I’ve loved graffiti ever since I can remember. When I was younger, I used to do calligraphy. Later, I created a font that was a mix of Old English lettering and graffiti letters.
The few graffiti-writing friends I had at the time thought it looked ridiculous. Mainly because you couldn’t write it fast; but I didn’t care. It was my own style that I had developed and I tagged it everywhere under the name Merlin. (I thought I was cool because I did my L’s backwards and drew a little triangle wizard hat on the end of it.)
Fast forward 25 years. These days graffiti art has spread worldwide and penetrated our everyday culture. You don’t just see graffiti on subway trains and under bridges. It can be seen on T-shirts, shoes, video games and even on canvas.
Do you want to learn how to write graffiti but don’t have ten years to learn how? Well now there is a web-based program that allows you to type your words into a box, hit the submit button, and then your name will be tagged in less than two seconds. You can then play with ten different fonts, spray the name in multiple colors and add designs that you never thought possible.
If you really want to learn how to write graffiti, this program can have you doing it in seconds. You could even print out the ABC’s and practice drawing them in different styles if you really wanted to learn the right way.
Personally, I’m too lazy for that, especially since it’s so much fun playing around with coloring it in.
Now get out there and tag something.
I was shooting pool the other night with some friends and one of them said, “You were a Romney supporter right?”
I looked at him and said, “No. No I wasn’t.”
He looked shocked. Then he paused for about three seconds, shook his head and said, “Well I’m going to tell you anyway.”
He then called me a, “Socialist,” and began describing a rant that he posted on Facebook.
We began to argue some of his points and I told him that, “I’m going to end this conversation now because we will never agree on any of this. And oh, by the way, I’ve known you a little over a year and you’ve been on unemployment the whole time. So call it what you want, but you’re part of this ‘Socialist Problem.’”
He then switched gears on me and said, “We can talk about that part later. Here’s the point of all this. At the end of my post about Obama, I said that, ‘I won’t be surprised if someone takes him out.’”
“You totally can’t say that,” I said.
“It gets better,” he said.
“Who came to visit you?” I said half-jokingly.
“The Secret Service,” he said.
“See I told you,” I immediately blurted out. I then corrected myself and said, “Sorry. I didn’t tell you, but I did tell someone else. You can’t say shit like that on Facebook. People are watching you.”
My buddy then went onto say how, “I didn’t say I was going to do it and I have First Amendment rights,” and blah, blah, blah…
So I said, “Listen, I’m here at the bar at 1:00 in the morning on a work night, but I’m not going to put it on Facebook and do you know why? Because I have 20 people who I’m friends with from work who will see that. So if I don’t want my work friends to know what I’m doing, then I sure as shit am not going to let the government know what I’m doing, especially when I know that they are 100% guaranteed watching me.”
“Well, I’m going to do it more now,” he said.
“You’re an idiot,” I said.
There’s not much more to say after that. Folks, if you’re going to live your life on-line, expect people to read it, including people you don’t want to. That includes employers, grandmas and potentially the government.
Now, in full disclosure, I said to my friend, “I can’t believe they flagged you after one post.”
He said, “Oh no. I’ve been saying this stuff since he got elected.”
“Oh, ok. So just a few weeks then,” I said.
“No, since he got elected the first time over four years ago.”
I’m not saying every move is being monitored, but if you scream something for long enough, eventually people are going to take you seriously, including the government.
So I then I posted on Facebook, “If you threaten to kill the President, the men in black will visit you.” I had three people comment almost immediately and I realized I better take this post down quick.
I erased the post and then another friend immediately emailed me and said, “Call me crazy, but I kind of want that visit. I may regret it, but in these times, I feel it would be an amazing revolutionary act.
I responded with the following email back to him:
“Personally I don’t see threatening or a visit from the government as a revolutionary act.
I think you’d better serve your cause by putting out well thought out information that may help change the mind of someone, who then goes on to help others make a change as well. Not so much a guru, but more as a thought leader.
Have you ever thought of setting up a blog? I use WordPress. It’s pretty easy to set up. I have a few blogs on different topics, but my main one is at www.douglasthomaswallace.com. About 2500 people read it a month. (Not that that’s huge numbers, but its a start.)
You can write articles, share other people’s articles, throw up links and videos from YouTube, then link it on your FB page. You can get way more like minded people involved in intelligent conversation than you can on FB. Mainly because on FB more than half of your friends don’t agree with what you say, most are not informed, but more importantly, they are on FB to stay connected and be entertained, not to be, “preached to,” regardless of the message, therefore making it an ineffective tool for your message because in the long run, they start ignoring you.
Another thing about being on the government’s list. Once you’re on it, you’re on it for three years, which means you’re monitored for that long. Every time you go to the airport you will be flagged. I’m sure you could handle it, but doing something (joining or forming a group, attending or organizing a protest, disseminating information, these things seem more revolutionary to me. In my opinion, being part of the solution is how things will change…and you might not ever know the person who’s mind you influenced who then goes on to make a huge difference.
Ghandi’s non-violence philosophy directly influenced Martin Luther King’s philosophy and in both their cases brought down several hundreds of years of oppression.
I’m not telling you what to do, its just all food for thought.”
The bottom line, your friends don’t want to read your rants on Facebook. Keep it up and you will either be blocked, un-friended, or worse, you may be visited by the men in black.
Lately I’ve been having a serious nostalgic 90’s rap flashback. So I thought I’d share a few videos with you. If you’re getting this in your email, click here.
Lil Troy’s—So you wanna be a baller? Shot Caller. 20 inch blades on the impala!
This is for the boys in Colorado and Washington. Luniz–I got 5 on it.
This is what will happen if you have too much of that stuff they just passed above.
Geto Boys–My Mind’s Play Tricks on Me
Everyone has secrets. There’s a website (and a series of books) called postsecret.com. Post Secret accepts submissions from anyone and they usually look something like this:
“I moved to L.A. to be with your brother, not you.”
Or, “I had sex with your sister two days before our wedding. (P.S.-And your mom the day after that.)”
One of the great things about this Post Secret series is that you will almost always feel like your secrets are not that big of a deal.
Another great thing about Post Secret is, if you’re a writer, you can say you’ve been published there and there’s no way to dispute that. (Not that I would do that, I’m just saying that you could.)
So here’s my secret. I’m working on a new website called www.howtobeself-employed.com. Here’s another secret, I’m not self-employed yet. But I would like to be by the time that I’m 40, which is why I’m starting the site now.
Basically this site is targeted toward three types of people who I want to work with:
1. The first group I want to work with are people who want to start their own business, but don’t know where to begin.
2. The second group is people who have a business idea, but don’t know where to start.
3. The third group I want to work with are Solo-entrepreneurs who have a business up and running, but they just need a little help growing it.
So although I’m going to use www.douglasthomaswallace.com as my personal blog, most of my time will be spent at www.howtobeself-employed.com. If you want to start a business, please check out my new site. If not, then I’ll see you here.
And if you want to share any of your dirty little secrets, feel free to put them in the comment box. I have to approve them first, but if they’re good, I will.
My family owns a farm sixty miles outside of St. Louis, MO. Members of my family have lived on the same piece of property since 1813—almost fifty years before the civil war.
One day I invited a friend out to my family’s farm to shoot skeet. We loaded up his SUV with our 12 gauge shot guns, ammo and clay birds and took the hour drive from St. Louis out to the country. When we got to the farm, I told him to pull into an empty gravel driveway. My aunt and uncle’s trailer used to sit at the end of the driveway, but they tore it down when they built their new house on a different part of the property. All that was left now was an overgrown open-field.
We got out and unloaded the SUV. I set up the clay bird thrower pointing toward the field. I then pulled the spring back and tested it out once to see where the clay bird would launch. When I was satisfied that we wouldn’t be shooting at any family member’s house, I then looked at my buddy and said, “You ready?”
He looked at me and said, “What? We just start? Doesn’t someone have to come and give us permission first?”
I was dumbfounded for a second, then said, “Who the hell’s going to come give us permission? We just start.”
I was on the phone with a lady the other day and she reminded me of this story. She was a, “Career Path Counselor,” and she said, “If you want to do something, just start it. You don’t need anyone’s permission.”
I would say this is true with almost everything you can possibility do in the world, unless you are required to have a license…i.e. doctor, lawyer, therapist, etc. But there are even creative ways around that…i.e. “homeopathic healers, paralegals, coaches.”
I’m not saying to do anything illegal. I’m saying, no one’s going to tell you how and when to start. There’s a good chance that you already know what it is you want to do, and you probably already have the skills to get started. So if you are waiting for someone to give you permission, well here I am, now get started.
I wasn’t feeling abundant or creative for several months, up until a couple of weeks ago. I was stuck in a major rut. I was seriously stressed out about money, mainly because I had a renter who was two months behind in her rent and I had no idea where I was going to come up with the money to pay the bank.
To add to these money worries, my wife has been out of work and on unemployment for several months now. Our credit cards were maxed-out and $60,000 worth of my student loans just came due.
I was paralyzed by fear. I didn’t know how to deal with the situation. I spent many nights with very little sleep. My mind wouldn’t turn-off and I was constantly thinking about how we didn’t have any money and how was I going to take care of my family? I can honestly say that suicide crossed my mind a couple of times and if I didn’t have a wife and a little girl to take care of, I might have followed through with it.
It’s amazing how someone can enter your life at the right time and can change your perspective on life in one thirty-minute conversation. For me, that person’s name is Shell Mendelson.
Shell Mendelson is a career counselor who is an expert on “Career ADD.” I’ve been at the same job for nine years this month, but I’ve wanted to change careers at least once a month for as long as I can remember. I love my job, but I want to do something bigger, something more creative.
Besides being a career counselor, Shell created a franchise called KidzArt. KidzArt is in 27 states and 14 countries. Many years ago, Shell realized that art and creativity was being taken out of the school system. So she partnered with a friend who was an artist and they created this franchise to teach kids to be more creative.
I told Shell that for years, I wanted to live a life helping others figure out what they want to do with their lives and pursue their passions. It’s funny looking at it now, I was completely stuck in a dark place, not doing what I wanted to do, but I wanted to help others get out of the same kind of place I was in—the blind leading the blind.
One of the first things Shell told me was, “I’m a bit spiritual, is this going to scare you off?”
I went into my story of how I was raised Christian, then went to Chitzen-Itza in Mexico for my honeymoon to see the Mayan pyramids and had a religious epiphany.
The Mayan people were religious zealots and never even heard of Christ. They built these awesome pyramids that are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. These pyramids align perfectly with the equinox so that the sun’s shadow runs down these huge structures to snakes heads at the bottom of the pyramids. They did this with no modern tools.
The Mayans also played a game that lasted for days. Experts can never be sure, but they believe that the players had to throw a goat’s head through a hoop that is thirty feet in the air, then the winners were sacrificed to their gods. I thought, No wonder it took several days to play the game.
After spending the day at the pyramids and thinking about these religious zealots, I realized that the Mayans were all gone and what happened to the World? Nothing. It’s still here.
This made me realize that if the Mayans were wrong about their gods, I was probably wrong about mine.
Then I told Shell how I went through the all the stages of grief when I lost my God, and how at the beginning, I was very angry and felt that I was lied to, not on purpose, but still, I felt like I had lost something that was a major part of my life and it shook me to the core…“So no, I’m not really spiritual anymore.”
Shell said, “Well can you agree on this? Our thoughts create our reality.”
I’ve met enough crazy people working in jails for the last 11 years to know that I agree with that statement.
Then she said, “Ok, if you can agree to that, then I can work with you.”
She then said, “Right now you are focused on your lack of money, and if that’s all you focus on, that’s all you’re ever going to have. I don’t want to be part of your money problem.” (Her services aren’t free, but this call was.) “But if you want something bad enough, you will figure it out,” she said.
Within one day of talking to Shell, everything changed. Here is an excerpt of the email I sent to Shell two days after our conversation.
I just wanted to share this with you. I have had a huge weight on my shoulders from my debt and was wondering how I’m going to get out of it. After talking to you the other day, I had a couple of breakthroughs.
The first was understanding what you said about, “Our thoughts create our reality.” I’ve been so stuck lately focusing on this debt and the situation seemed hopeless. After you said that statement, I realized I didn’t have to stay in that place.
Yesterday, I called the credit card company and got the pay-off balances. Then I called my friend Ricky who’s been asking me if I want to do a re-fi on my house and save $110 a month. He came over and basically told me that besides saving $110.00 a month, I also won’t have to pay two months of mortgage payments and I should get my escrow back. It won’t be right away, but it should be around $3000.00 in total that I’m saving and getting back. (Once the papers were signed, we found out we were actually getting back $5000.00.)
I know that my credit cards are a lot more than that, but I do feel like a dam burst as far as, “being financially blocked,” goes…if that makes sense. I told my wife that I think it was from me talking to you.
She said something to the effect of, “I don’t know how you figured that, you talked to Ricky about this a few weeks ago.”
I told her, “But I didn’t take any action. I was so stuck in my mind that I couldn’t even get around to talking to him. And I didn’t really want to know how much we owe. Now I have a starting point of what we need to do to get out of it.”
So I called my wife’s dad, he came over and talked, and he decided that he’s going to loan us the money to pay off the cards. We still have to pay him back. But at least it’s not at 10% and 20% interest.
Anyway, that’s a long story just to say thank you; but thank you.
On a different note…It’s funny, when I was telling my wife about how I want to get coached from you, she was like, “How are we going to afford that?”
I said, “I don’t know, work overtime maybe? Who knows? Maybe it will appear out of thin air! We just got a bunch of money freed-up from the house deal, that was like a miracle to me.”
She said, “Oh, now you believe in miracles again?”
And I said, “I don’t know about miracles, but I’m leaving myself open for the possibility.”
Shell wrote me back and said, “This is my gift for today. I believe that every day, provides us with gifts. It is incredible how you were able to make this shift so quickly. As a result of shifting that money thought, you experienced the results almost immediately. Imagine if you applied this same process to every aspect of your life. No stopping you!!! The difference you experienced was inspired action v. going through the motions action – it came from a place of possibility and of being aligned with who you truly are.”
The next action I took was figuring out how to deal with my student loans. I called the representative for Salle Mae and told him I couldn’t afford to pay what I owed.
He asked me, “What can you afford right now?”
I said, “About $100.00 a month.”
He said, “No problem.” He typed a few things into his computer and said, “Ok, I’ve got you down for $96.00 a month. We will add what you owe to the backside of the loan and you’re good to go.”
Just with a telephone call and a few key strokes, my anxiety about my student loans were gone.
The next action I took was getting my renter out of my house, but that’s a story I’ll save for another post. For now I just want to say, if there’s something in your life that is worrying you, know that worrying about it is not going to solve the problem. You need to face the problem and then take action to solve it. Hopefully sharing this story with you will help inspire you to do that.
I have been on hiatus from writing on my blog because I have been working with an editor on my memoir about my trip to India. But yesterday I was sitting in a tiny diner having lunch with my with wife and I saw a little black framed sign sitting on our table that said, “Did you know that the can opener was invented 48 years after the invention of the can?”
Me and my wife sat there and pondered, how did they get the cans opened if they didn’t have a can opener? Answer, they used a hammer and chisel.
This got me thinking about all the other useless facts that we take for granted during our daily lives. Here are a few for you to ponder:
1. Do you know how many different animal shapes there are in the Animal Crackers cookie zoo?
2. Have you ever thought about robbing a bank? The average take is lower than you think. On average, 20 banks are robbed a day, with an average of $2500.00 taken.
3. Do you know why paper napkins were invented?
People used to use tablecloths to wipe their hands and faces after they were done eating. John Dickinson used paper napkins at his company’s party in 1887, but the Scott brand didn’t start manufacturing napkins until 1931. Paper napkins didn’t become popular until the 1950’s in the United States.
If you want to find out more strange facts, click here.
This will be the last time I write about The Biggest Loser. (At least for a few months.)
Last night was The Biggest Loser Season finale. I’m always amazed at how much weight can be lost when someone puts their mind to it.
In the past, I wrote how Conda was acting like a snotty little bitch. Last night she recognized that herself—not in those words, but still, she acknowledged that she had changed.
I actually noticed Conda’s change a few weeks ago. I’m sure it is hard to have to go through that process in front of millions of people and I’d like to take this time to say that I’m actually proud of Conda for her transformation—both physically, mentally and personality-wise.
Jeremy, Conda’s brother, was the overall Biggest Loser. He lost 199 lbs. and ended up weighing 190 lbs. It’s awesome to watch someone who weighed 389 lbs. seven months ago lose 51% of his body weight and now weigh 25 lbs. less than me. And I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little jealous.
As mind-blowing as Jeremy’s loss was, Mike Messina’s weight-loss was just as amazing. He was eliminated in week 2 and came back to the finale weighing 160 lbs. less than when he started. This just goes to show you can do it at home.
I have struggled with my weight most of my life. I’ve never been grossly-obese, but I’ve always weighed 40-75 lbs. more than I’d like to. Two years ago I decided to take up running. I have run several half-marathons, participated in a couple of triathlons and even ran a full-marathon. I’ve lost 35 lbs. and have managed to keep it off for over a year-and-a-half. But I still would like to lose 40 more pounds.
The Biggest Loser has been my once a week coach. It’s helped me stay on track. Although I weigh exactly the same as when the season started, I can at least say I haven’t gained any weight.
Another thing the show has done for me is, it has shown me you can’t keep on doing the same exercises over and over and not expect to get bored. The trainers on the show mix up the routines so the contestants have fun.
I have always been interested in martial arts. I promised myself that after I ran this last half-marathon two weeks ago, I would look into getting back into martial arts. I researched a styles and dojos around my area. I knew I needed to find a school that had convenient times that worked for my schedule. I found a school that had a mix of styles that I have tried in the past and liked. I called them and the teacher invited me to come take a look at their school. So I’m going tonight to check it out.
So what have you been doing to stay healthy? Is it fun for you or are you just going through the motions? If so, I’d like this to be your wake-up call. Find something that you’re interested in, even if it’s not health related.
Maybe you’ve wanted to learn a new language. Maybe you’ve wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Maybe you’re just stuck in a rut and don’t know how to get out of it. Whatever your folly is, take this week to follow it.
You owe it to yourself to make your life interesting. No one else will do it for you. And remember, you’re responsible for your own happiness. You don’t have to continue to feel like the world’s biggest loser.
I went and listened to John Brandi speak last night. He said, “Capturing a brief moment in time is a haiku writer’s goal.” Although the poem below isn’t a haiku, Brandi’s words inspired me to write this poem this morning.
On my way
to work this morning
I saw a
red Dodge truck
swerve into the
The window half-way
the driver’s head emerged
as he puked
out the window.
Straight of the presses of Lindenwood Univeristy:
Poet John Brandi will appear at 7:30 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 18, at Lindenwood University’s Cultural Center to present on traditional and modern haiku and their relationship with art and music. The evening, which is free and open to the public, will include a performance of some of his own poems with saxophonist Raven Wolf.
Brandi, based in New Mexico, began writing, travelling and painting at an early age and worked with Andean farmers for the Peace Corps, after which he made contact with Beat Generation poet Gary Snyder and, in the 1970s, travelled with Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki and compiled That Back Road In, one of his many poetry and prose collections that reflect his travels.
Haiku, the short three line poem with origins in 17th century Japan, has spread in popularity to become a worldwide phenomenon . Brandi is one of many contemporary poets with it prominent in their repertoire. He has published several collections of his own haiku, and edited an anthology of modern haiku by an assortment of contemporary poets. He has given talks on haiku and led workshops on it around the nation, in Canada, and in India.
Brandi’s presentation will include a slide talk on haiga, the tradition of haiku and painting, that will include some of his own painted poems. He will perform some of his own haiku accompanied by Raven Wolf, one of St. Louis’s top saxophone players in a performance modeled on Beat writer Jack Kerouac’s collaboration with Zoot Simms and Al Cohn.
As a poet, Brandi said he owes much to the West Coast Beat tradition, but he also cites as influences poets as diverse as Federico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Neruda, and Matsuo Basho.
I was lucky enough to have read Mr. Brandi’s poems while working on my MFA in writing at Lindenwood. He made me realize that contemporary poetry didn’t have to be about flowers, love or any of that other crap. I normally don’t go to poetry readings, but I definitely will be there tonight.
This is four separate examples of Brandi’s haiku.
a short winter
even so, two new holes
in this belt
so many boards missing
the shed stands easily
in the wind
what to write
about the girl checking
her make-up in a puddle?
doing the wrong thing