So, when a friend of mine found out that Bob and the Monster (IMDb | Wikipedia) was having its Los Angeles premiere tonight (August 4th) and I would be
able available to go, he told me he’d kick my ass if I didn’t go because he wanted to go and wasn’t able to.
I have another friend/coworker who actually worked on the film and is friends with Bob Forrest (the man around whom the documentary centers), and I was really worried that showing up to the premiere (even just the second showing at 11 pm, which is the time I was able to get a ticket) might crimp his style or something. I don’t know, I always worry about that kind of thing. I didn’t want him to think I was encroaching… or stalking… hahaha ^_^;; Whatever.
Also, I know nearly nothing about Bob Forrest himself; and I know nearly nothing about the L.A. rock scene at any point in time: now, in the ’80s, or otherwise. And I’ve never touched an illegal drug in my life, except the one time in 7th grade when the D.A.R.E. police officer passed around a bag of weed so we’d know what it looked like and that one time in college I accidentally walked into a hotboxed room and then promptly turned tail and fled. (People tell me I partied hard enough without drugs or alcohol anyway, so that’s fine with me.)
Plus, I’d never been to the Silent Movie Theatre before. So, even though my friend (the first one I mentioned, not the one who worked on the documentary) told me he’d kick my ass if I didn’t go, I was kind of… going in blind on all accounts except the literal, physical one.
Well, it turned out that I didn’t have to be worried about crimping my coworker’s style because I didn’t even see him there. And the documentary was well-rounded enough that I didn’t really have to know anything about Bob Forrest (or the ’80s rock scene, or hard drugs) before I saw it to benefit from it. And I managed to get decent street parking not far away from the theatre, so I didn’t kill my feet walking ten miles in heels before I even got there.
Thelonious Monster played a short set before the documentary (“Body and Soul” was the third out of four songs; I didn’t know the others), and the director stayed after the showing for a question-and-answer session. I have to be honest here, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the band (the drummer wore only underwear! is that normal, or just normal for him?), though I do remember distinctly thinking, “He [Bob Forrest] sings the way a poet speaks.”
I wasn’t expecting to really connect with the documentary, either, if my lackluster impression of the band had anything to say about it, but I was pleasantly surprised. The director did a great job bringing out crucial elements of Bob Forrest’s life, his struggle with drug addiction, and the culture in which that kind of addiction thrives. I was touched by Forrest’s conviction. I… tend to have a low opinion of drug addicts, but in the film he says, “I just love drug addicts” and “I want to help them, respect them, and love them” and I think that kind of thinking puts my holier-than-thou attitude to shame. I would not be a good drug counselor, that’s for sure.
I really liked it. It was hard, watching Forrest go through all that bullshit, but I think that it might have been worth it because of how he’s able to help people now. (I hope, at least, that he thinks it’s worth it.) I hope Bob and the Monster is shown across the United States soon to a wider audience than film festival goers. It touched even me, a person who had basically no connection to any part of it at all; imagine what it could do for someone who loves punk rock, or who is a drug addict (or knows a drug addict), or who loves the Los Angeles music scene, or… I could go on and on.
There’s been one thing bugging me, though. There’s a scene that shows Thelonious Monster on stage at a concert in the Netherlands in 1992 (not 100% sure on the date) and Forrest is rolling around on stage, obviously high. The music covering the visuals is a vocal piece with guitar (and drums? I’m not sure) and the singer’s first line is something about wanting or trying to commit suicide and not being able to. I can’t remember the lyrics exactly—I’ve already spent more than an hour trying to find them online—and I couldn’t tell if the song was actually being performed (Thelonious Monster is, after all, a band, so it’s not inconceivable that the video and the music were already connected), or if it was part of the music that Josh Klinghoffer scored specifically for the film. Damn it, it’s really frustrating because that part, that song, was beautiful and now I’m kicking myself for not writing down the lyrics the minute I heard them, dark theatre or no.