Graffiti for August 12, 2010…My Conversation with Chris Rigopulos, Producer of the film 9500 Liberty
A woman, nicely turned out in a blue dress, stands at a podium and intones:
“I would just like to say, and I mean this very sincerely, don’t ever forget 9/11, and who was responsible for 9/11–illegals. God Bless America!!”
With these words, her papers in hand, she turns on her heel and heads back into the crowd.
While I still lean toward doing my shows live (there’s nothing quite like facing the abyss–not knowing if what you’re stepping off into is bottomless or just knee-deep) there is something to be said about having the opportunity to pre-record and edit what you’ve done. I’ve often compare editing to sculpting. You chip off a little here, cut a line there, smooth out a rough patch. The other thing about editing a show is how you can take your time and work in music. For my conversation with Chris Rigopulos, the Producer of the film 9500 Liberty, I thought long and hard about what would be most appropriate. My first thought was Leonard Cohen’s Democracy:
It’s coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It’s coming from the feel
that this ain’t exactly real,
or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
Being an old rock ‘n’ roller one of the questions you always get asked is the desert island question: If you were stranded on a desert island what five disks (I still find myself writing “albums”) would you want to have with you? My friends laugh at me when this question is asked about films since I have about 100 “top five” films, but when it comes to music I have three that never change then, depending on my mood that day, let the chips fall where they may for the others. The three albums I’d have to have with me are Bonnie Raitt’s, 1975, “Home Plate”; The Stones’s “Let it Bleed” from 1969 and Stephen Stills’s first solo album entitled: Stephen Stills. Released in late 1970 it’s the only album that features two of the all-time greatest guitarists in Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. In fact it is dedicated to Hendrix who’d died two months before it was released.
Whenever I make up a disk of music to listen to as I drive, invariably a song, or many of them, from these albums will end up on it. Before I started editing tonight’s pre-recorded conversation with Chris Rigopulos I was listening to one of these disks and one of the songs–We are Not Helpless from the Stills album–”sang” to me. THIS was the music I needed for tonight. A gentle, positive song that builds in strength over it’s 4:20 running time.
We are not helpless, we are men
What lies between us
It can be set aside and ended
Ev’ryday we learn more how to hate
Shut the door
And then we tell ourselves we can’t relate
Only to the ones who are the same
Yet even they are diff’rent
And ever so they shall remain
All are strangers, all are friends
All are brothers, brothers
Open up, my friend, and learn to hear
For even lying
When it has nothing you should fear
If you cannot let yourself be known
Then you are hiding and not whole
All are strangers, all are friends
All are brothers, brothers…
Tonight Chris Rigopulos and I have a conversation about immigrants in the United States, the use and abuse of the internet as a new model for political persuasion, and the film he produced: 9500 Liberty that deals with these topics and more.
Check the “Screenings” page at the 9500 Liberty website but at present the next showing that will be relatively near by will be at The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 7 PM. Co-director, Eric Byler, will be there for a Q&A.