I almost didn’t make it to Cinema Wasteland this year. I had been planning to go for about two months, shooting messages back and forth with my good buddy Louis about how amazingly killer the weekend was going to be, especially since I only get to see him and select other friends of mine around this time of the year. I was stoked. I even got my good buddy Tyler on board with me to come join the party and share the eight hour drive with me. All systems were go and it was looking damn sweet.
In my attempt to show a bit of providence, I took my car over to my trusty mechanic Lou to give it a once over to make sure it was all groovy to take the epic journey. Then, the shit hit the fan. I received a voicemail from Lou with a grim tone to his voice, sort of stammering, not sure how to tell me. But then he did: “Josh, we’ve got a big problem here… Ahhmmm… there’s just no way this car’s making it to Ohio this weekend. Gim’me a call back and we’ll sort it out…”
It was soul crushing. I had been looking forward to this trip for so long, planned to meet up with so many groovy people, and now, due to a blown head gasket, it seemed impossiblefor me to arrive at Wasteland . I immediately checked to see if there were any buses traveling anywhere near my destination, but alas, since it was just one day before I was set to leave, no dice. My buddy Tyler didn’t have a car, so that was out, too. It was looking pretty grim.
I shared the rotten news with all of my VHS brethren that I was planning to meet up with, and Massacre Video
Graphic Artist Extraordinaire / Master of Severed Sinema
Earl Kess told me that if I could haul my buns out to his place, he’d gladly give me a lift out to Wasteland. It was an amazingly amicable offer, but one question remained: how the hell was I going to get there? It was about a two hour trip to Earl’s, I had no car and there were absolutely no buses running out there before he was leaving. It was the proverbial carrot dangling in front of me.
How could anyone wanna miss all this? I was determined to get there...
And then, just like an angel descending upon me with a working vehicle, my good friend Sarah graciously offered me a ride out to Earl’s veritable VHS palace. Mind you, Sarah has just worked a long day catering to a bunch of brown-nosing politicians, so her good deed is multiplied ten-fold. She’s an absolute warrior and I want to thank her again in this post. Sarah, you are amazing.
So, there we were rolling on down the pike, scarfing some leftover spring rolls and listening to Sarah’s Summer dance mix as her British GPS guy navigated our way. We didn’t start out till about 9:30P.M., but we still made great time, even after stopping for a fill-up and my obligatory beef jerky snack. I need one of these to survive any trip that goes over an hour and a half. Just gotta have it. Okay, okay. I eat jerky all the time. It’s delicious.
The REAL Food of the Gods! All hail the jerky!
We arrived at Earl’s abode a little before midnight. I had never met Earl in person before, but I had talked to him through email, messaging, etc. Needless to say, I felt a connection with Earl right away. He’s just such a cool guy, and hell, we virtually have the SAME EXACT INTERESTS. When your passion is so exact and of a niche’ nature, it’s fantastic when you can find anyone that you can genuinely relate to. And it helps that Earl’s really a stand-up guy. Not only was he taking me out to Wasteland the next day, when Sarah and I arrived, he was the picture of hospitality: beers, Doritos, comfy couches and an incredible library of VHS to choose from. I felt right at home. And for those of you that are wondering, he gave me the honor of picking the flick for the night. And what did I choose? An oldie but a goodie by the name of 976-EVIL,
which in my humble opinion, is an absolute classic when it comes to VHS renting nostalgia. And it’s directed by Robert Englund to boot! Groovy!
BREWWWWWSTERRRR... Oh, wait... that's that OTHER movie this dude's in....
So, we all got to bed around… damn… you know…. I don’t even really know. I think it was just about 2A.M.? Either way, it was late. And Earl and I were set to be up at 7 A.M. (and so was Sarah, who had to be at work at 11 A.M.) and we actually rocked it, getting ready, packing up and hitting the road by 7:30 A.M. It was rather impressive considering the chain of events that had unfolded the night before.
The ride there seemed to just fly by. The conversation that blossomed in that truck with Earl seemed to be one I would have with a long lost brother. His sense of humor, appreciation for the VHS format and community and just his general take on the world paralleled mine to a fantastic degree. We talked about everything from music to chicks to VHS and just life in general. After a pit stop at a Wendy’s coupled with a quick breather, we spotted the Holiday Inn with the green and black banner letting us know we had arrived. We pulled in, grabbed up a primo parking spot and cracked open a couple cold ones in celebration. We were at The Wasteland.
Cue Louis Justin, the main brain at Massacre Video and all around groovy dude, arriving with a packed-to-the-brim vehicle bumping Wu-Tang Clan and sporting a beard to rival any other. Earl and I finished off our celebratory brewdoggies and proceeded to help Louis unload his array of Massacre Video goodies onto a luggage cart. We hauled it on up to the hotel room where we prepared it all to be unleashed to the slavering Wastelanders on the main floor.
We got on down to the table, set up all the Massacre and Lunchmeat gear and it was like being thrust into a whole new, flourishing world of horror brethren. The table was immediately swarmed by folks clamoring for limited editions of ORZOCO THE EMBALMER
and BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE
. Quite a few people were picking up the zine and some VHS IS HAPPINESS
shirts, too, so we were keeping busy. The array of personalities coming up to the table was incredible. Hands down, the best thing about Cinema Wasteland is the people. These are my kind of people, people. I mean, it’s fairly common knowledge that conventions are a stomping ground for rabid horror fans, but Wasteland is special. It’s one of the biggest (if not the biggest) horror conventions slash parties there is on the East Coast. If you’re a horror / sci-fi / fringe film fan, this is where you want to be every Spring and Winter.
Earl and LJ holding down the fort as I photo documented. Earl is lookin' saucy.
But back to my original point: for me, it’s all about the people you meet and get to hang with. It would be impossible for me to recount all of the amazingly cool people I encountered over the weekend, but running into friends like the insanely talented and prolific Putrid
, seasoned convention veteran Vince Cornelius, metal slash horror crossover king Tad Leger
, and ULTRA VIOLENT
Ed-in-Chief Art Ettinger just made the trip. And as wonderful as it is running into old friends you haven’t seen in a donkey’s years, it’s also about the people you meet for the first time – connecting with likeminded individuals and nerding out. I had the pleasure of hanging out with previously-internet-only friend Tony Salamone (that’s pronounced SAL-UH-MO-NEE!), the dudes from ACID WITCH
who were total sweethearts and know how to party, and I finally got to meet Fred Vogel of AUGUST UNDERGROUND
fame, who is just the nicest guy and was most hospitable when letting us hang in his room.
My good bud Art Ettinger from ULTRA VIOLENT magazine and myself. No idea about this face I'm making.
And then there’s the after-parties in the rooms. Oh, man. Now this is something different altogether. Sure, downstairs you’ve got a chance to meet John Saxon and PJ Soles, pick up some uber-obscure one sheets and your favorite shirt or magazine; but upstairs, in the hotel rooms, this is where you HANG. It’s a veritable whirlwind of beer, snacks and wonderfully nerdy conversation.
Louis, Earl and I made some successful rounds indeed. Not only did we tip our glasses to many a friend and hang proper, I visited Tony’s room and scored some amazing tapes (pictured below!). Let me tell you: being all buzzed up and getting a fantastic deal on a PARASITE big box, it’s next level shit. Damn near orgasmic. But, inevitably, the Massacre / LM crew ended up in our own room with a few special friends where we had a genuine round-table VHS discussion (documented by the VHShitfest
guys!) and at some point Louis, Earl and I made up fake hip-hop aliases for each other: LJ, Baby Pete and GFT aka The Gift, respectively. This is how we addressed each other for the entirety of the weekend as we improvised Z grade rhymes describing what was going on around us. It was truly something special.
LJ, Baby Pete and GFT aka The Gift. Damn, it feels good to be a Tapehead.
So after the all the vendor table craziness, parking lot VHS scores, hotel room nerd out sessions, countless cans o’ brew and a whole bottle of Kraken (way to go Louis!), I awoke with a feeling of great fulfillment: I spread the love of Lunchmeat, hung out with amazing friends (and made some new ones), finally got to do an interview with Josh Johnson who is doing the REWIND THIS! documentary
, and most importantly, scored a bunch of killer tapes. I can’t wait till October
. Hopefully, I’ll see you there. Groove on, Videovores.
My score from Cinema Wasteland 2012. Shit'chyeah.