Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jay-Z and Cornel West choppin it up NYC library

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Company You Keep

As beautiful as my recent plight has been, building a band, dropping the video, hoopin at a level unprecedented, there has still remained a degree of disappointment that has lied beneath the surface. In search of therapy, I turned to my usual medications known as Vokka and Vokka! :)

I am far from a morning person and quite a strong supporter of the gradual ascent. However, I've been rising with a weight upon my spirit that I couldn't quite pinpoint or detail. Of course there was no one factor to blame for such a phase, but after some self examination, I've come to terms with a major contributor to not only my "morning sickness" (no not the Vokka!) but also my overall energetic well being. MY FRIENDS!

One of the greatest attributes of living in Santa Cruz is the beautiful community that I've been interwoven with through the years. However in recent months I've chosen to spend a great deal of time with people who are not a reflection of the highest self I aim to be. Now this is in no way a judgment upon them as individuals or beings, but rather a self analysis of how my moments are being spent and the depth of what's being exchanged. As I took a closer look, I became aware of how very surface level most of my conversations remained. My roomie was quick to point out that a good deal of the folks I've been kicking it with were receiving a lot from me, but not offering much in return. An interesting dynamic. Not exactly revolutionary but an eye opener none the less on because I was absolutely oblivious to the fact until she made note of it.

With that in mind, I reset my intention, not only mentally/spiritually, but also verbally. I reached out to a handful of brothas here in the area whom I hold a great deal of respect for. That being said, I kept the cap on my bottle and almost immediately began to magnetize not only those I called out to, but also other's who are resonating on a similar frequency. The results have been powerful to say the least.

There's no true measure for making a shift of this sort, but it's refreshing to feel a momentum beginning to build. Almost as if I'm just now paddling in to a wave. Although, the time hasn't come to stand up on the board yet and just enjoy the ride, the anticipation of doing so is now more visible than ever. And that alone is reason to celebrate.

One Perfect Love

Monday, October 11, 2010

World Premiere: FreeDem / Do Ya Thing

Ladies and Gentlemen...Well Rooted Music presents...
Mr Free-Freedem / Do Ya Thing
A music video edited and directed by Salvatore Fullmore.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An interview out the archives w Kristen Kittleson (

DJ Idol Hannz is spinning hip hop and house tunes while Carpool in Herndon, VA awaits Mr Free’s arrival. It’s a thin crowd for a Saturday night, but when Mr Free arrives and takes the stage, the rhyme and rhythm of his words create a new symphony and it is worth the wait. People are looking up and listening to the tall, thin, gentle-looking, dreadlocked man speaking his truths at the front of the room.

But Mr. Free is more than an emcee or rapper. Known to friends and newcomers as Mr Free, Geoffrey Gary has a lot on his mind in addition to making music. He is a visionary, spiritualist, teacher and aspiring inspiration to anyone who will listen.

At 17, his father challenged his self-identity – “Why are you calling yourself Geoff! I named you to be more than that! I blurted out, ‘Cause I’m not Free yet!’” Prophetic words from such a young man, but by that age, he had already begun his path to spiritual enlightenment through reading The Celestine Prophecy and studying Native American philosophy. Combined with the influences of an evangelist mother and a Pentecostal preacher grandfather, it is no wonder that Mr Free’s mission is to open minds and have a positive impact on children through teaching.

Mr Free considers himself a nuisance to the schools he works in sometimes, but only because he spends more time tapping into the minds of the children he teaches than sticking to the lesson plans he’s given. He feels strongly that the current state of American school systems do not cultivate the inherent gifts children posses, but rather forces them to conform with no focus on the energy they bring.

He credits his life as an artist, Scott Stapp, lead singer of the rock band, Creed, who with guitarist Mark Tremonti, heard something he didn’t know he had. Mr Free met the band in Kauai, Hawaii where he was a valet runner for the hotel where they were staying. They hit it off and Mr Free stayed in touch with the band.

They crossed paths again in Virginia, where Mr Free had just been offered a teaching position. Creed asked him to open for them at Nissan Pavilion, which turned into a job offer from Scott Stapp to tour with them. “In my whole life, the biggest blessing has been his (Scott Stapp) belief in me to believe in myself. Up to that point, I didn’t take myself as an artist very seriously. It was more of a fun thing, like a hobby. But when somebody of that magnitude says ‘you’ve got a gift’ you’ve got to cultivate that and take myself seriously.”

Mr Free’s music is much more just notes and words. He wants to pass along the blessing he received to others, to inspire them by his belief in himself to believe in themselves. “People are gonna doubt you. I’m gonna stand up on top of all that of that and say ‘I’m good! I believe in myself!’ That’s something that’s frowned upon. We’re socially raised to sort of bow our heads.”

He says he brings a distinct energy to his shows that takes people a couple of tries to get, though he jokingly admits that his early songs were based in a preconceived notion he had of what hip-hop was, that it sounded more like that ‘nonsense you hear on the radio.’ “I bring a comfort zone, I’m gonna be me up here and maybe in the process, you’re gonna be you.”

The single 30 year old, originally from the Bronx, NY, is frustrated with the DC music scene. He expresses that guys he has worked with for years, that he left to pursue his career in Santa Cruz, CA, are basically where they were when he left four years ago. He has returned to the metro area to spend time with his family before he moves to Japan in 2009 to teach English and pursue his art abroad, where many hip-hop artists have found success. While he is here in DC, he has a show coming up at the St. Stephens Church Youth Center on Newton Street, February 23 and is hoping to line something up with a tour that may be coming to town in April. Check out his website for biographical information, samples of his music, and a calendar of upcoming events. Welcome back to DC, Mr. Free. Hope you’ll stay a while.

It Ain't all Good!

So yeah...I know I have the tendency to choose my stories on the brighter side of life...most times.. But I do feel it's important to tell the whole truth and nothing help me Buddha! And on that note....

So we were hooping in another hum drum city league game. Absolutely slaughtering our opponent...when my ace tried to split the defense with a slick lil between the legs move that ended up bouncing off the back of his heel. Inspired by his creativity and will to do the unthinkable in that situation, I gave chase to the soon to be out of bounds ball. At full sprint I attempted to scoop the ball back inbounds. Yet midway my overall sense of well being said, "Man...there are 2 double doors fast approaching...don't die!" Just then I planted my foot to begin my self preserving maneuver. However, the tile which I planted upon decided to detach itself from the floor beneath, leaving me in the most compromising of positions.. right hand still swung back toward the court (as the aftermath of the attempted save) an all my steam headed directly to wards those double doors. (This was all happening in the space of 6 feet at best.) Oh yes, the inevitable happened, as the only protection I could manage was turning my head to the side as my face slammed into the door before me, and my knee BUSTED off of the metal rod separating the two. Sucked the life outta the whole gym.

Thankfully, I stood up and limped over to the sideline with nothing but a bump on the knee to show for it. My Angels work overtime!

But yeah...just had to let it be beautiful as life ain't ALL good.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

That Santa Cruz Magic

It's said that years back, Native Americans traveling down the California coastline actually looped out of their way to avoid the magnet that is Santa Cruz. As my 1st full year back in the states fast approaches, I can't help but agree whole heartedly with their assessment. Like it or not, this place has a way of plucking your heart strings. And it didn't take long for it to work its' magic on me.


This past Sunday was yet another testament to the brilliance that abounds here. After dropping an obscene number on some old timers that we played against in our city league score 108-52, a few of us headed up the coast for a lil taste of adventure. It turns out it was one of the guys on our squad's birthday, so we had no choice but to show em the ropes a bit out this way.

A good 40 minutes north of SC, we pulled off on a dirt road, put in the magical gate code, and ascended the surrounding hills. When we reached our destination, there were a strong 15-20 people there partying on a property that offered 360 degree (if anyone know's where the degree key is on the keyboard, please do tell!) panoramic views, and lush natural greenery to boot. It wasn't long before the owner of the property escorted us up to his 3 story tree house. Talk about a breath taking view, we could now see well over the surrounding hilltops out onto the Pacific. It was ideal.

And just as we were starting to head down, a few guys showed up with harnesses and handles. Although they previously stated they'd shut it down for the day, they were gracious enough to rekindle the flame and allow us to take a ride on their 900 foot long ZIP LINE!!!! Exhilarating is an understatement. Each of us took a couple of runs and got to hooting and hollering like 12 year-old boys. It was quite the experience.

Apparently the line itself is 150 ft up at it's highest point. But all of us were too cool to show any inhibition to jump out there and go for a ride. "I ain't no punk" was the theme for the day!!

And when it was all said and done we got to soak in a gorgeous sunset, and my homie got a nice lil peak at a different side of SC on his born day.

The Blessings Abound!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just Right

A few of you may remember when I was staying with a friend of mine Dylan earlier this year in a wonderful twist of events. As previously stated, his family has long been my "Santa Cruz family." We've done numerous holidays and dinners together which have given me some semblance of that familial connection out here.
Well as it turns out, sailing is a family past time. His father, Jim, invited me numerous times to come join him on any given Wednesday night. A few weeks ago I finally got around to taking him up on the offer. It was a quite the adventure for me as it was the 1st time I'd actually sailed on the ocean. (As opposed to Cayuga Lake) We went out on the Elixir a 54 ft beauty. However, it had a bit of a Scooby Doo feel to it as the notorious Monterey Bay fog engulfed us just before we were set to sail. Being the rookie that I was, I still was as bright eyed as could be.
Despite a few gorgeous Wednesday's since, my schedule didn't permit me heading out. But I made it my business to free up for this go round. And was it all one could ask for in terms of scenery and experience. This go round we set sail on Akela, a 77-footer which apparently is quite a beast when it comes to racing.
Although I was given some initial duties, it didn't take long for me to be relieved and hanging over the side of the boat swapping traveling tales with an Aussie from Brisbane. In addition to the expected natural beauty, every single bird in the Santa Cruz area made it's way to water and created quite a spectacle to behold. Even the old timers were pretty amazed to see so many out.
Quiet as kept this bit of practice is actually a race. One no one contested us in at any point, but made for some good laughs aboard as some people took it a little more serious than others.

The surprising part of this whole ordeal is the after party. Never in my life have I been invited to hang out in a "Yacht Club." But I guess my visions of becoming a millionaire are starting to align, amenities first!! It didn't take long for me to connect with the surroundings and the rest of the night flowed Just Right!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Inspiration: Panther Beach

A few years back a good friend of mine, Summer, introduced me to an incredible beach which is just off the beaten path here in Santa Cruz. Roughly 5 minutes up Route 1 lies a cove which offers a variety of feels to it. You can descend and head toward the beach. The 1st of which is tucked in nicely between some cliffs. Which often times providesa nice shield from the winds. But if you're feeling adventurous (and the elements are cooperating) you can walk beneath the natural arch, study the timing of the waves, and sprint across to the other, more extended beach just as the water retreats. A shocking development for 1st timers...let me tell ya! If that's not enough to thrill you, there is alsothe option of staying on high ground, and walking out to the cliff's edge and taking in a very impressive panoramic view of the coastline.

With the Sun just emerging from the typical Santa Cruz fog, something in my gut summoned me to head out to "Panther." To my surprise, upon arrival, a friendly couple informed me I wouldn't be needing my hoody, for the typically windy coastline was being generous this day.

Indeed it was! Moved by a Misanthropist instrumental, I threw my headphones o
n and started boppin my way out toward the cliff's edge. The day was priceless. Moderate waves, cloudless sky, and only a handful of people on the beach below. Actually..4... people on the beach below.

Empowered by the setting and realization that I was just now revisiting an old favorite spot of mine, words began to flow like the waters beneath me. Forceful, unpredictable and ever so fluent.

Amidst my muse, I was vaguely aware of 3 or 4 latinos who seemed to be posting up at a few of the lookout points along the cliff. Focused, I found it passively interesting that the
y too had taken such a likin
g to the view.

I stood atop the power point of the whole layout. Dead center, directly above the arch, where I could see both beaches and everything surrounding, minus a few nooks and crannies obscured by the contour of the cliff's edge. From there I noticed the female in a couple beneath (who had that entire side of the beach to themselves) peel her top off and start heading for the ocean. Needless to say, my focus unraveled immediately! As I laughed with the Creator for providing me with such temptation amidst my previously divine process :)

But in all honesty, I made it a point to divert my gaze as to offer them what little priv
acy they could have amidst such a memorable day. And it was then, as I turned away, that I caught a glimpse of one of the latinos damn near sprinting down the backside of the hill. Less than a minute later, he appeared, hastily walking toward where the couple had set up shop. As he drew nearer, he positioned himself in one of my blindspots so I couldn't be sure as to what he was doing, although I had a good idea his intentions were malice.

The moment the boyfriend saw him walking in that direction, he put on his trunks and went in the water with his lady. Meanwhile, the rest of the latinos I'd seen earlier (and refrained from assuming were together as to avoid pre
judice) had now taken front row seats from above, watching whatever was going on.

Wrestling with my own creative process and an obvious episode unfolding, I did my best to give what I could to the music, all the while, watching things develop from below.

Not 2 minutes after they returned to their spot on the beach did the couple pack up and start walking away, only to stash their stuff not too far from where they were and then set off on a walk. The whole thing reeked of ugly but perhaps I was simply making assumptions.

That voice was quieted abruptly as moments later, the same guy appears on the opposite beach now walking toward the only other couple out there. These two look to be fast asleep in each other's arms. He posts up maybe 20 feet from them (on a wide open beach) and then lays
down on his side facing them...and JUST STARES.

I saw this and said "Hell No..." and started stomping my way down the path toward
the beach. Along the way I scooped up a good sized rock to clear any doubts of my sincerity. As I began to make my way down the hillside, the couple must have awaken, and the guy picked up his stuff and started to walk toward me.

Body language alone made it very clear why I was making my way out there. And as our paths drew nearer, he picked up his cell phone and started to make a call. As soon as I was within ear's range I laid into him.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

Shaken, he responded, "What do you mean, I'm doing nothing?"

I proceeded to chastise him as he attempted to reel in the 2nd victims to vouge for his innocence. I gave them a quick and heated synopsis of what I'd seen from above, and they laid in stunned silence. Meanwhile, Mr Pervert man walked briskly in the opposite direction attempting to get away from me as fast as possible.

I stayed right in his pocket and gave him a healthy earful before shouting some pretty vengeful threats and heading back to my post.

As I passed by the couple, they were like "Yeah man, we saw that guy and we were like dude, what the fuck?"

We exchanged some pleasantries and I headed back up to continue working on my song. Of course, the process was now adrenaline filled and vicious as ever! Some quality shit talking got done! Hope I can rekindle that energy in the booth!

And it just so happened as I finished up and headed back to the car, I crossed paths with the couple. They were two bright spirited travelers who asked if I was making music. Turns out the guy's pretty into spreading the word and putting people out there so to speak. (Go Figure)

I made mention of the situation earlier, and he proceeded to tell me that the man pulled his junk out and started rubbing one out right there in front of them. The nerve of motha fuckas!!

Crazy as it was, that twisted cat had little bearing on what was an absolutely gorgeous day at Panther Beach!! :)

Rock The Bells on

My man Shux Wun has a dope video highlighting the Rock the Bells 2010 tour. Lotsa behind the scenes interviews and snippets of all the hottest artist rocking. Tribe Called Quest, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Rza, Gza, Snoop....Enjoy ya'll..

Friday, September 3, 2010

Will's Wisdom

Most my life people have told me I was like this guy. And it's only today that I agree whole heartedly. This was a nice lil wake up call in terms of some elements that make or break success. Enjoy the words and Spirit of Will Smith..

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sweet Dreams

About 2 weeks ago, I tweaked a muscle in my neck during a work out. Every day since, I've had a lingering 'crick' in my neck which has limited my mobility and been quite irritating. Although it hasn't been excruciating, the pain has been subtly frustrating to say the least.

So get this. Last night I had a dream which began with me awakening face down in a hospital bed. Instantly alarmed, I shouted. A doctor calmly strolled over and addressed me very matter of factly about some type of procedure they were doing. Not moved, I started going bizerk in hopes to be released. At whits end, the doctor wheeled my bed over to a mirror and proclaimed we're in the process of taking these (holding up two orange sized metal clamps) out of you.

Astonished, I glanced in the mirror to see my entire back cut wide open in a T shape running across my shoulders and down my spine. Needless to say, I had not a word to say after this.

The dream wrapped up in some uneventful fashion. And when I woke this morning.... My neck feels almost perfect. Unbelievable. Who needs health care when you can have dream surgery!

Infinite Gratitude to the Spirit World for that one

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Video

As many of you know I spent the good part of this past year assistant coaching at Santa Cruz High. The experience was unbelievable, to say the least. And as things wrapped up for us, we finally got around to having our banquet today. Much to my dismay, it went down at a time slot that only allowed me a good hour or so with the kids before having to depart for a game of my own.

However, as part of the affair, I put together a lil something for my yutes. And goes a lil suttin like This..hit it!

Monday, May 17, 2010


There's a lady that frequents our restaurant who recently departed for Mexico. From what I gathered, she was gone for good. Making a life changing move and not looking back. A bit of information that quietly pleased me at the time of it's delivery. Although she was one of our biggest spenders, her volume rubbed me the wrong way.

However, before she departed, she purchased 4 sets of dice for the restaurant. An attempt to reel us in to one of her favorite pastimes, "Liar's Dice." She and another one of our regulars played sparingly before she departed as I watched from afar writing off the entire affair as just downright corny.

After she left, I'd pluck 3 of the dice every now and then and play a lil Cee-lo when my man from NY would stop in. But other than that, they sat idle for a few months. That is, until one slow night we decided to blow the dust off em, and give this game "Liar's Dice" a shot. As is the case with any new game, be it cards or dice, it takes a little while to get a feel for the reads and decision making process. But after 2 rounds, I started to get the hang of it. And dare I say, even like it.

Sure enough, not long after, we got to playin every chance we could. This much to the delight of Mr. Lee, our #1 customer. Especially since, not only was he playing, but he was also assuming the role of mentor. Showing us the ropes. An opportunity he relished.

Well don't you know, just as we got the hang of it, lo and behold, along comes the original lady who started us off. Back from Mexico without warning. In her 1st night back I was a bit surprised at myself. I sensed no trace of that usual internal judgment that was ever present before. And the moment she requested the dice, things actually flipped to the other end of the spectrum. I was enjoying her company along with the energy surrounding her presence.

Little did I know, this shift occurred right on time because the next time she showed up in the restaurant she was celebrating the fact that a friend of hers just GAVE her 2 tickets to the San Jose Sharks Western Conference Finals Game 1 versus the Chicago Blackhawks. I congratulated her. Asked her who she was taking. And then surprised even myself as I blurted out..."Really! I've never been to an NHL game..Take me!!!"

She responded cordially and said, "I've got a few friends to ask 1st, but if it doesn't work out, I'll let you know."

Well it didn't work out..for them..and just like that I got to go to not only my 1st ever NHL game, but also my 1st ever playoff game for any professional sport. And let me tell you it was INCREDIBLE!!

I will say, I definitely took note at how few black people were in attendance. And even more noticeable was the choice of music during each intermission. At any NBA, NFL or MLB game I've been to, I've heard, at the very least, a handful of hip hop songs in the mix. However, in NHL land, you can fuggedaboudit! Classic rock all day erryday! "Pour some sugar" to "Bang Your Head!" Songs I embarrassingly recognized! ha haa! Simply put the NHL knows it market and is playing to them just the same as the other leagues. But I guess it'd been awhile since I was such a blatant minority...well, at least in America.

I'm not much of hockey fan, but as a basketball player there are so many similarities that I could appreciate the subtleties of the game. The Sharks went up 1-0 in the 1st period. And we all jumped, screamed, hooted and hollered like school children. But that was gradually numbed, as the Blackhawks equalized in the 2nd before taking a 2-1 lead in the 3rd period.

Despite having a 2 man advantage for the last minute of play, the Sharks couldn't manage to score again. And they ended up losing 2-1. As anti-climactic as the ending was, it was still an absolutely amazing experience. One I'd never foreseen, yet enjoyed with all my being.

Moments like this only attest to the magic that life is. And continue to teach me more about suspending judgments in hopes of making grander connections with those surrounding.

Blessings and Light

Thursday, April 15, 2010


As cool as coaching is...there is still nothing that can equal the high of lacin' em up and going at it versus some fierce competition. A few months ago, my boy Dylan asked me to join his Santa Cruz City League team in attempt to accomplish just that.

As it turned out, competition was lacking, as we blew through the league undefeated. Only once playing a game with a 10 point differential.

This landed us the #1 seed in the playoffs. An honor which allowed us to play the 7PM game and rest one going into the 9PM championship.

In the semi's we rolled the team by nearly 40 points, clicking on all cylinders as we'd done all season long.

And as the finals tipped off, we jumped down the oppositions throats', taking a 20-4 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. At this point, the championship seemed to be unquestionably ours. But then it happened...

This wiry, light-skinned kid with an unkempt afro took over the game. Not only did he hit 3 straight 3-pointers, but he mixed in mid range jumpers and pick-and-roll assists to boot, sparking his team to just a 29-27 deficit at halftime.

In the 2nd half they came out overly aggressive, at one point slapping our leading scoring in the face, instantly ending his game with a bloody nose. Moments later they delivered another hard foul on our big man, all of which were called regular, NOT intentional fouls, much to our dismay.

With a little less than a minute left, we held a one point lead. That's when our big got his hands on a ball and tipped it forward, my man Karl got the steal and lofted the ball forward to me as I streaked up the court toward the basket. As I elevated for the lay-up, I was all but tackled by the trailing defender. A blow that drew a few choice words from me and was so blatant that it led one of our players to walk out of the gym as to avoid starting a fight. This too was whistled as a normal foul. Resulting in two shots.

Unable to put pressure on my right leg, I stepped to the line and missed the 1st free throw before sinking the 2nd. With 40 or so seconds left we were up 2. Their main man (who finished with 44 points) dribbled down the floor and waited at the top of the key, allowing the clock to tick inside of 10 seconds before he attacked. I stepped up to double team and he kicked the ball to one of his fellow teammates who had not made a shot all game. He pulled up for 3 and hit nothing but the bottom of the net! Unbelievable.

3 seconds left in the game, and we go down by 1. A position we had not been in the entire season. How could this be happening?

We called timeout. My man Ian drew up a play for me to go long and get the pass from him. As I sprinted up court two men saw to it that didn't happen. Leading Ian to toss the pass to our 6-4 power forward, Dylan. He caught the ball near half court, took one dribble and let it fly....

I watched from beneath the basket as the ball bounced off the glass and INTO THE HOOP!! It's good! It's good! Oooooh MY GOD! I can't believe it! We lost our minds!! Jumping around, hugging and screaming like 10 year olds! It was the greatest feeling I can remember in my adult life. Absolutely exhilarating!

And to add to the magic, not only had Dylan lost his brother Teddy late last year in November, but almost all of his family was in attendance to witness the shot that brought us the title! Truly a compelling story, and an absolutely breath-taking experience. Life is good.

Champions Baby!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

STS9 Gettin their Due!

There's a band based here in Santa Cruz that goes by the name of Sound Tribe Sector 9. (STS9)
I happened to meet these guys the 1st week I moved out here years ago. Just so happened their rehearsal space was located on the property I was staying on back then.

As time has passed I've been fortunate to witness the drive, diligence and focus they've poured into their art/careers. The results of which has earned them respect all over the globe. So much so, that when Jay-Z was struggling to sell out a bill in Denver, they were asked to join the show in hopes of them throwing 'their weight' on ticket sales.
They're 1st wave of 900 tickets sold in 45 minutes. How ridiculous is that? I couldn't sell 900 tickets in 45 days!! :) They'd eventually proceed to sell out the show. And do so in a fashion that raised the eyebrows of the man himself Jay-Z.

That being said, he stopped by and shared a moment with the fellas. Accompanied by the goddess herself, Beyonce I can only imagine how star struck they must have been.

One of the few quotes that's stuck with me throughout time is, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." That could never be truer in this case. Congrats to STS9 for putting in the endless hours and putting out the endless energy that you do.

Buddha Bless

Storybook Career

The aforementioned Austin Swift continued his dream ride all the way to the top. The Santa Cruz High School alum who brought home a state championship as a senior, has duplicated those efforts yet on a much grander stage.

In a nationally televised event, Austin dropped 12 points and added 6 rebounds to help Cal Poly Pomona seize it's 1st ever D-II National Championship. This just one year removed from a heart-breaking loss in this same game last year. You couldn't ask for a better a season.. to a career. Not only did he help bring home the title, but he was also named MVP of the entire Elite Eight.

Congrats to him and his family, and hopefully this will open the floodgates to bigger and better things in the world of basketball.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Earth is getting warm but I swear she'll leave us frozen~I'm knockin on the cockpit cuz I swear the pilots dozin"

Just came across this by way of a friend's band's (STS9) website. An interesting watch.

This is James Balog's Time lapse photography of the Glacier activity around the globe.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Living the Dream

Former Santa Cruz High star Austin Swift is bringing his college career to a close in a dreamlike fashion. Not only was he named conference player of the year, but he also made some key baskets down the stretch to help his squad, Cal Poly Pomona, advance to the Div. II Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass.

In the regional semifinals he had a lay-up with .6 seconds left to send the game to overtime, before they eventually pulled off the victory 76-75. He finished with a game high 22 points.

This was just a precursor to his late game heroics as he scored on a reverse lay-up, followed by a three in the last minute and a half of the West Regional finals versus BYU Hawaii. The Broncos would eventually go on to win 78-75. He finished with 19 points and was named the Region's Most Outstanding Player. Quite impressive for a Santa Cruz native. (Quite impressive for anyone on Earth!)

But what's more impressive is the route he's taken to reach such heights. As a senior in High School he was a critical piece of the State Championship team that only lost one game the entire season. This garnered attention from numerous mid-major Div. I programs.

After weighing his options, he settled on the University of Montana. After playing sparingly in his 1st two seasons he took a leap of faith. It's a move that many D-I athletes contemplate but rarely follow through on. I can recall from my playing days, numerous players talking about it, but none of us doing it. However, in Austin's case, he chose to transfer to Caly Poly Pomona which receives not nearly the notoriety of any D-I programs, but as you can see plays at a very high level.

This decision is admirable on so many levels. Although I can only speculate as to what his motives were, it takes a great deal of strength to self evaluate honestly and then shape your future accordingly. Not to say he lacked the talent to play at the Div. I level but rather he found surroundings that resonated with him. And look at the results.

This is not only a testament to him, but his family as well. Their support for him is unwavering which certainly factors in when facing such a life changing crossroad.

Ultimately, Austin's story is such a 'success' story because of what it isn't. It isn't Sportscenter's lead, it isn't on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And these are all the ingredients high school athletes yearn for. Yet lost in these aspirations is the true goal: Becoming the best athlete you can, and truly maximizing your talent. So many kids get so wrapped up in going D-I (myself included) that they overlook many promising opportunities at other levels. That being said, it's truly heart-warming to see a young man step up, make a tough decision and then rise to great heights at journey's end.

But his journey is far from over. Good luck in Springfield Austin, and in whatever life brings you next.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Young Murph...big tings a gwon!

Yo....many of you from the Santa Cruz area have to remember the brother Young Murph. He did numerous shows out here that left folks abuzz, often times moreso than the headliner. Well, he's made his way down to L.A. and linked up with all the right people to bring his sound and vision to life.

More than anything, it's power-full to see a brother take his talents to this height. For those of you that do know him, make sure you reach out via his blog or whatever means, and show the man Love. That's what the great communities do.

His album "Nightime Sunshine" is now available for free at...

"Dare me" is my cut. Enjoy ya'll.

Blessings and Light!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I am

The quote, "You are who you think you are," has never been truer at any time than now. Amidst all these various endevours, from Bartending, to teaching, to coaching, to M.C'in, I notice a very powerful trend emerging. Whatever I'm putting my energy into, rises to the surface. And all the pending connections start to make their way through the rubble.

For the last week or so, I've been listening to hip hop in a different way than I was for the last year or so. I could feel the momentum starting to build. It's a sensation I've felt twice now. Another album is beginning to call itself forth from the cosmos. I hesitate to speak so boldly at such a premature state. But events surrounding are certainly aligning to remind me of one very powerful truth. I AM A MUSICIAN! I AM HIP HOP! (Ok that's 2, but they're kinda one!)

Stay tuned and may the Most High bring forth purpose and direction to all of us!


Friday, February 26, 2010

Shutter Island

This isn't quite a movie review, cause I'd hate to ruin the flick for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.
But I will say, I just came from Shutter Island, and it's got me dying to talk to someone about it. There were so many aspects of the movie that I've been playing back, saying, "Well, wait...what was that part then?"

I enjoy a movie that forces me to analyze the possibilities early and often throughout the plot development. And this one did not disappoint. It kept me guessing and guessing and guessin! It was great.

However, the conclusion gave rise to all types of questions. Many I'd love to voice, but I don't wanna ruin the flick. Soooo, feel free to holler at me, and share your insights on it. And ask YOUR questions about it, cause I'm so very much in need of dialoguing about this movie!

Peace and Love

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Goodbye to a Legend

My stomach dropped when I saw the news. The Eagles have done the unthinkable. After 8 seasons of highlight after highlight. Marred only by recent injuries (concussions) the Philadelphia Eagles have let go of our all time leading yards gainer, Brian Westbrook.

It all makes sense from the business stand point. Aging back, questionable health, lots of money tied up in him. But DAMN, that's Brian Westbrook. He's delivered so many magical moments for this franchise. It's downright frustrating to see him shown the door on any terms other than his. Call me a fanatic, but this is where the business of sport rubs me the wrong way. After all the beatings this man has taken for this team. All the health issues that will surely plague the rest of his days, this team kicks him to the curb with no remorse whatsoever. I hate it.

Who knows, maybe we'll miraculously re-sign him for less in the future. But for the time being, we Eagles fans are being forced to say goodbye to another beloved pillar of our franchise. Thank You Brian for all the years of excitement, dedication, and playing the game the right way!

And for the record... if Mc Nabb goes, I go!! :)

Til then...Go Eagles

From Purpose to Worthless and everything in between

One of my favorite all time movie scenes takes place in the Matrix Reloaded. It's when Neo first comes across the new and improved Agent Smith, who is now capable of multiplying himself.
He introduces himselves by spurting off a spiel about PURPOSE.

"There's no escaping reason, no evading purpose, because we both know, that without purpose there is no reason to exist. It is purpose that created us, purpose that connects us, purpose that pulls us, that guides us, that drives us, that defines, it is purpose that binds us."

I've had numerous conversations recently that have revolved around this theme. And it never ceases to amaze me how each of those in my circle continue to strive to redefine their own sense of purpose through their works, whether that be within the community or by way of their careers.

I recall awakening many a morning (or afternoon) with a very tangible feeling of emptiness in my gut. Often times it came spontaneously, but the most notable occurrence came just days after my college graduation.

At this time when the 'real' world seemed to be beckoning from below as I stood on cliff's edge, I remember feeling sick as a dog. Overwhelmed with not only the inherent responsibilities to come, but also the lack of clarity as to where I was heading.

Numerous times I blamed this sensation on my whereabouts. At 1st it was Horseheads, NY. "If I could only get out of this town, maybe I can do something with my life." Then it was Maine, "I swear I have so much potential, but I'm trapped up here in the corner of the country with a bunch of moose!" It wasn't until I graduated and ventured off to Egypt that a chilling realization set in.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was living in Aswan at the time, when I awoke to be revisited by that oh so familiar feeling of hopelessness. Every time I'd experienced that sensation prior to this, I had rationalized it as being a result of my surroundings. But it took me traveling to the other side of the planet, and being surrounded by all things exotic, to awaken to the root of the problem. ME.

As time has progressed, I've accumulated enough experiences to grasp that surroundings do still play a part, but it's purpose that truly fuels the days activities. And as I contrast the opportunities I've engaged in versus those I've declined, the underlying question remains is this difference making work? Whether that be in music, career or even social interactions, it's a beautiful standard to remind self of from time to time.

And I must say, that is a large part of why Santa Cruz resonates with me. The majority of the people in my circle are living lives full of purpose. They've chosen work that is a reflection in some degree of their highest good. And it's evident in their self esteem and overall sense of joy.

Although our reasons for living may vary from time to time. And our motivations will certainly change throughout life's phases. I think one of the true keys to a joyous life is cultivating a path that calls forth purpose. From the simplest of action, to the most calculated, I can only hope that each of you is so lucky as to continuously rediscover yours within your daily interactions.

One Love

Sunday, February 21, 2010

League Championship

As many of you know I've been assistant coaching at Santa Cruz High School. The experience has been undoubtedly one of the most profound of my life, especially in terms of dealing with kids and having the opportunity to build based on a common love.

As great as many of my classroom experiences have been, I'd have to say they pale in comparison to what we've shared throughout this season. Overseeing the growth and development of a team from November to now has offered a very unique set of dynamics that's ranged from exhilaration to borderline insanity.

Yet through it all, the one constant has remained coach. Simply put, Bill Domhoff is the man. I couldn't have asked for a better person to assist. His approach to the game and his demeanor with the guys is extraordinary. What's impressed me most has been his ability to read the guys and modify his interactions with them based on what they need most in that moment.

Of course some of the guys didn't see the bigger picture when it all began, but that's what's been equally impressive. After a few initial conflicts, everyone has bought into the team concept and the foundation laid by coach. We had one kid quit, which was an absolute blessing because he lacked the character to be a piece of the team that was steadily finding it's identity. And more than anything learning to trust each other.

As ideal as coach's vibe is, ultimately it boils down to the guys. And these kids put the C in Coachable. From day one they've been receptive and willing to work on whatever we put before them. The results of which led to a 15-9 regular season record with a 10-2 mark in league. Both losses coming at the hands of St. Francis. A senior heavy team that finished the season at 22-0.

As fate would have it, we met them in the league championship last night. In a jam packed gym, the guys laced em up and went to work with a very clear purpose. Be Champions.

After great preparation, our guys came out and played the perfect game. Defensively they communicated like veterans, boxed out with discipline and maintained an intensity that deflated any hopes our opponent had of continuing the magical ride. We held them to 11 points in the 1st half, including just 3 in the 2nd quarter. It was a clinic.

On the offensive side of the ball, we executed with patience and diligence. Not really having an impressive shooting night, we still managed to come up big when needed. This was highlighted by one of our Junior's Zen Maki, stepping up big. Sinking clutch bucket after clutch bucket as he knifed through their defense seemingly at will. He finished with 19 and almost all of them left us pumping our fists and nodding our heads as if to say Hell YEAH!

When the final buzzer rang it was 40-31 Santa Cruz. And for the 1st time all year it all made sense. Every practice, every coaching point, every frustration, every celebration, it all culminated and took shape right there before our eyes. The end result...Champions!

I couldn't be happier for these guys and their families. Cause it was definitely a magical night.

That being said...time to get back to work cause we've got sectionals to come.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Not your ordinary DMV experience

Who said a trip to the DMV has to be boring?!?
A friend of mine just reluctantly made his way back to Japan. After a 5 year stint here in the States, his visa was on the brink of expiring and despite his love affair for this country of ours, he was 'forced' to return to his homeland.

This is not a sad story, however. Before departing, he decided to pass on his whip at a very reasonable cost. One that made me smile. And aligned a trip to L.A. which proved to be monumental. (I shot my 1st 'official' music video)

Upon return, I had to take care of all the logistics. Registration, Insurance...all that good stuff. The registration bit, landed me at the DMV for a brief stint initially. Coincidentally, the lady who took care of me (whom sighed heavily as I approached as if life could be no worse,) had a picture of her grandson pasted to her wall. Her grandson who just happened to be one of the stars on our JV squad. The connection enlightened her exponentially and made for a quite the pleasant experience.

HOWEVER, the result of our exchange led to a return trip. After getting my vehicle smogged, I had to come back with the proof. THIS time, the line was damn near out the door. I looked, turned around and began walking out. Two steps toward the parking lot, a GREAT friend of mine, Krystal, comes prancing in my direction. NOOO WAAAAAY! Alright. Ok..I can do this.

So we ventured in, waited. Got our numbers and then debated on whether or not to stay. Well, she debated, I pretty much said 'fuck this, I'm out!' Don't ya know, as I headed toward the door, I ran into another friend, Donda, who happens to sing for a Brazilian band out here Sambada. We chatted about their upcoming album release and ensuing tour, before she turned the mic over to me. I mentioned just filming the video down in L.A. this past weekend and her eyes lit up!

"You have to meet my husband. He makes videos, documentaries...all that." I just smiled and he appeared moments later. Upon mentioning the video business he proceeded to mention the forthcoming Santa Cruz Film Festival competition which is for 'Best music video.' And get this, the prize for the winner is a new MacBook Pro. What so big about that? I just talked to the producer who shot the video, and he dropped his computer about an hour before I sent him the message about the contest. Rendering it, all but useless. Go Figure.

Anyhow, my friend, Krystal and I decided to stroll over to Verizon to kill some time. The convo enroute was hilarious. We peaked into DMV upon return and we were still a good 20 #'s down. "I'm feeling like Ice Cream!" she proclaimed. Music to me ears. We ventured across the street and copped some haagen daz. Sat outside and enjoyed the Cali sun. Eventually, we casually strolled back to the DMV, and the second we walked in the number was being called!!

How amazing is that!

We both handled our business, and left with our hands full of papers, but our souls rejuvenated from undoubtedly the most adventurous trip to the DMV I've ever experienced!!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Divine Alignment

After finishing up a trying project in LA, I managed to make my way back to the most comfortable place I know on Earth (community wise at least) Santa Cruz. "The Plan" was to sublet a friend's place while he returned back to The Motherland to spend the next 5 months with his family. An ideal scenario for me on account of my lone mission at this time of year: STAY WARM! Not to mention I was chomping at the bit to get back in the gym with my boys. (I'm pretty sure I've spoken on being an assistant basketball coach at Santa Cruz High School these days)

As fate would have it, I arrived in Santa Cruz, jumped through a few hoops to get in touch with my future roommate and reached out. He reluctantly disclosed that he'd actually spoken to the, now African bound, friend of mine and they'd come the conclusion that I wasn't staying there. A minor detail he'd neglected to mention when I spoke to him just 5 days before his departure.

Needless to say, I was a tad bit pissed, as all my plans were centered around this very critical piece of the puzzle. However, amidst the fury and extreme disappointment, there remained a calm, almost anticipation of the adventure to unfold. If I were any other place on the planet, perhaps I'd been a little more on edge. But for those of you that know the Cruz, you are certainly well aware of the magic that underlies all things. And for those of you that know me, this seems to be the time when Divinity gets to illuminating that golden path. And this undoubtedly had the feel of one of those situations that initially looks like drama but eventually pans out to be just what the doctor ordered.

The Very Next Day, my friend Summer returned from her holiday adventures and revealed a room in her place was opening up in early February. That was the breath of freshness I needed right there. At the very least it solidified some sort of living space if even down the road a bit.

Later that night I stopped by Cafe Mare to holler at a few of the folks I used to work with. While there, my man Dylan informed me that his brother's vehicle had been sitting around and was in need of some driving since his passing. An offer that was both beautiful and tragic. Teddy passed on November 20th, sending a shockwave through the community for all who knew him. To say it felt awkward would be an understatement when I thought of me benefitting in some way from his death. But the giving didn't stop there.

The next day, Dylan called me to give me the OK on the whip, and then proceeded to extend his brother's room to me for the time leading up to Summer's place opening up. Absolutely Divine. I've always called his family my Santa Cruz fam, but I had no idea it would grow to this extent. Not only was I honored that they'd open their home to me in general, but when factoring in the sensitivity of the time, it was an extremely humbling extension. One I did and do not take lightly. My prayer immediately became "Spirit, please use me to bring whatever light possible to this family." So I've been buying the liquor and getting em drunk every night since! :)

Nah, but on a serious note, it's been a rare opportunity (for lack of a better word) to witness the dynamics of the days that follow. Although I do not have the wealth of memories that the family shares from time to time, I certainly feel like I'm getting greater insight as to who he is/was as their anecdotes offer greater depth.

What is absolutely beautiful about this family is despite the tragedy, they truly honor his life everyday. There is rarely a conversation that doesn't venture the direction of "when Teddy was here...." almost all of which end in hysterical laughter. Whether it's Grandma telling me how she used to leave the things she needed done in the upper reaches of her home for him to do. Or Mom reflecting on some of the misconceptions his friends had about him. There's something very soulful about how they continue to keep him present.

I feel that is not only a testament to his life, but also the genuine beauty of this family. Without question, they are one of the healthiest families I've encountered. They make it a point to sit down and eat together at least once a week. But usually do so more often than that. And it's not the type of thing where one of them is rolling their eyes at the obligation of having to do so either.

Grandma lives right next door and at 83 she's just as sharp and entertaining as any of them. She watches more Sportscenter than I do, and if you have anything negative to say about USC football, you better be out of throwing range when doing so!

Today was one of those days where I connected with each of them in very unique ways. All of which left me with that uncontrollable extra beamy glow/grin thing happening. And it's the kind of day where I can't help but reflect and acknowledge just how perfect the alignment of events has worked out, shedding even more light on this thing called life.

Much Appreciation