Music, Art and Rehabilitation: Topics Explored at Two California Universities

Music has always been a method of coping and self-expression. When music is available as an outlet, people are more creative and less violent. Those were the points explored at two music-influenced events at two different Southern California Universities this past week.

On Sunday, February 16, Loyola Marymount University Laband Art Gallery hosted the film screening for Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians which was followed by a panel discussion featuring Wayne Kramer, former member of the band MC5, songwriter, and founder of Jail Guitar Doors who spent time behind bars, along with former prison music instructor Thomas Tedesco and Sabra Williams, a member of Actors’ Gang.

This discussion gave a glimpse into some of the ways music is being used to rehabilitate people. It also raised awareness of the need for community and political support in order to turn the tide on what has become known as the “prison-industrial complex“.

On Thursday, February 20, California State University, Dominguez Hills hosted an event titled: Influences of Hip Hop which included a name-that-tune contest, a rap battle and a presentation by James Crawford titled: “Hip Hop Culture and the Perpetuation of Inequality.”

The event highlighted some of the consequences of on-going use of violent and degrading images and words that have become a part of the Hip Hop culture, especially during the years of 1990-present.

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Music in Prisons: Film Screening & Discussion Today at LMU 2 p.m.

TRAILER – Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians (2012) from Ben Harbert on Vimeo.

Today in the Murphy Recital Hall at LMU you can enjoy a free screening of ethnomusicologist Ben Harbert’s Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians followed by a discussion with Wayne Kramer, former member of the band MC5, songwriter, and founder of Jail Guitar Doors who spent time behind bars, along with former prison music instructor Thomas Tedesco and other special guests.

Follow Me Down is a feature-length documentary about music in prison. Shot over the course of two years in three Louisiana prisons, Georgetown ethnomusicologist Ben Harbert weaves together interviews and performances of extraordinary inmate musicians—some serving life sentences, some new commits and one soon to be released. The result, in essence, is a concert film, but instead of bright lights and big stages, these musicians rap in the fields while picking okra, soothe themselves with R&B in lockdown and create a cappella gospel harmonies. With unprecedented access and Harbert’s insistence on letting the music speak for itself, the film offers an unexpected look at prison life, pushing viewers to reach their own conclusions about music, criminality, regret, redemption, and the humanity in us all.

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Art of the Crossfade Tops Off TEDX-PCC in Arcadia

Art of the Crossfade at TEDX PCC Ardaia 2013

It was a day of innovation and learning for the hundreds who gathered in Arcadia on Saturday, November 23 for TEDX-PCC. The day was delivered by 16 top-notch speakers in 3 segments: education, science and social justice.

Josh Kun and DJ J. Period at TEDX-PCC. Arcadia 2013.

The event ended with a presentation by Josh Kun and DJ J. Period titled “Art of the Crossfade.” In a nutshell, Kun’s argument is that we would benefit as a society if we move away from the “melting pot” model where we all try to blend in and become one. Instead, he proposes that we’d function better if we adopted a crossfade mentality where the individual parts maintain their own identity while also coming together to create something new.

Getting Galvanized at TEDX PCC Arcadia 2013.

With the pictures, music and explanation, it was a pretty compelling concept. In fact, the day was filled with an abundance of compelling ideas which left me with a TED hangover on Sunday but a new lease on life today. Even if you never go to TED, we can all be better off if we choose to share ideas that are worth spreading.

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She Never Forgot Puleza

Listen and you will hear what you need to hear. But don’t listen to fear. Even when you hear fear, transform it quickly. One of the best methods I’ve found for doing this is to laugh at it. And, evidently this method works for a lot of other people as well.

In 2008 I joined Toastmasters because although I was a college instructor, standing in front of people speaking on a weekly basis, I was also afraid. Especially afraid of stepping out of traditional “college instructor” role and being myself with my own style of leadership. My fear was so great that I needed to create an alter ego that I could mock and make fun of until finally I could just stand powerfully and speak my own truth.

Her name was Puleza, which stands for “people pleasing perfectionist with severe issues of unworthiness.” I really got the idea in part when I was reading Life Without Ed by Jenni Shaefer.

Though Puleza was created as a bridge to help me move up to a new level in my public speaking and leadership, it seems that a lot of people who heard me talk about Puleza really identified and by laughing at “her” they were also able to overcome their own fears.

Here’s a video from a night where I got the courage to talk about Puleza AT Long Beach City College. It was a huge step for me in overcoming fear.

A few weeks ago I visited Los Angeles Third Church for Spiritual Living in Liemert Park to listen to my teacher Ahman preach. Ahman and I did a healing school at 3rd Church several years ago on Wednesday nights and I talked about Puleza at that time.

At least one person remembered because a woman came to me after church and said, “you know, I still remember Puleza, I have a little bit of her in me too.” I felt so honored that she remembered Puleza and that the presentation stuck with her for years. It was another confirmation that speaking the truth makes a difference. Another confirmation to keep on keepin’ on and to get and stay galvanized. Another confirmation of the power of the Master Mind and how what we share with each other when we speak is powerful.
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Nature is Diversity of Size, Shape and Color at South Coast Botanic Garden


I recently had the opportunity to visit the South Coast Botanic Garden. It was like a trip to heaven. I find spending time in gardens and nature to be incredibly rejuvinating. I also learn and remember so much.

I realize that there is no such thing as “right” or “wrong” in nature. Diversity is what makes life so beautiful. Conformity is un-inspiring to say the least.

Here is a slide show with a couple of the photos I took. After this, I headed straight to the nursery and bought plants. Gotta go get my hands in the soil ;).

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Treat Yourself to Some Free Time

One of the ways to learn to love yourself is to spend time alone
with yourself. If you’re not used to doing this, it might seem
boring or awkward. This week, I want to share with you an
alternative view of Free Time.

copyright 2006
Sheri O. Zampelli

Imagine the energy and Quality Time you might create if you allowed
this type of “Free Time” in your life.
Free from judgment
Free from perfectionism
Free from shame
Free from shoulds
Free from pressure
Free from guilt
Free from anxiety
Free from worry
Free from criticism
Free from self-doubt

This week, vow to spend some time practicing a state of 100%
self-acceptance. Go with your intuition. Trust yourself. Be
less-than-perfect and be okay with it. Accept your current weight,
shape and size. Acknowledge that you can choose to love yourself
or your can choose to hate yourself. Decide to choose self-love.
Acknowledge that self-love will make your life easier that
self-hate will. Acknowledge that self-love makes it easier to
change and self-hate makes it harder.

Advanced Style: A Film in the Making for Women with Pizazz and a Call for Courage and Creativity

This week I came across a this video about women with grace and style who are advanced in age.

70, 80, 90, they refuse to live by the rules.

They are fun, funky, feminine and stylish and not afraid to flaunt it. They don’t hide their age or their creativity. They are an inspiration to women of all ages and a shining example of defining life on your own terms.

I agree with the women in this video, dressing creatively and with color is fun and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. In fact, these women inspire me to be more bold with my fashion decisions.

Do you think style and colorful, creative dressing has an age limit? What’s the boldest fashion statement you’ve ever made? What change would you like to make to your wardrobe to become more stylish?