Archive | September, 2015

Cult of Personality- The Source Family (2012)

13 Sep

SourceFamily_2000x2841_1shtWhat started as a lucrative, hip vegetarian restaurant in late-1960’s LA, led to a religious way of life for over one hundred followers in the 70’s. The Source Family documentary tells the tale of Ya Ho Wha, or Father Yod, and his transformation from a straight-laced and allegedly violent businessman to a polygamous cult leader. A unique perspective emerges as past followers are interviewed in present-day, with many seeing no harm in the crazy life they used to lead under this cult leader. What started out with seemingly reasonable life habits- healthy and organic eating, commitment to above all else do no harm, communal living and positive thinking- devolves into power-hunger, community backlash, withdrawal from society, and as Father Yod’s ex-wife, Robin, so aptly put it, “a dirty old man on a lust trip.”

And despite the obvious manipulation at play within the Source Family, it is incredible to see how former members still speak so highly of the cult and its missions- many retaining their cult-given names (Sunflower, Isis, Electricity, all with the last name Aquarian) even more than 40 years after the Family’s dissipation.

Oh the fashion!

Oh the fashion!

The incredibly raw, archival footage maintained by photographer, official Source Family member, and appointed documentarian, Isis Aquarian, gives a first-hand look into the ceremonies, rituals, daily life, and philosophies of this group. It is quite surprising that documentation was even allowed, considering how it doesn’t always cast the group or its leader in a positive light. There is also some unique insight into why exactly someone would fall for cult mentality, as well as the societal pushes and pulls in the climate of the 1960’s and 70’s family. Most notably, during a time in which fatherly love and warmth was not the customary order of the day (think Mad Men), followers with daddy issues flocked to Father Yod’s side for love and guidance.

Plus, they formed a pretty interesting psychedelic rock band, that for some reason was allowed to play California high schools during their heyday. Nowadays, their records are a coveted find for serious collectors.

Check out this far out trailer for the doc, man:

High Maintenance

8 Sep

Ben Sinclair High MaintAlright y’all, time to breathe in the good shit and breathe out the bullshit. This week’s TV Tuesday feature is my favorite new show: High Maintenance. Available for free streaming on Vimeo, you are going to want to bookmark this badboy ASAP and get watching. Available in a variety of snippets from 5 to 15-minutes long, it becomes easy to binge watch the entire series in one sitting. As you may have already surmised, I did.

When it comes to catching a new show or movie, I have a “two-strike” system: If I read about it or it is recommended to me twice, I pretty much drop whatever I am doing to watch it. In this case, I read about High Maintenance in a Bust Magazine interview with Ben Sinclair, the show’s creator. He works on this show with his wife, Katja Blichfeld, which is my secret dream: being part of a husband and wife writing/directing duo. About a month or two later, a friend told me that I had to check it out (thanks Meghan Bender!). Within 24-hours, in the middle of a ladies lazy mimosa Sunday, I put it on. And we watched the whole thing.

My new BFFs, Sinclair and Blichfeld photo by Sam Comen (samcomen.com)

My new BFFs, Sinclair and Blichfeld
photo by Sam Comen (samcomen.com)

Let me cut to the chase already! In this show Sinclair plays a weed delivery guy who maintains the high in NYC. Each episode revolves around a different delivery. Each episode has a name, like a first name, which in some way reflects the characters he delivers to in that episode. You don’t have to watch them in order, but I would recommend you start with the episode “Stevie” and work your way from there. (This episode is aptly named for Stevie Nicks, not because he delivers to her, but you’ll find out why soon enough). You will love the colorful cast of pot smokers that Sinclair delivers to throughout the series. Dare I say it acts as a community service in that it normalizes marijuana consumption by showing the gamut of people who partake? As it is on Vimeo, this show is shot in beautiful high definition, and certainly doesn’t take on the amateurish qualities of other web series.

I cannot wait for the next installment of this fantastic show. Until then, I’ll certainly be re-watching the episodes I have already seen (a la Broad City, Kimmy Schmidt and Portlandia).