Sunday, January 14, 2007

How was the trip?

“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture”
Or, for that matter, like me writing about much of anything. But, on the other hand, you really don’t want to see me try to dance, regardless of whether it’s about jazz or not. So I guess I pretty much have to stick to writing about what we saw and what we think.

Anyways, we’re officially back now and fully ensconced in whatever it is that we happened to be doing (or left neglected) before we left. Many have asked “How was the trip?” Others have asked a similar, more fundamental and difficult, question: “What was it like?”

Asking how the trip went is easier, for both questioner and respondent, than asking what the experience was like, because capturing the full texture of an intensely subjective experience demands more than a small amount of perceptive capacity from the questioner and demands great descriptive skill from the respondent. Especially in cases where, as is the case here, the responder’s powers of communication are pretty limited as mine – hey, I’m just the sound guy. But, at the very least, I can take a swing at it, even if I’m not Hemingway – and that’s pretty much what blogging is all about anyway, right? So, I’ll do what I can with what we’ve seen.

Vincent: But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Jules: What?
Vincent: It's the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it's just - it's just there it's a little different.
Part of what we’re trying to do with this project is give our viewers and readers the tools for to create a more complete mental picture of what’s going on in the region. At least one aspect of that task is communicating the specific textures that describe the smaller more surprising differences that make an otherwise alien tableau somehow more real.

The first order of business is limiting my scope by telling you what I won’t be writing about. A lot of the traditional, time-worn, breathless explanations of overseas travel aren’t particularly useful, are as profound as something from a greeting card, ultimately better suited to fortune cookies.

You’ve already heard whatever other platitude or banal homily I’m likely to come up with (many Africans are quite poor, or that people are people everywhere, or that many of us are extraordinarily blessed by the circumstance of our birth, or that hope springs eternal, or whatever) and this stuff has already been fixed in the western cultural firmament, so I’ll skip it.

Similarly, another hard-hitting story of perfidy, corruption, mayhem, or any other conceivable description of disaster, malfeasance, or humans acting badly won’t be particularly shocking or enlightening, either. Telling people that bad things are happening around the world rates with “Sun Rises In East! Again!!” as a profound revelation. There are those far better trained, equipped, and funded, who already are doing yeoman work on detailing depravity and bearing witness to man’s inhumanity to man.

And for those looking to read about a spiritual journey of transformation, I don’t really want to attempt to write some long exegesis about how this trip was profoundly life changing, universe, and I’m pretty certain you aren’t that deeply interested either. If you are, I won’t be explaining it here, and the drinks will be on you. But more generally, the idea that such concepts would be worth writing about – let alone reading – would be a kind of self-indulgence seldom seen even among the most self-absorbed bloggers. Even had this been a 21-day trip that could fundamentally alter a worldview, zeitgeist and weltanschauung, that kind of thing doesn’t translate, doesn’t keep, and is lousy when reheated.

Likewise, it is unlikely in the extreme that we’ve gleaned some essential fact, perspective, or outlook that will confound and amaze the policy wonks, scientists and decision makers of the world. The “Everything I Needed To Know About The World I Learned After Three Weeks in Africa” school of thought is just flat-out silly. Certainly if we’ve learned something in just a few short weeks that has escaped the notice of some of the world’s brightest, then a lot of thinking on the value of formal education, practical experience, and knowledge as a whole would become, at a minimum, highly suspect.

Instead, what I would hope to be able to do is something is capture some sense of the texture of this time and place, the notions that fleet across the back of one’s consciousness, providing a brief flash of illumination that give a glimpse of something that turns into revelation much later. Hopefully, in explaining some of the things we’ve run in to, we can shed some light on these sorts of things and help you, should you be interested, can use this information to develop another lens through which you can think about the sorts of problems that enter our world through our computers, televisions, and newspapers. But then again, I’m not a writer by trade, so don’t hold your breath waiting for insight.

At the most basic level, the thing that struck me most about the experience was, for lack of a better term, the fundamental, overwhelming, implacable ordinariness of it all. This isn’t to say that what goes on is banal or uninteresting, but rather that the conceptual tools with which we try to understand simply cannot simultaneously explain the full span of the human experience and provide a particularly useful intuitive comparison of such disparate elements. A person can viscerally appreciate what is happening to themselves or someone else or they can understand that what those experiences are radically different. The problem is that it is incredibly difficult to do perform both tasks at the same time. On one hand, once a person has adapted to a new local environment, then it becomes commonplace. On the other hand, if one compares two relatively commonplace experiences, then most of the contrast between them is lost. The act of adapting to the environment leaches the color out of all the contrasting features – at the end of the day, one is essentially reduced to comparing luxuries.

The most exotic – or at least odd and incongruous – thing any of the three of us really saw, when you get down to cases, was each other. And trust me, exotic we ain’t. What made us odd is that pretty much everyone else was, for the most part, living out the normal, ordinary parts of the human drama, things that everyone can describe and related to almost immediately. We, however, were the only people not doing something very familiar and basic to people everywhere – and that’s what made us odd. Not heroic, or extraordinary, just unusual. Everyone else was living their lives with roughly the same markers and demands with which all of us live our lives.

Since I can’t seem to get to the point, let me say it this way: it’s not just that you or I or anyone you know could, after a shockingly short time, subsume the role of anyone else on the planet, but rather that, despite this, there aren’t any really good semantic mechanisms for comparing two the lives of people so similar in fundamentals, but so dissimilar in particulars. And maybe texture might be helpful in figuring out how to understand those differences.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Three Intrepid Filmmakers

For those of you that missed our TV appearance, here we are in all of our YouTube glory. The appearance is discussed at greater length in the post below this one.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Chicago Yesterday Night

As at least a good three or four people are now aware, we made an appearance on the Chicago PBS Station, WTTW, on their program "Chicago Tonight" last evening, apparently on purpose and with the full knowledge of the station managers.

I present for your viewing pleasure and/or amusement, definitive proof that we definitely have a television presence custom made for blogging. In that spirit, to optimize your viewing experience, feel free to mute the sound and leave the room for approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds.

Although somewhat unconventional, this step is necessary for the video segment to age properly, and is really allows us to come off at our best.

If, on the other hand, you can't really wait for us to edit and process the footage, and absolutely dying to see us act foolish and tongue-tied right now, just go ahead and click.

Although if you actually snicker out loud (or even if you don't for that matter), hit the PayPal button, so we can hire skilled personnel to do this sort of thing.

And if you're really dying to know, here's some evidence of historical punk, or punk-like activities. If nothing else, I suppose you can see that we came by our lack of talent honestly, and have continued pursuing it all these years.

Okay, okay, you've slogged through all the way through 187 words of this post thus far, so here's some bonus bonus material - the second bonus is added to reflect that the bonus material is actually good this time (so good in fact, that we don't have anything at all to do with it).

a) Of very high production value and involves significantly better animation than you're ever likely to see me do

b) Is an effort involving way more than 4 musicians, and much more studio time

c) Reflects many of the thematic elements, both literally and metaphorically, encountered in our trip to Chad

d) Has a much, much, larger budget. Much larger. Much larger. Much Much Larger. Hint. Hint. (that was subtle, wasn't it?)

e) All of the above


Monday, January 8, 2007

Darfur By The Numbers

As you may know, we will be appearing at 7pm Chicago time, on the primary local PBS station, WTTW on the program "Chicago Tonight". In a bid to get some research together before our appearance, I've started looking into some of the statistics behind Darfur, with mixed success.

Gathering statistics about Darfur has been a very difficult problem, owing to poor record keeping, lack of civil society, and ongoing insecurity problems. To some extent, this vagueness has made it a bit more difficult to provide a meaningful basis for discussion of the effectiveness of the government of Sudan in their ethnic cleansing campaign in Darfur over the last four years. These numbers are most certainly approximate, and are intended to be illustrative.

Thus, in the interests of trying to give a sense of scale to the situation in Darfur, I have put together some rough comparisons of the Chicago metro area and the populations affected by the Darfur conflict. For a baseline, the Chicago urban area (more properly called Chicago-Aurora-Elgin-Joliet-Waukegan, IL-IN area) had a total 2000 census population of 8,307,904, versus an estimated population in Darfur of 7.4 million.

To date, the campaigns undertaken by the Sudanese government have accounted for about one in five of the world's "Internally Displaced Persons" - those who have been driven from their homes, most often due to conflict, but have not been able to escape to other countries. Of the roughly 5.5 million people driven from their homes in Sudan, a bit more than half are refugees directly associated with the ethnic cleansing campaign in Darfur. The approximately 3 million people who have had their homes destroyed or have been forced in to relocation camps due to ongoing violence compares with the entire population of Chicago at 2,842,518.

The total number of people killed in the genocide thus far has been estimated at 400,000 to 450,000. However, these numbers date back to about April of 2006. As 10,000-15,000 people are killed each month, current totals may range from 480,000 to a worst-case scenario of 570,000. These numbers are roughly comparable to the population of New Orleans (454,863) or Washington DC (550,521).

Below the fold is a place-by-place comparison of the population of the Chicago metro area and those who have been directly affected by the actions of the Sudanese government in Darfur.

The table below lists the estimated population of places in the Chicago metro area, along with the sizes of affected populations in Darfur. The total of the numbers given here are less than the total number of refugees, as many refugees have not yet chosen to enter refugee camps. Additionally, the list includes Sudanese "Affected Resident Population" (ARP), which are those people in the area who have been adversely affected by the ongoing war (and have higher mortality rates, etc.) but have not yet had the misfortune of being burnt out of their homes, or otherwise being forced to flee. The population of Chadian "Internally Displaced Persons" (IDP) is included in this list, as it consists of those who have become refugees as of the ongoing chaos associated with the large influx of Sudanese
who have fled Darfur, seeking refuge, following the destruction of their homes or other calamities. The population of Chadian ARPs has not been included, as I have not been able to find pertinent statistics. A good map of camp locations in Sudan can be found here.

In the interests of space and relevance, locations with less than 3,000 people are not listed. For sake of comparison, U.S. fatalities in Iraq have just reached 3,000, while 2,819 perished in the attacks of 9/11.

Locations in Africa are listed in bold.

Place NameNotesPopulation
ChicagoThe City That Works
AuroraChicago Suburb168,181
NapervilleChicago Suburb141,579
JolietChicago Suburb136,208
GereidaDarfur Refugees128,000
ElginChicago Suburb98,645
Zalingei AUDarfur Refugees95,069
KalmaDarfur Refugees91,842
WaukeganChicago Suburb91,396
Kass TownDarfur Refugees89,895
CiceroChicago Suburb82,741
EvanstonChicago Suburb75,236
Arlington HeightsChicago Suburb74,620
SchaumburgChicago Suburb72,805
Kutum RuralSudanese ARP71,926
BolingbrookChicago Suburb68,365
PalatineChicago Suburb67,232
MalhaSudanese ARP64,815
SkokieChicago Suburb64,678
Golo AUDarfur Refugees62,060
MorneiDarfur Refugees61,034
Edd El FursanSudanese ARP58,073
Tinley ParkChicago Suburb57,477
Umm KeddadaSudanese ARP56,624
Des PlainesChicago Suburb56,551
Orland ParkChicago Suburb55,461
El Fasher RuralSudanese ARP54,909
WheatonChicago Suburb54,700
Mount ProspectChicago Suburb54,482
Abu ShoukDarfur Refugees54,043
Oak LawnChicago Suburb53,991
NyalaDarfur Refugees52,972
Kebkabiya RuralSudanese ARP52,398
El Daein NorthSudanese ARP52,344
Hoffman EstatesChicago Suburb52,046
BerwynChicago Suburb51,409
Oak ParkChicago Suburb50,757
Umm BaruSudanese ARP49,845
Downers GroveChicago Suburb49,094
Zalingei AUSudanese ARP48,416
SileiaSudanese ARP48,007
MuhajiriaSudanese ARP47,658
Geneina AUSudanese ARP46,044
GlenviewChicago Suburb45,989
ElmhurstChicago Suburb44,976
Ta'ashaSudanese ARP44,162
Tawilla RuralSudanese ARP43,928
Abu Ajura N. - BulbulSudanese ARP43,566
Buffalo GroveChicago Suburb43,115
Kebkabiya TownDarfur Refugees42,926
LombardChicago Suburb42,816
OtashDarfur Refugees41,583
ZamzamDarfur Refugees41,505
Fata BornoSudanese ARP41,416
SayahSudanese ARP41,263
Crystal LakeChicago Suburb40,922
Kutum RuralDarfur Refugees40,768
AdillaSudanese ARP40,594
Carol StreamChicago Suburb40,040
Kass NESudanese ARP39,432
Al SalamDarfur Refugees38,937
BartlettChicago Suburb38,479
Calumet CityChicago Suburb37,795
Tawilla TownDarfur Refugees37,555
Umm Dukhun AUSudanese ARP37,361
StreamwoodChicago Suburb37,312
Hanover ParkChicago Suburb37,229
CarpentersvilleChicago Suburb37,204
Park RidgeChicago Suburb36,983
AddisonChicago Suburb36,811
WheelingChicago Suburb36,641
RomeovilleChicago Suburb36,396
KafordSudanese ARP34,874
El Fasher TownDarfur Refugees34,426
NorthbrookChicago Suburb34,190
WoodridgeChicago Suburb34,058
Elk Grove VillageChicago Suburb34,025
North ChicagoChicago Suburb33,376
NyalaSudanese ARP32,969
MundeleinChicago Suburb32,774
Glendale HeightsChicago Suburb32,465
St. CharlesChicago Suburb32,332
Highland ParkChicago Suburb31,380
Chicago HeightsChicago Suburb31,373
Nertiti AUSudanese ARP30,896
GurneeChicago Suburb30,772
GarsilaDarfur Refugees29,793
Geneina TownDarfur Refugees29,750
Saraf OmraSudanese ARP29,742
NilesChicago Suburb29,330
MershingSudanese ARP29,103
AlgonquinChicago Suburb29,022
Lake in the HillsChicago Suburb28,786
HarveyChicago Suburb28,771
Forabaranga TownSudanese ARP28,558
Mellit TownSudanese ARP28,374
Round Lake BeachChicago Suburb28,253
PlainfieldChicago Suburb28,162
Oak ForestChicago Suburb28,116
BredjingDarfur Refugees27,761
BurbankChicago Suburb27,634
LansingChicago Suburb27,324
Glen EllynChicago Suburb27,193
BataviaChicago Suburb27,172
AbataSudanese ARP27,000
WilmetteChicago Suburb26,922
Kass SouthSudanese ARP26,862
El SireafSudanese ARP26,766
SheariaSudanese ARP26,756
KankakeeChicago Suburb26,642
Forabaranga RuralSudanese ARP26,634
Mellit RuralSudanese ARP26,579
West ChicagoChicago Suburb26,554
Habilla AUDarfur Refugees26,433
Oure CassoniDarfur Refugees26,293
Khor OmerDarfur Refugees25,928
HaskanitaSudanese ARP25,877
MaywoodChicago Suburb25,777
GouroukoumChadian IDPs25,229
Dar El SalamSudanese ARP25,000
Kass TownSudanese ARP25,000
McHenryChicago Suburb24,863
WestmontChicago Suburb24,863
Umm TajoukDarfur Refugees24,753
DoltonChicago Suburb24,504
Elmwood ParkChicago Suburb24,499
Saraf OmraDarfur Refugees24,110
ThurDarfur Refugees24,087
Vernon HillsChicago Suburb23,957
Rolling MeadowsChicago Suburb23,909
Shangil TobayiSudanese ARP23,698
GenevaChicago Suburb23,424
LisleChicago Suburb23,376
OswegoChicago Suburb23,330
RoselleChicago Suburb23,240
New LenoxChicago Suburb23,197
Park ForestChicago Suburb23,036
Krenik AUDarfur Refugees23,020
DreigeDarfur Refugees22,949
Blue IslandChicago Suburb22,788
DarienChicago Suburb22,730
Villa ParkChicago Suburb22,616
Melrose ParkChicago Suburb22,512
KassabDarfur Refugees22,251
Morton GroveChicago Suburb22,202
Kutum TownSudanese ARP22,191
LockportChicago Suburb22,161
TouloumDarfur Refugees22,038
SileiaDarfur Refugees22,031
ArdamataDarfur Refugees22,000
WoodstockChicago Suburb21,985
BloomingdaleChicago Suburb21,924
Jebel SiSudanese ARP21,800
KrindingDarfur Refugees21,793
LibertyvilleChicago Suburb21,760
Kutum TownDarfur Refugees21,740
South HollandChicago Suburb21,552
BielelDarfur Refugees21,440
Lake ForestChicago Suburb21,123
GrayslakeChicago Suburb21,099
KormaSudanese ARP21,071
Umm ShalayaSudanese ARP20,960
South ElginChicago Suburb20,758
AzerniSudanese ARP20,600
BensenvilleChicago Suburb20,514
RyadDarfur Refugees20,062
Sirba AUDarfur Refugees20,059
Lake ZurichChicago Suburb20,045
Evergreen ParkChicago Suburb19,876
Rockero AUDarfur Refugees19,660
Abu SorugDarfur Refugees19,618
BellwoodChicago Suburb19,517
Shangil TobayiDarfur Refugees19,494
DeerfieldChicago Suburb19,471
Crest HillChicago Suburb19,438
Rehedi El BerdiSudanese ARP19,291
CaryChicago Suburb19,115
AlsipChicago Suburb19,072
LabadoSudanese ARP19,000
AmobokoDarfur Refugees18,942
HomewoodChicago Suburb18,917
HijeerDarfur Refugees18,879
DayaDarfur Refugees18,725
Franklin ParkChicago Suburb18,490
BrookfieldChicago Suburb18,462
FarchanaDarfur Refugees18,392
Goz AmerDarfur Refugees18,272
HinsdaleChicago Suburb17,898
HuntleyChicago Suburb17,674
Rockero AUSudanese ARP17,545
MokenaChicago Suburb17,396
Palos HillsChicago Suburb17,258
IridimiDarfur Refugees17,195
El Daein NorthDarfur Refugees17,130
Kherban-TuraSudanese ARP17,071
Kulbus AUDarfur Refugees16,981
Masteri AUSudanese ARP16,979
BourbonnaisChicago Suburb16,875
Country Club HillsChicago Suburb16,534
Umm Kher AUSudanese ARP16,510
Am NabakDarfur Refugees16,504
Beida AUSudanese ARP16,493
Krinding IIDarfur Refugees16,463
Tawilla TownSudanese ARP16,423
Prospect HeightsChicago Suburb16,387
WestchesterChicago Suburb16,177
YaroungoDarfur Refugees15,857
FrankfortChicago Suburb15,819
MattesonChicago Suburb15,675
La GrangeChicago Suburb15,482
MileDarfur Refugees15,362
SheariaDarfur Refugees15,311
Forest ParkChicago Suburb15,197
GildoDarfur Refugees15,182
LemontChicago Suburb15,146
Kebkabiya TownSudanese ARP15,000
Konge DamrasSudanese ARP15,000
BridgeviewChicago Suburb14,933
Round LakeChicago Suburb14,803
DjabalDarfur Refugees14,772
El Daein TownSudanese ARP14,687
RiverdaleChicago Suburb14,588
El Daein WestSudanese ARP14,566
TreguineDarfur Refugees14,421
Hazel CrestChicago Suburb14,415
LindenhurstChicago Suburb14,403
North AuroraChicago Suburb14,394
MukjarDarfur Refugees14,325
Umm BaruDarfur Refugees14,292
NorridgeChicago Suburb14,054
GagaDarfur Refugees14,002
MidlothianChicago Suburb13,949
BradleyChicago Suburb13,812
East JMDarfur Refugees13,800
DogdoreChadian IDPs13,786
Gornie and DebangaDarfur Refugees13,770
Khor AbecheSudanese ARP13,761
Al SherefDarfur Refugees13,758
KounoungoDarfur Refugees13,682
Chicago RidgeChicago Suburb13,668
Kass NWSudanese ARP13,606
Sanam El NagaSudanese ARP13,584
GondjeDarfur Refugees13,555
Hickory HillsChicago Suburb13,542
Wood DaleChicago Suburb13,419
WarrenvilleChicago Suburb13,217
Mellit TownDarfur Refugees13,169
Nertiti AUDarfur Refugees13,081
Richton ParkChicago Suburb12,998
Habilla AUSudanese ARP12,988
MorrisChicago Suburb12,939
BindisDarfur Refugees12,928
La Grange ParkChicago Suburb12,726
JusticeChicago Suburb12,692
Kulbus AUSudanese ARP12,568
Palos HeightsChicago Suburb12,561
AdillaDarfur Refugees12,542
Western SpringsChicago Suburb12,530
Beach ParkChicago Suburb12,486
GereidaSudanese ARP12,466
WinnetkaChicago Suburb12,452
AntiochChicago Suburb12,353
LadobSudanese ARP12,327
MarkhamChicago Suburb12,304
ChannahonChicago Suburb12,218
SanidadiSudanese ARP12,193
ShorewoodChicago Suburb12,114
LincolnwoodChicago Suburb12,026
Dar El SalamDarfur Refugees12,000
Donki DeresaDarfur Refugees12,000
MontgomeryChicago Suburb11,959
Forabaranga TownDarfur Refugees11,880
Schiller ParkChicago Suburb11,597
El FerdousDarfur Refugees11,531
MuhajiriaDarfur Refugees11,500
JoghanaSudanese ARP11,498
NorthlakeChicago Suburb11,358
River ForestChicago Suburb11,289
MorneiSudanese ARP11,216
CrestwoodChicago Suburb11,207
Sirba AUSudanese ARP11,195
East JMSudanese ARP11,000
LadobDarfur Refugees10,972
ManawashiDarfur Refugees10,969
Burr RidgeChicago Suburb10,949
WaucondaChicago Suburb10,903
YorkvilleChicago Suburb10,791
Fox LakeChicago Suburb10,736
Sauk VillageChicago Suburb10,486
LyonsChicago Suburb10,466
HabileChadian IDPs10,424
StegerChicago Suburb10,409
SummitChicago Suburb10,348
River GroveChicago Suburb10,216
BarringtonChicago Suburb10,179
Umm Kher TownDarfur Refugees10,000
Donki DeresaSudanese ARP10,000
AdeChadian IDPs10,000
WinfieldChicago Suburb9,844
Umm ShalayaDarfur Refugees9,798
Birkat SeiraDarfur Refugees9,790
Sania AfanduSudanese ARP9,548
Tawilla RuralDarfur Refugees9,416
Nomadic damraSudanese ARP9,401
FlossmoorChicago Suburb9,390
HarvardChicago Suburb9,104
DortiDarfur Refugees9,003
Sania AfanduDarfur Refugees9,000
GlencoeChicago Suburb8,979
WillowbrookChicago Suburb8,893
KornoiDarfur Refugees8,862
Oak BrookChicago Suburb8,835
CreteChicago Suburb8,772
Al Salam (Nyala)Darfur Refugees8,687
El Daein WestDarfur Refugees8,678
GlenwoodChicago Suburb8,663
Lake VillaChicago Suburb8,492
RiversideChicago Suburb8,485
ItascaChicago Suburb8,444
Island LakeChicago Suburb8,419
Sugar GroveChicago Suburb8,416
MinookaChicago Suburb8,403
Clarendon HillsChicago Suburb8,397
Kondobe AUDarfur Refugees8,360
Harwood HeightsChicago Suburb8,188
Calumet ParkChicago Suburb8,124
University ParkChicago Suburb8,102
MantenoChicago Suburb7,955
GarsilaSudanese ARP7,920
West DundeeChicago Suburb7,875
BroadviewChicago Suburb7,856
Long GroveChicago Suburb7,833
HillsideChicago Suburb7,771
LynwoodChicago Suburb7,655
MarenaChadian IDPs7,400
MarengoChicago Suburb7,381
InvernessChicago Suburb7,343
PlanoChicago Suburb7,338
JugumaDarfur Refugees7,300
Orland HillsChicago Suburb7,273
Hawthorn WoodsChicago Suburb7,176
Winthrop HarborChicago Suburb7,090
Umm TajoukSudanese ARP6,960
LincolnshireChicago Suburb6,841
El SireafDarfur Refugees6,791
Park CityChicago Suburb6,775
DitoSudanese ARP6,672
Umm KeddadaDarfur Refugees6,541
AdreChadian IDPs6,441
North RiversideChicago Suburb6,382
RobbinsChicago Suburb6,375
YassinDarfur Refugees6,352
BraidwoodChicago Suburb6,320
Krenik AUSudanese ARP6,318
JohnsburgChicago Suburb6,277
Lake BluffChicago Suburb6,251
BoldungSudanese ARP6,246
Round Lake ParkChicago Suburb6,224
Willow SpringsChicago Suburb6,011
WilmingtonChicago Suburb5,957
SekeleDarfur Refugees5,915
StickneyChicago Suburb5,899
DumaDarfur Refugees5,893
Arara VCDarfur Refugees5,845
CountrysideChicago Suburb5,831
NorthfieldChicago Suburb5,543
Mellit RuralDarfur Refugees5,497
HighwoodChicago Suburb5,468
Spring GroveChicago Suburb5,303
Sania DelebaSudanese ARP5,249
Abu JabraDarfur Refugees5,246
SisiDarfur Refugees5,175
Coal CityChicago Suburb5,170
ManhattanChicago Suburb5,169
LakemoorChicago Suburb5,085
Fox River GroveChicago Suburb5,084
Lake BarringtonChicago Suburb5,033
BerkeleyChicago Suburb5,006
PosenChicago Suburb4,929
Stone ParkChicago Suburb4,905
AdjizChadian IDPs4,899
GilbertsChicago Suburb4,869
El FerdousSudanese ARP4,766
Palos ParkChicago Suburb4,757
MoneeChicago Suburb4,629
Birkat SeiraSudanese ARP4,492
Kango HarazaSudanese ARP4,453
Arara VCSudanese ARP4,412
DwightChicago Suburb4,360
BuramDarfur Refugees4,263
Barrington HillsChicago Suburb4,258
HometownChicago Suburb4,241
ElburnChicago Suburb4,236
RiverwoodsChicago Suburb4,100
BurnhamChicago Suburb4,080
HampshireChicago Suburb4,077
RosemontChicago Suburb4,037
BorotaChadian IDPs4,007
KildeerChicago Suburb4,004
TulusDarfur Refugees4,000
Umm Kher TownSudanese ARP4,000
PeotoneChicago Suburb3,981
South BarringtonChicago Suburb3,935
Green OaksChicago Suburb3,914
KulkulSudanese ARP3,882
South Chicago HeightsChicago Suburb3,873
DixmoorChicago Suburb3,813
HainesvilleChicago Suburb3,765
HijeerSudanese ARP3,734
Sleepy HollowChicago Suburb3,695
Indian Head ParkChicago Suburb3,656
WadsworthChicago Suburb3,651
Umm LabassaSudanese ARP3,605
Masteri AUDarfur Refugees3,595
LakewoodChicago Suburb3,502
MarlaSudanese ARP3,477
KubumSudanese ARP3,355
Kango HarazaDarfur Refugees3,327
Ford HeightsChicago Suburb3,294
Abu MatariqDarfur Refugees3,292
Jemeza KomeraDarfur Refugees3,285
Mossai BDarfur Refugees3,273
Mossai BDarfur Refugees3,273
Deer ParkChicago Suburb3,253
Beida AUDarfur Refugees3,227
North BarringtonChicago Suburb3,207
YassinSudanese ARP3,180
East DundeeChicago Suburb3,138
JoghanaDarfur Refugees3,100
MomenceChicago Suburb3,066
NE AreaChadian IDPs3,000


Saturday, January 6, 2007

Home Again, Home Again: Ruby Slippers Edition

Our first finding is that, no Dorthy, Chad sure isn't Kansas, and despite that, ruby slippers are not, in and of themselves, sufficient to tackle the headaches associated with a lost ticket. For that, one needs a cell phone and airline personnel of extraordinary patience. And no, there really is no place like home. Or at least if your concept of home involves running water, paved roads, and things of that ilk.

Thus, we are back in the states, having just missed an actual newsworthy event in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena. It seems that circumstance has conspired to firmly keep us in the camp of filmmakers, rather than war correspondents. The flipside being, however, that we've gotten some rather nice coverage (well, nice even if the article is titled "Bordering on Insanity") in the newsweekly, Time Out. Additionally, we're scheduled to appear live on WTTW, the Chicago PBS station, for an appearance on Chicago Tonight on Monday at 7 pm, so that way any anxious viewers can watch us make fools of ourselves Right Now, rather than waiting for the release of footage to watch us make fools of ourselves.

In any case, we're back, whole, with footage, our gear, and have been blessed by an unnatural quantity of dust and grime. As promised, I'm going to go back and reload higher resolution images, and clean up some of the formatting, as the return to the states has meant a return to unfettered, high-speed internet access.

I can say on behalf of all of us, Thank You All Very Much for your support during this trip - both moral and financial support have been of immense help. I would also like to thank the folks who responded to our posts, particularly those who have tuned us in to some additional efforts in Darfur. Once we get unpacked, decompressed, cleaned, fed, slept, watered, bathed, and burped, we'll be looking into that information right away.

As far as the current status of the project goes, we are already starting the digitizing, editing, formatting, and other relevant "-ing" activities (described by participles?) that are somehow involved in turning footage into film.

In the interim, I (as sound guy) have taken a look at some of the photos I took, and have realized (as a sound guy) that a picture (particularly when I've taken the photo) is not, necessarily, worth a thousand words. In fact, if one (i.e., a sound guy) shoots sufficiently lousy pictures, editing, captioning, and some narrative background are all pretty essential if the photos are going to actually be worth anything, let alone a thousand words. Upcoming blogposts (between actual film-related developments) will be narrating our trip and posting relevant photos.

Happy New Years, Thank You, and Good Night!!


Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!! Live from N'Djamena!

We are back in N'Djamena, although we are encountering some further problems with airline tickets. I wanted to share some of the first pictures of the trip, now that we have something approaching internet access. Photos and explanations below the fold (larger photos or perhaps a full photo album will be posted when we have a higher speed connection).

We arrived here about seven hours ago after a sixteen and a half hour overnight bus ride over unpaved roads from Abeche to N'Djamena, totalling some 880 km (about 660 miles).

This is the Abeche bus station:

The trip was ferociously uncomfortable and dusty - here is a view of sunset from the bus.

Some of the folks we interviewed while out in the wild, wild east, as well as a picture from our ride back to our compound.

Here are some of the friendly local military we passed on the way back from a refugee camp.