Asylum City: The Movie

Kirby Urner

I’ve been pitching this idea around Hollywood, which in this day and age does not require booking a seat to LA. The Go By Train experience, from Union Station, Portland, Oregon, is thumbs up by the way, on Coast Starlight. We did a family size sleeper, but that was years ago. Lets talk about the future.

The movie itself is about the movie industry, looking at itself and its vast inventory of props and know-how. What if the ancient Egyptians had filmed Building the Pyramids? What if NASA hadn’t recycled so much of its videotape? What we wouldn’t give, to relive past pinnacle achievements. In the case of the Pharaohs, we have an excuse: no film technology. Today? Unforgivable.

Asylum City is set in a verdant area. My location scouts are looking around Oregon. There’s a Rajneeshpuram vibe, inevitably, as we’re talking about establishing a new civic entity, a hurdle the Rajneeshies failed to surmount. I’m talking about a religious cult, well known to Oregonians, that had already started to fizzle by the time I moved back here.

They had some excellent bakeries and wore colorful clothing. A whiff of Asia, India in particular. So not all bad. We admire the real India.

What helps with my pitch is I already live in an Asylum District. You know how Washington, D.C. is a district? Not a state? Well, not like that exactly. Asylum District hugs both sides of Hawthorne Boulevard and includes a cemetery. Mt. Tabor marks the eastern border, with Montavilla on the other side. To the west, we go all the way to Lucky Lab, a gateway to Portland’s beer drinking culture. Oregon has a lot of German and Russian heritage, also Nordic. I’m of the latter stock, a blend of Swedish and Irish. I don’t look to my DNA for that information. I’m talking ethnicity.

I bring up all these immigrant cultures because of course the word “asylum” has that meaning. What I’m planning as a set of storyboards, or “scenarios” as Director Bucky put it, is a City where people come in large numbers as refugees of some kind. Instead of sending Mercy Corps there in every case, we bring the flood, earthquake and war victims to our Center. We’re making the movie, even as we create the reality. Right now, we’re in planning phase. Old Man River City (OMR) is an inspiration.

I may have to get the train to LA one of these days. At some point, Hollywood is going to want to see more of the script. The School of Tomorrow (picture teenagers all hacking away on Jupyter Notebooks) is what’s out there for now, on Github.

Then I use other social media to frame the story. A big part of what Asylum City is about is education. You may be a refugee, but that just means you need to study, learn about your world, to create a better life for yourself. We call Asylum City a campus and use a lot of Global University memes. If you know my writing, you know some of those memes.

You might think the US State Department would be involved and I don’t promise that it isn’t, as some on my team have those kinds of connections. Even I have a USAID T-shirt in my collection, from Lesotho days. You might think that because of all these refugees we’re talking about. A cast of “extras” that big, would require lots of visas.

However, if you’ve been around Portland at all, you see we’re not lacking for cast. Portland has taken in refugees by the million. Since we haven’t even started building the campus yet, it’s premature to think we’ve involved the Homelander types. All in good time.

The several scenarios we’re scripting (all partially overlapping) will need to snowball a little more.

Actually, I suppose if you count the late James Lambert, one of my role models, the heritage is already there. He was an escort for VIPs and MVPs, guests of the USG, touring the nation on invitation. He’d bring them to Oregon sometimes, and I’d get to meet some of them.

Given my background in diplomacy, I was welcome at parties. Only years of training would keep me from overeating, given all the wine and cheese. Top of the Hilton in Portland is a great space, if you’re an event planner. Great views. Great eats.

Watch this Medium channel for more news. Next year is Director Bucky’s 125th birthday and we have some events up our collective sleeves. I have a Youtube channel as well, with lots about refugee camps, Burning Man, Asylum City and more. Lots of scenarios.

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