I recently found out that on March 1st, 2014, Patrick Wall had died. I had not seen Patrick in many years, and like so many others I have known, had lost touch with him over time. Patrick, along with Janet Bridgers, co-founded Earth Alert!, an Emmy-winning group of enviornmental activists and film-makers. On occasion, EZTV worked with them on some of their local documentaries.
Patrick was an early voice in the environmental movement. He worked with many of the first NGOs which dedicated themselves to bringing positive attention to climate change, pollution and the ever-increasing role that Agri-business would play in our food supply.
Long before I knew him, Patrick had been arrested off the coast of Japan, for cutting apart tuna fishing nets to free captive dolphins from drowning. Patrick spent, I believe, six months in a Japanese prison, being fed only brown rice and water. What his captives didn’t realize for awhile was that Patrick was actually happy with these rations, as they were close to his regular diet anyway. He would stand in his tiny cell, motionless, for hours at a time, meditating. Soon the prison guards came to deeply respect him, and he was released, after international pressure and notoriety, before his sentence was complete.
He combined documentary filmmaking, politcal activism with a type of performance art which few people who knew him realized.
An avid sailor, he had for awhile lived off the coast of Belize, in his small schooner. He gave me much invaluable sailing advice when, earlier in my life, I owned an ocean-going sailboat as well. He loved the land, the sea and the air, and saw no real distinction between their continuum. He saw the earth as a living thing, and once said to me that we humans were more a parasite on mother earth, than its custodian. But, as we have presummed the arrogant role of her custodian, that we must act responsibly, at least for as long as our species chooses to continue to survive. He sometimes speculated that our extinction might be the best thing to happen to earth, in a very long time.
During the late 1980’s, Patrick would drive around town in his pickup truck, collecting materials which could be recycled in many ways. He kept on the lookout for things which I might be able to use as props, or build into sets. Some of my most acknowleged art projects at the time, were greatly enhanced with all types of such materials, which I eargerly would fashion into either surrealistic, or realistic enviorns. We tried to mount a free, on-going service to other artists who might also want to obtain recycled wood, plastic, furniture, etc., but no one seemed interested at the time.
The last time I saw Patrick, the better part of a decade ago perhaps, he came by to EZTV to donate to us, two vintage Super8 film cameras. He was, at that point, going back to school after decades, to study horticulture. I heard from him a few times after that, and when he graduated, he called, and told me how happy he was with his new life. He created his final chapter, teaching low-income persons, ways to grow their own heathly food, in keeping with sustainable farming methods.
In the last 20 years, we spent far too little time together, and the world we both hoped would become the 21st century, seem to not be on the horizon. Still, he remains for me one of those who mentored by example, and created through a deep and honest appreciation for the world we all call home.
There will be a memorial service, created by Janet Bridgers, on May 3rd, at Santa Monica Beach, where a ceremonical procession of his friends will convene to create together a dolphin sculpted in the sand in his honor. Food and music will be shared as he would have wanted. Following that, Janet will screen at EZTV a documentary of hers, on local environmental activism.
NOTE: thanks to Janet Bridgers for most of these photos.