Saturday, April 12, 2014

Keeping it Real with Rabbi

It's funny that in life you can run into so many that claim to "keep it real" but it's usually just that...a claim.  Nothing more.  Words that vanish into thin air as soon as they leave the lips.  Then....a diamond in the rough.  Someone you never thought of surprises you by keeping it real.

Let me share with you a story that need to be told.  A story of recognition, love, trust and undying loyalty.

Live can be difficult enough being a Jew, but event more so when you are an incarcerated me.   See, being a Jew (a "practicing" Jew) is hard work in prison.  Lots of institutional rules and regulations have to be followed.  So, of course, one stands out like a sore thumb (that's me!).  Anyhow, eating kosher in prison is not the easiest thing to accomplish.  Especially in Florida.  So it's extremal sensitive during the High Holidays: Purim, Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Chanukah.  These are just to name a few where special needs and foods are required.  It can be frustrating and, at times, be a real juggling act considering how many people we must depend on to "keep it real". 

A month before Passover we (the 8 or so Jews) are in a mad dash to have all necessary items for the first Seder (meal) of do we accomplish this feat?  Well, first we must receive permission/approval from the Chaplin.  Then the Warden.  And then, it's our (Jewish Community) responsibility to find someone to donate the foods along with someone who will donate their time.  Finding someone to donate their time can be the hardest part.  This person needs to be willing to use their time to deliver donated items on a specific day or risk having it being rejected.  That is a major headache and very stressful for whomever this falls on.

The shlepping (driving around) this year happens to be my girl, Jennifer (pictured below with me).

As Rabbi, I speak with the weight and voice of the whole Jewish Community when I say...."THANK YOU!"  Thank you for all that you do for me and all of my brothers.  You honor me, Jennifer, and I appreciate you more than words can ever describe on paper.  Through all this, baby girl, you still find the time to doll yourself up and come see my sorry ass every weekend.  There is something to be said about that. 

Do you have a diamond in the rough?  If so, pick up that pen, or phone, or mouse and you keep it real for a change.

~ The Rabbi ~ 

P.S. Today's Mitzvot: "A Psalm" in Hebrew means "To Remind".  So, remind the ones who stand by your side how much they mean to you!  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hooligan Art

It's been some time since I drew a piece I feel is truly a gem.  A piece that clearly exhibits my talent.  Showcases my ability as an artist.  There are times I draw another person's vision.  draw just to flex my talent and keep my hand limber and my eye up to par. 

What makes my art is the shading and how it's placed in contrasts around the lines that are my sketch.  Here is a piece I became involved with.  It became a real gem.  At some point the simple lines began to speak to me and there was icing put on the cake.

The more art you create, the faster the finished picture declares itself in the artists' mind.  I draw a lot to keep my minds' eye keen to see shading that makes great art.  I see this to be one of my most passionate pieces.  This is the type of thing I love to draw.

I would have this airbrushed on the saddle bag of my motorcycle.  The piece screams bad-ass but in an everyday way rather in a mean, nasty kind of way.

One day my shop will be open in Michigan.  A shop that will be bad-ass just like this art.  Different than all the others.  And I can't wait to give people bad-ass, lasting images.  Keep your eye out for the Tattoo'd Hooligan! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


This blog was created by sister Ester.  She opened it so her and I could stay in touch.  Three years later and the time flew.  Time for me to once again find something to carry me through these next three years and bring me home.  Thank you for your love and support.  This will close the Judicious Jailbird blog. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Concrete Jungle

I've been reading a  lot about the TV series Orange Is The New Black

Entertainment Magazine has raved about it.  Then my sister began watching it.  Brooke (the typist) has followed the show as well.  It sounds like they give an accurate account of life behind bars.

There's always violence.  People click up together.  Whether it's actual "gang activity" or rather just a group of Spanish dudes, or black dudes, or white dudes.  Sometimes guys click together that are from the same town.  They refer to each other as the home team. 

Not all of these groups are bad.  The Spanish click gets together and play soccer.  The black click gets together and robs people.  And the white click get together and get high.  Sure, you can say that I'm stereotyping, but this is not an is how about 90% of the guys get together and what they do.  There will always be variables.  Prison is a melting pot of a large group of people. 

I understand that Orange Is The New Black follows a woman's journey from street life to prison life.  You take a journey as you get to know her and see her live life as a prisoner. 

Prison will change you.  In many ways it's helped me.  I don't use drugs, I don't like them and I have direction in my life.  In the same token, I used to be a non-violent guy who just wanted to be high.  Prison caused me to change that about myself.  Now, I'm sober and when pushed have to remind myself not to push back.   

You have to remember fights here don't have referees to call the fight.  When you fight here one guys fighting to kill the other and the other is fighting to survive.  This whole world is concrete and steel.  Before long one guy is straddling the other while he smashes his head over and over again into the floor.  Sometimes one guy is completely unconsciousness and is still being beat on.  There are no rules.  Not just that, but prison makes ordinary men into killers.

One person sees blood and it causes a gag reflex.  To others it causes a frenzy and awakens an inner rage that is uncontrollable.  One man might hit the other in the nose and he sees his own blood and he decides to stop.  The thing he thought was real important is all of a sudden not such a big deal.  Then you hit another man in the mouth and he licks his lip, tastes the blood and smiles.  Now he's ready to get down to business. 

When faced with a confrontation in prison, you have about three seconds to decide if it's important enough to put your life on the line for it.  Do you believe in it enough that you would die for it?  Because the other person just might. 

There are times when one man wins.  But later that night the loser comes back and stabs him in his sleep.  That's one reason when you decide to fight you, you fight until either the cops come and you go the confinement, or you fight until someone is headed to medical.  That way you are separated and don't have to sweat the other dude killing you in your sleep.

I think it is important that the free world understands life in here.  You think of Afghanistan and Pakistan as war zones and hostile environments.  You have a battle zone in a location near you.  That prison down the road from you had brutal fights, stabbings, rapes and murders.  They will conceal it all on that side of their fence.  You and the general public will never know about it.  They will lie and cover it up as an accident.

Prison is it's own world behind these fences.  I think it's good there are shows that depict what really goes on back here.  We call it the concrete jungle and that just about sums it up.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rocking in the Free World

"Keep on rocking in the free world..."that's what Neil Young advises and it makes me smile every time I hear it.  The first time I heard that song I was a teen in high school, attending Roscommon High and I thought I was rocking back then.  Today I'm 35 and I'm rockin' for real.  Even behind rows are razor-wire and a world away from the definition of a "free world".  

During my first year of incarceration I had a hard time.  Each day beat me down and kicked my ass.  My head was still on the streets and refusing to accept the idea my life was going to change drastically.  Over the last six years I have accepted where I am and what I have to do here.  I'm paying a debt back to society so that once I walk out of here I owe no man anything.

The day I walk out of here, I will truly be rocking in the free world.  I came to prison a 27-year old dude who didn't know too much.  I'll walk out of here a 40-year old who know a few things.  The biggest being freedom is priceless.

My future plans are to stay a little closer to home.  Keep my loved ones a little closer and steer clear of the strip club.  I think I'll be spending more time chillin' on a dirt road and less time in a bar.  Barbeques and bonfires and acoustic guitars....that's me all day.  That wasn't me at 27.  A lot has changed since then.

My dad just came to visit me.  I look at him and wonder if I'll be just like him.  No, I'll be even better.  I had to lose it all to gain the world.  I let this situation make me better. 

Love like there is no tomorrow.  Life gives us no promises other than we will one day die.  The man with the most toys shall not win.  The man with the best memories will.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ancient Proverb

"If you wish your merit to be known, acknowledge that of other people."
~ Anciet Proverb ~

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Beer, Beaches & Root Canals

Just over a year ago I wrote about the trip I took to go get X-rays on my teeth in preparation for a root canal surgery.  I guess there was plenty of preparation needed as it took them just over a full year to perform the repair.  They had told me a year before that I would need a root canal.  The alternative would be extraction.  I'm just now 35 and I really don't want half my teeth missing when I come home.  Call me vain if you like, but I'm quite proud of my smile and besides I'm a big fan of steak and prime rib.  I don't want to be gumming them when I finally get to sit down to a T-bone and a cold Bud Light. 

As stated earlier this was a repeat of the road trip I took over a year ago.  Shackles, strip search, a trip in a van with security officers and finally to the surgery.

You have to think, if your tooth give you a problem, you call, make an appointment and get results.  I began to feel as if they were trying to corral me into pulling it.

At last the surgery was performed and I felt a wave of happiness.  I shook the doctors hand and told him thank you.  I brush and floss after each meal.  I am a health conscience person and knowing I have some funk in my mouth was unsettling at the least.  I truly feel repaired.  Not to mention, I just had a $2500 surgery on you.  Well, you're the taxpayer here.

I paid a $5 co-pay.  I feel like a million bucks.  So, I wanted to tell you thank you! You helped pay for my surgery and I'm one happy dude.  I would like to point out I have been paying taxes through employment since I was 15 years old.  Truly I don't feel bad about finally taking advantage of a benefit.  Still, I'm real blessed to have this thing done.

My countdown continues.  Six year here in prison.  Only four left.  And really, I'm just under that.  Time is rolling past.  I remember having those perfect days in the free world.  The sun shining, you're on a beach soaking up the sun, the seagulls are flying overhead and the waves gently come ashore.  You sit there and wish time could stand still.  Well.....right now I pray them Godspeed.   

May the days pass quickly and bring the day that I will once again pray for time to stand still.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Prison Art: Helping Many Inmates Better Themselves

This is exactly what we've been saying!  As a community we should all want men and women to "come out better people".  Art plays a massive role in how J.J. does his time in a positive and productive way.   

The other day J.J. received a letter from his good friend Norm.  (You have heard of Norm before!)  Norm always arrives with positive and encouraging words along with stories of great things happening on this side of the fence.  This letter was no exception.  Norm shared a story from the  Ionia Sentinel-Standard: "PRISON ART: We want them to come out better people."

Here at the Judicious Jailbird, we believe in just that.  Encouraging inmates to stay connected to family and friends, the power of art and sharing stories......all to help men and women to come out better people.

Here is the latest piece of prison art from J.J.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dear Jenn

Jennifer....without you there is no me.
Happy Valentine's Day, baby girl!
Love ya!