Just Blogging

A Big Mountain.

How do you go from 60 to zero!?  A big mountain suddenly appears in front of you and stops you dead in your tracks.

Almost 2 months ago, I last posted that “Construction is on Schedule,” and a few days ago, my pledgers received their reward vouchers and an update from me saying that we’re opening in 60 days.

To my horror, things have drastically transpired over the past 24 hours that have shaken my world upside down.  All construction work has ceased as of today.

-empty silence-





You know that feeling of experiencing a death in the family, and you wake up thinking that it was all a terrible dream…?  Well, that is exactly how I feel at this very moment.  I am in shock and disbelief.  Without tarnishing names, I can’t give details of what is happening, but I do hope that this is a short pause in the process, and that I can resume construction in a few days.

Just as the entire journey over the past year and a half in creating this book bar for Long Beach as been one full of big challenges, I am hopeful that this mountain will move.

To my future customers who have waited enthusiastically at the edge of their seats, I just want to say thank you for the support, and I will continue to be vigilant and insanely determined to get The Brass Lamp open!!

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” -Matthew 17:20.


Construction is on Schedule!

I have a big purpose for 2015, and that is to get this book bar open!!!

On Monday morning, demolition on the first floor of the Mark Schneider building started! And as of today, new walls are being built!

Not only am I looking forward to all the fun of designing the space and opening doors for my anxiously awaiting future customers, but I’m excited to collaborate with OPEN, 5 O’clock Wine, Rose Park Roasters, and other small Long Beach businesses to propel more synergy to the growing energy in downtown Long Beach!

2015 is going to be a phenomenal year!!!

Follow us on Facebook for all the updates: facebook.com/thebrasslamp

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7 Days Remain!!!

IMG_679513463573072Seven days remain until the end of my Kickstarter Campaign!!  Although we are only 50% funded, I believe that the number seven will bring us good luck and good fortune today and till the rest of the campaign!  I remain hopeful and positive that more supporters will come through and The Brass Lamp’s journey will stay on schedule!!!

On Tuesday I finally signed the lease to a 4,000 sq. ft. space that was used as office space for 50+ years, and will soon be resurrected into THE brilliant book bar on the Promenade in the thriving city of Downtown Long Beach!

It was very emotional for me to finally get my key to the place that I have worked so hard for in the past 16 months!  There were tremendous hurdles in the way, but none too big to overcome with relentless perseverance and a great deal of faith.

IMG_679655383760763I’m especially delighted right now because The Brass Lamp will be teaming up with OPEN, a charming neighborhood bookstore!  In 2012, OPEN sadly closed it’s doors on November 15th leaving many regulars grieved and bookstoreless.  But, exactly two years later, OPEN has announced it’s re-opening within the brick walls of my book bar!!!  Much like a marriage celebration, we are taking something old and something new, and making something extraordinary!!!!

The city is buzzing and this bar is being called the most anticipated bar in Long Beach!!! THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU who have made such generous pledges, and especially believed in this idea and continuously spread the work and share the posts!!!

Please rally with us and Let’s Light Up The Brass Lamp!!


Getting to Know Halle Johnson, a Vocal Talent

My true purpose of building this unique and clever book bar for “my people” is not only to give a memorable experience through ambiance, food, and drinks, but it’s also to create an experience through art, music, creativity, books, and inspiration!

Just imagine a place where you do your best writing, or a place where you get artistically inspired, or perhaps a place where if you were a songwriter and singer, your music taps deep into the ears and the hearts of your audience in a dimly lit lounge among other creative and passionate peers, eventually igniting creativity in their own right.  And the cycle of thought, depth, and emotion continues.

“There’s nothing that gives me more life than love and music.  It’s important to be authentic and have no gimmick,” Halle Johnson. 


Photo by Victoria Estrada

I had the pleasure of meeting Halle Johnson, a singer, performer, songwriter, and in my opinion, a musical gift.  Not only is this young artist exceptionally talented,  she’s stunning with her 6’1” stature, she’s remarkably driven, passionate, and shows a maturity level far beyond twenty-two.

Johnson found music in 3rd grade when she first got her hands on a cello – you know those giant violin-looking things that sit on the ground and lean against your body.   But as random as that was, if it weren’t for that unassuming cello, the strings of passion in her heart would have never been struck, and her path to musical growth wouldn’t have extended beyond 3rd grade orchestra rehearsal.

“I stood out because I was tall, but I was actually good at it.  When other kids complained about practicing, I loved it,” says Johnson.  In 6th grade, she joined the choir, and would eventually contribute to the school’s recognition for an award winning program.  “I fell in love with singing and found guidance and classical training through Dr. Richard Miles, the choir teacher who I am still friends with today.”

But unfortunately, with a difficult childhood bouncing between parents, chronic unpredictable health issues, and experiencing a life of strained relationships and neglect, Johnson fell away from music and singing until she moved schools and later rekindled her passion at the age of seventeen.  She taught herself how to play the guitar a year later and eventually started writing her own music in 2012.

“I tend to cater to the musical genres of Neo-soul, R&B, Pop and Rock.  But I grew up with everything from Sinatra to Sugar Hill Gang, to Snoop Dog to Aretha Franklin.  My father introduced me to old-school hip hop and funk, my ex-step-mom introduced me to classical and jazz, and my mom introduced me to classical R&B and World Music.”  With a diverse musical background, Johnson’s music strums all classic genres.

“I’m inspired by life!  There’s so much to it, and God brought me music to save me, and to bring music to others,” Johnson said.  “I am a believer in paying it forward and want to use my purpose to empower others to find their own purpose… their own fight.”

Good Man 4

Photo by Victoria Estrada

When asking her where she wants to be in 5 years from now, she replied, “I want to be exactly who I am, except better!  I want to be far better, more educated, more driven, and more purposeful.  And I want to take my music to a global level.”

In chatting with Halle about relationships and life, there is no doubt that this young lady exudes sincerity, kindness and love for people.  Wanting to be more than just a product, she wants people to perceive her music with honesty, relatability, and realism.  “Sex may sell, but realism lasts forever… I want to be a part of that movement of lasting art and lasting impressions.”

Johnson was a top 10 finalist for the 2013 Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter Contest.  This year, she has entered again with two new original songs called, “Incredible“ inspired by her first love and all the innocence of falling in love for the first time; and “A Good Man” inspired by the a past relationship and the understanding that good men are still out there.  CHECK IT OUT!!!  http://songwriter.amplifiertv.com/channel/Halle+Johnson 

Miss Halle Johnson is currently working on raising money to fund production, recording, more videos, and equipment.  Her songs will be on soundcloud within the next month.

I personally am so excited to watch the growth and success of this young, talented, and driven woman.  She is truly and inspiration.  As she continues to establish her presence beyond Long Beach, she will always have a stage at The Brass Lamp to perform and share.


Getting to know Halle:

What makes you happy?  “Simple things…even just sitting here in the day time.” 

What makes you sad?  “Ignorance.”

What is something unique about you that you’d like people to know?  “I’m a 100% self-taught musician, and as stressful as that learning process was, I’m glad I went through it.  The best thing my mentors have ever done for me is to refuse to hold my hand. 


Photo by Ponlork Den Mongkoul

What is your favorite word?  “Love.”

What is your lease favorite word?  “Lazy.”

What turns you on?  “Life… and all its possibilities.”

What turns you off?  ”Lack of study… lack of preparation…”

What sound or noise do you love?  “Random music in the distance, like a guitar or sax… I will follow it.”

What sound do you hate?  “Silence… I don’t sit well in silence… I need noise around me.”

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  “Motivational speaking.”

What profession would you not like to do?  “Anything that is full-time in an office!!”

If heaven exists, what would you like the hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?  “Well done.”


In the Beginning…

As the book bar is progressing while in its planning phases, I’m making decisions on the types of (private) rooms that I will have.  This building was built for office space in the 1950’s and has been used as such since then.  But in 2014, this mid-century brick office building will be transformed into the very first “book bar and lounge” in Southern California.  -True story!!!


The private rooms around the perimeter of the floor plan were once offices of Executives and Managers, but will soon be uniquely and carefully crafted purpose driven rooms, which I have yet to determine.  But in deciding the use for those rooms, I keep in mind the heart of The Brass Lamp, which is to build a community.   The primary vision of my business may have taken a backseat to the glam of this oh-so-cool-forward-thinking concept, but truly is the cornerstone of The Brass Lamp.

HemingwayBehind the obvious coolness and uniqueness of having a… uh, “coffee shop for adults,” if you will, the vision of this bar/coffee shop/bookstore was not only to provide a place for people to go to on their own to “read, write, and drink,” but it was also a place that would cultivate intriguing conversations, imaginative ideas and eventually geniusly creative results!  -Did you know that the iconic writer, Earnest Hemingway was notoriously fond of drinking?  Much like his counterparts like Scott Fitzgerald and William Styron, most creative artists get their best ideas when balancing drinking and working.  I know I do!  And I know you do too!

At The Brass Lamp, I will be featuring the work of local, upcoming Artists, which will cultivate more creativity, which will in turn develop compounding ideas of brilliance.  Giving my customers, not just something to look at, but something to talk about!!!  And that’s ultimately what I want… I want to give them something to talk about!  Thank you, Bonnie Raitt!

So as I head hunt for these creative artist’s work on my walls, performances on my stage, and books on my shelves, I ask that you envision The Brass Lamp as being a place where you can let down your hair, take off your tie, and relax your tension-filled shoulders and enjoy being inspired!!!

And they say you can’t never meet a decent person at a bar!  I beg to differ!  Cheers!

Oh, and if you have any ideas for some of those rooms, don’t be shy to share!

“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.”  -Ernest Hemingway


Ombres, selfies, ice bucket challenges, stiletto nails, mustaches, IPA’s, gastropubs!

Some things can be left behind.  They’ve been made out and played out!  But other things are creating it’s own path!  Here’s a hint of a strong future trend -If spellcheck puts the red, squiggly line under the word, it’s got longevity before it becomes played out!!!  My version of wordpress puts a read squiggly line under Gastropub!!

So, what is a gastropub?!!  You trendy folks don’t know it, but you’re already enjoying it!  If you meet up with a friend at place that serves IPAs, craft beers, charcuterie platters aka cheese plates, flat breads, and fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, you’re at a gastropub!!  It’s part wine bar, part beer pub, and part upscale tapas restaurant.  It’s the new craze!

You know what else has a squiggly red line under it?  Bookbar!!  (Okay, so it’s really “book bar,” but play along with me here!)  Guess what, I’m sharp enough to have figured out that The Brass Lamp is going to be part gastropub… actually, it’s part coffee shop, part wine bar, part beer pub, and part book store!  I think I have one up on the gastropubs!  It’ll be  casual but refined, welcoming the foodies, winos, beer geeks, readers, writers, and those that just appreciate a really cool place to hang!

Stay tuned for updates…things are coming in hot!!!

Brew RebellionAnd check out this tasty Strawberry Rhubarb Ale!! It’s made by Brew Rebellion.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!  Whether you like IPAs, BLTs, or KFC’s… you will like this beer!!!  It’s a bit pricier than your standard beers, but well worth it!  Retails at $11.00 for 22 oz.  *And I love the story of 2 young guys with no money seeking out resources to build this brewery.  They couldn’t get a loan from the bank and sold everything they had in their garage to get this going.  Great job!  Great tasting beer!!!  CHEERS!!


Unleadership- 5 Ways Employees Lose Respect

If you’re a Manager, Supervisor, or any variation of a Boss or a Leader, I bet you didn’t get there by doing the following:

1.  COMPLAIN.  There’s nothing worse than your co-workers complaining about work!  But it’s a thousand times worse when it’s your boss complaining!

What are you supposed to do when your boss can’t get up off of his or her butt to actually get things done!?  They say the same thing over and over again with no results!  Are you supposed to tell them what to do, or just sit back and get paid to listen (while you play a violin in your head!)

I don’t know about you, but I’d bust out the Advil because rolling my eyes back in my head starts to hurt after a while!!!

2.  MAKES EXCUSES.  Oh man, this is my favorite one!  And by favorite, I mean, THE WORST!!!  There’s nothing worse than your boss not taking responsibility for managing tasks!  He’ll (maybe it’s a “she,” but I think it’s a “he!”) blame you for not getting things done, yet he never made it clear to you or anyone else that he assigned said task to you!

OR, if he was supposed to do something, he’ll blame personal issues for not getting it done!  -Hi… Let’s leave your drama at the door.  And here’s a tissue box, Sir!!!

3.  PAINFULLY FORCED COMPANY ACTIVITIES.  Rather than getting the raise or bonus you deserve, the boss spends a ridiculous amount of money on unnecessary, mandatory company lunches and weekend activities.  So, rather than you getting your 3% annual raise that you were promised, the money went to a very expensive Angel’s suite and mediocre bottomless nachos.  And you’re expected to be happy with that!

4.  EMPTY PROMISES.  How many times were you promised to get your performance review done this year?  You work hard and hope that by way of this performance review, you finally get the recognition that is so well-deserved, followed up with the appropriate monetary gratitude.  But instead of the eagerly anticipated, “You’ve really shined this past year…” it’s, “I’ll get to it when I can…”  Meanwhile, you start counting the days that your paycheck remains the same.

This is when taking pens and highlighters home becomes “justified!”

5.  MOODY.  Need I say more.

soccerIf you’re reading this… and you know what I’m talking about… which I know you do… do exactly the opposite if you ever see yourself as being a boss someday.

And if I just described your boss, then prepare yourself to take his job, and I say to you, keep working hard, and let him make his mistakes.  Your respect may be gone, but he’s actually training you on what not to do when you become a boss!  #Leapfrog!


Don’t look for Success, Look for Opportunities to be Successful

A lot of people seem to think that “success” just falls into people’s lap.  On the contrary, success -as cliché as it is- has to do with serious perseverance, focus, and taking action!

But I truly believe that the one thing most people overlook is OPPORTUNITY!!  Capitalizing on opportunities whether big or small!

workingWhen you wish for something… like, let’s say, patience or courage (those are typical request we all ask for regularly), do you think you’ll suddenly be granted with patience and courage?!  No, of course not!  But if you stop to notice, you’ll be granted with opportunities to be patient, and opportunities to be courageous!

The same is true for opportunities to be successful!! 

Say YES to opportunities, and see where it takes you!  Watch the gravel turn into stepping stones, and the stepping stones into big slats, and then slats into a solid foundation!

Every opportunity counts!!!  Every bit counts!!!

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”  -Woody Allen

-Happy Friday :)!

What do you Focus On?

Tony Robins says, that when you focus on the bad, the fears, the insecurities, you continue to get the bad, the fears, and insecurities.

But when you focus on the good, the positive outcomes, and the brighter side of things, you get the good, the positive outcomes and the brighter side of things!  I like the simplicity!

And from Jon Acuff’s blog and Trent Shelton’s tweet:


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