Just a brief entry to note that I have successfully arrived in Tucson, Arizona. Set out from San Diego this morning after a fine breakfast burrito at a nice cafe there, and about 8 hours later, here I am in Tucson. It has been warm and bright the entire day, with lots of rocks, mountains, dirt and sand. Staying with a friend from Arizona Indymedia.
There are skateboarders next door who look like they are building a half-pipe out of plywood and stuff, and having a lot of fun doing it.
Not sure what else to say yet. I'm still a little dazed from the road.
This photo i snapped in San Francisco the other day, outside of Sacred Grounds coffeehouse. I thought it was pretty appropriate.
Yesterday I drove from Vallejo all the way down to Los Angeles and met up with my friend Kevin and his girlfriend Babs at her house in Echo Park. We had dinner and then went to a performance of TV Sheriff, pictured here. It was pretty amazing. Lots of punk energy and yet very accomplished media manipulation. A really great combination of craziness and genius, basically.
Next we went to a halloween party that some LA Cacophony Society people were throwing, which was pretty cool. It was not one of those parties where a bunch of lame people come uncostumed - just about everyone had some kind of outfit, and many were pretty extraordinary.
We got back to Babs' house and she insisted on watching my Juarez doc, even though it was about 1 am. I was so tired I left them to it and went to bed. The next morning we went to brunch, and then I hit the road again and headed south to San Diego. Arrived at the house of Lotus, of SD IMC. Just from my brief stay here I have already met many amazing, active, creative people. I wish I could stay longer, but Tucson awaits impatiently. I hope to be there early evening on monday.
I'd like to write more but I'm too tired.
In the process of my drive from the northwest to the southwest, I have reached Vallejo, in the northeast corner of the San Francisco Bay. I got here 12 hours later than I expected, because I got a later start yesterday and so ended up staying in a hotel last night, in wonderful Redding, CA.
So I'm in Vallejo staying with friends Bob and Adrienne and their 1-yr old, Stella. Vallejo was always, to me and others familiar with the Bay Area, "the ugly suburb you drive by on I-80", but no one ever went there or knew much about it other than that. Well, now I know it's sort of charming and there's a beautiful historic neighborhood and a waterfront downtown.
they (the gringos, that is) pronounce it like 'val-ay-ho', when it should be, if proper spanish, "vay-ay-ho." might as well say "valley-jo" to completely anglicize it. heh.
Tonight I'm going with Bob to the Negativland show in SF. I'm excited about that because they almost never play live and I've never seen them live before. I've seen Mark Hosler a couple times solo, and the rest of the band playing as "The Chopping Channel," but not Negativland itself. And Sagan is opening. might be the last Sagan show ever.
For my continued electronic appropriation and culturejamming pleasure, I also plan to go see TV Sheriff when I'm in L.A. on Saturday. What good timing.
Might ride in SF's Critical Mass tommorrow, since I have my bike with me. It's Halloween so it would be advisable. But supposedly it is going to rain. hmm.
Well, today is the big annoying day, I'm loading up a car with everything and hitting the road. Going to get to the bay area tonite, stay there a few days, then down to LA for a day, then over to Tucson by Sunday evening.
It's exceedingly bad timing that my powerbook's CD/DVD drive just suddenly stopped working. A few hours before, it was fine. Then just when I go to burn some music CDs for the trip, bam, broken.
Of course, when is it ever good timing for your only computer to break? At least it's still in warranty. Just barely.
It's so fascinating and funny to see public figures say exactly what you would expect them to say. A former Chancellor of the Exchequer of England weighs in with a completely predictable neoliberal rant about Bolivia, and how bad it will be if terrible evil Evo Morales becomes president.
Meanwhile Jim Schultz of the Democracy Center writes today in his blog that he now thinks Evo has a pretty good chance of winning, whereas 2 months ago he gave him very poor odds.
Things just keep getting more and more interesting in Bolivia.
I just read an excellent article in Counterpunch about Bolivian social movements and the unique way that the indigenous Aymara there organize. It's the first thing I've read that really gets into the details of how people do things in El Alto, a basically DIY city composed of and built by rural poor who moved toward La Paz from the countryside over the last few decades.
I also just saw a nice little piece by Rebecca Solnit called "Fire in the South," about Latin America in general and the wave of resistance to neoliberal oppression there in the last few years. ( I've been consistently impressed with Solnit's activist writing in the last few months, especially a piece in September's Orion called "The Asanas of Denial," about the little excuses, the mental poses, that progressives use to short-circuit real positive work toward a better world, in others and even in themselves. Can't seem to find that online, but it's great.)
I cajoled the IVDN folks into putting an RSS feed up for the center column. Seems to work with Fireant, DTV, and iTunes. Maybe some vlogger types will get into it. I think it's important to make indymedia media files (audio, video) as accesible to the blogosphere as possible.
I leave Portland, officially "for good," in 9 days.
Yesterday I went to Ken's place where the bulk (and I mean bulk!) of my stuff is stored, to survey all my posessions and plan what I'm keeping and what I'm getting rid of and how. It's odd when I've been basically living out of a backpack for over 8 months - and basically happy that way - to suddenly be reminded, oh, I have all these things, things I haven't really missed or felt I needed, but for which I'm still responsible for. Granted, some things I will definitely need, like my dishes when I get a new place to live. But most of the things are just a pain in the ass, and some of those things I will be jettisoning, but some I cannot bear to part with. Things like the 2 cubic feet of photos I've taken for 15 years before I went digital (this year!). Or the books, all the books which I might possibly want to refer to again. The journals, the heaps of paper. I mean, really, most of what I own is just remnants of my past, which I may someday, when I'm older, want to look at when I feel nostalgic, but is totally without a use in my everyday life now.
I wish there was a safe place to leave it here in Portland, or an easy cheap way to get it back to my parents' place in Iowa.
Actually I wish I could just chuck it all. Everything but the utilitarian things that I know I will need.
Along that same theme, for the last 2 months I've been ripping many of my CDs and then selling them at a record store. This has been to cut down on posessions and also to make some money. I may have done this anyway, even if I wasn't moving and poor, but who knows when I ever would have gotten around to it? So now I am carrying around hundreds of discs worth of music on my hard drive, and in a way I'm eating my CD collection and having it too. I just have to hope the hard drive doesn't crash.
It's weird going through all these posessions that are liabilities and are signs, remnants, of my past disposable income, income I should have never had, none of us should have had, or now should have, while people starved and are starving. I have thoughts like this all the time since returning from South America last year.
It's maddening. I almost can't stand it. And of course, no one else can, either, and that's why they don't think about it. They block it out, and keep buying CDs and drinking frappaccinos. And who can blame them, really? This is the life they've been given. They, we, are the lucky ones, given a life a plenty, to act as social ballast, giving the society inertia so that nothing changes, so that a tiny cadre of even luckier ones can be and stay at the very top of the pyramid and rule the world, and none of either of these groups thinking about the even bigger group at the very bottom.
This is the world we live in.
According to the Philledelphia Inquirer (remember to use bugmenot.com to log in!), A native of the El Paso-Juarez area has just written a fictionalized account of the Juarez femicides called "Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders". From this review it sounds like a relatively well-done book. This has the same risks as the Hollywood films coming out about the issue, but overall at this point I think that as long as something doesn't completely misrepresent the facts, anything that increases awareness is good.
A story by Bruce Sterling called "We See Things Differently" appears to be from the 80s but brings up some ideas that are especially interesting in this post-Soviet age where the big bogyman is Islamic terrorists. It posits a world where the Afghan Mujahadeen nuked Moscow and removed the USSR from the world power struggle. Meanwhile the Arabs formed a theocratic mega-state that somehow manages to separate itself from the global economy, and the U.S. gets economically pummeled by Europe and Japan.
I've always liked Sterling's writing and this is a great short story that looks at another possible world where the U.S. is no longer dominant.
A new article in Inc. Magazine about Craig Rosebraugh is actually really good and balanced. It really captures well the contradictory characteristics of Rosebraugh, a famous and controversial figure in the activist bubble of Portland. The ELF spokesman who now owns and runs a fancy vegan restaurant. The revolutionary that fires his employees when they try to organize.
The article has provoked some interesting discussion in the local IMC. I know people in this town that idolize him. Indymedia people who will voluntarily cloud their vision and values in order to stand in solidarity with Craig, because they respect him so much as a radical. I've always had mixed feelings about his work, his anti-nonviolence message backed up with years of research and convincing arguments. And it's been really really fascinating that someone who seems to be such an extremist is such a combination of conflicting values and activities.
Today the WTR conference ended. It was good, though there was a packed schedule with no time for anything else. I shot about 12 hours of footage, including 7 interviews. There was another, for-hire pro crew there that shot about 16 other interviews, with lights and a real nice pro dvcam camera. They were locals just paid by the organization to do the interviews and hand the footage over to NWTRCC, they're not themselves working on a doc. But there was lots of talk during the conference about media, how much a new doc about war tax resistance is needed and so I think it's going to happen. I won't neccesarily be me making it, but I might, and I will be thinking about that and about what I will propose to them, in between all the other things going on. It would be great if NWTRCC could find funding for such a film.
So tonite I'm staying and hanging out with my friend Alex Rivera, a great guy and much more accomplished filmmaker and documentarian than I who lives in Brooklyn. I look forward to showing him the Juarez doc and getting thoughts on it.
Flying home tommorrow.
Today I'm going to New York City for a strategy conference on war tax resistance this weekend. I'm being flown out there to videotape it and do interviews. This is a continuation of a project I've been slowly working on for 2 years now to produce a documentary about war tax resistance. I already have about 20 hours of interviews with various people, and I plan to tape a lot more at this event. It is a rare opportunity, because WTRs from all over the country will be there, and some of them are almost legendary, old-timers who've been doing WTR for 25, 30 or more years. So it will be good to get them on tape.
What does "strategy conference" mean? Well, we'll be discussing what to do within the WTR movement. How to grow it, what the goals should be, what methods would be good to get to those goals. I've thought this kind of planning is pretty important for some time, since the movement or tactic seems pretty limited, and yet it seems to be such an obvious, excellent, and satisfying tactic. In this capitalist world, what better way to attack any enemy than through their cashflow? And yet it seems that the method is not very popular, even amongst supposedly really dedicated, earnest peace activists ( I say supposedly because I really think that if you're paying your taxes that go to the military, you are working against your own anti-war activism, no matter what other forms that may take). I have a feeling that a certain segment of peace activists actually do practice war tax resistance, but in a quiet, private way. But in order to grow the movement and hence have a bigger impact, it has to be more public.
So this is the kind of thing that's going to get discussed, and I look forward to the conference.
I'm glad I can post this from the Portland airport, by the way. They now have wireless access over almost the whole length of all the terminals, and a nice intro page that pops up when you first launch a browser that shows you where you're connecting from on a map of the airport.
I'm declaring my Juarez doc to be at "release candidate" stage - In other words, it's done, unless I notice some glaring mistake or glitch. I will sigh a big sigh of relief if i watch it a couple times and don't see something crying out to be fixed.
The last few days have been a haze of waiting for final renders and wandering the industrial wasteland around where the studio is, looking for sustenance while the clouds dump drizzle on the city. Right now i'm waiting for the DVD of the final video to render. It's frustratingly slow to turn a DV file into a muxed mpeg2. I wish I understood why. There's almost nothing slower in my computing world.
If only there was internet at the GAVEL (the studio) then i could while away the waiting getting and sending email, doing other stuff needing to get done. I had to bike over here to the Back to Back cafe where they have a computer, while my laptop sits in the video dungeon working away...