Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#theantidote

If you read Wilson's testimony, he says Mike Brown looked like a "demon" (as opposed to maybe angry), that he "grunted" before "charging" him (as opposed to the sound one makes after being shot), that his eyes were "cold" when he looked at him. He basically described him as an animal and a monster. 






This is racism in it's purest form (and I use the word carefully). When you can't see a person's humanity because of their race. When the psychosis of racism makes you live out some horror movie where the forces of evil have a skin color... Add a gun and a badge and you get Darren Wilson.

And we are the antidote.  Our lives.  Our work.  Our art.  We have to keep our humanity and be ourselves beautifully.  Mourn the dead.  Call out wrong.  And live to create a new world!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Good news...


So I'm early these days working on a new novel, joining in with National Novel Writing Month thanks to a reminder by Myke Johns of WABE and Write Club, and I'm getting really frustrated with myself for using the passive voice.  Not for any particular reason other than the fact that I'm breaking the rule I was taught in elementary school "gifted" English.  I love you Mrs. Zimmerman, but I just got some good news... In this article, Mother Jones says that Science Says You Can Split Infinitives and Use the Passive Voice says Harvard psycholinguist Steve Pinker.  Yes they all say that.  I'm having fun breaking rules here and freeing up my free writing.  Thanks Mother, Science, Steve and even you Mrs. Zimmerman for giving me rules to use and to rebel against.  hee hee... Here's Steve Pinker on it all:



Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Keep faith in what you are up to
No matter what you're down to
#lastdollarlastchancelastbreath

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Numb Me Now Beneath the Noise...

If you know me, you know how I feel about my nephews and my sister for raising them. A while back my second oldest nephew Xavier Smooth Molina expressed anger, hurt, and disbelief about the Michael Brown murder. He's taken that emotion and put it into his drumming, trumpet playing, and vocals (the burst of emotion towards the end of the song) on this beautiful outpouring of creative critical thinking with the Dominic Minix Quartet. In the video, they re-enact the outrage and the killing... it is very powerful. Please share this, especially now as the decision on whether to charge the officer looms. This is healthy, thoughtful, beautiful democracy at work.   



The refrain, "Numb me now beneath the noise" expresses beautifully how these youngsters refuse to go numb, instead turning the madness into music. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

100 word me

Check out my homework for this amazing project I'm helping to facilitate called Clarkston Roving Listener (a program initiated by De Amon Harges of Indianapolis).  It will train children ages 12-18 to gather the stories and talents of neighbors in their community as an effort of asset-based community development.  Tomorrow we have to present 100 word stories of ourselves.  Of course mine rhymes...

I am a Black Filipino Native American Mestizo
Yale law graduate social justice activist
Revolutionary poet and community development strategist
I have seen the valley of tragedy
Watched my parents die of cancer
I have seen the sunrise of life
Caught my children with these hands bruh
And all I got is questions
And if I ever find the answer
I will pen a book, spit a poem, or sing a song
To increase human understanding
And even though I chose
Making change over money
There is not a soul on this earth

that can take a thing from me

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

100 Posts Deep

In honor of my 100th post (it only took 5 years), here is audio of my third of four straight write club victories.  Still undefeated son!  I listened to this one and actually felt certain of it's worth, which is rare.

The Write Club battle:  Shallow vs. Deep.
My topic:  Shallow

I suggest you listen to both stories as Myke Johns opening piece is a lovely take on love.  If you are short on time, my story starts at 8:37... Enjoy and share!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Glad Jack Wasn't Black

Just learned from this Huff Po article that John Mellencamp's classic rock song 'Jack and Diane' was originally about an interracial relationship.

Here's the video for your frame of reference:



Besides Mr. Mellencamp's hilarious Kunta Kente touche at the end of the Huff Po interview, there really was nothing of note here.  Back in 1982, studio execs thought he shouldn't make the song about an interracial relationship.  Stop the presses.

But as always I went to the real action in the comment section.  And there I found this useless pimple of a thought from one of those provincial provocateurs from the pro-racial slur bloc of the Generally Obtuse Party:
and this waste of eye-use from one of those people who know random, useless facts and make conversations miserable by adding said useless facts like a fart adds to ambiance:


Thanks Matt.  Thanks Lisa.  Maybe you two should hook up in the back seat of a car and prove that stupidity knows no race.  But if either of you had made a salient point, I would disagree with you both.

I am glad that Jack wasn't Black and that 'Jack and Diane' were faceless, even if they were ultimately white in the video and in most people's consciousness.  If you listen to this song, it could be as true for a couple in Lower 9th Ward New Orleans as for a couple in Orange County or a couple on the Jersey Shore.

Art should let the listener imagine and create meaning for themselves.  Now I charge a spoken-word poet to reframe the song into a piece about an interracial couple or about two girls (Jack short for Jackie) or two boys (one of whom calls himself Diane).

And oh yeah, life goes on long after the Lisas and Matts of the world take the fun out of everything.

Mazel Tov.





Friday, September 5, 2014

WonderRoot


WonderRoot is the first organization that welcomed me to Atlanta.  This non-profit offers space and access to all kinds of hard- skill training as well as use of essential resources for any sort of creative artist.  WonderRoot features a Digital Media Lab full of the most up to date Macs with the most up to date software from Final Cut Pro to Animator to ProTools to Photoshop and on and on.  It sports a full recording studio with a huge sound board and massive live recording space with mics for days.  There is ample wall space for exhibiting visual art, a dark room, a FREE performance space in the basement, a silkscreen machine and a ceramics kiln for freaks sake.   And get this, all of this is FREE for youth under 18 and $60 a year (yes a year!) for adult members.  WHAT?!!!

I've run youth programs and 24 hour lock-in art-making experiences at WonderRoot, held  popular education workshops and presented performances, edited films, shot films, and attended countless and deeply inspiring artistic experiences at this easily accessible and welcoming Atlanta treasure.  This place is the truth.  And best of all, WonderRoot is the most diverse space I have been to in what can be a very segregated artist community in Atlanta.  When I say diverse, I every mean age, race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and political perspective present at the same time talking, collaborating, and encouraging each other to make meaningful, excellent art.


I was recently honored to be interviewed by their Interactive/Integrated Media Manager Floyd Hall about my creative journey.  This is a man with vision and he's in the right place for sure.  Special thanks to him for the opportunity and shout out to Chris Appleton, the ED who is a real leader in Atlanta arts and activism work.  You can check out the interview at:

http://wonderroot.podomatic.com/entry/2014-09-04T14_00_52-07_00

If you are ever in Atlanta this is your first stop if you want to experience the burgeoning cultural explosion happening in this, the crossroads of the South.  Until it's big move across the street into a 54,000 square foot, 8 Acre campus to turn a shuttered school into the WonderRoot center for Arts and Social Change, Wonderroot is located at 982 Memorial Drive, Atlanta GA 30316.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Check out this review of the performances at the NEXT showcase... comes from Urban Lux Magazine.  The review for my performance of an excerpt from Mass Transit Muse is in the last few paragraphs.  Highlights?  "intelligently animated and soulful skit...  left an impact that resonated across the room...  Melodic scenes expressed heart felt and heart wrenching stories... took the audience on an audio/visual journey"


Orbiting a space with brilliant colorful stars, an electric glow from cerulean blues and regal magenta’s to the sensual warmth of hinted cadmium yellow hues flickering from one primary place. This is my metaphor for the setting of the National Black Arts Festival’s Salon, a NEXT event at the Hammonds House Museum in the Historic Westside of Atlanta, August 1, 2014. I felt elevated and inspired by all of the richly diverse forms of African-American art being presented. The stars of the night were visual artist Fahamu Pecou, poet Jon Goode, playwright Michael Molina and vocalist/guitarist Brenda Nicole Moorer.
Sitting on a comfortable sofa next to Pecou and Goode, in the front room of the Hammonds House Museum, I witnessed the number of people entering increase exponentially and the sounds of conversations grow louder. Meanwhile, high quality, lively videos with edited final-cuts rapidly jumping from one scene to the next projected prominently on the wall above our heads, all from Fahamu Pecou’s series “All that glitters ain’t gold.” A recent body of work that he describes as “a project that was designed around engaging with youth culture and their attraction to all the shiny things, the things we see on t.v., the glittery shiny things that appear as though they are measures or markers of success. I am challenging those ideas by saying, all that glitters ain’t gold. There’s a catch to all of it.” The video series, which targets younger audiences, are also a part of a group of paintings that cleverly speak to the subject. The effort and goal of the series, he says “hopefully will entice the youth to do further research and find the artwork and really engage critically the ideas that [are] being put forth.” (fahamupecouart.com)
Sitting to the right of Pecou, poet Jon Goode, in the true nature of a poet, powerfully addresses how his work engages youth. “When I write [my] poems, I tell you the story of me, hopefully if they’re written right, it also tells you the story of you, and in telling you our collective story I hopefully raise some questions. So often I try to provide an answer, but together through dialogue, sparked by the work, we can come to some form of solution. That is the goal, to evoke thought, to start a conversation and together move forward for a solution to our collective problems.” (jongoode.webs.com)
Our stars are in constant motion, so it was an honor for me to get close enough to talk with vocalist/guitarist extraordinaire Brenda Nicole Moorer about her unique new music and her advice to other aspiring artist. “My favorite [song] is called Bloom, it’s a very weird song; it’s a mix of everything. Its soul, it’s folk, its rock, and it’s jazz all in one. It [has] a very intricate melody that’s not very typical.” Moorer continues by sharing how she approaches her work and what advice she gives to other artist in or outside of the industry. “All of my music is about exploring yourself, discovering from mistakes, learning, growing. Bloom is also about blooming and discovering, don’t give up on your dreams and keep trying.”
As an independent artist pursuing a dream as a singer, Moorer advises, “learn the business side because there’s so much else that goes into being an artist besides just writing good songs, you have to be able to connect with people and get [your work] into hands and ears that need it, so I would definitely say, be a business savvy artist and stay true to what you believe in. When you’re singing, performing and writing, try to always have a message that you would want someone like your kids to hear in the future.” (brendanicolemoorer.com)
The intelligently animated and soulful skit by attorney, author, cultural organizer, arts advocate, and performer Michael Molina was captivating. This star merged elements of video projections, acting, singing, and rapping all in one delivery.
Molina and his two supporting actors left an impact that resonated across the room. Melodic scenes expressed heart felt and heart wrenching stories from Molina’s native home of New Orleans that took the audience on an audio/visual journey into his world. (momolina.com)
This was an evening of art, history, expression and unprecedented talent curated by NEXT co-founder and Executive Director of NEXT Faith Carmichael and team.
Learn more about NEXT and the quarterly salons and a documentary series showcasing the hottest and brightest stars of the city by visiting: next-atlanta.com
photos:  Janssen Robinson

Thursday, July 31, 2014

This Time

Performed as a part of Van Jones' ArtStrike digital media art action (Click link to read CNN Story) that garnered 11 million individual internet impressions in one day, this piece was highly appreciated by Van's good friend Prince (yes that Prince!).  The piece was intended to highlight the working man's struggle in the face of shrinking economic opportunity in America and was composed after a very real run in with a neighbor who stole a MacBook I worked extremely hard to purchase out of my home.  Real life performance... Enjoy. 

In a world of trouble... Be Encouraged


Monday, July 21, 2014

Going to be a part of NEXT Atlanta at National Black Arts Festival w/ Fahamu Pecou, John Goode and more

On Thursday, July 31st at 7pm I'll be doing a very potent excerpt from my play Mass Transit Muse as a part of NEXT Atlanta.  The event also features world renowned artist Fahamu Pecou, HBO Def Poetry Jam's John Goode and more.  Here's the four featured artists:  http://www.next-atlanta.com/2014-summer-artists/... Here's the flyer...

and for the news folk here is the NEXT PRESS RELEASE

SPREAD THE WORD!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wounds

Went 4-0 in Write Club tonight!  Nick Tecosky and Myke Johns have taken to calling me "The Murderer."  I'll take that.  Tonight's Topic:  Wound.  

Wounds
by Michael Otieno Molina

So I have these two perfect little bloody pot holes on the knuckles of my your fault, fuck you fingers.  They are working to become scabs now, but at first they were that beautiful, deep watercolor red, like right before you spread it on a canvas, or in my case wipe it on a sandy shirt.  Ouch.  But you have to let it breathe. 

When you slap a band-aid on it it gets all mushy and pink and white and gross like fat hanging off raw chicken.  You have to let it breathe.  But it’s damn painful to walk around with open wounds.

So how did I get these two perfect little bloody pot holes on the knuckles of my your fault and fuck you fingers?  I am in the Dominican Republic vacationing with this asinine fine, brilliant butter WILF (hey my love) and our two gorgeous, good kids.  I’m feeling myself. 

So I’m high up on the surface of about twelve feet of clean-air-clear water with my child’s snorkeling goggles when I spot a bone white piece of coral ready to be plucked and brought through customs to add character to our little garden back home.

I plunge and immediately this tiny snorkeling mask floods with salt water, burning like piss in my eyes.  But I’m under about 6 feet now and half way, I’m not going to stop.  I kick hard to go deeper and reach the rock.   It won’t budge. 

I got some breath left so I dig my figners around the thing and turn toward the surface ripping up as hard as I can.  I feel the tearing of my skin, but am more concerned that the bastard rock hasn’t moved and I look down as I float to the surface and realize that this little bump of dead coral, the shape, size, and look of a human brain is actually part of a huge mammoth of living rock.  It’s a little dead scar that the coral wasn’t clinging to.  And that’s the danger of scars.

Scars are zombie skin, dead and done healing.  They are cave drawings of battles won and lost, the tattoos of childhood.  We hide scars as much as we celebrate them, their etchings egos in themselves.  And one day we will all be scars, mounds of dead flesh, capped with a concrete slab carved with a name, yet another scar of a society come and done.

Scars are dead, only useful when plucked from an ocean of experience and plunked in a yard of tired stories I can tell a million times about the time I ripped my fingers open trying to pick up an entire coral reef.

Scars are the story without the milieu of contextual details – like the fact I wore my child’s goggles because I was too cheap to buy my own (I mean I’m really not made of pesos) – scars are trophies, they never feel as good as winning, never feel as bad as third place.   

But wounds, wouns are the victory lap that hurts so good.  Wounds are for the living.  Only the living feel.  The pain of a wound is proof that there still a will to live screaming “Something’s aint right!”  The pain lets you know your body works.  If you go numb, worry.

I remember coming in here to Kavarna during some serious personal challenges and, after not seeing her for a while, I ran into Sirkka.    Sirkka who while I was in Kavarna studying for the bar exam burned for me a Girl Talk mix c.d. that I bumped hard when I found out I passed.  Sirkka who will proudly play Too Short’s Freaky Tales up in here, while hipsters and graduate students squirm to my quiet horror and delight.   Sirrka who caught me bringing outside food in and chastised me with a gentle, firm “come on, man.” Sirkka, who had showed me the magic pouches she made of plastic bags and told me of the miracle she had made of a sudden and horrifying illness.  I ran into Sirka and found that she had been having challenges and complications with that illness.   That a wound hadn’t completely healed.  I remember Sirkka saying “I’m just glad to be able at work again.”  What a beautiful and simple expression of the will to live.

Wounds prove you are alive.  When your skin breaks and you see the pink meat beneath, when the slow red flow well up and leaks from a clean slice, when you can’t help but flick at, rub on, and peel off the little scarab of scab that follows, when a nondescript spot on your body is rebranded and a scar is born, wounds prove you are alive.  So ‘begrudge them not their sloth and scorn, what wound did ever heal but by degrees’ wrote one William Shakespeare.’

And when typing this writing about wounds my your fault and fuck you fingers are in heavy locomotion, bopping up and down with unconscious precision when I realize that my your fault and fuck you fingers have a third story to tell about wounds.  Wounds are the injury themselves (somebody’s fault), the pain the injury causes (Fuck!), and the healing process that both things initiate (peace).  Like one plus one is three, the cause, the effect, and the result. 

And today I walk back in here to muse on wounds with the great wound on human civilization that is the Israeli-Palestine conflict raging with the infection of vengeance and fear, with the wound that is the border between the U.S. and Mexico flaring on both sides with the trauma of drug wars and the war on drugs, tonight I walk in here for Sirkka and remember the blessing it is to be alive to be able to work for the world and write for the world, as painful as it can be, as fruitless as it can seem.   And sometimes it’s nobody’s fault, there’s no one to flip off, and death is the only peace from the pain. 

And sometimes finding somebody or something to blame offers a momentary relief.  And that’s OK.  “It’s your fault ocean for being a habitat for coral and your fault you coral for dying, but holding on to a bit of yourself to tempt me to snorkel down and rip it off for my garden and your fault cheap ass snorkeling goggles for kids for making it hard for me to see what was right in front of me and your fault Obama that the dollar isn’t worth more so that I could buy adult goggles and your fault mama for making me the cheap bastard I am and your fault God for taking my mama from me too young so I couldn’t tell her this story so Fuck you!”

And after blaming your makers and cursing everything under the sun, you find peace.  I don’t know what will come of all this trouble.  But this wound, this pain let’s me know one thing.  I am alive.  And as long as I’m alive I will fight for my life.   Just like Sirkka.

And we might be flesh, but we are also bone, and bones may break and shatter and splinter and fracture, but they don’t scar, they never die.  And under the right conditions, our bones can live to tell our story thousands of years after I’m gone.  And if an archaeologist discovers me in a flash of white and in hasty excitement digs his hands in the dirt and in the process rips a few pot holes in his skin he might just see two fingers saying “your fault, so fuck you.”  Now take this wound, take a break from studying the dead, and live.  Peace.