Category Archives: Underground

THE END…A Thanks and a New Beginning!

And changed our name

by Lew Ojeda

Eight years ago, I co-founded this website with the hope of influencing, in some small way, how we look at movies and entertainment. I’ve long been a fan of the unusual in movies, music, TV and other media. The Underground Multiplex was to become an outlet for that expression and to give a voice to film independents often lacking in media. When we created content, we kept consciously in our minds the phrase “free media,” not just because we were not charging for anything we would have posted, but as a call for eliminating the restraints of corporatism on those creating content for the Internet and for larger screens.

During these years, we took every chance we could to get our message out. In so doing, we accepted tasks beyond our original intent of creating content and towards the goals of helping other creators get noticed and not get lost in the rush for the “brand new thing.” The life work of local artists, we felt, needed attention before the fog of obscurity hid them forever. Entertainment venues with glorious histories needed to be saved and those with sordid histories needed staff changes or to be closed.

We’ve hosted award-winning film programs centering on underrated, underappreciated and just plain bad-ass strange movies. We’ve presented primitive podcasts to give voice to independent artists and filmmakers, along with their admirers and tireless supporters. We’ve even attempted a radio comedy show and aired a few episodes.

We’ve accomplished a great deal, but I feel it’s also time to expand our reach, have a more concentrated approach with a fresh site and changes to what we do.

Our new website (currently under construction) and name will be THRILLO PAD PRODUCTIONS. The name comes from the location of where the two co-founders, myself and Tyler Pistorius, currently live.

Thrillo Pad Productions (TPP) will concern itself primarily with content production. Tyler is currently working on a short film and feature film. I am currently in post-production for the political comedy album, “Donald J. Trump: A Very White House Con Job.” My main concentration for TPP will be the production of “Vital Indie Media,” the vlog podcast centering on the unusual movies, music, TV shows and other ephemera in my collection. In the future, I will continue interviewing those who make a difference locally creating great art, music and movies.

So with this post we say goodbye to The Underground Multiplex and welcome to Thrillo Pad Productions. If you’ve been following us here on Facebook or on Twitter, please join us on our new Facebook page. We will announce there when the new website is up and running along with more social media connections so that you can join us in our further adventures!

It seems appropriate to make this announcement on Thanksgiving Day, because I give thanks to everyone who has made TUGM a great blog for the last eight years. Thank you all so very much and now let’s go on for many more years at Thrillo Pad Productions!

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CLOSING NIGHT: “Incendium” by Chicago Slam Works

Incendium_Goldstar

~ by Ty Pi

March 4th, 2016 was the closing night of the world premiere of the Chicago Slam Works production of Incendium.  I had a chance to see their previous show, Handsome Animals, which explored the social construction of body image and gender.  The production was directed by J.W. Basillo and the writing team was led by Teagan Walsh-Davis.  I enjoyed that production quite a bit and eagerly awaited the chance to see their followup production, Incendium.  I attended on their closing night and I was not disappointed.

The structure of the two Chicago Slam Works productions mentioned here are rooted in poetry.  Handsome Animals delivered its content through a series of poems and short scenes.  Basillo once again helms Incendium (written by the performers), which presents itself more like a cabaret set on a black box stage at Stage 773.  The show comes equipped with not just poetry, but also songs, juggling, acrobatics, a burlesque number, and the occasional breaking of the fourth wall, going as far as to have the audience directly involved.  It goes against the norms of theatre and is performed with a great sense of fun.  Within this abstract circus lies one central theme: Death.  The concept of death is explored throughout most of the play, if not all of it.

For this theatre patron, their presentation of that theme is what not only made this ride worthwhile, but also necessary.  The production makes a heavy emphasis on how life is temporary, memories fade, life can be miserable, and death is inevitable.  Although these points are repeated, it works because these are all too true.  These theme are supported by the show’s examinations of time, individual identity, one’s sense of purpose in the world, and even the feeling of boredom.  The more I think about it, Incendium does not just make death a theme, but also more of a statement.  In a person’s lifetime, one will experience hardships, feelings of boredom, contemplate their sense of purpose in the world, memories of their life will fade, and until someone discovers the cure for mortality, death is inevitable.  Life is a temporary experience and we only get to do it once.

I am reminded of a quote from Orson Welles in his documentary, F for Fake.  “Our songs will all be silenced.  But what of it?  Go on singing!  Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much.”  Although such themes can be seen as too downbeat or morose, the show has a sense of fun about it, and at times becomes self-deprecating.  The play explores that when one of the performers named Noob (Joseph Ramski) tries to bring optimism into the situation, only to be crushed by everyone in a fashion that can be described as humorous cynicism.  My takeaway from that is that it’s easy to be cynical about life and death, but it does not change anything.  Instead of remaining pessimistic about it all, I felt the play encouraged me to become more optimistic and happy that I even get to experience life at all.

I extend my congratulations to the Chicago Slam Works cast and crew for their efforts to bring Incendium to life.  Although the run of the show has ended, their next production will premiere at Stage 773 on May 6th, 2016.  It is called This Great Nation, Much Enduring.  I was informed that this production will be about America.  Already, I am looking forward to seeing it, and I encourage you to head to their website to learn more about the poetry-forward company.

Sneak Preview of Chicago’s Newest and Wildest Art Space, Deadly Prey Gallery, Tonight

Deadly Prey Galleryby Legendary Lew

It’s rare that I can approach someone to ask, “May I film your soft opening?” and receive an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

But in this case, I’m talking about Brian Chankin, one of Chicago true treasures of the indie scene. For years, he’s been running Odd Obsession Movies, one of the greatest independent video stores anywhere (catch my 2013 interview with him here).

Now he and his sister, Heidi Anne Chankin, are just about to “soft open” (the

20 Clowns by Marieke McClendon

20 Clowns by Marieke McClendon

grand opening is later this month) the Deadly Prey Gallery, a new art space in Noble Square, with the art show “Real Cool Gen X Mid-Life Crisis” featuring works by Derek Erdman & Marieke McClendon.  The event on Friday, April 3 from 7pm to 11pm at 1433 W Chicago Ave.  As the gallery’s Facebook event page states:

The show doesn’t have a theme that the title may suggest, though there will be a nod of recognition that people of Generation X are now growing old and some of the things that were once charming aren’t aging very well. Time’s inevitable hands are slowly choking the youth out of a large group of people who declared that they’d never grow old. Alas, there will also be paintings of cats & food.

It’s a one-night deal, so I guess you can consider this a sort of pop-up art event with genuine talent attached to it. Bring your cash,  as the Reggae and African tunes will help loosen your wallets.

Elvia Carreon by Derek Erdman

Elvia Carreon by Derek Erdman

Brian and Heidi will also have a selection of Ghanian movie and business poster art from their collection. If you’ve not seen any of these insanely wild  illustrations, you are definitely missing out.

TyPi and I will be along for the event and will gather up some video to present as part of TUGM’s Noble Square video series on YouTube. Go check out that page for more vids of our adventures there.

 

“Scrapers,” a New Stoner Rom Com of Best Buds Releases Sneak Peek Video

scrapersThe Underground Multiplex is proud to present the first peek of Scrapers, a Capra Movie House production, directed by Jake Weisman. This preview takes the form of a short called “Bong Bong.”

In it, Hal (played by Dakota Loesch) sings his favorite song in the shower, a tune sounding somewhat close to the theme of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He imagines himself and his best friend Mary (Sally Anderson) cracking cases in their own detective show on the eve of the #SaveBabyBenson episode.

Scrapers is a new Chicago indie, a romantic comedy for stoners who appreciate the importance of being best buds.

Take a hit off “Bong Bong”:

Internet Hater Chris Dodd Wants Technology to Help Boost Sagging Theater Attendance

ChrisDodd

by Legendary Lew

Variety reports that last year, attendance for the 18-24 year-old age bracket in movie theaters dropped like a stone. It’s serious because, you know, everyone else is dead and will never benefit from films aimed toward them:

The number of frequent moviegoers in the all-important 18-24 age group plunged an unprecedented 21% in 2013, according to MPAA annual statistics released Tuesday at Cinemacon, while attendance in the 12-17 age bracket also saw a precipitous drop off, falling almost 15%.

Frequent filmgoers from 12-24 are likely spending much of their previous moviegoing time watching a variety of other screens.

Well, heavens to Betsy, whatever shall a bloated, non-innovative, money-wasting, inefficient, money-gouging, hypocritical corporate entity do?!

I know! Call in MPAA head Chris Dodd to give the industry a pep talk:

“We need to keep exploring fresh ways of leveraging our new technology to drive traffic to your theaters,” Dodd insisted during his keynote address delivered Tuesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

“We can embrace technology, and use it to complement our offerings,” Dodd added.

I practically shat blood laughing so hard when reading these statements. This is the same Chris Dodd that backed the SOPA and PIPA legislations–so much so that he extorted the White House to try and have its support. SOPA and PIPA would have destroyed the internet as we know it with opposition to the legislation coming from internet companies that regularly help Hollywood promote its films. The public response to Dodd and SOPA/PIPA supporters was a whole lot of this.

It’s also the same Chris Dodd that supported the arrest of Kim Dotcom, only to have the case against him implode over embarrassing allegations, not the least of which was Dotcom’s assertion that he was ready to start a legally-created IPO with MegaUpload. (Dotcom’s new company, Mega, has since created an IPO in New Zealand)

Now, Dodd wants to urge the industry to use technology, i.e the internet, to boost theater tix sales.  Never mind that he tried to explode it a couple of years ago and will, no doubt, try again, unless Dodd has some other new type of technology he wants to introduce to the world.  Oh wait, I forgot, Hollywood doesn’t have one.

Next time Chris Dodd gives a speech, I suggest this type of formal attire.

 

 

We’re Crazy to Have Waited So Long to See This Go

Meineckeclose

by Legendary Lew

This past Friday night marked a milestone in Chicago cultural history. It was the final night some very lucky art lovers were able to attend a gallery showing of master works in the artist’s original setting.  For the last two weeks, Brad and Scott Meinecke along with their crew of assistants entertained art buyers, visitors, gallery owners and others with the stories behind many of their dad’s art pieces.

But this evening was special, it was a farewell of sorts as some of the works of art had found new homes (over 50 pieces sold during the two weeks). Some friends of The Underground Multiplex stopped by as did some Meinecke family friends and associates.

Among those visiting was Gene, one of Tristan Meinecke’s proteges and his favorite one. She, in fact, helped Tristan create the found art piece commonly known as “The Image” out of a discarded tractor cover. Her recollections of Tristan and Angel Casey made for wonderful listening and put the evening into quite the perspective for me.

"The Face"

“The Image”

“Tristan was not crazy,” the spry 91-year old artist insisted, pointing a finger in a manner indicating she’s heard that accusation too many times before. “He had a mental illness.”

And indeed, Tristan Meinecke was not crazy. He was an irrepressible force of Meineckeclose2nature with a ferocious energy. You could see it in his work, displayed all at once in  his West Rogers Park cottage studio that will now be the stuff of art history.

The madness, the outrage, the playfulness–it was all there for the world to see for two short weeks.  Works hidden–in some cases over a half-century–from a previously uncaring and inattentive public.

We were the crazy ones.

The Meinecke/Casey saga continues. Head on over to the brothers’ home sites for Tristan Meinecke and Angel Casey:
www.tmeinecke.com
www.angelcasey.com

Be on the lookout for The Underground Multiplex TV show coming to CAN-TV! We’ll announce the show’s debut here on TUGM, so join us and check back often!

Untitled (The Official Tristan Meinecke Document Numbering System, Vol 1)

Paintscape no. 15: Punctum Contra Punctum

Paintscape no. 15: Punctum Contra Punctum

by Crystal

The above work is entitled “Paintscape no. 15: Punctum Contra Punctum”. Latin for point – counterpoint, the title leads us to consider the work as a visual debate, as a system in which diverse elements comment upon one another. Monochrome lines whose sweeping curves tease contradictory perspectives out of their sharp intersections weave across intermingled clouds of vivid color. A tag on the back displays the name, but the vast majority of Meinecke’s creations were untitled. This was likely a deliberate choice on his part. He preferred for each person to approach each work without any preconceptions.

1609646_10202941278755014_1189576616_nI ended up giving them all names and, for the most part, repeating those names at everyone until they stuck. Assigning each work an arbitrary number works wonderfully on a spreadsheet, but “b-43” is not especially helpful if you’re calling down a narrow stairwell at someone who’s trying to find it in the dark. In that situation, “the rainbow one with the white lines across it” could narrow it down to this and perhaps four or five other paintings. And this is the only one that’s eight feet long. Thus, to me, Punctum Contra Punctum is a delightful, stress-free object which never once during the inventory process required me to tear out any of my hair or hiss at a fellow project member in frustration. Unlike many of its friends.

There are 263 items in the inventory. They range in size from 11″x12″ sketches on fragile tissue paper (1-84) to the gargantuan split-level that measures out at 97″x50″x4.5″ (pic of b-60 leaning against a ceiling beam).

1-84

1-84

Frames, when present, can be elaborate or simple, and are often painted or uniquely shaped in such a way that they are integral parts of the artwork. A significant number of pieces could legitimately qualify as either painting or sculpture. Most are entirely abstract – though we have a running joke that if you look at any Meinecke creation long enough, you’ll see a face in it.

A guest pointed out the face in this one (1-25) to me, just yesterday, at the end of the second week of the gallery show. I was appropriately flabbergasted and burst out laughing.

Eight months ago I began my own exploration of the Meinecke family’s ground floor and basement. My original task was simply to inventory all the art it contained, and to create an organizational system which would make it possible

1-25

1-25

to keep track of all the items while the collection was cleaned and moved to a storage facility. From my experience in administrative work I knew for certain that this would be an exasperating and tedious task.

I had only the faintest suspicion that it would also be a magical adventure.

Chaos cannot be subdued. Order is forever running after it with cameras begging for a quote. In this series, I invite you to follow in hot pursuit as I strive to create the final, definitive, official Tristan Meinecke document numbering system.