Tag Archive: The New York Times


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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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