Saturday, June 30, 2007

Montana Meth Project - Laundry Mat

Here's one of the Meth Project's tv ads.

Montana Meth Project

The Meth Project is doing some great work in Montana. The TV ads are especially devastating. This is what you want everyone tempted by meth to see. I wish these ads had been around when I was a teenager.

The Meth Project is the largest advertiser in Montana, reaching 70-90% of teens three times a week. This is saturation-level advertising.

The research-based messaging campaign—which graphically portrays the ravages of Meth use through television, radio, billboards, and Internet ads—has gained nationwide attention for its uncompromising approach and demonstrated impact. The campaign's core message, "Not Even Once," speaks directly to the highly addictive nature of Meth.

We approach methamphetamine as a consumer products marketing problem. Meth is a consumer product. It is readily available. It is affordably priced. It is distributed statewide through a very effective distribution channel. It has many product attributes that are perceived as attractive.

Every day young people in Montana are making product consumption decisions regarding Meth. Many perceive benefits in using Meth. Many perceive little to no risk. This is the root of the problem.

Our goal is to arm the youth of Montana with the facts about Meth so that they can make a better informed decision when presented with the opportunity to give Meth a try.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cesar Chavez and Rowan

This pretty much would have been my taco truck if I had stayed in East LA. It's right around the corner from where we lived. But then again nobody knows for sure what would have happened if we had stayed in East LA. Maybe I would have been a hot dog man.

Looks too good though. In fact, I'm going to get up and make some tacos for myself right now.

From Taco Hunt, a real odd website if you stop to think about it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

17 months old!

...and somehow he figured out how to play DVDs all by himself. Really! Amado goes to the DVD player, punches a combination of buttons, and, presto!, his Baby Einstein DVD starts to play. I need the remote to start the DVD player, so I have no idea what he is doing. But he's done it many times. It's no accident! In fact, that seems like all he wants to do these days.

We're taking him to a swimming pool for the first time on Saturday, so I will post a better 17-month anniversary picture after that.


I'm sure Paris Hilton's 24 days in jail were tough, but if you really want to know what it's like to have your life changed by a prison term, ask Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, or Tookie Williams----oh, wait he's not longer around to tell us what it's like because he was executed. Jail isn't a publicity stunt. Real people suffer there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

llpof (liar liar pants on fire)

Hey! Take a look at my Mom's new blog, llpof (liar liar pants on fire)!

She's the amazing CooperSleuth, and for those of you who don't know her personally, she's a "post hippie, retired petty bureaucrat working on the same Great American novel since 1949..."

And she also just received her first Medicare card.

The Office

Here's something from the Toronto Star (I don't know if it's in the print edition) about the turmoil taking place in our office during the past couple of weeks. To me these cuts are signs of the shift from a big national office (modern) to a more dispersed, technologically supported way of doing work (postmodern). But of course that doesn't mean it's not without a lot of pain for all of those involved, especially those who were laid off.

From an article in the Toronto Star:

The United Church of Canada's General Council is undergoing a "refocusing of priorities," resulting in a "net loss" of 10 per cent of its staff, General Council minister Ian Fraser said today.

Funding cuts will also affect "Spirit Connection," the United Church's television program on Vision TV, Fraser said.

The General Council is the governing body of the United Church.

"We're adjusting to reflect the priorities of our general council executive," Fraser said.

The priorities include strengthening ministry leadership and the inter-cultural character of the church, "finding true places" for youth and young adults and "recognizing the healing of our relationship with aboriginal peoples," he said.

"We're working within the context of financial realities, not difficulties," said Fraser.

Fraser said 27 positions are affected, including 19 people who were laid off on Monday. But there are also seven new jobs available, he added.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Linguistic Pirahãs

From a 50-billion-word article in The New Yorker:

Members of a hunter-gatherer tribe called the Pirahã, responded to the sight of Everett—a solidly built man of fifty-five with a red beard and the booming voice of a former evangelical minister—with a greeting that sounded like a profusion of exotic songbirds, a melodic chattering scarcely discernible, to the uninitiated, as human speech.

Unrelated to any other extant tongue, and based on just eight consonants and three vowels, Pirahã has one of the simplest sound systems known. Yet it possesses such a complex array of tones, stresses, and syllable lengths that its speakers can dispense with their vowels and consonants altogether and sing, hum, or whistle conversations.

It is a language so confounding to non-natives that until Everett and his wife, Keren, arrived among the Pirahã, as Christian missionaries, in the 1970s, no outsider had succeeded in mastering it. Everett eventually abandoned Christianity, but he and Keren have spent the past thirty years, on and off, living with the tribe, and in that time they have learned Pirahã as no other Westerners have.

“They reject everything from outside their world. They just don’t want it, and it’s been that way since the day the Brazilians first found them in this jungle in the 1700s.”

The Pirahã have no numbers, no fixed color terms, no perfect tense, no deep memory, no tradition of art or drawing, and no words for “all,” “each,” “every,” “most,” or “few”—terms of quantification believed by some linguists to be among the common building blocks of human cognition.

Everett, once a devotee of Chomskyan linguistics, insists not only that Pirahã is a “severe counterexample” to [Noam Chomsky's] theory of universal grammar but also that it is not an isolated case. “I think one of the reasons that we haven’t found other groups like this,” Everett said, “is because we’ve been told, basically, that it’s not possible.”

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pride Lights?

They've been testing new lighting on the CN Tower, which we can see from our apartment, and in my many "Good Morning Toronto" photos. I'm not sure if the arrangement seen above was created for the Pride Celebration this past weekend, but it's quite a change from the previous night lighting, which was basically just enough to keep airplanes from crashing into it.

I think it's great, but will the pre-Trudeau Torontonians like it? Probably not, but then again they probably don't care for the whole concept of towers anyway. Draws too much attention to oneself, you know.

Don't worry folks, Toronto has a long way before it becomes the Vegas of the North.

From an article in today's Toronto Star:

Over the past week, the CN Tower has been testing its new $2.5 million lighting system after dusk. Ribbons of colour have spilled down the 553-metre-tall structure, ebbing and flowing like water.

Or, in some cases, like sequins.

Because the computer-controlled system is so flexible, virtually any look is possible. So, depending on when one happens to glance up, the tower can appear as refined as a clean sculpture – or as garish as a midway.

"We want to remind people that it's our intention to really elegantly light the structure," said a spokesperson.

"So what they're seeing over the past few days is not what they'll be seeing in the future."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Making Peace

I happen to be the guest speaker this week on (how the heck did I get this gig?). It's a revision of the article I wrote a couple of years ago for the Washington Post about Donis Arias, who I knew from my work with D.C. Barrios Unidos. He was killed in 2003.

If you're interested...

Pre-dawn raids by Toronto police last week led to the arrest of more than 60 people alleged to be involved with the Driftwood Crypts street gang. “Project Kryptic” also took dozens of firearms and more than $1 million worth of illegal drugs off the streets.

But will the raids make the communities where they occurred any safer?

Massive anti-gang sweeps can be effective in the rapid dismantling of a gang’s organizational structure and in the seizing of weapons. These raids may stop the violence for a period of time.

Yet sweeping raids such as “Project Kryptic” also have the unintended effect of labelling everyone caught up in them as a criminal, whether they are in fact guilty of a crime or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And for some young people, the “wrong place at the wrong time” just happens to be the neighbourhood where they and their family live.

Labels don’t work for any of us. Human beings are never as simple as that. And they work even less when you’re a young person struggling to find your identity in a neighbourhood filled with gangs, poverty, and violence.

Donis Arias was one young person who wasn’t easy to label.

Read more here...

[photo from]

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Sometimes it just takes two tracks from a Bob Marley album on a beautiful day to remind that, indeed, I still have a spiritual life. In spite of how busy I am.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I'm still on the run, but here's a bit of psychedelia for you.

Monday, June 18, 2007


When I was about 10 I went to summer camp for the first (and only) time. I guess I was feeling a bit insecure, because when the other kids asked me about my father, I told them he was Bob Gibson, the star pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. I proceeded to prove this to them by showing how far I could throw rocks.

I was afraid to tell them about my real dad, an alcoholic whom my mom and brother and I had recently left in East LA. The funny thing is that all the kids believed me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rutilio Grande House

Here's a nice article about the Rutilio Grande House, a faith community with refugees that Wendy helped to start with Lori Ryan and several others here in Toronto. I think it's a good article about a great community, though Wendy of course can point out several errors in it.

I am very proud of Wendy and all the Rutilio Grande House members for starting this project. I also have to humbly point out that Amado and I are featured almost right in the centre of the photo above, though we were just guests at the grand opening of the house.

House for Faith Sharing, Refugee Support
Located on Symington Avenue in the city’s west end, Rutilio Grande House is an initiative to provide affordable community housing for faith sharing and refugee support.

Three families, living together, with space and support for all. This is the vision for the Rutilio Grande community, articulated in the words of Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., an El Salvadoran Jesuit priest and promoter of liberation theology: “The material world is for everyone, without borders. A common table with a tablecloth big enough for everyone, like this Eucharist. Each one with a seat so that each one comes to the table to eat.”

Ryan explains that Rutilio Grande is an intentional community, where people choose to come together and live as they wish for the world to live, allowing people to live the life they are created for, rather than one thrust upon them by poverty or circumstance.

Read more here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mega-Super Ramp

Pro skater Bob Burnquist's mega-super ramp in San Diego is 360' long x 75' tall. Skaters on it reach speeds of 55 miles per hour and hit air more than 70' high. Who could compete with that?

P*Land. That's who.


...and by the way, I've joined Facebook. All the kids are doing it, right, and I didn't want to be left out. I found it kind of interesting at first, but then it got old quickly. It's probably overrated...but then again, I'm not 14-years-old. Of course, I might find it more entertaining if some of my old high school chums were on board, but I guess I'm the only one from Serrano '79 dumb enough to try it out. Or maybe I'm the only one on-line?

Bark Bark

Sorry I haven't had much time to attend to this blog recently. I have a lot of work stuff going on, and of course since Booji the Energy Bomb dropped on our house almost 17 months ago, we have been kept quite busy. The kid even finds ways to keep us occupied when he is asleep! But that's ok. He's just a little guy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Watching You, Watching Me

Booji enjoys a piece of toast as he listens in to me talking with my Mom on the phone. It's the only way we could keep him still.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Return of Bathzilla

I'm on the run these days, really busy working on a new website and doing other web stuff for work. So, I'll just post this quick pic from our bath the other day. Peace!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sojourners Faith & Politics Forum

Sojourners' forum for the Democratic frontrunners on faith and politics, which aired tonight on CNN, was a real coup for the organization. It was one of the clearest signs in years that the religious landscape in the United States has changed and that it's no longer possible to assume that all Christians are conservative Republicans. Jim Wallis, Sojourners, and many other progressive American Christians deserve a lot of credit for the years and years of work they've committed to changing the perspectives on faith and politics in the United States. Not to mention, they got politicians to speak on the record about the poor. That's rare.

The era of dominance by the Religious Right is fading, which I'm happy about. But I also believe there are limits to the compromises people of faith can make with politics if they want to maintain their authenticity and calling to seek the peace and wholeness of the world through spirituality---not material or political power. A Religious Left will trip into the same pitfalls as the Religious Right did, and end up being used by the Democrats for their own purposes. That might help change the disastrous course that Bush has set in motion, but in the end it won't do much more than that.

For years Sojourners worked hard to stay independent and offer a prophetic critique on politics from the outside. I am sure they will continue to critique the powers that be, no matter who is elected. However, the opening up of this new religious landscape is as uncharted as a journey through the wilderness, where temptations abound and it's easy to become lost if you lose sight of the ancient signs: a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. Surrounded by danger and drama, the only one you can trust is the Creator of all that is, who summoned you on this journey.

British Columbia

I'm back from Vancouver. It was stunningly beautiful, though my little camera phone couldn't really capture it. I did get this picture of some new million-dollar condos from the top of Vancouver School of Theology. There is a big construction boom going on all over the city. Wendy told me that when she was there in 1994 the hillside where these condos are located was totally undeveloped. VST recently sold the land to developers for money to keep their school open.

I was only there about 30 hours, but it was a wonderful trip. Our event went well, thanks to Keith and Noelle and the rest of the Living the Welcome presenters---but especially thanks to Shirley and Sharon who keep the events running week after week all around Canada. They are amazing. The filming I went to do went well also, thanks to the amazing and talented Alison MacLean of Tomboy Productions. And the weather was great---sunny, hot, and brilliant. The flora is basically the same as Santa Cruz, so it really reminded me of a summer day at "home."

I took a red-eye back to Toronto to save money and to get back and help out with Amado, but that didn't work so well. I didn't really sleep on the plane, so after I got back I ended up sleeping almost all day on Sunday. I'm told Amado came in and joined me for his afternoon nap, so I helped out a little I guess. That was pleasant, but I'm still tired today. Oh well, that's life with the jet set.