Random Acts of Kindness in Charleston – Put a Smile on Someones Face

“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.” – Charlie Chaplin

Maybe it is the time of year or the nature of our warm Charleston culture, but giving back to the community and touching the lives of others is a feeling unlike any other. It brings life to an empty soul and revitalizes our compassion. Random acts of kindness are all around us from holding a door open, to giving spare change. We are all part of a continuous cycle of giving back; and part of the gift we call humanity.

Perhaps some of you are wondering how you can be a part of this wave of goodness. Here are a few ideas that you may want to consider.

  • Go to MUSC, Roper St. Francis or any of the other medical facilities in the Lowcountry and ask if there are any patients alone this holiday season that could use company. Sit with them, listen to their stories, hold their hand and remind them that there are people out there that care and none of us should ever be alone.
  • Remind your postal officer how important their job is and how much you appreciate them coming to you every day. Leave them a nice thank you card and/or a small box of chocolates/candy to show you gratitude for their incredible dedication. I know we don’t see much “snow” or”sleet”, but they are out there every day for us.
  • thank1Visit the tent city with a bag of supplies for our homeless. It doesn’t take a lot of money to bring some much needed supplies or a hot meal. You can even go the extra mile and sit down for a while. Spend a little time and get to know your neighbors. It is going to be almost 80 degrees out. Perfect time to be outside.
  • Buy a smoothie or coffee drink for a local police officer. 2015 in Charleston has been nothing short of frightening for so many local residents and our local law enforcement professionals are putting their lives at risk to ensure our safety. We live in a community where our children can play openly and we can feel comfortable saying hello to strangers. These men and women in uniform don’t always get the recognition they deserve. Walk up to a police officer, thank them for their service and offer to buy them a nice cold smoothie or coffee drink.
  • Be a Fields to Families Volunteer. Each year volunteers from all over the Lowcountry spend one day a weekend picking local fruits and vegetables from area farms and giving it to families that cannot afford food. Over 80,000 pounds of produce are distributed to local families a year. Adults and children work together in the fields, establishing bonds and doing and incredible gesture for the community; now that is Charleston.
  • If you have a genuine love for animals, Pet Helpers is always looking for caring volunteers in a number of areas. From cleaning cages to walking dogs, to adoptions services, Pet Helpers has committed itself to finding loving homes for our four-legged friends. Once you look into the eyes of these beautiful cats and dogs, you may never want to leave.

pets

For of us that give throughout the year, thank you for all you do.

Top Charleston Stories of 2015

The prominent Mayor Riley
The prominent Mayor Riley

“This hateful person came to this community with some crazy idea that he would be able to divide, and all he did was make us more united, and love each other even more.” – Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley

Emanuel AME Shooting – Charleston is a city that has fought for decades to destroy the racial tensions that have divided this city and region. On the evening of June 17, 2015, this city took a giant step backward in our pursuit of unification and community acceptance when one man executed an act so heinous, without regard for human life that the entire world took notice. For the Summer of 2015, Charleston became the center of gun control and racial tension. In the heart of darkness, we found each other. Without regard of background or race, we bound together to show the world we will overcome and remain Charleston Strong. As the media built cases for gun control, dissected the mind of this killer and looked for answers to how this could happen, Charleston become a city that stood hand in hand and showed the power that love has over terror.

Surviving the flood

1000 Year Flood – The weekend of October 3, shook Charleston and South Carolina. A wave of rain that for many was unprecedented took control of our area and left us captive in our homes. For thousands, their homes stood nearly underwater. Property lost, memories destroyed, waves at record levels and no answers that could put so many at ease. With around the clock news coverage, volunteers in every city and town, and post event relief efforts from all around the country, we all lived through a moment of weakness, where once again, we were forced to rebuild; property and lives. Marshes became oceans, neighborhoods became lakes and for many, the only option was to wait and pray.

Walter Scott Shooting – On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott, a black suspect was shot and killed by North Charleston Patrolman 1st Class Michael Thomas Slager, a white police officer. What made this event so spectacular is that it was captured on video and what was witnessed was a scared man brutally shot to death. A picture tells a thousand words, a video a million. No one will know exactly what all the circumstances were that led to this merciless death. In the spring of 2015, Charleston was center of national media attention, highlighting the evident racial concerns that still brew in this area. This event happened just days before the 150th anniversary of the end of the US Civil War.

Caitlyn The Dog – Just named by People Magazine as the Best Survival Story of 2015, Caitlyn become the post dog for animal cruelty prevention and awareness. Her story and the images of her treatment sent shivers down our spines and had the entire country routing for one precious dog. After many successful surgeries and a new and loving home, Caitlyn, runs and barks and shows incredible love and compassion for all that come to meet her.

Caitlyn is happy overlooking the water

Mayor Riley Steps Down As Mayor of Charleston – After 40 years as mayor and 47 years as a public servant in South Carolina, the honorable Joseph Riley Jr. will relinquish his seat to a new face and administration. Mayor Riley is an icon of impenetrable valor admired and respected throughout the Charleston community, the Democratic Party and the country. His legacy as the sixteenth longest running mayor in US History will carry on for generations to come.

Off Duty Night Shift Supervisor Lt. Will Rogers Shot in Moncks Corner – On May 14, 2015, an incident happened at an Exxon Station in Moncks Corner. Off duty police officer Will Rogers, in an attempt to talk down the assailant, and was shot several times in the head. After extensive surgery and physical therapy at MUSC, Mr, Rogers is recovering from the incident.

Citadel students image from Facebook

Citadel Students Dressed as Ku Klux Klan Sing Christmas Carols – Eight Citadel Students have been suspended and chants for the presidential dismissal are lingering in the air over images found on Facebook of Citadel Students singing Christmas carols in what appears to be Ku Klux Klan attire. This unprecedented event coming from one of the most respected public schools in the South, the alma mater of Mayor Riley and a city that has been scars from racial wounds throughout the year sent shivers through Charleston as the year came to a close.

Charleston Mayoral Election – Not since 1975, will the city of Charleston see a mayor other than Joseph Riley Jr. By Election Day of 2015, six honorable men and women stood, each representing a passion for Charleston and an agenda for change. By the end of the evening on Tuesday, November 3, we still did not have a decisive winner. With no one candidate receiving 50% of the popular vote, a vote-off would ensue two weeks later and the two remaining candidates would go head to head for this heralded seat. Leon Stavrinakas and John Tecklenburg would remain. After two weeks and two elections, John Tecklenburg stands alone as the Mayor-elect for Charleston, South Carolina.

Lost and defeated

The Citadel Defeats the University of South Carolina Gamecocks – As you looked at the proud faces of the young men that had just beaten the South Carolina Gamecocks, a once powerhouse of the SEC, you would think you were looking at a group of ten year old boys that just cracked a 100 pound pi?ata of candy. Their excitement as they danced in Columbia was a site to see. It was the reward of hard work, believing and a family spirit that led to this victory. On November 21, 2015, as the last second rang off that clock, the final score read, The Citadel 23 – USC 22 and for the first time in twenty-five years, the baby blue of The Citadel was the victor.

Unexpected Tornado Invades Johns Island – On September 25, 2015, an EF-2 tornado rolled through Johns Island leaving a devastating aftermath. Between 70 and 80 homes received damage from the event that sent shocked waves to the residents of this area. “When the [tornado] started roaring, it was absolutely terrifying,” John Bercik, a Sonny Boy Lane resident told Live 5 News. Fortunately, no lives were lost and the American Red Cross joined forces with local authorities to help families through this tragic natural disaster.

Aftermath of Johns Island tornado
Aftermath of Johns Island tornado

Tent City of Charleston Initiative – Helping the City Homeless…Year Round

helpingThe Tent City of Charleston Initiative is a group of civil minded citizens whose hearts stretch far beyond the borders of the holy city.? Their generosity and hope of a better tomorrow are a guiding light for us to follow.

Surrounded by all the wonderful media, boutique hotels, five star restaurants, booming economy and educational foundation lies a small population of homeless that live in small tent cities in Charleston.? Most of us have witnessed these mobile residents and have looked beyond them.

There is a group who has dedicated themselves to being guardian angels and banding together to give them the basic needs to sustain themselves and their families.

Each week, a wish list and a recurring list of basic needs are released to the public.? There is no obligation or fan fare, just community partnership and generosity.? Five locations have offered their businesses as drop off points.

If items are for a specific person, the donor just has to leave a note with the name of the person who will receive the items.

Drop Off Sites

Mount Pleasant

Habitat for Humanity – 469 C Long Point Rd

Lowcountry Consignments off of Hwy 41 (1179 Gregorie Ferry Road)

The Shelter Kitchen and Bar – 202 Coleman Boulevard

Pleasant Paws Day Spa – Belle Station Boulevard

North Charleston

Mjm Salon Company – 8410 Rivers Ave Suite I

This weeks wish list includes:

Tent City of Charleston Initiative Facebook Group

You may not know John, Christopher, Noah, Dana, David, Jeffrey or Peter, but like you and I, they wake each day and breathe the same air.? They unfortunately, do not have a place to call home or the financial luxuries so many of us are accustomed to.? Without jeopardizing their pride, this initiative has lead a crusade to once again show the strength of the City of Charleston and its incredible ability to help one another.

If you want to become part of something bigger than yourself this holiday season or even beyond, give to those that cannot help themselves.

To all the volunteers of this initiative, so for five years, thank you for once again showing the power of love in Charleston.

Bill Murray is Everywhere, even in my dreams

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

While most Americans were enjoying turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy, green bean casserole, football and pie on Thanksgiving, I was spending my holiday on the warm Gulf Coast of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.? A paradise of snorkeling, dining, massages, Mayan ruins, yoga, beach walks and margaritas.? I am not here to tell you about the amazing memories we made, but one particular one that left an interesting and uncertain impression.

Living in Charleston, Bill Murray tends to slip into your dreams once or twice.? How could he not; he is everywhere.? Whether you see him at Rutledge Cab Company, The Alley or a RiverDogs game or on his recent Christmas Special on NetFlix, Bill is a busy busy man.? Maybe some of you just think I am bonkers and he has never been in your thoughts or dreams.

Either way, my story is still on the odd side.? Resting comfortably in a third floor penthouse overlooking the ocean 2700 miles from home, he is the last person I would have expected to be a critical character on an all night dream sequence.? Well, he was.? Bill Murray was in my dream.

I am still not sure why, but the details are worth sharing.? Mr. Murray (as he has earned that distinction with his illustrious career) invited an “elite” group of Yelpers led by community manager Scotty to an inside look at his restaurant.? I know what you are thinking, it must be Rutledge Cab Company.? It wasn’t.? This one was large and unique with a variety of rooms and an outdoor seating and garden area and it was somewhere in the Summerville area.? The structure of the restaurant seemed to be more than one floor.? Not in a traditional structural way, but almost an ode to M.C. Escher.

Oddity number one:

When we arrived, he was laying on the ground pretending to be dead.? After we moved closer and hovered over him, he popped up like a gymnast and said hello.

Oddity number two:

His staff comprised of celebrity athletes, most being NBA basketball players including Tony Parker.? My partner in crime dismissed that section as a connection to Space Jam, but I hadn’t see or thought about that movie in a long time and these athletes were much younger and current players unlike the immortal Michael Jordan.? The celebrity service staff members were friends of Bill and did this for fun on the side.? I was like ok, why not.

Oddity number three:

Not so odd.? I wanted to snag Bill for a candid interview.? I am sure somewhere in my psyche I would love to sit down and discuss things and the only time I met him, he threatened to kick me in the neck thinking I brought a script to the RiverDogs game for him to read.? It wasn’t a script, but with the manila envelope in my hand, an honest mistake.

I am manifesting this incredible set of Q&A with no focus on film, television, celebrity status or even baseball.? It would have been a legendary cross of the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Mad Magazine.? A true Pulitzer piece of journalistic art.

I chickened out.? I didn’t completely chicken out.? Respect won over personal achievement.? Now that I think about it, why wouldn’t it.? It was a dream.? It was not even reality.

As I followed him and even got a couple of random comments from him, I just didn’t see the right moment.? He was inviting us into his fictional restaurant and what right did I have to step over those boundaries.

At the end of the dream, as I awoke, I was still there in the restaurant, no interview and no idea how any of the food was.? How could I have not even tasted the food at this fictional restaurant?

I went downstairs to the kitchen, made coffee, watched the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico and lingered perplexed as I wondered how Bill Murray got in my dreams as I vacationed far from home in Mexico.

Some mysteries may never get answered.

Thank you Bill Murray for invading my nocturnal mental chamber.

What Kind of Charleston Friend Are You? Let’s Find Out

Friends1A few of you are beginning to read this while posing the question in your head, “Are there really different types of Charleston friends and beyond? There are a remarkable number of friend categories and consciously or sub-consciously, most of us fit into one of these bucket. Let us take a few moments to describe each of the friend types and see where you fall.? This is an eye opening exercise.? Some will laugh, some will roll their eyes, but we will all agree we know “That Friend” and most of us will say we are “That Friend”.

Friend Categories:

  • Text Friend – This is the friend that consistently “text message” communicates with you.? Whether it is just to say hi, a deep emotional exchange or a bored conversation exchange, this person chooses text over any other form of communication.? When you call them, they will not answer, but rest assured, you will get a text back very quickly saying “What’s up”.? This person will spend time with you in reality, but it is few and far between.? You need unlimited texting and a lot of extra time to meet the needs of the text friends.
  • Facebook Friend – The Facebook friend is very similar to the text friend, but much more visual.? They provide more visual aides around their life including video and pictures of their daily escapades.? You most likely will only be included in these pictures on big group special events.? If you are lucky, they may also include you in Vine, Instagram and SnapChat.? You could get a little overwhelmed in the social world with this friend.? This individual will also “like” and “comment” often on your page.
  • Respectful Friend – The respectful friend is one of the worst kind.? Whenever you call, text or message, they will always respond to you quickly.? They are genuinely nice people, but they always put the catalyst on you.? This person will never initiate a conversation or try to make plans with you.? Any time you want to talk or hang out, you have to contact them first.? This can get frustrating at times because the relationship can feel very one-sided.
  • Social Friend – This friend is always on the go.? If there is an event, festival, happy hour, concert or flash mob, you will most likely see them there are very nearby.? This person will send a mass text invite or online invite to come and party.? One thing to know about the social friend:? They do not have a concept of calendars or planning.? Most of their outreach is very last minute.? Be prepared to jump in your car or hop on your bike at the last minute to spend time with this friend.
  • Clingy Friend – The clingy friend does not have a lot of close friends to call their own and many do not have busy professional and social lives.? They cling onto anyone that gives them much needed attention.? They are very flexible and accommodating as they don’t want to risk losing you, so they will do whatever you want to do and compromise their own interests.? They thrive around others and do not do well alone.? These friends require patience, because often times you have to push back on them for your own needs.
  • Emotional Rock – Most people have only only one or two friends that fall into this category.? This is the go to person during confusing or difficult emotional times.? If you have a bad break up, learn of an unexpected death or have an unsettling feeling, this friend will drop everything and meet you at the bar at midnight to talk to you and listen.? They never judge no matter how neurotic or irrational you get.? They are a vital part of your life and should never be taken for granted.
  • BFF – The BFF is the cool friend.? You rarely go a full day without talking.? The BFF will go to a rock festival and dance in mud with you, run through a fountain, ask someone out at a bar for you or sit up all night drinking on the porch.? You can take to them about anything, but most of the time, they are the happy friends that you don’t get too deep with.? They make life more fun.
  • Mutual Friend – This is a friend that values respect and mutual exchange.? They call you as often as you call them.? You make plans together to have dinner or lunch and catch up.? They call once a week to let you know what is going on in their lives and they attend all your special events.? This is a good reliable and trusting person to have in your life.? You don’t see them everyday, but you never go a long amount of time without talking to one another.
  • Professional Friend – These are friends you met in college or professional networking circles.? You tend to share similar skills, backgrounds and industry experience.? They are great contacts and usually good for a coffee or lunch when you are in town.? If you hit a milestone and it is witnessed online, they will congratulate you.? Unless you are in the same town at the same time or one is in need of a favor, they are normally in the distance and do not surface.
  • Gaming Friend – Whether it is Call of Duty or Words With Friends, this friend is always good for a game or a thousand.? They are obsessed with online gaming.? Sometimes they will stay up until 4 AM so they don’t miss a game in China.? They develop relationships through their games and often will exchange small talk in chat areas to strengthen and develop the gaming relationship.? Once a gaming friend, always.? This can also hold true for the binge watching friend that DVR’s 5 episodes of Walking Dead and then picks a long Sunday night to drink, eat popcorn and watch all the episodes at once.

Friends2

There you have it Charleston, the 21st Century version of the “Friend”.

Some make fall into more than one category, so don’t feel you are pigeon-holed.

What kind of friend are you?? We would love to know….

Best Friends in Charleston – A Celebration of Love

Dear Charleston: A Letter to Our City

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Dear Charleston,

As the autumn leaves fall from the trees and the brisk winds awaken us to dark skies, we find ourselves in a time of reflection.

This year, the limits of our souls were tested and we stood strong.? From Charleston to Mount Pleasant, we joined hands in unity to stand up for peace and community.? Blind of color, race, ethnicity or values, we looked directly into the eyes of terror and said, “No, we won’t stand for this.”

The nation and the world watched as we led a crusade for freedom.? Just days after we remembered the Charleston 9, we lost nine more brothers and sisters to a heinous crime of hatred.? Under the hands of the Lord in his home, we witnessed the unthinkable.? Together, we set aside all differences and we united.? Not in violence, not in revenge, but in hope.

On the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War, we became the platform for the separation of black and white once again.? When the blood of Walter Scott spread on Charleston area soil, the potential for a war was in our midst.? Once again, we looked inside ourselves and black and white became a rainbow of acceptance.

Caitlyn, our beloved pit bull taught us that all lives matter.? After expensive surgery, fund raisers and awareness that stretched from coast to coast, Charleston become the home for the fight for animal rights.? One dog, one community together.? Today, we look at Caitlyn and see the most beautiful dog in the world.

Just as we dried our tears, the One Thousand Year Flood ravaged our homes leaving hundreds and thousands lost and confused.? Every town, every city looked for answers, not just for the events of that weekend, but the future.? So many of us lost our homes, our memories and an uncertainty of the future of the land.

The generosity of our neighbors from the North to the South with donations, supplies and volunteers, showed just how much love we emit.? This is a testimony to the value of love and how 2015 has truly defined Charleston as the City of Love and Unity.

When Mitch Lucas announced the shooting and eventual death of Deputy Joseph Matuskovic, we mourned.? Joseph was a family man, friend, neighbor, avid sports fan, outdoors lover and a caring member of our community.? From East to West Coast, officers in uniform came to pay their last respects to this fallen officer.? As we remember Joseph, we know he did this to protect all of us and forever we are indebted.

Now, after 40 years, Mayor Riley, known so fondly as “The Mayor” has gracefully stepped down as the leader of Charleston.? A gentle man with a heart of gold, Mayor Riley has transformed Charleston to one of beauty, historic importance, economic growth, prosperity, unification and hope.? His legacy will continue to live on long after we have departed.? As we welcome our new mayor, we see this as a symbolic sign of change; a fresh perspective and new beginnings.

We love you Charleston with each new sunrise reminding us of a bright future.? We hold you close as you protect us.? We welcome our guests with open arms and a long embrace.

To you, we say Thank you.

Love,

Your Family

 

 

Mount Pleasant Based Doc Crombie’s Bootleg BBQ Sauce Continues a Proud Tradition

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

“After losing a barbecue contest, spiteful legislator Jasper Snopes rammed through a 1931 law banning the winning recipe of beloved country doctor Ira P. Crombie. For decades, stills above Vigo Springs produced a steady flow of the forbidden sauce. Today, justice is served with repeal of the dastardly ban. Doc Crombie’s is legal wherever dedicated BBQers stand sentry. Fire up the grill–and ‘doctor’ your ribs! the legend continues….. “ – Legend of Doc Crombie

The first time I met Pat Hogan sitting at a booth in Earth Fare with a brown bag of sauces and a smile, I was a little surprised.? I pictured the developer of savory and sweet BBQ, steak and hot sauces to be a healthy full bodied chef with some facial hair and a white jacket.?? It turns out that is his brother, Sauce Master Kevin Hogan.? Over 40 batch tests later, current regional sales distribution including Southern Season, Carolina Cider Company, Whole Foods, The Coastal Cupboard, Caviar and Bananas and Gourmet @Home, press from the Post and Courier, Moultrie News, Farm to Fork, and a legendary story, Doc Crombie’s Bootleg Sauces is giving Charleston, SC and the country a reason to celebrate the culinary delicacy of BBQ.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the diverse product offerings Doc Crombie’s has developed to whet the palates and bring a strong tour de force of sauces to market.? All products are natural and gluten free.

  • Original Prescription BBQ Sauce
  • Double Hot BBQ Sauce
  • Zesty Mustard Zip
  • Habanero Havoc Hot Sauce
  • Hoosegaw Jalapeno Hot Sauce
  • Big House Yellow Hot Sauce
  • Practically Legal Steak Sauce

“Who is the target customer base?” became a focus of some of our candid discussion.? “Anyone that has a love for BBQ, pork, steak or more”? This collection was manifested with the idea that smoked meat becomes great BBQ with the right compliment of sauce.? In a region where BBQ reigns supreme, that is a massive task to undertake.? With a level of passion and love that we yearn for in our culinary creations, Kevin created a combination of sauces that coat the meat with tender loving care and race down your throat with power and fervor.

Being respectful of the range of customer tastes, Kevin worked on a line of products with both savory, sweet and spicy undertones.? From the Double Hot to the Zesty Mustard based, there are products for all members of the family.

Doc Crombie’s is revved up to take on the nation and become a premier spokesperson on behalf of the love of BBQ.

Order Doc Crombie’s Online Today

After an informative evening of discussion with Pat about future business plans, regional and national expansion, product extension and the mission of Doc Crombie’s, I took away from Pat, that the company is about bringing a great product to the people.? The legendary story and memorable label add some flair to the marketing, but the product is what will truly define the lasting memories.? As an avid fan of pulled pork smoked slowly in the early morning hours and then resting my plate on a brisk autumn afternoon, Doc Crombie’s sauces bring the royal treatment.? They are an exquisite collection of condiments that are notch above the rest.

The Legend of a Sauce Bootlegger

doc3

 

Wake Me Up When June Ends – From Emanuel AME to San Bernandino – A Trail of Blood Continues

By Mark A. Leon

On a warm Wednesday evening in June, the world was shaken by a horrific act that took the lives of nine faithful members of the Charleston, SC community at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.? An act so heinous and premeditated that it had the world questioning the core of humanity.? Tonight we look on once again from our televisions and tablets and await further details that help answer the question, “why?” as the media flocks to the other side of the the country to a spot in Southern California where there will be fourteen lives laid to rest before their time should be up.

Since June a stream of tears has traveled from the East to West Coast leaving us uncertain and in a state of fear.? We can question until we are driven to insanity, but it won’t bring back lives.? What we can do is so much stronger; love life, humanity and one another.

As I reflect on my most valued moments, I am taken to a place where children laugh and play in the sand as the calming sounds of waves brush off their feet and sink them into the grains.? Then as the moon shines just the right amount of light through the window, I am safe under a thin white sheet holding my loved one as tight as I can.? That is the future I want for my children and the present I want today.

Once again, as I did the morning of June 18 walking The Battery at 6 AM, I ask myself the question “why?” as I think of the families of the victims mourning this evening.

My only saving grace is faith and hope and is there a more perfect time of the year when the world collectively looks past the commercial elements of the season and embraces the shining light over Bethlehem that symbolizes purity and innocence?? As we enter the holiday season, we have an opportunity to truly make a difference.? Not with sacrifice, but a commitment to our families, neighbors and strangers to live in unity.

Often I find myself praising peace, but it is so much more than sharing words; but converting to action.? I have never been in a physical fight or shot a gun nor am I pleading to the world to do the same.? That would be an impossible task.? Earlier this week, I was in a foreign land where law enforcement carried machines guns.? I was safe and scared all at the same time.? It is difficult when this level of conflict takes over your very soul.? I am not back home where our law enforcement carries much small weapons and still that conflict eats at my core.

Over and over tonight I listened to the words Jonathan Larson wrote over 20 years ago, which has been performed and embraced in over 100 countries and all I could think of is that 9 people in Charleston and 14 in San Bernandino will never have another today; but we do:

There is no future
There is no past
Thank God this moment’s not the last

There’s only us
There’s only this
Forget regret– or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today

There’s only yes
Only tonight
We must let go
To know what is right
No other course
No other way
No day but today

I can’t control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only hope
is just to be

There’s only now
There’s only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today

The sun will rise tomorrow for most of us.? Many will shower, drive to work, have a cup or two of coffee, earn a paycheck, come home to dinner and watch the Big Bang Theory.? During that day, we will text a loved one, send a cute note, give them a hug when we come home and maybe even surprise them with flowers.

A special few will see life a little different.? The smell of the flowers will be a little stronger, the smile on a babies face will make you smile a little brighter, the sound of a song will move you to tears and the warmth of the sun will feel like something you never experienced before.

Tomorrow will come soon and I will express a quiet moment of thought and prayer for the entire community of San Bernandino and for all the places around the world that are experiencing hatred and violence.? I will continue to have faith in a world of peace.

It isn’t such a bad idea after all.

 

 

 

 

Rap and Hip-Hop in Charleston: Khari Lucas Bridges the Gap

By Jessica Edwards - Photo by Sara Dungo
By Jessica Edwards – Photo by Sara Dungo

 

Friday the 13th started as many November days do in Charleston–a sun infused warmth filling the daylight hours, quickly dissolving into a pervasive chill that causes many locals to don peacoats and down-filled jackets. It was on the cusp of this change that I met with Khari Lucas on the corner of King and Calhoun, a young man of immense and varied talent. We made the usual introductions and wandered into Marion Square to find a bench on which we could sit and chat about the great things this young man has been up to.

I first heard about Khari through a mutual friend of ours, an aspiring rapper himself, who described Khari as “so much more than a rapper.” Intrigued, I sought his contact details and started listening to some of his music. While I am not an aficionado on rap, hip-hop, or electronic styles of music, I could tell he had something special, so I was put into contact with him, and planned our meeting.

Khari, Charleston born and bred, was always surrounded by art and culture. Raised by his mother, a fashion designer, and his grandmother, a singer, he grew up going to the plethora of art events housed in the city. When asked what he does outside of music, he immediately answered “If there’s an art gallery I can go to, or if there is a speaker somewhere. I really like academic things…in the sense of going to lectures.”

Photo by Austin Warhol
Photo by Austin Warhol

Khari has not always been a musician–he began his foray into the arts as an actor. From second grade through his penultimate high school year, he was trained for the stage, including vocal training for choral music. It was these daily sessions that lead him to music. Initially, he tried the band route, but got into production work and rapping by his senior year of high school.

Contour, Khari’s production based music project, is what he is most well known for. Instrumental hip-hop and experimental electronic music are the bulk of Contour, which he says is inspired by Madlib and Flying Lotus, but he mostly tries to experiment as much as possible with different sounds.

One way he accomplishes this is through sampling, or taking sound clips from other songs or media sources and integrating them into a new piece. He spends hours of his time listening to jazz, classical music, records, etc. to find potential samples, then stores them in a folder for safekeeping. When it comes time to make his music, he returns to the folder for inspiration. This organized method of music-making allows for him to be prepared when creativity strikes.

His favorite song from Contour is “Girl Sitting Next to Me at the Bus Stop,” from Street Chasers, which at first is seems to be a relaxed electronic song, but is measured out by what sounds like an erratic heartbeat, injecting an energy and nervousness to the song that feels just right paired with its title.

Khari’s rap music displays a different range of talents. Lyrically, his music is sophisticated and cool. His voice holds no concern or uncertainty as he spits out observations beyond his 20 years. Then again, his air is much the same–confident, gracious, and a touch other-worldly in his wisdom and delivery.

One of the reasons Khari is such a good voice for the Charleston rap and hip hop scene is because of his year long stint in Houston. “One of the really important experiences I had in Houston was that they have a really supportive and thriving free jazz community…I went to see some free jazz artists play. It was a life changing experience. I could see that they weren’t just playing instruments. They were trying to communicate something.” His exposure to jazz in clear in his electronic music–things wander, and repeat back, communicating within his own pieces.

There was one experience in Houston that opened his eyes to what Charleston is missing: inclusivity: “They would have workshops…and I just happened to go, and I was just planning on sitting down and watching all the other musicians play. He found out that I played piano, and he asked me I would join the workshop, and I told him I wasn’t a technically accomplished pianist, and so he simplified his original plan for the workshop to include me in it.”

Photo by Austin Warhol
Photo by Austin Warhol

There are so many talented musicians and other artists in the Holy City–you can’t throw a rock without hitting one. So why don’t we have this kind of supportive community that enables fellow artists, even if they are coming from different backgrounds? King Dusko and the John Rivers Communication Museum were the only two places he could book shows. ?Like many other artists in the city, Khari mourns the loss of King Dusko, one of the few places in the city that had become a safe place for local artists to try new things in a prominent and accessible location. With Dusko gone, many bands are without a place to get their foot in the door.

Another question I have for Charleston is where is the support for black musicians and urban music? It’s not that we’re lacking in musicians: according to Khari, there are more than enough quality musicians that the scene should be much bigger.

Hip-hop is a major pop culture phenomenon–the genre is one of the newest in the music game, and in a matter of decades, has infused into every nook and cranny of our society. With a smile, Khari points out how even country music has embraced the sound. With americana and alt-country being some of Charleston most well known and respected musical exports, why hasn’t hip-hop followed suit?

Secret to no one are the racially motivated crimes that have befallen our city in the past year. While these crimes were horrendous, Charleston and her citizens responded with love: we closed down the Ravenel bridge with a march to support unity amongst all people, all beautiful gesture that created ripples across the nation. And it was. Even so, it’s impossible not to notice that most of the hands clasped were white.

“We [Charlestonians] make a very comfortable attempt to address problems of race and problems of race inclusion,” Khari said, who was still living in Houston at the time of the Emanuel AME Church shooting. He admits his perspective may be a bit different than those who were living in the city at the time, I think that distance allowed him to see perhaps what others couldn’t do to the proximity of the horrific event. He says the city’s intentions were good, but that no one really wants to face the reality that real change can only happen if we get out of our comfort zones.

This theory extends to music as well. Come out of your comfort zone, listen to some good music, and contribute to real change simply by supporting local musicians. Black Dave, a local hip-hop artist who is bolstering the music scene, is launching a monthly hip-hop series. The first show is December 5th, upstairs at Joe Pasta on King Street, and features Benny Starr and Khari himself.

Jessica Edwards will be doing a series on Charleston hip-hop and local talent. ? Look for new profiles stories in future publications.