Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Word on Wednesday - Best / Most / Favourite of 2008

(because what year would be complete without a best / most / favourite list?)


Most tender cry
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
(whose website has been under construction for quite some time)

Years ago my friend Barbara recommended this book and the title stuck in my mind. I finally bought it last Jan with a bookstore gift certificate someone had given me, and even then it sat on my shelf for months. Just before summer, curled up on the couch for a weekend, I cried my way through Henry and Clare's romance. I love how the story's sadness and foreboding is peppered with the humour that comes when two people are so comfortably one, destined and resigned to that destiny of constant heartache. A heartache as beautiful as is is tragic.

Most stunning cry (sudden and unforseen)
Fierce Light - Where Spirit Meets Action
a documentary by Velcrow Ripper

Last October I attended my friend Sue's wedding. This friend had a chronic kidney condition and during the ceremony I could tell she was exhausted. Part way through the reception dinner, my husband and I realized that the entire wedding party was gone. Word came around that Sue had fallen ill and had to be taken to the hospital. She went into a coma and died that evening.

I was in shock, it was unreal that one could attend a friend's wedding and then the friend could vanish from this earth. Sue was all light and heart and spirit, but she also had a flair for the dramatic. We all agreed that her exit was beautiful... how many other people get a reception line of all their friends and family at the end of their lives?

A friend at Sue's wedding recommended a movie to me. She had specifically thought of me after watching it. She said Fierce Light was an inspiring documentary about people coming together for good, for peace, for action. That sounded about right. In the midst of a crazy work week, just a few days after Sue's death, I ducked out for a few hours to see the film at Vancouver Film Festival. It was sold out. I sat in the front row, swallowed by the screen.

In the opening sequence, the director Velcrow Ripper shows the story of Brad Will, an anarchist and video journalist, through his final film footage. Brad was shot and killed (by police) in 2006 during the teacher's strike in Oaxaca, Mexico, which he had traveled down to document. He basically filmed his own murder. The footage was gut-wrenching.

My heart burst open... it was too much. I had known Brad. I knew he had been killed, but I hadn't expected to see the footage on full screen in colour.

I had met Brad at Naropa University. My two fondest memories of him were when he and I spent an afternoon trying to create the perfect intoxicating tea and attending his mock gay wedding held outside the Promise Keeper's convention. Brad was one of a kind. A generous coyote trickster with a heart for justice.

I'm pretty sure I cried through the entire film, and not just for Sue and Brad, for all the wonderful, beautiful people out there with fierce light and spirit. Brad died doing what he had to do. Sue died in the arms of love. I don't know if there is any more appropriate way for them to leave us.

to story about Brad that appeared in Rolling Stone


spunky kitten said...

I agree about the tragedy/beauty link. Some times I hear a song and for no reason known to me it brings me tears and it's usually because it is so beautiful and sad at the same time.

Danika / OpenChannel said...

totally, spunky k.

reminds me of the end of the Keat's poem Ode on a Grecian Urn:

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

that core sadness is a truth, which I think stems from love.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Wow, what a story about your friend Sue. Amazing.

It was nice to see you pop in; I've missed you! Be sure you let me know when you move, too -- and keep on coming over to the new place. I'm settling in slowly.

Danika / OpenChannel said...

Hey Susan,

Yeah, I haven't been blogging much, just getting back into it. Been so busy. I've missed everyone, too.

spunky kitten said...

I forgot to say that I heard about Brad Will. I didn't know him I just remember a story about him I read somewhere. He seemed like quite a character. Well even thought it might be hard it's good the film was made.

Danika / OpenChannel said...

hey spunky k.

There's a lot of great stories about Brad.

I just went back to the post and included links to the amazing Rolling Stone story about him and a site in his honour.

Anonymous said...

Yes, very powerful, and YOU can ACT to achieve justice. Contact your local Congressmember, there are resources on our website. Get Involved!
Contact: Friends of Brad Will

Obama Urged to Reject Reagan Era-style Militarization of Latin America
Citing Promise of Non-ideological, Practical Policy, Friends of Slain Journalist Call for End of Failed 'War on Drugs'

(january 7, 2008) - Friends of Brad Will today called on President elect Obama to take note of the failures of the "war in drugs" in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean and to reject funding corrupt security forces there. The advocacy organization established when the U.S. reporter Brad Will was murdered by Mexican security forces in front of witnesses in a crime still unpunished also urged the President Elect to call for the release of Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno, wrongly accused by Mexican government officials of the murder of Mr. Will in Mexico in 2006.

"Mr. Martinez was framed by Mexican authorities to cover-up for officials from the State of Oaxaca who were filmed shooting into crowds during the 2006 teacher's strike." said Miguel Rivera, of Friends of Brad Will. "We demand his release and call on the Obama Administration to cease the proposed funding of helicopters and Blackwater and Dyncorp mercenaries through Bush's Merida Initiative to the Mexican and other Western Hemispheric militaries."

In a letter today to President Elect Obama, the respected Washington DC-based Witness for Peace stated, "Instead of spending billions in a failed "supply-side" strategy that funds human rights abuses, destroys the environment and fuels a decades-long armed conflict, end military aid and invest in real alternative development abroad and drug prevention and treatment at home."

The growing call to stop the Merida Initative builds upon the opposition of the AFL-CIO, US Steelworkers, and many others.

About the investigation of the murder of Brad Will, Rep. Manzullo (R, Illiinois) wrote to outgoing Secretary of State Rice, "Why should the U.S. Government give money to a government to "fight organized crime" when the very Mexican officials trusted with spending this money, including the Mexican Attorney General, refuse to cooperate with officials of the U.S. Government concerning a U.S. victim of a Mexican criminal act?"

Friends of Brad Will also called on the Mexican government to vacate the arrest warrants of others wrongfully accused of the death of the American journalist. Their names are: Hugo Jarid Colmenres Leyva, Octavio Pérez Pérez, Miguel Cruz Moreno, Leonardo Ortiz Cruz, Edgar Santiago Navarro, Gualberto Francisco Santiago Navarro, Marco Antonio Rojas Lazaro, Gustavo Vilchis Ramírez.

Amnesty International has this notice:

The ruse that Brad was shot by activists involved in the stories he was covering has been denounced as a cover up even by Mr. Will's family <
and by the Mexican National Commission for Human RIghts (CNDH) which denounced Mexican Attorney Generals Offices' cover-up:

"The National Human Rights Commission has analyzed the facts and evidence included in Case 2006/4886/5/Q and determines that the public authorities of the Oaxacan State Attorney General's office, as well as those in the Federal Attorney General's office who were responsible for overseeing the proceedings 11/FEADP/07 found in the office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Journalists, violated the fundamental rights of legality and judicial security."

Physicians for Human Rights issued a report calling for an investigation of paramilitary involvement in Brad Will's murder and of the larger patter of impunity in Oaxaca: .


Danika / OpenChannel said...

Thanks for the update and links.

There is much to do to be involved, yes.

In the very least, folks should join and support Amnesty International.