Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The toughest place to be a ...

I saw this show last night on the Beeb:


I was really pleased that someone with access to an audience and the resources to make high quality television made something like what I wanted to make. The best part is that the first person who mentioned this series to me is a guy named Slim who is exactly the kind of audience I think this kind of show should reach -- a working class Mancunian, rather than an overeducated film-festival-aficianado. He works the night shift on a maintenance crew at one of the university buildings. He mentioned the episode about the bus-driver several weeks ago and I thought it sounded interesting. When I stumbled across this on the tube on Sunday night, I realized it was the same show.

Props to the, BBC. 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In Santa Cruz, in the Wind

I'm in an internet cafe in Santa Cruz, with the wind blowing dust everywhere. I still don't have the hang of this city. Don't know what to make of it yet. We spent a couple of days in the Chiquitania, working on productions with Chiquitanos as part of an NGO project.

They really got the hang of it, which was nice to watch. They went from "lets go film some stuff" to "here is the list of things we need, here are the quotes we need, here are the images we need, how do we get them." Which is a big step. I'm a little sad that we won't have much more time in the campo with them because their communities were just beautiful. I would love to spend more time there, in communities.

We'll see what I can come up with as an excuse to hang out around there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

From Concepción

Just finished a week of workshops with a group of Chiquitanos and Ayoreos in video production. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed teaching, especially a group that was as driven as they are. We dove right in to the middle of it, and did a short video in small groups on the first day of workshops. This meant that the participants had to work on editing right away, without a real course on how to run the program.

One of the fun things was to watch them start, slowly, to get the hang of it and get into trying to detail their videos... wanting to stay late to work through dinner, etc.

lindo al final.

Next month I come back and we'll produce material that they will edit into a final project.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

News from Nevada

Paid a call on Hugh today. We talked most of the afternoon. He asked me about Bolivia and the situation down there. When I said that the government was so small and couldn’t really bother the little guys, he said “I wondered about that. I thought it might be that way”.

He showed me some of the work he has been doing on his maps. He’s opened four portals and gotten in 270 feet on the GW claim, but hasn’t gotten past that because he doesn’t have a loader and can’t hall it over the dump. He said he’s had to fight off a few claims, one from a Canadian exploration company that looked like a nuisance claim, and one that was a mistake, where they mapped the claim way out in the wrong place. But it’s all time wasted. And on top of that, they dropped four thousand dollars on the claims, that the claims this year are up to one forty, which is a lot of money, but there you go.

Also his mother hasn’t been well, and he’s had to be with her, taking care of her. It was a little sad to see her struggling, but it was also really sweet to see Hugh taking care of her, helping her walk around, etc. She was watching "Shane" at full volume in their den when I got there, which made me happy.

And we talked politics a bit too. He’s worried about America, about the military. What was interesting was to hear him repeat one of the things that Peter, among the WASPiest of my WASP friends (sorry Peter), said, namely that if we don’t start supporting manufacturing, we won’t last very long as a super power.

And he surprised me, as he often does, with a comment he made when we were talking about the social problems that often plague the international companies that work down there. He said "they won't figure out how to work it out. You've got to work with the people, and you can't expect them to see things the way you do. You've got to understand that... And you may want them to change the way they think, but you can't expect that right away."

How does a miner from Nevada who's never been to Latin America understand that in a way that mining companies that have worked there for dozens of years can't manage to figure out?

And he worried, and he railed against the environmentalists, and he complained that the last good truck that he got was a 1978 Ford, “Not that I’m complaining about that truck that I got out there, but the last really good truck I got was a 1978. They used to make trucks for working.”

So it was good to check up on an old friend. We agreed to keep in touch to send letters every now and again.

Friday, August 14, 2009

This is what I'm working on right now

This is a video on the use of debt entrapment by outsiders to access and extract wood from the TCO Mosetén (the Mosetén Original Communal Lands). Currently in post.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Baking Bread

I baked bread today for the first time since I got to Bolivia. When I lived in Vermont, all those years ago, I baked at least once a week. I’m still surprised at the lessons that baking bread have to offer.

The first thing bread taught me was the organic nature of redemption and growth. I kept a starter in the fridge – a foul smelling, yellow soup of sugar and yeast. I marveled that you could take this bubbling, rotting stew, add flour, let them rot some more, and this somehow yields marvelous results. In my university days, organic processes of rotting – making bread, making beer, making compost, planting tomatoes – offered a solution to the waste that I saw around me in American life, and gave me perspective about my own personal growth.

When I moved to Vermont, I learned to love how it tasted. I loaded each loaf of bread with butter and buttermilk. I made cinnamon rolls that even my granny wouldn’t have wanted to butter. I baked apple pies that relied entirely on the quality of Vermont’s apples and the butter in the crust. I worked hard, kept a garden, played in the long summer days, skied and camped in the bright winter snows and baked rich, savory loaves of bread every couple of days.

Last night, among the idas and venidas of my life in Bolivia, I made a pair of loaves and a pizza, using packaged dry yeast. The result was a loaf of bread that, while it lacked a little flavor, had a nearly perfect texture and color. It toasted well. I ate a piece with butter and honey while I listened to Johnny Cash sing “If We Never Meet Again.” Bolivia is a country where people move to chase economic opportunities wherever they may appear. Cortadores and lomeadores who I met in the Alto Beni last month go where there is work cutting and hauling wood. I know people who haven’t seen their own brothers for years and who don’t know where - or whether - they are living.

Suddenly a depression era hymn promising reunion with your loved ones faraway on that beautiful shore – and faith in another meeting place in heaven – seemed more lovely and appealing than it ever had before.

Fresh, homemade bread, without preservatives, doesn't keep. By tomorrow morning, the bread I baked yesterday will be to stale for anything but french toast.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All's Fair in Love and Politics

A couple of weeks ago, I had, oddly enough, a moment of solidarity with the ex-ambassador, Philip Goldberg. My ex girlfriend sent me an email declaring me persona no grata in her house, expressed her desire to deposit my things on the curb and conclude that she sincerely desired to have a friendly relationship with me.

I'll let you all draw your own conclusions ...