Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What happened

Last week I was informed by Chicago Public Radio that I was 'laid' off due to money problems. The job I held was a producer and host for their new web based radio called since March 2007.
Anyway I will not get into all the details of what happened. I came to work and was called into a room and told I was fired. My co-workers are all shocked and so am I. You can listen to the work I did there for the past year and half here. I'm doing well and active on my new feature but looking for work and money. The news made the news...

Layoffs at WBEZ, Vocalo by Michael Miner

Rumored since Wednesday, layoffs whittled the ranks of Chicago Public Radio's two stations Friday. WBEZ lost nine staffers, including 848 producer Shawn Campbell, arts reporter Gianofer Fields, and Web designer Josh Andrews. At Vocalo, on-air hosts Darlene Jackson and Usama Alshaibi were let go.
The prelude to the layoffs was a tempestuous board meeting Tuesday attended by several WBEZ staffers. I wasn't there, but I got a report that CEO Torey Malatia alarmed the WBEZ contingent by describing public radio as a "house on fire burning to the ground" and calling Vocalo the "fire escape." This wasn't anything new -- as online media become more and more intrigued by the public radio model of not-for-profit status + grants + subscribers, Malatia has declared the radio version of this model -- with its dependence on periodic pledge drives -- ultimately unsustainable.
At WBEZ, staffers dream of rounding up the reportorial cream dumped by Chicago's staggering print media and turning the station into a spectacular news operation. Malatia dreams of reinventing public radio's business model. So far, he's had CPR's board behind him. The alienated, diminishing WBEZ staff is stewing in its juices.
UPDATE: Malatia, CFO Donna Moore, and board chairman Tony Weisman talked to the WBEZ staff at midday Friday. I'm told they made these gloomy points:
Individual contributions during the October pledge drive were down about $30 a pledge. There's a $1.5 million shortfall shaping up for the current fiscal year, which ends in June. Senior staff are taking a salary cut for the balance of the fiscal year. The Third Coast Audio Festival and Sound Opinions are at risk. "I'm horrified. This is a kind of out-of-body experience," said Malatia, warning that the financial crisis devastating print media could become the future of Chicago Public Radio.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

'Nice Bombs' on the Sundance Channel

NICE BOMBS playing on the Sundance Channel

Sunday November 23 at 5PM
& Monday November 24 at 1:30PM

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Studs Terkel and I

Studs died yesterday on Halloween. He was 96 years old and a dear friend of mine. He was someone I had tremendous respect and admiration for.
I had first met Studs when I started working at the Chicago History Museum back in 1998. I was in charge of preserving and digitizing his audio recordings from over 50 years at WFMT in Chicago. They were 1/4" tape reels of one hour of interviews he did with regular folks and artist that he invited to his show. Of course he is mainly famous for his extraordinary books. He interviewed me for his 2004 book called Hope Dies Last. You can read the chapter on immigrants that I am in: here.
I worked closely with him. He used to take me out to lunch all the time and talk and laugh with me. When the USA invaded Iraq in 2003 I wanted to go back and make a documentary about my birth home Studs encouraged me and insisted I do it. So with some help from Studs I returned in 2004 and made the most important film of my life: Nice Bombs.
Studs even introduced the film along with Christie Hefner at the premier at the Music Box in Chicago in 2006.

I miss him. I have all this video footage of us hanging out and talking. He was a mentor and an inspiration to me. He taught me to listen and to care and be curious about our fellow humans in this short life we have. Goodbye Studs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Muna played by Manal

From my new feature...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Magic is Küntmaster show at AV-​Aerie​

Manal, Molly & Kristie. I was shooting video, drinking a beer and snapping photos.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Muna is here

Something new I am working on.

Monday, September 15, 2008

white leaves

Heather-Lynn at MCA Chicago. I was outside she was inside and I motioned for her to pose. Snap.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nice Bombs plays in NYC Sept 10

Nice Bombs showing at New Filmmakers screening series

Anthology Film Archive
32 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
on Wed Sept 10th @ 8:45 pm

Saturday, August 30, 2008

x marks the spot

This is for a set I did for the sex site nerve dot com. I love working with Simone- we were both drinking and the scissors came out and we started to rip.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

see no evil

A photo I took of Kristie when we returned from Iraq in 2004. The evil eye we bought together in Baghdad.

video birth of my perverse: The Foreigner

This is one of my first videos I made using my new three-chip miniDV camera back in the 2000. I called my female friends and put the word out that I was making a disgusting scat video. We bought lots of cheap beer and shot the whole thing in one night on a very cold Chicago winter. No brown nor ham was involved in the shoot.
What else can I say?

"A Warholesque journey, kind of like the Chelsea Girls on speed. A bunch of sexed up girls and one slightly bewildered rent boy."
-Jack Sargeant

(watch here as bonus to The Amateurs)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Printers' Ball

I was invited by Fred Sasaki to contribute to The Printers Ball on August 22 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The concept, created by The Dollar Store, is simple: they buy me an object from a dollar store and mail it to me. I create some sort of art out of it. They sent me a fake fur purse with the words: SPOILED. My buddy Manal agreed to chew and spit and the rest is truly spoiled. Music by the gifted Winker's Army. Shot on gummy-worm video. I will eventually post the movie...

FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue
Free Admission

The Printers' Ball is an annual celebration of print literature in Chicago, hosted by Poetry, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Newcity. Over one hundred arts and literary organizations gather under one roof to present a diverse showcase of print publications including free magazines, journals, books, weeklies, posters, music, video, performance, and more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Convulsion Expulsion

Warning this film has graphic content.

I had the idea of this film when I was in Amsterdam on my honeymoon with my wife (March 2003) and we visited the sex museum. It was the photography section that really inspired me. All the porn from about the late 1800's to early 1920's was the most fascinating stuff. The awkward naked performance felt so rich and distant. I knew they also had to keep those poses for an extended period because of the ancient technology of film and exposure. And for some reason an idea, the image of the red from the anus, lips with teeth, head in white and bandage, sparked in my head.

The way 'Convulsion Expulsion' happened was sort of accidental. An instructor at an art college here in Chicago had a very old 35mm DeVry film camera and wanted me to shoot something with it. He gave me 400 feet of 35mm film and said do whatever you want. He only asked to be given a fake name as producer since he did not want his real name on the credits. This weird, ancient and amazing DeVry camera only took 100 feet spools of film so I had to go sit in the dark and separate the film into 4 rolls. My buddy Andrew Dryer shot it in this huge white loft near Chinatown. My wife Kristie, practiced getting her ass ready (several enemas...)
Many things were done in secret and under the table from people who helped on this film that I can't name but I do thank you.

The make-up was incredible by Camilla Ha and the musical was from noise maker Andy Ortmann. It is my only 35mm film so far.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cinema Abattoir

"Première option: acheter le DVD L’Erotisme, qui rassemble les perles du cinéma Abattoir. Je donne un exemple: le court-métrage Ass (2001) montre une jeune femme qui se fait jouir en se mettant deux doigts –ou trois ?- dans l’anus. A quatre pattes, elle se masturbe, prise en sandwich entre deux caméras (une de face, une de derrière, littéralement) dont les images se succèdent à une vitesse telle qu’au bout de deux minutes l’image de son visage en train de jouir se superpose à l’image de sa main en train de masturber.

L’effet stroboscopique est tel que l’on croit voir les deux doigts pénétrer le visage, qui se transforme alors en organe de plaisir mutant. Ses doigts pénètrent son visage par saccades voluptueuses, ses traits se tordent, elle gémit (son distordu). Elle finit par avoir un orgasme. Les images reviennent lentement à la normale… jusqu'à ce que l'on découvre le pot aux roses.

Séquence hypnotique, signée par un réalisateur né à Bagdad, vivant à Chicago – Usama Alshaibi. La jeune femme est son épouse. Connue sous son nom d’artiste comme “Echo transgression”, elle affirme qu’elle est “une porn-star extra-terrestre qui entend des voix transmises directement dans sa tête par le biais d’une antenne implantée dans sa colonne vertébrale”. Je ne sais pas à quel degré il faut prendre ces propos, mais ils témoignent bien de l’esprit Abattoir.

I am on two compilations DVD's from Montreal’s avant-garde screening series Cinema Abattoir, run by Pierre-Luc Vaillancourt.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nice Bombs repeats on the Sundance Channel July 14

NICE BOMBS repeats on the Sundance Channel: Monday July 14 at 1:45 CT / 2:45pm ET

from Sundance Channel:
Chicago-based filmmaker Usama Alshaibi returns to Iraq, the country of his birth, after an absence of nearly 24 years. Accompanied by his American wife, Alshaibi reunites with his cousin and childhood friend Tareef, who acts as tour guide and driver, as well as many members of his extended family in Baghdad. What he discovers is a city permeated with the smell of gasoline, and everyday Iraqis who offer reflections ranging from exultation at Saddam's downfall to despair for the future of their country. "Surprisingly warm" — Chicago Tribune.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Tell The Police The Truth

This is a music video I did for the band Mahjongg. The idea of the video came from the members of the band and Amy Cargill and I all hanging out drinking beer at Tuman's bar. I make a cameo in the film as one of the hooded figure and I am actually wearing a real Iraqi Ba'athi Republican Palace Gaurd army shirt. A buddy that was in Iraq brought it back and lent it to me for the video. It was a great shoot. All the principle shooting was done in one day down at Bridgeport. The cop uniform was the real deal and Hunter (member of Mahjongg) was VERY convincing as a cop. I had several images running in my head that I wanted. Some may be obvious: I thought of the 1968 Democratic Convention, Abu Ghraib, Insurgency videos, brutality, flashing blues brothers and hopefully some lightness in the dark.

I had also done another video for the same band members but for their musical variation of WATERBABIES. This is one of my favorite videos that I have ever made for a band. I know it is cut up footage but it is pure my friend. The original music is not so far away in soul and beats. I bumped into Hunter on the street and I said hey man I have this footage my Dad sent me from the Middle East of these crazy ass Arab dance troop and they dress all in camo and it is an all party let me cut it for WHOOP DRAFT- he said yes and so I bring you mutation east eats west licks chitown:


Welcome. This a place for me to share some of my ideas and post about screenings, shows and just stuff I think about. I'm not really sure what exactly but I have plenty to show and tell.