All posts in Life

  • I’ve Only Cried for Two People I’ve Never Met

    If you've ever been around me you know that I am a MASSIVE Prince admirer, fan, zealot, devotee, junkie and, um, nut!  I first discovered Prince back in the early '80s when I was just a pup.  A black friend of mine, Ronnie Nance, came to school one day wearing a Prince "Controversy" shirt.  The only reason I point out that he was a black kid is because most of the other people I was around while growing up white rednecks and they exposed me to a lot of country and southern rock music (to my disdain) but they did also expose me to Queen and for that I am forever grateful.  I had never heard of this guy named Prince but I liked the shirt (the picture was the album cover) and I liked the idea of controversy and I did whatever I could to find a way to listen to Prince.
    Prince controvery shirt

    This is almost exactly the shirt Ronnie Nance wore but his was white

    I remember calling one of the urban R&B stations and requesting a Prince song.  I think I waited for what seemed like hours listening for the DJ to say the name Prince so I would know which song was his.  Then, there it was and I heard the song "1999."  From that point forward Prince had his funky, quirky, eclectic and mesmerizing hooks deeply implanted in me.  As a classically-trained musician I was starting to fall out of love with all things classical piano and realized I didn't have to play Bach, Beethoven or Schubert anymore.  I could use my talents to play something that had me shakin' my booty (sorry for the visual here), movin' my feet and really groovin' with a song rather than trying to stay with the rigid structure of classical piano.  Clearly, even at an early age I didn't like to follow the rules. 🙂 Fast forward through high school and college - I was still an ardent fan of Prince and bought everything he put out.  Hell, when I was in college I found a great music store where one of the workers was just as much of a fan as I was and he would hook me up with bootleg recordings... LOTS OF BOOTLEG RECORDINGS!  I had tapes and tapes of Prince sitting at the piano by himself just playing and singing, CDs of recordings Prince did for other people, Outtakes from sessions, Live recordings and many other items.  Unlike most college students who spend much of the extra money on beer my extra money went to buying Prince recordings.  I couldn't get enough of him and his songs and would study his intricate music more fervently than I would the scores from Bach, Beethoven and Schubert!  I still have some of those bootlegs, rare collectibles and recordings.
    Prince Rarities, Bootlegs and Collectibles

    Here is what's left of my Prince rarities, bootlegs and collectibles. It's a much smaller collection than what I once had.

    Please understand that his music was what mattered to me more than anything else.  I heard all the rumors about his life while being a fan.  I heard about his sexual exploits and/or preferences, his massive cocaine habits, his random firing of employees/musicians if they crossed him and so on.  Frankly, I didn't care about his personal life or love life or anything else for that matter.  I cared about the music.  Oh, and what great music it is!  I could get lost in so many of his songs and most of what enamored me were the songs that weren't the hits.  To this day my FAVORITE Prince song is the b-side to "Raspberry Beret."  The song is entitled "She's Always in My Hair" and if you don't know this song or have never heard it then you are really missing out on one of the most powerful guitar riffs Prince ever created.  It still captivates me whenever I hear it. The worst part about being a Prince fan (at least for me) was that he never played live in a city close to me during his tours.  Well, let me rephrase that... when he did tour, my places of residence always seemed to be at odds with his touring schedule.  I may be traveling the country for work and he would be in my hometown the week I was traveling.  Or, I would arrive at a city just after he left.  This went on for about 14 years until I FINALLY was able to see Prince live while I was living in St. Louis.  It was on the "Emancipation" tour and when he walked on stage I started pointing to the people around me and shouting "there he is!".   It was pretty embarrassing now that I really think about it.  But I LOVE live music more than ever listening to a recording.  Live music brings out the personality and idiosyncrasies of the musician (often times it shows how bad some musicians are too) and no one is better live than Prince.  I ended up seeing him live 8 times before his death and the best show I ever attended (even though it was an incredibly mellow show) was when my wife and I ended up in the FRONT ROW of the Troubadour to see an impromptu Prince performance.  I was able to bring my wife to all of the L.A. shows and she instantly fell in love with Prince's live performances.  We were fortunate enough to see him perform with Maceo Parker, Candy Dulfer, Sheila E., Mary J. Blige, Janelle Monae and the legend, Stevie Wonder.
    Prince Show at the Troubadour

    Here are the instructions for the Prince show at the Troubadour

    Prince Show at the Troubadour

    Prince at the Troubadour on May 11, 2011

    When I learned about his death,  I cried.  These were not just little tears but some big "HOLY SHIT THIS IS REAL" tears because of what his music meant to me growing up and through much of my adult life.  His music was my soundtrack and in many ways still is to this day.  I do have to admit that I had a bit of a falling out with Prince's newer music in the early 2000s when he became a Jehovah's Witness.  The music seemed less authentic, more forced and uninspired and perhaps my musical tastes were changing as well.  I did enjoy watching Prince evolve throughout his career but during that time, sadly, he lost me.  I am happy to say that he was winning me back and his last few albums were full of life, sound, inspiration, funk, rock and soul.  I think the world lost an amazing musician and I am (selfishly) sad because I will never get to see him perform again and at some point the hundreds of songs in his vault will be released and there will be no more.  I am also saddened to think about how future generations will only know the "hits" and never get to see him perform live as well.  So long Prince and thank you for touching so many lives including this humble one! Oh yeah, the other time I cried this much for someone I never knew... Freddie Mercury (arguably the greatest front man of any Rock 'n' Roll band in history).
    The greatest front man to ever lead a Rock 'n' Roll band. Long live Freddie!

    The greatest front man to ever lead a Rock 'n' Roll band. Long live Freddie!

       

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  • Keeping the important things in perspective…

    Here's a touching, sad, poignant and loving photographic history of one man's wife and her courageous battle with cancer.  Its' amazing photography that documents her fight and serves as a reminder of what's really important in life. http://mywifesfightwithbreastcancer.com/

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  • Great video about being “Happy”

    I know a lot of people watch and follow TED Conferences, Videos and Talks.  This particular video is one that I thoroughly enjoy because I meet so many people who focus on the negative elements in life (not saying they are negative, just saying that negative elements are what may drive them to react or think about at times). Sean Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc., researches and teaches Positive Psychology.  In this 12 minute video he talks about social and personal topics that are critical to every person and/or business owner AND he is a fantastic presenter.  Please watch the entire 12 minutes.  I can assure you it's worth it.  

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  • One of my favorite LIFE moments

    In 2006 I was hosting a television show in Indianapolis called Doing Indy.  This show allowed me to go all around Indianapolis and show off the cool things the city had to offer.  I met a lot of celebrities and got to do some pretty cool things during my three-year run as the show's host, creator and executive producer.  However, there is one memory that sticks out in my mind more than any of the other experiences and that was when I had the chance to rap with Public Enemy's very own Flavor Flav.

    The one and only Flavor Flav!

    Flav was in town for Indiana Black Expo and I had been a fan of Flav's and Public Enemy for many, many years.  I knew I had one shot at this so I asked his management team if I could get an interview.  While asking about getting the interview I also told them about the show and how it was a fun and silly look at what's going on in Indianapolis.  Once I shared that with them I asked if Flav would be up for rapping with me.  His management team said, very emphatically too I might add, YES!  They went onto say, "Flav loves to do that sort of thing."  So I interviewed Flav and then proceeded to rap with him.  Here's the video of me rapping with Flav back in 2006.  Please don't ask me what was growing on my chin at the time.  I am still amazed at my many, varied and questionable facial hair decisions. The one thing I think that needs to be said here is regarding how I got to do this with Flav.  I don't have an elaborate answer... I just asked.  Never be afraid to ask a question about being able to do something cool, fun, exciting, challenging or important because sometimes the answer is an emphatic YES! Bring tha Noise! SH

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  • Saying GOODBYE never gets easier

    My wife and I have chosen not to have children; our dogs are our children.  We love them, spoil them, take them on long walks, share our joys, sorrows, food, beds and sofas with them.  We truly don't believe we are missing out on a "traditional" family with children because our dogs are just as much a part of our life together and, in most cases, better than having children for far too many reasons to mention.  We have two dogs, Mabel and Albert.  And this story is about Mabel... MABEL We rescued Mabel from a shelter while still living in Indianapolis.  I think we went to go look at her about one month after Lisa and I got married.  Shortly before getting married my Doberman of almost 11 years, Barkley, had recently passed away and I really didn't want another dog as no one could replace Barkley and what he meant to me.  I have grown up with the Doberman breed and am in love with that breed so it seemed fitting that Lisa asked me if I wanted to go see a Doberman at a local shelter.  Because she was so insistent on seeing this female dog I didn't want to disappoint her and agreed to see the dog but had no intentions of bringing her home because, as I said, no dog could compare to Barkley.

    Mabel taking a break after her first Christmas with Lisa and me.

    We arrive at the shelter and ask to see "Karisma" (yes, that's what the shelter people had named her; whether or not they spelled her name wrong on purpose is something I still wonder about).  She was NOTHING like all the Dobies I had owned.  She was scrawny and funny looking for a Dobie.  Her back legs were not the same size as her front legs, she was severely under weight, her snout was longer than other Dobies and her floppy ears (which I do love and refuse to get Dobies ears' cropped again) had cuts and scrapes all over them.  She weighed 37 pounds which is about 30 under weight for a female Doberman.  The volunteers at the shelter gave us a treat to give her and let us into the visiting area to get acquainted with her.  From the start of the visit, "Karisma" wasn't interested in us.  She was interested in the other dogs and was trying to play with the other dogs outside the vising area.  I thought to myself, "this is a giant waste of time."  She's not interested in us, the treat, the attention we're giving her or anything associated with Lisa and me.  After about 5 minutes of trying to connect with her we were getting frustrated.  And, as we were about to give up on her she took the treat from us and started to pay attention to us.  Lisa looked at me and asked me what I wanted to do.  I could tell Lisa was interested in adopting her and I thought that she was certainly cute enough but was taking a major gamble considering Barkley had just died and this dog was nothing like Barkley.  The veterinarians she visited estimated her to be a 1 year old Doberman.

    Here's Mabel playing with some goats on a farm in Indiana

    We adopted her for the bargain price of $85.00 and took her home.  On the way we knew we wanted to change her name from the ridiculous Karisma to something better.  As we were driving home we threw several names around and, for some reason, we agreed upon the name "Mabel."  We loved that name and it seem to fit her.  I think we started talking about guitar names and I mentioned Chuck Berry named his guitar Mabeline and that's how we came to name Mabel.  When we took her home we could clearly tell she was traumatized, tired, hungry and malnourished.   We had our work cut out for us but despite Mabel's lack of nutrients and body weight she never lacked spirit.  This dog loved to play more than anything.  I understand why the people at the shelter called her "Karisma" and even with the misspelling of the name it was appropriate.  She had loads and loads of personality.  She quickly became our constant companion.  For some reason she was a "daddy's girl" and followed me wherever I went... even to the bathroom.  She also LOVED to sleep next to me.

    Thanks for taking this picture Lisa! I look like a complete goofball but Mabel looks so pretty.

    We also learned that she loved to chase other animals like birds, geese, rabbits and chickens.  While she was friendly and playful with other dogs she was not so friendly with the aforementioned animals.  Lisa learned that very quickly one day while taking Mabel for a walk.  At our house in Indianapolis there was a retention pond that attracted Canadian Geese.  We had a video surveillance camera system on a couple of doors and this one camera captured this gem below.  Lisa quickly found out about Mabel's determination in getting her "prey" and it's pretty damn funny.  Sorry Lisa... Mabel was also roped into our silly photo ideas too.  This image below made the cover of the Indianapolis Star electronic edition.

    You can tell Mabel has a great personality here. She completely looks like a teenager who doesn't want to get their picture with their crazy parents.

    MABEL IN CALIFORNIA Fast forward a year and a half.  We wanted Mabel to have a play companion and we went and found (actually, Lisa found this one too) another Doberman rescue.  His name is Albert and we decided not to change his name.  He was Mabel's companion for a little while but Albert wasn't socialized with other dogs so his "playing" skills were not too sharp.  But, It just meant more time for Lisa and me to play with Mabel and we didn't seem to mind that one bit.  About six months after adopting Albert the four of us moved from the Midwest to California.  Here's is where Mabel really shined.  We lived on some property in Sacramento that was riddled with ground squirrels, moles, voles, mice, rabbits and the occasional rooster (don't have any idea how the hell roosters got onto our property but they did).  Mabel's instincts took over and she was constantly bringing me rabbits, roosters, moles and voles.  She was so proud and happy.  Her personality was always her main attraction.  She was always in good spirits and readily had a "daddy kiss" for me whenever I asked.

    Mabel proudly displaying her prize for me. She was so "in her element" in Scaramento

    Here are two of the four roosters Mabel got a hold of and clearly they didn't stand a chance. How they got onto our property still baffles me.

    We left NorCal for SoCal after a year and Mabel settled into our new LA home well.  She found a house across the street that had lizards in the bushes.  Every day was a lizard hunt with Mabel. While she never caught any she had fun looking for them on a daily basis.  There was another dog in our Condo building named Murphy that Mabel loved to play with whenever he was around.  Murphy was a very young Boxer and even though Mabel was five years older than Murphy she could wear his butt out while running and playing in the underground parking garage.  Mabel seemed to love LA just fine.  There are enough squirrels, lizards, rats, mice, and coyotes to keep her occupied.  Every walk with her was an experience and a scavenger hunt as to what Mabel would discover.  It was always so much fun.

    Mabel in one of her favorite locations - sitting next to me on the sofa.

    KIDNEY DISEASE In late January/early February of this year, Mabel started having some problems with walking and her mobility.  We took her to see our regular veterinarian.  Mabel was prescribed Glucosamine and a pain killer called Rimadyl.  Unfortunately the Rimadyl had an adverse affect on her and exacerbated a life long kidney problem in Mabel that Lisa or I never knew existed.  We have since learned that most Kidney issues are never discovered until it's too late.  Mabel started retaining water weight so we had to have her drained about every two weeks.  During this process the veterinarians were draining between 3-4 liters of water from her with 1 liter of fluid still inside her.  We were able to get the fluid retention under control after about 4 draining sessions and had her on a steroid, Prednisone.  But then she started leaking urine so we had to get her on another medication to control her bladder.  It seemed like she was stabilizing around May of this year.

    Mabel and me. She would get up on my lap and curl up (as long as I was petting her). Mabel may have been sick but her spirit was always strong.

    In June she stopped eating altogether but she was still drinking water and/or eating ice cubes.  We decided to help get nutrients in her system we would grind up her food in the food processor and add water so it would form a paste.  Once we had the paste we could add her medication and use a Turkey Baster to force feed her medications and nutrients.  She would, however, eat things like chicken, pork, beef and turkey.  But, protein is not good for dogs with Kidney Failure but both Lisa and I agreed that she deserved to have whatever she wanted.  We knew when she stopped drinking then things would be at at their end.  During this process we bought her anything and everything to try and get her to eat.  We bought every variety of dry and soft dog food, we tried the Renal food but Mabel despised that food.  We even bought jar after jar of baby food to try and get our "Princess" to eat.  By the way, Princess became her nickname over the last 5 years because this dog was awarded with luxuries and riches most dogs can only dream about. Eventually she stopped eating all foods including her beloved baby food of beef or chicken and she occasionally ate cooked beef, turkey or pork.  99% of her food became the food processed gruel we created from the putting her food in the food processor and adding water and her medications and then forcing it down her throat with the turkey baster.  Lisa and I took turns with this task and we knew she hated it but we wanted to give her a fighting chance while she still had a fighting spirit.  Most of the time Lisa and I would wear some of the gruel on our clothes, hands, arms and shoes as Mabel would incessantly try to spit out what it was we were feeding her. THE HEARTBREAK About three days ago Mable stopped drinking water and eating ice cubes.  She had become lethargic and the "fight" was no longer in her eyes.  On Saturday morning Lisa asked Mabel if she wanted to go outside and "go potty."  Mabel heard the words "go potty" and immediately dropped to the floor started urinating all over the flooring.  It was at that point we knew the Kidney Failure was in its final stages.  The toxins that are filtered out of a normal kidney function were now running rampant throughout her bloodstream and causing her confusion.  The dog whose boundless energy and playful spirit were always so entertaining, captivating and endearing were no longer there.  We had a companion who had fought as long as she could but had finally given up.  After about 3 hours of determining what to do, crying until we couldn't see, hugging each other and comforting Mabel, Lisa and I realized what we needed to do and call our veterinarian to have Mabel put down.  Our veterinarian doesn't work on Sundays but agreed to come in and take care of Mabel.  We also called our dog walker, Beatrice, to come over and say her goodbyes.  I won't go into detail here but you can imagine that if we are calling our dog walker to say goodbye then you know they had a special relationship too.  Mabel touched everyone who ever knew her and she captivated them just as much as she did with us. At 1:30pm on Sunday, August 19, 2012, we took Mabel to the veterinarian to be put down.  While I thought I could handle it I wanted to be strong for Lisa who was more tearful than I was at that point.  Around 1:45pm our dear, sweet, loyal and playful Mabel gave up her ghost.   I am relieved she is no longer suffering but I would lying if said that I am completely relieved.  When we got home I sat on the sofa and completely lost it.  I balled like a baby for a good 5 minutes.  I thought I had cried all of my tears but didn't realize how much of an impact Mabel had on me over the last 5 years.  Here's the last image I made of Mabel about three weeks before her death.

    This is the last image of Mabel. She was certainly loved and admired by all who knew her.

    I am just thankful Lisa convinced me to adopt her.  We needed her just as much as she needed us.  She is gone but I hope her spirit lives on and other people can have as much love and joy as Lisa and I have had with Mabel.  I am tearing up while I write this because it's hard to let go of your "kids" and especially those who had such a great and positive impact on our lives.  But what I will miss more than anything is sitting at my desk (as I am now), looking over my shoulder and seeing Mabel lying on the leather sofa and the little nudge she would give me letting me know she wanted me to rub her head.  She was "daddy's girl" and was always by my side.  Lisa and I confessed to one another that this was the hardest, most painful process we have ever had to endure.

    My view of Mabel when I looked over my shoulder while working in my office.

    A piece of me has died today when Mabel took her last breath and gave up her ghost.  Give your canine kid(s) a hug today and let them know how much you love them.  Because, as I have experienced, they do have more of an impact on our lives than we would like to think. Until next time, ***THE DAY AFTER FOLLOW UP*** I have been trying to understand why Mabel's passing has been so difficult for Lisa and me and have been thinking a lot about Mabel over the last 24 hours since her passing.  I think why this hurts more than anything is because of what Mabel meant and symbolized to us.  Mabel was there for us after we were married. when we changed jobs, sold our house, moved to Sacramento, moved to Los Angeles and bought our home and was part of  the transition of us creating our new, happy life in SoCal.  Mabel was also a great ambassador to the breed of Dobermans.  One of Lisa's friends, who is terrified of Dobies, was able to overcome her fears of the breed because of how sweet, loving and gentle Mabel was with her. Again, Mabel's personality always won people over.  So Mabel was the "constant, grounding element" for Lisa and me during our transitional period and new life together.  I think not having that constant element in our lives has left this painful, sorrowful void.  But she will always be with us and her soul and spirit will be with us, protecting us and comforting us forever.  She was one of the good ones. SH

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  • Open Show LA

    Making my presentation at Open Show LA

    I was selected to be part of a monthly art exhibit that is part of the Open Show series throughout the country and the world.  I think it's a pretty nice "tip of the cap" to be selected for this.  Anytime someone is recognized for their work or project is a nice acknowledgement of the work that is being created.  Most of the people selected are photographers but there are others like documentary filmmakers, multimedia creators, mixed-media artists, etc.  It's an honor and privilege to be a part of this show/exhibit.  This show in late March was held at the Venice Arts Center.

    The exhibit features 4 artists and we each get to present our projects, show our work and talk with people attending the exhibit.  For some reason, I was first (alphabetically) and got to get up and make my presentation on my photography and video work for the documentary "Leftovers."  I think this may be the first time I have ever been selected first from an alphabetic perspective but I have no issue being in front of people and was able to get up, introduce my project, show the trailer and the display the photos from the project while talking about the film and life changing experiences this processed has provided me over the last 16 months.

     I was surprised at the reception this documentary received during my presentation but since a film like this has never been made before I think a lot of people in attendance can relate to what is happening to our seniors and the journey I had taken to make this film.  I was asked several questions from several different people and was genuinely surprised at the overall interest in this project.  Some of the questions asked were personal about my experiences but several people asked about a "solution" to the problem.  What's interesting about that is that the film does provide a solution but seeking a solution was something we weren't initially looking for in the initial outline/storyboard of the project.  However, after traveling to a number of places and hearing people talk about solutions (but never really offering solutions) I knew we had to get extra money to travel and find the solutions.  I am so thankful to Meals on Wheels Association of America for giving an additional $30k so we could travel to Austin, TX and Detroit, MI to talk about and showcase some solutions.

    The rest of the night went well and I got to watch and listen to the other featured artists that night.  One of the fellow presenters is my friend, Patty Lemke, who is working on a lifelong photography project of balloons.  And, another exhibitor, Bret Van Ort, talked about his photography/documentary project about Land Mines in Bosnia.  Here' s a link to Brett's work "Minescape" (http://www.brettvanort.com) - which I found quite fascinating.  If there is an opportunity to get involved or be selected by Open Show in your respective city then please do so.  Hopefully your work will be selected and you can share your passion and projects with the community.

    SH

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  • Open Show LA to feature my photography and documentary

    I have some really cool news to share... There's a great group of artists in LA who, once a month, find a very select group of people (4 to be exact) to feature.  And, yours truly was just selected because of my photography and videography work on the documentary "Leftovers."  This is a great honor and privilege to be selected and featured as part of this great group of people.  This project/documentary has been a labor of love for more than a year now and I cannot wait for the film to come out this summer.  The distributor is chomping at the bits to see this finished product and so are the PR people.  The edit is coming along nicely and this will be an amazing story that the American public has never seen before.  It's going to be great and unique. If you want to come out and here about my documentary and adventures over the last 15 months then please do so on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 7:30pm in Venice, CA.  I would love to see you there.  I am posting the link to OPEN SHOW LA so you can see the address and details of the event and some of the other great artists attending/presenting.  This is really a great honor and something with which I am flattered to be involved.  The long days, weeks and months are paying off and it's nice to be recognized for the work I have been doing.  But, more importantly, it's incredible recognition for a growing problem in America that can and will affect all of us as we get older.  The good new is that we can change or affect this growing statistic but we have to get the word out about our seniors.  The more we can bring light to this subject the more awareness and dialogue we can create to find solution.  Hopefully, I will see you out in Venice on Wednesday so please stop by and say HI! http://openshow.org/losangeles/

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  • Have patience, will travel (and work!)

    While the transition to living and working in LA is a slow process, I decided to open myself up to more work opportunities and contacted some old friends back in Indy to let them know I am available for bookings. Since it is taking some time to get established here in LA my confidence and ego were taking a beating so I needed something to get me shooting and working again. Well, I am so thankful for the people in Indy because when I posted a message that I was coming back in town for two weeks and am available for Senior and Family Portraits I was immediately booked. Not only was I booked but I was FULLY booked all 10 slots have been filled and people are paying the deposits.
    Downtown Indianapolis and Monument CIrcle, Soldiers and Sailors Monument

    Downtown Indianapolis and Monument Circle

     
    Indianapolis and the White River Canal, State Park

    Indianapolis and the White River Canal

    I am so excited to see old friends and make some new ones with the people who have booked me as their photographer and to start working again. It will be a crazy, chaotic 2.5 weeks but I am looking forward to it and this is exactly what I needed to get me going again and I am once again excited to be a photographer. When you move to some place city and have to re-establish yourself (as I have to do twice now) it can be challenging, discouraging and frustrating. But things are looking up... as they always do. In all of this I hope to convey to everyone out there that PATIENCE really is something we all have to have and this is really a lesson in perseverance. I was ready to cash in the photography gear and think about looking for something full time but the photography gods want to keep me around a little longer. And, that makes me happy! happy  

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