By Gerry Fialka &

Suzy Williams

Kudos to long-time Venice resident Michael Ochs, producer of the new documentary Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune, which opens March 4 at Laemmle Cinemas citywide. It would be grand to replace the Beatles itunes billboards around town with Phil Ochs in his gold lame Elvis suit and the words “Love Me, I’m A Liberal.” Phil personified, perhaps more than anyone else, the profile of the 60’s activist – passion, commitment, burnout and redemption. He believed in his blooming world of America as an ideal. As a child, he took the pledge of allegiance to heart. Ochs died with every death that befell his heroes – JFK, MLK, RFK and the student protestors in May of 1970. When his Chilean comrade Victor Jara was beaten to a bloody pulp, Ochs became unhinged, but still was galvanized to present a major show with Bob Dylan in New York.

This emotional film is essential in stimulating new paradigms and new metaphors for today, especially concerning activism and music. Michael Ochs recalls what Frank Zappa also sought: “Phil’s music could be considered the soundtrack to the times. He was ahead of his time in attacking Vietnam, and the civil-rights stuff he did was always right on the money. In a way, he was a singing journalist.” We hear motivating and witty songs like Draft Dodger Rag, Here’s to the State of Mississippi, I Ain’t Marching Anymore, and Love Me, I’m A Liberal. Ochs’ inciteful satire still challenges us all to self-reflect upon our own motives and consequences. It recalls Direct Democracy advocate Bill Mitchell, who exposes the “fake left.”

Great artists are not ahead of their times, they are their times. All times are happening now. “Now is the time” – MLK. As we chant “we are all Egyptians,” keep in mind the Zappa inquiry “who are the brain police?” Ochs also¸ arouses new questions. This film is thought-provoking and embraces contradictions. The revolution is not retro, it’s rooted in the courage of Phil Ochs, and his bother Michael to retrieve the transformative power of music and activism. Phil Ochs evokes today’s zeitgeist – “It’s wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win.” Is that what it is really all about right now?

Ed. Note. In 1968 I was an SDS organizer at Cal State LA, (among other places). We were in a battle with the administration over a number of issues and had announced a large rally with the Black Student Union. About Vietnam, the draft and other issues. A few days before the event the administration announced that at the same time there would be a Phil Ochs concert at the school. We had our rally and I went into the auditorium before the end and talk to Phil and explained our problem. He stop the concert and told the students he would finish it at our rally. Thanks Phil, that was cool.

Phil Ochs Film

FolkWorks presents  A Special Screening of the new film: Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune A Documentary by Kenneth Bowser.  The screening will be followed by a Q&A with      Phil’s brother Michael Ochs, Director Ken Bowser, Ross Altman, and Ed Pearl.   Join us afterwards for lunch (on your own) & more discussion at       King’s Head Pub 116 Santa Monica Boulevard., Santa Monica, CA 90401-2202  Private room reserved.   Sunday March 6th, 2011 at 11:00am. Laemmle’s Monica 4-plex 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica, 90401. Tickets: $10. Tickets are now available: By mail: FolkWorks PO Box 55051 Sherman Oaks, CA 91413 Online ordering information is available at Questions: 818-785-3839  Also Showing at:

673 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA
5:10  7:40pm
1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA
1:50  4:30  7:10  9:40pm
17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA
1:50  4:30  7:00  9:30pm
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