Days of Future Ferguson

I finally saw X-Men: Days of Future Past at our local close-to-DVD-release cheap theater that we South Minneapolitans all love, The Riverview. I loved it. I knew a few of the main comics discrepancies beforehand, but they didn’t bother me. It was gripping, the effects were sick, and I for me personally, I’m not sure there’s a limit to great acting performances once Lawrence and Fassbender hit the screen in damn near everything they do. All of that said, once I was waiting for the credits and the usual Marvel post-flick teaser, I started thinking about something else: Ferguson, MO.

I was glad, in a way, that I waited and saw it when I did. With all of the tragedy revolving around Ferguson, it reminded me why I got into the X-Men as a kid in the first place: the fight for equality and the celebration of diversity in a dogmatically intolerant world. Stan Lee knew exactly what he was doing when he created these characters surrounded by the Civil Rights Movement. The impact was also powerful and instantaneous on a brown multilingual transnational kid trying to make sense of shit in a white Midwestern town in the 90s. In addition, I had a science teacher that said I had a genetic mutation in my tendons in my wrist, so you know, that didn’t set me off fantasizing or anything. No tendon powers so far.

On one hand, I cry and get enraged with events like this as a person of color and a parent of children of color. On the other hand, having studied capitalism and it’s most refined evolutionary state, fascism, it’s sadly no surprise these terrible things keep happening. Mumia Abu Jamal said something like, while good people can be cops, nobody should be surprised that hateful racist arrests, beatings, and murders by police continue to happen because the entire historical system of policing is forever tied to the protection of capitalists’ capital. We all know how things break down around ethnicity and skin color along these lines. The point is, while perhaps it has gotten better, we are talking about a systemic disease. Changes to policing can happen for centuries, and have, but as long as capitalism exists, there is only so much progress that can happen and Michael Browns, Trayvon Martins, and the daily deaths of unarmed black and brown people will continually happen.

I’ll try not to spoil, but towards the end of the movie, Mystique makes her choice. A future world of war, intolerance, and genocide disappears to be replaced by something beautiful and ideal where mutants and humans coexist. We have a lot to learn from these fictional characters. How many one step forward, two steps back situations must we stupid and stubborn animals endure? Whether in policing, in military aggression, in politics, in religion, and so on, when will we start talking about the system at the root of it all? And when will we realize we’re all connected and sink or swim together? I was inspired by the  Holocaust survivors’ words and actions between Gaza and Ferguson where the woman actually rocked her Franti Stay Human shirt. I realize the “one race: human” ideal seems too much for the world as it is, but we have to set a bar and dream. Someone once had a dream. We have many real life X-Men, past and present, you readers may be among them. May they save us from a future like the one shown in the film that I don’t even want to think about. Punho no ar, fist in the air.








The Way of the Dragon: The Career of Cung Le

Cung Le!

The Nerds of Color

Just to get the obvious out of the way: Cung Le is no Bruce Lee. Nobody ever will be. That said, I don’t think anyone else currently walks in the shadow of The Dragon quite like Dragon Eyes. As he trains for his next UFC headlining Fight Night in Macau on August 23 against Michael Bisping, I thought it would be fun to point out some similarities between Lee and Le and why, whether you’re into Mixed Martials Arts (MMA) or not, it will be worth getting up early on a Saturday morning to watch the fight.

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Enter the Soya: A Nerd Origin

My “nerd origin piece” for NOC. Enjoy!

The Nerds of Color

Two mysterious lands far away from one another — yet linked by seas of soybeans — birthed a child born of melody, harmony, rhythm, and the smell of soy sauce. The child was destined to become a musician… and a tofu-loving pescetarian. But first, between musical gifts, came dreams of Jedi knighthood, ninjas, and flying with a cape.

My dad says he took me to Return of the Jedi when I was 3. I don’t remember it, but judging from the reaction my mom gives when this is mentioned, it happened. What I do remember very well from childhood is becoming obsessed with Superman in the early 80s. It seemed about right being surrounded by farms in a Nebraska town 60 miles from Smallville (okay, the Kansas border). Superman links farmland Nebraska with farmland Goiás (Brazil). My dad and my tio Laurinho took me to Superman III a year later…

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Not an average weekend

I’m helping to make a movie. Not a Hollywood blockbuster or anything, but a short film by my friend and collaborator from a theater company I worked with for many years pre-kids. I wasn’t cast, but there is a Stomp-type found percussion element, so I was hired as the music/percussion arranger. Essentially, I’m an assistant director for the most important scene, which has been a great challenge. It’s set in a high school, so we’re working with a lot of youth actors too, so there’s, how do I put it nicely…lots of “energy”on set. The director wrote me in a little bit part too. That was nice of him. Go years of theater work.

Filming goes slowly minha gente. The sound editor and I got a lot of necessary recording work down, but man, I read way more Stephen King (Dark Tower V yo!) than did actual film work with the actors. Tomorrow should be hectic and productive as we try to wrap that big percussion scene beating the hell out of a science room. More to come as the filming wraps and the director works his magic, but I can say this: think a Good Will Hunting theme or not judging a book by its cover revolving around immigration. It’s my first work in film and I hope there may be more in the future.

As if movie-making wasn’t enough over the weekend, 311’s coming to town! Piss off Santa. I’ve been a fan since I was 12. They are the pride of Nebraska and the band that made me want to rock (and convinced me Nebraskans could indeed rock). This will be my 11th show. So, I don’t know, in my head it’s special cause it’s the 11th 311. Some know this, but I decided to play bass after hearing P-Nut beat that thang. Sexton is still the most precise and amazing drummer I’ve ever heard. Mahoney’s guitar melodies just keep innovating, and he owns the new album Stereolithic. S.A. hit his harmonies and the highs, Hexum hits his leads and rocks the Flying V…holy shit I’ve had a musical obsession with these guys more than almost everything in my life! 2/3 of my existence!! And hey, that’s ok. It’s actual pretty cool. Not many things, especially in art and music, last this long. They are one of the lone survivors of 90’s rock, not to mention one of the lone survivors of the hybrid mixing of so many dynamic styles so rarely heard these days. I love the new album and am thrilled to hear the new jams and nod my head to the, ahem, “oldies.”

I’m writing this now because I will be burnt out from filming all day and jumping, singing, and generally nerding out all night.