Devo, Big Bird, and Calvin & Hobbes

It’s doc day Wednesday and I found three docs on Kickstarter that I (@jeremeylavoi) want to see. Two are funded, one is almost there, so support them.

The first is I AM BIG BIRD.

I AM BIG BIRD is a feature-length documentary about Caroll Spinney, who has been Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969 and at 78 years old, he has no intention of stopping.

Think you know everything there is to know about Sesame Street?  You don’t.  You might know that Frank Oz turned down an offer to play Big Bird, but you probably don’t know that until a last minute change of heart by NASA, Big Bird was supposed to go to space aboard the Challenger. Or you may know that Oscar the Grouch got his voice from a cantankerous cabbie, but you’d be surprised to learn that a fire in his trash can almost led to Caroll’s untimely demise.

Caroll’s stories are the stuff of legend.  He has been a constant presence in our lives for over 40 years, his path weaving through American history like that of Forrest Gump.  His time inside the Bird has taught him about the world and about himself.  I AM BIG BIRD will peel away the instances in his life that inspired his creation of characters that have influenced generations of children. And, as the yellow feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the Muppet, who will steal your heart.

This one is still seeking funds, and you can still win a Blu-Ray, so do it.

The next one is Are We Not Men? The Devo Documentary.

The ARE WE NOT MEN? film delves into the brains — and the souls — behind the concept, music, and spectacle of Devo. Sculpting its music, lyrics and visuals are two men whose personalities seem different but whose worldviews are the same: introspective Mark Mothersbaugh and outspokenGerald Casale. It is Mark and Jerry’s cataclysmic, sometimes contentious, collaboration that birthed what we know as Devo. Rounding out the group are two more members whose position cements the group as a literal band of brothers — Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale. Yes, behind the curtain of this art-school façade are two fascinating and sometimes fractious families, led by Akron, Ohio’s twisted version of Lennon & McCartney — with all the genius and precariousness that would imply. It is the stories of these men — together and apart — that drive the engine that is ARE WE NOT MEN?

That one is funded. I saw DEVO put on a free show at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco about a month after I moved here in 2002. It was rad. Can’t wait for this doc.

Last but not least, Dear Mr. Watterson a Calvin & Hobbes Documentary.

Calvin & Hobbes dominated the comics in thousands of newspapers for a decade, but when the strip’s creator, Bill Watterson, retired the strip in 1995, readers everywhere felt the void left by the departure of Calvin & his tiger, and many fans would never find a satisfactory replacement.

Newspaper readership and book sales can be tracked and recorded, but the human impact Bill Watterson has had and the value and significance of his art are perhaps impossible to measure.

This film is not a quest to find Watterson, who prefers his privacy.  It is an exploration to discover why his ‘simple’ comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the 80s and 90s, and why it still means so much to us today.

If you don’t love Calvin & Hobbes, then we can’t be friends. This one is funded as well. Kickstarter rocks. Can’t wait for it.

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