Until my 30s, I was hell-bent on a life in cloistered academia. Although I did teach as an adjunct prof for a time, the academic life didn't really pan out for me. At this point in my life, I'm rather thankful that it did not as being outside the academy has prompted me to turn to community organizing, connecting with a broader strata of people than I think I knew I was capable of.
In my early twenties I dreamed of being a screenwriter. The script I'm most proud of focused on Leon Trotsky, dying from the ice-pick, watching his life past before him. Trotsky tries to rearrange his memories so his life does not seem so defeatist using the techniques of Soviet montage to "re-edit" his life. But this only gets poor Leon into more trouble...
Gradually, I began to focus more on film theory. My Master's thesis tried to argue that certain film-works from so-called second and third cinemas could dis-interpolate audiences from thinking of themselves as subjects of capitalism just as apparatus theory had maintained that Hollywood cinema conditioned audiences to capitalist subjectivity.
These days, I focus on political activism and agitational journalism. The journalistic stuff started out being, once again, rather academic and research based- scribblings on the Japanese nuclear crisis and its roots in the US occupation; the class character of our public education system and why, nonetheless, we need to defend it. My political activity started getting more "hands on" when I started documenting- and partaking in- street clashes with the cops during Occupy Oakland and San Francisco. Since then, I've been covering anti-police brutality struggles in the East Bay, particularly the work of the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition, the Justice for Andy Lopez movement in Santa Rosa, and the (horrifying, but at times darkly hilarious) misadventures of the Oakland PD.
And, of course, I'm a total GoodReads and IMDB review-writing nerd.
2. I can convey complex abstract concepts in a challenging yet accessible way.
3. Relentless self-deprecation: I have an idea for a video piece entitled "Portrait of My Self-Esteem." In it would be me, playing myself, admiring an attractive woman (also played by me, but in drag). I overhear the woman saying that she (I) finds me (myself) very unattractive. In response, I (as myself) start weeping uncontrollably. Then, the video would end.
When I tell friends this idea, they either think it extremely creative or deeply disturbing. You decide!
4. Regaling folk with tales of creepy shit that happened to me as a younger man (mostly in LA- big surprise!) and (usually) conveying to the listener why I consider such experiences to be, in retrospect, life-affirmingly carnivalesque.
My two favorite contemporary novelists are Gou Xingxuan and Orhan Pamuk. My last, great literary adventure was Clarice Lispector's Agua Viva- pretty mind-blowing. Besides that, my taste in fiction is, I confess, a bit predictably canonical: Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Dostoevsky...
Movies: Antonioni's "The Passenger" may be my all time favorite film. I devoted a long chapter of my Master's thesis to it. Chantal Akerman, Bela Tarr and Arichitapong Weerasthakul are among my fave contemporary filmmakers. Nuri Bilge Ceylan is pretty great too. Also a big Godard fan- and some of my favorite Godard films have come from the last 13 years- particularly "In Praise of Love." It wasn't widely seen in the U.S. so if your a JLG fan and haven't seen "In Praise of Love" then do your self a favor.
Art: Let's see, I tend to like contemporary Chinese art. Cai Guo-Qiang's show at NY Guggenheim in '07 or '08 was one of the great museum experiences of my life so far.
Since moving to SF, I would say the most memorable exhibit Ive seen was the Jay DeFeo show at SFMOMA. How is she not more widely known? Oh, that's right, patriarchy!
TV: Fawlty Towers, Young Ones, Wondershowzen.
Music: I'm a free jazz guy- Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett, Albert Ayler, Peter Brotzman. Also like a lot of punk and indie rock. Recently, I've been rediscovering the wonders of the Minutemen. Favorite singer-songwriters are Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson, Tom Waits. Again, a bit predictable...
Food: Everything, but especially anything weird. Generally, I seek out the most exotic thing on the menu, and try to find the most exotic menus to boot. I'm also really into fine cheese. There's something about the way different milks can congeal into so many different textures and flavors that fascinates me.
Turtles and kitties and how they should join forces.