Tag Archives: 2Leaf Press

TRANS-SISTER


Trans-sister by vagabond ©
Trans-sister by vagabond ©

A while back i illustrated a book of poetry called Last Of The Po’Ricans Y Otras Afro-artifacts. One of the poems in the book was called Trans-sister and it was about Puerto Rican Trans woman Sylvia Rivera and her fight for equality and justice… Sylvia Rivera was at Stonewall on that fateful day of June 28, 1969… With the ruling by the US Supreme Court that the entire US must recognize Marriage Equality i thought it important to remind people of that the modern day LGBTQ struggle for rights was born at the Stonewall Inn in NYC…

It’s good that the LGBTQ brothers and sisters have some equal ground to stand upon after so many years of pain and struggle and it’s a moment worth celebrating… At the same time we have to remember that homophobia, gay homeless youth, trans phobia, and the everyday violence that people face for being themselves is something that continues… So let’s celebrate this victory and use it strengthen the other work that must be done…

Shortlink:  http://wp.me/p1eniL-1Av

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

The Morning Side Of The Hill


Just wanted to give folks a heads up about the latest book cover i did for a new release for 2Leaf Press titled Morning Side Of The Hill by Ezra E Fitz. In a previous post i talked about how we shot this cover called Successful Guerrilla Filmmaking. i shot this on my new Red Epic in 5K video and pulled a still out of the video to create the cover… Look for Morning Side Of The Hill to be out soon… Check out 2LeafPress for more info…

Morning Side Of The Hill by Ezra E Fitz cover by vagabond ©
Morning Side Of The Hill by Ezra E Fitz cover by vagabond ©

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1s6

I GOT PEOPLE IN ME


Last week i had the honor and pleasure of doing both a film interview and photo shoot with Amina Baraka in NewArk New Jersey. If her name sounds familiar it may be because she is the widow of Amiri Baraka and the mother of the mayor of NewArk Ras Baraka. What you probably aren’t familiar with is that she is a poet in her own right and she has a new collection of poems coming out soon on 2Leaf Press who are turning out an amazing roster of writers who have been ignored by the publishing world for far too long. Original Nuyorican poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez, Shirley Bradley Leflore of the Black Arts movement and Abiodun Oyewole of the incredibly influential Last Poets, just to name a few of the older poets who made an impact and continue to shape how we see the world, all have books out on 2Leaf Press.

And that’s the reason i was out in NewArk doing a film shoot and photo shoot. Amina was talking about her new book of poetry Blues In All Hues due out soon. When i got to her home in she was sitting in a room listening to John Coltrane and Billie Holiday. i took a few shots of her as she meditated to ‘Trane and Holiday.

Jeff “AK” my DP set up the new Red Epic we are shooting with i took Amina outside on the stoop of her home in NewArk and shot these portraits of her. A few of these will be used as press photos for her book. i don’t pose my subjects when i shoot. i put them in a place and try to get them to relax and we shoot the shit as i shoot the pix. i try to keep it relaxed and informal. Joking around brings genuine smiles and laughter but i like to leave room for spaces of silence and contemplation and seriousness.

As i shot her i kept seeing so many people in her face and in the way she moved and in the way she carried herself. She look like my  grandmother, my mother, who are from Puerto Rico, and she moved and carried herself in ways that reminded me of my other grandmother born in Panama to Irish and Scottish parents, raised in Nicaragua and settled in Jamaica. i told Amina this and she said ‘I got people in me’. That phrase really struck me, ‘I got people in me’ and Amina told me that it came a song by Abbey Lincoln. She told me of her Native American roots intertwined with her African roots and i think you can clearly see the people in her in these photos…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1rq

Successful Guerrilla Filmmaking


Lit-by-lighter by vagabond ©
Lit-by-lighter by vagabond ©

Guerrilla Filmmaking Rules

1 • No permits or permission
(art is its own autonomy)

2 • Skeletal crew & gear
(be lean and mean)

3 • Be ready to cut and run
(avoid being busted)

Successful Guerrilla Filmmaking

1 • No one gets arrested

2 • No gear is lost, damaged or stolen

3 • You got footage

ART 1 – LEGALITY & AUTHORITY 0

Went out the other evening to shoot a book cover and to test the Red Epic DSMC. i wanted to shoot a sunset shot on a rooftop for the cover to Ezra E Fitz soon to be published novel Morning Side Of The Hill to be published by 2Leaf Press this fall. My nephew Kelvin knew of a spot where we could shoot in Jackson Heights Queens in NYC. We scouted it out and found the building front door open and no alarm on the roof door. Perfect spot.

The next day we went up to do the actual shoot. Skeletal gear and crew. One camera case and a backpack of lenses with a small AA battery operated hand-held LED light. Crew was me and Joe with Kelvin (who you can see in my film MACHETERO) as our model.

The front door was locked and there was a sign on it letting people know that they should use their key and not force the door. We pretended to text and ring a buzzer as someone came in with a key and opened the door. Stealth our way onto the roof. Shoot until dark and come down. A successful guerrilla shoot. No one got arrested, no gear got lost, damaged or stolen and we got footage…

Once again art wins out over legality and authority for the sake of legality and authority… The risk is always worth the reward when it comes down to having art or not having art…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1oT

Something Beautiful


Something Beautiful by vagabond ©
Something Beautiful by vagabond ©

Last Poet Abiodun Oyewole has a new book coming out this Spring from publisher 2Leaf Press called Branches Of The Tree Of Life. It’s an omnibus collection spanning over four decades of poetry. It will feature an introduction by Sonia Sanchez and is being edited by 2Leaf’s publisher Gabrielle David. i produced and directed a few short films for 2Leaf Press to help promote the book. Something Beautiful is the first in a series of short films highlighting the life and poetry of Abiodun.

Branches Of The Tree Of Life cover by vagabond ©
Branches Of The Tree Of Life cover by vagabond ©

Something Beautiful was shot over two rainy days. i got the idea to shoot in the rain after talking to University of Connecticut professor and fellow 2Leaf Press author Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez. The poem is about Abiodun struggling to say something beautiful but hampered by a cocktail of bad thoughts, bad feelings and unresolved history flooding his day and making it almost impossible to say something beautiful. i wanted it to seem as though it was the rain that was hampering his ability to say something beautiful but as the film progresses it’s the rain that is beautiful and it’s Abiodun in this space who is struggling with these bad thoughts and bad feelings and unresolved history.

My DP Jeff “AK” Akers did a fantastic job shooting the film. He found ways to make beautiful images out of the mundane. He took drain pipes and reflections and graffiti and dark skies and men pushing a shopping cart and transformed them using a delicate balance of composition, light and darkness, so that each shot evoked a kind of fragile tenderness… i’ve been working with Jeff for many years, he has a keen eye and resourcefulness for stripping away the artifice and getting to the essence of things… He had a huge role in making Something Beautiful, beautiful…

Abiodun’s Branches Of The Tree Of Life will be out soon, keep an eye out for it, as well as a few other short films i’ll be releasing around the book…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1lX

Nothing To Be Gained Here


Nothing Mug Shot Saint by vagabond ©
Nothing Mug Shot Saint by vagabond ©

This space was born out of a frustration. There were things not being said that need to be said… needed to be clarified… need some context… There were things that required some time for reflection  in order to respond properly…  So this space was born so that there would be a record of the things that were going unsaid…

i called this space Nothing To Be Gained Here because of the inherent contradiction i have always felt about my work being important but completely misunderstood… The name came from a symbol that hobo’s use to communicate with one another, the “O” being a symbol for nothing to be gained here…  i first tripped over these hobo symbols in a cognizant way (i may have seen them before and not known that they held any meaning) in the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat…

i always admired Basquiat’s ability to understand that the work he did was important and brought something to the table, brought something to the game, brought something to the discussion and at the same time realized that his work would be misunderstood and discounted and disparaged by those who would find nothing to be gained there… And so there were constant references within his work to this dialectic of importance and indifference…

i feel the same way about my own work and so Nothing To Be Gained Here became a space for me to espouse my less than ideal art and ideas for a less than ideal world… It also became a warning for the staunch and inflexible masses who shape their point of view according to the comfort it gives them… New ideas are always uncomfortable and the alibi created to not give them a chance is that there is nothing to be gained here… So i let them off the hook early and in doing so hopefully disarmed them…

Now much of the work that i’ve done here in this space since 2009 is being collected in a hardcover coffee table book aptly named NOTHING TO BE GAINED HERE. It’s a collection of essays, poetry, prose, short scripts, art and photography mostly from this space to be released in the fall of this year and to be published by 2Leaf Press. They’re the publisher that i have been working with doing book covers and book videos for the past year and a half. More information will come in the coming months leading up to the publication… i’ll be posting them here and on my twitter account… So stay tuned and don’t worry there is nothing to be gained here… 🙂

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1kC