Martin’s Last Speech

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK speaking at his last speech

Just recently, America celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech. It was a speech that changed the nation, a speech that shook the conscience of the United States. In fact, scholars have ranked this speech the no. one speech of all time, and I can’t help but agree.

I remember the first time I read the speech, I was awed. Each single letter held tremendous power, each single phrase moved my heart. Perhaps the beauty came from the fact that this was a man who stood up and sacrificed himself for what was right. And then for many nights after that, I would try to make a speech that could match his power. No matter how desperately I wrote, thought, or performed, I just couldn’t reach that speech’s kind of level.

So I thought, if I can’t reach that level, perhaps someone else did. So I searched, went on Youtube, and finally I found one. And guess who it was by? Martin Luther King himself. Again. This was Martin’s last speech, the speech he gave before he was assassinated. And after reading/ watching the speech, one might realize that it seemed as if Martin knew he was going to die soon. But that was what it made so moving- the fact that he was going to die, but telling us that we will reach there. In fact, I would say that this speech was my favorite, even over “I Have A Dream.”

So here is the not-as-famous speech “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop.” I would highly recommend you go watch videos of the speech, in fact just even clips of it, and it will just move you and make you cry.

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy in his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It’s always good to have your closest friend and associate say something good about you. And Ralph is the best friend that I have in the world.

I’m delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow. Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world.

As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” — I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.

But I wouldn’t stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and esthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I’m named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg.

But I wouldn’t stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

But I wouldn’t stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.” Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — “We want to be free.”

And another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we’re going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demand didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.

That is where we are today. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding. And I’m happy that He’s allowed me to be in Memphis.

I can remember, I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn’t itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world.

And that’s all this whole thing is about. We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we don’t have to live like we are forced to live.

Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we’ve got to keep attention on that. That’s always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers were on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn’t get around to that.

Now we’re going to march again, and we’ve got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be. And force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God’s children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That’s the issue. And we’ve got to say to the nation: we know it’s coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

We aren’t going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don’t know what to do, I’ve seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth and they did come; but we just went before the dogs singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round.” Bull Connor next would say, “Turn the fire hoses on.” And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn’t know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn’t relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denomination, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water.

That couldn’t stop us. And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we’d go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we’d just go on singing “Over my head I see freedom in the air.” And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, “Take them off,” and they did; and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, “We Shall Overcome.” And every now and then we’d get in the jail, and we’d see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn’t adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham.

Now we’ve got to go on to Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us Monday. Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we’re going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

We need all of you. And you know what’s beautiful tome, is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It’s a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and say, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Somehow, the preacher must say with Jesus, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.”

And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years; he’s been to jail for struggling; but he’s still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Rev. Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank them all. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren’t concerned about anything but themselves. And I’m always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Now the other thing we’ll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people, individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively, that means all of us together, collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles, we don’t need any Molotov cocktails, we just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy—what is the other bread?—Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

But not only that, we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank—we want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis. So go by the savings and loan association. I’m not asking you something we don’t do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We’re just telling you to follow what we’re doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies in Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an “insurance-in.”

Now these are some practical things we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.

Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus; and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters in life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and through this, throw him off base. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But with him, administering first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother. Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to church meetings—an ecclesiastical gathering—and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.” That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effort.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that these men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as a setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles, or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?”

And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, you drown in your own blood—that’s the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply, “Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.” She said, “While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”

And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, been in Memphis to see the community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.

And they were telling me, now it doesn’t matter now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

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Michio Kaku Short Bio

Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku

*A NOTE: I WILL BE TAKING A BREAK FROM BLOGGING…….

One of my most favorite scientists that I would like to talk about….

Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, was born in San Jose, California to Japanese immigrants. His parents immigrated to the US to help out during the San Francisco Earthquake. During World War II, however, his parents were sent to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, an internment camp. It was probably because of this that I think Kaku grew up in a relatively poor family, given most Japanese internees came out poor. He was soon born after his parents were released, and at the age of eight, he heard of Einstein, who he instantly became a fan of and became his inspiration and most important influence to strive for science. This scientific drive appeared in his high school career, which I envy very much. What I envy is his scientific ambition during high school, in where for a national science project, he assembled a particle accelerator in his parent’s garage. First off, I would have been too lazy to ever do something like that given the enormous amount of time required, and secondly, his parents actually supported him in buying him the materials, perhaps showing how influential his parents were to Kaku. My parents would have never done that. Now, as I had inferred, he was poor. How did he get into college, and not just any college, but Harvard University? Well, it happened that professor Dr. Edward Teller, saw Kaku’s project, liked it, and awarded him the Hertz Engineering Scholarship, allowing him to go full ride into Harvard. With hard work and a little bit of luck, Kaku had just gone into a university, which was rare for a poor person like Kaku.

Now, today, at this very moment, Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist and professor at the City University of New York. As implied, he is most well-known in the field of theoretical physics, given his work in popularizing it, such as appearing in radio shows, documentaries, and television shows and writing books to generate interest in theoretical physics. However, that is nothing; that is like dirt compared to the diamond of his career– he cofounded string theory. String theory explains that the universe is made up of strings which resonate with a specific frequency on their own. It is able to combine the theory of relativity and the theory of quantum mechanics, something Einstein tried but failed doing, based on the assumption there are multiple dimensions and universes. Today, it is a widely popular theory among many theoretical physicists for understanding the universe, although Kaku hasn’t finished yet. He is currently searching for the missing link to his string theory- the theory of everything, something Einstein also tried but failed doing. It almost seems as if Einstein is Kaku’s role model, in where Kaku is doing things that Einstein was doing. Hopefully, however, Kaku doesn’t fail in finding the theory of everything like Einstein.

One of his books

Kaku’s works have received varying criticisms from the scientific community and the world. His string theory, as I have just mentioned, is widely accepted by many scientists, although there are a few dissenting scientists now and then. He has won at least two New York Times Best Sellers for two of his physics books, and holds the title of Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in New York City College. However, he has been also notably criticized by the scientific community (and became extremely popular among the world at large) for his popularization of theoretical physics, or in other words, his work of making advanced physics understandable to the general community. I don’t know why he’s being criticized for this- maybe the scientific community wants to feel smarter than the rest- but I think what he’s doing is right. If he hadn’t popularized theoretical physics, my life would have gone on a different course. I would have first of all never known theoretical physics even existed. I would have never had the dream of being a theoretical physicist and helping create the Theory of Everything. Basically, his work affects me to this day because it made me realize what I wanted to be when I grow up- a theoretical physicist.

In my next post, I will talk about a popular theory in theoretical physics: hyperdimensions.

For my Coach O’Brien

Now, let me tell you about my coach: his name is Jim O’brien. He currently was the head coach of the Arcadia High Cross Country Team. In the last three years, he has pushed the team to win two national championships. We have consistently won many CIF and state championships, too. He was named California Coach of the Year among many other numerous awards.

But the awards are nothing. What is perhaps my coach’s best achievement is that he made Arcadia High School a phenomenal cross country force. He brought it to history. He brought to not only state recognition but also national recognition.

And what does my oh-so-lovely Arcadia Unified School District board do? They fired him. For doing nothing wrong. For doing something great. Read this article for more background info: Arcadia Fires Nationally Recognized Coach.

Photo: #obriensarmy#arcadialogic

I feel sad for my coach. Not only has he had been fired, but there have been rumors that Coach was fired for refusing to let his cross country members from joining the AHS track team, whose coach has had a few personal conflicts with OBrien. All of that was bullshit. Cause I was there.

But today I don’t want to do any finger-pointing or name-calling. Today I want to tell my experience with O’Brien.

Now, it all begin 2013 year second semester. You see, back then I was just a regular PE student. Nothing to pride in terms of athletics. Well, it all happened that somehow I got landed in O’brien’s PE class for second semester. (He taught PE along with coaching cross country.) I don’t know whether you can call it destiny, but looking back, it definitely felt like that. The second day of PE, we did a mile run. He saw me and a few other couple guys. He called us over and offered us to join cross country. Of the guys, only me and one other person accepted. That one person quit, however, so it was just me. I was his sole man to join from PE. I accepted, just because I thought why not, even though I never have had plans to join cross country later on. I’d bet that had I never landed in his PE class, I would have never joined cross country, and I would have never been able to have such a wonderful running experience.

The first few days of cross country for me were a little bit hard, given that I was new. At first, I thought he never noticed me, that he saw me as insignificant given that I had just came out from PE class. But I was surprised one day that he came up to me and complimented on how hard I worked and encouraged me to continue. Just that small compliment boosted my spirit up. Coach could make anybody feel good, and that was definitely a quality I appreciated very much. But more importantly, I was even more touched on how he noticed and even gave praise to a newbie liked me.

I remember my first race. I was nervous. Really nervous. And of all the coaches that I could have had in the world, it was Coach O’Brien who noticed it. And he came up to me and talked to me. He gave me an inspirational lecture of telling me to not get nervous and to just run as I used to. In fact, the donkey story that I posted a few posts ago was what he told me. It boosted up my morale so much that I ran that race with confidence. When I found out that I had PRed, I whooped and yelled. I was extremely happy. Coach just stood by the sidelines smiling.

From that day on, I PRed dramatically. Although O’Brien himself would say it’s mostly from my hard work, I’d gave most of the credit to his training program. Although tons of time the workouts were hard and not fun, they usually paid off in the end. And coach just didn’t just stand there and yell at us to do the hard work-outs. He encouraged us continuously and was by our side all the way. The result? My mile went from a 7:10 to a 5:43. My 2-mile went from 14:00 to 12:20. My 3-mile went from 21:56 to 20:55. And my short distances improved as well. All in just four months. The results speak for themselves.

His lectures were also an interesting aspect of him, too. Almost all of them had humor in them. And boy was Coach a funny man. In his lectures too were there a little bit dislike here and there. But in the end, he always demanded of us to be polite, to be kind, to be respectful. Cause that was who he is. He was our role model. But it was the most recent lecture that really touched me. It was when he came to us and told us that he was fired. And no, it was not a mourning scene. There was no crying, weeping, no gnashing of teeth. He took it professionally and calmly. He looked forward to the next step: helping the team as much as he can even after being fired. That’s how much he cared and how dedicated he was.

I’ve noticed the times in which he paid from his own paycheck to cover cross country expenses. I’ve noticed the times in which he put cross country over his own family time. And, simply said, I’m impressed by this sacrifice and dedication. Sadly, he’s being fired and seemingly those sacrifices have gone down the drain.

I’ve only know him for about five to six months now. Yet, I would like to say how fortunate I am to have met such a wonderful person like Coach O’Brien.

Please support him being hired back! Like the Facebook Page Keep Coach O Brien At Arcadia and check out the info there, too. Thanks.

An Avant-Garde Musician

Avant-Garde. Things that are way out into the future, way ahead of their time. People like Picasso, whose invention of Cubism stood out starkly with all the rest of art. Or Marcel Duchamp, whose upside-down toilet shocked and forever changed the meaning of art. James Joyce, with his new style of literature- stream of consciousness.

But when it comes to music, not that many avant-garde musicians come into mind. I mean, you could say the Beatles and Stravinsky were avant-garde, but you have to remember that they didn’t do anything totally out of the ordinary. Their music still stayed within the boundaries of their time, even though it did breach traditional boundaries occasionally. And if you think about it, if we were to play music like theirs today, it wouldn’t be considered out of the ordinary.

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Arseny Avraamov

But there is one avant-garde musician whose music, if you were to play it today, would still be considered bizarre. It is music totally out of the world, and definitely something I would have never thought of on my own. This man was Arseny Avraamov.

Avraamov was a Soviet composer. During his time, Stalin had decreed a rule that all art forms had to confine to Socialist Realism. In other words, all art had to be dedicated to the USSR and made the way the USSR wanted them to be made. As a result, many musical pieces produced in Russia were dedicated to events like the October Revolution or the triumphs against the Nazis in World War 2. However, the downside to this was that many talented musicians felt they were being restricted too much, and therefore left the country. It was one of the largest intellectual drains in Russian history.

But to people like Avraamov, this was a wonderful thing. Avraamov hated the traditional type of music, such as that of Beethoven and Mozart, and was glad that the USSR was ridding of them. He wanted to radicalize music and make it everything but traditional. This sense of rebellion was very apparent early on. He was a pioneer on film techniques, and even invented graphic-sonic art. Arseny created an “ultrachromatic” 48-tone microtonal system, something definitely not in traditional music boundaries. He also refused to join the army in World War One and fled Russia for some time.

But perhaps his greatest sign of rebellion and avant-garde-ness was his work “Symphony of Factory Sirens.” The fact that we cannot find a score or a recording of this work today is reflective of the type of work it was—for it would have been impossible to produce either. Yet, below is an audio of what it would have been like- a reconstruction made in 2003:  (and a picture of him conducting the actual thing)

 

You hear this, and you ask so what? Well, if you think about it, where do these sounds come from? They definitely don’t sound like typical musical instruments. It’s because they aren’t. Rather, the music is made up of a huge cast of choirs (joined by spectators), the foghorns of the entire Soviet Caspian flotilla, two batteries of artillery guns, a number of full infantry regiments (including a machine-gun division) hydroplanes, and all the factory sirens of Baku.  A central “steam-whistle machine” pounded out “The Internationale” and “La Marseillaise” as noisy “autotransports” (half-tracks) raced across Baku for a gigantic sound finale in the festival square. Conductors posted on specially built towers signaled various sound units with colored flags and pistol shots.

Basically, Arseny Avraamov had the avant-garde genius idea of conducting a symphony across an entire city for a Russian Festival dedicated to the October Revolution. I mean, wow. This is just such a creative idea. Just the very idea of it surprises and awes me to the very core. Who else besides Avraamov would have thought of that?

As you have seen, Avraamov had decided to expand music onto a larger scale. Instead of the typical orchestra, he decided to make it the whole city, a very radical idea, even to this day. But now I’m thinking: if he made music bigger, can I not make it smaller? Maybe I should have a symphony within a human body, where the heartbeat is like drums, the tiny sounds of cell moving could be the melody, etc. Maybe that’s what I can do. Who knows, it might make me the second Arseny Avraamov.

From A North Korean Prison Camp

Imagine being born where you experience no family, no love, no nothing. All you do everyday is work constantly, being slaves. You are constantly starving, and food is the only thing that you care about. You cannot escape, but you feel no need to escape for you feel that the whole world is like this- cruel, mean, and heartless. You don’t know that the Earth is round. You don’t know where China is. You don’t even know that China exists.

To me, this sounds like a dystopian society- the sort that you see in science fiction books. People are working constantly like robots and treated like animals. Although this may sound like science fiction, such things do exist today, in North Korea. Below is a story of a former North Korean prisoner who was born into a North Korean camp and grew up not knowing the outside world. He was perhaps the only one to escape the prison camp and make it alive to tell the story.

It seems kind of weird, doesn’t it? I mean, it seems kind of hard to imagine that such things do exist today in a modern world. But it does make me appreciate the fact that I live in America, a place definitely not North Korea.

A few things that caught my interest. First, Shin himself told that he did not feel any love or emotion when his mother and brother were executed. He only started to feel guilty after seeing other people with loving families. So brings up the question: most people say that children are naturally good and learn hate. However, in this case, it seems as if Shin had to learn love himself. Does this mean that children not only learn hate, but must also learn love, too?

Another thing: is this experience that Shin went through necessarily bad? On the outset it sure does look bad. I mean, who would want to go through what Shin went through? But, if all the spoiled children in the world were to go through his experience, they would definitely be a lot less spoiled. In fact, not just to children but also to grown-ups, for they also waste things and take things for granted, too.

In my next post, I would like to perhaps delve deeper into some of the things that I have pondered about for this story.

The Pope Resigns

Recently trending in the news is the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Since I’m not a Catholic, I don’t really get into this kind of stuff that much. In fact, I only heard of it till today. Anyway, I though this CNN opinion article below was pretty good at summarizing the accomplishments of Benedict’s “rule.”

CNN-Why Pope Will Be Remembered For Generations

Journalists have a habit of calling too many things “historic” — but on this occasion, the word is appropriate. The Roman Catholic Church is run like an elected monarchy, and popes are supposed to rule until death; no pope has stepped down since 1415.

Therefore, it almost feels like a concession to the modern world to read that Benedict XVI is retiring on grounds of ill health, as if he were a CEO rather than God’s man on Earth. That’s highly ironic considering that Benedict will be remembered as perhaps the most “conservative” pope since the 1950s — a leader who tried to assert theological principle over fashionable compromise.

The word “conservative” is actually misleading, and the monk who received me into the Catholic Church in 2006 — roughly a year after Benedict began his pontificate — would be appalled to read me using it. In Catholicism, there is no right or left but only orthodoxy and error. As such, Benedict would understand the more controversial stances that he took as pope not as “turning back the clock” but as asserting a living tradition that had become undervalued within the church. His success in this regard will be felt for generations to come.

He not only permitted but quietly encouraged traditionalists to say the old rite, reviving the use of Latin or receiving the communion wafer on the tongue. He issued a new translation of the Roman Missal that tried to make its language more precise. And, in the words of one priest, he encouraged the idea that “we ought to take care and time in preparing for the liturgy, and ensure we celebrate it with as much dignity as possible.” His emphasis was upon reverence and reflection, which has been a healthy antidote to the 1960s style of Catholicism that encouraged feverish participation bordering on theatrics.

Nothing the pope proposed was new, but it could be called radical, trying to recapture some of the certainty and beauty that pervaded Catholicism before the reforming Vatican II. Inevitably, this upset some. Progressives felt that he was promoting a form of religion that belonged to a different century, that his firm belief in traditional moral theology threatened to distance the church from the people it was supposed to serve.

If that’s true, it wasn’t the pope’s intent. Contrary to the general impression that he’s favored a smaller, purer church, Benedict has actually done his best to expand its reach. The most visible sign was his engagement on Twitter. But he also reached out to the Eastern Orthodox Churches and spoke up for Christians persecuted in the Middle East.

Benedict XVI

The divisions and controversies that occurred under Benedict’s leadership had little to do with him personally and a lot more to do with the Catholic Church’s difficult relationship with the modern world. As a Catholic convert, I’ve signed up to its positions on sexual ethics, but I appreciate that many millions have not. A balance has to be struck between the rights of believers and nonbelievers, between respect for tradition and the freedom to reject it.

As the world has struggled to strike that balance (consider the role that same-sex marriage and abortion played in the 2012 election) so the church has found itself forced to be a combatant in the great, ugly culture war. Benedict would rather it played the role of reconciler and healer of wounds, but at this moment in history that’s not possible. Unfortunately, its alternative role as moral arbiter has been undermined by the pedophile scandal. Nothing has dogged this pontificate so much as the tragedy of child abuse, and it will continue to blot its reputation for decades to come.

For all these problems, my sense is that Benedict will be remembered as a thinker rather than a fighter. I have been so fortunate to become a Catholic at a moment of liturgical revival under a pope who can write a book as majestic and wise as his biography of Jesus. I’ve been lucky to know a pope with a sense of humor and a willingness to talk and engage.

If he wasn’t what the modern world wanted– if he wasn’t prepared to bend every principle or rule to appease all the people all the time — then that’s the world’s problem rather than his. Although he has attained one very modern distinction indeed. On Monday, he trended ahead of Justin Bieber on Twitter for at least an hour.

A Civil Rights Story

Hello everybody. Today America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. However, I have one objection to make: I don’t like the name. It’s not I don’t like the holiday, but that I think it misrepresents the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement for racial equality was not just only about Martin Luther King. Maybe it is true that he made perhaps the biggest sacrifice, but there were other African Americans and minorities as well that also sacrificed their well-being for the greater good. If I could, I would change this holiday into being called “Civil Rights Day.”

Basically, there are much more stories out there besides MLK’s. One story I found in the Los Angeles Times. It was an obituary on an African-American who has died just last Thursday, by the name of James A. Hood. Everybody has heard of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, but yet this man is equally important to the Civil Rights Movement and should be honored on equal measures too.

If you don’t recall this in your history class, James Hood was one of two black students who were blocked from entering the University of Alabama by infamous Governor Wallace. President Kennedy had to send armed troops to let them enter in, and it quickly became an important civil rights topic.

Read the LA Times obituary on James Hood here: James A Hood Obituary. (click link)

I don’t know why, but I feel touched by this story. Despite Governor Wallace being a racist and despite James being prevented from enrolling by him, they later had a long-lasting friendship. This is perhaps representative of the American Dream- where two people, once split by their skin color and by their attitudes, eventually become friends and can mingle with one another. As in the quotes of Martin Luther King, “I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.” What a beautiful picture. Anyway, happy…

P.S. Note that the “governor” MLK was referring too was actually Governor Wallace himself.

Singer Josh Groban

Today will be the first post on music. Usually, when we think of singers, we think of Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, and all those popular singers. Personally, I’m not in the taste  for those kind of people, although I do like some of their music. My favorite type of singers are vocal, operatic pop singers.

So, I was on Grooveshark just searching music around, when I stumbled upon Josh Groban. He is a Jewish Russian/Polish man who grew up in Los Angeles, around the vicinity where I live. And obviously, he is a operatic pop (and vocal) singer. To my surprise, he is in fact quite successful. This surprised me because I had never heard of him until now. I went to his website, www.joshgroban.com, and heard his music, which were quite impressing. Below is his behind-the-scenes music video on his single pop Brave.

So how did you guys think of the music? I’d say the music was very emotional and enchanting at the same time. And his voice sounds very good, too. By the way, a thing to note is that his best known songs are Christmas songs. That’s how I found him; I was searching for Christmas songs. All you guys should check him out.