Photo Seminar Spring 2012
Copyright ÂŠ2012 Independent Photojournalists of Temple University First Edition Graphic Design by Ian Darrenkamp and Jessie Fox Typeface: Century Gothic Project leadership: Ian Darrenkamp (conveener), Jessie Fox, Kate McCann, Kirsten Griffin, Luis Rodriguez, and Theresa Regan. Contributors: Andrew Curtis, Charlotte Jacobson, Chris Montgomery, Cynthia Rau, Dillon Mast, Hillary Petrozziello, Ian Darrenkamp, Ian Watson, Jessie Fox, Kate McCann, Kelsey McDowell, Kirsten Griffin, Lee Miller, Luis Rodriguez, Megan Mazza, Milena Corredor, Paul Imburgia, Samantha Gray, and Theresa Regan. Student Copying Services Wachman Hall, Temple University Philadelphia, PA 19122 http://philadelphiawisdom.4ormat.com/
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y how far we’ve come. This project started the same way so many others had before it; a room filled with photojournalism students and our sage-like photography professor, Dr. Edward Trayes, brainstorming what could possibly be covered in a given semester. The idea of a catchall “wisdom” project had been proposed, which raised many questions. What could be learned from the experiences of others? What does “wisdom” even encompass? What does it mean to have wisdom? What could such a project cover? I went to Dr. Trayes’ immediately after class and told him, in no uncertain terms, that I wanted to be involved with leadership of the Wisdom project. Ideas were running rampant through my mind because it was something that I felt passionate about. I thought this was a project that people would be able to take something away from it as a result of seeing it. I wanted to talk to people about their life experiences, the lessons they’ve learned, and what they feel is the most important words of advice to bestow upon someone. Wisdom and the questions of life carry a certain weight that strikes the very nerves of us as mortal human beings. The project was simple: go around Philadelphia and ask a variety of residents for a piece of advice. Anything. For example, one particular day was gorgeous outside, so someone said “Be outside on a beautiful day.” Others’ advice was more of the personal-motto variety, à la, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” and the like. After getting their words of advice, get a portrait of them with our mobile light studio gear. We got over 150 portraits. In addition to the portraits, each student had an interview with anyone of their choosing that was not family. We generated a list of ten questions. They acted as a guide for the conversation. It wasn’t required to cover all ten of them, they could add or take away questions as they felt fit. When one thinks of someone that is wise, the first person that comes to mind is someone that is significantly older. One must have lived life and had many experiences to be able to tell others how to live it, right? Well, I don’t think that is necessarily true, so we went about this project in a different manner. I wanted a range of advice from all ages. Information can be gleaned from anyone, no matter the age. That’s why we asked each person for their age: to give the viewer and indicator how much “life-experience” the person has had.
preface Looking back now having finished the project, it has become clear to me that the Wisdom project encompassed far more than I initially thought. I don’t know if I read this quote somewhere or if I actually came up with it, but, “when you give someone advice, you’re not actually giving THEM advice. You’re talking to them as though they are a younger version of yourself.” I find myself agreeing with this more than disagreeing. Keeping that in mind, reading all of the following pieces of advice not only makes you see things differently, but it also reveals a piece of who the advice-giver is. What did that person experience that compelled them to share the piece of advice that they did? Now I know this doesn’t apply to all the pieces of advice within the pages of this book, but it’s a different way of looking at things, no? It was a rocky road this semester. I pushed the envelope, tried to mix things up, with some success and failure. But the greater lesson learned is that, even when it doesn’t feel like anything is being accomplished, we are always learning. Always. Wisdom. The thread that bound the photo seminar course this semester. Looking back, the purpose of this project and the tumultuous road taken to complete it is far too Meta for me to comprehend right now. Tempers flared, feelings were hurt, but overall, working on this project itself probably taught me more than anything acquired for it. Thank you to the photo seminar class for getting things together. Another thanks must go out to the kindness of the strangers who were willing to give us advice. Special thanks to Dr. Trayes for his patience and omnipresence throughout the project. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
-Ian Darrenkamp Conveener
ell, for the young guys out here? Just try and stay in school, y’know. If you have dreams, strive for them. That’s basically it. Stay out of trouble, y’know. -Charles, 39
tay away from the drugs - especially the pharmaceuticals. Always ask questions if you’re not sure. And always tell the truth ‘cause you can’t help somebody if they’re telling a lie. -Anthony, 28 13
top and admire the little things ‘cause sometimes when you’re going so fast trying to get a lot of stuff done you don’t really stop to admire everything that’s around you and appreciate things. - Jordan, 18
would tell humanity that everyone has an opinion for a good reason, and to consider that and not be too judgmental, because everyone does things because they think itâ€™s right. -David, 24
ive life to your fullest and have no regrets. -Mike, 18
he good education of youth has been esteemed by wise men in all ages as the surest foundation of happiness.
-Ben, 306 17
ry to make the most of every opportunity youâ€™re given while you have the opportunity.
ake what opportunities exist.
ind a spot that you love and spend time there.
ove everybody as you would love yourself. It will free you from all the evil in this world.
ive your life every day â€˜cause you never know when itâ€™ll end.
ake things one day at a time.
verything happens for a reason. You canâ€™t really change the past so donâ€™t look back on it.
onâ€™t take it very seriously. Just enjoy it. Have fun. Have fun with it.
always say when a man decide to date a woman and she got a kid from another man you gotta love that kid before you love the woman.
ust think things twice before you say them out your mouth, anduhh, because once you say something you canâ€™t take it back.
-Sheldon, 45 27
on’t live with nobody. See, I don’t believe in young couples living together. I’m really from the old school. I tell my granddaughter that. She’s 24. It’s good advice I think. And don’t take drugs. Definitely. -Viola, 85
ust be yourself. Be yourself, don’t change, and you know what – stick to your goals. Always stick to your goals. Don’t give up. -Thomas, 61
uestion everything. Answer to no one. Yeah. I like that.
on’t do any hard drugs. It’s the worst thing you could ever do. Don’t do it.
tay in school. Do well. And most of all, worship God.
ven if itâ€™s not lucrative, you gotta enjoy the things you do. Iâ€™d rather be richer in happiness than richer in wealth. -Mike, 26
moke weed every day and skate FDR.
-Young Lurks, 18
moke weed no stress. Roll with the punches.
onâ€™t spend all your money on girls.
ive life to the fullest.
o out there and make your own way. Donâ€™t float along with the current. You have to swim and make your own niche and figure out what you wanna do in life. -Steve, 24 39
emember that we are all part of one human community.
ive everyday as though it was your last.
ang in there. Itâ€™ll get better.
onâ€™t go north of Dauphin at night. And go hard. Life is too short to not go hard
ut a huge bubble over the Middle East. Watch the Simpsons. -Freddie, 19
oys count. Men drink.
donâ€™t like advice. To give somebody advice is a bad thing because we are all individuals and all have different personalities. -Ilya, 68
top bullying little kids. Tell them not to hit at each other. Sometimes peopleâ€™s feelings can get hurt.
ry to understand as much as you can about everything you do. -Joey,21
ring yourself to do something you are afraid of doing. It will usually give you some unexpected results. -Jeny, 19
onâ€™t rip your hair out. -Elyse, 15
eauty is underneath your skin. Be yourself. -Mikaela, 15
anon is better.
always liked do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.
augh a lot. This is not a dress rehearsal. this is the real show.
ome people come into your life for a reason, a season, a lifetime. -Laura, 23
rink triple, see double, act single.
ry to succeed in life.
tay in school.
ake sure to wipe the charcoal off your face.
eep your eyes open and look up. The interesting stuff is going on upstairs.
f I had to give anybody advice, itâ€™s just to kind of like take it easy and let the chips fall where they may.
ife is however you live it, good bad or indifferent. You know, weâ€™re here, and weâ€™re gonna die. So like, I just take everything as it goes.
know about wisdom, you learn wisdom through Job, but now go ahead…What’s the theme of this? I’m full of Wisdom. Got that? Life is short and a blessing is hard to find, and so is a friend. -Robert, 62 65
onâ€™t take it too seriously.
rust hard work over intelligence. -Eugene, 37
onâ€™t go chasinâ€™ waterfalls.
e compassionate to people.
n a day like today, I think Iâ€™d give the advice to get out in the sunshine as much as possible.
e kind to one another, and somebody will be kind to you. When you treat someone like theyâ€™re human, whether theyâ€™re homeless or whatever, God will give you a blessing one day. It might not be tomorrow, it might not be today, but you will be blessed. -Samuel, 58
ut 100% into everything you do.
eep your heads in the books and stay out of trouble. That is the best advice you can give to anybody. -Rizq, 62
aintain your sanity that you have right now, your train of thought. As you walk the beat everyday there is a different change. There are some that understand how to maintain the change and there -Benjamin, 59 are others who donâ€™t. 75
lways trust in the Lord.
reat others nice and they will treat you nice.
reat others the way you want to be treated.
e have seen the righteous die in their righteousness and we have seen the wicked live longer in their wickedness. So whatever you do in life appreciate it and donâ€™t for take it granted because you only have one life to live. -Terry, 53 79
hink about that thereâ€™s something out there bigger than you are and everyone has a purpose in life greater than serving themselves.
ose your cell phone or get it stolen from you after meeting with a group of strangers. Forget about it and let it go. -Pierce, 22 81
he more you lose or let go of, the more open you are to receive.
tart your day thinking about positive things.
o out there with some friends and go live life.
moke pot and long live unicorns.
at well, sleep well, donâ€™t take it so seriously, and enjoy the ride.
e true to yourself, enjoy life - because life is fleeting and you never know what is around the corner. Get the most out of every day.
-Janet, 56 87
pon meeting someone, give them your respect, and later decide whether or not they keep it.
on’t fuck up.
lways let everyone think youâ€™re two steps behind them and stay two steps ahead of them.
lways tell the truth. Even if itâ€™s hard at first, itâ€™s better in the long run.
o to Pietroâ€™s for pizza.
f your relationship is in trouble, go to therapy.
o whatever makes you happy. Figure out what that is and just do that and nothing else.
ey, hey, hey! Smoke weed every day!
f her shoe size is bigger than yours, donâ€™t trust her.
pay and neuter your animals.
iss the devil; eat the worm.
onâ€™t give to the homeless unless they look like they actually need it.
mm… my advice is… this is good advice too… always be armed in some way. Have some form of knife, gun if you’re allowed to have it, to protect yourself from your loved ones. -Jason, 31
ust be happy. -Katie, 20
ou only live once, so make sure you care about things that are important.Â -Claudia, 18
et enough sleep. -Madeline, 19
onâ€™t get too caught up in competition because life is too short for that. -Maddie, 16
ne of the best things that I can say is stay with your job as long as I did. Iâ€™ve been at Temple University for 43 years. -Alice, 62
ry everything once.
tay with your job. Itâ€™s worth it.
eep the stress to a minimum
ove people and respect people. Love them for who they are, not for who you want them to be or who you think they are in terms of how they simulated or how they have a relation to you. Love them for them as an individual, even if itâ€™s different from yourself. -Drew, 30 109
ive life to the fullest.
ake it one step at a time. -Collin, 21
onâ€™t take Digital Mapping.
ust treat people the way you want to be treated.
tâ€™s a struggle out there. Stay in school. -Michael, 42
f you have a choice between buying things and buying experiences, buy experiences. So take the trip, and forget about the new couch. Your old couch is fine. -Mandy, 25 115
hen people tell you who they are, believe them.
ifeâ€™s not all about grades; who you know and how you are is more important than what your grades are. Do what you like; donâ€™t chase. -Christopher, 30
tay focused, stay in school, and follow your dreams. -Sean, 51
at a paleo-diet. Itâ€™s a diet that avoids any kind of processed foods. -Caroline, 49
o to school, go to college. -Evan, 27
y advice on life is this: Take things in moderation. Love people, not things. Find balance.
njoy every day because itâ€™s not promised.
o what makes you happy, and get into thousands of dollars into debt. And graduate college.
guess just doing what you want, what makes you happy and not feeling like youâ€™re doing something because you have to do it. -DaRon, 24 125
ust keep plugging along.
ook at your surroundings, all over. Look at all the beauty God created; donâ€™t look at the buildings, look at the trees, the ferns, the grass, look at what God created. And then again you have to look at everything man -Samuel, 58 & Beaches, 44 destroyed.
ive as if youâ€™ll die today and dream as if youâ€™ll live forever. -Chris, 20
onâ€™t talk about it, be about it.
onâ€™t get married too young
here is nothing holding you back if you work hard enough. -Nicola, 23
ork hard, play harder.
njoy 60 degree weather in February. -Michael, 32
riends, fitness, and fiber. I think that’s all you need to be happy. You need friends, eat a lot of fiber, and stay healthy. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. -Mike, 28
o one can make you happy but yourself.
o know and not to do, is not to know.
ever be that guy.
o not take life too far but at a moderate pace so you can enjoy it.
ou have to live by the law, you have to respect the law. The best thing I can tell is get a job, work your way up and retire from somewhere but do the right thing. -Jerry, 66 139
lways be positive and look at the glass half full.
interview and photo by Charlotte Jacobson
Rich: I am Rich Appel, I am an English teacher at Downingtown East High School and I am 60. Charlotte: What is the meaning of life? R: The meaning of life… is to do things that I would consider authentic. Meaning that, derived from some deep value of judgment that you individual have towards whatever it is. Towards relationships, communication, whatever it is. So I’m an existentialist on that, in that everybody has to find their own meaning, and it has to come from your own value system. C: What is love? R: I think that love is, I don’t even know where to start. It’s when you find somebody that you’re willing to do more for than you’re willing to get back. It’s the idea that you want to give to other people more than you need to get back from them, although it’s great getting back. I do believe in the transformation of the world through love. So I’m either romantic or a Beatle lover. So I agree with John Lennon, “All you need is love.” Oh, and justice, that would be nice too. You gotta have love, if you’re gonna have justice. I think you’re gonna have to have love for everything else. C: What makes you happy? R: There are two things that make me really really happy, food, because I grew up in a household where food was considered special, that is that 144
my father who’s family came from Russia, they were Russian Jews, that he would look to me, and if he could give me second helpings of food he would say, “So, you like America, huh?” so I’d say “yeah, give me some more.” So I’m a foodie, and I just love food. But my real passion is music and I play different instruments, I hang out with different people who play, I’m okay. I go to a lot of concerts, I go to a lot of clubs, and that’s my gateway to sanity is by grooving on a variety of music. And I am happy to say that I have 10,00 songs on my iPod. C: What do you regret most? R: What would I regret the most? That I didn’t travel when I was younger. And I think that it was due to both fear of just doing it and not having a lot of money to do it. I was always working. But I wish that I had somehow just taken off and just said you know for the next month I’m gonna go, instead of just looking for another job. So travel would be it. C: What is your favorite possession? R: It would be my guitar. It’s a Martin guitar and for those people who know acoustic guitars, it’s one of the best companies that sell guitars. And it took me a long time to save up, and I borrowed money from different people to buy it. So I depend on it for my expression musically and my sanity. So I guess my guitar. C: What’s number one on your bucket list?
R: My bucket list would be to travel, everywhere, to keep on going. If I won the lottery I’d be on a plane this weekend. And I’m one of those people who, I don’t have to go to a specific kind of place, I’d be happy just travelling, just being on the road, hopefully with other people with you. That’d be great. Take a hike, see some really cool things, go into a five and ten store in the middle of Kansas to see what kind of crap they’re selling. That would crack me up, so it would be worthwhile. But it would be nice to visit Italy, France, Germany, England, Spain. If nothing more than, I would love to eat my way across Italy and Spain and France. C: What do you try not to do? R: My son has been in and out of situations that get him into trouble, he hasn’t recently been in, he’s twenty-two and he’s got his head on straight, now. But I think that I sometimes worry that he’s gonna make another mistake and have to pay for it. Um, drugs and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He doesn’t do that now. But I’m concerned that he’ll resort to that now, because in the past he’s done it. So I try not to despair, and I try to have faith that that’s not going to happen, but I don’t always convince myself that. I sort of secretly, he’s done it, he’s messed up so often, that I’m kind of ready for the next time. And I’m hoping that there isn’t one. C: What point in your life shaped the way you think or act now? R: I think that when I realized I didn’t need anybody else to tell me that I was a complete asshole. That I could tell myself that. I didn’t need to depend on other people for that. It’s when I realized even when I was being an asshole that I was an asshole, and that I didn’t need anybody to tell me. It was that kind of thing. I think that when you’re younger, you depend on other people’s perceptions and ideas to help you out, and I was like that. I think that when I realized that what I was feeling and thinking was enough. I mean, its great to hear other people’s opinions, but you know I didn’t need them to sort it out for me. I knew exactly, that it didn’t take me long to know that I was an asshole. And I’m happy to admit it. In fact, it was very freeing, to somehow admit that you’re an asshole because then there’s very little to live up to, or down to, depending on your point of view. 146
C: What do you think is wrong with the world today? R: What I think is wrong with the world is that we’re so preoccupied with our own small world, which we all have to be, that we forget that the rest of the world is in desperate shape. Poverty, hunger. And no matter how bad your life seems to be, it’s easily worse almost anywhere else, especially in the third world, but even in our own country. And I think that we tend to forget about that, so as we are looking for less taxes and some people looking for politicians running on that, we should be running on the idea that- and these are the same people that are going to church every Sunday, but they tend to be, for me and my value system, they’re only church on Sunday, they’re not church Monday through Saturday. So I think that they forget that poverty was mentioned in the Bible, for those who are religious, which I’m not. C: What do you believe is right in the world? R: What’s right in the world? I’m amazed that we just don’t end up just shooting each other, it’s like somehow there is order. There is chaos out there; a lot of people don’t see it. But I think for the most part people try to live by whatever values they have, which I’m happy about. C: What advice would you give to your 21-yearold self? R: Be more venturesome, take more chances, and take more risks. And if you want to travel, travel. If you, you know, go to the places that you wanted to go to, that it took you so long to finally end up at. But you couldn’t really see the place you wanted it, because you have other obligations because you had to be back home and all that. v
GHOLSON III (fifty-nine)
interview and photo by Ian Darrenkamp
Walter: I’m Walter Robert Gholson the third, okay? I’m an adjunct professor at Temple University and I teach a couple of courses in Urban Studies. The other 5 days a week I’m employed by Gloucester County College, which is in Sewell, New Jersey, and I’m an academic advisor. I have a doctorate from Temple, a Master’s from Temple, and an Undergraduate from the University of Nebraska in Journalism. And prior to getting that undergraduate degree, I probably attended about 4, 5 different universities and worked in the interim. Ian: What does it that makes you happy and how did you figure that out? And what made you continue to pursue it? W: Being of service. And it sounds, you know, really cheesy, really tripe, but that’s what I do. I provide service to individuals. I always tell students, “If I had an advisor when I was going to school like me, I would have been out a long time ago. I would have had my doctorate years ago.” But I know I liked learning, I know I liked books, I liked reading, I liked the whole environmental thing, but I had no discernable direction and intentional goals, you know? This just came on me, on day it dawned on me, “You like this.” And someone says, “You know, if you like what you’re doing as a profession, it’s like not ever having to go to work. And that’s true.” And that’s always one of my jokes, “I didn’t come here to work, I came here for entertainment purposes. It’s just that during the process of that I just happen to dispense some information that you can use to make your day a little better.” How 148
about that for a nice job description? When you find something that brings you joy and happiness and peace, you have to be humble enough to accept that this is your life, and you need to perfect that as opposed to getting a whole bunch of stuff that you really can’t control. I: So um, what would you say was like a defining moment in your life that really made you, you know, into what you are right now? W: The first job that I got when I got to Washington D.C when I was a student at American University, and I needed a job, so I started working for the D.C. department of recreation. And it was an interesting job. It was as a puppeteer. We made our own puppets, we wrote our own skits for preschool and elementary school kids, like, “Pick the paper up off the floor,” or, “Respect your teacher,” or, “Don’t talk loud,” and stuff like that. And I loved that, man. It was one of the best jobs, I mean it didn’t pay that much. I mean, it paid enough for me to survive and to hang out and stuff like that, and pay some tuition. But in terms of fulfillment, using special populations as the crew and as the cast. Loved it. And I met my wife, who asked me that famous question, “Have you ever thought about graduating?” So I fell in love with her. She was on her way to University of Nebraska to teach out there and that’s where I got my undergraduate degree, and then started moving back this way. I: You said you met your wife and fell in love with her, what would you say love is.
W: I have had hundreds of girlfriends, onenight stands, weekend affairs, monthly trysts, whatever you want to call it, right? And they had all been driven by some physical attraction. And when I met my wife it was an intellectual attraction. I loved to hear her talk. I loved to have communication with her. And it’s to this day, we still have that type of fun, loving exchange of information. We don’t have that much time because she works full time, I work full time, but it’s like it’s never gone anywhere. It’s like just when I first met her. We could laugh and joke and play and have intellectual conversation. And to me, that’s what was a little different. And to me that was like, “I could really hang out with this person for a long time.” I don’t know how to explain it, honestly. I just know it when I see, and I saw it. And it’s 24 years in August. I: I guess we already covered what you regret most. Would it be not getting out of New York sooner? W: And going to Vietnam. For some strange reason I thought we were supposed to win overnight. You know, you always say, “I’ll be home for Christmas mom, because we’re ready to go and win the war.” Eh, that’s not how it works. My ignorance of the larger picture allowed me to get jaded about a lot of things. Allowed me to suffer from something that had not been defined adequately enough during the late 60s early 70s, post traumatic stress disorder. So, I mean, basically for at least, I’m gonna say probably longer than that if you ask some people who knew me then, at least for two years I was completely numb. I was just walking through life doing whatever I had to do to survive. I worked for a telephone company, worked for the post office, worked for a couple of agencies in New York, I don’t remember too much of it. You know, because it was just like, “uhhhh.” And I think probably when I really really realized what I was suffering from, because would get some therapy, when I had a couple of friends who were Vietnam veterans who lived in Washington D.C. who I went to school with at American University. So when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened in D.C., we went down for the opening. And I remember when I saw that blackgranite monument. And if you ever go down there, the black granite reflects your image. So 150
you see your image with all of these names on the wall. And the first thing that came over me, and it sounds so insane; I wanted to know why my name wasn’t on the wall. And I started really looking for it, because, spiritually, I was dead. And it was something I could have done without, you know? I remember the first time I had any type of physical confrontation in New York City, it was stopped because I was going too far. “Well you wanted to fight me.” But I didn’t know how to fight. I knew how to kill you. But I didn’t know how to fight and be like, “Alright, you won.” No, you’re not going to win; I’m going to take you out because I don’t want you coming back no more. And that mentality wasn’t something that my peer group could comprehend. So that was the last fight I have ever had in my entire life. I: What is right with the world right now. W: The metamorphosis of young people in this country in the last 50 years is remarkable. You have people of various ethnic/cultural groups now who see themselves as equal regardless of their race/ creed/color/national origin/sexual orientations. That’s never happened before. And the youth take this for granted. I: To you, what is life? W: *Laughs* Alright man, and I’m being facetious, and I’ll try to answer intellectually, but this old song man. What’s life? It’s tough. What’s tough? Life. What’s life? It’s a magazine. How much do it cost? It costs 50 cents. Well I only have a nickel. Whoa, that’s tough. Life is tough. Okay? The question is, how do you live it? Okay? When I see people older than me, I see a certain amount of grace, okay? When I think about grace, I think about being grateful for having made the journey. And the question is always, “Why are you still here?” And if you do not believe in a deity, a higher power, a spirit of the universe if you will, or whatever, you have to, because you didn’t have to be here. When I look back at the people who are my age, that I knew 20-30 years ago, a significant number of them are no longer living. A significant number of them are incarcerated or so whacked out on drugs and alcohol, or in some mental institution, never to function as a part of society, never to
serve, never to care, never to feel, blah blah blah blah blah, and I’m saying, “Why me?” And I have to realize, you know, God’s been walking with me for a long time. And he says, “You know, I know you’re crazy, I know you’ve got a lot of issues and stuff like that, I know you do some stupid stuff, but you’ve got a good heart. So I’m going to keep you until you realize what you’re here to do. You’re here to live humbly, gracefully, and you’re here to give.” Okay? And in giving, you receive a lot of joy, because you see the smiles on the faces of people who say, “Remember when you said something to me about 10-15 years ago? Well guess what I’m doing now?” And that’s what has happened to me. I mean that’s the kind of reward you get for living life gracefully and giving the best that you can give to other people. And that’s not a lot, man. That’s kind of simple, but to me, that’s good enough, you know? v
interview and photo by Charlotte Jacobson
Kat: Well at least you weren’t born a rock. Life might suck sometimes, but at least you’re not a rock. And that, I mean, it sounds so dumb but at the same time it’s like, we were given this life... doesn’t matter how you believe we got it or not, but we have this life, we have each and every single day. There’s no point in spending it being miserable. My name is Kat Kreischer. I am nineteen years old. Charlotte: So what is the meaning of life? K: Um, Jesus. I think for me, it’s just, just living it. And I think living each, I think the purpose of life is just to be I think, kind of like a goal is just to be happy and to do things that make you happy, and make your life feel like you’ve fulfilled it. Like, what you want to do with it. I think love is a huge part of life and I think that’s one of the main focuses of my own life and the purpose behind mine is to, I guess, live it to it’s fullest potential and love as much as I possibly can. And just to do everything that I want to do, and to be happy. Like, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of shit that we go through but I want to say at the end of my life I’ve done everything that I want to, and if I couldn’t, I’m still happy with how things happened and what I did in my lifetime. C: What is love? K: That fuzzy feeling you get! Just kidding… The definition of love, oh my god. I think it’s just opening yourself up, it’s not necessarily, I don’t 152
think of love in the sense of finding the one person you’re going to be with for the rest of your life. It’s learning to open your heart up, and yourself up to others whether it’s a family member, friend, or even someone you don’t know. It’s just showing them some sort of warmth and kindness, and I think a lot of things go into love. And it should be shared with everyone, not just one person or one group. It goes way beyond that. It should be given to everyone, but that doesn’t really define it. I guess just the opening of your heart and your being to others and letting them in and caring about other people, almost more than yourself. C: What makes you happy? K: Well, I mean, the first thing that always comes to mind is dance. So I guess it’s doing what I love. And I love feeling like I’ve accomplished things. Oh wow, a lot of things make me happy. I mean, my family and my friends make me happy, and making my family proud of me and my friends proud of me. But if I’m doing something that I enjoy, or if I’m working towards a goal, especially if I succeed in something, that’s gonna make me happy. But like, just always working toward something. Whether it’s a hobby or a deadline or something like that. Just accomplishments make me happy too. C: What point in your life has shaped the way you live? K: Before my freshman year, when my grandmother passed away. She and I were always
very close and she had a lot of influence on me as a person. She was someone I looked up to and was the one person I could count on being there. No matter what I did, or what I said to her, she would never judge me in any way. She was always the person I could go to. When she passed away that summer, literally everything just fell apart and I didn’t have her anymore. Along the way, I lost a lot of friends in the process, just because I lost who I was completely. I found someone else to rely on, and found myself living to emulate her and again I lost myself completely along the way. I had no friends. I lost a lot of close relationships with my friends and family and I know that it stemmed from me losing my grandmother because I didn’t have her to go to anymore. And it was during that awkward stage in your life when you’re trying to figure out who you are and I didn’t know when she passed away. But it was through losing her that I had my downward spiral and then one day I realized that what I was doing and how I was living wasn’t good enough. And it was just really detrimental and I was never going to find myself, trying to be someone else. Since then, I got my relationships back with my family and I’m really close with them now, really close with my friends. I just learned to pick myself back up because I know that’s what she would have wanted me to do. So it was her passing away that really changed my life completely, and made me who I am. C: What is your greatest regret? K: I always say not to live with regrets, but I have a ton! To be honest, this just goes along with the last question. I wish that I would have had the strength right away to keep myself in check and I think the biggest regret, although my life was made a living hell that year, I really regret pushing my parents away. And pushing my mom away. Because for the longest time I would go to someone else’s mom and talk to her, because I felt like no matter what, even though this wasn’t the case, that my mom couldn’t understand what was going on. And I was never really that close with my dad, in the sense that I would tell him what was going on in my life. So I think that my biggest regret ever would be wasting that year with my mom. C: What is your most valued possession? 154
K: I’d have to say my grandmother’s rings. I mean, I have 125 of them, so it’s not one possession, but it’s a collection. C: Name three things you must do in your lifetime. K: Three things that I have to do in my lifetime… One would be, was, to sing and dance on a Broadway stage. It has to happen again, it was great, it was wonderful. I really want to be a mom. Not right now, at all. To be honest, I want to find real love, like my parents kind of love and I want to start a family. C: What do you try to avoid doing? K: This is going off of the same topic, it’s just I don’t want to lose myself again. I mean there are times that you lose yourself, all the time, and you have to pick yourself back up. But I never want to get to the state that I was in years ago. That was just awful. C: What do you think is wrong with the world? K: I think people are losing sight of what’s important. I mean everybody has become very self-centered in this world, and everybody’s out for themselves. And I think that’s important because you can’t just completely live your life for other people and you have to do things that you love and everything like that. But I just feel like we’ve lost a lot of the good human traits and morals and values. A lot of people don’t believe in values anymore, and that’s really depressing I think. It’s something that I think is a huge problem. C: What is right in the world? K: I like the fire that everybody has. I think that people are always looking to make things better. They don’t always know how to do it, and sometimes they pick the complete wrong thing to do but I think that it restores my faith in humanity that people are never going to stop trying to make the world better. Whether it’s right or wrong isn’t necessarily the case. But more of that, like, people have that drive and that desire to make this world a better place. v
interview and photo by Dillon Mast
Jessie: My name is Jessie Jay Maddeman. I’m 27-years-old, and I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dillon: What is the meaning of life? J: I guess I’d have to say I never really thought about it, or that the way I feel about life is that there doesn’t necessarily have to be a singular meaning. D: What is love? J: Jimminy Crickets. That’s also a pretty broad question, but I mean, I guess I would describe it as a feeling you have for someone that you really care about, or a mutual feeling between two people that care a lot about each other. Also, I think you can love artificial objects in a superficial way. I think that there is probably more than one type of love or definition of love. D: What advice would you give to a 21-year-old you? J: A 21-year-old version of myself… Spend less time worrying and more time doing things that you think that you shouldn’t be doing. Good things, but things that don’t have to do with planning for a hearty future of being a responsible adult because I think the effort isn’t rewarded as well as you expect it to be, and you’re not that far at a disadvantage by experiencing life a little bit here and there. 156
D: What’s your favorite possesion J: My favorite possession out of all the things I own is my bicycle, my BMX bicycle specifically. I’ve been riding for over ten years. I’ve seen most of the world because of it. I would be a different person without it. All the people I’ve met and all the places I’ve been because of it, and, you know, having a hobby that I spend so much time concentrating on or something that is important for me to get better at on a consistent basis and has helped me probably develop into the person I am. D: What’s wrong with the world today? J: There’s so many things wrong with the world today. Starting with the basics like poverty, hunger, genocide, unrightful death, war. I think that the world’s getting better from a big scope if you look at the overall history of civilization. I think that locally there’s a lot of things wrong. I guess that would probably take a couple weeks to answers. What’s wrong with my life, specifically? I’m doing pretty good compared to a lot of people. D: What’s right with the world? J: What’s right about the world? Well, I think maybe there’s some good stuff. I feel like as time goes on, regardless of how much we repeat the errors of history, we also do a pretty good job at learning. I think people, overall, are becoming more open-minded. Every time I get discouraged about the way that the world is at certain
moments I compare it to times that I feel probably were way worse, like the Middle Ages. Cavemen probably didn’t have it that good. Right around World War II it probably seemed like the world was going to end, so compared to that I think that we’re doing okay. Every once in a while something happens on a large scale that surprises me about the way people are. Mainly, like, electing the first African-American president in my lifetime while I’m still pretty young. That’s encouraging. D: What makes you happy? J: Riding bikes definitely makes me happy. Mainly I’d say the thing that makes me most happy is being around friends. I’ve known a lot of people since I’ve lived in the city of Philadelphia or throughout my entire life and I kind of gauge the success of an experience or my life in general or my life in general by, you know, who was there for it and how it affected our relationship or, you know, the experience the other person had and I find that that mainly determines how I feel. D: What do you regret? J: I guess I regret a lot of things, technical things that have to do with preparation for where I am at my life at this point in time. As I get older there’s more and more and more things to be stressed about and less and things to be happy about. And I don’t want to say that I would want to give up any of the things that made me happy or made me enjoy my life, but maybe being proactive in trying to find easier solutions for problems like bills, financial stuff, college tuition. I probably would’ve went to a cheaper college, maybe not went to one at all. Maybe applied myself and my talents more frequently and tried to find a job a long time ago that suited me better ethane the ones I’ve had. D: What three things are you trying to avoid? J: First three things not to do: don’t get arrested, absolutely never. If you have to, run. Two other things not to do: never ever ever do anything that will knowingly hurt another person physically or mentally, and third thing not to do would be lie. Lying’s a pretty bad quality. D: What three things do you want to accomplish in your lifetime? 158
J: Things to do: physical activity of any kind all the time. Not to be cliché, but fall in love I guess would be up there on the list of things I’d like to do before I do, and see as much of the world as possible. D: What was a defining moment that made you who you are today? J: Well, I guess I would that the things that made me the way that I am today are rooted in my childhood, mainly the way that I grew up and my family situation when I was younger. A lot of unwholesome stuff happened, a lot of bad stuff. As far as parenting goes, I mostly use both my parents as examples of how not to live your life. And I think that even in a subconscious way a lot of the things that I saw happen around me when I was younger have taught me how to be a better person . v
interview and photo by Sam Gray
Laine: Hi my name is Laine Radell and I’m 22 years old. I think the biggest event in my life that’s shaped who I am and that really defined me as a person was my car accident in high school, where it was a struggle just to learn how to walk and how to read again. And seeing how hard that was and how much effort I put into just learning to read, and learning schoolwork now seems that much easier, and I think for other life experiences that come eventually, looking back on that experience will make those that much easier. Sam: What is the meaning of life? L: The meaning of life, I think is the state of being and you’re given a set amount of time to accomplish and experience and contribute to the world as much as you can. S: What is love? L: What is love? Not what you see in the movies. Love is when someone is really sick and you’re willing to take care of them. Love is biting your tongue and compromising when you don’t really want to, and being with someone with whom you can share your deepest secrets, your opinions, and they accept all of those things. S: What’s your favorite posession? L: My favorite possession is surprisingly not my engagement ring; I think it’s my great-greatgrandmother’s pearl necklace. I have to get it restrung, but I have it and it’s lasted through 160
five generations and it’s something that’s really special to me because it’s been through so many experiences and I can’t wait to contribute to that and pass it on to my daughter someday. S: What’s wrong with the world today? L: I think what’s wrong with the world is we’re so polarized, whether politically or religiously that people are dying because both of those reasons or they can’t agree on anything because they’re on a certain side. I think the overarching theme that we all share is just being human and having humanity and I think a lot of people have lost touch with realizing that we’re all people, not just tied to certain values or ideals. S: What are three things you want to do in your lifetime? L: So three things I want to do in my life – I want to be a mom, for sure. I want to learn how to cook a chicken, because I can’t. And I want to be able to retire and have a home and not have this worry that I do now of, will I ever retire? Will I ever be able to afford to buy a home? S: What are you looking forward to? L: What am I looking forward to? The future. I’m looking forward to plans and looking forward to jobs and the many years I have ahead of me and every experience I’ll be able to take part in.
interview and photo by Andrew Curtis
Andrew: Name, age, and where you live. Bobby: Ahh, okay, my name is Bobby Rivers, I am 23 years of age and I live in Elim Pennsylvania, Pa for short. A: And what do you think the meaning of life would be? B: The meaning of life… I would go ahead and say that there is no real, I wouldn’t say there is a meaning to life. I would say that everyone thinks there should be a meaning to life because it would seem as if there should be but there really isn’t. I think there are ways to make life meaningful, and that is um, making it worth while making everything you do…um… oh god I am drunk…is to live your life as much as you possibly can. Do thing s that most people wouldn’t think to do, do as much as you possibly can, and live your life. Do a lot, do everything, do everything, everything you can think of do it. And if your not doing that then your not living life. A: What is love? B: Baby don’t hurt me. Um, love is, love is a word, a four letter word that uh for some reason sums up about 400 plus different emotions so technically love is just a stupid word. Um, I’d say love is becoming completely intrigued with something whether it be a person or I don’t know, a river, a rock, idea, I mean band, song, anything. I mean you can fall in love with a book but love can get…I mean love can get, it depends, when 162
people think of love they think of oh I love my wife, I love my children but, I mean you can love fucking anything, there should be a different word for the different things but, I think love is enjoying the most of whatever that thing is that your loving and getting all you can out of it…yerp. A: If you were talking to a 21 year old yourself, what advice would you give if any? B: I would tell myself at 21 that you should consider dropping out of college soon because your going to be really in debt pretty soon, your already in debt and its going to get worse. Yeah at 21 I’d say drop out of college quick, pretty much right now, I’d be like right now you need to drop out of college, yeah. I’d say, break up with your girlfriend, maybe, maybe not, I don’t know it’s hard to tell. I would say, do what your feel is best. And I would say don’t drink to much, don’t drink to much, even though your 21, just turned 21 and your all excited, don’t drink to much because your gonna get a beer gut and its gonna look bad and no one is going to want to, its just gonna be bad. A: What is your favorite possession? B: Position? Oh possession. Favorite possession… uh its not good to have favorite possessions. Ah I don’t have a favorite possessions. See possession is a dumb word, you don’t really possess anything because eventually your gonna die or its gonna break and your gonna sell it.
So I would say that I don’t have any favorite possessions, I have ideas that I consider possessions that I enjoy but no possessions. A: If you had one motto or manifesto that you live by what would it be? B: That’s a hard question. I love Socrates last words…just because it means we are, I am dying and this is the only way to get rid of, away from societies sickness. I don’t I just loved Socrates last words. But my own, would be…you are your home because you are, I mean you are your home and people strive their whole lives to build a home and to make a but what is a home, ya know you build a house at some place and you commit to it and you live there forever, like no you are your home, your body yourself is your home you can take that wherever you want and have that reassurance. You need to be able to confide in yourself and take that everywhere because life isn’t made to be lived in one sole place, that’s offensive to do that, go out and experience the world around you. Take what you have, which is yourself and bring it with you and never look back and just keep going and going until your dead and it doesn’t matter if you die when your 16 or you die when your fucking 70, live your life. You cant be afraid of dying, because if your afraid of dying then your not going to live your life at all, your going to sit on a couch the whole time and read about other people’s live, these days just read about it on facebook I guess, but I don’t know. I’d say, you are your home and that’s that. v
interview and photo by Kelsey McDowell
Tom: My name is Tom Sterner and I am a professional writer. Kelsey: What event has shaped you into who you are today? T: I would say that what shaped my life the most was when I began to realize through my awareness of my internal dialogue that I could change what I was hearing inside of my head. So in other words, I had the ability to listen to how I was talking to myself, or self-talk as they call it in sports psychology today, and use that as a barometer of where I was and how I was feeling and then decide what my strengths and weaknesses were and then go from there and because of that, my self-awareness increased. I think that was really a turning point for me because that was when I really began to feel self empowered. K: What’s wrong with the world today? T: I would say what’s wrong with the world today is that we identify too much with our appearance and that can be your ethnicity, the color of your skin. We are so convinced that we are “this” and because of that, we judge ourselves and we judge everybody around us by what their appearance is. So we see somebody and we have a preconceived idea of who they are, what they stand for, and because of that it really limits our ability to see our commonalities. K: What is love? 166
T: I would say that love is total acceptance of other people. Love is a label that we use for a lot of things, but I think that it describes romantic love, it describes how we feel about food, I mean it describes a lot of things. But really I think when we use the word love and if we look at how love is described by people that have near death experiences, it talks about, they experience a total acceptance of all people regardless of who they are, where they come from, even whether we label them as good or bad, you know, why they are here. It’s an unconditional feeling of acceptance. K: What makes you happy? T: Time when I don’t have anything I have to do. For me that’s pretty simple. I have such a busy life that when I have time when I don’t have to be anywhere, and it takes a certain amount of discipline for me to accept that, to feel like I have nothing I have to do, no place I have to be. That’s, that’s really heaven. K: If you were talking to the 21-year-old you, what advice would you give yourself? T: I think that what I didn’t know, what I didn’t trust when I was 21 years old, was that what I felt was necessary for my own happiness was the most important thing. In other words, I spent too much time worrying about whether what I was doing was making other people happy. So because of that, even though there may have been things
that I felt were not, I’m not talking about things like taking drugs or something like that, but I think that either staying in relationships or that sort of thing I think that I spent too much time and effort worrying about, if I get out of this is it going to hurt this persons feeling, or is this person not going to like me, even though inside I knew the situation wasn’t right for me. So in the end, I would leave but I always stayed longer than I should have. K: What is your favorite possession? T: If my possession doesn’t have to be a material thing, I would say it’s my musical ability, my creativity musically. If that can be a possession, you know. I feel like I’ve earned it, so I would call that a possession. Because anytime you are part of something like, any art form, whether its painting, dance, or music, you are part of something that is infinite for one, so you never outgrow it, so you always feel like there is more left to discover, and its also, I think its very gratifying when you create something and then you are able to observe it. So like uh, if you were, to me as a musician you write a piece of music and then you record it and then you get to listen to it back or hear it performed. If you are a painter you get to look at something that you’ve painted. If you are a writer you get to listen to people talk about their experience of writing, or reading what you wrote. So I really feel like for me that creativity is just a most treasured possession, and you always have it with you. Even when you leave here, you still have it with you. So I always feel like whatever effort that you put into developing that is something that you are putting into, it just becomes a part of you that is eternal. K: What is the meaning of life? T: I would say the meaning of life is to come to the awareness that we can be aware enough to ask what is the meaning of life. That’s really what separates us form, supposedly, from all the other creatures on the planet is that we, I guess that’s the definition of a sentient being, we are conscious that we are conscious. And because of that, we can ask a question as to what is the meaning of life. I don’t know if there is a single answer to that, but it allows us to ponder it.
interview and photo by Theresa Regan
Alexandra: Hi, I’m Alexandra Strockyj. I’m a senior at Temple, communications major. I’m also a nanny, sometimes. Theresa: What is the meaning of life? A: I don’t know. That’s tricky but I think, I don’t know what it is, but I think that, if there is a meaning, then it’s kind of just, to be. To exist. And kind of cohabitate and live with each other and everything else, like plants and animals. That sounds very hippy-ish, but I don’t really, I don’t know what else it would be. Just kind of…exist. But then, there’s the question of what that means, and that’s pretty loaded in and of itself. T: What do you think that love is? A: I think the overall, just because there’s a bunch of kinds. You know, there’s like, romantic and familial, and friend and whatever. I think it’s just kind of having this need or a drive or something to want the best for someone and to respect them and care for them and, kind of, it’s a little bit of self sacrifice. It’s something you’re willing to do just because of the nature of that relationship. I’m not very well versed in it, so, that’s what it seems like. T: If you were talking to the 21-year-old you, what advice would you give her? A: If I was talking to the 21-year-old me, so if I was talking to myself now? Calm down and get over yourself. I worry way too much. That’s pretty much all I’d have to say. 170
T: What is your favorite possession? A: My favorite possession is this necklace. There’s no real sentimental value to it, I wear it all the time and I feel naked if I forget it somewhere. I went a week without it last week, it was crazy. T: What’s wrong with the world today? A: What’s wrong with the world today…like the Flight of the Concords song…I would say there’s a big, general disregard for humanity. You know, people forget that people are people too, as silly as that sounds. Yeah, I just, um, I think that kind of at the root of a lot of issues today. So, uh, that would have to be it. T: What’s right with the world today? A: What’s right with the world today? How much there is to see. You know, even though its kind of all, like, in some way depleting and changing a lot I feel like there’s a lot that the world has to offer, in terms of whether just going to see mountains and fiords, or to go, like, take over some huge business corporation, it doesn’t matter what you want to do. I feel like there’s a lot of chances for people to kind of step out of their environment, if they choose to. Or if they don’t choose to. That’s also kind of right. Really people can make their own choices. That’s kind of considering here though because there’s a lot of people in the world that don’t really have that choice. But it’s a tiny right. T: What makes you happy?
A: What makes me happy? I think, for the most part just kind of being with people that I care about, being with people whose company I enjoy and just, kind of, I think that’s when I’m least worried. When I just get to hang out and kind of just be in that moment. And pie. Pie is pretty great. T: What do you regret most in your life? How did or would you change that? A: What I regret most is something that I still kind of do now. I have a really difficult time making decisions, and I always worry about the decisions that I do make, thinking that it might have been the right or wrong one, and so that’s something that I’m still working on right now. How I’m doing, I don’t know. That’s what I would really like to change about myself, and hopefully something that I wont later have to regret. T: What are three things that you must do in your lifetime, and three things that you never want to do? A: Things that I must do… I have to, I feel like I really need to travel, as cliché as that sounds, it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t know, there’s just so many places with different people and different cultures and different scenery that, I feel like I’d be missing out if I didn’t get to see it. And it’s not even just Europe or South America or the United States. I would love to just go on a road trip, have an airstream trailer, and go across country. And so subset to that, I need to learn how to drive, in order to do that. If that counts. Another thing that I need to do is, I need to find what actually does make me happy in terms of jobs, and just, make sure that I surround myself with people that do that, too. Um, oh, find a way to repay the people that kind of, have done a lot for me. Just show that I’m grateful. I don’t want to seem like, I don’t want that to go unacknowledged in any way. And, things that I try not to do? I try not to hurt people. I know that kind of ties into what I said is wrong with the world but I think it’s pretty important. I don’t want to purposely cause anyone any kind of harm. I also don’t want to get in my own way. I don’t want to cloud my judgment by something else and then later have to regret that, too. And then, I’ve never broken a bone, so hopefully I’ll never break one.
T: What is the biggest thing that has shaped the way you live your life today? A: Something that’s definitely shaped how I live today is, I’ve witnessed a lot of, kind of, destructive behavior, in terms of like substance abuse and whatnot. So that definitely kind of deters me from doing that myself, or at least trying to gauge myself in terms of whether I drink too much or if I do drugs—not that I do—that definitely effects me every day. v
interview and photo by Jessie Fox
Jessie: What is life?
J: What is wrong?
Ana: I don’t know, I think it’s just…that’s a hard question. It’s kind of like a journey. Like one of those car rides where you have a destination and its going to take five hours to get there, but you hit those little bumps and stops on the way. So you always know where you are going and we all know where we are going to end up, but not everyone knows what their little side stops are going to be.
A: I don’t know if you can say there is a right or wrong. I guess we’ll figure it out along the way. I don’t really know what’s right. I guess it just de pends on what your judgment scale is. I would say for myself, just being a genuine person. People who are genuine, it’s rare, but it’s good for them.
J: What is love? A: I don’t think I have ever fallen in love. I’ve fallen in like, really big like, but not love. I really like the Dr.Suess quote, it’s just like, “When you meet someone who is just as weird as you, you fall in the same weirdness, we call it love.” I just think it’s someone you can be yourself around. Someone that just meshes in with you. Nothing changes, it’s just like the side wheel on a motorcycle, you just keep going. J: What is right with the world? A: Where to start… If you are looking for something that is so not on the surface, than I don’t really know if there is an answer. I don’t know if what actually exists. If we know what we are supposed to do is right. I feel like if we knew that, we could probably be doing it, but I don’t think we know it just yet. 174
J: What makes you happy? A: I guess what makes me truly happy is just those like…when you’re not expecting it is the best. Just being with the people that I love. My favorite is hanging out with my niece because she is only six. She knows what she knows so having someone that just rolls with it and is carefree and everything is new and everything is fun, it just makes the whole time happy. J: What do you regret most in your life? A: There is a lot of things that I regret. I guess I can go through the list of boys, but we would probably be here for a while and I won’t keep you that long. It will all work itself out, so I can’t really say I have any huge regrets. J: What is something in your life that you must do? A: I really want to… I have to go somewhere transatlantic. I’ve always wanted to try strawberry balsamic ice cream, I always see the commercial for it, I feel like that would be pretty cool. And try out the whole marriage thing, maybe have
a few kids. I have to do that stuff before I die. So travel, marriage, kids, and strawberry balsamic ice cream. J: What in your life has shaped the way you live? A: I take risks in a certain way. I feel like I don’t want to have to… Just take the precautions need be regardless of the situation. I think I’m like that now just because I don’t want to have all these goals and aspirations and then know that one little mistake can cause it to completely change at 180. J: What has influenced your life? A: I always did art growing up, but I think deciding to come to school to do art and make my life about art has completely shaped me. I always did it as a hobby, it was just a thing, but now it’s what I live and breathe. I don’t really know what I would be doing if I didn’t do that. I don’t know if I would be as happy. I’ve met people, you know. I have my good friends from high school, but then I came here and I met people that were just like me; have the same little weird brains. Being myself if OK and doing what you love is OK, it is just a really good feeling. v
interview and photo by Paul Imburgia
Dominic: Try to do things in a moderate way. Try to be happy, try to love your neighbor. Everything isn’t peaches and cream. My name is Dominic Venezia, I’m 74 years of age, in June I’ll be married 55 years and I’m also a part time musician. At my age I am still playing with a group, maybe not as often, maybe not as loud and as fast but I’m still playing. In october of 99 I had five bypasses. I was a butcher all my life, we owned our own business, I cut meat and ran a family meat business for 42 years. On the last year, right before I retired, I received five bypasses at Lankenau Hospital and I thought I was gonna die. I probably couldn’t walk across this room after the operation. But about two months later I was contacted by one of the nurses here at Montgomery Rehab. I’ve never felt better in my life. I recovered great. I went back to doing all the things I always did and even did it better. I was told when I first started working with weight machines, by a gentleman that’s been here for years, he said, “I’ll give you a little bit of advice: it’s too late to look like Charles Atlas but you do this stuff to keep everything working well.” And thanks to God and thanks to good doctors and this place I’m very grateful. Paul: What is your favorite posession/what makes you happy? D: My favorite possession is not my material things. The biggest thing that makes me happy is seeing people happy and having health. We’re not all that fortunate but, especially in my family after 178
all the things that we’ve gone through, I had a Grandson at four years old [that] fell out of a roller coaster and was almost killed. And in two days he was released from the hospital, even after they medivac-ed him they couldn’t find nothin’ wrong with him. Is that a miracle or isn’t it?! Know that there’s somebody looking over us. Always keep God in your heart and He’ll help you get through everything. P: If you could give advice to your 21-year-old self, what advice would you give? D: Well, back then I don’t think it was important not to smoke. And being a musician, I used to play in a lot of clubs and bars, I smoked. I never believed it but it’s true, it’s amazing once you break that habit. We have a big drinking and drug problem in this country, all over the world really; something I was never into. But I do have relatives that are suffering from that problem, some that are very young and they’re almost beyond help, really. They’ve been in rehab so many times they can’t even help em. I’d say, y’know, if you’re gonna drink be moderate about it and don’t take drugs and respect your parents. P: What are three things every person should do? D: Don’t battle the elements, keep the laws, don’t battle the laws, and love your neighbors. P: What is right with the world?
D: I think what’s right for the world is that--- I think we have to look mainly at our own country, even as tough as things are right now in the year 2012. We have an awful lot to be thankful for, I mean, most of us have a roof over our head, we have plenty of food to eat. We have friends, most of us have a job. I know the economy’s a little tough but we go through that from time to time. I remember when we opened our business there was a recession and it was tough.---I was broke. I was really broke! I had to borrow a hundred dollars from someone, that I didn’t even know! I paid him back.--- but y’know it all straightened out and it’ll straighten out again. It’s hard to go through life without having somebody at your side walking with you. We do a lot of that, we don’t get enough credit for it. And I’m not talking about just us, I’m talking about people all over the world, I mean, that do a lot to help people. P: What do you regret? D: One of the things I probably would have changed is--- I was accepted into college, after graduating West Catholic High School. But I was in love with my Grade School Sweetheart. Starting young I would say, y’know, you should get a good education. I wanted to get started on life with my wife and that’s why we were engaged at 18 and married at 19. And ended up in business with my Dad and my brothers and paid the price because we worked very, very hard. P: What is the meaning of life? D: The meaning of life to me? Well when I get interviewed by doctors when I go to the doctor for a checkup or anything … and I tell them that I am so not depressed that I don’t even like to go to bed at night because I can’t wait until I wake up in the morning to get going. As I told you, I’ll be married for 55 years, we were married at 19 years years of age. We met in grade school, sixth grade, my wife and I. She was my girlfriend, we’ve been married. We have six grandsons, one granddaughter and three great-grandsons. I have a son-in-law that just completed two bouts with lymphoma. … I spend a lot of time with em, I have them taking music lessons and I take em to their lesson, I wait for em. I give them all the time--180
I don’t want to get choked-up but I just want you to know how much I appreciate my family and I’m gonna be here a long time. And I’m gonna continue doing what I’m doing as long as God lets me. v