Archive - 2007


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.)

Control of (Next) Lives

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.

Stop Panning! Stop Zooming!

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.)


portland - 13Well, as you might have guessed (if you didn't know already) by the 2-week silence on this blog (which ended 3 entries ago, i hate when bloggers post just to say how sorry they are for not posting for awhile), I was on vacation again. O and I drove north to Oregon in a rental car, outfitted with a borrowed bike rack so we could bring our bikes. It was a bit trying spending so much time in a car, but we had a lot of fun too. We camped a lot on the way, and we saw 4000 year old trees and volcanic mud pools and coastal dunes and coyotes and a seal and lots of old friends.
I have a set of my best photos from the trip on Flickr. Sadly my still camera seems to be dying, placing random crunchy bars of color on some photos. Which sucks because i can't really afford to buy a new one at this point. But to be fair, I've taken about 10,000 shots since I bought the thing in December 2004, so i've gotten a lot out of it.

Survellance as Speech

Good article by Naomi Klein is on Alternet about the SPP protests and authorities videotaping protesters supposedly so that the leaders being petitioned can see the protesters from a safe distance.

Like contestants on a reality TV show, protesters at the SPP were invited to vent into video cameras, their rants to be beamed to protest-trons inside the summit enclave. It was security state as infotainment

Getting Free

For the new, fourth issue of the Dry River zine, coming out soon, I wrote a review of a really good new book called "Getting Free." It's also sort of a review of John Holloway's book, "Change the World Without Taking Power." For those of you who don't want to wait to get a copy of the zine, you can
download the PDF of my review here.

Inland Empire

I saw David Lynch's Inland Empire earlier this summer and someone just asked me what I thought. As I told him, i've got mixed feelings, more so than his older stuff. i've been a Lynch fan for a long time (i guess since i first saw Eraserhead like 17 years ago). but his last 2 films, Mullholland Drive and Inland Empire, have disappointed me. i still loved to watch and listen to them just for the sensory experience (he's always been really amazing with the sound design on his films, in addition to cinematography), but beyond that I just have felt frustrated. i feel like he's been in a rut or a formula for his last 2 or 3 films, maybe even purposely repeating himself and being annoying just to see how far he can push his fans. and the gratuitous and almost sexist softporn bits are just plain juvenile and irritating, i think.

but i guess i'd like to see it again sometime and see if i feel different after repeated viewings, or if i can actually get more meaning out of the stuff that seemed like just gratuitous meaningless bizarreness for the sake of being bizarre.

in my opinion his best works are still Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart (and the Twin Peaks tv series)...

New Pan Left Video Blog

Last night we of the Pan Left video collective had a public party to celebrate the launch of our new video-sharing bloggy drupal-powered website, I built this site, the most complicated Drupal site i've done, though the custom theme was not my work. I'm pretty happy with it, though there are still a lot of tweaks to do on it, like I still don't have flash display of the videos working yet.

The party was fun too. I made a timelapse video of most of it that is quite entertaining to watch.

Now O and I are getting ready to go on a 2-week roadtrip to Portland via Yosemite and the Oregon Dunes. It's a vacation we have been wanting to take together for quite awhile. I will be pretty non-online for a lot of the next 2 weeks, starting tomorrow, so be patient if you email me...

IMDB Finally Lists 'On The Edge'

I'm not sure how long it's been there, but the entry for my film about the Juarez femicides is finally on the Internet Movie Data Base. I submitted it over a year ago, in March 2006, and for months afterward I repeatedly went back to check if it had been approved and posted, wrestling with the extremely irritating and difficult IMDB bureaucracy. There seemed to be some mysterious reason why they wouldn't post it and nobody to ask what that reason was. Eventually I gave up. Now suddenly I stumbled across the entry while searching for other Juarez information.

They also cite a review I had not seen before. In related news, the cheesy J-Lo movie about the femicide, "Bordertown," is supposedly being released into limited theaters at the end of this month. I have planned for a while to make flyers for people to pass out at screenings, explaining the real facts so people can learn that this isn't quite how the hollywood version portrays it. With my luck, the film won't even show here in Tucson.