Saturday, April 30, 2016

Peace and Hope pt. 5: El Caso Achinamiza pt. 2

Hey everyone! Here is something Peruvian for you all to enjoy! A video, in english! It's done to show you a short resume about the case I have seen. I recorded all the footage and interviews. To see more work you're probably gonna have to learn Spanish and visit the Paz y Esperanza youtube page:

Ch-ch-check it out!

Fired Up For Feminism

So, it's been eight months here in Peru. Eight. Months. Filled with good times, bad times, and pretty much everything in between. In a momentary look back I can safely say I did exactly what I said I wanted to do when I left the States. Grow up a bit. See more of the world. Become more *politically* mature.

In other words, we're taking a break from your regular programming to talk about AMERICAN problems. You know, the capitalist culturally imperialistic near-feudalist country my friend's communist brother likes to call it.


Well, I have a lot of issues that fire me up. You can imagine, as a proud Millenial, which ones they are but today I want to hone in on something important: Feminism. It's especially relevant cause I have this rad tee shirt from new production company More Feminist Comedy Please and it's soft. Like, I must be wearing what clouds wear as pajamas cause it feels so good. I'm gonna wear this shirt everywhere!

I have two sisters. One older and one younger. The younger one is currently a moody teenager and the older one is a twenty-something 'adulting' as best she can. I think now, more than ever, I can relate with them. I mean, before, when we were all like pre-teens we were pretty awful to each other. Alex poured hot sauce in my eye on purpose. I've often provoked Lilly to the point of tears. That was back then, now we do it to each other and it's a lot more about connecting in some (slightly disturbing) way. Hey! Say what you will but my sisters and I have very healthy relationships where we feel we can share just about anything with each other. I can't count the times I've gone to Alex or Lilly to blab about something and have them politely *listen* to me and vice-versa. Oh! And if anyone so dares to mess with my sisters God help the person because you can't imagine what I will do to defend them. Soooo, yeah. I like my sisters. I maybe even love them.

That means I want them to live in a world where they have just as many opportunities as me. I want them to be successful, live happy lives, and never ever be harassed by anyone. The last thing I want is for some man to judge them on their looks and say they don't deserve a job or a raise or vacation or (God forbid) more maternity leave (should they ever decide they want to work AND be a parent.) I definitely don't want them thinking their lives are confined to any one career or that housekeeping/child raising is their mainstay. Thankfully my sisters are already smarter than that so I never worry about them. They're also hella tough so me worrying is more about trying to save face and act like I can actually contribute something.

Some people have argued the pay gap is made up. There is a victim-blaming mentality surrounding sexual assault and that's before we get to court sentencing. Personally, I don't really want to hear it. I came particularly close to punching a hole in my wall when an acquaintance posted a "the pay gap doesn't exist" Facebook status. I had a friend basically talk me out of the green raging Hulk mode back to puny Daniel Pappas. They have the right to say these things and I have the right to disagree. Vehemently.

Look, let's put the statistics aside for a minute and just look at it on pure experience.

Like I said I grew up around women. I tend to get along particularly well with girls. It honestly took me forever to understand the "bro" mentality. I always thought it was weird when 'dudes' just started talking about 'dude things.' As if there was a difference between what guys talk about and what girls talk about (spoiler alert: there really isn't. At all.)

When I finally did catch on I hopped on the bro-train. I'm not entirely proud of it, but I have done and said a LOT of cliché 'Bro' things in the company of other men. I had a friend viciously remind me of what I was saying last summer and she made a very good point. If you don't think there's a sexism in our culture you only have to reflect on our words. And by 'our' I mean 'men' because when Men look back at what we say among each other we quickly realize it is not flattering at all.

Example: A groupchat between some friends of mine. 
- There was to be a party and they wanted to invite some members of the opposite sex because.... Well, girls are way more interesting to talk to than a bunch of guys who already spend way too much time together. 

- Someone said they were inviting a sports team and another one responded that these athletic women were gross. 
- The 'joke' continued that these athletes didn't like the guy either. 
- The conversation devolved from there until, when I finally checked it, the concept of 'scraps' was being thrown around.

Where was this coming from? I don't remember having a conversation so degrading. I corrected this conversation and the 'joke' died. Boys will be boys? Disgusting. Scraps? Who says that?

And yet, this isn't uncommon. "But I don't do that!" you might say. "Only messed-up men with problems would say something like that." you argue. America's a big country. Your little corner of 'polite respect' isn't the center of American pathos. You're not going to find a small community of sexist men and say they're the last remaining bastion of an old system. It's fair to say it's quite the opposite.

So what does this mean for me? 

Well, in the film industry women are extremely disadvantaged. Wanna be a forty year old 'over weight' (don't even get me started on image issues) woman comedian? Forget about it. Those are long shot odds. Why? Why are women romantic attachments to male protagonists? Why do so few movies pass the now-infamous Bechdel test? Women-led board rooms are prone to making much smarter decisions financially. Female-led comedies are an untapped market that's proving to wield economic weight. More female filmmakers, actors, writers, DPs, sound mixers, all of it. Make a protagonist a woman. You'd be surprised how little your story changes. Does this disadvantage me as a white male filmmaker? Hell if I know. I'd like to think I'm being judged on the quality of my work, not my sex or race. If a woman can do something better than me I perfectly understand her getting the job.

Bechdel Test Search

Women deserve equal treatment. They deserve to be both rewarded and punished equally. They deserve all the opportunities I have. Is it a utopic ideal? Listen, there are a lot of things I recognize as my youthful naïveté speaking and this isn't one of them. I don't ever want to live in a world where young men have conversations about 'scraps' and they're talking about my sisters or any of my female friends. There would be hell to pay.

So how do I lift myself out of this double-standard situation? Well, Aziz Ansari's character struggles with the same question in recent Netflix series "Master of None." What can a well-meaning guy do to help out? The vexing answer: Don't be an asshole.
Aziz getting knowledge bombs dropped on him.

Maybe you're struggling with a situation that's getting wildly out of control or you see something you don't know how to handle. Maybe it doesn't directly affect you but you want to help out. Ask yourself: What would I do if this was my sister? What would I say? It's as simple as that. I'm not advocating you start punching slightly creepy men around the office. I'd advocate you use protocol, tell somebody. Intervene directly if you have to but make sure you're doing it the right way. If you don't have any sisters then think about your closest friend-that's-a-girl. Don't have any friends that are female? Well then I truly pity you cause you are missing out on an incredibly enriching experience.


For those of you reading who are willing to write off my John-Oliver-Vice-News-binge-watching liberal agenda, well, I tried. Appealing to your good nature may not work, but if I ever catch you saying something or doing something I think is not conducive to male-female relations I 100% will call you out and not feel guilty. You have been warned.

In the meantime, I'm going to shamelessly plug the  It's Gonna Be Fine Productions team for their More Fem Com Please campaign. They are addressing this issue in a highly constructive manner. Comedy, obviously. But through film. They decided to make their own content to address this issue head-on. They're not out playing some cat-and-mouse-climb-the-ladder game so they can initiate change ten or twenty years down the road. They're doing it right here, right now. Not to mention the countless times they've helped me put together my projects. I won't lie: I write much differently now because of their influence.

Check out their website - It's Gonne Be Fine Productions
Buy some swag. Their tee shirts are smoother than a John Legend love ballad or Duke Silver jazz performance. Their films are comedic gold. (I know, I did some good work on Unemployed - although I didn't make the website credits.)

Thanks for reading this elaborate diatribe. If you disagree feel free to contact me. Me email should be somewhere on this page. Or just comment publicly (but don't be a jerk and post anonymously. If you're gonna call me out have the guts to do it in your own name.) Let's start a dialogue.

America, get ready, I'm fired up about your problems. Four months left to go. I'm coming home soon, and I'm coming home angry.

Daniel out.

*Mic drop*

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership


In 2005 the countries of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore reopened negotiations on their P4 trade deal. Designed to remove more tariffs between to strengthen economies other Pacific Rim countries saw the opporunity to get involved. Behind closed doors (and with as little attention as possible) twelve Pacific Rim countries (Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, USA, Canada, Mexico, VIetnam, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and Malaysia) negotiated a trade deal. The deal emphasized similar agreements made under the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 90s. This accord is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This past September the treaty finally reached an accord (after more than five years of negotiating). The Trans-Pacific Partnership, once finally negotiated, needs to be ratified by each countrys government before it can go into effect. The TPP is also structured to include more countries as the deal progresses and time passes.


Now what exactly does this TPP accomplish? Several factors are at play here. To understand its impact first understand the scope: the nations involved in the TPP contribute 40% of the worlds GDP. With that in mind the TPP aims to reduce tariffs between the countries to increase international competition and thus improve participating nation states economies. Industries from Pharmaceuticals to Telecommunications to Textiles to Automobile are affected by these changes. The Obama adminstration advocates it as an agent for retooling the US economy based on its higher value goods and servicess, a huge factor for private job growth, and a counter to China´s growing economic network.

In fact, a major element to this deal is the lack of Chinese presence in this deal.  American senators advocate this deal as a balance to China´s continually growing economic network. We openly reduce tariffs to several major countries China also trades with. The competition isn´t explicit, but this reinforcement of international relations does point to creating leverage against the output superpower. China has given mild support for the deal.

For those of you who don´t care to read about boring trade deals heres a nifty (particularly non-biased) video.

Proponents of the Trade deal point to its ability to navigate so many labor parties, differing industry standards. The Deal proposes more advantages for workers unions, efforts to abolish child labor, and the obvious trade benefits. With over 18,000 tariffs lifted (supposedly at once) the social gains addended to this treaty might appear to offset the economic negatives as yet to be mentioned.

And now a video demonstrating whats wrong

Right off the bat the Deal was negotiated in complete secrecy without any knowledge or awareness by the American (and Peruvian) public. A Trade Deal that is not only the largest made but also relying on foundations from NAFTA with an an Atlantic counterpart (The TTIP - an Atlantic Ocean version of the TPP partnering the US with several European and African nations.) Only recently have they published the whole text (buried in legalese no doubt). Prior to that only small sections were shared via WikiLeaks. The whole thing was negotiated in secret and designed to allow more international competition. 

Several of the provisions involved in this Trade Deal offer companies the chance to protest legislation they deem ¨unfair advantages¨ the video directly cites the provision where large corporations have the ability to take the governments to task over laws that ¨cause loss of profits.¨For countries where such legislation already stands on weak ground this will most certainly spell doom for laws designed to protect natural resources (anti-deforestation laws for example.) Companies now have more power to take an entire government to international court to pursue reparations for laws they deem harmful.

The World Trade Organization has no current role in the TPP. In fact, the WTO was largely ignored in the talks because it moves too slowly. In so doing, major companies are now held accountable by an international tribunal. While that might seem appealing understand that these companies are now only held in this court. Should they win their trial there is no provision for any other legal entity on the planet of Earth to hold them liable.

It strengthens the patent controls companies have. Pharmaceutical companies will hold tighter control over their patents giving them the ability to keep pill prices at unnecessarily high levels. A provision so harmful that Doctors Without Borders has denounced the TPP as harmful to human health.


To show how many current trade agreements there are currently.
The idea behind the TPP is to strengthen this international trade network by allowing companies more rights to encourage competition. While many criticize the power inernational companies already have, imagine giving them more. We essentially make it easier for American companies to do the kinds of practices we have found harmful to our economy and to our people: outsourcing jobs, stripping down acocuntability systems, and controlling access to commodities.

In Peru this deal gives alarming power to the Mining, Oil, Textiles, Fishing, and Agriculture businesses that already wield too much power. In a country where mining operations ruin entire cities for decades with little accountability or even foresight more power to corporations is the worst possible outcome. If this treaty passes in every countrys government, ¨profit¨ becomes the bottom line for international justice.

Presidential candidates of every variety have spoken out against this deal. In a predictable but still alarming way even Donald Trump (the candidate known for his words, and not his deeds) has clearly spoken out against the TPP. Granted, his agenda was to build American economy and prevent foreign investments in a slightly less jingoist or xenophobic rhetoric. I have to admit: If Donald Trump says its bad and most everyone agrees it has to be pretty bad.


Ask yourself, what would Christ advocate?

Proverbs 16:11
A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights of the bag are His concern.
God pays attention to this. I´m not advocating God has a direct role on trade. As an American the idea of commerce separated from religion is our ideal. Instead, God cares about the effects these deals have on people. Individuals. It would seem God´s message to us is that he is among us. So many cogs in the machine and God would remind us to advocate for the well being of the individual. The TPP proposes lots of immediate goods, but how beneficial can an international trade agreement be when it was made in secret with a very obvious agenda? These are not the signs of a just balance. There is more at stake than just economics. Consider again, what is going on in your country. Examine the consequences this deal could have, and find a way to support action against the TPP. I will be doing this all week!

Petition to tell Congress NO to the TPP

Gracias y Vaya con Dios

P.S. For anyone interested in reading directly from their website here is the TPPs American advancement website:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Vox Populi

Today marks a special day for Peruvians across the nation. Today Peru elects a president and several congress members. Ironically many Peruvians sentiments regarding their presidential election mirrors American sentiment about their own election: stuck between a rock and a hard place. That is to say, if a rock is the daughter of a manipulative war criminal sitting in prison for mass murder and manipulation of the press and a hard place was the fractured opposition to her (aka the other 9 candidates running against her and against each other.)

To demonstrate what I mean let's take a look at the top figures in this year's election:

The Rogues Gallery of Presidential Candidates
This list is in order from most popular to least popular, Top 5 of 10 candidates running.

*EDIT: The Election is now down to a run-off between Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski voting is on June 5th*

Keiko Fujimori

Facebook: 1 million+ likes
Twitter: 537,000 followers
Keiko Fujimori is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a prison sentence for corruption and murder.* While her father is seen as a symbol of dictatorship and human rights violations throughout the world, he is widely regarded within Peru as the president who implemented economic reforms which brought the country from hyperinflation and extreme poverty to being a regional star as well as restoring security in the face of Shining Path terrorism. While she reaps the benefit of nostalgia for her father and many Peruvians’ desire to return to a strong leader, there is an active and passionate anti-Fujimori movement among voters that will vote for anybody over her. But despite the obstacles and given crime is voters’ top issue in 2016, Keiko Fujimori is the candidate to beat in a runoff.

*If by murder and corruption they mean "wanton slaughter of innocent pueblo dwellers in attempts to wipe the Maoist terrorists off the map" and by corruption they mean "stole million of dollars from the State which paid for Keiko's education in the States" Let's not forget he also attempted to buy every single newspaper, radio, and television station in Peru to print propaganda about his administration.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Facebook: 749,000 likes
Twitter: 422,000 followers
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski served as a Cabinet chief, finance minister and mining and energy minister in the governments of Fernando Belaunde and Alejandro Toledo. He has also worked for the World Bank and in the private sector. Independently wealthy from an investment portfolio, “PPK” is the candidate for orthodox economics. The candidacy of former President Alejandro Toledo may have split the neoliberal vote in 2011 elections, in which Kuczynski did not qualify for a runoff after trailing President Ollanta Humala and second-place candidate Keiko Fujimori. While perceived as the least corrupt among all politicians with significant experience, Kuczynski’s greatest weakness lies in his 77 years of age. He does not deliver powerful speeches, and his ties to the United States can prove to be a liability among some segments of Peru.

Veronika Mendoza

Facebook: 207,000 likes
Twitter: 57,000 followers
After one term in Congress which saw her resign from the Peruvian Nationalist Party over a mining conflict in her native state of Cusco, Veronika Mendoza has emerged as one of the leading figures representing the left in Peru. Her populist message includes a 50% increase in government spending, withdrawing from free trade agreements and asserting Peru’s sovereignty over the interests of multinational businesses. While there is certainly a void in the race for a hard-left message, it may prove challenging in 2016 to win broad support in a country where many voters still remember the state-planned model which led Peru to economic crisis in the 1980s.

Alfredo Barnechea

Facebook: 332,000 likes
Twitter: 23,000 followers
Alfredo Barnechea is a former journalist and congressman who represents a more moderate liberal philosophy in a field dominated by center-right candidates before the disqualification of Julio Guzman and Cesar Acuña. Barnechea first became known as a television interviewer in the 1980s, when he also wrote a column for the magazine, Caretas. Barnechea was elected to Congress with the APRA party, but resigned when President Alan Garcia proposed nationalizing the banks. After his term, Barnechea obtained his master’s degree from Harvard and worked for the Inter-American Development Bank. Barnechea will look to qualify for a runoff in an election which would otherwise see two candidates who differ little in economic policy. As a center-left moderate, Barnechea’s greatest challenge looking forward lies in differentiating himself between the two leading neoliberals in Fujimori and Kuczynski.

Alan Garcia

Facebook: 178,000 likes
Twitter: 366,000 followers
Alan Garcia is a two-time former president with Peru’s oldest political party, APRA. His first term from 1985 to 1990 was marked by hyperinflation and economic isolation due to his refusal to service international debt obligations as well as citizen insecurity given an advancing guerrilla rebellion. For his second term, Garcia abandoned the populist rhetoric to implement business-friendly policies* at a time when Peru saw solid growth during a strong commodity cycle. The world-class orator and head of the country’s strongest political machine faces challenges due to an increasing perception of corruption given his parties ties to drug trafficking. The “narco-pardons” scandal, in which imprisoned drug traffickers paid APRA officials in exchange for presidential pardons, is also an incredible obstacle in a year which crime is voters’ top concern. As he faced the highest anti-vote among all the candidates, Garcia forged an alliance with the Lourdes Flores’ Popular Christian Party, a longtime APRA rival and the country’s second strongest political machine. But the alliance may have done more harm than good among each party’s rank-and-file who refuse to support the other party.
*Policies which came at the direct cost of territories owned by Pueblos here in San Martin as well as all across the country. I would like to note he also publicly said on television that Native Pueblos in Peru are "not even human" and are "dogs" when discussing a public protest-turned massacre in Bagua in 2009.
Source: (literally copy and pasted -
After reading about each candidate you can see how Peruvians feel jaded about their options. As if that wasn't enough the run-up to this election has been fraught with disqualifications, scandals, and contention enough to give a Republican National Convention cause for concern.
Initially there were 19 candidates running for President (imagine having to choose 1 of 19 candidates!). Many dropped out after their party's support reached less than a single percentage point. The election council for Peru also disqualified two major players for corruption: Julio Guzman and César Acuña. The expulsions of candidates who, in a run-off against frontrunner Keiko Fujimori, Guzman would have won (Acuña less likely so) appeared all too convenient. When Keiko herself went before the council on charges of fraud Easter week the deliberation lasted much longer. The result: Keiko Fujimori was pardoned of all charges at 12:05 a.m. on Good Friday (a move which seems to declare an intent to hide their verdict.) The elimination of opposition and trial-by-fire exhoneration for Keiko Fujimori hammered home the nail in the coffin of Peruvians confidence in their electoral process. The process looks rigged. The Peruvian people don't watch House of Cards because, in their circumstance, life imitates art probably too much.

So where does that leave the populace? Current projections expect Keiko Fujimori to advance to a second run-off in June, but against who is the aching question Peruvians want to find out. Veronika Mendoza? Too young. Too left-leaning for a weaker Peruvian economy. Pedro Pablo Kuscynzki? A man too old to deliver triumphant speeches and who's last name is synonymous with Gringo-ness. Alan Garcia? A former president who not only delivered the Peruvian state into the greatest level of inflation ever seen in the world ever in history (I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not). Does this sound familiar to you Americans?
I sympathize with my Peruvian friends. While their electoral process doesn't winnow down candidates like America does the Peruvian presidential candidates appear just as crazy as their American counterparts. So much so that while American presidential nominees have earned their Game of Thrones comparison the Peruvian candidates earned their Simpson's look alike. Both sets of would-be Presidents earn their comparisons to American-pop culture figures.
I don't normally repost Vice News articles. Their penchant for shock news or hyperbolic reporting doesn't lend them too much credence in the nonbiased category for me personally. This might be one of the only times I'd say Vice News completely nailed it, and that was before Guzman and Acuña got the boot. You can compare Hillary Clinton to Cersei Lannister all you want, but nothing she has ever said or done can come closer to Cersei's actions than Keiko Fujimori. I could have sworn her replacement of her mother helped inspire the Game of Thrones character. 
Seriously though, all defamation aside many Peruvians remember the bloodshed her father Alberto Fujimori caused in the 90's and early 2000's. Tuesday April 4th was a national protest day remembering the crimes of Fujimori and his equally atrocious advisor Vladimir Montesinos specifically his forced sterilizations of over 300,000 indigenous women. When Alberto Fujimori's wife spoke out against her husband's atrocities he had her tortured and declared mentally insane. Keiko Fujimori, complicit and knowing of her father's actions , replaced her mother as First Lady at the age of 19. Years later she would attend U of Columbia in the States to receive her education - paid for by state funds robbed of the State by Alberto. Falling so close to the election day a general protest of the Fujimori in Lima brought in 50,000+ people to the city centers (and that's in the capital. Protests took place in cities all over Peru.)
The things only Ted Cruz could envision in his dreams and Donald Trump would "joke" about - Keiko Fujimori was party to.  At the current rate Peruvians can only hope Keiko faces a "worthy adversary" in her run off in June. I was (semi) joking that if Keiko won presidency she'd follow in her father's footsteps and shutter congress, assume dictatorship and YAV would have to forcibly yank us out of the country (I was assured by my coworkers the situation is currently implausible.) 
I haven't even expressed staunch opinions on Alan Garcia or Alejandro Toledo (Toledo is running for President from a jail cell after being accused of corruption.) Do I seem fired up about it? You betcha. Peruvians even more so. In Peru no Peruvians are allowed to drink alcohol for 48 hours prior to elections (meaning every bar has been closed down since midnight on Friday.) The day of voting people aren't allowed to congregate in large numbers (hence no church service in the morning.) Peruvian people are fined a hefty fee if they don't vote, and if they leave a ballot unmarked (or improperly blank) it counts towards the candidate with the most support. These are all laws left over from the Days of Terror in the State. It hasn't stopped some Peruvians from speaking out in harmful ways:
People will be watching today as we learn who will triumph and who will fail. I will be praying. Please note: the blog will update after the election announcements to show the final results. 

P.S. Here's an interesting article about a current sex worker who is running for member of Congress under Veronika Mendoza's party:

Saturday, April 2, 2016

In Memoriam - Roland Adcox

Roland Adcox was a man I’d heard about before I ever knew, but when I met him I didn’t know it was him.

Back at Parish Episcopal School his father teaches English. In fact, I had his father for a home room advisor my freshman year. Plenty of fellow students discounted him for his calm, quiet manner. He often used jokes that were severely dated. He had that way of starting a story and if no one was interested maybe he wouldn’t finish. Sometimes he brought us donuts. I was still new to this whole High School thing but Mr. Adcox was a curiosity. It wasn’t until I asked him for help with my Huckleberry Finn report did I realize the depths of his knowledge. He’d talk about his son every now and then. I didn’t realize that, when I graduated high school and attended SMU for Film that his son was doing the very same thing, at the exact same time.

Roland had this way of speaking: a soft-whisper laced with overtones as if at any second he could raise his voice (he never did). He spoke slowly, with a stuttered pace when he was upset and often his hands trembled. He considered every word before he said it, and often reconsidered words after he’d said them. He took strong positions often about music or movies.

Shawshank Redemption was his favorite drama, Wayne’s World his favorite comedy. He was the single greatest Simpsons enthusiast/apologist I’ve ever known. He could do incredibly accurate impressions of Christopher Walken or Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone. He could give definitive opinions on every season of SNL (John Belushi was a God, Eddie Murphy was society’s most necessary critic.) He always wore this cardigan sweater over a band tee shirt and some jeans when he came to work. He never seemed to sleep much, but those restless dreams fueled his creativity.

Roland wanted to act. I don’t think it mattered too much to him whether it was theater or film. He seemed to love the camaraderie of rehearsing a play, and the inventiveness of a young filmmaker. He always worked in the cage. That’s the place where Students borrow film equipment from the school to make their shorts. Trevino, Russell, Nicky, all different managers of the Cage but Roland was a constant. It was his anchor so to speak. Thus by always working in the cage (near all the film classes) he was savvy to help out if teachers needed a test subject or a short monologue or a scene partner. It kind of became a running joke: Roland was in everyone’s films whether he was center stage or on the wings. That’s how a lot of new students got to know him. The guy who was in everything. He was often backup, and he always came when he was much needed. Maybe you had an actor blow you off or you needed extras. Call Roland. I once had to step in on an ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ scene where Parker (my friend, the director) called Roland around sometime like 9 o’clock at night asking him if he could come lead this fake meeting and be an extra in his film. There was never any money in it for him (we never had money in our budgets to pay our actors) but we could offer food. He’d show up, fifteen to twenty minutes later with wardrobe he’d brought and Red Bull to keep him awake. He was as constant as the sun.

My senior year of college I took a job working in the Film Cage the last semester of my senior year (I wish I’d taken it first semester my freshman year to be honest.) That was the year Roland served as our interim Cage manager. It’s appeared that SMU’s Film Department couldn’t keep the position occupied for more than one school year for a surprisingly wide variety of reasons. This year it was Roland’s term to take the job he’d spent four years observing. He was a good fit as an interim cage manager since he knew the people. He didn’t have to know the equipment, he knew the policies inside and out. Maybe he couldn’t tell you how many watts each light in the Arri Kit carried but he knew that if a light bulb was broken you better explain yourself. He knew enough carpentry, basic mechanical engineering to repair small things and knew when to request somebody else do it. He was a natural stand-in. 

You could always tell though, that the job unnerved him. It wasn’t the responsibility so much as the pressure created around him. He could be good at his job or he could be everyone’s favorite. He struggled daily to balance those two and suffered for it. Too often he seemed wild-eyed after a meeting with the faculty probably for being gently reprimanded for doing something wrong. I sympathized. One semester in that place and you realize: freshmen are idiots who can’t plan ahead, true film people shine bright early on, and not everyone can be your friend.

He had damn good taste in music. He grew up in a flurry of rock music’s growth. He always played a lot of classic rock (Led Zeppelin specifically) but he enjoyed grunge intensely. Did you know he’d been to Bonnaroo twice before? I think he mentioned Lollapalooza but I could be wrong. He always talked about Pearljam and his devotion to Nirvana was the closest thing to a religious stance I ever saw him give. I think he sympathized with Kurt Cobain in that he suffered for his art, and not everyone understood him.

If music was his muse then movies were his passion. Here was a man who’d seen some of the cinematic greats and never failed to wax poetic about them. For those of us who grew up not knowing the Godfather, well, it was almost required watching if you wanted to work in the Cage. Roland always called himself the ‘Godfather of the Cage’ since he’d been around long after the department changed managers and always joked he’d be around much longer.

To that effect Roland didn’t always seem the most stable. I don’t want to insult his memory but approaching his character, who he was, you could see quickly that he had dark moments. Roland had this beautiful talent for simplifying everything. It was a gift and a curse really. On the one hand he could take your problem and make it easy to solve. On the other hand he would talk as if the world conspired against him when something didn’t work out.

His world vision was so simple sometimes that he could take things personally when they weren’t intended. He was prone to sweeping declarations. He’d once previously declared a photograph he’d taken “the single greatest piece of art [he] has ever made and will ever make.” (That’s verbatim I promise.) The kind of declarations that made you wonder. After he left the Cage at SMU… Those were more of his dark moments. And he never filtered his speech. He was beautiful, painfully honest about his thoughts. He often shared them on Facebook and sometimes they were hard to read. He said a lot of things we know he didn’t fully mean, but that he wanted to share and share it he did.

Paula Goldberg, one of our mutual professors (and his inspiration) described him perfectly in one sentence: “He was always more kind to others than he was to himself.” I don’t think you could say it any better than that. Roland was the person people trusted to talk to. He listened when you spoke. Often he’d go out of his way to greet you, see if you were okay. Stories pop up here and there about how he noticed someone suffering and addressed them, despite the fact that it’s counterintuitive to some of us. If you looked like you were in distress he’d check on you, even if it made him look perhaps too involved or too caring. He’d be the bad guy and be happy he was wrong, as long as he could help others. People I don’t know often say he showed them a minute kindness that changed either their day or the entire course of their lives. Unfortunately he never quite offered himself the same solace.

Roland Clayton Adcox (His stage/film name was Roland Clayton) was many things. He was a music lover, a cinephile in the truest sense. He was honest and troubled. He was staunchly proud of his Irish heritage, but too well-versed in self-deprecating humor. He was an aspiring actor often laid low by competition, but he never let that prevent him from enjoying the work he did.

I hope, with his passing, he gets the opportunities he always dreamed of: playing guitar with Kurt Cobain, getting to know Marlon Brando, sharing quite a few drinks with Ernest Hemingway, and having a smoke with Tennessee Williams.

 He was our rock, more than we ever realized or gave credit for. Roland was a person we loved having in our lives, even if he didn’t know it, and with his passing our world is just that much darker. 

Roland, man, we never did get that drink but tonight I’m toasting you. Thank you for blessing my life. I’ll never forget you.