Let's take a break from politics, economics, and the daily grind and watch the beautiful video one Colin Rich made with limited means, unlimited imagination, a balloon, two cameras, and a parachute. Earth is a lovely place and his video reminds us of that.
These are heady times for political bloggers and
journalists.The President is
daily breaking new ground, yesterday a bankruptcy restructuring of Chrysler,
today a possible Supreme Court opening, tomorrow, who knows?The changes wrought by the economic meltdown
and by a more progressive approach to dealing with it are extraordinary and are
rippling throughout the country. There’s so much to write about, some that’s
exciting and much that’s quite disturbing— from the staggering unemployment and
residential dislocation across the country to the potential for disaster in
developing nations now facing an unprecedented falloff in capitalfrom abroad.
The problem, both for journalists and for bloggers, is
that we’re all being hit hard by the economic meltdown ourselves, making the
act of writing into a financial drain on those we support.For my own part, I’m responsible for
salaries and for keeping up on overhead for office and equipment at my
documentary production company.For many journalists, their means of plying their trade, the newspapers
of America, are failing at a record rate.The bailouts of financial companies and the restructuring of automakers,
while tremendous fodder for discussion, are not replicated in our world of the
art and media of political and social subjects.
During the Great Depression, the US government hired many
of the best writers, filmmakers, and photographers of the era to document the
impact of the economic slide on the people of the country.The memorable and publicly owned photographs
of Walker Evans and Gordon Parks and the prose of the Federal Writer’s Project
were but a bit of the product of these programs Franklin Roosevelt’s
administration promulgated to keep not just America’s blue collar workers on
the job, but also America’s most prized intellects and artists.
Might it not now be another moment in American history for
the government to infuse the art and trade of comment and image with a bit of
public investment?The addition of
some money for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment
for the Humanities— even some small bit of capital to disburse to the thousands
of journalists, media makers, writers, and artists whose contribution to
memorializing our nation’s response to crisis will help guide the way into the
future.Perhaps we should think of
it as a stimulus for those who always look to find a way to contribute their
insights and visions, but who need just a small bit of support to leverage our
talents with the nonprofit community and to wrest further support from
individuals.The imprimatur of the
national endowments was once an important gateway for other funders to look
towards when supporting projects and artists.
Over the last few decades of conservative, market-oriented
politics, the once proud seed investments the US made in our public endowments
for art and the humanities have barely survived.Filmmakers and artists, writers, and media makers have
endured, but have only done so by utilizing the increasingly inexpensive means
of producing work: small and affordable cameras, the internet to publish on,
and other innovative technological means.The courage of American artists and the innovations that make American
writers available to us are not a limitless panecea, however.Some financial support is necessary in
order to make this work available to the American people— and by doing so, to
help rejuvenate the public discussion that comes of a lively American scene of
art and comment.
haven’t got much more to say on this at the moment.I need to go put some more CDs for sale on eBay and
advertise my edit suite online.But think about it.Maybe
we should write to our Congresspeople and insist that they remember us, too,
when they address the flotsam and jetsam of the meltdown.
1) I guess Judd Gregg looks
pretty lame now, having accepted the Commerce Department Cabinet position after
playing Hamlet —and
then realizing that he would forever be shunned by the Right Wingers who now
call themselves the Republican Party if he went through with it. The not
voting on the Stimulus bill really didn’t help him either. Not a guy New
Hampshire voters will now run to for a courageous stand in the future…like
during next year's re-election battle.
2) I hope Obama finds
Senator from a state with a Democratic Governor to
nominate. It’s clear now that the Republicans intend to employ a scorched
Earth policy towards the country. If they can’t have power here, they’ll
just hope the nation is decimated by their ability to stymie real change and
run against failure in four years. It seems a lock that the only way to
bypass this is to find a 60th vote in the Senate, assuming that the Minnesota
Senate trial ends with Franken still the winner there.
Melissa Leo has my vote for Best Actress.
See Frozen River if you have a
chance. It’s one great little movie for any film lover. She’s
wonderful in it, as usual, and the fallout of our economy and our immigration
policies are evident in the landscape of the film for those filmgoers who are
Paul Newman has died after a long struggle with cancer. The Vice-Chairman of the Newman's Own Foundation issued this statement:
"Paul Newman's craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all.
"Paul had an abiding belief in the role that luck plays in one's life, and its randomness. He was quick to acknowledge the good fortune he had in his own life, beginning with being born in America, and was acutely aware of how unlucky so many others were. True to his character, he quietly devoted himself to helping offset this imbalance.
"An exceptional example is the legacy of Newman's Own. What started as something of a joke in the basement of his home, turned into a highly-respected, multi-million dollar a year food company. And true to form, he shared this good fortune by donating all the profits and royalties he earned to thousands of charities around the world, a total which now exceeds $250 million.
"While his philanthropic interests and donations were wide-ranging, he was especially committed to the thousands of children with life-threatening conditions served by the Hole in the Wall Camps, which he helped start over 20 years ago. He saw the Camps as places where kids could escape the fear, pain and isolation of their conditions, kick back, and raise a little hell. Today, there are 11 Camps around the world, with additional programs in Africa and Vietnam. Through the Camps, well over 135,000 children have had the chance to experience what childhood was meant to be.
"In Paul's words: "I wanted to acknowledge luck; the chance and benevolence of it in my life, and the brutality of it in the lives of others, who might not be allowed the good fortune of a lifetime to correct it."
"Paul took advantage of what life offered him, and while personally reluctant to acknowledge that he was doing anything special, he forever changed the lives of many with his generosity, humor, and humanness. His legacy lives on in the charities he supported and the Hole in the Wall Camps, for which he cared so much.
"We will miss our friend Paul Newman, but are lucky ourselves to have known such a remarkable person."
After days of MSM craziness about the Obamas in the Oval Office New Yorker cover, perhaps the best comment I’ve read is by illustrator Steve Brodner. From a political art perspective, he sees Blitt’s cover succeeding beyond any expectation. If the goal was to unpack the viral whispering campaign branding the Obamas with vicious rumors about “terrorist fist bumps,” Black racism, and a secret Islamist Manchurian candidate—it has. The unexpected help from a “shocked” MSM only serves to make the point to a much larger audience.
…basically we have the Wolf Blitzers pretending not
to get this to rev up ratings which rely, largely, on
the "outrage of the day." However, in that process a
dialogue is forced, satire is discussed, the truth
about Obama is put on the table. And so, even if it's
taking the long way to get there, Barry Blitt's strong
image does what we need it to do: put these issues
up for discussion and in a very real way, educate
(PS- If anyone's still interested, the Ryan Lizza article about Obama's Chicago political roots inside the New Yorker is worthwhile too.)
Combed by the cold seas, Bering and Pacific,
These are the exile islands of the mind.
All the charts and history you can muster
Will not make them real as the fog is real
Or crystal as a certain hour is clear
if you can wait.
Meredith was a professor at Connecticut College for years as well as the founder of a program for summer opportunities for urban high school students. Oh, yeah… He was also a Pulitzer Prize -winning poet.
One of the real treats of attending the Tupelo Film Festival last week was meeting filmmaker Kristy Higby, whose first film, Flag Day, should be seen in every American home. It brings home the consequences of war in a way the evening news can’t.
Kristy is an earnest and thoughtful woman, who came late to filmmaking but is making up for lost time fast. She’s made three films over the last few years and has a sense of purpose, great heart and empathy for the characters in her work.
See a clip of Flag Day here and check out her website. If you are on imeem, the entire film can be viewed there. Kristy's other films are available on her site as well.
I’m a bit exhausted and wired, traveling in the dead of night yesterday to arrive in Tupelo, Mississippi for the film festival here— and then experiencing a whirlwind of films, people, hospitality, and yet more films. It’s been a great start, but my biological clock is severely off. There’s little prospect of it settling back down until the end of the upcoming weekend. Our film, Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story, is entered in the festival, among the many good documentaries we’re seeing here already.
It’s a bit of a trip to be in the Deep South with a contemporary desegregation story from the North. Our film is a bit of a curiosity, I imagine. Hopefully, that will translate into folks turning out for our screening on Saturday afternoon. I’ve tried to spread the word in advance among the civil rights community here and among folks who seemed, from the great distance of the internets, to be likely to be interested.
There is a great group of people here for the festival, including my good friend Joe Cultrera, whose film, Hand of God, won the feature documentary competition in Tupelo last year. Joe’s the reason I’m here, actually. He mentioned how it might be a good fit to bring Brick by Brick to Tupelo— and raved about the warmth and genuine interest in film here that the festival celebrates.
It also seemed to Joe that Southerners might appreciate the subject of a civil rights story being located to the north of it, where whites so often treat the struggle as a regional issue, relegated to the past and exclusively confined to the South. Those of us who have experienced the struggle up close know that the North also has its own very tough institutional barriers to opportunity and to integrated communities, barriers which still hold people back, even today.
Yesterday, it was hard to process all the good filmmaking on display. An excellent and visually innovative film, Mississippi Son, took a look at the devastation wreaked on the state’s Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina and at the hardy and yet still tender people who survived it. Another documentary, Hard Times, celebrated the life and music of Big George Brock, a bluesman in his seventies who still makes music like a Young Turk on his harmonica. The evening brought us a beautiful new film from experienced documentarian Roger Sherman, Rhythm of My Soul: Kentucky Roots, a broad contemplation of the history and locales of several of the musical forms that still grow and thrive in Kentucky today.
…and those films were just the feature docs playing among the many worthwhile short films here, both narrative and documentary. I’m not expecting the next couple of days to be any less fascinating, or to get any more rest in the process.