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Border Radio

I couldn’t’ve been much more thrilled about an upcoming dvd release than I was when my bud Frank pointed me to this, coming from Criterion in January:


Once in a while I’ll see a VHS copy of Border Radio available at Amazon (I see a few there at the moment, actually), but the descriptions always sound like they’re too beat up for my tastes. (I’m pretty picky when it comes to some things. And this is one of ‘em.) So news of a release of this film by Criterion (!) is fanfuckingtastic to me.

My memories of my Records On Wheels days hang in a murk of smoke and beer, loud club shows and hangovers. So I can’t say for sure if my friend/coworker Christine actually owned a VHS copy of Border Radio or if we simply rented it from Queen Video whenever we wanted to watch it. I do remember stocking up on beer and smokes and nesting in blankets on the floor of her big apartment above the variety store at Harbord & Bathurst to watch it and X–The Unheard Music and The Decline of Western Civilization umpty-umpt times, back in the day…  Christine and I were the rabid X/Flesh Eaters/Divine Horsemen fans at RoW. We used to plead with The Garys to bring Chris D. to town for a show, but they never did. (Damn you, Garys!) So while I’ve seen solo shows by John Doe and Exene and a coupla shows by X, I’ve never seen a Chris D. show—with either the Flesh Eaters or the Divine Horsemen. It’s one of my Life’s Regrets (along with never having seen Bobby Darin perform—how’s that for a case of One of these things is not like the other… One of these things just doesn’t belong, eh?). But he is more interested in things other than performing music, now, so I am prolly S.O.L. on this one.

I s’pose many of you have never even heard of Chris D. He’s an LA-based post-punk singer/songwriter/musician/filmmaker/actor/writer/film programmer at American Cinematheque. A Renaissance Man for our age. And he’s the star of Border Radio, Allison Anders’ first film—made under the aegis of the Sundance Institute while she was still a student at UCLA. The extremely small budget, loosely-scripted film is about characters on the edges of the L.A. music scene back in the mid-80s. Its soundtrack is a great collection of post-punk/rootsy music from that era: Dave Alvin, John Doe, Green On Red, Lazy Cowgirls, and, yeah, Chris D. Hopefully the release of the dvd will prompt re-release of the soundtrack on disk. I only have it on vinyl.

And, y’know, it occurs to me—after I’ve written all this!—that the film may not actually appeal to anyone who isn’t already a fan of Anders or Chris D. or any of the other principals involved in the film. But I’m gonna blast this out there anyhow in hopes that somebody is curious enough to check it out and discover that they like it. It won’t appeal to everyone. Just like Chris D.’s music doesn’t. I like to think of him as an acquired taste.

→ originally published 2006-10-18


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