11-07-10 LA CA: 1525 hrs. I don’t know about you but I for one am very interested in seeing what the new House Of Representatives has on their schedule for reducing waste and digging America out of debt. I have heard and read some of the newly elected and re-elected say that they’re going to do things but they have not thus far, been at all specific. I guess we’ll all find out together. I am all for a good idea, hell, I am for a bunch of them at this point, so, lay ‘em on me. I am all for the will of the people now and then, I just eager to see what will be. I can’t wait for all that good news to come my way. I don’t think it is useful to get all angry about election results, all there is to do now is to get good results for the country. If everyone is on the same page with that goal, then hopefully, we will achieve something beneficial to everyone.
The several days have been a strange double life of office work / LA job search and staying up way too late, writing things for a book project. I don’t remember much of last week. By day, it was being in the office, brief visits to different studios to do either voice over work or auditions for more work. I didn’t pass any of the auditions and have been told not to talk about the other work until the press release has been sent out, which I heard will be soon. So, it was a blurred week of I can’t keep my eyes open and no, you were not good enough. That’s how it is in that business, you get to pass or fail and you get your results very quickly. O, waves of rejection wash over me! You get used to it. At least, I have.
I will be working a good bit of next week on a television show. Before I tell you anything about it, I will see how it goes and report back to you next week. As it is now, I don’t know how this one will go. Network television is a strange world sometimes.
This coming Friday, there is a very interesting documentary showing in Los Angeles at the Nuart called Marwencol. Here’s a re-cap that I wrote a few days ago:
Marwencol is about a man named Mark Hogancamp. Several years ago, Mark was attacked outside of a bar by five men and beaten into a coma that lasted nine days. Money for rehabilitation ran out, so Mark came up with his own way of trying to get back to something resembling normality. He builds a small scale town he calls Marwencol in his backyard. The setting is in World War II. He has several dolls that he uses to make a storyline that continues to evolve as quickly as the line between reality and fantasy in Mark’s mind starts to erode. It starts at the Nuart Theater on November 12 and I will introduce the first showing. Looking forward to seeing this one on a big screen. Here’s a site address for information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1391092/.
I think this week will be a similar blur of call times and deadlines. Perhaps I will have more interesting fare to report next week. As it is, I am in the middle of a lot of things, none of it interesting to report upon until the work is done and so, I apologize for the flat line blah of the above. Thanks for reading this. Henr
11-14-10 In the air over Moscow, Russia: 1925 hrs PST. I think this could be the longest flight I have ever been on. This one will clock in at over sixteen hours. I think that’s got LA to Sydney, Australia beat.
I have a lot of flying to do still. Another few hours on this flight, then a couple of hours hanging out in Dubai, then onto Nairobi, Kenya and from there, to Entebbe, Uganda. I will hopefully be met there and catch a ride to Kampala, Uganda. It’s going to be night when I arrive and looking out the window, it’s very early in the morning. The last time I was in Dubai was 2007, towards the end of the year. I was there on the day they hanged Saddam Hussein.
I will be in Uganda and Sudan for almost three weeks. I will be traveling with an organization called Drop In The Bucket. http://www.dropinthebucket.org/. I told you about them before. They routinely go out and check on the water wells they drill in these countries and I asked if I could go out with them next time and here I am. I don’t know what exactly is coming my way.
I don’t know what internet status will be, once we get out into the territory, I very well could be off the grid for awhile, I have no idea as to what will be.
The last seven days have been a blur. I didn’t get a lot of sleep but I did get a lot of things done. I did an episode of the Paul Reiser Show, which is being done by ABC. Apparently, it will be used if one of their other shows doesn’t go all the way to the end of the season. That’s what I was told but I can’t say for sure what the full story is on that. It was a good time, that’s for sure. Paul is very cool and very funny. The cast was as well. The director and crew were great and everyone was very friendly to me. That was the good part. The not so good part was having to do all the stuff I already had scheduled for the week once I got off the set. I got this offer a week ago, last Thursday. I had a lot on in the week and doing the show made things challenging to say the least.
So, I would do my work on the show and then go back to the office and do whatever I could before exhaustion wore me down. I did the best I could but didn’t get everything done. I will do what I can from Kampala as I have a few days there before I head out with the team.
I was asked to do a feature on Grinderman for the LA Weekly. I interviewed Nick Cave a few days ago, put the article together and sent it in. I have no idea if it’s what the Weekly is looking for and in some ways, it’s a little too late for anything more than what they have now. It was strange intviewing Nick as I have known him for so many years but he was very cool about it and I think it’s a good article. We’ll see what the Weekly says. It could all go horribly wrong, of course.
I think it was last week, I told you about the documentary, Marwencol. You can go to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1391092/ for more information. I went to the Nuart Theater last Friday to introduce the first showing. I met up with the film’s director, Jeff Malmberg, really great guy. I went over all the points I wanted to cover in the introduction and he thought they were good. Around 1930 hrs. or so, I went up in front of the audience and talked about the film and its subject, Mark Hogancamp briefly and then got out of the way. It was nice to see the place so packed. I went back to the office and back to work on the Grinderman feature.
Saturday was two interviews, one on the phone at 0900 hrs. for some reason and then another, on camera one at 1430 hrs. Soon after that, it was off to the radio station to do the show, come back, tighten up the pack, get a few hours of sleep and here I am.
I am sitting on an Air Emirates flight. I am on a 777 with hardly anyone in it. I am towards the back. It’s an interesting group of people on this flight. There are some very wealthy types way up in first and everyone else, it’s a potpurri of passengers back here. It looks like everything from people who will be transferring to other places like India and others who will be working for a low wage in Dubai. When you get out into the world like this, it’s always interesting what you run into.
I don’t have to tell you that Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest in Rangoon, Burma. This is great news but it only makes me want to know more about what’s behind it. I know her time was up and they turned her loose after the last election but what the military leadership will allow her to do is another story.
Of course, you probably know that it is looking like The West Memphis Three might be getting some much needed justice. I got a lot of letters about the probability of a new trial. I am happy about this of course but am quite reserved as well. I have been on this thing for a few years now and have learned not to get my hopes up. I remain hopeful, patient, resolved and vigilant. That being said, wouldn’t it be great to see Damien, Jesse and Jason get out of prison? Also, there is a person or persons who killed three boys and that needs to be taken care of as well. The idea of the boys getting out is a hell of a thing to consider but like I said, I have learned my lesson as to getting too enthusiastic. Now and then, I do allow my mind to wander a little and think about what life will be like for them when they return to the free world. I have no idea what that would be like. I feel that even to think about it too much is somewhat insulting to the hugeness of their case.
I will write more later, I don’t think I will get the chance to send this off for some time.
Much later. In Dubai for a minute. Free online. Ok, posting this. Thanks for reading. Henry
11-21-10 Kajo Keji Sudan: 1758 hrs. We pulled in here from Gulu, Uganda last night. That was a lot of rough road. I kept my computer bag off the floor of the truck so it wouldn’t get shook apart.
For the last two days, we have been driving north from Kampala, Uganda to get here. In this time, we have gone to a few schools where Drop In The Bucket has drilled water wells and pump apparatus and built latrines. It is great work they do and it is so important on so many levels. I didn’t get close to understanding it until I got out here and saw it all up close. When the students don’t have to walk a great distance for water, when there’s good sanitation facilities, they have an opportunity to learn more and by doing that, become more effective to make their country better in the future. It’s all win-win and that’s obvious but to see it in front of you is really something.
As you probably know, Southern Sudan gearing up for their Referendum vote next January. This vote will decide of Southern Sudan can secede from Sudan and become autonomous. A lot of people were killed to get to this day. It’s a BIG deal here. Earlier today, I met up with a bus load of students who traveled about twelve hours from Kampala just to register. They will return again in January to vote. These are Sudanese youth who are going to school in Uganda. In Southern Sudan, there’s no real higher learning opportunities yet. Perhaps things will change if the votes go their way. I can’t see the votes going any other way but I also know that some people are less than honest, so the optimism is here but it’s very guarded. I am here with a cameraman who was one of the producers on the IFC shows I did. I am interviewing people, doing lots of on camera stuff, so at the end of the two weeks we are here, I think we will have ourselves a pretty cool documentary. Something of this will come out at some point. I might be doing some video logs for the Drop In The Bucket site. I will let you know about that.
Every time I am in Africa, I see so much in one day, it’s almost impossible to write anything down because of the sheer amount of information. It fairly shuts me down. A day in Africa is like a week anywhere else, as they say. That has been my experience.
This part of Sudan is pretty hard hit. Where we’re going, it will be more intense, I have been told. Even though there is a lot of poverty here, the people are incredibly friendly and the landscape is rugged and beautiful.
For the next two nights we are here in Kajo Keji at a UN facility. That’s why I am able to write you. I don’t think there will be internet where we are going for several days. I will be out here for the next two weeks or so. The sunset this evening was amazing. The air was dry and warm, the colors were incredible.
When I am in Africa, a lot of things in my life seem very small and insignificant. Visits here have given me a lot perspective. Things here are so on the line. There are so many people living on the edge. It’s impossible for me to think of things the same way. This is my third trip to Africa this year. The best part of these trips is the people I meet. Those of you who have been here, know what I am talking about.
I have met several men who were child soldiers. I interviewed a man today who became a soldier at age nine and fought for well over a decade. When I asked him what it was like to not have toys or the chance to play, he seemed confused momentarily at the question and then told me that the cause was important and there was nothing else to think about.
I cannot stop thinking of all those students I met today. Traveling all that way in their suits and formal dresses, so young, so earnest, just to register. You want patriotism, love of country, belief in Democracy, desire for freedom? This is it. They traveled a day to sign up and millions of Americans can’t walk down the damn street to get their vote in. Thanks for reading this. Henry
11-25-10 Juba Sudan: 0932 hrs. I am writing this early because I might not get any more internet access for a few days. I am in a hotel in Juba that actually has internet, not all that usual in these parts.
The last several days have been, as they always are for me in Africa, a learning experience. I have been traveling with the Drop In The Bucket Team, http://www.dropinthebucket.org/. We have been going to schools all over and the DITB team is assessing their needs for potential well drilling and installation of sanitation systems. It’s great to watch them work in the field. There’s a lot to consider. How many students, how far to the next water source, will the school and the local tribal chief work together to make sure the well is maintained, etc. There’s a lot to deal with and to watch the team keep all those plates spinning is very impressive.
Also, as I told you last week, registration for next January’s Referendum vote is happening now and even in the most remote locations, the stations are open. Often under trees, and usually with the local tribal chief to verify identification in case the people don’t have any. We interviewed several people at these stations over the last few days and it looks like women are registering to vote in record numbers, always more than men, most of the time two to one or more.
Yesterday we interviewed a woman whose chief concern was to get South Sudan off the dowry system. A girl is born here and hopefully attracts a man, who when he marries her, will give the woman’s family lots of cows. So, females are pulled out of school early here so they can get married and the family can get the cows. The women lose their chance at a higher education. Not really the way to go if you want a smarter country. This woman we interviewed, her name is escaping me, said that post Referendum, all that’s going to change. She was very inspiring and she hopefully gets a lot of South Sudanese on track for this change in tradition.
The days here are hot. I am sure many of you have been to the African continent. It’s a different kind of heat than anywhere else I have ever been besides perhaps Kuwait or Iraq. By 1100 hrs., it’s very hot, by 1300 hrs., the heat has a life of its own. It’s no longer a weather condition, it’s a thing that wants to kill you. It is a hell forged hammer until around 1500 hrs. and then slowly, it starts to release you from its grip. By 1700 hrs., the weather is magic. The light, the quality of air, there’s nothing like it anywhere. It’s all really nice until the mosquitoes come out and then it’s you versus the bugs all night long. Last night we were in Terekeka in a bush hotel. No electricity except for a two hour generator blast to recharge your batteries and then you are plunged into hot, moist, unmoving air with no lights until sun up. The shower was a bucket of rusty water you pour over yourself strategically.
It’s not the kind of travel that would suit everyone but I find it to be fine. It takes me a few days to acclimatize and then I am in step with things. The heat takes away my appetite and I will be coming back from this one next week a bit lean and very tanned but I think I will be ok. Malaren tablets for the bugs and the heaviest sunscreen I can find seem to get me through.
Hey! The power just went out again. That means the internet will be out for a long time as no one here seems to know how to reset the router. If I get this out, I do, if I don’t, I’ll send it when I can.
I just found out that I am at liberty to disclose the following. I am now a presenter for the National Geographic Channel. The deal was literally years in the making and once it was done and the first two documentaries were finished, I was asked not to say anything until the press release had been sent out. Apparently, it has and I don’t have to withhold the information any longer. For me, this is the job of a life time. The first project will be on in December. I will let you know all about it, probably next week. I want to sync with the Nat. Geo. people and see what they have press release wise. I am hoping I will be able to do a lot of work with them and am beyond excited to be on the team. I have been sitting on this one for months now and I hated not being able to say anything about it. So, more to do, more sleep to miss, more miles to rack up and more to learn. I am looking forward to it. I have pitched Nat. Geo. with all my crazy ideas for documentary work and so far, they have listened patiently, as wiser elders do. I am looking forward to what will come next and will let you know what I can, when I can.
I hope you all get a chance to listen to this weekend’s radio show, it’s a great one. I’ll be out of here in less than a week. Until then, thanks for reading this. Henry
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