Black History Month: which, and whose, civil rights are you advocating for exactly?

History can be a funny thing. Once those who lived it are gone, we can tell the story in whichever way we wish, in order to serve our own circumstances. It seems that we ignore living figures regarding them as old fashioned and outdated until they die. Then we revere or demonize them in whichever light we choose. Opinions are never historical because they are always current.

Like I said, history is a funny thing.IMG_1989

One of the greatest achievements of the civil rights movement was not MLK’s speech, or the signing of the civil rights bill (though those things were great), but rather the convincing of black folks, who were just trying to survive, to walk out into the face of danger in the name of rights… and not defend themselves.

You see, there was a time, a long time, when Black Americans didn’t have any rights let alone the one in the second amendment. They may not have had rights but they had some sense, and when you live in a world where vigilantes regularly come and haul you away at night, sense means you keep a gun in the house.

What a miracle that people could be moved to put down those guns, intentionally, and walk to the polls, or walk across a bridge, or to a lunch counter, or to Ol Miss, when you knew full well that those against you had guns… and especially at Ol Miss, they also had badges.

But they had to leave the guns at home so the press could see more obviously what was going on. They had to leave the guns at home so no one could argue about who shot who or how “they” were dangerous. And it worked- kind of.NRA

It worked in that it got laws passed, but passing laws has never been the same as people following laws.

So eventually these Black folks, who had put away the guns, who had already got laws passed, got tired of still getting beat down. The laws passed but they still didn’t get actual rights.

So a lot of them got the guns back out.

And wouldn’t ya know that is when “the law” got real worried about who owned and carried guns. The law came and took the guns away. That is when the people getting their guns taken away crafted the argument that the constitution protected their right to bear arms. They were Americans in a regulated militia fighting against actual tyranny. America took their guns.

But that was history.

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Are Words Necessary?

Why do I love food so much? I’m addicted.

My House

My House

Dog Haus

Dog Haus, Pasadena

Cheese Cave, Claremont

Cheese Cave, Claremont

"Lette, Pasadena

“Lette, Pasadena

Slaters 50/50, Rancho Cucamonga

Slaters 50/50, Rancho Cucamonga

Seoul Sausage Company, LA

Seoul Sausage Company, LA

The Dip, Rancho Cucamonga

The Dip, Rancho Cucamonga

Tijuana Taco, Pomona

Tijuana Taco, Pomona

lunch at my desk

lunch at my desk

Philly's Best, Rancho Cucamonga

Philly’s Best, Rancho Cucamonga

Some Crust, Claremont

Some Crust, Claremont

Cowgirl Creamery, San Fran

Cowgirl Creamery, San Fran

Home

Home

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Remembering the Challenger: I was going to be an astronaut

I used to be a nerd. I mean a REAL nerd. *gasp* right?

Of course that gasp would be due to my use of the past tense rather than the whole nerd thing. I’m okay with that.

But way back in elementary school I was a special kind of nerd. I was the kind of nerd that was sure he was going to be an astronaut. That isn’t in and of itself nerdy, unless compared to all the other kids I knew who were all going to be either Larry Bird or Joe Montana, but I was REALLY going to be an astronaut.IM_A0037

First I made little paper rockets. These were similar to paper planes but shaped like rockets. Same idea. The more of them I made the more complex they became. Glue got involved. Moving parts and experiments on functional design were carried out. I eventually progressed to including live passengers on my paper rockets. Mostly ants. I would build compartments or capsules depending on the model, either Mercury or Apollo, then toss the contraptions as far and as high as I could hoping to recover a live insect at the end of the trip. Ants proved to be sturdy travelers.

My Grandfather lived in Palmdale California, right next door to where the space shuttle would land. On one visit he took us out to see a shuttle. It was called Enterprise and I loved it.spacebrothers

I used to write letters to NASA bases. Houston, Cape Canaveral, Edwards, you would be surprised how many locations existed. More surprising is that every one of them wrote me back. I would regularly get 81/2×11 inch manila packets filled with glossy photos of launches, landings, flight crews, and Earth. I got pictures of Saturn taken from the Voyager, Hubble’s portraits of the galaxy, and schematics for satellites and space stations.

I was going to be an astronaut. Unlike my parents who were both public school teachers.

With this in mind it got my attention when it was announced that a regular person would be launched into space. A woman. a teacher. Just like my mom. I had by this time watched and dreamed of numerous launches but this one felt a little more real. This was someone like my mom, which was one step closer to being me.

I was going to be an astronaut.

29 years ago today I sat in my elementary school classroom and watched the Challenger explode.

I remember it. I can’t not remember it.

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Building a Child, Reluctantly

I am probably not the best parent in the world. I am definitely not the best parent in my house. I normally think of myself first, my wife second, and then there are these small people with these endless needs and demands that normally don’t fit neatly into my ideal plans on how to spend my day. I am currently working on being less self-centered, but it is hard to do since everywhere I go, I find myself tagging along. I am hard to shake. Not only am I hard to shake, but I’m also a little bit lazy.IMG_9091

This is problematic in that when the kids are too lazy to clean their room, I am frustrated because I am also too lazy to clean their room. There are those who will (and if they are reading, already have in their minds) retort that a good parent doesn’t clean the kid’s room because they need to learn to do it themselves. I make no claims at being a good parent and find myself in a pickle because teaching a kid to clean their room is much harder than simply cleaning it myself, and as stated before, I am too lazy to clean their room.

With this as context, I was sitting in the living room reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol II, when my six year old looked up from her note pad and asked, “Dad, what are these things called?” pointing to the door hinges. “Those are called hinges.” She went back to the couch and her note pad, then asked, “How do you spell hinges?” I answered appropriately.

“Dad. Will you build me a house?”IMG_2141

She presented to me a drawing, plans really, of a house, complete with directions of where each “nale” should be placed and instructions on putting h-i-n-g-e-z on one side of the door. I was impressed with her level of forethought and terrified, not by the thought of saying no to this child, I’m good at that, but rather terrified at the amount of work building a house would take.

“Uhhhh, we already live in a house.”

“No Dad. Like a small one. Like maybe this big,” she said holding her hand about four inches above her head.

“No.”

“Then can I build one?”IMG_2131

A child willing to do something I was unwilling to do is hard to turn down. Maybe I was enticed by the possibilities this principle might introduce, like maybe I say no to doing my taxes and she offers to do them for me. Paying bills? Going to my job? This had possibilities. “Sure you can build a house, but it’s going to take some planning. Where is this house going to live?”

“Out back.”

“The courtyard out back looks very nice. What if I don’t want to look at your house? We are renting our house, what if we move? How will your house fit through the door when we want to move it? Nails don’t come apart.”

She bit the back of her pencil and looked up at the ceiling. She didn’t have an answer. This was perfect, because I am not only lazy, but I am also a know it all. “What if you use hinges instead of nails? The whole thing can fold up like Ikea. Go re-draw those plans.” She re-drew the plans.IMG_2130

Were I to write a book on being a great parent, which would be fiction, I would recount all the events that followed. Not only did I allow my child to pursue her dreams but I let her use a power saw in the process. My theory on fatherhood is that if you are lucky enough to get a good kid, don’t mess them up. This is best done by getting out of the way. If getting out of their way takes effort, like getting off the couch, then by all means let the child get themselves out of the way by building their own house out back. This is what I did. Rather, this is what she did.IMG_2152

My next plan is figuring out how to motivate this six year old to want to pay rent. After all, her house is on my property.IMG_2161

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In the Studio: Leatherhead Sports

Leatherhead Sports makes hand made footballs and rugby balls. They are the coolest. I thought they should have an illustration equally as cool.

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I like to think Leyendecker would be flattered.

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In the Studio: DiBruno Bros.

The process:

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DiBruno3

 

DiBruno4

 

DiBruno5

 

DiBruno6

 

and then…

DiBrunoBros

 

 

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The Letter on My Chest: Hillflint

I once spent a day in the archives of the University of Pennsylvania. I was doing research on the history of American football, focusing on its roots as an elitist quasi military ivy league creation and then its metamorphosis into a blue collar American religion. In the course of investigation I was able to handle a number of artifacts of various type and description, but my favorite item, was a sweater.sweater stuff

After handling this 100 year old piece of knitwear, woven back in those primitive times, I was a bit surprised at how hard it was to find one of like quality today. I started in my own college’s bookstore, one of those misnamed retailers of pennants and polo shirts but no dice. Plenty of t-shirts, but no classic P. In my various travels and continued research I was able to find some schools with similar items, but not the one I wanted. I looked everywhere. Lots of sweaters, but not the right one.

Then there was the internet and this one website. Hillflint.
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I found it and finally, over the holiday, I got it.

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The letter was not a felted applique patch but rather an intarsia knit letter woven right into the chest, just like the original I found in the archive.

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The little bit of branding in the waistband was their own touch but I liked it. This was not a jersey meant to be worn on Franklin Field, it was a sweater meant to be pulled over a button down on a crisp campus afternoon. Or in my case, a California evening when it dips down to the unheavenly temperature of 60 degrees.
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