“Summer of Suburbia Films, Part 3”
CUL DE SAC: A SUBURBAN WAR STORY
August 7, 2014 7:30pm (doors at 7pm)
SMoCA Lounge at SMoCA (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art)
7373 East 2nd Street (Scottsdale Civic Center), Scottsdale AZ
$7.00 admission-advance tickets available at SMoCA or call 480-874-4666
Sponsored by SMoCA, Sechler CPA PC (http://www.azcpa.com)
(Screenings were selected to complement SMoCA’s summer exhibition Bill Owens: Suburbia.)
Directed by Garrett Scott. An examination of the actions of Shawn Nelson, a 35 year-old plumber who stole a tank in May 1995 and rampaged through his San Diego neighborhood.
In May 1995, Shawn Nelson, a 35 year-old plumber from Clairemont, California, emerged from an eighteen foot mine shaft he had dug beneath his backyard in search for gold. An ex-soldier and methamphetamine abuser, he stole a tank from a nearby National Guard armory and went on a rampage through the residential streets of his neighborhood, crushing cars and lampposts until the cops took him down.
CUL DE SAC goes far beyond this apparently minor news story and provides extensive political, economic and social context that ties Nelson’s life to the larger story of a working class community in decline.
Newsreels of a fat, happy San Diego in the 50s and 60s, the perfect representation of middle class aspirations for economic prosperity, are juxtaposed with contemporary images of shuttered defense plants, jobless blue-collar suburbanites, drug abusers, and police on patrol. Statements from police, historians and real estate agents sketch out the rise and fall of this military-fueled boomtown, and trace the area’s social ills back to World War II, the Vietnam War and recent layoffs.
“Brilliant… Each time CUL DE SAC revisits Nelson’s low-speed tank chase, he seems less like a standard-issue nut-job loner and more like a military/industrial Frankenstein’s monster, haunted by (and hunted for) other people’s sins.” —New York Press
“[A] terse, scrupulous film, the footage punctuates a bleak tale of a defense-industry town’s boom and bust-once a Cold War capital of airplane and missile production, the San Diego suburb has decayed into a strip-mall wasteland…” —The Village Voice