Monday, December 12, 2011

a strange video

it's my aunt's 60th birthday today and in her honor i made the weirdest clip i've ever made. i'm told it fit her like a glove.

happy birthday aunt ginny!!!

love and loyalty

Sunday, December 4, 2011

a prologue

lars you've done it again

very lovely.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

a birthday haiku

a hero and friend
i like that we share our names
happy birthday, dad

Sunday, October 2, 2011

a pretty hefty statement

Official Statement from Occupy Wall Street - this statement was voted on and approved by the general assembly of protesters at Liberty Square: Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

a moment in the desert

Inspection wasn’t as long as I had anticipated. I’ve heard stories of people trapped in line for hours on end waiting to get in. Eric and I only waited about forty-five minutes. It wasn’t so bad- we were able to pass the time watching the desert dust pile on the windows, reading the various warning signs and poems on posts and listening to children on the Burning Man radio station discuss their memories of growing up on the Playa year after year. It was my first time, so I wasn’t sure whether to envy the children for being exposed to the lifestyle at such a young age or to fear for their futures.

At the end of inspection revealed pillars that were quickly determined to be the entrance to the Playa. The dust was rather aggressive from all of the cars in motion, but as we approached the pillars I noticed about twenty or so naked people dancing around and greeting every passing car. Our friends were in a couple of cars ahead of us and had already gone through. We were ushered to a halt by one striking man in a top hat and sneakers. He was bulbous in every sense of the word; in top physical form for someone his age and no doubt an expert Burner. He forcefully instructed us to roll down our windows and we coquettishly mustered a “Hey.” I’ve got to be frank here – I was not expecting him to sound like Mickey Mouse after inhaling a dozen helium balloons, but in hindsight it sort of made sense – I was at Burning Man - expect the unexpected.

“Welcome to Burning Man is this your first time?!” he squeaked. If it’s your first time at Burning Man, you are instructed to get out of your car,

ring what is known as the “Virgin Bell” while screaming, “I am not a virgin anymore!”

and baptize yourself by rolling in the "Playa" dust.

Having completed this task, I proceeded to immediately pat my pants and shirt in an effort to remove the dust from my clothing.

“Son, are you seriously trying to dust sand off your pants in the middle of the desert?” he asked. Muscle Mouse was right. Clearly I was not as adjusted to the scenario as I had hoped for. We got back in the car after a sheepish embrace and received our guides and maps. Just before parting, he handed me a small gift - a plastic egg containing a toy dragonfly and a bracelet, presumably because he could tell I was the most frazzled member of our party.

Upon entering our neighborhood, I felt like I was at a well-organized refugee camp for the Earth’s most adventurous. With my stomach still in knots, I slowly started greeting the rest of our camp mates who would be my family for the next week. Some have been my San Francisco family for years, others I would meet for the very first time.

We were referred to as the Mudskippers and our camp was the Urban Decay Café.

Being that Burning Man prides itself on community and generosity, each camp and individual is encouraged to contribute in some way to the rest of the attendees. In our large lounge at the front of our campsite from 2ish to 4ish, we provided music, dancing and root beer floats.

This was information that I knew before driving into the desert – what I failed to know was how and where I would sleep.

Our carport was the last to be configured for that day, but after eight hours of melatonin induced slumber I wasn’t particularly full of energy.

The dust was picking up and the change in climate was a bit of a shock to my senses, so the longer I worked to set everything up, the worse my eyes would sting. The rest of the camp was already at another location enjoying complimentary drinks when we finally finished setting up our tents, so the only logical thing to do was unpack some luggage -

only to discover that my toiletries were all ruined. My soaps and shampoos had all melted, covering my toothbrush, eye drops, contact lens case, floss and deodorant in a sticky and now dusty paste. My eyes were burning from the sunlight and dust, my body was exhausted from setting up camp (and from taking one too many melatonin capsules) and my head had in no way adjusted to how I would be living in this desert.

My campmates soon returned and ushered me into their yurt to reassure me that this was an expected adjustment, however every other first timer at the camp seemed to be adjusting quite nicely. I was on the edge of a meltdown and my eyes were literally on fire from putting in contact lenses with dirty, soapy fingers onto already aggravated eyes. I may very well have started a panic attack had they not offered hugs, positive feedback and beers.

“Let’s get him out of the camp.” “Let’s take him to the Man.” “No No - let’s take him to the TEMPLE!” “Yessss! The Temple!”

I had no idea what they were talking about. I had always heard of the Man, the event was named after Him, but never the Temple. I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to get over the rough transition, but my campmates were making an attempt to help me and I was in no position to argue. Everyone rallied to their bicycles, gathered their book bags and with my protective goggles and mask secured; we made our way to the Playa.

Everything confused me. I was asking myself the same question over and over again as we passed the various epic structures,

scantily clad Burners,

jaw dropping Art Cars

and raucous sound systems – “What the fuck is happening, Michael?”

I asked this question nonstop. I asked it when I saw the dragon pass by.

I asked it when my friends told me to pose next to an oil soaked pelican sculpture.

I asked it when the sole dust storm of the trip picked up as we approached the Man himself.

I finally told myself to shut up when we arrived at the Temple. First of all, it was massive.

The structure was so large that it was hard to take it in at once. It was as if the Taj Mahal spawned with the most elegant tree house and birthed this structure in the middle of nowhere.

Inside, bodies were laid about as bells, chimes and drums rang in a peaceful yet instructive tone that told us all to pay attention to the moment.

My fellow campers were already there and when I came up to them it looked like they had irritated eyes too. They had been crying. I was walking around in such a daze at the Temple from everything that transpired over the past few hours that I barely noticed that everyone around me was either in some meditative state, writing on the walls, or crying in a huddle. What was going on here that I was missing? I finally took a breather and leaned on a railing on the second level, overlooking the passing dust storm and Burners.

I looked down at the railing to see what someone had written as I hadn’t really given a glance to any of the other inscriptions. There, in the middle of a desert somewhere in Arizona, someone had written, “You have a beautiful life.” I felt tingly. I started looking at other inscriptions and noticed that mostly everything written were messages for lost family members, pets, friends, lovers.

It was a place to come and honor the loves you’ve lost, celebrate the life you’ve been living and to appreciate the journey up ahead.

You could write out your personal insecurities, your fears and your doubts without any judgment from others because chances are we’ve all been there too.

I took another look at my friends who were together in a huddle and my eyes were suddenly filled with water, only this time it wasn’t from irritation. Here I was in a desert, in an Yves Sait Laurent vest adorned with feathers, a headband with a crest and even larger feather and a pair of cut off denim shorts, losing control of my body and crying harder than I’ve cried in a long time. Surrounded by the most touching messages I’ve ever seen, I was embraced by friends and strangers assuring me that they were right there with me and understood. I thought of everything and everyone I had ever known and just cried. It was incredibly unexpected. I turned away from everyone, thanking them and assuring them that I was okay and went to look back out to the Playa. Being the frazzled mess that I was, I failed to notice that I was kicking my bag over the ledge, and it plummeted down to the desert floor, interrupting the chimes, the soft whispering and possibly several people in a deep state of meditation.

Of course.

My emotions quickly turned from a state of euphoria to embarrassment and anxiety. "Back to reality," I thought. The man who stood with my bag down below greeted me with a smile.

“Thanks for watching my bag, I kinda lost it up there.”

“No problem,” he replied.

“You see, it’s my first time at the Temple and I only got here a few hours ago and I guess it really got to me how important this all is. “ I was stuttering and still recovering from the emotional impact of the top level.

“Well, it sounds like you get it to me,” he concluded. With a smile and a pat on the shoulder, he declared, “Welcome to Burning Man.” It was pretty much a continuous stream of perfection from that moment on.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a bit of a project pre BURNING MAN

well wasn't july just freezing? oh, what's that? not everyone lives in san francisco? and it was in fact the sixth hottest month on record in american history? oh. well we sure as hell didn't reap the benefits of climate change over here by the golden gate bridge.

forgive me for being rude, but i'm currently going through yet another allergy attack as this appears to be the longest spring/winter season san francisco has had since i've ventured over here.

aaaaaaaAaAaand if i wasn't already feeling like it was january 2011 with the allergies and so on, i have another issue from earlier this year - unemployment is approaching again!!!!

thankfully, there is a little situation i will be participating in that hopefully results in a clearer head - burning man. i'm kind of hoping some time away from society as i know it will give me a bit of a break from "the city scramble" (aka what all urban dwellers are on the hunt for - the right job, apartment and relationship). these three major stressers are what circles around mostly everybody's brains at one point or another, and they seem to alter the way i personally reach certain decisions

...lofty and vague, i know, i know...but c'mon you've all been there too so shut up and let a fella rant for a minute.

i'm not banking on this trip to solve my problems, but it will take me outside of my comfort zone in a safe environment. ESPECIALLY since i've been working on a bit of a project for the event myself. not only am i on the hunt for publishers to pay me for the documenting i plan to do on the burn, but i am also trying to create my clothes primarily out of gifts from loved ones.

here's the request i typed up for the people:

Friends, Family, Etc. ... Lend me your ears/eyes/accessories!?!?!?

As you may or may not know, I have purchased a ticket to Burning Man for the 2011 pilgrimage. This year has been about new adventures for me, what with starting my own project in San Francisco City Hall to working on an event with 25,000 participants to skydiving and nowwwwww Burning Man.

For those of you that aren't sure what that means, here is a sneak peek at what burning man entails....

or be honest, I'm still not entirely sure what it entails, but I have been informed by several of my closest SF chums that it is an experience that will change the way one thinks about community and culture. Now don't get scared, I'll still be the same, just with some new perspective on things. Also, I would like to assure anyone concerned that I will be going with a camp of 20-30 people and some of them have been going for over 20 years - I'm going to be very well taken care of. My camp will have showers, refrigerated goods, root beer floats, epicly large sound systems.... We won't just be sitting around in a tent putting on sunscreen and missing our cell phones. Nonono.... We'll be staying in fancy 2-story yurts, car ports, art cars and other structures that could very well have come from Dr. Seuss novels. Plenty of on-site food, police and emergency officials but it rarely comes to that as everyone comes prepared.

moving right along....

I am incredibly happy to be participating in the 25th burn as this year's theme is "Right's of Passage". For a first timer, a theme like this is all the more appropriate.

Now here is where YOU come in...

One of the main parts of Burning Man is the way one chooses to express themselves with their clothing. It is a desert, so we will be incredibly hot during the day and very chilly at night. Hence, multiple wardrobe changes.

What I am hoping for is to collect an article of clothing/piece of memoriabilia/anything from you that I can take so that I can think of you while on this bizarre camping trip. I mean it - anything. Something that makes you think of me or something that will make me think of you. I will incorporate it into whatever crazy outfit I wind up wearing and will have you with me during this epic journey. Warning - it may not come back to you in the greatest condition/at all as it will be in the desert and I will most likely be hanging around a bunch of nutjobs.

It would mean a whole lot to me as I wouldn't want to do anything themed "Rights of Passage" without incorporating those that have meant so much to me before.

The event takes place at the end of August so the sooner you send it the better.

adorable, right?

and it's in effect!

i received this gem of a vest in the mail yesterday from a sweet, florida lemondrop named emily noe.

and it fits like a glove. i may get groceries in it just for kicks. by the way i havent' gone grocery shopping since june. july was kind of rushed what with doing the AIDS Walk and not having time for things like food and bathing and so on.

alright i should probably get back to work...and by that i mean job hunting. there's a stack of papers at my desk that wont stop growing taller.


ill keep you posted on further developments.

love and loyalty.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

a month worth mentioning

let me start this off with a confession: for quite some time and in some chaotic execution i thought i would have celebrated my birthday in spain. i wasn't quite sure if i'd have a job, go for law school or just wing it...but i knew i would at least attempt another pilgrimage. then some stuff happened that wasn't encouraging a spontaneous departure:

- 21% unemployment in spain
- protests over bleak economic prospects
- money wasn't necessarily pouring in on this side of the atlantic
- my intestines decided to explode and kept me in bed for six months

so i made the executive decision to stick around here. and i gotta admit that im really happy i did. ive had a really good month.

after my last meal as a 25 year old (my first attempt at burmese food - huge fan btw) i went to eric barela's to help clean his apartment for a little dinner party he was generously hosting at his house. it was last minute and with pride around the corner i didn't want anything too crazy. just a nice, relaxing evening.

well, besides plunging from 10,000 feet, of course.

oh yeah i went skydiving.



diving from the sky

don't ask me why, i really couldn't tell you. it's possibly because i was just thrilled to be healthy and alive again. or it could be a way to make up for not being in spain right now. maybe it was to prove to myself that spontaneity is still in the cards for me as the years progress. either way, whatever - i went skydiving.


the day started off with a drive down to santa cruz with hugh and rahul, my fellow jumpers, and mike and eric, the people who would call our families in case we all perished. we took a mini detour and found ourselves at the santa cruz boardwalk -

a place that was perfect for bringing up some jersey shore nostalgia (the location, not the tv program). everything about it was perfect - the crowded beaches, the rides, the trashy attendees, the misspelled marquees

the sun, but most importantly - the smellllllllls

this man is not representative of how much i enjoyed the location. the smell of the beach mixed with the various fried delicacies that only a boardwalk could supply really rubbed me the right way. so much so that i figured my very last meal would be something i swore never to try again: deep fried oreos.

worth it.

eric and rahul thought it was a good idea to ride some rides but i was like, "o hell no. i just ate deep fried oreos i couldn't possibly ride rides because my stomach would turn."

jumping out of a plane however is totally logical.

my decision making process should not be contested...just go with the flow, please.

what is this ride? wizz fizz? sure, that sounds healthy, go for it, boys.

wait, where are they? is that them?

i can't.

i can't see them.

this is getting obnoxious. let's go stare at the beach dwellers.

oh, there they are. i dont want to tell you how many times i had to take a photo to actually catch them on this thing.

20. 20 times. also worth it.

then we drove to some town nearby town that looked like a testing site for war machines (not comforting at all) and found our tiny base camp area. as we pulled up to the mini planes, i think my body started to realize exactly what it was about to go through and attempted to pull a turtle-esque move and squeeze inside of a shell it thought it had covering it from harm. there was no shell.

the plane was smaller than the car we drove in. the plunge was much shorter than the anxiety that developed leading up to the plummet.

the video will most likely take a while to upload / edit out the embarrassing parts... but for now, look at this photo of me landing


i like to think of this photo as the, "o hey look moms we all survived!" photo.

please note that i wore my lucky shorts underneath my pants during the dive. that was for you, nova.

then off to the quiet party.

uh, yeah it wasn't quiet.

the party was really unexpected and large and full of pizza and liquor and it was lovely. groups from different crowds came and mingled and moments like those are just lovely, particularly when cakes are involved (just for the record, i had four cakes in my honor this year).

blending friendships really was the best part of the party. that and the fact that i loved everyone there. all 30-40 of em... even the random guests i met for the first time. very lovely.

i know what i was thinking at this exact moment - "how do i get rid of these 30-40 people so i can have these cakes to myself?" this same question goes through my head every year. i haven't quite figured out how to pull it off.

sharing is a problem when it comes to good tasting cake. i'm working on it.

not for nothing, but im pretty sure if you saw these staring at you, you'd want them for yourself as well.

dark chocolate and fresh fruit with a white chocolate shell vs. coffee toffee ice cream cake = nobody's taste buds come out alive without new addictions.

it's good to have friends that are filmmakers because this photo is really lovely.

here i am landing on the earth. im in the green

actually im explaining to friends about my gift, the world. well, this globe. dear eric barela got me a globe that was made the year that i was born. HOW EPIC IS THAT?! all of the countries match up to how the world looked when i was just welcomed into it. so insane.

i may be a globe collector.

"i want to live there." "wait, is that still a country?" "ussr is just russia without a i and proper grammar"

this is mike and michael michel. no, seriously, when i introduced mike to michael michel i said, "michael, this is michael michel, michael michel, this is michael." it just doesn't stop being bizarre/hilarious. seriously, people, there's billions of us and tons of languages, we've gotta look into new names.

this is evan and myself

it was our tribute to the stresses people/GRAD SCHOOL/city life/GRAD SCHOOL fed us over the years.

p.s. - my nose is red from the sky falling, not from the drinks i consumed. moving on.

salvator, evan, michael, eric. i like this because i look tall.

I LOVE THIS NEXT PHOTO - i like to call it "which one of these is not like the other"

chantay is clearly the winner because she's left handed. um, and fifty other reasons.

and you know the party was successful when the boy in heels collapses on the lounge and doesn't wake up until the party ends at 430 in the morning

just sayin'

i had a lovely birthday, but the month didn't just consist of the birthday plunge:

-work has been going surprisingly well. my installations have gone up around the city, and i was told out of nowhere that they would be printed in an upcoming bay area newspaper. for over 200000 people to stare at.

for those of you who don't know what i'm talking about, it's a timeline installation for the 25th AIDS Walk SF, documenting the event's work as well as local, national and global moments of HIV/AIDS activism. t wrote the content and compiled/shot the photos. it's my baby and it's taking over the ciy. getting it printed in the paper was a big surprise. on friday i'll be setting it up in three different major muni/bart stations.

here they are at the safeway on church and market

weird, right? "oh hi, i'm here to pick up some sandwiches - o that thing? why yes, i did do that!"

this one is from the westfield mall downtown where all the tourists go to buy things they could very well buy back at their hometowns.

-dear friend nakhter returned from southeast asia. i didn't want to bother him with the same questions everyone else asked so i simply said:

Me: Nahkter, please describe your trip to southeast asia in five words
Nahkter: everyone is the same everywhere

-delores park is back in full swing

-dear friend angelo took me and some chums to a very epic night of fun, life and adventure. and then this photo happened.

i hope i get elected to office somewhere and this photo gets me fired for being too AWESOME

-i remembered what happened during pride this year

-i bought a ticket to burning man

-my favorite restaurant in the city reopened and i've been able to eat there at least twice, so far

i think i want to keep making far-fetched decisions for my 26th year. let's see where it goes. i gotta say that i'm really liking how things are working out so far.

must continue jumping. go appreciate fountains

love and loyalty