Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gold Watch, Platinum Song

My goodness this song's amazing. This is why I love hip hop. This is why I think Lupe Fiasco is one of the best MCs ever, and this is why I love his album, The Cool. The beats are hot, the songs are catchy and the messages are deep. This song is proof positive that hip hop is more than just love-starved socialites, drugs, sex, lies, video tape, wealth, murderin enemies, makin it out the ghetto or the "N" word...

Actually, this song may just be all that...

...but it's not.

Reader, do yourself a favor. Play the song, read the lyrics, go buy his album, listen to the rest of the tracks and walk away enlightened.

...or at least a bit more cool.

[Intro: x2 ]
Let's peruse the essential of cool
A brief study of the things so instrumental to Lu
That make me feel flyer than lobbies of W's
A disclaimer just a rhymer
no credentials from a school now

[ Lupe Fiasco: ]
In my Fall of Rome jeans, my Head Porter wallet
My Neighborhood shirt and my Eddie Chen CLOT shit
My not go to college but my street smart polished
Like the black finger nails of
that punk rock logic
Do the knowledge, man you can't
be punked from projects
Firm disbeliever in your punch clock promise
Was trading off my comics I was
taking them to school
One of Jay-z boys now I'm skatin in your pools
Not to be rude I'm just hatin on your rules
Like a young 50 I'm on my world tour
Good morning Singapore I'm
bringing the sun with me
From the Robert Taylor Homes
to African slum cities
I am American mentally with Japanese tendencies
Parisian sensibilities so
stay out the vicinity of

[ Bridge: ]
Yea, yea them niggas over there
It's just, yea, yea now look at what I wear

[ Chorus: ]
Got my gold watch
And my gold chain
With my fancy car
And my diamond ring
With my fancy broad
And she's for-eign
So it's no words
And it's no slang
And I'm no trick
And I'm no lame
It's just so sick
That she so game [ x4 ]
It's just yea, yea she loves it over here

[ Lupe Fiasco: ]
I like Diptyque candles and Maharishi sandals
And Dita sunglasses and purple
murder service samples
I like False t-shirts
Devil Street is off the handle
Such a good designer Junya Watanabe god damn you
I like Yohji Yamamoto and a Max Roach solo
Leather Gucci belts and Guilty Brotherhood polos
I like Mont Blanc pens and Moleskine paper
I like Goyard bags and green Now-n-Laters
Monocle magazines and Japanese manga
Futura Nosferatu and HTM trainers
I love Street Fighter 2 I just really hate Zangief
only Ken and Ryu I find it hard to beat Blanca
I keep a wii ninja hanging and a
Unkle album banging
If you negative in energy then stay out the vicinity of...

[ Bridge: ]
Yea, yea them niggas over there
It's just, yea, yea now look at what I wear

[ Chorus: ]
Got my gold watch
And my gold chain
With my fancy car
And my diamond ring
With my ghetto broad
And she so plain
Gotta couple SCARS
And one of those long names
And she fight a nigga
And cusses wit no shame
And her ex-man had her baggin up cocaine But she.. [ x4 ]
It's just yea, yea she loves it over here

And my most coveted thing is my high self-esteem
And the low tolerance for them
tellin me how to lean
See the most important parts are
the ones that are unseen
See the wings don't make you fly and
the crown don't make you king
Now God don't like ugly, ain't
too happy bout pretty
I am ignorance's enemy so stay
out of the vicinity of...

Yea, Yea the niggas over there
Yea, Yea now look at what I wear

[Repeat Chorus ]

Lyrics taken from
Visit Lupe's blog here

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


This next rambling is actually a reprint of two other blogs; they were origianlly made for my flickr site. I decided to post them here for posterity and, well, I needed an excuse to make another entry.

[Entry 1. Original posting: January 29, 2008]

Title: Shaguar

Jaguar XKR Coupe

I found this car while I was wandering around the streets of downtown Hinsdale, Illinois.

Hot. Damn.

This cat's got a 420hp supercharged V8, can go 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and even has a spare set of cajones in the back for that extra shot of manliness. MSRP is still under a hundred grand though, so I guess you could consider this a daily driver.

But to put this baby in the same catagory as my beige Honda Civic would probably be considered an unholy crime against humanity.

Seeing the picture of this car really made me think about my definition of "wealth" and "success." What am I working for? What am I striving for? What's my reason for getting up and going to work every morning and what am I hoping to gain when I sacrifice?

The band Switchfoot once said in the opening line to their song "American Dream"

When success is equated with excess
The ambition for excess wrecks us
As top of the mind becomes the bottom line
When success is equated with excess

With the advent of this new year comes the pending question of what the next step will be in my life. I know for a fact that I will be having to make some tough decisions that will lay out the path for me of what kind of an adult I will become and what my contribution to society will be. Will I pursue the path that is paved with altruism where the pitance on earth will be paltry compared with the satisfaction of helping my fellow man? OR will my path be paved with gold bricks, held with the mortar of the blood of my conscience and all the people I had to step over to find success? I guess only time will tell. Really, I want to be able to find that happy median where I can be a benefit to society and still achieve contentment in my baller status. It's been done. I'm sure of it. Is it really too much to ask?

[Entry 2. Original posting: February 7, 2008]

Title: And The Light Shines In The Darkness...

The Light Shines In The Darkness...

...and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5 NLT)

Ahh, light. Can anything be more simple, more basic, more complex or unequivocally essential? Light, in its most fundamental form, is electromagnetic radiation consisting of the elementary particles we know as photons. A photon, by itself is a very unique particle. As a photon moves through space-time it exhibits properties of both waves and particles. Meaning, if we had a photon the size of a bowling ball, and we threw it, the bowling ball would move up and down while it travels in the direction we threw it. The photon is also unique from other subatomic particles in that it has no mass, and therefore, no weight. This property of the photon allows it to travel at 299,796,000 m/s in a vacuum, the fundamental speed of light, a universal constant. This is light. Light paves the way. Light helps us see.

To a photographer, light is a commodity. We use techniques, lenses, apertures, cookies and whatever we can, to try to harness light. We want to control it. We cherish it. We bathe in it.

But to some, light is something to be feared and abhorred. Light reveals. Light shows blemishes, failures, truths better left unsaid, hidden agendas and other secrets and lies that some would rather keep in the dark. To them, light is a curse and a calamity.

However, to others still, light represents hope. Light represents purpose; that as long as a light shines, darkness can never be victorious. I was recently shown by a good friend of mine the political music video "Yes We Can" produced by Black Eyed Peas frontman This song features a plethora of entertainers all citing lines from Barak Obama's victory speech he gave in New Hampshire. While hearing this, one particular line caught my ear. It was about two minutes fifty seconds in and the line was,

"We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."

To me, those few words speak volumes. There is no such thing as false hope just as there is no such thing as false light. Light defines itself; any form it takes is proof of its existence. If there is a source of light in a dark room, darkness will be driven away and as long as that light stays lit, darkness will never overcome it. Darkness can try to surround it, can try to cover it, but the light will never be extinguished by the darkness and darkness will always lose. Hope is exactly the same way. As long as people hold hope, no matter how small, darkness and despair will never prevail. Despair could try to surround, darkness can try to cover, but the light of hope will always push the darkness back. There is no such thing as false light; there is no such thing as false hope.

So keep that hope alive. Protect your lights, keep the wicks trimmed and always have some extra oil ready. Whatever darkness you may have can always be pushed back with the light of hope. But if there ever is a time when you feel your lights fading, friends and family will always be there to help keep your lights lit, and of course the Greatest Light of all is always willing to come to those who need Him. So why not ask for His guidance today?

Monday, April 28, 2008

GBE Prom 2008

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a couple of friends to shoot their prom pictures and last Saturday was the shoot. The location was Lilacia Park in Lombard and the time was late afternoon. This is really only the second time I have done a location shoot and, really, only the second time I had EVER done a shoot, so I was feeling pretty anxious to get it going. When I got there, apparently a lot of other people had the same idea. A LOT. Despite this, I knew that the only people I wanted to see through my view finder were my subjects for the day, Ralph and Janelle. They had chosen a very nice location for the shoot. The park itself had some very nice features. It had scattered groves of flora along with a fountain, green house, generous tree canopies, brick-paved trails and well maintained lawns. It was also right next to a train station and near the heart of downtown Lombard. Though, most of the flowers hadn't bloomed yet and the temperature didn't want to peak above the low fifties, we were still able to take advantage of the scenery of the park. I took pictures for about an hour using a Canon EOS 40D, Canon EF 70-200mm f4 L IS USM, Canon EF 50mm f1.8, and Canon Speedlite 580EX II. Post processing was done using Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS3. Here are a few pictures that came out of that afternoon. The rest of the set can be seen on my flickr by clicking here (look under "Shoots").













Thank you again to Ralph and Janelle for asking me to do this and for putting up with my bossiness.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Got Five On It

And no, I'm not talking about a dime bag.

In 1969, a theory was published by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross that postulated five stages of grief that a person systematically falls through when coping with loss. Aptly titled the "Kubler-Ross Model," these stages can be applied to any catastrophic loss experienced by an individual (whether it be loss of a job, loss of a loved one, face of imminent mortality, loss of five bucks, etc.). As previously stated, these stages are systematic, though, they are not necessarily followed numerically, and though not all stages will be present, people will experience at least two. These stages are:
  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

You can believe the good doctor or think this is all just a bunch of bull. It's really your choice. The human mind is a beautifully complex piece of work and trying to understand it can be considered even a pseudo-science, but I guess getting to know one's self is where the appeal lies. If anything, it's a wild and crazy trip, so why not sit back and see where it takes you?

Hmm... I wonder which category buying new camera equipment falls into...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


While sitting in church one Saturday morning, I found myself inexplicably drawn to an opening video presented by the speaker of the day, Milton Coronado. The video was simple: a mono-tone background, words fading on and off the screen accompanied by fitting background music. The subject of the video was to provide a perspective based on an underlying theme of the Bible: God can use the weak and ordinary to accomplish the great and extraordinary. To do this, the video listed a mini-biography, starting from the character's humble beginnings to the manifested destiny of greatness each person achieved through God's direction. It was a wonderful list, one that I feel is worth repeating. So, here is my take. Here is my list of seven individuals who embodied this concept. I consider these individuals heroes in the Bible who stood tall when they got down on their knees in faith.

An immigrant. He left his home to start his own family in a land he has never seen before. He sired just two sons, but through God, entire nations claim to be descendants from him and religious orders claim him as the father of their faith. Hence, he is known as Father Abraham.

-Jacob (later: Israel)
A cheater and a liar, he tricked his blind father and stole his brother's birthright. He had also showed blatant favoritism in his own household. However, God changed his name from Jacob to Israel and through him the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel were formed.

He was one of the youngest in the House of Israel, yet he was the most favorite. He was a spoiled brat who was full of pride in his youth and tactlessly told his older brothers of his dreams where everyone, including their father, would bow to him. He was sold as a slave, wrongfully accused of attempted rape and a forgotten prisoner. Yet, God moved him from a prison to a palace by making him Prime Minister of Egypt. Using his power, he saved nations, including his family, from a devastating famine.

He was a murderer, political exile, hot-head and prince-turned-shepherd. He also became one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. He wrote the first five books of the Bible, emancipated, shaped, and created a group of slaves into the nationhood of Israel and founded its religion. He stood up against a Pharaoh, a court of principalities and an ungrateful hoard of people all because he walked with God.

He was a farmer who was too thick-headed and stubborn to believe the audible word of God. However, he was chosen to command 300 men against a fortified army...and won. He was later was given the title of Judge over Israel, and Leonidas has nothing on him.

He was the youngest son in a family of eight. A natural pacifist, he was a shepherd by trade and spent his lazy days sitting in the fields, writing poems and putting them to music with his harp. Later, he became an adulterer and a murderer. With God's help, he defeated a fully armed, nine-foot tall killing machine in full armor with nothing more than a stone in his sling. He also defeated the enemies of Israel to finally bring peace to the land. Through faith, he sought forgiveness and became known as "...a man after God's own heart."

-Saul (later: Paul)
He was a member of the social elite. He was a proud and zealous man who started off his career by being a coat check of some individuals who stoned a martyr to death. He traveled the country acting as a ruthless bounty hunter, cornering the innocent, having them arrested and putting scores of them to death. However, after he met God on the road to another job, his profession changed from hunter to evangelist. He traveled the entire Roman Empire to preach to crowds and start numerous churches. He also wrote thirteen books of the Bible. His enemies couldn't stop him, prisons could not hold him, and even today, his messages go on.

So, what makes these individuals so special? What was it that made these cheaters, murderers, fornicators, spazes, pretty-boys, and sinners become the earth-moving giants of history? Look at today's most powerful men. Just recently, the leader of the Catholic faith, Pope Benedict XVI spent some time in the US. Is he going to be remembered when he passes the Triregnum to his successor? In the business world, the richest man in the world (Forbes 3-6-08) is Warren Buffett. He started small, filing a tax return at 13 while working a paper route: he claimed a $35 deduction on his bike. He is now worth an estimate $68billion. His wealth is matched by his generosity: in 2006, he announced that at least $31 billion would be given towards the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His name would definitely be remembered in history's books, but would his name be as endearing as those Biblical names?

This is a question that I find myself often wondering, especially now that I have reached the age of early adulthood. What kind of a mark am I going to leave when it's all said and done? I know myself; I know my weaknesses and the times I have failed. Is God ever going to start working on me, or even worse, have I been so blinded by the worldly traditions that I have already missed out on the great work that God has already done in me? I feel that the only real answer to that is, we can't really know until it is all said and done. Who really knows if the drop in the bucket of our lives will eventually produce a ripple that will shake the world? As humans, all we can really do is work diligently and faithfully with the capacity that God has given us. God has given each one of us talents that we can use and the capacity for faith that can move mountains. God is with us, he has put our lives in motion and he will move us to the greater work that he has planned for all of us. As a close, I invite you to examine the past few minutes. You, my reader, have successfully finished reading this entire blog. I don't know who you are, I don't even know if you know me. But I know that I had made this blog just for you. So, what are you going to do now?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Urban Americana

There's just something about being in rural America that boisterously screams out to the bygone era of rangefinder cameras, manual focusing and unsaturated 35mm film. A world far outside the city lights where time seems to crawl, and at times, stop. A vintage look so special, so unique, you can't help but quietly take a seat at its knee while the picture weaves a tale of days gone by. So, considering I rarely ever get to step out onto this side of the US, I decided to take advantage. Normally, I'd be happy with just a few snapshots of classic Americana, but as luck would have it, I had two friends who happily volunteered themselves to pose for some of my shots, as well as force me to take positions on the other end of my camera! So, enjoy.

Vintage Americana



















American Gothic?


A final thank you to my two lovely models


Well, I Guess This Means I'm A Blogger...

...though I'm still a photographer at heart.