Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hope there's someone

These are things I remember:

-- The ditch that ran behind the school to that home with the tree house always held the clearest water. I thought it was a river. No one lived in that home, so we claimed the three house as ours. Then those new kids moved in and tore the tree house down and later I learned the difference between a river and a ditch.

-- The first time we kissed was on my bed -- actually, it was a borrowed bed -- but I prefer the next day's story, the kiss in the library in front of Eudora Welty.

-- You used to bring giant ICEEs over late at night. Back then, 85 cents bought you any size. We drank them outside when we should have been sleeping. I do not regret it.

-- After the horse and carriage ran over my toe, after I had lost my jacket on the bus from Costa Rica to Nicaragua, I cussed so loudly I wanted to cry. The van full of 25 people (12 more than it was equipped for) stared at me as my lip quivered. But then you laughed, and I did not. (cry, that is)

Friday, March 25, 2011

First world problems

Where will I get coffee?
Can I not wear my cute shoes because I'll be doing too much walking?
Is it close enough to Chicago?
Will I never eat another chanterelle?
Who will cut my hair in a cool way?
How will I afford tickets to Texas?
Will I be too poor to go to Hawaii?
Will I ever date again?
If so, will she be cute? interesting?
Nevermind, I never want to date again.
But if I did ...
How will I downsize from four closets to one?
Where will all my jackets go?
Should I save my money or buy a new computer?
What will I photograph?
What does sushi taste like in the middle of the country?
Will I have to wait for movies to come out on DVD?
What will I do with all my furniture?
Where will all my books fit?
How will I afford new music?
(etc, etc)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Megabus

I have been traveling for 13 hours toward what may or may not be my future. I am somewhere in Illinois or Iowa on a bus that is supposed to have wi-fi but doesn't. Dennis, the driver, is playing gospel music. Someone a few rows behind me is playing Lil Wayne from their phone speakers. The man behind me is speaking German.

"This is the megabus, the bus with the fat man on the back, not the dog on the side," Dennis says.

Dennis has a smooth Barry White way of speaking. Before the bus left Chicago, he had us say a prayer together that the bus wouldn't get into any emergencies. "Now we're having church," he said. Then he told the women to tune out for a second while he talked to the men about the proper way to pee on a moving bus.

"Like your sister, not like your dad."

Dennis talks about himself in the third person. Dennis likes to listen to music. Dennis won't turn it off, so don't bother asking. Dennis likes to stay on the ground. He likes to drive 70 miles per hour, but sometimes the rain or the rush hour traffic prevents that. And if you feel the bus swaying, Dennis has not been sipping gin and juice. These are windy times, folks, and the wind is rocking your ride. Dennis can't do anything about it.

"Me, I'm going to continue to do what I do, which is travel at this altitude at 70 miles per hour."

I'm not sure at which speed I'm traveling these days. Am I low to the ground? Or am I on some other altitude? I try to read a story about a Salafi leader as I ride past the silohs and wheat-colored landscapes. Every once in a while I look back at the boy who asked me to marry him two minutes after I got on the bus. He offered to buy me massages and Air Jordans. "A lot of guys won't do that," he said. He is 23 but tells me he has had plenty of older women -- one even close to 65. We could start a life together in Iowa City, he said. He is moving there from Chicago, just now. His new life will be borne out of everything he carries in a plastic bag.

"You starting over, too?" he asks.

I'm not sure what I'm doing. I'm spending the ride thinking mostly about the past, which is how I always get myself in trouble. After a few hours, the wheat fades to black. In the dark, this place could be anywhere. I could be headed for anywhere.

I put my headphones on to drown out the Lil Wayne vs. Gospel vs. German talk mashup. The Magnetic Fields "100,000 fireflies come on."

I'm afraid of the dark without you close to me,
always was.
You won't be happy with me,
so give me once more chance.
You won't be happy anyway.

I take the headphones off just as we arrive in Iowa City -- my maybe or maybe not future. Dennis has turned James Brown's "Sex Machine" on really loudly.

"Yeah, that's right," he coos. "We're in Iowa City."

I step outside. The cold is sharper than I imagined.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Go to guy for the hits right now

For the final shoot for our music video for "We Max," Aaron and I went over to Rob and Reggie's uncle's house so the family could watch the boys perform on BET. I told them to "act excited," but their response to watching the boys on TV absolutely blew my mind. I started crying. This'll be chopped up and prettified for the actual video (and it won't include the sound), so I just wanted to put the raw footage up so other people could watch a family loving and supporting their own. It makes me so happy to watch.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A secret told in syllables

I'm reading Isabel Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns," which is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The book, about the Great Migration of African Americans away from the South, is exactly the kind of journalism I hope I can do one day (Of course, Wilkerson is much, much smarter and more talented than I am).

Here is a little excerpt from the kind of intro to the book:

"Many of the people who left the South never exactly sat their children down to tell them these things, tell them what happened and why they left and how they and all this blood kin came to be in this northern city or western suburbs or why they speak like melted butter and their children speak like footsteps on pavement, prim and proper or clipped and fast, like the New World itself. Some spoke of specific and certain evils. Some lived in tight-lipped and cheerful denial. Others simply had no desire to relive what they had already left.

The facts of their lives unfurled over the generations like an over-wrapped present, a secret told in syllables. Sometimes the migrants dropped puzzle pieces from the past while folding the laundry or stirring the corn bread, and the children would listen between cereal commercials and not truly understand until they grew up and had children and troubles of their own. And the ones who had half-listened would scold and kick themselves that they had not paid better attention when they had the chance."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Behind the scenes

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from Sunday's shoot for the GIS - "We Max" video.







Monday, March 14, 2011

Pocket full of stacks

Aaron and I have been working on a rap video for the past few months (with extra camera help by Aubree and Joel), and we're finally wrapping it up with an epic amount of shooting this week. Three days! As you wait for the real thing to drop, check out this trailer that Aaron put together of our footage:

"We Max" G.I.S. Music Video Preview from studio.pebble on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thank you for being a friend

Ryan, Flan and I spent Saturday gallivanting about the town. I have attractive friends.



Friday, March 4, 2011

Now that's what I call music (firsts)

I debuted this video last night at my video screening. Watch as people tell me about the first cool album they owned.

Questions: Your first cool album from Casey Parks on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My big screen debut

Local people! Come out tomorrow night to see a screening of my short films. Last year, Aaron Wong and I won the Portland Bridge Festival's short film festival, and part of the prize is we got to rent out one of the coolest movie theater's in town (the Bagdad -- they serve beer and food!) and show whatever we want. We briefly considered a Sex and the City marathon but ultimately we decided to show our own work.

I'll be showing:

The Amazing Jerks video
A trailer for our Roy documentary
Two short films that ask a series of people the same question
Two rap videos

Some of this stuff is online. Some isn't. So come! Aaron will also show a bunch of cool stuff, including a stop motion piece that he and his friends spent like a year making. He even made the clay figurines himself. Anyway, here's a poster (made by Flannery Smith, but we messed it up a little when we tried to change the date)