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Jason Zasky, Guitar Jeff Musser, Bass and Maracas Fred Stesney, Vocals and Drum Machine
When in LA, take a bite. A view from the road. Sheldon Schiffer, Director

Sheldon Schiffer set out to make a film about the music of his youth. He had already written a collection of essays back in 1986. But he realized that to make a film about punk 15 years after its arrival in the US seemed a curious contradiction. The act of reflecting on film to canonize punk musicians and music goes completely against the spirit of the culture. Punk resists hero worship – turning its creative participants into stars is utterly un-punk. So, Schiffer put the idea aside until another opportunity arrived that made sense.

Black Velvet Flag, with its irony, satire and parody, evolved punk from its established aesthetic of leather boots, torn jeans and mohawks, by appropriating and reinventing the music and fashion of the youth of their parents. Schiffer, like band members Fred Stesney and Jeff Musser, grew up in southern California in the early 1980s, but was accutely aware of the romanticized memories of his parents – the Rat Pack lounge crowd that hailed as much from Las Vegas as from Los Angeles or New York. The film evolved as the band evolved, both filmmaker and subject trying to unravel the same question: How does a music culture like punk that defines itself as non-conformist, survive when its participants age and enter civil society? Ripe with a documentary concept, intrigued by the hillarious attitude of the band members, and admiring its music, Schiffer got a camera and began unraveling the puzzling contradictions of this quirky band. Beyond the story of punks growing up into the middle class, he found a more universal story of aging youth, of ambition struggling against the eternal forces of adulthood and conformity.

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