Annie and I spent a wonderful day facilitating a really fun, sexy and very productive ecosex workshop. We produced this workshop after we were contacted by the French-TV station, CANAL TV-who filmed the whole thing. The workshop was held at Penny Slinger’s beautiful, spiritual retreat, aka the goddess temple, in Boulder Creek. Everyone was fully present as we explored both conceptual and physical ways to make love to and with the Earth. Some people probably think that we are crazy in our ecosexual pursuits but others resonate strongly with this urge to reassess our relationship to nature and to each other. We are also reassessing the separation of mind and body as well as alternative sexualities. Part of the goals of this workshop was to have the participants slow down and engage touch to experience the Earth as our Lover. We also used fingery eyes to (Eva Hayward’s term as explained to me by Donna Haraway) to see and haptically experience the Earth’s beauty all around us. The workshop was fun and reaffirmed our desire to do more, knowing that there is a strong interest among many people-in other words these workshops are viable as well as informative in our development and experimentations with what constitutes ecosexuality and can it change the way humans view the earth. Annie and I were so moved that we went over to our little house and hugged each of the Redwood trees in the yard. There are twenty-one redwoods. We are privileged to get to hug these trees and standing there with our arms around them felt incredible. It had been a long day but we had plans to meet Martina and Maureen at the Bernal Heights Library to see Joan Jeanrenaud give a cello concert. The performance was called Cello Meets Tech. I didn’t really know what to expect but I love the cello, my mother used to play the instrument. So we left Boulder Creek for San Francisco.
We got to the library a little later than we had meant to and the only seats that were left were seats towards the back. This is a sweet little library, with books all around, comfortable seating for reading and tables with computers in the middle of the space. We were behind the computers so we couldn’t really see Joan as she played-but the music was awesome-we were in the presence of a true master of her craft, a virtuoso who not only made every page of every book in that room reverberate with deep emotion, but she touched the hearts of the listeners too. As a certain point Annie and I both stood up to watch her play over the computer monitors. Jeanrenaud was rapt with her instrument-she was also flipping on some little electronic gizmos, the one I remember in particular was box called a looper. This machine created rhythms from sounds/music that she played/recorded into it and then set up to loop over and over-as she continued on with her cello.
For some miraculous reason, two people in the audience decided to leave. Lo and behold, they vacated two seats in the second row-very close to the musician. Having gone to many baseball games with my father who was an astute master of moving into superior seats during the seventh inning stretch-I know when to make my move. Annie and I stealthy took the vacated seats and sat down less than 5 feet from Jeanrenaud-and it was a perfect place from which to watch, listen and feel the vibration. Her music moved me a great deal. In combination with having hugged the trees earlier in the day-plus having thought and acted out how to make love to the Earth, I was very emotionally open. What I didn’t expect was to be so deeply moved by her music and her energy as she played. I am so glad that I didn’t miss this chance to see/feel/experience this concert. And what was amazing is that she played while she played. Sitting in front of me was a many named Hank-it might have been Hank Dutt of the Kronos Quartet-I don’t know. But occasionally, Joan Jenrenaud would smile at him with deep affection and love. It was as if she were sending sunbeams his way and it was deeply beautiful. She also spoke eloquently of her friend Hamza Alaa El Din, an Egyptian composer who died in 2006. The looper allowed her to play music that she had played with him when he was alive. Amazing how technology can bring back the dead. I was incredibly moved by this, the music and her passion while playing. At some moment I realized that what she was engaged in was an incredibly advanced form of tree hugging. She was making love to the cello and the cello was responding with orgasmic, beautiful notes, tones and sighs. I started to cry and as I looked around the library, I realized all of the things that the trees have given us. The wood to build the building, the molding to make the interior look beautiful, the boards to hold the books, the chairs that we sat on, the tables that held the computers and last but not least the books themselves. Trees have blessed our lives on so many levels – and what do we give the trees? This question of reciprocity is an important one. What do we give back? Well it was certainly an honor to have gotten to experience that concert. Wow, our neighbor. It is a great gift to discover who people really are. And furthermore, I had heard her play on recordings before. Fido and I used to listen to the Kronos Quarter all of the time when we lived together. As I was leaving the concert I wondered if she would ever let us use her music in my film.
August 11, 2011
As usual, Annie and I were waking Bob on Bernal Hill. Rounding the curve, up ahead of us came Joan Jenrenaud. Now I usually cringe when I see one of Annie’s fans getting ready to approach Annie for her attention. I’ve sworn a million times that I would never do that to anyone. But when I saw the cellist approaching, I could hardly contain my excitement. Luckily Annie was at my side to help anchor me to the ground. We met and I told her how very much I have loved the concert from a few nights before. Then I sprung my question, Could I use some of your pieces- Axis and Waiting- from your album Strange Toys-in my film about Mountain Top Removal. I explained the movie to her a little bit, but before long she very generously agreed. We talked a little more and she told me that she understood the damage that the Tennessee Valley Authority had caused with their dams and their energy policies. She also said that her friend Hamza El Din has suffered when his childhood village of Toska had been flooded out by the Answar High Dam in Egypt. She understood the pain of having ones place destroyed. What a generous soul. I was going to be able to arrive in West Virginia to begin editing with Jordan equipped with some fantastic music. It was an excellent start to the editing process.
September 24th-Oct 1
Rebecca Reider, the author of Dreaming the Biosphere II has been staying here. We had a little screening of the film the night before she left. Also Paul Corbit Brown and Tandy Stephens were here as well. The film contiunes to improve but it has a long way to go. Jordan and I just got it going in West Virginia. Annie keeps saying that she had told me how much work it was going to be. I don’t mind the work, in fact I love it. The only problem is that I have several kinds of work that I am swirling around in. But this film is a labor of love and it needs to get out in the world. More people need to know what is going on with mountain top removal for many, many reasons-As the big guy in the protest at Twilight says, This is a crime, it is a crime agains Appalaichia
Sept. 30, 2011
We have spent the last three days writing a grant to try to secure funding for Goodbye Gauley Mtn. which is starting to be called Saving Gauley Mtn or Hello Gauley Mtn. As always this was a tenuous process that painfully dragged on right up to the deadline. I think we got it in a few hours before. At least this time I’ve got a great assistant. Julia, She is working with me doing grant writing as an independent study class.
We did have a little rough spot around communication and who had what version of the grant. This cost me a day of work, which I couldn’t really afford. But we got the grant in and it feels good.
Also brought home the new computer which will be the mega editing machine. That is exciting too. Much is happening in the process of making this film.
October 1, 2011
Julia is finally at the helm of the computer. We spoke to Jordan today who is going to come in from October 12h through the 15th. It will be great to see him and work together some. I miss hanging out as we were intensely connected when we were editing together at Anne’s. We had to get two files that somehow got lost in the transfer process. Amazing that Jordan was able to just email them over. Technology is a trip. Now we need to use technology to create a technology that is powered by green power. I have to get solar panels on my house. Paul and Tandy made it home safely. All is well on the everybody being home front. I’ve turned into an old hen.
Today Julia is working on the Grumble section of the edit. We’ll shorten that part a little as Grumble commands the most time in the whole film at this point. He is an amazing human being.
October 13 2011
Jordan got in last night. We’re going to go do a shoot for the film today. We need a through line, a story that will situalte the film. Yes the film is about West Virginia, but we are living in California. We are both inside and outside of that place. A place that doesn’t really want the likes of me and Annie coming in and causing trouble. Trouble being pointing out what is wrong, what is destroyed that might not ever be able to be fixed again. I watched a movie about the collapse of the bee colonies tonight with Jordan. It is the insect’s response to the devastation of the earth’s ecosystems. I am amazed at Lynette’s questioning whether or not the earth can feel what we do. Of course they can of course when we rip and tear and burn and steal and litter-the earth feels it. How do I say this in the film. A rant, a rant for the earth-the earth is my lover—I will take care of her—the earth is my lover. But I still drive a car, use microwaves, use gas, use food that has been grown via gmo’s-who knows what the earth things but the earth does send us messages and we have to listen before it is too late. It is time to deploy our contemporary versions of social sculpture to address the situation of the declining ecological systems of the earth. If we don’t there are not going to be any systems around to support animal or plant life. This is not going to get better. It may already be too late. And what is the purpose of being optimistic? Is optimism the thing that might maintain a positive attitude? I’m not certain why there is any reason or need to have a positive attitude about what is going on. Occupy Wall Street has the right idea-be realistic-positively is not realistic. And so for our script:
We need to introduce Annie and say why she is going to West Virginia-and a little bit about who she is.
We need to establish that we live in San Francisco-the gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, –vortex of the world. I think that we should do that shot on Bernal Hill-maybe early Sat. morning. Why would we go to West Virginia?
Establish that we are two ecosexuals in love-
Maybe Jon is right, maybe the queers and the feminists have the wrong timeline going-maybe the timeline has to be a lot longer. So long in fact that it is beyond identity, individual, group or otherwise. I don’t think that identity is going to save the world, in spite of my very strong feelings for equality-navigation, how does one navigate all of this?? I’m not sure-but I do know that if we don’t have drinking water we will all die of thirst and dehydration. And so how does one break it down from here because I know damn well that the powerful are going to have the drinking water-they already do-and they are going to maintain control of the water-until that control is taken away from them-and there are so many fucking people now. I shudder to think of the weight of all of these people treading on the earth, dropping their waste upon the earth, eating everything that they can take from the Earth, burning everything in their path-we are living in interesting times.
I remember when my grand parents had a dump on their property. As I think back on it, they hardly threw anything away. It was amazing really in retrospect-they didn’t waste things. And society as a whole didn’t produce stuff that got thrown away. I went shopping at Trader Joe’s today and I bought so much plastic it was nauseating. I don’t think I ever want to go shopping there again-too much fucking plastic-how is it that the food can really be that much cheaper when so much plastic is used. I was really disgusted. And what does all of that plastic do to us when our food is covered in it? What are we reall eating these days and what does it do to us?
October 14, 2011—
We shot several scenes in Boulder Creek today-it was great fun. Annie Jordan and I went down to Boulder Creek, CA yesterday to do a shoot for the film. We got a lot of great material. It is so stunningly beautiful in Boulder Creek, and so much like West Virginia that it is uncanny. Of course this is why I am attracted to this place-so similar in look and feel. We got to the house, and it looks a little neglected, but not too bad. The redwoods are sprouting their pubic hair. Green crowns around the base of each tree. Time for a little trim-but first we had some yummy sandwiches from New Leaf. These might be the best sandwiches around, hands down. I had a turkey breast sandwich with cheddar cheese, lettuce tomatoes and mayonnaise on a French roll. Annie had a turkey with cranberry sauce on whole wheat bread, and Jordan had a fakin bacon something or other. So we sat down with our sandwiches at our little redwood picnic table that is trying hard not to fall apart-and we had a feast. This was the first time in a month that Annie and I had eaten bread. We savored every fattening bite. Then we proceeded to dress up in our Barcelona Stone/Gijon Coal wedding dresses by Aviv and Vahida.
On the drive down we had planned to shoot some eco sexual scenes in the woods. So after getting dressed and Annie getting all of her makeup on we ventured out in to the neighborhood. We left Bob in the yard, and even though Amanda, one of my old students, was now diligently trimming the redwood’s pubic hair, Bob began barking hysterically. It was as if he were being beaten. Of course Annie wanted to run right back and get him, but I knew that if we did, then the whole focus of the shoot would be derailed in order to keep an eye on Bob. So I put my foot down and insisted that Bob stay with Amanda. He calmed down. First we took our usual path to find Albert, the white peacock, who lives in the neighbor hood. First, we discovered some dusty pink roses growing over the fence that surrounds the Redwood Resort. We proceeded to talk dirty to these beautiful creatures and smother with some very serious kisses. I felt bad afterwards because we didn’t ask for permission and we broke one of their stems. In the process of this, we heard Albert. KawKawKawwwww-the gravely sound of his crying directly contradicts his unearthly beauty. Or rather, it contradicts his beauty when he is in full feather. We discovered Albert sitting on the roof of a storage container surrounded by trailers and RV’s looking a little worse for wear. He was molting and all of his long tail feathers were gone. He looked a little sad and even a little mad. Especially at Annie with whom he’d had a two year affair while we lived there. His feathers were droopy now and he seemed disinterested even though we were dancing in the street and trying to get him to come to us. He didn’t budge. Even after we picked the last of the ripe blackberries and gently threw them over the fence in a love offering, he didn’t come down to see us. But we are still going to put him in our movie. We are very much attached, even if he isn’t. So we moved on to our next location.
We doubled back past the house, past the Redwood Resort and down Lorenzo Avenue for a couple of blocks. Just past the Section 8 housing complex and across the street from the gigantic house that was built by a very wealthy Santa Cruz matriarch whose name I can’t remember. But what is wild about this house is that it is exquisitely built using only the best materials, copper gutters, hand wrought fences, the finest stonework and yet no one lives in it, I’ve only seen people there twice the entire time I’ve spent in Boulder Creek. It is very strange, both sad and infuriating-the house is virtually deserted. I wonder what the wealthy think about when they build mansions that they just don’t need to build. Did she think that her kids would move in. Rumor has it that they don’t get along.
Anyhow, we take a left towards the San Lorenzo River down the dirt road to the empty lot between the road and the water. The lot has been cleared of debris since the last time we were there, and there is a for sale sign. Donner Realty has it listed for $195,000. What a shame as this is the only way I know to get down to the River. What a beautiful place the river is. I’m really glad that we did this shoot-first we went to the old abandoned swimming pool where we had done a shoot with Greg Archer for the cover of the Good Times Magazine a few years ago. The footage that came out of this was amazing—the greens and moss greens and turquoise of the peeling paint from the pool were ecogasmic. The Santa Cruz Mountains are strong contenders to the Appalachians for the amount of magic that they hold and the spirit that hey exude. These mountains hold you-in greens and yellows and golden lights coming down through the redwoods. And the smells of wood and needles and eucalyptus is intoxicating, as are the songs of the birds, whose names I don’t really know from never having really learned the west coast birdsongs. I do recognize the crows and the blue jays. And then of course there is Albert-our bird lover prince-even when he is molting. We shot ourselves in the pool, we shot ourselves running toward each other in that classic Ryan’s Song way-gooey with over the top, slo mo emotion. Really ridiculous and probably totally inappropriate for a film about mountain top removal, but hell-if you can’t laugh you can’t cry either.
This film is about love after all. It’s about my love for Annie, my love for the mountains and my love for the people living there-or at least most of the people—I’d have to say I don’t love them all. And as I think more and more about this film, as I get deeper into making it, I’m beginning to realize that I probably couldn’t live fulltime in West Virginia even if someone paid me. I’m sure it will never come to that-but I just needed to write that one out. I’m too weird and I like my weirdness. It’s what I’ve taken with me. I’ll be buried there and that’s enough. Although I should probably find out how one accomplishes that after death. I’ll have to put that on my list. I guess I just leave instructions for the living.
We slipped and stumbled down the path that leads to the river. It was such a beautiful day, the sun was just perfect. It picked up the greens and the little rapids in the river as the water flowed quickly over them. We shot down there for a couple of hours. We played with trees, sucking on their nipples and stroking their big hard trunks. We made love to the earth and got it all on film. Jordan is a mensch.
November 12, 2011
We did a screening for several people tonight including filmmaker Amy Harrison, film fest director Jane Sullivan and her partner John. Tony’s Circus, Craig and Pratibha, Becka Shertzer, as well as Julia. I’m glad that she is getting to meet all of the people that she is meeting. Hopefully it will benefit her career at some future point. It certainly can’t hurt her to get to work on this film in the intense kind of way that she has. Reminds me of the times when I worked for Mags Harries. I was probably the same age as Julia around 27. Mags certainly made a lasting impression on me. I should send her this film.
November 13, 2011
Jane Sullivan sent a note suggesting that I get in touch with Karen Everett who has a film school. Maybe but I think that I’m too far into the process for that. Plus I’m liking the film as it is developing. Maybe I should go to film school next time. I actually think that my school days are going to be over soon. Well as soon as I write this dissertation-have to pass the QE’s first. But I love it that people are so willing to help and share advice about this process.
November 19, 2011
Carol Leigh watched the film today and really loved it. She is helping get it together with Juila-especially technically. I’m happy that it can cross genres as Carol Leigh is one of the leading sex worker’s rights activists in the nation if not the world. That she liked the film makes me hopeful that it will play well to a wider audience as well as to the queers, for whom I originally made this piece. Carol Leigh was super sweet when she said that she loved the the way we saved the naked parts until the end. There are hardly any naked parts of speak of really.
November 24, 2011
We had a hell of a time getting the sound mix transferred to me today. Maybe we were supposed to take the day off-but really it had more to do with my having a crappy internet connection and Julia having sent Rich sound files that were too big for the amount of space that we were allotted on drop box-the file transfer program that we use to swap sound files back and forth. This has certainly been a learning process. It has also been very hard for me to tear myself away from the editing or fully controlling the process of putting this film together. It’s not just that I’m a control freak, which I am, but it is also that the process is so fascinating and really magical. Film is like writing with images instead of words. Except that there are words, there are metaphors, visual metaphors and then there is the music. That has been one of the most fun and challenging aspects of all of this. I’m liking this film making experiment. I can’t wait to make the next one. The boys next door saved the day by letting me log onto their computer wi-fi. We finally got the files and were able to lay them down on the sound track of the project file. This project is a Behemoth.
December 5, 2011
Rich has somehow gotten David Grisman gratis. What a sweetheart. We only now need to get the right song on the fight footage. I think that instead of using “Late Last Night,” we’ll use Op 57 over the activist section of the film. This will give it more energy and really make the acivists active. Mari Lynn Evans continues to support the film which is really great. She still wants to show to HBO. What the hell. It’s almost ready. After Thursday when we get this newst sound track on it I’m ready to show it as a rough cut anywhere. Illyse M. will come over and we are going to make the DVD’s to send in to Frameline Festival. I’m very curious about where it will go in a queer festival.
December 6, 2011
Julia can’t come up tomorrow so I’m going to go with the cut I have, knowing that I will pick up the editing after my QE’s in January. That is when we’ll take out the section where Annie is talking about doing a sex worker action. We both feel that we are already doing a sex worker action, or at least an ecosex worker action-so it doesn’t have to be that explicit. Plus we need to shorten and tighten more. This was the criticism that I picked up both from Keith and Jess at the symposium on Performance and Social Practice. Annie and I agree-it needs to be a little shorter.
December 9, 2011
Rich got the newest sound mix to me on Wed. night. It is getting better and better all of the time. Still a few quirks to work out but he has done miracles with what was a difficult and very uneven set of original sound recordings. There is still a lot of work to do on my end. I’ve got voiceovers to rewrite and re-record, and there are some timing issues….but overall we are headed in the right direction. Luckily Illyse Magy was able to come help me burn DVD’s this morning. I love working with her. And now I have the discs to give to my committee members-which I’ll mail out tomorrow. Plus I was able to take one copy into Frameline and drop it off as a submission for the festival. God, I haven’t dropped off a film submission since the nineties. I kind of felt like a kid again. I hope the film gets in-that would be sweet and I think the queers need to start thinking about the environment. I also ran into Amy Harrison as I was coming back from my walk this afternoon. She recommended that I get a professional editor-which I am all for-not only to iron out a few technical glitches but to-as Amy said-wave their magic wand over the piece- and make it look as good as it possibly can. Oh we’ve got our work cut out for us. I just sent Joan Jeanrenaud a note letting her know that her DVD is ready. I hope she likes what we’ve done with her music. I would like to use more of it but first want her to hear how I’ve used it so far. I hope she approves. The sound track of this piece could be very interesting as a stand-alone project.