Tuesday, November 16, 2004


yesterday, the anchor place of my childhood was sold to a Texas oilman from Galveston. My family's 52 year tradition is at an end, and against our will. I am sad.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Depression on SPEAKING of FAITH

I was listening to "Speaking of Faith" this morning on NPR. It was about depression. There was something in it that made me depressed. it was the description of the feeling of depression:

Depression is not sadness. It is better described as fear and sense of being overwhelmed. Also - sense of a lack of vitality, perspective, meaning.

It's really disturbing how closely that describes my feelings surrounding my GUR project. Does this mean my 2 year delay on this is caused by depression? There's a part of me that doesn't shrink from that, but at the same time, I don't feel consumed by it, and depression (as I know from other times that I've been REALLY depressed) consumes your life whole. This project exists in an isolated space in my life that I avoid most of the time. It is tied to my self-worth, but it doesn't have complete control over me.

just some thoughts.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004



these cartograms that have been going around show the country's divide pretty well. note that the red areas surround the islands of urban sanity. People who have experience living in groups don't support W. How about that?

Adjusted for population, it's also heartening.

B-rollers goodness.

hey - this entry has been delayed because: 1. I was too depressed to move. 2. I went to Chicago to see Joe and be fitted for a traditional Indian suit - to be in his wedding party. Congrats Joe.

So - last thursday I went to the B-rollers meeting, and the presenter that night was a guy named Richard Zimmerman, who had made this piece about his attempt to make it to Hollywood. He called it "Journal", and it was a series of very personal vignettes. It was really good. It mixed documentary with fiction and was very CameraAware. very interesting. It was also totally beautiful. All done with a really cheap camera and iMovie. I really liked his recognition of his target audience - when he showed it, he said he never really figured that many people would see it. He had made it for himself, and thought a couple friends would see
it as well as maybe his kids one day. YES!

I think i wrote here recently that I should have my intended audience as my grandkids. That's the best way I've thought of so far to be honest about what's going on around me. Especially since this election, I've felt like I have no idea who the American audience really is. So it's folly to try and construct something that makes sense to a projected audience type. Or maybe I'm just doubting myself in a new way? Hmmm.

In any case, I have hopes that this realization can help me finish things FOR MYSELF. Because in the end I need to be happy with it in order to release it.

The other thing I really liked about Journal was the way it depicted internal issues. It went into more fictionalized shooting at different points to show what he was thinking. This to me is a really interesting kind of documentary. Because how do you depict a thought process? And
isn't that what journaling is about? It's boring to sit in front of a camera and say "I had this thought". And totally enlightening to show it with images and metaphor - but that involves a complete fictionalization. A documentary about an internal process _must be_ subjective. In this world, what is the difference between fact and fiction? It's a projected honesty or integrity of the reporting.

ah - good.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

from a MoveOn friend


it's taken me a long time to be able to sit down and write this entry. I feel like we need more than one day to mourn.

Tuesday night I went to bed early because I couldn't stand the tension of watching the numbers slowly roll in, and Wednesday morning I couldn't get out of bed because i was afraid of what I might find. It turns out my fears were realized.

Yesterday I went through a lot of hashing and rehashing of what this election means and I'm not going to replay all the details of that here. It would take too long. But I do want to make a couple of notes about the interesting bits.

My series of reactions:

utter disbelief and despair - feeling of betrayal and loss of faith in the American people - loss of faith in humanity - justification of a "fuck everything" reborn selfishness in my personal life - recognition that I'm not really capable of following that path - anger at corporate media - anger at the mass stupidity of the american people who fall for it - resignation to the stupidity of the american people - exploration of the stunted "evolution of altruism/spirit" in relation to the american character


minute detailing of the failings of the Kerry campaign - detailing of the corrupted "essential character" of the American populace - plans for leaving the country - plans for revolt - plans for internal peace - acceptance of my place as a minority opinion - questionings about the 'elitism' of some of the aforementioned - humored reflection on the problem, "why do I hate america so much"

Even later:

realization that David Rees will continue to write GetYourWarOn (below). Continuing chest pain.

Here are a couple of emotional pitfalls that I identified today:

1. I have a tendency to hope for the best. I believed that the US population had the potential to be more magnanimous than it is. That, in itself, is not a bad thing. I should keep doing that. But! when people don't live up to my expectations, the pitfall I sometimes slide into is that I envision human nature as static. Then I reach the depressing conclusion that people will never get their shit together. This is not necessarily true. While this country seems to currently be driven by selfishness and myopia, that doesn't mean that these human flaws may not be overcome one day. It is an incremental process. The evolution of the human spirit continues, it just happens that as a whole we're still very close to the nasty end of the stick.

2. I didn't realize how much I had postponed my anger at GWB. I stored each offensive thing he did somewhere in my heart, thinking that the election would come and there would be some kind of retribution. I took some solace thinking that history would write him off as a man who stole an election, started an unnecessary and imperialistic war, and then was promptly fired. I cannot tell you how much sadness this election has caused. Storing hurt away and hoping for eventual justice lead me to wish for justice/vengeance - a very unhealthy emotional state. The answer: Aaron! If you're angry now, LET IT OUT! a happy tomorrow may never come. storing that kind of anger makes me wither and die inside.

Some thoughts:

California and the North East should secede from the MidWest and the South. Right now what we have is a dictatorship of provincial christians over every urban/industrial/educational center. The country is run by people who do not want to explore what it means to live in a group. Everything would be fine if we all lived in suburbs or rural compounds and didn't have a foreign policy. As that is not the case, I do not want to suffer for the ignorance of these people.

This election reminds me of something a friend of mine once told me. "Just think about what this would mean if you were still in high school." In high-school, jocks often have high social status even if they are total assholes. The jock stereotype is a boastful, unreflective lout who tends toward physical violence as a means to solve problems. The swagger and arrogance of GWB show me that this country really doesn't grow up much. As my mother said, "He won on the Bubba factor."

It's astounding what we call a "moral majority" these days. Yes, he may do well at a christian barbecue, but that does not mean he makes a good neighbor, much less a good president. Good moral people have the capacity to see their own faults, can admit making mistakes, and know how to listen. GWB twists evidence to suit his own agenda, lies outright, ignores input from outside his circle, and is incapable of seeing his own faults. Imagine you're in a dispute with your neighbor, and he acts like that. We have all the key ingredients for a long-standing feud.

The re-election of George Bush by a christian population does more to expose the moral bankruptcy of american christianity than it does to affirm the importance of morality in the american public. I'm reminded of a William Burroughs reading I heard once as a youth. His Thanksgiving Prayer:

For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

ACT vs. MoveOn

before getting into the whole tragedy, this entry is intended to note a few of the differences between the two groups I volunteered with in the lead-up to yesterday's election. There are major major differences here. First, the basic difference:

ACT: true union blue
MoveON: the latte left

It was pretty strange to go from the MoveOn rally Saturday morning, to the ACT training in the afternoon. Completely different worlds. In some respects, it gave me hope that there was a diversity of groups and tactics working on the defeat of GWB, but, in retrospect, it clearly didn't work well enough, and there were some strangenesses going on in each group. I liked working with both groups in different ways (MoveOn was well organized, and had some really uplifting interactions, ACT had a real diversity of participants) but, for thought, here are some observations on the critical side:

MoveOn - at the meeting on saturday, we had some "pep-rally" type speakers. I don't know if I'm speaking for a lot of MoveOn type people, but this type of speaking has never worked with me. I'm either already there with the cause, or I'm not. Simpleton, "let's all cheer now" events actually grate on my nerves. I think this has to do with why I'm not a good sports fan.

Anyway, this is my speculation here, but I think that the MoveOn crowd is somewhat similar to me in this regard. Not so much the rah-rah crowd. So when the rally started off with a bunch of speakers trying to do that... it just didn't work. And I think this speaks to the fundamental difficulty of a MoveOn effort to get out the vote. A mass turnout of unlikely voters requires something very different from a deliberate discussion and decision making. It requires some rah-rah. I, for one, am terrible at rah-rah. When canvassing, I didn't get the sense that my efforts were working. The people that I felt like I connected with when they answered the door, were also the people who were dedicated voters already, not the targeted "unlikely voter". There's a culture gap here that's not easily bridged. That's not to say I blame MoveOn for it, but there it is... it's a difficulty.

My experience working with Act: While at first I thought it was admirable to try and organize something at the scale of their effort, in the end I just left with a bad taste in my mouth. There was definitely an "assembly line" mentality to the whole experience that doesn't sit well with me. The inefficiencies of the day were so tremendous - it smacked of the "Union Labor" stereotype. While I'm talking about the "Union Labor" stereotype, I had such a great example of of it on my crew. A woman named Diane. Oh my god. As soon as the work started, she didn't stop the bitching for 2 minutes. You would think that if somebody signed up for a full day of canvassing to "get out the vote", they would know that it involved walking, and being outside. Because of various inefficiencies, my day, which was 13 hours long, translated into only 4.5 hours of active canvassing. Diane (and two others on my crew) hadn't voted before she showed up to work, so her 4.5 hours were shortened to 3 because she took off in the middle and went to vote. Good JOB DIANE! WELL DONE!!

As for the efficacy of the canvassing that did happen, I do think that it worked better than the MoveOn canvassing, namely because it was done on the day of the election, so the message wasn't "think of voting for Kerry in a few days", but it was a simple - VOTE NOW - message. The message was also coming to unlikely voters from people who spoke the same language that they did.

Michael's comment about the day's organization: It's no wonder that the Republicans have a strangle-hold on power in this country.