Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Issue #32

GhettoBlaster Magazine: Music, Film, Culture
Film Association for Cultural Equity's Nathan Salsburg
Summer 2012 
By Caroline Losneck

Many of the most important people in our history seem to have FBI files, and in the case of Alan Lomax, this includes folk documentarians.

Despite a 1940-1960 FBI open file on him that states “Neighborhood investigation shows him to be a very peculiar individual in that he is only interested in folk lore music, being very temperamental and ornery. ... He has no sense of money values, handling his own and Government property in a neglectful manner, and paying practically no attention to his personal appearance. … He has a tendency to neglect his work over a period of time and then just before a deadline he produces excellent results,” Alan Lomax is perhaps the most significant figure in the arc of ethnomusicology, documentation and folk traditions in the United States and beyond. He also is the man behind extensive recordings of some of the greats and folks recognized as the backbone of American music like Jelly Roll Morton, Big Bill Broonzy, Bessie Jones, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly and Muddy Waters among many, many others. 

The big news is that in February of this year, the Alan Lomax Archive and the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) launched the massive ACE Online Archive, the result of over a decade of the restoration, digitization and cataloging of Alan Lomax’s life work in documentation, research, and sweeping appreciation for folk music and oral traditions.

The ACE Online Archive includes nearly 17,000 free full-streaming audio field-recordings, totaling over eight hundred hours, collected by Lomax between 1946 and 1991; scans of 5,000 photographic prints and negatives; sixteen hours of vintage radio transcriptions; and ninety hours of interviews, discussions, and lectures by Alan Lomax and his colleagues. Future plans include adding Lomax’s 1954–55 Italian and 1985 Louisiana expeditions and several of his collections made under the auspices of the Library of Congress; among them his 1937 Haiti and Eastern Kentucky collections.

It simply doesn’t do it justice to call The ACE Online Archive a repository of Alan Lomax’s collected songs, field-recordings, photographs and documentation. It seems much more fitting to describe the ACE Online Archive as the manifestation of the relentless dedication Alan Lomax had to convey the artistic achievements of local cultures and normal people or perhaps better yet, an unparallel aural slice of folk history. If you’re interested in oral histories, like Story Corps and This American Life, whose missions are to realize and document the extraordinariness of ordinary people, Lomax can probably be considered to have been the precursor to this approach, too. Pandora, you ask? He even had early ideas about how this might look, too. Lomax was a pioneer documenter of traditional music, dance, tall tales, and other forms of creativity in the United States and abroad and he amassed one of the most important collections of ethnographic material in the world. One of his lifetime goals was to create a public platform for the folklore, oral history and expressive culture so that they could be enjoyed and studied. Alan Lomax wasn’t a perfect person, and there have been criticisms over the years about how he handled copyrights and financial compensation to some of the musicians he worked with – although repatriation was always a part of Alan Lomax’s work and vision. To date, the Association for Cultural Equity has completed repatriation projects in Como, Mississippi; St. Lucia; Granada and Spain and other locations where he recorded people. Alan’s daughter, Anna Lomax Wood has made the returning of recorded material back to the communities and places of origin an important focus of ACE’s work.
From the Alan Lomax Collection, American Folklife Center,
Library of Congress.
Used by permission of the Association for Cultural Equity. 

Born in 1915 in Austin, Texas to Bess Brown Lomax and folksong and poetry collector John Avery Lomax (who was arrested for recording cowboy songs), Alan Lomax spent most of his 87 years on the planet relentlessly guided by his notion of “cultural equity”, or “the right of every culture to express and develop its distinctive heritage” and his Association for Cultural Equity is still dedicated to this mission. One of the things I’m most struck by the ACE Online Archive is that it’s free. It’s essentially a free museum pass to anyone with access to a computer, and you don’t need a curator or expert to interpret what you see and hear.
Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ask Nathan Salsburg, the Association for Cultural Equity Research Center Editor and editor of the Alan Lomax Collection audio, photo and video collections about all things Lomax. Salsburg has been with the Archive since 2000, and he is the production manager for the album releases on Global Jukebox, not to mention an accomplished guitarist, archivist, writer and producer in his own right. I met him while he was completing a Residency at Space Gallery, a nonprofit art space focused on contemporary, emerging and unconventional arts, artists, and ideas in Portland, Maine. Here’s the interview.

 CL: Alan Lomax must have been a bit of an obsessive. How did he work and how did he manage to pull all of this off?

NS: Lomax was obsessed with folk music — obsessed with seeking it out, documenting it, exploring it in its local context and, later in his life, understanding it in its global context. He worked himself to the bone, beyond exhaustion, for over sixty years in over twenty countries and nearly half the United States. That he made not only so many recordings but also so many great recordings remains a wonder to me, and I've been working with his collections for nearly twelve years.
In a fundamental way Lomax was the right person in the right place at the right time. He was the son of folklorist John A. Lomax, who was one of the first voices speaking up for the preservation and documentation of African American folk music (and not just the spirituals) as a native American art form, and Alan started recording with him when he was 18. That was in 1933, when the halcyon days of pre-war commercial recording were just winding down, and Lomax the younger was able to have first-hand experience with living folk song at the same time he could get his hands on all the great rural American music that was being pressed to commercial disc — and appreciate and not denigrate it, as many older folklorists did. And as he blazed his own trail as a documentarian of expressive culture, new developments in media rose to meet him, both in terms of his own recording gear — from acetate and aluminum disc to reel-to-reel tape, then stereo tape, then video tape, and, by the time he retired in 1996 at the age of 81, Digital Audio Tape — and in the broader media space. The rise of national broadcast systems, the invention of the LP, and, of course, television making the promotion and distribution of recorded folk song considerably easier. Over the course of his career, in addition to affiliations like that he had with the Library of Congress, he worked with the BBC, CBS, PBS, RAI, Atlantic Records, the Mutual Broadcasting System in all manner of public productions. None of this addresses the cultural upheavals that took place from 1933 to 1983, the fifty years when he did the bulk of his field recording.

CL: How did Alan Lomax characterize himself? Was he an academic or more or less a normal dude who loved music and folk traditions?
From the Alan Lomax Collection,
American Folklife Center,
Library of Congress. Used by permission of the
 Association for Cultural Equity. 

NS: Lomax was by and large and autodidact, and as such he made his career up as he went along. His longest institutional affiliation was with the Library of Congress, from roughly 1933 to 1946. It wasn't until around 1970 that he received any academic support (from Columbia University for his research into the relationship between performance style and culture), and in 1983 he founded the Association for Cultural Equity with space for the offices let very cheaply by Hunter College. So he was by no means an academic, though he was most certainly a scholar. I imagine he would have called himself a "researcher," but he really wore so many hats that one term just isn't adequate.
CL: Alan collected songs and material for the Archive of American Folk Song (Library of Congress) but after the funding was cut off, he continued to collect independently. Are there differences between his recordings from both periods, specifically in terms of independent collecting vs. commissioned recordings?
NS: Not really. His interests, at bottom, were always the same, although the outlets for the material changed, depending on who was supporting him — and in that he was never totally "independent." For example, his 1954-55 Italian recordings were made with the support of the BBC, for which he produced a multi-part broadcast on Italian traditional music upon his return. His 1959-1960 "Southern Journey," as he called it, was the first stereo field recording trip ever made, as Atlantic Records supplied him with a newly released, state-of-the-art two-track recorder, funded the trip, and released eight LPs of the material Alan collected.
CL: Is it really true that the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) is streaming more than 17,000 tracks recorded by Alan Lomax, including music from Britain, Ireland, the US, the Caribbean and the former USSR?

NS: It's true! That number is comprised primarily of the recordings Lomax made after he left the Library of Congress in 1946 to 1967, when he last recorded on audiotape, in the Dominican Republic. But it also includes a number of radio shows produced, hosted, and/or written by Lomax in the 1940s to many, many hours of discussions, lectures, and interviews by Alan with a vast assortment of ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, musicians, choreographers, otolaryngologists (no kidding) for his performance style research. I actually can't give you an extra hour figure for how much audio is streaming online, but it's well over 1,000 hours worth.

CL: Do 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes and 5,000 photographs really exist?

NS: That is everything that made up what we call the Alan Lomax Archive, again, compiled or collected by Alan between 1946 and about 1991. A lot of that material Lomax amassed for his research; for example, the 400,000 feet of film constitutes one of the largest (if not the largest) privately held dance film archives in the world. None of that, however, is available online, although there are encouraging signs coming from our colleagues at the Library of Congress (which acquired the Archive's original media in 2004) about digitizing the footage. The 3000 videotapes are made up of 400 hours of footage that Lomax and a crew shot in the American South from 1978 to 1985. It ended up being edited into five films that aired on PBS in 1991 as the American Patchwork series, but as there's just gobs more than was used in the film, I've been editing discrete clips and uploading them to the Archive's YouTube channel which can be seen at:
All the photos Lomax shot between 1951 and 1967 are, in fact, available through the ACE Online Archive.

From the Alan Lomax Collection, American
Folklife Center,
 Library of Congress.
Used by permission of the Association for Cultural Equity. 

CL: Of all the artists, musicians he interacted with over the depth and breadth of his long career, who are the people Lomax was most influenced by?
NS: Jelly Roll Morton; Woody Guthrie; Lead Belly, Eastern Kentucky union activist Aunt Molly Jackson; Bessie Jones (of the Georgia Sea Island Singers); the Arkansan balladeer Almeda Riddle; the Scottish Traveller singer Jeannie Robertson; Alabama's Vera Ward Hall (a washerwoman and tremendous singer of sacred and secular pieces alike); Big Bill Broonzy... to name a few. All of these artists were adept at synthesizing collective traditions with remarkable individual aesthetics that made their material very much their own without obscuring the traditional elements that bound it to the place from whence it came.
CL: What musicians/ethnomusicologists/documentarians, past or present, do you think were most influenced by him?
NS: I'll argue that Alan Lomax had a bigger effect than anyone else on shaping the public's consciousness of and care for intangible cultural heritage — and I don't just mean folk song, but vernacular ritual, costume, food-ways, stories from ghost tales to tall tales, toasts, jokes, oral histories, on and on and on. And with both his British recordings (1951-1958) and the export of his earlier American material to the UK (Lead Belly, especially), Lomax played a central role in laying the groundwork for the British folk revival that created the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, etc. He similarly set the stage for the urban folk revival on our shores in the 1950s and '60s, which for its part gave rise to the folk and blues festival scenes of the '60s and '70s. And his work popularizing and promoting traditional American music was a formative model for what's now called "public" or "applied folklore," which can be seen at work in heritage events like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Jazz Fest. Lomax was one of the first to really do folklore, as a vocation, instead of just studying it.
CL: The Association for Cultural Equity was started by Lomax in the 80’s with the idea to "explore and preserve the world's expressive traditions." Is it still following out that mission?
From the Alan Lomax Collection, American Folklife Center,
 Library of Congress.
Used by permission of the Association for Cultural Equity. 

NS: Indeed, it is. ACE has been piloted for the last 15 years by Alan's daughter and only child, Anna Lomax Wood, who initiated and oversaw our radical transformation into a digital archive. That digitization has allowed us to provide a level of public access to Lomax's collections that would never have been possible as a strictly physical repository. And "preservation" doesn't just mean making digital transfers of the original media and then sending it to the Library of Congress for safekeeping in perpetuity.
We’ve collaborated with a number of regional archives on repatriation projects, disseminating Lomax's sound recordings, photographs, and video footage to over 20 repositories all over the world, to ensure that the communities that created them can access and engage with them locally. These partnerships have ranged from the macro - for example, the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College (in Chicago ) received digital copies of the entire 1962 Caribbean audio and photo collections (60 hours of recordings and 1100 photographs) to the most micro: last year we sent ten of Lomax's recordings of Scottish coal-miners to Scotland's National Mining Museum.
       From the Alan Lomax Collection, American
Folklife Center,
 Library of Congress.
Used by permission of the Association for
Cultural Equity. 

CL: We’re all digital now and that’s partially what makes it possible to bring the Lomax Archive alive again, and yet, I wonder about making the case that culture tends to flat-line when we experience it over the computer screen. What do you think?
NS: That’s an argument for making sure traditional expressive forms are valued and nurtured on the local (and physical) level, where they’re bound to various lifecycle events, ritual observances, social pastimes, which is fundamental to our mission beyond just free and public access online. So many fundamental aspects of our lives have been or are in the process of being digitized; my hope is that the joy and strength derived from making and sustaining art together communally will keep our mass flat-lining at bay.
CL: What are the best parts of your job there at ACE?

NS: The access that I’ve been granted to the material is one of the greatest blessings of my life; to keep three hard drives on my desk containing well over 1000 hours of Lomax’s recordings is a gift like none other. For the last several years I’ve been running our YouTube channel, serving as the general editor of our online photo and audio collections, and I’ve also compiled a number of our releases, physically and digitally, which was my dream for years; to be charged with an amount of curatorial license is a deep honor. If that all sounds hyperbolic, I’ll admit it is.
CL: What are you dying to share with us about the Alan Lomax collection, musically speaking?

NS: Needless to say, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of gems, but I’ll give you just one for now: a session featuring the singing and metal-tub banging of an octogenarian former roustabout named Charles Barnett in the Northern Neck of Virginia. The stuff is just hilarious, touching, bizarre, and sublime.
Alan was a self-described “song hunter” as he traveled to the dance halls, prisons, churches and towns and now it seems that we can all be modern day digital song hunters. If you have a few spare hours, uh, days, no make that a lifetime to spend listening to some of the best folk recordings (such as a West Kentucky Baptist Congregation as they sing the Psalms or to songs recorded on a 500-pound machine) then head on over to the free ACE Online Archive at and immerse yourself in history.
Many thanks to Nathan Salsburg for conducting this interview even though he was taking a trip to Russia to speak at a conference. Salsburg curates the Twos & Fews recording imprint, maintains an index of online vernacular music resources at his blog,, and contributes music writing to the Louisville Eccentric Observer. In 2011 he released "Avos" (Tompkins Square), an album of acoustic duets with Chicago guitarist James Elkington, and a solo guitar record entitled "Affirmed" (No Quarter). 

Issue #30 

GhettoBlaster Magazine: Music, Film, Culture
Film/TV DragonSlayer
Winter 2011 
By Caroline Losneck

If you are expecting to be transported to a fantasyland with wizards, medieval castles and dragons when you go to see the documentary Dragonslayer, you will be disappointed. Then again, there is something deeply prescient about the title’s suggestion that danger, opposition and a dragon that needs to be slain lurks somewhere in suburban sunny Southern California.

Dragonslayer, the 74-minute much-hyped documentary (it won the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at SXSW this year 2011) is by 35-year old
Director Tristan Patterson. It is his first full feature film.  Set in the suburban Fullerton, California (about 35 minutes outside of Los Angeles) Fullerton is a town with an important railroad, agricultural (Valencia oranges) and oil history, but like many American cities, it is now defined by its fair share of foreclosed homes, empty spaces and lost youth. Fullerton, California was also an important place for the Orange Country Hardcore punk scene (a fact that isn’t lost if you pay attention to the main character’s t-shirts throughout the film.)

If there is a subtext to the film, it is that Dragonslayer is a raucous reflection on American Economic collapse more than a film about skate punk culture, teen drug use or the marginalization of unemployed American youth. The film lovingly focuses on Screech (twenty-something Josh Sandoval) a mostly homeless former professional skateboarder, punk and new father. The opening scene shows him working hard to clean out an abandoned backyard pool in order to skate it.  Throughout the film, we get unfiltered access to Screech in both intimate and compromised moments of his life: while he is falling in love with a new young woman, waking up in the backyard of a sympathizer who agrees to let him sleep in a tent in his backyard, skating in competitions and pushing his infant son in a stroller. This is made possible by Patterson’s brilliant decision to give Screech a mini hand held Flip camera to capture his life when the crew wasn’t filming. The final result is a hybrid of homegrown footage (that only Screech could pull off) mixed with numerous beautiful cinematic shots by cinematographer Eric Koretz.

Photo Courtesy Tristan Patterson

One idea that has been on my mind since seeing Dragonslayer is that leading man Screech can best be seen as an indicator species, a biological term that explains a large animal species that indicates the overall health of an ecosystem. As the most sensitive species in a region, indicator species can act as an early warning or harbinger for what is to come. Screech is obviously street smart and yet appears to be hustling around life to maintain his place in the increasingly doomed social, cultural and ecological landscape around him. Where are the jobs and opportunities? Isn’t this sunny southern California? Where is the limitless growth and expansion that was promised? Why are there so many abandoned homes and bleak landscapes?  Screech might not only be a punk skateboarder but also an indictor of where our economy and country is heading and where we’re all going to get our next meal from (the dumpsters) if things continue going the way they are.

I was able to speak to director Tristan Patterson about the film, how it is being received, and where things are heading.

Ghettoblaster: Can you talk a little about the editing process for the film?

Tristan Patterson: Editing was hard, and it felt endless. (When all was said and done, there was about 80 hours of footage shot by his film crew on their camera and an additional 15 hours of footage shot by Screech and Company on Flip cameras.) It was kind of like, when I was shooting the movie, I could draw on lots of references. When I got into the editing room, there was nothing. And so we had to find our own lens with our own footage. It was painstaking; I was in the editing room for a year straight.

The challenge then was combining the different styles of footage into the appropriate ratios.

Screech’s footage was, perversely or paradoxically, easier to edit than ours. It was difficult finding a balance, a rhythm, and figuring out the structure, the topicality of what the movie would feel like.

Ghettoblaster: What were some of your specific considerations?

TP: The goal of the movie was to be authentic to a specific moment in time in a brand-new way. Editing was about trying to figure out a new and appropriate language for how to achieve this. There was nothing I could point to and say, “this film will feel like that movie, so we'll edit accordingly.” I was constantly considering how the movie would accurately convey this moment in Screech's life, but also be a cinematic experience. I also felt deeply indebted to him for allowing me to document this moment; I wanted to the film to be similarly courageous. 

Courtesy Tristan Patterson
Courtesy Tristan Patterson

Ghettoblaster: Can you tell us more about Screech?

TP: He is a lost punk kid. When I first met Screech, he was like poetry. Shooting the film was amazing. Every time we’d go out and shoot, there’d be a reveal. When Screech said, “meet me at the drive-ins” it turned out to be a historical (and dying breed) of Drive-In theatre in a beautiful and bleak landscape. It was a collision of  ‘”God, I want to shoot there” and filming what goes on there.

GhettoBlaster: If you were a teenager now, would you be like any of the young people in the film?

TP: No, probably not! But there is interest in youth on the precipice. One of the things about being young, is the past is irrelevant and the future is fucked. It's a really universal experience to be a kid and feel like the only moment that matters in life is right now. But I'm also interested in this idea of the punk generation— that we are now actually living in what they called the "Decline of Western Civilization." It really does feel like we've hit a tipping point. Suddenly the idea of youth trying to figure out how to live their lives in the present tense becomes interesting and essential, as opposed to when I was a kid when maybe it just felt like a passing fad before reaching adulthood.

How the fucks are kids making sense of this insane moment we're all stuck in now? I'd much rather experience Screech try to make sense of the world than listen to some talking head try to explain it to me. It's like, enough already. If it's not action, you're just talking shit. Stop pontificating. My feeling is we need culture that's radical for brand-new times. At least Screech doesn't spend his days bitching about all the ways things are fucked. He rides skateboards through the detritus and hustles for food money. There's nothing hypocritical about that. That kind of guilelessness is in short supply these days and I think it's refreshing to witness.

Courtesy Tristan Patterson

Ghettoblaster: Do you think the film resonates with people around the country? Will it resonate with the folks in the Occupy Wall Street Movement?

TP: What is interesting to me is that not only kids feel this way, but that everybody in this country feels this way now. The film is a little bit like dealing with Western civilization where we asked what it is like coming of age in the movement, when the things you claimed when you are young now might have a much larger resonance. In California, these suburbs used to be the frontier of infinite possibilities, now it’s decay and abandon. We wanted to make a movie about that feeling, and not really sugar coat it.

There’s always been this iconic idea of Southern California’s youth. It’s interesting. There is an appetite to see – it’s perversely healthy to see a vision of what life can feel like here that is authentic. It’s not propaganda.

Ghettoblaster: Can you talk about the Drag City Records and how they came to release the film?

TP: They distributed Harmony Korine’s last movie. I’ve worshipped the label; I think they are totally authentic and uncompromising. It felt like a really good way to put out the movie.  

Ghettoblaster: Dragonslayer features indie labels Mexican Summer and Kemado Records (including Best Coast, Bipolar Bear, Children, Dungen, Eddy Current and the Suppression Ring, Golden Triangle, Jacuzzi Boys, Little Girls, Real Estate, The Soft Pack, Saviours, as well as DEATH and Thee Oh Sees). What is the role of the music in the film?

TP: I wanted to create tracks – a little like a demo. It was like assembling a cut out, then going into something that takes hold, or crystallizes the moment. I was trying to build a movie out of moments that feel authentic, and that takes you somewhere.  Each track was a layer.

The idea was, because there is a verite level to the film, that some of the music you hear is what Screech would listen to. And then, I wanted to give the movie it’s own music. When I was editing, I started to combine Screech’s music with my music. All of it felt a little stale. It’s hard with youth culture and West Coast skater culture. It’s a little of a “lovers on the run” movie, where instead of escaping the wall, they escape paradise. That led me to Mexican Summer, really great California garage rock. I decided that it should have music that is being listened to right now.

Ghettoblaster: How important to you, or your desired aesthetic, was Fullerton? What if Screech had lived in LA? Would it have made a difference to you? Would you still have made the film?

TP: Inland California is basically the entire point of the movie. It was the landscape of the future, the ultimate place in America where people with dreams moved to start families and try for the good life, and it's now rot and decay – just vacant suburbia. And that's everywhere, not just California. It's where the 99% experience reality—wall-to-wall chain stores, office parks (if they're still open for business), shutdown factories. Let's call it like it is: we've been living in a Ponzi scheme that just collapsed. This is where Screech lives, this is what the future of infinite possibility has left him—a broken place, a broken home, broken prospects in life—but his life, in moments, is beautiful. That's why I see the movie as a celebration. It's desperately trying to answer the question of how can we find beauty when we're surrounded by this rot and decay? We've all been sold out. But here's this worthwhile, talented and deeply original kid finding beauty in the world. He's filled with optimism when he should have more to complain about than all of us. He's not sweating it, so why should I? Personally, I'd like to seem him sweat it a little more, but then again, I'd like to sweat it a little less.

Ghettoblaster: Can you talk about the really interesting – and somewhat creepy - intersections of Reality TV, YouTube and documentary film that are happening? Like, how are they different? Are they blending? Does this relate to your film?

TP: The idea was really to create something new. I was thinking a lot about this generation and that they are getting raised on reality TV and YouTube. Like everybody else, I am definitely susceptible to reality TV. In a way, the idea was to combine these two truths, and create something that feels authentic.

I remember seeing this montage that closed out Laguna Beach. All the kids were lip-synching the words to the same song that was (supposedly) blasting simultaneously in all their sweet rides. Perfect product placement. It's an incredible teen dream realized: we're all listening to the same exact music in the same exact moment and we all know all the words. Also, we exclusively travel in limousines. Who doesn't want this so-called reality?

Then you watch YouTube. There's this girl named Kiki Kannibal. She posted these clips of herself dancing in her bedroom. She looked beyond sad and lonely, but she was expressing herself completely for all the world to see, and because she was 14 that meant dancing to music, and because she was 14 that meant 1.4 million hits and stalkers literally ruining her and her family's life. Now she's trying to capitalize with a jewelry line!

For me, the intersection of Laguna Beach and Kiki Kannibal is that both negate reality in modern terms, one because it claims to be reality but is actually the highest articulation of manipulation, the other because it's a totally unconscious act of desperation made by someone with a secret motive. Whether she knows it or not, she's looking to capitalize. She wants to be famous, even if she hasn't considered what that really even means.

So the question becomes: how are we experiencing culture today? My idea was, let's tune in to actual experience. Let's use the terms of these mediums, and actually be quite confrontational. I'm going to shoot a movie that's ‘reality television.’ I'm going to give my subject a flip-cam and it will aesthetically look like something you see on YouTube. But Dragonslayer will resemble neither of these things, because it will have stakes that involve life as people actually experience it. More to the point, it won't have an agenda, its subjects won't have an agenda, and it will be more compelling because of this.

As for documentaries, I'd say they are probably the least interesting of the three mediums to me for the most part. At least there's unapologetic wish fulfillment in something like Laguna Beach and Kiki Kanibal had art in her when she videotaped herself dancing alone in her bedroom, even if she did want to be famous. Their motives are actually cleaner in my mind than a lot of documentaries I see. It's very rare to see a something that doesn't have the aesthetic approach of a propaganda film. But then again, it’s very rare to see anything these days that doesn't have an agenda beyond it's own existence. It's getting exhausting, watching all these things with ulterior motives. When I watch anything, it's because I'm interested in having an authentic experience that's not contrived. I'm not interested in getting hustled.

If there is a film tradition that Dragonslayer belongs to, it is a documentary with dystopian themes, suggesting lost souls in lost landscapes. The modern day American twist on this troupe might very well be lost souls in lost landscapes in what was supposed to be the American dream.

Before wrapping up the interview, I ask Tristan how he thinks the film will be looked at in 20 years? “It's really nice to think it will be looked at in 20 years,” he says.

Monday, April 25, 2011


The writing on the wall. The new mural on Joe's.
Photo by J. Griecci 

The West End News
Alley Crawl - Joe's Smokeshop Mural
January 2010
By Caroline Losneck

For those of you who like to snoop around Portland’s alleys and one-way streets, there is new-ish destination on Avon Street to tag to your to-do list. The mural - on the eastern wall of Joe’s Smoke Shop at 665 Congress Street - is the outcome of a unique collaboration between Portland artists Jeff Griecci and Ryan Adams, and the owners of Joe’s Smoke Shop (brothers Mike, Stephen, and David Discatio). Among other things, the new mural is a historical snapshot of Portland, as it looked when Joe Discatio first purchased the building on August 12, 1945.

Joe Discatio, now 96 years old, still owns the building, although he hasn’t had the opportunity to see the new look of the building just yet. The mural’s black and white skyline runs the length of the Joe's building, and graffiti-inspired art is splashed over the top. The overall look is a unique mishmash of styles ranging from trompe-l’oeil and graffiti, with a dose of broken window theory thrown in. According to Griecci and Adams, the owners of Joe's were tired of continually paining over the endless stream of tags on the sides of their building, and when they were told that a graffiti-inspired piece might help thwart taggers, they were receptive.

The owners of Joe’s Smoke Shop commissioned the project, and the final design is a collaboration
between the artists and the owners. Looking at the mural is like gazing back in time on the Congress
Street of the past, when it used to have more houses, buildings, and the St. Steven’s Church - before the “urban renewal” program cleared these structures out to create more parking lots and concrete. The mural is a much-welcomed infusion of life to an area that has seen some growth (such as the new building in the former USM dorms at 645 Congress Street, Local Sprouts, Princess Nail & Salon, Green Hand Books, Coast City Comics, and Boda) but also its fair share of vacant spaces and buildings (such as the brick building across the street from Joe’s owned by Roxanne Quimby, and spaces left by the closure of Evangeline and Cunningham Books in Longfellow Square in 2010.)

Artist Jeff Griecci grew up in Massachusetts and has lived in Portland since 2007, when he
enrolled in the media studies department at USM. He has a number of films  and projects already under his belt, including six short films. His most recent project, A Bell in the Yard, is a short horror film set in the mid-1800’s that was made for Portland’s Damnationland project. The mural is Griecci’s first commissioned work in Portland. He became interested in the trompe l’oeil style (French for ‘deceive the eye’, a technique that creates an optical illusion that objects are in three dimensions) while he was on a trip to Italy. He decided to incorporate some elements of the style into the mural.

Ryan Adams was born and raised in Portland, and his work can been seen throughout the city, in the form of commissioned murals, including a 50- foot by 10-foot mural inside Binga’s Stadium,
the front signage of Binga’s, the murals at Nosh Kitchen Bar, the Novare Res outdoor deck, and a
large mural at Bruno’s Restaurant & Tavern on Allen Avenue.

If you are looking for a good reason to visit Joe’s Smoke Shop (and who's not?), or the Longfellow Square area in general, now is your chance. It’s likely that the mural will look even cooler when the drifting snow starts to pile up underneath and creates an urban-style natural framing of the piece. Then again, it’ll look great when the snow melts, too.

For more information about Ryan Adams' work, visit www.
For more information about Jeff Griecci’s work, visit

To read Losneck's entire interview with artists Jeff Griecci and Ryan Adams, visit The West End News.

Bayside's newest addition.
The West End News                                               
On the Trail of the Bayside Trail
August 2010
By Caroline Losneck

The newly opened Bayside Trail is Portland, Maine's own version of New York City’s Highline.  

The freshly paved foot/bicycle/mixed-use path starts near the Eastern Prom Trail and weaves through the rapidly shifting Bayside Neighborhood, from the Eastern Prom to Elm Street.  From the Trail, you can hear the clanks of cars being repaired in the AAA Garage on Marginal Way, the faint roar of I-295 traffic, and the claws, jaws and crush of metal from Schnitzer Northeast, one of the city’s last metal yard hold-outs.  In the distance, E Perry Iron & Metal Co. has been operating for over a hundred years, and it continues to crush scrap metals, despite the encroaching good-intentioned Bayside Trail and City of Portland efforts to re-locate it.

The City first purchased the 13.2-acre former railroad property that runs from the Eastern Prom to Deering Oaks in 2005, with the vision of eventually connecting the two parks with a trail that  provides safe and easy access to Portland’s neighborhoods and pocket parks.

In it’s current incarnation, the Bayside Trail has lights, bike racks, and beautiful stone work with a circular cobblestone–esque walkway and stone wall, and is clearly on it’s way to becoming the premier connective link through Portland. For now, it is possible to travel the length of the first part of the trail and feel like you are straddling the line between the Bayside neighborhood’s urban/industrial past and it’s greener pasture future.  Future plans include public art, benches, and pocket parks along the Trail.

Most importantly, the Bayside Trail is free and you can even stop off the path and recycle any cardboard, plastic metal, or paper you might be toting around at the City’s Silver Bullet Recycling area or perhaps catch a soccer game at the nearby Fox Field.  (Better yet, stop in for a taco from the food vendor who pops up during some of the soccer tournaments.)

The Bayside Trail is a project of Portland Trails, the Trust for Public Land, Bayside Neighborhood Association, and the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization.

For more information about the Bayside Trail, visit Portland Trails at

GhettoBlaster : Music, Film, Culture
Veronika Scott & Detroit's Empowerment Plan
Summer 2011 
By Caroline Losneck

Issue #28

Many of us have seen the haunting images of Detroit’s abandoned cityscape: dilapidated Victorian homes, burnt-out warehouses, collapsing roofs, forested-over factories. An antidote to this constant “ruin-porn” emerging from the Motor City is The Empowerment Plan, an ambitious community-based design strategy led by Veronika Scott, a twenty-one year old junior design student at the College for Creative Studies.

The Empowerment Plan began with an idea to create coats that double as sleeping bags and to work with Detroit’s homeless population. The coats are made from Tyvek (a home building material), wool or synthetic cloth, and PVC and plastic tubing. Scott envisioned the coats, called Elements S(urvival) Coats, to be designed for Detroit’s homeless population, particularly for those who - for whatever reasons - don’t utilize the traditional shelter system.

At first, Scott designed a prototype coat in her bedroom, a process that took her eighty hours of work just to complete one coat. Then work-cloth- ing company Carhartt stepped in and offered as- sistance. “I didn’t know how to produce hundreds of coats or sew,” says Scott. She knew she needed to learn how to make coats faster with the help of industrial machines. “I flew to Kentucky, where we re-built the coat. With Carhartt, one coat is made in three hours, instead of my eighty hours. And while I was down there, we finished twenty-five coats and made a training video,” she adds. After that, she packed up the twenty-five finished coats and took them back to Detroit.

In many ways, designing and producing the Ele- ments S coats turned out to be easier than getting them to the people who need them most in Detroit. Scott knew that there were people in Detroit whom she wanted to reach with the coats, but didn’t have the history or trust established with those communities yet. Her solution was to seek out a local organization with established ties to the homeless community of Detroit. “The exciting news is that the distribution of the coats didn’t take so long because I joined up with the non-profit Cass Community Social Services,” she says. “Cass has been so helpful and they are the ones with the good reputation. They know the Detroit homeless community more than anyone else. They have twenty years of experience doing this work.”  

Partnered with Cass, Scott has been able to dis tribute the initial twenty-five coats to people in Detroit. She worked with a program within Cass called PATH, “...where two individuals go out three to five days a week into what is called the ‘unreachable community,’” Scott explains. “These are the people who don’t want to come into the shelter system, for various reasons. The PATH workers go out and distribute socks, basic infor- mation and other things that people might need. So, this is the community that the coat is for. I am trying to create a level of trust with this commu- nity, and to get a rapport going so that people feel comfortable." 

Despite the time and energy that goes into The Empowerment Plan, Scott continues taking classes and studying like a typical student, which has proven to be more challenging with the ensuing media storm her story has generated. She’s clear that her time is stretched and says, “Multi-tasking has become my life! Lately, all of my time, twenty-four seven, is scheduled. School does suffer at times, but I am making a decision to work on something bigger.” In addition to support from Carhartt and Cass Community Services, The College for Cre- ative Studies has been a big help to Scott. “School is really proud and doing a lot to support the project. It’s weird to be studying in the middle of all this, but I’m basically going by my gut, and getting a lot of help from lots of people. I have no business background, so I’ve been talking to everyone I can get my hands on to get advice. There’s always so much I want to learn, and I still want to go to grad school after this. Creative people like to keep being challenged.”

She plans to get as many coats as she can back after the winter season so that she and he team can study them and make improvements to their design. “When they were distributed by Cass Community Services, the workers were able to get some basic information from the people who received them, like where they sleep, their first name and a photo, so that when summer comes around, the coats will be traded in for new ones, or bought back,” says Scott. “The idea is to learn from the first coats. We have to learn what needs to change to better the coat for those who need them.” Scott also plans to become a non-profit, get her website up and do so some fundraising. And of course, Scott and her employees will continue to “stockpile new coats through the summer.” For now, continues to work with Cass Community Services and The Empowerment Plan is now housed in a warehouse which they provided for the project. She has also been able to hire two women who were residents of Cass Community Services and she plans to hire someone else later this year.

She is also clear on the importance of maintaining stable employment and paychecks for her workers. Her business model is to continue to hire and train people from the shelter system. “These are careers. This has to work. I am training people a skill that hopefully will last them a while. We have longer-term goals, too, but they are in the conceptual stage. Ultimately, the goal is to make this as sustainable a business as possible.”

Photo Brittany Thompson
Despite Detroit’s recent attention as a new urban frontier, Scott insists that the focus be on the project, not on her. “A lot of people in Detroit are doing great work and have great projects. But I want the emphasis to be on the project, not on me. I am at my happiest when I’m with the women. That’s why my blog is so out-of-date. Rather than feeding this fire of craziness, I am out doing stuff. It’s fantastic that the project is getting noticed but I am happier doing this stuff than answering all the calls!”

Issue #26
GhettoBlaster : Music, Film, Culture
Film Reviews
Winter 2011 
By Caroline Losneck
Tiny Furniture (IFC Films 2010)  
Directed by Lena Dunham

I went into the movie prepared not to like it. I thought it might be another over-hyped mumblecore, or a privileged liberal arts college grad's well-funded project. But . . . NO! Tiny Furniture is thoughtful and smart, and there are plenty of good reasons that it was the winner of the best narrative feature at the SXSW Film Festival.

Lena Dunham used a tiny camera, the Canon 7D, an HD SLR still/video camera (one of the first feature films to utilize this new technology) and cast herself, her mom (the internationally recognized artist Laurie Simmons), and her sister. She shot much of the film in her family home in Tribeca.

Dunham's character, Aura, is a clever twist on herself. Aura finishes college with a degree in film theory and has nothing to do, so she returns to her artist family's semi-privileged NYC to sleepily sort through her life. While there, she guzzles bottles of her mom’s (stolen) wine, fights with her high-achieving younger sister, gets a shit job, and has bleak sex. The dialogue is fresh and funny, without a drop of over-earnestness. I admit to being tricked into thinking that the unconfident and very much lost Aura was Dunham, but it turns out to be one of Dunham's brilliant cinematic tricks, and it works. Lena Dunham is a young talent worth keeping an eye on.

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune (2011 First Run Features)
Directed by Kenneth Bowser
It’s hard to make a 96-minute movie about an important person and do them justice. Aspects of the person’s life will inevitably, within the filmmaking process, be deleted, highlighted, assigned more or less importance, or simply be dulled down. While none of these are big problems in the new documentary about the life of the influential political singer Phil Ochs, the film still suffers from a lack of oomph.

Not that Ochs’ life lacked vigor or gusto. In fact, Ochs was as driven in his musical career as he was in his political beliefs. He expressed a love for music throughout his childhood, but it wasn’t until his roommate at Ohio State University (the longtime activist/folksinger Jim Glover) introduced him to the music of Pete Seeger, The Weavers and leftist politics that Ochs changed course and began his tireless devotion to creating the anthems of the resistance movement.

The film relies on interviews from the many friends Ochs made along the way, including Joan Baez, Abbie Hoffman, Peter Yarrow, Christopher Hitchens and other members of the “who’s who” of radical activists and artists from the 1960’s. They all agree that Ochs was not just determined, precise, and passionate, but also that he sincerely believed that people should be treated equally.

Despite his music’s poignant role as the voice for the anti-war and segregation movements, the film manages never to play any Ochs song in its entirety. Although the footage of Ochs is compelling, and the moments including his ex-wife (Alice Skinner) and daughter are touching, the film never adequately captures the arch of Ochs’ complex and fiercely dedicated life.

In order to make Phil Ochs come alive again, start by listening to his music, and see the movie later.

Issue #25
The Rwandan Candidate
An Interview with Filmmaker Gilbert Ndahayo
Summer 2010
By Caroline Losneck

As part of the Maine African Film Festival in Portland, Maine, GhettoBlaster’s (GB) Caroline Losneck was able to catch up with Rwandan filmmaker, Gilbert Ndahayo, who was there in support of two of his films: Scars of My Days (2006) and the documentary Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit (2010).

Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit was filmed over a period of three years and it had a world premier at the 2010 Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles, where it was nominated for Best Feature Documentary. The film is the story of the killings of Ndahayo’s parents during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and the post-genocide realities in Rwanda. Ndahayo is the first Rwandan genocide survivor to have made a film about his experience. The short fictional film, Scars of My Days tells the story of two young men who leave their rural village to go live in Kigali, the capital and largest city in Rwanda.

Ndahayo is currently a MFA candidate in the Film Division at Columbia University and is working on four new short films: A Day in the Life, a story about a genocide survivor and a Holocaust survivor living together in New York City (which he plans to screen in early 2011); Why Me, Why Sarah?, about a couple that is navigating their way through life and their relationship; Jojo Must Die (currently in post-production), a fictionalized version of Romeo and Juliet set in the first decade of post-genocide Rwanda, about social life between the former antagonistic groups Hutus and Tutsis (without machetes on screen) and the tensions that are caused by the stress of post-genocide life and ethnicity; and Mother Rwanda, a new film in development.

Ndahayo on set.
Photo by G. Ndahayo

GB: If someone had told you when you were a young man growing up in Rwanda that you would someday be a filmmaker living in NYC, what would you have said to them? 

GN: (Laughs) Well, my mother wanted me to be a doctor or economist because African storytellers or filmmakers or artists don’t earn a lot of money in Africa. They die poor and unsung, unheard. My mother wouldn’t want me to die poor. I was forced to explore storytelling in cinema because something horrible has happened to me. I have been waiting for thirteen years to find an appropriate way to express how my parents were killed. In November 2005, I discovered cinema and I enjoy the process of making films. In no way would I have known that I would be in the United States and making films!

GB: How do you take a story that is so specific to a particular time and place and still allow for it to be something that people relate to?
GN: That’s a really good question. I am only interested in journeys of human realities that we don’t see on television, especially the dramas. Scars of My Days is about friendship, HIV/AIDS and urban migration. The main characters are two young people who leave the village and go to the city not knowing anything about being there and being confronted by the realities of being in a new place. I follow one of the friends as he struggles for his life. It’s a kind of adventure. In the first act, we discover their lives in a traditional African village where the idle youth play football and speak of their dreams; the second act of the film, they are separated by their different dreams. And then ultimately in the third act, the friends are connected back to each other.
GB: Do you relate to a certain character in the film, or place yourself in a certain character?
GN: I was born in a traditional village in the south part of Rwanda. My father was always absent because he was at school, studying law. When he came home after almost four years, we moved to the capital city. There was this specific moment in Scars of My Days when you see the two villagers arriving in the city, looking at the beauty. They are confused but they like that kind of lifestyle. I relate to this specific moment when I was in a truck looking up at the traffic lights, the nightlights, the tall buildings and following people’s movement. People wear shoes! In the village, there is no electricity. People don’t put on shoes. It is that specific moment that I can relate to in the film, of course with some more drama.
GB: What about your other film screening this week (Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit)?
GN: As a survivor of genocide, I have a moral responsibility to the dead and to give time to remember the departed ones. Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit is basically my contribution to the world because these are the moments that my country lived. They are the moments that I lived. My grandparents, my parents, and my young sister were killed in the genocide. Fifty-two members of my extended family were killed in the genocide and their families perished 16 years ago in broad daylight. Our neighbors showed up with machetes and proceeded to kill them. At that moment, sixteen years ago, I was a young boy. I can’t tell that I understood why we were being killed. Still today, I am struggling to overcome those kinds of realities. In the same way, there are people in the world who want to understand what is going on beyond their small gates and their small apartments and these are the people who I care about reaching with my films.
GB: What is your approach to story or narrative?
GN: With Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit, I wanted to make a film that tells the reality that has not been told from inside, from somebody that survived the genocide. So, my first question before I started the film was “What can the world outside of us learn from us?” Beyond that, in my films I try to address questions like “how did I survive?” and “how did I move on?” I didn’t have a style, but I had a story and the story dictated my style. Hollywood tends to be interested in showing films that are entertaining to people and allow the filmmaker to make more money…which is a good thing for them. I think that African films are much more interested in reconciling people and events rather than punishing historical events or people. I’m sure American audiences are pretty much tired of the bad guys going to jail and the good guys who are rewarded and made heroes. So there is this space that exists today for people who want to see something different or tell something different and real.
GB: Even without these resolutions in your films and real life, are you hopeful? Are you optimistic?
GN: I am – that’s why I am here in Portland, at the Maine African Film Festival! And a month ago I was in Los Angeles showing the world premier of my film. There is a hope and a there is a space for everybody that has a story to tell. Being African or American doesn’t matter if what you have is a story to tell and allow us to show what you are coming up with on the screen. 

GB: Are you well known in Rwanda? Do people recognize you there?
GN: (Laughs) I have a nickname in Rwanda. I am named after Denzel Washington because I have been an actor in two movies in the leading roles. My own films have also been shown around the country and in the villages. We actually have a festival in Rwanda called Hillywood and it’s not named after Hollywood. It is a concept of showing films in the hills of Rwanda where the films have been shot. There are not many TV sets in Rwanda. We have one TV station, which shows much of what BBC and CNN broadcast over and over. Hillywood brings a new culture, a new way of telling, seeing and hearing stories to the country. Rwandans like my films and I’m happy that my contribution to the new society, to the new Rwanda is known and acknowledged. 

GB: Is there anything else you would like to mention?
GN: I’d like to recommend festivals and events like the Maine African Film Festival, which gives African filmmakers space to show their films. There are so many people here in America who have not heard about Africa, that do not know anything about Africa, or the genocide in Rwanda. What can people outside of Africa learn from inside Africa? Being here gives me the opportunity to tell a story from a Rwandan or an African perspective and from my own perspective, rather than the usual Hollywood story or the flash news on CNN or BBC. And this is who we are. We are storytellers, either Africans or Europeans or Americans. 

Garage With a View
July 2010 - Cool Summer Hotspots Issue
By Caroline Losneck and Zachary Barowitz

photo/Zachary Barowitz
Photo/Zack Barowitz

Parking garages may be a blight on the urban landscape, but many have breathtaking views of that landscape from their rooftop decks. High above the hustle of the streets, you and your date can sip vino, nibble stinky cheese, and admire Portland from the unique perspectives these perches provide.

We visited over a dozen downtown Portland garages this summer to evaluate their vistas, and have chosen the top five to share with you here.
Especially in summer, beware overprotective mother gulls who dive-bomb and scream at humans in defense of their gray-feathered offspring. And in the opinion of some nosy security guards, your innocent sightseeing expedition can look a lot like loitering or, worse, criminal trespass. To avoid invoking the ire of the parking-powers-that-be, we recommend you adopt a strict carry-in/carry-out policy. If things get hairy, you might consider just driving there and paying to park up top.
—By  Zachary Barowitz and Caroline Losneck
The U.S. Custom House, as seen from Custom House Garage. photo/Zachary Barowitz
The U.S. Custom House, as seen from Custom House Garage. photo/Zachary Barowitz
1. Custom House Garage
25 Pearl St.
Take the vertiginous glass-walled elevator to the eighth floor. This is the best place to watch as a six-story hotel/condo/brewpub complex rises from the site of the old Jordan’s Meats hot dog factory in the months ahead. The developers had initially asked the city for permission to create fewer parking spaces for the pub (rumored to be Sebago Brewing Company’s new Old Port location) than zoning requires — fewer, in this case, being no parking whatsoever. But last month they submitted new plans calling for (you guessed it!) another parking garage.
This observation deck also offers sweeping views of Portland Harbor, the Old Port, and church steeples rising from the base of Munjoy Hill all the way to the West End.
We chose this structure over the new and nearby Ocean Gateway Garage on Fore Street because, despite the OGG’s spectacular vistas of Casco Bay and historic Eastern Cemetery, it’s just too damn depressing.
The fenced-in parcel overgrown with weeds between that garage and India Street was supposed to be an office building and retail shops before the Great Recession. Another fenced-in wasteland of weeds and gravel sits across Fore Street marking the grave of a different development that died. Beyond that, you look upon acres of prime waterfront real estate dedicated to: surface parking.
Looking south from the Public Market Garage. photo/Zachary Barowitz
Looking south from the Public Market Garage. photo/Zachary Barowitz
2. The Public Market Garage
315 Cumberland Ave. (entrance on Preble Street)
This garage was built in the late 1990s in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to make the Portland Public Market accessible to auto-addicted, off-peninsula shoppers. Plagued by mismanagement and vendor unrest, the public market closed four years ago and is now the private domain of a credit card processing company. There’s space set aside in the remodeled office building for a public café, but as of yet no entrepreneur has been foolish enough to open another café in a part of town already filthy with ’em.
From this great garage roof, with the iconic Time and Temperature building at your back, you can survey the industrial wasteland of Bayside, the homeless and hungry lined up at the Preble Street Resource Center, and the death-defying on- and off-ramps of I-295. Also a plum spot for sunsets.
Watching the Sea Dogs from Maine Med's garage. photo/Zachary Barowitz
Watching the Sea Dogs from Maine Med's garage. photo/Zachary Barowitz
3. Maine Medical Center Gilman Street Garage
Corner of Gilman and Congress Street
The top of Maine Med’s massive concrete behemoth offers outstanding views of Mount Washington, Hadlock Field, the Fore River, Deering Oaks, and the shopping strip along St. John Street. The fencing erected to discourage suicide jumpers obscures the scenery somewhat and is a bit of a bummer in general, but the melodious voice of the garage’s talking elevators will brighten your day.
A word to the wise: the crack Maine Med security force diligently patrols this garage and will ask you to leave if you’re not visiting a patient or conducting legitimate hospital business. Borrow a cane, a sling, or feign a pregnancy as your cover.
4. Temple Street Garage
11 Temple St.
The observation deck atop the Temple Street Garage offers nice views up Free and Spring streets. This peaceful plateau would be our choice to start the first green garage rooftop garden in town. While other Portland garages inspire midnight raves or rooftop movies, the Temple Street Garage roof is a quiet space more conducive to yoga or perhaps some guerilla sunbathing.
Alien generators behind the Fore Street garage. photo/Zachary Barowitz
Alien generators behind the Fore Street garage. photo/Zachary Barowitz
5. Fore Street Parking Garage
427 Fore St.
A relatively small structure (just two levels), the Fore Street Garage provides unique perspectives on the tops and backs of buildings you don’t see while strolling below. You can gaze upon the mysterious and beautiful machinery locked behind a fence on Center Street and spy the old Movies on Exchange Street sign in the alley behind 10 Exchange. And at night you can watch the drunken parade down Fore Street from a safe, anonymous distance.