Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
It does my soul proud to find artists that expand the typical "christian" view of art. Too often we forget our roles as children of a creator, and bind ourselves in an off-kilter interpretation of the "Do Nots." I believe in rules and in order, but if Christ set the whole individual free then He must have set their passions free too. Unbelievers might be drawn to God if we actually lived like we were set free from a suffocating prison. Why should we pretend like we're still in it? Elias' music brings me to a place where I can enjoy quality music in freedom. His seamless transition between soulful vocals and tailored MC skills puts him in the top 20 of my, "Most Interesting Current Artists" list.
How I found Elias: A brief history
Leaving His Mark In Denmark
On one plane it is ONLY about a woman that I fall in love with while I'm on stage. (fictional) So it is a very simple song about "desire." However, as with "Hello, I love you." I can actually be talking about something entirely different. I do think attraction, love, desire, lust, are all interesting topics that are very real to us. We confuse them, use them, and mix them up until they are all one thing. That is the reason why at one point in the song I'm saying, 'it's the come on before the front on, before the run on,before the safety's off and the gun on, before I'm looking down the sights of a muzzle, before you look at me and smile...you a puzzle. I seen you before girl I know your name..you ain't looking for love your looking for games.'
So, within desire and lust you have this larger pull at the back of your heart--the one that REALLLY longs for love. A real love that is that kind that is "All I want" not the kind that is immediacy and flash passion. So, then the last verse of the song is actually changing the protagonist into someone worth chasing after--the divine but personified in the "her". It's the realization that YES--THIS Is IT. So, the last verse is really about God. Most people will not know that but it is not always the poet or story tellers job to tell the meaning of a story. Sometimes they just tell a story and share art. I'm not writing sermons--I'm writing music that people 'feel.' When they feel they come up with observations, ruminations, and interpretations that even I never intended--but that essentially is art. It is neither something the artist can cling to and claim or owned entirely by the listener/viewer."
Elevate LA Behind The Scenes Extra: My Actual List Of "Most Interesting Current Artists."
3. Sufjan Stevens
4. Dust (Mars ILL)
5. Joanna Newsom
6. Freddie Joachim
7. Mates Of State
8. The Welcome Wagon
11. Flatfoot 56
14. Mr. J. Medeiros
15. Josh Garrels
16. Mariee Sioux
17. Trace Bundy
19. Judah the Lyrical Rev
20. Soul Addicts
(Truth be told, this will probably change some by tomorrow)
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I can't sleep tonight, so I've been surfing on the web. I stumbled upon an old illustrated version of Bugs Bunny's biography called A Hare Grows In Manhattan on ASIFA Hollywood's blog. (scroll down a ways to see it) I couldn't help but notice that this panel looks a lot like Pixar's Presto. Was Pixar tipping their top hat to Bug's biography? It looks like it to me. What an interesting cross-over between Disney/Pixar and Warner Bros.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
The team at Cartoon Saloon in Ireland have put together a masterpiece! I haven't seen much of this project, but the trailer looks amazing. The character designs and the backgrounds are just stunning. From what I've seen of the animation, it looks brilliant. Check out the latest trailer by clicking here(This version is in French. The English trailer will be released in a few days)
From what I can tell, the story has something to do with the origin of the Book Of Kells. Of course the Book Of Kells does actually exist. It is an Irish illuminated manuscript of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) thought to be created in the early 8th century.
Monday, December 01, 2008
I'm not sure how clear I've made my ministry out to be on this blog yet. I'm currently an intern living in a community house owned by the First Evangelical Free Church of L.A. Our church and community house (the Nehemiah House) are located in Pico Union, just blocks from downtown Los Angeles. We have an after school program called S.A.Y. Yes (Saving America's Youth). Right now I am the senior high boy's mentor/tutor. I do things like: help them with their homework, go to their parent teacher conferences, help them apply for college, teach them how to draw, hang out with them every possible moment, share meals with them, and volunteer in our church's youth group. It may sound pretty simple, but to a neighborhood with a 70% high school drop out rate it can make a huge difference.
My work is a lot of fun, but it is work. In fact, most consider what I do to be more than a full time job. People haven't been very consistent in our students lives. Parents come and go, or they work 2 to 3 jobs. Friends move away. Teachers get a better job in a nicer school. That's why our house decided to live in the same neighborhood they do. We try to be positively involved in every aspect of their lives. It's our job to reveal Jesus to them in every situation.
One of the challenges is to remain consistent and available to these kids while the need for a more substantial income grows more urgent. I have to pay rent, and pay off my student loans. I need gas and car insurance to drive our students around. Our center needs school and art supplies, but we have almost no budget to speak of. This problem has been somewhat covered for the last year by a ministry called TechMission. Since January of 2008 they have paid me to mentor in our center. Our church is small and can't afford to pay me or our other staff members. When my term with TechMission ends in January of '09 I will have to look for money elsewhere. The question is where do I go? What job can I get that will still allow me to be available to our youth? An 8 hour shift 5 to 6 days a week adds up to a lot of time that I'm no longer here- which reminds me of a story...
There was a pastor who moved into an inner city neighborhood. He ministered
in an area with a lot of drugs and gang activity. Over time he developed a relationship inside
of the neighborhood gangs. Everyone in the neighborhood was aware of his mission whether they
attended his church or not. One day the pastor struck up a conversation with a drug dealer. The
pastor was very discouraged by his lack of success and asked him why the gangs and dealers were
winning. The dealer said, "When little Joey walks to school in the morning, who walks with him?
I do. When Joey is at lunch who's waiting by the fence outside for him? I am. When Joey
walks home from school, who walks with him? I do. When his mother sends him to the store,
who's waiting for him outside? I am. I see Joey every day, and you only see him once
or maybe twice a week. That's why they come to me, and not you. I'm there,
and you're not."
I want to be there for these kids as much as I can. They aren't just students to me. They are my friends. Please pray that God will provide the right job, and enough money for me to minister to my neighbors. If it's on your heart to help you can volunteer at our center or click on the Donate button to the right. If nothing else, I urge you to be there for the people in your neighborhoods.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
A few months back I mentioned a film called Coraline that's coming out in February of '09. I'm really excited about this film, and besides the release of Pixar Studio's Up, I'm calling Coraline one of my top 2 picks of next year. The full trailer for Coraline was released on the net a few weeks ago. Over at Collider.com they have a few pages of insider goodness about the movie including an interview with Coraline's director Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas/James and the Giant Peach). In the interview Selick gives us a tip to wait through the end of the credits. He mentions a surprise for those patient audience members. If I were you I'd wait to see what it is.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Ollin Cafe is located on Venice Blvd. just East of Hoover. It's a relatively new fixture in my neighborhood that seems to stand out because of how nice it looks. I found this place with two friends of mine (Eric and David) as we were walking down Venice while creating a scale model of the solar system. If you knew Eric you wouldn't be wondering why or how someone would do such a thing. Ollin Cafe made us stop dead in our tracks as we walked by it because of how classy and clean it was. Immediately we knew this would be our new hang out spot.
Most restaurants in Pico Union are fast food based. Balanced nutrition isn't really offered in our local store fronts. That's one of the many things that makes Ollin Cafe so different. Here you can buy: vegan products, fresh fruit juices, panini sandwiches, fruit smoothies, all kinds of coffee type drinks, and teas. Don't get me wrong. I love Lucy's and the taco truck on Washington and Union, but every now and then I need to eat something healthy. Ollin Cafe is one of the few places in Pico Union that offers that option.
The service at Ollin Cafe is crazy friendly. I can't tell you how engaging the owner of the shop is. She has stayed open late to accommodate a Bible study I was having with a few of the guys. She remembers everyone that walks through her doors, and greets everyone with a smile. I've had a lot of conversations with her over the last few months, and she's told me how hard it is to keep her cafe open. Business has been very slow for her mostly because people don't know that her cafe exists. It would be a tragedy for Pico Union to lose such a positive and healthy place. We need more places and business people like Ollin Cafe in our city. Please don't pass up the best cafe South of downtown.
1325 Venice Blvd. (just east of Hoover) -90006
5 out of 5 stars
Monday, October 20, 2008
I went with two friends to visit the Rise Movement's encampment at La Placita Olvera a week ago. I guess I wanted to be present there simply to give support to our immigrant brothers and sisters here in the U.S. The entire camp consisting of about 100 people is fasting from food untill election day on Nov 4th. The Rise Movement calls this action a hunger strike inspired by Cesar Chavez' historic 25 day hunger strike in 1968.
There was a strong positive energy flowing throughout the camp. The campers were very diverse and probably a mixture of citizens and people with no documentation. Though the camp was smaller than I had envisioned I was still very impressed with the movement's organization. Many groups have either come together to create the fast or they have come to support. The Archdiocese of L.A. is one of them.
Immigration reform is one of my strongest convictions right now. At the end of the day, with all details and complications aside, I just want everyone on planet earth to have a job, shelter, food, water and clothes. Ultimately the ground we live on is God's and not ours. I don't believe people should break the law, but I also believe the law should be just. I also believe in God's higher law.
"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in ."
"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt."
"The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God."
We are a nation of immigrants. How then can we oppress other immigrants? Many of our country's largest corporations illegally build plants factories and offices in other countries to exploit the people that live there by paying them far less than they would have to pay an American. If we are oppressing people in their own countries and forcing them to look for a better life elsewhere, how can we mistreat them a second time by abusing them in our immigration policies?
Anyway, I'm too tired to continue writing. It's 1:20 in the morning. Here are a few other pictures I took while at the encampment.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I've been trying to find ministries in Kristiansand, Norway for the last few days. I found out from my cousin that our family has ties to this city on the Southern coast of Norway. I've had a desire for the last few years to minister in Norway, but I never knew where to start. Kristiansand seems like the right place. I can't find many ministries or Christian organizations on the net. This is maybe the third largest city on Norway, yet according to my searches it has very little Christian presence. How could this be? Please, if you know of a ministry or monastary or abbey or anything in Kristiansand please click on the comment button.
An organization called Rise is putting on a really important hunger strike in Los Angeles starting on October 15th, 2008, three weeks before the November 4th presidential election. Over 100 people are expected to fast in order to mobilize our community to vote for immigrant rights. Participants will give up all food and juice liquids. We will give up everything but water. In the Bible we read that when Israel strayed from God or didn't know what to do God called them to humble themselves and fast. Our current economic situation is evidence that we've strayed from God. Our nation's acts of violence overseas is evidence that we've strayed from the heart of God. I could go on and on.
Here in Los Angeles there will be an encampment for fasters and other supporters in the public area of La Placita Olvera and will include tents, a stage, work areas, and a rest area for participants. Olvera Street is an historic monument and plaza next to Union Station known as "the birthplace of the City of Los Angeles". The address is:
El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historic Park
845 N. Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
La Placita is easily accessible via public transit. Parking should be available.
Daily Public Schedule of the Fast Encampment:8:00 - 8:30am Prayer Service
8:30 - 9:30am Agenda for the Day
10:00am Public Announcement or Press Conference
11:00am - 12:00pm Rest Period
12:00pm - 4:00pm Work
4:00pm - 5:00pm Rest Period
5:00pm - 6:00pm Vigil
6:00pm - 8:00pm Group Reflection
8:00pm - 10:00pm Free Time
10:00pm - 6:00am Quiet Time
Please join me in this fast. I myself will be fasting and praying that God will show me who to vote for on November 4th. Personally I'm not satisfied with either of the two main candidates, and I haven't found anyone from the smaller parties that I'm willing to vote for. I'm not a single issue voter, but immigration is an issue that I will weigh heavily before I vote. I don't feel that any of the candidates that I've researched are committed to reforming our severely broken and unjust immigration system. Not voting has never been an option for me. Too many people who can't vote but wish they could are counting on us as a population to take a stand for what's right.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Here is one of the profiles you'll find on PrisonerAlert.com.
Arrested: December 2004
Pastor Zhang Rongliang was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison. According to China Aid Association the July 4 verdict was issued by Zhongmu County People’s Court.
Pastor Zhang Rongliang, a prominent Chinese house-church leader, was arrested in a rented apartment at Xuzhai village the afternoon of December 1, 2004. Zhang already had spent 12 years in prison for his faith during five separate detentions. He experienced harsh torture, including electric shock, during his previous prison terms. After being held in prison for a year, the officials attempted to transfer him from the prison in Xinmi to one in Zhongmu. Fearing that because of his fragile condition he might die, officials at Zhongmu would not accept him. He was instead taken to a hospital in Xinmi. Pastor Zhang suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure in addition to other chronic health problems. Later he was transferred to a Zhongmu City hospital where he spent most of February and March 2006.
He appeared in court April 6, 2006, more than 16 months after his arrest, for his third hearing on charges of “attaining a passport through cheating” and “illegal border crossing.” At this hearing the court acknowledged there was insufficient evidence for the case and asked for legal advice from a higher court.
According to Pastor Eddie Romero (the Gadfly himself) the answer is yes. Mr. Romero visited our community house Monday, and I had a chance to talk with him about his experience protesting in China. I also had the chance to ask him about people's argument that his hotel room transformations were vandalism, and therefore not a Godly act. There have been a number of people, some of them very close to me, questioning Romero's methods and intentions. Of course I believe that questioning is a very important right that every person should have. While I never questioned Romero's motives or the cause, I did have my questions about his actions. How are a bunch of murals on hotel walls going to free people from prison camps and convince China to ratify the ICCPR covenant? Would the Chinese government even notice? Are the complaints about this being vandalism correct? Shouldn't we be more focused on the lives and rights of our brothers and sisters in China? The more I thought/wrote about it, the more I supported the project and the methods it contained. It was more of a gut feeling though, rather than head knowledge. I wanted to fully understand the choices he and his team made.
When I asked him what he would say to those Christians who disagree with what he did, Pastor Eddie mentioned the story of the paralytic in the beginning of Mark chapter 2. Jesus was teaching in a house owned by a local. A large crowd gathered to hear Jesus speak. The house was so crowded that you couldn't get in. Four men heard that Jesus was in town so they brought their paralyzed friend to be healed by Christ. They loved their friend so much that when they saw they wouldn't be able to get in the house they became desperate. They knew Jesus could heal their friend so they had to do whatever it took to get him inside. As illegal as it sounds, the four friends tore a hole in the roof of that house and lowered their friend down to Jesus. Romero explained, "Probably by every society's standards these guys acted illegally. All they knew was that they had to get their friend healed, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus. When Jesus looked up and saw them tearing a hole in this other guy's roof he didn't say, 'Hey! You guys can't do that!' No! Jesus commended those men for their extraordinary faith. I'm just one of those four friends desperately trying to get my friend healed."
Pastor Eddie also mentioned how Jesus cleansed the temple by throwing the tables over. The mention of that story also reminded me of the legalistic Sabbath laws that Jesus broke. It's true that complete disregard for man's laws are not a Godly quality for a person to have. There are times, though, where a believer must have more regard for God's higher law. Sometimes this regard calls us to be counter culture, and call attention to it when that higher law is being broken.
In my opinion, Mr. Romero's actions in Beijing were of civil disobedience. He told me that breaking the law was the point, and that he willingly turned himself in to the police once the Olympics were over. Romero voluntarily subjected himself to Chinese law much like Christ subjected Himself to the law and allowed Himself to be crucified. Efforts were even made to pay those two hotels for the damage. Every effort was made to respect the people of China. It was out of love for the Chinese people that Eddie risked everything. Pastor Romero went on to say, "If you want to call what I did vandalism- go ahead. It was vandalism." It was that vandalism that made the world take notice of the injustice going on in China. The mask that authorities in China tried to put on for the world was shattered even if just for a moment. News groups all over the world reported on the lack of religious freedom in China when Pastor Eddie "morphed" those rooms. They continued to report on it while he hid in China. These issues were brought to light yet again when he turned himself in and was deported back to the States. Awareness was raised, Eddie did everything God asked of him, and now it's time to wait for God's next set of instructions. Mission accomplished... so far.
So I'm a single guy. I like to live life simply. I don't want a lot of clutter in the bathroom especially since I move a lot, and most bathrooms I've had are pretty small. I've been trying to find a way to condense all of my toiletries (i.e. soaps, shaving gels, shampoos, toothpaste) into one bottle. In my journey to find such a product I didn't know what it's name would be, so I nick-named it "Bachelor Sauce." It's great for bachelors because we usually want limited stuff of hygienic nature, and the word sauce just sounds manly. If you'd put it on your steak you probably, if you're honest, wouldn't mind putting it on yourself.
Well I've found a product that brings me pretty darn close to that goal. Yes my friends, I'm talking about Dr. Bonner's Magic Liquid Soap. Add water to this magic all natural elixir and you will get a lather that you can use for a shaving cream. You can wash your hair with it. You can even brush your teeth with it, and of course you can shower with it. As a very pale man, I've experienced that the Peppermint soap cools the skin which is great for sun burns and for hot days. I've heard that you can even kill cockroaches with this wonder liquid. Tell me that's not amazing. On top of all of that, the fine print on the label provides hours of engaging literature while on the toilet. Now how much would you pay for such a miracle? $50? $100? At most health conscious stores you can find Dr. Bonner's Magic Liquid Soap for only $9. That's right! NINE DOLLARS! Now you might ask me how you can afford to spend $9 on soap. Well friend, my question to you is how could you afford not to? With all of the tasks this soap accomplishes in and out of the shower you can rid yourself of all other products.
Do yourself a favor. Get rid of the clutter and buy Dr. Bonner's lather today!
Review: 4 out of 5 stars
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
One of the more interesting tracks is called Remember Me; the instrumental that eventually became his popular single Constance. Below are the titles and stories behind each track in his own words.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I know where it is. I've actually been going to this place for a little while now. As I was sitting in L.A.'s best ice cream shop earlier today it struck me that I've never blogged about it. So I promised my friend I would since everyone in my house loves it so much. The place is called Scoops. Here's the info on this amazing place:
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Price range: $2-$4 with great portion sizes
Scoops is probably my all time favorite ice cream shop, and that's coming from someone who used to have Oberweis(Chicago) at the top of their list. If you know anything about Oberweis creamery, you know how big of a statement that is. Scoops has both vegan and non vegan options for their ice cream. I love all of their flavors including the vegan ones, and I'm not a vegan nor do I plan to be one. The flavors are what makes this place so interesting. They have their version of vanilla called Brown Bread, but there are all kinds of off the wall flavors like: pistachio rose water, banana oreo, strawberries and poppy seed, or my favorite- orange mango. They make different flavors in their shop daily so no two days are the same. They even have a marker board where you can suggest flavors for them to make in the future.
The staff is really friendly, and they provide great service. This is a great place for Los Angeles Community College students to go between classes since it's so close by. For the fans of the vegan restaurant Pure Luck- I would suggest going to Scoops right across the street for dessert. At my house we go to Scoops at least twice a week, and it's worth it.
Review: 5 out of 5 stars
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I've had the privilege of teaching some of the youth in our neighborhood the form of illustration. In turn, they've been teaching me the art of graffiti. Every piece that we do together is 100% legal, and it's usually at a legal spot in our neighborhood called the Graf Lab. This spot is somewhat of a sacred place in Pico Union, Los Angeles. It's on the South East corner of Venice and Union in Los Angeles. (if you've got the skills please come through) Every Saturday, artists can express themselves legally in broad daylight, and practice the art form of graffiti in safety. There are outside dangers that come in though. For instance the Burlington gang has claimed this as their territory. Yes you might get stopped by them if you go there, but we can't let gangs interrupt or lives. The Graf Lab belongs to everyone, and it's important to not hand any place over to darkness. The Artists have something to say. They also have something they need to let out of their being. I love the Graf Lab because it provides artists with an outlet that takes them off the billboards and private property of L.A. If anything there needs to be more legal spots like the Graf Lab in every city.
We have to support places like this. If legal walls are taken away from the public then people will fall into vandalism even more. If we believe that non-permission graffiti on private property is a crime, then we have to back our beliefs by providing legal walls as a community.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thomas told me that Pastor Eddie will be working on a couple of projects with the intent of keeping the awareness level of what's going on in China high. The first is a book that Pastor Eddie has begun writing describing the issues in China, and I'm sure he'll be writing about his experiences with the protest that he enacted in Beijing as well. The second project mentioned was a 30 minute documentary about the abuse of China's faith community.
It occurred to me that people of faith need to be asking God what He wants them to do next about this issue. Organizations like China Aid and the Gadfly Project are good sources for advice on what to do next. They have people on their teams from or in China who know the details. I challenge us to not wait for what they are doing though. God can give you and I vision too. The whole reason these organizations are trying to raise awareness is so that we who are free will change our callous hearts and do something to restore justice. Yes keep an eye out for the next action that these teams ask our help with, but what if God is asking you to do something else? Open yourself up to this possibility, and pray often.
Pastor Eddie Romero AKA "Gadfly" has returned to America after being arrested in Beijing, China, and being deported one day later. I haven't been able to blog about this for a few days since I've been in training for ministry. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend his return in LAX since I was moving a very large refrigerator and piano in Orange County. (Long story for another time) We're glad Eddie is back even though his plan was to be imprisoned in China for some time. Watch the VIDEO of his return and what he told reporters at LAX. My question is, "What's the next step?" We have to keep working on the rights of our family in China. I'm sure God has some things planned, so I'll be blogging more on the state of China in the future.
Friday, August 29, 2008
We The People is a concert to raise consciousness in our youth through music, and other forms of art. It's also a chance to speak unity into our communities. Tickets are $45, but look at the list of artists performing- it's a worthy cause with great artists. Come out and support community.
So there's this great Hip Hop producer in Santa Ana, CA called Free The Robots. He's got nice beats- I'm telling you. If you like that old Jazz as much as I do then you'll click on the link above and download the track called "You Let Me Down." It's a remix of an old Billie Holiday track. It's almost as beautiful as she was.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Ok! SketchCrawl 20 is slated for October 25th. Ask for time off of work, clear your calendars, get a baby sitter. For those of us in L.A. we need to pick a place to draw/shoot so start voting on the official Sketchcrawl Forum. Make sure to click on the L.A. thread.
SketchCrawl Official site
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
So many churches in our culture spend billions of dollars on their buildings, and go to great lengths to keep it pristine or up to date with the latest technologies. I've known a lot of congregations that won't let certain people in their doors or kids skate on their steps for fear of messing up the building. "Red Sunday" was a beautiful example of God's people using the building He provided them as a tool to spread the heart of Jesus. As I rinsed out paint trays and brushes in their kitchen sink I saw the red drops of paint on every surface. As I walked through the halls I saw red smears and droplets on the floor that gave evidence to Jesus' presence in that building.
Please pray and stand up for our family in China being tortured in prison.