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This is Hardcore: Guatemalan genocide trial enters climatic phase
05:14 pm


Xeni Jardin

Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin has been in Guatemala reporting from the trial of General José Efraín Ríos Montt, the former military strongman ruler accused of perpetrating genocide and crimes against humanity in the 1980s.

During his trial, more than 90 Ixil Maya victims have come forward and told the court accounts of sexual violence, assassination, torture and even acts of infanticide committed by the Guatemalan army. There were too many horrific stories to tell them all in court. Ronald Reagan once said that Rios Montt had gotten a “bum rap”!

Xeni writes:

In Guatemala, we also interviewed people from organizations that produced criminal evidence for the trial, including AHPN and FAFG, and Patrick Ball from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group. Our interviews took place in an increasingly polarized climate in Guatemala; rumors were spreading that some trial witnesses and people involved in the prosecution were receiving threats. Some, we were told, were forced to leave the country out of concerns for safety. Paid 20-page inserts by a pro-Ríos Montt, anti-genocide-tribunal group appeared in each week’s Sunday paper: “The so-called ‘genocide’ trial is a lie perpetrated by neo-Marxist guerrillas enabled by the Catholic Church,” the headlines read.

But the most challenging part of our reporting trip came when we traveled to the Ixil area, to interview Mayan survivors, including a woman who appeared in the tribunal as one of the approximately 100 “querellantes,” or criminal witnesses for the prosecution. We spoke with José Ceto Cabo, an Ixil civil war survivor who runs a small NGO that works to aid fellow Ixil survivors, and we listened as seven Ixil men and women from Chajul, Cotzal, Nebaj, and other communities at the center of the genocide trial told us the stories of the atrocities they survived. In the courtroom back in Guatemala City, women covered their faces with traditional woven shawls as a gesture of grief and to hide the overwhelming pain and fear they felt as they re-lived their trauma. In the room in Nebaj where our cameras and lights were set up, this group of men and women chose to show their faces, even as some of them wept and trembled, retelling horrors.

Today, the trial entered its final phase, with the prosecutors seeking 75 years for acts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Below, “From Guatemalan Soil, Unearthing Evidence of Genocide,” a report from last night’s PBS NewsHour on the forensic science used in the trial. Produced by Xeni Jardin and Miles O’Brien.

Watch From Guatemala, Scientists Unearth Signs of Genocide on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Xeni Jardin’s cancer treatment inspires Cosey Fanni Tutti’s ‘Bioschismic’
10:58 am


Cosey Fanni Tutti
Xeni Jardin

As many DM readers know, Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin, who is a very dear friend of mine and Tara’s, has recently been treated for breast cancer (and she is doing GREAT. Expect her to be back at Boing Boing fairly soon, I’d imagine).

I just got an email from her alerting me to this and I am absolutely speechless…

“Time becomes plastic. Your experience of time morphs… And when you come out of it, on the strong days right before the next scheduled infusion, all of that time compresses into blurry waves of noise.”

—Xeni Jardin

Time is defined by and within the human experience yet the dominance of ‘linear’ time prevails. We are inextricably linked with time, ‘Life’ is measured in time.

Depending on particular situations our experience of time can be elusive, appear stretched, accelerated, and on occasions all too specifically in synch with defined parameters. Audio recordings, film, Internet, and photography are some of the means by which we choose to mark ‘times’. Such documentary methods signify our need to externalise particular events and also to activate memories.

‘Bioschismic’ is created solely from audio and photographic documentation of Xeni’s time spent receiving chemotherapy. The repetitive drip drip rhythm of the toxic chemicals measured in precise doses over a specific period of time provide the prospect of extending (life) time. Time is the dominant force yet the effects of the drugs change the experience of time to a space that is other worldly - a different time zone - a schism within and for life itself.

—Cosey Fanni Tutti

‘Bioschism’ - inspired and made possible by Xeni Jardin.


So sweet. Such a moving gesture of solidarity from one of the hippest, coolest women on the planet to another.

Wow. Just wow.

(I should probably add that it’s a really great piece of music!)

Xeni and I interview Throbbing Gristle backstage in Los Angeles, for Boing Boing Video in 2009. A lot has changed since then.

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Xeni Jardin: The Diagnosis
09:02 am


Xeni Jardin


“I have breast cancer. A week ago, I had breast cancer, and the week before that, and the week before that. Maybe five, eight, even ten years ago, the first bad cell split inside me, secretly. But I didn’t know. This is how I arrived at knowing.”

If you haven’t read Xeni Jardin’s very personal account of what it was like to receive a diagnosis she really didn’t want to get, I suggest you click over to Boing Boing now and do so. Last week, in solidarity and friendship with two friends of hers who were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, Xeni made an appointment to have a breast exam, and she took photos during the exam which she tweeted. The idea was to show what happens during a breast exam and to demystify the process, but that was it.

I’m not sure that she would have chosen to go through all of this in public if she knew in advance what the results might be, but I deeply admire the fact that she has.

I do not know all of what’s ahead. I know a little. I know that there is a new kind of life on the other side of this thing. A changed mind and body. A new appreciation of time, and breath, and health, and life, and loved ones.

The gravity in this place is different. I’ve spoken to others who’ve traveled out here, too, and returned home safely. When you become one of them, you learn quickly that you share a language others can’t understand.

The trick, these fellow travelers tell me, is to accept the not knowing and find your equilibrium in that new gravity. Calm the mind. Find your balance out on the cold planet, whether or not you know the next step, or the date of the next appointment, or what good or bad news the Technetium-99 isotopes floating around in your blood during the last scan reveal.

You must be at peace with not knowing, they tell me. That is how you get through outer space, and find your way back home.

The thing about this thing, or, at least, this first week of this thing, is how it takes you out there to the cold planet again and again and again, when you aren’t expecting it. Long, undulating waves of fear pull you out to where you are alone and unreachable, even by words sent from the strongest satellite.

The thing that brings you back is love.

As many of DM’s readers probably know, Xeni Jardin is one of my and Tara’s closest friends and favorite people in the world. As a mutual friend once said of her, “Xeni is like a being from an advanced planet or the future who has come to Earth to help us all evolve faster.” If there’s anyone who can beat this, it is, for sure, our Xenorita, and she is in really good hands, which is a real comfort to all of us who care about her. Send some good vibes—and love—her way in the Boing Boing comments, won’t you?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Xeni Jardin interviews Yoko Ono in Japan

Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin, currently traveling in Japan, met up with Yoko Ono and conducted a great interview with the artist/humanitarian, who had just been awarded the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize. The Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art is displaying “The Road of Hope: Yoko Ono 2011,” until October 16, 2011.

Xeni Jardin: A few days ago, you were in Hiroshima accepting an award for your your legacy of art in the service of peace. You were a young girl here in Japan when the event happened. What was that day like?

Yoko Ono: Yes, I think I was 12. It was a shock of course, but at the time, initially we didn’t know what happened. I heard about it from somebody in the village. It’s a very, very different kind of bomb, they said, we have to immediately stop the war. It didn’t make sense to me at all, in any way. We didn’t understand.

Xeni Jardin: At what point did the magnitude or the nature of what had happened become more clear to you?

Yoko Ono: Well, every day, from then on. They were reporting in newspapers and magazines what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it was just—it was something that you just could not understand. It was just so bad.

Xeni Jardin: Trying to grasp the full scope of what had happened must have been something that unfolded over many years for you, your family, and for all of your fellow countrymen and women.

Yoko Ono: Well you see, it was because of Pearl Harbor, and so the rest of the world was very, very cold to us when the bombs dropped. Like, “Oh, they deserved it.” That kind of thinking.

And of course in those days, the idea of what an enemy is, and what is fair to do to enemies were very different. For America to have bombed civilians was something that most people accepted. But women and children, old and young, they all suffered. If it had happened not to Japan but in a Western country, maybe the West would have felt differently about it. But that’s how it was. And the Japanese people, especially the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they had to endure the whole thing without any kindness or compassion from the world. Despite the meanness directed at them, even after the bombing, they stood up and survived, and they created a normal situation out of the ashes of that horror, which I believe is amazing.

The whole of Japan helped them. I learned when I was in Hiroshima, for instance, that many trees were sent from other towns throughout Japan, to be planted there to renew the bare ground. People throughout the country tried to help, but Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to stand up on their own, as well, of course.

And in a very strange way, even though they were victims and martyrs of a terrible thing, now they are not victims. They are the people who created a strong, strong recovery. They show to the world that this is what we can do, instead of all the myths that were created about those places — the myth that you could never enter those places after what happened, and that you couldn’t return into those cities. Just walking in there is dangerous.

But now, they’re two beautiful cities again. And the world sees that.

Read more of Xeni Jardin’s interview with Yoko Ono at Boing Boing.

Below, a fucking fierce Beatles/Yoko jam session in an outtake from Let It Be:


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Leon Botha of Die Antwoord dead at 26
11:51 am


Die Antwoord
Xeni Jardin
Leon Botha

Our friend Xeni Jardin writes on Boing Boing of the passing of Leon Botha, South African artist and DJ best known for being the “hype man” for Die Antwoord. Leon died on Sunday from complications related to progeria. He was 26. As Xeni mentions, he was likely the longest-living person with the condition, but that’s not how he wishes to be remembered:

We ended up becoming internet pen-pals of a sort. Through this, and through some of his friends (who all expressed great affection and protectiveness toward Leon) I learned more about his visual and performance art work. In that work, in his written word, and in some of the incredible monologues you can find from on YouTube, his presence radiates. All who knew him, and all who were touched by his spirit through those videos, will know what I mean when I say that he emanated deep sincerity, gentleness, a serenity and quiet wisdom. Leon was aware of his own mortality in ways most people are not. He transformed that awareness into a sort of mindfulness of how vast and awesome life is.

One day over email, Leon shared with me that the passing mentions of him that existed on Wikipedia were upsetting to him. He was mentioned only on the page for Die Antwoord, and under the page for his disease, progeria.

“I was a bit paranoid that my art wouldn’t be in there, in case something happened to me,” he said.

Leon was very mindful of the value of the internet as a reflection of human life, and an archive of the living after they die. He wanted to be understood as a complex, self-determined, thoughtful creator and connector and thinker. Not as a disease, and not as a footnote in someone else’s better-known story. He wanted to be known for who he really was while he was alive. He wanted us to respect him, and his work, after he was gone.

Recently, our email exchanges seemed to include more and more news of challenging physical hardships from Leon. He never complained, but when I asked after longer silences, he shared. I can’t imagine the physical suffering he endured.

“I always thought when I was little, like, all of this is okay,” he wrote in one email. “Just please don’t let it reach the levels where it is now.”

Read more of In memoriam: Leon Botha, South African artist, DJ, and wonderful human being (Boing Boing)

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Xeni Jardin interviews Chris Morris about jihadi comedy ‘Four Lions’
09:35 am


Chris Morris
Xeni Jardin
Four Lions

Last week an email blast went out about a special LA screening at Cinefamily of British satirist Chris Morris’s new, uh, “terrorist comedy”—for what else could you call it?—Four Lions. The director would be present, a rare appearance indeed, by Morris on these shores. I’d already seen the film, but getting to hear Morris talk about his work in person was not an event I was going to miss.

I attended the packed and enthusiastic screening with my good friend, Xeni Jardin, who conducted a terrific interview with Chris Morris that she posted today on Boing Boing:

Xeni Jardin: When I first heard about this film I thought: Chris Morris has spun a comedy from of a sad and serious subject. After seeing the film, and now hearing you talk, it seems that the comedy was all there—it’s just not politically correct to bring it to light.

Chris Morris: I suppose, in a way. Look, the cartridges that were bombs, that were intercepted in the FedEx parcel bombing attempt last week—the guy who made those bombs turned his brother into a bottle rocket last year. That whole group are basically displaced Saudis in Yemen. They don’t like the Saudis. This guy wanted to blow up a Saudi prince. And he persuaded his brother to use a suppository bomb. The suppository bomber turns up at the Saudi prince’s place, says hello to the Saudi prince, pulls out a trigger, fires off the bomb, then blasts himself vertically, straight through the ceiling. The Saudi prince picks himself up and says, “Right, now then, where was I?” And that’s the end of that. It’s a perfect sight gag. For everyone other than the guy’s mother, it’s a funny story.

Four Lions opens tomorrow in selected American cities.

Four Lions: Finding the Lulz in Jihad(Boing Boing)

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Coilhouse: ?
09:08 am


Xeni Jardin
Body Memories


Meredith Yayanos at Coilhouse shares this… unique therapy video. Is it a parody? Is it not? I… have no idea. Meredith says:

Do you lack healthy boundaries? Are you guilty of the compulsive overshare? All-too-eager to share gory, palpating details with complete strangers that no one besides your own mother and/or proctologist would ever want to know?

Non-consensual rape anecdote-telling. Tactical uterus hurling in lieu of real intimate contact. The ?

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Throbbing Gristle’s Unusual “Box Set”



When Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin and I interviewed Throbbing Gristle in Los Angeles, during the sound-check we were talking to Charlie Poulet, TG’s brilliant sound engineer. There was an insanely trippy song coming over the PA system and I asked him what it was. “Oh, THAT. That is a Buddha Machine—ever hear of one?”

A Buddha Machine is a little plastic box that resembles a cheap transistor radio. It has a built-in speaker and runs continuous tape loops of chanting or soothing, natural, trippy, etc, sounds. They are hipster remakes of the Tibetan prayer loop boxes (they’re ubiquitous all over China) and are manufactured by a company called FM3.

Charlie was running several of them at once to create the amazing sound-scape going on in the background as we spoke. A little while later, Chris Carter hinted that soon TG would be announcing a “special musical project” that involved no CD or MP3s whatsoever. I suspected at the time he was hazily describing something similar to a Buddha Machine. TG-stylee and I was right. Check it out!

The Gristleism box features:

Thirteen original TG loops: a mix of experimental noise, industrial drone, and classic melodies and rhythms.

Built-in 50mm speaker, volume control, pitch-shift control and loop selector switch.

Features more loops and almost twice the frequency range of the original Buddha Machines.

The device is powered by two AA batteries and was designed by Throbbing Gristle and FM3’s Christiaan Virant.

I have to get one of these! Order yours here.

Thank you Gord Fynes!

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Meeting The Mighty Boosh, a Timelord and the best writer on television today… Not a bad 24 hours!



Had a wonderful day in Pasadena, California interviewing the very charming David Tennant and Russell T. Davies for an upcoming episode of Boing Boing Video.

At first my reaction to meeting them in Pasadena was “Isn’t bringing someone from England to Los Angeles and sticking them in a hotel in Pasadena a bit like inviting a Yank to London and putting them up in Croydon?” but the Langdon Hotel (formerly the Ritz-Carlton) is in fact a lushly opulent palace on 23 nicely landscaped acres with a Michelin star restaurant. It was a great place to shoot.

I got a chance to talk with the former Timelord about what if was like to turn in his TARDIS for the very last time and ask Russell about writing his final “Who” script, the recent Transatlantic triumph of the “Torchwood: Children of Earth” mini-series and about his recent move to Los Angeles (sneak preview: he’s been here for six weeks and he already misses the rain!)

Meeting the Mighty Boosh (and seeing them in concert last night at The Roxy) and then sitting today with David and Russell has made for a very exciting 24 hours.

Look for Xeni Jardin’s Mighty Boosh interview—if you were standing in that monstrous seven block line last night, you’re probably going to see your bad self in the final piece, at least briefly—and this one to show up next week on Boing Boing Video.

A special thank you to Devin Johnson of BBC America for making this happen.



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