Sunday, August 23, 2015

KonMari Vs. Mini-DV tapes

We moved apartments recently and realized we own way too much stuff.  So my wife bought us a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing"

It was an interesting read with a simple message: Discard anything in your life that doesn't bring you joy.  The result will be naturally be a less cluttered physical space.  But also, according to the author, Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo, the process of de-cluttering physical space will bring clarity to other aspects of life such as relationships and business. 

It's hard for me to judge whether it works or not, because I can't seem to get rid of my miscellaneous items, or"komono."  The thing I got stuck on was my boxes of mini-DV tapes.  My footage is all backed up on hard drives, but I just like knowing that I have all of my pre-memory card filmmaking career from 2004-2011 on the original tapes.  They mean so much to me.  They represent a craft that I feel so lucky that I got to do for so many years.  They represent learning. Exactly 845 hours of learning. That's how many tapes I counted.  They are now stored in 4 big carton boxes and 3 old shoe boxes.

In a way, they tell their own story without needing to be played. They are just like an old love letter or an old photograph. They are Instanostalgia.  Some of the tape jackets are stained with blood and black, sweaty ink smudges.  Others have red dirt and/or sand in them.  Some of them are cracked from a car accident I was in in Iraq.  Others are meticulously documented with every memorable shot or interview scribbled on the Sony or Panasonic branded paper stock.  Some have just one or two words: Earthquake, Cuba, Bibi int, Hamas rally. I knew what it all meant. 

I don't think I'll ever throw away these tapes even though I'll probably never play them again.  The films that came out of them now live on websites like the and Amazon Prime.  I like knowing that if the web somehow ceased to exist, these tapes would still be playable. But more importantly, they represent something greater, both personally, but also, in a sense, for mankind. They are a tiny sliver in the long history of technology. Darn. It looks like I'm condemned to clutter. I'll be shlepping these 845 dust collectors with me the rest of my days.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Nina Simone

I watched an incredible documentary the other day which told the story of the legendary musician, Nina Simone. She was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century, an icon of American music, and a true storyteller.  

Her two songs Mississippi Goddam and Aint Got will tell you all you need to know about the civil rights movement in the US.  Watching her perform those songs is to witness someone who is channelling something so deep and so true, that the medium seems to disappear into the message.

She was a brilliant woman, whose genius tipped over to mental illness eventually. This was sad to witness.  Human brilliance is extraordinary and delicate.

Friday, July 03, 2015


This idea of "independence" has always been an obsession for me.  My early education in Zionism celebrates above all the idea of independence.  It was a constant theme in the reggae music I was enamored with in high school (and still am).  It was palpable in my travels to post colonial Sub-saharan Africa, India, the U.S. and of course, Palestine, where independence from is not a relic of history, but a daily struggle.  

As a freelance journalist, I have long sought independence in my work.  It is a theme of many of the stories I pursued. Yet, I realized that the feeling of it is elusive.  You go out on your own to travel, to freelance, to start a company, to start a nation, only to realize how dependent you are on others. 

Like everlasting happiness, everlasting independence is a myth.  Yet, it is still something to strive for, to dream of, and to try to achieve. 

To recognize dependency is equally important.  To give support to those who need you promotes feelings of true happiness and satisfaction.

Eventually, travelers need companions. Individuals need families.  Freelancers need media companies.  Entrepreneurs need teams.  Companies need partners.  Nations need allies.   

These relationships lose their purpose when they become oppressive.  

When entities work together as a team, magic can happen.

The truth is nobody who has achieved anything great has done it alone.

Still, the concept of independence, and the basic human desire to achieve it, is a beautiful thing.