May 25, 2007

More SF Docs.

To prep for the trip to the Bay, I checked out a number of docs on the area. I know I missed some good ones, but I have odd taste. So besides seeing Sucker Free City, which is not a doc, didn't make much sense to me, and was a poor example of a mid-era Spike Lee Joint (see here for my low-down), I saw these:

1. The Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Weird doc that traces a flock of parrots that's been living in SF for a while, including a dude who was sorta studying/living with/bonding with them. It was quirky, but 90 minutes of man and the birds got even me saying "save me." Still, at least I got to see more of the neighborhoods and understand them a little. Didn't see the flock when we were walking around though. Pity. They'd probably have shit on me anyway.

2. The Times of Harvey Milk. Really glad I saw this before going. I didn't know enough/anything about Harvey Milk, and he was pretty awesome. The film is 80s era, made not long after he was killed, and actually before his assassin killed himself (and the ultimate understanding that the dude, Mike White, wanted to kill a lot more people than the Mayor and Milk). Anyway - my favorite parts were seeing his victory celebrations, and hearing about how he stood up for language access for the Chinese community without asking Henry Der/Chinese Americans for Affirmative Action what he should do. That was pretty cool - wish the fuckers in councils around the country would do that now. It's LEP, stupid.

3. Piece by Piece. A doc on SF graffiti and street art. This was awesome. You must check this out. I think I even liked it more than Rize, which I really liked. I guess I missed this culture altogether, growing up in white suburban stupidity. But learning about some of the people, and better understanding what folks were doing - it just really spoke to me. The camera/doc style is uneven and shaky in the beginning (got motion sickness in the first 15 minutes) but it evens out. I really dug the respect people were giving to others, and the deaths that happened in the community were from stupid shit outside of the community. I was really touched by the way they all talked about Mike Dream - a Pinoy brother who seemed to have his shit together, and who integrated political messages into his work, and his relationships, before he was killed in Oakland in 2000.

I missed an event in SF in memory of him - which sucks. But it's good to know that there's a site that also tries to keep the memory alive. It's also really interesting how many Asian kids were involved in graffiti/street art - I think it makes a lot more sense now to me about how there are all these Fil-Am DJ crews - after watching Rize and now Piece by Piece, it seems like they were involved in hip hop culture all the way around, way back when. It's pretty amazing, and a story I didn't really know. I feel like that's one of the things that makes the West Coast really special - they were already around way early, so they were in on the foundation when shit was getting started, unlike the new people getting involved now. They helped to shape that foundational culture.

Anyway - film made me think about graffiti art in a lot of ways (not based on its actual content). Just the way that people are willing to take such risks and do crazy shit to create art, and art that will likely disappear in a day, a week, not much longer. But they do it anyway. And the tags that I wasn't a big fan of (everyone can appreciate something big and pretty) seem to make more sense in the context of the big stuff.

Yeah. I'm done with docs for a while. But check out Piece by Piece. Worth it.

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