We, an ad-hoc group we're called Tucson Coalition for Justice in Oaxaca, held a demonstration yesterday at the Mexican consulate, but people showed up there who hadn't even seen our call out. There ended up being about 100 people at the peak of the action. We were peaceful and had a really good dialogue with the Consul.
There's a full report with photos on arizona indymedia. This is the more personal report.
Jessica, Walt, and 5 others received citations from the police for obstructing traffice after 50 or so blocked all but 1 lane of traffic for an hour or so. Jessica and I were both doing the indymedia thing, covering what was happening, her with a still cam and me with video. The cops repeatedly told us politely to get off the street and shoot from the curb, but we sort of politely kept going back on the street to get better shots. Eventually Jessica wore out the main cop's patience and he detained her and ticketed her with the others. I sort of feel like he went for her first, perhaps hesitated with me, because I had my press pass and she did not. But maybe it was just luck. Anyway, all 7 have a court date of November 9. The charge is a class 3 misdemeanor. At least they weren't arrested.
One amazing moment was when Ethan, one of the others that got cited, who knew Brad and has been particularly upset, refused to give his real name and said his name was Brad Will. So the cop started calling him Brad. "Ok, Brad, do you have ID, Brad, you need to know that in the state of Arizona you're required to have identification or else you can be charged with obstructing an investigation. Brad please cooperate with me."
I shot a lot of footage and I plan to put some of it up soon if I can get the time.
The federal police are apparently moving into the areas of Oaxaca City that have been controlled by the protesters. They have small tanks and lots of riot troops.
Apparently people are putting their bodies in front of the tanks. calling it "human rugs" in front of the tanks.
This is according to the live APPO radio stream coming from the University radio station there, which has been operated by protestors for some weeks.
The names of all 4 dead from Friday: Emilio Alonso Fabián,
Bradley Roland Will, Emilio Alonso Fabian,Esteban López Zurita.
a bunch of links to stuff:
I feel really helpless sitting here listening and reading, all i can do is cut and paste links while the goons roll in with their tanks and tear gas a thousand miles away. this is horrible. and I feel foolish. i read articles yesterday about Fox sending in these federal police and i optimistically believed "restoring lawfulness" and "stopping the violence" meant simply preventing the thugs and corrupt local police from further attacking the APPO protestors. but no, apparently it meant going in and finally smashing these brave people. how naive and gullible i still am.
Brad Will, an indymedia videographer based in New York, was shot dead in Oaxaca, apparently by paramilitary PRI party supporters. The best story on the event I have seen is in Narco News. It's all over mainstream media too, which is horribly spinning it, saying it was a shoot out, gunfire coming also from the side of the APPO barricade (APPO being the teacher's union organization leading the strikes against Oaxaca governor Ruiz that have been going on for months and have shutdown the city).
I didn't know Brad but I knew of him. I can't reminisce about him. In fact the first I heard of him was not a positive anecdote at all. But he apparently did a lot of good work, and a lot of people knew him and are grieving. And I'm sad, even if just in principle. This I fear is a watershed moment for media activism and the indymedia movement. This has never happened before, not quite this way - it's really just incredible, like a nightmare. we all think, those of us priveleged with whiteness and 1st-worldness and with expensive cameras to hold up to our faces, that we have a shelter from being beat up or killed by thugs in corrupt "third world" lands. This has always been an illusion, and it's been proven an illusion before in small ways, but this does it in a big way.
I guess my hope is that this at least has some positive impact in the struggle, and serves to bring to light the horrible things going down in Oaxaca right now, and in larger sense, more of Mexico, and maybe the U.S. will do something, condemn this somehow.
Well, I'll stop there. I can't say anything else useful. There's a page on nyc imc where people are paying their respects.
I have a new favorite song, "Parentheses," by the Portland band The Blow. alert: that link is to a myspace page. again, let me say one more time, myspace fucking sucks. i've tried firefox and explorer and with both, clicking on the 'lyrics' links for songs doesn't do anything. do i have to use a windoze box just to read the lyrics to my new favorite song? goddammit. would someone else try it and if it works for you, cut and paste the lyrics into a comment here, or email them to me?
"When you're holding me, we make a pair of parentheses" is the key line. what an incredible lyric.
I'm going to write a novel next month. Every year when it comes around I want to do it. This time I'm going to. I was just reminded of it about 36 hours ago and decided pretty soon after that I'm going to go for it.
As soon as I decided, a flood of ideas have been bursting through my brain of what to write and how. I'm really excited.
You may think, wait, Steev, you're crazy, you keep complaining about how busy you are and you're going insane with stress from all the different things you're trying to do! What the hell?! Stop!
Well, yeah, but I've made an informal pledge to do semi-crazy things that I wouldn't normally do. Plus, I need some creative project that I'm excited about to get myself out of a hole I'm in, a hole named "only one thing makes me happy these days and that thing is getting scarcer and scarcer." Plus, I figure, if I spend about the same amount of time every day writing the novel that I spend blogging and journalling, that would probably be enough words to get it done. It shouldn't be that hard. 50,000 words in 30 days = about 1700 words a day. Piece of cake. It won't be a good novel, but as my friend mykle said, you have to commit yourself to finishing, not writing the best thing ever, and that's how to have fun with it.
I may post excerpts here or just links to excerpts on my page on the NaNoWriMo site, which is really a great, well-done site with cool functionality.
Wish me luck.
Last weekend I went, along with 70 or so other Tucson gringos, to a stop on the Zapatista Other Campaign's tour, the closest point to Tucson that they will be, just outside of Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico, about an hour south of the border. It was an amazing time. It felt like a historic moment, and also a bit like a Beatles concert. The photo on the right is the car that Subcommandante Marcos rides in. When he got out, he was immediately surrounded by a cloud of photographers and videographers and other media people.
I don't have the energy to write a whole lot about it. But there is plenty of journalism out there about it.
I met a really cool woman from Australia who's travelling with La Otra and who does pirate radio with Radio Pacheco in D.F. I saw them selling pirated activist DVDs and I gave them a copy of my DVD and told her she could copy and burn and sell it at will. I hope my label doesn't get mad about that. hah... I also gave her another copy to give to Marcos, along with a note that I wrote in completely crappy spanish (I realized later). oh well. Anyway she gave me a copy of her zine and it's an amazing piece of writing, relating her experiences being a white anglo woman radical activist in Mexico. It's called Fire with Fire.
Life has been personally very trying again but definite progress is being made by me, and I'm handling stuff a lot better than before because the response to the badness is something chosen mutually by me and her. I feel like things are going to work out. When I think about it I realise over and over that my life has been so much better, so deliriously better than I ever dreamed previously, over the last 7 months, only punctuated by a few days or a week here and there of sadness, but mostly just so awesome, that to be bummed and expect stuff is just stupid and arrogant and spoiled. How can one demand more when you've been given a gift like that? If it all goes away this second i'm still so much richer for the last 7 months.
I'm in the tiny ex-mining town of Bisbee tonite, because this stuff going on had me feeling the need to do something different and semi-impulsive and just get out of Tucson, even if for just a night and even if just alone. And there's a totally suitable cafe with wireless where i can work from just as well as if i was in Tucson. It's a cool little town. I've been here twice before. Kind of this weird bohemian pocket in the midst of desert mountains, tucked into a little canyon, the remnants of copper mining riches decorating the place - glorious old hotels and mansions and other public displays of wealth, now reduced to tourist attractions.
Tonite in my room I plan to do one more session of DJing practice, preparing for a dance party at Dry River I'm "spinning" for tommorrow night (I put that in quotes because i'll be all on laptop, nothing is spinning but the harddrives, i guess). It should be pretty fun. I'm going by the moniker of DJ Altermundista - literally "DJ Otherworlder"....
Why doesn't anyone know how to make a freaking cappuccino around here? Godammit. Even more annoying is nobody seems to think there's any difference between one and a latte around here. they give you the same thing, a substandard latte, whether you order a latte or a cappuccino. WTF?
Okay, on that note, I need to stop. good night.
here are my photos from the Border Social Forum, which was 2 weekends ago, October 13-15.
I'm finally getting around to writing about this. I wish I had time to write in more detail about it but i will say that the forum's official existence was largely a waste, and very frustrating, in my opinion, but it was great as an opportunity to meet people and build connections. For that it was worth being there. The organising of the forum was inept at best. They also, in my opinion totally dissed me and indirectly anyone who does work around femicide, regarding the showing of my film, such that the Juarez premiere of the only film about the Juarez femicides to be shown at the Forum ended up being shown in a small classroom with a tiny portable speaker system rather than in a real theater or lecture hall with proper equipment and space.
I was happy to show it there anyway, especially because some mothers of victims were able to be there and see the film. But it really should have been given more priority - or they should have at least properly screened some other, better film about the subject. It's not like I'm just saying this because it's my film. It's a matter of prinicple.
For some reason i'm blogging a lot today. hmm.
anyway, a list of random stuff that has happened this week:
In response to a callout for help from Indymedia Centers to fund an IMC in Nairobi for the upcoming World Social Forum, I wrote this:
I have very mixed feelings about the Social Forum model, especially
after going to my first one last weekend, the Border Social Forum.
I think Indymedia should only be heavily involved (in terms of time
and/or finances) if it is actively engaged in (constructively)
critiquing the social forums. I see them as fundamentally instruments
of liberal NGOs now, tho they may be rescueable. Therefore indymedia
MUST have a more critical and nuanced view of them than previous
Also if there will be an Alternative Social Forum in Nairobi similiar
to the one in Caracas, I would urge very strongly that imcistas get
involved with that and that more coverage is done of it.
Regardless, personally I have way too many things going on in this
hemisphere, especially in january, to go to the WSF or to do
fundraising or other activity around it.
my 2 cents
I'm getting more into You Tube. I like it. I hate Myspace (tho i have an account), but I love Flickr and I like You Tube. I think it's a function of 2 things: interface and intention. Myspace's interface just sucks, and also the purpse is nebulous. It's a sort of trendy friendster substitute with no requirement for sharing any creative material. Flickr and YouTube are social sites that involve the sharing of what I think a friend recently called 'tokens of value.' There's a reason you're there besides the networking, schmoozing, macking. Myspace, tho it originally was about bands, is now mostly people just macking. Plus it's owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Anyway, here's my 2nd upload to YouTube, a video I just finished about Arizona Earthfirst!'s response to the hunting of sandhill cranes.
Today is the day that j-lo's film "Bordertown," based on the real murdered women of Juarez situation, was supposed to be released, according to information from this summer that MGM and the production company put out. But it's obviously not in theaters. I did some research and found out some important information.
I just sent this information to the mailing list i have for informing people with news about that film and my film.
I'm still about 2 weeks behind on uploading photos. Here's some shots from the semi-big, semi-useless border march and rally down in Nogales on October 7.
(there were some less useless things that happened, like when our little border-radical group painted some new messages on the wall - sadly only on the Mexican side, but it was right where the march ended)
I was shooting video most of the time so i don't have a lot of really great stills.
By the way, Jason Aragon of Pan Left has already edited a little piece. Unfortunately it's on myspace, but whatever.
An interesting review in the Austin Chronicle of my film:
Just across the border from El Paso, Juárez holds countless secrets. A major center of drug trafficking and the scene of hundreds of unsolved femicides in the past 13 years, the industrial hub of northern Mexico is a nest of corruption. Producer/director Steev Hise takes an international perspective on this localized tragedy with his low-budget documentary. Through a rough-and-tumble filmmaking technique, Hise overmanipulates his footage, using color saturations and unrelated archival material to punctuate some of his points. But despite having a filmmaker at the helm who was a little too trigger-happy with his aftereffects, the movie tells a heart-wrenching story that remains ignored in any significant international capacity. Since 1993, more than 400 women have been murdered. The victims are predominantly young women (ages 15 to 25), students, and employees at maquiladoras (assembly plants that manufacture finished goods for export to the United States, i.e., cheap, outsourced labor). In most cases, there were signs of sexual violence, abuse, torture, and in some instances, mutilation. Wading through the social, political, and economic effects of these crimes, Hise asserts his position: Using the femicides as the lens, the film contemplates international issues of malfeasance, free trade, drug trafficking, and poverty. Clearly operating with limited resources from a grassroots perspective, Hise interviews mothers, activists, scholars, and writers to paint the portrait of a city in a state of severe crisis. Footage of and interviews with mourning mothers thrust into the role of activists is both agonizing and compelling. However, Hise's breadth is so far-reaching that it's difficult to maintain a through line. I started to tune out when the film began to make its case for the legalization of marijuana. But multiple agendas aside, the subject matter is devastatingly honest. Indeed, the film attempts to make everyone more aware of a harsh reality, and for that we should all take notice.
This is the nice review of On The Edge that will appear in the forthcoming issue of Resonance magazine:
ON THE EDGE: THE FEMICIDE IN CIUDAD JUAREZ (ILLEGAL ART / DIR: STEEV HISE)
It sounds more like a folk legend than a news story. In the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez, more than 400 women have been murdered since 1993, with each case shrugged off by authorities more interested in narco graft than justice. This isn’t the work of one crazed suspect, but rather a community diseased by violent drug trafficking, pervasive poverty and a general culture of misogynistic indifference in which taking a female life isn’t anything to sweat over. Often resembling an impoverished 60 Minutes episode, On the Edge is less documentary than screed, exposing the long-range effects of American drug appetites at the expense of crafting a pretty picture. Cinematic weaknesses aside, it’s a haunting story that might make viewers reconsider that next line of coke. FRED BELDIN
Stop Smiling Magazine recently published a review of my film. It's nice, except that it's the first review to complain about the soundtrack. Perhaps the most edgy thing about the film, the soundtrack is quite 'experimental' to some people's ears, so i'm not surprised that it would irritate a few. oh well.
It turns out that my film will have its Juarez premiere screening at the Border Social Forum, this Saturday at 11:15 AM. It will be at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, Building K, Audiovisual room. A complete schedule of the Forum is not even posted yet on the forum's site, which isn't even a real website but just a blogspot blog. And it's less than a week away. I only found out because someone posted the schedule to Houston Indymedia.
It's been extrememly frustrating dealing with the "organizers" of this Forum. They have not been very communicative at all. I was all ready to buy a little projector and go anyway even if my film wasn't being shown, and do some guerilla screenings around the campus. But I'm happy that it will have an official place in the forum. It really only makes sense. I wonder if any of the other filmmakers who have done recent films on the subject, like the 3 I met in Las Cruces in April, will be there?
Anyway, if you're going to the forum, I hope you make it to the film and say hi.
My father now has a blog. I seem to remember just a year ago him sort of poo-pooing the idea of him ever doing a blog. So many friends have blogs now I sometimes catch myself thinking of friends that don't have them and wondering why they havent posted to theirs in so long.
There are definitely some people I really wish had blogs, really wish I could have a more regular and detailed connection with their lives and thoughts. When will the direct neural RSS-feed get invented?
uugggh. just kidding [shiver].
In other, somewhat related, news, I finally saw Science of Sleep yesterday. It was pretty great, though not quite as great as I was expecting. It's all about dreams, and a guy that's always confusing dreams with reality, which makes it unsurprising that i was left with a feeling of "and it was all a dream" walking out of the theater. But I can't help thinking I wanted a little less dreaminess and more "reality" - the quotes mean that i thought the reality of the film would be a little more fantastic, less "normal world" - I guess I thought the story was going to be a little more science fiction, maybe sort of like Wim Wenders' "Until the End of the World" (which also had a lot to do with dreams), and that Stephane would be a little more of a hero-inventor, and a little less pathetic loser-inventor.
But, I still highly recommend the flim. Best Hollywood fare I've seen all year, I'd say.
I've been thinking about something for weeks. In the meditation class I've been taking, which i mentioned a couple posts back, Will, the teacher, has mentioned a few times a really compelling metaphor for behaviors or activities in our lives that we think are good for us, that we think are giving us pleasure, but in the long run are really bad for us. The metaphor is licking honey off of a razor blade. I like this idea and that image so much, I will probably name a film or an album or something after it. It's very true, that we have things in our lives that at the time seem so good, and then later we realize we were doing ourselves harm, that we've given ourselves a painful cut that we could not feel at the time.
I've been wondering, trying to decide if a certain major feature of my life for the last 6 months, one addiction, if that qualifies as honey on a razor blade. The honey has been so sweet, but the time it takes for the cut to start hurting after each lick has started to decrease. I've been starting to wonder if the whole thing needs to stop, if the net pleasure, when accounting for the pain, the extreme pain, is not really large enough to make it a wise thing to be still doing.
Meditation is supposed to bring much greater clarity to our awareness of this hidden blade in the honey; it brings closer together the realization of true reality, makes us see, without even using willpower or the intellect or moral rationalizing, that something is bad for us. Whereas before, one might say, oh, yeah, I know sugar isn't healthy, but i'll just have one more brownie, after a certain level of meditation, we just see the sugary foods for what they really are and are just not interested. No willpower required any more.
Despite being in this class, I've found it difficult to meditate lately. My mind is so agitated. But i think I need to start doing it with more dedication, just to maintain a grip on sanity, and to get myself to stop licking that sweet, sweet, razor blade - or, perhaps, to realize that in fact it isn't a razor blade, but is just part of life, part of the hard work of being a human being that is around other human beings. Or maybe there's a totally different truth i haven't even thought of yet.
Time will tell which conclusion is correct.
my friend joel has been making amazing timelapse photography videos. They're really beautiful.