Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 32-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
This song, “1922,” was used at the end of a short film called Cash Free (2009, video, 20 minutes) by EE Miller and Bernadine Mellis (director of a documentary about her father, civil-rights lawyer Dennis Cunningham, and the court case to clear an Earth First! activist’s name). In Cash Free, a group (including lawyer, author and activist Dean Spade) gets together to discuss sustainable artful living and the struggle of individual queers working in groups. It’s strange in a way, because I was at a meeting with some of the same people while I was on tour alone about 10 years ago. So, while I’m not in this film, I feel like it’s an abstract version of the meeting I attended when the subject was land acquisition—where, by what means and yes, how to sustain this artful way of living. I don’t go to meetings, so the event was memorable to me. At the time, I thought it might be smart to be in on the ground floor of such a project, however unlikely it was that I’d ever make my way across the continent from Vancouver to live sustainable or otherwise in a foreign country with a group of people I hardly know.
I’m wary of having Mecca Normal’s music used in films. Sound and images are a powerful combination. One of the few times we allowed a song to be used in a film it was counter to both the meaning of the song and my feminist perspective. I don’t think that movie was ever released, but we saw evidence of “A Kind Of A Girl” being used to imply negative associations to a woman who had been murdered. It was horrible to see this blatant violation of intention. Anyway, this is not that. I know EE Miller, but I’m never that keen on my work melding with another artist’s overarching vision when I’m not there to have a say—even if it’s a group of counterculturalists coming up with ideas for how to live outside the gloomy restraints of cash-based culture. In Cash Free, the Mecca Normal song, “1922,” plays while the end credits roll, including information on how to connect with the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee and the National Community Land Trust Network.
“1922” from the album The Observer (Kill Rock Stars, 2006) (download):