Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Unbearable Whiteness I'm Seeing - Yellowstone 11

As I sat in my van on the edge of Yellowstone Lake, with white-out conditions blanketing the park with snow, I was kinda bummed out. My ongoing quest to see definitive signs of the caldera was being thwarted. Already that morning, I had to bypass without seeing one of the area’s most famous sites: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The road to Canyon’s prime viewing sites had not yet been snow plowed, and even then, visibility was down to dozens of feet. I looked out on the water and could not see the other shore.

 Then… the sun came out. 

Enjoy Part Eleven of the Tour d’Joko - Yellowstone Edition. 
Some video notes: Okay, who out there caught the play-on-words of this episode’s title “The UnBEARable Whiteness I’m Seeing”? What am I referencing? 
Fallen timber can be quite slippery when covered with fresh snow. I really fell hard on my hike; I’m lucky nothing broke. 

Looking back, I really had an itchy trigger finger when it came to my borrowed bottle of bear spray. Almost used it on a particularly scary looking squirrel. 

Honey badger don’t care? Bison! Now Bison, he don’t care!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Good Googily Moogily! Yellowstone X

Is the Tour d’Joko- Yellowstone Edition losing some steam? Well, I don’t know, but I am compiling the clips I’ll need for making the official “final production” which we’ll see sometime in July. For now, I bring you part TEN, a jaunt in the snow along the shores of Lake Yellowstone. Not sure why I picked this audio, but it's kinda fun.

In this episode, I find the caldera, AGAIN, contemplate snow & find my next campsite, where I am asked to perform at the aphitheater on opening night!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fast, Furious and Fortune Telling

Tonight, I want to talk about the “Fast & Furious” scandal, which has been vehemently brought to our collective attention by the House Oversight Committee and one Daryl Issa here in these last few weeks. 

Make no mistake, of all of the fuck ups, mistakes and things done wrong in this massive apparatus called the US government, either by institutional flaw or simply poor judgment, this failed Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms program is but one of many. To recap for those new to the topic, “Fast & Furious” was an attempt by ATF agents to crack down on multiple levels of the flow of firearms to the Mexican drug cartels by monitoring how the perfectly legal massive sales of assault rifles and other weapons in states like Arizona ended up in the hands of organized paramilitary criminal syndicates in Northern Mexico. 

At this point, it hasn’t yielded any tremendous results, but going after criminals in another country is inherently difficult, particularly when law enforcement officials in THAT country can’t get these guys. That said, the conservative right wing took a whole ’nother tack on this issue, culminating in the AG of the USA likely being indicted for contempt of Congress tomorrow. Without a doubt, Rep. Issa’s assault stems from opinions he publicly endorsed just a few months back, and which derive from nut-case, Tea Bagger, reactionary extremism. Issa thinks that Fast & Furious was enacted without any chance of success for the very results that such a failure would engender. More guns in the hands of these criminals would lead to more gun violence which would lead to more pressure for gun control laws. In the mind of Daryl Issa, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, Fast & Furious was actually a diabolical attack on the 2nd ammendment  

This tin-foil hat conspiracy theory may get traction amongst the Fox News faithful, but in the larger community, it’s not enough to engender the kind of Watergatish outrage the Republicans are hoping for. Consequently, a second argument has been developed parallel to the NRA bedlam. One of the guns that ended up in Mexico killed a Border Patrol officer. The mainstream alternative to the anti-2nd-Ammendment conspiracy outrage is the simple fact that the Obama administration allowed guns to “walk.” In it‘s fruits, the strategy was a bad idea. 

That may be right. That said, the whole strategy of letting guns “walk” into Mexico in hopes of later tracking them was thought up by the Justice Department of GW Bush and has since been killed by Obama’s Eric Holder. Then comes today’s news in the form of THIS ARTICLE (IMPORTANT!!! HISTORICAL!! read it!) from Fortune Magazine. Not the NY Times, the Huffington Post or some other liberal enclave. It’s from Fortune fucking magazine! 

See, what I find most interesting here is not that we’re talking about a few hundred firearms here while the Mexican government estimates that 2,000 guns make their way into Mexico from the USA every single day, nor that ATF agents could NOT arrest even obvious straw-men gun buyers in the state of Arizona. Instead, it’s that these kinds of lax gun laws exist in one of our border states! From the article:
Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they want in Arizona as long as they're 18 or older and pass a criminal background check. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns. "In Arizona," says Voth, "someone buying three guns is like someone buying a sandwich."

By 2009 the Sinaloa drug cartel had made Phoenix its gun supermarket and recruited young Americans as its designated shoppers or straw purchasers. Voth and his agents began investigating a group of buyers, some not even old enough to buy beer, whose members were plunking down as much as $20,000 in cash to purchase up to 20 semiautomatics at a time, and then delivering the weapons to others.
I’ve heard from other sources that some of these straw purchasers were unemployed and on food stamps but would regularly plop down ten figures to buys guns. Guns they used to do what? Hunt the Arizona Jackalope? Here’s the thing: It is ONLY because of Rep Issa’s attention to this matter that I became aware that is perfectly legal for any Arizonan to buy 100 AK-47’s or other non-hunting assault rifles at a gun store without any restriction other than criminal history, and then step out into the parking lot and sell those guns to whomever they wish. See, the ATF agents might have WANTED to stem the flow of guns to the Mexican drug cartels, but they couldn’t! These guns weren’t “walked” into Mexico by permission of the ATF; the ATF was powerless to stop them! 

This lax law in regards to guns lead to the death of that Border Patrol agent & the loss of thousands of lives south of the border in Mexico. That is an expression of a law that needs to change. Yes, I myself, one of millions who have the potential of actually understanding the facts behind Fast & Furious, am significantly moved towards supporting tougher gun laws due the facts of this case. 

I am the original, “crazy” conspiracy theory become manifest. I wanted stricter laws on guns before, but this case makes the need that much more self-evident. I never would have thought this way without the attention brought to F&F by Daryl Issa. Without the right-wing outrage over trivial minutae, I would have never even known about the bigger picture here, manifested by Fortune’s article today

Congratulations, right wing nutcases! Through your attention to F&F, you have created, or are beginning to create, the very anti-gun sentiment you so feared. Not because of violence caused by the guns themselves, but simply by highlighting absurdly lax gun laws that already existed in these border states. 

The ATF didn’t need to “let guns walk”, as the Fortune article pointed out today, instead, the guns were walking all by themselves, and thanks to laws endorsed by the NRA, there was nothing the ATF could do to stop it. 

Be careful what you crazily prognosticate: it may come true.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Calderapalooza!; Blizzards, Bisons and Bears, Oh My!

Try to read this blog as if you were hearing one of those cliché radio commercials for a monster truck rally (compete with cheezy echo effect)…




Live from the backcountry of north-central Yellowstone National Park, Joko Londo Films brings you the ongoing search for the National Caldera Championship!!

Tour d’Joko - Yellowstone Edition: Episode 8
Oh, but we’re not done yet! Yup, this blog is a two for one!!!  

In Episode Nine, I encounter bears!!! Lots of different kinds of bears. Yup! Grizzly bears, black bears, Chicago Bears, Discovery Channel Bears, Yogi Bears and gay Bears. Then, I ask myself that eternal question which plagues every human being throughout their life, but only certain circumstances bring it out to be vocalized: “WHAT AM I DOING ?!?!”  

Lastly, at the end of Part Nine, I encounter perhaps the most pernicious, diabolical & scariest creature of the whole tour…

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Most interesting Mud in the World


One the third day of the trip, when the morning snow turned into hail (which shows up on the camera surprisingly well), I wasn’t sure how much caldera-hunting I was going to be able to do. One thing I heard that I could count on faithfully was… Old Faithful!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mas Joko

I decided to take a little break today from Tour d’Joko video making to compose a vanity video. Yes, that’s what my “random videos” are.. Me making a video about my favorite thing, me. This one goes even further in that it’s set to song called “Mas Joko”, which is Indonesian for..hmm… “Older brother Joko” would be the direct translation, but “mas” is used like we would use “Mister”, except a little more informally… Perhaps “Dude Joko”…  

That’s the thing about trying to translate a language that is used half way around the world in a culture that is so different from modern Western culture… So much of it doesn’t translate properly due to the cultural context.

 I copied and pasted the lyrics to Mas Joko into the Google translator website and it spat out this:
Ouch ouch .. Mas Joko kissed my cheek
Ouch ouch .. Mas Joko touched my lips
I love you, he said
Rich crab, he says
Goose bumps all over my body would
Imagine eating uncomfortable Mas Joko
I can not imagine sleeping soundly Mas Joko
Mas Joko .. (ta 'u' u ')
Mas Joko .. (ya 'u' u ')
burning love, burning rinduku
The sleek black mustache
I do not lose heart memangdangmu (wuelleh wuelleh ..) Myriad of handsome men
Mas Joko just love my darling (ah uh ..)
So… that didn’t make much sense, now did it? Here’s my translation of the same lyrics:
Oooo… Oooo… I was kissed by Mister Joko
Oooo… Oooo… My lips were touched by Mister Joko
I love you, he says
You’re so rich, he says
I get goose bumps all over
I can’t eat without Mister Joko
I can’t sleep without Mister Joko
Mister Joko…Mister Joko
My love is burning, my longing is burning for you
With his sweet black mustache
I do not lose heart when I’m with you
Of all those handsome men
Mister Joko, I only love you
Back in the mid-80’s when I first lived in Indonesia, they had no laws whatsoever about music copyrights and piracy and such. Consequently, there was a world-wide ban by the musicians of the world against the word’s 5th most populous nation. No one went there because their albums made no money. As a consumer, back in the brief golden age of the cassette tape (after the LP, but before CD’s), it was paradise. Imagine being able to buy any record you wanted, professionally done on cassette for about $1...  

Then again, that’s not so hard to imagine. In the age of file sharing, I haven’t paid one penny for a piece of music in over five years…  

In any case, it's kind of poetic justice that 25 years later, through the internet, I could rip off and pirate the hardwork of some Indonesian videomaker.

  Enjoy the Dangdut music, the pop music of Indonesia. Dangdut may sound a little odd to Western ears, as it is based on ¾ time, not 4/4 time…

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hot, Steamy Holes. Tour d'Joko Yellowstone Edition: Episode Six

My goal for this Tour d’Joko, Yellowstone Edition, was to make it as close as possible to an actual commercial production. You’ve yet to see the ripest fruit of that effort, but I’ve related some details about problems with government permits, bad weather and faulty or missing equipment, challenges which studio made stuff I‘m sure deals with all the time. One other detail I shared with more produced videos was trouble paying for it all. The most pressing and highest expense was rather simple math: about 1500 miles round trip, truck gets 15 miles to the gallon, gas costs $4/gal… After food, park fees…checking account balance is… Oh my. I needed to make a choice. Pay my bills or go to Yellowstone. Well. I couldn’t re-schedule the vacation time. This trip was vital to my mental and creative health! What bills could I push to next month? Hmmm… My cable and internet company sorta brought you these videos by not getting any money from me in May. This is also why I have been offline since last Saturday. 

A week with no television or internet was weird. I listened to a lot of AM radio and polished off two books, one of which I mentioned before, Undaunted Courage, the story of Merriwether Lewis. 

  Did you know that within a few short years of completing his famous journey, Lewis, in the depths of debt, alcoholism, depression and drug addiction, took his own life? Rather poorly too. He tried shooting himself in the head and only grazed the scalp. He finally killed himself with a self-induced gut wound, which has to be the worst way to go. As much as his journey was an inspiration to this very Tour d‘Joko, his death is a reminder for my everyday life. 

One issue I struggle with as I reach the middle point in my time on this planet is regrets over what I have accomplished. What do I have to show for my time here? What will be my legacy? When I think about it, it’s depressingly scant. Lewis accomplished more than but a handful of people in history, but was unable to control his addictions. This cost him his life. 

  I may never own a house. I may never have kids. I may always have to choose between paying my internet bill and going on a trip. That said, one accomplishment I do get to achieve one day at a time is staying sober, and I can be proud of that. That was something Lewis, for all his resolve and undaunted courage, could not accomplish.  
Oh yeah, and Lewis never did what I’m doing right now, edit his journal into something people can enjoy. 

  Here is Part Six of the Tour d’Joko - Yellowstone Edition: Hot Steamy Holes.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

An Elk Is Born! Yellowstone Edition - Part Five

So where is the “documentary quality” video I promised I would make at the outset of my Yellowstone jouney? Patience. I am earmarking specific clips that are Discovery-Channel-worthy as I go through this process of combing through some 4+ hours of footage.

This little vignette will forever hold a special place in my heart. I was a mere 15 miles into Yellowstone when I came across this broad plain with lots of bison and solitary elk momma with her newborn calf…

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Into Yellowstone! Tour d'Joko: Episode Four

I took the photo at the right whilst at work today. Unfortunately, the Pomeranian turned it’s head at the last minute, but as you might imagine, a little old lady ferrying her little dog AND cat around America’s favorite home improvement store was undeniably cute. Cats and Dogs! Shopping Together!! (as Peter Venkman sorta warned us of in Ghostbusters) 

 Still, people who do things like bringing both the cat and the dog with them in their power chairs are the types who would do things like keep track of their pets’ birthdays. On that note, my cat Bliss turns 6 years old on 6/6. Do the math and you’ll understand why her full name is Iblis.

                                          * * *  

The 4th Episode of the Tour d’Joko: Yellowstone Edition ends with me entering the park. The lead up to that… well… I’ll say this, I was very judicious in my editing. The original version of this video was 9 minutes long and was composed almost entirely of me sharing rather uninteresting minutia into the camera. Worse yet, it was delivered rather blandly. 

See, I understand now why professional video productions have so many participants. You need a sound guy who can concentrate solely on the audio quality. You need a grip who will focus on the stability of the camera shot. Me, I needed a director who could tell the talent (again, me), “Joko, you’re not being as dynamic and exciting enough in your narration, let’s do it again.” In any case, Joko, the editor, was able to cut Joko, the narrator, down from 9 to 6 minutes. 

Please enjoy the Tour d’Joko, Yellowstone Edition, Part Four.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

MONTANA! Tour d'Joko Yellowstone: Episode Three

Day two took me into Montana, a place I had never been, and one of our more unusual states.  

Physically, as you’ll see, the place is gorgeous (okay, most places are gorgeous in the month of May).  

Politically, although a “red“ state, they aren’t the invasive, up-in-your-business kind of conservatives. I was able to find NPR on the radio. Their Supreme Court recently upheld their own ban on corporate spending in political races, despite what the Citizens’ United ruling said. They have a Democrat as a governor, and he enjoys a 60% approval rating. Gambling is legal; it seemed like every other gas station had a casino attached. A Montanan transplant I spent an afternoon with later in the trip described the attitude of the state thusly: “As long as what you’re doing isn’t hurting anyone else, Montanans are okay with it.” 

That’s the kind of libertarianism I like.

When I’m out on a Tour d’Joko, I always record dogs when I see them in other people’s car windows. 

I was doing that when the guy pictured wandered into the frame. Like the Magpies I end the video with, this guy just seems to epitomize the state. He’s “Mister Montana”. I wonder if his first name is “Joe”.