Thursday, January 30, 2014

Walking With Gods (Parts 1-4)

Walking with Gods is a live-action, superhero series. It is about a man whose godly powers are realized only when his inner being is balanced and he truly believes in the power within.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Pebble Meditation

Clip produced by Peace Is The Way Films, in support of their animated film for children, parents and teachers, 'Planting Seeds: The Power of Mindfulness' | Thich Nhat Hanh's beautiful meditation for all ages, reminds us of our flower freshness, mountain solidity, water reflective clarity and spacious freedom. Charmingly offered by Plum Village monk, Thay Phap Luu.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hafiz - It Was Beautiful One Night

It Was Beautiful One Night

It was beautiful, it was so beautiful one night
we all began to expect God would speak

from the waves reaching toward the millet

from the mouths of the hanging sky
ornaments crooning in lights infinite codes,

from the glances of children and plants
and hills playing with effulgent life.

It was beautiful, it was so beautiful one night
we all began to expect God would speak.

- Hafiz

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

David Foster Wallace - This is Water

A portion of David Foster Wallace's commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

"If Martin's death has reached the conscience of a nation, well then it's a great moral triumph in the history of mankind, but it's very unlikely that it has."
- James Baldwin

"You ought to have some great faith that grips you so much that you will never give it up. That somehow you go on and say 'I know that the God I worship is able to deliver me, but if not, I'm going on anyhow. I'm going to stand up for it anyway!' What does this mean? It means in the final analysis, you do right. Not to avoid hell. ...Ultimately you must do right because it's right to do right" - Martin Luther King Jr.

Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I've collected a few links here from friends and my own searching. 
First, "But if Not," a sermon where the Doctor references the Bible chapter Daniel and relates civil disobedience with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and compares it to the struggle in America at the time.

For a story via CNN, about some less popular MLK speeches, click here. 10 things you may not know about MLK, here. "I Have Been to the Mountain Top" full speech, here.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Allen Poe - Pocket Full of Ohms (Review & Free Download)

Allen Poe delivers a fun, honest, thought provoking album with "Pocket Full of Ohms."

On “Old Street,” a calming bass line and smooth piano sample opens the track, as Allen Poe reminisces about his time growing up. He remembers girls he was infatuated with, playing hoops, new friendships and being unable to replace his best friends. Midway through the track, Poe asks, “College, job or drugs, say what’s your choice mane?” This comes before he speaks on his idea of heaven being “nice.” Emma Shaheen provides vocals on the hook, which adds to the track’s laid back, relaxing vibe.

On the last verse, the rapper finds himself remembering his deployment, getting married and having two children. There is a subtle sense of resentment when Poe says he wishes there were no hands on the clock. Is that resentment or simply being human? I sometimes wish I could stop time too. The track concludes on a strong, hopeful note where the rapper remembers his summers as a youngster and when his mother played the role of both Mother and Father. In the last line, Poe says “I was fond of our bond and I recall it gladly.” It is no mistake that the last word spoken on the track is “peace.”

                On the next track, “For the Love,” Poe says in his first verse: “I always add a lesson, before I leave I say peace cuz that’s my presence.” On this track, it becomes clear that Allen Poe is in love with his craft. The beat is reminiscent of songs of old, without a hard hitting drum but with soulful keys and what sounds like a flute. The beat is chilled, as is Poe’s delivery. It’s effortless, both the music behind the words and the words themselves. Fittingly, the last word of this track is “love.”

                All of the beats on this album bring it back and at the same time push it forward. With a plethora of producers lending their talents, it can’t be understated that there is a definite sense of continuity with the music. That’s a skill Nas would be envious of. Poe chooses beats that tell a story as well as his words do. My favorite beat on the album is “Leave Ya Mind,” because of the ill keys and the intriguing vocal sample in the background. The beat on “Make Motivation” is a classic boom bap beat tipping it’s hat to The Bomb Squad and Diamond D. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a comparison, instead, it is clear that Poe has an understanding of the history of this music, as do the producers he works with. After all, how can you know where you’re going to take this if you don’t know where it’s been?

                On “Live From The Pub,” Poe gets busy. He states that he is sober, and it is apparent that it is only for the moment. Further in the song, he admits his affinity for Red Stripe. The beat is jazzy. The cadence is upbeat as he keeps it drama free. By this point in the album, it is clear that Poe is all about good times and good music. While he can be introspective and thought provoking, it is clear on this song that he just wants you to have fun. He wants to get you thinking, but he admits on this track that it is also his philosophy to get the listener “live.” Leaving the choice of what that means up to you, you are free to do whatever you want to do to get to that point.

                I have two complaints about this album. One, he should have released this album in the summer. It has a very summer time vibe to it. But maybe that’s the intelligent move to make. Poe gives you this in the middle of winter to let it marinade, so you can enjoy it even more when the summer weather arrives. It just feels like a warm weather album. Two, there’s too many features. I feel like I’d rather hear other perspectives when I am well acquainted with the primary artist first. But don’t get me wrong, everybody who appears on this album comes correct, they’re all dope. It just feels like too many cooks in the kitchen.

                All in all this is a quality release and warrants much replay value. Allen Poe is definitely talented. If you enjoy smooth flows, unique storytelling and filthy, vintage sounding beats, this is for you. If you enjoy music that makes your body move and inspires your mind’s expansion, this is for you. Poe wears many hats on this album: bard, story teller, party starter, etc. This release reminds me of a time when I heard a certain line and had to press rewind right away. Now days I just move the mouse and click. When listening to this album, you’ll be moving the mouse a lot.

Some highlights:

“Peace if you relate and stay in your course, I’m sayin’ it raw”

“I lost religion to know God’s will”

“Exact science from chaos”

“If it weren’t fun to me, I’da just stop”

“You know I ain’t askin’ a lot, you know I know what I got”

“I feel the earth in my chest”

“Now that we all in the building, I thought that I would tell ya, I flow to rhyme to open minds like an umbrella”

“Scrubs get their feelings hurt, and start actin’ stupid. They keep it up and get the action movin’, be like Stockton in the post guarding Ewing.”

“It’s the truth, I’m givin’ to you, when I Killer Mike the whole El-P, I expect that you would Run The Jewels”

To download "Pocket Full of Ohms" via DJBooth, click here.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rumi (In Case You Forgot)

Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript of a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face. 
This universe is not outside of you. 
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want, 
you are already that.

-- Rumi

Friday, January 17, 2014

Milarepa - Instruction


Ph! Son, one's body suffices as temple,
For the wisdom drop is the mandala sample.
One's own mind suffices as the great guru,
All true knowledge comes from it as a rule.
All other things suffice as the sutras,
They are symbols of truth nothing betrays.
Food of Samadhi suffices for living,
In which all Buddhas come for and blessing. 
The Tomo heat suffices for clothes, 
The Dakini gives you the blissful dress.
To cut off all ties is the best consort 
To live alone is a friend of duty. 
To treat foes as guest is to rid hatred. 
To treat hindrance as void is not so bad. 
They all are magic like plays of the mind

-- Milarepa

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Best Hotel on Skid Row

"The Best Hotel on Skid Row" takes the viewer into the Madison Hotel in Los Angeles, where for about $8.20 a night, 200 loners and drifters get a place to sleep -- no pets, no hot plates, bath down the hall. This documentary drifts to the bluesy, boozy rhythms of people who exist on pension checks or welfare checks or, in a few cases, paychecks from pickup jobs. Not all are old, but nobody seems ever to have been young. Charles Bukowski, known as the poet of skid row, does the narrating for what he calls "an ode to the fixed-income blues." The script is hard boiled: "If you can't pay, you can't stay."

The Best Hotel on Skid Row from Obsidian Obelisk on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Langston Hughes - Daybreak in Alabama

Daybreak in Alabama

When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama. 

--Langston Hughes

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Amiri Baraka, October 7, 1934 - January 9, 2014

It has been reported that legendary poet/play write/activist Amiri Baraka has died. Rather than write any further, I figured I'd just share one of his poems in this space. It's not one of my favorites, or even one of his best, but I randomly opened the book Transbluesency and this appeared. To read a local New Jersey write up about Baraka, click here. To read an article that Saul Williams wrote about Amiri Baraka in 2004, click here.

Red Eye
By Amiri Baraka

(for Calvin Hernton and Ishmael Reed)

The corrupt madness of the individual. You cannot live
alone. You are in the world. World, fuck them. World rise
and twist like you do, night madness in rain as heavy as stones.
Alabama gypsy talk, for peeling lips. Look in your mother's head,
if you really want to know everything. Your sister's locked up
pussy. Invasion of the idea syndrome like hand clapping winter in.
Winter will make you move. Or you will freeze in Russia and
never live to see Napoleon as conceived by Marlon Brando.
We are at the point where death is too good for us. We are
in love with the virtue of evil. This communication. Rapping
on wet meat windows, they spin your head, if I kill you
will not even have chance to hate me.

Rest In Power Amiri Baraka. Prayers go out to his family and loved ones.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Michael S. Harper Reading "Dear John, Dear Coltrane"

With the help of some of his friends, Michael S. Harper reads his poem, "Dear John, Dear Coltrane."