BABA’S BLOG ARCHIVES

Video of Baba touring schools in Mexico

I've just finished posting a short video of highlights of my tour of schools in Mexico. Enjoy! Leave me a comment or a little message letting me know what you thought once you've had a chance to watch it. Peace and a multitude of blessings to one and all! Baba the...

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No Coke and a Smile

Seven years ago my preferred beverage at “every” meal was Coca Cola in a nice tall glass and poured over several small cubes of ice. It is embarrassing to admit now, but I used to drink at least four 12 oz. cans with every meal. I am not joking! I had grown up...

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Inequalities in Education

I recently returned from a school where I spent the day in classrooms, performing assemblies and having lunch with students and staff. The school was immaculate with manicured landscaping, plenty of windows, a huge gymnasium and even an Olympic size swimming pool. Art...

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My Heroes of Hospice

While in Mexico I received an email from the director of volunteers and bereavement services, Kaiser Permanente. It was a request that I perform for a group of hospice volunteers during one of their social gatherings. My heart was touched that someone would think to...

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Cooling Out in Mexico’s Culiacán

I’ve been sitting here in the airport of the City of Culiacán for the last hour and a half. I finished performing for the students of Instituto Senda. It is an odd feeling sitting in this tiny airport listening to the Blues being played over the loudspeakers and...

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Art or Infrastructure

There are many things to dislike about Mexico City: the smog, the insane traffic, profligate smoking, where 51.2% of all men can be found toking on cancer sticks in every crevice of public space. Add to these issues the congestion of 8 million souls populating a land...

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Dinner with The Angel and Victor

It would be a misnomer to say that last night I attended a "dinner party" because the gathering was so much more than that. Ever since I first began this tour of Mexico I’ve been looking forward to meeting two phenomenal storytellers, Victor Árjona and Ángel del...

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Tranquility in Tlaxcala

Last week I visited a school called “Crecer” which means “to grow” in Spanish. The school is located in the City of Tlaxcala. I didn’t know much about the city except that it was located outside of the metropolis of Mexico City. I always love getting away from the...

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A Homeless Woman Punched Me!

While in Mexico I decided that I would make sure to use public transportation. I honestly feel that public transportation is a sure fire way to get to know the city and people up close and personal. Little did I know when I boarded the subway in Zona Rosa that I was...

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Someone Stole My Stuff!

I’ve been in Mexico City for about a week now. The city’s tempo is just like most other urban centers of the world, fast paced and congested simultaneously. The streets overflow with pedestrians, careening taxis and sirens morning, noon and night. I haven’t blogged in...

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The Magic of Language

While waiting to board my flight to Mexico at the Los Angeles International Airport yesterday, I decided to purchase a local newspaper for Spanish speakers . I used to do this more often when I first began learning Spanish, in order to challenge my word knowledge and...

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My Refusal to Fight Him

Late in the evening on October 19th I stood in line with hundreds of other passengers hoping to make it to the ticket counter of Continental Airlines at Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo Brazil. I could have given in to the temptation to fume with anger and...

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Today I Danced with a Little Girl

Today I visited my last school on the final leg of this 3 city tour in Brazil. Did I enjoy myself? More than I can say. Do I feel as though my work was appreciated and respected? Yes, and with such grace and dignity that I can honestly say that I was an honor to visit...

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Graffiti is not Tagging

Whenever I travel to other urban areas of the world I try to explore their graffiti. Graffitti, not tagging, those are two totally different things. I know we get them confused sometimes but, to me, tagging is ego tripping and graffiti is self-expression. While...

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Samba Baba Samba!

Well when I left off on my last post I sort of said that I was going to take dance lessons at a Samba School here in São Paulo. That didn’t quite end up being the case. We went but the school wasn’t a school it was actually a club. A Samba Dance Club. Permit me to set...

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Surreal Sensations in São Paulo

I probably didn’t mention it in previous posts but I received an email from the school I visited on October 11th, Lorenço Castanho. They were asking if I could fit, at least, one more visit into my schedule before leaving Brazil. Friday was a scheduled day off, a...

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My Invitation to Enter Iran

Last year I received an invitation to attend a festival of storytelling in the country of Iran for 2012. I haven’t spoken much about it since almost everyone I encounter seems to think it would be a horrible idea for me to go. At odds are two trains of thought. On one...

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Embarrassing Truths Be Told

I often struggle with how much information about one’s personal life should be shared with others. What is the limit on information we should give people about ourselves? How much of what we might divulge about ourselves could be deemed inappropriate? Over the years,...

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Loving Lorenço Castanho

When I woke this morning, had I know that I would hear hundreds of teenage voices telling me that they love me and drowning me with hugs, I would have gotten up earlier and arrived at the school I was set to perform at before they opened. Today I visited, here in São...

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From Brasilia to São Paulo

This morning, after breakfast, the sky grew darker and darker as the clouds gathered. Initially, It seemed like it was going to be a scorching hot day. The sun was beaming and hot. The wind was almost nonexistent, and then, all of a sudden, clouds came together and...

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Brasilia Sky No Limits

The city that I’m in currently is Brasilia. Brasilia is the political capital of Brazil. It is where the president works and resides. Brasilia is where the different branches of government have their own office buildings and there is a long main thoroughfare where you...

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Sometimes More Really is More

I walked onto the campus of today’s school here in Brasilia expecting to be gone within a couple of hours after only two performances. I was pleasantly surprised when this did not end up being the case. The school I visited is called The International school. They had...

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From Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia

Today I visited another school here in Rio called The German School. I am in awe at the amount of greenery enveloping these schools. There are fruit trees, creeping vines of all sorts, and flower beds everywhere. It almost feels like your in the middle of a rain...

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Finding Light in a Dark Situation

I was performing at my first school of the tour here in Rio de Janeiro today for a group of about 6 eighth grade classes, yes dreaded middle schoolers, when about 2 minutes into my performance the power went out. No lights, no air, nothing! What would you do? How...

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Meeting the Artist Selerón

Since I’ve arrived in Brazil I’ve become enamored with the Rio de Janeiro.  I only have one more day here before I have to travel to other cities in Brazil and so I’ve wanted to make the most of my time. My tour manager has been “The-Most-Gracious-Host” by taking me...

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Why is there a Garden Hose Next to My Toilet?

I wanted to ask all of you guys a question, but I think I’ve finally figured it out. When I got to my hotel room yesterday I was surprised to find a garden hose attached to the wall next to the toilet. I know how communal and environmentally friendly some cultures can...

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I Purchased Garbage Today

I arrived in Rio de Janeiro yesterday morning after having spent 12 hours in flight. If I had possessed the common sense of a mule I would have gone straight to my hotel room to relax and recuperate from an entire day of travel. My mind, imagination and adrenaline...

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I Am Under Construction

I have a “Do-Not-Like-To-Rush” policy that I like to adhere to whenever I’m planning on doing “anything” and that includes traveling. Instead of getting to the airport the 2 hours ahead of time that the customer service agents recommend, I usually am there 3 1/2 to 4...

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What Community Can Do

I received a phone call from an old friend, a man more like an elder to me, about two weeks ago. Some readers might remember him from previous blogs. He was the elder who suffered a stroke sometime back and the community rallied together to help him through a very...

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Inescapable Inequities in Education

There must be some reason why I continue having these dualistic experiences. Yesterday I had a performance at a school in the city of Los Angeles. The school was one of those progressive educational institutions housed in a corporate high rise with underground...

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One Tongue Two Worlds

Last night I had the opportunity to provide translation services for a "Back to School" night. There have been so many budget cuts during this era of austerity that many of the basic necessities required by our educators, to do their jobs, are basically nonexistent....

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My Kora’s First Flight Case

I've been performing since early 94, telling stories, playing Kora and singing. I've always managed to get around the expense of a flight case. That is until now. I used to have my clients just pay for an additional seat for my Kora and, because I was only touring...

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M?xihco and Me

While most of my friends were partying during our early years and engaged in unmentionable activities (at least that's what I heard), I had my head buried in books. Sometimes I lost in conversations with old friends because I wasn't present when they had some of their...

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Thoughts of Brazil

I'm having a lot of thoughts of my upcoming trip to Brazil and I'm trying to reconcile time constraints with a desire to provide service. The truth of the matter is that most schools that can afford to bring me to their respective countries are private and never seem...

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The Gift That Made Me Cry

The other day I was at a small arts festival being hosted by a school. I've been visiting this school and performing there for almost 10 years now. They host a festival where artists spend the day going from room to room, visiting with students and performing their...

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Leaving Children’s Hospital

I just left the Children's Hospital after being there for two hours. What an amazing time I had! I got to visit with a few of the children that I met last week and share new stories. I love having the chance to perform for people who've already seen me perform. Today...

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Final Visit to Children’s Hospital

Today I'll make my final visit to Children's Hospital before leaving for my two month tour in Brazil and Mexico. I'm not feeling as apprehensive as I was last week and I'm hoping to re-visit a couple of children who I played music for and told stories to. There is one...

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My Visit to Children’s Hospital

Yesterday I wrote about my nervousness in preparing for a visit to Children's Hospital Orange County (CHOC). It was a therapeutic process putting pen to paper and helped me deal with the performance anxiety that only seems to rear its ugly head when I'm going to CHOC....

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My iPad 2 Adventure

Before I begin this story let me tell you something, “I do not like lines…not standing in them, near them, on them or anywhere around them. Also, I have never eaten green eggs and ham and I deplore lines because that is just who I am.” Now on to my adventure of how I...

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Bogota Blog 12-Final

There is a pattern that plays out in my mind whenever I leave a new city or country that I am visiting. As I am preparing to leave my mind offers observations such as, "this time tomorrow I will be back in Los Angeles," or "this will be the last morning I hear the...

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Bogota Blog 11

I'm back in Bogota! The rain last night delayed some of the services at the airport and so I got home really late. I woke up this morning thinking about a friend I made at Colegio Jefferson in Cali. Her name is Claudia and she is such a beautiful person. Claudia is...

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Bogota Blog 10

As I´m preparing to leave the beautiful city of Santiago de Cali, I´m feeling a bit sad. The schools, teachers, administrators and students really rolled out the red-carpet for me. At Jefferson I was challenged creatively to engage each and every grade level they had...

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Bogota Blog 9

Today was a day of excess and indulging. I arrived really early at this morning’s school and was greeted by food and a drink called “Avena” (Oatmeal milk drink). The drink is quite refreshing but difficult to explain the taste and texture. Had I realized what an...

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Bogota Blog 8

Yesterday I visited a school here in Santiago de Cali that is about 50 years old. My first session was with 16 and 17 year olds. Mornings are usually a rough start for performers at most schools and I’m no exception. The first group, early in the morning is often...

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Bogota Blog 7

Hey! Alright... I'm not actually in Bogota now, I flew to Cali last night but I like the title of the running blog so I'm keeping it. I'll be back in Bogota in another week anyway. I had to get this written down though. My tour manager Pablo and I arrived last night...

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Bogota Blog 6

I’m getting ready to board a flight to go to the City of Santiago de Cali, which is approximately 300 km south-west of Bogota. I’ll be touring schools in that city for a week before returning back to Bogota to finish up with a final week of schools there. I’ve been in...

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Bogota Blog 5

As soon as I returned to my apartment here in Candelaria I had to sit down and write about my experience today. I had one of the most unbelievable experiences in my career today. I took a cab to a school called San Tarsicio here in Bogota early this morning and when I...

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Bogota Blog 4

I’m exhausted. I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning and did four back to back sessions of music and stories at an all girls school called Gimnasio Feminino. The most amazing part of the day was presenting to a gathering of more than 300 sophomores, juniors and...

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Bogotá Blog 3

I know, I know. I had promised to blog more often about this experience of touring schools in Colombia as a storyteller, but the rich and deep social exchanges here in Bogota are impediments to the isolation needed in order to write. The daily decisions are difficult:...

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Old Women Soccer Players

I had to write about something I witnessed today. While walking through the city of Bogota I kept encountering elderly women (maybe late 70's or early 80's) doing some amazing stuff. While in the national park I was in awe of an elderly women jumping rope with some...

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Pepper and Coffee

While I'm here in Bogota I won't be able to write the long, detailed blogs, but I will try to return periodically and let everyone know what's going on with your favorite storyteller. I just wanted to take a second and share an experience I had in a restaurant in the...

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Persuasive Arguments

I had one of those moments a few days ago that make me smile each time I think about it. I was in a restaurant leaving the salad bar and returning to my table. I ended up behind a few other people who were walking up a narrow aisle towards some stairs so I had to...

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Children’s Hospital of Orange County

Yesterday I had the privilege of being permitted to share music and stories with several children at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). To say that CHOC is an incredible institution would be a massive understatement. This hospital far surpasses its stated...

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Debating Me Myself and I

In 1979 I had major conflict with a teacher who turned my world upside down inside out. Although I played sports almost all of my academic life, I was also passionate about forensics, or what later became known as speech class (i.e. oratory, debate, etc.) This was one...

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Unhealthy Hospitals

I got a call last week that one of my elders had been hospitalized. Word throughout the community was that he had suffered a stroke and survived, unable to move, trapped in his home for 2 days before finding the strength to crawl outside where he was discovered. As if...

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Alcohol and Storytelling Do Mix

Alcohol and Storytelling “Do” Mix by Baba the Storyteller I had an interesting storytelling gig last night, one that I will not soon forget. I was called to tell tales at a late-night, old school back yard party. Well…old school for some anyway. The music alternated...

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Stranger in the Village 2010

It has been 55 years since one of this nation’s most prolific and profound thinkers, James Baldwin, first published his essay “Stranger in the Village”. Baldwin recounted his experiences visiting the remote Swiss village of Leukerbad and being the first Black man many...

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Child Drug Dealers in Elementary Schools

I really wish I could give names and locations but once you read what I'm about to say, I'm sure you'll understand why I didn't. I visited an elementary school recently (which shall remained unnamed) and was working with groups of 6th graders on getting them...

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Initiatory Process XIII

I'm not sure whether to play the old Carol Burnett goodbye song or the Mickey Mouse Club song. I'll let you guys choose. It appears we have reached the end of this experimental-writing-creatively-in-Spanish journey. It also seems as though I may have survived with the...

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Unrequited

The speech was a resounding success. Hundreds of people in the dimly lit banquet hall stood up from their chairs and tables to applaud the senator’s impassioned plea for change. The ovation and loud cheers spilled out of the banquet area with the senator and his wife...

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No Correspondido

El discurso del Senador fue un gran éxito. Cientos de personas en el salón de banquetes estaban de pie y aplaudían apasionada por la petición del Senador para traer los cambios á los negocios del gobierno. La ovación y los aplausos siguieron el Senador y su esposa por...

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Breaking Curfew

Emanuel carefully crept through the old door, trying to keep it from creaking as he entered the dark living room late at night, hours past his curfew. Incredibly, he had managed to get the door opened, and closed, without it emitting a single sound. Just as he began...

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Violación del Toque de Queda

Después de una noche lleno de fiestas, bebidas y muchos amigos, Manuel entró por la puerta sigilosamente y la cerró. La sala fue oscura y él había violado el toque de queda. El empezó a pensar en como navigar el piso hecho de madera cuando escuchó una voz suave y...

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Initiatory Process XII

Can you believe that we started this 3 month journey in March and it is almost June? Absolutely amazing! I believe the first question was would I survive an all Spanish Speaking/Writing creative writing course based in Madrid? I'm not quite sure yet. You would have to...

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Manchild in the Land of Promise

Manchild in the Land of Promise Aldeo sat pensively across the tiny kitchen table, trying to identify the unfamiliar anxious smile deforming his mother’s lips. For much of his childhood Aldeo had served as a surrogate adult ear for her in between parades of transitory...

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Hombrecito en la Tierra de las Promesas

Hombrecito en la Tierra de las Promesas Aldeo sentó pensativamente al lado opuesto de su madre en la mesa de la pequeña cocina. Trataba de identificar la sonrisa ansioso deformando los labios de su madre. Desde su juventud Aldeo la había servido a su madre como un...

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Initiatory Process XI

So what should a person do when they can't sleep. Hmmmm..... maybe finish their creative writing assignment. I'm a bit miffed with myself because last week I finished the assignment early and then forgot to turn it in. My name appeared on a list with a few other...

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The Dancer

The Dancer by Baba the Storyteller Her fingers delicately traced invisible patterns in the air as she slowly turned in uninhibited, gentle circles. Poised on the toes of a single foot, she traced the outline of her leg with the other from the ankle, continuing up...

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La Bailaora

La Bailaora por Baba Los dedos trazaban diseños invisibles en el aire mientras ella bailaba lentamente en círculos desinhibidos. Se balanceaba sobre los dedos de un solo pie y con movimientos suaves del otro pie ella trazó el contorno de la pierna. Continuó levantar...

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Mural Artist Search

Well, we're getting close to discovering our mystery artist who painted the mural on the wall of the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center. I've heard back from 3 different sources that the company that painted the mural is called "Flying Colors" and is located in Northern...

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Initiatory Process X

Ok I know some of you were wondering why haven't I submitted the most recent story that I wrote for the next assignment. Well the truth of the matter is that I, literally, hate what I wrote. If it weren't an assignment I would ball it up and throw it in the trash!...

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