Diary of a Hungry, Angry, Fat, Gay Mexican — Day 4 — “Resist”

Diary of a Hungry, Angry, Fat, Gay Mexican — Day 4 — “Resist”

Day 4

End of Protein Days

257.7 lbs.

Glucose Reading: 199

Despite booking first class, luxury passage on the Love Train yesterday, I was a bit reluctant to get out of bed this morning. Maybe it is the fear of knowing what democratic pillar #President Babyhands was going to decimate next. Perhaps it is the effects of four protein days messing with my head. I wanted to write some pithy little riff on how Lindora protein days are a privileged, overfed person’s descent into hell, but I lost the desire. Instead, I’ll let this little clip of an otter happily chowing down take its place. That’s going to be me tomorrow when I get to switch back to a regular menu of poultry, fish, vegetables and fruits again.

The notion of living in a parallel universe is starting to grow in my brain. I have these moments where the only thing I can do is shake my head. I joke to myself that all those years of reading post-apocalyptic fiction, watching nuclear war films and those dystopian epicsof yore like “Logan’s Run” and “Soylent Green” are actually going to pay off! I’m ready for whatever happens next! Then this fear grows in the pit of my slowly shrinking stomach. I have to remain and fight back the fear of letting it spread  further so I don’t just lock the door and never leave the house again. .

Today, #PresidentBabyhands basically unleashed a round of “Mextortion,” proposing a 20% tax on all Mexican imports. Comedian that I am, one thought that flashed in my mind was, “Since I am in the process of losing weight, this could be a very good thing!” But really, it is not. Crushing an economy because they won’t fund your windmill from hell, Don Quixote, is tyranny at its worst.

IMG_1629.JPG

Political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz (of “La Cucaracha” fame) posted this image promoting a “California Resistance,” which is the lead photo of the diary entry. “Resist” is a powerful word for us all right now. It has taken root in my mind, from resisting the urges to consume things that can hurt me to resisting the urge to go full Howard Beale in public with rage. I can tell you this. I am losing one battle and it isn’t with food.

Restraint has never been a word I’ve been able to incorporate into my lexicon for living. Not as a kid, even less so as an adult. I am finally aware that “more” can kill. As we try to process the events of this week, more challenges will be brought to the American public in a way that will divide us and conquer other principles that must be defended to the bitter end. So, what does any of this have to do with a diet diary, you may ask? Plenty.

We are what we eat, people. And I am not going to subsist on a steady diet of lies and tyrannical chaos just because so many Americans hated having a black president for eight years. You ingest in trash food, you get toxic refuse that leaves your body in shock and prone to diseases that can kill you. The same applies to the Democratic process. We are what our elected officials represent. It is no coincidence that President Babyhands is an orange-colored menace. Cheetos are just as bad for me, too. Neither requires my attention to be healthy and strong, all the better to fight back.

#resist

fullsizerender

Why the Bully Pulpit will not make America great…

Why the Bully Pulpit will not make America great…

I firmly believe that America is great, but it is also a shining example of the best and worst of human nature. The Bully Pulpit has its demagogue and that many are left in its thrall shouldn’t surprise us anymore. The Trumpian Dynamic has tapped into a populist rage so great, even the great writer Paddy Chayefsky (”Network”) would be shaking his head in sadness and regret.

I know this New York Times video currently making the rounds doesn’t reflect the nation as a whole. However, that these images have been captured and unleashed makes me take pause. We are a broken nation and the divisiveness is only going to get worse before it gets better. Sometimes, I wonder if the “United” in “States of America” is just a fever dream. But, we have to try. We have to be better. We have to be stronger together before we destroy our place as the greatest nation on Earth — and become a smoldering, toxic wasteland  of chaos, ignorance and hate from which nothing positive can grow.

Watch and strive to be proactive. Vote. Don’t let Trump and his woeful disciples dictate your future!

We will rise up or #StandWithUs

We will rise up or #StandWithUs

When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to it’s feet
And move mountains
Bring it to it’s feet
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you…

I, like many, woke up on Sunday morning with the news of another mass shooting. And, like many, I was moved to tears. As the news of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida dominated the media, those tears mixed with absolute rage. I am angry over the loss of humanity, the loss and wounding of so many of my brothers. More, I am furious over the continuing loss of sanity and compassion in a world that refuses to let people live their lives in peace. We don’t deserve the ground we walk on or the air we breathe if the evil few continue to have to no regard for the greater good in a world that houses us all.

The truth is I don’t fear the terror of a group determined to keep us in fear. I actually fear the ignorance still to be heard and felt in so many other ways in my own country. This just didn’t happen at a “gay club.” This event happened to all of us. We must stand together, even if others prefer to keep us apart.

My heart is heavy now, but my mind burns with rage. As far as I am concerned, organized religions and groups promoting an agenda of “traditional values” are just purveyors of organized hate.

I am not losing sight of the families and loved ones left behind. I know I am not alone in saying that we hold you all in our hearts. We are with you in spirit. You are not alone in your sorrow.

However, as race-baiting, hate-mongering blowhards like Donald Trump have the narcissistic gall to make this tragedy about themselves, I can only make room for more rage. We are now hearing a call to action to stop those so-called arrogant, bilious men and women in certain sectors of privilege that dare to think of themselves as being worthy of leading this great nation. They all have blood on their hands…again. How dare you appropriate the Pulse Tragedy in Orlando as validating the very agenda that makes us all targets of hate. How dare you disavow their sexual orientation, or worse, citing being gay as reason for such an act in your toxic rhetoric!

Fuck the terrorists. They will meet their fate. A special place in hell exists for those who believe in Donald Trump as being our great deliverer. When will they all realize that focusing our hate on one group or groups is not the answer? When will they realize that easy access to weaponry that belongs on the battlefield, that arming ourselves against a neighbor doesn’t promote true freedom? It promotes cowardice, violence and a final outcome that will rob of us hope.

And here’s one sobering reality — the thing about walls is that they can be climbed. Walls can be brought down. Walls keep nothing out, but keep paranoia, fear and ignorance woefully in place.

We cannot be rendered afraid or silent by the sins of the few. We must not let those who dare tear us asunder, at home or abroad, to render us powerless or apathetic anymore. Countless innocent men, women and children have met their bloody fates thanks to arms purchased in THIS country.

So many thoughts and feelings are running through my mind right now. I stand with the victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy. Their lives, like those lost at Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernardino, Virginia Tech, Umpqua Community College and every innocent soul unleashed by a police bullet in this great land of ours, all give us strength to protect all lives. It is time for good people to rise and join in unison in a song that does not promote isolationist values of intolerance and retribution.

We have a choice. Either we rise up and stop this violence and pandering to the special interests of groups who are the antithesis of freedom and peace. Or, we allow ourselves to devolve into a police state that makes further mockery of what it means to be the United States of America.

The choice is all ours. As Andra Day sings with pride and love, “All we need is hope, and for that we have each other.”

We need each other. Now.

In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousand times again
And we’ll rise up
High like the waves
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again
For you

 

Why I’m proud to be a Mexi-can in Hollywood

Why I’m proud to be a Mexi-can in Hollywood

While we dissect the Trumpian phenomenon ushering in the era of Idiocracy in America, the New York Times published a stellar think-piece on the struggle for diversity in Hollywood. Written by Melena Ryzik, the article was a welcome respite from a news feed clogged with Trump’s latest example of “hoof in mouth” rantings. We are living in serious times and we need to keep our focus on the issues that are seriously undermining our identity and modern culture.

I know I am not alone in thinking that America still leads the world by example. Imagine our disappointment in knowing we are now the biggest reality show ever produced, where racism, ignorance, vulgar excess and rampant egoism has been given a platform — and worse — validation. I refuse to allow this Age of Idiocracy to take further root. We all bear a responsibility to not just elevate the whole of society, not our specialized interest groups. That is why Ryzik’s article resonated so strongly with me. We ALL need to take the country back.

I can only speak from my small corner of the entertainment industry, but it is a powerful group with which to be associated. We are the ones charged with creating the narratives for the general public to enjoy. What we project on screen has impact and can shape popular thought. If we are to beat Trump at his own game, then we need to educate everyone as to why we need the media to curate a national image that is representative of the nation as a whole. As it stands, we are still woefully deficient in having the infrastructure to even contemplate such a shift in image. As Ryzik’s writes in her lead:

The statistics are unequivocal: Women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in front of and behind the camera. Here, 27 industry players reveal the stories behind the numbers — their personal experiences of not feeling seen, heard or accepted, and how they pushed forward. In Hollywood, exclusion goes far beyond#OscarsSoWhite.

Reading this article was empowering and frustrating at the same time. Frustrating because eliminating the racial/gender bias of Hollywood is still like chipping away at an endless wall of concrete.

I still have people assume I don’t speak English at junkets based on my name. Sometimes, these same people will address me in a slower or louder tone, even AFTER I’ve already spoken to them in what I think is a very educated, American English voice. Or, I’m referred to as “Jose” or “Javier,” even in a city like LA. I guess being “Jorge” is the most foreign name ever.

For a time, I would only be considered the “best” choice for certain projects because these films had an “ethnic” theme. It was a lot harder to get the “event” or “mainstream” films. That isn’t the case anymore. But it took the support and encouragement of a handful of studio executives that were my bosses in publicity to make this happen. They saw beyond my ethnicity and realized that I had a unique perspective as an interviewer that wasn’t just dictated by gender, orientation or cultural background.

Today, I can safely say I’ve interviewed some of the best and best-known figures in entertainment, as well as cultural and political figures that have shaped our modern world. (Take that, Oprah and Charlie Rose.) Few Latino (and even fewer bilingual) producer/interviewers exist in the studio content industry. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I think the advent of social media will refine this reality.

It is important to recognize the roles we all play in proving why the “norm” is not acceptable. As long as we continue to encourage and be part of the dialogue, we will be the designers of the solution, too. More, we need to encourage future generations that they have every right to dictate the narratives realized on screen. We need to inculcate in our children that they have no reason to fear not being seen, heard or accepted within industries like entertainment and media. Their face is the face of the new America.

No matter what Trump says, we don’t need any new walls. If anything, we need to bring them all down and end this Age of Idiocracy before it destroys the very things that make this country great.

Click the link below to read Ryzik’s article now:

 

 

Why Nate Parker is an agent of change in Hollywood

Why Nate Parker is an agent of change in Hollywood

If there was a lesson to be learned from filmmakers such as Melvin Van Peebles, Robert Townsend, Spike Lee and John Singleton, don’t wait for Hollywood to help tell your narratives. Do it your damn self. And based on the firestorm of media support for actor Nate Parker’s Sundance sensation, “The Birth of a Nation,” it appears the torch is being passed anew.

Parker’s ascent could not have been timed better. With the issue of diversity in Hollywood at a feverish pitch, the actor-filmmaker has made good on his passionate advocacy for preserving the black experience without stereotypes. And the success of “The Birth of a Nation” proves yet again that the art crafted by next generation filmmakers such as Parker, Steve McQueen, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Ava DuVernay are not anomalies in a studio system woefully in need of a reality check. We are witnessing a moment of reckoning that goes beyond the hashtag politics of #OscarSoWhite. We will need more than just validation from one voting group. We need the audience as a whole to say #MoviesAreSoUs…All of us.

I’ve had the privilege of interview Parker twice. The first time was in 2007 for the EPK for “The Secret Life of Bees” in Wilmington, North Carolina. We sat down again at the junket for “Beyond the Lights” in Los Angeles in 2014. That Prince-Bythewood was director of both films was no coincidence. Following is a Q & A piece written for the release of “Beyond the Lights” on Parker, with the actor not only offering some keen insights into the film, but a harbinger of things to come in terms of his artistic life. In a society obsessed with labels, his final thoughts to me in that interview ring powerfully true today:

“It only becomes a “black film” when we say it is.”

Here’s the original piece on Nate Parker in its entirety. (Special thanks to Tom Parker.)

Their connection happens in an instant. Noni is a rising pop star, but she is also starting to lose her grip due to the pressures of her growing fame. Kaz is a young police officer, seeking to honor a family legacy that serves and protects the community. They meet on a balcony under an L.A. sky, where he talks off the ledge, admitting he sees her for who she really wants to be. What happens next reveals their truest selves as they attempt to live a life “Beyond the Lights.”

In Gina Prince-Bythewood’s new romantic drama, love is presented as a complex reality in an era dominated by a fishbowl media culture. Despite the glamorous illusion of celebrity, money and success, sometimes the demands can prove a trap. It takes someone of great depth and soul to set people free. That is how Prince-Bythewood envisioned the role of Kaz, a positive force with which to balance out the chaos that surrounds Noni.

“A love story is not as interesting to me if it’s focused only on one side of it and I wanted to show both sides,” Prince-Bythewood said about writing “Beyond the Lights.” “These are two characters who have parallel lives, one is this father and son relationship that is much healthier than the mother-daughter, but they’re both struggling with trying to their authentic selves.

If the filmmakers had a tall order to fill in finding the right multi-faceted actress to portray Noni, discovering her “counterheart” was just as challenging. Yet, sometimes, the answer can be right in front of you. For Prince-Bythewood, her perfect Kaz had already walked in front of her camera: Nate Parker.

Since being part of the acclaimed ensemble of Prince-Bythewood’s “The Secret Life of Bees,” Parker has gone to enjoy great success in films as “Non-Stop” and “Red Tails.” With “Beyond the Lights,” he enters the realm of being a leading man, something the filmmakers have predicted since their first collaboration on “Bees.”

“Nate’s dope,” Prince-Bythewood said. “He just needs that one great role to propel him to leading man status. He’s very giving, and focused and specific. It was great to put him and Gugu together and immediately see the chemistry.”

Audiences have been quite taken with Parker’s grounding presence in films, a quality the actor exhibits off-screen, too. In talking about his role as Kaz in “Beyond the Lights,” he was eager express not only how much he wanted to re-team with Prince-Bythewood, but to take on a role that had the potential to resonate with people in a positive manner.

NoniNKaz250x334

QUESTION: This is your second collaboration with Gina Prince-Bythewood. What proved the strongest motivating factor to be part of “Beyond the Lights?”

NATE PARKER: It was Gina. I knew that if she would be making a film, it would be challenging and thought provoking. It would say something that reached further than the thematic elements of the film. When I read the script my suspicions were confirmed and I said, “Yes” immediately. I always say she has a green light to my career because of her sensibility. She’s a pioneer, she’s a visionary and she doesn’t compromise. She takes her time with her projects and you know that you’re going to get something that you will be proud of.

QUESTION: Noni is as much a vivid character as Kaz is as calming soul. How did you work with Gina in making sure you weren’t overshadowed by Noni’s emotionally complex arc?

NATE PARKER: A lot of it it’s in the script. There is a complexity that is within Kaz that is quite congruent with Noni’s. Here you have two people that are projections of someone else. I would say that it’s even more dangerous for Kaz because there is no negative connotation. At some point, you have Noni’s character looking at her mom saying, “Enough is enough.” But, Kaz has a father that has demonstrated nothing but love. His whole thing is, “I want you to have a better life than I did and I will support you and I have supported you. And in the absence of your mother, I’ve stood in the gap and I’ve sacrificed for you and I love you.” That’s not him pointing his finger or having any kind of negative overtones. It’s him saying, “I just want you to be great” and Kaz saying, “That’s alright by me.” I say that’s dangerous because he accepts it as his life without really internalizing the fact that it isn’t what he wants for his life. It’s not until he meets Noni and looks into her eyes and says, “Wow! She’s going on a different level, she’s going through exactly what I’m going through.” They actually grow together. It would be a blow to Gugu’s character to say that this is a film about a guy that saves his girl. It’s not. It’s about two people that, through a series of events, save each other.

QUESTION: Both Noni and Kaz are living very public lives with varying degrees of scrutiny. Is the film saying we are we putting too much pressure on our kids to become “someone?”

NATE PARKER: Absolutely. I think that, being a father, the best thing you can do is cultivate. It’s like a rose bush. You prune it. You make sure it grows in a way that is healthy. You hope that by instilling a sense of identity, morality and responsibility into your child, they’ll make the right decisions. We can’t make decisions for our children because it’s only a matter of a time until they resent us and shut us out and that’s the danger. It’s fragile because you want to be involved enough that you can facilitate positivity in their lives. But, you want to be far back enough that you allow them to do it and grow on their own.

QUESTION: Despite the progress we are making in depicting a diversified culture, films like “Beyond the Lights” are still being referred to as a “black film.”

NATE PARKER: I think we can agree when we say love is universal. What are we dealing with in this film? We’re dealing with love, we’re dealing with mental illness, we’re dealing with suicide, and we’re dealing with identity crisis. These are things with which everyone can identify. We tested the film in Toronto with an all white audience, standing ovation. We tested it at Urban World with an all African American audience, standing ovation. It speaks to the power of the film, the power of love, but the power of obstacles and attaining that love. There are love stories that come out and it’s just about love. It’s just like they meet each other and there’s tears and they cry. To get to the love in this film, you have to go through a lot of stuff. We deal with hyper-sexualization. None of these things are completely specific to any color, which is why I think so many people enjoy and identify with the film. You can take an element and say, “I’ve lived that,” “I live that now,” “I’m still living a projection of my parents” or “I don’t talk to my parents because I finally was able to break away” or “I know someone who committed suicide because they couldn’t find themselves in time,” “I know someone who saved someone from committing suicide.” These are themes that we find in our lives that are so important, that are so relevant. It can change a conversation about love, about loss, about women, about men, about relationship. That’s a global thing. I challenge people to see this film and see it for what it is. It only becomes a “black film” when we say it is.