Category Archives: Disapointments

Is Modern Film Missing the Final Reel?

It is that time of year when all the “Best Of” lists begin to come out.  I always loved movies so this was always a fascination for me to review these list to see how my opinions compared to others.  This morning I saw my first top list of movies from 2011 on the NPR website.  The woman doing the reviews seemed a bit perplexed by the lack of standout movies for the year.  She thought it was a year of ambiguity in the industry and there were no major films that really won people over; but mostly split the viewer ship of those who had seen them.  As I perused the list I began to realize I had not seen a single movie that was released in 2011.  As I began to cut and past titles into Rotten Tomatoes, a movie information site that I used to adore and followed religiously on a daily basis, I realized how much this industry has changed and it was now like navigating a mine field to even find a spot to paste those titles due the site being taken over by a barrage of moving advertising.  I worked my way through the list of movies, trying to gain more insight, when an emptiness began to fill the pit of my stomach.  There was nothing here that even sounded remotely interesting.  That old excitement for finding a rare gem of a film that would challenge the way I saw myself or give me a new perspective on my world, somehow was missing and I began to think back to when was the last time I actually saw a film?  The last time I entered a theater was to see Avatar, whenever that was, and I utterly disliked the film and experience I have not been back since.  Granted I have taken the year off to become consumed by this project but what has happened to world I once loved so dearly.  I guess in a sense it has all come home.  I still watch stuff, but when the movie houses become filled with glorified video projectors, and Blu-ray at home outshines them it becomes harder to go sit with a group of strangers who are texting, talking and chewing, to watch a dimly lit presentation, at an exorbitant price for me to even go anymore.

My connection to the movies as always been strong and passionate.  I began working as a projectionist when I was a young kid and had to stand on a box to see out the portals from the booth and by the time I was 18 I was managing a local theater chain in Missoula.  Movies utterly captivated and entranced me.  I knew everything there was about every movie and saw most everything released throughout the year.  It was the soul of my livelihood and I lived as if my very existence hinged on them.  Growing up in a small community in Montana they become a rich fabric in which we learned to see ourselves. Every emotion I have ever felt was first experienced in a movie.  What has happened over the years?  How have I fallen so out of love with something that inspired me for decades?  Today I feel a loss, like a part of myself is missing.  Perhaps it’s just a sign of aging but I am still searching for a revelation in the flicker of that celluloid magic.

Art of Politics

As an artist, I have always avoided politics.  The daily yammering of it on new stations like Fox News, bores the living death out of me.  It’s not that I don’t want to stay informed; I just don’t want to know all the details of everything going on.  It feels like politics and arts rarely mix and it seems the people who are quite interested in politics are not the slightest bit interested in the creation of art, unless it becomes public, and contains something they deem immoral.  Our economy still does not seem to be rebounding at all, everyone around seems to have been hit very hard by this recession as the impact still lingers in the standard working class, yet the people working for the government rarely are impacted by what happens in the economy.  I find this rather disturbing, as I am a tax payer, whose taxes keep increasing at a consistent rate, the values of property in my neighborhood has dropped considerably, meaning the fair market value has still bottomed out, yet the property taxes only increase.  In Montana we don’t have a sales tax and the bulk of the taxes that fund the state are put on the property owners creating a hefty property tax on top of a state income tax.  Yes, America seems to go deeper and deeper into debt, yet the government seems to continually grow.  It feels like it’s becoming very disproportionate and does not reflect what’s actually happening in our economy.  It scares the heck out of me because it feels like I am living on the edge and what I once produced and made a good living on photographically seems to have lost all is value when the economy tanked a few years back.  I see more and more people giving up and going on welfare, young kids in their twenties, completely capable of working, but giving up because the struggle has become meaningless and it’s an easier way out.  You can work all day for a living and have nothing, or you can go on welfare, do nothing and still have something, though it’s very little you have to live on.

I have been watching the decline of the US Postal Service for some time now.  It keeps losing billions of dollars every year.  Recently we have been informed that some of our offices here in Missoula will be shut down. This is the only area where I see a possible pull back in government. Will people actually lose their jobs?  Yet, I work for UPS one of the most solvent self-sustained companies in the world.   I watch how UPS adapts to the economy and makes adjustments.  As far as I can tell it’s one of the smartest companies because it is run with a highly efficient business model.  When the economy tanked we too felt that as a company, but we made adjustments company wide, some of them quite uncomfortable, like turning the heat down, to what I felt was an unbearable work level.  We all dressed warmer and got through it, everyone in the company became conscientious of what needed to be done and became a part of savings.  But for one winter, we cut cost enough company-wide that we did not have to cut jobs or sacrifice production.  We constantly know what the bottom line is as it changes day to day.  UPS through adaptation, has found what works, by employing people for what it specifically needs and creating an efficient part time position for about forty percent of its employees who specialize in certain areas of production, like myself.  By cutting out all the excess, they are able to afford their employees, even the part time ones,  great benefits and some of the best healthcare in the country.  We have recently begun a new process of contracting a lot of our smaller packages to the US Postal Service to deliver thousands of packages each day.

It’s too bad our government can’t seem to take example from what works and has worked for 106 years.  UPS is a company about the people for the people.  We are its greatest assets.  It’s that the way this country started and was founded.  How is it that the land of the free and the brave, no longer seems to be about the people it’s designed to serve?  Things have got to change.  We are headed toward a collision course for disaster if this trajectory remains constant.  No wonder we are in a state of collapse and people now live in fear day to day.

The Fatal Effects of a False Perception

Is there still a perception that sex with another man is a smoldering gun or have we grown beyond that?  Today is world AIDS Days and being a gay man who has lived and loved his entire adult live throughout the epidemic, it has had the greatest impact on my sexual life.  I first came out and began exploring my sexuality before anyone ever heard the words HIV or AIDS.  We thought living in a rural area like Montana we were pretty much immune from it hitting us here and that we were safe.  But looking back over the years and seeing that most of the members of the community I first grew up in, were lost somehow during the course of it’s rampage.  People began to just disappear, into a seemingly shameful, unspoken oblivion, from which they never returned, no information or details available. I remember how sex suddenly become a danger zone that no one was talking about and something everyone just tip-toed around.  Much of the community was still having sex, yet denying there was much danger in it.  Heck, even the government wasn´t acknowledging that it was a national crisis until it got completely out of control.  The Regan Administration never uttered a word for months and months even with the fact that thousands of people were dying in the major metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco.  It was not until Clinton’s Administration in the 90’s when a young kid named Ryan White who had been infected by a blood transfusion  went to the White House and the then passed the Ryan White Act, that it became a clear message that it was not just a gay virus and awareness and prevention needed to be supported.  I remember it was a very bitter time in our community and we became consumed with remorse and resentment.

Would we have heeded the warnings earlier if we had known?  Would it have changed our behaviors?  It’s still hard to tell, we as a culture had just gained our sexual liberation.  With all the awareness today do people still heed the warnings?  I am still not sure anymore.  It almost feels like the pervasive attitude, especially since the anti-viral drugs have came out to make the virus more manageable, that it doesn’t seem to still be a threat.  It seems the rates of infection are still rising.

I became an advocate early on and spent a great part of my life involved in the political shadow of its wake.  While I was a student at the University, I produced and directed a film for the University that became a campaign across campus.  I became a member of the Governor’s Advisory team, and a member of all the regional, state and community based groups and organizations to promote its awareness and several years ago was given a Governor’s Award in recognition for the work I had given over the years.  In the beginning I became consumed by my efforts and in the end it consumed me and I was bitten by the community accusing me of conflict of interest by having my hand in too many pieces of the pie.  And eventually I was back stabbed and ridiculed by the very community I was trying to support.  For my own sanity, I had to eventually walk away to regain my life, and now use my energy to reach out to those most in need or struggling.  Throughout my life AIDS has been a painful road to wander as a gay man.  There is still a lot of fear, doubt and anxiety that surrounds it.  After all these years it still remains hidden and unmentionable, at least in Montana.  Though the leaders of the past who remember the struggle are fading, who is present to still sound the alarm?  It remains one of the areas that still divides our community and I know the organization who receives the funding to support the community as leaders and who should be the ones looked to and trusted have been the ones through gossip and the release of supposedly confidential information to hurt the community the most, especially those infected.  There is no longer a trust or respect as dignity has been compromised and a devastating shock wave has rippled through our small peaceful community, creating more internalized discrimination and fear than education and or awareness.  People are even more afraid then every to be tested and a fear we all felt in the beginning still exists, maybe even more so, 20 years later.

I am an artist and I still support my community however I can but it is all still a painful reminder that haunts the very core of my existence.

What the Heart Has Once Known…

I saw a video on Facebook that actually moved me and got me thinking about this whole concept of gay marriage.  I have been very mixed on the subject, not sure where I stand on either side of the debate.  I sense my own security in my own relationship seems to be enough to bind us.  Everyone around us on both sides of our families acknowledge and respect our relationship and know what our ultimate desires are if something happens to the other.  Being gay and growing up in Montana I had never even considered the possibility of being able to marry someone of my same sex.  Working for UPS, they have a strong policy supporting same sex partnerships, and though I only work part time in the evenings for the company they acknowledge Glenn as my partner and give him full benefits along with me.  Of course we have had to prove our relationship and actually establish we were in a partnership.  But over the years as we have attended the weddings of all our straight friends our age, joining in union, and photographing the marriage of all my nieces, and then to see my father at one of the happiest moments I have seen him in decades remarry after my mother’s death, there is a tug in my heart to unite with a man I have adored for so much of my adult life now that I can’t imagine a life without him.  We committed in our early thirty something’s to watch each other grow old and that we have done.  This video captures all the stages of our relationships, with warmth and tenderness and told the story of my own life.  It reminded me of where I have been and I must say brought a tear to my eye to see the reflection of my life and know in the end I have been loved.

My fears are now more for the future now that we grow older.  We have built a life together sharing in everything.  But fiscally we are not bound.   Glenn was a student, when we built the studio and I could not put his name on anything because at the time he was more of a liability and it would have been detrimental to secure financing.  But together we have equally shared in the dream, labor, and completion of the project.  My fear is if something happens to me where will he stand?  Our hearts may say we are together but the laws of Montana may say we are not.  Will he possibly have to pay an inheritance on something he has spent his entire life working to build?  I saw this happen over and over years ago with partners when one passed away and the families kicking the remaining one into the cold, leaving them with nothing but adding to the already great sense of loss.

We know in our hearts what we feel is right and we have chosen to love, adore, and cherish each other already, shouldn’t this somehow be enough?   Here’s to you my love.  If the question ever becomes available “I do…” with all my heart and soul you have been the courage and strength of my existence that I have been thankful for since that fateful night in May so many, many years ago.  What the heart has once known it shall never forget!!!!

Taking a Break

I have been battling a sinus infection all week and slept in this morning. I think we all have been pushing a bit too hard on the web project to get it up by tomorrow and are running into issues as we have been testing it that need to be resolved. At this moment I am utterly exhausted and need to take a break. We all need a break. I have to take some time off today to recover myself physically, mentally and emotionally. Sorry to announce that we will have to push the launch date back to next weekend. I am a bit disappointed to have to do this because I am generally a person who follows through with something when he says he will do it and bust my butt to make it happen when it needs to happen. But right now with my head I can no longer even think clearly and need the break. It is another wondrous fall day here in Montana and I am getting outside to enjoy the fresh air and clear my head.