The Soul Kitchen: Bon Jovi Serves Up Some Hope

soul-kitchen

The Soul Kitchen (Red Bank, New Jersey)

Jon Bon Jovi serves up a heaping plate of soul food and philanthropy, topped up with a whole lot of Hope.

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Livin’ On A Prayer

Once upon a time
Not so long ago

Tommy used to work on the docks
Unions been on strike
He’s down on his luck… it’s tough, so tough
Gina works the diner all day
Working for her man, she brings home her pay
For love – for love

She says we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
Cause it doesn’t make a difference
If we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot
For love – well give it a shot

Chorus:
Whooah, we’re half way there
Livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear
Livin’ on a prayer

Tommy’s got his six string in hock
Now he’s holding in what he used
To make it talk – so tough, it’s tough
Gina dreams of running away
When she cries in the night
Tommy whispers baby it’s okay, someday

We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
‘Cause it doesn’t make a difference
If we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot
For love – well give it a shot

Chorus:
Whooah, we’re half way there
Livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear
Livin’ on a prayer

We’ve got to hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got

Chorus:
Whooah, we’re half way there
Livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear
Livin’ on a prayer

[Songwriters: BON JOVI, JON / CHILD, DESMOND / SAMBORA, RICHARD]

4-25-2013 9-11-07 AM

The concept of “Paying it forward” is something that Jon Bon Jovi knows well.   Singer, musician, actor, businessman and philanthropist ― Bon Jovi  is a New Jersey native who never forgot where he came from.   In 2006, he formed the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help people (one soul at a time) who are experiencing economic hardship. 

Kindness is infectious.  And so, as part of this foundation,  several  JBJ Soul projects have come to fruition:

†♥ JBJ Soul Homes (a joint venture with Project H.O.M.E., in Philadelphia)  ― a four-story, mixed-use development building, scheduled for completion in November 2013.  With retail, offices and 55 apartments to house previously homeless and low-income adults and children, the  residents will have access to basic medical care, employment assistance, education and fitness facilities.

†♥ Rebuilding Together (a joint venture with Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation and Rebuilding Together Philadelphia) ― to rehabilitate nearly 30 homes in the Overbrook neighborhood.

†♥ Northern Children’s Services Merrick Hall (a joint venture with Northern Children’s Services) ― to provide permanent housing for homeless teenage mothers and their babies.

and, a community restaurant that does not have any prices on the menu:

† JBJ Soul Kitchen ― where customers volunteer their services at the restaurant, in lieu of payment.  Soul Kitchen accepts donations from those who can pay.  In the words of Bon Jovi, “At a time when 1 in 5 households are living at or below the poverty level, and at a time when 1 out of 6 Americans are food insecure, this is a restaurant whose time has come. This is a place based on and built on community – by and for the community.” 

And yes, Mr. Bon Jovi, Hope is Delicious.  Your dedication, passion and sense of community is truly inspiring.

For more information, please go to:  http://www.jbjsoulkitchen.org/.

 

Image via nhne-pulse.org.

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Typecasting a writer: folly or not?

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“Don’t classify me, read me. I’m a writer, not a genre.” 
― Carlos Fuentes

In one of my earlier blogs (New Year’s Revelation No. 5, “Never, Never Assume!”), I wrote about the unfortunate common practice of making assumptions ― about people or situations.  So many of us, whether intentionally or unintentionally, fall into that trap – to our detriment.  In so doing, we run the risk of making erroneous assumptions (because we are not aware of all the mitigating factors) and rush to judgment, perhaps too quickly.  The same applies to pigeon holing or typecasting someone.

In the acting world, for example, actors are often typecast as comedic, dramatic, character, leading role, action hero, and so on.  Yet many actors have proven – time and time again – that they can seamlessly apply their acting talent and skills to any genre. And when they do this, we are always surprised (yet delighted).  Why are we surprised? The answer, of course, is that we made an erroneous assumption. Yes, Robert De Niro has played some seriously intense and dramatic roles.  However, as “Vitti” in Analyze This and Analyze That (opposite Billy Crystal), De Niro had me rolling on the floor, laughing.

The same applies to writing.  Just because a writer publishes a book in one genre, this does not mean he or she is incapable of writing in a different voice, for a variety of target audiences, or in multiple genres.

As for myself, I have multiple book projects in the works.  Many are non-fiction.  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression is a political and economic commentary and collection of real-life vignettes.   This does not mean that the only genre I write is non-fiction editorial.  I write fiction, as well as industry-specific pieces and scripts for documentaries. 

Whether one is a writer or a photographer, an actor or an artist ― the fact is, we are complex and multi-faceted.  Labels are very limiting and should not be assigned so readily.

If we only focus our eyes on the moon, we may miss the beauty of the rest of the galaxy.

Image via trivworks.com.

Bookworms of the World, Unite!

read-books

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

― Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

Books, glorious books!  They are scattered around my house and I carry one in my bag, wherever I go.  When I’m not reading a book, I’m writing one.

Today, the day that both Miguel de Cervantes  and William Shakespeare died (two of several literary giants who died on April 23rd, 1616), is World Book and Copyright Day — created by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to pay worldwide tribute to books and to the authors who write them.

Introducing the world of books to someone — a child, or even an adult — is like opening a locked door, behind which lies the path to knowledge and empowerment.

“I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me.  I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life.  As I see it today, the ability to read awoke in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”    

Malcolm X

Today, in this second decade of the new Millennium, our busy lives often preclude us from taking time out to read a book.  Make the time… please.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of  reading.  It exercises the mind, stretches the imagination, opens up new worlds and is far more enthralling and entertaining than a television sitcom (in my opinion). 

If you can’t spare the time, carry a book in your bag – just in case. Rather than complain about the long wait time in the dentist’s office or at the airport, just open up a book and read.  Before you know it, the plane will be boarding or the dental hygienist will be beckoning you to come on in.

As for me, I concur with the late President Thomas Jefferson, who said (simply and succinctly):

“I cannot live without books.”

Image via worksmartlivesmart.com.

Celebrate Earth Day

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This poem, written by Scott Edward Anderson, encapsulates the true spirit of Earth Day.

Healing
by Scott Edward Anderson 
“Healing, not saving.” ~ Gary Snyder

“Healing, not saving,” for healing
indicates corrective, reclaiming

restoring the earth to its bounty,
to right placement and meaning–

Forward thinking, making things new
or better or, at least, bringing back

from the edge. The way
bulbs are nestled in earth,

starting to heal again–
the way a wound heals.

Keep warm. Sun following
rain; rain following drought.

Perhaps we have come far enough
along in this world to start

healing, protecting from harm,
from our disjunctive lives.

The way the skin repairs with a scab,
injury mediated by mindfulness.

The bark of the “tree of blood”
heals wounds we cannot see.

Deliver us from the time of trial
and save us from ourselves.

Image via yosemitepark.com.

What is unique about the book, Casualties of the (Recession) Depression?

Originally, I intended to write a collection of short stories, based on the real life accounts of middle-class men and women who had been (and who continue to be) adversely affected by this prolonged economic downturn.

After learning about all their tribulations and triumphs, I decided that their stories would have more impact if portrayed in short vignettes or scenes.  These snapshots in words capture the essence (and the rawness) of their experiences.  As a reader, you get a feel for what it’s like to ― as Atticus Finch (in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird) says ― “climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  In doing so, the reader may identify with/relate to or gain insight from their experiences, as they navigate through the spectrum of emotions ― shock, sorrow, despair, relief, joy, pride, and so on.  

The vignettes present the reader with a canvas of scenes ranging from sweet-to-bittersweet-to-bitter, from the manic uncertainty of not knowing what to do, to the tenacious pursuit of a “Plan B” … and, of course, emphasizing the point that humor, hope and faith often help to smooth out the kinks and put things in perspective.

Once the vignettes were written, I realized that it was necessary for me to clearly explain my thesis that this overextended economic downturn is a depression, and not a recession. In doing so, I categorized the vignettes by year – from 2006 to the first quarter of 2013. I then wrote an introduction to each of the years, thereby setting the historical, socio-economic and political scene (with economic and political commentary) ― to give the reader context.

I believe that the book is unique because it uses vignettes (rather than short stories) and these vignettes are reinforced by the commentary which presents the context, issues, and possible solutions.

In the second-to-last paragraph of my Conclusions, I write:

“It is not my intention to point fingers at any political leader or party. Nor am I interested in engaging in an ideological battle of red versus blue (or vice versa).  I am, however, raising an eyebrow at the seemingly dismissive attitude that our politicians and economists have towards the ongoing severity of this economic “trough” and, by association, the degenerative effects on the countries largest demographic – the middle class. The bottom line is:  if there are middle-class Americans who continue to experience economic hardship, then the problem still exists. If they are not in the process of recovering, then we are not “in a recovery.”

Casualties of the (Recession) Depression is not an economic treatise or a doctoral dissertation.  It is a very evocative, down-to-earth, mince-no-words commentary/editorial which simply seeks to highlight the human condition as relates to the economic crisis that, like a very bad cough, has proven difficult to shake off.

I welcome your feedback, with thanks.

― Heather Joan Marinos

(Visit:  http://heatherjoanmarinos.com )

Written Content Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved.

Friends supporting friends

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“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement, the greater part of life is sunshine.”

― Thomas Jefferson 

When friends support friends , not just during the tragic and sad moments…  but in times of accomplishment and triumph,  they show that they value their friendships and understand the true meaning of the word, “friend.”

It is good character to feel  joy and excitement for someone else, especially when that “someone else” is a friend or family member. 

Yet when it happens, it’s always such a delightful surprise and it truly invigorates the spirit.

In the past month, I have been the recipient of an outpouring of good wishes and congratulations, and many have been buying my book (some old friends have even bought multiple copies for their friends and family!). 

If I could do cartwheels, I would.  However, since I have never been overly flexible or athletic, it would be unwise for me to try it. But the thought is there.

Just to give you an idea, this is some of the feedback I’ve been receiving: 

“I had to put it down reluctantly (it was late at night) ….  Talk about the human side of political will and emotion and calling a spade a spade!”

“As a writer you want your reader to feel something when they read your words. You accomplished that. I was crying within a couple of chapters. The little girl and her doll did me in.”

“Can’t wait to read it! We’re so excited for you!”

” I can’t imagine how much discipline it takes to write a book! Wow!”

“It will have a place of honour on my coffee table!”

“This is very, very cool.”

What is very, very cool is having friends like you.

Right back at you, with love.

― heatherfromthegrove

 

Image via washoelibraryfriends.org.

Fare thee well, fair Iron Lady

“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.

―  Margaret Thatcher 

Today, we pay tribute to a brilliant woman who ― from 1979-1990 ― led her country with an iron fist, and was the first female to hold the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.  Her conservative politics, known as Thatcherism,  received mixed reaction  – domestically and abroad.  She was revered by many, yet also reviled ― but  never did she inspire indifference.  

Today, with deep respect, we mourn her passing at the age of 87.

In Memoriam

Baroness Margaret Thatcher

1462880506Margaret_ThatcherOctober 13, 1925 – April 8, 2013

R.I.P.

 

Image via commons.wikimedia.org.

Remembering the true ambassador of Montréal: Nick Auf der Maur

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His “office” ― Winnie’s, on Crescent Street (now named Nick Auf der Maur Street)

Je me souviens, indeed.

I was lucky enough to have been born and raised in Montréal, when the city was in its prime.  I was a child during the 1960s and a teenager during the first three quarters of the 1970s. Whether we were anglophone or francophone, lived to the west of or to the east of Boulevard St-Laurent, politically “engagé” on the left or on the right ―  we all could agree on one thing:  what a vibrant, beautiful and culturally rich city we lived in!  A cornucopia of brilliant intellectuals, musicians, artists, doctors, architects, street entertainers, chefs, business owners, restaurants, cafés and bars.  The city boasted the best nightlife in all of Canada. The world fair (Expo ’67) in Montréal attracted people from every corner of the globe and oh, what a wonderful time we all had! And, over the years, one political drama after another kept everyone talking, debating, philosophizing and, yes, writing.

And at the city’s epicenter was journalist, politician, boulevardier (man about town)  and Montréalais extraordinaire ― Nick Auf der Maur (a man who was true to his surname – translated from Swiss to English as “Off the Wall”).

In last Friday’s Montréal Gazette article, entitled “Remembering Nick: paying tribute to a Montreal original,” Bill Brownstein writes, and I quote:

“Rather, Auf der Maur was simply a former downtown city councillor and Gazette columnist — not normally the stuff of legends. He was also a world-class boulevardier and tippler and indiscriminate butt-pincher with a penchant for Borsalino headwear, Donald Duck ties and stinky Gitane smokes. And he was a friend to so many from so many different walks, as well as being the go-to guy for those from outside Montreal who wanted the goods on the city...

… Most importantly, Auf der Maur embraced all of Montreal. He was one of the precious few anglos whose voice carried well beyond the Main. He had street cred among francos as well as anglos. As the late Liberal leader Claude Ryan once put it: he was the only anglo who could fill a hall east of St. Laurent Blvd, the city’s Mason-Dixon linguistic line to many.

If Ernest Hemingway and Nick Auf der Maur had ever crossed paths, they would ― I am certain ― have become lifelong friends.

Alas, Nick’s life was cut short (by cancer) at the age of 55.  He didn’t live long, but he did live well.  His charisma, humour, kindness and mischievous twinkle captivated many.  His funeral service, held at St. Patrick’s Basilica (in Montréal), was standing room only with 3000+ people in attendance.

Nick died on this day, back in 1998. We remember him with a wistful smile and we raise a glass of our favorite spiritual concoction in his honour.

Yes, those were the days my friend. We thought they’d never end.

IN MEMORIAM

NICK AUF DER MAUR

Nick_Aud_Der_MaurApril 10, 1942 – April 7, 1998

R.I.P.

Click on these links (below), for more on Nick:

An excellent book:  Nick: A Montréal Life

A short film: Man About Town: Boulevardier

 

Images via wikipedia.org.

heatherfromthegrove wants to know: Which vignette affected you the most?

For those of you who have read or are in the process of reading my book, Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, I would love to know which of the 23 vignettes struck a chord with you.

In this poll survey, I randomly chose 5 vignettes, but you are more than welcome to list others — in the “Other” section of this poll.

Thanks for your feedback!

Cheers,

heatherfromthegrove

The other side of Bad…

… is, of course, Good. 

I’ve had to keep reminding myself of that lately.  As I mentioned in last Thursday’s post, Neighborly Love,  our  property was brutally pillaged by thieves.  They ripped through things that were sentimental and private.  They stole items and assets that we had worked hard to be able to afford. 

Although we are still struggling with a smorgasbord of emotions (anger, being the most constant), we know that on the other side of Bad, is Good.  We’ve experienced it firsthand: the kindness of complete strangers, our neighbors in the mountains who have banded together – as a matter of personal honor – to bring some order to all the mayhem and to secure the property once again.  To be on the receiving end of such a magnitude of unconditional kindness … it’s beyond words. 

And now, we must move on from this and begin a new day.

In the Andes of South America, the hummingbird is a symbol of resurrection.  On cold nights, it appears to die but comes back to life at the first light of dawn.

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“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.” 

~ from Papyrus