Harmony

The Mumford & Sons show at First Avenue was the hottest ticket in town for months. The first time they came to play here, it was in a small bar and was poorly attended. The next time they came, they played a slightly larger venue. Word of mouth and heavy rotation on local indie radio assured the show sold out in little time. Given their previous show here, the band arrived at that show quite surprised to find not only a full house but an excited one that knew all of their songs. That show quickly became part of local lore. It was no surprise to anyone then what happened when tickets went on sale for the show at the legendary First Avenue. It sold out in ten minutes flat.

I was lucky enough to be invited by a dear friend to the First Avenue show. It was a huge honor. Not just because of the exclusivity of tickets, which were selling for five times face value outside the venue, but also because I don’t get to go too many concerts anymore. Our life with a young toddler and a tight budget does not allow it.

Everything about the evening and the show was magical. The time spent with a dear friend who I care for deeply and do not get to spend near enough time with. The connection between the band, who by now understood full well the love this city feels for them, and the audience ready to shower them with adoration.

It is a rare concert where every single person in an audience of fifteen-hundred knows and sings along to every word, of every song, with as much gusto as the performers on stage. But even as rare as this is, there was a single musical moment that I have never seen or experienced before and will never forget.

It was during the song “I Gave You All” that the true magic hit me. In this song, there is a anthemic yet quiet chorus. I stopped long enough during the chorus to listen to the rest of the audience sing along. It was only then did I realized the truth.

The entire audience was not simply signing. They were singing in perfect harmony!

“I gave you aaaaaaallll! I gave you aaaaaaaalll!”

There is a powerful connection between us all. One that reveals itself in these shared moments and experiences. One that unites us and pushes us towards perfection. Sometimes in conjunction with, and sometimes despite, our abilities. One that reminds us that if fifteen hundred strangers can sing like this, we can live like this.

The audio above is the song from the concert referenced in the post. A big thanks to my friend Matt Storlie who captured it for me from The Current’s audio stream of the event.

Also, consider this my submission for the Reverb 10 prompt from December 3rd: Moment

Different

Serious Patrick

Take a look at me. If you were to have no knowledge of my ethnic background, what would you assume? My bet is that, if you are African-American, you will assume that I’m Black or Mixed. Those of Latino origin often assume I’m Latino. Don’t even get me started on the number of Palestinians and Lebanese who speak to me in native tongue and are surprised at my quizzical response. In fact, at a former job, I regularly had lunch with a Lebanese-American brother and sister for two years before it was revealed in casual conversation, to their utter disbelief, that I myself was not.

I’m African-American. Both my parents? African-American. Grandparents? Yep. Greats? Uh-huh. In fact, one has to go back to my Great-Greats before one starts to ask questions about lineage.

Now, some of you are thinking, “Nah! Look at you. Your skin isn’t much darker than a White Southerner’s Summer tan!” Well, neither is my Mom’s, or her Mom’s, or her Dad’s. “But what about your green eyes?” Well, my Mom’s Father’s eyes were blue.

Yeah, I’m different.

Growing up, this was especially weird. Kids being kids and all. I did not really feel “at home” anywhere. My White friends were nice and accepting enough. Of course, the occasional “nigger” comment would slip but they were quick to reassure that they didn’t mean me. Definitely not me. I was “different”.

Other Black kids were not as nice. But I soon came to realize it had nothing to do with my skin. I “talked White”. I “acted White” I “dressed White”. I was an Oreo. A wannabe. Different.

You see, I come from a long line of “preachers and teachers”. An entire college educated advanced-degreed family stretching back generations. Of course such positions also pay a decent wage and as thus, we were firmly middle-class. To those kids, that meant “White”. That meant different.

Of course, I worry and wonder more than a little bit about my children and how they will handle this. My sons, because of their dark hair and darker complexion, less so then my daughter who is blond, blue eyed, and looks as Scandinavian as her mother. My teenage sons, never dealt with much scrutiny when they would have to explain they were of mixed race or marked the African-American box on school forms.

Time will tell what will happen when my toddler reaches a similar age and this angelic looking blue-eyed blond checks that same African-American box. Her mother and I have already speculated and are prepared for the trips to school so that we may show our faces to the Principal to prove that yes, she is in fact, different.

Of course, ideally, and I really do believe that eventually, none of this will matter. Those boxes will disappear. If for no other reason than a whole lot of mixing will eventually make all of us so different that, in fact, we will all be the same.

Note: This is partially in participation and response with today’s Reverb 10 prompt: Beautifully Different

Welcome To The Future

A foreword written for the book iPad Means Business by Julio Ojeda-Zapata.

It is the future. It is a revolution. The overthrow of an industry. The takeover of a market. When everything we thought about technology changed. The point where the computer truly became personal. Also, it is just the beginning.

If I had to describe to a random stranger who had never seen the iPad, and was asked what it was, my answer might include some of the previous exclamations. This is a device that is the realization of many Hollywood visions of what a computer might be in some far off time – from Star Trek to Minority Report. It feels far ahead of everything else available today. Something in the back of the mind suggests that you have something you should not yet have, yet do.

Take it out in a public place and you are likely to get even the shyest person in the crowd approaching you and asking for a demonstration. They can not contain themselves from asking for a look at this thing they may have seen in commercials or in a display at the mall, yet still could not believe actually existed. Like a jet pack, or a flying car, or any of the other things we all were promised we would have in the 21st century, but the true pace of progress proved otherwise. Yet this – a computer nearly the width of a pencil, with a display the dimensions of a page of paper, that you manipulate with the touch of your fingers – this future is real.

Give it to a child and within minutes, with little to no instruction, they get it. It may be future to us who have been given a certain unescapable paradigm about what a computer is and how we interact with it. To a child, this is very much of their time. Raised with a much shorter period of interaction with a keyboard and mouse and in an age when they can play console games by waving a wand at a screen. To them, this is second nature. It is in these times that you realize the iPad is very much a device of the now. It is the way it always should have been and henceforth will be. The children of today will likely grow up with only the faintest of memories of what a keyboard and mouse was. The idea of any barrier to direct physical interaction with a computer will seem as distant as one that takes up an entire room is to us.

This is also a computer that is easy for older people to use. No complicated file systems to navigate. No lofty concepts to grasp. Just clear, easy to launch applications. Those who may have found computers too complicated, mice and keyboards too confusing, can find their solace with the iPad. A new world of where a simple touch will allow them access to the internet, email, photos, books, and friends.

But don’t let the ease of use for the young and old alike distract you. This is also the ideal tool for todays modern mobile worker. Far more portable than a laptop. Less intrusive in a meeting. Able to wield email and presentations with equal speed and aplomb. Alone it is an adept productivity tool. When paired with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard, it can hold it’s own against any mobile device. Together, the speed and length with which one can produce results in a word processor or email program is limited only by ones ability. In fact, this entire chapter was written this way.

The word that Apple has used repeatedly to describe the iPad is “magical”. While this may seem simply just a marketing buzzword, there is a certain truth to it. When you use the device, you become so immersed in the interaction, that the device itself seems to “disappear” until whatever application you are using is all you are left holding in your hands. Studies have shown that we form an emotional bond with the things we hold or touch. The fundamentals of how you get things done can really change when you can hold your email in your hands? Or your music? Or the internet itself. How you feel and experience these things changes as well.

The reason the hardware disappears is because the software feels natural. When browsing digital photos for instance, they react in a way that is as natural as interacting with the traditional printed kind. When reading a book, the pages turn with the same speed as they would when leafing through a physical one. In every case where there is a real world metaphor, something familiar outside of a computer, it behaves as one would expect. No delay, no separation. It is this attention to detail that the magicians used for the wondrous alchemy that happens when using the iPad.

One more thing about the iPad is that there is no right way to hold it. Stand up with it, sit down, lie back in bed. Pick up the iPad and the screen will rotate to fit your view. Hand it to someone else and it will flip again to theirs. This makes it amazingly easy to share it with others. Hand it across the table at a meeting. This is a social machine. Pass it to your friend to share a funny video. Have a child sit in your lap while your read them a book from it. Unlike other computers that are often barriers to interaction, the iPad is purposefully made for it.

We will look back on this time as a moment when everything we had come to know about computers changed. It is not hyperbole to say that this is a historic shift for technology. And it is just the start. The iPad is still young by any standard. And if this is just the start, it begs the question of what is yet to come. Something even more magical, more revolutionary, and more unbelievable yet real. Welcome to The Future.

This book, written by crack technology writer and pundit Julio Ojeda-Zapata, is here to guide you through this new age. He will show real world examples of professionals, creatives, and others just like you getting real work done using the iPad and having a lot of fun doing so. I know I am.

Enjoy.

home/ journal/ books/ dash/plus/ archives/ rss