I wrote a while back that I had somewhat recently met Grant Hart—inarguably Hüsker Dü’s weirdest member—for the first time since the ‘80s. We knew each other a little bit Back In The Day from our bands playing shows together and such, and I wanted to see if he still remembered me. Our brief meeting left me bummed and disturbed—not so much because he didn’t seem to remember me, my band, or my fanzine ((o the pain!)), but that he didn’t even seem to be processing the fact that I was representing myself as someone he once knew, and did he remember whom I was? He recognized the fact that I was handing him a CD, but he absolutely positively gave no signs whatsoever that he knew I was talking to him, let alone listening to what I was saying, let alone comprehending what I was saying, let alone remembering me. It was like he had largely abandoned the idea of taking in signals from the outside world, or at least from the inhabitants of same.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that pretty much the only voice heard in this documentary ((Memoir? Soliloquy?)) is Grant’s. Once in a while, the guy behind the camera will ask a question, or there’ll be a brief interview clip ((like from The Late Show with Joan Rivers, good lord, kill the ‘80s right now)), but, other than that, it’s pretty much Grant Hart talking about Grant Hart ((and, yes, occasionally Bob and Greg)). There are no testimonial snippets from bandmates, or relatives, or drug buddies, or ex-lovers, or scene luminaries; no external voices to help spackle together a portrait of This Enigmatic Grant Hart Fellow. It’s just Grant Hart, telling us what he would like us to know about the music, life, and times of Grant Hart. Now, Grant’s a smart guy. I like his words, and what he says. That said, without the occasional external personage relating a few heady tales o’ humanity ((like the time Grant, upset that a curfew enforced by an Oshkosh hall owner caused Hüsker Dü’s set to be cut short, threw himself onto a folding table and pissed all over himself in protest)) to kinda balance things out, he really comes off as some old, pretentious coot in this film. Hey, you want ‘fair and balanced,’ watch Fox News! This is the Grant Hart show! I talk to myself and you listen! None can ask fairer than that! And, furthermore, I, for one, have a really hard time coming to grips that this bespectacled, bird-like creature on-screen is the same Grant Hart I used to know in the ‘80s—the guy who looked like that chunky stoner from high school you one day find out has got a great record collection and has read way more books than you have. My brain is completely failing to process how this Orville Redenbacher motherfucker could really be Grant Hart. I mean, I dunno, these days the guy looks like a cross between Ichabod Crane, William S. Burroughs ((whose friendship with Grant is discussed briefly here)), and Jamison, the nerd character from WWF wrestling about twenty years ago. His voice is this high, pinched creak; it doesn’t even sound like it’s coming from the same throat that sang “Never Talking to You Again” and “The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill.” It’s just weird. Speaking of weird, this movie jumps around chronologically like it’s powered by a defective Tardis, with little obvious rhyme or reason. A segment on Grant releasing his first solo album in 1989 will prompt a segment on a 1981 Hüskers show, which will in turn prompt a digression as to how Greg Ginn formed SST Records in 1978. I’d ask what the filmmakers were thinking, but would fear receiving a ten-minute monologue by Grant about Brion Gysin’s “cut-up” method in return. Now. All this said, this movie does feature Grant’s take on pretty much everything one would want Grant’s take on, so, clearly, anyone with even a passing interest in Hüsker Dü or even in rock biographies/memoirs/soliloquies in general will derive functional utility from viewing this. All I know is that there is a recurring motif where Grant walks around the grassy lot where his burned-to-the-ground house used to be, pretending that he’s showing off the now-imaginary house to imaginary houseguests, and, based on my last interactions with him, this seems about exactly right. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This film features multiple still photos from the Madison Hüsker Dü show on April 8th, 1983, where my old band, Suburban Mutilation, was an opening act. Also, i once bought a copy of MAD magazine #138 at the St. Paul bookstore that Grant is seen entering early in the film, and drank with my bandmates in the parking lot of the CVS visible when he is leaving. –Rev. Nørb (MVD Visual, mvdvisual.com)