Archive for the ‘Changing Reality’ Category

A Night with the Living Dead

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

I recently had the privilege and pleasure to hang out with cast and production members of George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead—a truly delightful group of people who are very obviously just as excited as fans about the legacy of this game-changing movie.

Judith O’Dea, who played Barbra, is even more beautiful now than she was back in 1968…and she was stunning then. She was even gracious enough to do a kooky green screen picture with me. (If you look closely you can see an image of the original Romero zombie Bill Hinzman—may he rest in peace—in the background.) I found it a lot easier to speak with Gary Streiner, NotLD’s sound engineer, than his brother Russ. Even though Russ, who played Johnny, had nothing but a smile on his face every time I caught his eye, I just couldn’t get past hearing “They’re coming to get you Barbra!” in my head. I’m not ashamed to admit it still freaks me out…

What really struck me in my conversations with the NotLD cast was their devotion to the movie, its’ fans and preserving the legacy. Gary Streiner, who has been championing efforts to save the chapel seen in the film’s opening sequence, did me a kindness and agreed to appear in the following blog post I wrote for the Zombie Survival Crew website.

Here’s an excerpt:

From the mobile unit of ZSC Commander-in-Chief, Juliette Terzieff, with special guest Gary Streiner:

When we think of iconic horror movie moments it isn’t long before visions of Bill Hinzman lurching through the Evans City Cemetery towards unsuspecting siblings Barbra and Johnny in the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead float to the top. Like the gruesome murder of Janet Leigh in the infamous Psycho shower scene, or Linda Blair’s impossible head gymnastics in The Exorcist, the image of that first modern-era zombie seeking out a meal remains a favorite of horror fans around the globe.

George Romero’s black and white masterpiece is legend. A singular piece of filmmaking that has inspired generations of writers, artists, musicians, actors and filmmakers to probe through decaying flesh in search of the monster inside us all.

Read the full post here: http://zombiesurvivalcrew.com/2012/10/zsc-special-alert-fix-the-chapel/

When Obama got Osama

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

There was a moment tonight as the news of Osama bin Laden’s death began to spread like wildfire and Wolf Blitzer and John King traded adjectives to mark the momentous, historic, memorable occasion that I was sorely tempted to break into a rendition of “Ding, dong, the witch is dead.” The thought made me giggle. The giggle made me snort. The snort made me cry.

I put out a few tweets on Twitter expressing my belief that while bin Laden’s death is an achievement, it does not end the global war against terrorism, and that I found it somewhat creepy that people were dancing around to celebrate a death.

And my tweet stream blew up.

I quickly realized that I was in a minority –that while most of my fellow Americans (at least those in my tweet stream) agree bin Laden’s death is not a complete end, most really saw nothing wrong with celebrating the death of another human being.

The fact that I found the death chants creepy unleashed a rather spirited debate with my fellow Tweeters.

I was harangued, unfollowed and insulted by several people who called me a few rather interesting names because I was unwilling to break into song over the death of a mass murderer.

Yes, bin Laden was evil. Yes, bin Laden had the blood of thousands on his hands. Yes, he cared nothing for the countless lives he destroyed with his plans for a better world. He was an evil man….a homicidal hatemonger who ranked up there with some of the nastiest men to walk this earth in the last 50 years.

But I didn’t dance when Milosevic died, I didn’t sing when Hussein was sent to the gallows, and I did not celebrate tonight.

Beside my unwillingness to mark bin Laden’s passing with either celebration or mourning he certainly doesn’t deserve from me, what bothered me most was celebration for a war that has not ended.

Global terrorism, with or without bin Laden, remains a security threat to nations around the world, especially the United States. Celebrating bin Laden’s death should not replace acknowledgement of the cold hard truth that the “war on terror” is far from over.  

One person tweeted: “Why can’t people take this moment to celebrate?” Another pointed out that the news made people happy and that the country needed some good news.

I began to feel like a cop pulling up outside a frat house to stop a party.

Bin Laden was more than just a figurehead – he was a battle-tested mujahidin with charisma and intelligence who served as an inspiration for thousands of young men around the world over the last few decades. His death is most certainly a major loss for Al Qaeda.

But the organization didn’t die tonight. There are cells, entire structures, in other parts of the world that operate independently, some within a series of Al Qaeda command levels and others outside them. They are unlikely to take the news of bin Laden’s death lightly…and neither should we.

War cry.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sometimes it’s funny what speaks to you. Not funny, ha ha. Just…odd.

In late 1993 it was a bridge.

Not just any bridge. The 16th century bridge in Mostar, a concrete victim of the wars that ripped apart Yugoslavia in a bloody mess that struck horror through the hearts of people around the world.

Why the bridge and not the scores of people dying? Honestly, I can’t quite say for sure.

When I traveled to Yugoslavia for the first of many visits in 1981 it was still Tito’s land. Sure the “great” man had passed the year before, but the ugliness that would consume Marshal Tito’s Yugoslavia had yet to overwhelm the country. One of my fondest memories (keeping in mind I was all of 10 years old at the time) was sitting near the Mostar bridge after an adventure in a restaurant bathroom that ended with my mother’s wet shoe. She had slip-stepped into “the hole” during a desperate bid to outrun the water cascading down the walls. (If you don’t know what I mean? Two words: Turkish toilet.) That memory still makes me smile.

When the Bosnian War claimed the Mostar bridge over a decade later, I was incensed. I was also still young, passionate and naïve. So I took action.

I hand-wrote a petition to then U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton begging him to take action to stop the carnage. I begged (forced) friends and family to sign my letter (I think the final count was 33 signatories). And then I faxed it off to the White House from the office of a local congressman.

I haven’t thought about that youthful adventure with the White House in years.

But last night, as our current President Barack Obama invoked the memories of the Bosnian War and the human costs of delayed and, in some very memorable cases, ineffective action (think: Srebrenica)  I found myself nodding at the television screen.

Obama said:

As President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action

 

And I agree. All these years later I still believe that people of good conscience have a duty to their fellow man to intercede when possible to prevent atrocities or human rights abuses on a major scale.

At the same time, I find it galling that this standard of intervention is applied by the international community selectively. What about Iran? What about Burma? Or North Korea? If we look back over the 15-plus years since the end of the Bosnian War how many dozens of examples could we find of governments brutally repressing the aspirations of their people without really trying all that hard?

As it happened I wasn’t the only one thinking it. @TechSurgeons and I began a short conversation on Obama’s Libya defense and I almost fell over when he tweeted:

@jterzieff I think “international community” just means France & wonder why he didn’t have a stronger reaction when Iran crushed its revolt.

So I guess the question is what is our standard for intervention? Because we need one folks, we really do. Do we need to intervene militarily every time a government calls out its troops to crush the people? Does the international community have the chutzpah to stand behind that every.single.time?

Is Libya our new standard? If yes, and it’s applied equitably around the globe, then – and only then – Mr. President, you have my support.

It scares me to say that. Violence almost always results in more violence. The deaths of so many innocents. Blood on all of our hands. But what’s the alternative?

If anyone has any ideas, I’ll gladly listen ….

Social Media leads 21st Century Global Revolutions

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Hosni Mubarak should have given me a call on January 25. His mistake.

But if he had, I would have told him something Joss Whedon already made perfectly clear in Serenity: “you can’t stop the signal.”

Actually if Mubarak had called Beijing, Tehran or Rangoon he would have heard much the same message. Sure governments can still limit communications capabilities, but the measures are temporary stop gaps at best. Time and time again over the last two years, popular uprisings have found ways to sidestep official controls and use the Internet to get their messages out to the world.

The message hasn’t always achieved the desired results – think crackdown Iran, think crackdown Burma – but as we have seen in Egypt and across the Arab world over the last month, technology (and social media, in particular) is the revolution weapon of choice for the 21st century. There is real power there.

Truth be told all it takes to galvanize international support and drive a movement is a few enterprising individuals. In the case of Egypt the tweets and Facebook updates of a small group of Egyptians sparked a massive worldwide explosion of support with the #Jan25 and #Egypt hashtags that overwhelmed the social media airwaves virtually non-stop until Hosni Mubarak announced his departure on Feb. 11.

Bloggers picked up the call. Journalists covering the protests tweeted instant updates. Major media outlets continue to produce in-depth packages on the influence of social media and the Internet. And when the Egyptian government attempted to shut down those inside the country, Internet giant Google stepped in to lend a hand. Google teamed up with Twitter to run a voice-to-tweet service that allowed Egyptians to call into international numbers and leave voicemail messages that software then translated into tweets with the hashtag #egypt.

And while it is most certainly people – not technology – that drives the campaigns, social media has emerged as potent weapon.

“Egypt made a radical maneuver, ultimately counterproductive, trying to cut access …but when you are willing to dismantle your country’s entire communication network in an attempt to quiet people you are really scared,” says John Perry Barlow, political activist and fellow emeritus of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Barlow, like many observers, believes technology is causing a paradigm shift in traditional power structures.

“We’re witnessing revolutions that are self-organizing, without central leadership, and that is all a direct result of technology.”

Social media is now being used by protesters in Bahrain, Libya, Iran, Jordan and elsewhere to reach out across social and economic boundaries to build broad coalitions of diverse people united around a common cause.

In countries with mammoth ruling systems in place, like Libya or Syria, shutting down the Internet – at least partially or temporarily – can forestall large public movements. And while Chinese authorities have been able to fight off massive political unrest by pushing rapid economic development for millions of Chinese, activism and unrest are growing there too.

As we’re seeing in Libya not all ruling systems will be as mature about stepping down in the face of the flood as the Mubarak regime was. Leaders like Muammar Gaddafi will fight – unfairly and with little regard for the lives being destroyed – to cling to the old systems.

But for every individual that falls, dozens more around the world will pick up the call and blast the information across the Internet keeping the eyes of the world on any abuses perpetrated against people raising their voices for change ….and that is a power greater than any gun, goon or jail cell.

Walking like an Egyptian!

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Today is a day for celebration. Tomorrow the work begins anew.

 

And while the people of Egypt have a long road ahead of them to continuously push for reform and work to dismantle a pervasive sub-culture of official corruption and impunity within the ruling systems, they also have great cause to dance in the streets.

They have done what few would have believed possible one month ago. With amazing grace, determination and demonstrations of love towards each other, the Egyptian nation put aside internal differences to band together. They fought off physical challenges. They fought off political challenges. They stood. And stood. And stood.

And by failing to allow the situation to disintegrate into the bloodbath many feared, Egypt has set the example for the Arab world.

No longer will political leaders be free to act with impunity. No longer will the “Arab street” be viewed unfairly by Western pundits as a symbol of chaos and fear.  No longer will the people of the Arab world have their spirits crushed by the grind of greedy political systems that function only to repress.

Is everything in Egypt now suddenly roses and daisies? No.

The country’s economy needs work. Reform of the judicial system and security forces is paramount. And it’s human rights record? Ai yai yai, abysmal doesn’t even come close. Favoritism, nepotism and the entitlement of the few? Yeah, that’s going to need work too.

But today is a day to celebrate.  

 

Egypt has spoken …. Damascus, Amman, Sana’a, Tehran, are you listening???

A Vato for all Seasons

Monday, December 27th, 2010

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First time I ever laid eyes on Anthony Guajardo he was covered in tattoos and calling everybody “puto.” Little did I know at the time that beneath The Walking Dead grime of a character named Miguel dwelt a young actor with a heart of gold.

 

As many of my regular readers know, Anthony has since come onboard as a co-captain of the Zombie Survival Crew, issuing video dispatches from the ZSC Command Center for the brigades.

The truth is there’s a lot more to this intelligent, engaged teenage actor from San Antonio, TX than zombies and temporary tattoos. I asked Anthony to make an appearance here to talk about something besides walkers and share his hopes for 2011.

Somehow I convinced Anthony to take me on essay style in a battle to the death of his fingers …. He gets points for bravery, especially after what happened to IronE “T-Dog” Singleton when he decided to take on the crew!

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Are your eyes open?

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

A lot has been written about the relatively lukewarm response to the monsoon flooding in Pakistan that uprooted over 20 million people and destroyed the lives of millions of families: Pakistan suffers from a reputation deficit, the disaster didn’t unfold rapidly like Haiti’s earthquake, and/or donors are just tapped out after the string of massive natural disasters over the last decade.

And sure, every single one of those reasons/excuses/arguments reflects a portion of the truth.

But behind all the handwringing and suppositions lies the most important truth of all:

Millions of mothers and fathers continue to ache every second of every day

because they cannot feed, clothe or house their children;

they cannot protect their families from the ravages of exposure and disease.

 

That is the truth that Salman Ahmad, lead singer of the rock band Junoon and one of Pakistan’s most effective – and dedicated – global ambassadors, wants us all to remember.  

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Hope Restored in Burma

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

 

The Lady is free!!

 

Who is The Lady, you ask? And why should you care?

 Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi – who spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest while the country’s ruling military junta systematically worked to break the spirit of not only Suu Kyi’s as an indivudual, but of the Burmese people collectively. Today the junta ended her isolation and The Lady emerged to greet supporters who have endured abuse and harassment for supporting her cause.

Suu Kyi was placed under arrest when her political party won elections in 1990. A powerful clique of military men seized power, tossed the election results, changed the country’s name, sealed the borders and began a standoff with Suu Kyi that appears to have ended today.

And the truth is she could have left. She could have walked away. The junta gave her the chance (though it would have resulted in her exile). But she refused. Refused because she believed in something bigger than herself.

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Tis the season … to Give Clean Water

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

My regular readers will remember a couple months back I participated in the P&G Give Health Clean Water Blogivation to provide clean drinking water to people in the developing world.

Bloggers, myself included, who participated in the inaugural challenge collected an amazing 21,000 days of clean water!!! My original post can be found here.

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The company has decided to extend the program in a

 bid to provide 100,000 days of clean water by the end of 2010.

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All you have to do is click below, and verify your vote – and someone in the developing world will get one days of clean water.

This is NOT a contest – it is simply an opportunity to take a few seconds out of your day to help someone in need.

I hope you will vote, and vote often.

Thank you!!!

Global Call for Justice in the DRC

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Congo Week: Day Six

 

Guest Post from:

Kambale Musavuli

Student Coordinator, Spokesperson
Friends of the Congo

 

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This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.

Today – Friends of the Congo’s Kambale Musavuli examines what you can do to support the Congolese-led call for justice in the DRC. The views are his own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.

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October 1st, 2010 marks a historic date where finally the Congolese people have been given a chance to demand justice for the atrocities that have been taking place in the Congo since 1996. On that day, the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report documenting 617 alleged violent incidents occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo between March 1993 and June 2003. In light of this report, people throughout the globe have issued a worldwide call for justice in response to the greatest crimes committed against humanity at the dawn of the 21st Century in the heart of Africa.

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