Julio 30, 2008

DNC and Protests: Security or Justice?

Unconventional Denver, the group of radical activists that has been organizing protests against the Democratic National Convention this September, has issued an offer, which contains the best idea I've heard of in a while regarding this upcoming act of political theater and associated protest theater: They're offering to "call off all protests during the convention if the city, federal government and the DNC agree to redirect the current $50 million earmarked for heightened security during the DNC and invest it in Denver communities."

What a great concept! Better yet, how about calling it off ANYWAY, and using the money you WOULD have spent on bus tickets, gasoline, spraypaint, sign materials, pot, beer, cool activist t-shirts, black hoodies, black bandanas, etc, and funnel THAT cash into Denver communities, and/or your own communities if you plan on travelling to Denver from afar?

And wouldn't it be hilarious if all the riot pigs showed up armed for a superrumble, and the streets were completely empty? Wouldn't the city feel stupid for spending that 50 million?

But no, you'll probably go ahead and run around the streets chanting and yelling and dancing and sewing new patches on your Carharts, and give our overlords all a reason to make people feel so glad that they spent that money on more guns and tear gas. A win-win situation: the rulers get to point at another excuse for strict security measures, and y'all get another huge summer street party and formative experience.

Rock on, everyone!

Posted by steev at 07:17 PM | Comments (1)

Julio 23, 2008

Hate Radio Vs. Derechos Humanos

A local shock-jock bigot, Jon "Justice," from local hate radio station 104.1 "The Truth" has started a feud with Isabel Garcia and Derechos Humanos, an immigrant-rights group in Tucson that took part in a big protest against racist, fascist sheriff Joe Arpaio a couple of weeks ago when Arpaio appeared at a book signing.

(in)Justice has initiated a campaign to get Garcia fired from her day job as Pima County defender. In turn, Derechos has started a grassroots effort to get advertisers to drop their support of the radio station. The pendejo DJ even did a horrible video in which he harassed and molested an effigy of Garcia on camera - it's so offensive I can't even watch the whole thing. Then he tried to hide this evidence by taking the video offline, but Derechos managed to save it and repost it.

Derechos asks everyone to continue the so-far quite successful fight to notify advertisers of the hate-filled broadcasts that their advertising dollars are supporting.

A point was made by Mr. injustice in a later video that his antics with the Isabel Garcia pinata were the same as what the kids at Barnes and Noble did with the pinata of Arpaio, but this is simply not true. The simple and ritualized beating-in-effigy of a public figure, a brutal cop who has terrorized, killed and tortured hundreds of people, is perhaps admittedly a little crass and a poor choice of tactics, but that kind of demonstration is is an accepted and somewhat traditional form of protest, quite different from the creepy and sexualized symbolic abuse of a latina woman that this white racist DJ has performed for his racist gabacho fans. And despite his denials, he understood this, too late, that this was the case, and tried to hide it. He must be punished.

Posted by steev at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 21, 2008

100% in 10 Years

Al Gore gave a speech the other day about global warming and called for making the nation's energy use 100% renewable in the next 10 years. Right on.

Gore has been so exemplary, it makes me wonder what would have happened if the 2000 election had gone a little differently and he had been put in the White House like he lawfully should have been. Probably the demands of being a more political animal would have made it impossible to concentrate on the issue of global warming, and quite plausibly the world's wake-up to the problem may have been delayed for x number of years. So it may have been for the best, in the long run, that he was not president, ironically.

Posted by steev at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 16, 2008

Tweets from yesterday

Yesterday's Twitter tweets:

  • 09:44 so tired of people not understanding that youtube videos are not "usable", you can't "take" them and do anything with them. and even if you could they wouldn't be high-enough quality for pro use. sigh. #
  • 14:16 copying old wtr footage from old drives to the new one #
  • 20:13 just watched a datura blossom open. beautiful. #

Posted by steev at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 14, 2008

Irony Deficiency

Although we have yet to pick our copy up from the post office, I just read about the cover of the new issue of the New Yorker and the ensuing controversy over it. It's amazing that anybody smart enough to read the New Yorker would not get the joke, and speaks to an old problem that an old friend of mine and I used to joke about and call the "Irony Deficiency" of our nation.

This particular instance of this condition made me realize a possible fundamental cause - the fact that our society is so diverse, so factionalized, and so polarized and full of hate and adversarial relations, that irony is almost impossible on a mass scale - why do I say that? because when you have a population in which some people truly believe what others consider are outlandish jokes, those jokes start to backfire if they spread into the realm of the believers.

Those who would normally laugh at such a joke are on such hair-triggers to defend against the attacks of the believers that they no longer have a sense of humor. The fact is that there are some people who are so naive, hateful, deluded, and/or stupid that they really think that Michelle Obama is a violent radical militant and Barrack is a muslim terrorist. That's just how wide, how separated by chasms of clashing belief and values, the spectrum of "political" dialogue, spectrum of opinion about what is real and true, has become in this country.

And who should be surprised, when there are some people that watch 6 hours of television a night, including FOX News, and others that never watch TV at all and spend those hours reading Noam Chomsky, Harpers, or the New Yorker (and/or the latest Crimethinc publication)? When there are some that listen to Merle Haggard and pump their fists earnestly when he sings "and I'd surely stand up, next to you" or whatever, in that stupid-ass song about the first Gulf War, and yet there are others, like me, who bike around town with songs like this stuck in our heads, a Cop Shoot Cop track from that same era:

It's okay to kill in the name of democracy
And dictators are swell if they like the smell of American money
It's making me sick, I want no part of it
Stop waving that flag
All you idiots bought right into it
And who's left holding the bag?
Surprise, surprise. Surprise, surprise.
The government lies.

Which, by the way, if you didn't get it, contains irony in the first 2 lines...

Posted by steev at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 13, 2008


Yesterday's Twitter tweets:

  • 09:14 hating, at least in a way, getting invites to art and music events in cities thousands of miles away. i guess a little disgruntled at tucson #
  • 09:15 wondering if i have enough real twitter friends to stop following rex sorgatz.... #
  • 17:18 why does everyone shoot widescreen now? and yet all the frames (like on youtube) are still 3:2 Posted by steev at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 12, 2008

Trying to Tell the Story of War Tax Resistance

I'm in perhaps the most exciting yet frustrating stage in my work on the documentary about war tax resistance that I'm making. I'm basically trying to make sense of all the footage and figure out how to present it in a compelling way - the big question is: what is the story? I've been struggling with this for about 4 years, ever since I started thinking about the challenges of making a film about this subject - Put another way, how do I tell the story of war tax resistance in a way that's interesting and exciting?

I decided to go all the way back to Michael Rabiger's excellent, wise, super book, Directing the Documentary, which I originally read in 2003 and which helped me enormously to first learn the art and craft of non-fiction filmmaking - actually, I'm really still learning, of course, but this book was my early training, my film school. I returned to it this week to re-read the chapters on the beginnings of post-production and the first assembly.

The advice I keep coming back to that he gives is: start organizing the material with the action, and then layer on the interviews, because if you start with the interviews, you will have talking heads as the primary spine of the film. Of course most of what I've ever done, and a lot of documentarians have done, has been reluctantly not following this advice - because most of almost any documentary film's central material is in fact people telling their stories. It's very rare that you can capture the actual stuff of life that you're talking about, or at least all of it - I've been acutely aware of this since I was doing the paper edit of my Juarez film 3 years ago.

Yet I tried to find a way out of that conundrum with an experiment in narrative that I had not tried before, which I thought of in very early pre-production and which I tried to follow during shooting: follow real people as THEY learn about the subject and meet people that do war tax resistance.

How sad is it when you have something like 50 hours of footage shot over 5 years and you still don't feel like it's enough "coverage"? [i need more "action" material that is relevant to the topic - demonstrations, press conferences, protests, street theater, tax day rallies, even stuff like relevant signs or banners being held up (or t-shirts being worn, etc) at more general anti-war events. Have you shot anything like this over the years anywhere? Do you know anyone who has? If so, please get in touch.]

However, I might have the seed of a narrative that focuses on action, on movement through space and time, and I want to try to make that into the backbone of the film. Perhaps it will need to be augmented with judicious narration, and animation, but i think it's there, basically... Almost every other film longer than 10 minutes that I've made has instead been organized by subject section - can this finally be a film that is a chronology? Is there hope that the story can really be based on a classic, time-based model of story? I'm going to try.

Posted by steev at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 11, 2008

yesterday's tweets

Yesterday's Twitter tweets:

Posted by steev at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 07, 2008

A Dream I Had

It was a Mexican gunfighter western movie kind of dream, mixed with an old dream i always used to have in college, that i had
forgotten to go to a class all semester and suddenly realized i had a final exam. At the end of the dream I was in
a math class taking the test I wasn't prepared for, didn't expect, but I did okay on it. but then we students were complaining about the teachers, who were like 3 quiet dorky Mexican men, and as we were complaining lunch arrived, a giant pizza like 10 feet in diameter. the toppings on the pizza were not evenly spread out but instead were like a pie chart, with relative proportions of toppings indicated by the width of a wedge of that topping on the pie. I suddenly stood up and exclaimed, "this society will always be regimented as long as pizzas are made like that!" and i stepped up and started re-arranging the toppings, scattering lettuce and everything else evenly around the pizza. In a few seconds a bunch of other students got the idea and joined me. in a few minutes the toppings were all spread out like on a normal pizza and we stepped back to admire our work.

I'm not sure what that has to do with anything.

Posted by steev at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

Julio 04, 2008

The Wired Method

I happened upon an article in Wired, I think it might be last month's coverstory(?), about how working with huge amounts of data (their big buzzword they keep repeating is Petabytes) and clusters of computers to crunch the data with statistical methods have qualitatively changed the way science will be done. The lead is basically "the end of the scientific method."

Of course the comments on the page after the article are full of people arguing and protesting that of course the writer is wrong and of course he knows nothing about science and this isn't fundamentally changing science.... blah blah blah.

The article is actually interesting, a bit, but it's mostly hype, and the conclusion that's most important is that Wired magazine is still up to the same old tricks: throw a bunch of smoke and mirrors up around a certain pop-tech idea and watch as all the outraged and/or excited geeks scurry around buying copies of the magazine and/or hitting the web site. It doesn't matter what's true, as long as it sells.

It's the same way with most papers and magazines, like the local arts/culture rag here in Tucson, the Tucson Weekly. Full of bullshit written by either imbeciles or racists (or both), spewing hate, nonsense, borderline softcore porn, and/or silliness that the editors may or may not agree with - but it doesn't matter because the outrage inflates circulation, which inflates advertiser revenue. I'm so sick of it but what to do? A letter to the editor would just be proof that one more chump reads the paper. Ka-ching! In fact, you probably shouldn't click on those links in this paragraph. doh!

Posted by steev at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)

Julio 03, 2008

Bush Tour to Visit Victims of His Disastrous Presidency

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency
Hilarious, as usual, from the Onion (via Demarcated Landscapes).

Posted by steev at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)