Died Young, Stayed Pretty: Grunge Artifacts, Suitable for Framing

Several local artists are featured in Eileen Yaghoobian’s fan-ish documentary about rock-poster designers. Opening night, she’ll join Jeff Kleinsmith, Jesse LeDoux, Art Chantry, and others for a Q&A (they’ll also sell their wares). In her film, she lets the artists speak for themselves—which is both a good and a bad thing. All seem stuck in the punk/underground past, pre-Internet, cell phone, and MySpace, when handbills and wheat-paste flyers were an important means of communication among music fans, when telephone poles were like talking drums. There’s a faintly bitter, nostalgic recognition that their art form isn’t/wasn’t more broadly recognized. None of these guys ever designed Top-40 album covers; today, album covers hardly exist. The film becomes an extended barstool elegy for a lost cause. Tacoma’s influential Chantry—talented former art director of The Rocket and designer for Nirvana, the Sonics, and countless Northwest bands—is the most garrulous and quotable of the bunch, but Yaghoobian never pushes him and his cohort on how technology has bypassed rock (and rock posters). Given that so many of these white male boomers are obsessed with clipping and recycling vintage imagery into their art, there’s an inescapable element of old-fogeydom at work here. In the good old days, we all listened to punk rock on vinyl—not those new-fangled iWhatchamacallits. Now lemme tell you about real punk rock, young man, but first, how ’bout you buy me another Rainier? Hey, wait! Don’t you wanna hear about the Mono Men’s first show at the Metropolis? Where ya going, kid…?