We are currently unable to provide the scheduled upcoming Arts Edition, due to circumstances beyond our control. There will be no Annual Summer Fiction Project and we apologize to the many Artists, Designers, Musicians, Actors and Filmmakers who provided original Interviews and Content for Our Readers.  Peruse the many Archived Editions and stay tuned as we recover from this Interruption of Our Arts Magazine.  






On April  30th 1992,  in Los Angeles, California  U.S.A. 

An  Event  changed  a City  Forever.  

Joshua Triliegi has 

given us a novel,  

written spontaneously,  

and  originally 

published,  a chapter a day,  Monday through Friday at 

The BUREAU of Arts and Culture  Literary  Magazines 
On  Line Readership Sites on the World Wide Web.  The 
BUREAU Summer Fiction Project began rather humbly 
with the energy and  schedule which relates directly to a 
series of  live jazz performances.  Working  without  any  
written notes whatsoever,  on a daily basis,  and  posting 
each days entry,  allowed for the novel  to be constructed 
with direct participation of the Reading audience which 
grew  from hundreds  to thousands  to tens of thousands. 
Our door to door delivery of ten thousand paper editions 
in the Spring of 2013, to residents of  Cities in California 
launched on-line readerships which grew exponentially.
Season One  originated  in The Summer of  2013,  and it 
appears in this edition as Part One.  Part Two and Three 
are Seasons Two and Three, which were written with all 
the Rules  and  Structure as the First : No Written Notes.
The Novel,  in this version,  gives us a textured and multi 
Cultural view of Life in Los Angeles, sprocketing around 
Five Families.  The riot is simply the backdrop for a very 
real and consistent group of people, who live in The City. 
The event is not the burning,  the looting, the beating, the 
shooting, the desecration, the destruction, the decimation. 
In Joshua Triliegi's fictional reflection of his Los Angeles, 
African mysticism, Mexican mythology, Asian philosophy, 
Prison politics, Family finances, Rock & Roll Royalty and 
the Spirit of Ancestral Energy collide, collude and collect 
a momentum,  spiraling downward, upward & outward.
Like a live Jazz Recording,  This Edition gives us a Look 
at The Stories of a Los Angeles that reach far beyond the 
Events of 1992 and The 25 years that burned into history.  
Here we experience the year before, the year of,  and the 
year after,  through the eyes of  over a dozen individuals,
each with a Life,  a History,  a Family, and a Future in a
Place Out West : They CALL IT The CITY of ANGELS. 

Authors  Statement :  



years have 

passed since 

we experienced 

The Riots of 

Los Angeles 1992.

It always seems like,  

just the other day, my City was on fire.

Time is a man made concept, based on a planets revolution.
Five times Five = Twenty - Five.  The structure of the Novel,
is based on simple five count rhythms,  related to Number 5. 
Notes were not utilized, so each chapter break was designed
with a kind of  Basic Mathematical  Structure,  so whatever 
challenges arose,  in terms of  narrative consistency or story 
development,  balance between  all the stories was built in .
Any and all of  The Interviews that  proceeded this work of 
Fiction  definitely  influenced  the  characters in  The Novel. 
For instance,  The BUREAU of Arts and Culture  Interview 
with  longtime Venice Beach  resident  Los Angeles Radio 
Disc Jockey helped to shape The Stone Family, which play a 
large role in the book. Obviously,  The writers I admire, like 
Oscar Hijuelos,  and his arsenal,   make a few appearances.
Other influences  are wide and diverse.  The goal  in Season 
or Part One was to simply create a group of characters that 
we could follow, that we cared about, that would take us into 
their lives. In Part Two, there was a conscious effort to bring 
two and three  characters together,  through  story,  through 
each persons history &  through dialogue between them. By 
the time  year three  rolled around,   it was clear  who every 
one was,  what their circumstances were + the story simply 
played out.  Back to structure,  five families,  5 days a week,
kept  the actual revolving chapter aspect orderly & allowed 
for the Imagination and Narrative Intertwining to happen. 
There  are  also  two  archived  Interviews  included  within 
 this edition,  the  first  for  Season One in  2013, another for
 Season Two in  2014,  giving readers a glimpse into process.
It is said that many Authors have trouble perusing their first 
Novel, and understandably so. Glancing at this work again, 
feels like,  listening to a vinyl record with various and 
assorted musical acts,  each contributing a 

song,  with Rock,

  Soul  other Pop Music genres,  eventually

Creating a Live  Concert 

Album or in this case :  The Novel.   



Visit The BUREAU New Fiction Site for last years Fiction Series and Support the Magazine NOW for The Next ...






LITERARY 2016 Edition 
BUREAU   ICON Essay: John STEINBECK . NOVELIST IRVINE WELSH . BUREAU GUEST Visual Artist New YORK City PAINTER : Nathan WALSH . Cinema: AMERICAN Director Hal ASHBY & The CLASSIC FILM "BEING THERE".  ART Reviews: Emilie CLARK . Michael KAGAN + The Max GINSBURG LECTURE .  San FRANCISCO : Photographs  Roman VISHNIAC . Bill GRAHAM at The CJM  . The South West Photographic Essay Winner Rich HELMER Plus Diane ARBUS . NEW FICTION ENCORE: They CALL IT The CITY of ANGELS  Selected Chapters  . INTERVIEWS: Sandy SKOGLUND . Shaun HUSTON on Library  Comic BOOKS . MUSIC: The MALLETT Brothers Band . Kehinde WILEY in SEATTLE.  USA  Museums : Arizona . Oklahoma . San Francisco .  ART: John MELLENCAMP.  BOOKS : ALI & Malcolm X . SPRINGSTEEN . Literature by U.S. Military Vets  . The SEATTLE Photographic Essay . FIVE Best Bookstores in BERKELEY +LITERARY Events 2016  S. E.Hinton's The OUTSIDERS + WOMEN Writers RULE.  Reviews & New Online Articles All Year Round at The New BUREAU CITY SITES.  Download The FREE Edition in Hi Resolution 

SPRING 2016 Edition 
BUREAU ICON Essay: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN The BUREAU GUEST Artist from CANADA Painter and Sculptor Mr. Erik OLSON NEW Interviews + Photographic Essays with Three from The United Kingdom: Street Photographers Craig REILLY, Steve COLEMAN and Walter ROTHWELL. BUREAU Dance: Martha GRAHAM, Plus Mathilde GRAFSTROM : CENSORED German Muralist: Hendrik BEIKIRCH, The CLASSICAL Genius: Daniil TRIFONOV. BUREAU NEWS: David GANS on SUPREME COURT, Plus Mexico's DR.LAKRA Daniel GEORGAKAS on HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST, The OSCARS and Spike LEE 2016, PHOTO ESSAYS: Stephen SOMERSTEIN at The FREEDOM MARCH of 1965, Alex HARRIS showcasing The Afro AMERICANS in North Carolina in The 1970s Artist Tristan EATON + The Post Modern Paintings Plus BUREAU Film: TRUMBO Reviews & New Online Articles All Year Round at The New BUREAU CITY SITES Across America an The World Through Internet. BUREAU is an Official MEDIA Partner for The ITALIAN Film Festival Download the following  Link to Hi ResOLUTION VERSION.

FALL 2015 Edition 
BUREAU ICON Essay: BOB DYLAN. Interviews + Photographic Essays with Alex HARRIS on The INUIT, Kanayo ADIBE in Baltimore, Lynn SAVILLE in New York City, Mike MILLER on West Coast Style, Ryan SCHIERLING in AUSTIN and BUREAU  GUEST Artist: Melissa Ann PINNEY ART Interview with David BURKE in Bay Area.  Plus: Michelle HANDELMAN. New FICTION: THEY CALL IT THE CITY of ANGELS Part III  MUSIC Contributor: Sarah Rose PERRY on The Femme PUNK Scene. MUSIC Interview with JAHI. Plus US MUSEUMS: Detroit's 30 ARTISTS Exhibit, Milwaukee's Larry SULTAN, Photo LA, BOOK Stores Across US: BookPeople, Anderson's, City Lights, Book Reviews from STRAND NYC. Classical MUSIC and Rock & Roll: Not So Different After All.  Elliott  Landy and The BAND.  Edward  Hopper at The Cantor. All This and More Plus BUREAU On Line Links to The ART Fairs in MIAMI 2015 with Exclusive Audio Interviews, Reviews & New Online Articles All Year Round at The New BUREAU CITY SITES Across America an The World Through Internet. BUREAU is MEDIA Partner for PHOTO LA . + MORE. 

Part One in a Series of Reports on The BORDERS by J. A. TRILIEGI 2017 

All along the border, double fences topped with barbed wire, trail across the land like so many scars on the flesh of a beaten horse. Humans of all shape and size, age and color, wander on either side, like ants, gathering bits of this and that, simply to survive.  The border itself is well fortified. Giant steel posts thrust upwards in a multiple vertical fashion, cold, grey, metal, blocks of concrete and men with guns, stand on either side, they are doing time, they are doing their job, they are taking orders, by a government, by a policy and by a code of service, which may very well, hurt their families, their future and themselves. As for international relations, well, "We The People …," have got some real work to do. 

Rain trickles down, unlike finances, in abundance, on both sides of the border. Drops of  h2o feel the same from either side. This reporter walks across the great divide, entering simply to see, to observe, to experience and to meet the people of Mexico, or at least, the people of Baja California, which is not exactly, 'M - e - x - i - c - o,' in the same way that, Ellis island, is not exactly, 'A - m - e - r - i - c - a.'  And yet, there they are, offering this gringo a taxi ride to and fro. I am on a budget, no publisher or editor or local or national or international publisher would sponsor this sojourn, so I have travelled by bus, a simple twenty dollars from Downtown Los Angeles into Baja, and another 200 pesos, which is ten dollars, gets me into the tourist port town of Ensenada. A destination for the Princess Cruises. In olden day, frat boys, surfers, and tourists of all types descended upon this lovely destination in search of debauchery, coastal beauty and artifacts such as clothes, furniture, objects of value, offered, for much less than anywhere else. Decades of taking have left its mark on this locale, and yet, the new world, the world of technology. the world of commercial enterprise, the world of modern banking has emerged, and stands side by side with the ancient  world, we have mythologized about this great land, the land of the Maya and the Spanish Conquistador, mixed, long ago, to create this special race of people, we know as Mexicans and their country: Mexico. History tells us of a country that once sprawled much further north, into the continent that we, as Americans, now inhabit, California, Arizona New Mexico, Texas, etc…  The Southwest border states, where, we are now told, that a wall, will be built. As we drive south, over the first hurdle of hills into Ensenada, I can see a double fence, so high, that my eyes have trouble actually measuring its vertical height. Were I forced to estimate, I would guess that the swirling, jagged, barbed wire top sits at least some twenty or so feet in height ? As we drive up and over, I recall the early days of visits to Mexico, taking this same route, with my father, to see the bullfights, with my friends to Surf the coast, and as an artist, simply in search of something different in culture, lifestyle and respite. Since that time, I have been told, by my government, by my friends and by highly propagandized stories of struggle, anguish and fear of overlords, that this place is not safe to visit. 

The Western Coast and indeed, the California route from North to South, has a beauty, that is unrivaled and Baja California is no exception. Choose  any one mile section of Carmel or Big Sur or Malibu or Baja, and, you will find, they are identical. The earth, the flower, the fauna, the water, the light are all the same. Green valleys peppered with long stretches of two lane highways, merge into gold, rust and creme colored edges that jut downward into rocky cliffs, bays, full with blue, turquoise and white topped waves that careen into the coastal edge. I am on a tourist bus, for the first time in my life. I focus on the coast, as my fellow passengers watch some such film being projected on a television screen, mounted high above their heads. American actors faces dubbed into spanish incongruously describe a false drama that does not relate to the landscape of the earth, the coast, the real beauty of a continent that we share with others. We share this continent with more than one country, that is clear to me, the politics of borders and policies and current views, are not at all as clear as the very FACT, that We share this continent with others. 

The tour bus pulls into Ensenada proper, and already I can see a great indian past, the textures of Baja Mexico, are not at all unlike those of Rome or Tokyo or Bangladesh, the history is evident. The street corners, bus stop benches, and even the surface of the streets themselves speak to the viewer, "Where have you been and where are you going ?" I have no answer. I am seeking simply to see what is here now, and what I see are thousands of people walking to and from their homes, their jobs, their responsibilities to whomever and wherever and whatever. Then it comes to me, "Why I am here?"  Some time ago, I jokingly told a group of Mexican maids that if Mr. Donald Trump becomes the President of the United States of America, that I will be in Mexico on the day that this incident occurs, and so, I kept my promise, for in less than a day, this man will become the next President of our great country. 

Besides occupying my time as a Journalist of some fledgling notoriety, I also write literature of a varying style and length: Screenplays, Short Stories and a Novel, so far.  It comes to mind that many in the industry including, Matthew McConaghy, Matt Damon and Ryan Gosling, all very white men of some talent, are married to women with descendants of the latin variety, men whom derive from Texas, from Boston from Canada. A symbol of the sharing of this continent, we call, America. And still we are told that a wall will be built: A Wall. A fence guards against entry, a wall blocks ones view, in obscuring views, perception and reality can be manipulated, like blinders, does this new government wish to obscure our views of one another ? To block our vision ?  To control our vista's as well as our Visa's ? It appears so. The Great Wall of China, The Berlin Wall, Pink Floyd's song lyrics from 'The Wall,' explains something about this policy, that most likely, a scared white man in power is, "… Just Another Brick in The WALL."  

Like much of America, during the banking bailouts, some eight years ago, Mexico too has been pervaded by a proliferation of Banks. All over Mexico, young upwardly mobile individuals have been employed by this new modern system of checking and deposits, transfers and exchanges. A map of Mexico displays and amazingly flourishing economy of some sort, while on a near by television screen, an attractive young lady speaks excitingly about the new opportunities and services offered by this new technological wonder of modernity. Though this particular town has always had its own economy, and, long before these new technological advances gave them surveillance, invasions of privacy and the desecration of  anonymity, this little town had and still retains the old ways of knowing who is here, what they have with them and where they are going, with whom and why. The gained or earned - through - experience, survival skills, of any port or pirate town that, for over a hundred years, has found ways to survive its visitors, its inhabitants and even, it's conquistadors. In this particular case, the Indian past, sits side by side the technological future,  old world and new world meet, they make eye contact, they understand one another, they may even assist one another. 

Pacific Coast Highway is not Malibu, just as Santa Monica is not Los Angeles and Big Sur is not Northern California. Suffice it to say, that the Coastal Section of Ensenada is not Baja California, by any means. And certainly Baja as a whole, is not at all a representation of Mexico, though, it is safe to say, if you speak to individuals, a bank teller, a bus driver, a casual man or woman on the street, you are indeed talking to a real Mexican, with real human concerns about a very real world that they are living in. I check into my hotel, the room is roughly 12 US dollars and some change, laundry is washed, dried and folded just across the way for under a dollar, fresh food at the local market is priced as such that I find myself giving bags I have purchased for mine own, to those I meet along the way. The first evening passes quickly, rain whips through the town, the streets flooded with over a foot of water in the lower regions.

Inauguration day arrives without much fanfare here, the television in the hotel lobby displays little about Mr Trump. I am beginning to realize that, the populist of Mexico have already been prepared for this new leader, they understand that American Presidents and most likely all leaders of major powers in the world, then and now, are what they are, a symbol, a face, or, if we search for the latin derivative source: simply a Facade. One need only walk a mile or so east, to find that Mexico, is not unlike any other place in the California's. Middle class neighborhoods lined with houses on either side, one and a half cars per home, some folks living at a higher elevation in the upper middle class areas and those whom own businesses, land and expanses of property of all variety. It is much like any place in the world, some people have money and some people do not. We have heard the new American Presidents criticism's over the past year regarding this country,  its people,  its past, it's problems. Something comes to mind, as I walk through town, a question arises, " Does any Country in the world send us their best ?" and conversely, "Do we send any other country our best ?"  Australia's history tells a story of disbanded and exported individuals whose personal history was somewhat sorted, at least by its own monarchy's point of view, and yet, they seem to have created a land of promise, fortitude and originality, and within that,  ab-origin-ality too.  Yes, this is digressive, but worthy of note, very worthy. 

My clothing is soaked, from top to bottom. I carry my possessions over the shoulder. I am in a country that is not my own. I have little finances, neither a job, nor, a relative in town. I do not speak the language fluently. In essence, for this brief moment in time:  I am a Mexican in America. Now I am beginning to understand the beauty, the stoic and sometimes exhilarating aspects of searching to find something more. In this case, I am seeking to learn more about the border, it's realities, it's myths and it's challenges, while many of those among me, are looking for, a better job, some more income, possibly an opportunity, wether imagined or real. I drop off my clothes at the laundry. By the time I pick them up, an hour or so later, several locals are sitting on a couch, watching the television, which displays Mr. Donald Trump uttering the words, "…So help me God." Within a week, he has ordered the building of a wall, the closing of EPA protections and reopening an Oil Pipeline straight through America. My clothes are clean, my conscious is clear and my country is in trouble.  



KCRW 89.9 FM L A Disc Jockey and Music Supervisor for Television

Q:What led you to becoming a DJ ?

A: I've always been a big music fan and I love sharing music with people. I grew up in New York listening first to WABC AM Top 40 radio and later moved on to WNEW FM free form progressive radio. I loved listening to the dj's almost as music as the great music. 

Q:You have always had a kind of kooky or somewhat comedic take on pop music, what drives you to select the tracks you do ?

A: Kooky … Kooky, how ?  Do I amuse you ?  Ha,  that's my Joe Pesci impersonation. I don't know, I like to have some fun with the music every now and then. Putting certain sets together in interesting ways. I just do it for myself really. I 'm surprised that people catch some of the connections.

Q:Do you pick all your own tunes at this time ? Explain that process when designing a set of music ? 

A: Yes, I pick all my own the same time I definitely consider the KCRW audience that I'm playing to and not go all heavy metal or something like that. Only my fellow dj, Henry Rollins. can pull that off. I've been a music fan for a very long time. I've worked in record stores (check out my book Record Store Days), managed bands, and I've been to countless shows so I have a lot of music swimming in my brain to choose from.

Q:The days of the talking DJ have come and gone and returned again, how much of that comes into play for your style ? 

A: I don't really think about it too much. I basically try and play great music and then tell the listeners what they have heard. 

Q:Does being a DJ actually support your lifestyle and if not what else do you do ? 

A: I work one day a week as a dj at KCRW so no, that is not my only means of support. I'm also a music supervisor (True Blood, Dexter, House, Weeds, Entourage, Six Feet Under...) which helps to pay the bills. I'm also a songwriter and will be releasing an album on Atlantic in the fall. I love the music business (for the most part) and happy to work in many different aspects of the business.

Q:If you were not a professional disc jockey, what would you be doing professionally ? 

A: Presidential food taster.

Q:You have done extensive work in Film and Television. share with us that process, 

for example how you fit a song to a cable series or movie and give us a detailed example. 

A:It works in many different ways. Basically I collaborate with the producers of the show to get an overall feel of the type of music that would be appropriate for the production. Some shows like to be obvious with lyrics that comment on the scene and other shows are looking for a texture to help "color" a scene. ....

Who is your favorite disc jockey in history ? 

I'm going to have to say Cousin Bruce Morrow. His style is completely different from mine but it sounds like he loves what he does and has a great relationship with his listeners, with Rock and Roll being the common language. 

What acts did you personally discover and could you tells us any stories in relation to bands going out of their way to get you recordings ? 

My favorite new discovery is an Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett. Check her out. She is a brilliant lyricist and performer.I found the Sia song "Breathe Me" for Six Feet Under and she has been doing very nicely since. I have also put together some nice collaborations on new recordings for True Blood. I brought Nick Cave and Neko Case together for a cover of the Zombies song "She's Not There" Eric Burdon and Jenny Lewis for "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and Iggy Pop and Bethany Cosentino for a song I co-wrote "Let's Boot and Rally". These have all been really fun experiences and turned out some great recordings.

Would you create a list of best songs for this Summer ?   

Jonathan Richman "That Summer Feeling"
The Best Coast "The Only Place"
B52's "Deadbeat Club"
Beach Boys "Do It Again"
NRBQ "Ridin' In My Car"
X "4th of July"
The Last "Every Summer Day"
Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg"California Gurls" 
Bruce Springsteen "Girls In Their Summer Clothes"
Patty Smith "Redondo"

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The  Original  Fiction  Series  by  J o s h u a   A.  T R I L I E G I

Each Chapter of SEASON Three was Written in a Twenty - Four Hour Period without Notes Consecutively in The Summer of 2015. We are reprinting the work now, in Support of Our Friends in America and around The World. As a Journalist, an Activist, an Individual American Citizen, my Power is limited, but as a Novelist, there are No LIMITS, No OBSTACLES, No WALLS and anything is possible. Until WE ACHIEVE OUR GOALS of UNITY : Here is My Contribution. In Return, I suggest, You The Reader, find a New Way to express your views and create your future. Scroll for INTERVIEWS, Articles + Free download Links to BUREAU of ARTS and CULTURE Magazine. Contact Magazine through email :

The year after The Riots, life in Los Angeles continued. People went to work, children were born, time kept ticking and the story never ended. For those in the heart of the story, for those who were touched by the event, for those who lost and hurt and got burned: life would never be the same. An event that was your life, your experience, your history was being told by newscasters, mainstream publications and radio disc jockeys who knew nothing about what it was really like and never would know. The day after The Riots, a child woke, poured a bowl of corn flakes and watched cartoons on the television. The commercials in between told the child that when the milk was poured into the bowl, that it would, 'Snap - Crackle and Pop,' the child looked around the room, looked around the house, looked around the streets and noticed that every-thing had snapped, crackled and popped. 

"Police car sirens and lights engaged twenty-four hours a day, soldiers from the army reserves of the United States of America in camouflage standing on every corner, an entire world that, 'Snapped - Crackled and Popped,'  and Life went on."

The plastic had melted, the glass had warped, the wires lay open exposing copper, lead and silver, the perfect square box was now imperfect, corners were entirely melted off, the handle that changed the channels had broken and someone had attached a small vice grip tool in its place. The smell of burnt wood, ash and oil permeated the air. Helicopters, sirens and flashing lights became the norm. The curtains frayed at the edges and all along the sides been stained by fire, air, earth and water, the most basic of elements utilized in a fashion that created destruction, instead of construction. The rug was soaked and laden with tiny bits of broken glass, ember and grease stains. Smoke of all color and size wafted through the windows. Angry footsteps inhabited the ceiling, the hallways and alleys. A toy fire truck that lay in the backyard for years was now replaced with a real fire truck that roared incessantly passed its house, at all hours of the night and day. Police car sirens and lights engaged twenty-four hours a day, soldiers from the army reserves of the United States of America in camouflage standing on every corner, an entire world that, 'Snapped - Crackled and Popped.'  And Life went on.  

Houses went up for sale. Lots stood empty, Ashes piled up. Businesses were abandoned. Families were broken. Dreams were deferred. Third strikes were established by the law and people went to prison for stealing a pizza, a pair of shoes, a case of toilet paper. Men and woman in all manor, in all shapes, in all colors and sizes broke. Screaming through the streets, "Why?" But even a child knows that if you want to learn algebra, you don't ask why. You simply work on the equation, by learning the rules to the diagram, in geometry and trigonometry, there was no time to ask why. Even beer commercials directed the child to not ask why and shoe companies reenforced that ideology by telling the child to, "Just Do IT!"  So the child did. Empty slogans had manipulated the population for 100s of years and so the population, in its desperation, in its pain, in it's agony and in its defiance, invented some empty slogans of its own and then quite suddenly, those slogans were inhabited, not so empty after all, for this was not a politician with a team of advisors, this was not a police chief with a speechwriter, this was not a corporation with a dozen brilliant ad executives working on a new account, this was the mother - f*cking - public. 

"Houses went up for sale. Lots stood empty, Ashes piled up. Businesses were abandoned. Families were broken. Dreams were deferred. Third strikes were established by the law and people went to prison for stealing a pizza, a pair of shoes, a case of toilet paper.Men and woman in all manor, in all shapes, in all colors and sizes broke. Screaming through the streets, "Why?"

These were real people, this was a real event, this was the city of a child who ate corn flakes while watching television every morning before school. And when its family and when it's friends and when it's neighbors and when its city began chanting the empty slogan that rang through the city like a Bell on Sunday, this child inhabited that slogan: No Justice / No Peace, Know Justice / Know Peace. 

Dragnet and One Adam Twelve and Police Woman and Baretta and Starsky and Hutch and CHIPS and The Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, to quote a popular phrase in poetry, "...Will not seem so damn relevant, because the revolution will not be televised,"  and yet: It was televised after all. The transmission of images was blast across the city in the earliest hours of the event. The Parker Center flash-point had ignited hotspots all along the vertical and lateral thorough-fairs through the city of Angels in a giant grid that only those flying in airplanes and helicopters could view. With the exception of those multitude natural forces of life known as the animals, who watched in glee as the humans failed once again at their own game. A game of self extinction, an experiment of too many mice in a maze called Los Angeles.   Hawks circled overhead, crows cawed, seagulls glanced, thrashers, bluejays, sparrows, woodpeckers, pigeons, hummingbirds and all manner of birds flew overhead. Bees returned to their hives, butterfly nestled under branches, spiders strengthened their webs, ants collected bits of this and that, squirrels climbed palm trees to get a better view, coyotes howled through the hills, deer looked on pensively, mountain lions patiently waited, possums stopped playing dead and walked along the tops of fences, a family of bears escaped from the zoo, an elephant stepped on its trainer in a parking lot downtown, snakes slithered to higher ground, raccoons sensed some easy pickings on the horizon and all the while domesticated dogs and cats sat with their owners, watching television. The first time it rained after The Riot, an inordinate amount of chemicals spewed through the streets. Into the gutters, down the sewers, along the pipelines and on into the ocean: Formaldehyde, asbestos, concrete, plastic, tar, asphalt, rubber, fiberglass, aluminum, glass, lead, resin, stucco, lime and drywall.  

"The chemicals that trickled down through the ashes, through the soot, through the smoke and through the tears had accidentally informed the organism, transformed the organism, reformed the organism and the child, who had sensed all along that all was not well, would never, ever, be the same again. "

The entire contents of dozens of 99 cents stores which included: bleach, roach killer, hair spray, comet, windex, baking soda, nylon, air freshener, butane, high fructose corn syrup, polyester, lysol, both the regular scent and the new and exciting pine flavor, all rolled into one giant blob of city sludge and plopped itself into the intestines of the City of Angels, rolling through the LA River and dumping itself, directly into the sea. Blue fin tuna, albacore, barracuda, lobster, sea bass and even mackerel were no where to be seen. There were no shark attacks to worry about. Sharks were too smart to swim in waters infested by chemicals of that variety. Within their very organism, they have a built in mechanism that can detect one ten thousands of an ingredient in the water from miles away. This device was originally evolved, no doubt, for survival, in search of something to consume, but due to the stupidity of the human race, the callous nature of the corporations, the shortsighted views of the now angry populist, this devise was used to avoid certain areas and avoid it they did.  The chemicals that trickled down through the ashes, through the soot, through the smoke and through the tears had accidentally informed the organism, transformed the organism, reformed the organism and the child, who had sensed all along that all was not well, would never, ever, be the same again. Nor would the place that they call the City of Angels. 

The little plastic box that had for decades transmitted ideas somehow still worked, the device that transferred images, sound and motion on a regular basis, continued  to do so.  Tony the Tiger, exclaimed to the child that the food it was eating, the contents it was consuming, the simple little flakes of corn in all manner of speaking and description could be defined in a two word phrase that was simple and easy to remember: "They're Great!" The big rabbit with the floppy ears was told time and time again that he was indeed a silly rabbit and that, "Trix are for kids!"  The Frito Bandito, Captain Crunch, Count Chocula and a Lucky Charm with a Shamrock were also present, representing an old school variety of corn paste, flour, sugar and salt, added preservatives and in some cases food coloring that sometimes caused cancer, with a simple reminder that if you ever ended up in prison, you would indeed have to choose a cereal that represented something familiar to your general genetic make up.  And of course there was the award winning commercial that had Mike-y and his brothers, representing a product that somehow encompassed the child's entire existence, by calling itself, 'LIFE'.  

"The picture was not as clear, the colors not as crisp, the audio was warped, the depth was foggy, the vertical and lateral lines often separated, but the endless trail of information, disinformation and programming continued on, it taught the child and eventually, the child had learned to transmit its own programs."

"He won't eat it..." his brothers exclaim, as they put a bowl of blocked wheat style cereal in front of the freckled faced child, "...He hates everything."  Then, quite suddenly, the  boy begins to shovel the wheat blocks into his mouth as his brothers excitedly exclaim, "Hey Mike-y! He Likes IT!" For those with simpler tastes, you had Aunt Jemima and or Quaker Oats, in case you ever forgot who founded this country and what your position in the hierarchy was to begin with. Yes, the little box in the corner with the wire in the wall and the antennae on the roof still worked. And the child watched it. The picture was not as clear, the colors not as crisp, the audio was warped, the depth was foggy, the vertical and lateral lines often separated, but the endless trail of information, disinformation and programming continued on, it taught the child and eventually, the child had learned to transmit its own programs. The child and its family and it's neighbors and its city were all so busy programming, they had no time to wonder, just who exactly was actually eating the giant bowl of cereal that they were all now living in ?  The entire city snapped, it crackled and it popped, surely someone was bound to eat it.  


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Fiction Excerpt By BUREAU of ARTS and Culture Magazine Writer Joshua TRILIEGI
G  I  R  L  S 

Each Chapter of SEASON Two was Written in a Twenty - Four Hour Period without Notes Consecutively in The Summer of 2014. We are reprinting the work now, in Support of Our Friends in Law Enforcement in America and around The World, Who Actually Do PROTECT and SERVE.  As a Journalist, an Activist, an Individual American Citizen, my Power is limited, but as a Novelist, there are No LIMITS, No OBSTACLES, No WALLS and anything is possible. Until WE ACHIEVE OUR GOALS of UNITY : Here is My Contribution. In Return, I suggest, You The Reader, find a New Way to express your views and create your future. Scroll for INTERVIEWS, Articles + Free download Links to BUREAU of ARTS and CULTURE Magazine. Contact Magazine through email

G  I  R  L  S 

Every now and then Chuck would have doubts about his occupation. He had always felt that he was a natural detective, but being a cop on the beat was not his 'specialty'. At times like this, in the middle of a full on riot, he would come home and tell Celia that maybe they should start their own business, "We could buy a bar or start a gym," he knew plenty of guys who would frequent either. But Celia would say, "Honey, you're a police officer and your one of the good cops in this town. Just stick it out and follow through with your commitments." Another day would pass and Chuck and his partner were back in the patrol car. Chuck was always scheming to get his transfer as detective, now that the the riots broke out, the palm tree burnings were a blip on the map. Chuck would have to come up with something much bigger than that, if he was ever to graduate and run with the big boys. His research over the past few years had given him a wide variety of leads, but you needed witnesses to get a conviction and once you had a witness, you had to find a way to keep that person safe from harm and make a case that the detective squad would deem valuable and worthy of prosecution.  

A few weeks back, while Chuck was off duty, he saw a girl in the park, that couldn't have been more than twelve or thirteen, she was strung out, dressed in heels, looked like she hadn't slept in a week. She was also a very beautiful child, someone that was his daughters age. When he walked up to see if she was o.k., she propositioned him, said she needed some money. He said that he would give her five dollars, if he could simply walk her home. "It's too late for you to be out here alone. Girls get hurt out here, some of them even get raped or killed."  She simply stared at him and said, "Do me a favor." Then she replied, "If I go back there without any money, they will beat my ass silly."  "Where do you live ?" Chuck asked, "Not too far from here," she answered. By the way, you're being watched, "Just thought I should tell you, you see that row of house over there, well they got eyes on this park and people back at my place is in touch with them eyes."  Chuck sat quiet for a minute, "How many girls do they have ?"  "At my place or everywhere ?" she answered. "Everywhere ?", Chuck asked. "Yeah everywhere, they got houses all up and down, probably just under a hundred girls,"  then she added. "Your a square ain't you ?" Chuck shook his head no, "I'm a father of three girls that are home in bed right now." Then she asked him point blank, "And you mean to say you ain't never jumped in one of those beds ?" Chuck was taken aback by the comment, "Of course not, those are my girls." She just looked at him in disbelief. Then he said, "Listen, why don't I go get my car and enough money so that you can go home for the night ?"  "Would fifty dollars do it ?", she just looked at him blankly, "A hundred ?" She then said, "Yeah, that'd do it ?"  Chuck walked back to the house, drove his car to the park and picked up the girl. "What do you want ?", she said. "I want you to get a bite to eat and them I am taking you home." 

He picked up a couple burgers and fries and a malt shake and they sat in the car. Chuck began to slowly grill the girl. "How did you end up at that particular house ?" And the girl began to tell Chuck her life story, which was harrowing and sorted. She'd never had this type of man be so interested and kind and she said so,"At least not without wanting something in return anyway."  Then Chuck said, "But I do I want something in return. I want you to consider going after these people."  She became visibly scared at even the mention of such a thing. "I know some people who have friends that might want to help you, if you ever decided to do something about these people."  She looked at him differently now. Then he added, "Look, it's getting late, I better take you home. Chuck withheld the money until they got to the house, and then he gave her the bills. "I'm going to be watching you, I want you to be careful. You're better than this."  The girl looked at him and then looked away, she got out of the car and walked up into the house. Chuck remembered the house, street and address and headed back home. Since then, he had staked out the place several times. Eventually eyeing an older man and woman, who got into a beat up old station wagon and drove up into a local market. Chuck followed them into the market, bought a six pack, followed them around the store, then got in line directly behind them. That took a while, because they had filled the shopping cart with enough instant food items to feed a girl scout camp. The couple didn't say a word, but at one point, the lady looked up and glanced at Chuck, who simply feigned a smile. She smiled back,  revealing a terrible set of front teeth, that were grey and beige, the kind that Chuck had associated with speed freaks through the years. He wrote down the plates, ran a check on the car and began one of his many detective routines, even though he had to be to work on his usual beat soon enough. 

Sometimes, his desire to become a detective affected his performance as a regular boy in blue and his partners through the years had always noticed whenever he was putting too much time into something else. "Watcha working on Chuck ?" Became a familiar phrase around the station. He figured there would always be a group of underachievers  willing to hassle someone like him, who actually took the job to heart. Chuck took the job home, sometimes even crossing the line, as he had by taping his wife Celia's little brother's phone calls when he had been released from prison and had come to stay with them. That had backfired on him. When Junior found the recording device in Chucks office, he began a series of calls that were fakes and Chuck waisted a lot of time trying to follow false leads. Now that Junior and his Dad were now back on the ranch, Chuck was about to pay a serious price for that misstep. He'd already been reprimanded by the force and was about to catch hell from his wife. Celia had always been a homemaker from the get go.  She had dreamed of finding a good man and having kids most of her life and so, the dream had come true and she was a very contented person. Her daughters were smart, rambunctious, funny, and sometimes downright mischievous, not unlike the way she had been as a child. She kept up the house and the garden, had her hands full with the girls, cooked, did the laundry and through it all seemed to have found the perfect man to share her life. To her, Chuck was hard working, honest and cared about the world. So the day she found the recording device in his office, which she normally did not clean because it was usually locked when Chuck was not home, all hell broke loose. She pressed play and immediately a series of calls between Junior and his girlfriend began to play, "So what are you doing right now ?", "Nothing" "Can you come over ?" "No, I can't, maybe at the end of the week."  "I miss you." "I miss you too."  Celia fast forwarded to the next and the next and the next, she freaked. 


When Chuck got home that night, Junior and Lewis were gone on a fishing trip and the girls were already asleep. He walked into the kitchen and she said without hesitation or reservation, "I want to know why you had been recording my bother's f*cking conversations."  Chuck just looked at her. "Look, When a guy gets out of prison, theres a chance that he can get involved in stuff that could end him right back in the joint. I did it to simply monitor him, make sure that he's not getting involved with the wrong people. "Oh yeah, well what If I got involved with the wrong people Chuck ?" She looked at him. "What if you got involved with the wrong people ?" He didn't respond. "This is my family, this is my brother, how could you do that ?" he said nothing, Celia continued, "Why, when there is a whole world of evil and ugliness and very bad people would you bring that type of scrutiny into my house ?"  Now he got fired up, "Hey, this is our house. We have daughters. You don't know what kind of things even go in  prison. I don't even tell  you a small percentage of the stuff that I see everyday on the streets because I don't want you to become jaded."  She just shook her head and crossed her arms, "We grew up here Chuck, my family has been through a lot. I lost a lot of friends before I even graduated from high school, did you know that ? So don't try to tell me anything about the goddamn streets. My first boy friend was killed by a kid from another gang simply because he answered the question, "Where are you from ?" to the wrong group of kids, "They blasted him in the back, Chuck. Understand ? You didn't marry some little white girl from Pasadena here. Junior is my only brother. I will not condone any type of surveillance of my family whatsoever: Do You understand ?" He looked at her directly but said nothing. "I will take these girls and go away from here so quick if I ever see or hear anything going on between you and my brother. He just did fifteen years for something that happened when he was a kid. He paid his debt to society. Now go out there and protect the public from harm. And I don't want to sleep with you tonight. I'm staying in the girls room." Chuck was devastated. He had never seen Celia so upset. Well, at least not in a couple of years. On top of that, Chuck had been assigned to handle riot crowd control tomorrow and didn't do very well on the job without the support of Celia, who was his rock of personal security. He sat in the kitchen and cried like a baby. Then he slept on the couch, got up early and was out of there before the girls awoke. 

Chuck and his partner were assigned to Long Beach at Signal hill, the night before, they had lost an entire row of shops to angry protestors and things were heating up. They were getting so much flack from people on the streets that it was more than discouraging, it was denigrating. Four cops had beat the hell out of a guy and got away with it in a court of law and now every cop in the entire city was being blasted with more hatred, more humiliation and down right aggression, that many of the cops were feeling defeated. Chuck was among that group. He knew a few real assholes on the squad and thought: Why should I be talking abuse because someone else can't do the job properly? They spent the afternoon showing their presence to not much effect. People still looted and pillaged, even in front of the show of force. At one point, things got so bad that a group of police were forced to simply stand by and watch things burn to the ground. Chuck told his partner, "I am not going to arrest some kid for stealing a pair of shoes that cost five dollars and ninety-nine cents on principle alone. I won't do it,"  and his partnered just looked at him. They got back into the squad car and headed into down town. They got a call to visit activity up on Pine Street. On the way over, Chuck, who was sitting in the passenger side, noticed  the beat up station wagon three car lengths ahead of them, "Wait a minute, drop back, drop back."  His partner asked, "What is it ?" Chuck replied, "This guy in the station wagon, follow him, stay way back, keep a couple cars between us."  "What is it Chuck ? Were supposed to get to Signal hill."  "Trust me on this one."  His partner replied, "I've heard that one before.", "Just follow this guy,will ya ?"  They followed him as he drove down a few streets and up another and parked the car in the drive way of a home. The man grabbed what looked like a twenty-five pound bag of rice, put it on his shoulders and carried it through the back entrance. Chuck wrote down the address and cross street. When the man exited, two girls got into the back seat of the station wagon and they drove toward the bridge. Chuck said to follow them. Now his partner was getting upset. "Chuck, you better know what you are doing here."  "I do, now just follow this guy."  

They drove up and over the bridge, the man headed directly to the house where Chuck had dropped off the girl.  Then Chuck ran the sirens, cranked the lights, and called it in. "We've got a random traffic stop at …" he gave the address. The two girls panicked and ran into the house. Chuck asked for back up and also requested coverage at the address on the house on the other side of the bridge. He pulled out of his gun, asked the man to raise his hand sand exit the vehicle. He told his partner to watch this guy and kicked in the front door, the girls started screaming. The woman sat in the kitchen watching the riots on an old television on the counter, "Put your hands on your head and stand up with your back against the wall."  He saw the back door was wide open and when he looked in the yard, noticed an entire chemistry lab with  metal barrels,  all sorts of giant vats. He kicked in the door to the back structure and discovered two and a half pallets of meth. By then, his back up had arrived and the house was discovered to have eight different bunk beds crammed into three small rooms and a handful of underaged girls scattered throughout the house. When they included the contents of both houses, it became one of the biggest drug busts to date. The girl that Chuck had met in the park was the first to testify and the arrest of the couple led to the biggest ring of child trafficking cases and it busted the city wide open. Because of the Los Angeles riots, an arrest that would have normally made the front pages was relegated to a brief mention. Chuck didn't care, he wasn't looking to be a hero, he was looking to become a detective. When he got home that night, Celia had made a special dinner and all the girls were dressed in their finest. The living room table was set and the seating arrangement had been formal. He walked in the front door and Celia announced, "Girls, I want you to come in here, your father is home."  The girls came running in and kissed and hugged their dad. Chuck looked at Celia, he was still unsure. She grabbed him and said, come here, "I want to see what its like to make love to a detective," and she gave him a kiss that even made the girls react. Chuck had finally made detective.     

Each Chapter of SEASON Two was Written in a Twenty - Four Hour Period without Notes Consecutively in The Summer of 2014. We are reprinting the work now, in Support of Our Friends in Law Enforcement in America and around The World, Who Actually Do PROTECT and SERVE.  As a Journalist, an Activist, an Individual American Citizen, my Power is limited, but as a Novelist, there are No LIMITS, No OBSTACLES, No WALLS and anything is possible. Until WE ACHIEVE OUR GOALS of UNITY : Here is My Contribution. In Return, I suggest, You The Reader, find a New Way to express your views and create your future. Scroll for INTERVIEWS, Articles + Free download Links to BUREAU of ARTS and CULTURE Magazine. Contact Magazine through email 



image Guest Artist Canadian Painter ERIK OLSON 

RYAN GOSLING And The OSCARS So GOLD 2017 by Joshua Triliegi 

At this years Oscars, millions of Cinema Lovers around the world will be tuning in to watch their favorite actors, directors, producers and stars of the large and small screen gather, to give, receive and honor, one another. This is OSCAR Season and Awards shall be bestowed : There WILL Be GOLD.  This year, we are hearing few complaints about the pallor of the participants, for those with a memory less than 365 days, harken back to last years article by yours truly to remember how far we have travelled since then. 

Careers in Hollywood and in International Television, Stage and Cinema are fraught with difficulty, controversy and peril. Seriously, if the Critics do not tear you to shreds, than the Audience awaits, and then there are the Studios, the Agents and the individual performers history, family and friends, the ex-girlfriends, ex-husbands and ex-Everything. Every now and then, an individual performer transcends all The X-Everything's and makes IT. The Actor or Actress, the Director or Camera Person or Costumer or Film Editor or Musician or Producer, or Screenwriter, makes a new film come alive: "It's Alive," screams Dr Frankenstein and a new monster exists. We are enthralled. 

The transformation of those simple and delicate words placed ever so carefully, and sometimes violently, onto paper, from the veins of experience, loss, pain and joy are somehow assembled  and reassembled into a very living, breathing and thriving Entity and or Vehicle, in which we aptly call a Play, or a Film, or a Show. Oft times the hood ornament of this, 'Vehicle,' is The Actor or Actress.  This year Ryan GOSLING is getting his due, not just for the new Musical, "LA LA LAND," but, to my mind and heart and eyes: A very well apportioned and risk taking career. 

Born in 1980, the same year that we lost John Lennon. The same day that the World Wide Web was proposed and that Voyager One space probe reached Saturn, an unassuming Canadian Couple gives birth to a boy named Ryan. Looking back to the year in which Mr Gosling was created, I recall my first film experience on the Set of Raging Bull, in 1979. A time when New Fine Art Cinema was practiced rarely by filmmakers such as Mr Martin Scorsese. Now, one has hope for this type of filmmaking to return, with the likes of Ryan Gosling. For as much as technology and comic books and product placement have replaced talent and content, it is still the performance, that ultimately rules, in my humble opinion : Cinema. 

The Canadian and now Internationally renown actor, director and musician, as well as family man, has done what few Mickey Mouse Club members could accomplish, he has graduated from the halls of Disneyland to  the very real universe of World Cinema. Sure, Justin Timberlake is a great comedic actor and Mr Gosling's other early compadre's can be seen on television, here and there, but few can truly claim to have taken the dramatic risks and odd career choices that have gained the respect of this writer, and I assume many of you, our readers and more importantly : The buyers of cinema tickets and subscribers of cable networks.  

If you are a woman or a girl, you may have discovered Gosling in the 2004 film by Nick Cassavettes, entitled, "The Notebook." A film which my girlfriend has referenced as a guarantee that, love lasts forever, and that when her and I reach old age, our romance may still exist, through the written word. If you are a guy, you might have discovered Mr Gosling in the dangerous and controversial film titled, "The Believer." A story loosely based on real events and brought to the screen with a scrappy film crew, hand held camera work and a dangerous ending that, to this day, has both The Jewish Community and those outside, discussing the dangerous realities and issues, pertaining to self-hating indigenous peoples of all faiths. The Film Critic, Peter Travers, of Rolling Stone Magazine, rightly exclaimed that, "Gosling gives a great, dare-anything performance that will be talked of for ages." This original performance and the film were accurately compared and contrasted to Edward Norton's breakout role in "American History X," and the young Mickey Mouser was now onto something no amusement park could ever provide : Real Danger.

In 2006, Gosling plays a drug addicted teacher in, "Half Nelson," a film which inspired this writer to consider the smaller stories in my own work. See The BUREAU Literary Site for our  recent Short Story Series as an example. The on screen chemistry between Gosling and his students is both politically charged and heartbreaking. The actor is unfairly compared to actor Jason Patric, simply because of his chiseled features by Film Critic Dana Stevens of Slate magazine. Actor Ryan Gosling has much more heart, restraint and inner conflict than all performances by Mr Patric combined. That's saying a lot since Mr. Patric has proven himself, at least, for a certain decade, that has long since past. More aptly, Bob Mondell of NPR, regarding "Half Nelson," states that, "Ryan Gosling… is easily the year's most mesmerizing character study." Absolutely.  

In 2011, "The Ides of March," guaranteed us that Gosling had total control of his characters purpose within the actual 'workings,' of the story itself. The thriller, aptly directed by George Clooney, pits Gosling's character against the major machinery of election style, behind-the-scenes, presidential politics. Sexual controversy, deal making, and chess-like maneuvering, in both plotting and timing, that rarely make it to the big screen. Gosling holds his own with the late-great, character actor, Mr. Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of the best Washington DC insider performances since reporters Woodward and Bernstein were brought to life in the Nixon Era film exposing Watergate. Once again, film critics ask all the wrong questions, such as UK's The Independent's headline pleading, "Is Ryan Gosling the new George Clooney ?"  For years, those outside our industry have asked simple questions to the much more complicated answers that we actually provide. Is this the next James Dean to both Steve McQueen and Paul Newman ? Is This the next Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen and UK's Donavan ? No, this is not the next Anyone, this is the next Ryan Gosling, just as this was the last Ryan Gosling and the future Ryan Gosling. We know they are losing the debate, the conversation, and the entire point, when they compare you, or them, or us, to anyone else. Though, the important factor is that they are, at least pondering, who and what and where we actually ARE.  

In 2012, Gosling appears in, "The Place Beyond The Pines," another dangerous film performance that has the film critic, Scott Foundas, of The Village Voice, wanting more. The original work, as cinema, is clearly electrifying, if not slightly off kilter in structure. While the performances of both Gosling, as a carnival performing motorcyclist who returns home, and Bradley Cooper as a do-good police officer, make up for any plot issues that may be lacking. The film itself deals more with time, regret and lost possibilities, rather than redemption or heroism, as is often the case with these smaller stories. There is indeed a long standing tradition in cinema history here, much more in line with the early working class films that have been tried and true from studios such as Warner Brothers in the 1950s. The film also stars Eva Mendes, who is Mr Goslings real life mate and the mother of his children. It is well worth watching. There are few standard wrap ups, in a Gosling picture. Even fewer happy endings, such is real life ? Possibly.

The interesting thing about Ryan Gosling, in the past decade, has been the prodigious output that helped to display his range. He can do action comedy with Russell Crowe, Dark Love Stories in "Blue Valentine," Metaphorical Reality in "Drive," Musical prowess in LaLaLand, drama with just about anyone on the planet and his odd choices set him above and beyond : "Lars and the real Girl," for instance. Where Mr Gosling allows story telling, integral casting and off kilter humor to play center stage. The sort of choices that seasoned stage actors might make, as opposed to a child actor, whom clearly has overcome his past. I recall the day my producing partner and I met Mr Gosling, some years ago, in passing, we simply stated, to the then upcoming star, "We Like The Choices You Have Been Making." And in return, we received that sphinx-like smile, that now shines, so brightly for all to see. 

As a disclaimer, and as a homegrown Hollywood Screenwriter and Independent Novelist, I must admit that, I do have Products, Books, Stories and Screenplays that have been submitted to more than one Actor, Director and Producer on the stage and in the audience at this years OSCARS Ceremony, that said, the part of me that watches films, loves cinema and sometimes feels compelled to write about Cinema in this publication, does freely submit this article free of such intentions.  For it is The A-List Actors, Directors and Producers who make films happen in today's day and age, not just the studios, not just the cable outlets, not just the corporations. And of course it is you too, the reader, the viewer, the audience. To twist a phrase from Billy Wilder's Classic and scathing criticism of careers and life in Hollywood, in the film, "Sunset Boulevard," those of you, no longer, "…Out There, In The DARK…"  The audience today has a rather clear and poignant intelligence, that no twitter account, no established has been participant, no mainstream news organization, no account of the arts, can truly be manipulated or trashed or copied, or falsified or criticized, for too long,  without the brilliance and loyalty and eventual championship recognition that comes from a career of choices that simply make sense. To you, young actor, I salute you. And by the way, when you begin to read new works for consideration, your Agents at CAA, have a project with my name on IT. Until then, KNOW, that you, and everyone else, "Up There," have earned what you have been given, So, Enjoy. 



American Novelist Joshua Triliegi discusses his New On Line Novel, "They Call It The City of ANGELS," creating believable characters and the challenges therein. Season One, Two and Three are available on line at most of the 10 various BUREAU of Arts and Culture Websites & translatable around the world. All Three On Line Seasons Make up The NOVEL's Complete 55 Chapters.  

Discuss the process of writing your recent fiction project, " They Call It The City of Angels ."

Joshua Triliegi: I had lived through the riots of 1992, actually had a home not far from the epicenter and experienced the event first hand, I noticed how the riot was being perceived by those outside our community, people began to call me from around the world, my friends in Paris, my relatives in the mid west, childhood pals, school mates, etc... Each person had a different take on why and what was happening, I still have those recordings, this was back in the day of home message recorders with cassettes. So, after 20 years, I began to re listen to the voices and felt like something was missing in the dialogue.

" I noticed how the riot was being perceived by those outside our community ..."

Some of my friends and fellow theater contemporaries such as Anna Deveare Smith and Roger Guenvere Smith had been making bold statements in relation to the riots with their own works and I realized that there was a version of original origin inside of me. I felt the need to represent the community in detail, but with the event in the background. Because, I can tell you from first hand experience that when these events happen, people are still people, and they deal with these types of historical emergencies differently based on their own culture, their own codes, their own needs and everyday happenstances.

You originally published each chapter on a daily basis, explain how and why ?

Joshua Triliegi: I had been editing The BUREAU of Arts and Culture Magazine for a few years, we printed thousands of magazines that were widely distributed throughout Los Angeles and San Francisco and had created an on-line readership.The part of me that had dabbled in fiction through the years with screenplays and short stories had been ignored for those few years. On the one hand, it was simply a challenge to create a novel without notes, improvising on a daily basis, on the other hand, it gave the project a freedom and an urgency that had some connection with the philosophy of Jack Kerouac and his Spontaneous Prose theories. One thing it did, was forced me, as a creator, to make the decisions quickly and it also, at the time, created a daily on line readership, at least with our core readers, that to this day has strengthened our community sites and followers on line. Season One was a series of introductions to each character. Season Two, which happened the following year, was a completely different experience all together.

Describe Season Two of They Call It The City of Angels and those challenges.

Joshua Triliegi: Well first of all, the opening line of Season One is, " Los Angeles is a funny place to live, but those laughing were usually from out of town, " That opener immediately set up an insiders viewpoint that expresses a certain struggle and angst as well as an outsider — looking — in — perception that may be skewed. In introducing characters throughout season one, I was simply creating a cast of characters that I knew somehow would be important to set the tone surrounding the riots of 1992 in Los Angeles. With Season Two, and an entire year of gestation, which was extremely helpful, even if it was entirely on a subconscious level, I had a very real responsibility to be true to my characters and each persons culture. I had chosen an extremely diverse group of people, but had not actually mentioned their nationality, or color in Season One. By the time season Two rolled around, I found it impossible not to mention their differences and went several steps further to actually define those differences and describe how each character was effected by the perception of the events in their life. This is a novel that happens to take place before, during and after the riot. The characters themselves all have lives that are so complete and full and challenged, as real life actually is, that the riot as a backdrop is entirely secondary to the story.  I was surprised at how much backstory there actually was. I also think my background in theater, gave me a sense of character development that really kicked my characters lives into extreme detail and gave them a fully realized life.

How do you go about creating a character ?

Joshua Triliegi: Well, there is usually a combination of very real respect and curiosity involved. Sometimes, I may have seen that person somewhere in the world and something about them attracted my attention in some way. In the case of They Call It The City of Angels, I knew the people of Los Angeles had all been hurt badly by the riots of 1992, because I am one of those people and it hurt. One minute we were relating between cultures, colors, incomes, the next we were pitted up against one another because some people in power had gotten away with a clear injustice. So with season two, I personally had to delve deeper into each persons life and present a fully realized set of circumstances that would pay off the reader, in terms of entertainment and at the same time be true to the code of each character. Once they were fully realized, the characters themselves would do things that surprised me and that is when something really interesting began to happen.

Could you tell us a bit more about the characters and give us some examples of how they would surprise you as a writer ?

Joshua Triliegi: Well, Jordan, who is an African American bus driver and happens to be a Muslim, began to find himself in extremely humorous situations where he is somehow judged by events and circumstances beyond his control. I thought that was interesting because the average person most likely perceives the people of that particular faith as very serious. Jordan has a girlfriend who is not Muslim and when he is confronted by temptation, he is equally as human as any of my readers and so, he gets himself into situations that complicate his experience and a certain amount of folly ensues. Fred, who is an asian shop owner and a Buddhist, has overcome a series of tragedies, yet has somehow retained his dignity with a stoicism that is practically heroic. At one point, in the middle of a living nightmare, he simply goes golfing, alone and gets a hole in one. Junior, who is a Mexican American young man recently released from prison really drives the story as much of his backstory connects us to Fred and his tragedies as well as legal decisions such as the one that caused the city to erupt as it does in the riot.

You talk a lot about Responsibility to Character, what do you mean and how do you conduct research ?

Joshua Triliegi: Well, if I make a decision that a character is a Muslim or Asian or Mexican or what have you, if I want the respect of my readers and of those who may actually be Muslim, Asian or Mexican, it behooves me to learn something about that character. As a middle aged man who lives in Los Angeles and has done an extensive amount of travel throughout my life, there is a certain amount of familiarity with certain people. But for instance, with Fred, I watched films on the history of the Korean War and had already respected the Korean Community here in Los Angeles for standing up for themselves the way they did. I witnessed full on attacks and gun fights between some of the toughest gangsters in LA and I think even they gained respect for this community in that regard. Fred is simply one of those shop owners, he is a very humble and unassuming man, in season two, he finds himself entering a whole new life and for me as a writer, that is very gratifying and to be totally honest, writing for Fred was the most bitter sweet experience ever. Here is a man who has lost a daughter, a wife, a business partner and he is about to lose all he has, his shop. Regarding Junior and Jordan, I grew up with these guys, I have met them again and again, on buses, in neighborhoods at school. Jordan has a resilience and a casual humor that has been passed down from generations, a survival skill that includes an ironic outlook at life. He also has that accidental Buster Keaton sort of ability to walk through traffic and come out unscathed. Junior on the other hand is a real heavy, like any number of classic characters in familiar cinema history confronted with the challenges of poverty and tragedy. He is the character that paid the biggest price and in return, we feel that experience. There is a certain amount of mystery and even a pent up sexuality and sometimes a violence that erupts due to his circumstances. In season two, within a single episode, Junior takes his father, who is a busboy at a cafe and repositions him as the Don or boss of their original ranch in Mexico.

There seems to be a lot of religion in They Call it the City of Angels, how did that occur and do you attend church or prescribe to any particular faith ?

I never intended for there to be so much religion in this book. But, if you know Los Angeles like I do, you will realize how important faith is to a good many people and particularly to the characters I chose to represent. With Jordan being Muslim, it allowed me to delve into the challenges a person might have pertaining to that particular faith. Fred's life is so full of tragedy that even a devout buddhist would have trouble accepting and letting go of the events that occur in his life. Junior found god in prison as many people do, upon his release back into the real world, he is forced to make decisions which challenge that belief system and sometimes go against his faith, at the same time, he finds himself physically closer to real life events and objects of religious historical significance than the average believer which brings us into a heightened reality and raises questions in a new way. As for my own belief system, I dabble in a series of exercises and rituals that spring from a wide variety of faiths and practices.

You discussed Jordan, Fred and Junior. Tell us about Cliff and Charles and Chuck.

Joshua Triliegi: I don't really believe in secondary characters, but in writing fiction, certain characters simply emerge more pronounced than others. As this project was a daily serial for the magazine, I did try my best to keep a balance, giving each character a fully realized set of circumstances and history. That said, some characters were related to another through family, incident or history and later, I felt compelled to know more about them and see how they would emerge.

Charles is one of those legendary rock and roll guys who was on tour with music royalty and simply disappeared. He's the missing father we all hear about and wonder what would happen if he were to suddenly return into our lives ? His son Mickey, his wife Maggie, his daughter Cally have all gone on with their lives, when Jordan, accidentally runs him over while driving his bus, Charles returns home and a new chapter in their lives begins again.

Chuck is a cop who just happened to marry Juniors sister and they have several daughters. When Junior returns from prison, he and Chuck clash simply because of their careers and history. I felt it was important to include authority in this story and once I decided to represent a police officer, I wanted him to be as fully realized and interesting as any other character, though, clearly Junior drives much of this section of the novel and Chuck is simply another person that complicates Juniors arrival. I should also explain that the arrival of Junior from years in prison is really the beginning of events that lead up to the basic thrust of the story and somehow almost everyone in the novel has a backstory that connects in some way.

Cliff is absolutely one of my all time favorites. He is a mentally challenged boy whose father happens to be the judge on the case that develops into the unjust legal decision and eventually the actual 1992 riots. I have always felt that challenged individuals deserve much more than the marginalized lifestyles that we as a contemporary society provide. Many ancient societies have relegated what we dismiss as something very special. Cliff is challenged, but also happens to be a very intuitively gifted human being whose drawings portend actual future events. Even though his parents are extremely pragmatic, they are forced to consider his gifts.

Cliff is a young upper middle class white boy who is entirely obsessed with the late great comedian Richard Pryor and at very inopportune times, Cliff will perform entire Richard Pryor comedic routines, including much of the original risqué language. Cliff is an innocent who pushes the societal mores to the edge. I have found through fiction the ability to discuss, develop and delve into ideas that no other medium provided me. And as you may know, I am a painter, film maker, photographer, sculptor, designer, who also edits a magazine reviewing art, film and culture.

As a man, do you find it challenging to write female characters ?

Joshua Triliegi: To some extent, yes. That said, I have spent a good many years with women and have had very close relationships with the female gender, both personally and professionally, so on average, I would say that I am not a total buffoon. In They Call It City of Angels, Jordan's girlfriend Wanda and his mom both appeared and bloomed as fully realized characters that I really enjoyed writing for. Cliffs mother Dora is also a very strong female character that I am very proud to have created. Season two presented a special challenge with dialogue between characters that was new territory for me. I have written screenplays in the past, sometimes with collaborators, once with my brother and more recently with my nephew and in Angels, I found it, for the first time, very easy to imagine the conversations and action in a way that was totally new to my process. I would most likely credit that to my own relationships and possibly to the several recent years of interviewing and writing for the magazine in general.

When will we see another season of They Call It The City of Angels ?

We have set a tradition of it being the Summer Fiction Project at the Magazine and since August is a relatively slow month for advertising and cultural events, we will most likely see a Season Three in the summer of 2015. As you may know, I do not take any written notes at all prior to the day that I actually write the chapter, so the characters simply develop on a subconscious level and then during the one month or two week process, I pretty much do nothing at all, but ponder their existence, day to day. This can sometimes be nerve racking as I do plot things out in my head and sometimes even make extreme mental notes, though even then some ideas simply don't make it on the page. During Season Two, I omitted a section of a chapter and later revealed another chapter into a different sequence of events, but besides that it has been a rather straight ahead chapter a day experience that simply pushed me to invent, develop and complete the work of fiction that might have otherwise never existed or possibly taken much more time. I am curious to see how my next project will develop. 

image Guest Artist Canadian Painter ERIK OLSON

Link to Artist Erik Olson at  

Also Link to Erik Olson's Art Gallery in NYC at BRAVIN LEE ART GALLERY  : 
Link to Artist Erik Olson Gallery  


SAN FRANCISCO BUREAU                  

NEW YORK CITY BUREAU                 

SAN DIEGO BUREAU                 


SEATTLE BUREAU                            


THE SOUTH BUREAU                              

BUREAU LITERARY                                

by Joshua A. TRILIEGI  

Luis VALDEZ  changed The Entire Literature Landscape with his Fierce Hit Play, "ZOOT  SUIT".  Here in Southern California, The Play is much more than words. And It is Now Playing at The Los Angeles Downtown Mark Taper Theatre. 

The Play is a personal and positive Idea that gave many people the inspiration to do something with the things they saw, not only in their homes and neighborhoods, but to reclaim what was happening in the media, to own the stories that they were being told and to simply reclaim what was  rightfully theirs to begin with: Their  Own  Family  Stories. In This Interview Bureau Editor Joshua TRILIEGI and Luis VALDEZ discuss his career, his working process and the development of a powerful force that continues to inspire millions of  Indigenous People around  the World and teaches everybody else.Mr Valdez went on to create The Film "LA BAMBA", which told the very important story of Latin Musician & Songwriter, Ritchie Valens. Fueled by the proliferation of 1950's Retro Nostalgic Films such as American Graffiti and its follow up Happy Days, as well as The Musical Biographical genre's popularity of projects like The Buddy Holly Story, Elvis and the like: LA BAMBA was the perfect project that entirely launched the energy and force of ZOOT SUIT into the stratosphere of popular media and culture, finally  a story that rightfully claimed, explained and honored The Latino Experience, or as Luis Valdez might put it, "The Chicano Experience" in popular music history. The film itself touches on the family paradigm in both mythical and real circumstances. A beautiful & entertaining film that holds up today just as it originally did upon its creation. In the same way that Zoot Suit gave us the career of Edward James Olmos, 'The Chicano Bogart', La Bamba gave us a multitude of talent in front  of and behind the scenes: Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Los Lobos & Others. Since then, Mr Valdez has continued his influence as The Worlds Leading Latino and Chicano Playwright traveling everywhere, all the time, sharing his great wealth of knowledge and experience with a world thirsty for truth, experience & entertainment. We are proud to bring you Luis VALDEZ, unexpurgated, uninhibited and unbeaten.

Joshua TRILIEGI: First of all, It is a pleasure to share your experience with our readers. We attended the Los Angeles Anniversary screening of Zoot Suit and later bought and re read the play. There is so much in it: reality, folklore and a fierce power as well as a genuinely hip musical element, could you share with us how that piece originally formed in your mind and how you developed it into the groundbreaking Broadway play ? 

Luis VALDEZ: In the Fall of 1977, I was commissioned by Gordon Davidson, artistic director of the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum in LA, to write a play based on an infamous chapter of Los Angeles history, specifically the Sleepy Lagoon Case of 1942 and the subsequent Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.    Although hardly forgotten in the Chicano barrios, the Pachuco Era had been buried in the dust bins of oblivion by Anglo officialdom which preferred not to commemorate painful past embarrassments.  An entire new generation born after World War II hardly knew anything about the pachucos, though inevitably, in the mid 60s, young Mexican Americans began to call themselves Chicanos, as the legacy of their zoot-suited barrio forbearers kicked in, inheriting their racial pride, urban slang and cultural defiance. 

The generational difference was that many of these Chicano(a)s were now speaking their patois in colleges or universities. But the painful sting of the Zoot Suit Riots and the Sleepy Lagoon Case still persisted in the barrios, like an old suppurating wound that was taking decades to heal.  My play thus inadvertently became a way to deal directly with the psychic damage inflicted on the East LA barrios by the Zoot Suit Riots by opening up the old racist wound and airing it in the public arena of the theater. The truth of this became evident when the play sold out at the Mark Taper even before it opened, and when the public followed the play to the Aquarius Theater  in Hollywood.  It ran there for eleven months, and in the end, more than 400,000 people came to see it.  Half of them were Chicanos, most of whom had never seen a play before. This then motivated the move to the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City in 1979, where Zoot Suit became the first Chicano play to make it to Broadway. 

 The roots of the play, however, lie far from the Great White Way. I was born in a farm labor camp in Delano, California in 1940.  In those days Delano was a hot spot in the San Joaquin Valley, and we had our own pachucos in the  “Chinatown” barrio on the westside.  One of them was my cousin Billy; another was his running partner C.C.. Billy spoke a fluid pachuco patois, so he taught me to call myself “Chicano” even thought I was only six. I learned a lot about the pachucos, including their slang and style of being, in this most intimate and familial way. Tragically, Billy died a violent death in Phoenix, eighteen knife wounds to the chest.  But his running partner C.C. survived, joined the Navy and came home one day to marry and settle down.  In 1965, when I told my mother in San Jose that I was returning to Delano to form a farm workers theater with the grape strikers, my Mom said: “Oh, you’re going to work with C.C.?”   “C.C.?” I said, “Is that vato still around?”  “Mijo,” my mother responded, “Don’t you know who C.C. is?  He’s Cesar Chavez.”

In 1970, El Teatro Campesino, the Farm Workers Theater born on the picket lines of the Great Delano Grape Strike, produced my first full length play since college. It was called “Bernabe,”  with a character called “La Luna” appearing in a bit part as a mythical Pachuco in a suit of lights. The character was so intriguing, I knew right away that he deserved a play of his own.  Seven years later, when Gordon Davidson asked me to write about the Sleepy Lagoon, I chose to make El Pachuco the mythical central figure, both as master of ceremonies and alter ego of Henry “Hank” Reyna, the protagonist and leader of the 38 Street Gang. Above all, El Pachuco became the guide, the storyteller, so that the history of the Sleepy Lagoon Case and the Zoot Suit Riots could be told through a Chicano POV. The rest, as the saying goes, is American theater history.

Joshua TRILIEGI: Something about your work is so very true, genuine and original, at the same time, you speak for a good many individuals in the community. Would you talk a bit about staying true to one's vision and at the same time tapping into a larger truth, for not only our own communities, but for the world. 

Luis VALDEZ: I wrote my first plays at San Jose State, graduating in ’64 with a BA in English with an emphasis in playwriting.  It was not the most practical choice for a son of migrant farm workers, much less a Chicano, but I was determined to follow my heart.  I had gotten hooked on theatre in the first grade in 1946, when I was cast in the Christmas school play.  I was to play a monkey wearing a mask my teacher made, turning my brown taco bag into paper maché.  I was exhilarated. Then the week of my great debut, my migrant family was evicted from the labor camp where we had overstayed our welcome.  I was never in the play.  A great hole of despair opened up in my chest.  It could have destroyed me.  But I learned early on that negatives can always be turned into positives. I took with me two things:  one, the secret of paper maché, which allowed to make my own masks and puppets; and two, a deep, residual anger for my family’s eviction from the labor camp. Twenty years later, I went to Cesar Chavez and pitched him my idea for a theater of, by and for farm workers. And so the hole in my chest became the hungry mouth of my creativity, into which I have been pouring plays, poems, essays, screenplays, books, etc. for almost 70 years. 

Joshua TRILIEGI: The Los Angeles and California scene has changed, grown and developed into a much stronger unification than ever before, [ Since the 1970's ] when ZOOT SUIT made it's initial impression. Your work is a big part of that growth.Tell us about your humble beginnings making plays and skits locally, before unveiling some of your opus masterworks. 

Luis VALDEZ: The challenge of creating theater with striking campesinos was a humbling experience. Cesar had warned me from the start: “There’s no money to do theatre in Delano,” he told me. “There’s no actors, no stage, no time even to rehearse. We’re on the picket line night day. Do you still want to take a crack at it?”  “Absolutely, Cesar!”  I responded. “What an opportunity!”  I was, of course, thinking about spirit of the movement he had started.  But he was absolutely right. By necessity, El Teatro Campesino was born on the picket line.  In time, we began to perform at the NFWA’S Friday night meetings. The National Farm Workers Association may have been rich in spirit but it was dead broke. After college, I had joined the San Francisco Mime Troupe for a year, performing in city parks, learning the improvisational techniques of Commedia dell Arte. This knowledge proved to be more useful in Delano than all the theater history I had learned at SJS. But my greatest revelation came from the campesinos themselves.  As actors and audience, they taught me to stay down to earth; to stay away from all the pretentious artsy crap and to get to the point with actos that were clear and hard hitting.  Above all, to stay positive and hopeful.  “Don’t talk about it, do it!” became an essential Teatro precept.  Later when we began to stage Actos about the Chicano Movement, the Vietnam War and racism in the schools, we found our audiences in LA, Chicano and New York no less responsive to our basic simplicity than the original grape strikers.  “Zoot Suit” came about a dozen years after the birth of El Teatro, but the roots of my musical play like those of the original pachucos reach deep into the barrio earth.

Joshua TRILIEGI: I attended the auditions for LA BAMBA at Los Angeles Theater Complex in the Nineteen - Eighties. The excitement around the project was, and still is, very much alive and entirely current. Tell us a bit about that experience. 

Luis VALDEZ: Before it was a film, LA BAMBA was originally going to be a stage musical by me and my brother Daniel.  It was actually conceived on the Opening Night of Zoot Suit in New York.  We were at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway, and as I made my final rounds before curtain time,  I dropped into my brother’s dressing room on the second floor. As the lead actor in the play with Edward James Olmos, Daniel was in high spirits.  We both were.  We had came a long way from Delano. Celebrating our success, we pledged that now that we had brought the 40s to Broadway, we should bring the 50s.  But how, with what?  At that exact moment, we heard mariachi music. Looking out the dressing room window, down toward Seventh Avenue, we spotted a gilded, fully suited band of mariachis playing up toward us.  We didn’t know it at that moment but the President of Mexico had sent mariachis to serenade us on opening night. Daniel and I recognized the tune immediately.  It was the answer to the question we had just posed to each other about our next musical. We simultaneously laughed and said the words to each other: LA BAMBA!

It took five years to bring the project to fruition.  The biggest problem turned out to be the lack of biographical material about Ritchie Valens, born Richard Valenzuela, in 1941 Los Angeles. There were a few articles in old magazines, but no published book or biography.  What’s worse, Daniel had no success at all in finding surviving members of Ritchie’s family. They were long gone from Pacoima in the San Fernando Valley, where they lived in the 50s, 60s and 70s, and in the early 80s, before the internet,  there was no social network to tap into. Without direct contact with the family, LA BAMBA was turning into a pipe dream. Somewhat dispirited, Daniel came back from Los Angeles to San Juan Bautista, home base of El Teatro Campesino, vowing nonetheless to keep on searching.  Then one night, as life’s ironies would have it, he finally met Ritchie’s older half brother, Bob Morales. He met him in San Juan Bautista  in Daisy’s Saloon! It turned out that Bob and most of Ritchie’s family now lived fifteen miles away in Watsonville, and he occasionally frequented Daisy’s with his biker friends. One thing quickly led to another. Bob took Daniel to meet Connie Valenzuela,Ritchie’s mom, then Daniel took me to meet the entire family.  Within days, we took the story to our old friend Taylor Hackford in Hollywood, who agreed to option Ritchie’s story as a biopic for the big screen with Columbia Pictures. I wrote the screenplay over the winter and once we got a green light, I directed the picture the following summer, with my brother as associate producer. In the end, our biopic ended up grossing more than 100 million world wide. Very few movies come into being quite so precipitously. But there were twists of fate. We had originally intended the part of Ritchie Valens as a vehicle for my bro, But by the time we got the green light, Daniel graciously conceded that at 37 he could no longer pass as 17. So for all of his efforts, he generously created an opportunity to make a star out of Lou Diamond Phillips.

Joshua TRILIEGI: A writers experience with his or her collaborators is rather important, in your case: Los Lobos, Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips to name a few. Will you talk about how much input you had at the time these projects were in development in choosing these fellow artists. 

Luis VALDEZ: During the casting of Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum in ’78, our greatest dilemma turned out to be the part of El Pachuco.   I wrote the script with my brother Daniel in mind, though I saw him as both Henry Reyna and El Pachuco. The issue of nepotism aside, we had been collaborating within El Teatro Campesino for a dozen years before Zoot Suit came along.  So it was only natural for him to serve as my unique role model for the play. Unfortunately,unlike film, he could not play two roles onstage simultaneously.  So we set out on our quest to find one or the other. After an exhausting two weeks in LA, unable to find an alternate Henry or Pachuco among hundreds of actors, I took the weekend to be with my wife Lupe back in San Juan, where she was recuperating after giving birth to our third son Lakin on the very day I finished the script. Daniel continued with the auditions. A day or so later, he called me with subdued excitement: “Guess what?” he said, “I found El Pachuco!”

It turned out that after another disappointing day in LA, my bro met a a trim Chicano actor with a Bogart face strolling down the halls of the Mark Taper Annex across from the Music Center. Daniel asked him if he was there for the auditions. The Chicano Bogie responded: “What auditions?”  Apparently, he knew nothing about Zoot Suit, but he was willing to read for a part. So Daniel read him. I had given my brother the option to play either of the two leads, but once he saw and heard Edward James Olmos read, he knew he had found El Pachuco.  
A spirit of creative collaboration is always a necessity in the theater, but given my experience with El Teatro, “Zoot Suit” could not have come about any other way.  Eddie Olmos created El Pachuco, as surely as El Pachuco helped to create Edward James Olmos the movie star. The fierce intensity of his stage presence no doubt came from his very being, but Eddie had a “killer instinct” that captured the essence of the pachuco phenomenon in the 40s.  Oddly, in a similar way, Lou Diamond Phillips captured the killer instinct that made Ritchie Valens a rock star; though in Ritchie’s case, it was mixed with the residual innocence of a 17 year old. This innocence is the key to the enduring poignancy of  “Donna,” a classic teenage lament of long lost love if there ever was one. Finding this mix of guilelessness with ferocity was the challenge in casting the star of LA BAMBA.  We literally auditioned over 600 actors from Los Angeles to New York. Finally in Dallas, Texas, we found an actor who had been making Christian films.  He came in with a certain intensity to read for Bob, the role he obviously coveted.  But under all that bravado was an unmistakably poignant heart. So Lou Diamond Phillips became Ritchie Valens, and Ritchie became Lou, with all the innocent ferocity that made him reach for the stars.

None of this, of course, would have been possible without my musical collaborators. In the case of “Zoot Suit,” I owe a debt of gratitude to Lalo Guerrero, the Godfather and Gran Maestro de la Musica Chicana.  With his permission, I tapped directly into five of his classics from the 1940s to turn my play into a kick-ass form of cabaret theater, if not into a full fledged musical. Lalo’s music is unquestionably the Pachuco soul of “Zoot Suit.” Similarly, Ritchie’s music is the soul of LA BAMBA, but it could never have come back to life without Los Lobos. We were friends long before their first album, “Just Another Band from East LA”launched their remarkable career.  But working on the film’s sound track with Los Lobos, featuring the voice of David Hidalgo as Ritchie’s, was a collaborative joy.  LA BAMBA took them to the top of the charts for the first time, but they’ve been up there many times since then. So has the great Carlos Santana, another of my collaborators on the movie. It is his subtle, penetrating guitar solos that follow Ritchie’s emotional trajectory throughout the film. Let’s face it. Genius in the barrio is genius everywhere. ¡Ajua!

Joshua TRILIEGI: In the neighborhood that I grew up in, at that time, there were several different camps and schools of thought that became represented by imagery and eventually posters in the rooms of our friends: Farah Fawcett, Bruce Lee, Led Zeppelin, Gerry Lopez, David Partridge and of course the Incredible Image of Artist IGNACIO GOMEZ who designed the image for ZOOT SUIT. That particular Image always has and always will mean something very special to many of us. Talk with us about IMAGE and TEXT and that very important relationship between artist and writer. 

Luis VALDEZ: The first poster for ZOOT SUIT was created from a drawing by José Montoya, the late great Chicano poet, muralista, and maestro from the Sacramento barrios. With both paint and ink, José had been capturing the Pachuco Image for decades, in poems, lithographs and silk screen posters. In 1973, he and his homies at the R.C.A.F. (the Rebel Chicano Artists Front that playfully dubbed themselves the Royal Chicano Air Force ) even staged a piece at the Third Teatro Festival in San José called “Recuerdos del Palomar.”  Decked out as pachucos in zoot suits with their huisas in mini skirts, José and his cronies did not pretend to present a play as much as offer a form of performance art.  Characteristically, José’s pachuco images were always imbued with a tinge of self-deprecating humor; which was exactly the quality of the first ZOOT SUIT poster. This image represented the play in its first draft, a two week workshop production run as part of the “New Theatre For Now” series at the Taper in Spring ‘78.  

When I rewrote the play to open the main season that Fall, the Center Theatre Group hired Ignacio Gomez to create a new image more in concert with the growing impact of the production. More or less styled on Edward James Olmos’ interpretation of the role, El Pachuco now became a towering figure straddling City Hall. More in line with the mythical dimensions of the lead character in my play, the image was elegant, stark and grand.  Almost immediately, thanks to Nacho’s brilliant skill as an artist, El Pachuco became iconic. As seen in newspapers, magazines and on the sides of municipal buses, the image seemed to burrow its way into the public’s consciousness, especially in the Chicano community.  With all due respect and modesty, it remains a perfect example of how an artist and a playwright coming together can create a powerful symbol that speaks across multiple generations, perhaps even helping to heal some old psychic wounds in the City of the Angels.

Joshua TRILIEGI: The trajectory of a career has its own pulse and arc. You have continued to stay busy with collaborations of all sorts: El Teatro Campesino, San Diego Repertory Projects, PBS great Performances and so on. Tell us about the recent Ancient Goddess Project and the role that Kinan Valdez has taken on since 2006. 

Luis VALDEZ: El Teatro Campesino will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015. After a half century of uninterrupted artistic and cultural activism, we are proud to declare ourselves a multi-generational theater family.  We could not have survived any other way.  My beloved wife, Lupe Trujillo Valdez, joined El Teatro in 1968. As an activist at Fresno State University, she was the daughter of campesinos,  a supporter of the United Farm Workers, and the first college-educated Chicana to “run away with the circus.”  We were married in ’69, as much for love as for our shared political beliefs.  We have three sons – Anahuac (’71), Kinan (’73) and Lakin (’78) – all born into the Teatro family, all artists and activists in their own right, all devoted to the betterment of the world around them through social justice and the arts.  Other 40 year plus members and founders of the Teatro, such as my biological brother Daniel and spiritual brother Phil Esparza, have also raised their children and grandchildren within our family of families.

Cesar Chavez died in 1993, signaling the beginning of an organizational change in the Chicano Movement that El Teatro Campesino began to naturally undergo in the mid nineties. It was nothing more or less than the passing of leadership from one generation to the next. The older generation continued to serve on the Board of Directors, but the younger Generation took the reins of day to day operations.  In this regard, my son Anahuac was the first the serve as the new General Manager of the company.  In due time both Kinan and Lakin became associate artistic directors, until Kinan assumed full leadership as Producing Artistic Director in 2007.  During all this time, they continued to write, direct, produce and act in new plays of their own creation.  They staged Teatro classics such as “La Gran Carpa de los Rasquachis” and took full responsibility for the Christmas plays in Mission San Juan Bautista.  Working with other young artists in the company, they staged world theater classics like Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi” and Bertolt Brecht’s “The Measures Taken.” Experimenting with musical forms, Kinan also wrote and directed a goddess play called “The Fascinatrix” and another quasi-satirical work called “I Love You, Sam Burguesa.”  Their objective was obviously to expand the range of El Teatro’s work, but with other works they consciously stuck to the political core. To wit, in 2010 Lakin wrote and directed a piece called “Victor in Shadow,” about the martyred Chilean folksinger Victor Jara. The three brothers then collaborated on three plays based on Mayan CreationMyths, including “Popul Vuh – Parts One and Two” written and directed by Kinan; and “Popul Vuh – Part Three, the Magic Twins” written and directed by Lakin. More recently, this summer in 2014, Kinan and Lakin collaborated with the La Jolla Playhouse/San Diego REP, playing the leads in “El Henry,” Herbert Siguenza’s raucous adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV part one.

Joshua TRILIEGI: You are considered The Godfather of Latin Theater Worldwide. Has there been pressure to create a certain type of work with that mantle attached ? And how do we as writers, as artists, as performers retain that same vitality and spontaneity in our work, after the fame and notoriety ?

Luis VALDEZ: In 2010, I was invited to Mexico City by the CNT ( Compania Nacional de Teatro) to translate and direct the world premiere of ZOOT SUIT in Spanish.  As far as I know, no other Chicano playwright/director had ever been offered such an honor, so I accepted with the humility of a long lost orphan given the chance to finally come home. Ironically, I was not born in Mexico. Neither were my Mom and Dad, who were born in Arizona early in the Twentieth century. The real immigrants in my family were my abuelos – my grandparents and great grandparents - who crossed the border from the northern state of Sonora before the Mexican Revolution over a century ago.  Why then did I feel like an orphan? Because all my life, despite myAmerican birth, I had been treated like a Mexican. Here then is another example of how negatives can always be turned into positives.  As an indio-looking, hyphenated Mexican American, I had no choice but to declare myself a Chicano; which if you see it my way is a Twenty-first century New American with a hemispheric identity. I did not buy into that fictitious line drawn in the desert called the border that separates rich from impoverished, white from brown, “America” from “Latin” America.  So despite all the fame and notoriety my career has brought me, I remain brown and indio-looking. I feel no more pressure to remain Latino than to be an Anglo.  I just am who I am, and that’s all there is to it. In the final analysis, assimilation is hardly a one way street. The world’s cultures have been assimilating each other for centuries. Sooner or later, most people in this hemisphere will realize that we are all New Americans.  Until then, I rely on the struggle for social justice to keep my work spontaneous and vital.

Joshua TRILIEGI: Your public appearances are totally off the cuff, unrehearsed and down right bold. I love that about you, there is no lie. Not unlike The Zoot Suiter finding his power once he actually takes off the suit and finds himself underneath the costume. To whom would you attribute that particular trait in your earliest influences ? 

Luis VALDEZ: My earliest influences no doubt came from my immediate family – my parent, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and their compadres. They were a vital, crusty, earthy lot. But as a kid I couldn’t help but notice right away that something was not right. Life was rigged somehow. Despite all our sweat and back breaking labor in the fields, we were always jodidos, poor as hell and out of gas, with nothing to do but move on to the next menial job. I hated stoop labor, not because it was unbearably hard but because it was humiliating. All the more because wages were dirt cheap. My folks kept their spirits up by developing a wicked sense of ironic humor, but I quickly realized that this was the only way they could tolerate the shit pies in the face that fate was giving them. Despite the constant looming despair, they kept me and my siblings in school, knowing it was our only way out. In due time I discovered that working with my hands did not prevent me from using my imagination. So even though I was picking cotton, potatoes, cherries, prunes and apricots as fast as I could, my mind was automatically running riot with ideas for bilingual stories, jokes and songs. With this kind of daily mental exercise, my school lessons became easy, a way to prove my worth to my teachers and myself in the face of discrimination. Like my uncles and cousins, I learned to defend myself with stinging ironic humor using the Pachuco slang of the barrio, but I also developed a proficiency in English.Mentally code-switching back and forth between Spanish and English, I eventually developed a spontaneous fluidity of expression that can only come from a well-exercised brain.   Like I say, any negative can always be turned into a positive. I won a scholarship to attend San Jose State College in 1958, as a Math and Physics major my first year.  By my second year, I knew what I really had to do.  I had to set my imagination free by releasing all those stories, jokes and songs still zinging in my head.  I had to admit to myself that I was an actor and a playwright, despite the fact that a career in the theater was totally impractical. So I switched majors to English, and never looked back.   I became what I always wanted to be – a Chicano playwright.

Joshua TRILIEGI: Thank You so much for taking the time to share your experience with our readers. How can the public support current and developing projects and productions by ETC ?

Luis VALDEZ: This summer El Teatro Campesino is producing my latest full-length play, VALLEY OF THE HEART, in our playhouse in San Juan Bautista.  It runs from August thru September, before moving on to other venues as part of our Fiftieth Anniversary celebration. If you come on Labor Day weekend, you can see both VALLEY in our theater and POPUL VUH outdoors in the park. If you can’t make it to San Juan, you can help us by donating online through our website at  But please support any of the Latino theater productions in your area. We fervently continue to believe that “Theater is the Creator of Community, and Community is the Creator of Theater.” For as our ancient Mayan ancestors believed:  CREER ES CREAR. ¡Si Se Puede!


We are extremely pleased and proud to bring you inside the mind of one of America's leading documentary filmmakers with a catalogue of films that each speak to the culture and subculture of America. Since the mid 1990s Doug Pray has been creating substantial and succesful films with a built in audience documenting subjects that have grown in popularity since their initial inception. He has covered Surfing, Street Art, Rap and Rock Music, Trucking, Advertising and Modern Art. In this Exclusive and deeply Educational Conversation, Doug Pray describes his career, his films, the process and development of each project in extreme, in depth detail. Doug Pray's films seem to hit a chord that fits right in with our readership and we can think of no better way to say how very happy we are to have him as our Guest Filmmaker in this Edition.


Joshua Triliegi:  Most of your films directly speak to many of our readers’ interest.  Lets talk about how a film like SURFWISE, about the famous Paskowitz Family, was created.

Doug Pray: SURFWISE was a story that had to be told by someone, and I felt lucky when its producers presented it to me as a potential project. The Paskowitz family is, and was, such a rare, living example of an idealistic dream fully realized. An experiment that went all the way. We can all claim to want to get away from society and live life on our own terms. Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz and his wife Juliette did it. Not for a day, or a week, or a month – for decades.  And with total purity. When Doc passed away just a few weeks ago, he was still at it, living a dynamic life at 93.

Though the Paskowitz family had attained media attention and notoriety in the ‘70s and ‘80s – both for being a world-famous surfing family and for the children’s later successes as champion surfers, rock musicians, artists, models, and more – the whole story, beginning, middle, and end, had never been told. That complete story was two burning truths, the collision of which made for an exciting, emotional movie. 

The first truth was the dream. A Stanford-trained doctor is repulsed by the unhealthy lifestyles being taught and practiced by the medical establishment. He drops out of society, falls in love with the perfect woman (willing to join his mission), raises 9 children, lives in a camper on the beach and pursues a lifestyle more in sync with the natural human beings we used to be (exercise/rest/sex/diet befitting animals in the wild), and less like the disgustingly unhealthy creatures we’ve become.  For the next 20 years he carries out this experiment with his family: surfing every day, healthy living, no school, a nomadic “off-the-grid” type of existence, a close, loving family. It was beautiful. And the kids were better for it! Homeschooling and surfing made them strong and smart. Today they are the brightest, most dynamic, full-of-life folks you’ll ever meet. 

The other truth, the downside, is that to pull this off, one has to be a domineering extremist. Like many narcissistic, visionary leaders, Doc’s inspiration was only as strong as his ego and his blinders.  He was, at times, abusive to his family and in fulfilling his personal vision for the family he created a lot of pain and turmoil. And the kids, even though they had this seemingly wonderful upbringing, were not well prepared for the “real world” and they struggled terrifically as a result. As a filmmaker, I was grateful this film came to me with built-in conflict. Normally I’m trying to drum up conflict with editorial finessing to make a story more dynamic. 

Plus, though I’m not a surfer, I was allowed to celebrate this incredibly rich subculture from deep inside its heart, with its ultimate spokesman, Doc Paskowitz (R.I.P.). I got to explore his philosophies of surfing and show the healing power of the ocean waves first hand. I was able to prove to the world the power of surfing and to discard the half-assed surfer stereotypes we get from movies and popular culture. I’ve tried to do that in all my films. 

Joshua Triliegi:  Your films seem to touch on a truth about American cultural moments in time and place. SCRATCH takes us into the Hip Hop scene of the early 2000's. 

Doug Pray: SCRATCH, more than any of the seven films I’ve made about American subcultures, is one we were actually shooting at the very moment it became part of the zeitgeist.  We were filming hip hop DJs and “turntablists” in 1999-2000 but it felt like we were witnessing the birth of jazz. There was this rediscovery of hip-hop’s improvisational, and uplifting roots. The movement recaptured the energy from the late ‘70s South Bronx and upped it. And it happened at a time when mainstream rap music had become so commercialized and meaningless by bling, gangster violence, and bloated stars. It was one of those cyclical moments in culture when people say, ‘WTF! Let’s take this back to the beginning, to move forward.’ Hip hop was started by DJs.  So filming them as instrumental wizards of the 1’s and 2’s at the front of the stage (again) was as profound to its original inventors (like Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Mixer DXT, and Jazzy Jay), as it was to the new generation, like Qbert, DJ Shadow, and Rob Swift, flipping it on its head.

Always the outsider, and a newcomer to hip hop, I fell in love with the energy of this music at the same moment many others were.  The vibe I was able to capture on film felt so fresh (Fr Fr Fr Fressssh, that is). The performers knew it. The audiences knew it. My cinematographers knew it. And I had a blast editing it.  It’s one doc where my filmmaking style itself was fully inspired by the subject, musically and editorially. My assignment with SCRATCH was to blow away audiences in the same way people go nuts when their DJ drops an impossibly great track on the dance floor: surprise and exuberance, regardless of whether or not you liked hip hop or knew the song. Playing the role of intermediary or translator is something I’ve also tried to do in all my films.  I love taking something that is very insider, underground, or misunderstood, and making it so that it’s actually felt by all viewers.

Joshua Triliegi:  Early on, documentary filmmakers tend to follow a subject they have an interest in, such as HYPE!, your film on the Seattle music scene. Later, offers come in to cover a certain event, such as your most recent film, LEVITATED MASS. Tell our readers a bit about the journey your career has taken.

Doug Pray: I’ve never really wanted to do any of the films I did, initially. I wasn’t enough of a fan or just didn’t understand the subject at first. Yet there’s always been something after a few months of consideration that hooks my curiosity in a deeper way and makes me feel like I just have to make the movie, like an assignment that I must accept.

HYPE! was my first film and I fought against it the hardest, because it seemed like bad idea and my producer and I started filming too late to do the “real” Seattle music scene justice.  Ironically, it made the most sense of any project for me to direct because my college roommates were members of the Young Fresh Fellows who were one of the more influential Seattle bands in the mid-‘80s (not famous, not grunge, but beloved and highly inspirational to other bands and labels in the area). Thanks to them, and the band Flop (for whom I’d directed music videos) I already had access to this super vibrant, authentic, and wonderfully ridiculous music scene. It just hadn’t occurred to me to make a film about it.  

 Sometimes the best subjects for documentaries are right in front of you and you don’t recognize it. Because, while I was digging my friend’s bands, this “grunge rock” thing was becoming the next global rock phenomenon all around us.  A ton of bands like Mudhoney, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Sub Pop and other labels, and the world’s media, created what was the world’s last, definable, local music movement. The grunge scene was so strongly identified with Seattle it may have even killed – forever—the notion of a city music scene ever happening again. I eventually realized that the hyping of Seattle was the story itself, and the transformation from “underground-authentic” to “exposed-labeled-exploited” needed to be shown and told. 

I’m not sure if it’s because I was influenced by my three much-older brothers, or because I was a sociology major in college, but I’ve always wanted to know why underground movements start, and how they get processed by mainstream culture. I have an innate desire to delve into a widely misunderstood culture and try to get people to appreciate it for what it really is and where it really came from.  And the more “out there” or abstract or intimidating it is, the more I enjoy building a bridge to it. 

Certainly that was the case with my newest film, LEVITATED MASS. The way Michael Heizer’s boulder was hyped and labeled and became something completely different to hundreds of thousands of people during its transport, than what the sculpture was itself.

SCRATCH hooked me after I talked to Mix Master Mike one night and suddenly realized how completely wrong my stereotypes about hip hop were. I wanted to right that.  INFAMY, an emotional portrait of the lives of six notorious graffiti writers, is about the most dominant and present art forms on the planet, but completely misunderstood; seemingly loved or hated for all the wrong reasons.  I wanted to humanize the artists. Not trying to make them likeable but relatable.  The advertising geniuses in ART & COPY, like illegal taggers, were similarly vilified (advertising being the devil’s work, and all), but their creative struggle was the same: success gained only by taking huge risks. To me, even the very people who were creating mass media seemed to be frustrated outsiders, with a lot to say.  

My fourth film, BIG RIG began as a mindless celebration of chrome and ‘70s trucker songs (which I loved). But after I found out that fun wacky culture didn’t exist, it morphed into a 25,000 mile moody journey into this rather depressed community of workers who carry the nation on their backs and get little or nothing in return. Independent truck drivers aren’t artists or musicians, but they are maverick individuals who are often extremists in their behavior or beliefs, not unlike Doc Paskowitz or Michael Heizer or life-long graffiti writers. They are people who have set out to make bold statements, who are independent.

With each new film I thought was rebelling against my last film. After SURFWISE I knew I’d never do another surf film. After INFAMY I didn’t want to do another graffiti film. Yet the more I tried to change the channel away from my last subject– just to keep life interesting – the more each documentary found similar themes. Only today, looking back, can I see these patterns for the first time—a formed constellation of what I thought were disconnected stars. 

Joshua Triliegi:  BIG RIG takes us on the road in a behind-the-scenes style of 18 wheel truck drivers coast to coast. Discuss the building of trust when covering documentary subjects.

Doug Pray: It is hard for me to defend the importance of trust when making documentary films because it is so essential. It’s as important as having air to breath. I think trust, between director and subject (just as it is between a director and actor) is essential, and makes for good interviews and good films.In some ways, I have it easy: I don’t make overtly political films. I don’t have to interview enemies.  I admire people who can go into war zones and get the truth from all sources, even those not trusted.  I respect filmmakers who have the guts to confront their most hated adversaries (so long as those privileges aren’t abused and quotes taken out of context for purely sensational edits, which backfires and annoys me to no end.)I have no enemies in my movies, nor do I judge my subjects. I leave that to the audience. I believe every individual on the planet is equally fallible and lovable, and—in some small way—can be relatable. I’m always grateful that they are letting me film their lives and thoughts. They’re giving me a gift and it’s never the other way around.  My whole approach to an interview subject is geared to gain trust.  A small example: I rarely ask someone to sign an interview release form before their interview starts, even if I know I’m taking that person to places that are extremely uncomfortable. I tell them to feel free to stop or rethink or delete whatever they’re saying while we’re talking. This approach fosters trust and results in more in-depth, uncensored responses than I might get if there was mistrust.  We are working together and not in a hunter-prey situation (no pun intended), their degree of comfort directly results in more honest responses. Despite my last name, I am not very religious.  But I was raised as a Quaker and one of the interesting things about their history is that they assumed trust. 

This played out in courtrooms where they refused to take oaths when in court. After all, if you were always telling the truth, why would you separate out a certain part of your day to swear that you are going to be telling the truth? Why would I expect someone to sign a release if I wasn’t going to reciprocate and treat them with respect? With BIG RIG trust had to be gained in a matter of seconds. There was no pre-casting or research to find characters. We found all of our interview subjects in truck stops parking lots. Most truckers are in a hurry and the last thing they want is to be solicited in a parking lot (I quickly learned that the only people who do are prostitutes, drug dealers, and documentary filmmakers). I needed to spend a few hours or half a day in a truck with a driver so I had to have my pitch down to 10 seconds flat, like speed-dating. I’d immediately tell them who I was, what I wanted, and how it would work. I had to be completely transparent. I’d joke about how absurd it was that a filmmaker from LA was approaching them at this moment, disarming them with self-deprecation. I held the camera in my hands so they saw it and knew it was real. I had a flyer that made it legit. My producer and I were still chased out of numerous truck stops by cops, owners, people with broomsticks… but about one out of ten let us into their truck, and once they were rolling and I was rolling, let me into their lives.  I told them we could talk about anything they want. They needed to trust that I was not trying to abuse or exploit them and that I didn’t have a political agenda. I just wanted the truth about life on the road and their lives themselves.  I said that to every trucker. They said loads of things that were compelling, sometimes crazy, and other times personally disagreeable, but that only made them more interesting to me.  More than any other I let that film write itself, in the same way a hitchhiking journey finds its own route. 

Joshua Triliegi: Tell us about your graffiti film INFAMYand how you actually became a documentary filmmaker?

Doug Pray: INFAMY is the most hands-on, scrappy film I’ve ever done, and maybe my favorite because it demanded more immediate, thinking-in-the-moment filmmaking skills from me than any other film.  I was shooting illegal activities, and underground figures who like to stay anonymous and aren’t used to throwing up interviews. We couldn’t show up with a four-person crew or have the apparatus of typical location filming. So I’d shoot and interview at the same time, and wanted to be able to ditch the camera (and myself) if caught in the act of graffiti.    

Though it’s a lifestyle choice they’ve made early on, there’s nothing easy or fun about most hardcore graffiti writers’ lives, once they’ve dedicated their lives to it. INFAMY brought up a lot of pain, regrets, and emotion. It also was a blast (danger is, after all, fun). The careening unpredictability of their lives allowed me, as a filmmaker, to be freer and find the story on the spot – what to film, where to go, and what lives to focus on. This idea of writing while you are filming and writing while you are editing (though I didn’t edit INFAMY) is what I love about making documentaries.

I’m terrible at inventing stuff out of thin air.  I’m useless with a blank page and have never been able to write fiction. Movies, to me, were something you had to do – they were never some “big idea”, they were assigned by life. After taking a few film classes at Columbia College in Chicago and making some completely confusing shorts, I moved to San Francisco and started working for a documentary film producer named Woody Clark. I was in charge of shipping for a whole year, and sent 16mm prints of the first-ever documentary about sexual harassment in the workplace to hundreds of companies suddenly worried about lawsuits (the phrase had just been coined). So, the first lesson I learned in the “biz” was wrong: you can make a lot of money on socially relevant documentaries. Woody did, and it threw me off for life! 

At that company I got my first break, editing and producing a semi-corporate but gut-wrenching documentary project for a hospital in Virginia that treated children with traumatic brain injuries. That got me into the UCLA Producers Program and from there I snuck into their directing-production program. I went there for four years but never took a documentary class. Instead I learned about working with actors, getting performances, cameras, lenses, lighting—all of which made me a better non-fiction director—and film structure, the most important skill I ever learned.  

After graduating, it took me a year to realize that I’d never write that great American screenplay, that I wasn’t actually Francis Ford Coppola (which was a shame), and that nobody gave a damn that I had an MFA. This whole time, a fellow producer, Steve Helvey, was bugging the hell out of me, wanting to make a film about the Seattle music scene.  I hated the idea and kept putting him off until I was, in fact, directing that film, HYPE!, my first feature doc.  

Joshua Triliegi: ART & COPY is all about advertising, art and ideas for sale, When do you know you have enough material, interviews and images for your documentaries?

Doug Pray: You don’t ever realize. There is no moment when you are done shooting. There is no magic moment when you realize you are done editing. You can keep doing it for the rest of your natural life, and we’ve all met filmmakers who do just that. Usually you just have to stop you’re so exhausted and depressed, occasionally because you’re happy with the cut.

You start with a rough idea of all the things you think you need. Then you set up a production plan and figure out how you will go about getting it all. For my films, it’s usually been about five or six weeks of shooting spread out over six months or a year. We’ll usually edit rough sections as we accumulate footage, and once we have a full rough cut, it becomes much clearer what we need to tell the story that we don’t yet have.  I’ll go shoot more interviews and that later footage often becomes the essential glue to hold things together.   

For ART & COPY we knew who the advertising legends we wanted to interview were. In each case the request was similar: I wanted an in-depth interview, possibly a follow-up interview, and a half day with them shooting b-roll. It was while shooting b-roll that I’d often get freer, better quotes, stuff that might not have come out in the interview. For example, I met George Lois in his apartment in New York City and we did a two-hour interview. Then we went to the West Bronx and he walked around his old neighborhood and we just had a conversation. He talked about getting into fights as a kid, of being an outsider, and his quotes and this neighborhood and the energy of the city supported this idea that he was a fighter throughout his whole life. From 1960s protests to his in-your-face ad campaigns which punched you in the gut.

After we’d shot most of ART & COPY and were deep into editing I got frustrated that it was all talking heads.  I wanted this film to operate on a higher, more inspirational level, since the whole movie was, after all, about creative inspiration, taking risks, and big ideas.  I wanted to get out of these advertising campaigns and physically show how these people are affecting our daily lives without just running a bunch of ads. I wanted to see the mechanics of mass communication, not just talk about them. My producers and I brainstormed and this led to the idea of showing communications satellites. Within a few months, we were in French Guiana shooting a massive satellite being launched.  The justification?  Ads pay for TV. TV comes from satellites. But editorially, the rocket launch gave a subtle, building structure to the whole movie, a climax and a payoff. 

I must say, most docs could use a rocket launch. Too often people forget that feature documentaries are still movies.  Regardless of the subject they ought to be cinematic and entertaining. That extra two or three months of finishing (re-editing, re-writing, re-structuring, re-working my sound-design until it rocks) is my favorite part of the whole process.  

Joshua Triliegi: What are you working on now? 

Doug Pray: LEVITATED MASS was my seventh feature doc and there’s something about the number 7 that is allowing me to change things up. So, aside from supporting its theatrical release this fall (LEVITATED MASS is coming out on iTunes, DVD and other digital platforms this month), I find myself involved in a number of projects and acting more as a producer than a director. At the moment, I am executive producing and editing a music-based project that Allen Hughes (of Hughes Brothers fame) is directing for HBO. I’m working with the producers of ART & COPY to make a non-fiction television series about the results of creative thinking around the world, filming innovative individuals, organizations and businesses in Detroit, Peru, and elsewhere.  I’m working with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on a film for their 50th anniversary.  I’m doing some exciting commercial work with Bob (Bob is a company, not a person). I am also helping a filmmaker named Patrick O’Brien finish his ten-year-long feature-length documentary about his life with ALS. It is called TRANSFATTY LIVES. At first I just brought on an editor for him (Lasse Järvi who cut INFAMY and SURFWISE), but now I’m heavily involved as a producer and post supervisor. It’s not my film, but Patrick is an amazing, magnetic personality and I’ve enjoyed helping him realize his documentary.  He lives in Boston and is completely paralyzed but with a lucid, brilliant mind.  His movie is fairly crazy and super emotional and it’s been a wonderful challenge. It will premiere in 2015.

Joshua Triliegi: Do you foresee an evolution into non-documentary filmmaking? 

Doug Pray: It’s funny to me that I ended up having a career directing non-fiction film. I love working with actors. I love directing actors to the point where they seem like they are not performing at all, as if they are in a documentary. I also love getting “performances” out of non-actors and working that grey area. Years ago I used to imagine making dramatic films that were unscripted but based on providing a set of motivations for the characters who are journeying through documentary locations.  Some would argue this is the definition of reality TV, but I was more interested in making loose, emotional features.  More and more great filmmakers are doing exactly that today. To that end, there are three dramatic films I’m currently developing for me to direct. They are open-ended enough to allow for strong non-fiction texture and influences. Stepping back from the documentary genre as a whole… the changes in the last 25 years since I started directing are so outstanding it’s hard to imagine where we’ll all end up. It used to take $100,000 and lots of meetings with investors to even consider mounting the most raw documentary because you had to pay for processing, film stock, and the mechanics of post. Being a filmmaker in the ‘80s seemed very special and rare. Today’s filmmakers have to compete with thousands more like them, which is a drag, but they also can.  They have crowd-funding, small cameras with superb imagery, and distribution venues so prevalent it’s annoying.  Everyone is a cinematographer, everyone is an editor, everyone is an director.  This is Silicon Valley’s dream, that we are all masters of our destinies, fulfilling our unique potentials and creating beautiful little films about ourselves through our devices and apps. It’s kind of fun, but ultimately kind of narcissistic and meaningless to me. In the end, great stories, well told, are the only things that last.  This has been true for 20,000 years of human history.  Whether it’s a six-second Vine video or a four-hour linear doc, it only matters if the story moves us. 

Joshua Triliegi:  What is the single most challenging aspect of creating a documentary, in your experience?

Doug Pray: It is almost always just after I arrive at the first rough cut of a new movie. This is the first big “step-back” from the project, the first time my producers or collaborators get a decent look at the fruits of our labor, it’s the single biggest moment of assessment in a doc.  And it just never looks, sounds, or smells any good. For me, it is awful and heartbreaking. All that great footage is actually in there and none of it seems to work. I always feel like I made a huge mistake in taking on the project but at that point it is way too late to turn back. What’s worse is that I KNOW this is going to happen and then it does, yet again, each time.  Why?  I don’t know, there must be some law laid down by the gods of creativity.  (maybe it’s the “blood on the pages rule”: that scripts which do not have actual blood or perhaps tear stains on the pages aren’t worth reading). Regardless, it’s at this point in a project’s life that I will inevitably need an outsider – usually a producer or writer or advisor – to come into the editing room and basically kick my ass and force me to rethink the film in a bigger and better way.  I have to hit bottom for me to start re-finding the film. Sometimes it’s a different film than I thought I was making in the first place, sometimes it’s a reaffirmation of exactly what we were after in the first place.  The most challenging moment on my film LEVITATED MASS wasn’t during the edit.  It was during production when, no less than six months into production, I finally met my main character, the reclusive and amazing American land-artist Michael Heizer, and suddenly realized that he had absolutely no interest in being interviewed or letting me film his personal life, and that he would not compromise. I had to rethink the whole project and figure out how to make it as compelling as the film I’d originally set out to make.  In the end, it worked out well—Heizer generously gave me access to his work and his process, but while his backstory is a key part of the film, it’s not about him. That realigning… just like rewriting your film’s edit, it’s never easy.  And it’s an essential component of all non-fiction filmmaking.

Joshua Triliegi: Where did you study and what advice would you give young readers and filmmakers?

Doug Pray: I studied sociology at Colorado College (liberal arts undergrad) and received an MFA from the UCLA School of Film and Television. I don’t think film school is required, at all, for people to become professional filmmakers, but I needed it for sure and I loved every minute of it. It gave me the confidence to call myself a director and the knowledge to be one.  Some directors know exactly what they want and how to get it without school.  Marc Webb, a good friend of mine (who directed 500 Days of Summer and the last two Spiderman movies), didn’t need one minute of film school.  He knew how to teach himself and studied other directors and their styles and had enough initiative to work his way into becoming one of America’s more prolific music video directors, which led to his first feature.  Whether by crewing, or just directing your own low-budget DIY feature, or going to film school, or writing a script, or making a doc about your cat, there are many many ways to become a filmmaker. And… many, many filmmakers.  So the question remains: what do you have to say, and are you a good story teller?  Pencils and paper have been around for hundreds of years: did the availability of those tools result in many more great novels?  

 But aside from story, I ultimately think the main difference between people who are successful in non-fiction and those who are not, is tenacity. They persist. They don’t quit. They get through the downs and the depressions and they keep on trying to make it work. Whether they have to keep shooting, keep editing, bring on another editor, or change their story altogether. They bury their ego, face the truth, and find a way to make it work. They are able to re-access their initial passion and energy for the project. Again and again. There have been, sadly, a number of projects I had to walk away from in my career, for various reasons (usually myself to blame). They were failures and it’s painful for me to think about them.  They were all great stories about real lives, they featured real people whom I admired and had (nearly) committed to. Trust had been built, but then things didn’t work out. Those are the sad anomalies, the exceptions that prove the rule, that—in fact—directing documentaries is an absolutely wonderful adventure.  I feel pretty lucky. Visit The Official Doug Pray Website to learn more about current releases:

VISIT THE NEW BUREAU FICTION SITE with Novelist and BUREAU Founder J. A. TRILIEGI to Hear The Recent in AUDIO ...







HANK 'King' Williams is possibly the most prolific songwriter that America has ever created. He had a rough childhood, he wandered about, learned to play the guitar from an African American local blues singer, whom became a good friend, back in those days, that was sorta taboo. So, it makes sense that his son, and his grandson, are rebel souls to the end. Hank I, Hank II and Hank III have seriously royal credibility with the American Spirit, which also means, they don't give a shit, what you think of 'em, but, they do hope you like the songs. Today, we pay our respects to Country's  Greatest  Singer - Songwriter, The One and Only :  Mister Hank Williams.

Good writers often come from tragic situations, that's just the way it often is folks. That is not to say that, a good life will make you a bad writer, but, lets face it, sorrow is one heaping ingredient for good lyrics, good storytelling and the will to tell it like it is. Hank Williams came from deep poverty, and that led to many, 'first hand,' experiences. His father had worked as an engineer for the railroads, was a Mason, had served in World War I, fell from a truck, and was later hospitalized for long periods of time, leaving the young boy to find his way, elsewhere in the community. The family lived throughout the Southern region of Alabama and eventually settled in Greenville and later, Montgomery. Young Hiram, who later changed his name to 'Hank,' received his first guitar and began taking informal lesson from the local blues man, Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne. Hank never did learn to read music, which delayed some progress with the formal gentry of Country Music's Grand Ole Opry and the entire Nashville crowd. It is often stated that his drinking and wildcatting with the ladies held up some progress in this regard, though, to study his lyrics, there is a good chance that the mix of religious references and wild lifestyle choices, within the subjects of his songs, was enough to bother some. In one phrase, he'll mention, 'The Lord,' and in the next, he confesses to having, 'The Honky - Tonk Blues.'  In Hank Williams' life, there is,  the official story, there is, the gossip's story and then there is, the real story. Somewhere among the three is the truth. His mother's boarding house, while father is away, was ripe for conjecture, Lots of people, coming and going, made little time for young Hank to gain a mother's love. Hank was starved for attention, and eventually, through singing and songwriting, he got more than he may have been able to handle.  As a performer, Hank had dazzle, he was real folk and his lyrics were basic, though, he was no, 'simple man.' According to interviews, his hero, Roy Acuff, told him, "You have a million-dollar talent, son, but a ten-cent brain," referring to Williams hard living, hard driving and hard drinking lifestyle. Acuff could never know that what drove Williams to drink and take pain killers was a sickness that derived from a spinal disease, that eventually led to a major operation, fusing the young singer-songwriter's discs together. Besides the fact that Hank had survived a broken home as well as a childhood during the Great Depression, with no father in sight for eight formative years, the boy had found his way, without formal training, a natural.  

Hank is barely fourteen years of age and he's already penned a tune entitled, "The WPA Blues." He receives fifteen dollars, a first prize in a local contest at the Empire Theatre, buys a Silvertone guitar, which he plays incessantly, along the sidewalks of town, and eventually, receives a radio spot, which leads to a regular bi-weekly showcase. At sixteen years of age, Hank drops out of school to work full time, with his new band, The Drifting Cowboys. He tours extensively throughout the South, which includes movie houses and honky-tonks in Georgia and Florida. The band was managed by his mother and Hank continued the radio show when not on tour. Because of the need for playing new songs every week, his output is prodigious. By 1945, at twenty-three years of age, Hank Williams publishes a songbook of lyrics to ten of his best tunes, which led to a recording contract with Fred Rose and eventually, he garnered the attention of MGM records, breaking through the Country Western gatekeepers with the money making hits, "Lovesick Blues," and "Move It on Over." By 1949, Hank finally graced the stage of The Grand Ole Opry, receiving more encores than any other performer ever, he was only twenty-seven years old.   

"I'm a rollin' stone all alone and lost
               For a life of sin I have paid the cost
                          When I pass by all the people say
                                   Just another guy on the lost highway"

- Hank Williams / Lost Highway Lyrics

That same year, he travelled to England and Germany, wrote seven hit tunes and birthed his only son. The family move to Louisiana, which led to East Coast exposure via The Louisiana Hayride Show and tours in Eastern Texas guaranteed him a place in Country Westerns most important states and national Radio Exposure propelled Hank Williams into a category that is, to this day, untouchable. Hank created a completely alternative character for his more religious, storytelling style, by the name of, "Luke The Drifter." It was the equivalent of a popular writer, publishing stories under another name, Hank was brand savvy, and it worked. The real problem with all of this, 'Success,' was that young Hank Williams, who was really just a very down home fella, who enjoyed hunting, who loved fishing, enjoyed drinking and was bent on loving and living, was working himself to death. By 1952, he had done just that, leaving the planet, at twenty-nine years of age. Hank Williams had written, recorded, broadcast and performed, well over a hundred songs, throughout his entire life, not to mention his many collaborations and other writers work. 

Hank's legacy continues through his son, Hank Junior, and his grandson, Hank III. Each are equally rebellious, full of American grit, each songwriters, each performers, each willing to fight to retain the legacy that belongs to only them. Both have friendships and affiliations that will indeed bother somebody, somewhere in this world. Hank Junior has spoken his mind on various occasions and even lost an important commercial contract, due to politics. Well, fuck politics. The Hank Williams Family is pure American musical royalty. If there had never been a friendship between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, who knows what may have happened to the divisions in this country all those years ago ? American Music is meant to be the place where we all meet in the middle, a sacred spot, the location where we Americans are allowed to say and do anything we damn well please.  

"A prodigal son once strayed from his father
                    To travel a land of hunger and pain
                          And now I can see the end of my journey
                                                   I'm going to Heaven again"

- Hank Williams / The Prodigal Son

Hank Junior describes approaching his inheritance, in this way, "So you're a little bitty boy, that can barley touch the keys of your father's piano, ya know, and, my gosh, you're a little over three when he passes away…  You get a little older, heres Jerry Lee Lewis, heres Ray Charles, heres Fats Domino, heres Carl Perkins. I better know how to play some instruments. Because, they all had number one [ hits ] with one of daddy's songs… Joe Stafford, Perry Como, Tony Bennet, and believe me, the list goes on, all the way to [ today ].  So, here I am in this wonderful situation. Then people say, 'Just do your father's stuff, just imitate,' I'm not gonna do that. It's wonderful to have an American Anthem. Daddy had several of them, I'm lucky, Ive had a couple of them."  Hank Junior has inherited some of his father's tragedy as well as his talent. Back in the day, Hank Junior fell down a mountaintop, splitting his face in two. It took seventeen operations to put him back together. Years after the accident, and his subsequent recovery, Hank Junior explains, "When I woke up, theres June Carter and Johnny Cash, their there. They covered eighteen hundred miles… in the middle of nowhere, to be there. They were really, really, really, special. How could it get any better than that ? June Carter and Johnny Cash … ?  Thats America !  I'm all about America, Baby.  I'm all about it" 

On The subject of songwriting, Hank Junior explains it, plain and clear, "I don't go to writing sessions with five other people. A writing session ? You mean you all are all going to get together and write ? Uh, I don't think so. That ain't how I do it. I am a Williams, ya know." His son, Hank III, is equally as outspoken and conscious of the family traditions, maybe even more rebellious. Hank III pulls no punches. He has opened concerts for Public Enemy, gigged with David Allen Coe, Johnny Paycheck and George Jones, to name a few, and explains his philosophy in these words, "I'm not into pop country, Im not into looking pretty, Im not into shaking my ass, and worrying about the bottom dollar, Im just into playing music."  On Songwriting, "We just do what we do… We don't write songs for the radio… We write 'em for us."  When his father Hank Junior was recently asked what makes a good song, he pondered the question a moment, then replied, "Good is Good, wether Its Rap or Bluegrass or …"  he holds up his hands a second, mimicking a classical quotation, then continues with the final punctuation of the word that has defined his life since before birth: "…Country." As his song states: "A Country Boy will Survive."

 "When tears come down
                              Like falling rain
                                           You'll toss around
                                                          And call my name"
- Hank Williams /  Your Cheatin' Heart  

Hank III was raised by his mother, discovered the music on his own, finding energy in the rock music of Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd, at nine years old. He sites Henry Rollins of Black Flag and bands such as Public Enemy as influences, though, he also has credentials with some of the more open minded Country folk, and has been embraced by The New Outlaw set, which once included The Late Great Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and of course, his grandfather, who, it could be argued, accidentally started the movement long ago. There may even be a verifiable link between what Hank Williams did, 'energy-wise,' and what led to Elvis Presley's Rock and Roll Revolution, which brings us back to Bob Dylan, who too, was inspired by the King's charisma. So then, what is Country music and who owns the right to claim it as their own? As far as this writer is concerned, The Hank Williams Family, is front and center. Hank III, while offering his many musical influences, broke it down, in this fashion, on stage, to a live audience, just before introducing his set of new music, "If You Don't Think This is Fucking Country, Right There Is The Door…" As far as we could tell, nobody used the exit. That is why, on this day, we Honor Hank Williams I, II  and  III.

For surely, if there ever were, an American Country-Western Royal Family : They Be IT.

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bureau of arts and culture magazine edited by joshua a. triliegi,  bureau of arts and culture contributing photographers: norman seef, melissa ann pinney, kwame brathwaite, art shay, laura stevens, craig reilly, walter rothwell, sandy skoglund, rich helmer, stephen sommerstein, herb ritts, jack english, alex harris, gered mankowitz, bohnchang koo, natsumi hayashi, raymond depardon, t. enami, dennis stock, dina litovsky, guillermo cervera, moises saman, cathleen naundorf, terry richardson, phil stern, dennis morris, henry diltz, steve schapiro, yousuf karsh, ellen von unwerth, william claxton, robin holland, andrew moore, james gabbard, mary ellen mark, john robert rowlands, brian duffy, robert frank, jon lewis, john weston, sven hans, david levinthal, joshua white, brian forrest, lorna stovall, elliott erwitt, rene burri, susan wright, david leventhal, peter van agtmael, mathilde grafström , steve coleman

bureau of arts and culture contributing guest artists:  erik olson, christopher stott, irby pace, max ginsburg, nathan walsh, jon swihart, f. scott hess, ho ryon lee, andy moses, kahn & selesnick, jules engel, patrick lee, david palumbo, tom gregg, tony fitzpatrick, gary lang, fabrizio casetta, dj hall, david febland, eric zener, seeroon yeretzian, dawn jackson, charles dickson, ernesto delaloza, diana wong, gustavo godoy, john weston, kris kuksi, bomonster, hiroshi ariyama, linda stark, kota ezawa, russell nachman, katsushika hokusai. xuan chen

bureau of arts and culture special thanks: little tokyo los angeles, marcos lutyens, random house, knopf publishing, columbia university, joyce carol oates, sean connery, seattle art museum, whitney museum, irvine welsh, andy warhol foundation, city lights bookstore, joan schulze, nymoma, cantor arts center, stanford university, pace/macgill gallery, national gallery of art, georgia o'keefe museum of art, fresno art museum, fine arts center colorado springs, duke university, the broad la, phoenix art museum, wadsworth atheneum museum of art, art institute of chicago, museum of fine arts boston, crystal bridges, united artists, spot photo works, museum of fine art huston texas, gallerie urbane, mary boone gallery, pace gallery, asian art museum, magnum photo, chicago museum of contemporary art, fahey/ klein gallery, tobey c. moss gallery, sandra gehring gallery, george billis gallery, martin - gropius - bau berlin, san jose museum of art, downtown records, koplin del rio, robert berman, american film institute, sfmoma,  photo la, jewish contemporary museum, yale collection rare books, richard levy.