Here's another example of the burgeoning field of making interesting aggregate works out of raw materials found on YouTube, along the lines of Kutiman's synthesized ensembles. This one forces hundreds of cats from around the world to play 3 piano pieces by Arnold Schoenberg, the composer who sort of invented modern Western atonal music. If you're a music geek or a collage nut or a related type of dork, or if you just like cats, these video clips and the explanation of how they were made will be really awesome to you, otherwise, well, watch out....
This post is one of those non-personal musings (rants?) about current events, rather than a detailed explication of my recent activities.
What I'm musing about here is Bernie Madoff, after reading something about him and his "victims" in the latest issue of Harper's. (why do I instinctively put "victims" in quotes? Read on...) In this short entry in the Readings section of the magazine, the editors provide a selection of Victim Impact Statements sent to the judge during the sentencing phase of Madoff's trial. This one particularly struck me:
Madoff deserves no better than to live under a bridge in a cardboard box, scavenging for food - the existence to which he has undoubtedly consigned some of his victims.
How could this be? Of course I sympathize with any innocent people and organizations who were cheated by this guy, especially non-profits who were affected. But let's get real: anyone who put all their eggs in one basket sort of, at least somewhat, deserves whatever they get. I mean, c'mon! You gave Madoff ALL your money? Every cent, other than the $1000 you spent on that magnum of champagne you drank the night before he got caught? Did you even give him the Rolex on your wrist?
Everyone with a brain understands that you should diversify your investments. You put something in high risk, high yield ventures but keep some in something solid, like treasury bonds or, hell, maybe you might just want to keep some of it back in an FDIC-insured savings account, for a rainy day? You don't just hand everything you have to some fast-talking guy named Bernie. Even poor people understand this. That's why they have multiple kids.
Or "invest" in friends and family so that you'll have someone who'll take you in on their couch when you lose your home, maybe.
The thing is is that this "impact statement" and all the others elide a certain unspoken truth that very few are talking about, regarding Madoff's scam but also applying to the general financial crash we are all still reeling from: you can't get something for nothing, and if you think you can and you put everything into your something for nothing scheme, then you're a fool. And there have been an awful lot of fools, of various types, getting the other shoe stomping on them.
And if you're rich enough to be investing in the first place, in anything, you're on a level, you're in a class, far above many many people in the world. A huge number of people even in the U.S. make barely enough to stay out of poverty, and in the wider world, the numbers are even grimmer and "investing" means having enough kids so that after half of them die you'll still have enough able bodies to till the fields and take care of you when you're old.
Madoff certainly had no right to steal your money, oh "victim," but where did you get that money in the first place? Was it really yours? What gives you the right to have all that money to invest, when most people in the world struggle every day just to feed their families? You are the beneficiary of a global, millennial ponzi scheme called Late Capitalism, and you're too stupid or in too much denial to know it, and you're now whining because you were too stupid to at least stash a little emergency funds away somewhere safe?
You're on the karma payment plan.
For a little over 2 weeks, we've been in production for Truth On The Line, the new project I'm directing (and wrote). It's been very exciting, and things are going quite well other than feeling like each shoot is very rushed.
We have been shooting at quite a speed - an average of 6 script pages a day. Usually 5 is a good rule of thumb for an "indie" project. We've been pressured by time constraints involving the location and the natural light, as well as my own inexperience at scheduling, but for other shoots coming up I'm hoping that we can have things be a little more relaxed.
However, as I said, things are going well, and I'm quite happy with the performances of all the cast, as well as the look of all the footage we've shot. I've started to put together some of the footage into rough edits to make sure I have what I need, and it is working! I'd like to have a little more coverage, and more takes, so that's another reason to try to relax the shoot velocity, if possible.
We've been blessed to have the help of 2 very cool local establishments here in Tucson: BICAS, the non-profit bicycle repair and education collective, let us use their 4-wheeled bicycle-car, which we put to work as a dolly and which functioned great as such!
Also, Revolutionary Grounds Books and Coffee was our wonderful location for the 3 cafe scenes in this pilot episode. Many many thanks to Joy, the generous proprietor, and to Matthew, the amazing barista who opened up early for us at 5am on 2 mornings, and also to Diana, another barista there who had utmost patience for us and makes a great iced americano.
I'm having a great time, it's wonderful working with all these actors and the extremely talented and helpful crew, and i'm looking forward to cutting it all together and seeing the story we're creating unfold.
See http://www.flickr.com/photos/steev/sets/72157620097751914/ for more production stills.
Here's a great behind-the-scenes clip (shot by Ryn) of us shooting at the cafe, which I hope will be a location for many great encounters and dialogues during future episodes of the show.
In the New Yorker this week there's a profile of Nora Ephron, the writer, screenwriter, and director. Her new film is "Julia and Julie," about Julia Child and so the article contained a lot about cooking, both Child's love for it and Ephron's. What I find inspiring is the idea that the film celebrates "... the pleasure of finding the thing you are best at, and devoting yourself to it with abandon. If you make a mistake, learn from it, then forget it... Don't complain, don't explain: that's the motto of Julia Child and Nora Ephron..."
I like that. Exemplary people are often very good at many things, though, and I would think that other criteria come up, besides just doing what you are very very best at, even if it's possible to determine what that is: things like "can I make a living from it?", "is it fun?", and "what will make the most positive difference in the world?" There are many reasons to devote oneself with abandon to a pursuit. But I like the idea of celebrating figuring out what to devote oneself to.