Archive - Jul 2006 - Blog entry


Tour done; Returning to Tucson Tonite

Well, the screening tour is over and I am about to head to the airport and catch my plane back "home" to Tucson. In this case "home" just means the place where most of my belongings are stored - I don't know what the future holds. I need to couch surf a little and find a new place. Annoying, but, oh well. And I need to figure out so many other things, too. sigh.

Anyway, the last 2 screenings, on Friday and Saturday, were both interesting in their own way. One was in Tijuana for a group of sex workers who organized to resist police abuse, called the Mary Magdalenes. Most of these women are peasants from the south of Mexico who were recruited by pimps and brought up to TJ. They weren't mislead or told they were getting maquila jobs, they new they were coming to El Norte to be prostitutes. Wow. Anyway they seemed sort of shy and still processing the film afterward so there weren't a lot of questions, but the leaders were appreciative. I also got to meet Victor Clark, from the Comite Binacional Derechos Humanos. He's a major major figure in human rights work in Tijuana and he is who set up the show for the Mary Magdalenes. He has a bodyguard, who went to the screening with us, gun tucked under his shirt at his waist, scanning the surroundings constantly as we walked down the street.

Saturday evening was a pretty different event. I rented a car and drove 2 hours to El Centro, a small town about 10 miles from the border, north of Calexico/Mexicali. A group called MANA arranged the screening. They are a local chapter of a national organization that is sort of professional/career group for white-collar latina women. Or that's what I understand it to be. Anyway, they were really good people and judging by the record number of signatures on the mailing list signup sheet that I always have out, people were really enthused. I also signed my autograph on like 4 copies of the DVD, and sold about 8 copies, all the rest that I had on me. Interestingly, all these purchases were made with checks except for one in cash from a high-school girl. At all other screenings combined only 1 other purchase was by check.

Anyway. Just got back from the beach, my first San Diego beach experience. was fun. now off to airport. back to tucson. I hear it's been raining A LOT there. 7 inches in the last 7 days. crazy. wetter than Portland lately! Hello global warming! Hello chaos!

I just want to travel all the time and life to be one constant adventure. But I also want to just sit still and lie in someone's arms for a long long time. suspira.

San Diego Indymedia Rocks!!!

Things have been going really well here in San Diego. I've had 2 screenings, one here on Wednesday and one last night in Tijuana. Both were great, both attended by about 80 people, which is the record for this tour (interestingly, the only screening I've done so far with bigger attendance is the one in Albuquerque at The Guild. 105 people. My theory is that this is because that's the one screening I've had in a "real" theater, in other words, a place where the general public is conditioned to expect to go to watch movies. A church, an infoshop, a dance theater, lots of people just don't go to those places to see a film, or to those places at all).

Not only that but both these screenings included the involvement of local groups. The San Diego one even had donated food and beverages for the audience. The Tijuana screening had 2 mothers of girls who'd been killed or almost killed in Tijuana and had been experiencing similar problems that the mothers of victims in Juarez have been facing.

So this is a shout-out to San Diego Indymedia Center. Especially to Yolanda, Miguel, Jonathan, Jenny, and Mark. They have all really been super enthusiastic and dedicated to making these events happen and they did such a great job, promoting and organizing. It's just incredible and touching to me, to see that something I've made inspires people enough to put real work into getting other people to see it. So, thank you, everyone. And thanx too to Lotus and Kat and Matthew and everyone else at the 2-house compound where I've been staying. Your hospitality is much appreciated.

By the way, last night's screening was the Mexican premiere. It was really nice to see that a Mexican audience really got something out of the film, and it was fascinating during the question and answer period to hear pretty much a completely different set of questions and comments than what I get from gringo audiences. There was much more of a sense of personal responsibility for the cultural and social factors. There were people who talked about how important it was for parents to protect their daughters and educate them about dangers, and a few men that mentioned gender roles and family and how men needed to work on improving how they treat their wives, their daughters, other women. It was amazing.

One young hombre who looked like an art student or something asked how I felt about art and media being able to change things. I replied that of course since I was doing it I believed there was some possiblitiy for a positive effect from it, but the important thing to remember is not to make art in a vacuum but to communicate and collaborate with grassroots people who work on and are effected by the issues that you're addressing, and make sure you're actually serving their interests and telling their stories accurately and compassionately.

Toward the end someone said, I wish there was a film by a mexican about this. I told them there are at least 2, "Batalla de Las Cruces" and "Preguntas Sin Respuestas," both done in the last year by Mexican directors. I think for Mexican audiences either of those films would be better than mine, but both of them appear to be in pretty limited availability.

The evening really re-energized me, I think. It was great to show it. I want to show it in Juarez soon, though I'm a little nervous about safety concerns. I wonder how scared I should be.

Tonite, I screen the film again in Tijuana, in a private event for a sort of union of prostitutes; a bunch of sex workers who got together to organize. they're called the Mary Magdalenes, because there are theories that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. That's pretty cool, and it should be very interesting.

Then tommorrow I go to El Centro, a little town about 90 minutes from San Diego, to show the film there to a Latina women's group called MANA.

I still need to get to the beach one of these days.

World Love

I've been in the thrall of another Magnetic Fields song for the last few days. When I originally ripped a bunch of their stuff from a friend last fall, I only grabbed some of the "69 Love Songs" album, thinking that I didn't like them enough to warrant taking up that much diskspace. Since I'm obsessed with them now, when I was back at that friend's house in Portland I ripped the rest. I totally love, earnestly and ironically, the song called "World Love." It's got this hilariously cliched "world music style" guitar riff going on underneath the whole time, I can't remember the name of that style but it's that African really bright bouncing guitar style. And then there's lyrics that are sort of snidely about overthrowing governments and also being happy at the same time. It's a biting critique but somehow i find it really sweet and profound too.

All things must pass
So raise a glass
To change and chance.
And freedom is the only law,
Shall we dance?

So if you're feeling low,
Stuck in some bardo,
I, even I, know the solution:
Love, music, wine, and revolution.

I love the unlikely use of the word "bardo." I had no idea what that meant till I looked it up: in Tibetan Buddhism a bardo is a waiting period between death and rebirth into your next incarnation. I kind of feel like I'm in a sort of bardo right now, so that's another reason that I like this song so much. But anyway, who the hell would ever think of using that word in a pop song? Stefin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, that's who.

Sleepless in Los Angeles, About to Travel to San Diego

Three observations:
1) I seem to sleep less and less, wake up earlier and earlier, the further south I go. In Portland I was sleeping in till 7:30 or 8. 6:30 or so In SF. And now I'm back to my usual 5 or 5:30 here in LA. Is it really the sun or the heat? There are holes in that theory. For instance, it's still fully dark out right now. There are surely other factors

2) I'm geeky enough that I can use my computer to tell how late I stayed up. When I wake up I often don't remember when I went to bed. But if I open my Powerbook, it takes a second for the clock to update, and I can see what time it was when I closed it right before turning in. Hence I know I was up till about 1230. And here I am up at 5. What's wrong with me?

3) With the help of a conversation with a friend just before calling it a night last night I realized I need a vacation. It might seem weird coming from someone who's just been travelling the west coast for a month. In a way I'm so ready for this to be over but I'm also so ready to just keep travelling. But I'm pretty sure that I need to travel with no justifying reason to it. Every time I go anywhere it's always, technically, a working holiday - going because it's related to some activist project or work-work. I should go on a trip that's totally just for me. Otherwise I'm just going to totally burn out some day, I fear. It has come to the point, I believe, that my own happiness and sanity is now a justifying rationale, and that's okay.

Hop Skip Jump to L.A.

After 5 days in San Francisco I have now zipped down to the City of Angels on a plane and am ensconced in the Los Feliz home of friends José and Ana. It was an extremely short flight without incident. The Burbank airport is extremely small and convenient to here.

San Francisco was great, for the most part. The two screenings went really well. One was attended by less than I expected, and one by more, so things evened out, I guess. The first one had some music beforehand by 2 of the musicians who did the soundtrack. So it was interesting because some fans of theirs came, and then there were people who came just to see the film, and I'm happy to kind of mix up those 2 demographics and jostle some expectations. Sadly most progressive activist types are culturally regressive, in my experience, so the music was a little "challenging" to some people. oh well.

It was really nice being back in SF. I got to spend one great afternoon at the beach with a friend. Put my DVD on consignment at 3 different places. Saw several people again that I like to spend time with. Sadly one person that I most wanted to see refused to see me, and that made me sad. She's my ex who has continued being my good friend for 4 years since we broke up, but now it looks like we won't be friends anymore and that sucks. I only got a couple hours of sleep last night because I was upset about that and talking to other friends about it all night. Tough times.

Well, now to explore the neighborhood. I want to see if I can impress myself with L.A. this time. I lived here for a year, 10 years ago, and didn't like it, but I think I just didnt go to the right parts, maybe.

News from Oaxaca

A Tucson friend, Lila, writes from Oaxaca City:

Writing here from Oaxaca because the situation here has gotten more extreme. Varo and I were in San Juan Cotzocom, which is in the Sierra Mixe for about 10 days. We returned to the Zocalo to find it filled again with people. Recently, as the struggle has been renewed and APPO has been focusing on boycotting and disrupting the gelaguetza (a celebration of Indigenous culture which is originally founded on cultural and economic sharing which has been coopted as a money making tourist attraction).

The situation here has become more intense recently as APPO has directly blocked and taken control of the planned location of the Gelaguetza. There are many rumors of impending violence as a plane full of fedral police (the same ones who came to Atenco) landed today in the Oaxaca airport, as well as 5-6 busses of state police. All of the information is in the offical release from CIPO which I sent to most of you.

Things have been stressfull here as four days ago, our first night back in Oaxaca city, we had to quickly clean out the CIPO office at 3:00 am because there was threat of a police raid, and have been rotating on night match ever since. It

Made It To SF

steev on Coast Starlight trainAfter a 24-hour train ride that was only supposed to be 18, I finally reached Oakland a couple hours ago and then took the BART into San Francisco. Noticed for the first time that in the tunnels all down Market Street stops, there's perfect cell reception, but as soon as the train heads into the Mission the signal disappears. Talk about digital divide.

Anyway, I'm sitting in a cafe feeling slightly grotty after the trip and waiting for my friend Wobbly to meet me here and bring me to his place where I'm crashing. He's one of the musicians who did the soundtrack for my film about the murdered women of Juarez - the reason I'm in town. At the screening tommorrow night (sunday) at ATA at 8pm, he and Thomas Dimuzio will be playing a live set before we show the film. Then monday night there's another screening at Station 40 ( 3030B 16th Street, (across from Mission bart plaza) )

I'm so very happy to be in San Francisco. It's such a pleasure, in a way, to travel to places you once lived, places that you're very familiar with. There's no stress after getting off the train or bus about how to get somewhere. It's just a great feeling of familiarity and comfort and homecoming. And yet it still has the thrill of travelling, though not quite as intense as some brand new foreign city.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the 2 screenings here and if you're in the bay area you should definitely come to one or both.

Another Last Day In Portland

Today I'm catching an Amtrak train down the coast to San Francisco. I've had a really great time here in Portland. Now it's time to go once again.

A brief list of what's been happening in the last 36 hours or so:

  1. Went to a new bar opening up on Mississippi Ave on Wednesday evening. The place used to be an artist's livework studio, all piled with clothes and cavases. Now she, who was an acquaintance back then, and partners have turned the place into a really stylish-looking drinking hole, with tables and a bar cast in place from white concrete. It was fun going with friends seeing it but it's not the kind of place I'd frequent regularly, and it's disturbing to see yet another sign of the continuing gentrification of that neighborhood.
  2. After that we went to industrial/goth dance night at this club downtown. First time I've gone dancing for at least a year, and the first time to this place in a few years. It was lots of fun. There was a big group of us and that made it even better.
  3. Took about 80 pounds of books to the post office yesterday morning to shipi to myself, the last of my posessions I'd left with a Portland friend. The day before I'd gotten rid of virtually all my vinyl LPs, sold them for a nice sum at the record store. It felt liberating to be rid of them. I love getting rid of useless belongings.
  4. Midday yesterday, thanx to my friend Karl, I was a guest speaker for something called Project Youth Doc, a documentary filmmaking class for 13-15 year olds. I showed some of my film and talked about the process of making it. The kids seemed really interested and a few of them wanted copies.
  5. Went to see a free preview screening of "A Scanner Darkly." Had to wait in a line for over an hour but with friends and bottled mojitos it was fun. The film was pretty good, it suitably imitated the freaked-out, thoughtful, confused feeling that Phillip K. Dick's work always provokes. The animation technique that Linklater used in Waking Life lent itself really well to the story, but may distract most audiences from the concepts of the script. I can't remember if I ever read that particular book but it must not have been that close to my heart because I felt neither outraged nor pleased at the film's conformity or nonconformity to the text. I still think Man In The High Castle is his best work and would love to see that become a movie.
  6. I find myself fantasizing that a certain someone I am missing like crazy will, desparate for contact with me, borrow a satellite phone and call me from the wild. I feel like she's a Shroedinger's Cat who has disappeared into a black box for 12 days and there's absolutely no way to know what state she'll be in when she re-emerges. sigh....

That's it. my next entry will probably be from San Francisco.

Trying To Fix Things

A blog called Fishbowl NY mentions the Juarez situation in the process of commenting on the NPR program "On The Media" (which I've listened to before and I always thought they were saying "Omnimedia;" Hah!). The blog and the program's latest episode (July 7, which has 2 segments about the issue) talks about how journalists can actually help make things better in the process of being journalists:

Or how the journalistic objectivity we Americans profess to hold so dear might not always be what best serves humanity. Sometimes, if something's wrong, you can try to fix it, and maybe even still be a good journalist. To wit:

"A border town sustained by multinational factories that draw workers from across the country, Juarez has seen the kidnappings, rapes and murders of some 400 girls and women since 1993. Many locals say if the Juarez mystery is ever solved, it will be because reporters have stretched the boundaries of their jobs. Local coverage has attracted international attention and the murders are slowly becoming a worldwide human rights issue."


This hilarious and really well-done "safety instructions"-style set of cartoons documents an officespace revolution and its feral aftermath. Highly recommended.

Jessica returned from one wilderness the other day and this morning headed back into another one. I was able to have a couple long, great phone conversations with her in the 36-hour or so gap, and now she's out of reach for another 12 days. sigh. i suppose it's for the best. if she was reachable i'd probably be calling her all the time.

Meanwhile in Portland I have another couple days to try to meet up with a few more friends and compañeros before I head to San Francisco. I've been having a great time hanging out with people, catching up, and having lots and lots of great talks about relationships, life, and the world.

Did you know: in the Grand Canyon, the water in the river rises and speeds up in the summer and in a daily and weekly cycle based on the electriciy usage of consumers throughout the southwest? River rafters enjoying the isolation of the canyon depths are actually affected every day by the air conditioners and home theater systems of suburbanites in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Sometimes they even need to stop for a day, ahead of schedule from the river running too fast, because more water has to be let through the dams to generate more power. Is that crazy or what?