Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day Labor Thanksgiving Video 2013

This year I chose to make two separate videos again, one of which focuses on what makes the workers happy and one of which is just photos from the events of the year.  There is also video footage somewhere out there of the theatre that my ESL partner Junko and I wrote and performed on the corner with the workers at the Fernando Pedraza Memorial and Community Celebration on May 4, 2013.  When I get my hands on it I will also post as I am very proud of the fact that we were able to teach everyone at the event and on the corner who Fernando Pedraza was and why he mattered through theatre.

Day Labor Thanksgiving Video 2012

For the year 2012 I combined the photos from the past year and the footage of the guys.  This year the theme was what they were thankful for.  The video is interesting because some of the workers are clearly interested in getting more work than they were currently getting so it was difficult to be thankful when they were suffering.  Some of the guys told us they were so happy and that everything was great. This is what they say almost all the time unless we (me or my ESL partner Junko) prod further.

The Perks of being a Wallflower

I haven't written a blog in a long time but I just logged in and realized I started writing something and never finished it, so instead of trying to pick up where I left off I thought I would just publish as is.

I haven't been compelled to write about a film since I saw the Science of Sleep, probably because I identify too much with the characters sometimes and it can be jarring.  I remember while reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower that the angst was relatable, and I thought Sam seemed familiar, but the fact that she was in high school and was so beautiful made her seem like someone that maybe I knew, but not me.  But in the film, Emma Watson's portrayal of Sam made her more real to me in that she wasn't the intimidatingly beautiful long legged blonde model from magazines that Charlie couldn't help but adore, but a short-haired elegantly pretty girl.

The film, and the book for that matter, manage to treat a number of issues at once without seeming like a Glee-tastic attempt at displaying diversity.  Sexual assault, "coming out", alcoholism, suicide, domestic violence, bullying, depression and mental illness are all part of the very experience of Perks.  And besides the easy-to-list issues and identities being portrayed, there is a very visceral, at least for me, experience of being fourteen and seeking acceptance in that party world of music, alcohol, drugs and sex.

One moment that stuck with me in the film was when Charlie was making out with Sam and he kind of freezes for a second because the experience triggered a memory of being sexually assualted by his Aunt Helen.  This was such a validating moment in that even the most wonderful and positive people and moments can trigger traumas in life, and if it happened to Charlie, and its happened to me, then we are not alone.  The simple catharsis of seeing someone suffer in ways I have suffered was semi-triggering but mostly healing.  The way in which the film dealt with the heavy topics and issues was refreshing for some reason.  I guess it was done tastefully.  I know at least one man who watched the film with his partner and came out as a survivor after.  I suspect that seeing other films which dealt with sexual assault in exploitative ways did not serve as the catalyst that Perks did.  Perks felt safe, because  Patrick, Sam, and Charlie created a safe, supportive space.  A space I only wish that I had at that age but try to create in the work I do with teens.

Day Labor Thanksgiving Video 2011

I made this video in 2011 to show at the "Misa Jornalera," an annual event held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Rancho Cucamonga.  The event is a mass which honors the Rancho Cucamonga Day Laborers followed by a Thanksgiving dinner.  The event is organized by the church as well as the Fernando Pedraza Community Coalition, a coalition of students, activists, community members and day laborers.  For 2011 I chose to make two separate videos: one which highlighted the work from the corner this year through photos and video and one which featured the workers speaking about what they are thankful for as well as what they enojoyed about the corner this year.  It is great that the church invites the guys to attend, but they are usually too shy to interact or speak publicly, so these videos have proven to be a great way to give a face and a voice to their struggle and their humanity.