Tuesday, December 03, 2002

At Rockford College's Maddox Theatre I attended a documentary film about why Middle Eastern nations hate us, made by Rockford native Dan Lindsey. I went because, well, it is free, and I heard about it on NPR on the way to work this morning.

I didn't enjoy the film, which consists of sit-down interviews with loved ones of 9-11 terrorism attack victims, American diplomats past and present, one crazy Osama Bin Laden sympathizer, foreign diplomats, strangers on the streets of Washington, D.C. (this film is sponsored by a D.C. international relations lobby group) and stock footage news coverage of 9-11, training videos for Islamic fundamentalists. All very general, the interview subjects speak political-ese mumbo-jumbo. Populist crap. Afterwards a question and answer session, the audience fawning over the three at the microphone: a sociology professor, the film's producer, and Lindsey. One woman, a middle-aged tangle-haired redhead with hornrimmed glasses and swimming in a black cardigan sweater, said "What can we do to care for the people of the Middle East?" Another, a sharp, Germanic looking fellow, also in smart-looking glasses, said "What do you see happening in Saudi Arabia in the next five years?" My question one of content: "Why is there no narrator?" The young filmmaker said something about not trying to coerce the viewer and the powerful effect of images. "The film is called, 'Why do they hate U.S.?' You never answered your own question. I will leave this auditorium more perplexed than when I arrived," I said. What a waste of time, and now I look like a curmudgeon in public. C'est la vie.

Which brings me to my next point. I'm just a guy, sure, a journalist, but just one critical mind in pedigreed society. Why was I the only one critical of this obvious crap? Sentiment for the young, 24-year-old filmmaker, perhaps? Fear of verbal reprisal? Here is rare chance to meet the filmmaker. To directly about the content of what you just saw with those who prepared it for you. The audience's questions were as general as the film itself. Good documentaries tell a story, get down and personal with its subject. This was a fool with a camcorder and access to official type people asking, like, "So, why do you think they bombed us?" Very MTV. I squirmed in my seat, annoyed by the sound bite era.

Good news. I will be at Kishwaukee Elementary School through Jan. 6 at $86 a day. I actually make $95 a day, but $9 and change goes to the Teacher Retirement System, some fund I'll promptly forget about when I've moved on to something else. Got a kick out of startling the children with an air horn I discovered in the equipment room, one of those CO2 powered babies you see at football games.

Jammed with Goat today after work. We worked out a bridge for my next song, but he does not have his four-track recorder set up. I'd like to record "Ephemera." Really, I'd like to get five or six songs roughed out with vocals and guitar, and then work on trying to get a band to perform them with. I'm growing as a musician. Haven't done anything towards writing for magazines. Tired of the reporter's life. More focused on fiction, poetry and music. Having fun with my artistic side right now. I'm all sideburned, goateed and growing my hair long. Got hip clothes for my birthday.

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