Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What do we do about President Trump?

The unthinkable happened. The American people voted for Donald Trump as the next president. The reasons for this are obvious: America is sick of what status quo Washington leadership has delivered. Depending on what happens next, how we react to a Trump presidency could  define this generation and change the world. 

Three or four things can happen now: 

1. Trump effectively delivers on his promises: Reducing immigration, making America safer by relying on law and order (intensifying police spending and border security), domesticating labor and manufacturing by somehow simultaneously reducing barriers to corporations but also heavily penalizing those who off-shore or who wish to import goods, reducing the tax burden, and replacing the Affordable Care Act with 'something really fantastic.'  He wins against ISIS and creates jobs. He makes America Great Again. 

Oh, and he builds that wall. 

2. Trump flails around like a wounded shark and shatters the American political status quo by being impulsive, vengeful, insubstantial, petty, and inept. It's a weird and economically bereft time, and has vast political repercussions, but we all more or less make it through. The underlying motivation that got Trump elected: dissatisfaction with the state of America, is addressed in coming generations. 

3. Trump continues to feed on hateful rhetoric and the scapegoating of the most marginalized populations in the nation and builds a powerful movement that can only be described as fascist. People who perpetuate this perspective will be supported by authority, passively or actively. 

4. Some kind of combination/spectrum of the above. 

I'm not predicting we end up toward #3 on the spectrum, but if that is what occurs, here are some ways we can prepare and counteract it. In the face of unprecedented (unPresidented?) hostility and oppression, we have to act. These are empowering reactions regardless of what happens next. 

It is of utmost importance that we constantly seek the truth. 

Discontentment is why Trump won, but how Trump won is by tapping into that discontentment by lying. Anyone identifying Trump's lies is disregarded by his supporters as a product of a biased media, but the words that come out of his mouth are a matter of public record, and they're not often factual by anyone's measure. Rigorously pursuing facts did not win in the face of Trump's presidential bid, but staying factual will be the only way we can preserver in the face of oppression in an informed, effective way and be on the right side of history when the dust settles. With the erosion of the 4th estate, this has never been harder, which is why clarity and investigation need to champion over propaganda on the left and the right.  But truth is demonstrable with evidence and lies are not, even in complex matters of politics. As change occurs, demand proof before siding with oppression and publicize truth that counters the claims of the oppressive party. 

Reach out and connect with communities that are vulnerable and let them know you will fight for their liberty. 

Go to mosques and commiserate with Muslims. Talk to the people you are acquainted with but who are outside your community and let them know you're there. Go to community events being organized right now to resist the outcomes of hateful rhetoric and action. Talk to people who are different from you and at risk. Depending on who you are and what you do, offer them your support and an open door in the event that they need you. And be ready to sacrifice your comfort, freedom, future and stability to prevent something atrocious from happening in your time. 

Use the tools that you have. 

You're an artist? Spread truth. You're a programmer? Create tools that allow people to effectively communicate. You're a nurse? Train others to take care of themselves. We all have roles to play, the skills we have professionally or in terms of interests can be applied to making the world a better and safer place in a thousand creative ways. 

Connect with your local power structure and try to ascertain where their line in the sand is. 

Will your local city council and mayor's office reject an order to profile citizens based on religion? Will your business licensor quit over a request to shut a business because its owners are immigrants? Find out, introduce yourself, and put pressure where you can on those in power to do the right thing. If you're within a power structure that can turned for the worse if American democracy falls apart, consider how to most effectively leverage that position. The men and women of our armed forces and police more than likely want to do the right thing, but will need allies and support to do so in the face of a changing political normal. 

We don't know how bad things can get, and hopefully scenario #3 is a nightmare that we over-prepared for. If that's the case, the last step is still the most important:


Organize for what you believe in and what you want to preserve. Organize to put pressure on leaders who will be watching the same changes you are. Organize to provide for those at risk. Organize to educate and prepare everyone to challenge what's to come and the problems we've been saddled with all along. Organize to connect with other people and initiatives talking the same goals. 

Whatever you do, do not be a spectator in your own moment. 

This is a wild time to be an American, but it is our time, and whether it's prosperous or apocalyptic we won't be a people who did nothing but watch youtube clips of a changing world. 

Choose truth and love over hate and division. 

See you out there.  

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Get Out: The movie we all need

A trailer's been popping up in my feed recently, Jordan Peele's Get Out. Without sound, I assumed it was some FunnyOrDie send-up short about race relations. Like 'omg my white girlfriend doesn't use a washcloth in the shower, what terror' ala Dave Chapelle.

Turns out it's like a thousand times cooler than that.

This movie looks like the perfect cultural response to the racist madness we're grappling with today. It brings the banal terrors of racism that we're inundated with and makes them horrific, to apparently amazing effect.

By the look of the trailer, everything that is understated, insinuated, or denied in mainstream white culture is manifested in its final form here. White people are actually deleting black people from this community through some kind of hypnotic assimilation, and the fall-out is staged against cringe-worthy moments of white ineptitude performed by upper-class parental figures meeting their daughter's black boyfriend. Amazing.

I feel emotionally invested in this crazy movie to a degree that no horror about zombies or possessed children could ever achieve. As a white person, I'm excited to watch this movie for the moments that bring Daniel Kaluuya's character to life in the face of larger-than-life caricatures of white oppression. I want him to triumph over the stupidity as an avatar for every person of color who has to deal with the real-life equivalents of this madness every moment.

The true measure of how impactful this film is going to be is playing out right before our eyes in the comments section of the trailer on youtube. People who are excited about the movie because it reflects their experience or because they find it really clever like I do are waging full on battle with the racist trolls coming out of the woodwork. The fragile white fight is going on full steam! I hope it converts to box office sales.

+10,000xp to Jordan Peele for having this idea. Read More......

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Behind the scenes: Producing/Shooting at LAX

This commercial was a challenge to produce! I decided I'd jot down some notes for anyone shooting at a big airport in the future:

Filming at LAX: Airport security requires background checks for the entire crew, which means you have to be crewed up a week in advance. All gear has to pass through TSA, so we opted to go with Alexa Amiras. Shooting on tarmac comes with a $10m insurance requirement that has to be prepared 7 days in advance in order to obtain the FilmLA permit in time. LAX parking+security+traffic meant no production runs, so everything had to be on hand for the first shot. Background was uncontrolled (it's an airport) so we had to have a number of releases on hand. All in all this 60 second job required 31 insurance documents, permit requests, or applications.

We only had the marching band for a total of 4 hours between the two locations, UCLA and LAX, which required two units and a total of 6 cameras. 3 to cover the constant action in the airport, 1 to capture the marching band on the UCLA field, a timelapse camera, and a background shooter for media. The client wanted one set of footage that was basically a press-release on the event, and another set that was more cinematic, this cut.

Filming at UCLA: Drones aren't allowed on campus, so an overhead shot of a football field is a tricky one. UCLA was more than happy to allow us to use their 40' scissor lift, which was a huge boon.

Though all of our airport/campus contacts were very professional and helpful, I cannot imagine doing an airport shoot if it wasn't for an airport client like Delta (and UCLA on campus). With Delta we got: Access to special rooms to create a DIT base camp, entrance through Delta One, and the ability to coordinate plane arrivals with our crew, which made the whole approach shot possible.

All in all, a bunch of work for 60 seconds! Read More......

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Above their pay grade

The garbage bags were piling up in the forsaken part of downtown. It was really a shame. There were too many people lined up on the sidewalks at all hours to get in there and pick it all up, and you couldn’t drive a street sweeper over a pile of rags and boxes. Someone might be passed out in there. Or lying in wait, ready to ambush invisible assailants. The sanitation department’s official line was that their employees didn’t feel safe, what with all the drug dealing and general craziness down there. You could understand. Tile and concrete were smeared with all manner of bitter liquids and sticky mystery materials, the kind of thing you’d want to hurry by, not clean up.

It’s likely

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Remembering Paul Splett

Paul Splett

February 2016 marked the passing of Paul M. Splett. He is remembered by those who love him as the person who taught them to go after their dreams. He was a loving husband, father, son, brother, mentor and friend. He was both a heavy metal musician and a lawyer. A philosopher and a football fan. A lover and a sufferer. He refused to be limited by the hardships life threw at him, loving all things, pondering the questions of meaning, religion, and existence. After his second kidney transplant, Paul got out of bed and taught himself how to build a house, which became the beautiful home for him and the love of his life, Ronette Meyer. Paul's time on earth contained multitudes, but he left us too soon.

Paul was born May 23rd, 1961 to Gilbert and Carolyn Splett in Chewelah, Washington. He was the middle child between Kathryn and Tim. As children of a Lutheran pastor, they were often under the community’s microscope. So naturally, Paul got into metal music.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

This site has been in hibernation as I've focused the Bicycle Collectives of Utah. The Bicycle Collective has always been a huge part of my life, and it has been a pleasure to lead the organization as it grows. If you want to learn more about what we do, I was invited to give a TEDx talk that is a pretty solid introduction:

Please keep in touch through the website above, or by checking out our daily posts on Instagram in Salt Lake, Ogden, and Provo.

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