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Interview: Andrew Coolman – Beware of the Immigration Hustle On US Border, Russell Pearce

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Singer-songwriter Andrew Coolman expressed his outrage over the unjust immigration laws in Arizona using a unique approach. He wrote and directed a video short called Do the Arizona Hustle.  Coolman, who appears in the film as “Officer Good Day” along with his pal “Officer Russell Pearce” (Rick Alderete) combines humor with his creative genius to spoof Arizona SB 1070, the most vicious anti-immigrant law in the history of the U.S.

I met up with Officer Good Day on New Years Eve 2010 and was able to get the following exclusive interview through Facebook chat. The photos are from the original movie shoot, reprinted with permission.

Do The Arizona Hustle

 

(Warning, the language and scenes are clearly “mature”, although in today’s world, rated for mature has a different meaning than when I was an innocent youth.)

I really liked the video you sent me. I didn’t see your name on the video. Who are you?

My real name is Andrew Coolman, and I work in pharmaceuticals developing new treatments for diseases – we work on Alzheimer’s, depression, heart disease etc.. but creative projects are my passion, and I’ve been writing creatively since I was young, writing raps, filming, and stories.

What projects have you done before?

I ran an online horror series for two years before this that got around 3 million views. 

What was the name of the series?

The horror series was called “The Human Pet”.  It’s on You Tube at thehumanpet1.  The original thehumanpet got shut down by You Tube because it looked too authentic.  After that we put disclaimers on the videos saying it was a work of fiction.

Thehumanpet1 is very realistic, so I can see why a disclaimer is needed!  Where did you find the inspiration for Doing the Immigration Hustle?

I have a lot of Latino friends. I definitely disagree with some of the discrimination going on in this country being written into laws, (SB 1070) and not allowing the children of immigrants who work hard to have opportunities they deserve.  (The Dream Act).  I’m not Latino, but I am a minority.  I’m Jewish, so I’m sensitive to this cause.

Tell me, why does a Jewish-American care about immigration?  Most people don’t worry about it.

I’m a big student of history, and my own people have been discriminated against throughout history. We did it again in this country with the Japanese during World War II in internment camps.

And that affected you?

I’ve always been very liberal and was bothered by the clandestine racism behind some of these laws, which is definitely not the spirit of equality and democracy I think this country was founded upon. When you hear white supremacists back these laws, then that only bolsters my suspicions!

What has been the response to the video?

Once the video came out and I started getting overwhelming support from the DREAM activists, from people who are immigrants in this country and do not have rights and do not have a certain future, it definitely hit home about their plight and how much injustice is really going on.

The Dream Act is a narrow piece of legislation that would affect the children of undocumented workers to go to school or serve in the military. If they earn their degree or finish their military service, after 10 years, they can apply for permanent resident status, and a few years after that they can apply to become citizens. The law requires a background check, and the students have to pay out-of-state tuition and can’t use public health care during their 10 year period. A study shows they will have a positive impact on the US economy and create jobs. They will also help keep their families together.

Why do you care and most of America remains uninformed about immigration issues?  Most people don’t seem to care about poor people. Why you?

When I  hear their stories, where they came from.  So it affects me when I hear about these bills.  Because its not just some unknown group they’re affecting.  Its my close friends. I got that honestly from living in Los Angeles, which is so diverse and multicultural.  The experience opened my eyes in many ways.

I’ve definitely seen and experienced anti-Semitism growing up.  It is not out in the open, but you see it. Luckily I live in a place where in general people act mostly tolerant, but behind closed doors people act differently.  It’s sad but its human nature.  People don’t like people that are different than themselves.

Your solution is so creative!

Thanks man, appreciate it!

Where do you find such knock out models?

Hah Hah Craig’s list. They are all professional dancers

Ha ha ha!  How much did you have to pay them to do the video or did they volunteer?

No I paid.  I definitely put time and money into this video.

What does a film like this cost?

Heck, a few grand, but it would normally cost more.  I did things creatively as possible.  I have friends who help.

Did you write and direct and shoot?

We built the club in a friends production studio the night before, and then shot it all in 12 hours.   I wrote it,  and directed it.  We had a camera guy do the actual shooting.

Wow! How much did you practice? How long did it take to write?

For the dance shots at the end, I just took a half day at work, went to downtown LA with a camera by myself, and got that footage from random people!

Cool!

The writing was quick, there was really no practicing, we just went in and did it.

Elton John said he wrote Rocket Man in 30 minutes.

Ha ha! Yes, its possible if you’re inspired at the time!

FOLLOWUP INTERVIEW:

During the original chat interveiw, I asked Andrew if he could relate a personal story that might give us insight as to why he is so passionate about immigration reform.  He sent me the following response:

I was on a family vacation in Mexico a few years back. We stayed at A pretty nice hotel in Puerto Vallerta. My brother and I went running off the strip, up a mountain to this tourist exhibit called “the Terminator” zip line.  I guess this was in the Jungle where they filmed part of the original Terminator movie back in the early 80’s, and it was still their claim to fame.

The poverty along the path was pretty shocking!   I remember specifically they had a very nice restaurant at the top, where waiters were getting it ready to open. It was on a hillside overlooking the jungle, a really beautiful place. Below it, just out of view, was a concrete slab, and tents.  Apparently (the tent city is) where the people who worked in the restaurant lived.

 I just remember this young woman, about my age, rocking her crying infant, and living in this old tent hidden beneath this tourist restaurant. I was amazed at the level of poverty there.  It definitely made me more understanding of what some of the people there were dealing with, and why they would risk going elsewhere for a better life.

Dios te bendiga, have a safe New Years!

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About Tim Paynter

  • debbie Jeronimus

    This is really cool! I think we should pass immigration reform right now! I like how Andrew handles this, he is really cute!

  • http://lawmancolo.blogspot.com/ Tim Paynter

    Thanks Debbie! Andrew does a great job of broaching the Arizona problem with humor and grace! He is very talented. I don’t know if he is single, but keep your hopes up!