Bill Carter Miss Sarajevo

I need a little thermometer for posts’ importance. Like most stuff would rate right around light-blue to yellow. This one would be off-the-charts red-hot.

Yesterday we saw film clips from various sources. One of which was Miss Sarajevo, the film U2 was somewhat involved with; the song by the same name is on their latest greatest hits record.

Yesterday after the 3 hour presentation on the war, after we walked outside and got in the car, I of course immediately started to decompress using music. Coincidentally, we had said U2 greatest hits CD in the car, and I put it in and clicked forward to track 6, Miss Sarajevo. Miriam and I continued talking about everything we’d seen, and eventually I started driving home. About half way home (it is only a 5-10 minute drive) the next song, Stay, came on. I was thinking, “Damn it, U2, why do you have write songs like this. God bless you so damn much.” By the time we were pulling off the highway into our neighborhood I was in uncontrollable sobs. I could barely drive. I thought I was going to have to pull over, maybe I wish I had, so I could have just lived only in the moment of tears, the emotions pouring out of tiny tear ducts like so many prisoners from the crashed gates of their jails. But I made it home, the tears already drying as we pulled into the garage.

Anyway, today I found the site for Bill Carter, who made the film, who got U2 involved in the first place.

Now, I am as guilty as anyone of having just tons of ignorance about what was happing over there, when it was happening. I was graduating high school, going to university across the country. I was lost in freshman english, psych 101.

So this is no judgement.

But I know U2 is the only reason many of us even find out about world events, the only reason we would care.

So I admit that is part of the draw of this story. And for me, even beyond that mega-stardom, there is Bill, who has done all kinds of crazy shit all over the world, written and filmed and seen hope and artistry through it all, has been an artist in the truest sense, been a person in the truest sense. I may have found another personal role-model.

Most of what follows is basically just an annotated tour of the site, so if you just want to go to the site and check it all out yourself, just go ahead. If you still need/want convincing, comments, or filtering, continue…

(Anything indented in the following text is direct quote from Bill…I’ve forgone the usual italics for readability.)



by Bill Carter

A record of the events in Sarajevo, particularly those of Bill’s getting U2 involved in what was going on in Bosnia. Online segments already available, and more coming. I just want to know when this thing is going to get published! Amazing storytelling!

It was late one winter night in 1993 and I was standing on the side of the road in Split, Croatia when a caravan of trucks painted in giant sized cartoon characters stopped and invited me to join them on their way to Sarajevo, the besieged capital city of Bosnia. At that time the war was in full swing. I had 200 in my boot, a duffel bag of winter clothes, some toilet paper, a few books and a bottle of whiskey. Going elsewhere was not an option. The people in the truck, a collection of misfits from all over the world, called themselves The Serious Road Trip. They were a rogue humanitarian outfit who filled their trucks with food and medical supplies that other, more cash rich organizations were either too afraid to take into the war or they didn't have the trucks that could drive the rough roads. That night, after I jumped in, I was given the rules of conduct: Eat off the back of the truck. No whining. Sleep where we can. Shower when possible. Give all you got, while you can. Why were they there? Perhaps it was best put by one of its leaders, Graeme Bint, who, when I asked him, said, "well I didn't just want to be a cunt my whole life." ... "Hello," said a voice. It was a barely audible Irish voice. It wasn't the same one from the last time, but I wasn't picky. "Hello," I said. "You have to talk very loud," said Wally. "Hello. This is Bill Carter calling from Sarajevo. Did you receive our fax?" "Yes. We did," she said. She sounded startled. "Well what is the answer?" I yelled. "I wouldn't know that," she said. "Listen. I can't talk forever. Can you find out? We really need to know what's happening." "It has been forwarded by fax to the band out on the tour. Someone will get back to you as soon as we know." "You understand how difficult it is to get a phone line out?" "I understand." "Okay. Well tell them to hurry up." [more] ... There were 24-hour news shows dedicated to showing blood and guts in wide screen. Or split screen. And they could even accommodate the deaf viewer with subtitles: "This man was shot in the head as he walked toward the center of town." There would be books, photographs, films, speeches, plays and college courses all dealing with death in the Balkans. I wanted to talk about the music in the disco, Don Guido and the Missionaries, Ciba the painter, the soccer games. I wanted to talk about Shibe and the surrealists and the beautiful women who still wore high heels and fancy bras. Straight talk of death without humor only invites pity, or in the worst of cases utter confusion. People want to do something but become confused by the overwhelming sense of hopelessness and in the end do the only thing they possibly can: nothing. As I saw it my job this one evening was to be a catalyst between the outside cultural world and Sarajevo, a culturally forgotten world. The interview lasted around twenty minutes. Bono sat in a dark green chair wearing all black leather. I was dressed in the same soiled clothes I had been wearing for 4 months. I held the microphone wrapped in baby diapers and Jason, who wasn't used to operating a video camera, zoomed in and out and did a few funky fade and cuts along the way.</i> [more] ... As we talked our waitress served us tea. It was always the same waitress. Thankfully. Her name was Elma and she was a gorgeous redhead. She was tall and had thin calves. Her breasts were full and firm. And her shy smile was seductive at the same time. I sat here many afternoons just to order tea and watch her smile. "Do you know her story?" I asked Ciba. "She's from Szrebenica," said Branko. "No!" said Ciba, with great surprise. To urban Sarajevians Szrebenica was considered a hick town. "Yes." "She looks so Sarajevian. So beautiful," he said. We all looked at her as she took a few empty cups inside the bar. "She and her father were taken by Serbs. They raped her many times while her father was tied up. Watching. After she got pregnant they kept her prisoner for eight months. Then they told her to leave, go back to her people," said Branko. Ciba took a sip of coffee. "But before she left they killed her father in front of her. She ended up here." Ciba nervously ran his hands through his hair and made a few grunting sounds. "You see. You see. This place. I hate it," he said under his breath. [more] ... She adjusted her glasses, pushing them up the bridge of her nose. "I'm only going to do this for one reason. One reason only," she said with quiet conviction. "Okay," I said. Maybe I had been too harsh. Maybe this was the jagged edge we always hear about; the survival shield journalists have to have to live and work in places like Bosnia. Maybe she couldn't afford to let her guard down. It would hurt too much. I felt like an ass for misunderstanding her. A reluctant smile inched up from the corners of my mouth. I owed her an apology. "I will do this as a personal favor to Bono," she said. And with that she carefully placed a piece of hair behind her ear and strutted back into the EBU office. I stood in awe. The person who controlled the portal for the world's news on Sarajevo was a genuine wanna-be star fucker. [more] ...

Third, THE PHOTOS</a>

What it does takes is that the photographer is first and foremost a traveler- which simply means you are willing to trust your fate, your memories, and sometimes your life with strangers. The selection of photo's shown here are from seven years of journeys. So good. So far...still alive. So far...and yet all these people and all their lives, their joys, their fears, their religions, their deaths are not so different than many of us. They are so far and yet so very close.

Bosnia photos

I am newly inspired after seeing this. That everything will come together the way it was intended, that life’s connections have meaning, that there are integrations of soul and sand ahead worth moving forward for. Bill has yet again achieved his purpose: he has inspired hope.