FOR MYA


Me & Mya
Me & Mya

On Friday, January 23rd i lost one of my best friends… Well, to be more specific i was forced by her health to put her down… She was 13 years old and i had known her for almost 9 years… She was my pitbull Mya… It was the hardest thing i have ever had to do in my life…

“…love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” – Kabil Gibran

i’d spent the last year of Mya’s life trying to make her life as comfortable as possible… it was grueling… i lost a lot of sleep and expended a huge amount of time and energy to make her old age as graceful as possible… Carrying her up and down the stairs, picking her 20 to 30 times a day up when the arthritis in her legs weakened her and caused her to fall… i gave her a regiment of supplements, anti-biotics, pro-biotics, pain meds, fed her by hand, put diapers on her and cleaned up after accidents… It was almost a full time job and one that i didn’t want to stop doing… But Mya was in a lot of pain and i couldn’t get her to eat for the last four days of her life, which meant i couldn’t give her pain meds or supplements… She wouldn’t even eat my French Toast with real organic maple syrup which was a favorite of hers…

Mya & Resister (my life partner)
Mya & Resister (my life partner)

i called a vet who specialized in putting animals down in the comfort of their home… The last few times Mya went to the vet she was scared, more scared and uncomfortable than usual… Mya was used to going to the vet… She survived breast cancer, two soft tissue sarcomas on the her leg and a brain tumor just to name a few of the issues she had struggled with… So putting her down at home on the couch in her favorite spot in the house where she would curl up was something that made it knew would be easier on her and on us…

“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.” – Mark Twain

The hardest part about putting Mya down was that she was a fighter… She only knew how to fight… Even unto the bitter end she wanted to live… Her spirit was so strong that it pushed her body beyond what it could handle… i made the decision to put her down because her body was giving out on her… She had an extremely serious urinary tract infection, arthritis pain that made it hard for her to walk, laryngeal collapse, a third soft tissue sarcoma developing on her leg and her stomach was no longer processing food properly by pushing it into her intestines… It was her inability to eat that was the final blow… If she couldn’t eat, i couldn’t manage her pain…

“Dogs…do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value they have to bequeath except their love and their faith.” – Eugene O’Neill, from his Dalmatian, Blemie’s, last will and testament

It was hard letting her go… It’s still hard… At the oddest times i would suddenly feel the lump in my throat swell and the pain in my chest explode and the tears would come rolling as i grit my teeth and shook at the lack i felt… She left a huge hole in me… i felt hollowed out and empty… Her death was like a vacuum that sucked out pieces of me… And for the next few weeks i was haunted by the chasm i felt with all the things that reminded me of her…

It’s only recently with a new development in my life that i’ve been able to put the pain of her loss in a context that allows me some peace… But that’s another story for another time… This is for Mya…

i took Mya everywhere whenever i could and she was a presence that everyone felt… Here she is at a recording session i helped produce a few years ago… She was the best… A good friend, a good companion… the best…

In July of last year Mya had a quick little cameo in this very short film i did… i will miss her for the rest of my days…

Mya 12•24•01 - 1•23•15
Mya 12•24•01 – 1•23•15

For other stories about Mya

THE FUTURE IS WRITTEN

#NOTABULLY

BY THE NUMBERS

FACING DEATH WITH LIFE

LUNCHROOM BEATS VOL 1

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1za

All Spit And Piss In The Wind


with enough time you too will be forgotten by vagabond ©
with enough time you will be forgotten by vagabond ©

all spit and piss in the wind
(for earth day)

in the race to destroy the planet
the human race will destroy itself
it’s a race we win by losing
mama nature will be fine

we posture hubris that we’re powerful enough to defy her
but it’s all spit and piss in the wind
we may do some heavy damage
but we’ll suffer more than she will

after we’re gone
after we’ve killed ourselves
for black numbers on white profits sheets
after we’ve squandered the riches
she’ll take her time and heal herself

we worship too much at the
altar of technology  and engineering
and place too much faith in the now
thinking this is permanence

i know this because
fragile weeds
crack through concrete sidewalks

moss thrives
on top of and in between
cobblestones in your streets

vines crawl across mortar and brick
and wind their way up
the sides of walls and into window sills

the air oxidizes around
the steel girders of bridges
allowing rust to get under the paint to peel it

roofs cave in
from the accumulated number
and weight of snow flakes

building foundations sink
in ground erosion
from the saturation of rain drops

and skyscrapers must be engineered to
give in the wind
or be taken by it

because we didn’t know how to live
on the earth
we’ll spend eternity
beneath it

all this time your pride led you to believe
that it would all endure
with enough time you too will be forgotten

and it makes me sad to think
i won’t be around to see the silence
or to  hear the grass grow
over your cities

– vagabond

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-eL

Guerrilla Christ


Guerrilla Christ by vagabond ©
Guerrilla Christ by vagabond ©

guerrilla christ

i had my doubts like any other man or woman
but i couldn’t let my apathy make me so durable
that i could idly stand aside and watch
the hungry go without fish and bread
the blind continue to stumble
the lame carry the burden

i had my fears like any other man or woman
but i couldn’t let my self preservation
allow me the comfort of cowardice
when they stoned that woman
when they changed money in the temple
when they dared me to heal the withered hand on the sabbath

i had my struggles like any other man or woman
and i resolved them in these waking dreams as i spoke to the crowds
keeping my faith in the humble quiet power of love
unsure of the path as i stumbled in the darkness
tripping into the faintest of light ahead
working out the dream of a new possibility as i spoke with you

and like any other man or woman i want a long life
but not standing by in the acquiescence of selfish longevity
while power is concentrated in the hands of the few
at the expense of the many
while greed nourishes and feeds a garden of oppression
while blood lubricates the machinations of war

and so like any other revolutionary man or woman
i didn’t come to bring peace but came with a machete
to prune the oppression from minds
both yours and my own
to cleave the hatred from hearts
both yours and my own
to hack off the hands of these demons clutching spirit
both yours and my own

and like any other guerrilla fighter man or woman
i paid the price for dreaming such dreams of anarchy
loosed upon the world
crowned with thorns and forced to carry my own cross up a hill
littered with the skulls of the guerrillas that came before me
and hung with nails as an example to the rest of you
sitting passively on the sidelines

and like any other guerrilla christ prophet man or woman
before me and after me i rise again and again and again
and each time the politicians and the merchants
and the high priests conspire
to abort this dream of anarchy that paves the road to equality
while massaging pliable illusions
that condemn these rebellions as failure

and like any other revolution filed and labeled and defined as failure
it will go on and on until we collectively recognize
the guerrilla christ in each of us
to form an army that will liberate the dream of anarchy
upon a center that will not hold
leveling the playing field horizontal
and burying this oppression beneath it
while the meek dance over it bringing heaven down to earth
as their rightful inheritance

– vagabond ©

Shortlink – http://wp.me/p1eniL-GI

FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF BETWEEN TWO WORLDS


Rev. Pedro Pietri Is On The Other Side by vagabond ©
Rev. Pedro Pietri Is On The Other Side by vagabond ©

“To take you back, I was born in 1898, during the climax of the Spanish/American War. I say 1898 because that was the year that the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico, the year when they colonized us. Now, I was born again in ‘44 to my mother in Ponce, Puerto Rico and again in ’47, at the age of three, when my folks migrated to New York City through the epic of Operation Boot Strap. We’re all part of the casualties of the Inquisition, the American Inquisition.

I also say I was born in 1949, because that’s the day I went to the first theatre with my grandfather, who felt deceived by Operation Boot Strap and committed hara-kiri, but I don’t think it was suicide. He was killed by the system that deceived him, the system that made him sell his land in Borinquen. What happened was the disillusion. The voices in his head were of the Central Intelligence, compelling him to sever his jugular vein. Think about his friends. There’s nobody to talk to, nobody to communicate with, and there’s nothing to go back to, but the industrialization of the island that had deceived so many people. So, that was the first theatre I went to, at Monje’s Funeral Parlor, in a brown suit. Actually, that was my first teaching, or my first awareness of Puerto Rican history. Puerto Ricans die and go to a Puerto Rican funeral parlor. And Monje was a ghoul; he looked like a ghoul. How you going to have the name Monje, and be a proprietor of a funeral parlor? You’ll scare the customers away, but he didn’t scare us away. ”
– Rev. Pedro Pietri
Source La Prensa San Diego 6th, Feb, 2004 

Who the hell is Rev. Pedro Pietri? Rev. Pedro Pierti was one of the original Nuyorican poets. Who were the Nuyorican Poets? The Nuyorican poets were a rag-tag bunch of Puerto Rican who became poets at the literal barrel of US colonialism’s gun. They emerged from the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s living a schizophrenic existence in exile in the mean streets of New York because Puerto Rico is and continues to be a colony of the United States. Schizophrenic because Americans didn’t want them because they were Puerto Ricans and Puerto Ricans didn’t want them because now they were Americans. The result of that dual schizophrenic existence became the Nuyorican experience. But because Puerto Ricans are good with a blade these poets carved out a space with words and defined the unreality of what it meant to be Puerto Rican outside of Puerto Rico. In the process of doing that the Nuyorican poets grabbed poetry by the ankles turned it upside down and shook the change out its pockets.

No other poet captured the zeitgeist of the Nuyorican experience like Rev. Pedro Pietri. The proof is in the recipe of his 1974 epic poem, Puerto Rican Obituary. That poem was written in the El Barrio (East Harlem, NYC) apartment of Dylcia Pagan a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner and prisoner of war. Puerto Rican Obituary took the schizophrenic unreality of Puerto Ricans in the ghettos of New York living in between two worlds while simultaneously living in both and wholeheartedly claimed the validity of it, in all of it’s absurdity rather than rejecting it, in all it’s impossibility. In claiming to be in – and – from two different places at once Puerto Rican Obituary led the charge to fuse the fracture of a split existence. The idea of being in – and – from two places at once is a part of the psychological fallout of colonization. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US since 1898 and was a colony of Spain for almost 400 years before that. What Rev. Pedro Pietri and the other Nuyorican Poets did was painfully, playfully and poetically work through the fracture of being colonized and fuse together a mismatched unreality to recreate what it meant to be Puerto Rican within a fractured colonized existence. Check out this excerpt of Rev. Pedro Pietri reciting Puerto Rican Obituary…

http://youtu.be/3yTWS1M6NhI

Rev. Pedro Pietri’s poetry could be described as surreal dadaism from the streets. His poetry is filled with resolving the conflicting unreality of living here and there at the same time and in the same space. He flipped the polarizing effects of opposing ideas and made them attract. He used what seemed like nonsense to make sense of a world that’s never made sense. To understand what i’m talking about here is a poem from Rev. Pedro Pietri called Traffic Misdirector from his book Traffic Violations…

TRAFFIC MISDIRECTOR
the greatest living poet
in new york city
was born in Puerto Rico
his name is Jorge Brandon
he is 70 years old
he carries his metaphor
in brown shopping bags
inside steel shopping cart
he travels around with
on the streets of manhattan
he recites his poetry
to whoever listens
& when nobody is around
he recites to himself
he speaks the wisdom
of unforgotten palm trees
the vocabulary of coconuts
that wear overcoats
the traffic lights
of his poems function
without the boring advice
from ac or dc current
book stores & libraries
are deprived of his vibes
to become familiar
with this immortal poet
you have to hang-out
on  street corners
building stoops rooftops
fire escapes bars parks
subway train stations
bodegas botanicas
iglesias pawn shops
card games cock fights
funerals valencia bakery
hunts point palace
pool halls orchard beach
& cuchifrito stands
on the lower east side
the admission is free
his presence is poetry

In 2004 the good right Rev. Pedro Pietri died of stomach cancer which he felt was attributed to his exposure to Agent Orange when he was drafted into the Vietnam War. He may have flipped over to the flip side of life but his vibe and his influences can still be felt on this side…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1yy

Rust In Piss NYC


Williamsburg Bridge circe 1996 by vagabond ©
Williamsburg Bridge circe 1996 by vagabond ©

rust in piss nyc

the displacement creeps up slowly at first
like a pretty vine that eventually cracks the facade
this isn’t the place that nurtured me as it tried killing me
and rewarded us when we found ways to do more than survive
it’s no longer that place

it’s no longer the place we grew up in
our pride can only be placed in the past
the present is no gift and the future doesn’t want us
everywhere i go it’s the same
this alienation this feeling of un-belonging

nothing to claim as your own because what you claim
is out of style out of fashion out of vogue out of time
no place to claim as your own because it’s all changed itself
to be something for someone else

disowned disavowed displaced

this city once belonged to those strong enough
to claim squatters rights to the ruins
because there was beauty to be found in the rubble
because it was part-time art and full-time living
because we filled the abandoned with play and creation
because we could thrive among the decay
until the decay and all that lived in it
and all that it gave to imagination was given an eviction notice

what was once yours because it was no ones and everyones
now belongs to someone else
what you thought would always be yours
because it was no ones and everyones
has been sold to the highest bidder
and the open source dreams we built from living within the debris
have been bulldozed for pre-fabricated dreams
that come with closing contracts and first last and security

you only owned the blood you spilled here until you spilled it
you only owned the saliva you spit here until it hit pavement
you only owned the piss you took here until it wet the cornerstone
we only had the idea and the ideal we never had the deed
and without the deed you only own the memories
and memories don’t pay bank notes

even vagabonds need to be from somewhere
what will i say when they ask
my answers will be mythology
my stories will be artifacts in a museum
the way of being that i grew up with
shaped by a place that no longer exists
all of it will be ethnography anthropology archeology

we survived the extinction of this place
only to record what once was
we survived the extinguishing of the fire
only to feel the cold
we survived the execution of these streets
only to breathe life into ghosts as they pass through us

the broken glass glistening like fake diamonds swept
the rough texture of years smoothed
and the vibrant aerosol colors of memorials drained
these few remaining familiar faces dying
surrounded by strangeness without ever having moved
surrounded by the unfamiliar without ever having left
to be replaced with the tenants of the ahistorical
maybe it’s only an intoxicating nostalgia
or a yearning for an anarchism that left us to our own devices
but you can’t blame us for
wishing that it would all rust in piss once again

– vagabond

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-BW

DOIN’ THE NUYORICAN THING


DOIN' THE NUYORICAN THING by vagabond ©
DOIN’ THE NUYORICAN THING by vagabond ©

Last year i shot a book video for Sam Diaz Carrion’s book Our Nuyorican Thing: The Birth Of A Self-Made Identity. i never got around to actually cutting it though and i felt bad because Sam’s an amazing person, a completely underrated poet that could easily be forgotten and this video was my way of making sure that he wasn’t forgotten or cast aside or ignored… Part of the reason i had such a hard time with the edit was because Sam was tackling a huge subject. He was trying to define something that as he says has no borders or flag or definition… He was going toe to toe with the idea or term Nuyorican…

Sam Diaz used to work at the Nuyorican Poets Café in the Lower East Side of NYC. He would often be asked about what a Nuyorican is… In a series of poems and stories from Sam’s new book Our Nuyorican Thing: The Birth of A Self-Made identity, published by 2Leaf Press, Sam explores the self-made identity that is Nuyorican… Both the shooting and the edit were difficult because i was trying to condense Sam’s ideas on the Nuyorican phenomenon and it was difficult to get to the essence of things down to the compact form that it eventually took shape in the final cut… His book is available on Amazon and of course is well worth getting…

Check the video…

OUR NUYORICAN THING COVER

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1xy

#GIFT4OSCAR


FREE OSCAR by vagabond ©
FREE OSCAR by vagabond ©

Today is 3 Kings Day… It’s also US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war Oscar Lopez Rivera’s birthday. He’s 72 years old. For 33 of those years he’s been in US prisons as the longest held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. ‪#‎FREEOSCARLOPEZNOW‬

There is a Twitter campaign going on right now to pressure US President Barak Obama to free Oscar Lopez Rivera. This campaign is being dubbed #Gift4Oscar in which people create a salvo of art, music, writings, videos, and tweets to #FreeOscarLopezRiveraNow in an effort to educate people about Oscar Lopez Rivera and to help bring about his freedom. Over the years i have done various pieces of art for Oscar’s freedom… This is my ‪#‎Gift4Oscar‬

You’ll notice one of the pieces is the cover of a ‘zine that the RICANSTRUCTION Network did called SALVO which featured Oscar on the cover along with an essay from him on art and prison. You can download a PDF copy of the ‘zine at the Audio Visual Terrorism blog.

These pieces are free to use for the struggle towards his release… i only ask the proper credit be given…

by vagabond ©

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1xo

A CINEMA OF UNDERSTANDING


The first version of the MACHETERO poster by vagabond ©
The first version of the MACHETERO poster by vagabond ©

“Now more than ever we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other and understand how we see the world, and cinema is the best medium for doing this.” – Martin Scorsese

My father was a big jazz fanatic. Growing up in my house meant listening to jazz, a lot of it (much to my mother’s chagrin who was no fan of be-bop and couldn’t stand free jazz). The truth is that i didn’t understand be-bop either but watching the way my father listened to Miles, Bird, Mingus, Trane, Diz and Monk i realized that this was important. He listened with an intensity and a kind of reverence. He used to listen to jazz historian, archivist and DJ Phil Schaap on 89.9FM WKCR in New York. Phil Schaap spoke about jazz with the fervor of a tent revival preacher that made you want to accept Jazz as your personal savior. My father would add his own commentary to Phil Schaap as we listened not really talking to me per se but talking out loud for me to hear and in looking back now that commentary cemented this idea that all great things have a genesis.

i couldn’t understand half of what was going on at the time but what i did take away from all of it was that there was a hidden history that existed in the genius of things and that the geniuses who created were leaving bread crumbs that led back to the past as they moved in to the future. So at 17 when i first decided that i wanted to make films i started to do research. If my future was going to be in cinema then i needed to go back into cinemas history in order to see where i wanted to take it.

One of the people i studied (and still study today) is Martin Scorsese. Today is his birthday and i came across this quote…

“Now more than ever we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other and understand how we see the world, and cinema is the best medium for doing this.” – Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese

Beyond celebrity culture, beyond opening weekend box office numbers, beyond the hype, the red carpets, the glitz and the pretty lights… cinema is art… and art is a means of wrestling with the human condition. When i started to make MACHETERO that’s what i was trying to do. i was trying to get the human condition down as it relates to the colonized and the colonizer using the specific example of something i knew a lot about, the colonization of Puerto Rico by the United States.

Filmmaking for me has to be fun. i always have a saying with the friends who happen to be my collaborators on set “If we aren’t having fun, then its not worth doing…”. We had fun making MACHETERO. It was a lot of work but we laughed and we joked and kept our sense of humor. It was that laughter and joking and humor that made making MACHETERO a labour of love.

My initial conscious reaction to the Scorsese quote was that i had made MACHETERO to open up a dialogue, a debate, and a discussion about this colonial condition that had become a part of our human condition. To ask the hard questions, to pull no punches, to face the consequences of our decisions and to understand why we had taken them in the first place. However subconsciously it reminded of the of the responsibility that i carried for this film. For many people MACHETERO could be the first time they hear about the 100 plus year-old Puerto Rican colonial condition with the United States and the weight of that sat with me as i’m sure it did with everyone else (to varying degrees) who worked on the film. Not4Prophet (the actor who played Pedro Taino) and i had many conversations about this and i know that this responsibility weighted heavily on him as well. i wrestled with quite a few things in the making of this film, weighed down by the history, weighed down by the fact that this story had not been told in this way before.

When i decided to talk about the issue of Puerto Rico’s colonization by the United States i decided to do it in a film. When i set out to make MACHETERO i felt the same way that Scorsese felt. The world needed to know about the Puerto Rican colonial situation, they need to hear it and understand it and see it and cinema was the best way to do this. i think that making a film is only the beginning of the conversation and that those who watch it are continuing that conversation. i know that the conversation continues past the roll of the credits and spills into the streets and seeps into the collective consciousness and one of the things that i’m very proud of is that because of MACHETERO people are talking about the Puerto Rican colonial condition. Whether or not people like the film or agree with the views it presents people have better understanding of what’s going on because i chose to use cinema to communicate these very complex ideas.

My scrappy little film made on the frayed edges of a shoestring is changing consciousness because cinema is more than a business, it’s art and art is the struggle to express and share the human condition with others. Cinema is the best way to seep into the collective consciousness. If you don’t believe me, ask Martin Scorsese…

“People have to start talking to know more about other cultures and to understand each other.”  – Martin Scorsese

PS – Happy personal new year Marty…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-go

less than ideal art and ideas for a less than ideal world…

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