Monday, April 25, 2011

El Muerto, a music video and the 914

With two trunks (even if the rear trunk had broken hinges), the space available in the Porsche 914 was pretty substantial for a single student. We could stuff a lot of groceries in those trunks, enough for me and all my friends. As a musician, it was very useful too, I could put my bass cabinet in the passenger seat, the amp and bass in the trunks and a couple of duffle bags of other musician type equipment in the spaces in between. When packed for gigs, there was no room for passengers, but that never really presented problems, I just had girlfriends drive their own cars. Overall the 914 was pretty useful.

But it had problems, besides all the rust. I tried and tried to figure out why the car would just stop on hot days and refuse to start again. It always seemed to happen in traffic when there were a lot of cars stacked up behind me. We would eventually have to push it through the intersection and out of the way, very convenient, the car seemed to know when I needed exercise. We dug deep into the engine bay, but without success. I even had “car guys” take a look at it, none of us could figure it out. It usually seemed to happen when my best friend was in the car with me. He would say as we crept up to a stop light…”Man, I hope your car does not stall again…crap! Not again!” I think that it maybe happened only once or twice when I had one of my girlfriends with me. I would have to prove my manly continence and push it all by myself. Being 6’ tall and weighing maybe 125lb, it must have pretty impressive to watch as I struggled to push it out of the way. I figure in the end, they took pity on me.

Anyway, it was always that tiny nagging worry in the back of my head. But I was not the only one with car problems. My best friend (and band mate) had a really nasty car. A 1974 AMC Matador. Don’t remember it? Probably for the best, as it was really a piece of crap. Here is a photo of this lovely automobile. I actually think that was the color of my buds car.

We decided to do a couple of music videos and shop our tunes to some of the record labels (we were deemed too political…yeah right!), so we worked with some local video producers (fellow students at UT taking a videography class) and put together our masterpieces. Anyway…back to the Matador, or as it was known El Muerto, my best friend had loaned this great car to one of his other friends to take on a date. It came back with an empty tank of gas and a huge crashed-in passenger side rear door. The friend claimed that he had no idea how the car got crashed. Maybe it was the fog of love…or booze. But the crashed door refused to open. No matter how hard you tried to push from the inside or pull from the outside, the door refused to budge.

Now…fast edit back to the video story (Michael Bay style with city buses and abandoned warehouses blowing up); we were heading back to our apartments (my best friend and I lived in the same condo complex) and were excited about the tracks we had laid down at the studio we liked to use for recording. As we drove north on Guadeloupe St, there is a left hand kink in the road and as my friend negotiated El Muerto around the bend, our guitars (which were in the back seat) must have slid to the right and hit the door just right. Remember all the pulling and pushing? Remember that the door would not open? Well two guitars in their cases must have been the perfect amount of weight because out of the corner of my eye I distinctly saw them exit the car and fly into the middle of a very busy street.

I shouted “Our guitars, they flew out the door!”, or more likely a much more colorful version of basically the same thing. My friend did not believe me, but finally saw them in his rearview mirror sliding to a stop in the middle of Guadeloupe. Now cars were slamming on their brakes to avoid the cases, swerving into other lanes to keep from hitting them. My bud slammed on the brakes as I bolted from the passenger door before the car had fully stopped. I had cars coming directly towards me, but I waved my arms, frantically motioning for them to move away from me and the guitar cases. They did…thankfully. I reached down and grabbed both of them in one sweeping motion and sprinted back to El Muerto. It took maybe 15 seconds, but it seemed to play out in ultra-slow motion. The cases laying in the middle of a busy road, the cars approaching quickly, opening my hands to grasp the handles on the cases, hoping the cases were not too damaged as I picked them up, great times…. The guitars were no worse for the wear, the cases were pretty scuffed up and I still have that case to this day, but it is looking pretty ragged at this point.

We still laugh about El Muerto and the guitar cases, when we relive that episode in our long friendship. We did use the 914 in one of the videos. One of the tunes was called “Feel the Change” a tune about someone making the journey from a small town to the big city, only the results did not work out in their favor. We found this gorgeous gal to play the “girl” coming to the big city (well Austin anyway). She was CUTE, only problem, she could not act at all (even though our big time college videographer said she could) or drive a manual transmission, part of the video was her driving off in the Porsche. Well we had to scrap that part of the video, actually we had to pretty much scrap all the scenes she was in…she was that bad.

I remember her trying to pull away in the 914; it bucked and bucked, stalling on every attempt. I finally decided that it was probably a good idea to reverse roles and have me leave in the Porsche. It no doubt saved a lot of wear and tear on the clutch. It changed the tone of the video, but clutch wear was reduced. I probably have that video buried somewhere in a pile of stuff and I will tell you that it will never see the light of day on YouTube.

The massively all-star videographer (do you get the sense that I am being somewhat facetious in my compliments here?) took all the raw material and edited the music and video footage together to create what should have been a couple of great videos. We went to the video lab at UT and sat with her and watched its premier with her class. It was in a word awful, terrible, crappy, disappointing, vulgar, sloppily edited, poorly synced, unwatchable (OK, that is a lot of words, but it was really nauseating to watch). She got an A. Figures.

However, my best friend and I were not in the college of communications and did not have access to the video lab, but we found out that the public access TV station had video bays that we could use. We spent hours and hours re-editing and remixing the music and video to get something that was watchable. They ended up being pretty bad…but not terrible.

One of our friends took the song (on cassette tape) and video with him when he went home on a trip to see his family in Sardinia Italy and gave it to the biggest radio station on the island and I am happy to say that one of our songs “Freeze” made it to the Top-20. In Sardinia Italy no less, 20-30 people on the whole island must have heard it. Wow, we hit the big time!

As for the 914, it soldiered on, sprouting more rust, it cancerous tentacles reaching ever deeper into the nooks and crannies of the underside of the car. Remember the photo posted last week, depicting how I had hoped it would look, well here is one that pretty accurately depicts how I remember it.

Until next week.

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