, Chola from the Texas Rollergirls, and a group of L.A. Derby Dolls: Thora Zine, Kasey Bomber, Tawdry Tempest and Emma Gedden. Emma was down with an injury and they searched the room for a replacement. Sure, my anatomy was different, but they didn’t care. There was a swapping of jerseys. It was like that old Mean Joe Green commercial where he gives the kid his football jersey. Except this jersey swap involved naked titties. So it was waaaay better. In the long run, I was given a shirt, I squeezed into it like a hipster into tight pants and we set forth on the hunt. The first thing we bagged was booze. And lots of it. After that, I think there was some panties from a stripper, and … fuck. I don’t know. But It was fun. Sorry for the long build-up… what the fuck was I talking about? Somehow, over the course of this night, I was given my derby gal name: Boblong.

Oh yeah, so Celia Fate is a Whiskey Liver! She’ll always have that going for her. And she let us crash at her house. Thanks!!

7:48 PM – CHAD:
While we were in the lobby of the theatre and the movies were playing, all of our New York press hit the interwebs. There was shit about Total Badass in The New York Times, The Village Voice… you name it. Variety Magazine is talking about my dick nowadays, so I’ve got that going for me. Just about everything was a favorable review of the movie overall, but as far as what was written about me as a person is concerned… let’s just say that my parents won’t be cutting any of this shit out and hanging it on the refrigerator. I took a pretty good beating in the papers, rest assured. There were a couple of bright spots… Chuck Bowen from Slant Magazine seemed to get me. He said, “Holt is a Don Quixote…tortured artist…little-bit-of -everything kind of guy…kind of ingenious…sort of everyman who fights conventionality and keeps it real.” along with a lot of other flattering things. You can see the whole article at:
http://www.slantmagazine.com/house/2010/11/bob-rays-hell-on-wheels-and-total-badass/

9:44 PM – BOB:
During the screening of Hell on Wheels, some fuckwad stole merch. The ass snatched three shirts and two posters from the merch table. Bastards and/or bitches! On top of that, the Total Badass screening was a bit of a wash. It started with zero people and ended up screening to three people. I believe this is our worst turnout to date.

Hell on Wheels fared better. After the screening we hung out with some of Carolina Rollergirls’ finest. Chad was swept off his feet by a local debutant. She hadn’t even seen the movie, but she was smitten with the boy nonetheless. Maybe she was smitten because she hadn’t seen the movie. Or maybe she read some of the reviews that just hit the wire.

http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/movies/19haleroundup.html
Sport and Grim Reality
By MIKE HALE
Published: November 18, 2010

There must be chief executives and millionaire athletes in Austin, Tex., whom Bob Ray could make documentaries about, but he doesn’t seem to be interested. “Hell on Wheels,” from 2007, and the new “Total Badass,” playing in repertory at the ReRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn, focus on a lower-middle-class world where drugs, beer and tattoos compete for attention with paying the rent and getting the kids to school.

Mr. Ray goes deep inside that world for his micro-budget films, devoting heroic amounts of his cheapest resource — his own time — to his subjects. For “Hell on Wheels,” that meant filming several years’ worth of meetings, in bars and living rooms, and matches, at skating rinks and warehouses, of a fledgling women’s roller-derby league that would eventually lead to a nationwide revival of the sport.

There’s an awful lot of grim reality on display, including a long and bitter fight over control of the league, some depressing financial and managerial ineptitude and several excruciating shots of dangling broken limbs. But “Hell on Wheels” is at heart an inspirational film, with a fairly conventional structure and a vivid, sometimes heroic cast of women.

“Total Badass” is something altogether more complicated, a working-poor man’s cross of Frederick Wiseman and Hunter S. Thompson. Mr. Ray embeds himself with his friend and former neighbor Chad Holt, an Austin character who manages to publish an alternative weekly and make a reasonably funny white-rap video when he isn’t in a drug-induced stupor or having sex on camera.

The film is both a portrait of life on the artistic and social fringe — a funnier and less pretentious place in Austin than it would be in New York — and a thriller: will Mr. Holt manage to emerge from probation and establish a living situation that could include his young son? The signs aren’t necessarily good, and a segment of the audience, perhaps a large one, will respond to “Total Badass” with anger and sadness at the scenes of Mr. Holt lighting up in the parking lot after his drug tests or getting high while driving. (That’s not to mention the explicit oral sex or the urinating in a cup at a movie theater.)

Mr. Ray is not impartial — he communicates some sadness of his own, particularly in the film’s last shot — but he’s admirably nonjudgmental. Any college town would be lucky to have someone willing to work as hard, and as skillfully, to document its working-class demimonde.

Or read the Village Voice

Total Badass/Hell on Wheels: In the Gutter and on the Roller Rink With Austin Double Feature
By Michael Atkinson Wednesday, Nov 17 2010

Bob Ray, Austin’s newish lowbrow Maysles brother, has taken his two latest features on the road, comprising the pro-am doc equivalent to being piss-drunk and lost in a tattoo alley in Texas. Most beguilingly, Total Badass (2010) chronicles the life of notorious Austin reprobate and chemical hog Chad Holt, who lives in a friend’s garage, sells weed (on camera), fronts punk bands, puts out a freebie magazine packed with his Hunter Thompson–esque memoirs of sexual sleaze and dope consumption, and generally lives as if he’s an artist pursuing a vision when in reality he’s the city’s most complete fuckup. Holt comes off charmingly as equal parts Texan Keith Moon and crispy Richard Benjamin, talking blue streaks and rolling joints in his probation officer’s parking lot, but Ray obviously foresaw the man’s spiral from gutter to abyss. Rubbernecking fun though it is, Holt’s trajectory becomes—big surprise—creepy and despairing. Ray’s second film, Hell on Wheels (2007), is by comparison an almost wholesome chronicle of the origins of the roller-derby renaissance, beginning with a single two-team league of bighearted redneck Austin broads, who quickly take over and must run the business themselves. Management compromises prove more demanding than the races; tough-talking Xenas that they are, the derby chicks still resort to oil-wrestling fundraisers.

12:12 PM – CHAD:
So, we all walked to this bar right next to the theatre after the movies were over, and I watched the Longhorn’s basketball team win an overtime game against Illinois, I believe. I was feeling kind of down because only three people had come to the fucking movie, shattering our previous all-time low of six, which we had set in Jacksonville only days earlier. That, plus the way my life had been pretty much summarized as big pile of shit in the national media earlier in the evening almost had me down in the dumps. Well, I’m sitting there at the bar and the bartender comes up and gives me a drink and tells me this lady across the bar had bought it for me. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before… this was like something out of 70’s movie. Anyway, it was this really pretty lady my age and I went over and talked to her and her friends. She had just gotten a divorce. I don’t know what it is, but every woman I get involved with these days has either just gotten a divorce, is going through a divorce, or is about to get a divorce and just doesn’t know it yet. Anyways, I talked to her for a while and we even went out to the parking lot and made out in Bob’s car. It was a total fucking pick-me-up, I assure you.

Film tour page: www.badassfilmtour.com