On Monday, Dianna from The Arizona Republic called me up for an interview. She'd told me she was in contact with Chris, who'd redirected the interview to me (Chris saying "Call nico...he's the militant one [about this subject]..." Thanks Chris--I loved that!
One of her first questions was "What was your intitial reaction when you heard Borders on Mill was closing?"
Without much hesitation, I blurted, laughingly, "My reaction?....It was 'I told you so!'"
I added that I'd known all along that these dumb greedy bastard CEOs wanting to spread their stores to every corner in the universe just simply couldn't be sustained...It's been a huge misallocation of resources, on every conceivable level. Circuit City and a bunch of other corporate viruses are proving me right. AIG, the auto bailouts, etc, are proving me right.
Only problem is, the only real benefit that these corporations had to their credit is that they did employ more people than perhaps their equivalent independent stores (that they forced into extinction) could/would have...so now that the big boxes are going down, so, too, are the people who were employed by them. And the bigger, uglier problem to me is that the CEOs will be just fine doing it (See AIG, et al, above).
I wish THAT had been printed up in Wednesday's paper.
Another thing that wasn't printed (probably because it is counter to the theme of the article), is that I'd said it would be impossible to have indie stores move back in because the rents had been jacked up so high. Incidentally, this is happening in most towns--and this rent raising has nothing to do with "normal inflation" rates. I did mention that Mayor Hallman seems to be on "the people's" (i.e. versus the "CEOs" side) on this matter. He has been against the incentives that drew the CEOs, but I'd asked him if there could be incentives drawn up SOLELY for independent/small business owners, but I recall him replying that he wants ALL incentives gone. So. Maybe he didn't understand my question, or maybe I misunderstood his answer. Not sure. But that's my solution to this epidemic (since it'd obviously be easier than to DROP rents on Mill and other cities' downtowns).
Other than the aforementioned omissions, I think it was a good article. Hopefully people will continue to buy more independent and stop feeding the fat, stupid, self-important CEOs.
Read the article here:
Had a screening at SWIC Main auditorium in Belleville, Illinois. Thanks to all who showed up. And special thanks to Dan Cross and Zia Nizami for helping me set it up. Incidentally, earlier that same day we started shooting St Louis's installment on my Main St Inc series: "Delmar, Inc"
Next confirmed showing of Mill Ave Inc will be at The Loft Cinema in Tucson.
3233 E. Speedway
Tucson, AZ 85716
Show starts at 7:30. One hour run time, then half hour Q&A with nico. Should be quite fun.
THIS JUST ADDDED. We'll be having a pre-show party at Chuy's (3100 E Speedway); happy hour at 5pm.
many hard decisions to make, based on countless variables,
I've decided to have the Premiere of Mill Ave, Inc, on Weds,
Depends on availability of the theater, as well as that of
the musicians' planning to play before the show.
As you can tell, we're working on this website, but should
have ticket presales up in the next few days, probably in
the "Shop" link.
Regardless, keep checking by this site in the next week or
so for the latest. Ya don't want to miss the premiere, because
I'm not sure there'll be a "Mill Ave, Inc" run,
per se, and there's no telling when the DVD's will be ready
for sale. I don't want to do "director's cut" type
extra editions, when we have all the material already.
Anyway, keep checking back, and we'll see ya soon.Ciao
Here's some preliminary press coverage. Thanks Chris Hansen Orf, Sarah Ventre, and Jonathan McNamara.
May 18, 2008 - 12:29AM
‘Mill Ave. Inc.’ documents spot’s rise, fall
Chris Hansen Orf, Tribune
As Joni Mitchell sang in her 1970 song “Big Yellow Taxi”: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. / They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” With its run-down-looking buildings, downtown Mill Avenue might not have looked like paradise in the 1990s.
Filmmaker sought to ‘preserve that moment’
But for the mom-and-pop merchants, artists and musicians, it brimmed with creativity and character.
Over the next decade, the stretch between University Drive and Rio Salado Parkway morphed from a haven for local music into an outdoor mall emblazoned with corporate logos: Starbucks. Borders. Abercrombie & Fitch.
“This was one of the three or four most important exporter cities of music in the country — and, for that matter, in the world,” says filmmaker Nicholas Holthaus, whose documentary “Mill Ave. Inc.” will be screened Wednesday at Harkins Valley Art.
In its ’90s heyday, bands such as the Gin Blossoms, Dead Hot Workshop, The Pistoleros, The Refreshments, Gloritone and Tucson’s Sand Rubies all launched their major label musical careers on the strip.
“There needs to be a call to arms,” says Holthaus. “This is happening in every city, and people are losing their quality of life. It’s corporate greed and myopia that are destroying everything. ‘Mill Ave. Inc.’ is really a microcosm of that.”
Holthaus interviewed musicians, business owners and city officials about the change. Some are wistful, others are downright outraged.
“It’s just shocking to me that we can live in a city that, at one point, had the potential to be Austin,” Stinkweeds Record Exchange owner Kimber Lanning says in the film. “To have that, and to blow it to this extreme, just blows my mind.”
MUSIC SCENE MATCHED OTHERS
Musicians such as Hans Olson, Walt Richardson and the Gin Blossoms’ Robin Wilson helped create a music scene on Mill Avenue that drew comparisons to venerable live music meccas like Sixth Street in Austin, Texas; the Athens, Ga., scene that launched The B-52s and R.E.M. in the ’80s; and the Seattle scene that spawned Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden in the early ’90s.
The epicenter of the Tempe scene was Long Wong’s at Seventh Street and Mill Avenue, and the film opens with a montage of Valley band Gloritone playing on the final day of the club’s existence — an outdoor show attended by more than 2,000 local music fans.
The club’s closing in April 2004 was the final death knell on a stretch of road that once boasted so many live music clubs that, as Dead Hot Workshop singer/guitarist Brent Babb says in the film, “You could walk 20 yards and see 10 bands.”
CHANGE BOUND TO HAPPEN
The musicians interviewed in “Mill Ave. Inc.” bemoan the loss of the clubs that supported live music on the strip, but many accept that change was imminent.
In the film, Jason Sukut of the band domo says, “It’s not Borders’ fault that they sell books.”
“Mill Ave. Inc.” posits that every city in the country has its own Mill Avenue, where gentrification and an encroaching corporate presence is driving out businesses that gave each city its own identity.
“Anytime that you replace a handmade nightclub that was built by locals and frequented by locals and you replace that with a neon corporate structure,” says Gin Blossoms’ singer Robin Wilson, “you’re losing something special and that rare something that makes it a part of our hometown.”