Ten years ago this summer, lots of magical things happened. Armageddon, Dr. Doolittle, Lethal Weapon 4, and Knock Off all came out, for instance. Me? I was a college graduate- or so I thought – who was working at a video rental house while my brother was working at a book store. I couldn’t have had a better job. I would visit my brother at Powell’s City of Books every once in a while, partly because of the employee discount, partly because he was near enough by. One day my brother pointed out one of the guys who was working the information desk. His name was Doug Holm, or as he wrote professionally, D.K. Holm. Growing up in Portland, numbers of my bus-rides home were spent reading his movie reviews (and the FSF and MSM and GROUP ads) in The Willamette Week. With the brio that I sometimes still muster when meeting people who’s work I’ve known long before I met them, I introduced myself, and we launched into the continued movie talk of movie geeks hanging out for the first time. This talk, it’s usually half-sparring and half-conversation, or it was for me – a 22-year-old looking for acceptance from a knowledgeable elder – because I wanted to prove myself. Doug was obviously amused, and was happy to see me purchase a book on R. Crumb (another of his favorites).
Doug might have become someone I said hello to (or monologued in front of) whenever I stopped by, but everything changed the day my brother got married to his first wife. I went into work and a co-worker told me “Hey, someone wrote about you in PDXS.” Doug had a column in the bi-monthly paper, and I rushed to another location that was sure to have it. And there it was, Doug wrote a paragraph about meeting me. Called me Tarantino-esque, but with a respect for older cinema. (Tarantino-esque was a compliment, Doug would later write two books about QT). I would be lying if I said I still didn’t have the article. Sometime after that we went out for drinks, and Doug graciously invited me into the Portland critic’s circle. Though I had known a couple of the younger ones due to working at Movie Madness, I got to meet them all for the first time at a screening of Happiness (which was somewhat nerve-racking for me because of my resemblance to Phillip Seymour Hoffman).
Over the course of the next year I would ingratiate myself amongst them, and around this time Doug reignited his Thursday night gathering, which in all humbleness was called “The Round Table” – though rarely were our tables circular. In early 2000 I helped set up Doug’s DVD player as he began a writing gig at The DVD Journal. A year or so later, and he helped me get a gig writing for them as well. And every Thursday we would either get drunk and talk shit with the local critics, or get drunk and watch movies with the gang at my place. From Road House to The Band Wagon, we would watch anything that caught our fancy. In 2004, I left Portland, Oregon to move to Los Angeles, California and make my way. But I’ve kept in touch with Doug, though often our missives were of the sort that veer towards sentences regaling in the latest odds and ends (often talk about The Wire). I always love reading Doug’s writing. Some of my favorites include his essays on Klute, Boogie Nights (though I disagreed with him), and on the old men he was always a master, like this piece on Red Beard.
But the bottom line is I don’t think I would writing critically about cinema anywhere if it wasn’t for the help and encouragement of D.K. Holm. And so I feel I must pass this on in hopes of helping to repay that. A couple weeks ago I was informed that Doug has cancer. Esophageal cancer, which is definitely treatable. But as Doug is a freelance writer, he has no heath-care, and writing a book or two is no way to earn a living. Here is the website that can lead you to some of Doug’s other columns, and where to give money if you’re so moved. While also this weekend, if you’re in Portland, Oregon, you can head over to the Cinema 21 for a benefit screening and auction for Doug. It’s Sunday at 7 pm with tickets on sale now. Here’s the pertinent info:
Suggested donation at the door is $10.
silent auction featuring local artwork, restaurants, vacation rentals,
A screening of the latest film by “Collectors At Large” director Patti Lewis
Dover Weinberg and friends
Portland luminaries reading some of D.K.’s most deliciously vitriolic reviews and hate mail
Restaurant and theater packages, dinner and hotel packages, and overnight beach packages, including:
Dinner for two at Cassidy’s with two tickets to Portland Center Stage
Dinner for 4 at Kenny & Zuke’s Deli in the Ace Hotel
Dinner for 4 at the Aalto Lounge (our favorite haunt)
3 VIP packages — including dinner and a stay at the Hotel Vintage Plaza and Pazzo Ristorante
To pitch in, to contribute silent-auction items, for more information, or for press inquiries, call Cindy Mason at 503-866-7951.
Yes. Make check payable to “Doug Holm” and mail to:
P.O. Box 4146
Portland, OR 97208-4146