Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatar champions Native American Spirit



The comparisons between North America's First People and the Na'vi is direct in James Cameron's Avatar, a film that surpasses the hype and draws you in literally with its 3D technology so real you feel like you can reach out and touch it.  I walked out of the theater wanting to be a Na'vi who lives on Pandora. If you've missed the back story you can brush up here, where Roger Ebert suggests that we can find allegory about contemporary politics in this film and that we can, but we can also discover an echo of the deep roots, the very foundations of America in the story of Avatar. Just as the humans went to conquer Pandora so the Europeans came to America to claim it as their own. Fast forward to modern times and the land left to Native Americans just happens to sit on top of some of the most coveted resources from gold on Western Shoshone land to coal on the Navajo Reservation to prime real estate on the San Francisco Peaks, to oil in Canada where the largest modern ecological disaster is unfolding in Alberta and altering the lives of Canada's First Nations. So it is on Pandora where the humans want the resources underneath the Na'vi's home.

CNN's  Tom Charity dubbed it "dances with wolves in outer space" as a marine becomes Na'vi, but I think he missed the point. Avatar is about us finding our way home, to our true selves. This is about human beings on earth coming back to our connection. What makes us feel alive? Do you feel alive? Are you happy with the way the world unfolds around you? Maybe it's time to wake up. Are we awake? Can we wake up? What do things look like if we wake up? Does the most coveted thing still look like money? Do we still worship it as our motivating God or does that change?

Mr. Cameron spins dreams like a master weaver. I could see you and me reflected in this film and I could dream a new story for our future, one where our collective human culture reconnects to reverence for the land, and respect for the reason we can sustain life at all, our earth. I could dream that we would discover the fundamental beauty in the world around us and our power to shape it with the choices of the everyday. Pandora and the culture of the Na'vi calls to me, not because of its fantasy, its outerspace otherness, but because it is our own story waiting to be told.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Microanimation #4 Water

At the beach. The air was so fresh I felt like I was floating. It was the best Christmas present you could wish for.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Remembering Tazzie

In 2006, m1m2 went to tasmania. This was one of the most unforgettable trips of my life. Here's a little video reflecting back on that trip.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Charity Gifts on Facebook offer Alternative for Christmas


As Christmas rolls around the corner, the season of gift giving is upon us. Some savvy shoppers, observant friends, and those with the go-getter spirit unafraid of wielding long traffic hours and elbows in store fronts will find Christmas a zestful challenge.

Others will find it a claustrophobia of deja vu, a performance part that repeats yearly and still others will find the experience a happy medium.

Unlike previous years I find myself much more attracted to virtual gifts. My philosophy is that if I must send or receive a gift, it might as well be a gift that won't cozy up to a landfill in the future. Also, stupid gifts (which I can unintentionally give in my last minute panic) in virtual worlds hold a certain pizazz they lack in the real world. For example, a "tripped out escalator" from Detroit is actually rather cool in VR, though the hard copy (glass snow-globe) will not likely capture the joy you were hoping for in person.


After a bit of searching I found a wealth of gift options that are virtual, always playful and sometimes meaningful.

Ning launched its virtual gifts this year, you can give to your friends on twitter with twesents and twitgiftly. Gifts in 3D targeted for iPhone users are now available, as are the old staples of virtual cards and flowers. My favorite gifts are on facebook. Yes, you can launch a rash of gift giving to your farmville neighbors and give disney gifts or plant gifts to your 400 friends until your credit runs out, but for those really really special friends I'm into facebook's (newly expanded) gift area where you can give music, or charity gifts. Hit your causes app, go to gifts and you'll fnd things like a Kiva piggy bank, or a WWF Panda or a cute puppy where the money goes to the Humane Society.

In a culture weighted down with stuff, in some cases virtual exchange makes sense and if you choose charity giving, it can meaningfully contribute to those truly in need.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Coit Tower Film Projections

Coit Tower Projection 2009 photo by Marlo McKenzieThe projections onto Coit Tower were a great success! Both evenings (the 25th and 26th) were warm and clear and a group came up to the tower to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Indian's of all tribes occupation of Alcatraz and to start a conversation about San Francisco's first people, the Ohlone. The press also showed up. CBS 5's, Don Knapp did a piece so did Dana King and Phil Matier. Anna Bloom also did a nice write up and video (see below).

I was in awe to play a small role in this event. Some of the films were:

-Alcatraz Is Not an Island (James Fortier)
-Rendezvouz with Alcatraz (Ben Wood & David Mark)
-Welcome to Ohlone Territory (Marlo Mckenzie and Neil Maclean)
-
Ohlone Families (Charlene Sul, Anthony Sul
)
-San Bruno Mountain (Keith Moreau and Sam Ellis Moreau)
-Native America segments by Lorenzo



Coit Tower Projection from Anna Bloom on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Becoming a Hero




I  stumbled out of the theater seething after seeing Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. The perfect date movie spurs visions more akin to Baader-Meinhof after you learn facts such as “there's a foreclosure filing once every 7.5 seconds, or 14,000 people every day lose their health insurance and we now have the highest unemployment rate since 1983.”

Fortunately Mike and team has posted a peaceful action list for us all on his website where he offers solutions like, declaring a moratorium on all home evictions or putting your money in a credit union instead of a bank.


A friend of mine suggested that we bombard congress with calls demanding they Enact Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights.

Another friend suggested that someone might form a news corporation called CEO Stalker where we all keep a very tight eye on the fat bonuses being paid out and trickle down economics in action.

Despite our choice of tactics what Moore's movie does, is remind us all that it's time to don our capes, put on our spandex red underwear with accenting yellow belt and become who we are. It's time to find our way back to Kansas, to join the rebel alliance and destroy the space star. How fortunate we are to be born in a time when all of us are called upon to be heroes! Our task is large, we must save the earth and it's inhabitants from destruction by evil forces who will stop at nothing to accumulate increasing wealth and power. If we fail, the human race as we know it will end, and the earth itself may possibly die. If we succeed, we can create a future for our children and all creatures of the earth that is peaceful and joyous. And we simpletons will be celebrated in song and legend over a mug of beer.

The world we dream of can be won. It exists, if we wake up and remember our spark, that flame will lead the way.

May the force be with you.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Acts of Crime and revelations of Wonder

Get robbed at Gun Point Give freely to others

After an evening of reflection and proper sleep everything in life becomes a slight tinge of rosy for me. I'm even prone to giggling over silly things or things that are not supposed to be giggled at, like armed robbery. Even as I now write, I can't help chuckling and doling out the pragmatic advice that you must absolutely add one more item to your list of things to do in life ::Get robbed at Gun Point Give freely to others.
In the end it's an experience like anything else and it's not so much the experience, but what you do with it that counts. My experience is actually quite funny because it starts out with a psychic reading. I have never been to a professional psychic reading in my life. In High School they had women dressed like gypsy's at our graduation party and a gypsy told me that I would be rich. As it turns out, she had the same insight for most of the student body, so I've come to discount that reading. I was also accidentally read as I sat in a crowd observing as a famous Australian medium talked with dead people. It just so happened that my recently deceased grandpa came through and had a lot to say about the state of my messy room and that I should actually for once in my life make my bed. The medium/psychic also professed that I would continue to work in media and live on an island. Sort of looks like Britian, an earth island, he said. So that went on to come true and certainly peaked my interest in the topic.

Tuesday evening I had a spectacular first reading (a birthday gift) and as I walked back to Bart sort of glowing in wonder, a spontaneous thought came to me-- wouldn't it be hilarious if I got robbed right after seeing a psychic? I took mental note that, I should write that into a story.  Ha ha ha! Not two minutes later I turned off  toward Bart and out of the darkness emerged two shady looking guys and I thought, they look shady. They look very very shady. They're probably selling drugs, but I should walk faster. I bolstered myself and shouted triumphantly in my head, never fear because you are like super giant, like a mountain, like 6 feet tall and protected by a bubble of love and kindness, and magic and --

It was about then that I heard the feet SPRINTING behind me and found a gun suddenly pressed into my ribcage, which I found deeply offensive. I don't like to be touched by strangers. I also have an aversion to guns because they have a nasty record of harming humankind more so than helping. The young robber boy seemed to sense that and backed away, but remained careful to point the gun at my ribs as his partner hovered behind me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dancing Guy - Sasquatch Music Festival



I first ran across this video of what people are calling the "Dancing Man" or the "Dancing Guy"on Andy Polaine's blog and kept coming back to it. There is something addictive about the video at a very basic level but when I ask myself why the video is so addictive I wasn't entirely sure. Is it because one person can start a giant dance party? Well sort of, but I have been thinking a lot about the power of the small person to transform anything at all. How exactly do we go about effecting the numerous changes needed to sustain ourselves on this planet, bring about social justice and equality across all fronts, economic, gender, religious practice etc... I guess the dancing man became a mini symbol in my head that if you just stick to your own truth and it is a GOOD truth others will come round. Because after a small bit of research I found that the dancing man wasn't just dancing for one song, he was up and dancing for what appears to be the ENTIRE Sasquatch Music Festival duration as you can watch here and here. The Sasquatch Festival was even inspired by him and embedded the youtube video on their site, (scroll down to June 10th). His dancing inspired thousands of comments, and the video has well over a million views on youtube.DigiLusionist commented, "Fascinating. It's like watching a spontaneous explosion of hippies, freaks, and fruitcakes bust out into apoplectic movement." With all of the recent Woodstock exposure I couldn't help but think this is our Woodstock. In much smaller moments, embedded in the concert venues and festivals now consumed and regulated by large corporations, security and standard operating procedures, our Woodstock won't be reproduced by a 40th anniversary special but will be made in the millions of small moments like these. It's via real time social media that we'll know something fundamental has changed and we can all come out of the closet and start acting on it. Corporations can't coopt the spirit, and the Dancing Guy (who I read may be named Colin) is just another example of that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Microanimation #3 - Sunday Streets in San Francisco



What if Sunday Streets San Francisco was held every Sunday? What if Sunday Streets SF was held every weekend? What if Sunday Streets SF meant the reverse? (Cars only on Sunday, bikes the rest of the time)? That may just be the scenario in Bicycle City, now in planning/development stage. Bike Hut supplied us with bikes and we happily traveled from the mission where these spectacular dancers from the Mission Cultural Center entertained to Fisherman's Wharf. Wobbly knees but lots of dreams for the future of cities, the future of transportation.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vegan Shoe Shopping

The search for the perfect vegan pair of boots began innocently, I had two rules: 1) No dagger heels so I can actually walk, 2) My boots must be vegan.

The second rule is where everything went wrong. The confounding inability to find attractive vegan shoes is an experience I've encountered before, which has in the past caused me to cheat. Yes, I bought mainstream leather based shoes. I don't feel good about it, not because I morally object to humans wearing leather shoes but because I morally object to the way that we produce our goods that derive especially from animals. This is my little activism, which actually has remarkable results. Check this out:

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;

That sure beats a protest in my mind. You can read the full article at Alternet, that lays out how abstaining from meat one day a week can help save the world. (Maybe that's too much to ask?? Save the world or a Big Mac, reduce CO2 or another steak...hard choices in life).

But this blog is about the very important woes of vegan shoe shopping, not a crusade to rescue our environment.  Let me go back to early this year where after a google search  I landed on Vegan Chic, a shop with very cute goods, so cute that checked back intermittently to see if their  "green corduroy" boots would be restocked (they only had size 5). I even



emailed and to no avail, size 5 is it. So with much gusto, I moved on to About.com and branched out systematically from there. First stop was Vegan Wares the Melbourne, Australia based shop that holds the title as the very place that I bought my first ever vegan shoes -- cute yet classic and black (see photo).

My second stop was Ethical Wares, but they don't have much, then on to Zappos where you can narrow your search by "vegetarian" which gives you about 20 pair of unappealing shoes. I find myself having this weird flash of a very Eco conscious Paris Hilton exclaiming, "Like, Oh my God, why aren't there any cute vegan boots? I should so start my own unique line." So, Paris wasn't quite up to it, but thank goodness Natalie Portman is! If you can shell out $300ish for shoes errr these are definitely cute.

I then find an article championing the break throughs in vegetarian footwear and berate myself for being so picky, then more determined, zip through all of the links in the article (well many until I became frustrated) only to find that it's mainly cool urban footwear. This is very good, but I want more. I envision a world of organic vegan and vegetarian slow food ma an pa restaurants on every corner, with shoe shops where men that smell like polish fix your shoes that last for a decade before they wear out. I have great dreams that include beautiful vegan boots.

And the fact that I'm actually sitting here and typing this gives me pause. I've never thought of myself as someone who could write about fashion nor as someone who would want to, but it feels like so much more. As the world around us is disfigured into a place inhospitable to supporting life, every single choice we make matters more than ever. As we sit in our homes wondering, what can I do -- little me, to combat the big BIG problems of the world there are simple steps that glare in front of us that require that we only live by the rule, if the action springs from a place of love then do it, if not don't.

And so my search for vegan shoes is an action sprung from love, which is in this case a vision of a world where animals aren't shoved in crowded cages and fed steroids and grain so that I can have 25 pairs of cute leather shoes to match any outfit. Is that so radical?

I searched on  Moo Shoes, which also has a great selection of boots of course they didn't have the ones that I wanted in my size.  I then surfed onto Vegetarian Shoes and found the right ones for me!! Hooray! But, I still haven't bought them because the shop is in the UK and I find that somewhat off that these boots, which are made in Portugal, then shipped to the UK, would then ship to the US. Sigh...the search continues.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

microanimation #2 - Street Car F at Fisherman’s Wharf


For five minutes a confused driver held up street car F at Fisherman's Wharf until pedestrians intervened, directing her how to navigate the streets shared with street cars.

Friday, February 13, 2009

w_b_m_ (water breath money) in Berlin

Was cool to learn my short film, w_b_m_ went to Berlin to screen at the Directors Lounge, as part of the screening program from Artropolis 2008.


wbm.jpg


w_b_m_ is a reflection on excess in our society, where the subject, the heart and soul, is superseded by the object, which, in this scenario is, superbrand Australian toilet paper — Sorbent.

As the Sorbent product unravels, the viewer is denied the satisfaction of discovering the dynamic personality speaking to us. This calculated intervention intends to direct focus symbolically onto society's consumption based meaning, where people are subsidiary to profits and products.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

microanimation #1 - Pier 70 Chair


As two models were being photographed at pier 70 in San Francisco a man rolled through the gates in his car. He stopped, got out and commented on setting being ideal for filmmaking. We agreed and he pointed to a run down building in the distance. He'd always wanted to go into THAT building. I nodded, understanding the impulse. The area smacks of adventure, run down, gritty, industrial. Being from Detroit I felt right at home.

web-pier70.jpg


The man, who I'll name Mitch, said when he was a child he used to play with matches. One day his dad took him to a run down building that was set for demolition in Chicago and made him play with matches for hours. Afterwards they threw rocks at the windows together -- every boys dream, I think my hands were bleeding but it was a good bonding experience.

Then Mitch got in his car and drove away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Monetizing the Meaning of Life

With the financial crisis gaining momentum -- I imagine it like a sandstorm that devours the jobs into its vortex while kicking dirt in our eyes -- there is that small silver lining at the edge of the storm; we have the great opportunity to remake our financial system into one that is holistic and ready for the challenges we face today. We can implement a financial philosophy that considers happiness in it's calculation like Bhutan, the first country to not only calculate GNP but GNH - gross national happiness into it's development activities. Taking this idea further we can build on penetrating works like "Small is beautiful, Economics as if People Mattered" and remember that we need an economics that "is not afraid to discuss spirit and conscience, moral purpose and the meaning of life, an economics that aims to educate and elevate people, not merely to measure their low-grade behavior." We also have the opportunity to account for the great value nature provides for us to live and be healthy on this planet, an idea that may finally be getting its due as "a range of international institutions, including the World Bank and the United Nations, are now in the process of designing ambitious new programmes" that take this idea into account.

On the flip side, the idea that we must figure out how to monetize the meaning of life or the value of a tree or a forest seems still a little off to me -- a step in the right direction for now, but still a little off. How do we quantify what bees do for us let alone figure out how to monetize some of our favorite services like facebook, youtube, google earth and twitter. (The smart CEO's of these companies have still not figured that out). People will only click on your ads:

HostGator

so many times.

It makes me wonder if a second economy could flower next to the current one. Couldn't we, as Stephenie Meyer's alien's do in "The Host" exist without money? If everyone knew where true value lay, wouldn't we cease to need it anymore? I know this won't happen but I wonder if our financial crisis won't see the flower of trade and exchange working more vigorously along side our cool and distant plastic that we swipe which is tied to numbers that we get in exchange for our energy.

We'll see? Out of every dark period, there follows rebirth and new life. Lets craft, together, something beautiful.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Paved Over Souls

"Our Kinship with Earth must be maintained, otherwise we will find ourselves trapped in the center of our own paved-over souls with no way out" - Terry Tempest Williams -



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Youth on Fire



Last night I attended a screening of "Youth on Fire, The power of Youth in the Fight for Environmental Justice," by young filmmaker David Cruz.The clip above was part of the screening. It was an evening of performance, speeches, song and freestylin. The crowd was amazing, literally on fire. As a media maker it's proof to me that the power of video is now in the hands of the people. That it is, and will continue to grow as a tool for justice and one that will unite us. As writing changed the world so will the camera. The power to reflect our stories back upon ourselves, to force us to examine our actions as a collective people is great.

The youth who spoke and sang and shared their stories and talents that evening are also evidence that when people come together and persist, there is nothing we can't do.

Check out these links:

Youth United for Community Action (YUCA)

GreenAction