Author Archives: janinebrito

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams and Pizzas Are Maaaade Of….

Unless you’ve been living in an underground tunnel somewhere, a la the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or a recently overthrown dictator, you’ve probably heard of this little thing that’s been sweeping the nation. Oh, you know, OCCUPY. That little old thing. That movement of young, old, employed, unemployed, underemployed, radical, moderate, black, brown, white, queer, and straight. That movement of everyone who’s been paying attention to the widening wealth gap, our economy falling apart, corporations taking over our government, y’know, things getting shittier right before our very eyes. THAT thing.

Well, the Occupy movement started pretty soon after LATM embarked on its nationwide tour and I’m not saying we started the whole thing, but some people are…okay, fine. No one’s saying we started Occupy. But we knew we couldn’t make a tour documentary about the state of our nation without jumping right into it.

The three of us have been visiting our own nearest occupies (what with being human beings who care about things offstage as well) but felt we needed to add an emergency stop given THE ADVENT OF THE REVOLUTION. So Nato and Kamau flew out to New York (where I’d been living for two months) so that the three of us could visit Zuccotti Park, talk to those occupying Wall Street, and put on a show for the people of Liberty Square.

Oh yeah and we pretty much had three days to figure it all out. Three days to figure out: flights, places to stay, time to talk to people on the ground, finding an available theater close to Zuccotti, letting people know said show would be happening, and figuring out what we’d say onstage. No big. Right?

After a couple days of frantic phone calls and theater visits, Kamau, Nato, Keri, and our filmmakers Mike and Evan arrived and we headed out to Zuccotti. We talked to a young artist, a former Wall Street employee, an out of work contractor, and the leaders of Occupy Judaism who called us sacred clowns and implied we were doing God’s work. (Hear that, abuela?! Estoy haciendo la obra de Dios!) We were exhausted but inspired. We hoofed it straight from the park to the theater (which we’d found and booked less that 48hrs before) without the slightest idea if anyone would show up. But New Yorkers stepped up and every seat in our little theater was filled with friends, strangers, and some of the people we’d talked to moments earlier. So thank you, New York. Thank you for coming to our show, for being the first spark in this growing movement, and for having a Halal food cart on every corner.

You had me at, Halal, New York. You had me at Halal. (Janine makes out with a plate of chicken over rice. Kamau and Nato awkwardly leave the room. Fade to black.)


I heart Chicago

Yet another post going up a day late, please forgive our tardiness but we’ve been running on zero sleep and an amount of Red Bull that should be illegal. But OMG, Chicago, you are incredible!

We left Arizona after 3 hours of sleep (and some insanity getting to the airport), landed in Chicago, then immediately drove downtown to join UNITE HERE hotel workers for their strike against the Hyatt. Nato and Kamau were able to speak with some Hyatt employees during the picket about their cause. You can learn more about the UNITE HERE’s fight at hotelworkersrising.org. Seeing hundreds of workers united to make their voices heard was an exhilarating experience and a wonderful kick-off to our much-too-short time in Chi-Town.

We MUST give a HUGE thanks to Jason, co-owner Chicago-based indie bookstore The Book Table (booktable.net) who drove us all over town in style. Seriously, check out my seat in his sweet ride

Riding in style

We were exhausted after striking with hotel workers, riding in style, check out Jason’s bookstore, meeting his adorable puppy, and eating enormous diner food. And our theater set included the coziest couch and bed. Right where we’d be performing. (Pro: naptime before the show. Con: TORTURE while onstage.)

We were all tempted to give in to our exhaustion but the audience at the Greenhouse Theater was on fire and kept us going. (Plus, Kamau’s mom was in the audience and I don’t think any of us would ever want to let that woman down because she’s a BAMF*.) We ended up having a great show and going out for celebratory drinks afterwards. Yeah. Our audience was so awesome we wanted to hang despite running on fumes.

Thank you, Chicago. You are wonderful.

*BAMF = Bad A$$ Mutha Futha


#LATMtour first day in Tucson

Hellooooooo LATMers, LATMaronis, LATMos, LATMees, whatever your call yourself (I’ll allow you to self-identify.)

Today we trekked from sunny Phoenix to equally sunny Tucson and boy are my dogs tired! (I like to imagine that I have a pack of tiny puppies that accompany us on the trip when I say that phrase but, unfortunately, my “puppy pack” idea was nixed during the budget meeting. Oh yeah! BTW, thanks, Kickstarter supporters!)

We’re still riding on a high from a great first show in Phoenix and now we’re excited about the amazing folks we’re meeting at the 2011 CultureStrike Delegation. We’ve already talked to many artists and organizers here at our hotel and there will be many more insightful, poignant, AND hilarious conversations to come. (Also, potential swimsuit footage. Feel free to take that as a warning or enticement.)

I had a wonderful conversation with undocumented, queer artivist Julio Salgado about art, it’s role in activism, and multiple identities. 

AND THERE WAS CHOCOLATE CAKE.

Alas, my sugar high has crashed and Kamau’s telling me that it’s my bedtime, so gnight!

 


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