Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gary Greenberg, Kosuke Okamura, and Bennett Roth-Newell: Why support them?

There is more to my side of the story on more people that I'm about to profile from my point of view. They are Gary Greenberg, Kosuke Okamura, and Bennett Roth-Newell. So what makes each of the three special? And which person caught my attention a lot more because of one skill? Despite my English major, the answer lies in this blog, so read along and I'll describe from my point of view of who they are.


So the manager of Sweet HayaH is the guy named Gary Greenberg, who happens to be a supporter of Soulful Obsession, something that I've talked about often on social media. To my take, and not the actual take of the band itself, Sweet HayaH is partially derived from the Chinese (particularly Yue/Cantonese) saying in martial arts, which in music, would be different. It resembles high energy and a lot of people trying to produce unique sounds, something that one of my friends is involved with - more of that in the next section.

Since the debut of Sweet HayaH, Gary Greenberg has been giving the right direction of overseeing many of the songs that Sweet HayaH have produced, and I was very lucky to have met him at a few locations in San Jose, the city of where I was born - and not far from a venue that Sweet HayaH last played in San Jose. I never encountered Gary's son, Joshua, until just recently. When I asked Joshua about following his his footsteps, he responded that he won't be pursuing that dream.


I have seen Kosuke many times in San Jose, despite residing in San Martin. He takes many roles not limited to just being a musician - he plays drums with bands such as Sweet HayaH and Soulful Obsession with people like Lily Tran. He also teaches music at a local school within Santa Clara County of which he made the announcement a while ago.

I personally encountered him many times at concerts and sometimes at San Jose State University. One of my most memorable moments with Kosuke is meeting him at a recital within San Jose State University, of which he played music with fellow member Bennett Roth-Newell - more on him in the next section. Kosuke invited his family, including his mom, to a recital held in the music building of SJSU, and personally invited me along as well.

The sad part about him is that his schedule is unpredictable, so who knows when I'll see Okamura again if he does have time... However, the happy part about him is that Japanese food is somewhat similar to what I would eat, except that my parents do not like those stuff owing to their Chinese heritage. My brother, cousin, and I do like raw fish that the three of us would try to look for any Japanese food places that we feel comfortable and agree upon. I am also adapting to the habits that most Japanese would eat, although I still retain Chinese food as part of my family heritage.


There is a story that I particularly want to talk about, and that person is no other than Bennett Roth-Newell. He does operate a website, and is aware of my social media presence except Twitter - something that he may have been unaware, perhaps maybe until he read this blog. I'll probably post my blog only if he does notice my Twitter page.

But let me talk about some of the things that caught my attention. The story of me in relations to Bennett Roth-Newell started at San Jose State University, where Bennett, along with Kosuke, Veno Bender, and Lily Tran as Soulful Obsession, played a gig. I particularly loved every moment that Bennett does his rapping, which was my most favorite part about his voice.

Even though Soulful Obsession is offline as of yet, Bennett continues his schedule playing gigs for the bands that he is involved with, such as The JurassiC and The Vibrant Things. He also now teaches within Santa Clara County, which readers will find on his website.

One of my favorite moments was when I was on a trip to Sonoma State University in Spring 2015 of which I posted pictures on social media. While I was there, Bennett happened to noticed my pictures that triggered his past memories, of which I was surprised to notice. The Sonoma State trip was part of my assignment by the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at SJSU, something that I continue to be involved with.

The one wish that I would like Bennett to create and produce are some songs that only Bennett could sing as a rapper, accompanied by his crew doing the music. However, I only think that he is too busy to do so, owing to his schedule and the complicated timing. But nevertheless, Bennett still follows his dream of being a great musician both on the keys and a singer - including my favorite of his voice, rapping.

So if anyone has any questions or comments, please let me know!

Original Work: Kyle Chak
Twitter: @KyleSChak

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chak's Experience: From Childhood to Adult, and meeting with John Beaver

Like I often hear from John Beaver, I always hear a familiar phrase: zoo keeper by day, DJ by night, and cancer survivor. The latter does tell a huge difference with how his life has changed. You have heard about his side of the story, but not my side just yet. Well, now is the time for me to tell my part of the story in Part One before I tell my side of the story on John Beaver. The only similarity is that Beaver and I are considered San Jose natives, but the only difference is the present city.


Late November 1988... I was born at O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, not far from where the present Westfield Valley Fair is. My parents moved from their native China to the United States a year earlier while my father was nearing completion of what is to be the headquarters of our family's housing.

San Martin, California... A 23.5 mile drive from the main San Jose State University campus. Not long after I was born, I often cried and was very scared and fearful because I feared that my parents would drop me, especially over bridges and tall structures that would end my life because of proper handling.

I started preschool at a San Martin school, which today is the present San Martin Gwinn Elementary School in San Martin. In the first few years, I changed schools; in my kindergarten, I was at Jackson Elementary (now called Jackson Academy of Music and Math) before moving on to Nordstrom and eventually Paradise Valley, which I remained there for most of my younger grades.

My family and I would frequently have vacations to Hong Kong and Macau, but in 1998, I was on vacation at my relative's house in the hilly Wan Chai district along Stubbs Road. My parents and aunt initially asked me to go to a doctor to get a flu shot, but it turned out to be a trip across the Cross-Harbour Tunnel to a psychiatric hospital. The doctor told me and my parents that I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder, somewhat a type of autism that would change my life on how I learn stuff (presently, Section 16 in the RTC Clipper Card application classification).

However, one of the teacher's aides has been with me between Britton Middle School and Live Oak High School, both of which I graduated in 2004 and 2007, respectively. However, my diagnosis was not over as I applied for an RTC Clipper Card (then known as Translink), which required another visit to a psychiatric hospital in Watsonville. The troubling thing about my learning experience associated with my disability is the low test scores due to that specific neurological disorder.

I enrolled at Gavilan College following high school as a young adult, though the disorder continued to haunt me for most of my education, which I often call myself as the "troubled kid," as in the life overall for me. I eventually transferred to San Jose State University four years later, as sometimes need assistance associated with wayfinding despite technology advances. I usually do most of my own wayfinding, however.

When I am comfortable, I do take breaks and both attend and volunteer the annual FanimeCon event held in downtown San Jose during the Memorial Day weekend. Those are some of the ways I usually stay out of trouble. I generally do stay out of any drugs or alcohol as any smell of those can result in a violent vomit, as well as owing to family customs.


My story on my take of a guy can be described as both a zoo keeper and a DJ, although there is more to his story. Let me tell my own story on how I actually met John Beaver long before he sent me a friend request on Facebook. Because his photos do tell most of his stories, I often "like" his posts, due to the fact that the pictures to me tell some kind of a great story.

John Beaver's life is full of potential when I viewed his stuff, and many of them are stories of his survival of cancer. The first exposure to John Beaver is when I encountered him at the San Jose State University Event Center about a year ago, as part of a series of DJs that involved Tiesto. The exposure was so great that I decided to take some photos of his signature moves. I never talked to him about that event, though he probably never remembered unless he would like to indicate that with me in person. Until now, the event at SJSU was the only time that I've seen him, but never formally talked to him up until recently. I only attend events whenever Beaver has a free show in Santa Clara County, and only if I have time to do so.

Like in the manner of some of my friends, I often posted pictures of my experience with Beaver, who I knew that he is a cancer survivor. The sad part about me, though, is I typically only have one to two minutes of a chat with him, as he normally chats with his sidekick named Steven Crandell. I will be surprised if he does spot me on Twitter and/or Instagram, of which both of my profiles have a simple name, as well as any lunch or dinner opportunities...

Original Work: Kyle Chak
Twitter: @KyleSChak

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Word to the Wise: Not just Paper Passes, No More Paper Transfers from BART to VTA as well

Word to the Wise: My own version of that includes every VTA day pass and BART transfers to be paper-free, so why that change? The inspiration of anyone heading out to take transit on Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) buses can now be more difficult for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) riders who want to ride VTA, as I have learned in the past few days several weeks after I wrote my first blog on VTA paper day passes. As I first mentioned in a blog involving the issue of paper day passes, VTA has stated clearly on board their "VTA Take One" paper flyer, all buses, and ticket vending machines noting the major changes coming to the transit agency. I first said long before anyone else that VTA plans to discontinue paper day passes on VTA. The Clipper card and the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission never mentioned on their websites nor their social media pages the awareness of VTA putting away the day passes and replacing both the day pass and monthly pass with a feature added to Clipper cards - which both pass transition phases are about to be completed.

The video that VTA spokesperson Brandi Childress said about Levi's Stadium for riders who transfer from the Mountain View Station or Fremont BART station is about to get more difficult in 2016, as I believed technology advances have made the Clipper card one of the more reliable all-in-one smart cards that eventually lead VTA to the paper-free day pass and BART transfers. When the first day of 2016 arrives, there will be no more paper day passes sold at VTA buses or light rail ticket vending machines (TVM). This could send shockwaves for most of VTA riders who is a transfer rider from other Bay Area transit agencies or from regular VTA riders who are unaware of the major changes implemented by VTA. For those who were not familiar with the monthly pass change to Clipper, VTA produced a video on YouTube in 2012 that strongly advised riders to obtain a Clipper card. This now also applies to both paper day passes and BART transfers.

For BART riders, this could be a major headache for those who regularly pay cash to transfer from BART to VTA. According to the VTA website, VTA plans to get rid of all transfers for both the youth and seniors/disabled, and wants to levy only a 50 cent transfer from BART to VTA. At the same time, VTA is not only getting rid of paper day passes, but also paper transfers from the Fremont BART station. AC Transit, however, will for now honor paper transfers from BART, but may soon elect to make major changes to the fare and transfer structure. The major transfer change from BART to VTA is the result of an inconsistent fare transfer policy between many Bay Area transit agencies, with a wide variation of confusion among customers who use the Clipper card to ride transit around the Bay Area.

Many transit agencies are already accepting the Clipper card as fare payment, with more to come in 2016. As County Connection, Tri-Delta Transit, WestCAT, and WHEELS are now accepting the Clipper card, those transit agencies has yet to react to the plans that VTA is already implementing. Other transit agencies who currently accept the Clipper card may have seen VTA's example of the major changes, as VTA is now becoming the first transit agency to eliminate both paper transfers from BART and paper day passes for use on both bus and light rail.

On the Clipper side, those riders who will ride VTA will be lucky, but if cash remains an option to any rider who transfers from BART, Caltrain, or SamTrans and wants to ride VTA buses or light rail, those riders will pay for every ride including Express routes, with no opportunity for any day passes.

Original Work: Kyle Chak
Twitter: @KyleSChak