Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back to work, Part 2...Continue to inspire

In the line of work that I do,

You always come across those students who will forever stick to your brain.  For me this is definitely one of those students.  Traveling back in time, he was in the 10th grade and he really stood out from the group.  He was slightly reserved and I remember his wild haircut and red hair.

During the first day of the summer program we were running, I introduced myself to him.  He introduced himself to me as Ahi, and that was pretty much that.

During the program we were getting notices that someone was tagging a number of buildings on campus.  With the high expectations I put on our students, I had no reason to believe that any of our program's students was any part of the tagging that was going on.

Then things were getting a little too close to home.  Tagging was starting to appear in areas frequented by our students so I had a change of mind.  In respect of muralists, taggers, graff heads, etc. I won't announce his tag name, but being involved in the urban world that I'm in outside of work, I figured it out that it was Ahi.

I made some calls to my staff; his teacher, our head residential counselor and my coordinator and him.  When they stepped into my office, I remember it clearly, Ahi had the sheer look of panic in his face, lol.  I sat everyone down and presented some "research" that I had acquired on Ahi, and then asked him if he was the undercover tagger.

Mad respect to him, he stepped to the plate and admitted he was the guy who did it.  I then went into the entire history of our program, in a nutshell to inspire Hawaiian students like himself to take our people towards a positive direction through their education and/or career pathways.  I also spoke about the genealogy of a 20+ year program started by an individual, an educational guru who had and still has high hopes for the work that I and others do, and jus' from this one not so good move, it can all be gone.

You can only imagine how bad he felt with the tears that flowed from his eyes.  After my talk with him and the rest of my team, I left things like that and had everyone return to their work, and Ahi back to the program, and before doing so I let Ahi know if I would decide to continue to keep him in our program.

Before leaving my office, I asked him, "Hey, you got a blackbook?"  And wiping his tears he told me, "Ya I do."  "Bring it." I responded.

Came the next morning, I had made my decision, and I had Ahi return to my office.  I know he was prepared for the worst.  I sat him down and revealed my "urban" persona.  I let him know that in my "other world" I'm  HaynMade and I schooled him on the art movement in urban/hip hop culture.  For hours we browsed the internet and I gave him the history of the many 808 n beyond graff/muralist heads, and he jus' sat there trippin' out that I knew what I knew.

I also schooled him that many of the graff n muralist heads were taking their work from the walls and putting into a form that would be able sustain them and their families.  I shared how many of the graff artists n muralists were turning their 2D characters in three-dimensional form in the urban vinyl world, how they were turning from concrete to canvas and holding exhibitions known, respected and admired by people throughout the world, and getting the well deserved credit in the art world as a style that holds up to that of pointillism, abstract art, surrealism, etc.  I jus' threw a whole bunch of ish at the guy and he jus' sat there trippin' lol.

I then asked him for his blackbook.  It was tattered (like many of the artists I know) and there sketches that absolutely floored me.  This young prodigy had sketches of "tribal" patterns, comic characters, portrait sketches, lettering, etc. etc.

I then told Ahi, "Come with me, we're goin on an excursion."  His shoulders hunched forward and he followed me.  I could only imagine what was goin' on in his head and he probably thought he was goin' back home and kicked out of the program, lol.  I didn't say a word while we drove in my car to the location that was merely jus' a few minutes away from my office, the Bookstore, lol.  When we walked in, Ahi seriously had no clue what the hell was goin' on, haha, and I took him to the Art department of the Bookstore.

I began hooking it up with Ahi, I grabbed Prismacolor markers of nearly every shade, canvases, Sharpies, a blackbook and a set of professional graphite pencils.  I piled the supplies in his arms and told him, "Here, take your talent off of the walls and onto paper n canvas."  He stood there shocked and we walked over to the checkout area, expenses paid on my behalf.  We had lunch and after that was done, I dropped him back off at the dorm where everyone was staying, shook his hand and that was that.

I heard through his roommate "C" who spoke with me during the program who was in his room when Ahi returned.  He told me that he too was eager to find out what was gonna be Ahi's outcome,

"So what Ahi, what happened?"  Ahi replied to his roomie "Brah, I think my life jus' got changed."  "C" told me what Ahi had told him about the day.  As he retold Ahi's experience, I stayed silent n jus' grinned, lol.

Throughout high school, Ahi and I kept in touch and he let me know what he was up to and he continued to participate in the program I manage.  From his continued participation he attended numerous conferences, built up his leadership capacity and even interned with one of the top graphic artists and fashion gurus here in the 808 with Sig and Kuha'o Zane, two very good friends of mine.  He was also the guy behind the shirt I wore at the very first "Feed My Tummy" show I curated for my buddy Marine.

After graduating, Ahi went to college for a bit, and continued refining his art skills.  He landed a job as a tattoo artist.  The man's work is ridunculous.

Well fast forward to today, I got a text message from Ahi and he let me know that he's moving back to his hometown on Hawai'i Island, and that he wanted to give me something.  Being that I was still away on vacation I told him to jus' leave it on my office desk.

To my surprise, he left me this...

A pair of one off kicks designed by the one n only Ahi, along with a letter he wrote,

"...I just wanted to leave you with something.  If it wasn't for that one summer when I thought it was cool to write all over stuff and you figuring out it was me, I wouldn't be where I'm today.  That blackbook in a way, saved my life.  O'ahu has been hope to numerous opportunities and it was all possible because you saw more in me..."

How's that for a friggen tear jerker?!  Lol.  I quickly grabbed my phone n texted Ahi thanking him for the gift he left for me, I'm still floored.

In case you're wondering about the design, here's the lingo straight from the artist himself,

"The design is basically about (Hawaiian chief) Kahekili, in my mind, one of the most important people in regards to tattooing in Hawai'i.  Also the duality of his life being both a warrior chief, as well as an artist." 

In the society we live in today, many are quick to judge, and many are quick to turn their backs to those who go against the grain and standout amongst the masses.  But what if, just what if we all take the time to mentor, guide, lead, whatever you wanna call it, those individuals who hold great potential and jus' need it channeled in the right direction?  

Like the many Ahi's in this world you jus' never know the difference you can potentially make in someone's life if you jus' lend a hand, or in in this case hand off a blackbook.

Continue to inspire...werd...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back to work, Part 1...

Before I left for vacation,

One of the college students I mentored contacted me to see if I'd be able to help him by writing a recommendation letter for a scholarship he was going for.  Being the helpful guy that I am, and a former college student myself in search of money, I knew I had to help the guy.

He's one cool guy.  He's part Hawaiian and spent a majority of his life (thus far) growing up in the states.  I can only imagine what that must be like, growing up Hawaiian but away from the islands...hmm.

But ya, I mentored the guy throughout the year, and I'm jus' hella proud of his many accomplishments.  He's an engineering major and at the beginning of the year he started off as a kinda shy guy, but throughout the year, I really got to see him grow as a person.  In coaching him as a mentor for my program's younger students he really got good at stepping to the plate and speaking to the students at a level that was attainable and understandable.

But upon returning to work, I was hella stoked to see that he got me a box full of goodies from good ole Trader Joe's, drool sauce, lol.  I was sure to share these delights with my fellow collaborator in my office.

But to you Mr. J, much thanks man!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anniversary party in the 808...

So many of you may remember,

The anniversary party I decorated in Colorado.  (  Well this time was yet another anniversary party for the some dynamic duo, this time in the 808 and a brunch occasion.  My friend's mom really likes gardenias, so that was pretty much the theme for this particular shindig.

Whenever I do decor for peopz, I never do the same thing twice as far as the "look" of things goes.  Here's a few shots of this untrained creative head's work, not bad eh for an amateur, lol:

Whew, n there were lei, more lei and even more lei...

And this was the receiving area I set up as well...

And what's a party without good grub...

Good times, good times, another party I can mark in my book.  How's this, there's still one more anniversary party comin' up, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bball with the niece...

Still on vacay,

My sis rang me up, askin' if I'd be interested in checkin' out my niece's bball game, and I happily obliged.  Man, the last time I went to her basketball game was like when she was in elementary, lol.  But as I sat there in the bleachers, bein' the proud uncle that I am, it took my back to that day when she was on the court scramblin' around as a lil kid.  Now as a teenager she's still scramblin' around on the court, haha!  Her team didn't end up winning, but I really didn't care I'm jus' hella proud of this outgoin' gal.

After the game was done, we all headed on to Zippy's for some grub.  I got me a kalbi bowl (hot damn this was good!), my sis got some friend noodles and teri beef and the niece got a club.  Good n yummy times with the fam bam!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A day n evening of urban n hip hop flav with the kiddies...

So aside all of the action that went on,

A few folks from work asked if I would be able to set up a few opportunities with the students that participate in a summer program for the office I oversee.  Even though I was still on vacation, I happily obliged to provide an opportunity for the kiddies.

Outside of work, I swerk it, lol with some very good friends of mine from the hip hop, pop RnB dance scene.  My good friend and former instructor Mara Bacon Chang started up Street Jamz Werkout, aka SJW.  For those of you who follow my blog closely you'll remember a few of my posts on SJW, like the one here.

In a nutshell it's a dance fitness werkout for those who are wanting to tone up, build some cardio and/or get in shape with some REALLY dope music.  We've done sessions for dancers, people who've always wanted to learn how to dance n finally stepped the plate, fundraisers, sports teams, gym heads, kids, flash mobbers, MMA fighters, drag queens, bboys, n the list goes on and on, lol.  But ya, if you wanna know more about SJW, here's their blog:  Hmm, makes you wonder, jus' who created the vids, graphics n blog for the SJW crew, hahahaha.

But ya, we had a mean sesh with the kiddies.  I speculate that a majority of them had a hell of a good time.  During the entire workout, they cheered, cracked up and sweated to some killer yet fun workout sessions.  You gotta love it, good times, good times.

After our workout sesh, the gang and I went to get some grub and then later that evening my good friend and I headed to Waikiki, for yet another opportunity I hooked up for the kiddies.  I've always been a fan, supporter and advocate for artists here in the 808.  For quite some time, I've been BIG TIME supporters of Prime and his organization 808Urban along with his partner in crime Estria and the foundation he created in his name.  If you wanna know more about these guys, you can check 'em out here and here.  I also posted a whole bunch of stuff on them here:

Along with their unreal talent this powerhouse duo are doing great things for the community AND they've branched out beyond the 808 to share their gifts with the world.  What I respect most about these two is that as muralists, graff artists, figure heads in the 808 hip hop movement in art, etc. etc. is that these two do their homework.  They don't jus' slap stuff on walls, there's a story in all of the pieces they throw up with mad skill.  

But ya, during this year's Pow Wow, I attended their lecture session at my place of employment, n man, did they put on one killer presentation.  Along with the greats like Woebots and Bode, Prime n Estria did a killer presentation on a project they did out in Waikiki.  

The project killed a birds with one stone.  In Waikiki, particularly in Kuhio Mini Park there was some mad problems with drugs, homeless n graffiti goin on there.  One particular community member "Melody" decided to take matters in her own hands and contacted the mayor and the police force with the intentions of going in herself and painting the area.  With all of the permitting bs that takes place here in the 808, it was nearly impossible for her to do so.  

John, an officer from the area got wind of Melody's efforts and made the decision to help her with her efforts.  It was him that knew about Prime and his foundation and together they contacted him.  When they approached Prime, with materials and labor he told Melody n Officer John that the project would need to come with a pricetag.  So with support and funding from local businesses both Prime n Estria were a part of one of the most remarkable community projects here in the 808.

As I mentioned before, Prime and Estria do they homework and that's exactly what they did.  The researched about the area.  The story that was found was a story about Chief Kapohi.  Kapohi had taken a group of owl eggs while on his journey to collect pili grass.  

When the chief attempted to cook the eggs for dinner, an owl came into his presence and was asked by the bird to not cook or eat it.  Following the request of the owl Kapohi did not eat it and instead built a heiau (temple) in Manoa.  

Another chief, Kakuhihewa had heard about the unapproved heiau built by Kapohi and had commanded for him to be killed.  When Kapohi was captured and right before him being killed in Waikiki, the sky turned black.  Owls from throughout the Hawaiian Islands had flown to the area and because of the huge numbers of owls that flew to Waikiki to help spare the life of Kapohi, the sun was hidden.  The owls attacked the army of of Kakuhihewa and because of this Kakuhihewa requested that Kapohi's life be spared.   

Unreal stuff huh, lol.  When I heard this tale being told by Estria and Prime at Pow Wow, I knew this would be an awesome opportunity for my students to hear straight from the artist himself.  So I went ahead and contacted Prime and see if he'd be willing to speak to my group, and to our honor he did.

The students were in the zone when Prime, Officer John and Melody spoke about the project, the story behind the mural and how it all came together as a community collaboration.  But ya, gotta put it out there, these are some hella lucky kids!

Monday, June 10, 2013

HaynMade hits the states Day 7/8...Part 2...TRAGEDY

*Due to the semi graphic nature of this post, please feel free to omit reading the following below if it is too heavy for you.  I was actually hesitant to post this, but I felt it was necessary to tell this story on behalf of my brother and for those who face tragedy in their lives.

After saying goodbye to my goddaughter,

My friend, her folks and my godson headed on our way to Colorado Airport.  While we were on the road there, I opened up my backpack and grabbed my phone.  To my surprise, there was a bunch of missed calls from my sister in law and my mom, and I was thinking to myself what was going on.  I also received a text message from one of my cousins, "I hope everything turns out okay with your brother."

In full panic mode I called my mom.  When she answered the phone she was full of tears and she could barely speak.  I told her, "Mom, what's wrong?"  And she barely uttered the words, "Your brother got into a car accident."  It was probably one of the worst feelings I could ever feel, getting news that something serious happened to one of my relatives and me being thousands of miles away from it all.  In my fam bam too, I'm the one who pretty much takes care of everything that goes on.  It was a really shitty hopeless feeling.

I pretty much broke down in the car and while I was talking to my mom, my friend put her hand on my shoulder and asked over and over "What happened, what happened?"  And like my mom, I too could barely mention, "My brother got into an accident." Because the news at the time was so fresh, to add more to the tension at hand, I didn't know what had exactly happened.  Man, that totally sucked.

I called my sister up and she too broke down, but I told her to gather herself and get to the hospital.  For me it was important to know what had happened and to get the report on my brother's condition.

Bless the powers that be that I was with the people I was with when I got this news.  My friend immediately jumped on the phone to see if there were any flights I could get on to take me straight home.  Uncle put his hand on my lap and prayed for me that everything would turn out okay.  Aunty who was sitting in the back continuously rubbed my shoulder, while my godson sitting next to her kept silent and respectful of the situation.

Back and forth calls continued between myself, my sis and my mom to gather the story of what had happened.  My brother was on his way into town to take care of business, and while he was on his way, a car heading in the opposite direction crossed the center line, hit my brother head on and two other vehicles in back of him.  To add insult to injury, literally, the guy who hit my brother fled the scene in another car who picked him up.  Witnesses said that they saw drugs in his ride.  Man, that's just @#$!'n messed up.

This is a pic of the fool who hit my brother.

According to witnesses, my brother coughed up blood and was knocked out.  The fire rescue team pried my brother out of his car and the ambulance quickly hauled him away.  There were also a couple of my brother's lifeguard friends who helped as first responders.  As they wheeled him away, our family got word from the ambulance team that my brother asked if everyone was okay before blacking out.

A pic of my brother's ride.

Meanwhile back in Colorado, I threw it out there to the powers that be to look after my brother.  Believe in what you want to when it comes to spirituality.  I called upon my ancestors to guard, protect and continue life  for my brother.  When I had done so, a hawk flew next to our car and followed us for quite some time.  It was a sign for me that things were going to be okay.

We arrived at Colorado Airport and after checking in, I told my friend that I'd meet her and her family at the departure gate, I just needed some alone time to gather myself.  She totally understood and let me know that she was going to continue to try n get me a flight back home from California.

I met them at the departure gate from Colorado to California surprisingly calm and collected.  We all took a breath and got a bite to eat, and while waiting for our flight I kept in touch with my sis who gave me a play by play update on the condition of my brother.

Our flight was ready for departure.  My last conversation with my sis before taking off was her letting me know that my brother had a broken left arm, a broken left leg, a broken finger on his right hand and a torn aorta to his heart.  He was on his way to surgery to mend the tear.  It was quite a serious operation and much thanks to the emergency team for taking my brother straight to ICU, if they had not responded as such, my brother would have bled to death internally from his heart.

We landed in California.  My friend jumped on her phone again working hard to get me an immediate flight home.  I too called my connections to see what was possible.  It became obvious for whatever reason that I was meant to stay back in California.  A lot of the flights back home were overbooked or would have costed an arm and a leg.  I told my friend and her family that not to worry, everything would be okay.

By then it was late Monday evening so we went got some grub from good ole In n Out Burger...mmm comfort food.  Also around that time, my sis let me know that my brother made it out of surgery okay.

The following morning to lighten my spirits, my friend's mom came over and brought some old skool figs of her son's old Star Wars figs for me to snap away at.  Her kind gesture got my mind off of stuff.  That night we all got some much needed peaceful and guarded rest.

We finished packing and then headed to The Crab Cooker for some lunch.

After our nice hearty meal, my friend's folks dropped us off at the LAX to return home.

Several hours later I was happy to be home.

Immediately after landing back in the 808, my friend's husband dropped me off at the hospital and I hurried over to my brother's room to see how he was doing.  Despite his serious accident and injuries, it felt hella good to give my lil bro a hug.  

**Update to my brother's accident: My lil bro is still recovering from his ordeal, but I'm especially happy that he's still alive with us.  He is home on a slow recovery and is still healing from his broken arm, broken leg, broken finger and mended heart.  

The guy who hit my brother to date has not been arrested nor has he been charged.  I've thrown it out there to the powers that be that the man who caused my brother's (and others involved in the accident) injuries will take responsibility for his negligent action.  

Trust...he's gonna get what's coming to him.