Oct 31, 2011

[REVIEW] Dues Been Paid - "F**k Outta Here"

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am affiliated with Crown City Records, and am friends with the members of Dues Been Paid.


When I sat down and started listening to the new EP by Dues Been Paid, a "super group" if you will, made up of Camiliano, Rod Da Blizz & Thruway, I had an immediate memory of 90's era hip hop.  That was my favorite time for hip hop music, as anyone that has read anything I've written regarding hip hop already knows.   That was, in my opinion, hip hop's finest era, and New York's finest era as well.  You had so many dope MC's coming out of New York and putting out hot music during that time.  Artists like Big L, AZ, Boot Camp Click, Black Rob, Canibus, Lost Boyz, Wu-Tang, Mos Def, Jay Z and of course "The Real King of New York", Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G., just to name a few.

That era of hip hop was something else, man.  That grimy feel to it, that had so many artists that served as the ultimate antithesis to the more pop aspects of Bad Boy Records that seemed to permeate the radio and MTV back then.  It was that grimy hard edged hip hop that struck a chord with so many people within the five boroughs of New York and beyond the borders of the state.

I remember listening to some old DJ Lazy K tapes and she always had that grimy shit on there.  That hardcore street rap music.  I always marveled at some of those tapes because as someone that wasn't from New York, all I heard on the radio seemed to be Top 40 style hip hop/R&B (Which admittedly I loved and still love), but these tapes were completely different, and showed a whole other side of hip hop music.  The aspects that lingered in the shadows waiting to f**k up someone who walked by in a shiny suit.

And that's what Dues Been Paid reminded me of.  That street wise, hard edged rap that I remembered listening to back in the 90's.  And to be honest it was a breath of fresh air.  I've made no bones about the fact that in all honestly I despise what is passed off as "hip hop" these days.   I can't stand it, man.   I understand that there are phases that hip hop has always gone through.  We've had the kind of fun loving party rap type stuff like Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, JJ Fad, Kid & Play, etc, and we've had the more politically oriented hip hop like Public Enemy and Brand Nubian and Boogie Down Productions, and we've had the more street oriented artists like AZ and 50 Cent and whatnot.  And between phases of greatness, we have the mediocre shit.  I get that.

Former Racist Skinhead endures 25 surgeries to remove facial tattoos

Wow.  That was the reaction I had to watching this video by the Associated Press.  I admit I've long been a pessimist and cynical person.  I've always had the viewpoint that people don't change.  That eventually they will revert back to their bad behaviors.  Even though I don't do the same things I did when I was younger that I'm not proud of, I often wonder if I was put back in that position to do something like that, would I?  Have I truly changed and is it possible to change

Well, here's an example of someone going to extreme lengths to escape his destructive past.  Bryon Widner, a former white supremacist skinhead had numerous facial tattoos advertising his hateful outlook.   And apparently one day he decided to leave that life.   To get out of that, because he didn't subscribe to that mentality anymore.

And I've often wondered what happens when someone gets those tattoos all over their body, and then they one day have a "Come to God" moment where they realize everything they had formerly believed in was bullshit?  When they realized that hating another race of people and/or believing in one race's superiority over another was pointless, what would they do about those?   I mean if you're in a relationship with a woman named Susan and you get her name tattooed on your arm or whatever, and then you break up, things are bad in regards to the tatoo.  However I suppose theoretically you could always hope for the best and hope you meet another woman named Susan that you want to marry.

With this though, if you abandon that self-destructive lifestyle, and you have all these bullshit Nazi tattoos and White Pride shit all over your body, what then?

Oct 22, 2011

Searching For Chet Baker Podcast #4

It's been awhile but I'm back with another hip hop podcast.  Was doing it once a month for three months, but then decided to take a break.  Didn't wanna do it every month, so now I might do it every couple months.

Below is the tracklisting, and the embedded Divshare player.  Take a listen, let me know what you think in the comments section!


01. Intro (feat. K-Murdock)
02. Camp Lo - Luchini Aka This Is It!
03. Lauryn Hill Freestyle
04. Black Thought as Aziz Ansari as R. Kelly Intro (Live in Osaka, Japan)
05. The Roots feat. Phonte & Dice Raw - Now Or Never
06. The Constellations feat. Asher Roth - We're Here To Save The Day
07. Kanye West - Power
08. Malcolm & Martin - Movement Music
09. Blackstar - Definition
10. Lecrae - Killa
11. LSG feat. LL, Busta & MC Lyte - Curious
12. Treach & Monica - Ain't Nobody
13. Common - Faithful
14. Aloe Blacc - I Need A Dolla
15. D'Angelo feat. Chino XL - S.D.M. (Remix)
16. Mayer Hawthorne feat. Snoop - Can't Stop
17. Mariah Carey feat. Jamiroquai - We Belong Together (Blend)

Ben Affleck to direct Stephen King's "The Stand" for Warner Brothers?

Before logging off to go to bed tonight (this morning?) I ran across this piece by Mike Fleming over at Deadline.com which reports that Warner Brothers wants Ben Affleck to adapt and direct Stephen King's great novel "The Stand", which had previously been made into a miniseries.   While a lot of people didn't like the original miniseries and felt it didn't adequately represent the novel, I quite enjoyed it.  I particularly thought Rob Lowe was fantastic as the character of Nick, a deaf mute who plays a critical role in the overall story.

The moment I read this news, I was ecstatic!   I love the story of The Stand, and I've long been a big fan of Ben Affleck.  Even when he was getting kicked while he was down during the whole Gigli phase, I always defended him.  I thought he was a very funny guy, particularly in the Kevin Smith films, and unlike so many others I think he actually can act and act well.  He's rebounded something fierce in the last several years, particularly when it comes to his behind the camera work in his films Gone Baby Gone and The Town, both amazing films.

So while The Stand is a huge undertaking and is not something to be taken lightly, I think that Affleck definitely has the chops to pull it off.  When it comes to writing and directing, you really can't find much to fault, if anything.   With his acting, there are times that he can come off as trying too hard, particularly with the comedy, although I've always enjoyed his comedy.

I respect anyone who can laugh at themselves and not take themselves seriously, which Affleck has done on a number of occasions, particularly in his stints as host of Saturday Night Live, and in the movie Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.   I've seen almost everything he's done, and I think that in the last several years he's proven himself completely as a capable writer/director.

So I hope that Affleck does get this job, and I have faith that The Stand will come out as a great adaptation for the big screen.   One thing that needs to be made sure of though, is that Affleck is a fan and truly loves the novel.   We can't have people who don't understand or love the source material to adapt it, because then they won't really know what makes people love it so much.  They won't have that connection to it and are only doing it for the money, not the love of the material (see just about any video game movie ever made).

Below is a trailer for the mini-series of The Stand, as well as trailers to both of Affleck's directorial efforts, "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town".

Oct 21, 2011

[REVIEW] The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles Book 1


A few years ago I discovered a comic series called "The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles" that was published by BuyMeToys.  To  be honest, I had never heard of BuyMeToys prior to finding this series, and actually I had always thought that was a fictional name used for the store in the Kevin Smith film "Mallrats".

I remember that they had made up some clever, sometimes naughty, names for stores in the mall in that film, such as a carpet outlet called "Rug Munchers".  However, it appears that it is, in fact, a real place, and it was founded by Casey Heying (the artist for Oz/Wonderland) and his wife Kelly and is based in Indiana. 

I actually ordered some of the issues from them a few years back and Kelly was extremely nice to me and we actually talked about various things as she was doing the order.  Kind of a strange thing getting good customer service, I suppose.

So the title of this series intrigued me and it made me want to know more.  Described as "an irregular series", it was published at the rate of around an issue a year.  This series covered five issues, along with some side issues, and involves Dorothy Gale (from The Wizard of Oz) and Alice (From Alice in Wonderland) as college age roommates in Chicago.  They have both grown up and moved on from their past, and they have no memories of their time in Oz and Wonderland, respectively.

Unknown to them, there is a new Wicked Witch in Oz, and she has some diabolical plans to destroy both Oz and Wonderland, along with our world as well.  They are soon recruited from a figure from Dorothy's past to return to their fantasy homes away from homes, and make a stand against overwhelming odds.

I don't want to ruin the excellent storyline here, so I will leave it at that, however there are some points that need to be mentioned, so as to explain why I love this so much.

Oct 15, 2011

Pastor fired from his church of 5 years, for linking to DADT article.

UPDATE: The Anonymous Pastor has been found out.

John Shore updated his blog today to remove the letter that he posted from the anonymous Pastor and explained that the head Pastor discovered it and realized it was the former Pastor at his church.  John goes on to explain how they are working things out and he hopes for the best.   He said that he hopes that they will work out their differences in the manner that Jesus would.   As much as I love John Shore and his writing and his way of looking at things, I disagree with him.

I understand why he pulled it.  He doesn't want to cause any friction between the anonymous Pastor who has done nothing wrong and was cruelly and wrongfully fired after his views on same sex equality was discovered, and the bigoted intolerant Church that fired him.   I get that, and if it was me in that position I don't know how I would react.  I definitely do not want anything I write to cause someone like this anonymous Pastor to get in trouble.

However the "damage" as it were, was already done.  The church found out he emailed the letter, they knew it had been posted, and so there was nothing to be gained by removing the post.  Close the comments if you want, so no more gasoline can be thrown on the fire, so to speak, but at this point removing the post does nothing.   It's a simple nice gesture, that accomplishes nothing, because it's already posted all over the internet on various blogs.   Removing it from one isn't putting it out of sight out of mind.

And it shouldn't be out of sight out of mind.  The Church should not be able to cover up what they did and hide behind their extortion of this man.  People like them are the reason that so many people despise Christians and think that we are all hypocrites and fakes and bigots.   People like them are the reason so many young LGBT teens commit suicide, because they continue to hammer home the idea that these teens are "abominations" and are going to Hell.

So while I can understand his wanting to placate the situation and not exacerbate it any more, I feel saddened that he took the post down, because at the end of the day that accomplished nothing.   It's still out there, nothing has changed.  Him removing it does not change the negotiations between the anonymous pastor and his former church.

It only comes off as a knee jerk reaction.  And that saddens me to say because I have immense respect for John Shore and the work he does.  I've written him several times and he's posted and answered a question I sent him that I was dealing with at the time.  And his words helped me incredibly.

But I feel he is wrong here.   That's my opinion, anyway


I read this story earlier tonight and was shocked.   It's one of these things where you just can't imagine can happen.   Over at Johnshore.com, John posted an email he got, with identifiable details removed, from a Pastor who was fired from his church after five years of loyal service, after he linked to an article on Facebook about Don't Ask Don't Tell being repealed.

After he linked to the article, without comment, there was a reaction of outrage from those in his church who couldn't understand how a Christian could support same sex marriage specifically and homosexuality in general.   Many of them complained to the board of the church he was a Pastor at, and they held an emergency meeting and fired him.   They then told him that if he told anyone what they did, that they would withdraw the severence package that they offered him.

Below is a snippet from the longer piece at John's blog.  I encourage everyone to check it out, after you finish reading my blogpost here, and see what the man has to say.

Four weeks ago the discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally abolished. Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it, I felt like it was good to celebrate the end of discrimination. So I posted a link to an article about the end of DADT on my Facebook page. I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all. [He shared the article to which he linked: written by a leading politician, it simply could not be more innocuous.--J.]

Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on. Even more people were calling/texting/emailing our lead pastor and the chair of our elder board.
What resulted over the next six days was not fun. The chair of the elder board called for an emergency board meeting to deal with me. I was summoned to the board meeting, where I was forced to give my stance on homosexuality (even though the church has no official stance on the matter, and has never before talked about the issue). And even though I reminded them that we all agree on our church’s statement of faith, ultimately, when they learned that I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, and that I would be in favor of two gay people being allowed to get married, they came to the conclusion that I was unfit to be a pastor at [Name of Church]. And within a week of posting the article on FB page, I was fired from a church I’d served faithfully and helped to build for five years.

On the topic and issue of homosexuality (a word which I’ve wearied of saying over the past month), over the past five years I have journeyed with Jesus, and undergone a shift in my beliefs about people being born gay (versus merely “choosing”), about the Father’s posture towards such people, about their inherent right to love, and the beauty in their loving, committed, monogamous relationships, etc. No longer do I believe it is a sin to be gay. 

And my heart and soul hurts at the rampant discrimination towards the GLBT community all around the world. I mourn that the church is not a safe place for them. I mourn that the church has chosen to alienate and in some cases attack them. I mourn that ignorance has clouded people’s judgment. I wish that people could open themselves to hear what other people are saying with regards to what the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about this issue. What science is showing us. What the GLBT themselves are saying. How being a follower of Jesus ought radically impact our posture towards the GLBT community.

These are scumbags that don't have the courage to back up their actions.  Either that or they don't have the faith that they are doing the right thing.   Maybe they know they are doing the wrong thing, but don't want anyone else to call them on it.   I don't know.

However this outrages me.   This bothers me deeply, perhaps, because I can relate to it so much.  I've been a member of churches before that have made it known to me that they do not agree with my views on same sex marriage.  I've had numerous people tell me flat out that they do not believe I am a "real" Christian, due to the fact that I support marriage equality, and that I do not view homosexuality as a sin.

And to be honest with you, despite my being extremely angered by those comments, I'm not really sure that they are wrong.   I think that if the way those people carry themselves and behave and how these people are examples of their idea of Christianity, then I guess they are right.  I'm DEFINITELY not what THEY would claim is a real Christian.

I think people in the church spend way too much time trying to enforce some ambiguous lines from the Old Testament, of which there is a point to be made that they are intepreting it the wrong way, and that the Bible doesn't really condemn homosexuality at all, then there is trying to display the love that Jesus Christ Himself exhibited.

Jesus did not say to love and care for everyone except those who do not believe what you do.  Jesus didn't say a damn word about discriminating against those who happen to love a little bit differently than you or I do, and in fact there is discussion over whether or not a male servant that Jesus healed, as described in Matthew and Luke, was in fact a male lover of the Centurion.

To paraphrase an old comment by comedian Paul Mooney, "everyone wanna be a Christian, but nobody wants to be a Christian".   Meaning that I think some people are more interested in saying they are a Christian and pretending that they are, rather than actually living up to what Christ said and did.   Otherwise there wouldn't be so many Christians that are supporting Republican laws that are slanted against the poor and lower class in favor of the rich.

There are many elements to my faith that I don't really buy into.  Some things more than others.   And I get that there are many who do not see a way that someone can be a Christian and not believe EVERYTHING that the Bible says, and they don't understand how someone can be a Christian and support marriage equality, but I think those people are narrow minded and the end result of that way of thinking, is sad situations like this anonymous Pastor who was fired for the act of simply LINKING to an article about the ending of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" rule, which was wrong from the start.

The Pastor talked about how he's got twenty families from that church that fired him that are interested in him starting a new church, as they are disillusioned with the one they are in.   That's a heckuva good start to a new church, I think.   He talked about how he's got a decision to make, and that he may be going back to another state where has family and friends.

I think he's better off without that spineless worthless church he was a part of.  They exposed their bigotry and ignorance the moment they fired this man.   I hope he starts up a new church and is able to get out the actual message of Jesus, and not just the message that some people want to get out there.

I wish him the best, and hopefully now that he is separate from that vile environment, he is able to start over and flourish even better.

Oct 11, 2011

Do the Denver Broncos want Tim Tebow to succeed or fail?

UPDATE: October 23rd 2011: Tim Tebow leads the Broncos to a comeback over Dolphins in 1st game as starter in 2011.

While it wasn't a pretty game at all for the new starter of the Denver Broncos, the lightning rod led the Broncos to 15 straight points in the final six minutes of the game to tie it, and the Broncos won it in overtime with a field goal.

There are still questions about Tebow's long term feasibility, but I think he's going to make it.  He's got a lot of work to do, and he's got to get better at recognizing blitzes and things of that nature.  However what he's got in spades is heart and will.  He will never give up, he will always do his damndest to win on that field and do whatever he can to help his team.   And that kind of guy is who you want on your team.

He'll get better.  The first 58 minutes of this game was not exactly highlight reel worthy, however in the end he did what winners do.  He led his team to a win.   Now this was the Dolphins so don't get all excited and think he's arrived, but he did what winning players do.

Now he needs to build on this, and develop with his team and really take this team to more wins.


Today the Denver Broncos made the official decision to bench Kyle Orton and move second year player Tim Tebow to starter.   Tebow is clearly the crowd favorite, even if he's not the management's favorite, and has shown in the few moments that he's had, that he can provide a spark to the team's offense.  And that's definitely something the Broncos need badly.

They are currently 1-4 under Kyle Orton, although in last week's game, Tebow nearly brought them back at the end of the game after coming in for Orton.    A lot of people have been clamoring for Tebow's being made starter, including fans who put their money towards a billboard that advocated this.  Throughout the season though, the management, including John Elways, has stated that Kyle Orton was their man, publicly, and privately have mocked Tebow and suggested that he was actually a 4th stringer, behind a rookie QB they just drafted.

This leads me to believe, even though they have elevated him to starter above Brady Quinn and their other QB, that they do not really want him to succeed.   They did not draft Tebow, and there appears to be many in the organization that does not believe Tebow can be a successful QB in this league.   The guy who drafted Tebow, former coach Josh McDaniels, is gone and many felt Tebow would be on the way out as well.   Instead they kept him and while the Broncos kept floundering, the Tebow fans have been clamoring for him to get the starting job, based on the spark he has brought to the team in the short times that he's been in there.

I don't think that the Broncos put Tebow in the QB1 role because they think he's the best QB on the team.  I think they put him there so he could hopefully (in their minds) fail, and then they could shut up the fans that want Tebow to play.   In their minds, I believe, they expect Tim Tebow to fail miserably as a starting QB, and as a result they will not only be able to finally get those calling for his playing time to shut up, but also more losses will help them in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

I have said before that I think Tebow deserves better.  He deserves to be with a franchise that will help him develop into a capable QB in this league and who can help him.  I think a great situation would have been him getting drafted a few rounds down, and then coming in behind a quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Drew Brees who can mentor him and show him the ropes, tell him how to do things, how not to do things, and then when they step down two or three years down the road, Tebow would be ready to step in and really take off.  During that time, they would have been able to evaluate him properly and seen what works, what doesn't work, and tailor an offense to his abilities.  Tailor the defense to protect him and things would have been great.

As a Patriots fan I wanted the Pats to draft Tebow, but the Broncos jumped up and grabbed him in the 1st round.  Due to him going in the 1st round, there's a target on Tebow's back in a lot of people's eyes.  People have continued to downplay him and ridicule his chances, and now they are invested in that.  If Tebow succeeds, they are made to look like a fool.  So anytime Tebow makes a mistake, they will highlight it and magnify it.

I firmly believe that Tebow is in a unique situation in which he has an enormous group of people who love him and an enormous group of people who hate him.  And both groups love and hate him for the EXACT SAME REASON.

Oct 10, 2011

[INTERVIEW] Katy Rubin (Theatre Of The Opressed NYC)

Photo by: Clare Kobasa
SFCB:   Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Katy.  For those who are learning of you for the first time, please tell everyone who you are and what you do.

KATY RUBIN:  I am the founding artistic director of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, a nonprofit arts organization in New York City.  TONYC works with various communities facing discrimination in New York City to create "popular theatre troupes," which tour the city to engage diverse audiences in theatrical brainstorming and communal problem-solving.  Currently, TONYC's popular troupes include a homeless troupe, a homeless LGBT youth troupe, an HIV/AIDS troupe, and a bilingual immigrant troupe.

We are also starting to work more with refugee populations in the city. As artistic director, I founded the organization, and I help these troupes get off the ground, and learn the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques of creating plays from our own stories and engaging physically and critically with audiences. I also run the organization administratively.

SFCB:   Talk about Augusto Boal, the "Theatre of the Opressed" , and how you got involved with this?

KATY RUBIN:  Augusto Boal created Theatre of the Oppressed in the 19070s in South America; a Brazilian, he was a political exile at the time, working in South America, and deeply inspired by Paulo Freire's work in Pedagogy of the Oppressed.  Boal realized that artists cannot give oppressed communities advice, nor speak on their behalf; the people with the problem should and could make the plays, ask the questions, and actively search for the many possible alternatives!

I studied acting at Boston University School of Theatre, but always knew about Boal (I have a circus and street-performing background before my acting training, and Boal's work was always popping up there). I met Boal twice in New York during his brief visits and workshops here, in 2001 and in 2007, and in 2008, I received a grant to travel to Rio de Janeiro for three months and train there with him and his colleagues at the Center for Theatre of the Oppressed--Rio.  Boal died at age 78 in 2009; I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to train with him.  He wasn't only a visionary but also a wonderful person.

SFCB:   I've talked on this blog in the past a little bit about my history as it pertains to being homeless, and I think that it's interesting to see how people can rise up and really dig deep to try to overcome their situation. People who have beaten drug addictions, who have gotten themselves clean and regained custody of their children. Who have slowly piece by piece rebuilt their lives from the ground up. 

And they are able to do this, in part, because of people who stand together and offer their assistance.  It seems very difficult sometimes to imagine a way out of the situation when you're knee deep in it, so to speak.  What do you tell those who are homeless when you talk to them about this? 

Photo by: Uri Noy Meir
KATY RUBIN:  I cannot convince anyone that they should want a change in their lives or that they should want to fight discrimination, nor is it my place.  The homeless that I work with know much better than I do what their lives are like, day to day. However, when I come in (and TONYC only helps start a troupe when there's been some interest from that community), I show that I have a strong faith in our ability to make a change--that I believe in the possibility of change, period.

And we start by playing games from the Theatre of the Oppressed arsenal that help us see the possibility of change in our own actions and thought. We start by blowing everything up and turning everything upside down.  So...it's always a gamble, but I find that the actors believe in change deep down as well, and when we can be colleagues, people in solidarity believing in change, it's very powerful and energizing.

SFCB:   In the immediate years after I got my own apartment, I found I was trying to help everyone.  I live above a church that does fellowship and outreach for those on the street, and at one time I helped out downstairs with them.  And I found myself clashing with those in authority, because there were people coming in who the church knew whether or not they were serious about trying to get help, or if they were just trying to get over.  And I didn't know this, and of course I was indignant and frustrated because, hey, here's these people homeless and all they're looking for is help, I'm thinking. 

And it took me awhile to be able to realize that while there are many people who need help and are wanting help, sadly there's those who do not.  There are those who simply want to get over and who want to just scam.  And telling the difference between those two groups has never been my strong point.   So how do you deal with that?  How do you make the call on whether or not someone is serious and wanting help, or if they are just trying to play you?   Is it simply a trial and error, or at this point do you just know?

Oct 8, 2011

Lecrae Interviewed on Shade 45 with Statik Selektah (Feb. 2010)

Here is an interview that I found online of Christian rapper Lecrae being interviewed by hip hop producer Statik Selektah on Sirius Satellite's Shade 45, Eminem's station.   Selektah first heard of Lecrae when he was looking through Itunes and noticed that Lecrae was selling higher than Kanye & Nikki Minaj, and was wondering who this guy was.  So after hearing some of his stuff on Youtube, he contacted Lecrae and asked him if he wanted to come through the Shade 45 studio, and he did.

In the interview below, Lecrae is interviewed a bit, and he freestyles at the end live on the radio.  Check it out, and forgive the bad quality of the audio.

Oct 5, 2011

Jin Tha Emcee - Acknowledge Me!

One of the things I've always liked about Jin was his sense of humor and the fact that he doesn't seem to take himself too seriously.  So many rap artists today have this image they have to maintain and so they can't afford to just do funny or goofy stuff, because they don't want to look bad or ...well...goofy.

Jin has a lot of fans, because of this very reason.   And this new youtube video that he has posted is a perfect example of that.   Jin decided to playfully diss a whole slew of youtubers that subscribe to him and comments on his videos.   I think this is kinda funny and cool, and it's sad more artists don't have such a close connection to their fans like this.

[MUSIC VIDEO] Mayer Hawthorne - The Walk

This is the first single off of Mayer Hawthorne's brand new album "How Do You Do", which you can pre-order at Amazon.com.   I've been a fan of Hawthorne's for awhile now, and think he's a very original cat and have felt like we need more artists like him.

Check out this video and post up in the comments what you think of it.

Homelessness and the Act of Being Invisible

For five years I was homeless.  Sometimes I was fortunate enough to have a roof over my head, whether it was in a shelter or with friends kind enough to let me stay with them for awhile, however the majority of the time I was not so lucky.  Living on the street is not a fun thing.  There are inherent dangers in being homeless such as an increased chance of being robbed and/or assaulted (either physically or sexually or both), and in some cases murdered.

Living on the streets I was able to encounter a lot of different people that I probably would never have even contemplated meeting if I were not in that situation.   I find that the quickest way to change your opinion on something like the homeless situation is to spend time with those who are homeless.  That might sound obvious to some reading this, but allow me to explain what I mean.

Growing up I lived in a middle class suburban home.  I didn't get everything I wanted, but I got everything I needed.  I was well provided for.   I simply made stupid choices when it came to people I associated with, and my time in school.   I had no real interaction with homeless people, as I don't recall ever meeting or talking with any of them prior to moving away from home after high school.

And it's very easy to sort of be sucked in by all the politicking going on and the rhetoric that is out there, mostly coming from those on the Republican/Tea Party side of the political spectrum, that demonizes those who do not have jobs.  Those who do not have a home, who are living in poverty or damn near.