Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Long Road Back - Part 1

Well, it's been a crazy week - what else can I say?

I have started a new contract job, which leaves me little free time to pursue my passions for the news of the day. I hope to get a feel for the new schedule soon, and be back to regular postings in the near future. meanwhile, enjoy this story about two men with a shared purpose, if different goals.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Packing for Afghanistan - Part 3

As I mentioned before, I really like this story, and not just because I know so many of the people involved. I've long believed that military prowess will only take you so far, and that a nation truly conquers adversity when it bends down to lift its enemies up and help them. This notion is summed up at the end of the movie "Charlie Wilson's War" and should be a lesson to everyone pushing for military intervention as an end solution to global US policy in and of itself.

To my friends at TBT, my apologies for not doing your portraits justice - I hope that I did a better job of capturing your spirit. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Packing for Afghanistan - Part 2

Operation Backpack is still in full swing. If you are interested in participating, they have a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/256056051399131/ . Finding a direct contact for sending materials may prove tricky, as there is no formal organization other than the volunteers here and in Kabul. If you are interested in helping support the program, message me and I will send you information that might help. If you have more info, please share it in the comments section!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Packing for Afghanistan - Part 1

I'm really pleased to be able to tell this story, and not just because I am a member of Temple Beth Torah. The idea of interfaith congregations is so appealing to begin with, and are an important part of how we should think about religion as it relates to today's society. More importantly, this shows how size, distance and cultural dissimilarities are no barrier to helping one another when the desire is strong enough.

Solidarity Center's Facebook page is located at https://www.facebook.com/solidaritycenter/?pnref=about.overview and will tell you lots more about their work and programs. Take a look!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Many Hearts, One Beat Part Four

I hope you enjoyed this entry - I especially hope you get a chance to see OneBeat perform. Take a minute to look at their website - applications for this year's program are close, but the tour information will go up soon. http://1beat.org/

Monday, February 6, 2017

Many Hearts, One Beat Part Three

Here's the latest page, and a clue as to why I am so swept up by the program. One of my great regrets in life (I do not say this lightly) is that I did not insist that my wife and daughter join me at that concert. It was a school night, and mom did not want to leave her home alone, so I came into the city to see the show by myself. But more on that in a minute...

What a game! It will certainly be talked about for as long as the sport is played, and beyond that. Many firsts were achieved, and certainly the spirit of not giving up was demonstrated and vindicated for many to see. Surely the nation needed this, as a momentary respite and motivation to continue despite all seeming hopeless.

Yet, at the risk of losing my many readers (really, I treasure both you guys) I keep thinking of the Roman poet Juvenal and his words, "panem et circenses." By giving their poorer citizens free food and entertainment with chariot races and in the great arena, Roman emperors ensured that the population was kept happy and did not distract themselves with the cares of what was happening in government. 

For 48 hours the news was full of speculation on everything SuperBowl, from detailed analysis of the teams to what the best snack foods would be, and of course the commercials. All other topics dropped far down the list, to the point where confirmation hearing issues shared space with slow cooker recipes. For this morning and hours, if not days and weeks ahead, many conversations will begin with "did you SEE that catch?!?!"

Back to OneBeat. Never have the words "you HAD to be there" carried such gravitas. It was not just the music, which was wonderful, strange and captivating, even to my untrained ear. The way the young performers interacted with each other; the stories they told about what they discovered and learned during their weeks together--all combined to create a transcending experience for me and many of the people in the packed audience. At one point a trio of artists performed with the request that no one post photos or text their names, for fear that their families would be placed in danger. The countries where these musicians came from would find it unthinkable that each could associate with the others, yet here they were, sharing the stage and creating something unique and beautiful. The lessons and examples were beyond inspiring.

Why could we not spare some of the hype from the sports event to speak of this amazing program? I don't mean a 30 second infomercial "brought to you by the people who care about you and the beer you drink."  Instead, why are such things not more important to us? I hate to think that it is our fault alone that it has come to this, that people have learned not to care about such things and only pursue the latest distraction. Attention must be brought, heads must be pointed in the right direction. News must be watched and understood, not as a drudgery, but because learning and understanding is not only necessary, it lifts and enriches the human mind and spirit.

You really had to be here. You really should see that catch. The latter will be replayed many times all over the Internet. The former is long ago and far away. 

With each new administration, there is understandably a reshuffling of priorities as new projects are introduced and older ones lose their funding. If there was a way for everyone in Dallas, let alone those watching on TV, to see what I saw that night, there would about as much worry that OneBeat would continue as there is that professional sports will be outlawed. Even Lady Gaga would agree with that.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Many Hearts, One Beat part two

I am very happy to be publishing this story right now. The OneBeat program does so much to open people to the idea of cultures working together without fear to create something new and wonderful. In a world of possibilities, we have to stay focused on the positives.

As I mentioned before, OneBeat is currently accepting applications at http://1beat.org/apply/ - if you have any interest at all in an amazing adventure of cultural and musical significance, please consider taking a look.

I must point out that I used many photos as reference for this story, most of them from OneBeat and Found Sound Nation. Since OneBeat lists Hannah Devereux as their photographer, I assume that she created most if not all of these. To her my thanks and apologies for my crude scratchings - please visit the site to see some amazing photos and portraits. http://1beat.org/

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Many Hearts, One Beat

I have been looking forward to telling this story for some time now. There are many reasons, including my family relation to one of the project founders, but mainly because the music that is being created has to be experienced to be believed. If you get a chance to see a performance, please do so!

More importantly if you are a musician, One Beat is currently accepting applications for its next season. Applications close February 10th at http://1beat.org/apply/ . DOn't wait for this story to finish - if you have any interest at all in a one of a kind, life transforming experience, apply now!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Law Dogs Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm a dog guy and so this story has special appeal to me. That being said, I'm sure that there are other stories out there involving cats, birds and other species (goldfish?) that would make a good story. If you know of one, share it with me!

Next week, a story about international diplomacy and music... and you can participate!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Law Dogs

I like this story because I like dogs, I've also worked with Canine Programs, most notably the ATF's detection canines (I designed their logo.) Most of these programs require that the dog only be touched and fed by their handler, because of  their training. Courthouse dogs do what dogs do best, which is to help people feel good. More on this program and how it works next week, meanwhile you can visit the courthouse dog web site at http://courthousedogs.org/

Monday, January 2, 2017

Strange Bedfellow Broadcasts

Despite the rhetoric piling up as we approach Inauguration Day, I like to think that this represents the growing awareness that a new attitude has to develop in the United States (or we're going to have to start calling it "the Divided States" as Glen points out.) This blog is supposed to be about cooperation, not denigration, so I hope to see more stories like this cropping up.

If you want to see the clip from "Full Frontal" go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuSDfVRGI54&t=341s . Glen beck's show episode featuring Samantha can be viewed at http://www.glennbeck.com/2016/12/08/samantha-bee-of-full-frontal-talks-with-glenn-about-bridging-the-divide/. Take a look to watch both, and think about new approaches in the New Year. A positive approach is the first step towards improvement.