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From the essay collection: THE MARKS FAMILY CHRONICLES: A MAN'S THERAPEUTIC WRITINGS FROM THE SOUL
“Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying”
Michael Pierre Marks
2013 COPYRIGHT – The Marks Media Brand
On this day a long, sharp butcher’s knife pierced through my flesh like a hot knife cuts through butter. Hit in the back, the knife’s tip was even able to peek out and view daylight from my stomach. It was this very day that this sharp instrument severed a major internal artery, and so, on the cold, unforgiving floor I laid, where life whispered to me very faintly that she was leaving me. This was pain that I had never felt before. I mean, it was very primal; just raw unadulterated fear, agony, shock and supreme disillusionment. This was the perfect concoction, the smorgasbord of emotion that overtook me on this day.
Now, this was not what literally happened to me. But I would imagine that my emotional trauma was no less painful than having a butcher’s knife plunged inside my back on the day that I opened the door with divorce papers staring right at me from the outstretched arm of a process server. And there was the mother of my 2 children (a 2 year old girl and a 3 year old boy) standing right next to the server.
My entire world had changed in an instant. I vividly remember it. That day had been so uneventful, mundane, probably even considered boring by many, perhaps. It was just another typical day. Well, when 8pm rolled around on that Thursday night, I opened the door and soon felt the crushing weight of all the infinity of darkness that I glared out at. The longer I stood there, the more compressed and claustrophobic my surroundings became.
Do you know that time can stand still? Yes. It can. For just a brief moment in my life, for the very first time, everything froze. My blood froze too because a swelteringly hot night though it might have been, I felt like a naked man standing in the middle of the Artic.
Do you want to know what is so remarkable about this experience? All I could think about were my 2 precious children. MORGAN! MIYOSHI! My screams as powerful and loud as the decibels from a lion’s roar deep in the
African jungle, though they might be, were as futile as attempting to grasp
thin air. It was like the process server and my wife were not even standing there. As my mind started to settle and old man mute slowly gave way to
audible sound, I heard these words enter my ears: “Mr. Marks please sign the form.” I looked at the mother, my wife – where I could actually see the images of my kids’ faces imprinted in her face. For just a blip in time there, I felt slight inspiration before reality quickly set right back in. Where are my kids??!! My yelling, pointless. I soon found out that they were in an undisclosed location. You see, up to that point, my marriage had been crumbling over the course of several months, so my concerns were not with or about the mother. However, my relationship with my children had not missed a beat. As the one out of work, I would be the primary caregiver. Although I was still seeking out employment, I was essentially a stay-at-home father. With this being said, it should come as no surprise to you then that my kids had forged a closer bond with me than with the mother. My kids were the only things that kept me sane in an extremely toxic marriage.
The exit from the marriage by my wife I could handle, but the exit of my kids from my existence was something I didn’t even have the capacity to imagine. My love for my children is only second to my love for Almighty God. Now in this context you might be able to appreciate just how delicate and devastatingly desperate this situation was for me. I was dying, you know? You mean you didn’t know? Yes, people do suffer physical deaths, but I am here to tell you today that you can also die in the emotional realm. I know this because I did…
After this eerie Thursday night, I would not see my kids until almost a month later. You might say that one month is not very long, but you could not have convinced me of this at that time. One month was like one year in solitary confinement in the “hole” at Shawshank Correctional Facility. I am speaking of one of my most favorite movies of all times, the Oscar winning
film, “The Shawshank Redemption.” Never had I felt so hopeless, so vulnerable, and so weak in all my four decades that I’ve lived on this planet.
Sadness and emotional breakdowns consumed me. I was on the brink of despondency.
Fast Forward in time and I see my kids for the first time. It was the result
of a mediation agreement which stipulated visitation from Fridays through Sundays each weekend for me. My life is now beginning to come back from a blurry opaqueness into a crystal clear focus. My purpose even seems more defined now.
I’m a lot better now, but there were times that were very rough for me. These were specifically the times during the exchanges of the kids when they had to go back to the mother on Sundays. The cries of my little girl looking at me with heavy, tear filled eyes and saying “I want my daddy” made a constant echo inside me. My insides were the hollow cave in the deepest bowels of the desert, my girl’s words the rock thrown inside it that bounces off of other rocks that produced the sound – that horrible echo. “Daddy are you coming with us?” My little boy would say this to me after placing him in the mother’s car seat. This would produce yet another grating echo inside of me. My throat would get so dry that I would feel like I was choking – almost asphyxiating. I learned very fast that the words of very small children can make a full, grown man cry. My kids would say these words every Sunday on the exchanges back to the mother and each Sunday I’d cry, almost uncontrollably at times. What could I do? I was absolutely helpless, and I know this is why it hurt so bad. A father is supposed to help his children feel safe and secure. I suppose all of our tears flowed from different streams but came back together in a common river of love. Yes, I suppose we were bound by our tears. I am so much of a family man, so the hurt and pain I felt can’t possibly be accurately described with words. But in this forum, I have pledged to do my best in the attempt...
Slowly, I started to pick myself up and put myself back together again. I knew the importance of being a strong and stable force for my children. My
kids are well adjusted now and my resilience and faith in God, a solid
nuclear family, and awesome friends have always helped me overcome the insurmountable. I’ve had too many challenges and setbacks to enumerate
here. A few people have even told me that my plight would destroy the average mortal, but somehow, someway I’ve been able to overcome and keep moving; keep one foot in front of the other.
“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying” were the words of Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins in “The Shawshank Redemption”) which were directed at Red (played by Morgan Freeman). Andy refused to accept Red’s point of getting used to a life in prison. Both were sentenced to life in prison, but Andy had imagined a life to be lived out in Zihuatanejo, Mexico and asked if Red wanted to join. If you saw the movie, you know that Red ultimately joined his good friend Andy in that beautiful locale of Mexico.
Like the character Andy Dufresne, I’ve decided to Get Busy Living. I can’t Get Busy Dying. I have 2 perfect children who depend on me for financial and emotional support. Beaten down by the setbacks that pursuing a career in movie directing, producing, and screenwriting can cause, I refuse to be defeated. I am determined to live the life that I have imagined in every way. I’m ready to take the cinematic world by storm.
Whether the inspirational words come through the radio waves from Steve Harvey’s 12 minute motivational and spiritual monologue at 6 am on 102.3fm or from Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, or TD Jakes on the television, I know that I must keep pressing on in every area of my life. The measure of a man is not how he operates in good times, but how he operates in bad times. I’m paraphrasing this from the wise words of world class actor, Sidney Poitier’s book, “The Measure of a Man”.
The fact that I’ve weathered a tumultuous tempest and come out vibrant and even stronger speaks to the spirit of my fortitude. I understand now that I am not ordinary. I am extraordinary. I’ve got a field of dreams to fulfill and realize. Get Busy Dying? No. I’m going to Get Busy Living. Now the question remains. What are you going to do?
Dear Northwood Homeowner,
Please allow me to take this time to introduce myself. My name is Affie Satoodeh, and I am a realtor with Century 21 Award. It has been 30 years to date and Century 21 Award has been serving Irvine and surrounding areas faithfully. My particular area of specialty is the Northwood community.
Because I myself am a resident and home owner of the Northwood community, I have an intimate understanding and thorough knowledge of the neighborhood and what it has to offer (schools, businesses, etc.). My experience selling homes in this particular community spans 10 years; since 2003. I am very proud to have been able to help so many homeowners sell their homes in Northwood, Irvine.
In my next mailing, you’ll be informed about general real estate marketing trends, Northwood market updates, newsletters, and more. Included in this same mailing will be my personal brochure that you can read and hopefully attain more of an accurate picture of my business perspective. Also, if you have any other real estate needs such as a 1031 exchange, selling or leasing your investment property, or simply purchasing another property, I am here to be a facilitator and just generally make life easier for you.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call, email, or just stop by my office. I am here to work hard for you. It is about all of us making the Northwood neighborhood an enjoyable experience for everyone.
I thank for your time and consideration, and I hope to work with you very soon.
Century 21 Award
4000 Barranca Pkwy. Suite 140
Irvine, Ca 92612
(949) 510-0740 cell
(949) 262-2786 Office
(949) 551-7080 Fax
COLLEGE ENTRANCE ESSAY/PERSONAL STATEMENT:
USC (UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) CINEMATIC ARTS GRADUATE SCHOOL PROGRAM
Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
It was a recent epiphany. I was sitting in my dark room, and it was as if the roof of my home opened up and the light entered – and lifted me up out of it. It was truly an out-of-body experience. This was what I felt after starting to feel the love and passion that was beginning to escape me after leaving the movie/entertainment world behind and venturing out. On this very night I made a decision that I would be willing to die in the sincere attempt to fulfill the dreams and passion God has placed in my heart. This is rare in most people in any discipline, but it is the main thing that makes me the individual that I am.
I am not that 23 year old, who 15 years ago, graduated from college with an average GPA. I have grown into a very professional, passionate and driven individual who has made excellence his standard. I have not only accumulated years of corporate work experience under my belt, but I have logged many hours on studio movie sets and even directed, produced, and written a few stories of my own. I have so much to offer, but as a humble person, I also understand that I still have so much to learn.
One of the things that has shaped who I am and my unique vision and voice is the fact that I have ventured into other disciplines out of the frustration of a stalled, snail-like pace of a career in the movie industry. Although, I never really thought about completely giving up on movie production, I had convinced myself that I could get a “real job” and just continue to make films on the side. I discovered that my personality is too bold for that, and it can’t be contained inside the tiny four corners of an office or a cubicle. Probably more importantly, I truly realized that I love the art form of storytelling and that I truly wanted to engage the world by exercising a supreme command of the written word and allowing the powerful, infectious images flowing through the camera and then onto the silver screen to positively influence the lives around me.
My case for wanting to live my dreams became even clearer as I thought of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “If you haven’t found something worth dying for, then you aren’t fit to be living”. I then heard Martha Stewart say in a television interview that most people live life without ever fulfilling themselves. Lastly, just days before the writing of this personal statement, Joyce Meyer commented that so many people live in fear and are so unhappy because they are not living a life of purpose. They are not doing the things that truly make them happy, she proclaimed. I refuse to be one of these people.
My aim is to tell great stories that my children and their children will continue to talk about and pass forward to posterity. If I am to do this, then I understood right then and there that my thought life would have to take a drastic turn. Directing, producing, and writing would have to be at the foreground of my existence and not the background. It all started in my dark room that night. This was followed up by writing out a long list of dreams, goals, and desires I have
for a career in the movie business. And those aforementioned things led me to my interest in the USC Cinema Arts MFA program. So, here I am.
With that all being said, these distinctive experiences, characteristics, my background, and views have certainly shaped me into a person who aims to be original in every sense of the word. The most important thing I wish to infuse into my stories are the ones in which ordinary individuals are made extraordinary through the obstacles that they have had to surmount. These are the stories that are dear to my heart, and because I’ve had so many challenges of my own (marriage separation, unemployment, legal battles in court, and other things, etc.), I strongly relate to this theme. Although I do want to venture into comedy, science fiction, and other things -- compelling dramas are my main stories of choice.
When I had that epiphany in my dark room on that dark night I was watching the movie “Black Swan”, starring Natalie Portman. This movie awakened something, so dormant, so primal inside of me that I felt red tears falling from my heart to the pit of my stomach. It was an absolute masterpiece, and it made me feel alive like great stories do for me.
The last scene left an indelible mark on me as she gave her final dance performance before a large, rousing audience. Natalie Portman’s character fell from the stage onto a long pole to her death (or at least it seems it might be her death). Her last words were something in the vein of “I wanted to see how it felt”. Her character was striving to perfect the dance sequences of the black swan and white swan, and she had achieved the perfect performance only by giving all of herself and being willing to die to achieve the desired result.
What makes me the individual that I am is that I have learned that my gifts and talents must be expressed so that the world may benefit from them. I am ready to give all of myself, every single morsel of my existence, and even my life for this beautiful art form of movie production. This makes me the individual that I am. Although I am not a dancer, like Portman’s character, I had, for just a moment in my imagination, written, produced, and directed the perfect movie. I would be immortalized through the telling of a great story. USC would be where it all started.
From the essay collection: THE MARKS FAMILY CHRONICLES: A MAN'S THERAPEUTIC WRITINGS FROM THE SOUL
Why Men Cry In The Dark
It had been the culmination of many things that led to this day when I found myself sitting on a toilet in my apartment on a dark night in a dark room -- crying. A many a night I have cried in the dark. But perhaps the most poignant and indelible memory of one such incident was precipitated by something my 3 year old girl and 4 year old boy said to me: "Daddy, are we going to go get some ice cream now?" Speechless and consumed with
shame, I quietly stepped past my two little ones and into the bathroom, closed the door, cut off the lights and began sobbing. I was crying in the dark...
Everyone knows that we live in a society in which men are taught at a tender age not to cry. "Suck it up", are the words that constantly bombard a little boy's ears. "Boys don't cry!" And so boys grow into men who carry this heavy albatross around their necks that no man or any human should be expected to bear. Men are tough, right? We are supposed to take whatever the world throws at us and just deal with it without shedding a tear. Well, we might not cry in the light where everyone will notice us, but men do cry in the dark. I have had my wife wipe tears from my eyes, even as she herself was crying, only to tell me to stop crying; that men don't cry. We live in a society that expects a man to be "strong" and shoulder all his problems and move right along. Men are human and need an outlet just as women and any other living form. Because of societal norms and mores about this, men cry in the dark. This is why I cry
in the dark...
You see, this all came down on me like an avalanche on Mt. Everest. It all started several months prior to that actual day of me breaking down uncontrollably in that small bathroom that night before my children. My wife and I were constantly at odds because of financial struggles we were facing. The problem was not so much of a financial one as it was one in which she perceived me of not living up to my duties as a man. This has been another curse that society has placed on men; another albatross. I was not doing enough to find employment or I did not want it bad enough. This was what registered in my wife's mind at the time anyway. And although I worked jobs here and there and constantly looked for full time employment, a lot of my time was spent staying home and caring for our two kids.
Never mind that the kids were being cared for by an extremely doting father. Never mind that she does not have to worry about the high cost of day care. Never mind that she does not have to worry about our children
landing in the hands of some pedophile or abusive caregiver. It's just not sexy to see a
man at home without a full time job. All of this was glaringly obvious.
After several fights and shouting matches, her message was unadulterated and crystal clear: You are not working, you are not a provider, and so you do not deserve my respect. When a man feels he cannot provide for his wife and kids, he can walk the earth with a broken, deflated spirit. I was this man. These are the ingredients for the perfect recipe which find men crying in the dark. This is certainly another reason why men cry in the dark...
I cannot tell you how many nights I have pulled the covers over my head at night while lying next to my wife, felt the warm stream, tasted this salty water as it entered my mouth from my own sad eyes. During these tough economic times I am certain that there are many other men who have cried
in the dark. Like me, I'm sure they have gotten up and applied for jobs over and over. Like me, I am sure that these proud men have gone on
interviews over and over, but employment seems to elude them. I have been there. Right now I am still there. No, I am here. No money or very little money, no employment are conditions in which men find themselves crying in the dark. This is yet another reason why men cry in the dark...
To date it has been a little over a year since my wife left me and we have been separated. When she made her exit, I did not have a full time job or unemployment benefits or two red pennies to rub together. I'm sure other men can relate. Were it not for God's grace in the form of great family members and supportive friends, I would have sunk into the abyss of darkness and despair and maybe even fallen right off the face of the earth a long time ago.
My two perfect, beautiful children have been my saving grace. They are the most important things in my life, save for almighty God. I absolutely could
not have weathered all the challenges I have faced without them. My kids have made me want to stay motivated and keep pressing on when everything inside of me told me to stop. My children have made me want to
persevere when I might have otherwise given up. My kids have truly been the biggest blessing in my life. There is nothing on earth, I mean nothing, in life worth living for like waking up to my kids smiling at me and saying "daddy, daddy". I get so emotional about it that tears well up in my eyes as I write these words. When it seems like everything in the world is weighing down on me, I can always find comfort, solace, and spiritual rejuvenation through my wonderful children. I can't thank God enough for bestowing such a wonderful blessing upon me. Men, can you relate to the words that I speak?
I can deal with a wife leaving me. I can deal with a separation and impending divorce. I can deal with going through several months of unemployment. I can deal with everything that comes my way because my kids are my biggest inspiration and motivation.
When you take into account the deep love and passion that I possess for my kids, you may be able to understand why I cried in that dark bathroom on that day that my kids asked me for ice cream. I had no money to buy the ice
cream. I told my sweet kids earlier that day that daddy was going to buy them some ice cream. What I didn't tell them was that I was going to have to find the money somewhere to buy it. A proud man tries not to ask to borrow money. Men, do you understand where I am coming from?
My kids are my world, they helped me get through extremely difficult times in my life, so not being able to provide them with something as simple as ice cream for their simple, innocent enjoyment broke my spirit into several splintering pieces. My kids helped me get through periods that only God could have gotten me through, and I can't buy them ice cream to show them a small token of just how much they mean to me? I felt I was dying inside. The life and spirit inside of me was slipping away.
And although my kids have never gone without a meal, at times it took everything short of magic to make sure food was on the table. A man loves his children and truly wants to provide for them, does everything in his mortal power to provide for them, but can't. Well, this, to be very
frank, is why men cry in the dark. I am sure there are other men with similar stories who can relate to the words that I write...
Well, things don't seem so bad when you're sitting in the beautiful southern California sun with a bird's eye, panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. It's amazing the type of positive energy one can gain from the water. It has spiritual qualities that are unmatched by anything in nature. Yes, I have cried in the dark, but I know now that it's okay for me to cry in light. It's okay for men to cry anytime. One of the greatest resources that females have at their disposal is the freedom to cry. They have the freedom to be supported by other females while they cry. Men could be more balanced, well adjusted humans given the same freedom. In fact, I will teach my son to express himself and if he cries, I will be supportive and
be there for his needs. Discouraging tears from a boy or man does not make him stronger, it makes him weaker.
The sun is out, the ocean's waves are crashing the beach, the wind is gently
blowing, and I feel optimistic. I suppose this is the reason I love the ocean
so much. Like my children, it provides me with not only creative inspiration, but it helps engender a calmness of spirit within me. Like my children, the ocean lets me know that it is okay for a man to cry in the dark and that some how, some way, everything will be okay...
(WERE EDITED, PROOFREAD, AND REWRITTEN)
Somebody’s Watching Your Every Move Online.
... And It Could Be Your Next Boss…
How many of us get on Facebook and Twitter and post and write and do all kinds of things without giving it a second thought? Come on now, raise your hands. I’ve got my hand up. Guilty as charged. You are so completely in a zone that you probably don’t even realize that potential employers are watching you online. Did you know that they are ultimately basing your online activity on whether they will hire you or not?
Human Resources personnel use social networking websites to research applicants and more companies plan on using this strategy soon. Many people spend an inordinate amount of time in cyberspace. Most of us may think that posting ads, photos, and tweeting are for personal purposes – but it is business for many companies.
You might not even realize that voting for president Barack Obama was the thing that caused you not to be considered for that job. It might not be fair, but it happens. Some employers can and do hold things like this against potential employees. Conventional wisdom says that an informal social network for friends and a place where employers go to seek out job candidates should not be mixed. But this is not how the game is played these days.
Now that you’ve had a fair warning, take special notice of all those photos where you and your friends are sloppy drunk or just generally living it up. Your future boss could be standing in the shadows, stalking your every move. This big tidal wave of the social networking movement is here. Embrace it, but be careful how use it.
Food Fight No Other In The World
Bunol, Spain is serving up something quite special this year. Although, whatever is being served is likely to be thrown before it is eaten. This is the place for the world’s biggest food fight, La Tomatina 2013. This festival event takes place on the last Wednesday of August of each year. Once people get a mouthful of all this fun, they tend to want to come back for seconds the next year.
Each and every year thousands of individuals descend on Bunol to be a part of all this tasty food fight. The participants get the fortunate pleasure of being bathed in about 100 metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes being tossed at them. It all looks like a “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie scene on crack – like Freddie really went crazy. People are walking and running around with smothered in blood-red coloring from the tomatoes.
Like the build to a crescendo in a good classical musical piece, La Tomatina has its own build up. In other words, there are other events that take place before the big day of the tomato toss. At this week-long festival, the participant will also enjoy lots of music, parades, fireworks, and dancing, and even cooking competitions. With all of this as part of the festival line-up, it makes for a more rich and fun-filled experience before the much awaited food fight event.
Make sure you bring as much extra money as possible because prices of everything tend to go up considerably. The local merchants see how people come and take real pleasure in spending big, especially after throwing back a few cold ones or sipping on a cocktail, so they can raise the prices with no problem. And with a population of just under 9,000 people, this small town reaches far beyond its capacity when La Tomatina starts. It is estimated that 40 to 50,000 people enter Bunol to enjoy themselves during this time.
In an effort to save you time and money, consider staying at cities close to Bunol because hotels are very limited there. I suggest doing a Google search to find out the best city or location for you.
2013 Las Fallas Day of Festivities
A Climax To An Amazing Display
Valencia is home to Las Fallas 2013. Anticipation is growing and people are super excited. A 4 day event that features an array of everything from fireworks to toy-like models to other giant sized figures, La Fallas always proves to be worth every minute. The festival attracts people from the four corners of the world to the city every year. And planning and putting this impressive festival together is no small feat.
It can take an entire year to design and create and do all the other particulars. One is blown away by the sheer size and color of things around him. You’ll see Fallas that resemble cartoon characters and fairytales.
Fireworks Are The Main Features
If you want to hear snap, crackle and pop (and I’m not talking about Rice Crispies cereal), you won’t be disappointed. You can see the mighty fireworks of the Las Fallas each day – in fact, up to 3 or more times a day. Almost from the very start of the day you’ll get the pleasure of seeing the sky light up in a scheme of colors from the fireworks.
The Last Day
This day is the most special. See the created models all set ablaze in the final event called la crema. One is immediately taken with all the heat and light and just the sheer passion in which all involved seem to approach the work at hand. It is an awesome display that is unlike no other event .
Plan In Advance
Because the festival attracts so many people, this means that there will be a lot of nearby hotels booked. You’ll want to plan in advance, think ahead. Make sure you give yourself several days or weeks to book your room. Rooms won’t be available for long for the Las Fallas festival.
Having a car of any kind won’t do you much good at the Las Fallas festival. This is because many traffic routes and streets will be closed. Public transportation is the way to go. You’ll be in better hands with the bus and train systems.===========================================================================
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE ESSAY
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (USC) -
SOL PRICE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
MASTERS OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION (MPA)
There are many reasons why I am interested in pursuing the Master of Public Administration degree. One reason would be my passion and affinity for public service. A second reason would be the outstanding faculty and staff members who assisted me with my on-campus visit there at the Sol Price School of Public Policy. Probably the most important reason I seek to enter the MPA program at USC is that I have this real and raw hunger to learn; and attain the acquisition of knowledge outside of my current efforts. It is to better myself and broaden my horizons and place myself around people with brilliant and agile minds who will ultimately help me challenge myself in the highest order and aspire to great things. All the aforementioned things will be used as tools to serve humanity.
For my entire adult life I have been involved in public service in some form or fashion. A significant amount of my years in public service has come in the way of volunteer work for non profit organizations. My involvement in the Big Brothers program has seared indelible and enriching memories in my mind. I was a mentor to a young boy in Atlanta, Georgia, and after moving to California from Georgia 15 years ago, I became a Big Brother to a boy here in Los Angeles, California. I met both of these boys before they were adolescents. Both boys are now young men. It feels great to take a young soul under my wing and teach him the importance of education, generosity, and kindness. The feeling is even more amplified when the person(s) becomes a luminous example of all that I hoped for. The young man, Xavier Ware, that I mentored in Atlanta has a nice family and a stable job. My Los Angeles mentee, Robert Steen, who was in a high school magnate program, will be attending the University of California at Berkeley very soon.
I have also enjoyed my work with the homeless and veterans population, and a couple of adult literacy programs. Whether it was teaching men and women how to read or serving food to the homeless men, women, and children at the Los Angeles Mission, or working one on one with a veteran to help him create an effective, marketable resume at PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), I felt fulfilled and inspired. Public Administration involves public service and these are some of the core reasons why I seek to know more about this field and build a strong connection and exchange ideas with others in the SPPD program at USC.
After setting up an appointment to talk with a student ambassador about the SPPD program, I was pleased from the very start. I got a sense of what it must feel like to be a part of the USC family; to be a part of something much, much bigger than myself. I vividly remember sitting across the desk from Sarah Esquivel and thinking about how humble and self effacing she was. Sarah gave me some helpful pointers about preparing for the GRE and really helping me feel at ease with the core requirement of statistics. I had mentioned earlier that I was never the math type . After my meeting with Sarah ended, I was scheduled to sit in on a class there in the SPPD building that same day. Well, when I showed up, my contact was not there. In fact, the person never showed up or called in to notify anyone. Christine Wilson (who I later found out was the Director of Financial Aid because I happened to notice her name plate on her desk as I sat in her office) saw me standing alone waiting, walked right up and asked me if she could be of assistance. She even went out her way to open her office back up, fired up her computer and pulled a list of classes for me to choose from to sit in on. You see, it is this kind of care from the two USC staff members that resonate with me. These types of gestures have a lasting, positive effect on me and makes me feel like I would be among people who will treat me like a family member and not just another number.
I would certainly be remiss if I did not mention that one truly key reason I aim to pursue the MPA degree is for self improvement. I feel a primal need -- an urge for knowledge. To lift myself to the greatest spiritual and mental heights is something I believe is my personal duty to God and my two perfect children. For the past several months I have been plagued with adversity. It all started when my wife left me. And then If it wasn't finding out how I was going to keep a roof over our heads it was how I would provide food to eat. All while going through this Tsunami of ordeals, the thing at the forefront of my mind was education. I never stopped reading to my 3 year old girl and 5 year old boy. I said to myself that I will even provide the best example to them about the importance of education by getting into a Masters program at a university.
Well aware that USC is a top rate university and its MPA program is one of the best in the country, I would be placing myself in an environment where excellence would be the standard. There would be people all around me who are much smarter than I that I could learn so much from. The exchange of ideas and educational enlightenment in this communal, nurturing environment could give birth to some of the best solutions to many of the government, community, and social ills of today and future generations. It is my understanding that the SPPD prepares leaders. I envision myself being one of these leaders making tremendous strides and helping to make way for a better world.
With all that I have mentioned, the question is not How would an MPA degree affect my career aspirations and goals? No, no. On the contrary, the question is How can an MPA degree from USC not affect my aspirations and goals? One cannot leave such a great institution such as USC and come out such an outstanding MPA program without wanting more for himself, wanting more for his family, and wanting more in serving humanity. It is my belief that this impressive MPA network will open my eyes and expose me to so many new ideas and possibilities that my career aspirations and personal goals will always be aligned with improvement of one's self and living a life of service to people. With an MPA degree from USC, I would be eternally motivated to aim higher and higher in all that I seek to do. My initial goal would be to attain a public administration position in management at a reputable organization or company. Eventually I would want to own and operate a non profit and create a foundation some day. Furthermore, I would be inspired to set goals and reach them. I could be the one or part of a team that actually helps bring a wonderful healthcare program and other services to so many people who truly need these kinds of resources here in America. As the adage goes, "the sky is the limit."
PUBLISHED ARTICLES - "Rolling Out" Magazine
Blair Underwood, Lisa Vidal Chat About the Obamas, and ‘The Event’
Wednesday, May 4, 2011 admin
Blair Underwood and Lisa Vidal star as the president and the first lady in "The Event"
It’s no surpise that the handsome Blair Underwood and the beautiful Lisa Vidal, both talented veteran actors, would be chosen to play the character roles of the president of the United States of America (Elias Martinez) and the first lady (Christina Martinez).
Smart, funny, and humble, the two actors sat down with rolling out on the Sunset-Gower studio lot in sunny Los Angeles to discuss their new television series and the real president and first lady, Barack and Michelle Obama. Underwood and Vidal took a break from shooting the all-important season finale.
The new show, “The Event,” premiered on NBC on Sept. 10, 2010. The weekly plot revolves around a group of extraterrestrials, some of whom have been detained by the government for the 66 years since their ship crashed in Alaska. Others have secretly assimilated among the general populace.
Because of their current roles, many may wonder if Underwood and Vidal have any connection with the real-life president and first lady. Underwood said he actually met Obama 20 years ago when Obama was a student at Harvard and saw him again just before his presidential campaign.
“What I felt, from college to the beginning of the campaign and seeing him through the context of the White House, was an incredible sense of weight on his shoulders, just being attacked from all corners,” he said.
Vidal said she has not met Michelle Obama, but did sit right across from her while dining at one of her favorite L.A. restaurants.
“I got to watch her with her daughters and some friends, and she was graceful, beautiful and bright,” shared Vidal, who says she feels fortunate to be a part of “The Event.” She said jokingly, “At least I haven’t played a maid in a long time.” –michael marks contributed reporting to this story
Be sure to check out the season finale of The Event on NBC Monday, May 23, 2011
Playboy Jazz Festival 2011 Pleases Music Lovers in Beverly Hills
Thursday, May 26, 2011 admin
At first, things seemed just like another day in upscale Beverly Hills until the sound waves were filled with the pleasant tunes of Tamir Hendelman Trio and Justo Almario and his Afro-Cuban group. It was all live jazz at Beverly Hills Civic Center!
The day was sunny and hot, but Hendelman seemed as cool as ever as he sat behind his piano, his bassist and drummer at his side, and opened with the number “Wrapping Your Troubles In Dreams.” Slow and ballad-like, the music seemed to produce a calming effect on the crowd. All the walking and talking slowly came to a stop as all eyes began to focus in on Hendelman.
Hendleman played a few other slow-tempo tunes after his opener. The audience seemed genuinely delighted. After ending each set, he would explain the origins and inspiration of each piece. Some listeners may have felt a little closer to the music since he personalized things by sharing in such a manner.
The next and last act was Justo Almario, who was supported by his Afro-Cuban ensemble. He opened with “La Piragua.” These two gentlemen’s styles could not be more different. Almario and his group were very rhythmic and filled the air with hard-hitting drum beats.
Crowd reaction was very different, too. There were people singing, standing, clapping, stomping, jumping and moving around and about. At one point, Almario’s band came off the stage and marched around the chairs, all while keeping the jam session going.
A large crowd danced and followed right behind the band members of this thumping Afro-Cuban music. A cop was even spotted clapping his hands and moving his head to the beat as he looked down on the action from a balcony.
This day had, in fact, been a very good day for many. People were treated to a free event, the weather was sunny and near-perfect, and everyone experiences outstanding music by two highly skilled performers.
WINNING ESSAY - PRIZE WAS A WEEKEND EXCURSION TO BIG BEAR LAKE
Michael Marks August 28, 2009
How has your life been impacted since you have been matched with your Little Brother?
My life has been impacted in a number of ways since I first became a Big Brother. I would even venture to say that most of these very positive things cannot be measured. Some of the things I have learned from being involved with my Little are leadership, effective communication, love for humanity, and how to be a good father.
There are many more things I can put on this list, but the aforementioned are the first ones to come to mind. Leadership and guidance are probably two of the main things a child looks for in an adult. I saw first-hand how Robert’s (my mentee) somewhat feisty and belligerent attitude subsided. He became more outgoing and kind as he got older. I felt it to be my duty to constantly talk to Robert about the importance of kindness and be a constant example for him in this regard. I learned that leadership and guidance must be clear and definite.
It doesn’t take a psychologist for one to understand that people simply do not always say what is on their minds. In addition to this, relationships can be assailed with so many problems simply because of ineffective communication. Robert has helped me in so many ways with my communication skills. He has to be one of the most inquisitive kids I’ve ever met and this constantly keeps me on top of my game. If I haven’t done the best job explaining something, he’ll either let me know or ask a follow-up question.
I must say that I have acquired a love for the human condition over the years that I once did not have. I found out very soon that there is a world made up of people with problems and circumstances that are a lot bigger than my own. Being involved with a kid from a single-parent household shed a whole new light on the challenges of our youth. A kid in this situation could be dealing with a number of things like financial challenges the mother faces up to the absence of the father that may ultimately lead to his transgressions and poor marks in school. This very thing compelled me to want to be involved with an adult literacy program. I am always looking to improve other people’s lives around me. When we help improve the human condition we help to make this world a better place for us all.
Finally, being a Big Brother has helped me become the father that I am today. I get so many compliments from so many people on how great a father I am. This really feels good, and I am humbled by the kind words of praise. I have two beautiful children, a two year old boy and a ten month old girl. When raising kids love, patience, discipline, mutual respect, listening, and guidance are just a few of the long list of things that are needed for them to develop well. I can thank my Little for giving me a big head start on these things and many other things as well. He has definitely had an enormous impact on my life.
RAP ARTIST PRESS RELEASE
He’s bustin’ out the “GATES” with something real tasty “COOKING UP” this holiday season
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Anthony Clary
Telephone: (850) 384-3936
Lifers Entertainment is extremely pleased to announce the 2009 release of rap phenomenon Gates and his new CD, “D.O.E” with extended play (EP). This CD will actually be available via ITUNES very soon.
You will certainly get more bang for your buck here! There are 5 tracks of fresh, rhythmic beats laced with superb lyrical flow. This CD will get your head bobbing and your feet moving. “Teen Spirit, and “What U Lookin At” (also on another EP release being simultaneously released on the same day entitled “The Black Card) are 2 intoxicating songs that help put Gates in a class of his own.
After hearing his music, you’ll know that he is the truth! He has an authentic sound that reflects the harsh realities of his early life on the streets of Virginia’s Young’s Parks Projects.
Written about in publications such as yoraps.com and rapaattacklives.com, Gates has performed throughout the Virginia and Washington DC areas. You’ll also want to check out Gates’ “Cookup Season Mixtape Hosted By DJ Smoke” You can find out more about his by visiting these two links:
Make this new CD a part of your music collection today. You’ll feel like you are a part of something very special. It’s raw, and it’s truly the real deal…
*Please note: A portion of the proceeds from CD sales will be used to help the Fight Of Our Lives Foundation, an organization that promotes awareness of teenage pregnancy, violence, and education. To find out how you can also be of help, please visit the website below:
1. He Special
2. Motivate ME
3. Teen Spirit
4. What U Lookin At
5. Who Is He?
For information about Gates, visit the websites provided below. If you are interested in scheduling an interview, performance session, or any other engagement, refer to the contact information above.
RUBBER TRAMPS - DOCUMENTARY FILM - ADVERTISING FLYER
A MUST-SEE DOCUMENTARY FILM ABOUT LIFE ON THE ROAD…
“Rubber Tramps” documents the lives of various individuals who decided to travel all around America in their cars and be as free as eagles. Can you imagine not having to get up every morning to face a job that you hate? How many working people even get to take one vacation out of town in the course of one year? How many more dream of quitting and living a life of leisure? Well, you’ll get a chance to follow men and women for whom traveling is not just a seasonal or yearly vocation – it is a lifestyle.
There is a special appearance by Ken Kesey, author of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” Get an insider’s view of each individual’s rich and intriguing tale about living on the road 24/7, 365 days of the year. A most colorful array of personalities and backgrounds, there are stories from each person strong enough to awaken every human emotion. You’ll laugh, cry, and rejoice!
"It's seen more as a degraded experience, only something the poor would choose," says one of the subjects of Max Koetter's documentary about folks who live in their buses. And while most of the interviewees appear bedraggled at best, they're also madly inventive outsiders. The masterstroke is a visit with author Ken Kesey, who displays the original psychedelic bus further on his farm and gives props to Neal Cassady as the first to make driving "an extension of his art." – ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE
Buy “Rubber Tramps” today on DVD for $17.95. There is a $2.00 fee for shipping and handling. To purchase your copy today, go to this link: http://www.rubbertramps.com/.
THE SWEET TASTE OF GARDEN - SCRIPT WRITING SAMPLE
TITLE: “The Sweet Taste of Garden”
KOBE, JAPAN - PRESENT DAY is superimposed over city images...
Colorful skyscrapers, a constant flow of cars and the bustling people give this city its uniqueness.
INT. SUZUKI FAMILY HOME -- DAY
A woman's BACK is facing us. She stands between two travel SUITCASES. A man and a woman tear up as they say their good-byes in JAPANESE.
It is obvious that these two people are the parents of this young woman.
Now this same woman turns around and COMES TOWARDS US with her luggage in hand...
EXT. AIRWAYS -- LATE EVENING
We see a plane. The acronym JAL (Japan Airlines) painted in red, black, and gray colors on the side of its large metal structure. It darts through the clouds, making its way to its final destination.
EXT. LAX AIRPORT -- DAY
The airplane taxis to a stop.
INT. LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT -- DAY
From a distance we notice this same Japanese woman we saw a few scenes ago. Carrying her luggage and walking quite briskly, she makes her way on through the terminal... She passes a sign that reads WELCOME TO LOS ANGELES.
EXT. LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT -- DAY
A pair of BROWN, BROGAN shoes are FULL FRAME on the pavement. The BROGANS come to a stop. We make our way up from her shoes, up from the BEAUTIFUL LEGS, up from the BUST to a very HAPPY AND REJUVENATED AND INNOCENT FACE: this same Japanese woman.
We HOLD on her for a moment as she takes in her surroundings. ... And then she says in her thick Japanese accent...
God bless America!
As Opening credits roll...
We hear the MUSIC BOX. A small spoon being gently tapped against a wine glass is what is similarly heard when listening to it. The major difference is that this instrument is not monotone. It produces a colorful range of song.
And over this tune are the following images: various Japanese gardens. Cooking equipment as it hangs from storage hooks: pots, pans, butcher knives, etc. We also see all kinds of food as it is being prepared inside hot skillets and on top of grills...
We intercut all of this with these images: HITOMI SEATED IN THE BACK OF A CAB LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW, A JOY-FILLED FACE. AND THEN SOME IMAGES OF LA TRADEMARKS: HOLLYWOOD CHINESE THEATER AND WALK OF STARS, LOS ANGELES FREEWAY SIGNS, HOLLYWOOD SIGN, BEVERLY HILLS SIGN, STREETS LINED WITH PALM TREES, RODEO DRIVE...