Destroy Cleveland was a passion project that I never expected to receive any sort of attention. At first, it was just going to cover a select few bands. My efforts were to be placed on the work of people like Chris Erba, Wedge, and Paul Schlacter. After a bit of contemplation, I of course decided to document Ringworm and Integrity. From there, I discovered bands new to my realm, late 80s heavy hitters like Outface, False Hope, and Confront.
I never made or directed a movie before so I contacted Matt Delrosa, a friend that had done some local video work in Kent. He and my long time friend Colby Grimes had recently done a documentary about our deceased friend Frank Bochard. They agreed to work on my unnamed passion project. Now the documentary wheels were set in motion. I flew to Ohio and started doing interviews with the people you have seen in the movie.
The trailer was released on March 7th, 2015; a day after my birthday. A few months earlier I created a Facebook page under the name Des Troy Cleveland to hype the movie. That along with the trailer started a whirlwind of hype that I certainly wasn’t ready for. Maybe it even got to my head a little bit. I was so busy taking pills, drinking, and doing drugs that it all seemed so blurry. The phrase I came up with for this time period is “I thought I was Mick Jagger but I was just Mick Jagoff.”
Vice came knocking, as did a lot of other hip national media outlets and regional blogs from all over the country. I was conducting interviews on the regular, hyping the movie up to be some groundbreaking Roman Polanski level type shit. I believed it and I believed in the movie. It was my life. I needed Ambien because thinking bout the movie kept me up every night.
I got ahead of myself and scheduled the movie to premiere in August when we were clearly not ready. The editing took way longer than expected and I wasn’t in Ohio to oversee it. That was a big and painful mistake that I will talk about in a bit. I was just riding the wave of hype, ass kissers, and newfound attention.
The editing was cut so god damn close that I didn’t even see the final cut until one night before the premiere. In retrospect that is fucking insane! Well, what I saw was not the movie that I wrote. I’m not placing blame anymore but it was a letdown. I wanted a story with an emotional narrative. It was to be the story of a small group of friends in the 80s that formed these exciting new bands in a depressed midwest city. These friends eventually found themselves in bands like Integrity and Ringworm; and indirectly another scene was spawned. One of DIY punk like what was found at Speak In Tongues. The sad downfall to me was the decline and death of Chard from H100s/9 Shocks Terror. This was to be a central focal point of the movie but isn’t even mentioned in what I saw. Instead, the movie is like a library of information. It’s an important historical document, jam-packed with images. But, it’s not what I wanted.
Now let’s rewind a bit to the night that changed my life forever. I was boozing it up and taking Xanax at a local comedy show. Me and my friends found our way to some random local hardcore show because it was down the street. I ended up in some giant brawl with a bunch of punk rockers because someone shoved me when I wasn’t even in the pit. It was dumb. I yelled at some girls who were heckling me outside. I called them cunts and I don’t regret it. In retaliation, they made up a story saying that I came to a show and picked out a transgender person and punched them because of their identity. It was horrifying. I have always supported the rights of all humans. The story was never proven to have any validity or evidence but one of the girls made a big post about it online and spread it around. People in the punk scene seem to lack critical thinking skills and will just repost anything on Facebook that outrages them and makes them look righteous. They won’t question if it’s real or not. That’s what I learned as screening after screening got cancelled around the country. I wasn’t dealing with the bulbs that burned the brightest here.
I spiraled into a huge depression for months. I waited anxiously for someone to “call me out” in public. I received death threats over the internet and more people threatened to kick my ass than I can count. To this day, not one person has confronted me to my face. That’s the nature of cowards that hide behind the internet. All talk.
I carried on the best that I could but I was pissed off for a good 10 months. I lived in anger. It took a long time to see the true nature of things and heal that anger.
My revenge was to make the movie successful. I sold more DVDs than I could count, toured 6 different countries, and played Destroy Cleveland all over the United States. It really was a blast. I had to succeed and not feel self-pity. It was well worth the effort. I got to eat pizza in Italy, travel the coast of New Zealand, and hang out with friends in Amsterdam, Australia, etc.
The movie hype was winding down. Some people loved it, some people hated it. I both hated and loved it. I was still hurt and angry though. In my mind, a small group of miserable losers had ruined something I put my lifeblood into.
I wrote an angry email to one of the girls who led the boycott. I knew her insecurities and called her a fat, talentless hog and noted that I had made a successful movie and all she has done is….well, nothing. Real mature, I know. Either way I had resentment and with that hateful email, I let it go. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
Of course she posted the email publicly. A girl I had the displeasure of dating year’s ago that still holds resentments had sent it to Tony Erba. The poor guy nearly had another heart attack. The girl’s email was very divisive and basically said that a bunch of people were gonna come kick my ass at a show he was playing with Annihilation Time in Austin. Tony asked me not to show up but I assured him this girl was full of shit, and that I wasn’t missing AT under any circumstances. That was the end of Tony and I’s friendship and we still haven’t spoken. I went to the show and guess what happened? Nothing. More internet talk of kicking my ass that never came to fruition. Not a big surprise.
Around that time I decided that it was time to start a new life path, leave the movie completely behind, and work towards something positive. I changed my thoughts completely and forgave what I perceived as my enemies. I embraced them as teachers who put my exactly where I wanted to be in life.
I began to use the power of positive thinking and intention; finding peace and success in my life. I quit a job that paid well with benefits, took the summer to travel, and explore my mind. It was truly a beautiful awakening.
I meditated in Hawaii and took a 12 hour mushrooms trip by myself. The results were staggering. I was finally healing myself. I did not and do not regret the past or the drama. It was hard, I made foolish mistakes that I will never repeat, but it catapulted me into a wonderful place. Spiritual growth stems from pain and being in a place of loss. It was time to change or die.
I started hitting the gym, working with a trainer, changed my diet, cut alcohol drastically, and saw results. I felt and feel better than ever. I am in a good place.
The journey was tiring. I lost friends, associates, made strangers hate me, and engaged in needless drama with fools. Why? I don’t know. Al I know is that everything happens for a reason and it led to me being in a good place. I don’t want to live life as a bitter punk rocker. Had not things unfolded this way, I might still be living from a place of selfishness, anger, and ego. I hope that people can forgive me the way I have forgiven them.
Destroy Cleveland wasn’t just a movie for me, it was a painful life transformation. It was a time of growing pains. I express gratitude to everyone involved. I yelled at Matt and said he ruined the movie with his team’s editing but that was me coming from a place of ego. We were friends for over ten years but haven’t spoken since the premiere. It’s true, the movie isn’t what I wanted but what in life turns out exactly as planned? Maybe a new edit will come out one day. All I know for certain is it’s an important movie and we all put our heart’s into it.
To reiterate, I regret nothing, Everything has happened for a reason and I am excited to be alive and feel what every moment holds.
DESTROY CLEVELAND, RUST BELT HAMMER