Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tight Rope by: Brother Ali

This track is an amazing narrative. I meet people with lives similar to this all the time. The way that Brother Ali has been able to illustrate different people's situations so vividly makes me cry out for those that this song reminds me of. I would say that the picture these lyrics paint is accurate. I agree with many of the morals in this song while others I don't fully agree with. Never the less, this is all very real.

The first verse reminds me a lot of how hard it is for people to immigrate into a country like the U.S. that needs them, but wants to ridicule them. It's hard when you and your family will die or be harmed if you stay in your home land- so you had to leave, and you can't go back. For those of you who have asked what it's like to live and minister in Pico Union, these are things that we all deal with in my neighborhood.

Below is a video with the song and the lyrics under that.

Frigid frozen Minnesota
Chip on his shoulder
Sick sleeping on a pissy sofa
Unwanted visitor in a different culture
Missing home but he can't go, they're civil warin'
Listen solider forget getting over
Prison state around the corner- homless is even closer
Kids with similar skin color still don't even wantcha
Spit and insult ya cause they have been here longer
He leaves his crib he's guaranteed the pigs approach ya
"Where ya going? Where ya from? Any weapons on ya?"
Your family is stressed out your getting older
You don't live the way they did back in Somalia
Its extra difficult to be a daughter
Trying to keep it modest with sinners all around ya
Wear the wrong garment- your parents get an ulcer
If you wrap it up the other children are pickin' on ya

Chorus ( x 2)
Live in two worlds with your eyes closed
Tip toeing on a tight rope
Holding on for survival
Nobody to blame this is just how it goes

Holidays and you know what the business is
You get two birthdays and two Christmases
Older you get you recognize how sick it is
They're trying to cover their guilt with the gifts they give
Bounce from his house to her house
Too bad that marriage didn't work out
Now you don't have a "your house"
Daddy fighting mommy they both tell me they love me
If I get to close to one the other one start acting funny
Ma went and had a baby with a different dad
You act happy to please 'em, but you are really sad
Seeing first hand that family that you will never have
Plus you ain't no real brother, you're just a half
Got to pick up the pieces and move on
Bed time stories and greet them on the phone
Live in two houses and neither one is home
Wishing you were grown have the freedom to get gone

Chorus ( x 2)
Live in two worlds with your eyes closed
Tip toeing on a tight rope
Holding on for survival
Nobody to blame this is just how it goes

Daddy was a preacher momma was a Sunday school teacher
Big brother a football squad leader
Now far be it for you to disappoint or displease them
Your just being what you feel you see in
That mirror every time you peer in
Swallow the tears inside that empty feelin'
Her boy terrified to let the world in
He has girlfriends but doesn't want a girlfriend
He retreats inside himself
Where he lives life itself in secret
Daddy says people go to hell for being
What he is and he certainly believes him
Cause there aint no flame that can blaze enough
To trump being hated for the way you love
And cry yourself to sleep and hate waking up
It's a cold world ya'll shame on us

Chorus ( x 2)
Live in two worlds with your eyes closed
Tip toeing on a tight rope
Holding on for survival
Nobody to blame this is just how it goes

My Faults

While living a life of ministry a person is constantly faced with an insurmountable amount of needs that are genuinely worthy of their attention. The question is, how do you decide which ones to attend to at any given time when you know that all of the others will go on neglected for that time? I have lived in many places over the years, and made many dear friends. These relationships need to be invested in like anything else. There are many friends and family in multiple places who are not happy with me right now because I have failed them in different ways. I've heard all kinds of advice on this problem, but the truth is that once you give me another task like "drawing healthy boundaries" I have little hope of accomplishing that goal when I'm already drowning in things to do. I'm trying my best to be a good person, someone who keeps their word, a brother to count on. Seriously, the reality is that it's not good enough. This is my sincere observation- not a complaint. I don't know how I'm going to step it up when I'm already pouring out my whole life all the time.
I recognize that the fault is mine. I can't promise that I'll get better or have something new to offer this time around. I am a person in desperate need for grace as I travel this path. Please everyone forgive me. I can't make it up to any of you, but I am asking for grace.
There is no way that I can give up this lifestyle. Regardless of the trials, God has granted me the truth, I have put all of my eggs in this basket, and I am happy with that decision. I will try my best not to fail, but I will inevitably fail as I stay the course.
Please forgive me for the wrong things I have done.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Space To Dream In L.A.

(Mama's Hot Tamales)

A person can't have much vision for their own life unless they have space and time to dream. Some people have access to those things more than others. I've noticed in both L.A. neighborhoods of Pico Union and MacArthur Park those two resources are a luxury that almost no one has. God has provided a few places for us to have art shows on a monthly or regular basis. One of those places is Mama's Hot Tamales on 7th Street in MacArthur Park. My friend Evelin and I art trying to offer this space to the artists of our neighborhoods. We are encouraging each-other to direct our energy in a positive and empowering way.

We have a show called Kaleidoscope Hearts featuring a diverse group of artists with many different styles. This show will be up for the whole month of August at Mama's Hot Tamales. For the month of September we are trying to encourage the graffiti artists in the neighborhood to put their canvases up. If you are a graff artist in L.A. please get at me in the comments section.

Community Development Through Art

(One of the ACEOs I have up for auction for the next 10 days only)

Our identity under God is defined by our ability to be creators amongst many other things. We were designed by God to create as many different kinds of things as there are people, but one category is definitely art. If a person sees their own similarity to God through the work they do it can be a very deep connection to a God that otherwise seems too perfect for us to be anything like. With the arts comes culture, and then identity, a sense of belonging, and if you follow it through to the end it always points to the god that the artist worships. Hopefully their will be more artists acknowledging the true alpha artist of Genesis.

A common concern in my neighborhood here in L.A. is "How are we going to make it today?" Economic pressure is thick on our side of town. Murals, graffiti, music, and other art forms are also a common interest amongst us. (especially in an area where the arts art cut from school budgets) I'm pushing to create a career in the arts not just for myself, but to model hope to my neighbors. God is pushing me to think of unique ways to earn a living through selling used books and creating original art. I'm sure it won't stop there, but one of my ideas is in ACEOs. (Click on the link to discover what ACEOs are if you don't already know) ACEOs are affordable for the artist to make and for everyone to purchase. I have these small original pieces of art up for auction regularly on ebay. To view my auctions at any given time, please click on the "Auctions" link at the top of this blog.

I will check in on this blog with more efforts as the ideas and opportunities come.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

My Origianl Art For Sale On EBay

I've just listed 10 original Art Trading Cards on EBay starting at $2.99 each! Art Trading Cards are an affordable way to buy and sell original art. All of these cards were hand drawn by me. Check out my EBay store to see all of my ATCs up for auction.

If you're interested in selling your own, please comment on this posting and I will gladly give out more information.
Bid on my auctions

-John T