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Struggles of the Artist: Festival Express & More Thoughts on Art School Confidential

Yesterday, I mentioned my feelings about Art School Confidential. In the comments section, the Lovely Artisan responded with this: "I really, really disliked Art School Confidential. I thought it was really muted in comparison with what I find hysterical and terrifyingly ironic about going to art school." I think she has pin-pointed one of the problems I had with the movie but could not exactly put my finger on--with all the actual drama that occurs naturally when you transplant a bunch of creative people into one place and force them to live and work together, who needs some lame-o, badly-written murder plot? I know that when I arrived at [Wild Liberal Art/Entertainment Industry College], I sure experienced a very severe culture shock. Having grown up in a small town, just being in Boston was nerve-wracking. I had to deal with suite-mates who were both nice and completely insane. And most of all, I had to deal with classes. The one thing I discovered that was more difficult to take than anything else was not the students who got praised for work I found to be appalling. The hardest thing was running up against people I considered to ACTUALLY be much more talented than me. It's going to come out sounding conceited, but in high school, I was kind of a big deal. Big fish in a small pond, of course, but I really can't think of anyone there who wrote better than I did (Nerd Queen was on my level, but we had very different concentrations) and I had the awards and accolades to prove it. I built my identity around being "The Writer Girl." Then I arrived at college to find classrooms FULL of people who had defined themselves that way--and some of them were a lot more talented. It's a shock to the system to have that doubt, that feeling that maybe you are not really as good as you thought. I guess that ties in to my problem with the main character of Art School Confidential--he takes way too much in stride. He is thrown off a little (in a mousey kind of way) but for the most part he takes the wacky behavior of those around him in stride. Frankly, I would say my own college experiences resembled more closely Dead Man on Campus (no, not with the whole "plotting to fake the roommate's suicide" thing and more with the trying to balance a social life and a heavy academic load, dealing with sharing living space with people who are not like you in any way, experiencing new thoughts, ideas, and substances while still staying grounded and focused) than this movie. Also, Lovely Artisan, I'm glad we agree that Jeff Goldbloom is the shizz.

2. Last night, I watched Festival Express which was pretty good. It's a documentary about how in 1970, this promoter gathered up a bunch of the biggest rock bands of the time, put them all on a train, and travelled across Canada for a week doing shows. When I say big, I mean Janis Joplin, The Band, the Greatful Dead, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Buddy Guy, etc. There is some great concert footage, but the best parts are definitely the times when they're filming the bands all just chilling on the train. There's random jams going on in almost every car--Janis, Jerry Garcia, and Rick Denko rocking out together on some old traditional song, or Buddy Guy singing while accompanied by Phil Lesh and Richard Manuel--unbelieveable combinations of musicians. Not to mention that all of them look like they are having a rocking good time. It's a fascinating film if you're into that kind of music, and as a documentary it's very well done--there is a lot of actual footage from the train and the concerts (including many full songs), plus interviews with some of the artists, promoters, and members of the audience. I definitely recommend it to any fan of 70s rock.

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