With failing health but a tenacity for life, an abstract-minded dreamer realizes he may only be able to pull off one last endeavor. The outcome impacts an entire city.
In honor of what would have been Josh Fischel’s 53rd birthday, a feature-length documentary about the last years of his prolific life titled ‘How to Throw Your Own Goodbye Party’ was released on June 25th, 2022.
Before founding the largest food and music street festival that Long Beach had ever seen, Fischel was mostly known for his contributions to music with bands such as Bargain Music and Pepper. A gregarious presence that was known to be larger-than-life in both physical stature and personality, his final and grandest endeavor became his legacy, but it also may have expedited the time he had left.
After screening at film festivals such as the Richmond International Film Festival, the Portland Film Festival, and the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, ‘How to Throw Your Own Goodbye Party’ is now being viewed worldwide by those who were eager to know what actually happened behind the scenes that first year of Fischel’s haphazard opus: the Music Tastes Good festival. This documentary is the directorial debut for Lauren Coleman who had the unique vantage point of working for Josh in the very small team responsible for bringing acts like The Specials, Living Colour and De La Soul to the streets of Long Beach in 2016.
What starts out as a story about a man’s triumphant accomplishment begins to take a turn as the complications of working through the red tape of a city becomes overwhelming and the approach of the festival runs parallel with an unraveling that is both heartbreaking and unnerving, intensified by an urgency that no one could have possibly understood at the time.
Despite the struggles and difficulties, it is hard not to walk away from this film feeling hopeful. Josh Fischel was the kind of person who took big swings and inspired those around him to do the same. He took pride in creating experiences that were unforgettable and, with a documentary like this, his legacy will certainly live on.