Notes from Underground / by Cyrus

Probably one of my favorite photos, I took this a few hours ago while working on one of our final shots. We were in Manyatta troubling our blind Luo blues muse Dishon Olima yet again. I've been planning this opening scene for some time, a shot that begins on my face and moves outward to show a large crowd of people and Dishon Olima to my left, playing the guitar. In order to make it happen, we had to improvise this dolly so we could move the camera smoothly over the dirt ground. Veritable Martha Stewarts of underground music, Angela and I used cardboard from a refrigerator box, a borrowed skateboard, a piece of wood, a highpowered zoom lens, one rasta, and large amounts of duct tape to make this happen.

We made plans with Olima to shoot a few days ago, but when we arrived he wasn't around. The old grandma looking over the place said the threat of rain had forced him to migrate with the busa crowd to a nearby club where they could drink and strum guitars in peace. Ozzy was dealing with some personal business, so I was there with my slightly wobbly friends LaFam, the rapper you've seen often on these pages, and Sergent Blak, the rastaman/Urban Music security man you've also seen often on these pages. There had been a power outage in their neighborhood, and when I picked them up at the studio to bring them along I found they had been biding their time with 750 mL of my lover/enemy Kenya Kane (cane sugar booze that will put dreads on your head). We work with what we have...

I went to the busa club to try to bring Olima back to the location. With LaFam as my moderately conscious translator, I had trouble communicating with Olima at the crowded busa club, and we finally rescheduled for tomorrow. I returned empty handed, but all was not lost. Angela and I decided to set up and practice, using about 30 neighborhood kids as stand-ins for the busa drinking adults who would occupy their places in 24 hours. They weren't very cooperative, tending to run after the camera as soon as we started pushing it backward, but we got some good stuff and all was fun until one kid fell off the skateboard and it shot into a bit of open sewage. Damn.

We packed up and headed for the main road, two white people, an imposing rasta, a long haired rapper, several feet of cardboard, cameras and skateboard in tow. A strange scene, but it could be no other way. Now it's off to an O'hangla club for some final dance scenes with Rankin T (not dancing with Rankin T, we're just going there with him so we don't get killed). Onward.