June 30, 2009

I read and responded to a great post on Good Intentions Are Not Enough regarding disaster tourism. I also read a post on Aid Watch about poverty tourism, and this great post on ignorant missionaries. They all make great points – people are not attractions for other people.

The origins of it probably date back even farther than freak shows and circuses. Susan Sontag addresses this issue in both On Photography and Regarding the Pain of Others. We enjoy gazing. Even worse, we enjoy gazing repeatedly at photographs. I think this is a point that all of these posts tend to undermine in their obsessions with tourism. People not visiting the regions or sites or countries are just as guilty when looking at photographs, aren’t they? And, by their arguments, are journalists just as guilty as the tourists? Granted, I’m new to this blogosphere/group of bloggers, so I apologize if they have already written about such issues. But I feel it’s an issue that has only been discussed in the photojournalism, photography, and media realms.

And in order for these root issues of development to change effectively, we would have to address the foundations of the problems, correct? I would say a majority of these issues are ignited via internal, international, and political warfare. All of these human rights violations – starvation, rape, health care, housing – are results of greater problems that very few individuals can address. While I agree with all of their arguments, these problems cannot disappear just through more thoughtful and educated donations and work. These are smart bloggers, and I’m sure they’ve taken these issues into account; however, there are times I have felt that they truly disregard these factors.

So if you’re arguing that international health care, development, and disaster relief depends on donors addressing the deeper issues, then we have to have faith in a greater international body of law. And if development will improve, the media needs to change. It’s the strongest influence on these greater factors, and it’s the only one that has greatly impacted these movements.


June 28, 2009

Today was a lovely day. I don’t find myself having relaxing days. Fabulous, adventurous, momentous, debaucherous – yes. But relaxing? Rarely. Even when a group of friends wants to go to Central Park, or simply gather to watch some T.V., it always seems to be an ordeal. But today was simple.

I woke up late, around 3:00. I watched the Brazil vs. USA soccer game (3-2). I received a text message from JesseJack inviting me to a BBQ his mother had. I showered. I took the train to his parents’ house. I ate good food with him, his girlfriend, and another friend. We went to JesseJack’s new apartment and drank some wine. I fell asleep for 20-30 minutes on his bed. We went back to his parents’ place and had gin & tonics with his folks. We went to Wo Hop. We got PMT. I came home.

In the city I’ve realized it’s hard to be simple. I’m sure it’s been said over and over, but everyone is fabulous. And while there’s nothing wrong with being fabulous (trust me, I know), I find it hard to experience relaxation and simplicity. Summer should never be difficult or complicated. It should be easy and natural. As I’m sure most of us know, summer is for children, and maybe we’re just at the transitional stage: we want summer to be ours, but we can’t help but notice the sad adulthood that will take it away soon enough.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to all who made today fantastically simple, easy, and enjoyable.

All Along the Watchtower

June 26, 2009

Film Festival went well, in case you were wondering. I love being around people who get excited about human rights and media, kind of like how JesseJack gets excited by zombies, dinosaurs, and the apocalypse; and in the same vein, I hate it when people say they’re into it, but in fact know nothing about it.

But on the other hand, I’m also making quite an assumption that I know anything about human rights, media, and international law. I seem to be alone on some of my theories and ideas, but I think that’s because I’m a photography major, and I’ve chosen the self-portraiture route. It’s not something I thought I would do, but like I’ve said before, it makes me happy. And happiness is the root of all human rights, isn’t it? Happiness and dignity? If I make myself happy, that’s the first step in a well-rounded, encompassing human rights education.

Blogs like Blood and Milk or Good Intentions Are Not Enough (don’t get me wrong, I love reading them) at times make me feel like I’m in the wrong, like I’m another individual contributing to the lack of movement, the lack of development, and the lack of mobilization. But then I think about all the things I’ve done – traveled and volunteered in Egypt, studied photography, interned for the Human Rights Watch film festival, worked for Art in Action – and I realize that I don’t care about doing much else.

I’m glad there are people fighting for ethical development and better health care. I wanted to be one of those people, but now I’ve realized that it’s not the fight I want to fight. If I had gone the route I thought I wanted to take – that is, become a photojournalist – I would’ve felt wrong. I would’ve felt ignorant. I know what I need to know, and I’ll continue learning. But when the day is done, I want to teach art and photography as forms of human rights education. Hopefully I’ll win the lottery or something so I can actually follow through with it.

Won’t You Be Good To Yourself

June 18, 2009

First, some shameless promotion: I saw Remnants of a War tonight. It was amazing. You should go. And Jawad Metni seems to be a pretty down-to-earth guy (he’s only 23!). And a beautiful soundtrack by Kill Henry Sugar. Check it out. Please.

In other news, I am realizing more and more every day that I do not belong in New York City. I think that this feeling is mostly because I’m still hung up on my ex, but I felt this even before that happened. Don’t get me wrong – I love studying here, and I wouldn’t have wanted to go to college anywhere else. But when I’m here, I feel a need to hold on to my anger and frustration. I wake up in the morning and I think about my ex and then I’m upset for the rest of the day. And it just doesn’t end. The days seem to go on forever. I can’t fall asleep. And I just hold onto that anger because I don’t know how to let it go.

Maybe it’s just because California is home, but when I’m there, I can relax. I can let these things go. I can re-learn everything that I believe is important. All of my anger and frustration disappears and I can think clearly again. And eat awesome Mexican food. Soon enough. 🙂


June 11, 2009

The oh-so amazing JesseJack made a to-do list for his summer – some things look fun, some things don’t. I want to make one too! I also have some time to kill before my belly dancing class. 🙂

1. Get over my ex. Not entirely practical, but it’s a start.
2. Work on my senior thesis. I think I’ll work on that more when I go home, since lighting is better, and the setting is more interesting. Plus I can’t find many places around here I would like to photograph.
3. Finish watching Battlestar Galactica.
4. Exercise. I’m hoping to make these belly dancing classes a regular thing that continue in the fall.
5. Figure out summer 2010 plans. I’m tired of waiting for people to decide whether they’re coming to South Africa. I’m buying tickets.
6. Plan a trip to Minnesota and back. I miss my AUC friends. And I want to take the trains.
7. Find a job?

More to come.

Can We Give Ourselves One More Chance

June 10, 2009

Funny, I’ve been having a lot of dreams about flying recently…

comics from AmazingSuperPowers

comics from AmazingSuperPowers

Sandcastles in the Sand

June 8, 2009

I went to Coney Island today. Got some Nathan’s fish and chips. Drank some beer. Went to the beach. Couldn’t go in the water because of “bacteria,” but we think it was because the lifeguards weren’t on duty. Went on the cyclone. Walked around a bit. Went back and watched some Battlestar Galactica.

It makes me sad that people can’t have days like that. It mostly makes me sad that there are so many people in the world who haven’t been to the beach. The beach is awesome. The beach is happy. In fact, it makes me even more sad that so many people have not seen beautiful beaches. The world would be different if more people had seen beautiful beaches. I think it would make people happier, more hopeful, and more loving. Because beautiful beaches are just the best.