TAGvertisements

I found this in my old blog. I used to buy/steal magazines when I was younger. When I was done reading them, I’d get a marker and “tag” (that means to write graffiti on something, for those who aren’t familiar with the term) the ads.

Street View: Visual Survey of Economic Gaps

Houston. Homelessness along Main. It’s an issue that Houston officials rarely address publicly. There were even rumors that the government transported them to other cities.

lj

It feels voyeuristic to look at these people on Google Street View. It’s as if an affluent, hand sanitizer-carrying tourist going on a poverty safari in their Land Rover. You can “see” the opposite side of the socioeconomic spectrum without having to actually go there. But I’ve been there. I’ve talked to the people out on the streets. For a brief period of time, I was even one of the people out on the streets. Using these digital tools are a good way to collect visual data in a short span of time, across different parts of the globe.

pasay manila

Pasay, Manila.

In the “squatter” houses along the river and around wealthy, glitzy Makati, you will see many makeshift abodes.

virginia murals

W. Cary Street Murals / Richmond, Virgina.

While I applaud residents and artists in beautifying the abandoned buildings, and low-income neighborhoods, I wish city officials “beautified” the school systems and economic opportunities as well. Instead of simply gentrifying neighborhoods–which increases economic vitality, but also increases real estate prices as well, and causes long-time residents to be pushed out, whether intended or not–real estate developers who partner with city officials should rebuild neighborhoods where there is more inclusion.

CeWw0MnVIAAglSI

7th Avenue. Borough of Manhattan, New York City.

The “other” side.

You Need to Fucking Focus

This is how you use the focus tool effectively. A couple of under-20 minutes graphic design projects I did earlier: (a) cover for a spoken-word + instrumental album, Binary Star, which I have yet to record *sigh*; (b) cover for a poetry chapbook, The Ghost in You, which I have yet to write *SIGH*.

Narita Notes

15-hour layover in Japan tomorrow. My perfect reading materials: PDF files of “Sputnik Sweetheart” and the original screenplay of “Lost in Translation” downloaded on my phone. I should get fucked up on saké at the airport bar while reading these.

I got bored and made a collage. Imagine if both of these writings were mashed and remixed. That would be kinda cool. Maybe that’s what I’ll do during my layover, and then make this the book cover. I mean, it’s not copyright infringement because it’s kinda like writing fan-fic, right? Tell me this isn’t “minimalist aesthetic” as fuck:

RES

This now-defunct magazine/film festival was actually instrumental in my decision to practice filmmaking. I bought this at my favorite used books store in the Philippines during my senior year of high school.

res


Side note: I also discovered a thick, lightly tattered post-modern poetry anthology at that same bookstore, which in turn changed the way I wrote poetry ever since, so I owe a lot to that shop.


I dreamed of screening my digital short films at RESFest one day. I had a lot of ambitions when I was 17. I planned on studying at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art); buy a hoopty and drive to Alaska from Texas; do volunteer work in South Africa; start my own jazz band; and open my own t-shirt shop.

Looking at this magazine reminds me of the youthful energy and idealism I had. When RES, both the magazine and the film fest, shut its doors in 2006, I still had hoped that it would come back sometime in the near future. Sadly, that day never came.

R.I.P. RES.

You inspired many young dreamers like me.

Poetic Discourse

[Note: a former version of this series was originally published in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, March 2014 Issue.]

Yeats - “Consume my heart away; sick with desire.” (Sailing To Byzantium)

 

I know her body so well that I can trace
the scars on her wrist with my fingers
and read her like a poem in Braille.

 

Frost - “For the wood wakes, and you are here for proof

 

I’ve played her laughter so often
on my turntable that I’ve composed
symphonies with it on frosted windows.

 

Blake - “Round the tombs where my loves lay.” (Broken Love)

Poe - “That like the murmur in the shell.” (Al Aaraaf)

 

I woke up to the morning call to prayer,
and the arch of your back was the first thing I saw.
If it had been a mirage, I would’ve photocopied
your image and taped it to reality.

– excerpt from War Correspondence, a book of verse.

 

Mark Strand - Wherever I am I am what's missing

 

Michael Raqim Mira © 2016.

Baby Hope Medina

I’m currently taking forensics and investigation courses online. One of the courses is about cold cases and missing persons, and one of the resources I came across was The Doe Network. It’s a grassroots, donation-funded database of missing persons and unidentified homicide victims. It’s quite prolific. For instance, it has missing persons reports in its archive dating back to the 1800s.

I’m actually planning to volunteer for them as a researcher. For those who are familiar with my work as a journalist, you’re probably aware that I’ve been working on a homicide case that happened here near Houston. To this day, the case is still unsolved. With that in mind, I searched through the database, which is organized by location, pertaining to cases in Texas.

One of the cases that struck me was that of a newborn who was left for dead in the middle of nowhere, with her umbilical cord still attached.

Baby-Hope-Medina

The name given to her was Baby Hope Medina, referring to Medina County, where her body was found. The name Baby Hope was originally the nickname of Anjelica Castillo, a four-year old girl from New York who was raped and murdered in 1991. Her body was not identified until 2013. Her cousin was later charged for her rape and murder.

The brief details about Baby Hope Medina’s death marinated in my mind. It was estimated that she could have died within a 24-hour period due to exposure. She was on Earth for 1 day, and then she was gone.

The way she died was too cruel. How can someone do this to a newborn baby? I start to feel bad for my dogs when they bark from my backyard when they get cold. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to oppress your basic instincts as a human being, as the parent of that child, to drive away and leave your crying baby in a cloud of dust.

Armed with only a vague description of where her body was found, I pinpointed the road on Google Maps.

3

It’s a skinny backroad–the kinds that cut through Texas like a million capillaries–and so I was surprised to find that it had a Street View. I “drove” down the road, looking for a possible memorial, not expecting to find one.

2

At first, I saw something to the left, within the brush, and realized it was just trash. I went up a little further, not even sure if I was going the right way. Suddenly, I saw it. It was the memorial, with flowers and a makeshift cross.

1

Now, I’m not sure if this truly is a memorial for Baby Hope Medina, or if another unfortunate soul met their end on that same dirt road, but I like to think it is.

I like to think that someone out there cares about her; that someone still takes the time to bring fresh flowers to her memorial site even after over a decade since her body was found; that someone honors the memory of a baby they didn’t even know personally.

I wonder if the mother has ever visited that memorial. I wonder if she’s the one who created that memorial out of guilt.

The tragic but somewhat relieving consequence of her death is that no one ever had the pleasure of seeing this infant, or got to see her grow up and reach her full potential as a human being on this planet, and yet her memory is treasured and honored by those touched by her brief life.

It’s strange. This post was supposed to be about Google Maps and how technology can be such a valuable, cost-free tool for researchers like myself. I was going to talk about how a Street View screenshot of a memorial more than 230 miles from where I live can provoke an emotional response–the Internet as a kind of spider web that connects past and present, the dead and the living.

But all of that geeky shit isn’t so important or relevant anymore. I simply had the urge, the need, to type her name; a name given to her because her mother never gave her one.

The Art of Capturing Human Emotions

I photographed the opening scene of a 1936 Mickey Mouse cartoon, titled The Moving Day, from YouTube, then superimposed the screen shots in pairs. I then searched for well-known paintings by three of my favorite painters: Caravaggio, Vincent van Gogh, and Francisco de Goya.

The corresponding paintings were not meant to match the cartoon screen shots exactly in a technical sense, but to draw comparisons in the facial expressions of the figures/subjects.

The point I was trying to make is that great art can convey a message, whether through traditional paintings or celluloid animation. Great art can also depict raw human emotions, even if the character is a mouse.

1_o

1b_o

“The Third of May 1808” by Francisco de Goya

2_o

2b_o

“Prisoners Exercising (after Doré)” by Vincent van Gogh

3_o

3b_o

“Judith Beheading Holofernes” by Caravaggio