it’s come to this
on one two five with a bustelo can
looking for change
taking the kind that makes noise
but preferring the kind that folds
going straight to the source
straight to the audience
straight to the people
i dreamt a film for them
it breaks our hearts
makes us cry
knocks us down
then picks us up and binds us
but it takes faith to pre-purchase
what doesn’t yet exist
and faith must be mined
i dreamt of a making a film
and like everything else
one could possibly want
it wound up
in a pawnshop shelf window
with a ticket
how many know of the admission
ticket just to make a film
how are such absurdities conveyed
certainly not in a walking moment
wearing a black sandwich board
with white letters that says
MAKE THIS PAWN$HOP DREAM COME TRUE
on one side and
MAKE THIS PAWN$HOP DREAM A REALITY
on the other
so i’m in the mine
on one two five digging for faith
shaking a bustelo coffee can
but coming up empty
and wondering what the difference is between
the mumbling mad man
rummaging through a garbage can
and me on one two five with a coffee can
“I am not a liberator. They do not exist. The People liberate themselves.”
– Che Guevara
In Puerto Rico (and other Latin American nations) Christmas is celebrated on Three Kings Day, the sixth of January. The celebration is based on the day that the three Magi, bearing gifts, come to visit the birth of the baby Jesus in the manger. Puerto Rico is a colony of the US and has been since 1898… Colonization often forces the colonized into an economic exile that ironically enough leads them to settle in the nation that colonized them. That paradigm is no different for Puerto Ricans living the US. The majority of Puerto Ricans in the US are here because of the colonization of Puerto Rico. However there has always been a resistance to that colonization in the Puerto Rican diaspora and part of that resistance has been in keeping the native traditions of where you come from, in the foreign place that you have found yourself.
The Three Kings Day Parade is an act of cultural resistance to the colonization of Puerto Rico. It was started by El Museo Del Barrio which has its own roots in the rich history of Puerto Rican cultural resistance. Every year El Museo organizes the Three Kings Day Parade to maintain what US colonialism would like to eradicate. Over the years the Three Kings Day Parade has expanded its cultural resistance to include the neo-colonization of other Latin American nations whose people have been forced into the economic exile of US capitalism.
The Three Kings Day Parade resistance to colonialism which is a handmaiden for capitalism, made it the perfect backdrop to our first day of shooting PAWNSHOP DREAM. PAWNSHOP DREAM is surrealist comedic script about a young girl who wants to buy a beautiful box of sand she see in a pawnshop window but she doesn’t have enough to buy so the pawnshop owner puts it on layaway. She grows up paying for the beautiful box of sand for years until she decides that enough is enough and goes into the pawnshop to take what always been hers… The idea for PAWNSHOP DREAM is based on the life of Dylcia Pagan a former US held Puerto Rican Political Prisoner and Prisoner Of War who was charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government and sentenced to 65 years in prison. She served 20 years before a campaign won the release of her and other Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of war in 1998.
We have already begun shooting PAWNSHOP DREAM even though all the money isn’t in place. We aren’t deterred by such trivialities as not having money to make a film… especially a surreal film such as this… The Three Kings Day Parade is the perfect example of this. It presented an opportunity for the film to include an event rooted in cultural resistance to colonialism. So we shot Alexis “Flea” Fernandez who is one of the stars of PAWNSHOP DREAM (she’s also the costar of my other film NO WAY HOME) and plays the younger Dylcia Pagan and as she walks to the pawnshop to make yet another payment on her beautiful box of sand. The idea is that as Dylcia (played by Flea, another actress yet to be cast and then by Dylcia herself) walks back and forth to the pawnshop making payments on her beautiful box of sand she is surrounded by and takes part in these acts of everyday resistance in the street. These acts of resistance in the street shape her thinking and give her interactions with the pawnshop owner context.
We are still trying to raise money to make PAWNSHOP DREAM but we won’t wait until we have it all to begin… We do what we can, when we can… And when the opportunities and resources present themselves we move forward in the same way a guerrilla army does in battle… Filmmaking for me is cultural guerrilla warfare… We stay nimble and aware and look for the slim chances and wait for the odds that even at their best are invariably stacked against us as we take a bit more ground each time we move forward…
You can help us… We have raised $535 so far and need to raise another $4500. A few dollars is all it takes… i would rather have 4500 people donate one dollar than have one person donate $4500… Be a part of this PAWNSHOP DREAM and help take back the dream that was bought BY you but was never sold TO you… Be a part of the PAWNSHOP DREAM and take back what was always yours…
We did a wardrobe fitting for PAWNSHOP DREAM with Alexis “Flea” Fernandez late last night. Flea who is not only my niece but the co-star of PAWNSHOP DREAM. Flea will be playing a younger version of former US Held Puerto Rican political prisoner and prisoner of war Dylcia Pagan. Who served 20 years in US prisons for fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico using any and all means at her disposal…
Dylcia is the inspiration for PAWNSHOP DREAM. She has always claimed her freedom even locked up within the bowels of prison but has never really ever fully owned it. It’s that complicated sentiment that is at the crux of PAWNSHOP DREAM. The film is a surreal comedic allegory about Puerto Rico’s complicated relationship with a freedom, that like Dylcia, it has always claims but has never owned. The colonial relationship Puerto Rico has had with the US since 1898 is a complex one and is a metaphor for Dylcia’s life. It’s also a film about how capitalism colonizes all of us except the very few who benefit from such colonialism.
Flea will play a young version of Dylcia. i decided to go with a Punk Aesthetic for her character since Punk is such a strong and easily recognizable rebellious fashion. And what would fit a rebellious warrior like Dylcia better than Punk? So i turned to my girlfriend of many years Resister who dug into her closet and came up with this outfit. A red Che hoodie with green plaid bondage pants, green boots with thin orange laces, fingerless black star bondage gloves and a long sleeve Lion Of Judah Rasta T-shirt underneath it all… The RICANSTRUCTED baseball hat is a one of a kind sample that i wear all the time and Flea added that little bit of flavor afterward.
i think this outfit says it all… Defiant but fun and vibrant and full of life… Like Dylcia herself…
We are still struggling to make PAWNSHOP DREAM… We have only just reached (as i write now) the %10 mark in our goal to raise $5000 to make the film… Please think about sending in a donation of $25, $10 even $5 to help make this surreal comedy a reality…
EXT. STREET – DAY
DYLCIA walks down the street listening to her headphones. Something catches her eye as she walks past a pawnshop window. She stops and looks into the window. She looks at her watch and see the second hand ticking then walks inside the pawn shop.
INT. PAWN SHOP – DAY
SAM the pawnshop owner is doing some accounting on a glass display counter with watches and jewelry.
No kids allowed in the store.
I wanna see something that’s in the window.
I don’t care. No kids allowed in the store.
I wanna buy it.
What do you want to buy?
This… (she points to a box in the window)
You have money?
Yeah. I got money.
SAM gets a beautifully decorated wooden box with a Puerto Rican flag painted on it out of the window. He puts it on the counter. DYLCIA picks it up.
I wanna buy it. How much is it?
How much money do you have?
What do you mean how much money do I have?
How much money do you have?
What kind of question is that?
A simple question. Now, how much do you have?
DYLCIA reaches into her pocket and pulls out a bunch of bills and puts them on the counter. SAM counts the bills.
It’s not enough.
How much is it?
What does it matter how much it is if
you haven’t got enough to pay for it?
DYLCIA picks up the box and looks for a price.
It doesn’t have a price.
How do you know how much it is?
I know… that’s how I know.
You don’t put the price on things
so people can know?
No. I don’t put the price on things.
If people want something bad enough they’ll pay.
DYLCIA turns around and looks at the guitars hanging in the store with prices on them.
You put the price tags on those guitars.
Yeah. Some things got prices tags on them
others don’t. It doesn’t matter because
you can’t afford this.
But I still want it. Tell me much it is
and I’ll find a way to pay it.
SAM thinks for a moment…
You want it so bad? I’ll make you a deal.
I’ll take this money you have here and when
you get more money you come back and
you bring it to me. If you have enough money
next time to pay for it I’ll give it to you.
What happens if I don’t have enough
money the next time to pay for it?
I’ll take that and I’ll apply it to the final price.
And you won’t sell it to anyone else?
No. This money says it’s yours.
If that money says it’s mine why can’t I have it?
Because you haven’t finished paying for it.
When you finish paying for it you can have it.
So this money says it’s mine
but I can’t have it until I finish paying for it?
DYLCIA gives SAM a dirty look she puts her money down on the counter. SAM pockets the money and smiles as DYLCIA walks out with an uneasy feeling of dissatisfaction.
“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
i’m working on trying to raise money for a new film called PAWNSHOP DREAM. It’s a film that’s heavily influenced by one Rev. Pedro Pietri. 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 it’s 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 who is another huge influence on PAWNSHOP DREAM. If Rev. Pedro Pietri is the Revelation of PAWNSHOP DREAM, Dylcia Pagan, who is a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner and prisoner of war, is the genesis. 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 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 affects of opposing ideas and made them attract. He used what seemed like nonsense to make sense of a world that’s never made sense. It’s this quality of his work that is a huge influence on PAWNSHOP DREAM. 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
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
PAWNSHOP DREAM is about a young girl who puts a pretty box of sand she see in a pawnshop window on layaway. The concept of layaway itself is surreal. An item on layaway belongs to the one who pays, but is in the possession of the one who collects payment. As long as one keeps paying for the item it belongs to them and cannot be sold to another but until it’s paid for it completely it cannot be fully claimed. This is a perfect metaphor for the colonial relationship that the US has with Puerto Rico. It’s obvious that Puerto Rico belongs to Puerto Ricans but the US won’t relinquish their illegitimate claim. In PAWNSHOP DREAM the girl grows up paying until she’s finally had enough…
PAWNSHOP DREAM and this metaphor for Puerto Rican colonialism is also an apt metaphor for the current demands of the recent Occupy Wall Street movement. i think that the roots of rampant unchecked capitalism can be traced right back to the colonization of the Americas. What PAWNSHOP DREAM is trying to do is connect the schizophrenic idea that capitalism colonizes all of us… The colonization of nations by capitalism is not unlike the colonization of persons by capitalism… In each case capitalism is served with the exploitation of people…
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 however his influence can be felt in the script of PAWNSHOP DREAM and is sure to be felt in the film once it’s completed. In a way Rev. Pedro Pietri is live and direct from the flip side life in PAWNSHOP DREAM.
You can help the surreal script of PAWNSHOP DREAM become a surreal film… There are two ways to do this… Donate financially or spread the word about the campaign… Any way you choose is very much appreciated…