X-Ray Visions: A Look Inside Portland’s Legendary X-Ray Cafe (2000) – By Brian M

 Portland, Oregon may be the hippest place on the earth right now. They’re a leader in ‘going green’, they’re a city full of people who ride bikes and worry about the ecology, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s a largely young city. Only in such an environment could a place like the X-Ray Cafe spring up and thrive for years. X-Ray Visions is the story of this pretty amazing place, how it came into existence and what caused its eventual end.

The X-Ray Cafe was really the brain child of two men, Benjamin Arthur Ellis (who wrote and directed the doc) and Tres Shannon. The two friends worked together in a band and promoted themselves, eventually discovering that places to play weren’t all that common. So, the two decided to open their own cafe, where anyone (and that is quite literally ANYONE) could come in and perform for an audience. The X-Ray Cafe was an ‘all ages’ club and one that seemed to be as much about the coming together of a youth community to change the city as it was about the music that was being played in the club. Watching the doc, you get the feeling that everyone, no matter how strange or weird was welcomed with open arms into, and even encouraged within the walls of the X-Ray. While most of the doc offers glimpses into the types of musical acts that performed there, the real meat of the story lies in the regulars of the club. Ellis and Tres established a safe zone for anyone who felt disenfranchised or different to perform whatever music they wanted to.

The story of the X-Ray is actually quite touching in its way. Sure these are people the most of us middle class, 9 to 5 working class types don’t quite understand, but they’re all people too, with their likes and dislikes and the X-Ray provided a place for everyone…even us middle classers…to come in, see an alternate lifestyle or art form and not feel like you were being judged or rejected in any way, and that’s a truly rare thing these days! I’m giving X-Ray Visions four out of four cigars, because it’ s well made, the story is great and it really makes you wish that places like this weren’t quite as rare as they are! You can find out more about getting this cool doc for yourself by heading over to the Microcosm Publishing web site. It’s a great little movie and you’re bound to enjoy it! So, until next time, when I’ll be proposing that just sitting in my house watching movies is, in fact, an alternate lifestyle, remember that the best movies are bad movies.