Don’t vote your conscience, vote your vagina.

A couple of days ago, I tweeted “So, according to @wikileaks, @realDonaldTrump has no emails with evidence that he’s a psychotic #sexualpredator #fascist fucktard? Weird!” The next morning, there were responses from the Trump camp saying, “Trump doesn’t use email.” and “You don’t know how wikileaks works.” I immediately blocked those people and deleted the tweet. These Trump supporters did not protest, “He’s not a sexual predator!” or “He’s not a fascist fucktard!” They responded, “Trump doesn’t use email.” I cringed thinking these people knew my name.

So, here is my letter imploring those who feel “I must vote my conscience,” or “I cannot vote for either Hillary or Trump, they are both the same.” to not do that. Stop doing that.

I, like many of you, dreamed of a Sander’s presidency, that big menschy saba in the White House, saving the planet and providing a platform of this country we could all get behind and even participate in. Saving the planet, improving public education, enforcing and protecting civil rights…I am not a big Hillary supporter, I do not feel an impending sense of glee or empowerment having her be the first woman president, but I offer to you, voters, why I am voting for her on November 8th and why you should too.

Consider, under 8 years of President Barack Obama,  our first African American president and, as far as presidents go, pretty liberal and progressive, the alarming and terrifying rate at which unarmed black men, (or those who are lawfully carrying a weapon) and women who are murdered by police officers without fear of reprimand. And each time an officer unlawfully shoots and kills a black man or woman on the street and walks away, the message is clear: “These actions are tolerated, these actions are ok.”

Consider again, under the same progressive administration, the rise of rape, domestic abuse and murder of women, world wide, by their partners or someone they knew and, again, the lack of consequence for the actions of these perpetrators. Brock Turner raped a woman and was found guilty but released after only three months so he could get back to the very important business of swimming in a pool. Aaron Persky then let the world know, women are not valuable. Their bodies are yours for the taking.

Brock Turner is still a rapist. I hope he remembers every waking moment of his life.

Consider again, under the same administration, which has been decidedly pro-gun control (see HERE for details), that according to  www.gunviolencearchive.org.  12,506 people have died due to gun violence in this country since January 2016.

There are forces at work here that are outside the control of the federal government. This is indeed the rise of the uber-right in our country: armed, immoral and dangerous. It is a culture, a belief system, which cannot be illegalized, it must be met with head to head combat, meaning, our victory is achieved in a battle against these ideas.

Trump may not win this election (fingers crossed!) but this political faction will find somebody more charming, more articulate, more polished to represent their agenda in 2020 if we don’t do our civic duty and organize for the next 4 years to build a viable 3rd party candidate.

Our only option on Tuesday is to elect an administration under which we can continue to organize, to speak out, to peacefully assemble and to creatively and effectively create new institutions with a vision towards a better world where the earth is not on fire and that the conditions that are festering that have allowed this human piece of garbage to become a savior to disenfranchised people no longer exist. A world where everyone is entitled to work that offers integrity, to schools that are not parasitic shell corporations for greedy immoral businesses…to a world free of never-ending war.

We cannot expect a magic wand to be waved under any administration where everything just becomes better. We must work for it. Many of you who say, “Oh I can’t vote for either party” or “I’m going to vote Jill Stein”, should really assess their understanding of the role the president plays, of what they are able to change and control. Under 8 years of Obama, things on the ground are daunting. Can you imagine, oh voters of conscience, what lives will be destroyed and lost under a Trump presidency? Under a man who has yet to say anything factual, or coherent, but yet still manages to promote the message that people of color, immigrants, and women are indeed second class citizens or even third class citizens and that if you stand against him, a violent response is appropriate, if not encouraged. On a side note, what is really magical about the Trump campaign is his support from working class people who are suffering economically when he doesn’t even pay his workers. Weird!

Under a Trump administration, what would you say? Would you be saying, I am so proud of that stand I took on November 8th! Look where we are now! At least I am at peace with my conscience!

To say that Clinton and Trump are the same is lazy political analysis at best.

In my opinion, you’re not entitled to your vote. In my house, my mother instilled in us to act not solely for the betterment of one, but for the good of all. Meaning we were always aware of how our actions impacted other people. When you vote your “conscience”, you’re voting against my personal safety. Especially when you don’t even actively organize on around any issues. People who post things on FaceBook and live an otherwise privileged and comfortable life without participating in political organizing or community organizing (no, signing online petitions don’t count) I’m letting you know now, your vote is not your personal choice, it’s a collective strategy. For the betterment of all.

I say Vote Your Vagina, not to necessarily say you are voting for a woman, but to celebrate the decline of the old patriarchal order and to usher in the new. We saw our collective power by getting a candidate like Bernie Sanders as far as we did. That was the first step. We didn’t lose, we began. But by Vote your Vagina, I mean vote the part of you that loves the planet, those things that have always been associated with the feminine, like kindness and butterflies and the moon. Vote with the part of you that loves love and your mother. Vote with the sharing collective part of you, not the fearful hoarder who is only protecting moldy garbage nobody wants. Don’t vote your conscience on Tuesday. Vote your vagina.

Rockaway Beach, Hurricane Hermine

Maybe it’s because my mother was born there or that it has such a huge Irish history, but I feel at home at Rockaway Beach. To me it’s the perfect mix of a rooted, working class community and surfers. Of old world class and grit with just enough places to get a good cup of coffee or a tasty beer. I love Rockaway. You have to pay to get on the beaches in Jersey, it acts as segregation against folks who don’t have a lot of income. But in Rockaway everyone is welcome.

I planned on going to the beach on September 5th. I knew even though it was shut down because of Hurricane Hermine, there would be surfers. The park patrol kept threatening everyone with $250 tickets but by early evening, they were outnumbered 20 to one and the waters were overrun with surfers. I brought my bikini and my camera just in case. Here’s my walk from 65th street up to 98th.

 

 

The Tragedy of Comedy; Drugs and Depression.

Dec. 1, 2014

In 1997, I had my first session with a therapist. She regarded me with uncertainty,  as though she wasn’t really sure what I was doing there. She looked at me as though we were acquaintances out to lunch and I was inappropriately dumping all my shit on her. “Aren’t you going to ask me some questions?” I asked her. “What do you think I should ask?” she asked back.

Convinced by her underwhelmed response that I was only feeling sorry for myself, I didn’t seek therapy for another 2 years.

It was right around 1999 that some my friends started going to EMDR therapy. I called their doctor and got a referral for someone in this field closer to where I was living. I found Susan. I loved going to Susan. She made the future seem bright, my problems seem common, and the obstacles I faced surmountable. She assured me I would only be in therapy for a couple of months and that the work we were doing would give me the tools I needed to move on and have a normal life.

Occasionally, seemingly for no reason, I would have to fight the urge, with all my being, often in public, to cry uncontrollably. I shared this with Susan one day and her eyes became wide and fearful and her usually calm and soothing voice took on a sense of urgency and panic. “You have to call a pyschopharmacologist,” she said. “You have to call a psychopharmacologist and get a prescription for antidepressants.”

The word “Psychopharmacologist” is absolutely terrifying. It literally breaks down to “crazy killer” + “chemical brain drug maker”. I imagined a man in a white lab coat, erasing my personality forever. The face of my beloved therapist became the face of Nurse Ratchett.

Also understand this was 15 years ago. Prozac had just hit the market and it seemed like a fun thing for self-pitying rich people to do. It seemed like a weapon of mass obstruction, the true opiate of the masses. I was convinced that the root cause of my sadness, of all sadness, was alienation from living in a capitalist society. That the causes were external and if I organized towards a just and better world, I wouldn’t feel so fucking terrible all the time.

I understood Susan’s diagnosis as a failure over my own resolution to be happy, and on some level, being ungrateful and selfish in a world where I had so much and others had so little. I started a drama club at the school where I worked, I went back to graduate school, I organized with a campaign for an independent candidate running for office. As long as I didn’t have any time to be in my own head I would be safe.

The bouts of depression became just a part of who I was, part of my personality. Rather than go on medication from the evil pharmacy companies, I preferred to suffer. Stoically. Like a good Irish Catholic. Some luxurious affliction like depression was unthinkable. Irish people got real diseases, like stomach cancer and cirrhosis. We died at the hands of Imperial Englishmen, not because we were sad.

After a good run masking my symptoms and self-medicating, I ended back in therapy with a woman in Jersey City in 2012. As I write this now, I realize her name was also the name of a hot bartender in Greenpoint…at this very moment, I am also realizing why he didn’t respond to my sensual and enticing text, because it was accidentally sent to her. Oops.

I went to see her for probably around 3 months. It went like this. I would get there, cry for an hour, and then make an appointment to do the same thing again the following week. Eventually, she gave me the same nervous, wide-eyed panic stricken expression that Susan had given me. But she said something like, “You need to go to the emergency room right now and tell them you are depressed! They will give you psychotropic drugs.” Everything she was saying made me feel like a character in a Joyce Carol Oates story. I saw myself as the middle aged woman with bad teeth and broken dreams sitting with the dispossessed of the ER in the middle of that sad and grey short story right before the serial killer custodial worker no one notices comes and kills me and eats my skin. No thank you.

I doubled down on my SAM-E, on my yoga classes, going to the gym regularly for boxing, juicing, meditating, reading self-help books… the causes were internal and if I could find the secret to being happy inside, I would be cured. That was the up cycle. I live in Jersey City which gave me the opportunity to drink socially with a different group of people every night, so I could go for weeks without having to address any issues. I was happy, funny, hysterical even. I convinced myself I was better.

Last September, I was lucky, but so lucky, that one of my friends had the courage and love to tell me, calmly and without scary words, that I was depressed. I was lucky, but so lucky, that another friend of mine had a mother who was a psychiatrist who would do my intake over the phone. I was incredibly lucky that she could prescribe Wellbutrin and that Wellbutrin would be successful in helping neurotransmitters in my brain do what they needed to do.

Almost a year after taking anti-depressants, I am still me but happy. I don’t lay in bed all day unable to move because I am in so much physical pain. I don’t lock myself in my apartment anymore because the idea of smiling and pretending to be happy is too much to bear. I am sharing this because I don’t want anyone else to lose so much time waiting to be happy. I am sharing this because everyone deserves that friend who can tell you calmly and without scary words, You are depressed, you need help.

Statement for Briant, Rockupation of City Hall, June 1, 2012

In dreams I see myself flying…                                                         Invisible Wounds (Dark Bodies), Fear Factory

I know introducing a photo exhibit on Cuban metal with a Fear Factory  song is strange. I know.

I actually discovered Fear Factory in Havana after spending a month with Escape in 2007. And when I hear Fear Factory, I remember Alejandro Padron, the drummer of Escape, in a larger way, in a way that transcends any kind of sadness I might feel from missing him, from missing everyone in Escape. If I am out somewhere, at a club in NYC, and Fear Factory comes on, I remember Julian in the kitchen, Alejandro’s father, serving me coffee from his rations while music blared down the hallway from Alej’s bedroom. I remember nights at Madriguera, an outside music venue in Havana, where DeLa and Jenny and I got drunk and banged our heads to live metal. I remember the paralyzing swelter of Havana, the slow motion of our days together, the evening pilgrimages to Calle G where all the frikis convened with communal bottles of vodka that could blind the sun, the birds in the morning and again, Julian’s cafe.

Closer to the sun and I’m climbing

When I met Jennifer Hernandez in Alejandro’s apartment in 2007, she told me, “Vamos hacer vecinas.” It means, “We’re going to be neighbors.” I thought she said something about going to a pool. I was grateful. The heat was oppressive. “Great!” I told her. “I can’t wait! When?” This type of misunderstanding would characterize the entire process of documenting Escape and filming They Will Be Heard.

 

Tried to touch the sun but the brightness burned my eyes

Two years later, I filmed Jenny as she walked through the doors of the airport check-in toward her terminal, waving one last time to her family, her boyfriend at the time, Yando Coy, who is the lead singer of Escape, and her friends, before reuniting with her father in New Jersey. Briant Garcia Rodriquez was there, waving goodbye.

Briant had worked with Escape for several years as their sound engineer. And he was an avid Escape fan, he had Escape tattooed on his arm.

As Jenny’s waving hand, seen above the crowd of people at the airport checking their luggage and getting their boarding passes, disappeared behind a red door, Briant turned to me and said, “The next time I come to the airport, I’m going to be the one leaving.”

Briant had three options. He could wait for normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, he could become an international artist right away and get invited to another country, or he could get married to someone else outside of Cuba.

Unconscious or am I conscious?

Briant couldn’t wait to get married or become famous. Who can? Briant chose the fourth option: to get on a balsa and try and float 90 miles to Miami.

And I saw my own face in the dark and loneliness

Briant went missing in October. Jenny and I were hopeful, but there are instances in your life where the words being conveyed to you carry their truth, undeniable like the weight of the ocean. I thought of Briant in his last moments often, succumbing to that weight, as the truth of what was about to happen became certain…sometimes I think of it scientifically, when I am swimming; I am aware of how heavy the ocean is. Sometimes I can’t think of it, but I feel it in my chest and my face becomes frozen.

and I saw my own face like a spark frozen in heaven

One of the problems when someone you love goes missing is that there is no ritual of closure. You are aware of what has happened, you are aware they are gone, but there’s this window, this impossible window, and you think anything is possible.

Jenny and I have been very lucky in many ways. One, she came to New Jersey, and we were able to build and continue our friendship. We’ve been fortunate enough to meet and know and love incredible people who saw the potential of Escape and the entire Cuban metal community and understand the necessity of changing the world through heavy metal. We’ve been able to develop and build UnBlock the Rock with an amazing team of artists and organizers.

Jenny and I decided that we would dedicate June 1st, UnBlock the Rock Occupies City Hall, to Briant as our memorial for him. He is in these photos, immortalized with a smile and surrounded by friends. Tonight you will hear “Simbolo de Libertad” by Escape, performed by musicians from Venezuela, Cuba, Iraq, and the US, and we can remember Briant in a larger way, in a way that transcends missing him.

http://www.theywillbeheard.com

 

 

You Don’t Have to Watch Dynasty

-Jan. 30th, 2011

“I have nothing for you,” said my doctor. “I’m not going to put you on addictive drugs at this point, and you’re already wired.” Last week, I finally admitted to myself that I have ADD. When I told my doctor, I could tell she wanted to say something quippy but then considered my feelings. Of course you have ADD, she seemed to say. Do you think everyone is like this?

I was about 20 when the medical establishment first started discussing ADD. I always assumed it was a pretext for public schools to drug the children of Mexican immigrants. My ADD was initially masked by the basic idiocy of being a young adult, and then I was a school teacher in Newark for 9 years. There, my ADD was like a superpower, like Wolverine. Because of the constant crisis and chaos, I was the best functioner. My rapid fire brain synapses were my friends, not my foes. Once my life assumed a semblance of normalcy, however, I realized I couldn’t think. I mean, I had to stop thinking so I could think.

Whatever you grow up with, you think is normal. Child abuse, ADD, Intellivision. Until someone you trust tells you differently. It is not ok for someone to hit you. It is not normal to stop what you’re doing every 5 minutes. Intellivision sucks. Coleco Vision has Ms. Pac-man. Sometimes you are ready to hear these things when you are 12, sometimes you are ready to listen when you are 37 years old.

On Tuesday, January 18th, the greatest Tuesday ever of my whole life, I heard? saw? experienced? Prince in concert.

Prince is responsible, not in a feminist text booky or predictable GQ kind of way, but in the coolest way, for revolutionary sex of my generation. The New Power Generation. The midwestern high heel wearing Puerto Rican do whatever you want generation.

How much of our sexuality is our humanity and how much of it is linked up to our personal struggles, our political struggles, and why in 2011 am I still writing it like a question?

THE SHOW: Glory god be whatever kind of churchtentpopuppraiseJesus testimonial whose parishioners are 35 year old bitches in spandex from Long Island. God Bless you Prince.  You bless you.

My accomplice Diana and I really did party like it was 1999 as I was wearing clothes my mother bought me, on sale, from TJ Max. A purple coat with ruffles, a matching Candie’s purse, a zebra-striped dress. People on the train on a rainy January night looked at me like, “Where the fuck are you going?” To which I looked back: “Prince,” pause, “clearly.”

THE SHOW: Cheap red wine, nose bleed seats. Sharon Jones was on stage relaying messages from her ancestors. “But, first, let me take off these heels,” she said.

I am putting my pen down momentarily and placing my palms up to the sky, closing my eyes. But first, let me take off these heels.

Ms. Jones proceeds to tell the story of America, which like all of mankind, has many beginnings in Africa. Dance. Drum. And the sax got something to say too. Dap Kings got something to say too. Sharon Jones dancing dances that got signals, warnings, messages, directions. Somebody’s holding onto something. Somebody’s remembering something. Telling us to remember.

Of course she brought up the Cherokee.

Welcome to America. Welcome to this story.

Sometimes when I am editing “They Will Be Heard”, I have to stop. I am working on a sequence and then I think about everything in the whole world at once for 45 seconds and I need to take a nap. Recently, I started taking 30 minute breaks. Recently my breaks included “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” starring Danielle Day Lewis.

I didn’t pick this movie on purpose. I remembered always, I mean always, seeing this book on a table at The Strand in New York City. And I remember always reading the back and thinking, Aha! Bourgeois propaganda!

THE SCENE: the Russian delegation is at the bar and there is a band playing rock music. One of the Czecks at the table with the Russians approaches the band and tells them to play an anthem. The audience grows despondent, and leaves the dance floor, moaning and groaning.

The band returns to rock and roll, and the people rejoice. Grinding, dancing, drinking. It struck me in a way I wouldn’t have understood before making TWBH. How salsa does not replace rock and roll. How rock and roll doesn’t belong to any region. How the roots of rock and roll come from the Blues and we all know where and why that started.

And so this expression, to say that rock and roll is a western influence, like it’s bad, like it promotes mindless consumption and pillaging and raping, to deny people access to something that flows from our breath. To condemn it is suffocating. Is smothering. Because the people who created this music were not bourgeois capitalists. Although, Elvis was a hero to most.

I can’t imagine not growing up with rock and roll. Without heavy metal. And what does it mean when you ban it? And here I am talking about right wing forces in the United States. About the PMRC. About Bible thumpers. Do they have anything in common with left wing forces abroad?

And now I am thinking of my friend who told me this story about her mother growing up in Argentina. Her mother was abducted in the Dirty War, and disappeared for three years. When she returned, my friend, her daughter, screamed when her mother returned. She was three, and wanted to stay with her grandmother. She didn’t know her mother, because her mother had been disappeared.

I have a Cuban friend who told me almost the same exact story when her mother returned from prison. Her mother was arrested for having dollars in Cuba.

I taught students who grew up in whole communities of families being ripped apart for unnecessary and unjust imprisonment.

When is it democratic to rip apart families?

When is it revolutionary?

THE SHOW: Diana and I drink overpriced red ripple wine waiting for Prince which is the best thing you can be doing at 8:45 pm on a Tuesday in January. Screens hung from the ceiling portray Tina and Ike cast in that awesome 70’s orange and green, dancing and singing and making some kind of revolution happen. Diana and I are trying to figure out if that’s Tina’s nipple. Is she just wearing a mesh shirt? It is. It’s just her nipple. When that was kind of revolutionary and cool. Part of some whole revolutionary free love thing people were trying to figure out. The body is beautiful. Black is beautiful. Tina is up there, is fierce. Lips pursed, shaking our heads. Tina! Welcome to America.

Prince is arriving. There is smoke. There is apprehension and screaming. Purple lights. There is a melange of songs beginning, never continuing…You don’t have to be beautiful… and the night begins.        To turn me on.

I am remembering being 12 at the Flanders roller rink. I am a little girl. A little tomboygirl. Visionary for my time, as in 7 years, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam will be dressing like me. My father has left. And now we are poor. Safe, but poor. He is gone, we aren’t forced to go to church anymore. Our prayers have been answered.

I am at the roller rink being 12, I want to skate around in a circle, over and over again. To look like I am not scared, that I know what I am doing. I will not look foolish.

The dj calls everyone out for the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby is when the rink is divided in half, with boys on one wall and girls on the other. The skating referees, they have whistles and black and white striped shirts, skate around on a diagonal very quickly and whistle at attractive young men and women, selecting 2 boys or 2 girls to start out the natural selection, weeding out all the unattractive people.

According to Derby regulations, you select a partner to skate with until the whistle blows where upon you choose someone else. The point of the game is to confirm who belongs and leave out those who do not. You stand on the wall, waiting. After a while, you can all belong when the dj announces that the Kentucky Derby is over and it’s a free skate once again.

I am 12. America is not ready for Prince, but we all are. It has been 2 years since 1999 was released, but Prince has figured himself out and he is able to say what he was born to say very clearly so we can all understand. In 1984 “When Doves Cry” is released.

In 1985, when I am skating, relieved from my duty of standing, unpicked, in the Kentucky Derby, after being told, you don’t belong, we don’t want you, the couple’s skate is announced.

I have mastered skating backwards. There is a middle rink for practicing. I have taught myself to skate very fast, jump and turn. I always participate in backwards skate.

Now that couple’s skate is announced, I have made plans to wait on line for Ms. PacMan or buy a soda. Or look through my belongings in my locker. A boy approaches me. Do you want to skate he says. It is Purple Rain. During couple’s skate, the lights are dim, and people skate slowly. Although I am a master at backwards skating, it is our first time so we just hold hands. I am too young and my mother and her church won’t let me see Purple Rain. But here I am. Skating, occasionally slipping away from a boy since our hands are sweaty and our arms are outstretched. We do not look at eachother. We do not speak. I am relieved. I belong.

Welcome to America.

 

 

And the Award Goes to…

A documentary film maker records the present to present the past in the future. We are the Billy Pilgrims of film making. Our schizophrenia doesn’t become apparent until the editing process, if at all.

When I set out to document Cuban heavy metal band Escape, I had every intention of approaching the film with the sterility of a German dental assistant. I wasn’t going to chug vodka with the band, for example. I certainly wasn’t going to sleep with anyone. I was going to love them from afar, like a sick relative in the hospital you don’t want to touch. I would admire, observe, cringe, document.

But, I do not have the clinical approach of a German. I possess more the unbounded love of a German Shepard. Let’s be friends, let’s be friends, let’s be friends. It’s not entirely my lack of discipline, the band was really, if I have one memory, the band was really giving to me. So, when a handful of people who have nothing except but an Olympic sense of sharing are constantly giving to you, any objective purpose is lost between “Muchas gracias!” and “Ay! Que bueno!”

And so Escape and I were friends for 9 long months. This is tremendous and rare. Americans are not legally allowed to travel to Cuba. Once they arrive, the Cuban government does not allow Americans to live with Cubans. Often, Cubans and Americans fall in love. There are countless stories of how these predestined love affairs crumble once somebody gets a green card. But true international love? Tremendous and rare.

After you shoot a documentary, you have to edit it. I am trying to “manifest” the perfect editor by abandoning responsibility. I imagine leaving hard drives on someone’s doorstep wrapped in a blanket with a note. It’s a horrendous act, and even the kindest, shyest young editors will confront you with your actions. You need to look at the footage too, they say. It’s your movie.

So you look at the footage. It’s an interview with the guitar player who came with you to every bureaucratic ordeal possible. Whose mother, struck with Lupus and missing one leg, travels with you to immigration so you can live at their house legally. Everything he says is amazing. While you’re editing, you try to email someone in Cuba to pass along a message. “Oh, I love you all so much, not a day passes where I am not thinking of you.” Instead of returning to edit, you bask in the depth of your love, “It’s amazing I can feel this much! My heart has no limits!” Maybe you go clear your head and watch Law and Order, lost in the wonderment of it all.

So you look at the footage again. It’s another interview with a friki you mistook for the man of your dreams, your soul mate, after you decided to never sleep together again. What a douche bag. Everything he says is stupid. You check your email to see if he sent you an apology yet, and he has not. Maybe you go ahead and watch Law and Order, fuming in the unfairness of it all.

The first months of editing were like that for me. Great Adventure could not conceive of dipping and rising, careening, turning twisting, upside downing and right side upping going on in the roller coaster of my psyche. I defied physics. Meanwhile, my life was passing me by. Spring was ending, but my May was still January. Since July of 2009 and March of 2010, Mexico was my home, my sanctuary when my Cuban visas ran out. I was anticipating another trip. There was no trip to Mexico. There was no more life savings. Only passionate cover letters about working in restaurants. In Jersey City, for better, for worse.

Thankfully, in June, I flew to Chicago for a friend’s wedding. I was reminded that an entire world existed outside of my computer screen. My friend got married, and I took pictures. Freezing moments in time that she had anticipated for the last 6 months, so she too could travel back in time and remember cake and kindness and cousins.

I returned, and my editor and I, one of the best people possible I could have expected to assist me, Anna, finished our grant proposal for Sundance. We took a period of 9 months and made it 26 minutes and 37 seconds in 6 weeks. We are amazing.

In my time travel, I write letters to the future. One, in particular, I post it future Facebook, announcing a huge amount of money that we have procured for the film. The letter is poetic, touching. Many people “like” this post.

I am so happy to have this grant done, I see it as the foundation of our fundraising to procur money, but I realize that I wouldn’t have been able to be here, in this moment, without some very important people. Whether or not we are successful with this particular grant, I am sure we will be successful with many of our other fundraising efforts and I want to say thank you now, because it’s not the money so much. The money is awesome, and necessary, like water, but it is the support of everyone who has allowed me, in the worst economy since the depression, to leave my stupid job and do whatever I want, to make a movie about a Cuban heavy metal band called Escape.

I am trying to stick to a chronological order, so nobody gets jealous of when they were thanked, but please forgive me if you are further down on the list than you think you should be. Thank you to the gorgeous people at 248 who encouraged me to make this decision. Thank you Aki for my beautiful amazing camera necklace and all your encouraging words! Thank you Dan Stafford for helping me pack. Thank you Ms. Macaroni and Danikins and Nikki for storing all my stuff for me. Thank you Michael Colluci for driving me to my sister’s house and sending me a cable one year ago. Thank you Judie for changing my ticket so we could spend extra time together before I left. Thank you Pat Lambe for driving me to the airport one year ago to begin this journey. Thank you High Mountain Mama’s for all your support while I was away. Thank you Nikki for sending me green stuff so I could survive. Thank you so much Escape, but especially Jenny for being my best friend and sister while I was trying to find my way. Thank you so much Judie for flying me to Puerta Vallarta! And thank you Judie and Cliff for letting me live at your house, and for letting me live in your house when it was stocked with Whole Foods! Thank you Esteban for letting me stay in your beautiful home and being my mentor. Thank you Anjelika for buying me and Jenny my first dinner in New York after almost a year. Thank you Sinem for letting me live in your living room while I collected my thoughts and watched Law and Order basking in the insanity of it all. Thank you Nikki and Drew for amazing dinner when I got back. Thank you Negro for all your help and support. Thank you Jen for correcting my submission. Thank you LE for always keeping me in the back of your mind. Thank you Darren for finding someone to brew Escape Beer for a fundraiser and thanks to Marty, the brew guy. Thank you Chiqui for the tattoo time and the Patio Maria video and for being pretty much the reason I was able to make this film. Thank you Alioth for letting me live on your couch. Thank you Kate for help with my free money! Suzy, thank you for website advice. Thank you Diana for being an amazing roommate and friend. Thank you Eric for lending me a camera so I can breathe. Thank you Anna for not killing me. Thank you Mom. Of course. For everything.

Checking in at The End of the World or Happy Father’s Day

A year later, and June is still rainy. I’m back in Jersey City. I’m still gainfully unemployed or almost kind of self employed, (half full in social circles, half empty to qualify me for state aid.) But, I can look back on the last year and know that I followed my passion, my dreams.I was documenting one of the greatest metal bands in Cuba, indeed, one of the greatest metal bands in the world. I was infused in heavy metal, I was making a documentary. I made several mistakes; foolish, immature mistakes. I didn’t have the best back up system filming and as a result, paid heavily for restoring data. I was selfish at times, unorganized at others, possibly dishonest for a second or two. I probably could have managed my money better, organized my files more professionally, but, to my credit, I did not break the ocean. I didn’t ruin the world for years to come because of my corporate greed. I didn’t single handedly wipe out entire species, and I feel in this light, in this perspective, not only should I cut myself a little slack, but, I have earned some kind of entitlement to remind everyone of exactly how incredible I am.

I am striving to find one good thing, one thing that will alleviate anxiety and anger over the BP catastrophe.

I left my sister’s in New Jersey for Cuba, July 5th, 2009, and returned to her house March 25th, 2010 to document hardcore Cuban band Escape. For those of you about to run through the months and count on your fingers like I just did, it’s 9 months. Enough to have a baby. If, with the intention of creating life or oops!, you fuck someone in July, you could very well have an Aries baby. And this is my baby. The filming, the documenting, the staying awake all night, the drinking obscene amounts of vodka, the smoking with reckless disregard for my lungs, the relentless drinking of coffee, the open embrace of all my vices; my tone deaf life as a rock star was my pregnancy. And now I’m raising the baby. The brain damaged, chemically dependent baby.

Exactly as I would respond to an actual newborn of my own, I arrived in New Jersey with the hard drive wrapped in a blanket willing to give it to the first stranger who showed slight interest. Here, take this, I offered. Sell it on the black market. Somewhere, there is a narrative arc, punctuated by touching moments. I was ready to escape Escape.

Many of my friends have human babies. Some babies are brand new and some have lost their novelty. At either stage, watching my men friends with their children makes me understand the extent to which my own father neglected me and my siblings. Not in a way where I feel sorry for myself, clearly it’s nice to see where my penchant for making the worst possible choices in men comes from, but realizing how much I missed out on is liberating.

I watch my friends be fathers and I’m thinking how well adjusted I would be if I grew up with kindness and encouragement from a male figure. Granted, my family reads like the table of contents for a self help book, but now I see, without all that coddling and parenting, I’m a nice person anyway. And so is my mother. And so are my brother and my sister. In spite of someone, on the lowest rung of the evolutionary ladder who contributed to our genetic make up, we all got the good genes. And none of us went on the break the ocean. None of us decided, this underwater oil rig isn’t really safe, but since it will cost too much money to fix, we’ll risk it. We’ll risk the ocean. Dick Cheney’s heart has failed us all.

My father tried to contact me once, maybe 12 years after he left. He sent an email. Not a card with a check in it. A penniless email. I want reparations.

“It’s so crazy how we don’t talk,” he wrote. “You should really get to know your sister.” Once he didn’t feel like raising or financially supporting our family, he just went and made a new one.

I didn’t respond. I didn’t care. Or I didn’t care until now. Now, now that I realize how great it would be to have a father, (and I am still looking if anyone is interested) how great it would have been at the age of 5,6, 7 etc? But, I’m not still angry. What can you do?

Dick Cheney and Tony Hayward should not get a new tie today. No child should thumb around a piece of clay before putting it in the kiln uncertain of it’s outcome as an ash tray or turtle shell on their behalf. Dick Cheney’s daughter should donate money to this year’s Lillith Fair or better yet, Green Peace. These fathers should be shunned, not only this weekend, but at the 4th of July picnic festivities as well. Their wives should not excuse them for their neglect of all the children in the world by breaking the ocean and ruining the economy for hundreds of thousands of families.

Growing up without a father, like if your dad is dead and he’s just not there, is the mathematical equivalent of zero. In the face of growing up with the mathematical equivalent of negative, not only doesn’t he pull his weight as dad, but he makes it more difficult for you, it’s inspiring how kind my mother and sister and brother are. And, well, I guess me. And I don’t think this resilience, this triumph of the human spirit, is particular to my family, but I think it’s a human quality most of the time.

And maybe, collectively, in the face of this negative infinity paternal neglectful oil catastrophic disaster, we are going to, not rise up, I almost typed rise up but that would have been too Marie Claire Cheney, come together? Overcome? Maybe we are going to do something that is not selfish and ugly, but together, and it will move humanity forward, even though we won’t be able to eat crawfish ever again.

For my part on Father’s day, I’ll tend to my baby. I’ll go through files, deleting what detracts from the story and organizing what moves the narrative. I’ll rework my grant application so baby can eat. I’ll play the role of both parents, editor and producer, lovingly, unsparingly, selflessly just like my mother did for the three of us all our lives.