Ephemeral Living

Last night I attended an outstanding premiere of a documentary that has been over 10-years in creation. Remember the wonderful music of cool, alternative hip-hop group from Atlanta called Arrested Development? (Yes, way before the show of the same name.) Speech (born Todd Thomas), the founder, lead vocalist and producer of the band’s tracks has been busy on a project to record four talented, incarcerated men at the Richmond City Justice Center in Virginia. The poignant documentary demonstrates the healing power of music alongside the terrifying reality of drug addiction and the difficulty of restraint once hooked. Their inner battles pour out of their souls in their lyrics. It’s certainly a program that every city in America should undertake in order to do our best to rehabilitate the incarcerated. I teared up throughout the entire film as it moved my heart to witness the power of human kindness. The plan is to release an album that Speech has just completed for the project.

People who grow up in a wealthy society with the constant push to achieve when one has nothing to begin with is a central tenet of the American Dream. Make something of yourself.

  • “It’s a she thing and it’s all in me I could be anything that I want to be.”                    ~Salt-N-Pepa, Ain’t Nuthin’ But A She Thing
  • “I know I can, be what I wanna be / If I work hard at it, I’ll be where I wanna be,”  ~Nas, I Can

An ephemeral moment in the 1990’s – songs about female empowerment and another for children of all colors to proudly sing about the American Dream (“work hard to be where I wanna be”) and that it’s there for the taking to conquer life and live free.  If only. Fast-forward to the past couple of years and it feels like we have been pushed back in time to the hate-filled history of retreading a birth of a nation. The intense backlash from 8-years of our first black President (and in my opinion, the best we have had in decades) reverberates around every city and county in America. The ephemeral joy of singing that we can be anything we want to be if only we try works for but a handful of Americans lucky enough to seize the moment in a synchronicity of the universe. Many African Americans live with the horrific notion that driving to the store might get them shot if they have a tail light out and our Latino/a populations dread they might get picked up in an I.C.E. raid on their way to or at work.  What kind of nation treats humans in this manner? The claim that this is a Christian nation is a sick joke. Real Christians don’t behave this way. People who believe in the values and work of Jesus Christ do not think this way. We have a minority of soulless individuals in power for a short time raping and pillaging the treasury and sinking this nation into a hellish abyss filled with fear and enmity.

The four men in the documentary titled 16 Bars (the film) each have a unique story of a life in a drug-addled repeat a la Groundhog Day–committing the same crimes after each release = recidivism. Their journey through music can help them change course. Be sure to watch this when you have the chance. Stay tuned.

About danaj33

I have been teaching in the Broadcast Electronic Media Art department at City College of San Francisco since 2001. I started teaching full-time in 2009 and am tenured. My career as an audio engineer spans 32-years since the first day I began to record and mix songs on my Tascam PortaStudio (cassette 4-track) in the early 80's while attending college at UC Berkeley. I formed a couple of bands and sang lead (sometimes playing rhythm guitar) until 1988 when I discovered that the "behind-the-scenes" tech realm was much more to my liking. I love how an audio engineer controls the ENTIRE sound mix, and not just one's own instrument. I then began a career as a live sound engineer in earnest and have toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as front-of-house sound engineer for a multitude of bands on various record labels (most notably "Medicine" on American Recordings) and have been a staff engineer at the venerable Bottom of the Hill nightclub since their inception in 1991 leaving a regular shift there in 2010 due to the teaching schedule. The club and its staff are like family. I owned and operated a live sound production company since 1989 (ending officially in 2017) called dcj Productions that has provided sound to the Bay Area community (mostly in the non-profit sector) in both large outdoor sound events as well as nightclubs and music halls. In 1991, I started recording bands on an 8-track Tascam TSR-8 analog tape recorder and moved into the digital realm in 1993 to 16-tracks of Alesis ADAT connected to a Soundcraft Ghost console in my home studio. In 1995, I advanced to Pro Tools and have been recording exclusively digital ever since, combining audio skills in sound for film as a location recordist as well as an engineer in post-production sound design and mixing. I remained "strictly analog" in my live sound mixing until just this past year (2012). Now that one can obtain a decent, live sound digital mixer at an affordable price, it was high time to check out digital for live. I now have a Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2 to work on with my students to give them much needed hands-on experience with a digital console. I co-owned and ran APG Records & APG Studios, an SF record label and recording studio, from 1999 - 2004 which had a distribution deal through EMI. The company folded in 2004. I continue to record music and engineer live performances at many Bay Area venues in addition to full-time teaching at CCSF. In 2001, I was hired to the part-time faculty at City College of San Francisco in the Broadcast Electronics Media Arts department where I have taught many of the classes including Digital Media Skills (BCST119), Basic Audio Production (BCST120), Digital Audio Production (BCST124), Sound Recording Studio (BCST125), Sound For Visual Media (BCST126), Advanced Sound Recording (BCST127), Sound Reinforcement (BCST128), Audio for the Web (BCST135), Video for the Web (BCST136), and Field Video Production (BCST141). I have also taught classes in sound design, audio for animation and games, music video, and computer applications at Art Institute of California-San Francisco, Globe Recording Institute, and Laney College in Oakland, CA. Outside Affiliations: - Co-Director of SoundGirls - current member of Audio Engineering Society and on the SF Chapter Planning Committee - past Vice President and Interim President Board of Directors - Bay Area Girls Rock Camp - past volunteer/contributor to Women's Audio Mission - past member Bay Area Women in Media and Film - past Board of Directors for Camp Reel Stories
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