For the last 2 days I've been in Las Cruces, New Mexico for a conference on the murdered women of Juarez. It's been a crazy, dizzying blur of panel discussions and networking. I sold or gave away many copies of my film. I talked to many people about my film, about screening it, about how to get it, open sourcing it, and other things. It's been so exciting and so intense too. I will post photos soon but for now check out this post on San Diego Indymedia from DJ Pepperbox, who is also here, she posted a good photo of the "redressing justice" exhibit.
Tommorrow we're going to Juarez. Then I'm heading up to Albuquerque that night.
I'm too frazzled to write more detail. It's just been incredible.
Well, this Saturday, April 1, The Minutemen are revving up their operations again in Arizona. They're having a rally/press conference in Altar Valley, which is pretty near to Tucson, south. I wish I could be there but I'll be in Juárez. It looks like the ACLU will have legal observers out there again. I haven't heard of any other progressive, pro-immigrant response planned yet.
Well, things are coming together in many ways right now, some that I can't really talk about or even totally fathom right now.
Anyway, details of some things for me: I have sort of a preliminary batch of the final DVDs of my film ready for my little mini-tour of New Mexico. A friend and I assembled cases and inserts till late last night. Today I have to send 20 copies to Mexico Solidarity Network. Tommorrow at least 2 Dry River compañeras and I are taking off at 5am to get to Las Cruces in time for the Justice for Women Symposium. My film will show there at 2:30pm. After the Symposium we plan to go to Juárez for the day and visit with some activists there. Then they head back to Tucson and I head up to Albuquerque, and do a screening there on Monday night at 7:30. Then tuesday morning I fly back to Tucson, and my friend Lenara, an internet artist/researcher from Brazil, is flying in to Tucson at practically the same time.
So that's my next week in a nutshell.
A hilarious diagram from a Pasadena newspaper shows the telltale signs for parents of whether their kid does graffiti. It's so silly but it's a disturbing example of the kind of indoctrination that the media engages in all the time. And what it's teaching: that here's another thing to fear in your children; that it's okay to invade your child's privacy, and if he or she appears to be artistic and also wear a hooded sweatshirt, he must be a criminal; that all graffiti is a "problem" and a sign of gang activity; and a host of other assumptions.
Right now I'm at a meeting - there are usually like 6 people and tonight there's 18. It's incredible.
Umm. I don't know why I'm posting this other than that I'm sort of bored. There are lots of meetings in my life these days. It can be kind of frustrating.
Life is kind of crazy. I'm spending almost all my time getting ready for my trip to show my film in Las Cruces and Albuquerque.
This involves getting copies of the DVD ready to have available at these screenings.
And of course while I've been buying DVD cases and blanks and designing covers and all sorts of other related tasks, the rest of life goes on. All the other groups and meetings and stuff keep moving. And of course money hemorages out of my bank account too.
It's like juggling.
Nice article in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Bush has presided during one of the most significant political re-alignments in the history of the Western Hemisphere. By this summer, every major Latin American nation but Colombia is likely to be run by elected leaders with stronger backgrounds in Marx than free markets. If Cold War-era domino theory has been a bust elsewhere, it's working in Latin America.
I just love this photo.
From the march for immigrant rights in LA yesterday. Somewhere between half a million and a million, or maybe more, people marched there to protest the Sensenbrenner bill. Is mainstream America hearing about this? On the front page of the LA Times site this morning it's the top story but the eye is distracted immediately to the big picture and blurb about the Bruins winning a basketball game. WTF? And you have to scroll down 2 screenfuls to see a tiny link on the New York Times site. suspira.
I like what Jacob said in his blog yesterday about all this, the idea that the Senate bill is really just a tactic to frame the debate a particular way, to shift everything over to the right. They never expected it to pass, they just wanted the possibility of the extreme to lower everyone's expectations. Oh you'll let us stay if we wear shackles? Ok! Please!?
There are some, maybe many, people for whom it seems almost everything they do is a form of therapy. everything is about themselves, perhaps even about improving themselves, but always themselves. Turned inward. A self-focus. Always.
That's all I'm at liberty to say right now.
An interesting article about Kurdish gasoline smugglers in Iraq and the popularity of reggaetón there.
It would be a stretch to say that the enthusiasm for Gasolina has to do with its subject matter, especially when considering its aggressive rhythm and near-pornographic video. But Daddy Yankee's signature track is a sexually-explicit ode to what gasolina can provide - and here "gasoline" can mean, as Sasha Frere-Jones [says] in the New Yorker, speed, rum, semen or gasoline - and that, of course, is unadulterated pleasure. And at the moment, as Iraq disintegrates, the Kurds are betting quite heavily on what gasoline can do for them.
Mi amigo Patrick provides a little slice of life, describing his commute through Caracas and musings about class and neighborhoods. Muy interesante.
"Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."- Robert A Heinlein
Nobody seems to know when "Bordertown," the Hollywood J-lo vehicle about the murders in Juarez is going to be released, but it's fairly certain now that it won't be in March, which is what IMDB still lists as the release date. I did find a silly movie-tracking site/blog with production stills. Hard to tell much about the film from them, other than it will be typically sensational, with exploding colonia shacks and all, it looks like. To date I don't think any young women killed in the femicide were killed by burning down their house. But, y'know, J-lo looks good, that's what matters, right?
And in other news, good news, I just got an email from a New York Times writer who wants to talk to me about my film. More on that after it happens.
what do the pros use to author DVDs?
i've been spending the last 3 days doing the authoring for the final version of my DVD of my juarez doc. i'm using apple's DVD Studio Pro and it's not the first time i've used it but i have to say it's one of the most frustrating pieces of software i've ever used. it's got me almost pulling out my hair. and it's so surprising because Final Cut Pro is such a pleasure to use and works SO WELL, and then this other software with apple's name on it just blows. i mean you can do a lot of cool stuff with it but the way the interface works and the general performance of the interface just is fucking shameful.
so i was wondering what people who do this for a living use, cuz the "pro" in dvdsp is obviously a lie.
Here's just one little dumb example: When working with subtitles, you can only move ONE subtitle at a time. You can't select a whole bunch in the stream and slide it around, or move them to a different stream. You just can't. Why? Why the fuck wouldn't they allow one to do that? After 4 versions of the software?
Or here's another one. Why is it that when you import subtitles from an STL file, it blows away any existing subtitles on that stream, even if they don't conflict timewise with the new ones you're bringing in? Why? There's no logical reason for that.
And then there's all the ridiculous wait times. Why can't they come up with some some kind of preview mode so that you aren't waiting for the spinning rainbow wheel of death every time you click? ARRRGGH!! Apple, get your fucking act together!!
shit i just lost a long blog post about how i didnt have time to be even posting it and what i did today. stupid browser did some stupid fuckign thing and i lost it all. fuck.
I've been insanely busy working on the final DVD of my film. subtitling sucks and is very time consuming. i shouldnt even be doing this.
I did take time out to go "cover" the peace march today. unremarkable except that there was quite a big anti-peace turnout too. i took lots of photos.
back to work.
The Urban Dictionary has some pretty funny, and mostly negative, definitions of Indymedia. One consistent theme seems to be that Indymedia is anti-semitic, a critique that sort of surprises me. I can see that that would be one critique, because most Indymedia coverage, where it needs to be, is anti-zionist, and zionists are going to label anti-zionists as anti-semitic. But for that to be the main thing people repeatedly harp on is kind of strange.
A chain of several localized websites where 16-year-old stoners with Che T-Shirts can pretend to be journalists and write bullshit news articles containing zero credibility or research. What better way to fight back against the corporate-controlled media by getting your news by some of the most blatantly agenda-driven sources in the world? YUH MAAN FOCK DA SYSTEM RAGE AGINST DA MACHINE!!!1!!
Oh Indymedia, what won't you blame on the Jews?
This lecture by Clay Shirky at Etech, a recent O'Reilly conference in San Diego, is really excellent and concerns how you manage web software that allows some degree of free posting by the public. He has some really really good ideas, many of which are very relevant to how Indymedia Centers manage themselves. Especially important is this concluding remark he makes:
Social software is the experimental wing of political philsophy, a discipline that doesn't realize it has an experimental wing. We are literally encoding the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression in our tools. We need to have conversations about the explicit goals of what it is that we're supporting and what we are trying to do, because that conversation matters. Because we have short-term goals and the cliff-face of annoyance comes in quickly when we let users talk to each other. But we also need to get it right in the long term because society needs us to get it right. I think having the language to talk about this is the right place to start.
This is hee-lar-ee-ous. Chip off the old block, I say. Got a prosperous career ahead of him, I'm sure....
I just heard from Free Speech TV that they're airing
29 hours of special programming in the days surrounding the Three Year Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq. This programming is scheduled to coincide with numerous and diverse protest events taking place across the U.S. and around the world.
Cops of the World
Broadcast Date/Times: Saturday March 18 @ 6:51 am ET; 5:51 pm ET; 10:51 pm ET
A video for a modernized version of a Phil Ochs song, linking U.S. domestic police brutality to foreign policy brutalities.
Broadcast Date/Times: Saturday March 18 @ 6:56 am ET; 5:56 pm ET; 10:56 pm ET
A re-working of a President Bush speech reveals a potentially more accurate sentiment of his administration.
And there's a bunch of other great documentary pieces they're showing, including Robert Greenwald's "Uncovered: The War on Iraq."
Free Speech TV reaches 25 million U.S. homes through its full time channel (DISH Network, channel 9415), and part time on 170 public, educational and government access (PEG) channels. For a complete list of PEG stations carrying FSTV: http://www.freespeech.org/html/affiliates_list.html
Reporting on a delegation of Latin American activist women who came to Washington D.C. on International Women's Day, this excellent article about the increasing trend of femicide across the area contains a lot of good information and points. There's the definite concensus emerging that the Juarez situation has raised awareness of a regional problem for which it is only the tip of the iceberg. And there are very serious related consequences:
In the view of Adriana Beltran, the power of organized criminal groups and the persistence of femicide serve to undermine the democratic transition Guatemala was supposed to experience after the peace accords. In former military dictatorships like Guatemala where civilian government institutions are still fragile, the security threats posed by organized criminal bands and their impunity are paradoxically reviving the former national security state apparatus as the military is being drawn into law enforcement. Beltran believes that this is a temptation that should be resisted at all costs. "We strongly believe that the lines between police and military should be kept separate, especially in countries that had armed conflicts," she says.
I've always liked the blog about video blogs called We Are The Media. I often found it refreshing to tap into a non-radical, even non-political take on the simple idea of citizen participation in media production, without the usual party line so prevalent within Indymedia circles. It gave me hope that this alternative media revolution could be bigger. But today the dark side of that non-stance has reared its head with an entry bleating the wonderous coolness of Rocketboom's new commerce-soaked format. I could understand mentioning the fact that Rocketboom, the most popular vlog on the net, has sold itself for a week literally to the highest bidder and will spend a week making special advertisements that go at the end of its regular vodcast. But all the hyperbolic celebration of this as a beautiful and innovative new opportunity for advertisers is making me want to puke the more I think about it. Here's a choice quote:
When people download Rocketboom every morning, they have the episode on their computer and the Rocketboom team have taken this advantage and scored a touchdown. They made a commercial where the idea is simple, but the story is full of intruiging [sic] and subtle details. If you want to get it, you just watch it once, but if you want to really get it, you have to watch it over and over for all the easter eggs and cool details that lie just below the surface.
Over the last 12 years the world has seen the general public gradually catch on to what the Internet is good for. It's been a long slow process.
First it was an "Information Superhighway," which most people didn't understand. Nice try, Al.
Then it gradually turned into a giant shopping mall, and then, sort of after the fact, a library. And a few other uses are seeping into the zeitgeist. It's a place to pick up dates; a place to promote your band or sell your band's indie recordings; a place to share photos of that trip to Disneyland with grandma; a place to auction off the old stuff in the attic; Even a place for a sort of public diary and/or soapbox.
The last, frustrating frontier: a place and a tool for distributed collaboration; a lot of people still just don't seem to get that. I first started thinking about it in 1994, as soon as I found out about the web. Well, actually before there was a web, but I won't go into that (early participation in what would become SITO...) And this stuff isn't rocket science. I'm talking about simple shit, like, say you're an artistic collective or a nonprofit of some kind. Wouldn't the web be a good way to make available files that different members might need regularly? Like hi-res versions of the group's logo, or letterhead, or common templates for documents? Oh, yeah! good idea! Never thought of that!
I just arrived in Flagstaff with 2 other imcistas from Tucson. We're here for an indymedia teach-in/workshop thing, trying to get activists and community members here in Flag more involved with indymedia. It should be interesting and fun.
It's snowing here. Big fluffy flurries of snow. On the way here at about 3000 feet I got to see the transition zone where snow was accumulating on saguaro cacti. That's a weird sight. Cool to have that range of climate in 4 hours of driving. But it is 5000 feet of altitude difference so, not that crazy, though this much snow this late in the winter is unusual, I'm told.
Wow. Ha Ha Ha America is a clever, funny, scary little film about China and the U.S. Everyone in gringolandia should watch this. Everyone. Go. click and watch it. now.
Saw a great film tonite called "Sembrando Esperanza" (Sowing Hope) about the Magonistas of Oaxaca, CIPO-RFM. They're a sort of a network of indigenous communities in Oaxaca that are simliar in their goals to the Zapatistas, only they are pacifists; but it's interesting, this may only mean that so far they have never taken up arms, because, just as with the EZLN, armed struggle is the last resort after other things have been tried for a long time.
Also, CIPO uses tactics such as letting loose hordes of rats and bugs in the offices of government officials, or putting nametags with the names of politicians on pigs and letting them run through a building... things that in the U.S. would probably get one arrested and charged with "eco-terrorism."
Anyway, it's inspiring to see other radical resistance movements in Mexico besides the Zapatistas, and its great to see solidarity campaigns starting here for them.
Also, right before going to that film I met some AZ indymedia folks at the cafe and we met with 2 guys from Ambazonia, who are involved with the indymedia center there. They're working on a film about what's been going on there in Ambazonia, a small country that's been sort of a buffer zone between Nigeria and Cameroon, and hence between colonial powers France and Britain, for a long time. They're still struggling for independance from Cameroon, and demonstrating students are getting shot in the streets. shot dead. Next time your little white middleclass peace march gets peppersprayed, remember that.
Yesterday I sent out a mass mail to everybody I know that's ever shown interest, so you may already know this- but anyway, I'm trying to raise funds so I can manufacture a whole bunch of copies of the DVD of On The Edge (my film about the femicide in Juarez). You can donate and get a copy, or even order one for your school or organization. The more money I can raise the more copies I'll be able to have made, meaning the more people will see the film.
And in related news, there are only 3 sections of the film left to translate into spanish. Thank you to everyone who's been helping with that. Just a little more and we'll be ready!
Happy International Women's Day! I just found a website that has a global register of IWD events. So go find what's happening where you are.
A friend in Italy says on his blog that the holiday is a much bigger deal in Europe than in the U.S.
Can someone please explain why people are wasting time and money trying to impeach Bush? For one thing, it's not going to happen, but even more importantly, do you really want Dick Cheney to be president?
We'd have to impeach like 8 people before we'd get to someone in the chain of command that's not just as dangerous to the world as Bush. At least Bush is an incompetent monkey that's making a fool out of himself and the whole regime. Impeaching him would be like getting rid of Jar Jar Binks so that Darth Vader can take over.
Is it just symbolic? Pshaw. I'm tired of (at least that kind of) symbolism. I bet you'd have more positive effect on the world if you took the money that these people are spending on impeachment ads in the New York Times and spent it buying satellite internet modems for villages in Iran.
I have to admit, I've always been a sucker for vampire films. Not all of them. I go for the "cool" vampire films. Call it a guilty pleasure, but I love stories of immortal superhuman nightdwellers that take place in the modern world surrounded by pop cultural allusions. From Lost Boys to Queen of the Damned, even Blade, they may not be that good as cinema, really, but for some reason I go see them and usually enjoy them.
So, take that as an extended caveat. Maybe you shouldn't trust me to endorse the film I just saw today, Night Watch ("Nochnoi Dozor" in Russian), but I thought it was pretty great. It had incredible Matrix-inspired effects and a gripping "mythology" involving an age-old truce between good and evil "Others," who are basically superhumans with a variety of powers - seers (like the main character), witches, were-tigers, healers, and, yup, vampires. Plus, it all takes place on a backdrop of seedy Moscow nightlife, with goths and gangsters and bureaucratic officers of the Night Watch, which enforces the truce, driving around in big yellow rocket-powered firetruck-like vehicles. (I know, sounds silly, but I warned ya)
Seeing this film was my test, speaking of trust, as to whether I should give cred to the reviews of Tucson Weekly movie critic James Digiovanna, who basically panned the film. Now I know not to listen to his conclusions, though I can say he included enough factual description of the film in his review for me to think that it sounded interesting. One thing I hate is reviewers who only give their opinion and don't back it up with any facts about the film.
One of the things that Digiovanna got right was that the film has one very amazing innovation: the subtitles. It's really incredible how they've worked the typography and animation of the subtitles to fit with what's going on in the scene. For instance whenever the evil vampiress is calling her prey to come to her the subtitles look like floating, bloody smoke. Or when the good nerdy hacker is searching cyberspace for information and telling his boss what he finds, his subtitles have a cursor and they scroll like text on a computer. This could get hokey but it's not overdone; it's very artful. I wonder if this will inspire a trend.
One might just write this film off as good meaningless fun with great effects but not much else, but I actually think the plot is a subtle allusion to current geopolitics. The film depicts a classic, epic battle between sides that are literally called the Dark and the Light, and yet there's still moral ambiguity; there's the idea that the side that is supposed to be good is doing some pretty shitty stuff that makes them not that different than the baddies. I won't give away any more than that.
Anyway, I look forward to the second installment in this trilogy. It's called "Day Watch." Maybe it'll suck compared to the first one, but I'll give it a chance.
Epic is the "hip" place to hang and take an espresso in Tucson. It's often too hip for me, but sometimes I go. And the demographics are actually more varied than the "hipster" moniker implies. It's a really popular place with lots of people, but the vibe is definitely leaning toward the overly-cool idle class. If I went there regularly I could probably make a whole blog just about the strange things I overhear there.
Today was one of the exceptions to the demographic but a great example of the surreal conversations I accidentally eavesdrop on all the time. I'm sitting there now and as I walked in I overheard the following: "...sounds like you need to have a rottweiler loose on the property." I look over and it's a grizzled old guy in overalls talking on a cellphone and smoking a cigar. He's wearing a black baseball cap that says "Get The Fuck Away From Me."
Well, Rod just called and he's on his way back from San Diego after attending a hearing on the government's motion to stay his release. The judge said no, why don't you prepare something more carefully.
so The govt is going to refile their motion and a hearing is set for 2 weeks from now, march 23, when he has to go back to San Diego again.
We got reporters from all over calling and emailing us to hear the news. It's pretty crazy.
okay. gotta go. other things call...
I went on an "adventure" to a "secret" part of southern arizona this weekend. I camped with a friend in a high desert valley, 2 miles from the Mexican border. Last night we got settled in and then saw lights and we knew it was the Border Patrol. We were all ready to be harassed by La Migra, though we knew we were doing nothing wrong that we knew of. We were on National Forest land, so it was fine to camp where we were. But there are countless anecdotes of Border Patrol agents giving shit to people, or at least bothering them with warnings of how dangerous it is so close to the border, that there are dangerous smugglers around, etc.
Anyway, we waited patiently for the truck to get to us. When it did it paused, lights blaring, then courteously pulled forward so the lights were no longer shining right at us. It was indeed border patrol. Then the driver said "how y'all doing?" we said hi and then he said "do y'all know which Forest Service road this is?" We didn't know, but offered to show him a map. He said no, that's okay, there's probably a sign around here somewhere.
He drove off and we laughed. A lost border patrol agent. hilarious.
The altitude was higher than we'd planned and so it was extremely cold. Probably in the 20s. So it was one of the least comfortable nights I can remember. It was not only really cold but my friend thrashed around in her sleep and pushed me off my sleeping pad halfway through the night. I got very little sleep. Finally dawn came and I watched Venus rise and then the sun rise, then I dozed a bit, woke up and couldnt sleep any more, though it was only about 7. We made oatmeal and tea and packed up and drove back to Tucson, stopping in Patagonia for coffee and bagels at the little cafe there.
I'd been asked to help drive Rod Coronado to San Diego for his appearance in federal court there tommorrow morning. I was willing to do it, but wasn't looking forward to it after getting so little sleep on the campout, but luckily when we got back Rod called and said he'd found others to go. whew. Driving all night from Tucson to San Diego on about 3 hours of sleep would not have been fun.
Plus, the other good thing is that now I can go see Awesome Ocealot tonight, a friend's band that I've been wanting to see. yay. i better go now, actually, before i fall asleep. heh.
Hmm. Well, I guess if they do the whole thing and I have time, I'll put German subtitles on the DVD too. Except that would be a lot of extra work. Hmm.
I just listened to a radio program with John Perkins, the author of the hit book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man." Also on the show were 3 other guests with a wide range of positions about the claims Perkins makes in his book. The most last one is a guy from the World Bank who basically completely disagrees. His main point was, well, yeah, there's bad stories but there's good ones too, and of course projects and loans are going to fail a lot because these countries are risky environments. He also spewed out lots of statistics about how the world and its poor people are better off in the last few decades thanks to foreign aid and the IMF and the World Bank, etc. Perkins counters with other statistics that prove just the opposite.
The show's host sums it up by saying "the devil is in the details." Whenever anyone uses that maxim I like to quote Einstein who said the opposite: God is in the details.
But anyway, my point is, if the details are important, but the different sides are tossing around totally contradictory details, how do we decide? What numbers do we believe? How can we, the normal, everyday members of civil society, possibly know what the truth is? on one side are very smart people, even nice people, even a couple people I know personally, who say "capitalism has made the world better, here's the stats to prove it." And then on the other side are other very smart people saying the opposite, and they have convincing figures too.
What to believe? Is this just a matter of faith?
I made a new version of the trailer for my Juarez doc. It's basically the same as the old one, I just took out all the people titles, so viewers don't have to try to read them in such a short time, and changed the end title so it's not time-specific (it used to say "coming soon in fall 2005." hah..) A couple other little visual things are spruced up too.
I haven't had time to read it, but here's what looks like a really good report called Invisible Hands. Tracing the Connections Between the Policies of International Financial Institutions and Country Budget Policies (a PDF file). Written by Jim Schultz of the Democracy Center. It's the result of a conference where people trying to make budget processes more transparent in their countries met up with people who are working to make financial organizations like the World Bank more accountable. I've skimmed it, looks great, don't have time to read it. If you do, let me know what you think. [embarrassed shrug]