Destination: Havana, Cuba

June 22, 2007


On several occasions during a four-day stay in Havana on a licensed trip for work I was nearly arrested.

I was the sole African-American among a group of Caucasians and Latin Americans. In the tourist areas of the city, the locals are prohibited from fraternizing with visitors (this mainly has to do with deterring panhandling and black market deals). In fact locals are not allowed inside their own hotels!

To my surprise, I look Cuban. Militia and hotel police, who were convinced I was a native, stopped me. That was, until I spoke. My lack of Spanish, distinctly American-accented speaking voice always caused the most profoundly apologetic responses and even inspired one policeman (with a very large Soviet-era machine gun) to give the most amazing Jack Benny double take.

Believe me, this was serious. I was with my comrades and working around Old Havana within an hour of arriving, when we crossed a local Cuban talking to a group of East Europeans. In seconds, a van pulled up, throw the guy in the back and whisked off. We were told that the penalty for “harassing tourists” is an automatic three days in jail.

Cuba is deeply prejudiced. Dark-skinned natives are routinely harassed by the more respectably European-looking half of the population. For the first time in my life I truly knew what it was like for my parents in the Deep South before Civil Rights. At first I laughed it off, but I was shaken to my core. Devastated.

Still, Havana was a profound and exhilarating experience. Life-transforming. Not for it flaws, but for its opportunities. No people celebrate life every single day with more joy and abandon than the Cuban people. In the face of tremendous hardship, they embrace music, dance and hospitality. They open their homes and hearts to you without a second thought, and they only ask for good conversation in return.

Bangkok tees, mugs and posters

Havana giftware from iw
Havana giftware from iw

Destination: Bangkok

June 17, 2007


I had the good fortune to visit Krung Thep Maha Nakhon—Bangkok to the rest of the world—for work when Thailand hosted APEC summit. I was impressed with the friendliness of its people and wealth of history and grand culture. The city had been swept clean for visiting dignitaries, so I know I was not privy to the true Bangkok. Still, it’s a spectacular place. The U.S. dollars goes far and it’s easy to imagine uprooting myself, emptying my bank account, and living there quite comfortably on half a years salary. That could easily sustain me for a couple of years in the Thai economy.

I had dinner one night at a fantastic restaurant that was dedicated to AIDS-HIV education. There was condom-art in nearly ever inch. It was an incredibly emotive experience, and gratifying to see the creative length one country had gone to combat and education its populace about this devastating disease. The food there was amazing! It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had, anywhere in the world.

To commemorate the visit, I worked from photos I had taken at the Grand Palace and created an illustration, which is available as a T-shirt, poster, mug, or postcard design on shopiw.

Sunshine

June 17, 2007


The trailer for Danny Boyle’s (28 Days) critically acclaimed sci-fi thiller Sunshine premiered in theatres stateside with the release of Day Watch. I’ve heard good things about this film (although it has not done well at the box office) and I am impressed with the casting. The film premiered internationally back in March, the same weekend as 300. Sunshine has yet to receive a U.S. opening date. It can only be soon, at least let’s hope with the trailer in cinemas.

A friend who lives in Hong Kong these days actually saw Sunshine back in March and said it “totally took me by surprise.” He described it as “Alien, Event Horizon and Solaris all rolled into one with amazing music and mind bending visuals.”

Sunshine is a 2007 science fiction suspense film directed by Danny Boyle from a screenplay by Alex Garland. The film follows a spaceship crew, played by an ensemble cast of Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Cillian Murphy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong and Michelle Yeoh, who are tasked with reigniting a dying sun. Fox Searchlight is distributing the film, which opened in the UK and Ireland on 5 April 2007.

Filmed entirely in the United Kingdom, the film was produced on a very small budget for the genre, and was well received critically for its exploration of the psychological and ethical ramifications of space travel, but performed poorly at the box office throughout Europe, and has so far failed to recoup its budget.[2]

Still, I can’t wait to see it!

Day Watch

June 17, 2007


The second film in the “Russian Star War” saga debuted in Los Angeles June 1st weekend. It is a sequel to the 2004 film Night Watch, featuring the same cast. It is based on the second and the third part of Sergey Lukyanenko’s novel The Night Watch rather than its follow-up novel Day Watch.

The story revolves around a confrontation between two opposing supernatural groups (known as ‘Others’): the Night Watch, an organization that seeks to improve the world - but isn’t totally perfect and selfless either - and the Day Watch, which champions a Nietzschean, “every man for himself,” philosophy, as well as an Aleister Crowley-esque, “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” attitude, and fights any Night Watch attempt to limit personal freedom.

I was cool to Night Watch when it first showed in Los Angeles. I thought it imaginative, but overplotted and looked like it was trying too hard to play on the same production level of Western blockbusters like Lord of the Rings. I was wrong. I warmed to the film upon repeated screenings. It really does create a successful inner world, the characters do have depth, and it is much more original in its reinterpretation of traditional vampire lore than Underworld. (Don’t get me started on that film’s overplotted and life-sucking bastard stepchildren of a sequel.) Day Watch I enjoyed thoroughly and all the more because of Night Watch.

Work vs. Passion

June 17, 2007

Six months ago I launched imaginedworlds, started publishing Faithful, and created its myspace page. I sought solely to exorcise creative demons and entertainment myself. It’s become a much more rewarding outlet than I expected.

I am creatively empowered for the first time in years and my life is more centered and purposeful. Most of all, I have pushed myself creatively in new directions, and I am having fun do it. I would just as soon write, illustrate and web experiment day and night for the rest of my time on Earth.

Unfortunately, I have a job that requires more hours and effort than the typical grind of a Nine-to-Five. I have bills, lots of debt, and a regiment of expenses. My job has contacted with many successful business people and they have a common refrain whenever asked the secret to success and happiest: “follow your passion” and “do what you enjoy.” If I followed my passion, I would be writing and illustrating on the web full-time or simply doing something that pays and nourishes my creativity. But I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to transition from the trap of an unfulfilling career (or at least an ill-nurturing professional life) to doing the type of creative activities that enrich me, while also earning a living.

What it mean is I don’t always have time to write and work on the Web as I would like. I don’t always have the energy to keep my web pages as fresh as I would like. There rarely are enough hours in a day to keep up with all the great blogs and websites I’ve discovered and the many fascinating personalities they have introduced me to. The job is often too exhausting, too stressful to give imaginedworlds the attention I’d prefer. And writing and illustrating is time consuming,

I am so enjoying myself. I have no expectation that anyone is reading this or Faithful or visiting my web pages. I am not trying to start a business or parlay a comic or film deal. I only wish to feed that creative bug and push myself to learn and grow. I hope that with time I will strike the right balance. One day I may be able to manage the work I do to live and the life I work to enjoy.

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