Reflecting on National Walkout Day

“I have never let my schooling

interfere with my education.”

—Mark Twain

Regardless of your politics, your allegiances or your stance on guns, we should all recognize the importance of this act by students across the country.

I hope we can all take a moment today, if not more, and watch those who are marching, walking out, pouring from their schools and classrooms to protest against those who have refused to listen. Watch them, hear them, listen to what they are begging for. Do not dismiss them.

Do not dismiss that the role of education and the point of our schools and teachers is to teach the next generation to think for themselves, to recognize problems and discover solutions; to act in a way that will spur the evolution of our culture and society.

Do not dismiss these protests or infer they are the temper tantrums of children while criticizing those same individuals as spoiled kids who expect things to be handed to them. They are refusing to let their schooling and the failures of the school system and the politicians meant to advance it define their education any longer.

Do not dismiss this protest or those to come. Do not dismiss this generation that you have created.

Do not dismiss this moment…


Watching the Short Film, “The Funeral”

ActsidersYou may remember a while back when I shared an episode of the podcast Actsiders that featured an interview with Ali Nasser. He discussed being an international actor and having a multifaceted career that spans cultures as easily as it does genres and artistic mediums.

If you haven’t listened to Ali on Actsiders, check it out, and then subscribe to and listen to the rest of the episodes. When you’ve finished all that, jump over to YouTube and watch a short film by Ahsan Minhas that Ali recently starred in called “The Funeral.”

In a very brief glimpse into his character’s life, we are able to see a man struggling to balance the success that will define his future and the relationships that represent his past. Having listened to the Actsiders interview and knowing Ali as an Egyptian-born/New York-based actor who is so rooted in both worlds by the relationships and career paths he’s cultivated, I may be seeing a deeper duality than was intended by either actor or writer/director. More than likely however, that was precisely what was intended, as this film sought to convey not only the intimate grief of one man, but the constant struggle between the almost split personalities our modern lives break us into.

In everyday life, even when there isn’t a death or culminating milestone event, aren’t we all constantly being pulled in different directions, whether by responsibilities, expectations, promises, dreams?

How can we balance it all? The mantra of ‘work hard, hard’ that was meant to symbolize a hard day’s work to pay for a fulfilling personal life has been cast aside in today’s world as we find ourselves always working, always connected, always moving.  And always falling short.

How can we be good men and women, good mothers, fathers, children and siblings, good friends, good bosses, coworkers, good Muslims, Christians, believers of any faith, good creators and consumers? How can we balance what we give with what we receive?  How can we be good people and good enough? And how do we keep up the strength to be all of those things that we expect of ourselves when we have failed at one of them.

I hope you’ll watch the film, and if you have the time, check out Ahsan’s other work, which I found just as interesting and thought provoking.

Buffalo’s Bison Plumbing

Bison Plumbing DIscount Center
I came across this old ad for Buffalo Plumbing Discount while digging around in a basement crawl space in my other life. There were several old newspapers, Buffalo Evening News and Courier Express from the 1960s and 70s.

Most were in pretty rough shape, but they were still better to work around then the pile of broken windows on the other side of the crawlspace.  The few Metro pages that didn’t disintegrate had some cool old ads in them.  Most were pretty much what you’d expect; Sattlers, Kleinhans, Sears.  One smalll ad that caught my eye was for Buffalo Plumbing Discount Center.

When I saw it, I thought it was actually for a different plumbing place we’ve passed over on Fillmore on our way to B&L.  For some reason, that place had stuck with me, so when I saw the ad I took a few pictures of it.  It wasn’t until later I double-checked the addresses and it looks like they’re different bison plumbing companies. There seems to be (or at least have been) a lot of “Bison Plumbing” companies.

Apparently naming every business in Buffalo with some variation of Buffalo, Bison, Queen City or Nickel City in the name wasn’t limited to the city’s renaissance and was just as prevalent back in the day when Broadway and Fillmore were lined with successful businesses.

562 Broadway, Buffalo NYThe Bison Plumbing City on Fillmore is now a boarded up building, and Bison Discount Plumbing Center on Broadway is just an empty lot.  It isn’t the only empty lot along Broadway or throughout the city’s East Side and the Broadway-Fillmore District.  Those empty lots, sadly, represent the sum total of redevelopment that the city had invested in for those areas while Canalside and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus swell and absorb millions of dollars.

The newspaper wasn’t in the best shape, but that was cool, it gave the logo a distressed look. The problem was keeping that distressed, worn look without there being a lot of white scratchiness in the letters when I added a background color. There are probably actual ways of fixing that, but I don’t know what they are; I layered a couple copies each of the logo and background color of varying opacity, merged them, and then tweaked the lighting. It’s worked for the past when I’ve wanted to layer in a texture or old paper look, like on my Whistle Pig logo, and it did the trick here, too.


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