Marcus Garvey is quiet tonight. 3:34. Is that morning? It’s a rarity in normal times, but even more pronounced laid against I don’t even know how many nights now of unending fireworks.
I feel like this is my little slice of NYC that I get to have all to myself, serenaded by Karen Dalton. I went to the kitchen and there was a giant American cockroach doing calisthenics on the kitchen counter. I sprayed it with soapy water, but who knows? The screen was open. It must have come in from the window. It was so big I should charge it rent.
Times have been very good to me lately. The project I worked on was so well-received. People were bowled over by it. I didn’t know how anyone was going to take it. I didn’t share the finished product with anyone before submitting it. Tyler did the score without most of the visuals. Michael heard the audio and then a rough cut that had visuals sprinkled throughout. I rarely have enough faith in my work that I’m willing to share it before it’s due. And, as usual, I worked til the last second. It’s almost half an hour of mostly 3 second shots. So you can imagine how much work that was.
I made it on iMovie because that’s the only editing software I have. But I worked it to my advantage to make a really clean end product. Storytelling, advocacy and a call to action. And several references to The 1975, because of course. And now I’m getting asked to present the video for some really interesting groups. I’m going to get paid as a professional documentarian and speaker. It’s bananas. If only you were here, Roy. I think you’d be proud of me. At least I hope you would be.
I started making videos in elementary school on a Fischer Price PXL 2000 I’d gotten for Christmas. It used regular cassette tapes. I’d make music videos to Weird Al songs.
In middle school I joined media arts club and learned how to make basic title sequences. And then in eighth grade I learned how to edit tape on an analog deck and add transitions and titles using Video Toaster.
Between college and law school I made a video for Santa Cruz County Probation Department with a budget of $3000 and roped in my sisters to help. Andrea, my sister, directed it. I used Fugazi for the soundtrack. I kind of think Ian McKaye would have liked that bit. Or hated it, which would make me like it more. That summer taught me I could never work in the criminal system. It just broke my my heart.
I did the voiceover for the video. My voice sounds higher but I don’t know if my voice has deepened since then or if it was because I had tonsillitis at the time. That video took so long to finish. I edited it using iMovie and rendering took forever and iMovie froze constantly. I lost so much work. But the county was happy and I screened it a few times.
Andrea made an incredibly professional video when she was in med school. To this day, I love to watch it.
For years my dream was for Andrea and I to make films together because our sensibilities are so in sync. We challenge each other but mostly we just compliment each other. You see this filmmaking duo in brothers but rarely in two sisters. I still think we could do it.
I don’t want to go too deeply into how much people liked the video. If I can leave it at exuberant prosaic manifestations with extra exclamation points, I’d like to do so. From conception to execution to presentation, I created something from nothing. And that something has value.
But even before I began this project, I had to live this life. And then I had to digitize thousands of photographs and take hours and hours of video over the course of years. The end product isn’t just the culmination of a few months. It’s four decades of my life. I poured it out into iMovie and finally wrote the memoir I’d failed to capture as a novel–the classic first time writer’s mistake. The novel failed because my real life story was way more interesting than anything I could conjure up.
When I started writing in 2015, I couldn’t have predicted that I’d ever get any good at it. It was just the latest thing I was into. Like making jewelry or knitting. I couldn’t tell you why I stuck with it, only that it was therapeutic.
But now, even if I never do anything else right with my life, I have this memory of captivating an audience of 800 people for an hour with something so deeply personal. I did that. I have vision, talent, skills and follow through. And now I have this great collaborator in Tyler. I want him to score tons of big time projects.
I will never have children. That won’t be my legacy. My legacy will have to be marked in the lives I’ve impacted. And it seems as though I fell upon my method, but really, everything was leading up to this. It wasn’t time wasted. Because it brought me here.
So when I’m low and feeling rudderless, I’m going to look back on the week of my birthday, June 2020. And if I should leave you, try to remember all the good times, and just a little bit of rain.