Yesterday was an important birthday for me. It was a quiet one, we pretty much just relaxed and tried to stay dry and warm, as it was a very un-Tucson-like rainy cold day. That evening after dinner Greta surprised me with a peppermint ice cream cake which she had secretly purchased and brought home and hid in the freezer earlier in the afternoon (cleverly waiting for me to make my usual afternoon espresso, for which I would need to get coffee out of the freezer - that woman is muy inteligente!!! Thank you Greta!!)
Anyway, we also went to see Gus Van Sant's new film "Milk," the docudrama biopic about Harvey Milk, first openly gay high-profile elected official ever, a San Francisco city supervisor elected in 1978, murdered by wacko conservative Dan White, another city supervisor. It was a really well-done and moving film and I highly recommend it. One of the saddest things about seeing it is knowing that we're now 30+ years after the time depicted in the film, and still LGBT people are being denied the same rights that straights have, because of powerful and bigoted people who have some nonsensical fear that letting queers marry will somehow ruin the institution of marriage. It's just ridiculous. But it's worth remembering that only a generation ago the same people were fighting for even more basic rights, like the right to even have certain jobs (like teaching). There are those who would turn back the progress made in that time.
Anyway, it was a good birthday yesterday.
Via Mexico Solidarity Network: Ciudad Juarez registered 81 femicides so far in 2008, more than doubling the worst years of 1996 and 2001 in which the city recorded 37 women murdered. El Diario de Juarez provided the following accounting of femicides since 1993, when Esther Chavez Cano, a local human rights activist, first called attention to problem:
Year Femicides 1993 19 1994 19 1995 36 1996 37 1997 32 1998 36 1999 18 2000 32 2001 37 2002 36 2003 28 2004 19 2005 33 2006 20 2007 25 2008 81
Of the 81 cases so far this year, 55 deaths resulted from organized crime, while the Special Investigator for Deaths of Women (FEIHM) is handling the other 26 cases. Sixteen of these 26 cases remain under investigation while the other ten cases have been declared resolved. Two twelve-year-old girls are among the victims.
In other news, I am in the middle of reading Roberto Bolaņo's magnum opus, his posthumously published last novel, "2666", which is largely a fictionalized account of the Juarez femicides (he sets them in a fictional city in the Mexican state of Sonora, "Santa Teresa", but it's an obvious stand-in for Ciudad Juarez). I'm reading part 4 of 5 of the almost 900-page book, and this part is basically a series of cold, almost police-report-style accounts of one murder after another, clinical descriptions of bodies found and what the police or neighbors know or find out. Hundreds of pages of that, with just a few side digressions into subplots involving Santa Teresa cops or a sheriff from Arizona. It's pretty grim. I keep thinking that if I hadn't already made a film about the murders, this book would have spurred me into doing so by now. The big criticism I have of the book and its treatment of the murders is that Bolaņo heavily, though not completely, de-emphasises the corrupt role of the police in the crimes, and does not touch upon the larger societal forces that contribute to the killings, which is the main focus of my film. Still, it's formally an incredible book, with the first 3 parts before this "Part About The Crimes" covering a Pynchonesque panorama of odd characters and happenings, including a small gang of euroacademics obsessed with a reclusive German novelist, a frustrated Harlem political reporter sent to Santa Teresa to cover a boxing match, and a slightly crazy Chilean philosophy professor who moves from Barcelona to Santa Teresa with his daughter, and decides to hang a mysterious geometry book out on his laundry line. Bolano is easily the most interesting and adept fiction writer to come out of Latin America in a generation, at least, in my opinion.
I am frantically, desperately, sadly, still editing "Death and Taxes," the documentary about war tax resistance that I've been working on for a year, if we count it from funding acquisition, or over 5 years, if we count from first conception and footage shot. Even though there's so much footage, and I've been doing this for so long, I've still learned so much as I edit these last 7 months or so. Every time I edit I learn or re-learn more about how to shoot. Here is a selection of key or not-so-key shooting tips:
- during interview, keep zooming in and out slowly, so that when you edit you can cut it up and the jump cuts won't be so jarring.
- don't be afraid to reshoot something, and to order people around (this is the hardest and probably the most important in documentary making).
- better to get it right during the shoot than try to fix it in post.
- you never have too much b-roll.
- if you have time and a camera that can do it, iterate the hour on the camera's time code as you shoot through tapes. That way when you capture, all your footage from a certain shoot will have unique timecode, makes it slightly easier to organize.
- watch as much footage as possible between shoots. Mistakes made or holes in coverage can be fixed if you know what you got or didn't get last time. If you wait till post to look, it's too late, probably.
There's probably more I could go into but it's late. very late.
I just can't get over how perfect this song is for an aging jaded wannabe hipster like myself at this moment in history: "Losing My Edge", by LCD Soundsystem. It's so hilarious and cynical and sad and clever and stinging and brilliant. Just check out some of the lyrics, my fav lines:
I was there in Jamaica during the great sound clashes.
I woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988.
But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent.
And they're actually really, really nice.
I'm losing my edge.
I heard you have a compilation of every good song ever done by anybody. Every great song by the Beach Boys. All the underground hits. All the Modern Lovers tracks. I heard you have a vinyl of every Niagra record on German import. I heard that you have a white label of every seminal Detroit techno hit - 1985, '86, '87. I heard that you have a CD compilation of every good '60s cut and another box set from the '70s.
I hear you're buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real. You want to make a Yaz record.
I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables.
I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.
I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know.
Just found out about this new Tucson art blog called TuScene. Interesting. I've been thinking how few people I know in this town are really the "wired" type, that hardly anybody I know or work with creatively has a blog here, other than using Facebook or Myspace (bleah!) and most of my online friends are far away, in SF or PDX or NYC or London or wherever. I've also been thinking some lately how sometimes the Tucson "scene" feels a little small. Compared to some places I've lived I'm a little.... nostalgic. I especially feel this way when I read the "Goings On About Town" pages of The New Yorker... of course nowhere will ever live up to NYC, and noplace should try to, it's just embarrassing when a city does that.
But anyway, maybe that new blog and some other networking efforts will help me feel more "dialed in" to what's going on in this town and more satisfied with it. Ya think?
And I should stop reading that part of the New Yorker. And the Arts pages of the Times.
In other news, a short video of mine will evidently screen at the All Souls Procession Film Fest this week. And they waived the app fee for me.
I read yesterday on Feministing about how Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls was told that shots of her belly had to be edited from a video of hers because she was too fat. What sexist assholes. Even if she was "fat" (click the link, watch the video, and see that she's not, anyway), no record label or employer of any kind has the right to do that. She dropped them and her fans are enraged and posting photos of all their varied bellies to a new site, and rightly so. No woman should ever tolerate such bullshit. Fuck You, Roadrunner Records!