Archive - 2006 - Blog entry

Another Review of My Film

Reviews are starting to slowly trickle in after the release last month of the DVD. This one from a Salt Lake City magazine is mixed.
They seem to like the content but not the form, which is something I'm very used to hearing by now.

Full of face-to-face interviews and statistical analysis, On the Edge offers much as far as explanations, but little in terms of feeling. It presents numerous first person accounts, but you never get an inside look at the problem. There is an element of theatrics within filmmaking that must be administered in order to capture attention and then hold on to it, and while the makers of On the Edge should be commended for their efforts, their film comes up just short of quality.

Not sure what else to say. It's my first feature. My first doc. It's imperfect. I've always been low on theatrics. It was monumental job just getting all the information I wanted to fit into the time I wanted. I just, well, I admit that I need to develop my storytelling craft to where i'm also making it a riveting, eyeball-gripping narrative for mainstream america to latch onto. I admit it. Please buy the DVD anyway, ok? heh heh.

No Encouragement

A quite good article in the Independent (the UK paper, not a misspelling of the NYC IMC one), covers the efforts of the Samaritans and No More Deaths to prevent migrant deaths in the desert around here. The author talks to and refers to several people I know. I feel honored to know them. They're heroes.

But I think the most important thing is this question and answer with Steve Johnston, one of the long-term volunteers who ran the NMD camp in Arivaca all summer:

What does he say to the argument that his work actually encourages illegal immigration?

"We've never run into anyone out here who knew who we were, or why we were here," he says "Everyone is totally surprised. I'm certain we have no impact whatsoever on encouraging people."

This is important because the biggest legitimate-seeming criticism, I think, from racists and other anti-immigrants is that idea that by helping these people we're encouraging more to come. It would be interesting for some reporter to travel Mexico and ask people, "hey, are you aware that if you cross in southern arizona you might run into some nice people in the desert who'll give you water and food?" It sounds like none of them have any idea, and I've heard most of them also have no clue how difficult it is to get across the desert. That's why they come so unprepared, for instance with only a single gallon of water wearing dress clothes.

Flickr Has Official Geotagging Now.

Very cool. Really good interface. From the organize tool, you can just drag photos onto the map. Awesome.

Pepper's Horror photos from the Wedding

The wedding we went to in Portland last weekend was great, and fun. I'm dragging my feet on posting my photos because I'm waiting for approval from a certain shy someone, but Petr has posted some photos Pepper took, including a funny one of me and Jessica. In the meantime you can also look at the photos of my new place, which I just finished moving into.

Retired Weapons

White and Blonde, Coverage. Brown and Brunette, No Coverage

Excellent story on Thomas about the media, child murder/rape, and racism. It's mainly about the new attention given to the JonBenet Ramsy case while simultaneously the story of U.S. soldiers raping a young Iraqi girl is getting almost no coverage. The author mentions the Juarez murders as well.

I had the same thought over and over last summer as I worked on my film about those poor Mexican girls disappearing and dying and meanwhile had to sit through the inordinate amount of media about the young pretty blonde Utah girl who went missing in Aruba. It made me furious.


I've been to 2 different neighborhood, urban-development, "should-we-allow-more-gentrification?" kind of meetings in the last week and a half, even though I'm just 3 days into living in the neighborhood. It's odd, thinking of getting involved - well, being involved, already - considering that 2 months ago I didn't know if I'd even be able to stay in Tucson and remain sane. Also, I've lived in enough places to see that this gentrification, re-development struggle is happening everywhere, albeit at different rates and in different stages depending on which city we're talking about. I've never known where to settle down, dig in, and join the fight.

Here I'm talking about a "green" (solar panels, rooftop gardens, etc) condo project just a few blocks from my new place called OneWest, which was voted down by the neighborhood association in March and then it was brought back and that vote was reversed last week, amid much controversy (now the talk is that the re-vote was against Robert's Rules of Order, which ostensibly the neighborhood association follows as its decision-making process).

Meanwhile just south of me is part of the target area of something called Downtown Links. It's the legacy of battle that's been happening in Tucson since the 70s when the state wanted to just punch a freeway right through downtown to link the east side of town to the interstate. They got most of the way but then the opposition was so fierce that they gave up and handed it off to the city government in the late 80s. The city has been trying to finish it in some form, and it's been gradually downgraded to basically a 25mph surface street with a bunch of awkward connections to existing surface streets and some accompanying urban development along the side, supposedly, like bike paths, some greenery, maybe some noise abatement walls, etc - but also lots of "opportunities" for business development along the route.

These things are both very contentious. There's just a couple opinions/observations that I want to mention: first, they're both really all about money; second, they involve bait-and-switch "quality of life" or "greenwashing" tactics to make them seem more palatable to regular people, and to obscure the fact that it's really to serve the relevant members of the business class that wants to exploit the situation; third, about the Downtown Links specificially: this project is 15 to 20 years from being done. By then, for all we know 90% of us will not be able to afford gasoline or any other means for propelling personal motor vehicles. What are we doing continuing to make decisions revolving around motorists and a car-centered lifestyle?

The Kids Are (Not) Alright

I'm back from a long weekend in Portland, for the wedding of 2 friends. It was a wonderful ceremony, a fun reception, and a great time hanging out with Portland friends, and it was nice introducing Jessica (who came along) to those friends, and showing her cool stuff in town and nearby. I will have photos online soon.

So now I've returned to the heat and the back-to-school rush of Tucson. Oh. My. Gawd. College kids seem so materialistic and unaware now. I don't know if this is my age, or whether things have changed, or whether this particular campus is just particularly full of shallow frat boys, ROTCers, and "sorostitutes," but it just really annoys me, and it's annoying to have enjoyed the wonderful quiet of summer here and then all of sudden swarms of chattering rich kids are choking the streets and coffeehouses, chanting the mantra "hi how was your summer?" to each other.

I'm glad i'm now going to be living quite far from campus now.

And I just have to ask: can someone tell me why, even if you're a ditzy sorority girl, you'd want to wear pink short-shorts with the name of your college emblazoned across your butt cheeks? Pink? (Can anyone say "baboon in heat"?)

A Place, Finally

Well, I finally found a place to live. It's the coolest single-person place I've looked at and it's in the coolest neighborhood in Tucson, Dunbar-Spring. Two months ago I was leery of that neighborhood, because it's the ground zero of "the soap opera" I have written so much about. But things have changed for the better for me with respects to that soap opera, (and one of the main, unwilling, stars of it, who is also the special co-star of my personal movie right now). Besides, why should I suffer and exile myself from the best neighborhood in town just because some petty gossips live there too? That's no way to live.

So, I'm going to move in next week, I guess, after I get back from Portland. It has been nice staying with friends the last few weeks but it will definitely be great to have a place and unpack and get organized. I feel like a few important things have been held back because I've been living out of a backpack in a corner of someone else's home.

Nogales Project

Yesterday Jessica and Stacy and I drove down to Nogales at 6 in the morning to volunteer at the No More Deaths project there. For the past couple months this summer NMD has had a presence in Nogales, Mexico, working with the Comision Estatal de Atencion a Migrantes, The State Commission for Attention to Migrants. They have a tent set up just past the border crossing at the Mariposa port, which is a port of entry mostly for trucking, a few miles outside of town.

The Border Patrol brings Mexicans (or migrants they think are Mexicans) who are being deported from the Tucson sector to this border crossing. They bring them in huge ominous looking unmarked white buses, and they make them walk across the line. Volunteers from No More Deaths are there around the clock to meet the migrants and give them water, snacks, information, and medical care if they need it.

We were there from 7am till about 1230 pm. It was a slow day compared to normal, according to other volunteers who had been there before. We had a surplus of volunteers, too. I brought a video camera and wanted to get footage, but I also wanted to have the experience of helping these people. But since it was a slow day, after I had helped with a couple bus loads, there were no other buses and so I didn't really get any footage of the migrants. I did do some interviews, but I definitely don't have enough to do anything with. However, it looks like the project will continue, and so i'll go back a few more times and shoot more. It's really a worthwhile thing to do and to document, I think.

It's very moving to see this end of the migration process. The green-uniformed Migra marching people across the line like hall monitors escorting kids in elementary school. The people, in varying states of fatigue and health and spirits, trudging towards us. The expressions of confusion and then thanks when they realize what we're doing. Practicing my spanish, asking if they want water and if they have blisters (I heard a story of a nurse who was volunteering there who didn't know spanish, she was just taught the 2 phrases "Quieres Agua? Tienes Ampollas?" (do you want water? Do you have blisters?) - But she mixed them up at one point and ended up asking if people wanted blisters and if they had water. heh) I'll post photos later on my flickr pages....

There's another similar project in Aqua Prieta, the border town across from Douglas, Arizona. NMD volunteers and local Mexican and US groups do the same thing with migrants being returned there. I want to visit there too sometime soon.

Lots of other stuff, so much other stuff, happening, here, to me and people I care about, but I'm sort of tired of blogging. Especially tired of blogging about stuff that's too personal and stressing about if it's okay to do that and what to post, etc. And I'm sort of tired and bored with blogging about the impersonal stuff. So maybe I should just stop. Or maybe I'll just blog just experiences like this one that are MY experiences, but that aren't too much about me or my friends. seems like a good compromise. yeah.