many years ago back in 1967 i became involved in a ‘bootleg’, or in other words an illegal over the air, radio station. it was started up by some friends, all of them kids, who’s hobby it was starting up bootleg radio stations in ontario, california. all of the stations eventually were discovered, one way or the other, by the FCC and shut down. a sad thing to be sure since no one was hurting anyone or broadcasting anything remotely obscene or subversive for that matter. none the less, a federal offense and a big no no. though none of us did any jail time, thankfully, and fines weren’t levied as well. all in all, the FM bootleg station i was involved with was run like any legal or professional radio station. we made sure of that. we followed all the rules any normal radio station did at the time.
they were fun times and i must say some of the more enjoyable times of my misspent youth. though i wouldn’t call my time with the bootleg station misspent by any means.
for whatever reason a few of us involved with the radio station decided to make a movie over christmas vacation. we came up with a script and a sorta plot. if i recall it was a single piece of paper with the idea for the movie along with an outline of the plot on it. the movie was to be titled, ‘the bum’. we filmed the movie in black and white on regular 8mm film. it was great fun and filled up a few days over vacation. the hardest part was editing the film and it also took the longest to complete. all of the people in the film were involved with the radio station in one way or another. there were six of us in the film. though there were more folks working at the radio station.
when the film was completed i took it to a film class i was taking at a local junior college. the instructor liked the film but said it lacked exposition. the film ran approximately a bit over 5 minutes. not much time for any exposition mostly due to the fact the movie was silent. though when i showed it the film class i used bob dylan’s, ‘the gates of eden’, as the soundtrack.
at any rate, the film had a number of semi showings because a friend and i who were in the film were also 2 of 4 partners in a light show company. we used the film as part of the show along with a bunch of other stuff. we made some very good money for the time and got to work with the sir douglas quintet, lee michaels, led zeppelin, and any number of local bands. the partnership folded after a very successful run due to internal bickering and youthful insanity.
when the light show company fell apart the movie disappeared. it did show up once at a dance or ‘happening’ in the very early 70’s only to disappear again. this time for good. i ‘ve always thought the story was a good one. a simple morality tale on one level and a decent crime story on an other.
when i started to write, ‘wire to wire’, it occurred to me to turn it into a remake of ‘the bum’ and give it the exposition the movie lacked. i hope i’ve done that. ‘wire to wire’ covers what happened in the movie. baldo meets jenny. she takes him to a dice game. baldo steals the money, runs, and loses it. the bum finds the money and it changes his life around. the bum meets jenny and she takes him to a dice game. the bum learns the game is crooked. the bum gets stabbed to death. i played the part of the bum in the movie. bruce day was also my radio name when i was in that business long ago. all the other names used in ‘wire to wire’ bear no intentional resemblance to anyone living or dead. thanks for reading ‘wire to wire’ and if you know what happened to the movie, ‘the bum’, i’d love to hear from you. yeah, i know, like that’s going to happen.