Saturday, February 19, 2011

Alien Boy: The Death and Life of James Chasse

On September 17th, 2006, James Chasse got his ass beat.  Half of his ribs were broken.  Not just a couple ribs snapped through conflict.  No, police officers in Portland, Oregon literally beat this man to unconscious and left him lying on the street to die as an ambulance stood by, and several witnesses were becoming morally connected to the life of a man they knew nothing about before they saw him getting a freshly starched knee to the forehead.  And James Chasse died in the back of a squad car from the injuries he sustained.

That's the basic synopsis to an event that happened 5 years ago in Portland.  You might remember it.  Odds are that alot of you do not.  And if you remember hearing about it then, it's possible you haven't thought of it much since.  But, thankfully, documentary filmmaker Brian Lindstrom has never forgotten the story of James Chasse.  And he's spent the last 4 years researching and developing a film that is sure to bring some sort of real clarity and buoyancy to the story of Jim Jim and the strange, savage journey he called life.  All the details of this horrific event that absolutely need to be remembered are sure to be discovered and explained in detail in Lindstrom's forthcoming documentary, Alien Boy: The Death and Life of James Chasse

The story that Brian Lindstrom is trying to tell is not just a tell all expose on the events surrounding the 2006 event that took the life of Portland punk rocker and prisoner schizophrenia James Chasse.  He's doing all he can to make us all take another look at how we view police "interactions" with those who suffer from mental illnesses.  Or how we tend to view a story like this on our local news programs, simply say "that's fucked up", and flip the channel to our a syndicated episode of Seinfeld on the next channel.  He wants to show just how thick the line between what we hear and what we actually know about the brutality that exists in this country on a day to day basis.  Any junior college sociology major in America would be able to tell you that acknowledgement of an issue is only the beginning of the direction towards change, not the resolution.  And it is with that thought in mind that Lindstrom will definitely be creating a definitive film in regards to the discovery of human nature and our inability to actually understand the tragedy we see on the 6 o'clock news.

The story of James Chasse and his contributions to the world of independent punk music before and after his death might be far too complex to simply be described in one paragraph of a Blogspot hosted story.  It is suffice to say that Chasse jumped over more hurdles and dodged more obstacle in his life as a man of creative prose who also suffered from a terrible disease that seemed to involuntarily segregate himself from the rest of society.  Yet, his story before death could very well be a story of triumph.  He managed to gain a deserved sense of independence, and engraved himself in a crucial music scene in one of the greatest cities for the arts in the United States.  He had alot to be proud of.  Even has a was unrightfuly sentenced to die by the hands of some of Portland's worst members of the organized crime syndicate known as the police department.


A film of this magnitude is not entirely original, that has been to officially stated.  That is to say that a film about a troubled soul being harassed by the cops has been done before.  But, the story to be told in Alien Boy is definitely a new light in the world of documentary filmmaking.  Alot of it might have to do with the setting of the film.  Portland, Oregon has earned itself quite a reputation (and a sketch comedy show on IFC) as a place where it is okay to be a free thinking and individualistic sort of creature in a world consumed by greed.  But, there have been a few off putting events that might deprecate the idea that the city of roses is nothing more than a hippy commune, and the home of the guy who wrote Fight Club.  With several accounts of police brutality, as well as a very confusing "terrorist" plot during last year's holiday season, it is almost hard to believe that the city has continued to uphold such an image of peace and progressive prosperity.  It's also pretty cool.

James Chasse definitely serves as a model for the yearning of prosperity that we simply don't seem to give a shit about.  It's just to bad he had to sustain such a massive amount of pain and suffering that would eventually lead to his demise by the hands of those he was suppose to trust to protect him.  But, we are fortunate enough to know that a man such as Brian Lindstrom is around to tell Jim Jim's story, and make sure the man did not die in vein.

Director Brian Lindstrom has something beautiful in the works.  But since this is not the work of some celebrity dignitary and his pocketed batch of cronies with all the funds they can barely manage, he needs some help.  Even with legendary cinematographer John Cameron (right hand man to fellow Portland alum Gus Van Sant on his films Mala Noche and My Own Private Idaho) in tow, our man needs some help destroying the simplistic and unmotivated world of prime time journalism with a groundbreaking new film.  Hence the reason the team behind Alien Boy has jumped on the new revolutionary bandwagon and started a Kickstarter campaign to support the further production of this film.  And they are so freaking close they can almost taste the change coming at a rate so quick that even Barack Obama would be impressed.

But, that is not to say that your help isn't needed.  If think you can spare some change after donating to Ben's campaign to raise funds for the new Y La Bamba record (which is a beautiful thing as well!), maybe drop a few clams over to this project as well.  You definitely will not regret becoming a part of of something so spectacular and necessary in the takeover of the omnipresent and superficial falsities that the news world would like to you to believe is reality.


So, when we look beyond the corrupt media, the brutal police department, and the complete lack of of sentiment we tend to have towards those who suffer from mental illnesses....we might also just find a beautiful punk rock oriented film that shows us that humanity is only at it's best when the respect we hold for each other as beings of nature is actually upheld.  It's safe to say that what Brian Lindstrom has in store will definitely do just that.  And with an excellent crew in tow, and maybe a bit of support from fine folks such as yourself, the visual brain stimulant known as Alien Boy:  The Death And Life Of James Chasse can become a full fledged weapon to be used against the forces of hatred that try to hold us back from fighting through our challenges, and finding what it is that is inside of all of us that keeps us simple, kind, and spirited individuals.  No matter what the news might say our demographic really is.  Let's climb aboard that rainbow and fill our tummies with the sweet tasty clouds!

"Go and grab your gun
Got him on the run
Cause he's an alien 
 They hurt what they don't understand
So you had to turn away
There's no other way
You're an alien
They hurt what they don't understand"
- The Wipers, "Alien Boy" [1980]

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