January 31, 2008

The Hope-Monger

It's hard to explain the atmosphere in the Colosseum last night. "Magic" seems too cliche, so I'll go with "Safe". I'll explain what I mean in a little bit.

Almost fourteen thousand (14,000) people came to hear Senator Obama cast vision. More accurately, more than five million (5,000,000) Phoenix residents who weren't there, missed out. Seriously. Sharing hope, insight, and a slew of great ideas, Obama spoke with ease and confidence for just under an hour. Simply amazing.

I said I felt safe. And the reason why is pretty simple. Some of you might think I'm petty and shallow for thinking this way, but I believe that it is a good indicator and accurate social commentary. Frankly, I feel really good about the people who support Obama. When I am with people who support Obama, I am with like-minded people. I have never seen so many Priuses in one parking lot. The amount of intelligent bumper stickers and witty custom plates made me feel like I was among friends. And the overall attitude and excitement of the people in attendance amazed me. Such optimism, hope, friendliness.

Now, I understand that driving a hybrid vehicle doesn't automatically make a person entirely devoted to making a more livable environment. And listening to U2 (Obama walked out on stage to "City of Blinding Lights") doesn't make a person aware of how policy affects a nation's citizens. But when a speech has to stop because people are cheering at the thought of universally available health care, I feel a deep sense of solidarity. When his supporters got crazy because Obama declared that George W. Bush's name wouldn't be on the November ballot, I again felt solidarity. When noise subsided a little, the Senator proposed his plan to subsidize college education. But he wasn't done there. Obama laid out the second part of his plan for students - mandated public service. "We will invest in you," he said, "and you will invest in us!"Fourteen thousand (14,000) voices can create a lot of noise. And when they do, I feel safe.

Come January, if the Senator changes addresses, I am not worried about one side or the other of the proverbial teeter-totter to be too high up. I truly believe Obama and his supporters deeply desire reconciliation. Racially, economically, and politically.

Consider this my official endorsement of Barack Obama.

"I don't just want to end the war, I want to end the mindset that got us into war."
Barack Obama

PS - Phoenix Friday makes its triumphant return tomorrow.

January 30, 2008

The Purple Palace Goes Blue

Writing this title, I broke down in nostalgia remembering the days when I wore knee-high socks to emulate Elliot Perry and tried going by "SR" because I thought Kevin Johnson was the coolest man on the planet.

In any case, a few hours from now thousands of people will come and hang out with Barack Obama as he shares his vision for America's Future at the Veterans Memorial Colosseum. Gates open up at 3:30PM. Obama is on stage at 5:30PM. See you there! Full report to follow.

"I've got a crush on Obama."
The Obama Girl

January 27, 2008

We Had A Baby, It's A Bike

I heard someone say awhile ago that a woman feels like a mother when she becomes pregnant. And a man feels like a father when he sees his child for the first time.

I have been toying with the idea of starting a community bike project in the Phoenix area for awhile. A program where, for a brief application, a copper-painted bike and a bike lock become yours. I sort of have crazy ideas like this all the time, and it's only every once in awhile that they even begin to gain a little traction.

About a month ago, my friend Liana said she might have a connection to a few busted up bicycles. The bikes she was talking about are abandoned in the desert by people traveling further North after tires go flat or chains break. Then volunteers working around the Organ Pipe National Monument pick them up and dispose of them. I was excited at the prospect of getting a couple of worn out bikes in need of a little TLC, but it was also Christmas so I was also excited about seven (7) step bars, caramel rolls, and chocolate-chip cookies.

Weeks passed, and ideas were tossed around. Then yesterday, I got a call from Liana. "Hey Sam, we're in Buckeye about forty-five (45) minutes away. We got those bikes for you." I got so excited, my water almost broke. Just a little under an hour later, I had thirty-five (35) bicycles in my backyard.

My friend's comments about parenthood came back to me. I was excited about this bike project for months, but it didn't feel real until I saw all those rusted chains and busted spokes. And now that they are there, I am so proud.

But don't worry, Mom. I'll give you a little bit more warning before the real kids start coming...

"To be a successful father, there's absolutely one rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years."
Ernest Hemingway

A Post Script: If you would like to help, there is a lot of opportunity. Right now, we are in the process of stripping the frames and putting together an inventory of the parts we have. After that, we'll start putting them back together in working conditions. If you want to help, but don't have mechanical gifts, financial gifts will go a long way. If this interests you, I can provide you with a charitable tax-id number. For more information on successful bike projects around the country, here are some links to the Austin Yellow Bike Project, BICAS in Tucson, The Santa Cruz Bike Church, and Plan B in New Orleans.

January 26, 2008

Good Ideas

A little bit of humor for you. From this blog. Whole slew of other tips here.

"Every child begins the world again."
Henry David Theoreau

January 24, 2008

Team Work Makes The Dream Work

A few weeks ago, I told you all that I started to get paid for this gig. But I'm not the only one. Here is the rest of the StAR Team:

All of their blogs are under the conspicuous heading of "Other StAR Blogs". This picture was one of hundreds taken during a four (4) hour long photo shoot for the website that will launch next week. I'll be sure to keep you updated on that. It's my job.

"[Last StAR] on the right, straight on 'til morning."
Peter Pan (with edits)

4 - 8 - 15 - 16 - 23 - 42

One week from today. I'm so stoked!

"Do not mistake coincidence for fate."
Mr. Eko

January 23, 2008

It's Not You, It's The Books

In a letter to John Adams, Thomas Jefferson said,

"I cannot live without books."

I'm sure his "Dear John" letter - get the title now? - went on to describe his thoughts on faith, and his deep love for his wife. But the point is, he loved books. So, it's safe to guess that good ol' TJ would have a ball at the upcoming VNSA Book Sale if he were still ticking (cheap Deist joke)...

The Volunteer Nonprofit Service Association is hosting its 52nd Annual Sale two weekends from now at the Arizona State Fair Grounds. The sale is February 8th and 9th. On both days, the fun starts at 8AM. Check out the website for a complete listing of categories, layout, drop boxes for donations, and benefiting charities. Make sure you come with a list, though, I always get out of hand without one. See you there!

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."
Mark Twain

And, just for fun, here is a foreign adaption of Huck Finn, a novel written by Samuel Clemens. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was also a Deist.

Hilarious animation and music. Enjoy!

January 22, 2008

Ain't No Etch-A-Sketch

This post is mainly for my friend Brandon.

But I want you all to know that I called it. The moment I stepped out of the theater, I said, "Ellen Page for Oscar." Finally, the Academy is taking comedy seriously...

Full List Of Nominations Here

The 80th Annual Academy Awards in on February 24th. Anybody down for a viewing party?

Edit (1/23/08) - After some research, I'm finding out there will most likely be no traditional ceremony due to the Writers' Strike. In lieu of fancy presentations and well-written jokes, the winners will be read aloud during a thirty (30) minute news conference. So... anybody down for a listening party?

"You should have gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they are giving away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events."
Juno MacGuff

January 21, 2008

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Read it here first. John Edwards deserves to be the Democratic nominee in November. But he won't be. He doesn't provide the fireworks that Obama and Clinton do. Nope, the "Son of The South" just sits, wishes, and waits. On the bright side, though, those two could never run with each other, so Edwards has a VP bid in the bag.

Kim and I spent a nice, quiet evening watching two people be anything but quiet with each other. Frankly, it bothered me. All this talk about bringing the country together, and these two spend the whole night bickering about who has a better health care plan, and whose husband is saying mean things about their record. John Edwards just sat back and watched everything unfold. Don't get me wrong, he was passionate. But only for the right reasons and at the right time, so it didn't make good television.

If you didn't catch the debate in its entirety, here are a few of my (for lack of a better word) favorite quips.

Obama: "While I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart."

Clinton: "It is very difficult having a straight-up debate with you because you never take responsibility for any vote and that has been a pattern."

Edwards: [Sen. Edwards had no comment. He was busy solving the issue of poverty in America while providing hope and health care to everyone of her citizens]

On a side note, Hillary is in town tomorrow night.

"I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses."
Hillary Clinton
(Speaking to Sen. Obama in last night's debate. Italics mine.)

I Have A (Private) Dream

It wouldn't be an Election Year without some controversy. First, it's a dog strapped to the roof, then Mr. Romney get accused of being tolerant...

But, anyway, back to the issue at hand. A couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton said this: "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act... It took a President to get it done." All sorts of reaction here and here. My good friend Niel Conan even did an in-depth story on the three Presidents that MLK worked with.

I want to take a second and peel through to the core of Ms. Clinton's comments. In full disclosure, I am a debate away from throwing my lot in with Obama, so my defense of Clinton's comments is pure in motive. Promise.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are all the rage. Mainly, PPPs show up in the forms of toll roads, parkways, and mass transit. Traditionally, the term is used for these types of projects, including Central Park in New York City. However, the definition and practicality of these partnerships are much more wide ranging than highways and multi-use parks. Nonprofits, Universities, and other organizations partner with the government all the time. Any time an individual from the private sector (whether truly an individual, or an organization) joins forces with the State, it becomes a public-private partnership.

For instance, when someone has a ground-breaking idea that would push forward reconciliation and equality, it isn't such a bad idea to have the President in your corner on the issue. It was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream. Clinton didn't dispute that fact. She was merely stating that he was also successful in communicating his dream to the men who held the pens necessary to make that dream a reality. And that is public-private partnership at its best.

It's amazing how much people who are notorious for breaking (and changing) the rules actually followed them. Gandhi was a lawyer and spoke eloquently to and with world leaders. Momma T was part of the largest organization on earth and used it to touch the lives of children. And Martin Luther King, Jr. drank from water fountains "for coloreds only".

So give Hillary a break. Because she was right. Without the sphere of influence that the Oval Office gave him, MLK's dream would still be just that. A dream.

"PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air."
Mitt Romney

A Post-Script - Arizona State University is hosting a conference next month (which I will be attending), on public-private partnerships. Details here.

January 15, 2008

I Can Appreciate

Ok, so I'm on a video kick. It's not all bad. School just started. I see cool things, and I want you to, as well. I just spent ten (10) amazing minutes watching videos Trevor asked me to watch. So why can't you just spend five (5) watching some really neat time-lapsed collaborative art? It'll be fun, I promise.

I titled this entry, "I Can Appreciate" because I will never be able to have the vision you are about to witness. "Oh, Sam. Don't get down on yourself," you say. I'm not being pessimistic. I just know my limitations. On Sunday, Andrew and I were packing up his car for a gig he was playing. I starting putting the speakers and the sub in the back, when Andrew stopped me.

"No, not that way," he said. "Like this." In minutes, it was fit together like level 35 of Tetris. I have no spatial awareness. I can understand that. But, boy do I love it when other people see a bedroom and turn it into a living canvas. Trust me, it'll be fun...

"I seriously object to seeing on the screen what belongs in the bedroom."
Samuel Goldwyn

Growing Up Online

This looks really interesting. Starts airing a week from today. Check your local station.

"In case you haven't heard, the Internet is not a superhighway."
Bill Washburn

January 14, 2008

Consider Me Miles Davis

Today was the first day of Spring Semester. Welcome back, everybody. Here's a little nostalgia.

"No milk will ever be our milk."
Veronica Vaughn

January 12, 2008

A Letter To The Mayor

I received a copy of this letter. It was sent to Mayor Phil Gordon in response to all that is currently happening here in Phoenix surrounding the immigration debate. Some really powerful words here.

I recently sat with my children and watched “Swing Kids” – a true account of what happened to German youth who did not wish to join the Hitler youth group and what was occurring at the time to many innocent Jewish children and families.

Sleep well at night Mayor Phil by allowing your heart and your conscience to guide you. Be humane and stand tall against those who hate. Allow the words of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Elie Wiesel and Cesar Chavez to enter your heart and your mind in making the decision NOT to contribute to the anger and hate by having police become similar to those unwilling participants in the Hitler regime that will surely hurt ALL of our communities.

Peace Be With You In Your Decision,
Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez

That's all I have today. Not much I can add to this. Have a great Saturday.

"You think that just because you're not doing it yourself, you're not a part of it?"
Arvid, Swing Kids

January 8, 2008

Threatened With Resurrection

I believe nonfiction writing is art.

I could be wrong. But I doubt it. I mean, cinema is art, poetry is art, and art is art. So why can't someone putting together information and making it palatable be defined as art? With that being said, I understand that art is highly subjective. Not everyone, including rising artists (see: Jeremiah Sazdanoff), likes Monet, Manet, and Rembrandt. And other people, including my mother, can't separate street art (see: Banksy, Swoon, and Escrif) from graffiti (see: tagging). Furthermore, there are still millions of fans supporting a certain no talent ass clown. So obviously, art is subjective. We all know that Britney had the best artistic release of 2007.

Using the above as a backdrop, and understanding that you might not agree with me (or even know who he is), I want to suggest that Parker Palmer is one the most artistic nonfiction writers of our times.

Palmer is the author of a book I just finished titled, The Active Life. It was beautiful. Palmer's background is full of contemplation and beautifully slow living. The book takes a look at how to engage in a spirituality of work, creativity, and caring amidst a chaotic world. Definitely worth a read if you don't have nineteen (19) credit hours this semester. Which is why I finished it today, a (seemingly) few short hours before I plunge back into the world of academia. In any case, I wanted to share with you a short excerpt in order to illicit a little feedback. And try to explain, through his words, why I believe the title "art" belongs firmly attached to any work of his.

Bone-deep knowledge of resurrection would take away the fears that some of us presently use to justify our cautious, self-protective lives. Death-dealing fear would be replaced by life-giving faith, and we would be called to do God-knows-what for God-knows-who. Perhaps we would be compelled to take in a homeless person; to go to prison in protest of nuclear madness; to leave jobs that contribute to violence; to "speak truth to power" in a hundred risky ways. In the process, we might lose much that we have, perhaps even our lives- and that is the threat of resurrection.

I end the same way I started. I believe that nonfiction writing is art. When art is a possibility for otherwise "boring" topics (like theology for us lay people), it brings the text to life for me. It resonates. It breathes. And I love it. I hope you do to.


Accompany us then on this vigil
and you will know what it is to dream!
You will then know how marvelous it is
to live threatened with Resurrection!

(Excerpt of poem that Palmer was writing in response to)

January 7, 2008

Now The Real Work Begins...

I start a new job today. But the kicker is I have already been doing it. Now I just get paid for it.

The College of Public Programs is embarking on a new recruiting campaign. I am one (1) of six (6) people that form the Student Ambassadors for Recruitment (StAR). Our goal is to promote enrollment in the COPP by creating interactive experiences, interactive communities, and interactive interaction.

It will end up being a little more complicated than what I'm about to describe it as, but more or less, I am getting paid to blog about life at Arizona State University's Downtown Campus. And specifically, being a student at the College of Public Programs. My "regular" installments of Phoenix Friday and Round Up From The Ground Up were trial runs for things that might be interesting to a student looking into a degree program that the COPP offers and the life and culture that surrounds our beautiful urban campus.

So thank you for reading so far. And enjoy the continuation. Thoughts, ideas, comments, suggestions, and snide remarks are always appreciated.

In the meantime, welcome to the forum where ideas promoting the inhabitation of the city that is otherwise Deserted After Dark, begin.

"Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do."
Oscar Wilde