So I was looking at the tour schedule of a band I recently really fell for last year and then again recently called Pony Pants. In fact I shot footage of them playing at Dry River a couple weeks ago and I just edited together a video of them today.
But anyway they list a show tomorrow they're playing in "Moline, Iowa", which is really Moline, Illinois, the city across the Mississippi from my home town, Davenport, Iowa (the mistake is to be expected, it's a group of 4 cities divided by the river, known as "Quad Cities, USA"). They're playing at "The Meth Lab" with a band called "Meth and Goats" - so I google that and find their page and they fucking rock, too!
Pony Pants is from West Philly so, yeah, whatever, you'd expect awesome culture from a big city like that, but Moline? **NOTHING** like this was going on there when I was a kid - at least that I knew of... though of course I was a total nerd when i was growing up and wouldn't have known about a punk house party if it was next door to my place, and my parents wouldn't have let me go anyway
(I remember when, a high school senior, a friend loaned me a Cure tape and told me it was punk, and I believed it for at least a year - i'd never heard of punk before...).
But anyway, yeah, Meth and Goats, they're pretty cool. They remind me a bit of Jesus Lizard.
Josh Wolf, the Bay Area blogger (and current San Francisco mayoral candidate) who was jailed by a grand jury for not turning over footage he shot at a local protest, is now free and running a 2-hour TV program called RUNtv - RUN standing for Rise Up Network. It airs on Peralta TV, which is evidently a cable channel run by Peralta Community College in Oakland.
For each installment of the show, he includes segments from radical videographers around the country, and then places them online and lets people vote on their favorite. The winners receive cash prizes and a chance to compete in the end of season contest.
The latest episode of the show includes my short doc about Sandhill Cranes. Go check it out and cast your vote.
I've been working for the last week on a newish project: a DVD/doc about Dry River.The 2nd anniversary of DR having a physical space is coming up November 3, and i thought it would be fitting to get it done in time for that. I've been recording video and audio of various events, mostly music shows, at the space for 2 years, since it opened. So it seemed a simple process to pull all that together with some stills, add some interviews, and voila, a quick and dirty documentary. But, it's not as quick as I thought. there's so much footage to sift through. and i have keep reminding myself that i said it would be quick and dirty and sloppy. my natural tendency is to labor over edits and get fancy and, maybe even get arty, and in general, well, have some pride in my work.
Anyway, I hope I can resist spending too much time on it because there many other projects i should be spending time on, especially ones that might earn me money. It's just like me to get excited about something that's completely voluntary and unpaid, and neglect other things that might be more lucrative, or even more important to the world.
But for what it's worth, I have uploaded a rough draft of the first 30 seconds or so.
Douglas Rushkoff writes for the new issue of Arthur an excellent, pointed, yet concise piece about what's wrong with 9/11 conspiracy theories and theorists. Here's the main nugget of wisdom, though there are many others:
By looking under the rug for what isn't even there, we neglect the horror show that is in plain view. In the process, we make it even easier for the criminals running our government to perpetuate their illegal, unethical and un-American activities.
This recent article in the New Yorker about troop withdrawal from Iraq and realistic planning underscores and articulates something that I've always known as a feeling since the very first shouts of "support the troops! bring them home!": things are complicated. In Iraq, really really complicated. And simply pulling out all our forces as fast as possible sounds great but it would be disaster, and it would be cruel and horrible to the Iraqis, and to all the Middle East.
And Bush really fucked things up. And it's so so sad, that the hubris and arrogance and politicking and petty greed and ignorance has resulted in something like a million dead Iraqis (so far) and has fucked up the country and maybe the whole region for decades. Decades. Just because some dumbshit from texas and his cronies thought they were playing some little game that would maybe increase their stock portfolios. Fucking lying dipshit idiots.
But this article makes it clear that there's no going back, and there's no just throwing up our hands and saying "oops! Gosh those Republicans sure were bad. Well, ok, we're going home now, bye." Stupid W got us into this, but there ain't no getting out without admitting he fucked up, and doing the responsible thing to at least minimize further catastrophe.
Today 50,000 people from all over the country are in Jena, Louisiana to demand justice for the 6 kids being persecuted by the racist district attorney there. If you haven't been following the situation have a look into it. Houston Indymedia has a feature on it.
Around here in Tucson it's lucky if anyone has even heard about it, much less getting involved, even the activist types I know. It's kind of amazing, but I guess most people I know are already so busy with whatever issues they already work on so hard all the time, mostly border stuff or enviro stuff.
A few of us were thinking of going to Jena but, well, it just wasn't going to work. I can't afford stuff like that these days. But I got a t-shirt...
In the spirit of my cynical previous blog post today, despite the good cause, I can't help doing the math: 50,000 people from all over, most of whom probably flew to Alexandria or New Orleans and then bussed or taxied, and got hotel rooms, and ate at restaurants, etc etc.... I bet at least a million dollars was spent collectively by all these committed activists.
Things are already looking up, one kid's conviction was overturned because an appeals court said he shouldn't have been tried as an adult... Maybe this is the best way to spend a million dollars, but maybe not. Think of everything for this cause that could have been done with a million dollars... even better lawyers? Billboards all over Jena? maybe stun guns or self-defense classes for all the african-americans in Jena? bribes? hitmen to take out the DA? I dunno, but all those things would also probably spew less carbon into the atmosphere too. I dunno. I dunno.
I just found out about "October Rebellion," a week of protests in DC against the IMF and World Bank. The cause is great but wow, what a waste. When are people going to get past marches and rallies? You'd think that after literally millions of people around the world on one day in 2003 marched against the impending war in Iraq and made no difference at all that people would start to re-evaluate this tactic on a large scale. But it doesn't seem like it's sunk in.
Imagine what we could do if all the effort and time and money and calories went into other things, instead of being put into organizing all the marching and standing around chanting and waving signs, all the greenhouse gases spewed into the air by all those jet-setting activists flying to the mass mobilizations, all the jail support for the ones that get arrested, all the trials and lawsuits and medical bills for the ones that get charged and beat up and gassed, etc etc....
Don't people get that these protests are basically the equivalent of whining to the government, asking them to fix things? Don't people get that the government never will really fix things? The Zapatistas learned that. Like them, let's just dive in and do the work to make the new world we want and stop wasting our time asking power to do it for us.
(As you can perhaps tell, I'm feeling a bit cynical lately, but not cynical enough to invalidate my point above, I feel.)
I just finished skimming through (reading maybe half of the reviews) a zine called "Best Zine Ever!" It's a review zine that has short descriptions of a great many recent issues of zines.
One big thing popped out at me as I looked at it: most zines these days, or at least the ones this review zine tends to like, are "perzines," in other words, personal zines, which are pretty much autobiographical affairs that concentrate on daily life and "finding oneself," travelogues, etc. There's nothing wrong with this, and in fact I enjoy a lot of perzines. However, where are all the other zines? I remember when there were zines about everything. Cooking, politics, music (of course), science fiction, art, various subcultures, various lifestyles. Now, instead of doing more journalistic or survey type DIY publications, zinesters seem to be concentrating on very self-focussed writing and cartooning.
If this is the case for the zine world at large and not just the preference of collective of reviewers who write for "Best Zine Ever!", then why is this? I have 2 theories: 1) people interested in other topics have moved their efforts largely to the web. 2) the decrease in publication costs have led to people interested in other topics to go into producing publications with higher production values, which start to be considered more "magazines" and not "zines" anymore (although I would contend that the measure of "zineness" is more about funding sources and intent, rather than just production values).
Either way, it's an interesting social phenomenon. People who have more exterior concerns have moved on, for one reason or another, and that's a bit sad, in a way. Others who still make zines are more concerned with the interior life, in self-expression, and are, perhaps rightly, not interested in or are cautious about having their navel-gazing reach a truly large audience, which the web and better print quality would potentially provide.
The El Paso Times reports that the mothers of Juarez femicide victims are unhappy with the quality and/or fate of 2 recent Hollywood depictions of their situation, J-lo's "Bordertown" and Minnie Driver's "Virgin of Juarez". The latter went straight to DVD and the release date of the former still keeps getting pushed back again and again. Will anyone outside of booing Berlin audiences ever see it, I wonder? Will I ever even get the chance to hand out flyers at a theater that say "You've seen the inept and cheesy hollywood version, now read the facts..."?
The movie flop is the latest setback for the mothers-turned-activists and their Mexican and international supporters, whose global campaign to find justice in the face of endemic impunity is becoming a losing cause.
This video presentation about a new image manipulation technology called "seam carving" is really disturbing to me. changing real pictures of real places and people just so you can have a certain sized image?
The motivation or "problem" implied at the beginning of the video just goes to show, like I've noticed all my life so many times, how form always seems to get prioritized over content. that some designer wants a photo to dynamically resize so that their silly page layout always looks nice and is willing to sacrifice truth for it makes me shiver. and they're willing to let a computer decide what is important in an image!? yikes. What if it's important to me that the bear was that far away from her cubs? What if I want to know that I'm looking at what the landscape really looks like, not some artificially distorted fantasy?
Naomi Klein has what looks like another great book out, "The Shock Doctrine" (via Rabble), all about how governments take advantage of disasters to push through unpopular changes. She and Alfonso Cuaron, the maker of Children of Men, have made a film about the ideas in the book. I've always loved her work, both in film and written form. And I'm not just saying that because she quoted me in her first book, No Logo (see page 179). Heh.
However, something shocked me about the Shock Value film, or rather, how it's being displayed: via You Tube. Even on Klein's own website there is a page where she includes the embedded You Tube video. She of all people should know that You Tube is just another corporation and just another brand, and everytime we slather their logo across our web pages we're only helping to put more money in their pocket.
Of course I realize that You Tube is a great way to get video work out to a vast horde of people who wouldn't otherwise see it, and to not use it at all is just cutting yourself off from a great opportunity. That's why I even have a You Tube account and I have lots of my work there. But I only dance with the devil as much as I have to and remember there are other open and free resources out there. I always provide other ways of viewing my work too. And I always remind people of these points.. You Tube is not rocket surgery. The technology is out there to have YouTube-like easily viewable video on your pages, without helping to advertise big companies that are just exploiting our creativity.
(Yes, I realize the irony that I'm using Google to link directly to the page of Naomi's book that I'm on, while railing against a subsidiary of Google. But my whole point is that we need to be nuanced and smart about how far we cooperate with corporations. Where they offer us unique tools and opportunities, we should take advantage of them, if they don't make us puke too much. But at the same time if there are other ways of doing things that are free and open, we should take advantage of those. Little by little we must fight in all the ways that we can, build our own tools, while also turning the master's tools against him in order to destroy his house.)
Wow. Bob Ostertag notes in his blog an MSNBC story about China and reincarnation:
China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."
It's hilarious but it's also serious, as Bob discusses in his post...
Ugh. A few hours ago in my backyard a little insect flew into my ear, and didn't come out till just now. Going about my day, whenever I was sitting still for longer than a minute or so, it would start moving around in my ear canal! I could hear it and feel it! I couldn't get it out. And if i started moving or trying to remove it, it would stop. I tried q-tips, water, blowing with my nose and mouth and other ear closed. no dice. I started worrying it would crawl further and further into my sinuses and lay eggs in my brain or something.
But luckily a few minutes ago I felt it moving and it felt somewhat different. It was not moving deeper; It had found its way closer to the exit! It was seeking the light! I waited with hand to ear and suddenly it dropped out and i batted it away. yuck. Whew. Luckily that didn't happen during the meeting I was just at. Might have freaked some people out.
Lately, for a few reasons I won't go into, I've had occasion, as an editor, to look at a lot of video footage shot by others. Some of it is just atrocious. It is just stunning how badly people handle a camera sometimes.
All it takes is just a few minutes watching TV or a movie to get the basics, and it really is the basics that people seem to be missing (Maybe that's the problem, many activists don't watch TV, so they've forgotten what good camera technique looks like). The boiled down rule of thumb: Hold the shot for awhile. That's all you need to know. Everything else comes from that: Don't pan and tilt around constantly. Don't zoom in and out all the time. Just fricking find a shot and stay on it. Even if it might not be the best, perfect composition, just stick with it for at least 5 seconds, 10 seconds, hell, 30 seconds, and THEN move and find your next shot. If you're worried about missing some action, then pull out and stick with a long shot and stay on it. Just stop waving the damn camera around for god's sake. Just stop. Please!!!
(All this advice and more is readily available online, for example at the excellent Video Activist Network site.)