Monday, June 25, 2007

Let's just get on with the program

I know, I know. I am a liar. I am sorry. I had a busy weekend. Let's get on with it.

Even before we started working on this film, I often chided people for their senseless consumption. One of the items that, to me, seemed (and still does, to the extent that we NEED them) to me to be a bit unnecessary, was cell phones. I know, they make the world smaller, they help us stay in touch, they make sure we are never out of reach if something bad happens. When I start preaching about the perils of cell phone use my aunt often reminds me that if I had possessed a cell phone that one time I got a flat tire when I was 17, it wouldn't have been so scary. I guess it is hard to argue against that point, but given the fact that a cell phone wasn't able to change my tire for me, I still don't think it made much of a difference. In any event, I don't really like cell phones. I find them intrusive, annoying, cumbersome, and terribly inappropriate in movie theatres. The new advent of internet/cameras/music/instant messaging all in your pocket I find particularly irritating, which is why I resisted in getting a phone with bells and whistles as long as possible. If I had to have a phone, I wanted one that made and received calls and little else. This was, of course, until my phone stopped working.

Much to the chagrin of me, and much to the delight of those around me, I was forced to get a new phone last week. Luckily I was in line for a new one through my service provider, so it didn't cost me any money, and it does come with a few extra things. It has a camera (haven't used yet) and supposedly superior internet capabilities (don't plan on using). With all of the wonderful features that came with the phone came a problem: what do with with the old one. Simply by virtue of the fact that I am an environmentally conscious individual, and that I am preaching those values to you all, I cannot simply throw it away, nor do I even want to. As a result, I have spent the last week or so casually looking for a way to recycle it.

I wish I could say that recycling my cell phone was as easy as recycling the bottles and cans which inhabit my 2nd garbage can in the kitchen. Unfortunately, there are very few places where one can actually go in person to drop off one's phone, and see that it will be turned into tin cans, batteries, aluminum cans, mattress springs, etc. I was getting frustrated until I found Chapter 730 of the New York State laws of 2006, requiring:

businesses to accept up to 10 cell phones from any person or provide shipping for those phones.

This is following a trend of companies taking responsibility of their e-waste, something that has already been dealt with on this site. I guess this makes my search easy: all I have to do is walk into my nearest Sprint dealership with a copy of NY State law, and demand that they accept my old phone. It may be the only thing involving my phone I am proud to do.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Embarrassed, but Well Rested.

First off, I am sorry. It has been well over a month since my last broadcast from Wasteland Land, and that isn't right. I can imagine by now the only person to whom I am writing is some poor overweight Blogger employee who has to peruse all of these crappy blogs. Sorry, my friend. I can't really speak for Wes, who appears to be having a good time in Ecuador.

At least he doesn't have to wipe today

As for myself, I have a kind-of good excuse. I was finishing things up for a music video (check back at Rosenblog for updates) and getting back to work so that I can continue to pay rent in my Brooklyn palace. Other than that, it has been just supreme laziness. The weather here is still tolerable, and I have been trying to spend as much time outside as possible until it gets nasty.

To make up for it though, I am going to go on a bit of a tear. I have some nice things Wasteland related brewing, which I will share with everyone starting tomorrow. This weekend will be like the Sunday Times; way too much information to take in at once, but riviting journalism. Maybe it will just be the former. With more spelling and gramatical errors. Hey, I didn't earn that film degree to construct sentances good.

Keep it locked, I will see you (hello? is this thing on?) tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2007

No Complaint Man

Since we have started this project, one of the items that keeps coming up over and over again is the current behavior of Colin Beaven, AKA No Impact Man. I want to go on record right now and say that I definitely (DEFINITELY) plan on pursuing Mr. Beaven for an interview for our film. I love what he is doing, I read his blog almost every day, and I think he will make a fantastic addition to the film. That b said, we are on a bit of a shooting hiatus over here. Wes is gallivanting around the part of the world where it's currently winter, I am finishing up a music video, and Danny is ripping his hair out trying to make something great from the minimal materials with which he was provided.

Again: I want NIM (No Impact Man. Clever, right?) in the movie, but since he will be doing his experiment for another 9 months, there really isn't much rush.

Not that he needs my plugs, but go read the No Impact Man blog. It is funny and interesting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wasteland Off Topic: Bees

I would like to start a little feature here at the ole' Wasteland blog where every once in a while we talk about something not necessarily related to our film. Don't get me wrong, Wes and I are spectacularly self involved and want the attention on us and our project as much as possible, but something it feels important to talk about something besides our movie. The only rule is that it must have something to do with the environment; it can be laws, news, or even just a simple anecdote about it. So here we go with our inaugural Wasteland Off Topic segment

As reported fabulously by the New York Times, bees are disappearing all over the world. Though they have been doing so for decades, it appears that scientists are completely befuddled, and they think they are on the verge of something pretty serious. I told this to a friend of mine over the weekend, and she all but jumped out of her chair in celebration. While some people may see this as an end to some kind of annoyance, especially here in New york during the summer months, it would be a catastrophic loss for humans. As is noted in the article, bees are the most important of all insects for the food chain. They pollinate the crops that turn into the food that we eat, and scientists have been unable to copy that process artificially. Though the article all but refutes the claim made by Bill Maher on Sunday that cell phones are causing bees to lose their navigation system, it does seem to indicate that the problem very well may be man made. Pesticides, anti-weed sprays on crops and pollution are among the 'mind boggling' amount of possibilities. It is an interesting and frightening read.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wasteland Reading List

As many of you may know, this operation of ours got started from reading some books. Now, hold on a second, I know what you're saying: "Aaron, Wes, come on. Why would I sit and read a bunch of books when I can just wait for your awesomely entertaining, funny, informative, thought provoking movie to come out?" First of all, I don't think that "awesomely" is a word, secondly, the movie will not be done for some time, and I imagine that you can read all of these books twice before it comes out. Finally though, all of the information that we have, and will acquire comes originally from the pages of these books. If you have any suggestions, go ahead and leave them in the comments.

Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte

This is the one that started it all. Wes read this book a few years ago, gave it to me, I read it and we both agreed that there was an interesting movie here. This is the story of a woman named Elizabeth who decided she wants to follow her trash to find out where exactly it goes after she puts it on her curb. What she finds is at times funny, and at other times frightening as she travels all over the east coast following her garbage.

Wasteland Rating: ***** (out of 5)

The Overspent American by Juliet Schor

This book gave us a really interesting perspective on our story. We realized we couldn't really tell the story of garbage in America without first examining where all that garbage comes from. It explains how and why Americans buy so much, but is incredibly well written, well informed and always entertaining. Read in conjunction with Garbage Land a cycle of buying and disposing begins to emerge.

Wasteland Review: ***** (out of 5)

Bronx Ecology by Alan Hershkowitz

Dr. Hershkowitz is a scientist at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and this book documents his attempt to build a fully integrated environmentally safe paper recycling plant in the Bronx in New York City. The book has patches that may not be of interest to someone who is, say, not an expert in water studies, or a chemical engineer. The last half of the book, however, which talks about the plant's ultimate demise is a fascinating read, and gives a great insight as to why being a practical environmentalist is so difficult. Local government, corruption, big business and special interest get in the way of something that could truly provide for the community.

Wasteland Review: *** (out of 5)

Toxic Exports by Jennifer Clapp

I just received this book in the mail from Jennifer this week, so I will have to get back to you on this.

Wasteland Review ***** (out of 5)*

*Review based solely on Jennifer's fantastic interview she gave to Wes and me up in Canada.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where From Here???

Sorry to not post in awhile. I was hanging out at Joshua Tree last week with my family.

I want to suggest to any of you that read this blog regularly to check out the new edition of Vanity Fair, the one with Leonardo Dicaprio. He has a film called, "The 11th Hour," coming out soon, and it should be an interesting look at the environmental impact of humans on the planet. There are also some fabulous articles about the structure of the current administration's cabinet members, including those in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) right now.

The scary thing is that despite the fact that Aaron and I are making this film with no preconceived notions about what the best way to deal with garbage is, the EPA has been resoundingly silent. We have contacted Roxanne Smith, the press liaison for landfill oversight and Superfund cleanup, and the extent of our talks has been running in circles. The EPA is refusing to do any interview because they say that waste dumping experts are all working for the corporations that dump your trash, not the EPA. Unfortunately it is the EPA who is responsible for making sure that these private companies get rid of your stuff without bending the rules. It is the EPA who is supposed to make sure that our landfills don't leak into rivers and lakes, and that hazardous waste is dealt with properly.

What is the motive for the EPA to not talk with us? We are not trying to attack them. We only want to hear about what is being done in America to combat the amounts of waste created by Americans. If you go to the EPA website, you can look up all of the Superfund site cleanups they are currently involved in. Most are old landfills that are now leaking, so why wouldn't our federal oversight for these private landfills be more than willing to explain just how waste can be dealt with so to stop the eventual problem of leaky landfills that pollute our country?

Could it be that many appointees to the EPA (not to mention a variety of other departments in the Federal Government) had formerly worked for private corporations that fought the EPA's attempts to restrain their abilities to pollute? In fact most of the people that work within the EPA are most likely afraid of exposure to the larger problem of corruption and cronyism within the EPA. When former employees of corporations that run landfills and garbage disposal services begin to run waste oversight at the EPA, there is a problem. I have no issue with scientists making sure the science of waste management is being run properly, but when science is run by corrupt politicians bought and paid for by corporations, something needs to change.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Why go to the movies?

We have some more work ahead of us, and there should be another one of these coming by the end of the night. Wes will be going to South America, and I will be going to LA, and the fate of our film will be in the very component hands of Danny Brothers. This will be our last contribution for a while. Please send it to your friends and let us know what you think.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

We've Been Busy

Please, please, please send this to your friends/families/girlfriends/boyfriends/ex-girlfriends/ex-boyfriends

Oh, and leave some comments and let us know what you think. There will be some more of these coming in the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Shane Conrad, Party of One

We also wanted to tell you that this stunningly handsome man Shane Conrad is our new producer. This basically means that we tell him we are about to do something dangerous, possibly violating some international treaty, and then he hangs up the phone and tells our parents and friends that we are geniuses. Thus we think are sure he is the man.

The Great White North

You all remember that picture fromt he last blog where I was below the Syracuse shirt? Well I must say that if you ever decide to go to Syracuse, you can skip eating at The Acropolis. Not the best eggplant Parmesan sub. In fact I am pretty sure that the chef was repainting the kitchen in between fixing up our food. Anyway, Syracuse was a bit disappointing, yet the drive their was something to remember.

Knuckles gripped to the steering wheel, white with desire, Senor Rosenbloom drove like a Canadian to a keg party full of free Molson and showroom snowmobiles. We made quick time to the border at Niagara Falls. Here we passed by a massive dump owned by Allied Waste (more pictures tomorrow of it as I have to shoot the video in the morning). This happens to only be about one "kilomile (that roughly translates as "super ultra mile" for you Americans that know nothing about the metric system)" from the Love Canal, a site of major hazardous waste dumping. When we got to the border, the woman inspecting our passports seemed to grin a bit when I told her our documentary was about garbage. With great comedic timing Aaron gave her this look...

...I diffused the situation by telling her that we were in the country to interview Professor Jennifer Clapp at The University of Waterloo, and that my friend would not harm her as long as she said the Cubs would win ... eventually. So on our way we went to Waterloo, flanked nearby by the great Canadian city of Guelph.

Our interview with Jennifer today was fantastic.

She covered a whole range of topics including globalization and waste distancing around the world. Jennifer also spoke about our ecological shadow, or the simply what is happening to the planet as a result of our economic progress when only measured in terms of GDP.

Very interesting footage that I will promise once again will be online by the weekend. And one interesting tid bit is that Toronto exports it's garbage into the United States, specifically eastern Michigan. We thought it interesting that America exports garbage to China, and Canada exports to the U.S. But then we realized we were talking about Eastern Michigan, and we forgot the whole thing and drove to Toronto.

Toronto is a beautiful city with a weather problem. Currently this is the way I am dealing with it...
Aaron and I have been doing this for a bit, and talking about how much we would love to be back in Brooklyn soon to edit all this awesome footage. Aaron also has declared that hostels are like FUBU for British people. All I know is that our room smells British, and I don't like it. Were back to America tomorrow, but not before I go get myself thrown out of another shopping mall, and Aaron tells some Canadians that he will eat their children. Peace, and God Bless Us All (in America).

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Live Blogging: Waterloo, Ontario (Canada, ay)

Wes and I left Brooklyn this morning at around 10:00AM, and just arrived in our hotel room at 8:15PM, Canada time. We had a nice drive through parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and then back through upstate New York. We had a pit stop for lunch in Syracuse, which frankly left something to be desired.

We headed back up and finally arrived into the Great White North, where we can contribute with our own greatness and whiteness.

Tomorrow we have an interview with Jennifer Clapp, a professor at the University of Waterloo in, well, Waterloo. She is an expert on the waste stream, waste disposal, and other topics in which I have almost no interest. It should be a good interview, and we are excited to wrap up the first part of our trip.
Stick with us, and we should have some video clips coming up soon.

Heading North

After another several days of shooting in New York (and one cancelled interview) we are heading into the home stretch as we take off for Waterloo, Ontario today. We have out passports, our friendly attitudes, and our lukewarm feelings for hockey packed. Pitures of Wes doing stupid things on the way...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

NY to Boston and Back

Hi friends. Aaron woke me up this morning and got pouty faced about being the only one that ever contributes to the blog. So friends, let me take you on our journey of the past few days. Having been repeatedly removed from public spaces in malls in both New York and Massachusetts, I can say for certain that these days are troubling for the enterprising young documentary filmmaker. Fortunately our filming in malls has become refined, and by refined I assure you I mean Aaron runs interference as I continue to steal footage without getting arrested.

In NY we went filming over at the Atlantic Ave. mall, and then did some time lapse stuff over in Times Square and Union Square. It is fascinating to see the array of advertisements that literally make Times Square look like Disneyland. Should make for some pretty amazing footage.

The following morning we left for Boston, and with the help of our friend Greg got settled in the old city. Boston College is home to Professor Juliet Schor, author some amazing books like The Overspent American and Born To Buy. She has done in depth research into the lives of Americans and their relationship to money and the stuff they buy. If you have not read either of these books, I would suggest you go to the book store this weekend. The interview was really amazing, and we should be able to put up some excerpts from it quite soon.

Aaron and I just want to thank all of you that have helped us thus far. The filming is going spectacularly, and will only get better with interviews in New York and Toronto later this week. Keep checking back for some time lapse shots and interview bits coming soon. Until then, think about this...

America landfills enough garbage every year to fill a hole the size of a football field (including end zones I believe) that would be about 100 miles deep. Just food for thought.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So much to blog, so little time

Days 1 and 2 in the books for the initial part of Wasteland. We have done a spectacular amount of walking considering Wes lives in LA and I am out of shape. It has been good though, and it sure is exciting to be on the case again. Before we leave for Boston to interview Juliette Schor, I wanted to show you some pics, and tell you what we have been up to.

We interviewed Elizabeth Royte in Brooklyn on Monday, and it was a terrific interview. She talked a bit about recycling, garbage, waste disposal, why we throw away so much, and many other topics covered in her fascinating book Garbageland. I highly recommend you read it.

Wes shot some stuff that will come out looking like trash (what else is new?).

Don't forget, our film is also about consumerism, and what better place to start than the ugly reality of Times Square. We shot around the area, took some photos and some video that will fit nicely in the trailer. Also, Wes likes the bright lights. It is the flame to his moth. Ugly moth.

We shot a really excellent time lapse piece in Union Square, we are going to try and have it up very soon. It is far more attractive than this picture, I promise you.

We shot some garbage trucks driving around, and some metal being disposed of. It is going to look wonderful, I promise.

We finished off day 2 with some fantastic time lapse stuff along the promenade in Brooklyn Heights. We haven't seen any of it yet, but we are pretty sure it will look gorgeous.

We are off to Boston today, where there will be more exciting blogging and storytelling. My roommate Steve told me of a pretty good burrito spot, and you know how us California folk feel about Mexican food.

Until then.....

Monday, March 26, 2007

So it begins

Day 1, things get off to a good start. Wes and I got going on finding a location, which we do relatively quickly. We loved this place:

It is an alley on 4th St and Bond st in Brooklyn, right near the Gowanus Canal. This is the spot for our interview with Elizabeth Royte, which happens today at around 2PM.

Sunday we went on a little shopping trip to get some essentials. We went to the spectacular B&H Photo store in Manhattan and loaded up. Once we got home we noticed the amount of packaging and trash that came with everything, and we decided to share it.

The small stack on the right is the stuff we bought. A tripod case (with tripod inside), a small pelican case for sound equipment, and the sound equipment inside. The pile of junk on the right is all of the packaging that will be thrown away. Granted the cardboard can be recycled, as can the plastic, but the box full of styrofoam, and the styrofoam box that came with the sound gear will all just be thrown away.

Anyway, we get started shooting today, and should have some fun videos up soon. Keep checking back, we will try to update as often as possible.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Off we go

Wes arrives in NYC tonight, and this weekend we scout for our first interview, with Garbageland author Elizabeth Royte on Monday, and then from there we are on hyperspeed. Over the next couple of weeks we will be in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Boston, Ottowa and Syracuse, NY. It will be a crazy trip, and we will try and update as much as we can with daily journal entries and pictures. Stay with us, and hopefully it will be as much fun to read about as it will be to shoot.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We found ourselves an editor

Hello friends, on the production side of this little film of ours, we found an editor who will be in this for the long haul with us. He is the fantastically competent Danny Brothers. He is a NYC based editor who also works as a producer/director (don't they all). You can check him out here, here and here. And also here.
He is a fantastic filmmaker and we are thrilled to have him aboard.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Other Side Of The Water

I have owned 5 different computers int he past 6 years. Either they broke, became outdated, or I just craved having the new thing and replaced the old. It has come to my attention that we have not been putting the puzzle pieces together as a nation about where all of our old cell phones, laptops, computer monitors, and other electronic waste goes after we have replaced them.

Most of our computers are made and manufactured in Asia, then shipped across the Pacific to our living rooms here in America. We use these products in our daily lives, and most people would argue and say that a cell phone is an essential item. I am not one to argue as I might have spent many an hour wandering aimlessly through Agora Hills looking for shooting locations had I not had a cell phone to communicate with others. Cells phones and computers are a fact. Millions of people are not going to suddenly rid themselves of their electronic counterparts, so we need to find a way to exist with them, and yet demand that the companies that make them become more responsible with what is done with them after their usefulness has run out.

Some companies like Dell have buy back programs where you can repack your computer and send it back to them for dismantling. Unfortunately, since the US makes it expensive to dump toxic chemicals into the earth, these companies often send our computer parts back to where they came from... Asia. In China and India there are thousands of small children that make their living taking apart our old cell phones, computers, and monitors. They recycle them and extract the precious metals from their inner-workings. I have seen over an hour of footage from members of Greenpeace that have shot video of these children taking the things apart. These parts have things like mercury, and cadmium, and other substances very harmful to anyone not using protective equipment. Needless to say, the children are using their bare hands and small chisels, while working on a concrete floor.

The point is, think before you buy, and think before you dispose. I am not one to tell you to not buy the new laptop. Just remember that when you buy something, ask where it comes from, how it gets manufactured, and where you can send it when the new machine is available for purchase. If we want to consume in America, then it should be America that carries the burden of it's own waste, not shipping it across the ocean to a nation who has enough of the public severely under the poverty line that they welcome our detritus.

What if the picture above was that of an American child?

Less to throw away, with pictures!

Since deciding to embark on this project and after reading Elizabeth Royte's fantastic book Garbageland, I have been looking for ways to change my life in terms of what I throw away. I think I have stumbled upon two relatively simple ways that I can succeed, and they are things that everyone can do. Firstly whilst depositing a check at the bank today, I noticed that I was the only person who did not request a receipt after my transaction. I never do, mainly just because I don't want a paper record of what I am doing at the bank. Someone might find it in the garbage, steal my identity and start spending all of my money. Don't worry, it wouldn't go far. Then I realized I can kill two birds with one stone here: if I don't ask for a receipt, it is less to throw away. Imagine if everyone you knew didn't take a receipt from the ATM. I have no idea how to calculate that, except to ask everyone at the bank to put their receipt in a bag and weigh it (is that creepy?), but it seems like it can cut down on an awful lot of trash.

I also decided to start paying my bills online. At first this seemed like a shady idea, what with all of the hackers and online terrorists out there looking for my bank information. However I found an option that not only allows me to not write checks (which will eventually be thrown away), but it also stops sending the bills to my house, which I always throw away, or keep for some time then throw away. In the interest of the film, I guess I could keep going with the bills-in-the-mail to see how much I am reducing in a year, but I would rather feel like I am making a difference now.

Enough of that optimism. I would like to leave you with some disturbing pictures. These are images that I am sure Wes and I will revisit during the film, so you can get a preview of what we are after. This is a pile of garbage I saw while shooting in a building in Midtown Manhattan. This is the garbage accumulated in one week at one restaurant on a fairly quite midtown street. Look at what we are putting back into our Earth. Maybe you, like me, will never look at a restaurant the same way again.

(click for BIIIIIIIIIG)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Wes In The West

Hi everyone! Thanks for coming to check out the blog. We will try to keep you up to date with the filming of Wasteland. We know that many of you have asked yourself how so much garbage has accumulated in your weekly trash? Or stood in your closet wondering how in the hell all this stuff got here? I am probably one of the most guilty out there in terms of consuming my fair share of goods, not recycling, and creating a ton of waste. Though I date a woman who is currently planting trees and forming a zero waste community in the north of Ecuador, I still have difficulty just showing up to Starbucks with my own reusable coffee cup.

Thus the film is really an adventure for two filmmakers who in their hearts know there is a problem, but have definitely not become the antidote to it. We are looking at the garbage that accumulates from American consumers, what is done with it, and why we are buying all this stuff in the first place? We know that you as friends and family are very supportive of this film, and for any of you that have input or ideas for us to examine further, we welcome your suggestions.

Also, we are poor (namely because we are documentary filmmakers) and sometimes in need of a warm place to sleep, and an electric outlet to charge the batteries for another day of shooting. If you are able to provide us with any assistance, I can assure you that Aaron is ready and willing to cook you a great meal while I do very little. We begin shooting in the coming weeks. Pictures to follow, and if you find us snooping through your trash can, just remember that it is in the name of art and social justice.


Wasteland The Movie

Welcome friends, to the blog for the new as-yet-shot documentary, Wasteland. I feel this blog will be a chance for us (directors Aaron Rosenbloom and Wes Meilandt) to share our experiences as we go off on our quest to shoot, edit and distribute our film on our own. We will be working with a little bit of equipment, money, resources, gasoline and connections, but a lot of burning desire to tell an important story.

Our film will be about the way the citizens of this country consume and then throw away what they do not want. We will talk to average families, garbage men, political leaders, environmentalists, authors, professors and experts on all topics relevant to our film.

We will also be premiering clips of the footage we shoot here on the blog, and will want your feedback, since this film will ultimately be for you. Hopefully it will be as fun to watch as I am sure it will be to shoot.