Sundays Bloody Sundays

Sundays Bloody Sundays by vagabond ©
Sundays Bloody Sundays by vagabond ©

“Barrio in barricades without a reason
round up in a midnight raid and shot for treason
mothers daughters fathers sons put in detention
bullets beatings torture guns too cruel to mention”
RICANSTRUCTION – Breakfast In Amerika

“And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die”
U2 – Bloody Sunday

Imperialist powers have had a long history of blaming those they oppress for the conditions of their imperialism. There’s no better example that bears out this flawed thinking than the categorizing of violence used in service to liberation being labeled as “terrorism”. Let’s be very clear about something before we go any further. The violence of the colonized is different from the violence of the imperialist. The violence of the colonized is a response to the violence which is inherent in imperialism. Ireland and Puerto Rico, two of the oldest nations in the world, still struggling to extricate themselves from the grip of foreign imperialism, have been doing so for centuries. The parallel experiences that these nations have experienced over time has more to say about the nature of imperialist violence than it has to do with how the colonized respond to that violence.

In the 1930’s Pedro Albizu Campos the leader of the Nationalist Party in Puerto Rico moved the party toward taking a more active and militant stance towards independence for Puerto Rico from US imperialism. In 1935 in an incident know as the Rio Piedras Massacre four nationalists were killed by police for attending a rally in support of Albizu. The police responsible for the killings were given promotions. The message was clear to Puerto Ricans across the island, that it was okay to kill Puerto Rican Nationalists. In 1936 two Puerto Rican Nationalists Hiram Rosado and Elias Beauchamp assassinated Colonel Elisha Francis Riggs who was in charge of the insular police force at the time of the Rio Piedras massacre. Hiram and Elias were captured and then executed by the police, without a trial. Shortly after that Albizu was arrested on charges of sedition.

On Palm Sunday of 1937 the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico planned a march in the city of Ponce to commemorate the abolition of slavery and to protest the arrest and imprisonment of Albizu on recent charges of sedition. As the Nationalists gathered to march the colonial governor General Blanton Winship caught word of the protest and sent in police, to surround the march and keep it from happening. Some of the police were armed with machine guns. The Nationalists refused to disperse and decided to march anyway. They marched forward singing “La Boriqueña” the national anthem of Puerto Rico, pushing forward against a line of armed police. The police opened fired on the crowd from all sides and for 15 minutes they terrorized the marchers with gunfire, beating them with clubs and arresting them without cause. In the end seventeen men, one woman and a seven year old girl were killed, 235 people were wounded and 150 people were arrested. No weapons were found on any of the dead, wounded or arrested but despite that fact no one was held responsible for the largest massacre in Puerto Rican history. The message was clearly sent once again… it’s ok to murder Puerto Rican Nationalists…

In the decades that followed a wave of repression by the US colonial government was waged against the Nationalists. All the while the Nationalists fought to release their political prisoners, organized and attempted to overthrow the US government in Puerto Rico, attempted to assassinate US President Harry Truman, and shot up the House Of Congress while it was in full session. When one looks back on US imperialism’s reactions to these actions by the Nationalists there’s a calculated bewilderment on the part of the US as to why these Puerto Ricans would do such things and an arrogance that denies the fact that the brutality begins with US imperialism. There is a willful ignorance to the fact that the forceful political actions of the Nationalists are a means towards ending the violence of US imperialism. To put it simply… If the US got out of Puerto Rico then the Nationalists decision to use violent actions would cease.

In the latter half of the 1960’s Catholics in Northern Ireland were coming under increased discrimination in terms of electoral politics and housing. Despite the fact that Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland were the majority, Northern Ireland was under the control of the Unionist’s, who supported British rule. The Northern Ireland Civil RIghts Association was formed to respond to theses issues of discrimination. Despite the fact that the NICRA was an organization dedicated to finding non-violent solutions to theses problem the group was met with violence by Protestant loyalists and the Royalist Ulster Constabulary at many of their protests. In 1969 a riot erupted in Derry and spread across Northern Ireland for three days. It became known as the Battle of Bogside. At the end of the rioting 1500 Catholics were pushed out of their homes and 1000 people were injured. This was the beginning of an era in Irish history known as The Troubles.

The Troubles continued in 1972 when the NICRA organized a peaceful march for Civil Rights in Derry. The NICRA forced city officials to allow the march to happen without a permit but they placed a military barricade along the route and the NICRA had to reroute the march. A splinter group of young teenagers broke off from that forced detour and continued towards the military barricade attacking it by throwing rocks which was not uncommon in those days. Rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas dispersed them but in the heat of this battle two solders claimed that some of the teens were armed and began firing into the crowd. The military opened fire on the crowd. A ceasefire order given to the military forces went unheeded and over 100 rounds were shot at the demonstrators. In the end 26 protesters and bystanders were shot by the British military, 14 of them were killed, 13 of those killed were teenagers. In the investigation that followed the British military was found to have acted in self defense despite the fact that no weapons were found on anyone who was killed, injured or arrested on that day. The Provisional Irish Republican Army which had begun a campaign against the partition of Northern Ireland only a few short years before found a boost to their recruitment in the aftermath of what became know in Ireland as the Bogside Massacre or as Bloody Sunday.

When you take a look at these incidents… when you look at these Bloody Sundays you’ll find that the colonized are doing what they can to peacefully find solutions to the problems of imperialism and are met each time with a violence escalated to the level of massacre. In both these circumstances the imperialists react to the challenges of their illegitimate authority with murder and brutality. In both circumstances more than a few of those who were more than willing to try and achieve a non-violent solution are driven to trying to achieve those goals with force. The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from these massacres on two different island nations under the rule of different imperialist powers is that this is not an issue about individual acts of violence and the responses to that violence but that this violence is inherent in imperialism.

Yet if you look at the investigations done in the aftermath of these massacres you can see the imperialists maneuvering to justify their brutality with imagined threats that shape an imperialist reality. In the Ponce massacre General Blanton Winship is sure that the Nationalists march will turn violent and then creates a self-fulfilling prophecy by opening fire on a peaceful crowd. The same is true with the Bloody Sunday massacre in Ireland. The soldiers have been indoctrinated by their imperialist masters that the protesters are coming to kill them and so they decide to kill first. The imperialist reality is a nightmare for the colonized. The imperialist reality is an illusion, locked inside a hermetically sealed vessel, in which actual reality is not allowed to seep in. This imperialist reality is imposed on the colonized despite the lack of evidence or proof or even logic.

If you somehow think that this imperialist reality is some relic of the past think of the recent US and UK imperialist adventure in Iraq and the search for weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was mostly certainly going to use. In the aftermath of that war where are the weapons? Where is the threat? Where is the justification for such actions outside of the self created illusion existing in the hermetically sealed vacuum of imperialism? It doesn’t exist because imperialism is a false reality without logical basis or empirical standing. Sunday after bloody Sunday it continues to impose this reality on the world in an effort to excuse the greed and hubris of imperialism. The question isn’t why are Puerto Rican Nationalists and Irish Republicans and Iraqi insurgents attacking imperialism… the questions is why is the illusion of imperialism,  the fake reality of imperialism being imposed in Puerto Rico, in Ireland, in Iraq… Sunday after bloody Sunday…

Film of the Ponce Massacre in Puerto Rico in 1937

Film of the Bloody Sunday Massacre in Ireland in 1972

A quick note on the artwork at the top of this post…

The base image of a man laying dead and bloody on the ground is taken from a photo of the Bogside Massacre. The ghostly image of text sitting on top of that image is of some text (graffiti) written on the wall by a victim of the Ponce Massacre as he lay bleeding he used the blood to write ‘Long Live The Republic Down With The Assassins’. The cross in the center of the image is the symbol that was used by the Puerto Rican Nationalists.

Shortlink for Sundays Bloody Sundays:

Check out MACHETERO my 6X international award winning film on the struggle for Puerto Rican independence on Vimeo On Demand…


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…

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…

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…


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




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…




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 ©



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…


100 Fires

100 Fires by vagabond ©
100 Fires by vagabond ©

100 fires
(for Camilo Cienfuegos)
February 6, 1932 – October 28, 1959

we fight today
so we can dance tomorrow

we reject this history that marginalizes us
we prefer to rewrite it with ourselves as the heroes
the bullets flying past our heads
headlong into the danger without hesitation

we fight today
so we can drink tomorrow

the fear kept us compliant
but the joy of defiance is intoxicating
as we charge death now with a smile
awake in knowing

we fight today
so we can tell the stories tomorrow

and this new found courage
sparks a doubt that lights 100 fires
and burns down everything
that ever stood in our way

we fight today
so we can love tomorrow

100 fires to remind us of what was
and what could be
the phoenix of the future burns bright
in the ashes of the past

we fight today
so we can laugh tomorrow

100 fires burning a hole
where our uncertainty resides
the embers floating upward
carried on the smoke of our oppressors bones

– vagabond ©




Who’s ready?

Who’s ready to rip the throats of politicians to silence the lie and clear the air of the noise pollution so the voiceless can be heard…?

Who’s ready to liberate the airwave frequencies of the toxic fascism of fear and financial profits…?

Who’s ready the bite the hand that sustains our hunger…?

Who’s ready to stop taking the medicine that’s making us sick…?

Who’s ready to feed bankers silver spoons either in liquid or solid form, we’ll let them decide…?

Who’s ready to make the cops come out with their hands up…?

Who’s ready to surround theses many Jericho prisons and blow horns for seven days until the walls come tumbling down…?

Who’s ready to level the playing field by swinging a wrecking ball into stock exchanges and driving bulldozers across banks…?

Who’s ready to light a match to the money that’s been blocking the warmth & the light of the sun…?

Who’s ready to pull back the curtain to light up and disinfect the bleak future that’s hobbling in with a bad cough…?




Don’t worry this isn’t an indictment of you, i’m not an armchair revolutionary poet, i’m afraid too, of what they can do…

We know the future fear is greater in comparison to the present fear but i guess it’s not a sure thing until it’s too late…

But when will our future fear, surpass the present fear?

What will it take for our future fear to give us a present courage?

- vagabond ©


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


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