Tag Archives: Dylcia Pagan


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…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1yy


MACHETERO Goes To School


MACHETERO is a film that questions and challenges Puerto Rico’s colonial status in a way that brings post-9/11 definitions, ideas and notions of terrorism into play. Theatrically self-released in 2013, MACHETERO has screened all over the world and won awards in South Africa, Wales, England, Thailand, Ireland and New York. Check out the film in its entirety on Vimeo On Demand to determine if it’s right for your classroom or as a campus activity. MACHETERO is a perfect fit for:

  • Latin American Studies
  • Afro-American Studies
  • Post-Colonial Studies
  • Creative Writing
  • Media Studies
  • Film Studies
  • Music Studies
  • English Literature
  • Political Science Studies
  • Pan African Studies
  • Pan Latino Studies

For more information
Email: machetero.movie@gmail.com
Call: 347-772-9186

Other screening events have been sponsored by Latin American, Black, and Asian student groups as well as various social justice groups.

MACHETERO usually screens with a post screening Q&A with writer, producer and director vagabond (me). The film is a dense and layered mix of poetry, music, text, history and post-colonial theory placed within a fictional narrative framework in a manner never before conceived. The film is not just a film about revolution, but is revolutionary in it’s very form.

MACHETERO has engendered discussion, dialogue and debate on a variety of issues. There have been discussions about anti-colonial Puerto Rican history, the history of US imperialism and Puerto Rico’s global connection to the other anti-imperialist struggles. Dialogues have also incorporated the topics of filmmaking aesthetics, underground guerrilla filmmaking tactics, and the role of art as a tool for social change. The film has also sparked debates around  questioning of the definition and use of the terms “terrorism” and “terrorists” and how those terms are defined and used, who defines them and how they benefit from such definitions and labels.


Dylcia Pagan on the set of MACHETERO
Dylcia Pagan on the set of MACHETERO

There have also been MACHETERO screening events in the past that have included former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war Dylcia Pagan. Dylcia served 20 years in prison for fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico. Before she went to prison she was a TV producer, journalist and documentarian and so she has a unique perspective on the film and on the power of media in general. She also plays a pivotal role in MACHETERO. Her history and insights into the struggle against colonialism in Puerto Rico and how it’s connected to other global struggles is invaluable.


Chuck D quote

Bill Quigley QUOTE



For more information
Email: machetero.movie@gmail.com
Call: 347-772-9186

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1vf


If you haven’t seen my film MACHETERO yet, maybe this collection of production stills will pique your interest…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1t4


The Liberation Day Tapes

[vimeo 107782689 w=600&h=446]

The genome of my six-time international award-winning feature film MACHETERO can be mapped right back to the NYC hardcore Puerto Rican punk band RICANSTRUCTION and their first album Liberation Day. When i write i often build a soundtrack to use as an emotional roadmap to guide me through the construction of the script. i often see songs as short stories or reinterpret them as short stories and i take those short stories and try to include them in my writing process.

MACHETERO is a film about terrorism and terrorists and how those terms are defined and by whom. The script was written a year after the terrorist events of September 11, 2001. i was waiting for a more nuanced analysis of those events to take place on a larger scale but they never did and so i wrote the script for MACHETERO and decided to explore those issues in a film. The terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 were polarizing and so referencing them in the script seemed counterproductive so i decided to use the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence and the use of violence in that struggle as a means of liberation to talk about terrorism and terrorists.

[vimeo 75167575 w=600&h=338]

RICANSTRUCTION’s Liberation Day was a concept album based around the Puerto Rican independence struggle. So when i was looking for music to inspire my scriptwriting for MACHETERO i was immediately drawn to Liberation Day. The songs from Liberation Day started to insinuate themselves into the script and they eventually became a part of the structure of the film.

At the end of the final sound mix for MACHETERO my friend and fellow filmmaker Omar came by and brought his camera to interview Arturo and Joseph Rodriguez about how Liberation Day came into being. Artie and Joey talk about how RICANSTRUCTION came about and how the concept for Liberation Day took shape. Arturo and Joseph talk about the ideas and the creation of each song and afterward there is the corresponding scene from MACHETERO.

Liberation Day by RICANSTRUCTION
Liberation Day by RICANSTRUCTION

RICANSTRUCTION’s Liberation Day is available on iTunes and i highly recommend picking it up. You can hear all the influences of Jazz, Funk, Salsa, Hip hop, Reggae and Merengue placed into a hardcore punk setting in the music of RICANSTRUCTION. The rest of their catalog – the EP Abu Jamal and their 2nd album Love + Revolution are also on iTunes.

You can watch The Liberation Day Tapes on the Vimeo On Demand page for MACHETERO. The Liberation Day Tapes are part of a collection of extra videos that give some background information on the film and that are free to watch. There is also a radio interview i did with Chuck D about the film and an interview i did with Sam Greenlee the author and co-screenwriter of The Spook Who Sat By The Door. There is also a scene from the film featuring former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war Dylcia Pagan who plays a pivotal role in the film.

Six Time International Award Winning Film MACHETERO On Vimeo On Demand
Six Time International Award Winning Film MACHETERO On Vimeo On Demand

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1sT

Pedro’s Got A Pipebomb Set For The 4th Of July

MACHETERO July 4th by vagabond ©
MACHETERO July 4th by vagabond ©

Pedro’s got a pipe bomb set for the fourth of July
a detonator slow fuse Loisaida
high demolition dope fiends toking Tompkins Square
take the world in hand and fuck it.
When Pedro died the shitstem lied and Hiram and Elias tried
as Ponce bled Jayuya spread and Oscar and Griselo fled
with dreams and dignity a people could be free
through selfless sacrifice a nation could rise.

Pedro’s got a pipe bomb but the boom is on loan
broken-English hype-dreams sleep in skin and bone
consecrated crack heads sucking strangled tongues…
When Pedro died the sanctified Lolita and Boriqua pride
as Lares screamed Utado dreamed
and presidents and preachers schemed
of land and liberty and country tis of thee
the selfish satisfied a nation would rise.

Tired of the bullshit the rat race and dog piss.
The poverty pimps future feels like a slit wrist.
I’m a goddamn Boriqua and I got me a plan
gonna bumrush this shitstem however I can!
Pedro’s got a pipe bomb.
Pedro’s got a pipe bomb.
Pedro’s got a pipe bomb….
– Pedro’s Grave by RICANSTRUCTION

[vimeo 75167575]

Twelve years ago i wrote the script to MACHETERO. Nine years ago i began shooting the film then scrapped it. 8 years ago i began to shoot the film again. Seven years ago the first cut came in at 55 minutes. We screened it and got some feedback. Then we came up with some more ideas. We improvised. Six years ago we shot more. Recut the film and it was 85 minutes. Then we screened it and got some feedback. Then we had some more ideas and we shot some more. The film was done five years ago its final running time was 98 minutes…

Then the film went on tour around the world doing festivals in Vancouver, Los Angeles, South Africa, Egypt, Thailand, Wales, England, Ireland, and of course here in NY. It won awards in South Africa, Wales, England, Thailand, Ireland and NY. In June of 2013 i self-released the film theatrically for a week in the Lower East Side of NYC. On September 23rd of 2013, i released the film on Vimeo On Demand…

And now in 2014, Pedro’s got a pipebomb set for the 4th of July… On July 4th, 12 years after the script was written MACHETERO will be available for people to download and own… Now you can watch it on demand for 48 hours or you can download it and watch it whenever you like which is really the best way to do it…

Why buy MACHETERO? Because it’s a densely layered film. It was made to be watched again and again. It was designed so that multiple viewings  reveal something you didn’t quite see the first or second or third time you saw the film… It’s a film that has the potential to grow consciousness and whose consciousness grows with you every time you see it…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1nN

Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day… Remember those who fell fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico… Remember those who sacrificed decades in prison for your freedom…

Some of these images are available as T-shirts from RICANSTRUCTED

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1na

Poet Feminist Independentista

Poeta Julia De Burgos by vagabond ©
Poeta Julia De Burgos by vagabond ©

“I have an urge for freedom. If I die I do not want this tragic nation to swallow my bones. They need the warmth of Borinquen, to at least fortify the worms from over there, not the ones from here.” – Julia De Burgos
(written from New York in a letter to her sister).

Julia De Burgos is considered one of the greatest poets of Latin America, she was also an advocate for the independence of Puerto Rico, an ardent civil rights activist for women, African and Afro-Carribbean people and a vocal critic of any and all political tyranny. She was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico on February 17, 1914. Today she would have been 100 years old.

Burgos was raised in a poor section of Carolina called Barrio Santa Cruz. Her family’s poverty did not keep her from developing a love for nature and her nation. At the age of 19, she graduated from the University of Puerto Rico and became a teacher. Her love of literature led her to write poetry and her primary inspiration was her homeland.

In 1936, she joined the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico), which at the time was headed by the Puerto Rican liberationist Pedro Albizu Campos. She published three books of poetry (the third was published after her death) and traveled around the island-nation promoting (and supporting) herself and her art by giving book readings.

In 1939, Burgos traveled first to Cuba and then later to New York City where she lived on and off for the next several years. On July 6, 1953, she collapsed on a sidewalk in El Barrio/East Harlem, NY and later died of pneumonia at a hospital in Harlem at the age of 39. Since her body was not initially identified/claimed by anyone, the city of New York gave her a pauper’s burial on Hart Island, the city’s only Potters field.

Later, some friends were able to find her grave and claim her body. A committee was organized in Puerto Rico, to have her remains transferred to the island-nation. Julia’s remains arrived on September 6, 1953, and she was given a hero’s burial at the Municipal Cemetery of Carolina. A monument was later built at her burial site by the City of Carolina, Puerto Rico. She was and still is Puerto Rico’s poet laureate.

Dylcia reads Julia in a scene from MACHETERO by vagabond ©
Dylcia reads Julia in a scene from MACHETERO by vagabond ©

There’s a very important scene in my film MACHETERO where Dylcia Pagan who plays the part of the Mentor in the film (Dylcia is a former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner and Prisoner of War and a current Puerto Rican National Heroine) reads a poem by Julia De Burgos. In the scene a group of children come running up to Dylcia with a book of Julia’s poems asking her to read something to them… The poem she chooses is Amaneceres (Dawnings). It’s a pivotal scene in the film because the lead character Pedro Taino (played by Not4Prophet of the Puerto Rican Punk band RICANSTRUCTION and Hip-Hop group X-Vandals) writes a manual on how to be a Machetero called The Anti-manifesto. The Anti-manifesto is a series of poetic writings that are featured throughout the film. The poetry reading scene takes place in the final third of the film and helps to illuminate how this character Pedro Taino who doesn’t even have a High School Diploma can write so well.

This poetry reading scene is presented within the overall film to be a kind of dreamlike flashback to Pedro’s childhood. The idea is that one of the children in the group that Dylcia (the Mentor) is reading to, is Pedro. The poem itself is about transformation. The transformation of self and society which is what the film is also about. Pedro Taino transforms himself from victim of colonialism to combatant to colonialism. The Young Rebel (played by Kelvin Fernandez) transforms himself from victim of colonialism to combatant against colonialism. Both of these characters are transforming themselves and in doing so are transforming society as well.

Before we left for Puerto Rico Not4Prophet came up with the idea for this poetry reading scene. He felt that it would give an understanding as to how the Pedro Taino character was encouraged to educate himself. It also gave Pedro’s character an appreciation of poetry and writing that would not otherwise be expected in him and this gave his character an added layer to his dimensionality. While we were in Puerto Rico we didn’t know exactly how we were going to portray this scene, (we improvised a lot on this film). We knew how the other crucial scene with Dylcia would play out but we didn’t know how the poetry scene would develop.

Yasmin Hernandez (Yaz) a talented Puerto Rican painter came with us to Puerto Rico to help with the shoot. Yaz is a good friend of mine and had been following MACHETERO’s development as we were in the process of creating the film. She was reading a compilation of Julia De Burgos poems called Songs Of The Simple Truth and she came across the poem Amanecers (Dawnings). It was a truly perfect fit.

When we shot the scene the next day i used my nephew and niece who also came down with us to Puerto Rico but more to enjoy the beauty of the island than to work on the film. However when i asked them if they wanted to do it they were excited and we improvised the scene as we shot it…

Another part of this scene that’s important to highlight comes from the old African adage that it takes a village to raise a child. Dylcia’s role to these children is deliberately kept ambiguous. She is mother, aunt, grandmother, neighbor, teacher to these children. Even her role in the credit is referred to as The Mentor, because a mentor can be a mother, aunt, grandmother, neighbor or teacher. In the African tradition these roles may be interchangeable to a child living within the community but the one constant that remains is the mentorship. In the other scene that Dylcia is in she’s imparting the history of colonialism in Puerto Rico (unfortunately this history is not exclusive to Puerto Rico but extends to Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, etc…) and she does this using the oral tradition which is also an African trait. The reading of Julia De Burgos and the reading of this poem to the children combined with Dylcia’s other scene in the film come together to create a portrait of a woman who is creating warriors for freedom. It’s a scene that puts the struggle for our freedom (Puerto Rico and beyond…) into a multi-generational light.

The fact that Dylcia is the one who is imparting this history and this culture to these children in this scene in this film only added a special kind of  gravitas to the film. Dylcia Pagan is a warrior and a freedom fighter who served 20 years in US prisons for fighting to free Puerto RIco from the yoke of US colonialism. She is a Puerto Rican National Heroine and of course she has always related to Julia De Burgos.

by Julia De Burgos

Dawning in my soul!
Dawnings in my mind!

When the intimate door is opened
to enter one’s self
what dawnings!

To gather the hour that passes trembling at our side
and make it now,
and make it robust,
and make it universal.

 And let it sing
and let it scream;
and let it penetrate in all anonymous corners
awakening rebellions;
and let it sweep the face of the eternal hunchback of time
sick of not thinking;
and let it hang all the songs of the bourgeois ways
and break its seconds into a million proletarian hymns

Dawning in my soul!
Dawnings in my mind!
When the intimate door is opened
to enter one’s self
what dawnings!

There inside,
deep inside,
to approach life
To see…
To listen…
To smell…
To taste…
And touch…

And in the earth…
perpendicular over his own life.
Man earth
made in two violent dimensions.
The common dimension:
five senses,
and one body and one mind.
The whole man. Him.

The other,
the social dimension;
Man bourgeoisfied
of body,
of mind,
of energy.
Man derailed
fleeing ferociously from himself.

That bourgeois man
must be destroyed,
at the present time,
in the robust hour,
in the universal hour.
The world awakens!

When the intimate door is opened
to enter one’s self
what dawnings!

from Songs Of The Simple Truth (translation by Jack Agueros)

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