Monday, November 30, 2009

Working Class Hero

From NY Times opion:

“A working class hero is something to be,” John Lennon, that product of ragged Liverpool, sang just after leaving the Beatles. “Keep you doped with religion and sex and T.V.”

As someone who had a union card in my wallet before I owned a Mastercard, I don’t share Lennon’s dark view of blue collar workers. But as long as they can be distracted by people who say all government is bad, while turning a blind eye to manipulation at corporate levels, they’re doomed to shouting at phantoms.

I have been thinking about the big government versus big corporate groups. In your mind, which one is more evil? More importantly, are they mutually exclusive? Most Republicans and Democrats argue as though we have an either/or situation.

If the government isn't running things, then the evil corporations are going to rape us in our sleep!

Somebody once told me, the problem with big business is their ability to bribe the government. I think this kind of insight is very short sighted. He should have said, the problem with big government is that it opens the doors to lobbyists and special interest groups and as of late, corporate execs looking for bailouts.

How are we going to put the power back in the hands of the people? I do not think this comes from artificially inflating the power of either government or corporate fat cats. Power for the people comes from preserving options.

Why do you think non-paid internships are on the rise? I somehow doubt it is because our employers are not taxed enough.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free Speech vs Defamation of Character

From Seattle Post Intelligence:

PERUGIA --Italian authorities have served the parents of Amanda Knox with legal papers notifying them they are under investigation for defamation, an accusation related to their allegations that police brutalized their daughter.

People might feel sympathy for Amanda because she's young and cute (despite the denim jacket). The Italian people already distrust their police. Heck, we aren't very big fans of our own police, here in Washington. These claims, truth or not, only reinforce a pre-existing distrust of police.

What actions do the police, as employees of the state, have against these allegations. By rules of logic, they are unable to prove that misconduct did not occur. Their best option is to maintain their professionalism and transparency throughout the case.

Cases of defamation of character in American courts are typically awarded to situations regarding individuals and private organizations. Cases that hold up in court are typically follow a utilitarian argument, gauging the malicious repercussions of the message against the social utility of the content.

For example, a department store may not post photographs of shoplifters on its front doors because it is of no use to the public to see the faces of people who have already paid for their crimes. Also, the information may hurt business opportunities otherwise available to publicly shamed individuals. A libertarian argument would suggest that public image is like a commodity that holds value. Damage inflicted upon public image is like damage of any other property and must be compensated for.

People exempt from pressing defamation charges are public figures such as politicians and celebrities. Their public image is regarded as public property and a fair subject for free speech.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

local hip hop

I discovered Zia Mohajerjasbi through his genius award write up in The Stranger. Check out his Vimeo page. He makes hip hop videos for local Seattle artists. Pretty cool, right?

I think when your average person thinks of hip hop videos they think of guns, gold chains and half naked women. People should be thinking of a second type of hip hop video. That is, the short film:

Common Market "Trouble Is" Music Video from Zia Mohajerjasbi on Vimeo.

Framing a hip hop video like a short film makes sense. Indie acts such as Common Market are heavily message oriented. They tell stories about poverty and economic hardship.

They're like the Almanac Singers of the modern depression. When I was making a documentary about street musician Tommy Dean, I really wanted to end the film with Tommy's comments on hip hop. The moral is, folk singers (by nature of their medium) are looking in the rear view mirror. Hip hop is current and modern. It doesn't preoccupy itself by imitating the blues and it doesn't try to hide behind a clever riff or a catchy melody. Its just message.

That said, I'm interested in what Zia is doing. I'll keep an eye on him.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

the blind side by mike lewis

Have you seen the preview for The Blind Side? You should take a look. Seriously. Next Hollywood blockbuster with a pay-it-forward sort of feel good moral. Its based on a true story about white people helping black people with their homelessness and drug addiction. And guess who the hero is? Football!

I read the review of the story in The Stranger and The Seattle Weekly.

I am sure the authors of these reviews all went to fine liberal arts universities and I commend them in their ability to point out the racism. Somebody please give them the Bill Cosby award.

If they had read Micheal Lewis' book, they would also know that the true story is aware of all their criticisms. Behind the movie script and the literary journalism are real people and a real moral dilemma regarding not only race and economic prejudice but also the sport of football and the impact it has on education and society.

It is easy to criticize white people for being so pompous as to paint themselves as the savior of poor black people and it is a legitimate argument. Michael Oher is adopted by the coach of Briarcrest Christian School for the explicit purpose of winning football games. The selflessness is a thin disguise for the true story of opportunists.

Also real are the benefits appreciated by Big Mike. He really was homeless. His mom really was a prostitute. His father really was a deadbeat living on the streets. Football changed all this.

Mike Lewis simply tells the story as any free market capitalist would see it. The sport of football presented a need for a tall athletic heavyweight and Big Mike was available to fill that need. Of course, Big Mike could not have made it on his own so he found assistance from Sean Tuohy and his wife.

The important dialogue that is being passed up here is: Sean Tuophy morally wrong for taking advantage of disenfranchised youth? He does pick the kid off the streets and give him an education. Is capitalism wrong for rewarding selfishness? Is football morally wrong for providing a means for the rags to riches story?

I can't comment on the movie because I have not seen it yet. I would not be surprised if the moral dilemma of the book is missing from the film. Please don't judge a book by its movie adaptation. All objections to the movie are actually the subject matter of the book. The "selfless and benevolent white people" are actually fully aware of their post-racist behavior and are torn between helping the kid and leaving him starving on the street. In the book, there is actually a parallel development between "Big Mike" and a lesser (little?) Mike character who does not get a football scholarship.

Friday Night Lights might be a better film but the literary story telling of The Blind Side is a terrific book. Also check out Mike Lewis's other novels.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

telekinesis! at bumbershoot

i had a lot of fun shooting and editing this video. telekinesis! reminds me a bit of both deathcab for cutie and older nada surf.

shooting bands is easy. the biggest mistake you can make is thinking too much. just point the camera and have a good time. use the opportunity to play around a bit. here, i stuck to wide angles too much and i think i botched it. don't do that. just have fun.

chief of sales?

this week marks the beginning of my new career in sales. my friend fransisco asked me to do some rep work for his clothing label, built for man. i have never worked in fashion or sales but here i am, neck deep in fashion sales. we'll see how i handle this challenge.

i really love fransisco's wool and cotton pieces. all of his clothes are made out of the finest materials. baby alpaca wool and pima cotton. also, they are sold at affordable prices. you couldn't find a better deal at target. seriously.

this last week, i've been compiling a list of all clothing stores/boutiques/outlets in seattle who might carry built for man product. next week, i'll be developing a sales strategy. wish me luck!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

portfolio links

social media profiles
facebook: /platypusrex256
twitter: /platypusrex256
yelp: /platypusrex256
linkedin: /platypusrex256
vimeo: /joshuaguerci

video samples
women behind bars: /click
hermes festival of crafts: /click
smith & winston: /click
football video: /click
emerson salon: /click
kexp bumbershoot: /click

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

laser light show on broadway

my friend angelo put this video together for seattle university's student newspaper. i'm glad to see the spectator take advantage of multimedia like this. i'm thinking i might want to swing by and take a look at this art exhibit while its up.

Lasers bring life to an empty lot from The Spectator on Vimeo.

Story of Tim Brenton and Christopher Monfort

I've been following the story of Officer Tim Brenton and Christopher Monfort pretty closely because I am interested in stories that reflect upon issues of security and civil rights.

Police officer shot dead Halloween night. (article) Brenton's position as a senior police officer and a mentor to Britt Sweeney enhances the symbolic meaning of the story. A police officer is dead and we are faced with the mortality of our protectors

Police in search of suspicious car. (article) Once we establish the mortality of our hero, we introduce our faceless anti-hero. He draws power from his obscurity.

I know it is a lot to ask from the city, but I would like to see video evidence released to the public. Screen shots of video are not enough.

Police share theory about suspect. (article) Our anti-hero challenges the morality of our hero. Our villain wants us to ask questions about the deputy sheriff and the girl in SeaTac. Our ghost story becomes a moral dilemma.

Monfort is shot at his home. (article) As DNA and other evidence is collected, it is important to note that Seattle Police own this story. The journalists were good to gather some additional comments when available but the Police remain the sole proprietors of meat to this story.

Friends and family of Monfort have an opportunity to speak to the press at this time. Often friends and family will decline to speak with the press, often by request of their lawyers, out of fear that the press is out to ruin the case and create prejudice against them before the jury is assembled. It is the journalist's first priority to understand the family's need for space but it is also important for the family to understand that silence is not always the best option. In the Monfort case, silence is counter productive.

If Monfort is innocent, it is the duty of his friends and family to step forward now to clear his name. If Monfort is guilty, the journalist might offer an opportunity for speak anonymously. Either way, if the journalist is not able to dig up information about Monfort, he loses an opportunity to tell a compelling story.

Monfort questioned authority. (article) When friends and family do not speak, a journalist must rely only on public record. Here is where we establish Monfort's identity as a proponent of freedom. He witnessed the fall of The Berlin Wall and participated in the first Iraq war. In school, Monfort was deeply passionate about the people's right to a government that stays within the confines of the constitution.

The danger of these findings is that the story becomes instantly political when the shooter is identified as representing a political point of view already grossly associated with domestic terrorism. For example, should society be fearful of people who question authority?

This story ends with a dead police officer but its power is in the conflict between security and freedom. The intent is not to vilify Monfort because to do so would to paint Brenton's death in vain. Also, the story is not to patronize Monfort's politics as to neglect the true struggle of the human condition.