"Thank God for film archivist Dennis Nyback. If not for his encyclopedic knowledge of rare films and his tenacity for acquiring them, we would never have the privilege to view some astounding works of cinema." Kim Morgan

Dennis Nyback takes his films around the world. Find out how to book a show, what programs are available, how to arrange for custom programming, and just about anything you would like to know about Dennis Nyback.

Hollywood Garbage and How to Smell It

Published in Otherzine Issue One

The continuing waste of Newspaper space in the Arts and Entertainment pages on Hollywood movies mystifies and appalls me. Please be advised that I use the term Hollywood very loosely and intend it to cover 90% of current films. For roughly twenty years, the films being churned out have had nothing to do with art and everything to do with money. If these films should be reported on at all it should be in the financial section. The Arts & Entertainment pages should report on just that: films that qualify.
How is that we’ve arrived at this desperate place? In the late Seventies, the big motion picture producers hit on a formula
for money-making movies and have stuck to it. The big secret of the formula is the concept of structured mediocrity. Don’t strive for greatness, play it safe. Don’t challenge the audience, feed them pabulum. Filmmaker John Woo recently said “Movies today lack heart and tears. Studios don’t want to take the risk”.

In contrast, Robert Browning once said “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp”. That statement is the antithesis of Hollywood today. They realize that art is not created by playing it safe but instead of reaching further, they grasp the easily attainable. Over and over and over. The critics have apparently failed to notice this and continue to take part in this colossal fraud by writing about the same old shit.

The steady growth of the pure Garbage spewed out every year results in a massive waste of newspaper ink and pulp. The modern market of exponenentially increasing multiplexes, short theatrical runs, unlimited TV channels, and video outlets, effectively monopolizes the limited available newspaper space. As a result, films made by people whose vision goes beyond profit are lost in the flood of celluloid sewage with its mega ad camapigns. This tacit conspiracy between film producers and newspapers almost guarantees that films made for profit will succeed and films made for art will fail.

The first part of the formula for box-office success that I mentioned earlier is an overriding philosophy. The most important thing is to strive for mediocrity. The mediocre film doesn’t need to generate huge box office in the theatres. It may take a while but product placement alone offsets much of the cost. After the US theatrical run comes the Overseas markets, TV, and Video. The only way to screw this up is to try and make a better film. A film that challenges an audience, that is thought-provoking and something more than chewing gum for the eyes is the only one that can fail.

The second part of the standard formula emphasizes style over substance and includes the followng dictates:

  • Start with a concept, not a script, writing is not important.
  • Never depend on the vision of one writer but get a committee so that one writer can spot the mistakes the others are making.
  • Get a star, acting is not important.
  • Get a bombastic composer. The composer is more important than the writer. Good writing is rare and difficult. So, why bother doing that when you can stir the emotions with loud music. (In certain films aimed at the baby-boom generation, a composer is not even neded; a disc-jockey is. Select the right blend of golden oldies a la Quentin Tarentino and you’re home free!)
  • Get some special effects, again volume not content is important.
  • Most importantly, tack on a happy ending. Voila! It goes down easy and has no side effects such as being remembered a week later when the same thing is dressed up and trotted out again.
I say that this has now been going on for twenty years based on a conversation reported in the New York Times several years ago. The reporter followed a maverick Hollywood producer around for awhile and wrote about him. At one point he is having lunch with a mainstream producers and says to him “Remember how great some of those films were back in the Seventies when they would actually have unhappy endings? Films like MEAN STREETS and THE PARALLAX VIEW and MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER?” The mainstream guy just looked at him like he was an idiot and said “Oh, that. That all ended with ROCKY!”.The producers have realized this but the critics still haven’t caught on. Many critics are now simply “Quote Whores”. They will try to include one catchy line in every review they write in the hope that it will be used and credited to them in the advertisements. As long as they get their name in the ads, their career is a success. No matter how lousy a film is, it can always find a half dozen critics who will say it’s great in some quotable way. In today’s New York Times, Siskel and Ebert give “two thumbs up” to seven crummy movies. They also trot out the tried and true “A great date film” for an eighth. Paul Wunder is quoted as saying THE LOST WORLD is “The entertainment event of the decade”. Maria Sales says CONAIR is “The Roller-coaster ride of your life”. Joel Siegal says SPEED 2 is “A great summer film”. Janet Maslin says BREAKDOWN “Packs a punch”. It goes on and on. Silly overstatement, mindless hyperbole, trite cliches and out and out lies.

To help people to just say no to Hollywood Garbage, I offer the following ten suggestions:

  1. Never go to a film because it is “The Number One Film In America”
  2. Never go to a film that used more than two script writers or is based on a best selling novel.
  3. Never go to a film that advertises its soundtrack on sale. Especially if it lists several artists as being featured on the soundtrack.
  4. Never go to a film because you saw it advertised on Television or because the trailer had a hilarious line. Trailers were once used to hint at what you would see. They didn’t want to give anything away free but make you shell out money to watch. Today they use the best scenes and funniest lines to sucker you into believing that there’s plenty more where that came from.
  5. Never go to a film that features product tie-ins with any multi-national burger chain.
  6. Never go to a film that runs an advertisemet with guns pointing at your or that has a number after its title.
  7. Never go to a film if it’s based on a true story and you’re expecting the truth.
  8. Never go to a film based on a TV show that baby-boomers remember.
  9. Never go to a film that is so bad that even Siskel and Ebert don’t like it and the producers have to resort to some quote whore you’ve never heard of from an equally obscure publication.
  10. Never go to a film with Quentin Tarentino, Oliver Stone, or anyone else that you care to add to this list.

That’s enough for now. See you at the Movies!

Ten Years in Short A report from 2005

Published in Otherzine Issue 11    Aug 2006

Bad Bugs BunnyIt was a Monday in late September of 1996. I was sitting in my movie theater, The Lighthouse, on Suffolk Street at Rivington, in New York, when the phone rang. It was the New York Times calling. I had been waiting for the call for two months. It was about a feature article, with pictures, about my theater. The story had been written in July and been waiting for available space. The caller told me it would be in the Thursday edition. They wanted me to proof the story for errors. I told them not to run the story. My lease was up at the end of the month and I would be closing the theater and vacating the premises. It was not an uncommon New York story. I had taken a rough space a year earlier and had transformed it into a movie theater. The theater had been written up in all of the New York papers and in a couple of magazines. The Village Voice had led off a “Best in the City” feature with “To The Lighthouse,” a glowing story about my place and me. With the year lease coming to an end my landlord had told me that the new lease would be at over three times the old. I supposed that was because through my efforts the place was much nicer than when I had found it. The landlord realized I could go to court and challenge an eviction. He offered me ten thousand dollars if I would leave quietly. Good press doesn’t always mean good business. I had barely survived the first year. The twenty thousand dollar nest egg I had arrived in New York with was gone. There was no way I could pay three times as much rent. I took the money. It was a wise decision. Six months later my landlord made the front page of the Post for trying to kill two tenants who refused similar offers.

In February I will be showing films at the Cinema Village. What have I been doing the previous ten years? The years as a theater owner, in Seattle as well as New York, had left me the owner of thousands of short films. After closing The Lighthouse I managed to eke out a living curating programs from my collection for various venues in New York, the West Coast, and abroad. My most requested programs include Bad Bugs Bunny, Stag Party Special, Fuck Mickey Mouse, The Mormon Church Explains It All To You, The Dark Side of Dr. Suess, Billie Holiday From First to Last, and The Effect of Dada and Surrealism On Hollywood Movies of the 1930’s. In all I have created over three hundred film programs. In New York I would regularly show films at The Cinema Village, The Pratt Institute, The Collective Unconscious, and at bars and art galleries. Every spring I would take films to Europe. In the summer I would escape the heat of the city by showing films on the west coast.

‘Bosko In Person’ (1933) It was a nice life. It lasted until 1999. In June I was showing films in Portland, Oregon, at the Clinton Street Theater. The Clinton had been a regular stop on my west coast tours. I would usually do a one week run of fourteen film programs. Arriving at the theater I was told it would be closing at the end of the summer. It was the oldest continuously running movie theater in the United States. I made an agreement with my ex-wife in Seattle to take over operation of the theater on September 1st. We had operated a theater together before, and we both liked the challenge of reviving a 350 seat neighborhood movie house built ninety years ago.

I arrived back in New York on July 15 by way of San Francisco. A friend had promised me $100 if I arrived on that date to show films at a gallery. I did the show and was given fifty bucks. Not everyone in NY is as honorable as my former landlord who is now in prison. Twelve days later I rented a truck and collected things I had in storage in several places around Manhattan. That included a pair of 35mm projectors that I had loaned to Films Charas on East 9th. My 1938 Rockola juke box was at Rick Prellinger’s film archive space in the Meatpacking District. Some filing cabinets, theater seats, and other furniture was in the basement of the Cultural Center across the street from Lighthouse. Various things, including my collection of vintage baseball bats, were in the old Andy Warhol warehouse on St. Marks. I managed to collect everything except the theater seats which I donated to the cultural center and the baseball bats which were gone. It wasn’t the end of the world. What actual use did I have for vintage bats engraved with the names of Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Paul Waner, and other Hall of Fame players? The hard job started the next day. My films were stored in Staten Island at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. They occupied half of the top floor of a three story building. It had been built in the 1880’s. The building had a tin roof and no insulation. The city was sweltering under a heat wave when I started moving the films into the truck. Working by myself it took two days of carrying forty pound loads down three flights of stairs. I don’t know what the temperature was in the room under the tin roof. After descending the stairs and stepping outside it would feel cool in the near 100 degrees heat. On the walk back up I would stop to drink a cup of water. On July 30 the truck was fully loaded. I was ten pounds lighter. It was my 46th birthday.

Defining the 1970’s Through Classic Commercials I arrived in Portland on July 11. I was lucky to be alive. The brakes on the truck had gone out in Huntington, Indiana. I was able to stop the truck without damaging anything. The truck company arranged to have the brakes repaired there. Huntington is the home of the Dan Quayle Museum. I had a very pleasant couple of hours there looking at mementos from Huntington’s favorite native son. Back on the road the truck was fine until I neared Iowa City. Going up what seemed to be the only hill in the state there was the loudest bang I had ever heard. It was followed by a sound like a metal bat hitting the inside of garbage can. The truck lost power. I coasted to a stop on the side of the interstate. The bang had been the sound of the drive line breaking. The banging was the sound of the broken drive line hitting the underside of the truck. Parts of the underside were ripped up pretty good. The gas tank was only dented. That was lucky. Tearing the gas tank would have resulted in a fireball that probably would have killed me. Walking along the freeway to an on-ramp that would have a phone I was picked up by a biker who -must have seen the stopped truck and decided to take pity on me. He was a Viet Nam vet on a Harley on his way to the big bike meet in Sturgis.

I spent two nights in Iowa City waiting for the truck to be repaired. It is a nice town. The only drawback was that several bikers on the way to Sturgis were staying at my motel. Many of them were early risers who didn’t like to hit the road before idling and revving their engines for several minutes. The bikers would start about five in the morning and keep it up until I got of bed an hour or two later. I was almost half way to Portland and getting nervous. I shouldn’t have been – the truck was repaired and the forced rest had done me good. The truck labored crossing the Rockies but made it over the top. I arrived in Portland without any further trauma. My arrangement with the Clinton was to do seventeen nights of films starting on Friday the thirteenth of August. The theater would use the money to pay off debts. I took over the theater on September 1. While running the theater I could still take time to go to Europe in spring.

Bad Bugs Bunny In 2003 I left the Clinton Street Theater, moved to New York and got married. The theater is still in business and doing well. I am going to Europe in April to show films. Once again I will be traveling without corporate sponsorship, public funding or private grants. But things have changed in the ten years since my first tour. As a freelance ambassador of American culture, I am always treated well, but I can see that the image of America has suffered in the eyes of Europeans. Last year I showed a program called Cartoons Too Violent For Children. In Poitiers, France, a young man, visibly upset, asked me why I had included a Superman cartoon in the program. He claimed that it was just a metaphor for George Bush running roughshod over the world. Murmurs in the crowd showed agreement with him. I was taken aback. To me it was just a violent cartoon. I know the reaction to it would have been different ten years earlier. Just as there have been changes in my life, there have been changes in the world. The changes in my life have all been for the good.


Land of a Thousand Balconies by Jack Stevenson was published in 2003. It has a chapter called “The Nyback Chronicles.” The story of the Lighthouse is in that chapter. In 2004 I received a call from a young man in Portland Oregon. He was opening a small movie theater and wanted to call it The Lighthouse. That was fine with me. The Lighthouse lives on.

I made my first film tour of Europe in 1995; since then I have made seven more tours of Europe as well as Japan, Korea, Australia, Iceland, England, and the USA. 2005 may be my last tour of Europe.

Bad Bugs Bunny, first presented in 1995, remains the most popular film program I have created.

Note from 3/3/12:  2005 was not my last film tour of Europe.  Last year in early March I was flown to Tampere, Finland for the wonderful festival there.  It was my first time in Finland.  Both of my grandparents on my father’s side were born there.  I remained in Europe for a month and then had a week showing films in England after that.

An American in Paris 2004

Original title which I never liked   “Rapt at Unwrapped Bread”

By Dennis Nyback

Published in The New York Spirit  (New York City) June 10, 2004

While standing in line last week in a grocery store in New York, I
noticed the man in front of me was buying a gallon of water. I asked
him how much it would cost. He said $3.79. I thought to myself,
there’s the signal difference between America and France. In France,
red wine costs less than Coca Cola. In America, gas costs less than

Every year I travel in Europe for a month or so, taking my films on
tour. I don’t stay in hotels; I stay with the people who have booked my
programs. I have been doing this for nine years. When I hear George W.
Bush say we are fighting in Iraq for “our way of life”, I know exactly
what he means. We do live differently than they do.

In Europe escalators work on demand. They do not endlessly run while
no one is using them. They sit idle when not needed and start up when
you approach them. Apartment building stairs are not lit twenty four
hours a day. When you step into a dark stairway you will see a lighted
switch. You turn the switch and the lights go on for as long as it
normally takes to climb the stairs. They then go off, until they are
needed again. European apartment kitchens and bathrooms use small water
heaters that work on demand. In America, big water heaters keep
hundreds of gallons of waters hot and ready twenty four hours a day.
Many European apartments have a clothes washer. I have seen only one
with a clothes dryer.

In America everyone gets a bag with every purchase to be later thrown
away and take up space in a land fill. In Europe people provide their
own cloth bags when shopping at grocery stores. Unwrapped loaves of
bread peep out of cloth bags or are held nakedly in hands. At small
patisseries and frankfurter stands your food is handed you on a small
square of paper. Paris streets have very little trash, but the trash
you do see is from MacDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut. It is a
peculiarly American practice to put a hamburger in a Styrofoam
container and place that inside a paper bag.

Gasoline in Europe costs roughly twice as much as it does in America.
In cities people walk or take public transportation. Many smaller
cities in Europe, Munich and Nuremberg for example, have subways.
Trains criss cross the continent. They are comfortable and they run
on time. Danish trains cross bodies of water on specially designed
ferries. Train stations are in the center of the towns and are reached
by public transportation or on foot. On average people are slimmer
than Americans. Could it be walking and not eating fast food has
something to do with it?

I wish more Americans would travel in Europe. I’ll bet that George W.
Bush never went to Europe before he could fly on Air Force One. Maybe
if he had walked through Berlin when he was young, he would have a
deeper understanding of what can happen to a country which prioritizes
putting itself on “war footing”. But Bush is not a curious man.
Overall, Americans are not a curious people.
Only fifteen percent of all Americans have passports. That means only
fifteen percent of us are in a position to judge for ourselves the wide
variety of possible meanings for the phrase “our way of life”. In
France it is affordable wine. In America it is affordable gas. Both
require price supports. Both are national policy. But French soldiers
are not dying to guarantee that a Frenchman can buy a bottle of wine.
In Europe, many small things are done to conserve energy. I’ve seen
how they work. To Europeans, our decision to pursue our abundantly
fossil fueled lifestyle at all cost, without taking these same
conservation measures at home, must seem nothing short of insane.

The Dog Show/The Bike Show 2002

by Dennis Nyback

Published in Otherzine Issue five


Sunday, July 27, was BRING YOUR DOGGIE TO DOGGIE FILM SHOW DAY at the Clinton St. Theater. Yes, doggie films for an audience of at least forty-five dogs and their owners. If you were there you’d have been in dog heaven. A very nice assemblage. big dogs, small dogs, one in a doggie wheel chair, and no un-attractive women brought in as a joke. The dogs were very well behaved. They were also appreciative. During certain scenes a bark of approval was heard. At least I assume they were barking in approval. Other than having several dogs around while growing up, I don’t know that much about them. The house lights were left up a little so the dears wouldn’t get confused in the dark.

The program appropriately started with Puddy the Pup (1936) in…………………………..SCAT CATS! Apparently most of the dogs were illiterate as the title card did not get the response it deserved. The second film was Shep The Farm Dog (1940) a nice black and white oooold educational. This one elicited barks when Shep would run directly at the camera. That sort of action seemed to draw most of the dog’s attention. The next film was Step Lively (1919) starring Harold Lloyd and an un-credited Boston Terrier. Harold tries to steal a hot dog and the Terrier makes his life miserable for the next ten minutes of this one reel short. This one got a big round of applause by the humans. Then came Washee Ironee (1934) with Pete the Our Gang dog (and the rest of the cast). Too bad a lot of these Our Gang shorts can no longer be seen due to their suppression in the interest of erasing evidence of America’s past stereotypical treatment of blacks.

There was then a ten minute break in case anyone needed trip to the toilet or the nearest tree.

The show resumed for the relieved attendees with Tippy The Town Dog (1957) an amazingly dumb and wonderful educational, in Kodachrome. A not too bright ten year old wheedles himself into the ownership of a stray mutt. The title character than runs off. The suspense is incredible as we follow the boy in search of Tippy and follow Tippy’s near misses with automobiles. There is of course a happy reunion at the end.

The triumphant end of the show was provided by Teddy At The Throttle (1916) starring KEYSTONE TEDDY! Also in the cast were Gloria Swanson, Bobby Vernon and Wallace Beery. I’d call Teddy a Great Dane. He absolutely steals the show when he leaps from a second floor window, dives from a cliff into a raging river, and vaults into the cab of speeding locomotive to save Gloria’s life. The audience erupted in barks, cheers and applause at the end of the program.

The mess left behind was much lighter than that left by the people who come to Rocky Horror. The best thing was: a good time was had by all.


In the middle of July I was asked to take part in an interesting event. A rabid bicyclist named Gail Buteau decided to have an outdoor circus and film show. She rounded up a traveling three person circus. They were from New Orleans and were driving around the country in a re-fitted bread truck. It was kind of like an old time medicine show. I would provide the films. They would feature bicycles, circus acts, jazz and dance. The electricity for everything would be generated by seven bicyclists pedaling like mad. A local artisan who makes things out of junked bicycles built the device. It involved two automobile alternators, a car battery, a thousand watt inverter, and a bunch of bikes linked together with chains and gears. To put on a good show I decided to provide a twelve foot pull down screen (no frame to support it), a projector, films, a 1950 Bell and Howell Power Speaker (c.1950 Bell and Howell with a built in 25 watt tube amp), a standard speaker, and everything needed to hook it all up.

The show was Thursday, August 22. I would guess 300 in attendance. It was the same night as the protest against President Bush appearance in town, which siphoned off a lot of the intended crowd. No one at this event got pepper sprayed. Most of them arrived on bikes. Children arrived on foot and in strollers, many clinging perilously to the seat attached to their parent’s Schwin. A few had the temerity to arrive in an automobile. They all loved the films, the circus acts, and the vegetarian food sold from a cart. I ended the show with the finale from Stormy Weather, the all-black Hollywood musical from 1943, in which the Nicholas Brothers come down the huge stair steps landing in the splits at each tier. No crowd can resist going wild over that. It is probably the single greatest thing ever put on film.

I had arrived at the site at five in the afternoon with no real plan to hang the screen. I knew I would use the truck that belonged to the circus. I knew I would need something to put on the roof of the truck to add height. What that something would be was the mystery. I thought I would find something by walking around the neighborhood. A couple of shopping carts would have worked. There were several construction sites, but everything of use was locked up. The site was a grassy, vacant lot at the corner of 20th and Alberta in the slowly gentrifying black section of town. I finally found six milk crates that I was allowed to borrow from a food co-op five blocks away.

To set up, Ed, the owner of the circus got up on the truck. I tossed up the milk crates. I handed up the screen and he set it across the milk crates. He hung on to the screen frame while I pulled the screen down and tied it to the wheels. He then stretched bungee cords from the top of the milk crates to the edge of the trucks roof. Voila! As long as the wind didn’t kick up it would be ok. The seven bikes provided ample power. There were plenty of riders, taking turns. I would run a ten minute film, then Ed or the girls would do an act, not always involving fire, which gave the pedalers a chance to rest and change places. Other than the crowd tromping over everything and accidentally unplugging the power speaker once, the show went smooth as silk.

Ed was front man for the circus, assisted by Rose and Mary. They were darn cute. They did a few tricks, using fire, hoola hoops, etc. The emcee for the night was a man on very tall stilts. He didn’t fall over once. The most popular event was bike jousting. Two riders at each end of the arena were mounted on ten foot tall bikes. They brandished long, padded lances. They sped toward each other and tried to dismount the other. They did it several times. No one was killed.

A Reel of Fire

Published Otherzine  Issue Seven  Sep 2004

projector, ca 1938It happened at the Green Parrot Theater in Seattle in the late 1930’s. The Parrot, or Dirty Bird, to its later low-life customers, lasted until 1979. At the end it was a bottom-of-the-gutter porno theater on First Avenue. Sadly, it was destroyed by an arson fire. Although it had descended from its lofty beginning during the silent film era to cinema degradation it was part of the protected Pike Street Market historic area and could not be torn down. It took a “fire of suspicious origins” to make it give way to what many call progress. Or maybe it was the hand of fate. Fate that had not been cheated, but merely delayed, when it escaped a firey end forty years before.

It had been built in the early twenties as a legitimate movie theater. It was built in the glory days of the silent film. It was before selling popcorn and Coca-Cola became an integral part of the show. Not needing a snack bar, it had only a small lobby. It had a long, narrow auditorium that seated five hundred. There was a small balcony. The square marquee jutted out over the sidewalk. Originally hundreds of incandescent lights adorned it. Later they were replaced by neon. The incandescents only remained as a frame around the edges, controlled by an ancient mechanical chaser circuit device. By the mid 1950s, as the skid road neighborhood grew rougher; it became a sub-run, or sub sub-run house. In the sixties you could see a western triple feature for 35 cents. In the seventies you could see hard-core sex for five dollars. By then much of the neon was broken. There was a Coke machine in the lobby. The incandescents on the marquee still happily chased each other. The patrons inside chased each other in the dark.

On the night of the fire it was still a respectable downtown theater. Just down the street was the beautiful Liberty Theater. Within a short walk were other grand movie palaces. It was the era of reel to reel projection. It was before multi-plexes and automation. A union operator manned the projection booth at all times. Every twenty minutes he would make a seamless reel change without the rapt audience being any the wiser. He would start the show by dimming the house lights, opening the main curtain and projecting the first image, usually a Hollywood studio logo, on the scrim curtain. As the logo faded to black he would open the scrim, bring down the colored foot lights, and the credits would appear on the naked screen. The film stock swiftly running through the projector was called Nitrate. It was aesthetically the best film stock ever created. It was discontinued in the 1950’s. It possessed a black that defined black and white. A black that was black. A black that few filmgoers have ever seen. A black that does not exist in modern film stock. Unfortunately, it could also burst into flame.

In accordance with strict fire codes all projection booths were lined with fire proof metal. Metal walls, ceiling and door. Over the port windows, through which the projection beam passed, were suspended metal shutters. They ran on tracks, much like a guillotine blade, poised to fall at the first sign of flame. Slim chains restrained them. The chains ran through pulleys, over the projectors, and were linked to the projection booth door. Directly above the projector the chain was joined by a heat fuse link. This link would melt at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. If the film caught fire, the heat fuse would melt, all of the port window shutters would slam down, and the booth door would slam shut. This would contain the fire to the booth, protecting the theater’s patrons and the theater owner’s investment. The projectionist was on his own.

All projection booths contained a carbon tetrachloride type fire extinguisher which produced phosgene gas in the presence of flame. Phosgene gas is poisonous. It was used in trench warfare during World War I. By both German and Allied armies. Phosgene often had a delayed effect; apparently healthy soldiers were taken down with phosgene gas poisoning up to 48 hours after inhalation.

safety projectorAt the top and the bottom of the projector the film would pass through tight rollers. They were called fire rollers. They were designed to snuff out the flame. Sometimes they worked. A typical fire would start when the film broke and lodged in the aperture gate. The flame would travel upward. If it passed through the fire roller the upper reel, with up to two thousand feet of film, would be in full flame in ten seconds. The fire would produce copious amounts of smoke and poison nitric acid gas. At the first sign of flame the sensible projectionist would run for the door, jerking the chain as he passed through.

On the warm summer night in question the projectionist was the intrepid Ash Bridgham. He had joined the Union in 1927, making the transition from silent to sound. He was also a pioneer aviator and member in good standing in the OX-5 club, open only to those who had flown in Ox-5 airplanes in the teens and twenties. He wasn’t likely to panic in the face of fear. When the fire started he was standing near the projector. Quick as a cat he grabbed the upper reel and jerked it away from the projector, breaking the film. Unfortunately the burning end of the film came away with the reel. The fire rollers snuffed the fire out before the flames reached the lower reel. Luckily, there was a window in the projection booth. It opened onto First Avenue. A couple of feet below it was the top of the flat marquee extending several feet over the sidewalk. In one motion Ash tossed the burning reel out the open window. He grabbed the extinguisher and ran to the window intending to snuff out the flame. He expected to find the burning reel resting on the flat roof of the marquee. Ah, tis many a slip twixt cup and lip. The burning reel wasn’t there!

Fire extinguisher in hand he clambered out the window onto the marquee. He looked down the street. Maybe it was adrenaline that had made him toss it too far. Maybe it had just bounced. Maybe the hand of fate of had reached out and carried it. In any case, the reel, in full flame, was rolling down the middle of First Avenue. The avenue sloped gently downward to the south. The reel rolled and rolled and as it rolled it unspooled the burning film behind it. Passing cars gave it wide berth. Ash watched until it rolled out of sight.

The Green Parrot remained in business for another forty years before flames finally closed its doors forever.

Getting There is Half the Fun

Published in Otherzine  Fall 2001

What would a film tour of Europe be without an overnight train ride? Leave it to me to figure a way not to find out.

I got out of Nurnberg a couple of hours behind schedule. At 11:00 there was no one to let me into Kinokomm so I could grab my bags am as promised. I killed an hour and a half by sitting on the cement step and doing the Sunday crossword. Around midnight I would regret it. By 2:00 I was finally off and rolling toward two days of rest in Leuven before flying back to America. Things were fine until I changed trains at Koln, a little after five. I blissfully boarded a Thalys train. Unbeknownst to me, it required a supplementary fee. This was explained to me by the conductor.

The train was nothing special, and being in no rush, I balked at paying the extra eight bucks. As a result, I had to get off at Aachen. The next train would do as well. The rub? The next train was in three hours. I decided to take the eight bucks I’d saved and eat dinner. The only problem was I had no German Marks. Here is where the introduction of the Euro screwed me up. I had 9 Dutch gulders in change and a ten gulder note. The Dutch border was nearby. The coins would be worthless the next time I went to Holland with the introduction of the commom currency.

I boarded the milk run to Herleen. It took 24 minutes and I was soon eating a burger and fries in that sorry ass town. I finished eating and took the train back to Aachen. I would have five minutes to make my connection to Brussels. Snag? The milk run ran ten minutes late. Back in Aachen I found the next train to Belgium wasn’t till the next morning. Double snag? My rail pass would expire at midnight.

Two trains came in at the same time. One went to Koln and the other to Dortmund. I asked a conductor if there was a way to get to Leuven by backtracking and working around. It was 9:10. He consulted many pages in his master pocket schedule and finally came up with the answer: take the train out of Aachen in the morning.

I went to the train info desk. The harried clerk was being screamed at by a woman. I asked him about bus service. He told me “In the morning”. I explained my problem to him. He felt that since the late train had caused my problem (not my Euro addled stupidity) that I could get an extra day added to my pass. He also said the night train, not on the schedule, would stop to change from German to French crews, at four in the morning. He told me to come back at 3:30 and he would fix it up. I could do that.

It would help if I had a book to read. I was fresh out. I thought a youth hostel would have a few. I would read anything. Unfortunately, I was informed, the youth hostel was out of town. I killed an hour walking to the only big hotel in town on the long chance some English traveler had left one in the lost and found. A pretty blond desk clerk told me they had no such thing, managing to do it while looking at me like I was a lunatic. That got me to 10:30.

At the Aachen station there is a small doorless waiting alcove off the main lobby. It has five chairs in a row. Opposite are five pay phones. There are three vending machines at the closed end. One of the vending machines talks and makes annoying noises. The noises grew more annoying as the night wore on. It also made it hard to sleep. Other things also contributed to that. A young, well dressed, Japanese girl, her long black hair pulled back in a jaunty ponytail, used the phone. She used it for two hours. She would make a call, heatedly bark into the receiver, for what seemed like forever, get hung up on, and call back and repeat the exercise. She did the same thing to several different people. She barked in Japanese, German, and Italian.

A spry old man with silver hair came in and exchanged greetings with the info guy. He wore gray and black checkered slacks, black socks, black oxfords, and a navy blue pea coat. He had the deep tan you can only get by living in LA or living on the street. There was an inch and a half long gash on his brow that had been not too recently repaired with stitches. He looked like William O. Douglas.

He sat in the chair next to me, pulled his coat up around his ears and went to sleep. He smelled horrible. I wanted to move to the chair at the end of the row, but a bicycle leaned against it. It had been pushed in by a small woman with short curly red hair. It was laden down with tent, sleeping bag, camping gear and who knows what else. The woman had a wrinkled face and couldn’t have been a day under sixty-five. She sat next to the bike carefully studying a map. I wanted to ask her how far she had come, but fearing a language barrier, I remained mute.

I stayed where I was, smelling the fragrant William O., who slept on blissfully undisturbed by the barking Japanese woman, the talking vending machine, and the occasional drunken men who wandered in and out of the station, always speaking in very loud voices. I got up and walked around the corner to the bathroom. It had a turnstile and required 50p to get in. I only had 95p left and decided it wasn’t worth it. When I returned to my seat I found that the woman with the bike had finally left, bound for god knows where. I changed seats. The Japanese woman finally ran out of people to yell at and left at 12:30.

I closed my eyes and nodded off. Nearby drunken voices awakened me. It was one AM. Four men and a woman had invaded the alcove. They each clutched a 16 ounce Tuburg in their hand. They seemed to be arguing about money. The woman didn’t say much. After she’d had enough to drink, she carefully placed her beer on the floor to get ready to talk, opened her mouth, and accidentally kicked the beer can over. She finished talking before righting it. A large puddle of beer moved toward my feet. I moved them.

The arguing drunks left. I was now left with the odor of spilt beer to mingle with the odor of William O. who continued to sleep like a baby. It was one thirty. It went on like that for the next hour. I would close my eyes and immediately drunken men would start singing, the click click click of women’s shoes would pass by on the way to the vending machines, or someone would start speaking angrily into one of the phones. It seemed that every third person who used the machines would drop all of their change on the floor.

At 2:00, I looked once again at the prices on the vending machine. I was 5p short of a candy bar. I decided I really wanted one. I took everything out of my bags searching for a lost coin. I didn’t find one. I then remembered the sound of people dropping their change on the floor. I carefully scanned the floor around the machines. Nothing. I then scanned the floor around the photo booth, instant business card, zodiac bracelet, and other odd machines scattered around the lobby. Nothing. I then did a systematic search of every inch of floor in the entire station. Still nothing, but at least it was now past 3:00. I suddenly realized I was being a fool in not spending 50p to use the toilet. Next spring, with the advent of the Euro, the coins would be worthless. I walked to the turnstile to find it only accepted 50p pieces. I looked both ways and hopped over the turnstile.

At 3:30 I approached the info guy. He was reading a newspaper, a cigarette dangling from his lip, with a small radio playing 70′s pop music by his side. He didn’t seem glad to see me. It had been quiet for all of fifteen minutes. I thought he would make some official notation on my rail pass, or issue me some sort of ticket. He just told me to get on the train and explain the problem to the conductor. Great I thought. I had never found a conductor who spoke English on a night train between Berlin and Paris. It turned out that it didn’t matter. The train was a mile long, and since there was a fifteen minute layover, I could take my time looking for a seat. I walked along a dozen cars with the curtains of the compartments closed, and sleeping passengers within. No one disturbed them. In years past I would have been one of them, only then, before the European Union, we would have all been rudely awakened to show our passports before crossing the border.

I finally came to a car with the curtains open and several empty compartments inside. I entered it, dumped my bags, and was soon asleep. I awakened with a start. Sunlight crept past the curtains. I wondered if I had slept past Brussels and was now on my way to Paris with my expired rail pass. I looked out the window. We were entering a large rail yard. The sign said Brussels Midi. I had awakened just in time. It was 6:00 am. I got off, and after a half hour wait was on the train to Leuven. I sat in first class. The conductor came by. He glanced at my now fraudulent rail pass and handed it back with a “Merci”. I got off in Leuven and trudged through the deserted Sunday morning streets to Stuc. At 7:10 I entered the dorm room and was soon fast asleep. And so goes the end of the race, staggering toward the finish line. Stuc is deserted. All I have to do is find someone to tell me how to get to the train station in the morning and I will be on my way home.

Is It Safe To Watch?

Google Maps

The second time it happened I was able to handle the situation with less panic.  It also didn’t produce as good of a result.  The third time it happened no one even noticed, but it was explained to me later by the person it happened to.  All three events happened at Seattle’s  Pike Street Cinema: people passed out cold while watching films I was projecting.

The Pike Street Cinema  was a sort of microcinema, although that phrase hadn’t really caught on then, which was in 1993.  It had been created in a storefront at 1108 Pike that originally was a large open space.  During an earlier incarnation it had been a day labor office.  It still attracted an occasional laborer who would show up at dawn only to look quizzically at the stuff in the window.  There was also a drug dealer who lived in one of the SRO apartments above the theater.  The “Villa Hotel” had no intercom or buzzer system for guests.  The drug dealer went by the name Cowboy.  Junkies would loiter under his window at all hours expectantly yelling “Cowboy, hey Cowboy” over and over.

There was a sturdy loft four fifths of the way to the back.  In back of the loft was a  room we called the Smoking Parlor,  the Phyllis Schlafly Memorial Uni-Sex Toilet, and the  stairway to the small balcony and projection booth.   One critic said the Pike St. Cinema  had “Ratty shoebox charm.”  Others  called it an “intimate” theater.  That is because it legally only seated 49 people and the wall I had built to form the projection booth, across the front  of the back loft, was very flimsy and allowed me to hear sounds and murmurs from the customers, which usually weren’t all that much.  Flimsy wall or not, no one could have missed the loud thud that came from the auditorium during a screening of   of the 1967 Army Training Film “Field Medicine in Vietnam.” Along with the thud was a tremor that slightly shook the projection booth floor.  I hurried down the stairs and entered the auditorium from the back.

Halfway down the aisle, against the side wall, was the body of a man sprawled out and twitching.  I helped him to his feet and got him into the back room.  I asked if he needed water or if there was anything else I could do to help.  He snarled at me “Just open that window and leave me alone.”  I opened the window and went back to the projection booth.

Shortly after that I had reason to go downstairs again.  Passing through the back room I was grabbed by the guy.  He seemed to come out of a shadow, grasping my shirt with one hand and waving a pair of broken eye glasses in the other.  I noticed he  was bleeding from his forehead and beneath one eye.  I guessed that he had been wearing the glasses when he keeled over and fell on his face, which both broke them and started the bleeding. He said “Look at my glasses!  Look at my glasses!”   I must admit my first thought was about liability.  I mean I was sure he wasn’t seriously injured.  I said in a noncommittal way “That’s too bad.”  Increasing his grasp of my shirt he brought me closer and said “Too bad?  Too bad?  TOO BAD!  No!  It’s ………….GREAT!

I could only stare at him as he continued.  “I am a performer.  I demand that people watch my act and not avert their eyes.  Watching the film I wanted to avert my eyes, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t ask less of myself than I would ask of my fans.  I watched until I passed out cold.  And that shows………………… THE POWER OF FILM!

I became friends with the man.  His act was called Boffo The Clown.  He was most famous for performing his clown act naked on public access tv.  He later did a performance art piece where he led his fans into every bar on Pike Street for a drink before doing his act at midnight in the middle of Pike Place in the Public  Market.  He could also play a little piano and more than once accompanied silent movies at the Pike St. Cinema when I couldn’t find anyone else.


Oct/Nov 1993

Pike Street Cinema
1108 Pike at Boren – 682-7064

Oct. 22-28
Steal America is San Francisco filmmaker Lucy Phillips’ debut feature. Realism is alluded to through the use of a grainy, black and white cinema verit� documentary-type look at three imported slackers and their subsequent inertia. One of the film’s main characters looks, acts and talks like a character from an Anais Nin novel. Yum.
Oct. 29
Just in time for Halloween: the resurrection of a Mexican vampire double-feature with The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy and Dracula’s Coffin. These two are not to be missed.
Oct. 30
Hey kids! It’s Boffo the Clown! Live and in person! I’m scared.

It was during a screening of the black  and white film “Chest Surgery in the UK” (c1955) that again I heard a thud from the auditorium. It also shook the floor of the projection booth.  Going down the stairs I had a good idea what I would find.  Sure enough another man was sprawled out in the aisle.  Luckily he was not wearing glasses.   I was able to get him into the back room and into a chair.  I opened the window and got him a glass of water and stayed with him until he seemed all right. He made no comments about the power of film.   Eventually he returned to the auditorium and watched the rest of the show without incident.  A few weeks later an article appeared in the Seattle Stranger where the movie critic said “I don’t even know the name of the greatest movie I have ever seen.  It was at the Pike Street Cinema and was in black and white from the fifties and had something to do with chest surgery.”  For those of you who have never seen the film.  I can only say it is the closest thing to a nightmare I have ever seen filmed.  The only film that approaches it in that capacity is Eraserhead.


The third time there was no thud and no floor shaking.  The film was “Primate,” a documentary by Frederick Wiseman.  My friend, the artist Friese Undine, told me after the show that in his seat he had passed out while watching the footage of chimps being used in research and eventually came back to his senses with no one around him noticing.  It occurred to me then that there could have been others.  The two most notable events had been with men seated on the aisle who had tried to stand up just as they passed out. It would seem more likely that a person would just lose consciousness in their seat and later come out of it with out making a stir.  I guess I will never no just how many times that might have happened at the various theaters I owned both before and after the Pike St.

John Waters once said that the greatest promotional stunt ever done was by William Castle who had parked ambulances outside theaters with nurses standing by in case anyone suffered “death by fright.”  That was just a gimmick.  I doubt that anything he showed caused people to pass out cold.  It takes a very certain  film to achieve that.  More than that, they show the AMAZING POWER OF FILM.

Dennis Nyback with Jack Stevenson looking down Pike Street hopefully.

Elwha On the Rocks: A Cocktail of Disaster

[ main route map ]

Is it  possible that the Costa Concordia was taken close in to the rocks to impress the girlfriend of the captain?  Of course it is.  Is it possible that a similar thing happened in the state of Washington on the sunny waters of Puget Sound on October 2, 1983?  Well, absolutely.  Here is the sordid tale of that infamous date.

File:M-V Elwha.JPG

The Washington State ferry Elwha first set sail in 1967 and was one of only two Super Ferries in the Washington ferry system.  Super is capable of going out on the ocean and could sail into international and other nation’s waters.  Her normal route is from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands.  She  also makes  run to Sidney in British Columbia, Canada.  She can handle 2,500 passengers and 144 vehicles.  The only other Super ferry in the WSOT system is the Chelan


It was a beautiful fall day when she set sail on her fateful cruise.  At the wheel was her captain, Billy Frittro.  He had made the run many times and saw nothing ahead but blue skies and getting laid.  That was where the trouble began.  Beside him that day in the wheelhouse was the winsome Peggy Warrack.  She owned a house on the shore of Grindstone Harbor.  Suave Cap’n Billy said “How about pointing to where your house is and I’ll take us by for a look.”  Exactly what he was looking at as he said this I am not sure of, but I would guess it was part of Ms. Warrack’s winsome anatomy and not out toward any navigational hazards.  It wasn’t very long after that the the Ferry Elwha struck a submerged rock and ran aground.  There is no official record of what this did to to the little romance Billy had in mind.  There is official record that Captain Billy eventually resigned as the truth eventually emerged from murky depths. His boss Capt. Nick Tracy was later fired for trying to cover up the embarrassing mess.

All passengers and crew escaped death in this debacle. I wish that was the same with the Costa Concordia.


That was not the end of the story.  Shortly after that the Island City Jazz Band released their one and only hit record “Elwha On The Rocks.”  The band consisted of trumpter Tom Skoog, Don Anderson on trombone, Bill Bassen on clarinet,  Skip McDaniel on banjo, Tom Bassen on piano, Vern Conrad on drums, and Gary Provonsha on tuba.  George Burns, no not that George Burns, did the singing.

In 1989 the submerged rock was formally named Elwha Rock by the Washington State Board on Geographic Names.  That was in response to efforts made by Seattle used book deal Greg Lange.

You’d think that Captain Charles Peterson would have learned from the event.  Nope, he took the Elhwa fifteen miles off course in 1996 and scraped  bottom but escaped grounding.  He was summarily fired.  I wonder if his wife was pleased that he tested positive for marijuana after that crash. Wouldn’t  that be better than being distracted by another woman?


When I get time my next blog post will be the even more sordid tale of the Freighter Chavez and the ill fated captain Rolf Neslund.





Time Enough For Everything, or Not?

It was a simple plan.  Create 16 animation programs to be shown at the Grand Illusion in Seattle November 4-10.  Factor in getting the truck through DEQ so I could get new license tabs as required by law.  Factor in my having a job, novel thing that, which took my time from 1:oo to 9:oopm Monday – Friday.  No problem.


I did make it to Seattle and the last couple of nights of shows went about as well as possible, all things considered.  Working the job and getting the truck through DEQ did compromise proper preparations.  To put in the required five days work to maintain full time status on my job I worked Saturday and then Monday-Thursday.  On Sunday I found a new old stock carburetor for the truck on Craigslist for forty bucks.  That was something close to a miracle of coincidence as it was exactly what I needed and for a new one I would have paid over seven hundred bucks.  That was installed on Tuesday.  On Wednesday morning it passed DEQ.  On Thursday morning I had the vacuum advance fixed.  That is a little gadget which is part of the distributor that changes things slightly to compensate for highway speeds and keeps good gas mileage.  Thursday at noon I let Anne drive the truck to a Yoga class she had wanted to observe out on the edge of town.  I then had to get home by myself.  If there had been a cheap motel someplace between work and there I might have taken that option.  Instead I luckily found a bus and didn’t have to take the hour long walk it would have taken.


Friday morning was all the preparation I had left for the week of animation at the Grand Illusion.  With a list of the 16 shows I went to the animation cupboard and threw films in boxes.  When the boxes were full I was ready to go.  Oh, I forgot to add I was trying to buy a spare tire for the truck on Cragslist.  That didn’t work out.  Oh, I also had to talk to the Lawyer about my December 31 auto accident. You might think Geico, as my insurer, could take care of this by themselves.  Nope, it is going toward trial and on December three I have to give a deposition.


I left Marylhurst at 1:45.  I had wanted to leave at noon.  I was not off the campus when I realized I had not taken the films from the 35mm room for the Thursday the 10th of November show.  That reminded me I had not grabbed the vinegar print of the first year of Rocky and Bullwinkle (with ads) for the Saturday matinee.  It also dawned on me that a couple of crucial films had not been in the Animation cupboard.  Those films were included in programs.  Remembering just which  program and where they were thankfully didn’t stump me.  I was finally on the road at 2:00.


Driving to Seattle on a Friday is a bitch.  There was heavy traffic getting out of Portland and I met heavy traffic as soon as I hit Fort Lewis.   I arrived in Seattle at six.  I had films on the screen at the Grand Illusion at seven.  I had enough films for the five shows so far.  That is good sign for things to come.


I am now in a Starbucks in the U District.  There will be a matinee at 1:00.  Starting Monday there will be no matinees.  That thought makes me happy.


Buster Keaton Days!


8/5-6/11  It was a nice weekend.  On Friday at noon we drove off in a rental car to Cottage Grove Oregon. That is about 120 miles south, just past Eugene.   The rental car was because  my thirty year old Chevy pickup is noisy on  freeways and gets mediocre gas mileage.  In Cottage Grove we took part in Buster Keaton Days.  That is because 85 years ago Buster hung out there for several  months shooting  the masterpiece film The General.  The town is also cinematically famous for having scenes shot there for Animal House and Stand By Me.  On the opening night of Friday we got acquainted with our host and other guests and attendees.  Most of them were from distant ports and all belonged to the Keaton appreciation group The Damfinos.  Several of them wore Pork Pie Hats.

There was a screening of Buster Keaton sound shorts and commercials.  The shorts were Grand Slam Opera  (1936), Pest From the West (1939) and Nothing But Pleasure (1940).   The ads were for Alka Seltzer and Simon Pure Beer.  All were shown on the newest possible, probably twenty year old,  EIKI projectors.  One autoload and two slot loads.


The next day I showed Funny Forgotten Men on the EIKI I brought with me.  Anne gave a lecture on films shot in, or featuring people from, Oregon.  Events included an appearance by two very old  and darned sharp people who were at the shoot in 1926.  There was also a bus tour of places around town used as locations, and also the hotel where the crew stayed,


and the baseball field where Buster played.  It is a nice field not just a raised pitcher’s mound, but also a mound in foul territory for pitchers to use when warming up during a game.


Buster played baseball every chance he could.  A lot of those times were because the sky was wrong for shooting.  It was explained he had a wonderful memory for composition and since things weren’t shot in order, or entirety, he would have to remember how the sky looked when a previous shooting stopped so things would match in the editing.  If there were too many clouds he would take a break to play ball. The climax of the film involved a steam locomotive crashing through a high trestle and falling into the river below.  It was cheaper to build a trestle than to destroy and re-build one currently in use.  Buster had to build a spur rail line off the main line, and the trestle, for the shot.  Apparently all the town showed up to see it.


After the film crew left town the trestle was eventually disassembled to reclaim the wood.  The engine lay in the river for nearly twenty years until it was cut up and scrapped for the war effort.  Now nothing remains.  It was still fun to go to the site and try to envision just where the trestle had been.  That night when they showed The General it was more fun to recognize things we had seen on the screen.  To get from the road to down to the river was semi-arduous.  I am sure you have guessed as a  group there was a lot of grey hair among us, as is with most people who really care about this stuff now.  One guy, a sturdy fellow of around my age,  took a tumble on the way down and luckily stopped before he tumbled very far.  He was unhurt and after a short rest made it to the bottom at the riverside.  A few of the group stopped about half-way down and watched from a promontory. This is the tenth year of honoring Buster here, although just the third, every five years, of a large event.  I would guess they’ll have to improve the trail down to the river or else we might be the last one’s taken down there.  That is sort of a two edged sword.  It would be cheap to sink a few posts and install a hand line for people to hold onto on the way down.  That would probably be resisted by people who like the place and want to keep it exclusive.  It could also be the first step in taking it from a mostly natural place toward a paved and accessible less natural place. The whole shebang was run by Lloyd Williams and was under the auspices of the Cottage Grove Historical Society.

When I said it appeared the whole town showed up to see the train crash into the river in 1926 that is because just about everyone in our group that was from the area said they had a relative who saw it.  Of course that might have been a reason they were part of our group.  Also in Cottage Grove on the weekend was a fly in of vintage airplanes to the little airport just across the road the from our hotel.  The airport has a museum operated by the Oregon Historical Aviation Society.  I was in the museum talking to a guy who was a museum volunteer who told me his dad saw the train crash into the river.  Being in the museum made me think of Ash Bridgham.  I took projectionist lessons from Ash, which was short for either Ashleigh or Ashley, as in Ashley Wilkes, when he worked at the Duwamish Drive-in.  He had entered I.A.T.S.E Motion Picture Operators # 154 in 1928.  He had also been a pioneer aviator and was a member of the OX-5 club.  That club is for those who had flown planes with OX-5 engines.  They were used in the Curtis JN-4 airplane, commonly called a Jenny. After  WW I  thousands of the surplus engines were sold that were  put in all manner of planes and also some boats. They were V-8 water cooled and didn’t produce much power. Their main attraction was low cost.  A brand new one could be bought for twenty bucks.  In the photo below Ash is on the left.  Sid Phillips is in the middle with Ed Hird on the right. The event was the presentation to Ash of a fifty year award in 154.







I returned the rental car at nine in the night on Sunday.  I found a note on my truck that had been parked in a bedrock legal place on a nearby side street for sixty hours.  It  contained printing on a piece of small notebook paper and said parking was limited to property owners and if I parked there again I would be towed.  It was signed “28th Avenue Property Owners.”  Aha, a vigilante group!  Nice to know Portland is still part of the wild west.