How Dare You Poop On Your Dog Walk!

How Dare You Poop On Your Dog Walk!

Like every apartment dwelling dog owner on planet earth, we walk our dogs four times a day because the alternative is unthinkable. Nobody wants to live in a toilet. Tons of trekking about is the byproduct of having dogs in a city. It’s a non-negotiable activity. So, being surprised or upset by poop is not reasonable. But I was surprised and upset, so there you are. Here’s what happened.

For the past 6 years I’ve been using this time to make art, mostly photos, some video. You can see it all on Instagram. Yesterday we are bopping along, and I see some pill bugs on the pavement. While that’s a pretty common bug, I don’t actually come across them very often. A few years back I made a video where the bugs were the eyes. They start out rolled up and then unfurl and walk away, changing the shape of the face. It’s fun. I wanted to do it again.

So, I collect three bugs, two for starring roles and an understudy in case I drop one. I now need to acquire a stick to become the mouth and something to be a nose. Let me make my physical situation crystal clear. I am holding two dog leashes in one hand. I am holding three pill bugs in another. They are on the move. I keep trying to push them back into my hand and they keep hurrying off towards my fingers and wrist, so I clamp my fingers into a fist. That’s both hands in use. I only have two. I also need to find a stick. Feather decides now is when she wants to poop. It’s not a reasonable response but I feel so angry. I take it personally. If it was holding anything else, I could just throw it in my bag. But I can’t do that with living creatures. And I don’t want to detain them any longer than necessary. I do respect them.

I wait for Feather to finish and somehow collect the poop while holding the squirming bugs and manage to tie the bag off. Now I need to carry that as well until we can find a trash can. So, leashes and poop bag in one hand, bugs in the other. Despite it all I am still scanning every bush for dark sticks.

I know all the dark stick trees and bushes and I am not seeing any. You probably don’t think about this, but most sticks have a kind of medium tone and so does pavement. Since you need contrast, dark is best. I’m scanning around like crazy for a trash can and a dark stick and I am agitated. All the bins are put away and all the sticks are blond. I’m fuming.

Story of my life. Nothing at all is abnormal or wrong but I’ve concocted a scenario to feel stress anyway. It’s almost like I enjoy feeling stress. Hmmm….

OMG! Mulch! Mulch is on the dark side and you can usually find a narrow bit to function as a stick or more accurately a mouth shaped “line” I set the poop bag down and grab a few pieces. Then we finally locate a bin and now I only need to scout a good piece of pavement.

It comes out great! You can see the video on my Instagram (latest post), including finding the bugs. I don’t include the poop bag. You’re welcome. I did consider it.

Despite wanting to feel good every second of every minute, I like my process. I like the randomness. I like the obstacles. They guarantee a novelty that intellect cannot provide.

What Difference Does It Make?

What Difference Does It Make?

What Difference Does It Make? Does your mind ever ask you this? 

Do you look down at your art and hear this phrase ping ponging through the corridors of thought? 

Poor little piece of art, are you really asking it to solve the world’s problems in order to justify its existence?

Are you asking it to solve all of your problems to justify its existence?

That is not what it is for!

What a heavy load to put on a humble impulse. 

Would you ask an egg to support a skyscraper?

The Difference is this: did you jump off a balcony? Did you break all your plates? Did you ruin a friendship? No? That’s the difference. Life is hard and art is necessary to make it bearable.

A little pleasure, a little hope, a little alchemy to transform the ugly to beauty.

An outcome does not have to be concrete and permanent. It can merely be the lack of defeat.

My Cool Friend

My Cool Friend

I work a lot with the documentary filmmaker, Mary Trunk. She is one of the coolest people I know because she has never stopped giving priority to her creative interests. She makes art every day, drawings, photos or digital images. She has produced and directed four independent feature documentaries, numerous short films, and she nurtures new talent as a film professor at Mount Saint Mary’s University Film Department.

Prior to all those accomplishments she had her own dance company in San Francisco called The Trunk Company. This was just before Silicon Valley ate the Bay Area Bohemian scene for lunch. Coincidentally, we both lived there but didn’t know each other. I went to a ton of dance concerts back then and almost for sure saw her perform. Oh, what I would give to be able to go back in time, see our crossing paths and hear a voice say, See that women? She is going to change your life.

Her documentary process is unusual. She films for a long time, three years for her first film, two for second, seven for her third and six for her most recent. That’s 18 years of filming! She doesn’t film every day or even every week, but she is tracking her subjects over a longer period of time than most documentary films do. I’ve only met a few people as committed to a vision as she is. It’s not that she comes off ultra-intense, it’s more just her nature. She doesn’t get bored or tired. She likes to go very, very deep. The stuff that is interesting to her doesn’t come right away and she is fine with waiting.

I edited her last three feature documentaries, and most of her other projects, since we started working together back around 2007. I am extremely lucky my sensibilities harmonize with her vision. We collaborate well and really enjoy each other. It’s been a truly life altering creative relationship.

Thanks to her, I have made the best thing I think I’ve ever made. Or I should say I’ve edited the best thing I have ever had the privilege of editing. We did it together. I didn’t do it. But for my contribution, it’s the best I’ve done. I am so grateful to have been part of it and so excited to share it!

Her latest feature documentary, Muscle Memory, is premiering at the Fargo Film Festival in March. I am so excited to go and see it in a theater with an actual audience.

Muscle Memory looks at the power of first obsessions to haunt the totality of our lives. The film follows eight former college dance majors over six years. Together again after several decades, the dancers use the language of movement to convey the emotional terrain of remembering.

Here are a few of the comments we have received:

A nuanced meditation on being an artist and the connections formed in the optimistic crucible of youthful creative expression.

Muscle Memory transcends documentary conventions, “documenting” the past but acting and feeling and testifying more like a work of art than a work of documentation.

This film is not just about dance. It’s about the choices we make.

It felt very personal to me even though it wasn’t my story.

It brought up so much of what’s inside, most spiritual thing I have ever seen.

Mary and I edited the film over five years, not continuously, but regularly. We knew it was a complex film and would take us a while to discover and choose which connections to make, which dances to pair with which stories, how to go back and forth in time, how to track each character over their 30-year journey.

Mary wanted the film to be dynamic and gave me permission (and the footage) to make it dance. She was ruthless, in her diplomatic way, about removing anything boring and anything she found aesthetically underwhelming. Sometimes I would push back because I had worked so hard on a scene but as I gained some distance from the editing, I’d realize she was right. That’s actually quite comforting, to trust your collaborator’s instincts. She gave me permission to go wild and she helped me rein it in. The result is something that pushes the boundaries but also has boundaries.

I think it’s fair to say we both didn’t want it to end. Yet we did want to share it with the world. I am very proud of this movie; it moves like a freight train on the wings of a butterfly. Don’t know what that means? Check it out! I will let you know when additional screening opportunities become available and the film moves into wide release.