It’s A Beautiful Day In This Neighborhood

My homeroom was recently taken over by a new teacher by the name of Ms. Orejarena. A vibrant and enthusiastic older women who really cares about all of us and wants us to succeed in life, a nice change from our previous teacher who just told us to be quiet and hid behind her desk. During the 1st week our new teacher showed us a video from Sesame Street, a show that she is currently in love with because she believe that it teaches her grandchildren good values while still being entertaining. While watching the iconic Elmo Song in the classroom I reminisce about my childhood television programs which included Sesame Street, Blue Clues, The Teletubbies, and Dragon Tales but the one that seemed the most important was Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Although he has passed away early in the year that I was born, I watched reruns all the time due to an older brother that insisted that I would watch the program that he loved so much as a child. There was just something special about that show and the man himself, he made you feel special and welcomed, it was entertaining and interesting, I learned something new every time I watched that show. I still get lost in this show to this day when I watch reruns of it on YouTube. The show taught or helped me to deal with my emotions and use my imagination to my maximum potential.

My parents preferred for me to watch shows such as Curious George, Arthur, Thomas and Friends, Barney, Clifford, Zoboomafoo, and Sesame Street on PBS instead of other programs because they did not want to expose me to cartoons full of violence and anger and in doing research and watching countless interviews with Mr. Rogers, I found out that his was a large concern of his as well. In several interviews he speaks about the bombardment that was children’s television when he grew up that showed comedy through violence and harmfulness, most notably, The Three Stooges. As the years went on, animation such as the Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry would, as Mr. Rogers would put it “bombard” the kids with violence. As Mr. Rogers once said, “I think that it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger — much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire.” His show did not avoid the subject altogether, he also used his program as a platform for talking to children about difficult subjects such as divorce and violence. In a segment about violence Mr Rogers speaks about people who are sick or lonely enough to want to harm others. After asking kids about why they think that murderers and murderers and what they do when they hear about the news he speaks about his own anger and he states that, “One of the most important parts of growing up, is learning to talk and play about our feelings”. Lessons including this one must be taught to our children and the television set may be the largest classroom to have ever existed. Yet unfortunately this amazing and comfortable classroom may be destroyed very soon.

President Trump recently released his new federal government budget proposal which may bring an end to trustworthy and helpful programs such as NPR and PBS. In their article, ABC News reports “He has proposed ending federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund many PBS programs. His budget would eliminate $740 million from the CPB, as well as the national endowments for the arts and humanities. ‘It will have immediate, drastic effects and ultimately catastrophic effects on the PBS system,’ said Andrew Russell, CEO/president of PBS SoCal.” When I heard about this news my heart sank because PBS was such a vital piece of my childhood and I may very well be a much different person if I had watched the violence and rapid and overwhelming shows for children on the other networks such as Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. The funding of the CPB along with The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Institute of Museum and Library Service which combined makes up under one billion dollars which is one thousand sixty fourth of the discretionary budget. The military budget is being increased by fifty-two billion dollars which according to this very informative video on Trump’s budget proposal, “… is enough to pay for the entire current budgets of the EPA, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Transportation Department, and NASA with some left over,” that some left over amounts to five billion dollars. Such a small fraction of our budget can go towards an organization that helps children grow and learn for school, improve their behavior, teach them how do deal with difficult situations and show them the potential behind their imagination. I propose that the grandparents who raised their kids with programs on PBS and parents who are raising their children on PBS and young adults who were raised on PBS call their congressman, those who represent them in government, and tell them that they shall not take away what was treasured by the past generations from the present and future generations as they have already done with so much of our wildlife in this country.

This issue has occurred in the past during Nixon’s presidency in 1969 as he wanted to dramatically shrink the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from twenty million dollars to ten million shortly after it was formed by President LBJ and Mr. Rogers himself testified before the Senate to defend the corporation. His speech charmed even the toughest of politicians and he helped to keep its funding at its original dollar amount. After making an unbelievable speech to them about the importance in mental health for children and the learning experience behind dealing with one’s feelings, Mr. Rogers ends his testimony with a song from his program which is, “What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad you could bite. When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems very right. What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag or see how fast you go? It’s great to be able to stop when you’ve planned the thing that’s wrong. And be able to do something else instead — and think this song —‘I can stop when I want to. Can stop when I wish. Can stop, stop, stop anytime….And what a good feeling to feel like this! And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside that helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man..” The senator was in complete disbelief and was blown away by Mr. Rogers and ended the testimony by saying, “Looks like you just earned the 20 million dollars.” We need the politicians to make the children of this nation the priority above all else because they will lead us in the future and as Mr. Rogers showed, children’s educational television has become an essential necessity for growing up.

PBS and its programs, especially Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood will always have a special place in my heart and I would just hate to see it go away. Soon every children’s program will consist of violence and an off putting rapidity and I pray that it will find a way to survive and will live on for many more generations to come. I think that every kid shall, at the very least hear the same quote Mr. Rogers ended every episode with which was, “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.”

March 21, 2017  Leave a comment

What Do You See? The Forgotten

Image by Leroy Skastad via Pixabay

Being from a city popularized by the stories that are passed down from generation to generation about people, dreamers, who make it big in the bright lights, there are just an equal amount if not more of those who have failed in this city. Just strolling the streets of Los Angeles you can sense the forgotten with the smell of the the combination of urine and marijuana in the air. We choose to never make eye contact with them or acknowledge their cardboard signs, their plea for help. Some were born into misfortune, others are mentally ill and have no one to care for them, and some have dug themselves the hole. It is hard to imagine a life in which one would have to spend their nights sleeping underneath the freeways and spend their days begging for food or money and it is hard for me to wrap my head around many Americans do not sympathize with these people. Yes, adults have all worked hard to get to the point at which we are at but I think that most successful people get a dash of luck in their lives, or give up on their true dreams for something more plausible or realistic.

Our society has always put people in different categories based off of profession, background, race, ethnicity, gender, or social class and we often stereotype or come up of the prototypical person of that category. We do the same when it comes to the homeless. What do you imagine when you think of the homeless? Does the vision of erratic behavior come to mind, someone angry and loud who just wants money for drugs? We have painted a picture of how we see the homeless, yet these people are suffering and though there are some who do behave the way we have learned to expect, they are not all this way. Some had hope and dreams that did not pan out and we must respect the fact that they tried when the majority are too scared to. I see the  pain in their eyes, I see the internal monologue of them thinking how they got their and what they could have done differently. Any live can take that rapid, unpreventable turn for the worst and we must realize that. All of these people we see on the streets had families and were loved, and at one point most likely belonged to a warm place they once called home, we must realize that. We must realize that they’re people just as we are and she shall stop shaming them just because of their failure. We care for the homeless in this city just as much as we care for the garbage on the side of the stained and starred sidewalk on the streets of Hollywood.

We as a society, as a city must begin to give. Not spare change or even the generous couple of bucks but the warm meals during the cold winters and our spare time to volunteer with organizations that are trying a multitude of ways to aid those in need. I feel like I am in the minority here, but I am proud the call this city my own. No matter where I go as I grow, an hour out or across the globe, my most cherished memories include some of these. The summer breeze bending, almost snapping the palm trees, the sunsets of blue, purple, orange and red, would make me wonder if I was somehow dead because only heaven can present such a perfect painting despite its torn and dirty canvas. Wherever I am, another state or, who knows maybe, even Paris. Whomever I will be, a tragic failure or a great success, nonetheless, my soul will rest in the city of Los Angeles. Every word of that small poem for me is true, I care about the each of the two faces of the city. It is easy to bask in the glow of luxury that it has to offer and it is just as easy to ignore those in the shadows of the bright lights but ask President Franklin Roosevelt stated in 1937 during the Great Depression, a era full of tragedy and uncertainty for what was the majority of the American public who was homeless, “ The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Image by Quinn Kampschroer via pixabay

February 21, 2017  Leave a comment

I Rise

“You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

This poem by Maya Angelou means so much to me and whenever I am in difficult times I always look it up and read it over. Maya Angelou herself has been such a great inspiration to me, she is a great observer and although she may mostly point out the obvious, she invites us to search deeper within ourselves. I think that the most influential and genius people of the generation point out the obvious but are especially curious about the obvious. An example of this is Isaac Newton and the Law of Gravity, all knew that in most cases, whatever goes up must come down, but Newton with his never ending questions wanted to find out why were things going down and made one of the most significant scientific discoveries to date because of that question. Angelou is not a scientist but she used a similar philosophy in her path to success. She dug deeper into herself and her emotions. She dug for the correct words and the correct order in which to use them in order to perfectly communicate her thoughts. I have watched an endless amount of her speeches and interviews and have learned about her life which is no secret especially since many of us have read “I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing’. Not many people have the right to hate and lose hope than Angelou but she chose to love. Angelou grew up as an African America in the 1930’s in the deep South. Discrimination was no stranger to her and as if that was not hard enough, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as a child. She had trouble speaking to anyone for years but used poetry and her writing as a safe haven. I cannot imagine that many more people possess the strength of Angelou, she led the Civil Rights movement with fierce compassion and stood up for so many others, voicing what they felt. Recently in the Women’s March throughout the nations, countless amount of women put excerpts such as the one used earlier on their signs of protest. It really was a beautiful thing to see these courageous men and women voice their opinions in peaceful protest. It is America at its finest, making change through uniting with similar people in similar situations under one goal. Those who believe that that march did not matter nor would be effective clearly do not know enough about American history. These marches have proven to have impact in the past because it gains intention and applies pressure. I do not like to believe that these marches are anti-Trump, I truly love the man, I know for a fact that I disagree with 90% of his policies and opinion but at the end of the day he is our President as all of us, as Americans shall unite as one country. Throughout the campaign season we quickly became the Divided States of America but our democratic system has itself a victor and we must all face that. He is our President and we all shall hope and pray for him to succeed because if he does, we all do. Those marches across the nation and even across the globe were against prejudice and discrimination against the Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ, and women communities and many others. Another quote by Angelou was, “Nothing human can be alien to me”, we must accept and love and humanize each other. We need to talk more face to face and stop spreading hate online behind screens. We need to continue and make forward progress in the experiment that is America. We all have one common goal, one common pursuit, happiness, and we can help each other reach the promised land. We must rise and become a more perfect Union, I have accepted that Donald Trump is my President and I suggest that others do the same, but that does not mean that I will mindlessly ignore his every move. As long as we can unite and see each other as humans and throw out all our prejudices, we will be fine. In the words of  writers Hal David and Burt Bacharach, “What the world needs now, is love sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”

January 23, 2017  Leave a comment

Growing Up

From an early age on, I have always wanted to grow up and have dreamed of doing so. There’s just something about the future that brings all our optimistic hopes and dreams to life. Now that I am in this middle stage of adolescence, it feels like I am stuck in between, I am too old to live a carefree life full of curiosity, fun, adventure and nothing less, yet I am too young to live a life of independence and excitement of what is to come, one of which I call the shots and truly determine my success. In her video, Sonia Mondeville shares her similar views of growing up from ever since she could remember to now, her eighteenth year of life and first year where she is living on her own and doing what her parents had once done for her.

Sonia begins at her childhood, the small moments such as learning how to tie our shoelaces or going from thinking that girls have cooties to that they are cuties (I know it’s cringe but I tried to rhyme to make myself feel better…). The want to grow up and become an adult as soon as possible is a common quality among children and looking back I’m not sure why. Being a child is amazing, the world seems so large and full of possibility and within time, we lose those views. Yet even though we all seemed to not be able to wait to grow up, we loved everything the way it was then, and were fine with life not changing for a while. Then we reach our teenage years and the itch to get out of our comfort level and experience life in ways that we have never done before grows. The same possibilities from our childhood about what we want to do with our lives remain but with a perhaps more realistic twist. For example, not all people develop the amazing gift of talking to and understanding all animals and helping them achieve a no meat diet so they won’t have to eat each other, instead I may become a veterinarian and help animals that are in need of care. This phase of transition in which we want to leave home and explore the world can be often rushed as adulthood is not an easy thing to grasp and adapt to.

So then it comes we turn 18 or 21 or whatever age we rise and declare our freedom and announce to the world that we are adults! Then come the realization, that we are in the real world and that even the little things such as washing clothes and buying food actually takes effort to do and does not happen magically. We grow frightened with the new knowledge that throughout our lives, up to this point, our parents have done pretty much everything for us. As Sonia points out, it makes us gain a true appreciation for the most basic of days during our childhood because even during those days that we considered to be normal, our parents were doing so much work to make us happy. Perhaps the stress and anxiety have always been there throughout our lives but in our childhood, maybe it was just that our parents were always there to talk to and comfort us.

Yes, the transition, the adaptation may be tough but it is certainly not a battle that is fought alone. Everyone in this world who is fortunate enough get the opportunity of becoming independent has figured out how to… adult, and in truth there is no rule-book to being one so we just have to be ourselves, learn how to love and take care of ourselves, and be our own version of an adult even though there may be some traces of ourselves as a child that manages to shine through. There is no doubt that taking that leap of faith into what seems to be a new world can be scary but like everything else, it takes time to understand and get used to and once we do, the possibilities are endless.

October 24, 2016  Leave a comment

The Lack of Equality

It has been the hot topic of the last week and admittedly I wanted to speak about something positive this blog but how can one not give an opinion on this ridiculousness. Donald Trump’s indecent “locker room banter” has created even more of a divide within our nation and his own political party. His disgusting and inexcusable remarks about his methods and views on picking up women from a decade ago were recently leaked and although many make the argument that it was a decade ago and Trump was behind closed doors and did not have the mentality of a person who in the future would be running for office but I would argue that we was still in his mid 50’s at the time and behind closed doors is when we reveal our true selves. This is Trump in his true form with no cameras or pressure and I would like to think that behind closed doors, our next president is a semi-decent person.

In his apology, Trump says he has never claimed to be a perfect person (which he actually has in a past tweet) and that this recording has just caused a distraction from the real problems in the world, but is inequality not a real problem? There are pay cuts and a lack of promotion for women in the workplace and there is also the fact that women have to pay more than men for similar products. Many young boys and girls grow up wanting to be the future president of the United States of America and see that someone that acts so foolish can become so successful within this country must be hard to interpret for many of these observant young children. This seems to have taken a step back in the progression of gender equality in the nation because many young men will see this “locker room talk” and think that it is acceptable to look at women in the way he does and therefore speak this way to their friends that way which simply is not a way to treat a person. He also turns the topic to the past of Bill Clinton and the many allegations that are against him but to put it simply, Bill Clinton is not running to be the next president of the United States.

As humans, so many of us find ourselves so into a person’s race, gender, and background when meeting them for the first time but none of it should matter because at the end of the day we are all human and equality is a basic human right. Although it can be very unpopular in some social circles, I fully consider myself a person that truly believes in gender equality. From my mother, aunts, and grandmothers, I was raised by very strong and powerful women and without women, our society would get nowhere and the fact the these campaigns do not seem to be ran on the same scale make me very disappointed. It seems to me that those who support Trump do not seem to hear him words or see his actions because no matter what he says or does, they would still support him. An earlier statement he made is close to the truth, during the early stages of his campaign he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” This quote is Trump acknowledging that no matter what he does for the rest of the way, we would still keep a majority of his supports. The fat that we should face the consequences for our actions is a very important message that young children must learn so they can create a better future for all when they become our politicians and leaders.

October 12, 2016  Leave a comment

The Greatest Broadcaster of All Time?

This September has been a month that many Los Angeles baseball fans and baseball fans in general have not been excited for. Yes, there is nothing more exciting and romantic in my opinion than the tight races in each league that all may come down to the very last game of the 162 game season but at the same time, we are losing the voice. The voice of the Dodgers, the voice of baseball, the voice of summer, Mr. Vin Scully a broadcaster of 67 years will broadcast his final game on October 2nd in San Francisco at the age of 88. As a person who was heard his soothing yet suspenseful voice through the radio airwaves all my life I can attest that Vin Scully make you feel like he’s talking to you directly, like he’s part of your family similarly to how Johnny Carson of the Tonight Show made millions feel every weeknight when he not only host but became and forever will be the face of the most watched late show in the nation. Vin Scully beyond reasonable doubt is not only the greatest baseball broadcaster this world has seen, he is the greatest sports broadcaster the world has seen.

Someone who can confirm my beliefs is another legendary sports broadcaster and Emmy Award winner Bob Costas which he did when he made his acceptance speech of the Vin Scully Award three years ago. “ To receive an award, any sports broadcaster will tell you this, to receive an award with Vin Scully’s name attached to it is pretty much the pinnacle. There has never been anyone in the history sports broadcasting who has handled any assignment better than Vin Scully has broadcast baseball… he is 85 years old and he is still, no dispute, the best baseball announcer…”. As Costas recalls having to sit in the car for his dad trying carefully to turn the radio knob to every game and the other legendary broadcasters of those times so he can track his father’s bets Costas says, “… all of them had their own distinct styles, and the romance of the airwaves. The idea of not only baseball itself which was romantic enough in the fifties and sixties, but the idea of these storytellers each of them sounding distinctly different each of them with their own lyrical style… and of all of them, all the great broadcasters,Vin was the greatest of all. A Vin Scully broadcast had a melody to it and still does. The powers of observation, the turns off phrae…”. Bob Costas who grew up in the golden age of baseball broadcasters including Red Barber, Harry Caray and Joe Buck declared that no one was better than Scully. He further proves this observation by bringing up Scully’s call of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965 which he had first read the transcript of in a book that contained a collection of essays and poetry about the game dating back to when it was first established. “ I read it as a teenage boy not realizing it was the actual broadcast, I thought it has been something written by a very good writer in the aftermath of the game and in truth no one could have improved even if they had a week, could’ve improved on a single comma of what Vin Scully did that night… there was no television of the game, none, and yet this was better than if you were sitting right behind the dugout”. That perfect game which to this day has only been thrown 23 times in the long and fascinating history of major league baseball was a tremendous opportunity for any sports broadcaster and Scully delivered saying lines such as, “29,000 people and a million butterflies… I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world”. Like Costas has said, Scully creates so much suspense without screaming or being loud he does it by pure observation followed but brilliant interpretation. And what does Scully say after Koufax hurled the final strike of the game he screams in excitement, “ Swung on a missed, a perfect game”, then 38 seconds without a single word. All you hear from the broadcast is the pure excitement and roar of the crowd screaming, clapping, and whistling, it forces you to hear that overwhelming sound of a whole stadium of people cheering in unison and imagine yourself there with them along for the ride. Scully then comes back and in his poetic voice says, “ On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California. And a crowd of twenty-nine thousand one-hundred thirty nine just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no-run games. He has done it four straight years, and now he caps it: On his fourth no-hitter he made it a perfect game. And Sandy Koufax, whose name will always remind you of strikeouts, did it with a flurry. He struck out the last six consecutive batters. So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record books, that “K” [letter that represents a strikeout statistically] stands out even more than the O-U-F-A-X.” Scully’s words are so simple, yet poetic, and he doesn’t take away from the moment, by pausing for so long he lets the shock and excitement sink in for all the is listening.

Vin Scully is the man that made me fall in love of the poeticness of the English language and has inspired me to potentially pursue a career in broadcasting. His legacy has brought together generations and ethnicities throughout the nation which makes him, the greatest sports broadcaster off all time.

September 19, 2016  Leave a comment

Does “Good Trouble” Still Exist?

Does good trouble still exist? In a recent interview on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, Congressman John Lewis speaks about growing up in the state of Alabama and despite becoming furious about the discrimination African Americans faced in the 1940’s and 1950’s, his parents always advised him, to not get in trouble. But meeting both Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. inspired him to get in “good trouble”. A prime example of that was when he as and young man marched the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama to protest and was among the many who was beaten by police and arrested. His act of protest alongside a countless amount of others changed the path for the future African American generations and its impact has still lasted until today. Yet within the last year, it seems like we as a nation we have halted the progression that has been developing for the last 50 years. Its seems like every time I turn on the news (which is often) there are new reports and videos which are heartbreaking to watch about police brutality or destructive riots by protesters as a response to the violence. Although there was no shortage of riots in the 1960’s led by those who were inspired by radical activists such as Malcolm X, many would agree that the peaceful protests that were led by Dr, King and other pacifist activists made the most impact in the pursuit of equality, so why can’t many use recent history as an example and protest with peace instead of protesting with ferocity?  Lastly, with all these riots it’s hard to believe that there are modern day examples of people willing to get in “good trouble” in a nation that was shaped by that phrase, so does it still exist?

When I took the time to look around I realized that the is good trouble all around. Martin Luther King once said, “We have the right to stand up for what is right” and that powerful message has transcended throughout the generations since and most importantly today, when it seems like we need it the most. The national comedic television show “black-ish” on ABC made some headlines when they talked about how very few African Americans “win” in our justice system and even say the statistic that one-fourth of the victims that were shot by policemen in the LA County from 2010-2014 were unarmed. Although the writers of the show had full support from the executives of ABC, they were running a huge risk of losing some of their millions of fans yet felt like it was worth it to speak this message and bring it attention. Although the shows writers did not receive major backlash from their viewers it is very unconventional to discuss such a controversial topic on national television and they were prepared and willing to get in “good trouble”.

Another example of “good trouble” that was executed on national television was perhaps the nation’s most watched performance of the year, the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Last years performer, Beyonce who is among the world’s most recognizable names took a stand for racial equality by singing the song “Formation”which talks about her ancestry and identity while forming an “X” with her backup dancers, a sign she said represented Malcolm X, the radical civil rights activists. Since he and the song itself could be viewed as controversial she received major backlash and got in “good trouble”. In the documentary “What Happened Miss Simone?”, it was revealed that Civil Rights Activist Nina Simone famous for her songs “Why? (The King of Love is Dead)” and “Mississippi Goddam” was displeased with her fellow African American musicians that had more fame than she such as Aretha Franklin because her music did not reflect the times of discrimination and brutality. “I choose to reflect the times and the situations in which I find myself in. I can’t be an artist and not reflect the times”. In an age in which there is social media and camera located in everyone’s pocket, celebrities and people of influence use their fame now more than ever to “… stand up for what is right”.

Before epicly deciding to crowd surf at the end of his interview, Congressman John Lewis was asked about quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand up during the National Anthem and he responded, “… this young man, this football player, is acting upon the dictates of his conscious, and we should support him”. Although on the news it is overshadowed by violent riots, not only have thousands of people participated in peaceful protests about equality like they did in the 1960’s, people of influence have used their voices to stand up on a bigger stage than ever before. So does “good trouble” still exist? To put it simply, it is more alive than ever.

September 5, 2016  Leave a comment

Hello world!

Welcome to Lahaise’s Lair. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

August 18, 2016  Leave a comment