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By Mariko McDonald | July 6, 2004

Continuing on from our wildly popular documentary program a few weeks ago, I decided to break up the Banana-fest I’d had going on with a couple films with an ‘80s flash back theme. High on the list of documentaries we’d been meaning to catch up on was “Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator”. But what to program with it? “Dogtown and Z-boys” seemed obvious and most of our friends had seen it. “Gleaming the Cube”? Too hard to find. “Thrashin’”? Too silly. Maybe find another documentary, but what to pair with a movie about skateboarding. Rock and roll? Yeah, Rock ‘n’ Roll…

Unfortunately my first choice had to be pulled due to concerns over the legality of our viewing it. Not wanting to get anyone into any trouble I opted instead for a screening of the legendary existential quasi-documentary “Rude Boy” featuring The Clash. Who doesn’t love The Clash? (Don’t answer that, I don’t actually care). Well, after another late start and a rowdier than usual crowd it was decided that two whole hours of soul searching through the British punk scene was a bad idea. And so we settled upon our official second film: “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”.

Being that summer is upon us, school is officially out and a lot of our friends are currently “between jobs” we had another very strong turn out with 12 people in attendance to start. Andrea showed up about 40 min in to bump the number up to 13, but that’s just kinda what Andrea does. Near the end of the first film my sister also showed up but sadly did not manage to bring cupcakes like she had a couple weeks prior. However, there was enough beer and pop on hand to keep everyone satiated.

For those not familiar with Mark “Gator” Rogowski, he was something of a skateboard superstar in the mid to late eighties. One of the first skaters to get big print sponsors and an agent, he was living the high life, hobnobbing with celebrities and making more cash in a week than a lot of us will see in a year. Then skating changed and he couldn’t keep up. No one cared about him. Through overexposure and a growing sense of self importance he had quickly become a joke. Never being that good handling his emotions he kept everything bottled in, medicating himself first with booze, later with religion. Then after breaking up with his one time fiancee Brandi McClain he did something so horrible he ended up in prison for 31 years.

Although most of us were merely young pups in Gator’s heyday, seeing his early footage brought back a lot of nostalgia for the Peanut Gallery. Graeme remembered the kids in school who wore the Vision Streetwear shirts. We all remembered a lot of bad ‘80s hair, Sheila E., Downtown Julie Brown. Gator even had a hat just like Joey Jeremiah from Degrassi. In fact he even looked a little like Joey Jeremiah.

A few audience members commented on poor Brandi and the fact that her assessment of her relationship with Gator differed so greatly from what his friends had observed. Later there were laughs for her obvious bitterness about Gator’s sudden born again Christian phase. But the big Den of Sin favorite was Mr. Jason Jesse. As none of us actually follow skateboarding to any extent currently, Mr. Jesse was something of an amazing revelation. Like a modern day guru his interviews were a fabulous source of matter of fact folk wisdom: “F**k limits… eat corn dogs, who cares.” Or, “pigs suck man, they just suck.” There were a few comments about how the various interviews proved that skateboarders had been dropped on their heads too much, or how it was obvious so and so had done too many drugs early in life, but nobody could really top Jason Jesse.

It was almost painful to watch some of the early footage of Gator as his self important babbling and bad cover of the Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink” were definitely cringe inducing. Corinne made the astute observation that these portions of the film bore a striking resemblance to the failed TV pilot “Corey Haim: Me, Myself, I” that a few of us had caught at the Torture Garden the year before (no really, I’m not making this up I swear to God and there are witnesses to back me up). However, the frivolity of these early episodes nicely sets up Gator’s spectacular fall from grace. I appreciated the fact that the filmmakers were able to include fairly graphic details of Mark Rogowski’s rape and murder of his former girlfriend’s best friend Jessica Bergsten. Just in case we were starting to feel sorry for the guy it is laid out in black in white exactly what he did.

It was with this on our minds that we took a brief intermission and returned to make the choice about our second film. “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” has been doing the rounds of the underground film scene for so long that there isn’t really much more I can say about it. For those of you who still haven’t seen “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”, the basic gist is covered by our friend Graeme’s answer to Corinne’s question of “where was this filmed?”. Graeme: “Someplace close to hell”. It’s a half hour of the same joke, but this joke is still very amusing. Some of us remembered saying things like “I wish I had a joint so big the whole world could smoke it (paraphrasing)” when they were 14, while others remember laughing at the people who said things like that when they were 14. There was a lot of amazing fashion on hand and a lot of really bad teeth. Most observations were marked by “God,” or “wow,” or “he sounds just like Wooderson from ‘Dazed and Confused’”.

Rumblings from The Peanut Gallery: Although it was amusing to laugh at how silly Gator eventually became, the weight of his crimes and his obvious remorse made it a little bit harder to laugh at the end of the film. However, we will always have Jason Jesse, but we don’t dare laugh at him since I just found out he’s a Hell’s Angel. Instead, we decided that he should be given a position of authority from which to dispense his wisdom. Maybe as a guidance counselor, or a talk show host, or more likely a cult leader. It almost made me want to follow skateboarding just to find out more about him. But the biggest question for most of us was what did the metal fans think when Rob Halford came out of the closet? Were they really surprised? Something tells me most of them still don’t know.

Mariko McDonald and her fiancé host a weekly film night in their apartment, affectionately known as the Den of Sin. It’s kinda like evil film school. Monthly screening schedules are available at and if you happen to live in the Vancouver, BC area and are interested in catching a screening please drop her a line at filmgurl79@hotmail dot com. Suggestions, hate mail and cute pictures of cats also accepted.

And of course you can always offer up some juicy Back Talk>>>

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