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The Tenacity Prayer

Tenacity Prayer

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." - Ray Kroc. The founder of McDonalds. 

Bombs Away!!

BELOW IS AN ARTICLE ABOUT BOMBS AWAY!! A HIP-HOP GROUP FOUNDED BY MYSELF AND TAMIR ELTERMAN DURING OUR UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES IN OREGON. 

By Thomas Philip Loughlin

 

Imagine loving Hip-Hop so much that every breath depends on it. You wake up every morning with your headphones on and while they cut off the blood supply to your ear, you still nod your head in time to the beat. An urge overwhelms you. You roll over, fumbling for a pen, paper, anything to write down last night’s dreams, last night’s rhymes. You dream in rhythm.

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After the first verse, you remember your partner-in-rhyme. “Yo. You awake? Let’s get started.”
This is how Bombs Away!! starts their day. Every day.

Bombs Away!! is the gritty, hard-hitting, musically-charged philosophical brainchild of MC Flownase, 19, and his left hand man – The Left Hand Man (LHM), 18, a.k.a. Alka-Seltzer Plus a.k.a. The LiveWire a.k.a. President Bill Pimpin a.k.a. The Chicken of the Sea, etc. al.

Born and raised in Eugene, Flownase and The-Meanest-Word-Doctor-To-Ever-Walk-The- Planet-On-Two-Feet (LHM) have never left these mean Eugene streets. They’ve never needed to. Everything they are, everything they ever will be, is the ten-block radius known as Downtown Eugene.

“Metaphorically, my rhymes take me places you couldn’t even go on an airplane. Why leave Eugene when you can ride my rhymes to infinity. Lyrically speaking,” Flownase said.

Silky neon jackets leftover from the ‘80s are the duo’s daily uniforms. Sunglasses complete their look.

“Does a fish stop swimming in the ocean even when it gets cold out?” Flownase responded when asked about wearing shades on a cloudy day. “Our jackets were immaculately concepted. We were born with them on.”

After dressing, Bombs Away!! ventures out in search of breakfast. The Pita Pit, a local restaurant that serves any type of pita imaginable, is the duo’s first stop and home-base. It’s also directly across the street from the Downtown Eugene Bus Station, Bombs Away!!’s turf and battleground.

“We weren’t handed the station. We had to work for it. It’s like’a, a championship heavyweight boxing belt,” President Bill Pimpin (LHM) said.

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Bombs Away!! was born the day when the duo realized they couldn’t spit a wack verse even though they tried. Lefty styles (LHM) was savoring his first bite of the first Pita Pit pita of the day, and said, “Oh wow yum.”

“Wassup, let me get some,” Flownase responded.

“Hold on, wait ‘til I’m done,” MC Spontaneous-Reiteration (LHM) said. “Aight then, thanks man,” Flownase said.
“No prob-lam. Bam! Pow! Wassup now?” Alka Seltzer Plus (LHM) said.

“It’s like I’m a little puppet and Hip-Hop is my ventriloquist,” Lefty (LHM) said when I inquired about his life as a lyricist. He stared intently, concentrating as though my face contained the meaning of life.

“When I look at you, I don’t see your face. I see a shape-like place, surrounded by lyrics. I love Hip-Hop,” The Left Hand Man said.

Although the two have been rapping for over ten years, they recorded their first song on President Bill Pimpin’s (LHM) birthday three weeks ago.

“We finally made enough money winning battles at the station that we could buy equipment and build a studio. We’re trying to eat as many eggs as we can to get the egg crates for the walls, you know, like in recording studios? We do our best to stay on top of our egg-game,” The LiveWire (LHM) said.

The duo have also shot two music videos, “The Blast Off” and “Blow My Mind”, and released them on the internet at http://www.uoregon.edu/~dalexand, their friend’s Web site.

“The Blast Off” has the feel of an instant classic. The two trade flows over the pulsating beats laid down by Flownase, who is also the pair’s producer, and spell out their names so their fans can gain a better understanding of their inner-workings.

“If hip-hop was a girl, I’d buy her a diamond. I see all these wack MC’s and I’m flying right by them,” Flownase said.

Bombs Away!! is in the process of recording two more videos, “The Bomb Squad” and “The Do’s and Don’ts of Hip-Hop.”

“There’s a guest appearance by Tone Def the musician who drove all the way down from Junction City,” Flownase explained about “The Bomb Squad.” “We met him at the station a year ago and found out he was the best singer in Junction City. We told him if he ever came back to Eugene, find us at the bus stop and we’d cut a track.”

“It was fate that brought us together. God wants to bring together the best Hip-Hop in Eugene and the best R’nB in Junction City. It was just natural like fate,” The-Chicken-Of- The-Sea (LHM) said.

Bombs Away!! is looking forward to a long life of Hip-Hop in Eugene, and the two plan to expand their presence at the bus station across the street to the Eugene Library.
“They say the library is the foundation of education. Bombs Away!! is the foundation of

Hip-Hop. We want to fuse literary scholarships with modern day society and use Hip-Hop as the mechanism to infiltrate our tactics,” Flownase said.

You contact Bombs Away!! at BombsAway321@hotmail.com 

 


Building A Better Kibera

This video is the most recent project I have worked on with the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

It serves to announce a new partnership between the Starkey Hearing Foundation, The Clinton Global Initiative, Pentair, and Shining Hope for Communities. The idea is to embody CGI's mission of "mobilizing for impact" and to take a community based approach towards fixing some of the many problems plaguing Kibera, Africa's largest urban settlement. 

 It is an honor to work on video projects such as these, that help affect real change in the world. 

This is what "Sustainability" looks like in Rwanda.

A look at The Starkey Hearing Foundation's approach to sustainability in Rwanda. 

Rwanda.

“Sustainability” is a buzzword that gets tossed around so much these days, it is easy to lose track of what it actually means. 

I had the chance to visit Rwanda with the Starkey Hearing Foundation a few months ago, to see first hand their efforts in sustainability. 

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The Starkey Hearing Foundation travels the world giving hearing aids to people who otherwise would not be able to afford them. They are an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and have pledged to distribute one million hearing aids by 2020. They are already on course to exceed that commitment.

Hearing loss is often overlooked in developing nations. It is considered more of a “cosmetic” health problem, and not something as life threatening as say HIV or Malaria. But when you see a child hear for the first time, or an old man have familiar sounds come rushing back, you realize how meaningful this type of work is. 

People often ask about the foundations sustainability efforts. It is one thing to distribute hearing aids. It is another to have consistent check up and care after the primary members of the foundation have moved on to a new country.

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In Rwanda, the foundation has set up a full-circle action model that represents a true commitment to sustainability, so that when the foundation is not around, there is still a network of support available. 

Every Friday they run a clinic at the Ear, Nose and Throat department of the University Central Hospital of Kigali. During these clinics, local Rwandan members of the Starkey Hearing Foundation are present to answer any questions patients may have about their new hearing aids. There is also an audiologist present to deliver further advice.

What I realized, at least in the NGO space, is that a large part of sustainability is just being accessible and being present.

As opposed to parachuting in, giving away a bunch of hearing aids, and moving on to the next destination,the Starkey Hearing Foundation always has a local partner on the ground in Rwanda. 

By working with locals, and forging these strong partnerships on the ground, the Starkey Hearing Foundation has achieved a sustainable action model. 

Watch the video to see what sustainability looks like in Rwanda:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W50L7eNGT2U

5 Things I have learned about Berlin

1) Don't walk in the bike lane. You will get your ass clipped off. Berlin is a cyclist's dream city. There are built in bike lanes next to every sidewalk. They come complete with their own stoplights. It is very easy to find yourself wandering in the bike lane if you are not familiar with the layout, so stay in your pedestrian lane. 

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2) Every dude has "The Macklemore"  Not sure when this haircut became so popular but 9 out of 10 dudes have it here.

Image via clipperguysays.blogspot.com - 

3) Nobody takes cards. Carry cash with you everywhere you go. 

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4) You can drink beers in public. That results in lots of broken glass on the street. Watch out if you are in your flippy floppys.

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5) It's a nice city. Apartments can be big and beautiful and not that expensive. Great place to edit/work/whatever it is you do. 

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Global Tiger Day

Today is Global Tiger Day! I used to work for a Cambodia based NGO called Wildlife Alliance. Wildlife Alliance runs a program dedicated to eliminating the buying and selling of illegal wildlife meat. How is this related to Tiger Day you may ask? Watch the video to find out! 

Impacting One Million Lives in Africa

"Digital Jobs Africa is the next level of our work that we began three years ago to connect the talent pool of low-income, high-potential youth in Africa to sustainable employment opportunities, through the development of a new field we call Impact Sourcing. " -Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation in Africa. 

 Watch this short documentary I directed with Wondros to learn more about Impact Sourcing. 

Midnight Fish Run

Chef Saul at the market

Originally published in The Bronx Ink in 2010 when I was a student at Columbia Journalism. Produced with my partner Elettra Fiumi.

It is past midnight as Saul Montiel climbs into the front seat of a minivan parked outside of his restaurant Gusto on Greenwich Avenue in Manhattan. The floor of the van is lined with plastic, and would make for an easy clean up if this were a midnight mafia hit. But Montiel is not a mobster. He is a chef, and the van will soon be filled with the freshest fish available from the New Fulton Fish Market in Hunts Point, Bronx.

At the start of the recession in 2008, Montiel began going to the New Fulton Fish market himself, as a way to cut costs at Gusto. What began as an adjustment to a struggling economy turned into one of the best business moves Montiel ever made.

“We should have done it from the beginning so I can save a lot of money and get a better product,” said Montiel about his midnight trips to the fish market. As he began visiting the market himself, Montiel realized that a hands-on approach was the best way to not only run a more efficient business, but also to supply the Gusto menu with fresh fish.

Security is strict at the entrance, and only after an argument over bringing in a camera is Montiel’s van allowed to proceed. The original Fulton Fish Market was established in 1822 in Lower Manhattan. Before the relocation to the South Bronx, stories of corruption at the market were as plentiful as the crates of fish. The move to Hunts Point dragged the market out of the past and into an efficient, more regulated future.

Something Fishy

Inside, everything is brand new except for the people working there. High ceilings, florescent lights, and a temperature-controlled environment clash with the fishhook toting grizzled men shoveling ice and moving fish. The men continue to work a profession that has existed for as long as man has had an appetite for the bounties of the sea.

The market is enormous, second only in size to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, and it would be easy to get lost searching for the best fish. Fortunately Montiel has connections, which help him with the process. “I have like three or four people that I like, because they know what I want, they know what I am looking for,” he said. “It makes my job easier.”

One of his contacts at the market is John Guttilla, a vendor for Blue Ribbon Fish Company. Guttilla sports a fedora, a fishhook with his name inscribed on the handle, and a cigar in his front shirt pocket. He knows the Gusto crew well. “When he and his staff come in, these guys they know what they’re doing,” said Guttilla. “Naturally they want to save money where they can, but that is not their focus of attention. They want the best available product, which is why they get out of bed in the middle of the night to come down here.”

After placing an order for oysters from the Blue Ribbon Fish Company, Montiel continues to walk from vendor to vendor, carefully examining the fish of the day. Picking up a fish, he touches the eyeballs and pokes the body. “If it is firm that means that it’s fresh,” he said. “If it is kind of soft, that means it has been out of the sea for a couple of days.” Montiel pokes around until he is convinced he has found the best fish for his kitchen.

A few months back, Montiel began to notice the abundance of high-quality cheap oysters that were available, so he decided to open an oyster bar inside his restaurant. Every Monday he offers $1 oysters that he bought that day at the fish market.

Driving back to Gusto in the middle of the night, the van is full of seafood. Montiel will drop off the fish, sleep until around 11 a.m., and then come back to the kitchen to start preparations for the evening.

“It is not easy to get a good quality fish in a restaurant,” said Montiel. “It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of my sleep, but I believe fish should always be delicious and fresh.”

 

Innovate Greece

Almost one year ago I took a trip to Greece. I lived in Tel Aviv at the time, so it was only a quick flight to get there. I left in the early AM, and was swimming in the Mediterranean, drinking Ouzo, and eating grilled sardines by noon. 

I went to visit my friend Alex, a half-Greek-half-Canadian travel writer and journalist. Alex is deeply proud of his Greek heritage, and hell-bent on showing outsiders that Greece is not all poverty, tear-gas, and corruption.

Alex is a writer, and I am filmmaker. Together, our goal was to interview as many Greek entrepreneurs as possible, in the hopes of uncovering a different layer of Greek society. One that celebrates social innovation and ingenuity. And one that is slowly steering the Greek economy back in the right direction. 

Below is the video result of my 10-day trip to Greece.