The Future is Unwritten

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John Graham Mellor (Joe Strummer)

21 August 1952 – 22 December 2002 

Fifteen years ago today Joe Strummer made his sudden and untimely transition. His words and music have had, and still, have, a huge impact on my life. I took the below photo in the spring of 2012 (I think). It was a mural on the side of a bar, Niagara, at the corner of East 7th and Avenue A in NYC’s East Village. In 2003 graffiti artists Zephyr and Dr. Revolt paid homage to Joe a few months after his death. Someone told me that they came back every year to touch it up. But then, a few years ago, the wall had to be repaired so it was removed, much to the dismay of pretty much everyone. Since then there is a new version of it up, though I still prefer the original which is pictured. Anyhow, at the bottom of this post is a truly moving video of the artists painting the mural while Joe Strummer sings his rendition of Redemption song as a backdrop. What is interesting is that at one point, towards the beginning, the filmmaker puts a clip of Joe Strummer in the crowd as if he was watching it being painted. Anyhow, if you have a few minutes I hope you’ll watch it. The music alone is worth the watch, but seeing the faces of the people watching is really moving. Turn it up.


“And so now I’d like to say – people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks – I am one of them. But we’ve all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything – this is something that I’m beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanised. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing. That’s my spiel.”


“Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn’t have any inherent wisdom. I quickly realised that you either became a power or you were crushed”


“The future is unwritten.”


“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. There is nothing more common then unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world if full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are Omnipotent.”


“Everybody has a story to tell.”

More in the Five Quotes series.


Five or Eight Quotes from Howard Thurman…

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November 18, 1899 – April 10, 1981

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

 “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.” 

“During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.” 

“It is very easy to sit in judgement upon the behavior of others, but often difficult to realize that every judgement is a self-judgement.”

“Often, to be free means the ability to deal with the realities of one’s own situation so as not to be overcome by them.” 

“And this is the strangest of all paradoxes of the human adventure; we live inside all experience, but we are permitted to bear witness only to the outside. Such is the riddle of life and the story of the passing of our days.”

“There must be always remaining in every life, some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful.”


“There must be always remaining in every life, some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful.”

More in the Five Quotes series.

One pic and two quotes…

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So a couple things. One is that this photo and the quotes below have nothing to do with each other except that I find them truly inspiring (so in a way I suppose they do have something in common). Anyhow, the pic above was taken yesterday just after it rained…I was on a walk and looked up and there it was. The only camera I had with me at the time was my cellphone. And here’s the photo.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

~Mahatma Gandhi

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

~Mark Twain

Urban Simplicity.

Five or eleven quotes from Alan Watts…

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Alan Wilson Watts
6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”

“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”

“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”

“When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.”

More Five Quotes.

Urban Simplicity.

Five or Eight Quotes from Harvey Milk…

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May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978

“All men are created equal. Now matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.”

 “I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you…And you…And you…Gotta give em hope.” 

“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”

“Politics is theater. It doesn’t matter if you win. You make a statement. You say, “I’m here, pay attention to me”

“Hope is never silent.”

“The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, that my friends, that is true perversion!”

“Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.”

“Let me have my tax money go for my protection and not for my prosecution. Let my tax money go for the protection of me. Protect my home, protect my streets, protect my car, protect my life, protect my property…worry about becoming a human being and not about how you can prevent others from enjoying their lives because of your own inability to adjust to life.” 

Urban Simplicity. 

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Five or twelve quotes from Ram Dass…

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Image found here.

 Born Richard Alpert 84 years ago today.

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

“The most exquisite paradox… as soon as you give it all up, you can have it all. As long as you want power, you can’t have it. The minute you don’t want power, you’ll have more than you ever dreamed possible.”

“Be here now.”

“Suffering is part of our training program for becoming wise.”

“Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.”

“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.”

“What you meet in another being is the projection of your own level of evolution.”

“The next message you need is always right where you are.”

“We are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another.”

“It’s very different because the Indians live as if they are their souls and Americans live as if they are their egos.”

“Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation.”

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Five or eight quotes from Ansel Adams…

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Photo Found Here 


February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”

“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.”

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

“There are two people in every photograph: the photographer and the viewer”

“The whole world is, to me, very much “alive” – all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life – the things going on – within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.”

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!”

More in the Five Quotes series.

Urban Simplicity.

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