What happens when the inmates run the asylum? Mark Aitken's forthcoming documentary "Dead When I Got Here" answers that question. It is a film about a Juárez, Mexico mental asylum where the patients are the administrators. I first saw excerpts from this film-in-progress at the flat of my friend Mark Pilkington who is composing the soundtrack. The striking images of madness, poverty, humanity, and hope have stayed with me. From the director's diary:
Just past the last junkyard on the curdled fringe of Juárez, Highway 45 begins to cut through open desert. Distant mountains frame scattered abandoned houses. Silent witnesses to thousands of people escaping poverty and violence or those dismissed in shallow graves. The US border is only several miles away. There’s good reason why a mental asylum run by its own patients exists here.
In 1998, ‘El’ Pastor Galvan, a street preacher from Juárez, started to build the asylum in the desert for the dispossessed. He called it Vision and Action.
‘We started with four rooms – abandoned houses without a roof. 25 patients and 2 donkeys – the donkeys where utilized to carry firewood to the kitchen. My wife was with me and she was the one who cooked and cleaned the dishes.‘
Some years later Juárez photographer Julian Cardona was driving down Highway 45 with his friend, writer Charles Bowden. Julian was going to take advantage of the late afternoon light to photograph a replica of the English Uffington White Horse etched into a mountain. The horse was paid for by Juárez cartel boss Amado Carrillo Fuentes, so called ‘Lord of the Skies’ because of his fleet of Boeing 727s.
While taking pictures they encountered people wandering the desert, draping mesquite bushes with blankets so as to burn off bloodsuckers in the sun. These people said they ran their own mental asylum nearby. The photographer and writer were amazed at what they found.
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Alex Wood is an addict but won’t give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: “I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I […]
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Loot Crate is a subscription service that delivers a box of curated pop culture goods to your doorstep. To sample their geeky wares, you can order a single mystery box exclusively from the Boing Boing Store.Each month Loot Crate sends you 6-7 unique items and apparel, including collectibles, books, and t-shirts. Pulling inspiration from all […]