Wild dogs/ let us call him Sasha/ he's next in line on our waiting list/ HYPOTHETICAL: Sasha is from a large eastern european city, where he has been living in the tunnels of an aging sewer system for the past three years/ no parents/ he has escaped from three institutions/ i am convinced there were others we do not know about/ the record-keeping has been negligent/ there has been no one to care/ sometimes the records are incomplete because the kid has been abused in the institution/ he has no social skills/ he's rather like an animal/ it is a wonder he is involved in prostitution but he is/ his health problems are significant/ it amazes me men would want him but they do/ he has infected rat bites/ there are social workers from a (very poor) charity who have attempted outreach, but Sasha is violent/ i would call him feral, i borrow this word from a friend/ his government would love to be rid of him//
do i think Sasha can be helped/ that is not the issue/ the issue is should Sasha be helped/ personally, i think he'll die within the year/ do we take him in and make that year bearable, or do we let him die alone in his sewer with his friends, the glue and the paper bag. or a sock he stole. the one he sniffs the glue with/ i see no hope for this kid/ why would he even come with us/ it has nothing to do with me/ it has to do with peers/ he's still a teenage boy, and his peers are important to him/ even if the ones who also live in the sewer system hate him and they do/ he would have peers among us/ he knows that/ he is aware of who we are/ i have some of his drawing in his file/ they are not bad, considering they were made in a sewer/ does any fifteen-year-old deserve to live in a sewer/ the kid is dying as i write this/ we would have to face going through another death/ it would be hard/ maybe too hard/ i've met Sasha. he's not unlike an animal//
i am going to put this dilemma in front of the boys for discussion/ but i know what they will do/ Alsandair will be exasperated/ what would YOU do/ take him in and let him die some comfortable enough death among people he knows/ or let him die alone and sick in a sewer/ he could be scooped up and medicated with psychodrugs/ this is theory. no one wants to do it. there are no plans to do it/ people are just waiting for him to die in the labyrinth with the rats and he will/ i feel compelled to ask/ WHAT WOULD YOU DO/
U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Article 13
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.
2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
THE BOY WHO MADE THIS FILM LIVES IN A NURSING HOME
You don’t believe it. No one gives a flying fuck what you believe. Eat me.
Did I help him make the thing. This strange film. You bet. Why do you think I am here. What do you think it is I do. I help kids show us their lives. Nevertheless, I do not make the thing for the kid. I am here to support him. There is a difference.
It is very, very difficult to find that difference and breathe life into it. Breathing life. That is both the question and the answer to the question.
To that end, the thing is a collage. It tells more than one story at a time. It is very strange-looking for the people who stumble upon it. But we do not make art for them. Fuck them. Fuck you. Fuck me. Kip is already fucked. As in totally fucked, and he’s fucked up about it, too.
Kip lives in a nursing home. He hates his life. He wishes he were not here.
Me, too. I wish Kip was not alive. I wish he didn’t live the life he is living. His life sucks.
Nevertheless, it’s a life, and although we have marginalized him, and put him away where we do not have to see him or smell the shit in his diaper, it’s a life.
We have discussed his suicide.
He will kill himself. I wish him luck.
But I will not help him there. He’s on his own. We are all on our own, and that is the way of it.
Black holes are everywhere.
My goal was to show him — not tell him — that he still had the power to make things, things that might move us, and that he will continue to have that power right up to the last few minutes before he dies.
The other Cinematheque boys kinda got into Kip’s shit. But Raymond was the only one who would go with me to the nursing home. Raymond would tell Kip all about the boys in the photographs. Kip would simply listen. It’s what he does.
Although Kip suffers from a multitude of problems, it’s the aloneness that is killing him. He exists in a room that smells like shit all by himself 24-7. The only human contact he has arrives to change his diaper, switch his urine bag to a new one, and check his feeding tube.
He has figured out that it will be within that structure that he will find the means to end his life.
He has figured out how to starve himself.
Who the fuck do I think I am to tell him he should not do this.
I am not fucking God. I am just a man who tries to make it from one moment into the next.
Knowing Kip has taught me more about who and what I am than any other human interaction that I have ever had. Ever.
I will weep my guts out when he dies. I will, and I know it. I will miss him. But I want him to die, too. I am conflicted. LIFE is conflicted. It is rarely black and white.
We had originally planned to make this film in black and white, but we decided we would go with the strange blend of colors we ended up with.
Kip would have an idea, and I would do whatever I could to see it through. Kip can also communicate on a touch talker with a pencil clenched between his teeth.
He is not Stephen Hawking. Singularities exist in a gravitas we cannot even begin to know anymore than we can know Kip. We do not know him.
The technology he has access to is crude and it is not expensive. It sucks.
I hate that nursing home as much as Kip does. I will tell you why.
It’s the smell of human shit.
The minute you walk into those double doors into the building, it’s the smell of human shit that will knock you on your ass. I do not know how the people who work there can work there. The first time I went into the building, I had to make a quick pit stop into the rest room to vomit. After that, I always went with an empty stomach. The rotting stench cannot be described. I am an atheist. Now, I am really an atheist.
I was not there to help him. I was there to support his ideas. If you work with at-risk kids, and you cannot fathom the difference, you are only marking time. Most people are only marking time. Most people live shit lives of loneliness and desperation. You do not believe this. Fuck you. And fuck what you believe. Fuck me. I do not believe in a goddamn thing. Nothing.
But I can still wipe my own ass. Kip can’t.
We stick people into these coffins that keep them alive and then we forget about them and we never go see them. We suck.
If the tables were turned and I was the one in Kip’s bed, I would have pulled the plug a long time ago. It is not a life.
Kip asked me to kill him. I refuse to do it.
Don’t ask me again Kip. Or I will not go back. I hate being with you. The smell of human shit just makes my skin crawl. I do not enjoy working with you. I have to force myself to do it.
Usually, when I pull my jeep into the parking lot of the nursing home, I have to sit out there for a good thirty minutes holding tightly to the steering wheel before I can go inside. I do not think I breathe when I am sitting there. Oh, courage. I have none.
I would go get help — hey, someone needs to change Kip’s diaper; he’s in a bed of shit. The diaper leaks.
I refuse to believe that the people who work for minimum wage in this place — people who clean up other people and empty their bed pans — and do not bring enough money home to pay the fucking rent — are evil people.
But no. We are the evil people. You do not believe it. No one asked you. You are the audience. You are not involved. FOR FUCKING ONCE, it’s not about you. You are not germane. You are irrelevant. You are only there. In your metaphorical diaper. In your shit. Rotting from the inside out.
And you look down your pinched nose at him. Get a life.
I look down my nose at you, Kip. And you are aware of that.
He’s not stupid. He has a mind.
He knows how he lives.
The Nurse’s Aide (there should be awards for these people) walks back with me to his room and she changes his diaper and wipes his ass, and switches his urine bag. There is something almost abstract about a plastic tube that sticks out of a cock’s piss hole. I wonder if he has ever cum with that tube stuck in there. I do not believe he has.
His sexuality is just another crushing black hole.
I once thought a few years ago that I would kill myself if I had had to give up the sexual part of who and what I am. And then that day arrived. I am impotent. HIV will do that. Sex does not interest me. I have walked away from it as easily as walking through a pair of double doors. It doesn’t mean anything. I want to live.
Kip’s first email to me read: I found you on the Internet. I am writing this with a pencil in my mouth.
I tried that trick.
I haven’t had a pencil in my mouth since grade school. All those memories came flooding back. The taste of a pencil in my mouth reminds me of being beaten up and paddled by teachers.
I spit it out.
I could not type with it.
I just called the nursing home and asked if I could visit Kip.
There was a silence on the phone.
“Are you fucking kidding me.”
They did not say are you fucking kidding me. But they should have.
I arrived with technology. The kind of technology that would facilitate Kip and I to make video art together. The technology is irrelevant.
This was about a boy and a man. Both of them clinging to whatever dignity they might have.
I can’t, Kip. I do not have the balls for it.
Is Kip at-risk. I do not know anymore.
I brought over two thousand photographs for Kip to sift through. He does not know us, yet somehow he knows us better than we know ourselves. We fought about the title of this film.
I do not care for it. It’s not my film.
We think about these warehouses we put people in as being for the elderly. We are wrong about a lot of things.
We are a theatrical dance around a midnight fire signifying nothing.
You suck, Kip wrote. I know that.
“It’s my film.”
I know that, too.
We finished the film. I have not been back. I just sit here on my fat ass knowing Kip is starving himself to death.
In silence. We both live in the echo of a silence you cannot know. It’s not about you. You don’t mean shit to me.
I gave Kip a video camera. Maybe someday. You never know. Life is conflicted, too.