Curiosity Rover in Times Square

Watching NASA’s Curiosity rover about to make its much anticipated landing on Mars, and was just interviewed by NBC.

Singing the “Star Spangled Banner” in England

On July 4th last year I was attending the Pembroke-King’s Programme at the University of Cambridge, and on that night a group of people (who soon became great friends of mine) and I sang the “Star Spangled Banner” while marching through the streets of England.

Happy Independence Day, America. This is a picture of me singing.

What’s Redbox?

Tried explaining Redbox to my grandma and felt super futuristic. Didn’t help when after she asked, “So, you’re not going to the movie-house?”

‘The Man With the Miniature Orchestra’ by Dave Algonquin

‘The Man With the Miniature Orchestra’ by Dave Algonquin

There were phrases of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony that still made Coe cry. He always thought it had to do with the circumstances of the composition itself. He imagined Beethoven deaf and soul sick, his heart broken, scribbling furiously while Death stood in the doorway clipping his nails.

Still, Coe thought, it might have been living in the county that was making him cry. It was killing him with its silence, and loneliness—making everything ordinary, too beautiful to bare.

No U Turn

Berkeley, San Francisco, and the Bay, thank you for taking in a 21-year-old kid two years ago, and refining him into something more. This is not good-bye, because you will always be carried with me, threaded into the rest of my life. Time to ride off into the sunset. Chapter, closed. Until next time.

That Time When: I Met and Visited the Home of Noah From Noah’s Bagels

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With the help of some random turns of events, yesterday ended with me going on a drive with Noah, the founder of Noah’s Bagels, to his house to have him autograph a book for me and a couple other students. Crazy.

This little happening started with Noah being the guest speaker for my Business class. Now, Noah himself is not a huge celebrity drawing paparazzi everywhere he goes, but I’ve known about Noah’s Bagels for a keen amount of time now, so I couldn’t help being a little excited seeing him. At the end of his lecture to the class, he announced he had brought some books along with him to sell (ten bucks a pop) with an autograph. By the time I reached him there were about five people ahead of me and coincidently, Noah had only brought five books. just my luck. 

He ended up telling me and the other students that he might have a few other books with him in the car. We all followed him like sheep, making small talk all the way to the parking lot on Bancroft until we reached a little lime-green Toyota Prius. Talk about humble. 

Then, surprised again. Noah turned to us, said “Ah, whadya know… no books.” Well, there went that. At least I walked with the man for a bit, something to remember. Then, that’s where Noah had the idea of taking all of us in that little lime-green Prius of his up to the Berkeley hills to his house to retrieve the books. When he said this, the other students and I pretty much looked around at each other with a “What did he say?” type of look on our faces, until I finally said, “Yeah, I’m down.” I hopped in the front seat, everyone else in the back, while one unfortunate guy was the odd man out and couldn’t go. I brought out the trusty phone-camera and began filming as we pulled out of campus and onto the road. this is the video of that trip and a look into the life of Noah, the founder of Noah’s Bagels.

Dear Blakes on Telegraph

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News Flash: Blakes on Telegraph may be showing its first signs of maturity, when it was spotted with a 12-inch penis named “Grinch.”  

Grinch seems to have erected over night; some have speculated it may have come from a mixture of parasites sprouting from the drones of drunken college frat boys, or the mini-skirt flaunting girls who stumble through its basin every weekend looking for a good time. Perhaps it may have come from the gutter punks who call it home. Either way, it seems, something, somewhere down the line, sparked our lonely new friend to mutate onto this nicely polished window.

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Maybe it was simply a result of the Blakes effect: the bar’s ability to morph from a semi-classy establishment during daylight, to a nighttime animal, spewing out drunken freshmen armed with fake-IDs. This could be the first side-effect, as any experienced medical practitioner would likely conclude.

So boys and girls, when you come into proximity with Blakes, keep an eye out… you don’t want to catch anything that won’t come off in the shower from Mr. Grinch. 

Or, no toys for you this year.

The Best Tests Aim Straight For Your Heart

For extra credit during my first final here at Berkeley, I was asked to write a poem in a fashion similar to the style of Sylvia Plath. For those of you who don’t know, Plath didn’t have the best relationship with her father. Actually, one of my favorite poems from her is “Daddy." 

In sharing the feelings of disharmony toward my father that Plath had toward her’s (though on different levels, don’t worry), I sat there–on the opposite side of campus from the one I was accustomed to, in a new building we were placed in specifically for the final–and thought about my father on a chilly morning. This is what came out:

The years were long.

They held, they suffocated. Never honest.

Never far.

Toward this moment the years crept slowly

and with them I left the only piece of me that remained of you,

an attempt to erase your guilty fingerprints from my life.

A constant protest of you when anyone desires to know who I am.

The flame is out.

Who am I?

I am here,

This final comes first. It is my first Final.

I’m not there.

I answered the exam the only way I knew, through the eyes of experience

and late, late, vacant nights.

Answers far from the ones you fed me.

Was I frightened? Ten years ago, yes.

I was.

I was asked to write a poem for an exam.

These words are the test.

This poem, this day.

I am through.

Still, you have an influence on me.

I continue to be tested, far from the days of discontent and pain, with you.

In my first exam at Berkeley, miles away,

I was asked to write a poem,

and you found a way to submerge yourself between its words.

Yet, I thread you into a picture all my own-

adding another year, another achievement along my list

Where you failed and I succeeded.

A doctrine of myself.

Though the portrait of you remains-

Dad, in all that I am, your name is no where

to be found. 

A Day for Milk

Close to a week ago, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law that makes May 22 a day of special recognition for assassinated gay politician Harvey Milk. Though the 22nd of May will not be an official state holiday, schools across California will be encouraged and hopefully inspired to hold lessons “remembering the life of Harvey Milk, recognizing his accomplishments and familiarizing pupils with the contributions he made to this state." For Schwarzenegger, signing this bill is a far cry from the previous year where he shot down the measure when it was presented; with the release of the film Milk based on his life (which won two Academy Awards) starring Sean Penn, and President Obama recently awarding Harvey Milk with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Governor seemed more than compelled to begin moving in a more progressive direction.

Whether it showed a lack of integrity on his side for vetoing the measure from the start, I applaud Governor Schwarzenegger for reversing his decision, even if it took a feature film and President Obama to ultimately influence him. New laws were also signed along with the measure worth taking note of, such as ones that will give same-sex couples legally married in other states all the rights of marriage in California. Try not to catch yourself going into shock on this one, but Arnie has ”.. approved more legislation in favour of gay rights than any governor in United States history". With opposition being met at every direction for those striving for the rights of homosexuals in America, this is a glimmering light in what hopefully may be a bright day in the future for the LGBT community.

Times they are a-changin’? Perhaps they are, but only time will tell.

As soon as the law was signed the Conservative groups who were in full force during their campaign to successfully end same-sex marriage in California made their aversion known. The Campaign for Children and Families called the Harvey Milk law “the strongest impetus yet for loving parents to remove their children from anti-family public schools.” A little irrational? Yes, however this statement and others like it, as ridiculous as they may sound, gain strength when enough people back them. It contributes to a negative connotation that can portray gays in an antagonistic light, where groups have a window to build an anti-homosexual following through fear and confusion. Let it be a reminder to all that though the one-year anniversary of the Proposition 8 victory against the gay community nears, small and steady triumphs will help complete the bigger integral picture of equality; key moments as this serve as motivation to keep moving forward and continue our enduring stride.

The signing of the Harvey Milk law deserves special recognition and is important in the progression of California and the United States in attaining a society free of homosexual intolerance. For this, I am hopeful for the future.

“Crips and Bloods: Made in America”

On the documentary, Crips and Bloods: Made in America:

For those of us familiar to Los Angeles and its glitz and glamour, it is known that the city is the home of two of the most vicious gangs to emerge on American soil. Through the 1960’s and 80’s, police oppression against African-Americans and other minorities caused rebellion and revenge to brew in those abused, spawning the origins of what the Bloods and Crips gangs would later become.

Blacks were terrorized by officers for walking into white affluent neighborhoods, continuing the nightmare of segregation that haunted blacks in states of the south. The pressure mounted, riots ensued, and a war began. A war against the past, a war for the future of minorities, yet a war that would later turn the people of a group against one another for the sake of survival.

Crips and Bloods: Made in America attempts to show its audience a rationalization of what it is to be a gang member in the LA area, and bring to light the suffering that at times lays torn at the roots of this ever persistent dilemma, while keeping the dream of finding harmony in the City of Angels alive.

Six-Word Stories

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Started by Ernest Hemingway, the 6-Word story is an attempt at painting a moment with a few strike amounts of bare information. What seems to be the key is going for raw emotion; grabbing for what readers may find angering, saddening or humorous. So long ago, on a napkin while sitting in a cafe (allegedly), Hemingway wrote these following six:


For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.

Sorrow? Loneliness? What is it that you feel? Do these words manifest a cold picture into your mind; or rather a happy opportune moment? Mr. Hemingway called it one of his greatest works, and it rests on our ability to interpret it how we feel fit.

Here are a few of my own attempts in trying to convey a powerful moment in six words:

  • They carried him, uniform and all.
  • Her blood chilled; the alarm sounded.
  • Clock ticked forward. Line went flat.
  • Light over horizon, home now distant.
  • Before today he had a future.
  • “Just go! No… wait, come back.”

It’s Been a While, No?

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Yeah, it has been a good couple months since I’ve last ventured on to the bloggin’ scene. True story. But this is my now second day of being job-free (as opposed to jobless) before I moved from Torrance to Berkeley; and it’s my perfect chance to get back on to the whole social network medium for the purpose of what I intended to use it for: writing.

O.K., you got me. Maybe it’s not literally the perfect time to hop back on since I am coming off two hours of sleep, tracking back from MADMONDAYS at the Standard in West Hollywood; and Nick is still crashed out on the floor below me (taking over my Laker blanket). If it wasn’t too dark I would totally embarrass him over Twitter with some candid shots. Save for another day…

I just got a text from CNN that Judge Sotomayor is now Justice Sonia Sotomayor. 

Nice, a perfect lead on to my next subject: BUSYness. I haven’t been able to find time to post up new writings in the past few months but it is needless to say that LIFE HAS NOT BEEN FOR THE SLOW MOVING. A few headlines from recent weeks: 

  • THE LA LAKERS ARE 2009 NBA CHAMPIONS!
  • THE KING OF POP DEAD AT 50
  • LOS ANGELES IS BROKE
  • WILL LA PAY FOR MICHAEL JACKSON MEMORIAL? 
  • OBAMA CAUGHT GOCKING AT YOUNG WOMANS BOTTOM?
  • WHAT IS A ‘WISE LATINA WOMAN’ AND WHAT WOULD PROVOKE A LATINA WOMAN TO USE THOSE WORDS?
  • BLACK HARVARD PROFESSOR ARRESTED IN OWN HOME, WAS ARRESTED BY WHITE COPS
  • DEMOCRATS TRY TO FINALIZE HEALTHCARE PLAN!
  • REPUBLICANS ATTEMPT TO BLOCK DEMOCRATS HEALTHCARE PLAN
  • CALIFORNIA PASSES BUDGET TAKING AWAY 6 BILLION FROM STATE FUNDED SCHOOLS

Yikes. Nothing short of surprising I might say. And this is what only made national headlines. I’m sure if my own personal news got printed up on dead trees and pixilated out into the world each day, it would go something like this:

THE DAILY J!

stffu_sndee_ot_etg_onde!

!!!!!

accpetde

tisonqeus

twah_hte_ lelh_stju_ hapedpen

angeloses_ciscosanfran

0815_09

leyberke.

lmf.

??

I_LLWI_ ISSM_EVRYEOEN.

….

..

I’m tired.

It’s just a list of mixed up, jumbled, star-crossed, life-changing, influential, unessential… insignificant… little… trivial… words.

I’m sure this does not only fall upon me, but for the majority of us. If so, I send this message out there just for you. The “BUSYness” is made up of all the surprises that await us in life. It’s that Box of Chocolates that Forrest Gump spoke so highly about. It consists of the things that we have little or no control of, the things that come out as us swingin’ with a left jab followed by a right hook. We may be riding around on this scooter (preferably skateboard) of life, enjoying the cruise control we set at our own pace. But we are bound to hit bumps and we will come across the forks. It may be unpleasant, it may cause you to become fearful, but welcome every little trouble, fear and surprise that may come your way. These are the things that make life plentiful and worthwhile, the things that cause us to become so animately busy that we go to bed thinking about what’s next, wake up to get started, then realize it was just a dream about waking up and now you actually have to get out of bed! But let yourself become engulfed in what you’re passionate about, become busy, knock down the roadblocks and follow what makes you happy. Don’t let fear guide you.

Let your foundation get shaken up a bit every blue moon. Life is short. Life is sweet.

But the sweet is never as sweet without the sour.

Until next time.

On the Eve

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By now, most of us (if not all), have been totally dissipated by the campaigns of the presidential candidates. What’s gone on for only a few months almost seems as if it were a year, accumulating into its finale tomorrow. As for tonight, I feel like writing about what the campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain have revealed about America, and what I hope for the future.

First off: Barack Obama. The word “Obama” has risen to almost symbolize an entire cultural movement than it does a lone presidential hopeful. I’ve seen things in the past few months that I never imagined I see: graffiti displayed on buildings short and tall, sidewalks, and lamp posts—calls for a rebellion against the current Republican regime. This following is flowing through paths that Barack Obama has carved. Through Obama’s words and eloquence—which hasn’t been the norm for American presidents—a black man has risen up to not only be a leading voice of his race and other minorities, but of the whole culture of the proudly underprivileged street society.

This was evident to me while walking the streets of San Francisco and L.A., gazing upon the messages of the voiceless, the “anti-press conference” everyday people who conceived an image and sprayed it onto the street for all to see. Not to mention the now immortalized Shepard Fairey poster of Obama’s face that has garnished cities and internet sites across the country. Graffiti isn’t the only form of communication and expression for the underprivileged in society. All types of music have been put out in an effort to get citizens, who wouldn’t regularly listen to a rally or debate, to hear Senator Obama’s words. These are just some examples of the effort of the people of this country, the people who these men are attempting to lead, to influence the future of their lives and land.

Before I come across as a total Obama groupie, let me discuss McCain. From my first time seeing him many years ago on the TV set while running for President another time, I’ve immensely respected him. The man’s story should be made into a movie for Christ’s sake. It’s hard to even imagine a soldier going through what he went through while being kept as a POW. In fact, back then, being as young and naïve to politics as I was (and maybe still am), I wanted McCain to win a presidential election almost entirely for that reason. Doesn’t it seem like a natural narrative for a man such as himself? To serve his country, be kept as a hostage and tortured for years, rebound and serve his country again in his state of Arizona even after what he went though… and become president? Perfect!

McCain has risen to the position he is at now because he has enough strength within himself to persevere through things most men can only imagine, and he seems to be one cool cat. Unfortunately, that “coolness” was a version of McCain at a time of his life that has now passed after he won the Republican nomination. I’d be bold enough to say that it was the fault of the entire Republican party and their string pulling, but tomorrow’s election hasn’t come yet. I can’t say the campaign was a failure on their part and if the country feels that McCain is untrustworthy as I think he is. However, McCain’s transformation from a Top Gun-type maverick to a politician who thinks it’s cool to call himself a maverick (like nicknames, you don’t get to choose), has been directly linked to his nomination. Though I’m only speculating, I’d presume that under the nerves of finally being a stone’s throw from the presidency, McCain fell under his own weight and let his advisors do more than advise him, but control him. Gone was the slick McCain, and steps in the awkward, repetitive, fragile McCain.

Enter Sarah Palin. In an attempt to shake things up, McCain playing off his maverick self-given nickname chooses a woman he has only spoken to ONCE before, as his running mate. I see this ploy as an attempt to counter the first “real African-American candidate” appeal surrounding Obama, since Obama in that sense truly does symbolize what both parties are preaching: Change.

For one glorious week, McCain’s strategy worked. The GOP was in cloud nine after announcing Palin, women were united behind her, and the Republicans had their weapon of change in the bag, until the weapon spoke. She was the equivalent of a medical journal written by Dr. Seuss, things began to plummet in the GOP, though the main body of loyalists stayed intact.

Following the weeks of the National Conventions of both parties, Americans themselves, or rather their attitudes, have shared the spotlight with the candidates. In good ol’ “Crips vs. Bloods” fashion, Democrats and Republican followers quickly took their battle stances and put up their guard. Not surprising were these actions, since it’s always an occurrence of the four-year presidential elections. But sadly, this increasingly became more intense than years prior. The epicenter was the south. Racial tensions heated up, and with that, came the Obama laden dolls hanging from trees, racial slurs being yelled during McCain-Palin rally’s, and hate filled propaganda being passed around that mindlessly put Muslims on center stage. This deeply saddened me, not because I thought racism was gone, but when I saw the men and women in videos on CNN and looked into their eyes and seeing a sense of fun in it, I could not believe it. I will never forget an old man holding a Curious George doll with an Obama sticker around its head, waving it to the camera with a smile on his face.

Racism is not dead. It is far from it. It affects almost everyone, everywhere. But no where have I seen it more evident than what was shown in the South during the past month. Do I think these people have become prey to their own ignorance? Yes. Do I believe people will still think Obama is a terrorist with ties to Al-Qaeda four years from now? There will be some. There will always be some of every intolerant group until we educate our public adequately, and spread peace and knowledge among our children, so one day they will be our ambassadors of unity across the globe.

I consider myself an independent. Don’t think going for a candidate based on their party is very wise. Though, from the start of my political life when I was able to understand the parties and how politics work, I do (more often) side with the issues that are important for the Democratic Party. More so, for this election, I’d say I am against the Republican Party than for Democrats. Why? Just look back at the past eight years for your answer. We were lied to, fooled, and taken advantage of by people we never met, who’ll never meet us. They were politicians who were elected by their country, and flatly neglected everyone who could be neglected—within our borders and beyond. And the same people who elected Bush/Cheney had faith enough to elect them twice!

The demographics of our country are changing, even if it is only slightly. The youth are getting educated, and we are on path to change the world and the face of politics for the new generations. Our older generation, loyal to the Republican Party, who grew up either fighting for or against civil rights, is disappearing.

The old man with the Curious George doll, the white men and women voting for McCain just because they cannot let their idea of a white ruled America go, will one day be gone. And once they are, it will be we, the ones who witnessed their mistakes, rising to the occasion. We will make choices out of the search for solutions, and not out of the influence of hate. This election, regardless of the winner, illustrates that America is changing, and within each span of four years, a new class will be sent forth to fix their parents errors, until the day when the world, and not just America, will be on a clearer path toward equality and respect.

I leave it as this: tomorrow we’ll have a winning side. America’s future will be in the balance, as it is every day. But in each day, we control our destiny, and we are the conductors to our dreams. One day things will change, and when we hit disastrous times, we can always depend on hope.

To the readers who will read this in the future, as I am sure the majority of you are, think hard of what the times are like for the world now, and what needs to be changed and how you will correct it.

Until then, if your fear of change influenced your vote for this election, be prepared: you’ll one day be the minority.

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