Shooting Blanks: The Art of Half-Cocked

Half-Cocked photo by Michael Galinsky over Steve Keene art

1994 was a pivotal year: The art and music community on the East Coast was rocking and filmmakers Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley made a film called Half-Cocked, which featured many band people including Rodan, Slint, Freakwater and the Grifters. Now they have curated, along with Tony Kapel, a new art show called Shooting Blanks: The Art of Half-Cocked, opening Nov. 29 the Seven Seas Motel during Art Basel Miami that pulls together art, photography and ephemera related to the film and the broader community. Some call it nostalgia; others call it historic documentation. We spoke to Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley about their work and the exhibition. Photographs by Michael Galinsky

Joan Wasser by Michael Galinsky

Chickfactor: How did the art show “Shooting Blanks: The Art of Half-Cocked” come about? 
Michael Galinsky: About this time last year Tony asked me to be on his radio show that airs in Miami and online. He wanted to discuss Half-Cocked and my mall photos. We had a great conversation, and he also had several other people involved in the film on the show in the following weeks. Part of our discussion had to do with his surprise that the film wasn’t more widely known, so it was his idea to build an event around it during Art Basel. He suggested showing my photos and the film. Since Half-Cocked was such a collaborative project, and everyone involved with the making of the film is an artist we decided to make it more of a celebration of the kind of creativity that the film was meant to document. We also wanted to loop in others who documented that world, and people like Theresa Kereakes who helped inspire that kind of documentation.

Letha Rodman Melchior by Michael Galinsky

CF: Who is Tony Kapel and how is he involved? 
Suki Hawley: Tony is a musician/artist who does curation and puts out records and cassettes. This made it a very easy collaborative effort. The other day he mentioned that he started telling everyone about this event right after we decided to do it, but that no one really believed we’d pull it off. I laughed when he said this because this was part of the secret of getting Half-Cocked made. I kind of knew that if you told people you were doing something you kind of had to do it. At the very least it puts a fire under your ass. 

Slant 6 by Michael Galinsky

CF: Please describe Half-Cocked the film. 
MG: Suki was in graduate film school and was frustrated and annoyed because it wasn’t nearly as useful as her undergraduate program had been. I was a photographer who wanted to make films. We met at her roommate Cynthia’s birthday party, and shortly after, she started to book a tour for Cynthia’s band Ruby Falls, and she used all of the contacts I’d developed in booking Sleepyhead’s first tours. So that summer, she went on the same route that we often took and met many of the people we knew. That summer she also shot listed the film Party Girl because she was the director’s assistant and the director came from theater. So, she realized she kind of knew enough to make a film. We understood that it’s best to write what you know, and since we knew all of these amazing musicians in the South, we wrote about that. We did a lot of brainstorming with our roommates Cynthia Nelson and Steve Thornton respectively and then Suki and I would write for days at a time. We got a rough script together in a month. I sent it to my dad, who panned it. “Where the fuck’s the conflict?” he scrawled on the title page. We made another pass and sent it to everyone we hoped to have in it. Jon Cook had ideas for a crazy subplot that involved murdering a pizza delivery guy. It kind of exploded what was there. I mentioned this to Sean Meadows the other day, who was also in the movie, saying there wasn’t a way to incorporate it. He asked why not? I guess he was right, we could have done that. However, we really wanted to make something that could get seen. Even in my band we weren’t exploding the boundaries of expectation, just gently pushing them a bit. I loved work that exploded them, but it wasn’t my impulse to do so. 
SH: Half-Cocked is about a bunch of kids who steal a van full of gear and pretend to be a band in order to stay out on the road. The stakes are not as high as Some Like it Hot, but it does borrow some of that kind of slapstick at times. The other inspiration was teen riot films like Over the Edge and Suburbia. There were a lot of other more serious film influences as well; The Last Picture Show and Stranger than Paradise come to mind. The idea was to write a skeleton script and have everyone fill in their roles. We wanted to document the world we were a part of without making a “documentary.” 

Exhibition prints by Michael Galinsky

CF: Who are the artists involved with the show? Tell us about a few pieces in it. 
MG: We tried to be as inclusive as possible, both directly inviting people and making it known that we wanted people to contribute. We focused on the creative community in Louisville and Chattanooga, where Rodan and Boondoggle were from; bands we met on our first tours. However, we also pulled in people like Ron Liberti, from bands like Pipe, Small 23, and Clok Lock—as well as a brilliant poster artist. We have videos from [the late] Letha Rodman (from Ruby Falls), her sitcom Apartment 6, as well as a few of her collages, and a short film we made about her work. She was a huge supporter of all of our efforts. We will also be showing a film made by Ian Svenonius and Alexandra Cabral, The Lost Record. Ian brought a great deal of wit and panache to Half-Cocked as the owner of the van that gets stolen. We have photos from Pat Graham, Theresa Kereakes, Allison Wolfe and others. We have just a growing body of art and documentation and hope to take the show on the road to other locations, and maybe make some kind of book. 

Nikki McClure by Michael Galinsky

CF: We’ve talked a lot about community and documentation. Are those central themes here? What else were you hoping to achieve by wrangling these artists together? 
MG: The most exciting thing to come from this effort is a short film that Suki cut from Andrew Bordwin’s video footage of the Ruby Falls tour. I’d never seen this stuff and it’s really funny because there’s one section where Ruby Falls has their show in Chattanooga canceled and they find out in John Moses’ record shop. Almost the same scene takes place in the film and I had no idea that it had happened on their tour. So, in the short we cut in several scenes from the film that mirror what’s going in their footage. It adds so much to the idea of documentation. There’s a performative aspect to Half-Cocked that’s different in the color video footage. Together, the short video and the film capture something so much deeper than the individual pieces do. 
SH: There’s not much wrangling going on. Everything has fallen together pretty organically. Not everyone could get their shit together to send stuff, and a lot of people don’t have much of their older stuff. However, everyone is still involved in making art in some way. I think it’s all very inspiring to look at and sit with. It’s like mini museum show and hopefully the beginning of a much larger project. 

Photograph by Michael Galinsky

CF: Michael, when did you start taking photographs? 
MG: I started making pictures in high school in a photo class. I took to it like a duck to developer bath. Really, I was the only one in the class who was obsessed right off the bat. I spent many a lunch hour in the darkroom discovering the magic of images forming in the developer tray.

Photograph by Michael Galinsky

CF: What was your first camera? 
MG: My first, and really my only 35 mm SLR camera was a Nikon FG 20 with a shit sigma 3.5 lens. I ran that thing into the ground. The lens was kind of soft, but that gave the work something of a distinctive slightly out-of-focus look, LOL.

Kurt Lilys by Michael Galinsky

CF: Tell us about some of the books you’ve published. 
MG: My first book was Scraps, and it was put out by David Simkins on his Sugar Free Records label. He was a music fan I met in Chicago I think and when he moved to NY he offered to put out a book. I had another book that is still not published, of my early music and tour photos. Scraps is a reference to what was left after I made that book, but it’s also about the scrappiness of the underground DIY world. After that I made a couple of books of my mall work. All the books are out-of-print, but I want to make some new ones. I want to make a book that combines Scraps with the unpublished one Lost. I want to make another one largely based on what I have pulled together for this show. I also want to get to work on the color stuff I shot after 1995 when I got a point-and-shoot camera.

Lori by by Michael Galinsky

CF: How many films have you made together? 
SH: Michael and I have made nine feature films and countless shorts (many of which will be playing in the gallery). We have three or four long-term doc projects in various states of disrepair. 
CF: What are some of the biggest challenges facing creative artists these days? 
MG: There is just a veritable flood of content of all types. I can see how overwhelming it is for my daughter. Everyone is competing for our eyes and ears and so much of that work is overly slick and produced, even the stuff that’s meant to be messy and fucked up. No one wants to pay for creativity or “content.” It’s a shit show.

Coney Island by Michael Galinsky

CF: How would you describe the Half-Cocked era compared with 2021? 
MG: What we wanted to document in Half-Cocked was a world that was unconcerned with the expectations of the larger world. It wanted to be separate and disconnected. Now that’s happening in a million different ways in small groups—but also wildly connected through social media, and with so much intention. I’m glad we got to do what we did then.
CF: Half-Cocked came out around the time the internet truly took over our lives. What was better before personal technology changed everything? 
Everything. And nothing. 

Stereolab by Michael Galinsky

CF: Explain what the Soundwave Art app is and how it will be used in the show. 
SH: Soundwave basically turns each image into a QR code. So when you point your phone it can bring up whatever reference we want. It makes the show so much more interactive. Michael has a lot of spoken word and music that goes with his photos. It just makes the whole thing much more interactive. We can link to videos by band, or sound pieces etc. It adds a great deal.
CF: What are your future plans? 
MG: I really want to tour with the film again so that we can see the world but also celebrate the art that went into it. So many of the acts are still making work, and hopefully this will help them get more attention
SH: me too!

Watch the trailer or rent the movie here.

Shooting Blanks : The Art of Half-Cocked will feature work by the filmmakers Suki Hawley & Michael Galinsky (RUMUR), as well as past and current work from the cast, crew and artists connected to the scene documented in the film: 

Akeo Ihara / Allison Wolfe / Amy Davis / Andrew Bordwin / Barbara Johnson / Brian Lynch / Bob Fay / Cynthia Nelson / Catherine Irwin / David Pajo / Erin Smith / Gail O’Hara / Greg King / Ian Svenonius /Janet Beveridge Bean / Jason Noble / Jon Brumit / Jon Moritsugu / Jon Moses / Kevin Corrigan / Leslie Gomez-Gonzalez / Letha Rodman Melchior / Luis Collazos / Jeff Mueller / Jennifer Rogers-Anderson / Maitejosune Urrechaga / Michael Galinsky / Ron Liberti / Pat Graham / Sean Meadows / Suki Hawley /Tara Jane O’Neil / Tara Key / Theresa Kereakes / Tim Furnish / Tim Foljahn / Thom Snively

Half-Cocked is a 1995 film that documented the DIY underground music scene in and around Louisville, Kentucky, in the early ’90s. It was a vibrant, creative community that had a powerful impact on musicians around the world. This show will celebrate the art and the artists associated with that scene, then and now.

The exhibition will include screenings of Half-Cocked, other Rumur films, and a slideshow + Q&A on Galinsky’s photo book Decline of Mall Civilization. In 1995, the Half-Cocked soundtrack was released on Matador Records. The cast included members of the bands Rodan, The Sonora Pine, June of 44, Ruby Falls, LungFish, Slint, Nation of Ulysses, Shipping News, Boondoggle, The Grifters, Sleepyhead, Freakwater and Crain.

PUBLIC HOURS
Tuesday, November 30 – Saturday, Dec 4 / 11 am — 6 pm
Sunday, Dec 5 / 11 am — 5 pm

IN THE COMMON SPACE
SATURDAY Dec. 4, 2021

4pm
The Decline of Mall Civilization
Book slide show and Q&A
with Michael Galinsky

6:30 pm
Half-Cocked
Film Screening and Q&A
with Suki Hawley & Michael Galinsky

8PM Live Music
Gown 
BORRI
Rat Bastard
Nightly Closures
Pocket of Lollipops
KC Jankem

Photo by Theresa Kereakes for the Shooting Blanks show
The location of the exhibition

CF22 and hangover lounge second london event

We are teaming up with our pals at The Hangover Lounge to have a lovely laid-back Sunday afternoon event with some quiet music upstairs and some gentle DJ action downstairs.

july 13 at the lexington!

upstairs: the catenary wires & the just joans

downstairs: DJ bob stanley & chickfactor DJs & hangover lounge DJs

the catenary wires are amelia and rob from various bands you know! cannot wait to see what they’ll play!

the just joans are a Scottish pop group we’re excited to have play!

daytime, usual hangover lounge hours.

DJ Bob Stanley is bound to make your day 100% better.

Team chickfactor & Team Hangover Lounge will also get on the tables and make your head not spin.

(Yes, this happens to be the same day as the World Cup Final, but worry not, footie fans. This thing will be well over by the time it begins!)

Photograph by Alison Wonderland

chickfactor 22: festival of pop!

chickfactor is super-excited to announce two shows featuring 8 of its favorite bands at the bell house in brooklyn!

Thursday, March 20: 

Withered Hand
Jim Ruiz Set
Lilys
Amor de Días

Friday, March 21: 

The Clientele
Versus
Barbara Manning
The Saturday People

Doors 7pm, showtime 8pm. $20 advance; $25 at the door; advance two-day pass $40.
Tickets on sale at noon EST Monday, Feb 3!
Also will be available at Other Music.

Thursday, March 20

WITHERED HAND From Edinburgh and led by Dan Willson, the ace band has a brand-new second album, New Gods, coming out March 25 on Slumberland Records. It was produced by Tony Doogan (Mountain Goats, Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, The Pastels) and features a stellar array of guests including members of Belle & Sebastian, Frightened Rabbit, Black Tambourine and The Vaselines. New Gods also features CF cofounder Pam Berry and a song called “Black Tambourine”! New single.

JIM RUIZ SET Hailing from Minneapolis, the legendary Jim Ruiz & Co. often play at CF parties. They released Mount Curve Avenue, their third LP, in 2012 and on vinyl in 2013 on Shelflife Records. Their jazzy Max Eider-influenced pop has always made us swoon. Tonight’s lineup is Jim Ruiz, Emily Ruiz on drums, Allison Labonne on bass, and Kim Serene on marimba and accordian. (Interview in CF9)

LILYS / KURT HEASLEY Super-talented East Coast (mostly DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania) songwriter Kurt Heasley has been putting out records as Lilys since 1991 that feature a noisy brand of pop we love. He has been working on some new material and will play some of that tonight.

AMOR DE DÍAS The London-based duo featuring Lupe Núñez-Fernández (Pipas) and Alasdair Maclean (see The Clientele) hasn’t toured in the US since 2011. They released a brilliant second album called The House at Sea on Merge Records in January 2013. The combination of Spanish guitar, English melancholy, the spirit of Gal Costa and a touch of cinematic magic makes them one of the most intriguing songwriting pairs working today. They’re currently making their third album. Recent track!

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Friday, March 21

THE CLIENTELE Originally from Hampshire and now London, the Clientele is one of our fave pop acts of all time. This lineup featuring Alasdair Maclean, James Hornsey on bass and Mark Keen on drums hasn’t played together since 2005. The group hasn’t played in the US since 2010. These three got back in the studio for the first time since 2010 to record a new 7″ single for the Merge Records Thousands of Prizes thing, which is their first new material in 4 years. (interviewed in CF13)

VERSUS Many associate this band with ’90s indie rock but they put out a pretty bad-ass LP on Merge Records in 2010 titled On the Ones and Threes. Another “chickfactor house band,” Versus has switched off members over the years but this year will be the handsome Baluyut brothers Richard and Ed and foxy Fontaine Toups (CF Cover Girl issue 6).

BARBARA MANNING Barbara Manning used to be the poster girl for San Francisco, and has participated in some of the best pop music ever (with 28th Day, World of Pooh, SF Seals) and especially as a solo artist. She’s currently living in Long Beach and is a high-school chemistry teacher! We are very happy to have her on the lineup. CF Cover Girl issue 4.

THE SATURDAY PEOPLE This fab DC pop group hasn’t played in a while! Featuring the original lineup, which was Terry Banks (Dot Dash, Tree Fort Angst, glo-worm); Dan Searing (glo-worm); Greg Pavlovcak (Ropers); and Ara Hacopian. Interviewed in CF15.

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chickfactor fanzine was started in 1992 by pam berry and gail o’hara in d.c./nyc.

joe pernice added to CF21!

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we couldn’t be more excited to announce some good news: one of chickfactor’s top songwriters ever, joe pernice (pernice brothers, scud mountain boys, new mendicants), will be added to thursday night’s bill at chickfactor 21 with dump, lois and the jim ruiz set.

we are also thrilled to announce several of our guests: rose melberg’s band imaginary pants + tae won yu (kicking giant) will both be playing sets at cf21. each night starts right at 8pm so get there early!

photograph by l. stein.

nothing’s too good for the common people: a paul kelly retrospective!

Poster

nothing’s too good for the common people:

a paul kelly retrospective

 

saturday 15 june 2013, 11am–6pm

cantor film center, 35 east 8th street (between greene street and university place)

free and open to the public (but you must RSVP)

presented by the colloquium for unpopular culture & chickfactor 21

11:00am: introduction by sukhdev sandhu

11:15: this is tomorrow (2007), 54 min (NYC premiere)

12:15pm: what have you done today, mervyn day? (2005), 45 min (NYC premiere)

1:30: finisterre (2003), 60 min

2:45: take three girls: the dolly mixture story (2012), 40 min (NYC premiere)

3:45-4:15: discussion between paul kelly and bilge ebiri/ Q&A

4:30-6:00: lawrence of belgravia (2011), 86 min (NYC premiere)

over the last decade, paul kelly – already well known as a musician (as a member of the much-revered east village and birdie) and graphic designer – has forged a reputation as one of the most distinctive british documentarians of his generation. refining an unusually lyrical brand of psychogeography informed by pop-modernist aesthetics, he moves between the city symphony, film essay and companionate portraiture to fashion beautifully composed and deeply atmospheric evocations of overlooked places and individuals. whether working in collaboration with the band saint etienne on a lushly ambient trilogy about london, or in his witty and empathetic films about the much-beloved dolly mixture and lawrence of felt, kelly’s films are immediately recognizable and immediately lovable.

nothing’s too good for the common people is the first retrospective of this key filmmaker’s work to have been held anywhere. organized by the new york-based colloquium for unpopular culture (kiss me again: the life and legacy of arthur russell; leaving the factory: wang bing’s tie xi qu; a cathode ray séance: the haunted worlds of nigel kneale) in collaboration with chickfactor magazine, it will feature the US premieres of many films, introductions by a constellation of artists and musicians, and paul kelly himself in discussion with the director and writer bilge ebiri.

to mark nothing’s too good for the common people, there will be available for sale copies of a very limited-edition book designed by rob carmichael (john cale, LCD soundsystem, animal collective’s ‘crack box’) and featuring contributions by a wide range of writers, musicians and architectural historians including jon dale, travis elborough, alistair fitchett, dan fox, joe kerr, stephin merritt, jude rogers and peter terzian.

 

the chickfactor & gaylord fields pop quiz!

pop-quiz

the first night of our chickfactor london 20th-anniversary party featured a screening of paul kelly’s ace documentary take three girls: the dolly mixture story followed by a pop quiz created by the zine’s cofounders gail and pam and gaylord fields (wfmu dj who also MCed the saturday show at bush hall and DJed upstairs at sunday’s show), who also presented the questions. the questions and answers for the quiz are listed below! the event took place at the horseshoe pub in clerkenwell on friday, november 16.

part one: lyrics to identify

  1. “I crawl like a viper through these suburban streets / make love to these women languid and bittersweet’’

answer: steely dan, “deacon blues”

  1. “when we groove on into town / charles atlas he starts to frown”

answer: josef k, “sorry for laughing”

  1. “nibbling on bacon, chewing on cheese / sammy says to susie ‘honey, would you please be my missus?’ ”

answer: america, “muskrat love”

  1. “it is your blood I crave / I am the bitch goddess from beyond the grave”

answer: future bible heroes, “I’m a vampire”

  1. “your eyebrows may be the best thing in town/I’d like to shoot ’em up and make ’em frown”

answer: dolly mixture, “how come you’re such a hit with the boys, jane?”

  1. “don’t throw your hand / if you feel you’re alone / no no no you are not alone”

answer: r.e.m., “everybody hurts”

  1. “oh but being with you is like killing bob dylan / if I had to do it I would die”

answer: pipas, “cruel and unusual”

  1. “beetles and eggs and blues and pour a little everything else / you steam a lense stable eyes and glass”

answer: cocteau twins, “cherry coloured funk”

  1. “it’s the singer not the song / ‘something’s gone wrong’ said the spider to the fly”

answer: belle and sebastian, “chickfactor”

part two: trivia questions

  1. what was the first single on caff records?

answer: east village “freeze out” / cath coughlan “Im’ long me measaim”

  1. what record store did slumberland records boss / black tambourine member mike schulman work at in the u.s.?

answer: vinyl ink, mod lang

  1. what band recorded the largest number of peel sessions?

answer: the fall (24)

  1. what dance troupe replaced pan’s people on top of the pops?

answer: ruby flipper

  1. what motown offshoot released only one single by sammy davis jr?

answer: ecology

  1. who were the three founding members of biff bang pow?

answer: joe foster, alan mcgee, dick green

  1. what is the name of nick drake’s home in tanworth?

answer: far leys

  1. what was the flexi only label matt haynes ran that preceded sarah records?

answer: sha-la-la

  1. what fanzine did katrina tender trap publish in the 1990s?

answer: charity shopper

  1. what was the original name of the clientele?

answer: the butterfly collectors

  1. what band played the bowlie weekender and is also playing chickfactor 20: for the love of pop! london this weekend?

answer: the pastels

part three: audio clips (the kids only got to hear a few seconds of each)

  1. sugarcube” — yo la tengo
  2. alone again (naturally)” — gilbert o’sullivan
  3. try” — delta 5
  4. she cracked” — the modern lovers
  5. ce petit coeur” — françoise hardy
  6. the most beautiful girl in the world” — prince
  7. candy” — the magnetic fields
  8. it’ll never happen again” — tim hardin
  9. call me maybe” — carly rae jepsen
  10. linus” — birdie
  11. working girls (sunlight shines)” — the pernice brothers
  12. long hot summer” — the style council
  13. bigmouth strikes again” — the smiths

the pipas & amor de días team won the quiz, which may be a bit unfair since there were two questions involving pipas and the clientele, but the momtch/travis table took home most of the prizes (chickfactor london posters designed by tae won yu and badges designed by lupe pipas) and non-vegan treats.

quiz photo courtesy of mark pipas!