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Monday, November 02, 2015

If You Make Things, You Are My Brother: Manny Avalos


I need you to get past the production values of this video.

Videos made in this fashion are manipulative. They become propaganda. The music is chosen to provoke sentiment without meaning. The slow tracking shots are meant to manufacture interest in mundane tableaus. A voice-over lends senatorial gravity to banal utterances. Put the method aside.

Manny is an interesting person. Manny is an interesting person whether or not there's a camera dolly involved. I can, however, assure you that you probably wouldn't think Manny was an interesting person unless he showed up in four minutes of pixels on your iThing. Manny could work in his garage for twenty years and not one of the neighbors or their kids would be the slightest bit interested in what he's doing. An invitation to see his workshop would be met with a slightly panic-stricken look and a dissembling, "I've got this thing in Van Nuys in a half an hour...". Manny probably wouldn't care. He isn't a docent in the museum of Manny. He wants to make guitars.

What Manny is talking about in the video is profound only because it should be quotidian, but isn't anymore. He's talking about being connected with other people. He wants to make a guitar so that other people can use it to make music to entertain and delight still more people. He feels connected to the world at large by his own solitary efforts. He admits he found the construction of the guitar interesting for its own sake, but he understands that his interest is pointless unless it serves others.

The bit of text appended to the video makes some bold claims about Manny that I don't want or need to investigate. They call him a "Renaissance man," incorrectly, I imagine. It's the sort of term people with ironic beards and stovepipe pants enjoy using, but don't really understand.

If I had to guess, I'd imagine that Manny is a retired schoolteacher of some sort, and has taken an interest in his fellow man every day of his 89-year-old life in one way or another. Not the sort of interest that takes the form of ruling them for their own good, either. He has been a productive and pleasant person for so long that he doesn't know how to be anything else.

The United States, in my lifetime, was chock-a-block full of people just like Manny. Now it's full of people with camera dollies and ring lights, hunting around for the last Manny on Earth so they can stuff him and display him.

4 comments:

chasmatic said...

Sipp, I'm afraid the evolution of artisans and craftsmen has taken us to: buying it. Many people don't care if the man took ten years to make a guitar, they'll grab an ipicture of him "oh look dear, he's wearing a leather apron" and plunk down the dough and have bragging rights next time they entertain and Krystl and Timmy start in with their Mayan pottery again.
Same with music, same with plays, get it on yer iphone and whew, that's one more thing out of the way. Living life on a two-dimensional screen is for, well, two dimensional people.

UH is a fine band, maybe hit a clunker once and a while, see the sweat dripping, feel the energy, the energy and fullness cannot be canned and reproduced. I've played in some crummy bar bands in some seedy joints but the essence, the, ah, fifth dimension was there, shrug.

Can you put together a compilation of the band's work, MP3 or whatever format you use to show us on the site or that you upload to YooToob? We can "rip 'em" charming phrase, d'load 'em to our decks and Bob's yer uncle. I betcha there are some readers more computer savvy than I (hell, I'm sixty-nine, first computer I ever had was Win95 OS). I know I'd pay some moola for a collection of eight, ten tunes. As it is, I think I can grab some of the band's work from offa your blog but an official Unorganized Hancock CD, now that's bragging rights.

Kerry said...

We note with satisfaction he is missing no fingertips. (I used to have eleven fingers. Heh.)

David Dominguez said...

hello,

I'm one of the filmmaker's that made this video. I appreciate you sharing it with other but i feel like your description is a bit unfair.
Manny approached us about making a video on him and we thought "why not?" We sat down with him and and got to know him in a personal level before we decided to make this short doc. Manny is a super interesting guy along with being one of the nicest people I've met. As well as his love for guitars Manny enjoys many other activities like studying different languages, oil painting, making furniture, mathematics as well as many many other things. He is a self described "renaissance man" and has even used the term to describe himself when first meeting him with a giggle in his voice.
The last thing we were trying to do was exploit Manny or spread "propaganda". We just wanted to help Manny tell his story any way we could. I'm glad you you took the time to watch it.

thank you

SippicanCottage said...

Hello David- Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

If you re-read what I wrote very carefully, and then re-read your own pleasant comment, you might see that you and I are saying the same thing about Manny. I write like a crab walks.

It's a very well made video, and you should be proud of it. I have seen many professionally executed videos that make trivial things seem important, so I asked my readers to put your professionalism aside, and actually look at Manny. I thought he was a wonderful guy, and I said so, and applaud you for paying attention to him.