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Black Friday

1 Dec

With no partner to tag and plan, I refused to go solo in the late night Black Friday madness this year. Despite, the change of tradition, I still found a way to drive myself to the point of exhaustion and delirium with the ones I love.

12:00am: Did some damage on Amazon.com SHOPPIN’! but mostly for gifts…

1:30 am: Sleep.

7:30am: Drove up to a Target store not knowing what to expect. The store was empty, and all the Black Friday deals I needed wanted were still around. WOO!

9:00am: Picked up Kristal and met up with some friends at Millennium Dance Complex in Hollywood, namely Ferly Prado and Manny Streetz.

11:00am: After dancing, Kristal and I decided to do some shopping at the Bev Center in Beverly Hills.

As soon as we were about to grab some lunch, Justin Bieber’s Mistletoe was playing in mall, and we were “surprised” to see Manny again…and well…

…WE MOBBED!

It’s crazy how a flash mob can just drag you in like a whirlpool. I mean…why fight it when you could just be a part of the movement? Plus you’ll end up on all the Justin Bieber fansites ;)

I am thankful for Manny, Kristal, and Ferly dreaming up big and for the friends and fam who came down to support and document the whole thing.

Famished, we eventually got lunch, but no shopping done for ourselves. Thankful for this!

The rest of my Black Friday was a blur with the exception of the time spent with close friends, including my hilarious old friends at the theater, The Muppets. If I had some wheel of morality to spin, it would land on “The most memorable times in life are spent with the ones you love most regardless of what you’re doing…blah blah blah…”

 

 

 

 

Haiku: Music

8 Jun

 

:Three haiku poems in 5-7-5 syllable format:

*Black Eyed Peas hip-hop
Goodbye to this style from them
Black Eyed Peas went POP

*Get drunk, high and rich
Lose your mind and innocence
-Our music today

*Art is always hard
Set back by conflict within
Express then progress

 

 

The Other Side

13 Dec

While fueling my car during my lunch break, I saw man in a dress shirt, sweatpants, and non-branded worn-out tennis shoes out of the corner of my eye approaching me with an empty red gasoline container.

Humbly, the man opened up, “Excuse me, sir. Can you lend me any spare change for a some gas? My truck just ran out of gas right in this parking lot, and I have no money to get it going again.”

Of course I was skeptical and hesitant, wondering what kind of street hustler and swindler this guy was. In the end, I decided it’s not for me to judge. If he’s a liar then it’s his bad and not my sincerity.

I told the man to give me a second as I put the gas pump back in its place from my car’s tank. I walked to my car to see what change I had in my car as I had no cash in my wallet.

I asked the him “How about I just fill up your gas container you have in your hand there?”

He replied “Oh yeah! That’d be perfect! Thank you so much.”

As we filled the the container, I went on to ask him how he ended up where we were.

He told me “I’ve been unemployed working odd jobs here and there. I do whatever I can to survive…”

:This next part caused me to write:

“…this month. While everyone else is out there Christmas shopping, I have no money. December is just a hard month.”

There was a moment when he asked what I did for a living. He said that I looked “sharp” in my shirt and tie, and immediately my heart sank.

He thanked me for the gasoline, and we parted ways. I looked at the dollar amount it took to fill his gas container: $8.39. Convinced this wasn’t enough, I drove to the area where his truck was parked, but I could not find him or his truck.

I don’t know why I didn’t ask him if he needed anything else. Maybe I was heartbroken and in shock. Maybe I was preoccupied with a self-check moment of how much I’ve been involved with the material and comfort of the holiday season and ignorant about those who have nothing and no one. I forget so easily about this harsh reality.

I thought about the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,”  and YEAH it is, if we have the luxuries the song describes.

But here’s the other side: This is the worst time of the year for many.

There’s nothing wrong with being thankful for what we have, but let’s not allow our joy and comfort to stop us from giving.

Moreover, as freely we have been given, so freely we should give.

Comfort and Joy

12 Dec

SO…It’s the holiday season, and Christmas songs are currently playing everywhere you go. We sing them so flippantly and melodically. It’s almost automatic.

As I was driving in my car a couple of days ago, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was playing on a cd in my car, and I actually took the time to think about the lyrics “…oohh tidings of comfort and joy.”

Comfort and joy…is exactly what I need to hear right now as my migraines and neurological issues are constantly robbing me of my peace.

Comfort and joy…in the fact that God is always there for me no matter where I am.

Comfort and joy…in knowing that my life is full of blessings, and that I cannot sacrifice enough for the sake others.

Comfort and joy…in believing that I have a purpose that goes beyond my own life.

Comfort and joy…in Jesus.

I love Sarah McLachlan’s voice in this Barenaked Ladies’ folky bluegrass version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen:

Have a listen.

Carousel

8 Oct

We’ve all been caught up in the same vicious cycle of relationship issues.

At some point, we become disoriented, tired of running in circles only to face the inevitable:

  1. resolve and continue or
  2. call it quits.

I’ve been in relationships that could’ve lasted for a long time, and I’ve been in relationships that lasted for years only to fall apart for various typical reasons because all I did was sweep problems under the rug. Sometimes I’d ask “If I had acted this way instead of that way, would we still be together?” The tardy questions  and the “yes/no/maybe” answers didn’t really matter at that point. It was too late.

The only healthy choice I could make was to move on and reestablish my identity.

you and i
are gonna get it right
don’t let me go
it takes two
to make a leader but
one has to follow
-
help me
help me understand
what we’ve become
we fell apart
and then proceeded to
both play the victim
on and on and on we go just like a carousel that’s lost control
we don’t know why, we don’t know why we go, we go, we go in circles
I want you
more than anything
just as you’re leaving
for every wound
there’s an apology
that’s lost it’s meaning
-
you and I
i think we’re better off
without each other
the last ride
the unavoidable
keeps getting farther

on and on and on we spin to find an end where we begin
we don’t know why, we don’t know why we go we go we go in circles

-Paper Route

Unite

11 Sep

I’ve been listening to 30 Seconds To Mars’ latest album This Is War.  While the band’s lyrics remain cryptic about the absolutes of what they believe, I’ve been inspired to say to myself “Stand up for what you believe in,” which I can assume is the theme of the album.

This video and song “Closer to the Edge” had me in tears as I heard and saw what these kids my age and around the world believe in. I don’t blame them. The magnitude of this band and how it can rally these people to believe in something is amazing and inspiring with the way they move the crowd and all. Plus, it looks way more exciting than any church.

Closer to the Edge from ixx on Vimeo.

Moved by this video, I thought to myself: Why should I ever be timid about what I believe in when I know that the Truth in my life gives me a desire to connect and impact the peers in my generation, the concert goers, the strugglers of faith, the music lovers, the doubters, the searchers, and all the like? All for the better. For unified redemption. For Truth.

What I love about music like this is that it opens up forums, conversations, and even venues for people to express what they believe in whether its religion, politics, morality, love, or leisure as everyone is searching for what “truth” really is. Music has a way of rallying and uniting people.

We share music, our beliefs, and our struggles. We share life.

Guys and Gadgets

19 Aug
Gadgets.

Sometimes the quick advancements of technology frustrate me. When you’re walking out of the front door of a store with a new phone, computer, MP3 player, television, or any other electronic gadget, retailers are already loading in the newer and better devices in the back. Luckily, being a part of “Generation Y” or “The Millennials” gives people like me a higher adaptability due to our affinity for the new goods. My parents and most “baby boomers” however, are getting left behind in the technological world. All they want is a cell phone that can be used for talking and texting (for the more advanced), and they hold on to it until the buttons fall off. We millennials, are more likely to do heavy research on a new phone, weigh the pros and cons about the features, bells, and whistles, and then “commit” to a new two-year contract.

Then what happens? A few weeks or months later, we see something new or different and then start to second (or third or fourth) guess our decision figuring out how much or how long it would take to get out of our contract.

Ah yes. The notion for my way, right away. The mentality of in-demand on-demand to cover up the buyer’s remorse.

Guys.

Two years ago I sat next to an elderly couple on an airplane. They spoke civilly and were very considerate towards each other  in their actions. After seeing such appropriate display of affection, I mustered up the courage to speak, and it went something like this.

Me: Excuse me, I hope you don’t mind me asking…uhh…’How long have you been married?”

Husband: Well it’s been 43 years.

Me: Wow. Do you have any advice for people my age on how to sustain a marriage for so long?

Wife: Well you have to communicate  and talk things through.

Husband: You find your mate, make a decision, and commit to her no matter how hard things get. There will be hard times, but stick with it…

Being in my late 20′s, the talk of marriage isn’t far from my lips. The same goes for some of my guy friends. We talk about the concept of marriage and our current bf/gf relationships that we’re in (but not IN-in as if we’re already married). We have problems and issues with girlfriends and whether or not the relationships are worth keeping. After all, we didn’t sign a contract right?

My fear is that we become so instinctive to dispose of what we want when we want, that we treat our relationships the same way. Women are obviously worth more than any material item to purchase, and we should choose wisely who we want to commit to and do just that: make a sound decision and stick with it. No matter what you decide, there will always be something or someone out there with different features, bells, whistles, hairstyle, skin, talent, etc. There will be malfunctions and misunderstandings. These things are inevitable. Does that give us the right to run? Yes? No? Maybe? I’m curious to know what others think.

I know there are legitimate and healthy reasons for divorce and separation, and in no way am I saying that all relationships can be transformed into rainbows and butterflies. That’s just ignorant. Moreover, even if bad decisions were made either to begin or end the relationship, I believe God can work all things for the better somehow some way.

Again, I’m reminded about that elderly couple on the airplane who signed that contract and committed to each other for life despite their “buttons falling off” for the past 43 years. They saw value in each other decades ago and didn’t let go of that no matter how the times changed. Nowadays we get so short-sighted due to the influx of immediate options out there, the thought of anything lasting more than two years or more scares us. As for me and any contract I sign or commitment I make, I just want to be faithful to the end. I hope others can agree with me. Let’s help keep each other accountable.

Here’s one of my favorite songs and lyrics about this subject by hip-hop artist, Common:

Lyrics:

Faithful to the end
(We got to be)
Faithful to the end
(I want to be)
Faithful to the end
I’m like her
Very best friend

Yes, this for the people … God moves

I was rolling around, in my mind it occurred
What if God was a Her?
Would I treat her the same?
Would I still be runnin’ game on Her?
In what type of ways would I want Her?
Would I want her for her mind
Or her heavnly body
Couldn’t be out here bogus
With someone so godly
If I was wit her would I still be wantin’ my ex
The lies, the greed, the weed, the sex
Wouldn’t be ashamed to give Her part of my check
Wearing a cross, I mean Her heart on my neck
Her I would refelct
On the streets of the Chi
Ride with her. cause I know for me, she’d die
Though good and bad
Call on her like I’m chirpin Her
Couldn’t be jealous
Cause other brothers worship Her
Walk this Earth for Her
Glory I’m grateful to be in Her presence
I try to stay faithful

Faithful to the end
Faithful to the end
Faithful to the end
I’m like her
Very best friend

He worked with her
She was this lady’s best friend.
Even if they do try, some ladies test men
And this was a test that was bigger than him.
Some believe it’s the nature that’s givin him in
He had a good gig, a wife, a kid, a decent home.
One reason or another, couldn’t find peace at home
She asked, “Why do men always have to stray?”
He said, “I’m bad, but not as bad as Eric Benet.”
I used to take them out to eat
But they weren’t really eatin’
Might have got a little head
But I wadn’t really cheatin’
It’s hard when your lady don’t believe what you sayin
What you did in the past you gotta live with today
She asked if they could spend the night together
He thought and said, “I’m tryin’ to get my life together.”
Went home to his lady
And these were his confessions
“Baby, you a blessin’ and my best friend.”

Faithful to the end
Faithful to the end
Faithful to the end
I’m like her
Very best friend

Strawberry Swingin’

5 Aug

It’s the details

…and the harmony

…that put us on top of the world.

Fact has it that there is a not-so-secret society among us, a society that is not exclusive, and everyone wants in. Within this group, people have a sense of greatness along with their peers across the globe whom they have never met. I’m not referring to the whispered conspiracies of the free masons or illuminati. The members of this not-so-secret society are both poor and wealthy, and they have resources for each other that can pull each other through tight binds, criticism, and adversity; resources like hope, encouragement, empathy, laughter, tears, and heck…money too. What is the main component that ties these people together? Appreciation…for life, each other, and even God. This appreciation drives joy (and not just happiness) through the roads of their lives. It also fuels the hope for each day they start and finish.

Another featured trait among these people is their attention to effort and detail, the little enhancements that can make life grand. As depicted above, adding a little extra zest to some stock sparkling cider turns a table of “commoners” into a banquet of kings and queens. Does that imply looking down upon others? By no means. While I can try to articulate it in my own words, I believe Coldplay does it so much better with theirs:

People moving all the time inside a perfect straight line
Don’t you wanna curve away?
It’s such it’s such a perfect day, it’s such a perfect day

Strawberry Swing by Coldplay

Whether you’re escaping, conquering, laughing, or crying, there are others right there along with you. Together we push forward, putting in the effort to survive these harsh winters and dry seasons. Globally, we’re non-exclusive, and we differentiate ourselves for the better by being present and encouraging each other. We don’t need all of the money and power in the world to be at the top. We’re on top of the world because of God and each other. We are blessed, “strawberry swingin’” with world-class status.

Now raise your glasses!

Substance

29 Jul

This is my spoken word about most (not all) of today’s pop music.

Almost all of it sounds the same. Almost none of it is fruitful. 
In December 2009, I came up with the idea, wrote some lines, and then moved on in my writing journal. I then wrote the “original” version in Spring 2010 as inspiration from the profound music of Paper Route. I was even able to recite the very first version in front of a couple of the Paper Route band members.
As I was reviewing my writing journal a few days ago, I came upon what I had written in December. It fit perfectly as the beginning to the original version.
So I put the two together and recited it publicly for the first time this week in Covina Park.  (The camera was too far to tell, but Mike (guitarist) and I both coincidentally wore Paper Route shirts. I’m also rocking my red PR wristband). I <3 Paper Route.


or watch it on Vimeo in full resolution.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hater. It’s just that “I need good moral fiber for a spiritual bowel movement.”

Human 1.0

3 May

Five major influences of my upbringing and ongoing:

  1. My parents
  2. Mr. Rogers
  3. Church
  4. School
  5. Hip-hop culture

The first four may be up there for obvious reasons, but hip-hop culture has exposed me to elements of expression such as  rhyming, dancing, and even fashion, all of which I still participate in today. When I was 4 years-old, Run DMC was on Reading Rainbow rapping and telling kids how cool it is to read and learn.  I wanted to be like them.

Hip-Hop Influence

KANYE WEST:

The College Dropout (2004)

In 2003, I heard Kanye West’s first single as a rapper Through the Wire. There was something about the lyrics and conviction of the song that made me believe that he was far above what was currently popular and different from anything I have ever heard (probably because he did the whole song with his jaw wired shut).

The next two singles All Falls Down and Jesus Walks from his first album The College Dropout showed transparency and even a bold belief in Jesus. I listened to the rest of the album and officially became a fan.

Throughout the years Kanye found himself in political, musical, and other public controversy. His music evolved, and I loved it. His attitude changed, and it made me grind my teeth or sigh deeply.

Today, I don’t know what to think about Mr. West. He recently cancelled a huge tour this past Fall 2009 as he explained that he needed to do some “soul searching.”

We’re at war with terrorism, racism, and most of all, we’re at war with ourselves.

- Kanye West (in Jesus Walks 2004)

I wish Kanye the best and also hope that Jesus does walk with him just as he had hoped before.

B.o.B aka BOBBY RAY:

B.o.B presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010)

With the rap game and mainstream music flooded with auto-tuned club-bangers, B.o.B has brought a refreshing vibe of what hip-hop used to sound like. My peers have compared him to Andre 3000 of Outkast and Ludacris. I confidently agree. B.o.B’s album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray shows true talent compared to the music out right now. He collaborates with musicians and artists outside of hip-hop while staying true to its roots. He sings ballads, plays instruments, and can even be “‘hood” when he wants being from Atlanta and all.

I’ve been telling my friends that B.o.B is exactly what the game needs. His release into the music world struck a nerve in me as it was the same sensation and relief I felt when Kanye first arrived on the scene. However, knowing what has happened to Kanye so far, I fear what may become of B.o.B.

You can listen to his album and read his lyrics at his official site.

But look it’s plain to see
Aint nothing in this game gon’ be changing me
I’ma always be B – o to the B me me

-B.o.B (in Fame)

B.o.B is among the few artistic inspirations in my life right now.

I’ve looked up to a lot of people in my life, placing them on pedestals. Eventually, they fell, and if they haven’t fallen yet, they soon will one way or another.

LESSON LEARNED: Stop putting people on pedestals. They probably wouldn’t want to be on one anyway, and if they did, that should be a huge RED FLAG about their character.

People, materials, and situations will let you down in life, heroes and all. Does this give us an excuse to pre-judge or assume the worst in them? No way. Think about all the times people have given you another chance after screwing up BIG TIME. Remember how embarrassed and humbled you felt? It’s ok.

Despite our upbringing and inspirations, we all fall down.

NOW GET UP.

This is what it means to be human.

Pass it on.