Tag Archives: Toronto

…When I Learn to Fly

  1. “I’ll make my way back home when I learn to fly.”
    -Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly

Friends,

I’m coming up on 5 months abroad now, the last three of which have been in Nicaragua, and, seeing as I just returned from a visa renewal trip to Costa Rica, it’s safe to say I don’t have any immediate plans to go back to Canada. I do have plans and intentions but the only person I’ve really opened up to about my intentions is fellow film-maker, Alex Loubert, but even that was a few weeks back and plans have refined since then. So for whomever is interested I’d like to elucidate upon the plans which have been formulating in my head. My intention here is to not only clarify my intent for friends and family, but to give some advance notice to those who may wish to collaborate on the ongoing art project which is my life.

OVERVIEW

Over the next two years I intend to improve myself and broaden my skill-set in order that I may live on the road indefinitely, making money as I need to and not being tethered to the balance of my savings. Also, should I ever return to Canada I want to have a skill-set which will allow me to live on my own terms and not on the indulgence of an employer.
(In the words of Cam’Ron: “Nobody gonna pay you like you pay yourself.”)
Also, and this is of equal import, I wish to improve myself while at the same time seeing as-yet-unseen parts of the world which I have always yearned to see. Perhaps at the end of this excursion I may be ready to put down roots and stay in one place.
No promises though…

WHERE TO BEGIN?…

About a month ago I spent a few days at Momentom Collective, a yoga and circus focused artist residency in San Juan Del Sur co-founded by Gabrielle Buenaciudad and Therese Lowton.

It was an eye-opening stay as I was immersed in a culture of incredibly high-functioning, supportive, positive and open people. Being there really fucked with some obsolete programming I have been holding onto for years; I kinda felt like I was short-circuiting at times as I internalized possibilities for myself which were fundamentally rooted in trusting myself and my intuition. I realized how much I second-guess my inclinations and how much this tendency has stifled me and postponed my full flowering, no homo.
(*On that note, living in Canada, especially near Toronto, with its “progressive” SJW culture, has been degenerative for my psyche, especially when compounded by working in tv/film where I felt pressure to be inoffensive due to the collaborative nature of the industry. I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone but being removed from the industry, the city and the country fills me with a sense of freedom to speak which I ironically haven’t felt since I was in the military. Go figure!).
Since my time there (Momentom) I have made a concerted effort to be trusting of my inclinations and urges and to be deliberate rather than furtive in my overtures.
It’s actually a lot of fun as a big part of it is just saying whatever is on my mind. As a role model I look to Archer and just pretend I have Asperger’s -I say some real funny shit sometimes. Bartending at Surfing Turtle has been great for this because its a license to be deliberate about opening people up and the best way to do that is often brutal, hilarious and honest observation.

But, back to the topic of self-improvement….

My friend Brandon Gowe is fond of saying, “Always have at least three hustles.” There is a lot of truth in this statement, but three is a bare minimum. Right now I:

-Sell jewelry (Occasional)
-Get paid to teach yoga (Occasional)
-Chop a dime here and there (Occasional and illegal)

As you can see my bare minimum three hustles need work. Here is what I intend to do….

NICARAGUA

I have been living in #CarpeDiemEcoProject helping my good friend, Ghislain Beauchamp build the eco-resort he has been dreaming of opening for years. We get closer and closer to completion every week and things are quickening now with large-scale construction projects commencing this week which will see the camp overrun with local contractors and carpenters as well as the usual group of volunteers building with cob.
However, the reality is that it’s getting late in the season and he has floated the idea of closing the place down for the year as soon as mid-May as opposed to June as in previous years. So, using that as a rough timeline I’ve begun to plan life after CDEP.
As mentioned, I’ve been working part-time at #SurfingTurtleLodge and I’m enjoying it immensely, so I’ve naturally thought about switching to full-time. That idea certainly has some lustre and I’m not 100% against it because it would be great hostel-work experience which will be valuable for the next two years (more on that soon), but right now I feel pulled in a different direction.

HONDURAS

Pursuant to my goal of improving myself through a broader skill-set I have set the intention of heading north to Utila, Honduras and doing a divemaster certification. Apparently it can be done for about $1000 USD and it would be a pliable skill anywhere I went in the world with a coastline. Also, Utila is a paradise chock full of reefs, whale sharks and beautiful people. Being in Central America you hear a lot of grape-vine talk about hot places to go and this is one such place which is thankfully something of a hidden gem still. As a bonus, when I mentioned it to Ghislain, a dive instructor who had lived and worked there 5 years ago, he mentioned he was thinking of going back in May for a visit. This would be amazing as I would have a knowledgeable and experienced travel companion and good friend to roll with. Fingers crossed!

POST-HONDURAS

The next for-sure mark to hit after Honduras and divemaster cert would be North Africa. Timeline-wise I’m thinking I would like to get there by late 2017 or early 2018. My intention is primarily to see the Sahara and roughly re-create Santiago’s journey from “THE ALCHEMIST,” but there’s flex on start/end points and route.

To begin with, how to get there? Well, right now the most appealing option is to hop on a yacht in the Caribbean and work as crew to get across the Atlantic. That would be dope and satisfy a longing to do a trans-oceanic voyage. Ideally I would like to end up in Spain where I would begin my Alchemist journey in Andalucia, possibly after hiking the Camino de Santiago in the north (Lukazs, Tom, let’s do this!!).

Another way I might make my way to Spain would be less direct -heading to Mexico, then up the Baja California, through Cali, Oregon, Washington and BC finally seeing the Pacific Northwest that has enchanted me for so long and possibly working as a weed trimmer there if its the right time of year -As far as trimming goes, it’s great coin, but I’m more interested in doing it for the experience before everything becomes legal. In any event, once I got back to Canada I would finally hitch-hike across Canada like I’ve been intending to for years, stopping briefly in Ontario before jumping off to Spain to begin aforementioned Trans-Saharan Caravan.

#NOTHINGISWRITTEN (NORTH AFRICA)

I’m gonna immerse myself in the desert and just get consumed by the wasteland. But I’m also gonna take my time with it, working at hostels, doing workaways, woofing if possible, learning the language and making my way incrementally across the northern part of the African continent to the pyramids. If possible I would like to do more apprenticeships with jewelers, learning local styles and improving my skill-set. In Morocco, my first country after Spain, I intend to head to the Atlantic coast there and check out the fledgling aurf scene and see if my divemaster cert could be put to use.
In the desert itself I wanna go to an oasis soooooo bad. Oases have always enchanted me so I’m gonna live in one.
For the record, I am quite frightened of possible run-ins with extremist groups like ISIS but I figure I’m gonna be more of a curiosity to them than anything. I have joked that maybe they’ll kidnap and force me to make jewelry for them which would be kinda dope, but I was only half-joking: I wanna find out for myself who’s out there instead of just believing the news. Maybe I’ll write an ethnography.
If it turns out they do want to execute me I’ll try and see the humor in it and laugh on the way to my execution -it’s the only victory we can truly have in life.
This whole African excursion is gonna be gully and by the time I get to Egypt I will be ready to begin the next phase: INDIA.

PSYCH! SAUDI ARABIA…MAYBE…

I wanna see the Arabian desert because for me it represents a wasteland more inaccessible and dangerous than that of Northern Africa. Seriously, going there scares me not because of the harsh conditions but because of the strict observance of Islamic law. If they catch you slippin’, well….. Let’s just say there’s nothing scarier than an establishment that will kill you with impunity for perceived transgressions and all the while believe they are acting righteously *cough* police *cough*…
No guarantees on this one but it’s definitely a possibility.

INDIA

I have been teaching yoga for a while, and I’ve been practicing it for years, but I have yet to get certified and thus learn much of the associated theory. Certification will also lend more credibility to me when I apply to various hostels and hospitality locations looking for work. And really, what better place than India to learn yoga? There are many great places here in Central America to get certified and I will certainly broaden my yoga skill-set over time here, but remember, an important part of these next two years is seeing places I haven’t seen. So as well as getting my cert I am going to see India , feast like a king and maybe buy a monkey. Who knows!?

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Finally, I will make my way to SE Asia. You know, it’s a wonder I haven’t been here yet. For some people it’s their first exposure to backpacking, but even after more than ten years of excursions its uncharted territory for me. As far as self-improvement goes, all along the trip I will be developing my massage skill and reiki aptitude, and here in SE Asia I feel like I could really develop my Thai massage skill-set. Beyond that I’m not sure what I want from this place (food), but I know I gotta see it as it will (mostly) wrap up all my loose ends of bucket list places to see.

EPILOGUE

I’m not sure who I will be when this is all said and done and if I will be ready to buy property and build something of my own, or if I’ll want to come back to Canada or if I’ll want to pursue trips to Patagonia, the Peruvian desert, Antarctica, Eastern Europe, etc. (The bucket list never actually ends) I can literally do anything I want to do. My biggest challenge is aiming high.

So if you don’t know now you know, nigga(s)!

EPI-EPILOGUE

I owe special recognition to two very important people in my life who have precipitated a great desire for growth within me.

First would be Ghislain -meeting him and visiting his project last year was a very serendipitous experience for me and he embodies qualities that I aspire to embody myself. He is a skilled, positive, hard-working, dynamic individual comfortable with himself as a man and as a member of a community. It is by the strength of his will that the culture of CDEP is what it is. I admire the dude and feel honored to count him among my friends.

Second would be Marijo Lariviere. She is one of the most talented people I know whose ability to thrive anywhere in the world with her skill-set has inspired me greatly in my current path. Whether it’s yoga instruction, hair-dressing, jewelry-making, etc… She has so many valuable practical skills that it really made me reflect on what I bring to the table, what I could offer others (manual labor, carry a gun), and realize that I could do better. She made me aspire to improve myself if only to be of greater service to the people around me.

In closing I want to say I can be better than I am. I don’t say that with self-denigration or regret but with optimism, love for myself, and excitement to see the man I am evolving into.

I hope you enjoy the show too.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Being Mindful of Transgressions

Friends,

The video counterpart for this post can be found here.

A few years back I attended a Vipassana meditation retreat in Cooksville, Ontario. It was a ten-day retreat based on the teachings of S.N. Goenka, and in addition to the long hours of meditation there were also a series of observances each attendee was required to accept. The complete list escapes me, but the most important ones were: no talking, no electronics, no eating of meat, no killing another living creature, no meals after midday and NO STEALING. Quite unexpectedly, this last observance was problematic for me and breaking this guideline led to perhaps my greatest lesson about mindfulness,

It was late February and snowy during the retreat and when entering the meditation hall we would ditch our jackets and boots in the foyer area which would, not surprisingly, get wet and dirty. At one point I was the last one into the hall and since the outer door was ajar and my own boots were a pain to slip on and off, I slipped into someone else’s boots to close the door. Instantly, and very unexpectedly I was overcome with a feeling of guilt; I had just stolen.

Was it temporary theft? Yes, only three to five seconds.

Did it cause any deprivation? No, the owner of the shoes was already in the hall starting his practice.

Was it for a good purpose? Yes, I was closing the door to keep us all warm.

But I knew all of that didn’t matter from a morality perspective.

Now, at this point I want to reiterate that I don’t really buy into morality myself, but I still was troubled because the person who owned the boots likely did. And this transgression, paltry and trifling though it may have been, was still an act of theft.

I brought this up to one of the meditation leaders, Bob at the next day’s optional counseling session. He was shocked when I mentioned I had stolen but as he heard me out he asked if, out in the real world I would have thought twice about slipping on those shoes. I told him “probably not.” According to him, it was a good thing to have happened because it showed that I was starting to think in more mindful terms, looking at the implications of my actions and considering the damage they could do in their ultimate expressions (i.e. larger theft, mugging or the taking of life-giving essentials). For me, it was an important beginning of looking at the things I was doing in my life and extrapolating them out to their logical conclusions and ultimate ends.

I think that very often we glaze over the fact that we let our ends justify our means because the negative means we employ on a day-to-day basis very often seem so trifling and paltry. For example, we would all likely have at least some compunction about taking a life, even if it was for the positive end of saving many. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s called empathy and it’s a good thing. However, our empathy is rarely sensitive or trained enough to consider that even something comparatively benign, say the act of marking up a price so that you can feed your own family, even that is a negative means for an ostensibly positive end. It is causing deprivation to one group to alleviate the deprivation of another. Survival at the expense of others cheapens the lives of all.

I don’t mean to come down on anyone here who has to eke out their survival at the expense of others. If that was my intent, I would be coming down on everyone including myself; such is the nature of our competitive socio-economic system: we are all complicit in instituting deprivation against each other. Nor do I mean to give a scathing indictment of our current scarcity-based socio-economic system; I have done that ad nauseum and I will certainly do so again at certain points in the future. Rather, I simply mean to shed light on the fact that we should be mindful of our actions, no matter how trifling or benign they seem and be aware that if those actions were amplified by orders of magnitude, they just might be more violent and deprivation-causing than we realize.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
Instagram: @dreguan
Twitter: @dreguan
Youtube: dreguan
Facebook: Andre Guantanamo
IMDb: Andre Guantanamo
Demo Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gdwhemiqzc

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The Importance of Being Objectified

Friends,

I’m writing this post as a companion piece to a vlog I just recorded and am currently uploading which can be found here. In said vlog I discuss how being sought after and lusted after is a relatively new experience for me and it’s awesomeness wore off quick. Oftentimes, accentuating my physique with certain clothing choices has been more problematic than anything.

ANDRE GUANTANAMO 3
Woe is me.

This first occurred to me doing improv a couple summers ago while wearing an undershirt. Every scene became about my exposed muscles and I didn’t want that to be the crux of every onstage interaction. So, I started wearing baggier clothes for that specific purpose as well as fuller cut t-shirts. I find myself going through this again now that I have recently started doing standup: I’ve been advised that being fit and relatively good-looking should be de-emphasized so that I’m more relatable and people feel more comfortable laughing at my jokes. It’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow because on some level I feel like how I dress shouldn’t matter, but I’m finding out it does. I feel like my options at this point are to completely de-emphasize my physique with my clothing choices or go balls to the wall and own it, wearing nothing but wife-beaters and tight leather pants, essentially making a caricature of myself. While that could lead to some great jokes it might make it difficult to touch on more serious issues in earnest. So while I might experiment with the latter, I think that going forward, the best option would be to dress more neutrally.

However, the objectification isn’t all bad either. I have often gotten acting roles that required a fit or physically imposing actor based at least partly on how I looked. More often than not these have been roles with great depth that afforded me the opportunity to cultivate a strong character who just happened to be fit (see above photo). I’m certainly not shy about “pimping” my physique for such roles but I acknowledge that the way I look has an expiration date and that I have to base not only my career choices but my sense of self-worth on something more substantial than my physical appearance.

All in all, I think the experience of being objectified has been an important one. Had I never had it, I might have falsely believed it was the key to lasting happiness. It is decidedly not.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
Instagram: @dreguan
Twitter: @dreguan
Youtube: dreguan
Facebook: Andre Guantanamo
IMDb: Andre Guantanamo
Demo Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gdwhemiqzc

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HA HA! DATING!

“I have infinite hate in my blood; it’s mainly cause of the game of love.”
-Eminem, “Love Game

Friends,

A few months back I found myself newly-single. It wasn’t a bitter event; just two people who had simply grown apart. But for the first time in five years or so I found myself back in the dating game, and I was determined to be more mature and respectful about dating than I had been been as a walking hard-on back in my mid-20s. After all, you can’t be a jackass your whole life.

lemon
Or can you?…

Honesty (General)

Now I have to confess, relationship endings are often blurry affairs so I was already talking to and getting to know some people while still technically in a relationship. I guess I needed to fill that vacuum of companionship that had developed as me and my ex had grown apart. But the upshot was that psychologically I already had a little bit of momentum when I became single for realz, as opposed to previous break-ups where I basically found myself suddenly alone and feeling adrift and desperate. So with said momentum, the break-up came like a starting shot for a race, and I was off!
But like I said, I’m more mature than I was five years ago and I had a different set of priorities vis a vis relationships. I realized that I didn’t (don’t) want a traditional monogamous relationship as I have known thus far. Instead, I wanted (want) beautiful experiences with beautiful people. Some people call that poly-amory or other things, but anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not big on labeling things. So while I don’t know what to call what I want, romantic relationships for me must meet four important criteria:

1) Fun
2) Comfortable
3) Loving*
4) Not Possessive

And boy oh boy, have I ever taken flak for this. I have met some lovely, yet jaded women who see me as what is wrong with the dating world. Basically a guy who doesn’t want to make a commitment, and who wants to perpetually date or hang out. And for these viewpoints I have some sympathy, but only to a point, because I am not against commitment, or as I phrase it, making an investment in someone. However, I don’t want said commitment to preclude a beautiful experience with someone else.

If you’re fine and you won’t front, I don’t wanna be your man but I’ll hook ya up.”
-Coolio (NOT 2-Pac), Rollin’ With My Homies

The problem to me ultimately comes down to scarcity and abundance. Perhaps as a result of our competitive, scarcity-based socio-economic market system, people often go into the world of dating with a scarcity mind-set, worried that they can’t give away too much of what they have (vagina, money, etc.) without getting a commensurate amount in return. And, if you are in a relationship with that person, you are expected not to give too freely of what you have as they have proprietary rights to your sexuality,flirtatious overtures and even money.
Fuck that noise! I’m operating with an abundance mindset and what I have to offer to romantic partners I have in infinite supply (not money lol) so why would I (or they) share that beauty with only one person? That external restriction/ownership/scarcity mentality has fucked up everything else in the world, are we really gonna let it poison relationships?
Well yes apparently, as I have recently found out lol.
Another fairly major change between me now and last time I was single, is that I am not interested in hooking-up (sex) just to say I did or to get “my number” up. Mostly I don’t like the feeling of emptiness I’ve been left with during past one-nighters, but a big part of this is number 2 on my criteria list: Comfort. If there isn’t comfort as a result of familiarity not only will it not be enjoyable, but more often than not I will have trouble performing (as certain ladies reading this might be able to attest to :-S). So I am very up front and honest with people at the outset about what my priorities and desires are because I don’t want a relationship predicated on a lie. Someone will be unfulfilled, hurt or both.

Honesty (Specific)

On the topic of being up front and honest with people is also not being ashamed of particular desires. If there’s a certain way you like to fuck, that you might have grown accustomed to, but that might be a little outside the realm of normative sexuality (as if there is such a thing) bringing it up to a new partner can bring some anxiety. Rather than getting into the best way to bring things up in the bedroom (or my own personal tried and true method of bringing kinks up lol) I will just say that I have learned to be just as open and up front about these predilections and desires as I am about my broader relationship objectives. Life is, after all, too short for mediocre sex.

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Pretty much this exactly…

Work Ethic

I don’t really love using the word “work” in relation to dating and relationships but it takes discipline to put yourself out there and in my experience “out there” is where the adventures happen. For example, when I found myself single I began to challenge myself to cold-approach at least one girl a day. For those not in the know, a “cold approach” would be chatting up a random girl in public. It’s a hard sell, especially with the feminist backlash against cat-callers and other harassers, but overall I find that approaching earnestly and honestly perhaps segue-ing into it after making conversation is a safe bet. I often (okay, usually) won’t get a number, but I have yet to be accused of patriarchal oppression. #GreatJob!
I have a few other things to say about cold approaches so bear with me:
Like many men in the early to mid 2000s, I read Neil Strauss’ book, The Game and was captivated by it. Having read it before a planned backpacking excursion to Australia, I joined the Mystery Method forum which the book told of (now The Attraction Forums) and put up an open ad saying that I was a Canadian sarger (or pick-up artist) traveling all around Australia and I wanted to work with different members in different cities. And WORK we did. We hit the bars hard and challenged to ourselves to chat up every group we could. It was scary. But then something happened; it stopped being scary. By getting over approach-anxiety I was able to have more natural, less contrived conversations with women which I can only imagine they appreciated more than some nervous guy stuttering some canned opener. Sure, every night we needed to warm up and the first few “sets” as we affectionately called them were always a crapshoot, but by and large we ended up talking to many gorgeous and wonderful women who might otherwise have been too intimidating to approach. Simply put, we spent so much time outside of our comfort zones that they grew to accommodate us (our comfort zones, that is). To get back to my point in a roundabout way, I am in the process of getting back to that serene place where I can approach any woman regardless of my insecurities (of which there are many) or her physical beauty or social standing. If you think about it, those latter two things are really superficial and stand as an impediment to genuine and meaningful human relations, so training myself to disregard them is actually a service to humanity.
And yes, to answer your next question, I do in fact, believe all my bullshit. 😀
The other thing I wanted to say about cold-approaching is that I have often brought it up when speaking with other actors, making the point that it is analogous to auditioning; The more you do it the less anxious you are, the less anxious you are, the more you put the casting directors at ease and everybody is happy. And in both auditions and cold-approaches sometimes you can do everything right and still not get the role or the phone number. Maybe they wanted a different look or she had a boyfriend and maintains a steadfast devotion to monogamy beyond the point of reason. Who knows!? It happens, but you can still learn from these experiences and walk away with a satisfaction that you only get from laying yourself bare and truly connecting with someone.

Age May Be Nothing But a Number, But it’s An Important Number

A peculiar thing happens when you chat up girls on the street and not just in bars. You see, the real world has no bouncer making sure everyone is of age, so very often you find yourself talking to someone who is “south of proper” with regard to age. I don’t know if its a really uncomfortable rite of passage or what, but you will never forget the first time you find yourself talking with a girl and upon some romantic/suggestive word from you, she reveals that she is underage. All you can really do is smile and eject from the situation. In fact, it would be really handy occasion to have a smoke pellet to facilitate escape.

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NINJA, VANISH!

I don’t know what it is, but this shit never happened to me until I started approaching 30 and it got especially creepy. I will say two final things about this: 1) the reality that you could chat up a girl who is criminally underage creates an imperative that you approach women respectfully and perhaps not be too forward at the outset. Not only is it more tactful but you might avoid committing a crime, and 2) Always know the age of consent.

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Part II + Avoiding the Hatred Pitfall
But here we got off on a tear about jailbait when there are actually much more sublime implications to age as it pertains to relationships. Like, for example, the difference between a girl who is 20 and a girl who is 28. By and large I find the latter much more receptive to my particular brand of honest, sincere and deliberate intention. And, old maid anxiety notwithstanding, older women are usually more comfortable about exploring relationships outside the conditioned norms. On the other hand, younger girls frustrate the shit out of me. Remember at the beginning of this post where I said I wanted to approach dating in a mature and respectful way? Well, some motherfuckers aren’t gonna respect you unless you’re an asshole to them. Or they flake out on you if you make yourself too available. The shit can be infuriating. I know I should probably avoid people who force me to use artifice and cunning in the pursuit of them, but what can I say, sometimes my dick is in the driver’s seat and doesn’t want to stop at the gas station and ask my brain (or heart) for directions. However, I’ve been pretty successful at not hating these people, although I think it’s an easy trap to fall into. I think every guy reading this has had a revenge-fuck fantasy about some girl who snubbed him and that’s not really the route I wanna go, tempting though it may be. I wanna deal squarely with everyone, hard as that may be sometimes.
One thing I find works for me is always blaming myself for the success or failure of any interaction. At the end of the day I can only affect my own behaviour after all, so if a girl isn’t feeling me I evaluate how I could alter my approach for next time. It doesn’t matter that she may be nuttier than squirrel shit and an all-around unpleasant harpy who delights in the misery of men, that’s her business. My business is what it has always been: dealing with her and everyone else more lovingly and meaningfully. As soon as you take responsibility for the outcome of every interaction you have, you make it very difficult to hate other people because you’re constantly asking yourself what you could have done better, not “why are they so FUCKED?!”

Murkiness vs. Full Disclosure

Guys, have you ever asked a girl out expecting that she knew it was a date? You go out and get along swimmingly, you may even pay for everything to sweeten the deal and then she tells you she has a boyfriend, or doesn’t invite you in, etc.? Of course, we’ve all been here, and its even worse when you try and take it to that romantic level and it makes her uncomfortable and the rest of the time together becomes shitty and awkward. Let a girl know ahead of time where you stand even if it means risking “the friendship” because if you don’t you’re basically living a lie and putting unfair pressure on her. What are we really afraid of? When I think of every girl I’ve been friends with but also attracted to, not one of those friendships was too precious to subject to the light of truth and my actual intentions, and I regret past instances where I wasn’t forthright when I should have been.
Bottom line: if you are going to meet up with a girl and you have any doubt that she knows for sure its a date, let her know. You will save yourself approximately a metric shitload of heartache and you’re doing her a service as well because it lets her better plan which underwear to wear and whether to shave or not 😉

The Company Ink

Just kidding! there’s only company ink if you have an actual job. I on the other hand am an actor, or a freelancer if I wanna sound marginally more respectable. That said, I have probably fallen in love with at least 90% of my female co-stars and a goodly number of the crew members as well. I can’t help it! They’re fucking hot! And like me, they’re driven and aspire to something greater than the slow death of an ordinary life. What’s not to love? The people I work with on set are, by and large some of the most inspiring people I have ever met as they reflect back to me all of the things I like best about myself.
Buuuuuut, people talk and nobody wants to get the rep as that sleazy guy who hits on everyone on set. That’s not to say don’t hook up, but I’m not sure what my particular line is or if I even draw a line. On some level I am a creature of opportunity, and if some hot starlet was feeling me and was “bout it, bout it” I might find it difficult to focus on maintaining my reputation, such as it is.
*Note to female co-stars, past, present and future: I’m probably “into” you and would be amenable to getting to you know you better.

Moving Forward

Things are going okay I guess. But I’m realizing something very profound: these types of relationships I’m pursuing are not static. That is to say you don’t just have a couple of relationships that more or less take care of and maintain themselves. Instead, things are in a constant state of flux, and you’re only “with” someone when you’re with someone.

“Ma, our time together is our time together, and our time apart is our time apart.”
-Jay-Z, Girls, Girls, Girls (Remix)

It’s good in a lot of regards. It creates an imperative to “stay sexy,” and you don’t get bored of and stuck with people. Most importantly, its a constant reminder that life, like your relationships is in a constant state of flux, and the illusion of permanence is just that. So don’t hold onto things and people that no longer serve you. Instead, move forward righteously in the pursuit of beautiful experiences.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*I am very loosey-goosey with my use of the word love. That’s not to say I use it in vain; in fact, I am very deliberate in my use of it but I recognize that it comes into play in more than just familial and long-term monogamous relationships. I think you have to love everyone and on some level I do, even a girl I just met. And if me and someone else can’t be loving to each other, even from the outset then we really got no business being with each other.

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Shameless Self-Promotion

THE REDDIT LINKS. PLEASE CLICK AND GIVE US AN UPVOTE

http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/2drf72/the_expendables_3_live_performance_in_toronto/

http://www.reddit.com/r/CanadianForces/comments/2drea6/got_out_of_the_army_last_summer_after_ten_years/

http://www.reddit.com/r/Dance/comments/2drfqj/though_primarily_a_dancer_i_got_hired_to_do_this/

http://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/2drfsd/my_team_and_i_promoting_the_expendables_3_with_a/

Friends,

Yesterday while at my BG agency to pick up my cheques and pay commissions, I got into what ended up being a three-hour conversation with my agent, interrupted only by a coffee-run. While she has been very supportive of my principal acting projects and has watched me develop, she levied the criticism that I don’t promote myself well enough.

“Hmmm…” I mulled this over for a minute and determined that she is a master of understatement. In my own words, I chronically undersell myself, which can be a big no-no in the entertainment industry.

For whatever reason I have never tried to develop the self-promotion skill-set as I hang onto the naive belief that the work should speak for itself. That said, my agent’s words came at a time when I was faced with a serendipitous dilemma/opportunity. You see, last weekend I performed at Toronto’s Tast of the Danforth festival in a live-action show to promote The Expendables 3.

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Me, about to get knocked the f*&k out by Jet Li

And, just yesterday, the official video for the performance hit youtube. Due to all of the team members promoting it heavily, we blew past our day one target and are well on our way to hitting our day two marks. But I want MOAR!!!
So going beyond the traditional “share on facebook, and get your parents to click ‘like'” I have decided that I want us to go above and beyond with a full-court press consisting of the following strategies:

1) Reshare the shit out of it every day this weekend. Usually I share things only once and hope for the best. Not this time. Im cramming it down the throats of the people who made the unwise decision to friend me on social; media.
2) Tweeting celebs. I have never gone this route but I figured I would join the rest of the team in doing this because they can only ignore so many tweets that call them out personally.
3) Press release: This is foreign territory to me and I only got the idea from my marketing-savvy brother Adam, but it makes sense. Right now he is editing my draft and when its all said and done Im gonna submit it to certain publications and hope for the best.
4) This blog post. If you are a follower and you are reading this I ask that you click this link. Enjoy it. Like it. Share it. Repeat. xoxo
5)Co-ordinated Reddit push. I conceived of this last night and have been working to co-ordinate many team members who are not familiar with Reddit. But at 8pm Eastern time tonight we are going to be posting a link to the video to various subs in the hope of gaining some traction. We would love it if you could join in this push and I will be publishing the links to the various threads once they go live in just over an hour.

Ultimately, the way I reconcile myself to this whole process is avoiding self-deception and also the deception of others. I know a lot of people would call this spamming and I don’t deny this but I think I want to find out for myself what merits there are (or aren’t) to being your own biggest fan. And, at the end of the day, I console myself with the fact that we aren’t “shining up shit and calling it gold,” but rather we are making sure an entertaining video that we worked our asses off to make gets the exposure it deserves.

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Us…post-“asses being worked off”

Hope you like the video

Best,

-Andre Guantanamo

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“Glitterati” – One Weekend in the Big City

Friends,

I opened up this window intending to talk about the Toronto International Film Festival premiere I almost just attended but it occurred to me that I could do with talking about the weekend as a whole because it was full of movie magic.

FRIDAY
Friday I departed for Toronto early so as to be on set for 11am to shoot a short film called The Prostitute.  Although it was all above-board with regard to permits and such, it had a very guerrilla feel to it due to the fact that the director had the actors helping out with things like blocking traffic and such.  I didn’t mind this because I think film-making at the indie level is, by definition, a collaborative effort, but towards my 8th hour on location without being called in front of a camera I got the sense that such delegation was symptomatic of a deeper disorganization.  The crew members confirmed as much to me as it was starting to get dark.
Now when I’m on set I plan on being there all day so I wasn’t too perturbed about not being called for hours, but there was another lady accompanying her 5-year-old daughter (one of the principals) and as it started to get dark she was getting visibly agitated.  I felt for her because she had also taken the day off work and when it was all said and done neither of us had gotten on set at all.
As it stands, the ADs are going to aim to schedule another shoot date where they will have organizational control and the director will simply direct and not plan.  I think this will be a good arrangement because as a director I think he really has a vision and is someone who knows how to coax the best performance out of his actors.  I look forward to going back and finishing the project.
This project is also significant for me in that it will be my first on-screen kiss.  I met my on-screen girlfriend on Friday and getting to know her and doing blocking with her had a vaguely first-date feel about it.  Hopefully this chemistry translates well to the screen because my IRL girlfriend, Chelsea is not thrilled about this arrangement, and we wouldn’t to be in the doghouse for naught, would we?
Oh, and then I went to go get my bike after we wrapped and someone had stolen the seat from it.  I hope it helps them in their endeavours.

SATURDAY
Saturday, I had two auditions: The first was  for the part of a reluctant neo-Nazi; more frustrated young man than racist ideologue.  He is actually the protagonist in the story and it worked well because I already have a shaved head (which is entirely incidental BTW).  They also had me do a cold read for the antagonist, the leader of a skinhead group named Ian.  Something of a charismatic orator, Ian has a hard-on for hunting blacks so I ad-libbed some of the oration dialogue employing everyone’s favourite N-word.  I only bring this up because it was my first time saying “nigger” in an audition and I would be saying it again in an audition before the day was through.
The second audition was one of those ones you go to that you don’t really remember what part you are trying for and you can’t even go back and look at the original posting because the filmmakers have already taken it sown.  So I walked into the meeting room and the filmmakers gave me free rein to deliver some prepared dialogue (monologue), but to ascertain the kind of character I was trying so so I could better inform my selection of monologue I started asking some sneaky questions like, “How do you see this character,” and “Give me your take on his motivations.”  They were happy to talk at length about the character; they even lauded me for hitting the nail on the head as to how he should be played when I wrote my cover letter for the audition (“Oh…yeah…my cover letter :-|), but unfortunately their explanations didn’t give me a clue to which monologue I should go with so I said fuck it and just went with a brand new one I had adapted from this classic scene from The Wire.
Well, my gambit paid off as it turned out both casting directors were big fans of the show and really liked my Avon impression (which, in case you were paying attention was my second and third utterance of “nigger” in an audition setting that day and ever).  However, they wanted to see another side so I did one of my more recent favourites which is the “Mongoloid” monologue Sheriff Earl McGraw delivers at the beginning of From Dusk ’til Dawn.
Overall I was happy with how both of these auditions went and I feel like if they go with someone different its because I didnt look the part or someone else just did way better.  That’s the best way to feel I find because that way you don’t have to torture yourself worrying about how it could have gone better.

SUNDAY
Two more auditions.  The first was kind of lukewarm due to the fact that it was a cold read and the first role I read for was not really a character who was suited to my particular talents.  They asked me to read for another character though which went a lot better so we’ll see.
The next audition was actually a callback which I should have memorized but did not and I ad-libbed some of the dialogue which would have been okay under normal circumstances but these particular filmmakers wanted a more faithful read-through of the script.  Even worse I think I threw off the guy I was reading with.  Fortunately when I went back out to the hall I practiced it a couple of times and when I read through it with the next guy it was a lot better and verbatim from the script with my own added flair.  They seemed to appreciate this so we’ll see how it goes.  I was kind of disappointed in myself for coming in there all reckless like I did but hopefully my 180 in the span of a few minutes impressed upon them some adaptability on my part and made me a little more memorable in their minds.
**************
Afterwards I made my way down to TIFF to meet up with Matt, Nita and Danny to wait in line for the premiere of Gravity.  For three hours we waited and when we were close to getting in, there came the announcement that Rush seating had filled and that we would not be able to get in.  This was disappointing but I certainly didn’t regret hanging out for three hours with some cool peoples.

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That said, as soon as we got the info that the movie was a no-go I took the opportunity to break out as quick as I could and head back to the home I hadn’t been to since Friday morning.
All in all it wasn’t a horrible weekend: nothing on film, four solid to good auditions, stolen bicycle seat, lost earphones and three hours chillin’ with my peoples.
Can’t wait to see what next weekend holds.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Show-Pas (That’s a Portmanteau of ‘Showbiz’ and ‘Faux Pas’)

Friends,
I stepped stomped on my dick yesterday for the first time since pursuing acting as a profession.  While chilling out with my woman yesterday morning I received a call from an unknown Toronto number.  I answered and it was an impatient female voice asking if I was free for an audition the next day (Today) at 3:30.  (It bears mentioning that said audition would have been my biggest audition thus far).  I said I wasn’t and this voice proceeded to berate me and point out how stupid I was for not looking at the scheduled audition dates dates when applying for the audition.  As I began to explain that I was spending the day with my girlfriend because it was her birthday, the voice hung up on me.

I found this rather vexing.

I explained the situation to my girlfriend who could tell something was amiss, and she said she didn’t mind spending her b-day in Toronto (we live in Hamilton) so that I could attend the audition.  With this new development, I called said casting agent back and explained that my schedule had opened back up and I would come in if she would have me.  She said I had already been replaced and made a point of emphasizing how replaceable I in fact was, citing the hundreds of other applicants for that role.

I think she hung up on me again.

Now I’m not sure if she hung up on me because I was kind of stunned about how malicious she was being about the whole thing, but it seems fitting given the trajectory of our discourse up to that point.  I was troubled because naturally the first thing in my mind was, “Oh my God, I’m never gonna work in this town again.”  I tried to keep my composure though because Chelsea already felt bad enough that me taking a day off from pursuing my dreams to hang out with her had indirectly led to the complete destruction of said dreams.  As soon as she left though I called up my sister, Tanya (still sleeping, naturally) and complained to her about my horrible mistake of always making time for my loved ones.

So what could I do better next time?

I’ve mulled this one over for a while, and while I didn’t really do anything overtly wrong I could definitely stand to tighten up a few aspects of my game.  Here are some recommendations to myself.

1. Always check the posted audition date against your own schedule.  This is kind of a no-brainer but when most of the auditions you are doing are for indie films, the schedules tend to be more flexible and they will spend some time to work things out with you so they can get a goodly number of people in auditioning.  A television show, not so much.  In this case, if I had checked the posted audition date a little more closely I would have seen it was Chelsea”s birthday and either not applied or made other arrangements with her.  But I didn’t.  Shame on me.

2. Always say ‘Yes.’  I should have known this one from my improv training.  I should have said, “Absolutely I can come in tomorrow and audition for your show,” then called her back and canceled if there had been any conflict.  “No” closes doors; “Yes” gets your foot in.

3. An agent might have some uses.  Call me naive but I don’t see a huge need for a principal agent right now; I’m checking postings every day (sometimes several times a day), following numerous casting directors via Twitter et al., and networking with fellow actors/directors/etc.  Notwithstanding leveraging any connections they have that I don’t, I don’t see the big need for an agent at my current level.
On the contrary, I think I’m ripe to be exploited by someone who might want to bolster their ranks without actually going to bat for me and finding me jobs.  I’ve heard of agents who insist that their clients don’t do any background work or look for work on their own and simply wait for a call.  I want to avoid this whole mess and basically just make good product, which will hopefully speak for itself and give me a bigger seat at the bargaining table when it comes time to enter a contract.  Again, if that sounds naive, its because I’m just figuring this shit out for myself as I go along
That said, yesterday’s SNAFU with the casting director illuminated one important function of agents: acting as a buffer between the talent and the casting director.  Until the day I find my very own Ari Gold

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My dream agent, bedroom eyes and all.

I’m going to have to be prepared to deal with people who have little patience for flighty novelties like family time.

So as it is I will keep trudging forward undeterred by this recent setback.  Aside from the lesson, the episode wasn’t a total loss: I got this casting director’s personal cell phone saved into my phone.  Maybe if she’s calmed down some I can shoot her a text to see if she’s got any auditions I can squeeze into >:-)

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

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