Tuesday, February 19, 2019


I do not typically post personal insights here, though this one has a conclusion that every living human shares.

A tribute read at the memorial of: Cathy Herrera Kelly
My oldest sister who died suddenly without warning
May 8, 1961- Jan 28, 2019

As you have all experienced, Cathy was an incredibly lovable person... to everybody... and I say that even as her brother.
I have great memories of us growing up in the streets of SF during the crazy times of the late 60s and 70s, when the culture of San Francisco truly transformed to become the most liberated, accepting and inclusive city in the world. We were, and are all still part of that culture.

In Cathy’s adult life, she lived genuinely as a global gypsy.
No one in the family ever really knew where she was
Or by what means she managed to get there.
Typically, She was either in Cairo or Buenos Aires... or somewhere in between
But always with SF as a home base...

Her liberated feminist side became obsessed with the personality of Eva Peron and she did in fact set out and create a documentary about her many years ago.
...She is likely still editing it in the afterlife.
Cathy charmed her way into meeting living family members, dignitaries, and government workers who were all legitimately part of the Eva Peron story... Cathy’s theme song has since become "Don't cry for me Argentina". Today there will be a small community in Argentina crying for Cathy.

And no doubt there are a lot of handsome Arabic men in Cairo weeping her loss as well.
I always joked around with her saying she probably had a guy in every port.
She would always laugh and shake her head, but never denied it.

Cathy was notoriously late for everything... so on the day of her death, when she was over an hour late to meet for lunch with her daughter Nicole... it was not unusual.

However, this time... seems like she was in fact early for her own death. Fully clothed, love in her heart for her newly born first and only grandchild and ready to meet Nicole…seems that she simply laid down, and in a moment - just died of natural causes. It was her time.
As far as death goes for the dying, it's a beautiful way to depart the world.

Cathy died in my favorite place in SF, on the vertical slope of Telegraph Hill right off the Filbert St steps.
Climbing that stairway alone is enough to nearly kill somebody.
And as luck will have it, my partner lives at the base of that magical hill and I am blessed to stay in that beautiful place facing the cliff, smelling the hanging gardens, and every day feeling the history of the first SF settlers who anchored their ships right there at the base of the enchanted hill. I shared much time with Cathy on her stints in the city lugging things and guiding people who have nearly lost their breath on the way up that cliff stairway.

One of my favorite memories on the hill with Cathy is from some time ago on a quiet Christmas Day in the city.
Several family members and I climbed the stairs with a giant pumpkin in tow.
We got to the top and perched ourselves at the highest sheer part of the cliff. Armed with sharpies, we all wrote on that pumpkin what grievances we wanted to purge for that year... we threw it off the cliff and watched it smash into a million pieces,
And in that moment, there was laughter, and satisfaction, and some of our grief actually did disappear when that pumpkin ricocheted, rolled and smashed into the ground far below...

And that brings me to grief: whatever grief you all feel, not just for Cathy, but also in your own lives whether it is Being estranged from loved ones, estranged from friends, or any other kind of riffs…
Professional, cultural, or family-wise ...THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY RECONCILABLE.

I know this to be a truth ... because I piss off a lot of people!
And I genuinely reconcile with people consistently.
Let’s face it:
In any riff, both sides are always accountable
Let’s take responsibility for our part in it.
And I know that each and every one of you will most likely be harboring some type of animosity.
But it's ultimately useless, it's cowardly, and it wastes so much time and energy, and …love.
It’s so easy to stand behind our pride and our egos...

But it takes great bravery to JUST GET OVER OURSELVES and our pointless squabbles.
Rise above them.
With acceptance, mutual respect and collaboration…Everybody has the power to love more, to give more, to create more and to care more in the tiniest or largest ways possible within your abilities. .
It is always within our own strength and power to mend and move forward.
Because, as this gathering today proves, we never
know when our time is up.

Feb 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Whirling Worlds of Gregangelo Herrera and Velocity Arts and Entertainment 

Gregangelo Herrera

Life is filled with grand characters who whirl by us and sometimes with us. Last month, I had the great pleasure of working with and befriending Gregangelo Herrera, an empire of creativity- a man, a circus, a museum and a sweet advocate for internal liberation through collaboration.

Sweet Can Circus /The Levins’ production of My Friend Hafiz in SF
 Greg was hired as the whirling dervish king for our co-production of My Friend Hafiz, which my wife Julia and I were a part of in San Francisco with The Levins’ World Folk Ensemble, Sweet Can Circus and Broadway director, Mindy Cooper. Greg runs Velocity Arts and Entertainment and, although he commands a three-ring circus of his own, joined our production with the stipulation that he be given a sturdy pair of roller skates.

Before meeting him, I was bemused when one of Greg’s personal assistants answered my email instead of Greg when I reached out to coordinate a band rehearsal. I also spoke to another assistant when I tried to reach him on the phone. I had seen a clip of Greg’s whirling dervish routine with Cirque du Soleil and heard about his Gregangelo Museum. I was beginning to think that he really was a king and might arrive in a golden carriage or on a throne. Instead, the first day of rehearsals, he arrived on his roller skates and was as friendly and down-to-Earth as you would want any of your dearest friends to be. He was warm and had a treasure store of kindness and good will that he doled out with smiles and a laugh that leveled the playing field and invited instant camaraderie.

Here is a link showing Gregangelo performing with Cirque Du Soleil:


The entrance of the Gregangelo Museum in SF

Greg graciously volunteered his museum for our band rehearsal. I had been told (with raised eyebrows) about his psychedelic museum. When we parked in a suburban Sunset district neighborhood, Julia asked which house it was and I pointed to the one with the elaborately painted dome inside the platform landing. At first glance, the house almost blended in but, as we walked up and were greeted by mysterious music, a giant Buddha and Egyptian iconography, it was clear we were entering a well-manicured Alice in Wonderland labyrinth that would have made Salvador Dali smile.

The Levins World Folk Ensemble at the Gregangelo Museum

We were welcomed by one of Greg’s tour guides and ushered into a space that I am still taking in. Every room had its own theme. While we waited for Greg to join us, we were fascinated by the young artists who looked like they were a part of one of David Bowie’s glitter glam rock tours. The house was a rave with no need for external stimulants.
Trying to find the bathroom was an adventure in and of itself, down a hallway that looked like you were crawling through a keyhole. Every inch of the bathroom was bejeweled from top to bottom.

A restroom in the Gregangelo Museum

When Greg arrived, he explained that for forty years, he has had live-in artists contributing to the space. There are 36 rooms, every one of them a gem of contemplation. The house was immaculately clean and while he has actually moved out, he commands a team of artists and performers who help him give tours and are part of his Velocity Circus.

The tours of the museum and the performances Velocity creates are designed to create an immersive experience to, “Connect people on the most basic level,” as Greg said. He has his guests turn off their cell phones and wind their way through a mind-bending maze of intricacies with the intention of breaking down the barriers we put up which hypnotize us into going through life on automatic pilot. The museum is an attempt to remind people how wealthy they are inside.

 Greg told us that when he decided to become an artist, he threw himself into his career with no back up plan and found, after he became successful, that collaboration was a well-spring of strength and prosperity which made his career into meaningful service. He has fostered artists and performers who were convinced they couldn’t succeed because their parents told them they couldn’t. His advice has been, “Be successful and they will learn. Teach them what can happen.”

Velocity Arts and Entertainment

The prankster’s gleam in Greg’s eyes challenges indoctrination by unsupportive parents, religion and power structures that propagate fear. Velocity has currently come into corporate settings where the person in charge presents them with a huge check and tells them the performance that they have been working on for a month has been cancelled because they are afraid of what might happen. Greg’s Velocity team have created environmental and thematic atmospheres for such companies as Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, and Microsoft. His multicultural ensemble create fantastical characters and settings, using aerial acts and optical illusions to directly interact with their audiences. They seek to touch the heart of what captivates the child inside the adult in these corporate settings.

 Greg has observed the societal panic that has created a taboo of touching one another in the work space. Obviously, a desire to end sexual harassment in the work space is beautiful but a blanket mandate against any physical human contact, driven by litigation anxiety, is tragic.

 Greg said he and his performers see that people in the spaces they go into, as well as many of the people who tour his museum, are starved for affection in a way that they are not even aware of. When they get handed a check for not performing, his company often takes to the streets to share what they have prepared with an unsuspecting public.

“We aim to uplift the vibrations of the most blighted areas in our city and help elevate the spirit of the city. We know there is a physical reaction to anyone encountering a performance, one that palpably alters the mood. We see it in people’s eyes. Even in those who go out of their way to ignore it, their senses are ignited. Performances are what we have to contribute and share.”- Gregangelo Herrera

Gregangelo Herrera and friend

It is always a magnificent treat to be given license to engage with the wonder that is constantly in motion within and around us. Gregangelo, through his museum and Velocity offers us the chance to expand our capacity to touch and be touched in a genuine way, not only through extravagant outrageous atmospheres and performances, but with extra loving-kindness.

Velocity Promotional Reel:

Originally published at www.streamoflightblog.com on January 31, 2019.

License to Engage in Wonder 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


For over 3 decades and counting , part of my job is to Interactively entertain thousands of guests up close and personal at corporate events in San Francisco. Without provocation, the guests topic of conversations almost always pivot around how miserable they are in their jobs and how they hate their bosses. As part of my job on the floor with guests , I ask many profound and joyful questions to shift focus , and bring up the mood with earnest conversation. Though , a question I often ask at the end is: “In your life, what have you found to be the opposite of love?” Among many answers -The #1 answer I often hear spontaneously shouted is: “corporate culture !” Ouch.

Seems that the new ‘lack of culture ‘of the corporations is simply another epidemic plaguing San Francisco. It is no different then the Jonestown massacre or the Aids epidemic here. Only the ‘cultural void’ of these corporate entities brings equal or worse suffering than both the tragic massacre and epidemic combined. They’re committing the most heinous crime of all- they are killing people‘s souls and spirits while they are still alive. They’ve created a work force of zombie robots who can no longer care or love or think for themselves without connection to what I call their ‘corporate tits“ (which suckle the life out of them! ) They have ‘drunk the Kool-Aid’ that is prescribed to them by their soulless HR teams’ Counter-intuitive regulations.
And exhausted by the plague, they willingly succumb to being sheep who voluntarily herd themselves into the slaughterhouse to be massacred.

Through my endless interactions as an artist, a guide, and an entertainer , I’ve inadvertently discovered that the current workplace is just another landfill full of shattered dreams littering and destroying the human spirit. It seems no different than the giant island of plastic debris suffocating our oceans and the ruthless slaughter of the Earth’s environment fueled by greed with no end.

So to those of you who feel as if you’re ‘doing time ‘ at work - Quit.
Rise ,create ,contribute ,hold your ground ,make a buck doing your thing .
Than persevere and shine so bright that your only purpose is to remain inspired and inspiring.

The world is an absolute miracle and so are you .

This year …Exist. 


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Gregangelo’s ‘Grandma Herrera and Auntie Burt”

Both were an extraordinary life influence.
To this day, I always have a jar of the New Mexico hot chile sauce in my fridge that my grandma taught me to make - the same she always had in her ‘Frigidaire’ .
She’d always yell at me and my cousins to ‘cut the comedy’ , but the comedy and laughter still continues! 
She made us all blankets and cooked for us until she died. I’ll never have another tamale or potato enchilada like hers. 
Her attire until the end was super feminine dresses, shoes, costume jewelry and would even ask for lipstick when occasional hospitalized in her last years. 

Aunt Burt was born ‘Beatrice’ , was proudly out and queer , and transitioned to openly living the life of a male by the 1930’s - way ahead of their time!

In the 70’s we call him 'Aunt Burt ‘. Burt embraced the masculine and feminine I suppose and never scolded us for getting the pronouns mixed up- actually embraced it! Aunt Burt called me and my brother ‘hotrod’ and would take us crab fishing down at various San Francisco Piers. 
Aunt Burt’s look while I was growing up was men's Ben Davis work pants, a white t-shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled into the sleeve and always sported black work boots. 

These two sisters were life long friends and even lived together in Burt’s final years. 
This image really shows the yin and yang of them even as youth in New Mexico.

Saturday, July 21, 2018


An Artist’s Take on Magic

Last week, the Gregangelo Museum hosted an evening of food and magic event, featuring performances by the renowned magician, Jade, and culinary creations from the Magic Chef. With this fresh in our minds, it feels like a great opportunity to ask some interesting questions: What is magic? Where can it be found? What is there to take away from it?
At first glance, the way I see it, magic is anything that occurs outside the scope of our constantly expanding understanding. The mind of an artist dwells in a realm that is hard to describe and our calling is to utilize mediums to synthesize that into accessible form. Magic is no different, though it also has an even more exaggerated element to it, which is to perplex the senses and stimulate the imagination in ways that most people aren’t accustomed to throughout a typical day.
Magic is a medium that bends our concept of the “laws of reality,” if only momentarily, making the seemingly impossible happen before your eyes. wonder and amazement and it is a healthy, refreshing change-up from what we see in everyday life. The gap between what we we experience and what we notice throughout the course of everyday life is subtle. In taking a closer look, it is no stretch of the imagination to say that there is magic all around us and our interpretation of what that looks like depends on what we focus on and how we do it.
In reality, magic exists on the chemical level. Between our human neighbors, these can be found in the nuances of attraction, intuition, and all those other fuzzy or grizzly feelings that are difficult to describe concretely, but actually exist on a subatomic, biological level. Think about that feeling of connection when in we spend time in nature, away from the sounds of the industrial bustle. This is nature tapping into physical and emotional responses that can be obscured by the sounds. And they are ripe for realization.
Scientists spend their lives diving deep into the inner workings of the micro- and macro-universe, grappling with the wondrous set of circumstances that have allowed for humans, animals and ecosystems to exist and evolve. what is holding all of this together? Gravity? What is gravity?  Sounds like magic to me. And it’s a beautiful thing that the more we discover, about our psychology, our environment, the more questions and conversation topics emerge. Each new tidbit adds an extra nuance that furthers and enriches the discussion. Our constant curiosity stimulates us to continuously question and rethink the mystery within our own minds and the mystery of our place in the cosmos. Contemplating this mystery is what makes us human.
And magic is how we fill the in gaps. Between what we know to be true and what we have trouble explaining. Some people input that with spirituality, religion, data, etc. Whatever that is for you, there’s no denying that there’s something magical about the gift to inspire and feel connected. The proof is in those precious moments of clarity and serendipitous coincidences that reinforce the idea that “this is happening for a reason.” These are the magical exchanges that keep us learning and growing and falling in love all the time. 
These are the kinds of magic that inspire me throughout my life and it was exciting to see and learn how Jade tapped into these elements in an intimate setting with quality people, food, and fun.
-Roman JohnDoza 
Photos: Hiromi Yoshida 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Fabula Tea

Growing up in traditional Asian families, we frequently feel pressured into conforming and fitting in, even though deep down we knew we were different. Coming to the SF Bay Area was a turning point for both of us, as it provides a safe place for us to reconnect with our true selves. Discovering the magical Gregangelo Museum was icing on the cake, as it is a place where we can really free ourselves and explore our imaginations. This is why we have been enjoying a truly rewarding partnership over the past 2 years!  In light of Summer Solstice and Pride Month, we hope you can join us for an enchanted Tea In Wonderland experience at the incredible LGBT-owned  Gregangelo Museum .

Yshel & Kenny, Fabula Tea co-founders