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Monday, June 28, 2021: Always Out To One-Up The Past

A Comment to the above which will most likely not be posted.

“Seemed my own peer group was more into rock concerts or hemp harvesting. Friend at college: Hey John, want me to pick you up a dime bag on the frat hall upstairs? Me: Heck no, Roy. $10 is 7.69% of $130 I need for a bootleg Black Cat on 16mm!” So really, who was the odd duck here? ”

Unlike you and your readers I chose to mount my film programs in a venue “good” people steered clear of, Toronto’s Rochdale College which was the only place in the world one could use hashish, LSD, marijuana, mescaline and peyote without fear of being busted. Rochdale began as an 18 floor student high rise. Along the way it morphed into the boldest experiment ever undertaken in alternate education. At Rochdale there were no teachers.

Each Rochdalian was called to be their own teacher.

What there were were RESOURCE PEOPLE, people who thanks to their success in their field, were invited to live there on condition they make themselves available to the young who wanted to talk with them. Few did.

One of those Resource People was Judith Merril, the mother of modern SF.

Dali and his cook book.

Mark Sleep arrived at The CineForum from Australia. While here he cooked a dinner from THE SALVADOR DALI cookbook.

Judith Merril, Reg Hartt, THE SALVADOR DALI DINER prepared by Marc Sleep.

Jodie Drake, mother of Toronto Jazz and Blues scene, with Judith Merril at Mark Sleep’s Salvador Dali dinner. Behind them is Rochdale College’s famed Dirty Dan who lived here for a time.

The man with the camera is Doug Eliuk, formerly Canada’s Cultural Attache to America and an officer of THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA. Upon retiring he became a CineForum resource person. He also was a great cook. He assisted Mark Sleep on The Salvador Dali dinner as sous chef.

These two women were from the Argentine and Spanish Embassy. They were wowed by Mark Sleep’s Dali dinner. Toronto has never seen anything like before or after.

As a young woman Judith Merril (above) was told men would not read science fiction written by women. She revolutionized the genre. I met her at Rochdale College. We became friends for life.

Mark Sleep with Owen Hartt, father of Reg Hartt.

Al Aronowitz introduced Bob Dylan to Allen Ginsberg and The Beatles. He introduced the Beatles to marijuana. He introduced Reg Hartt to New York at the famed Thalia Theatre. He said Reg Hartt’s home (The CineForum) was his favourite place on earth. He was a frequent guest.

When Judy found I had copies of films like THE BIRTH OF A NATION, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI,METROPOLIS, POTEMKIN and more she said, “You belong here.”

D. W. Griffith made films that were seen in 5,000 seat theaters at what today would be $50 a seat. Today film makers can’t make films that will fill 500 seat theaters.

My admissions were by donation so everyone could afford to come.

I learned those who appeared to have most gave least while many who appeared to have least gave most.

Often I was given hashish, LSD, marijuana, mescaline and peyote most of which I gave away. The LSD I kept. If you never tried, too bad.

Rochdale’s bad reputation acted as filter. It kept out the boring people. I have maintained that filter in all my work. I had no money.

That meant I had to get people to respond to my ads. As a result I learned advertising.

People who worked in advertising told me I was doing everything wrong. Then I read David Ogilvy and learned I was doing intuitively what he did.

I showed everything from THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY to current films. I prefaced the films with talks. Still do. Film buffs told me they would come if only I did not speak.

One of my regulars was Jane Jacobs, author of THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES. Her last book, DARK AGE AHEAD, presaged the time we are in. Over a beer in her home she said, “The best part of what you offer is what you have to say.”

My program was designed to give an education in the art, business, culture and history of motion pictures from their origins until now. My main student was me.

Where everyone today scores silent movies like church services (preach to the converted) I score them like Saturday night in a bordello.

Ogilvy wrote that words like improved, new, and expressions like better than ever are key words to use in advertising.

Cecil B. DeMille stated that to get audiences into a theatre we have to promise them the Devil but that once they sit down they want God. He said, “Audiences won’t come out for God but if they don’t get God they feel cheated.”

Applying what I learned I took my programs on the road to theatres that could seat hundreds and thousands but which most often drew less than a hundred. Where my directions were followed hundreds had to be turned away. One theatre owner described my programs as a license to print money.

D. W. Griffith is today the most reviled name in cinema history. He made films which were seen in theatres that sat thousands. He charged top Broadway prices.

Today’s movies are seen in theatres that seat a few hundred at most. We are certainly not paying top Broadway prices to see them. Ogilvy said that modern advertising is not achieving the results of the pioneers.

Jane Jacobs said, “I had great teachers in the first and second grades. After that the teachers were dopes.” David Mamet in his book on film making, BAMBI VS. GODZILLA, states, “Stay out of school.” Bernardo Bertolucci urged the young to stay as far away from film schools and film teachers as possible. He said, “The only school for the cinema IS the cinema. The best cinema is the Paris Cinematheque. The best teacher is Henri Langlois.” My work in Toronto was inspired by Langlois. I learned that film academics did not speak highly of Langlois. Thankfully, they don’t speak highly of me.  I was informed my name is mud on campuses.

John Taylor Gatto has written that the deliberate aim of our education system is to dumb people down.

The thing I learned early was that for me to succeed my audiences expectations had to be surpassed.  Some young women who came to a screening of a silent film they had experienced just a week before in their native Italy said to me after, “We thought we had seen that movie until we saw it here with the music you put to it.”

It’s one thing for the ad to say, “BEST BOND EVER” and quite another for the audience to walk out saying, “BEST BOND EVER!”

Without that we are out of business.

During the last major threat of conflict in Israel young men on both sides contacted me on FACEBOOK. They said they had had the best experience of their lives at my CineForum in Toronto.

I thought, “They are facing death. They have not lived long enough.”

Grim Natwick, the creator of Betty Boop for Max Fleischer and principal artist of the character of Snow White for Walt Disney, lived to be 100. At his home in Santa Monica he pulled out his bottles of hard liquor and his art books. I learned more from him in that night that can be learned in a 100 years at any school.

He died at 100. 100 was not enough but it is the best we get.

–Reg Hartt

One of my long time regulars was the Honourable John Roberts who started coming to my programs at Rochdale College in 1968.

One night he arrived here by himself. I said, “You are getting a private screening.”

He said, “Do you mind?”

I said, “No. That’s why I like doing things here.”

He said, “You have been doing great work for the art and culture of Canada for a long time.”

I said, “Some see it that way. Most do not. What do you do?”

He gave me his card. From that moment on he became a Resource Person here.

Rochdale College lives at my CineForum.

Film buffs still say to me they would come to my programs if only I did not speak before them. Good thing I don’t care for film buffs although now and then I meet one worth knowing:

Look behind THE PUNISHER and you will see posters for THE REG HARTT FILM FEST. Reg Hartt is part of the Marvel Universe. When people enter The Cineforum they become part of The Marvel Universe.

Jane Jacobs’ last book is a warning ignored about the mass dumbing down we now find ourselves mired in.

“Most teachers say you should go to school to get your degree to have something to fall back on. Aside from being a huge lie, that also creates a very high level of mediocrity, because nobody who really believes that is going to take the leap of faith required to be a serious artist. Stay out of school.”–Ellis Marsalis to his sons Branford, Delfeayo and Wynton.

“Like the belief of the terminally ill in medicine the belief of the legitimately frightened in the educational process is a comforting lie.”—David Mamet, TRUE AND FALSE.

“You have no need that any man should teach you.”-1 John 2:27.

“School is an institution built on the axiom that learning is the result of teaching. And institutional wisdom continues to accept this axiom, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,”–Ivan Illich.

David Mamet: “The American educational process prepares those with second-rate intellects to thrive in a bureaucratic environment. Obedience, rote memorization, and neatness are enshrined as intellectual achievements…Like the belief of the terminally ill in medicine the belief of the legitimately frightened in the educational process is a comforting lie.”—David Mamet, TRUE AND FALSE.

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very great mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”–Albert Einstein.

“My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by
myself,” writes the great playwright George Bernard Shaw.
“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education,” adds Bertrand Russell.
“School is an institution built on the axiom that learning is the result of teaching. And institutional wisdom continues to accept this axiom, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,”–Ivan Illich.

“We get three educations. The first is from our parents; the second is from our schoolmasters. The third is from life. The last makes liars of the first two.”–Montesquieu.

“I had wonderful teachers in the first and second grades who taught me everything I know. After that, I’m afraid, the teachers were nice, but they were dopes…I have a lack of ideology, and not because I have an animus against any particular ideology; it’s just that they don’t make sense to me…they get in the way of thinking. I don’t see what use they are…University and uniformity, as ideals, have subtly influenced how people thought about education, politics, economics, government, everything…We are misled by universities and other intellectual institutions to believe that there are separate fields of knowledge. But it’s clear there are no separate fields of knowledge. It is a seamless web.”-Jane Jacobs.


We are mislead:

Incompetent by time we are prepared:

Animation artist Mike Jitlove and Forrest J Ackerman, editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, were guests of Reg Hartt in Toronto. They had a lot to share.

More pictures of Al Aronowitz at The CineForum. They were taken by longtime friend Bernard Hashmall:

The legendary Forrest J Ackerman at The Cineforum.

Reg Hartt when he arrived in Toronto in the winter of 1965. He had no place to stay because the friend he thought he had wasn’t. That morning Hartt’s high school principal had told him, “You have the wrong attitude. Leave this school today and you will starve in two weeks.” Had Hartt not left he would have starved.

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