This evening KBOO, the cool community radio station in Portland, interviewed me over the phone about Rod Coronado's current situation. Not that I'm an expert, but I sort of got selected by the little group of supporters here in Tucson to do it. Maybe because I used to live in Portland. Maybe because no one else wanted to do it.
Anyway, it was a pretty by-the-numbers set of questions and I provided some pretty boring and almost awkward answers. I guess I was nervous. I'm usually not nervous talking in public or even on the radio or TV, but the fact that I'm supposed to be saying the right thing, that you can't just spout off and be irronsponsible when talking about someone in trouble with the law - that made me nervous. You can kind of hear that I'm choosing my words very carefully. Despite that I still screwed up, and said that Rod had given his lecture in San Diego last August when it was actually August 2003. drat.
I hate how they called him an "indigenous eco-anarchist" on the KBOO news archive page. KBOO of course means that as a compliment, but it sounds bad to me. Maybe I wouldn't mind if the mainstream media hadn't made "anarchist" into a dirty word. I dunno. I kind of wish they could just say "person who cares more about nature and wildlife than about property and money." But there always has to be these labels used all the time.
I've finished posting to the Indymedia Translation Tool all the english transcriptions of my film. If you're a native speaker of latin american spanish and would like to help translate, please click the link, and then pick a section.
If you've never used the Translation Tool before, you may want to read the instructions. The TT is a really wonderful thing - many people, when they hear about it first, think it is another crappy machine translator like babelfish or google translations, but it's really a web application that handles online collaboration, enabling the management of little translation projects - allowing those with texts needing translation to propose them, and volunteer translators to agree to do them and post their finished translations, as well as revise translations.
The wonderful Jenoun, who also helped me translate the spanish interviews into english, has already done the first section. I'm hoping I can get the rest done in the next couple weeks, in time for me to add the subtitles, have the DVD replicated, and take the DVDs on my little screening tour of Las Cruces, Albuquerque and San Diego, March 30 through April 5. Anybody who helps will of course get a copy or two.
i spent about 3 hours today covering the latest on Rod Coronado's situation. went to the hearing, then went home and wrote a feature for AZ IMC.
now i just screwed up cuz of one misclick and lost the first try at this post. grr.
so much stuff to do. schedule thrown off on multiple days because of this stupid indictment of a friend and member of my community. and of course this is why the govt does this sort of thing. to wear down and sabotage of the efforts of hundreds of related activists and supporters. It effects more than just the people held in jail, it disrupts whole communities and projects. of course this is not to minimize the experience of the prisoners, whose lives are infinitely more disrupted than their friends and supporters.
really the thing i should be doing is continuing to post the rest of the transcription of my film, so that people can translate it into spanish. that's my priority, but... other things get in the way.
I just found out about a new documentary called "Living Room" that is touring around and that's about infoshops. I wish it were playing at our infoshop here in Tucson. The closest the tour will come is The Catalyst in Prescott.
Anyway it looks like it could be a good film, and they cover the Back to Back Cafe in Portland, a space I'm very familiar with, so I'm interested.
But a particularly interesting thing about it is that on their website there's a thoughtful essay about the process they went through to get funding and approval from their school. At the beginning of the essay I read that they received a grant for $2100 and I thought ooh, lucky. Then I read on about the hoops they had to jump through to get that money and decided it's not worth it and it was not lucky.
Apart from the problems they mention in the essay, it just amazes me that interviewing someone for a film is even considered "research" and that if you do that under the auspices of a University, you need to get approval from a "human subjects research committee." I just talked to someone else doing work on the Juarez situation as a thesis and she has to get the same kind of permission.
It's just a bit ridiculous to me. We're not talking about injecting chemicals into your arms, this is talking and either writing down or videorecording your answers. you're not a "human subject," you're a person.
I guess it's another case of a few bad apples spoiling everything. Because in the past some "researchers" abused their relationship with their interviewees somewhere, now poor well-meaning students have to subject themselves to this bullshit.
(I guess it's kind of ironic, too, that these people are making a film essentially about an alternative, DIY way of looking at information and information distribution (infoshops), and yet they do it from the auspices of a big university and spend months waiting for someone to give them the go-ahead and write them a check.)
The same kind of thing is going on in a completely different arena, or shall I say rink. In 2 different cities that I know of, Tucson and Portland, and maybe more, filmmakers are running into problems making documentary work about roller derby participants, largely due to (I believe) the recent debut of a new "reality" show on A&E called Rollergirls.
Bad apples ruining it for everybody.
Crazy things seem to always happen on Wednesdays here. I can rememeber a few Wednesday nights coming to the Dry River meeting and finding out some bad news about some arrest or raid or something.
Today is another one. Rod Coronado apparently was arrested at his workplace today. His girlfriend reportedly went to his house and found FBI and ATF agents searching it.
We really don't know more than that. There's speculation that it's something to do with the grand jury investigation in San Diego, connected to Rod's speaking event there a couple years ago. This has been brewing for awhile. (I wish I had more links about this grand jury investigation but the search function on the SD IMC site seems to be screwed up, so I only have the above link which I had bookmarked a couple months ago).
I shouldn't say anything else yet. I feel like I should be writing this on the AZ IMC site, but indymedia folks here are skittish about writing stuff too soon. There's a certain preciousness to feature articles here that is a big contrast to Portland. I personally think it's better to write a little bit ASAP, maybe even speculate a little bit, rather than sit on a story till you have 5 paragraphs worth of absolute truth - as long as it doesn't put anyone at risk or incriminate anyone. But, whatever, I'm new here and when in Tucson, do as the Tucsonans.
Anyway, we'll have something up in the morning, I think.
Things are really picking up speed here regarding my film. It's almost as if as soon as I decided to stop meekly and passively waiting for various festivals to bestow their validation upon me and my work, things started to really get going in a nice way. It's exciting, and makes me wonder if it was a mistake to try the festival route at all. I guess it was good to try this once, but I may not bother the next time. Lots of activist filmmakers, Greg Berger being a good example, are going around that whole process because there are other ways to do things. DIY!!! I'm still waiting to hear from a few more festivals but I'm going ahead with other plans while I do that.
I just heard from the organizers of the Justice for Women symposium at New Mexico State University that they want to screen the film during that event, March 30. I'm also working on getting screenings in San Diego and Albuquerque around that time. I also just recently signed a non-exclusive license with Free Speech TV and they will probably start airing it in late March. That's a potential 11 million viewers so that's really exciting.
Further exciting things coming up - I'm planning to attend the symposium at NMSU and bring along some friends from Tucson, and we're going to go visit Juarez afterward and hopefully meet with some community members. There are also plans brewing for showing it in Arivaca in April, and also again in Tucson, perhaps with some of the musicians that did the soundtrack playing live the same night.
Meanwhile I continue to work on transcribing the English parts of the film, so that they can be translated to Spanish for subtitling. I hope to get the transcription done today and start posting sections of it to the Indymedia Translation Tool. Then when the translation is done I can have a bunch of copies of the DVD made, I start getting it out there even further.
Apropo my conversation with someone recently about the new Battlestar Galactica series (I can't remember who I was talking to): I just saw in the bathroom at Epic, every hipster's favorite coffeehouse in Tucson, the following graffito: "Adama is a cylon."
If you don't watch the show, I'll explain: Commander Adama is the military leader of the fleet that comprises the last surviving humans, after the Cylons devastated all the human planets. The Cylons can make androids that are almost indistinguishable from humans, which provides a lot of the suspense and intrigue of the show. Who's a cylon, who's not?
An article in the journal Neuron (I love that name) reports that a study found that when people cooperate, a part of their brain associated with pleasure is stimulated. They don't know why humans evolved to be this way, but now they know why it feels good to help each other out and work together.
This is pretty cool. The rights of an attention-giver. Nice.
Almost everyone left of center likes Democracy Now and is constantly listening to it, talking about it, linking to it in their blogs, and going to see Amy Goodman speak whenever she comes through town.
I'm here to say something I've been wanting to say out loud for a long time but have hestitated because of its possible controversial nature: I don't quite understand why people like the show and Goodman so much. I myself almost can't stand to listen to or watch it, and I certainly don't listen or watch regularly.
I guess the simple answer is: the content, and the fact that there's not really very many other shows out there that are like it. It's the only show of its kind with its level of resources and professionalism. And the good thing about Amy Goodman is at least she's not a wingnut. There are lots of left-wing news/analysis shows, especially on internet radio and such, that have hosts that just come off sounding like wacko conspiracy nuts.
But Goodman is simply one of the worst interviewers I've ever heard or seen. At first I thought it was because I was watching her on TV at first and she's really coming from a radio background, but whenever i listen to the radio version I feel the same way. Not because of what she says, but how she says it. Her whole manner is so wooden and tactless and impolite, it's almost offensive. Now, don't get me wrong, the subject matter rocks, Goodman has great people on her show and she's getting some really important information out to the world that is pretty underreported. But next time you listen to her check out how she talks when she's interviewing. Her phrasing is so awkward that I frequently even get confused about what she's saying. For instance, I was just listening to an old archived show where she was interviewing John Perkins, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hitman." Every once in awhile, as broadcasters always do, she mentions what you're listening to. Station identification, or whatever. But there's literally no pause between that and the previous sentence or her next question. For this case she would say stuff like "For those of you just joining us, you're listening to Democracy Now tell us about the dealings with the house of Saud and the agreements the U.S. government made with them." I'm totally serious, it was literally a run on sentence to the point where I got confused; and can't believe that a professional broadcast journalist would talk that way.
She's also just so brusque that it borders on rude. She will constantly say stuff like "You write about the assasination of Omar Trasero. explain," or "how closely did you work with the world bank." That's right, no question mark. Excerpt for the fact that there's a word like "how" or "when" or "why" at the beginning, her questions are not questions, there's no higher inflection at the end of the sentence to indicate that its a question, she just sort of snaps out a phrase. do you talk to people like that when you want them to tell you things? I sure don't.
It's so weird. How and why do people listen to this? Why do people appear on her shows? When are they going to fire her, or make her just a producer, and get someone else with a personality to sit behind the microphone? I just don't get how she rose so high with an interview manner like hers.
Maybe she's brusque and awkward like that because she's trying to seem to not be a wingnut, to be hyper-professional, and to counter the ditzy female newscaster stereotype, etc. But I'd say she's overcompensating and gone too far the other way. So, lighten up, Amy, be nice, and relax a little. Or step down, concentrate on writing the stories, and get someone else to read them.
Let's see how many flames I get about this....
The nonsequitur title of this entry comes from a friend who was telling me about Nietzche's position on anarchists. He said Nietzche knew various contemporaries who were anarchists but who just wanted to destroy, to tear stuff down, and Nietzche didn't want to be associated with them even though he was really an anarchist - but he said don't destroy, enjoy. Which should be a bumper sticker, even if Nietzche never said exactly that. I'll have to look into that idea. But I thought I'd just mention it because that conversation may have been one of the few redeeming aspects of my short trip to Tempe this weekend.
A bunch of us from Dry River and Indymedia went up there for Local to Global, a sort of conference held annually that includes all manner of different activists with different causes, from hippy biodiesel experts to Earth First! to 911 conspiracy types to border activists like No More Deaths. There were way too many workshops and way too few people. We had a table for Pan Left and AZ IMC and I co-taught a workshop on videoactivism but only 2 people showed up, which is no reflection on the workshop, I'm sure, it's just that when you have 50 people and 10 workshops going on at the same time, each one is not going to have very many attendees.
Add to that the brief but painful dip into the obnoxious Arizona State University college sports-bar district just to get a beer with friends last night, the filthy, hard, and cold floor I slept on, and the fact that I didnt sell any Pan Left videos at the Pan Left table - and I can sort of say the whole adventure was kind of a wash.
However, there were some things that maybe made it worthwhile - the couple people that did come to the workshop seemed really interested and dedicated; I sold another DVD copy of On The Edge; and I met or remet several pretty cool people from Prescott, Flagstaff, and Phoenix, including one of the members of the PMS Media Collective from Flag, who I have been wanting to meet for awhile; I saw part of a somewhat interesting if politically middle-of-the-road doc about urban development in Phoenix; I saw Joel Olsen talk about white privelege; and I attended a great workshop that Phoenix Copwatch did about knowing your rights when dealing with police.
So, I guess it was worth it. I got back this evening feeling exhausted and a little burned out. I was going to go to a friend's party but just changed my mind on that plan. Just going to take it easy and stay in.
We had a V-day event at the Dry River Space tonight, dedicated to the women of Juarez. I showed my film, and we also had speakers and we showed the short film that PMS Media did about the 2004 Juarez VDay.
There was a really good turnout, like, packed. And we sold several copies of the DVD, a little booklet that Mexico Solidarity Network published, and many patches and t-shirts that some dry river folks silkscreened yesterday. There was a really great discussion and Q&A at the end, and lots of great one-on-one interactions I had afterward with people, getting really good feedback and discussing possibilities for showings in other places in the future.
So, I'm pretty happy. Friday I'm going to Tempe for the Local To Global Teach-in, where I'll be giving a videoactivism workshop on behalf of Pan Left and Arizona Indymedia. I think it will be cool. I look forward to meeting Arizona IMC people from other cities. I know one or two from Phoenix but that's about it so far.
I'm always amazed at how some people I know I find just really easy to be around and talk with, in fact, I often feel refreshed or inspired after talking with them, and yet with others, it's just a chore, a draining experience. I keep remembering the hilarious but profound William S. Burroughs bit known as "Words of Advice for Young People" where he says
If, after having been exposed to someone's presence, you feel as if you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that presence. You need it like you need pernicious anemia.
We don't like to hear the word "vampire" around here; we're trying to improve our public image. Building a kindly, avuncular, benevolent image; "interdependence" is the keyword — "enlightened interdependence".
Life in all its rich variety, take a little, leave a little. However, by the inexorable logistics of the vampiric process they always take more than they leave — and why, indeed, should they take any?
I just read a great Reuters article about the political gains that women are making lately in Latin America, marked by the recent election of the first female president in Chile, but marred by the fact that machismo and sexism and a backlash against independent, strong women is still going on.
Muy interesante. I just found out tonight about a movement or group of communities in Oaxaca called Consejo Indigena Popular de Oaxaca "Ricardo Flores Magon". They're similar to the Zapatistas, I'm told, except they never took up arms, but apparently they've been organizing autonomous communities and using non-violent resistance to the military and the government. El Sup just met with them last week as part of the Other Campaign tour.
A woman here in Tucson who I know is working on doing english subtitles for 3 films about this group. She wants to have a fundraising screening in early March. We're helping her with this stuff at Pan Left. The longest of these films is called Sembrando Esperanzas - "Sowing Hope."
It's exciting to learn about other popular rebellions going on in Mexico, influenced by the EZLN but also doing things their own way. CIPO, or the Magonistas, seem to be more overtly anarchist than the Zapatistas, and less interested in being part of a Mexican nation-state.
Vic Divecha's blog brings us a video demonstrating some cool new touchscreen interface technololgy.
I had trouble deciding to blog about this or not, because it's so geeky. But I started sending it as an email to my geeky or designer friends and then just thot, hell with it, blog it. it's geewhiz cool. (thanx, Ryn.)
Apropo of nothing, while i type this i'm listening to an interview on a German radio station with a Swiss musician/DJ sort of like Peaches, named Kate Wax. She's actually half Tibetan, she reveals at the end of the interview. Her stuff sounds pretty cool, and I like listening to her and the interviewer with their germanic accents as they (sometimes awkwardly) talk to each other in english. I guess she might be from the Italian part of Switzerland and hence they might not have German in common, but she doesn't sound like it, so it's interesting that they're talking in English. I feel guilty to be so lucky and so unlucky as to be a near-monolingual native speaker of the language that everyone speaks worldwide.
James Petras write for Counterpunch about Bolivia's Evo Morales and some decisions he's taken already that seem to go against the interests of the nation's people. Mainly this is evident through the cabinet appointments he's made, many of whom are conservative politicians or business leaders. In summary:
Sooner rather than later, polarized differences of interest between Morales' foreign and local business allies and oligarchs and the masses who struggled and sacrificed to elect him to power will lead to a new round of confrontations and conflicts. Morales is riding two horses going in opposite directions. The photogenic traditional Andean rituals, the color and pageantry of the electoral inauguration will quickly fade in the face of the continuing poverty, inequality and gross concentrations of wealth. Over time a profound disenchantment will spread with a President who spoke to the people but works for the rich, including the foreign rich.
The Washington Post ran a nice little op-ed piece that is a good summary of the connection between illegal immigration and NAFTA. A connection our legislators are refusing to make.
Tonight was a big event for Arizona Earth First!, just a few blocks from where I live. At the UA Law College there was a talk by Rod Coronado planned, about his recent conviction for interfering with a mountain lion hunt, and other information about other hunts that Earth First! is campaigning against. A rough cut of a video I've been working on about the Sandhill Crane hunt was also shown.
It turned out that Rod couldn't speak, because of the conditions of his pre-sentencing agreement, and because it would possibly result in a longer sentence for him. But that's not all, there was further controversy. Apparently the International Safari Club called the law school and objected to the event and the idea that EF! would be asking for donations to help with Rod's legal defense. They also said they would have people present there, but nobody showed up. Typical of cowardly hunters (the Safari Club says it's a conservation organization but they are basically just a trophy hunters lobbying group, and a powerful one, based in Tucson).
Furthermore, another bombshell was dropped; Rod is being re-charged in state court for the Sabino canyon mountain lion incident, charges that were dropped last year, for a crime that is basically the same as what he's already been convicted of in federal court. There's actually a warrant for his arrest starting at midnight tonight (half an hour ago now). He's planning to sleep somewhere secret tonite and go to the courthouse in the morning first thing with his lawyer and sort all this out.
The other crazy bullshit is this: tommorrow is the annual public commentary hearing about various wild game hunts that Arizona Game and Fish Department is required to have. One reason for the EF! event tonight was to urge people to go to the hearing and give comments. Well, it came out during the event that Game and Fish has actually moved the hearing to the International Wildlife Museum, which is the headquarters of the International Safari Club (and some call it the International Wildlife Mausoleum, since it's nothing but dead stuffed animals). This is so patently ludricious as to defy belief. It would be like if there was a presidential debate at the headquarters of the Republican Party. Or an organic food conference at Monsanto. It's just ridiculous.
Anyway, I'll be there with indymedia press pass and video camera to get it on tape.
If you've known me more than 6 months you've probably noticed I used to have random quotations at the bottom of my emails. Like, for 10 years. Then when I switched to using apple Mail, I couldnt have that anymore, because it depended on the old unix .signature files and a cool perl script i wrote (why the hell isn't Mail compatible with the old .signature files? that's something I thought Apple would be cool enough to do). So I had over 300 quotes in my quote file and they were just languishing since August. Finally on Saturday I figured out how to do it. After looking for someone else's solution and not finding one for the last few months, then trying to write my own software that would generate an apple signature file (which involved generating XML, RTF, and MIME-base64 encoded data in just the right way, which proved insanely challenging), then failing, then looking one more time, and I found it! something called Mailtunes, a little shareware thingie that lets you insert the output of applescripts or perl or shell scripts into your email signatures (It's called Mailtunes because the default behavior is to put the artist and title of the current song you're listening to on iTunes.) So that allowed me to use my good old perl script i've been using for 10 years. I've been so happy with it that i just paid them the $10 shareware fee.
And the nice thing is that the random number generator on my powerbook seems a little more random, or at least skewed in a different way, than my old linux server, because i'm getting a pleasantly different than before array of random sig quotes now. yay.
i love quotes. here's a random sampling:
"An entrepreneur is a person whose profession is to respond to market forces."
- Paul Treanor
"Business is amassing great sums by charging admission to the ritual
simulation of its own lynching."
-Thomas Frank, 'Alternative to What?'
"Not even Adam Smith thought the market could do everything."
-Benjamin Barber, 'Jihad vs. McWorld'
interesting. everything in this sample is business-oriented. well, critique of business. but there's other stuff too. like:
"It's still shocking, but smoothly so."
-Jon Leidecker, on the new version of 'Plexure'
now there's a non-sequitur for you...
It's gratifying to see so many people I know around me (figuratively, not physically) working on cool projects. And it's nice to be able to help them.
For instance, on Saturday I spent 3 hours on a Skype call with José, who lives in Madrid, discussing, with many tangents along the way, a project he's been working on for 2 years (or more, in a way) that will someday become, I suppose, an animated web-based graphic novel. Or maybe even a movie? It should be a movie. Anyway, I won't link to the site for it because I don't know if he wants the in-progress work to be public, but it's pretty cool. A sort of science-fiction allegory set in a dystopian near-future.
Another example is more disappointing. Petr just reported that he is cancelling a film project he's been working on for several months. Doesn't really give a reason. This is one of 3 or 4 films he's in the middle of and on his blog he reports every day on progress he is making on one or more of them, in addition to other artistic pursuits. It's exciting but then I remember he has yet to finish a film. Even one of the many short projects I've seen him start over the years, to my knowledge has never been pronounced "done" and made available to the world. And I've collaborated and helped out (as crewperson, sound designer, etc) on several of these projects. I wish I could break into his house and make copies of a bunch of his raw footage and then edit it into something and release it.
See, I know how to polish a turd. José and I were talking about this during our long skypecall. I told him the story I heard long ago about Stanley Kubrick, who told a fellow director that, yes, you can polish a turd - if it's frozen.
The point in this case is, life doesn't usually give you jewels. You get rough stones, or even turds, and you have to figure out how to make them shiny and nice, or at least passable. But Petr seems, sometimes, to be unwilling to accept anything but jewels, which he will then polish into superjewels, he thinks.
sigh. No! take the crap and run with it, Petr!
I'm against driving, but if you have to commute in a car, at least doing something creative like this mitigates things somewhat. Plus, hey, it's car-pooling.
This is already one of my favorite vlogs. not just because of the gimmick, but the guy is really charismatic, and a good interviewer. And a good driver, too, I guess.
(via We Are The Media)
I just remembered something that happened yesterday that annoyed me slightly. I stopped by the Dry River space to see if the internet connection was up, because it had been out all the day before. I'm one of the 2-3 people who set up the computer lab and sort of maintain it. So I come in and boot up one of machines, it's just opening time so nobody else has tried them yet, and I'm waiting for it to boot and this guy that hangs out there, one of the many eccentric street characters that hangs out there, asks me "So what's the scoop, Perfessor? Is there internet?"
This is the equivalent of being called "4-eyes" or whatever back in grade school. It was said semi-jokingly, or maybe the intent was to be completely humorous. But I was irritated. And to some extent "perfessor" is an honoriffic, so it's complicated. It's a bit like beefy jock types that call people who are less beefy "big guy." (this has happened quite a bit in my past). Obviously it's an insult, it's sarcasm, but it may be unconcious, or if not it's easily deniable that it was intentional.
I'll qualify these gripes by saying that as I'm a privileged white middle-class straight male I actually have no real idea what I'm talking about, but in no way am I comparing it to the daily abuse that women and people of color and other opressed peoples are subjected to. However it's interesting to notice through that lens, so to speak. For instance how often are women annoyed when they're called "girls"? How often in general are people mean to each other, especially to those different from them, without even noticing?
At first I was confused, but I guess that a new anti-coke consumer boycott campaign is somewhat in response to a Coca-Cola ad campagn to sell their "Coke Zero" sugar-free product. The boycott actually goes further and mentions that you should stop drinking all soft drinks, drink water instead and send the money you would spend to fund efforts to get clean water to those who don't have it.
This is good advice. I don't drink soft drinks, or packaged beverages at all, except the occasional bottle of juice. Coffee is my guilty disposable-income vice, but I only have about 1 latte or whatever a day, so I don't think I'm that bad.
This seems like a silly thing to even be blogging about. but I saw that page and then thought of some people I know who are drinking cans of soda all the time. Plus we just had a big discussion on a mailing list I'm on about fatness in the U.S. and high-fructose corn syrup. bleah.