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January 2, 2014

16mm buffs find 'awesome' on road trip

How “awesome” got its groove back.

Tired of hearing this once-proud adjective routinely uttered by others for utterly mundane reasons, my friend Ben Reavis and I recently mapped out an ambitious drive westward with awesomeness in the classic sense guaranteed.

Case in point, the Grand Canyon. Might even Hollywood seem reasonably awesome to a pair of Northeastern small-town movie buffs? On the morning of Nov. 6, we hit the road, spoiling for an answer.

MUSIC TRAILBLAZER

Moreover, we eagerly anticipated overnight pit stops hosted by key contacts among fellow 16mm-film collectors who, most generously, enabled our Hollywood experience to begin well ahead of schedule.

For instance, in Denver, we were hosted by Genie Keep, daughter of innovative Hollywood sound engineer Ted Keep, co-founder of Liberty Records and Grammy winner for his hit “Alvin & the Chipmunks” recordings.

A trailblazer in electronic music, Keep chose The Ventures to record the “Hawaii Five-O” theme and also recorded soundtracks for 1970s Hollywood blockbusters, including “Jaws.”

We burned the midnight oil as Genie, 47, regaled us with stories of her “misspent youth” as a Hollywood brat lollygagging on movie sets where celebrated bratpackers, including Demi Moore made “St. Elmo’s Fire” and others of that ilk.

Genie said she typically fetched pizza for Moore and company between takes and got to know everyone on a first-name basis.

The following evening, we were accommodated by Genie’s brother, Ted Jr., in his Las Vegas home.

INFERNO TIDAL WAVE

Late-night excursions down memory lane continued as he recalled after-school excitement observing his dad’s occupational challenges, for example, reining in orchestra members who strayed from their marks while recording John Williams’s music for “The Towering Inferno” (1974).

Ted Jr.’s own adventure on the set of that iconic disaster flick included watching a massive water tank emptied onto the titular blaze, drenching Paul Newman and the rest of the all-star cast in the process.

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