In Loving Memory of Kenneth Bieber

Writing Mauro 11/3/16 Obituary Kenneth Francis Bieber away on his birthday November 22 3005. Bieber passed away of natural causes in his mansion. He was surrounded by his favorite things, these included Wawa, fine art, and various adoring fans. Bieber had been a writer and a musician in his earlier years. He penned the hit single “I only cried once this week”, which was dedicated to every college student. He is survived by friends, family and his pet turtle, Paco, who doubled as his manager. Most remember Bieber as a kind, loving and warm-hearted individual. “He was swell,” says Ken Downey an old friend of Bieber’s. Before his passing, Bieber asked that all his remaining funds be donated to charity. A good portion was donated to the Thomas Wiedmann Foundation for music. The Bieber family thanks, those in advance wishing to donate.

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Kenny Bieber

Spec. topics and Column writing

Mauro

11/12/16/

                

                      Focusing your Inner Lens: What Lehi Mendez Taught me About Life

At first, I knew Lehi Mendez as the manager at the local Starbucks, then I got to know Mendez as a photographer and businessman. And finally, I got to know Lehi Mendez as a mentor and friend.

Prior to meeting Lehi Mendez, I doubted my path as a writer. I found myself constantly questioning, “Am I going down the right path?”  Like most students my age, I doubted my major and discovered that I felt confused, alone, and all together at a loss for what my next step should be. Should I switch my major? Should I drop out of college entirely? While my doubt grew and multiplied throughout the month of October, I met an individual who would become a friend and mentor to me. His advice transformed my doubt into hope, my confusion into peace. His name is Lehi Mendez, and this is the story of how he taught me that we all have a path in life and the importance of having faith along the way.

To this lesson in life, I owe the multibillion-dollar Starbucks corporation and my sister. Luckily for me, my sister loves coffee and hated college. In fact, she hated her freshman year of college so much that she decided to take a semester off from school and move back home to figure out what her next step should be (we were both questioning a lot of the same things at this time). It soon became clear that a part of her next step would involve a lot of Starbucks runs.

She would go to Starbucks for hours and find herself striking up a conversation with the staff and costumers. She would then come home and tell me each of their individual stories. One day, she came home and excitedly told me how the manager, named Lehi, was also an experienced photographer and offered for both her and me to be models for his next pieces.         

Next thing I knew, white studio lights were beaming into my eyes, and I had to remind myself to keep my head rigidly straight as the camera clicked multiple times. In between takes, Lehi would adjust my head and instruct me on where to look. His current project for which I modeled for is called “Project You and Me.” It focuses on close up, raw, intimate photos of the subjects face.

I was initially nervous for this in the small intimate studio, but somehow Lehi Mendez makes it work and makes me feel at ease. When first walking into the studio, I notice the set-up of the equipment.  Looking at the camera, everything in the room appears to gravitate toward it.  As I’m thinking this, Lehi comments, “I feel like the camera is an extension of me, as if it is apart of me.”

All the doubts and frustrations from my semester seem to disappear as we talk.

“Walking out of Penn Station, I was looking at the street ahead of me… I was scared and anxious but I knew I wanted to be there,” Lehi says recounting his first time doing street photography in New York City.

I can’t help but feel some of those emotions applied to my semester as well. He continues, “[Photography] was a mental and emotional journey. It took me all over NYC. It was like a dream wandering around the city, uptown, downtown, just taking pictures of anything.” 

As he describes this dream to me, I reflect on my own dream to be a successful writer. Lately, I’d been wondering how one truly knows if their passion is fulfilling them if it’s meant for them. I ask him his thoughts on this.  His eyes look directly into mine before he responds.

“What’s the formula that would give back to the subject, make it a consistent process;

what could I give back to whatever I was photographing?”

Sitting across from him ,I try to catch every word he says, all delivered in a calm yet purposeful way.

“What could I photograph that could fulfill a feeling inside of myself?” Lehi explains.

“I wanted to create something from within — with one foot in what’s going on right now in the present and one foot removed from it.”

I almost stop writing at a certain point just to catch every word he said and fully absorb it.

“You’re pounding away and chiseling at this giant piece of rock; when that rock starts to form you’re in there underneath it all,” Lehi says.

Out of everything I’d written down so far, those words escaped my pen the fastest.

“As long as you know deep down you love it you’ll build your own personal space.”  These words also find my pen accelerating. There were other questions I’d planned to ask but instead I end up asking him why I should pursue my passion of writing. He responds, “would you be living without it?”

For what feels like forever, I stop writing and find myself lost in thought, thinking of the answer.  He  continues, “Your vision is in there somewhere. Without it you cease to live, what’s life without passion.”

I pause for a minute to collect myself, looking at my notes; I forget I was only going to ask four questions. I’m about to turn the page in my notebook when he continues speaking.

“Take everything into account. It’s all apart of a bigger picture.” He considers his words before resuming, “It’s not always random, it’s all a part of our personal journey.”

       “Be patient… don’t be so over-critical” is something he would’ve told his younger self. Had our conversation ended there, I would have been satisfied with Lehi’s responses, but then another bit captures my attention. “It really is your journey, Kenny… no matter how people take it, it’s still yours.”

At that moment I felt strangely at peace. I no longer felt alone or that my feelings were so foreign. I think the photos weren’t the only thing that developed that day.

   

  

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