Monday, March 17, 2008

Hey kids... it's a lot harder than you think!

I spoke at Laguna Middle School a few weeks back during "career day". I'd strongly recommend it if you want to help teens see what it takes to be successful in your type of career... it also helps you think about your own career a little differently.

Of course, I started with a mind blowing trick to get their attention;)... then proceeded to explain that there is a heck of a lot more to making it in any sort of performance art than being talented in that art. I explained the ins and outs of a daily business day and all the typical responsibilities of running any business and being self employeed. "Light bulbs" went on all over the room. They really got it... I think there is a misconception because of the "glamour" of TV shows and "instant" fame and so called "success" on these realities shows. Too many teens think that if they are insane dancers that they'll make millions of dollars.

Anyhow, my point is that it felt great to obviously see kids see another side to pursuing this type of career and it was additionally amazing to receive many dozens of letters of thanks from the kids! Seriously, when I opened my mail up yesterday, I was amazed to read some of the long explanations from the kids about the presentation and how much it meant. Amazing really how little effort can help guide so many and make such a huge impression. I'll do it again next year if the schedule permits for sure!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Louis - Pay it Forward...

This week I was in St. Louis performing for CHA. I had a couple great experiences.

One, the venue/colloquium and people I performed for were just amazing. They took incredible care of all details, communication, accommodations, etc... By far, better than any corporate or private planning to date. During the shows, it was a blast to make such deep thinking people turn into kids. The multiple days were filled with meetings about ethics, health, etc. Having me at the receptions and dinners was a fantastic idea by Father Russel Smith
who was my contact and the person who requested my services. The Chase Park Plaza was amazing... multiple theaters, beautiful architecture, several classy bars and restaurants.

From the deck of my "penthouse suite", you can look into town and see the famous St. Louis Arch.... which leads me to the next experience.

To continue, I had to find a moment to shoot over to the Arch. On day two, I left on foot to walk a bit of distance to a subway terminal. When I got there and looked at the ticket machine with slight confusion, several down and out folks approached looking for handouts. Of course, I have a great response to this type of behavior if I don't have time to deal with it... I act foreign! There I was, speaking garbage language and then hearing several guys turn away saying "f@#$ing tourist... ain't got no money for me... don't speak the language... " etc. One guy was so helpful and gave up on his desire on trying to get a couple dollars from me. Without getting into too much detail about the "conversation" we had, lets just say that using gestures and very basic yes and no's with a "German" type accent, he (Ralph pictured below) really wanted to help me find my way easily to the Arch. Ralph turned out to be a heck of a guy who was down and out on his luck. He got me to the arch and was heading off on his way... I stopped him and inquired with a "language barrier" why he would burn up his only one hour pass to get me here and where was he trying to go, etc. This was a fantastic, gentle and giving older black man out of money. Of course, I gave him the 9 dollars required to get him the several trips away to home. This was a very interesting social experiment ending with a guy who made a friend with a "foreigner" needing help. I'm sure it made his day as well as it did mine. I continued with my day by going up to the top of the arch followed by a nice walk back to the hotel from the subway trip back across town.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Koei-Kan Karate-Do... protect those hands!

I just can't help it, I have to pursue another style of martial art. Koei-Kan is a very intense and high contact style of traditional Japanese karate. Myself and my family were highly involved in martial arts when I was younger and after many, many years of worrying about my "pretty" hands, I've decided to join a dojo locally (actually Chuck Liddell's home/discipline for 12 years!). I'll do my best to keep my hands injury free... and am looking forward to more exercise and life balance. With 2.5 hour classes, I'll be in great shape in no time;)! I really like how the focus is on the art and students and not endless colors of belts and money making practices like some "gyms". This style has only 3 colors of belts under black: white, green, brown. In some styles, you can "earn" a black-belt in a year or more(more of the sport and exhibition styles). In more traditional and intense styles, expect many years between belts at times. My good friend Hieko is a brown belt in a style that has a 2 year minimum between rankings and 8 years between degrees of black-belts! Talk about a life time commitment! When I turn 40 in 2010, I want to back in Olympic level shape! Wish me luck!

If interested, check out We are looking for another couple adult students and he in excited to have a newly expanded junoir program too! The instructor is Larry Rhodes, also a professional photographer... Check out his art at

...and remember, you better "pick a card"... and not pick on me!;)