Framegrabs from Kleinhans, Back Porch (S8mm, silent, b&w and color, 1978-1984)
Linda Williams, Ruby Rich, Paul Fitzgerald, Cheryll Hidalgo.
Cheryll Hidalgo, Russell Campbell, Julia Lesage.
John Hess, Renny Harrigan
John Hess, Julia Lesage
by Chuck Kleinhans
Because 2014 was Jump Cut’s 40th year, we had some active nostalgic moments. We started the print publication with the crazy idea of having editors located over 2000 miles from each other. Julia and Chuck were in Chicago, and John Hess in Northern California. As we grew, editorial collectives formed in each place usually meeting Saturday afternoons to do everything from read submissions to layout the next issue to pack up copies for subscribers and book stores. These meetings often ended with a potluck meal for those who wanted to stay, or a trip to the hot tub (in Berkeley).
Meals together are, of course, a major human way of bonding, and rest on the foundational human need to eat. As Brecht put it, “Grub first, then Ethics” ["Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.]
I’m always reminded of this when fresh local tomatoes arrive at the farmstand in late summer and I set about making spaghetti sauce the way that Linda Williams (now a professor of film at U of California Berkeley) showed me back in the day: core the stem out and stick a whole garlic clove in the hole, put some olive oil in the bottom of a heavy cast iron pan, cover, allowing it to vent, and set on very low heat for hours. Season with a little sugar and oregano at the end.
My standard feed-a-crowd dish was chili con carne: cook a pot of kidney beans, changing the water after the soak. Then lightly fry onions in olive oil, brown ground beef, add grated carrots (my secret—it sweetens the dish) and chopped garlic, bell and other peppers, and canned tomatoes, add a little sugar, salt and chili powder (or paprika, oregano, and cumin) then finish by adding the beans and cooking a bit more. Serve with hot pepper sauce on the side.At some point, in a different apartment, with a terrific oven, I got into making soufflés—cheese and then chocolate ones—for the Jump Cut crowd.
On one occasion British film theorist Stephen Heath was passing through Chicago and came to a meeting, got a Jump Cut T-shirt, and stayed for dinner. Stephanie Goldberg (now a professor of journalism at Columbia College, Chicago) had brought a casserole and Stephen ate a big portion and eagerly had a second big portion. Afterwards, the previously nameless dish was known as “Stephen Heath Casserole,” and we recalled his visit every time we had it again. Recently Stephanie recalled the dish:
“The magic casserole you're referring to was something I made up myself. The base was a seasoned buckwheat groat pilaf with minced mushrooms. Then a layer of veggies and for the life of me, I can't remember what kind. Then about five pounds of cheddar. My god, it's amazing none of us has had a bypass.”
All this nostalgia started a hunt for old photos that I’ll attach here. Stay tuned, the next issue may uncover some Bay Area hot tub photos.