MFHQ #1: Our “Xanadu” and you

Right around 15 years ago, C-U Blogfidential friend and former Champaign resident A.j. Michel invited contributors to write about how they internalized the airplane terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, for the seventh issue of her ‘zine, Low Hug. A piece submitted by your soon-to-be humble editor contrasted the seeming calmness of the Sesquicentennial Neighborhood, through which he walked from home to work that day, and the ripple of disbelief he encountered once reaching the downtown offices of The Octopus. It had to sink into his system twice, that horrible news, once through discussion with his fellow staff members and again upon recognizing how its possible ramifications had already polarized an entire planet for several hours before he even learned of it. Retracing those steps on the way back to his apartment building, lovingly nicknamed “Building” due to hanging letters spelling out the obvious on an outer brick wall, he could not recall a single clue or anomaly that earlier might have tipped him off.

Mr. JaPan drew a reference to CITIZEN KANE in the piece by loosely aligning his domicile with “Xanadu,” the infamous hideaway of impresario Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) that kept the world at arm’s length and personal demons caged within. Better known today as the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters, our location is hardly akin to the dire metaphor expressed by Welles but it does harbor a few cinema skeletons du C-U! Followers can attest to how we’ve used objects, graphics, and ephemera from our collection to illustrate MICRO-FILM and everything Confidential. This evidence is easy to see on CUBlog; we did not work overtime in the last few weeks to locate the vintage visuals added to recent posts – this “Atomic Movie Orgy” advert, that DEATH RIDERS poster, those Octopus festival tear sheets – because we already had them handy in one form or another at MFHQ, the leg work long accomplished. To verify local film history, material like this is necessary.

Soon, we will reach checkpoints on the Confidential timeline when we begin to implement changes in our editorial, some of which will be broached in a brand-new “In My Backyard” column this spring. One idea is a recurring feature that pictures artifacts we store at MFHQ and relays the stories behind their origin and acquisition. Such a series would be guaranteed to liven up the ol’ Weblog in an aesthetic sense, don’t you agree? As we get to work in the background, sorting through and selecting historic goodies to exhibit, we will front you a few “prequel” posts that share our recent experiences in amassing the kinds of curiosities we have filed away, boxed up, or hanging in plain sight. They will provide you with a rounded perspective on how knowledge and circumstance play their parts in locating items and determining what to do with them. Our inventory is hardly vast in volume but it is quite potent in juxtaposition. To sustain local film history, records like these are also necessary.

We now arrive at a slightly awkward confession, dearest readers, which is partly the impetus for launching this series earlier than we had intended. Despite our best efforts to publish content on the regular from the dawn of MICRO-FILM to the present day, we have fallen behind in the upkeep of MFHQ itself. Simply put, the long-standing center of our independent culture bliss is in shambles. We’re daring to crack open our door – click on the “anonymous identity” shot above if you can stomach it – and admit this is what can occur after a few years’ worth of neglect. Fortunately, a fresh influx of organization should bring it back up to snuff, but it will require plenty of sweat equity for us to restore order to a space we once inhabited and utilized almost every single day. Expect us to sacrifice upcoming CUBlog time to push this process along even though we’d rather be spending it with you in the real, reel, and virtual realms. To preserve local film history, a controlled environment is necessary as well.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. You can also expect us to commence the parceling out of MFHQ holdings later in 2017. Our pop culture purge will include hundreds of unopened and slightly used MICRO-FILM screeners along with numerous items from your humble editor’s personal collection that may or may not include DVDs, VHS, LaserDiscs, books, comics, magazines, toys, posters, memorabilia, and amateur film equipment at any given moment. We will be looking to recycle, donate, and sell at reasonable prices. Please do not contact us for itemized price lists or photographs at this time; just be aware a one-of-a-kind clearance is coming soon to the C-U. Thanks!


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