Posts Tagged ‘impact’

Good ol’ Geaorgie boy Carlin! George Carlin was a comedian, known for his observational comedy and the use of language, and author. He also played Mr. Conductor on the children’s series “Shiny Times Station.” His work spans over 5 decades, over 20 CD’s, 15 comedy specials, and 6 books.

I grew up knowing who George Carlin was. I saw him on Shiny Times Station before I knew of his work in comedy. I watched some of his stand up when I was young, but I didn’t understand it. It wasn’t until I was much older that I got it and he really made an impact on me.

Artists typically see the world differently than most people. A good comedian will have you think about something in a way you never thought of before and leave you thinking about it. They are only conveying how they see the world, with a little humor mixed in, and often exploit ideas we take for granted. Carlin was a master of this. His “bullshit meter” was always on auto-detect and he had no problem letting you know how he felt.

I’ve always been a very inquisative and skeptical person. I like knowing the fundamentals of things, especially ideas and thinking. Carlin showed me the world in such a different way that I now can’t stop openly questioning things. I feel that I would rather be inquisitive of things than gullible. George Carlin was also the first open atheist I had ever known. I’ve been questioning the church and religion since I hit the age of reason, about 12, and had always been alone in the matter. I always felt I would be punished for talking openly about my skepticisms. Not believing in a god is a social taboo, and coming from the environment I grew up in it was more of a social suicide. When I saw how he backed his thinking with logic and did so with confidence, I felt the mental chains I placed on myself snap. I was alone on this journey for the longest time and here he was in front of the world saying what I was afraid to. I had never felt so empowered before. George Carlin really kickstarted my mind to openly question things as an adult. I began to see the world the way he did.

I actually read 3 of Carlin’s books before I saw a full comedy special of his. I feel like no one can read his work and not think about the world a little differently. Thank you, George, for opening my mind to thinking more deeply about how we operate in this world.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, science communicator, and director of the Hayden Planitarium. He’s also the host of NOVA ScienceNOW on PBS and will also be hosting a new sequal to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. He’s also one of the people responsible for the reclassification of the planet Pluto, now classified as a dwarf planet.

Neil is one of the latest people to really impact my life. There’s many great people in the feild of astrophysics, theoretical physics, and astronomy that I look up to- Carl Sagan, Lawrence Krauss, and Michio Kaku to name a few, but it’s how Neil approaches the public sphere and how he conveys his message that’s both brilliant and inspiring.

Neil Degrasse Tyson likes to channel the minds of adults. Kids are natural born scientist and we tend to lose that as we get older and stop kids from exploring that part of their mind. If a child decides to pull out the pans from the kitchen cabnet and beat on them, adults are usually quick to stopping them. Unknowingly, they stopped a kid from exploring acoustics. He also talks about science literacy. A great quote of his, “If you’re scientifically literate, the world looks very different, and that understanding empowers you.” is one I hold close to me. Informed people make informed desicions.

Neil brings a level of sophistication and elegance to his views and science that is very approachable to the average person. That’s something you don’t see everyday. I truly feel that the only reason science isn’t commonly talked about, is because science is usually conveyed to people in a way that many people don’t get.

I now live to spark curiosity in the minds of people, to think a little more deeply about the world they live in. I thank Neil for that. It’s beautiful when you look at what makes the universe go ’round. Neil is the first person I’ve seen doing this in public and media. His view of the world should not go unnoticed. Not only is he an intellectual, he’s an excellent communicator and someone I look up to.

Thank you Neil

Victor Lemonte Wooten is a bass player, composer, and author. He’s won five Grammy awards for his work with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and solo work. He is the youngest of five brothers, all musicians themselves, and his experience and journey with music started at the age of two. He is a true “virtuoso” in the art of music.

I have to give a small back story to why how Victor made an impression on me. I went to West Chester University in 2004. I met some great people and made life-long friendships. One of my closest friends, Abon, is a guitar player. He had been playing since he was about 7 and he had two guitars and a bass in his dorm. One night we were invited by another great friend, Matt, to a small live show. It was on the second floor of a lounge. It was pretty cool. There were multiple bands performing, one after another. I had never watched a band play live before then. One band, whose name I forget, stole the shw for me. The solo the lead guitar player played left me in awe. That night I decided I wanted to learn how to play the guitar.

I would grab Abon’s electric guitar, plug it in, and go to town on it; not playing a single note. That’s how I started my journey in music. Abon tried his best to teach me, but I had a hard time keeping my fingers on one string. My fingers and hands were kinda big and Abon took notice to that. He recommended I play the bass. Up to that point, I had no idea bass guitars existed! I knew of stand up basses, but I didn’t know anything about bass guitars. So I tried it. It was a much better feel to me. But it wasn’t til Matt showed me a video of this guy that I really took off. He showed me a video of Victor Wooten playing Amazing Grace. It was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t think an instrument like the bass could be played in such a way. It was then that I had someone to emulate.

I’m a self taught musician. It took years for me to hone my skills and develop the type of playing I do today. I’ve been playing bass for eight years now, and Victor Wooten has been there all the way. His approach to music and life is something everyone should take a look at. To Victor, as well myself, music is a language. A very beautiful one at that. For about the first four years I tried to immitate what he and other great bass players played while learning how to play. It’s a good road to take for a self taught musician but there comes a point where you have to find your own voice. He showed me that and I have my own voice today. He was the first to show me that my expression of the arts is unique to me, so no matter how I play, how I express, no one can call it their own. That’s an important lesson that all artists should learn. He taught me to just groove.

Thank U Vic!

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Jean-Michel Basquiat was a neo-expressionist painter and graffiti artist in the late 70’s up to his death in the late 80’s. He grew up a gifted child and his work shows the brilliance of his mind. Sadly, he suffered the same fate as many young artist.

I first learned of Basquiat when I saw a documentary, The Radiant Child, created by some his closest friends and aquaintences. Never in my life had paintings spoke so much to me. I didn’t have any interest in painting before then. I grew up drawing cartoons and comics. High art, let alone painting, didn’t interest me. Jean-Michel not only conveyed the depths of his mind in his work, he opened my mind to wanting to do the same.

I had no training in painting, never bought supplies, and I still don’t know the technical side of the art, but I do it anyway. I don’t need to know that stuff because art is the best way to really let people know what’s on your mind. That’s all I do and I’ve never felt so free to express myself before. I feel like we have a mutual understanding of each other (even though he died when I was 1). The crown is a symbol he put in his work and it’s a symbol I hold very close to me. It’s in a lot of my work. It’s a symbol of individuality, freedom, brilliance, and radiance.

Seeing Jean-Michel’s work and learning of him through the accounts of those who loved him really empowered me to dig deep within myself in a way I’ve never done before and bring out something I didn’t think I had. I thank him for that. Now I try to do the same for others through my work. I want everyone to reach down in themselves and express any and everything they possibly can. Who cares what it looks like, that’s your stamp on humanity.

Michael Jackson

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Life
Tags: , , , , ,

I decided to write about people who’ve influenced me for an entire week. Each day I will highlight someone who has made a big impact on my life and view of the world.

There’s no particular order of importance to the list of people that have inspired me the most in life, but I have to highlight Michael Jackson first. A man of extreme talent, endless energy, and tireless dedication. I can’t tell you what age I started listening to and watching Michael, but it was probably before I could walk. My mom was always a big Michael Jackson fan and had played his music around me when I was young. My earliest memories of Michael Jackson was of the Moonwalker VHS my mom purchased. I burned a whole in that tape from watching it so many times over the years. I would put on my vest and dress shoes and act out the entire video to Smooth Criminal. I had the entire VHS memorized (and I still know it front to back today).

Michael impacted me in two very distinct ways. The first being that he showed me my first outlets of art and expression, song and dance. I was extremely shy in the area for most of life, but it’s something I always held close and in secret. I love to dance and sing (though I’m not good at singing), and I still do till this day. Being able to express myself in this way has helped in shaping the person I am today. Expression, mainly in the form of art, is what I value most about humanity and life itself. Michael Jackson showed me the first forms of that, and through song and dance, empowered me to share my own gifts and talents with those I love most.

The second way I Michael left an impression on me didn’t come til later on in my life when I began to look into his personal life to see what was behind the entertainer I had grown to love. He was a true humanitarian. Michael’s views of the world, it’s problems, and potential solutions should be something everyone should look at. His message can really be seen in the album History: Volume 2, but sadly it was overlooked.

“I realize that many of our world’s problems today, from inner city crime, to large scale wars and terrorism, and our over crowded prizons, are a result of the fact that children have had their childhood stlen from them. The magic, the wonder, the mystery, and the innocence of a child’s heart are the seeds of creativity that will heal the world. I really believe that.”-Michael Jackson

Below is a short list of various organizations, charities, and events that Michael has donated his earnings and more importantly, his mind and time to. Through song and dance, Michael’s vision was to inject love back into people and the world. That’s inspirational, that’s something people should try to live up to.

AIDS Project L.A.
American Cancer Society
Angel Food
Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles
BMI Foundation, Inc.
Brotherhood Crusade
Brothman Burn Center
Camp Ronald McDonald
Childhelp U.S.A.
Children’s Institute International
Cities and Schools Scholarship Fund
Community Youth Sports & Arts Foundation
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)
Dakar Foundation
Dreamstreet Kids
Dreams Come True Charity
Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation
Love Match
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Minority Aids Project
Motown Museum
NAACP
National Rainbow Coalition
Rotary Club of Australia
Society of Singers
Starlight Foundation
The Carter Center’s Atlanta Project
The Sickle Cell Research Foundation
Transafrica
United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
United Negro College Fund Ladder’s of Hope
Volunteers of America
Watts Summer Festival
Wish Granting
YMCA – 28th Street/Crenshaw

December 13, 1984: Michael visits the Brotman Memorial Hospital, where he had been treated when he was burned very badly during the producing of a Pepsi commercial. He donates all the money he receives from Pepsi, $1.5 million, to the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children.

1986: Michael set up the “Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed Scholarship Fund”. This $1.5 million fund is aimed towards students majoring in performance art and communications, with money given each year to students attending a UNCF member college or university.

March 1, 1988: At a press conference held by his sponsor Pepsi, Michael presents a $600,000 check to the United Negro College Fund.

February 1, 1988: The Song “Man In the Mirror” enters the charts. The proceeds from the sales of this record goes to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a camp for children who suffer from cancer.

February 1992: Within 11 days Michael covers 30,000 miles in Africa, to visit hospitals, orphanages, schools, churches, and institutions for mentally handicapped children.

July 1992: Michael donated L. 821,477,296 to La Partita del Cuore (The Heart Match) in Rome and donated 120,000 DM to children’s charities in Estonia and Latvia.

November 24, 1992: At Kennedy Airport in New York, Michael supervises the loading of 43 tons of medication, blankets, and winter clothes destined for Sarajevo. The Heal The World Foundation collaborates with AmeriCares to bring resources totaling $2.1 million to Sarajevo. They will be allocated under the supervision of the United Nations.

October 1993: Donated $100,000 to the Children’s Defense Fund, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, the Atlanta Project, and the Boys and Girl Clubs of Newark, New Jersey.

October 3, 1996: Michael visits a children’s hospital and brings small gifts for the patients during a HIStory tour visit in Amsterdam. A room in the hospital (for parents who want to be with their children) is named after Michael.

September 4, 1999: Michael presented Nelson Mandela with a check for 1,000,000 South African rand for the “Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.”

April 25, 2002: Michael Jackson performed at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Apollo Theater in Harlem helping to raise nearly $3 million dollars towards voter registration.

This only scratches the surface to how much time and money Michael humbly donated to help bring peace to the lives of people who deserved it.

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