All posts in Personal

  • 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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  • 10 Minutes with a Stranger – My book is finally available!

    10 Minutes with a Stranger - A project and photo book by New York City photographer Seth Hancock

    As many of you know, I spent a large part of my 2013 moving from Los Angeles to New York City.  During that process, I spent several days driving across America working on a personal project called "10 Minutes with a Stranger." Well, I am happy to report that the book is now available to pre order and I will be shipping out books the week of January 6, 2014.  This first printing for sale to the public is limited to only 100 copies (as many of the other copies are already spoken for here in NYC) and when those are gone there will be no more of this version.  The cost is $35.00 for the book with a flat rate of $10.00 shipping USPS Priority Mail. I am going to personally sign each book with a "thank you" and personal message.  Also, please download the Junaio Augmented Reality App to get the full experience of the book.  I hope you get as much enjoyment out of this book as I did creating it. Remember, there are only 100 of these so you better get yours soon.  To order click on the PayPal button below. Thank You! Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

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  • Photographers – You Need to Know Your Rights!

    Here's a quick post from some recent information I stumbled upon.  As I make my way between NYC and LA I am always amazed at what some police officers tell me I can or cannot shoot.  But this information from the ACLU puts most things into perspective.  NOTE: You should never break the law or interfere with real police matters when photographing anything.  However, you are able to shoot a lot more than what you think. Check out this link here from the ACLU: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers Download and keep a copy of this great PDF here: http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf  

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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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  • Documentary Blog #16 – Back in LA and then leaving for a month

    Once back in LA I had to start digesting everything I just saw and learned in Marin County and how I was going to incorporate it into the overall story.  Honestly, I think I will worry about that once all the footage is collected.  I know I got some great interviews and stories in Marin and now have to focus on the what’s next.  And, since I am making a documentary about seniors I can’t leave out the great state of Florida.  I had been researching several organizations in Florida over the last month or so but hadn’t picked a location or organization.  Then my wife informed me that she was going to Orlando for a conference and asked if I wanted to tag along.  Since no organization had really grabbed my attention thus far I thought I might as well start researching Orlando and I am certainly glad I did.
    Condominium Los Angeles

    Back home in LA

    In my first look at Orlando I came across an organization called “Seniors First.”  They have been serving seniors in Florida for around 46 years and once I started looking at everything they provide I knew I had to have them as part of the story.  You know, every documentary has a “shining star” or at least one area of hope.  In a lot of docs I have seen there is always one great example of someone doing something right and I knew I had found it in Seniors First.  Now, I just had to talk with them and convince them to let me come down and film them for the documentary.  This can be harder than you think.
    Seniors First, Orlando Florida, Meals on Wheels, Feeding America, Disneyworld

    Seniors First in Orlando, FL

    Don’t get me wrong, Victor with Meals on Wheels in Marin County is doing some wonderful things but is limited by his budget and services and a government that doesn’t seem as if it wants to support his efforts.  But with Seniors First they really have a tremendous amount of services and would be the ideal addition to the documentary.  Also, please understand there is a considerable amount of research involved and I just didn’t read their web page and get all “gaga’ over them.  I am paraphrasing and condensing this blog in order to make it short but thorough and keep you informed without boring you with the minutiae of my everyday acts and thoughts.  Unless you really want to know all the explicit details then I can start including them.  Like now, for instance, I have to pee! 🙂
    Owsley County Kentucky, Booneville, Poorest Place in America, Town, Appalachia

    Owsley County, Kentucky - The poorest place in America

    Anyway, I am still working on securing my additional trip to the poorest place in America.  As I said before, since we were at one of the wealthiest areas in the country I then have to go to the poorest and see how the stories are similar or different.  That place is Booneville, Kentucky and I have already made a couple of contacts there as well.  So, once I talk with Seniors First then I should be able to make the trip to Orlando and Booneville before coming back to LA and seeing where I have the money to venture off to next.   Tomorrow – Costs are adding up and why I am asking for $ donations!

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  • Documentary Blog #15 – I forgot to mention…

    This documentary is filled with emotion.  On my second day in Marin County we went to take some food to a man we couldn't visit the previous day.  His name is Paul Fellow and we interviewed him about his situation and his need for food.  His story is so moving that it actually made me cry on camera.  And, if you really know me you know that I don't cry very often.  I think my wife has only seen me cry once in our 5+ years together.  I just don't get that emotional to the point where I cry but this man's story and his complete and utter selflessness brought me to tears and made me  evaluate my thoughts and perceptions about what it means to be elderly and in need.
    Senior Citizens, Marin County, Suffering, Hunger, Meals on Wheels

    I wish we all had the strength and fortitude of this man, Paul Fillow.

    Like someone said in a comment in an earlier blog, one cannot embark on a journey such as this without having it affect them in a variety of ways.  You know, all I can do is listen and document what I have seen and how it has affected me.  I hope that when this documentary is complete and shown in a variety of festivals and other broadcast outlets it will have the same impact on the people viewing it as it has on me thus far.  Who knows what other revelations I will discover about this hunger situation and myself while on this journey.  However, all I can worry about is what I can do to make this world a better place.  With that, I leave you with these wonderful words from the great Winston Churchill,  "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
    Winston Churchill, Great Saying, Quote about Life

    The great Winston Churchill

    See you tomorrow. 

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  • Documentary Blog #14 – My birthday and loud, heavy music

    Today is Saturday and it’s my birthday.  Lisa flew up from LA last night and we stayed at the Hilton near Union Square in SF.  I love this hotel and area.  I just love San Francisco and don’t know how anyone can’t love this city.  Everything about it is historic, scenic, beautiful and romantic.  We woke up that morning and decided to check out the streets so we went for a walk around O’Farrell Street and somehow ended up at Neiman-Marcus.  Of course we went shopping and dined at the famous Rotunda Restaurant inside the store.  In case you are wondering, yes, I was very aware of how fortunate I am to be eating at such a great restaurant with every bite of that food.  I couldn’t help but think about all of the people I have seen and met over the last couple of days and how something as simple as food (something many of us take for granted) is a luxury to some people.  Then Lisa and I made our way back out to the streets to find a wonderful little cupcake store along the walk.  If any of you know my wife then you know we cannot pass up the opportunity for her to stop and get cake (in any form).
    Rotunda restaurant at Neiman-Marcus in San Francisco, Seth Hancock, Photographer, Lunch

    Me sitting at the Rotunda restaurant at Neiman-Marcus in San Francisco.

    Rotunda Restaurant in San Francisco.

    A really bad iPhone picture of my wife, Lisa, at the Rotunda Restaurant in San Francisco.

    Later that night Frank and I were to meet up at the location of Victor’s band’s performance.  His band, The Midnight Bombers, were scheduled to go on at… anyone care to take a guess?  That’s right, midnight!   We got the cameras ready and in position to see this man in action and listen to his band.  I had no idea what I was in for but our cameras were ready to go and I had my still camera securely around my neck to capture any and all moments of the band playing.  We were at a recording studio that was conducting their “soft opening.”  A soft opening is before the “Grand Opening” so that any kinks can get worked out before the studio opens to the public.  It was a nice, large space that was almost warehouse-like with great recording space for large, professional bands or the single artist just wanting to lay down some tracks.  It was a really cool space. After hearing three other bands perform before The Midnight Bombers, I was anxious to hear them perform.  Finally it was their time and they took the stage.  They were all dressed in black and the guitarist started to strum some chords and play long, sustained notes.  Occasionally the guitarist, bassist and drummer (Victor) would crescendo to a punched hit and then go back into the chords and single, sustained note.  This was all done in a build up for the performance. It was a cool opening.  By the way, the Midnight Bombers had the largest crowd of any band there that night.  That was impressive.
    Midnight Bombers Thrash Metal Band, San Fransisco, Victor Buick Drums

    The Midnight Bombers performing. Victor playing drums.

    The lead singer took the stage and they started playing some of the loudest, fastest and heaviest music I have ever heard.  And, not to my surprise, it was good, damn good.  I had a variety of conversations with Victor over the last couple of days and music was a big part of those conversations so I knew he truly cared for and was passionate about music (along with feeding those seniors).  So, not only were they loud, fast and heavy but the music was tight!  Super tight.
    Victor rockin' out at their great show at the studio

    Victor rockin' out at their great show at the studio

    The Bombers in Black and White, Thrash Metal, San Fransisco, Live music

    The Bombers in Black and White

      The following day Frank and I loaded up the car and went back to LA making certain we got some great scenic shots along the way. Check out The Midnight Bombers here - http://midnightbombers.com/

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  • Documentary Blog #13 – Marin County Day #2

    Fortunately day two started off a lot less hectic than the first full day in Marin County.  While I was shown eye-opening realities I am still trying to come to grips with my thoughts, perceptions and judgments about this whole experience.  It’s a lot to digest.  I am, in the great words of every idiotic businessperson walking this earth, having a major paradigm shift.  I am not incapable of modifying my schema and have recently done so with my views on religion (but that’s another story for a completely different blog and time) but I am always taking the existential view on life and constantly wondering, “why are we here?” and “what’s life all about?” so that’s not new to me.  However, I have never really thought about seniors and hunger and dignity and poverty and medication.  I have never known what it’s like to go hungry or to not have anyone around for human interaction.  I don’t sit alone all day trying to find something to do or reaching out for someone/anyone to share in conversation.  But yesterday I met several people whose life is filled with these experiences.  It’s completely new and I am experiencing a bit of sensory and emotional overload.  With that experience under my belt I believe I can handle whatever Victor has in store for us today.
    Lonely old man, Marin County, Meals on Wheels, Dementia,

    This was a great man I met on Day #1 in Marin County. Suffering from Dementia, Meals on Wheels provides regular check ups and delivers food to this lonely man.

    Spending Day #2 in San Francisco and Marin County We started by going to his offices and watching his staff put together the food to be delivered.  We didn’t get to see that experience yesterday as his car was already loaded when he picked us up at the hotel.  While watching Victor and his staff work feverishly but efficiently to get the lunches put together, I noticed a huge pile of bread.  These were loaves of French, Ciabatta, Wheat, Rye and Semolina just to name a few.  And, these were whole loaves completely in tact and still as beautiful as if they were sitting in the racks at the store.   I asked Victor about the bread and he informed me that all of those loaves were from Panera Bread and were going to be thrown out.  He has an agreement with Panera to receive their bread for his distribution.  I thought that was great and started to wonder how many other restaurants willingly give their “throw away” products to organizations like his.  He told me that the bread is still “good” and his clients love it. We then did an impromptu photo shoot (as seen in the previous blog post) and went into San Francisco to meet his father who runs the Meals on Wheels program there.  After that we went to lunch in Marin County and met a fascinating man named Greg Chidlaw.  Greg is one of Victor’s other big supporters and helps to throw a fundraising party for Meals on Wheels of Marin County.  The lunch was at this great little Italian place called “il Davide” and I had the Calamari Salad (which was absolutely wonderful).  We sat around for about an hour after lunch and talked with Greg and Victor about the challenges and issues facing a program like Meals on Wheels in Marin.  That again was another incredible learning session.  After lunch we went back to Victor’s office to conduct our on-camera interview for the documentary.
    Italian Restaurant, Il Davide, Marin County

    Il Davide Restaurant in Marin County

    Victor’s interview and government waste Now, I won’t share everything we talked about so I can save something for the movie but I will leave you with this interesting yet sad information.  Victor operates his program with a $520k/year budget.  He feeds 330 people, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and has more than 200 people on the waiting list.  The average cost of a meal is around $6.  And, we have to factor in gas, overhead, staff, insurance, etc. (i.e. all the costs of doing business).  So let’s do the math just based on meals – 330 meals per day x $6 per meal x 5 days per week x 52 weeks per year = $514, 800.  Again, we haven’t even taken into account gas, insurance, staff and overhead (or maintenance to vehicles).  As you can see he is clearly in need of extra money/funds to continue his service.  You would think the county of Marin would be supportive and help considering the vast wealth of the area.  That, sadly enough, isn’t the case.  In fact, he struggles to get the county to help or provide additional funds.  Ironically, the county of Marin conducted a recent study of whether it would be more beneficial for children to ride their bikes to school instead of riding the bus.  Umm, I can tell you that riding their bikes would be friendlier to the environment, cut costs of gas, insurance and maintenance for the buses and provide exercise for the children (in case you were wondering, the weather is almost perfect everyday of the year in that area so this is something that could be done for the entire school year).  The cost of this “no-brainer” study… $175,000.00!   That’s one third of Victor’s budget and the county is talking about reducing his funds next year.  That’s right kids… government is really working for you and is extremely efficient. Tomorrow is my birthday and I am spending it with my wife while seeing Victor’s band in action.  Finally I get to see the thrash metal drummer side of this gentle giant.

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