This post is shamelessly personal.
I have two sons that I love with all my heart. They are artists: one a musician, one a builder of fire-and-steel dreams. The dream builder works with a group called The Department of Spontaneous Combustion. They are building something amazing:
Imagine putting on a headset that takes the electrical activity in your brain and uses it to control the fireworks (LED lights and flame effects) on a fifteen foot sculpture of a brain.
Now pause and ask yourself: How cool is THAT?
Now, make it cooler: after they meet their commitment to take this thing to Burning Man 2013, they will bring it back to Oakland and take it to schools to inspire students to pursue the studies behind this artwork: math, science, biology, psychology, metalworking, art, and electronics. The name of this sculpture is Mens Amplio ["Mind Expanded"] because that is what it is going to do. It’s not going to be just a fabulous toy (although it will certainly be one) – it’s going to inspire and educate.
There’s a catch: it’s expensive to build something like this. It incorporates steel and LEDs, electronics and fire effects. They got seed funding from the Black Rock Arts Foundation to start the build. For that, they made a commitment to show it first at Burning Man, and to eschew corporate sponsorship. Now they are doing the rest of the funding via an indigogo campaign. You can see the campaign and a film about it at this link:
(If you watch the film, the guy in the white tee shirt is my eldest. He built the thing that bends steel pipes into curlicues.)
Because I believe in this project, and I believe in bringing it to the Oakland public schools, I am going to make a Free-Gift-With-Purchase offer to anyone who contributes to the Mens Amplio Indigogo Campaign: If you will send me a copy of your “thank you” email for contributing ANY AMOUNT to the project, I will treat you to One Session (drink included) with the Coffee Shop Rabbi. I will meet you at a coffee shop, bar, or similar place anywhere in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, and we can talk about or study anything you want.
Also, for those of you who don’t know me well: I don’t proselytize. That is, I am not going to “sell” Judaism to you. If you want to talk about religion, your bad experience with religion, Israel, atheism, Christianity, grief, or something else, go for it, the coffee (or beer) is on me. I love my work because I have something to learn from everyone.
I also consult on Hebrew tattoos (avoid making a mistake that will put you on this site) and will happily provide an ear and consult about dealing with impossible relatives.
To get my email address, fill out the form below. I will write you back with an email list to which you can forward your thank you letter, and we can schedule our session.
I’m doing this because I believe in this project, and I am fond of the crew building it.
Wishing every one of you a week of blessing and Torah!