Structure and Flow
Crafted to Last – Minnesota Beer Blossoms is my first feature-length film. I had created feature-length pieces while producing Art Temple and The Temple Tapes for public access on MTN, but the only way to present longer pieces in a 28.5 minute time slot was to make a multi-part series. The 4 part Patriot Series (TT #17 – #20) is an early example. Made from late 2001 through July 2002 these episodes were part of our response to the fall of the WTC in NYC in September 2001 and the fear mongering that followed in its wake. These videos are haunted by the ghost of those chaotic days. The Patriot Series was intentionally provocative from the get-go and has become even less mainstream and politically correct during the 12-13 years since it was in the Saturday night broadcast rotation on Channels 17 and 33 in MPLS.
Embedded within the Patriot Series is one of the most potent story lines of The Temple Tapes, the quest for the Bush Altar. This thread is emblematic of the linear aspects of the long-running TV series, especially in the immediate post-911 era. Many of our local artist friends felt as though the emergence of international terrorism on US shores had undercut their work and rendered it less relevant. It was 180 degrees different for the Temple Tapes. We had been working underground since suspending the Art Temple series and the Voices from the Well Open Microphone. We had successfully twisted the messy result of the 2000 Electile Dysfunction into a victory for the Art Temple Mandala, a small cell of undercover shamans experimenting with chaos magick, social commentary and absurdist satire. We hit the underground running.
The Temple Tapes ran for more than 60 episodes and almost 7 years on public access (1999 – 2006) in Minneapolis. It was my second TV series. The short-lived Art Temple (1997- 98) was the first. Both were made with Neil Levy/Meatman/Bill Carson/Tom Rifle without whom Transreality TV would not have been possible. I had a lot of fun making video with Neil. While editing I treated him like an oracle or a channel. I’d find the golden nuggets of dialogue then string them together with my side of the discussion and additional video/music interludes. After he moved to AZ it got a lot more complicated to continue the series, but we kept it going for quite a while long distance. Thanks, Neil. It was a pleasure.
In many ways, the Temple Tapes was a model for Crafted to Last – Minnesota Beer Blossoms. The basic structure of the two works are essentially the same. Both story lines relate narratives that unfold on various time scales. Both feature a mixture of oral story telling and commentary with music and visual segments. Although the topics are quite different, the flow and rhythm of the rhetorical back and forth is very similar. The Water and Beer Interludes in CTL owe quite a bit to earlier work mixing dialogue with music, sound, and image. The main contribution of the public access experience to making the documentary was confidence. I knew I could make the film I envisioned in my mind and that is precisely what I did.