Sunday, March 19, 2017

They Buy You


Jamahl Kersey and I collaborated on this minute-long short film last year, this one being the third in a trilogy. The goal was to market The Law Office of Jamahl C. Kersey, Esq. but we didn't approach like we were creating advertising. We knew from the get-go that people don't buy your product; they buy you. 

We'd kicked around a couple of ideas and were about to move forward with an ad but one day, while hearing Jamahl speaking so passionately and sincerely about why he does what he does, it hit me that that's where the focus should be. Not information about the law or explaining the services but Jamahl's own extremely eloquent prose. So I sat down with J and interviewed him the way I'd interview any guest on Burner Podcast or #CrappyAwesome. And from that recording, I isolated quotables from Jamahl's own words and constructed three scripts which he then fine-tuned.

Each of the three videos focuses on the characteristics of Jamahl's professional journey that we felt, when combined, gave the most complete story we wanted to be tell. The first is focused on his connection to the Spanish speaking community and was shot around Barrio Logan, the second is about the black experience and the third (this one) is specifically about his practice.

The music you're hearing is by the amazing Danny Green, whom I actually went to high school with. Jamahl and I are in total agreement about utilizing our own pool of talent so I just started digging through Danny's catalogue looking for a good tune. While multi-tasking, this song started to play in the background and my ears peaked. This was the tune! I minimize the window I'm working in and when I see the title of the song, any doubt that synchronicity was in full effect evaporated. The name of the song is "Second Chance."* Different sections of this same song is used in each of the videos.

We had Chris Reyes come in to record and master the audio. Having the freedom to bring in experts to do what they do better than we ever could was quite a liberating feeling as an artist and really elevated the quality of the project.

The videos were all shot on my old Canon Rebel T3i with the kit lens that came with it and edited on Adobe Premiere. We are so excited about sharing the other two chapters with you soon.

*The album, Altered Narratives, is available at dannygreen.net.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ice Picks in my Ears

I used to hear them say "it's all mental" and "mind over matter." Then when I would try certain kinds of activity I would think, "the pain in various parts of my body attacking me at the exact same time WOULD DISAGREE, SIR!"

But I get it now.

We are consciousness driving around in these human vehicles. Every once in a while a gasket pops or it overheats or the engine works too hard. Not every one of us but a lot more of us than we realize are driving reliable Hondas and they're going to be fine for at least 800,000 miles as long as we do all the oil changes in a timely manner.

Today, I was running uphill in the cold rain on Hill Street by Sunset Cliffs and it suddenly felt like someone started jamming ice picks in to the meaty area under my ears. I've learned overtime that my body is extremely sensitive to air pressure and the temperature (which I recently discovered is due to Raynaud's Disease). I went back to the car, found more covering for my head & ears, put on gloves and ran the less elevated Sunset Cliffs Blvd corridor instead. The most common mistake in thinking that I've observed of my fellow humans is the thought that if we can't do something 120% then we shouldn't even try. It's like getting a paper cut and shouting, "screw it - might as will chop off the arm!" This even applies to political involvement - the silly thought that if we can't be career politicians then it means we shouldn't even attempt to get involved. This is in the political rant; it's an observation of a pattern of thinking. I understand now how the mental fortitude of athleticism translates to success in other areas of one's life. See Arnold Schwarzenegger for exhibit A.

Everything is connected. Reality is an illusion. Right now I am learning how to DJ and I am doing it by connecting it to the things I've already learned about photography. When picking up a new thing I've found that it works best not think of it as a new thing but a new angle of something I already know. Music and photography, for example, are both about manipulating waves - one happens to be light and the other is sound.

For me, physical activity has always been another form of meditation. I don't doubt that envisioning the finish line is a powerful tool. But what I find works for me is focusing on the moment that I'm in rather than my destination. And that helps me in physical activity because that's the way I see life in general. It is a natural instinct to try not to think of the discomfort - to try to leave the body and go to a happy place. Meditative practice teaches us that we can feel less pain when we dive right into the discomfort. To experience the full catastrophe.

It always comes back to this: I have yet to face a challenge the solution to which has not been awareness.

The human body is a amazing durable machine. Push it harder. We are not all created equal. Some of us don't have the knee and ankle and scoliosis problems my body does. Some of us have much greater challenges. And that's completely OK. The race truly is only with yourself.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

God Complex

Continuing to search for God as if it is something outside of us is the very logical parts of our wonderful, complex human brains attempting to make sense of this whole 'reality' thing. Should we decide to come to the conclusion that we are the universe incarnate and our individual consciousness is simply a different face of God, we are able to move further past the parts of us that continue to seek the approval of our parents, our peers, our superiors...

Most of us decide to never walk down that road. Some of us walk so far that we lose touch with our fellow humans completely. Either way, the road has no end.

Kindness feels good because loving our fellow humans is the same as loving ourselves.

There was a time that I looked down my nose at those of us who understood God to be a petty, angry child who demands worship, bloodshed and chastity. I've since come to the conclusion that the God of Abraham is, indeed, the God in all of us. Because that capacity for darkness exists in us all - it's just that some of us have had the privilege of socializing our human brains differently.

Count your blessings if you've had the good fortune of creating a positive association with loving kindness and charity and not approval-seeking and hubris. I am so grateful for this beautiful little corner of the world I've lived. I am so grateful for the serotonin rush I get from watching people feel joy and succeed. What a terrible curse it would have been if my brain preferred the high of beating others down as that high is such a short lasting and disappointing one. The high I get from watching all you other me's succeed and win and find love and kick ass at life is so epic and long lasting and seems to have like zero withdraws.

I get that it's a symptom of my privilege that I get to think about consciousness this way. This version of me is not a starving child in a war-ravaged country who's primary concern is my next meal. But having the privilege to explore the tippy top of Maslow's Pyramid doesn't make the discoveries up here any less true.

God is you and you will see the parts of God that are the parts of you. That's where I've come to: A place where the different views of God no longer upset me. Your interoperation of reality is just as valid as mine and they need not clash.

I'm excited about the next level in this human video game thing we're playing.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Element of Irreducible Rascality

"Human nature is a fundamentally good arrangement. Including not only our virtuous side but our also passionate side. Also our appetites and our waywardness. The Hebrews have a term, which they call the yetzer hara which means the wayward inclination. Or what I like to call: The element of irreducible rascality. That God put into all human beings. And put it there because it was a good thing… And so a truly human-hearted person is a gentleman with a slight touch of rascality just as one has to have salt in a stew. Confucious said that the goodie goodies are the thieves of virtue. Meaning that to try to be wholly righteous is to go beyond humanity. To try to be something that isn’t human.”

-Alan Watts speaking on Confucianism and Taoism

***

The most “enlightened" people I’ve known, those who have journeyed to the beyond and returned to tell the tale, have mostly agreed with the messages I keep receiving: Go play. Enjoy all the fruits life has to offer. Indulge in passion and pleasure but for love’s sake stop taking everything so damn seriously. Love unapologetically. Know that hurting others hurts you because you are them and they, you. Dive into service and doing good in the world. It feels good. It makes life more fun.

Beware of scoundrels and charlatans disguised as gurus and enlightened beings who demand they be respected. Who see laughter as a sin and are offended easily. We are all specks of stardust.

Go play.

Darkest Before the Dawn

When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created.
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other.

-Yin Yang from the Tao Te Ching

***

The universe, reality, God... Consciousness. We are it’s breath, it’s manifestation, it’s dream. Our hearts may not always beat in sync when we chose to see at life at a micro level, to see life as day-to-day rather than the big picture, but we are specks of stardust in a grand multiverse. We are one. Every one of you is me and I, you. We are all God in drag. One consciousness who happens to wear all these different skins and masks.

Our physical world, this living breathing entity that we think is outside of us, is doing some shadow work. It is looking into it’s darkest corners in order to grow it’s love and light.

We humans feel like we don’t get to consciously choose when that shadow work begins and it is for this reason that it creates such suffering. But if we knew we had to touch the flame in order to understand what being burned feels like, would we do it? How many of us would purposely chose to get punched in the face in order to break the fear of physical injury? We actively avoid pain at all costs; that’s our biological programming. Yet growth is always prefaced with some kind of suffering.

We tear muscles to build new ones. We fall so that we may rise. We touch the flame as children and learn to respect fire.

We will embrace our fellow people. We will come at our brothers and sisters with love. Those we disagree with about the nature of reality and society are simply us having been raised in different circumstances. Do not give in to fear and anger. Let us not further divide ourselves from each other. Really think about what “love thy neighbor” actually means.

It is always darkest before the dawn. I am very much looking forward to watching the sunrise with you.

All of you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Oktoberfest Wisdom (From Podcasts.com)

So you wanna start your own podcast? I'm happy to share any and all of my experiences with you. The secret to a 'successful' podcast experience is not about tech or numbers. You can and should record on whatever equipment you're most comfortable with. This is the long game. You won't be walking the red carpet because of your podcast anytime soon so you might as well get comfortable where you are. Podcasts.com sent out this email today which basically broke down exactly the input I give people when I'm asked for advice on podcasting. I may start sharing some of this advice via YouTube in the near future. For the time being, I found this to be pretty perfect. The text from here on is from Podcasts.com: 

While another year of Oktoberfest successfully wraps up, our team looks at 5 characteristics of this fall festival and what takeaways you can use to improve your podcast.

1. Consistency is Key
Oktoberfest is celebrating its 183rd festival this October. For over a century, Munich has hosted this beloved event, making it a cornerstone of German tradition. Follow suit and stay consistent with your schedule. Whether it’s weekly or biweekly, your subscribers expect and look forward to your show, don’t disappoint them! Produce episodes consistently and watch your show become an integral part of your listener’s daily routines over time.

2. Keep Tradition Alive
What nuances of your podcast are unique to your show and only your’s? It could be something as simple as a weekly segment you adhere to or a variety of playful sound effects. Oktoberfest is known globally for its lederhosen and traditional German garb. Find out what makes your show special and emphasize it. If you’re having a hard time thinking of what it is that makes your show unique, it’s never too late to incorporate something new!

3. Give the People What They Want
Each year, thousands of tourists flock to Munich’s Oktoberfest for adult beverages and good food. What is it about your podcast that your subscribers particularly love? Figure out what attributes of your broadcast your listeners particularly enjoy, and cater to those. Look through listener feedback to gain insights or send out a quick survey to find out.

4. Pace Yourself
Eleven days of beer and bratwurst might sound like a much needed vacation to some, but rest assured it’s a long time to go. While many podcast purely for the love of it, there’s a lot of work that goes into producing, scheduling and promoting a successful show. Avoid burnout by setting reasonable expectations. Be honest with yourself and commit to a finalized hosting schedule based on your available time and resources.

5. Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
With the amount of energy and effort that go into producing an engaging podcast, it can be easy to give into stress and forget why you started in the first place. As is true with one of the most widely celebrated festivals in the world, don’t forget to have fun along the way!    

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sand Empires

I appreciate people who are willing to draw a line in the sand. We should all stand for something. Having strong convictions is to take pride in life. But it's important to clarify weather we're making a stance for life or for simple pride.

It's easy to rail against our political system. The more conservative among us good-ole-days the 50's, while the more left-leaning groups romanticize Europe - but neither of these examples are without their own unique set of flaws.

Many of our friends are taking a stance this election. We feel disenfranchised. Our vote and voice don't seem to matter. Every year it's the same 'ole two party option. Taking a stance is a good thing. But if you're drawing a line in the sand for this November's presidential elections, chances are you've missed your mile-marker by, like, acres.

Drawing a line in the sand for the general elections and going for a third party vote at the last minute is like doing a handful of pushups then demanding a spot in the Supebowl.

There are a million ways to get involved in our political system. I, for example, was among the original co-founding group that formed the Iranian-American Democrats of San Diego, back when the Iranian-American community was mostly Republican. (My claim to fame was coming up with the name, mostly, but that was about it.) It's boring shit. You might be given a clipboard or you might work a call-center or your brother might be the first president of the club which leads to the county chair remembering you if only for your funny name. Hypothetically speaking.

You can get involved in community organization. You can start attending weekly meet-ups. You can volunteer for your third party of choice. You can (gasp) run for a local office. You can start a newsletter or a podcast. You can make money and host political fundraisers for candidates you like.

The coming four years are gonna suck regardless. An ugly dam has burst onto our society and it's going to get worse before it gets better. If I was a betting man though, I'd bet we're not gonna have a nuclear holocaust if Trump wins. But the amount of shit he'd get us into would be no picnic either.

You absolutely should draw a line in the sand. The problem is that by voting third party or simply not voting, that's not sand you're attempting to draw a line in - it's concrete. The time to make a stand for this round is long past.

I'll be voting for Hillary. I don't buy into the "this election is too important" line. They've all been important. Everything we've been through has gotten us to this point. Our apathy for the past two decades led us to exactly this mess.

This is politics. There has never been, nor ever will be, a world or society without some sort of political maneuvering to be made. If you don't like it, get involved at the factory, not at the grocery store. Because, after all, it is our damn factory.