Lafayette filmmaker faces Fear, doc coming on punk legends
Jason Zink picked for documentary on punks banned by ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Plus, fallout for Sen. Mike Braun. Madeleine Albright remembered at Purdue. And United Way gets familiar name as CEO
A couple of programming notes before we get started today …
First, thanks, as always for the ongoing support from Little Engine Ventures, sponsor of today’s edition. For more about what the Lafayette company does, scroll to the bottom of the newsletter.
Next, help me welcome Tim Brouk, my J&C colleague for years – and fellow St. Louis Blues fan – who is back in Lafayette. I ran into Tim a while ago in the produce aisle at the Pay Less on Greenbush Street and told him the kind of stories he used to dig up when he was covering the music and culture scene around here would be perfect for the Based in Lafayette reporting project. I was pumped when he said he was up for it, now and again. Today, we offer his first dispatch. Stick around afterward for This and That notes from me. Thanks for reading, and thanks for subscribing.
LAFAYETTE FILMMAKER PICKED TO DIRECT DOCUMENTARY ON PUNK LEGENDS FEAR
By Tim Brouk for Based in Lafayette
An avid fan and maker of horror films, Jason Zink will direct a different kind of Fear.
Recently announced by Rolling Stone, the 33-year-old Lafayette filmmaker is already in preproduction of a full-length documentary on iconic Los Angeles punk rock band Fear. Led by vocalist and guitarist Lee Ving, Fear rallied punks with anthems like “I Love Livin’ in the City,” “I Don’t Care About You” and “More Beer.”
Encapsulating early 1980s punk gusto, Fear made national headlines with its infamous appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” One of the few music guests to be banned from the show, notorious Not Ready for Primetime Player John Belushi leveraged his star power to bring the band to 30 Rock. Fear’s segment was predictably chaotic with dozens of punks crashing the show and into each other as the band slammed through “Beef Bologna” and “New York’s Alright if You Like Saxophones.” Young fans dove off the stage, knocking down microphone stands and throwing garbage.
But there is much more to Fear than “The Record” and an unforgettable “SNL” set. Zink will shine light on the band’s longevity — it started in 1977 and still plays on occasion — and its multitalented singer. Ving has 31 acting credits from 1981 to 2021, according to IMDB.com. Try to find him in “Clue,” and was that Ving in that one episode of “Who’s the Boss?”
“While the band was writing ‘Have Another Beer with Fear,’ he was on ‘Fame.’ I didn’t know he was in ‘Flashdance,’” said Zink, who began his filmmaking career in 2009 with a mockumentary called “When I Die.” “There’s just so much more out there that they did that a lot of us don’t know. We’re just used to the same five or six Fear jams that everybody loves.”
The national Fear gig comes less than a year after Zink’s 2019 horror film “Straight Edge Kegger” made the leap to streaming on Amazon Prime, Tubi and Shudder. In 2021, Zink finished a short film called “Tapehead,” which is currently showing well at festivals nationwide.
Question: How did you get on this project?
Jason Zink: Robert Arce is the band’s manager. I was at a horror convention (2021 Days of the Dead Chicago) running a table. Every once in a while, I get up and walk around. Somebody was selling “Repo Man” shirts. We started just chatting punk and horror, and it turns out Robert was the guy behind the table. He said he just watched a new punk rock horror movie on Shudder recently called “Straight Edge Kegger.” And I was like, “That’s my movie, man!”
He started telling me about Fear and how he wanted to do this documentary for a while. I guess he’s brought this up to several people over the years and nobody’s ever been gung-ho about it. But I am about everything when it comes to movies. I edited together a proof-of-concept trailer. We made a rough draft of the poster and I told him how I can convert all these old (video) tapes and hit the ground running.
Q: Where does Fear reside in the consciousness of American punk rock today?
Zink: For a lot of time, people didn’t know they were still a band. A part of the issue is their (publishing) rights got tied up. If you go on Spotify, you can hear “The Record,” but it’s a rerecorded version. But now it’s a big deal they got the rights back so they can push it out at a time that I think people are really excited to get access and introduce to new fans.
I grew up loving Fear because of “Decline of Western Civilization” and “I Love Livin’ in the City” being on the “SLC Punk” soundtrack. I loved that movie when I was a kid. To me, I thought they were this huge, huge band that everybody knew but a lot of people still don’t.
Q: Will you get a chance to talk to Lee Ving and other band members?
Zink: I’d like to do all the interviews in one big batch because I’m in Lafayette, Indiana, and I’ll have to go out to the west coast. My idea was to do three days and bang out a bunch of interviews. But because Lee’s story is so all over the place and there’s so much information, we’ll probably have to have him all three days and maybe more. We will really need some time to go through everything.
Q: Where are you in your process right now for the Fear project?
Zink: I’m already structuring a timeline right now. I already know what my end credits song is going to be. While I’m transferring footage, I’m making notes: “Oh, I can use that here.”
Q: Speaking of timelines, do you have a release date for this film yet?
Zink: If I had to take a guess, I’d say it’ll take the better part of a year to do this. That all depends — if we can find financial support, things will go a lot quicker.
In theory, I’m hoping to have all this footage by the end of summer and then spend a couple months editing. Then any pick-ups and reshoots.
Q: Will this be released on your Weird on Top production company?
Zink: We’re in partnership, but it’s really going to be Robert’s show. We’re partnering for the production. What we’d really like is selling the rights to somebody, obviously, but we’ve already discussed how terrible and vulturistic things can be with distribution. We also discussed self-distribution because there’s already a built-in audience for it. I can already design the Blu-ray, the VHS copies if we want to do it. Robert can do a soundtrack on vinyl. We can do T-shirts. We’re hoping it can play theatrically or at big festivals. If we don’t go that road, we can still put this out.
Q: How can people see “Tapehead,” and is the title referencing VHS tapes?
Zink: It’s only at festivals right now and if you happen to have VHS copies that I’ve handed out at festivals. At some point it will be online where everyone can see it.
I’ve always been a VHS nerd. I have that nostalgia for my youth especially with horror tapes. During the pandemic, I went down a rabbit hole, went a little crazy. This movie is making fun of myself. That’s the whole point of the short — a VHS collector who takes things too far and he doesn’t recognize the dangerous situations he’s putting himself in.
Q: Being on Shudder has had its benefits. How has it been since you landed the streaming opportunities?
Zink: The exposure has been nice. People just pay more attention when you say you’re on Shudder. It gives us clout. I’m very proud, very excited about the whole thing. But I’m in debt, even though I’ve done all this work. My hope is that these things can continue to grow on top of each other and be able to pay everybody what they deserve. I donated blood plasma this morning. I’ve been doing that for years. I’ve been debating selling my VHS collection, but I don’t want to so I’m going to keep donating plasma.
This and that …
… from Dave Bangert
SOLID READS IN THE FALLOUT FOR SEN. BRAUN: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, one of Indiana’s two senators, continued to fend off criticism after he told reporters, during a conversation Tuesday about limits he felt were necessary for the U.S. Supreme Court, that he thought the legality of interracial marriage should have been left to the states, instead of the high court. Braun, who said he misunderstood the line of questioning, tried to clarify his remarks. Among some of the more scathing reviews of his comments – a quick scan on social media will give you your fill – here were a couple of in-state takes from writers who didn’t buy that Braun was against interracial marriage but laid out why what he said was so problematic, from a couple of angles.
Doug Masson’s take, written from West Lafayette, is smart, as usual, in his Citizen’s Guide to Indiana post Wednesday. A sampling: “The fact of the matter is that you can’t embrace ‘state’s rights’ without getting all kinds of nasty stuff all over yourself. … When someone like Braun is talking about judicial philosophy on abortion, it’s not a ‘gotcha’ to ask him about related questions dealing with race, sex and religion. When he can’t manage to thread the needle or even forthrightly acknowledges that they’re all tied together, it’s not because he’s misunderstood the question. It’s because all of these things are a package deal.” For Masson’s full post, here’s a link.
Indianapolis Star columnist James Briggs made the case that it was another example of Braun coming up empty, even as he positions himself among Republican front runners for governor in 2024. Here’s an outtake: “Braun short-circuited on the interracial marriage questions because he has programmed his brain to process inputs and outputs as a means of performing for his target audience — ‘states' rights … beep … bop … boop …’ — and couldn’t adjust to an inquiry that demanded even surface-level consideration. Is he really going to run for office again after this? That's an open question. Braun’s gaffe or blunder or whatever you want to call it has sweeping implications for Indiana politics.” For Briggs’ full column, here’s a link to the piece in the Indianapolis Star.
UNITED WAY GETS ITS CEO: The United Way of Greater Lafayette came away from its months-long search for a new CEO with a familiar name and face: David Bathe. Bathe retired in 2020 as chancellor at Ivy Tech after 17 years of leading the community college’s Lafayette region, which included campuses in Crawfordsville, Monticello and Frankfort. Bathe will oversee fundraising campaigns aimed at bolstering two dozen Greater Lafayette nonprofit organizations. He starts April 1 and will replace Michael Budd, who is leading statewide United Way efforts now.
“The board is excited to utilize Dr. Bathe’s extensive experience in this key leadership position to continue serving our community in the best way possible,” Debra Spesard, United Way of Greater Lafayette board president, said in a release Wednesday.
The same day, the United Way also made Jen Million the organization’s first chief operating officer. Million, who has been with United Way since 2010, had been director of finance and operations. She also was interim CEO after Budd left in January.
United Way of Greater Lafayette raised $4.6 million in the recently completed 2021 campaign, shy of its $4.9 million goal.
MADELINE ALBRIGHT AND PURDUE: News of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s death brought reminders of a visit she made to Purdue in October 2013. Then, she received standing ovations from a standing-room-only crowd at the 6,000-seat Elliott Hall of Music, telling the audience about her time as secretary of state, her family’s escape from Czechoslovakia to England during World War II and, after returning home, fleeing communism to come to the United States. She spoke about education, the desire to continue learning and to use “opinions to start conversations, not end them,” according to an account by then-J&C reporter MJ Slaby.
From the J&C account that night:
“Albright told the audience that the greatest divide among people isn’t political parties, but the divide between people who have the courage to listen and those who think they know it all.
“She ended her speech with a challenge for those who just started their school year.
“ ‘Don’t settle for the same old trick,’ Albright said. ‘And you may be surprised by the miracles you can achieve.’”
Wednesday night, as Gov. Eric Holcomb directed flags at half-staff across the state, Purdue President Mitch Daniels offered this about that visit Albright made to campus in 2013:
“She reminded us, as (President Joe Biden) quoted her today, that the United States is ‘the indispensable nation,’ as those cherishing freedom and human dignity have always known. Now, when like Secretary Albright, others are fleeing tyranny and reminding Americans what true oppression looks like, we can honor her memory by supporting freedom’s brave friends in the Ukraine and be welcoming, as Purdue intends to do, to all those who would like to bring their talents and dreams to this land of freedom and opportunity.”
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