Rosalie , (who has something to do with Palm Pictures) sent me a screener and soundtrack CD for Your Gonna Miss Me; A Film About Rocky Erickson . [Click link for film showings and Roky's tour schedule].
"Don't Slander Me."
"You Don't Love Me Yet."
"True Love Cast Out All Evil."
"I Walked with A Zombie."
The thing about Roky's body of work is that nearly every song title in the canon would have made for a fitting title for this film.
Those people looking for clinical proof of Roky's madness will come away dissapointed, as the film makers wisely gloss over concrete examples of their subjects' crazyness, and instead focus on his recovery and redemption.
Transcendence and redemption, along with a profound sadness that that hasn't worked out, are at the core of Erikson's music.
Even when he's singing about zombies , aliens and two headed dogs there is a sense that he's just telling it like it is, punching some sort of haunted spiritual clock like any other Joe Lunchpail- only this time the jobsite's in Hell.
Quite naturally , he would prefer not to be walking with zombies last night, nor pulling a nine to five gig in the seat of Soviet political power overseen by a biheaded canine, but he can't help but paint what he sees. And he'd like to get out.
Get out he did for nearly two decades , after being released from Rusk Hospital For the Criminally Insane in the 70's.
Sent up for posession of a joints' worth of marijuana , Roky was advised to cop an insanity plea .
Granted , the extenuating circumstances of his legendary LSD and heroin use could have just as easily been used as an excuse to institutionalize him but they were not, and to this day, a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia discounts any major drug use as a contributing factor.
The handfull of schizophrenics I know have either overused drugs , or have had signifigant trauma to one or more of the senses at a fairly young age.
The methods of "treating" Roky were either wrong or nonexistant, as born out by the testimony of the retrospectively compassionate good ol' boy officials at Rusk who, in the films' brief interviews with them, manage to apologize enough for my liking at least.
The aftercare, such as it was, consisted of prescribing a fistfull of psychotropics and remanding him to the care of his mother.
I wish there was a feature- length movie on Evelyn Erickson, she's clearly hinting that there should be throughout this film- but one can clearly see the roots of Roky's problems in the strata of unmitigated crap she has in her apartment.
I was cringing every time she Elmer's glued a priceless family photo to an oversized piece of shitty cardboard along with one- of- a -kind letters and lyric sheets.
Hey lady-ever hear of getting a literary agent? That's the way to do it if you want to tell your story.
The DVD extras include two videos Evelyn made that are mind boggling.
The first one , based on Bible stories, features a catatonic Roky being hailed as the supreme leader by a quasi- interested chorus of off camera extras who can't quite belive they're doing this.
The second one , "The Sex Strike" , is a retelling of Lysistrada as performed by Darvon -addled Austin housewives.
The second half of the film is about Roky's brother Sumner's sacrifices to get Rocky healthy again, and he should be applauded for that, but I could have done without the assertions that schizophrenia and mental illness don't really exist and that all you need is some touchy feely New Age Therapy to put things right.
But the important thing, which the film gets to with expediency, is that Roky's back; and Sumner sacrificed damn near everything to get him on a track whereby he could be free to make his own decisions.
Rarely have I wished the subjects of a documentary Mazel Tov with such fervor.
Thanks again Rosalie.