Monday, October 24, 2011

The Freaks Come Out at Night

In November of 1999, while walking the streets of Cincinnati at two in the morning, I saw a strange sight. About three blocks ahead of us were several dozen people wearing flashing headbands, crazy colored clothes and carrying large boxes. Being the curious person that I am, I ran ahead to see what this group was all about. As I got into the center of the group and was about to start asking questions, one of them reached into his box pulled out a handful of condoms and offered them to me. I was a little thrown off by the gift and wasn't sure what to say. Everyone in the group was carrying these boxes and they were all filled to the top. They had thousands of these contraceptives. In fact, the boxes were so full they were spilling out, leaving a trail behind them so they could later find their way home. I soon learned that I was walking with a gay rights group that was on their way to a local bar. They intended to run in, jump up on the stage with the band and start throwing prophylactics at the patrons. I shook a few hands, excused myself and hurried back to the hotel to share this story with my friends. You don't see something like this everyday.

In January of 2001, I was driving with my family in San Patricio, a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico. As I rounded a corner I noticed a few dogs standing on the side of the road growling at something across from them. As more of the street became visible, I was able to see that there was a line of dogs, about a dozen, standing side by side. Every dog was up on all fours, hair raised, baring teeth and glaring across the road. My son, Christian, asked what they were growling at, but our view of that side was blocked by a building. I made the decision to continue on my path and drive in front of them, but had everyone roll up the windows. As we crept forward, we were craning our necks to see what had these dogs so upset. Once we cleared the building, it was like a mirror image of the other side of the road. There was a similar number of dogs on the other side, staring back and doing the same thing. Was this some sort of canine street gang that was getting ready to rumble? We drove between the opposing sides and not a single dog broke his gaze from his counterpart across the street. I still don't know if that was a turf war, a fight over some road kill, or if they were going to serve up some doggy dance moves to settle their differences, but I did know that you don't see something like this everyday.

When you see something that unusual, it tends to stick in your memory. This past Saturday night was one of those nights. I was in the historical St. Louis suburb of University City with my daughter, Kirsten, nephews Gage and Isaac, and our neighbor's kids, Manny and Bryan. Delmar Avenue has several blocks of outdoor cafes, the landmark Trivoli theater, unique stores, restaurants and pubs. The sidewalks are filled with students from the nearby university almost every night. However, the locals were caught off guard by the people out that night.

 There were zombies everywhere. Between 400-500 undead were wandering the streets, chasing civilians down to munch on their brains, and wreaking havoc over approximately a four block area. People sitting in outdoor cafes were stunned when a horde of zombies came lumbering down the sidewalk toward them. People driving on the street were rolling up their windows while others were snapping pictures. There were many mixed emotions observed on the faces of the people and children who were witnesses to this event, but one thing I knew. I loved it. This was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I am a huge fan of horror movies and I like zombies more than vampires, mummies, or werewolves. Despite the screams of their victims, seeing them in real life like this was incredible. You don't see something like this everyday.

Zombie Crossing Guards
Despite the brain-dead appearance of the zombies, they seemed to be very well organized. They did not disrupt traffic, they used crosswalks, and even posed for pictures. One zombie even had a megaphone, yelling "What do we want?" The horde would chant, "BRAINS!" There were zombie families, zombies in wheelchairs, zombie dogs and zombie babies. They were everywhere.

This event, called a Zombie Walk, was actually organized by a few local college students. They set up a Facebook page and asked people to show up in zombie costumes. They gave a time and place and then just sat back to see who showed up. With close to 500 participants, I think they had a good turnout. This kind of event is also called a 'flash mob.' A flash mob is when a bunch of people unexpectedly show up in a common place to perform some unusual event to surprise or entertain bystanders. In this instance, it was dress like a zombie and walk down the street. It definitely served its purpose. People were very confused. Lots of bewildered looks. Just as many smiles and a lot of people pulling out their cameras to document the story that their friends will not believe when they get back home.

High Society Zombie
Back in August, I created a list of things I wanted to do before I die. You can see that list here. One of the things on that list was to participate in a flash mob. I have now done that, so I can mark it off the list.

The kids and myself had a great time and have decided that we will look for more similar events to participate in. The hard part is learning about them. The organizers of flash mobs want to keep them as quiet as possible for the surprise of the people who will witness it, however, they need to publicize it enough to get participants. It is a fine line to walk, but the results are well worth it. Flash mobs have received a lot of criticism, but when put together well, they are of little disruption and people seem to enjoy them.

I learned of this event a few weeks ago and decided to come check it out. There was no charge to participate. We just had to pay for the gas to get there, a meal to eat while on the road, and a little bit of money for costumes. The entire night cost me less than $30 dollars and we had a great time. Next year, we will plan ahead a little more to create better costumes, but do not expect the expense to be any higher.

This guy never broke character
I have included several pictures. You can click on any image to see it in full size and if you would like to see all the pictures that were taken, feel free to visit my Facebook page. The link will take you right to the pictures.
Love the contacts. Really added to the look.

Family of Zombies
Zombies were busting out everywhere
The horde that I brought
Gage had a zombie related accident

Saturday, October 1, 2011

DT or not DT

This has been one of the busiest weeks I have experienced in a long time, but it has also been incredibly enjoyable. I have written many papers for college, attended a wedding, assisted in DJing another wedding with my buddy Adam (aka DJ TRAIN), cooked and fed breakfast to the Mt Vernon Rams football team, and spent some much needed and appreciated time with friends and family. It has been a great week, but yesterday was the high point of it all.

My next door neighbor is the program director for WVYN 90.9FM. This is a fairly young Christian radio station known as THE VINE. The station is named after the verses in John which state, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:1-5)

Despite how young this station is, it has grown very quickly and has been used by God in wonderful ways. The staff has prayerfully done their best to step back and let God take control and they have definitely seen the fruits of their obedience and reliance on Him. The station has gotten heavily involved in the surrounding communities and been successful in communicating with and promoting many contemporary christian artists.

Wednesday evening I was out in my front yard talking with Kevin (known as DT to his radio listeners), and he asked me if I was free the next day. Once I told him I had no plans, he invited me to come be on the morning show at the station. Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I love to hear myself talk, so the opportunity to bless hundreds of other people with the pleasure of my voice could not be refused.

Can you tell I was enjoying this?
As we were discussing details of the morning show, Adam Elliott drove up and Kevin (DT) invited him to come join us. So, Adam and I were on the road at 6 a.m. the next morning to join the show at 7 o'clock. We were thrown behind the microphones as soon as we walked in. We participated in the morning trivia games with the listeners, bantered back and forth with each other and took several calls. It was great, although a few times I had to be reminded by Kevin that his name is DT on the air. That was hard to remember since I have called him Kevin for several years. It took a little getting used to and I tried to do better, but I know I called him Kevin a few more times.

In the middle of the show it was time for me to do what I had been invited there for. Kevin had asked me to share a message on the show. I shared a topic that is often on my heart and I am always teaching to new Christians. It is a very simple concept. We need to be in the Word. 


In Yellowstone National Park there are signs all over the place reminding tourists not to feed the bears. There are a variety of reasons for these signs. One of the hopefully obvious reasons is the fact that bears are very large animals and can be extremely dangerous when they want to be. Feeding bears is not a safe activity for tourists. This also causes bears to start associating people with food and may endanger future tourists to the area. However, there is another reason that many do not consider. Feeding food to bears that was intended for people is not good for the bears. Bears are designed to eat berries, fish and various other bear-type food. It is very important that they eat the right foods as they are building up fat for the winter months. As bears hibernate, their bodies burn off the excess fat that they have accumulated over the course of the year. However, a bear that has gorged itself on Twinkies, Big Macs and cupcakes has built up a layer of sugar-based fat that will burn off too quickly during the harsh winter months. Because they ate junk food and not the solid food they were designed to eat, there is a highly increased chance that the bear will not survive the winter.

Likewise, there are many of us out there who go to church, listen to christian music, hang out with other christians, wear christian t-shirts and read great christian books, but are still (often unknowingly) starving spiritually. We do not recognize that we are only consuming Christian "junk food." Unless we are regularly taking in the solid food of the Bible, then when the struggles of life inevitably come along we are "like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." (James 1:6) The best way to know Jesus and be grounded in what he teaches is to be familiar with the love letter God gave to us. 

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope."
Romans 15:4

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads." 
Deuteronomy 11:18

Listening to sermons is a good thing, but should not be our only tie to Scripture. In Acts 17:11 the Bereans were commended for checking the Scriptures to see if what they had been taught was true. Surrounding ourselves with praise music is a wonderful practice and often helps to keeps us focused, however, it should never take the place of the depth of maturity and learning gleaned from personal devotion time in the Word. It is these kinds of practices that caused Paul to chastise the church in Hebrews 5:12 about still feeding on milk like babies, rather than on solid food as they should be. God wants us to know him and that is one of the reasons he gave us the Bible. We need to spend time in it.

I have absolutely no idea how many people got to hear that message Thursday morning or if it really touched anyone, but I had a great time sharing it. Kevin (or DT) even invited us to come back despite the fact that I said that christian radio was 'junk food' on the air.