Arizona's Punk Rock Resource

Dateline: Phoenix. Timelapse: Haboob.

Mike Olbinski first invited viewers to "follow along with me during the summer monsoons in Arizona" with last week’s timelapsed Downtown Phoenix Sunset - An omen for the Monsoons.

The photographer describes his latest video short (Massive Haboob Hits Phoenix - July 5th 2011, shown above) by saying, No words to describe this. I’ve lived in Phoenix for 35 years and seen tons of dust storms. This was something else entirely.”

Now we’re curious to see what kind of summer monsoonery he’ll timelapse on Vimeo next.  



Guerrilla Filmmaker Shoots for The Big Something

Director Travis Mills displays a quiet intensity that comes to the fore when discussing one of his favorite subjects - movies.

Learning the basics of filmmaking at ASU, to arm himself with enough knowledge to break the rules, Mills soon struck off on his own and has never looked back.

Fresh off a 14-day shoot for the independent feature film The Big Something - a murder-mystery/comedy set inside and around a record store - the director spoke with AZ Kaos about his project, the nature of film, and other related topics, in a style that went from traditional interview to free-form discussion and back again.

If we were a mainstream news outlet, what you’d be reading now would be little more than a few choice quotes wrapped up in the usual journalistic mumbo-jumbo, but AZ Kaos isn’t Phoenix’s Big Two (Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times). So fuck that noise, instead we’ll bend the rules and let the subject… speak for himself.


Mills on the genesis of The Big Something

"Quickly, how it came about is I worked at Zia Records for a couple of years, and I decided that the people I met there had to be incorporated into some kind of story. That took many forms - a novel that was never finished, a screenplay that was very melodramatic (about) day to day record store stuff, but I didn’t want to make a movie like High Fidelity or Empire Records because, to me, even though those are fun movies, they don’t feel like actually working at a record store.

At a record store, believe it or not, there’s a lot of depressed people who work there. It’s kind of a haven for people who didn’t quite succeed, but they love music, so there’s light moments and dark moments, but I met all these customers and employees, so almost every one of the characters in the movie is based on a real person, whether they know it or not.

Eventually, these eccentric characters made it into the screenplay that Ryan Gaumont (of sketch comedy troupe Bully Mammoth) helped me write.”

Mills on location shooting at Tracks in Wax

"Tracks in Wax made the movie. I originally wanted (to shoot at) Eastside Records, and it was a tragedy that it closed as far as I’m concerned. I had only been to Tracks in Wax a few times, really didn’t know Julie or Dennis, but dropped in.

Julie just welcomed me, after she could see my intentions, our budget, and what we were all about. She was amazing, and there’d be no The Big Something without that.”

Mills on Guerrilla Filmmaking

"Film school is great, but the only way to really learn how to make movies - in my opinion - is to just make them and make them fast.

I think it’s best to just do it quick. Edgar G. Ulmer made (the film noir classic) Detour in seven days, so I was like, “If he can do it in seven, then we can easily do it in fourteen days.” It seems like people get stuck, as independent amateur filmmakers, making it on the weekends and it takes them two years, where they run into so many issues.

So I was like, “Let’s take two weeks off, (and) blast through it”, and you get in that mode where you’re staying up. At one point I was up 40 hours, on an hour of sleep, but I wasn’t tired. You get in that adrenalin mode and you’re in the story. I was more tired on the days when I had eight hours of sleep.  You get to a point, as a director, where you’re so in the story that you know every beat. I would do every feature film, from here on out, the same way.  And I would hope to do the next one in less than fourteen days.

When I started this film, and went to the film industry people in Arizona for advice, they thought I was nuts when I said my budget was $25,000. The fact we did it for $2000 is kind of like a big “Up Yours!”, because it can be done, you don’t have to spend all of this money. You find local restaurants, and other businesses, willing to help you - because they’re good people - as a kind of community filmmaking, which I like a lot and want to develop.”

Mills on the definition of Film Noir

"People have lost the definition of what Noir means, so anything with dark shadows is (called) Noir, but it’s a specific genre. So, like with The Big Something, it’s a detective story, but it’s not Noir. There’s no sex, no betrayal, it’s light and happy, more like a Buster Keaton movie.

The guy I started Running Wild Films with - Gus Edwards - is a retired professor from ASU and he knows more about movies than anybody I ever met. We started talking Noir and he loaned me these pulp novels from the 1930s-1950s, so I digested that, then watched the great Noir films like Detour, and started writing it. The detective character fascinates me, it’s an iconic character, somebody looking for answers and the implications of that.”

Mills on Film As ‘The Visual Novel’

"Moviemaking is approximately 100 years old, and it seems like we’ve already worked ourselves into a corner in terms of "this is what a short film is, this is what a full-length film is, and this is what it’s supposed to do", and everything is just so limited. But when you look at books, there’s such a variety in literature, so I thought something like The Visual Novel - where characters walk into the scene of a movie - why isn’t it appropriate to show just the environment that they’re in for, say, five or ten minutes? Why not just show that until the dialogue starts? Because that’s something that might happen in a book - learning about the characteristics of the environment, in a way that compliments the characters. And, sure, not every movie should be that way, but the possibilities of exploring that allows for people to watch, say ten minutes of that, and it’s almost like they’ve read 10-15 pages of a book.

With that idea specifically, I want to explore time and pacing to break those (filmmaking) guidelines that don’t seem necessary. Showing the environment could tell as much about the story as just going right to the dialogue. Like I said, we know that from literature, that you can learn an incredible amount by understanding what’s around us, and movies really cheapen that at times.”

Mills on Phoenix as a Career Stepping-Stone to Hollywood

"If people want to do that, it’s fine, but they need to be brave enough to stick around here and make an indigenous film community happen if it’s ever going to become something. So the only stepping-stone, I would say, is getting to the point where it’s happening constantly. Making films, and (as discussed in Mills’ recent blog, I Wish Filmmakers Were Shooting Each Other in the Streets) we need to be competing on a more creatively aggressive level. It’s that attitude in hip-hop culture that I most admire, “Who’s gonna be the best rapper?”, that breeds some really creative stuff. That’s the kind of community I’d like to see, filmmakers in Arizona competing with each other, seeing who can really define Arizona and tell the best stories. That would be sick.”

The Big Something is slated for release in the Fall (September/October), with a premiere planned at a yet-to-be-determined independent theatre, with an online release following soon thereafter. As the saying goes, check your local listings for show times.


- Pete Petrisko

artDRAW: Two Pair and…

If you’re willing to brave the July heat, here’s a couple of art happenings worth checking out tonight.

F is for First Fridays @ 335! (335 W McDowell Ave) It’ll be your last time to visit the Pop Up gallery and see the works by four local artists- Sebastien Millon, Safwat Saleem, Bryan Mok, and up-and-coming wunderkind Zane Champion. More info HERE.

SECRET IDENTITIES @ Deus Ex Machina (1023 NW Grand Ave) A group exhibition featuring gallery regulars and guest artist Lee Berger. The artistic question addressed: “Day to day life versus the creative process-which is the mask, and which is the true face?”

 Lee Berger The Mask and The Cane: Industry (Detail)



Rumor has it there might also be good art shows at the Chocolate Factory and Trunk Space, but this can’t be independently confirmed as neither venue bothers to send a press release. Welcome to life in the grid, we suppose.

If you’re a promoter / venue / band, the best bet for coverage is sending an actual press release. Don’t get us wrong, that Facebook event page you made is all well and good to alert your immediate social media circle of friends, but it’s a poor substitute for getting the word out to more people you don’t actually know. First and foremost, the lavish flyer you spent hours working on and uploaded as the “event image” has now been reduced to thumbnail-size and is therefore completely useless…

If you’re a regular AZ Kaos reader, then you must like something we’re doing, so please show your support of this decentralized effort by sharing the blog articles you like with others. We aren’t a Big Media Conglomerate, so ask for your DIY help to keep this shoestring tied together…

Here’s the how-to skinny:

AZ Kaos | Tumbler  - "REBLOG IT"

AZ Kaos | Twitter  - "RETWEET IT"

AZ Kaos | Facebook  - "SHARE IT"

And, if you have an upcoming event (whether art, punk rock, or other DIY culture), or a story that might be of interest to AZ Kaos readers, make direct contact @

There Will Be Busk on First Friday

Busking, street performers playing for tips from passersby, is a long-standing tradition in many large metropolitan cities, and often includes music, theater, puppetry, or just about anything else that’s entertaining.

Once again, Phoenix - with the exception of the downtown street performance series organized by Dr. Rev. Stephen Strange a few years back - has missed out on what other cities take for granted as part of the urban experience.

However, for at least one night, as the event title says, There Will Be Busk on the monthly First Friday artwalk, when 1st Street (just north of Roosevelt) "will come alive with street musicians and performers."

The public is invited to hear, and support, sidewalk performers - including Eye of Fire and Rocketship 3D (both of whom will also be rotating onto the nearby stage at The Firehouse gallery) - and/or bring an instrument and do their own busking.

For more info, and for those wanting to participate (by contacting the event coordinator), go to the event page HERE

Friday, July 1 | 7pm to 10:30pm | on First Street (just north of Roosevelt), Phoenix

FDA To Require Graphic Warnings on Cigarettes - But Why Stop There?

With an unintended nod to the effect social media has had on consumers’ warning label tastes, this week the FDA announced it will require tobacco marketers to cover the top half of cigarette boxes, and 20% of tobacco ads, with graphic anti-smoking images after September 2012.

Extreme imagery, combined with less wordiness, is the future of warning labels, with the FDA ahead of the curve — but why stop at cigarettes?

A government that works best works overtime to make sure we’re kept safe from our own recklessness and stupidity… by over-regulating everything.

Other  proposed “modernized” warnings can include:


Sure we see the speed limit is 65, but who hasn’t gone 80mph when the only “warning” we get is a plain black and white sign? By eliminating the redundant ten-character text (since everybody knows it’s the posted speed limit anyway) and simply combining the number with an appropriately gruesome photo indicating what happens if you exceed that limit, traffic fatalities may decrease.


While condom use helps prevent the spread of STDs, including HIV/AIDS, who’s thinking of that in the heat of the moment? But the right image and brief friendly reminder (with a condom inside) will provide the romantic pause needed to drive home the health benefits of condom use.

(Alternate packaging can include a close-up photo of genital warts, with a warning that condoms are “ineffective against the transmission of Human papillomavirus (HPV)" although, one would imagine, those wouldn’t be the most popular brands with packaging like that.)



Let’s face it, current alcohol warnings are way too long: GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems”.

Nobody is going to read all that unless shit-faced drunk. The point can be better made by simplifying the message, with this label on each bottle or can:


Know what you eat, with a well-placed image on the meat package. It’s that simple!


The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) had the right idea, but where it went wrong was with one generic “Parental Advisory” sticker, as if the same warning applied to all kinds of music. Every genre has it’s own unique pitfalls and should be dealt with separately.

Starting with a startling image of punk rock gone bad poster-child Nancy Spungen, the following label can be affixed to all punk records…

Accordingly, blues music would have a different warning (“listening may lead to bouts of depression”) as would modern jazz (“causes the listener to become boring as fuck”). Etc etc.


Of course, the following ultimate “don’t say we didn’t warn you” warning label, by a government seeking to protect the population from itself, would be seen at polling places nationwide:


- Pete Petrisko

The Torch Theatre Opens For Business As Unusual

After a year of planning and building, the Torch Theatre opens its stage after having passed final inspection by the City of Phoenix this week.

The Longform Improv Training Center, located at 4721 N. Central (just south of Camelback on the east side), allows the Torch Theatre to do what it’s done in the creative improvisational incubator of Space 55 for years, but with lots more of it.

To celebrate, leading up to an official grand opening next month, the theatre has announced it’s "opening its doors this weekend for our first round of shows in our new space… our official grand opening is scheduled for July 15 - 23, but shows will still be going down between now and then for those of you in the know (if you’re reading this email, you are IN THE KNOW!)."

Oops, sorry! I guess we’re ALL in the know now.

The soft opening starts with a series of longform improv preview shows this weekend, if AZ Kaos readers IN THE KNOW want to go…

4721 Preview-tacular: Ladies & Gentleman Edition | Friday, June 17th @ 8pm | Featured performance troupes: Searching for X, Mail Order Bride and Galapagos | (Cost: $5)

4721 Preview-tacular: Space Pirate High Edition | Saturday, June 18th @ 8pm | Featured performance troupes: Three Years of High School, Apollo 12 and Light Rail Pirates | (Cost: $5)

@ The Torch Theatre | 4721 N. Central (Phoenix)

Here’s some hump day happiness to help you make it through this week alive.

Your subtle revenge at work today is watching this punk rock anthem, by the lads of Mighty Boosh, on company time.

Which brings us to the next point… The lyrical content in this live performance clip is NSFW, so you may want to wear headphones while exacting your subtle revenge, unless you work where it’s still acceptable to play humorous punk rock anthems about repeated acts of defecation loudly.