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'Wesley Willis' Joyrides' screening tomorrow night @ Somerville Theatre

It might not be the white picket fence version of the ‘American Dream'- far from it- but nobody familiar with Wesley Willis' story can deny that the late schizophrenic-turned-artist and musician's story is pretty damn incredible. Willis, the man behind "Casper the Homosexual Friendly Ghost" and "I Whupped Batman's Ass" got his unlikely start as a homeless street artist in Chicago, battling his inner demons with his unique brand of music. Signed to American Recordings in ‘95, he went on to tour to huge crowds, appear on the Howard Stern Show, and amass what can only be described a cult following of college kids and established musicians alike.

And while some worried that the world's fervent enjoyment of Willis bordered on exploitative- Okkervil River's Will Sheff once wrote that his "appearances for crowds of jeering white fratboys evoke an uncomfortable combination of minstrel act and traveling freak show"-there were many more people who respected him as an artist, particularly considering the enormous mental and physical obstacles he struggled with daily. Willis, who passed away at the age of 40 from leukemia in 2003, was commemorated in the documentary Wesley Willis' Joyrides. The doc won a Gold Hugo 2008 Chicago International Film Festival and has since screened at very limited engagements across the country. Channel Zero presents the film Friday night at the Somerville Theatre.
Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Sq, Somerville | April 8 @ 8 pm | $6.50 | channel0.blogspot.com 

 

**A correction: In this week's "8 Days" section of the Phoenix, we listed this event as occurring on Saturday, April 9. The event is this Friday evening.

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