Saturday, February 14, 2015

Treasure Thought Lost Forever FOUND! Feb 2015

A lost film of Moe’s Books legendary party in 1965 has been found and recovered thanks to Urban Ore and Pacific Film Archive. 

Thanks to the industrious scavenging of our new friend Kevin Laird of Urban Ore and the careful precision of our old friend Gibbs Chapman of the PFA, Moe Moskowitz’s illustrious evening has been brought back to life.

 A few days after Thanksgiving in 2014, I was working at the front counter with Harvey Stafford, a friend of Moe’s and a longtime Moe’s Books employee, when a young man approached us with some uncertainty. He told us that he worked for Urban Ore as a scavenger at the Berkeley city dump. He wondered if we’d like to see what he’d found. He showed us a small canister of film which he thought we might be interested in. At the dump, he had noticed the flat cylindrical container with the words “new mo’ cut” written on duct tape around the edge. Opening the tin and unrolling the 16mm film revealed images of what he thought was Moe in a top hat. He thought he saw a Rolls Royce and crowds of people.

Having only lived in Berkeley for 5 years, he did not recognize Moe from having known the book impresario personally. Moe died 18 years ago in 1997. He told us that he recognized the image from the poster that hangs over the front counter of Moe making a crowd pleasing toast with a dixie cup in white gloves, tails and a top hat.

Having spotted the canister he brought it right to us. As Moe’s daughter, I was completely delighted by the possibilities that the film represented but there was no way of knowing what we would find when we looked at it. 

On Wednesday 1/29/15, I saw the bright crisp film for the first time. The footage that Gibbs Chapman, a confirmed Moe's regular and film & video technician at the PFA brought us is fantastic. Gibbs carefully spliced the cut pieces together that he found in the tin and inducted this bit of history into the archives permanent collection of films on local history.

Miraculously, the film in 2 minutes and 39 seconds chronicles Moe’s arrival at the store in a Rolls Royce dressed in tails, his speech to the adoring crowd, his sharing of libations and his toast to the store’s long and healthy future.

People have talked about this party and beamed about having been there. I have been told that a film, long ago lost, had been made. But, like most interesting performance art, the actual event was too ephemeral to capture without the film. I believed that the film was lost forever.

I was born a year after this party in 1966. The portrait that hangs at the store today hung in the front hallway of my childhood home. We were all so proud of Moe and the beautiful absurd circus that was Moe’s Books in those days.

I cannot really express what this means to me personally except to say that I always wish that I could have been at this party. Watching this lost treasure reminds me of all the wonderful exciting funny times and makes me feel so glad that I have been here for so many of them. I miss Moe but seeing him laugh and smile makes me feel such gratitude for having known him.

This encapsulation of Moe’s spirit and the events of this auspicious evening has brought us so much delight. We hope you like it too.

If you recognize yourself or someone you’ve known, please contact me, Doris Moskowitz 510 849 2087

Thank you Harvey, Kevin, and Gibbs.

This means so much!


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