It is with the deepest sadness that I inform readers of Graffiti With Punctuation that David Grenfell, former proprietor of Melbourne’s finest independent home movie entertainment store ‘Now Showing,’ and a contributor to this very site passed away tragically of a heart attack on Sunday, April 1st, 2018 at age 50. He leaves behind a dear wife Rachel Grenfell and a troupe of eclectic friends whose lives were made better by having our answer to Jeff Bridges’ ‘The Dude’ in our lives. Dave was an encyclopaedia of movie information, a cache of hilarious retail stories and had the ability to maintain a loveable (and huggable aura) despite being one of the funnest piss-takers going around.
I struggled with a way to tackle this news, to commemorate the man, so there are a few things I wanted to share. Firstly, I thought I’d talk about the man in the style of the opening narration from his very favourite film, “The Big Lebowski”; in my mind I think Dave would have like that. Secondly I wanted to share some of the final exchanges that we had together, because nothing’s better than sharing Dave’s own words to get a sense of the man and the yawning hole he leaves in the lives of his nearest and dearest.
Way down in Melbourne there was this fella... fella I wanna tell ya about. Fella by the name of David Grenfell. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. Well Mr. Grenfell, we called him "Our Dude". If you were in the twitter-sphere it was @nowshowinghigh. There was a lot about this Dave Dude that didn't make a whole lot of sense. In a retail age ready to turn a quick buck for sub par product, he obsessed over a transfer, an aspect ratio and a full suite of commentary tracks. At a time where the online conglomerate swallowed the “Mom and Pop” physical stores, his “Now Showing” endured as long as it could. But then again, maybe that's why I found the place so darned interestin'. But I'll tell you what - after seeing Now Showing and meeting the subject of this obituary that I’m about to unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin' every bit as wonderful and tragic as any other thing.
Now this here obituary that I'm about to unfold is a result of a relatively short but firm friendship of about a half a decade, that ended suddenly on April 1, 2018. I only mention it because sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about this Dave Dude here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. Dave was out of time. Dave belonged in a Coen Brother’s world, in 90s Los Angeles. But sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Aw. I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I’m gonna miss him, so that’s enough.
In my last correspondence with Dave we were talking about two things, firstly “HEAT”. I’d asked Dave to be a part of the One Heat Minute podcast, and he accepted. He wrote the following lovely suggestion that will never come to fruition:
Only topper would be to do it in person/drink a few cocktails/watch film...& LA Takedown...then Heat...& Fargo
Then tweet about posers who use the word cacophony excessively & out of context.
Dave turned 50 this year, on the 30th anniversary of “The Big Lebowski.” We had decided to kick off a podcast on “The Big Lebowski” because, Dave shared a similar obsession with “Lebowski” as I did with “Heat.” This was to be our own formation of The Dude (Dave), Walter (myself I assume) and Donny (Dave’s friend Nick Brodie - Graffiti alum). During our chats I asked Dave how many times he had seen the film and he shared:
Honestly & its a guesstimate
250 heading to 300
9 times on the big screen
May once a month maybe more for 20yrs
Then several binges
33 in 30 days
4times in a row on boxing day till wife put a halt to that
So thats about right i guess
Have watched T2 maybe 200
Pulp 150 (12times on the big screen in 3diff countries)
TheThing/TheyLive/Caddyshack/Super/ForrestGump at give or take 100
Oh THE WARRIORS/WANDERERS/MAD MAX 1&2
Easily 100, Warriors maybe 200
BeverlyHillsCop would be tipping the ton too
There's s life wasted....
It was not a wasted life. In his bio on this very site it says; “Dave thinks of movies as personal journeys but so much more fun when you can share your path with others.” Dave didn’t just affect movie nerds, he befriended and made impressions on real Australian film industry titans. He chewed the fat about movies and the “Bombers” with Lachy Hulme and was firm friends with radio/comedy royalty Tony Martin, who Dave confided, pushed Dave into turning some of his hilarious tales of owning a video store into a comedy performance.
Dave was like the Dude and in one of the last exchanges we had he wrote:
Funnily i was very dude like before even seeing the film
White Russian was a preferred cocktail of choice
I was bohemian in my views of effort/achievement
Not a bowler per say but did enjoy it when it was partaken
However was a bit of a fan of the fancy car unlike the dude tho now i have a beat up vehicle- green & some rust (not too much) in colour
Tape deck (no CD) & tho do have a special lady but no little Dave-bowskies on the way…
Dave wasn’t merely like the Dude; although he had a wisdom of movies and presentation that he wielded with Bridges’ Zen. Dave also had touches of Walter (John Goodman), loving to get faux fired up about nonsense to amuse his friends. One of my favourite examples was consistently making fun our loveable friend Brodie for non being able to feed himself after infamously struggling to drink and dine on a burrito. In the end Dave finally had a Donny’s (Steve Buscemi) tender ticker.
In the end, Dave signed off one of his final messages the following:
Well by definition its a life
50yrs + less than that left…
Vale David “The Big Dave-Bowski” Grenfell.
BLAKE HOWARD IS A FILM CRITIC & THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/CO-FOUNDER OF AUSTRALIAN FILM BLOG GRAFFITI WITH PUNCTUATION . BLAKE IS THE HOST OF THE ONE HEAT MINUTE PODCAST. BLAKE IS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS ONLINE FILM CRITIC SOCIETY (AND A MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING COMMITTEE), IS A CO-HOST OF GAGGLE OF GEEKS ON SYDNEY'S 2SER COMMUNITY RADIO, A COLUMNIST AT THE AUSTRALIAN ONLINE INSTITUTION DARK HORIZONS AND SWAYS THE TOMATO METER WITH ROTTEN TOMATOES APPROVED REVIEWS.