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Igniting passion since 2012



Passion: The fire that never dies

Ken Reif

Perfects his passion with paint

Silver and Gold Ramona WOW Factor


he great Chicago fire from a distance must have seemed like a most menacing sight. Buildings burst into flames from an area now referred to as the heart of Chicago. The wooden streets and sidewalks went up like matchsticks. Flames buoyed by high winds and an exhaustive drought licked the air ascross the charred landscape. In the aftermath one-third of the cities 300,00 were homeless overnight. By all intents and purposes this city was laid to waste. But not the resilient citizens of the greatest city on earth. They travelled far and wide to find investors willing to build the city on Lake Michigan bigger and better than before. If one were to visit today they would find no sign of the fire that raged in the streets over 150 years ago. Chicago is not embodied in the mythical pheonix rising from the ashes, but from the ashes themselves. Nelson Algren calls it loving a woman with a broken nose. This place where humility and hard work are respected above flash and fame. The very representation of blue collar is the place where the labor movement took hold. This mid-western zenith is all heart and substance and no fluff. The passionate external fires could only be matched and exceeded by the fire that burns in the heart of the last great American city. I posed a question to good friend of mine, J.D. I asked him if passion could be taught. We did not collectively come up with an answer. Later I came to the conclusion that it can only be caught. As in ignited or encouraged, not instructed. Imagine explaining fire to someone who had never seen it before. One would have to give up and just SHOW them. This phenomenon is the non-mysterious mystery of this life. Everyone has many things that excite and/or they are passionate about, yet how do we explain it to others who seem as if they could care less? Im sure some of us thinkers are doomed to be super-excited about some idea to have it met by a companion with impartial deference. Mind-blowing isnt it? That the greatest thing we have on this earth, passion, cannot be forced onto others, even if they have agreed to participate. It must be an organic process that happens naturally. One inspires another, and one by one we become changed from the inside out and begin to believe day by day that the world in which we cohabitate is yearning for the fire inside to be ignited.
Creative Director| Metatron magazine

Nathan Bam Bam Stanton

Metatron Oct 2012

nov/12 Vol. 1, #8



in this issue: 8 Sufjan and his christmas project 13 Ken Reif and impressions of trees
Erica captures inspiration in artistic expression Original words of wisdom that will delight Children will forever explore Zaire Jordan expounds on an opus of epic magnitude

6 wow quotes

10 Ramona! : An Adolescent tale of fire

Metatron Oct 2012 3

Each month we profile artists, musicians and writers that rise into these medium categories. We hope you come away with inspiration and encouragement.

Im(age) Miracleshout

Visual Art


Golden Notes

With passion you do the most you can, without it the least. -Metatron Mag

Ripe Fire



Metatron Nov 2012

Between Spring 2005 and Spring 2006, I attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During that time Illinois had a state senator named Barack Obama. As a budding poet Id send poems out each week via email to all of my art school friends. On a whim I decided to also send them each week for a few months to the state senators email address. I never got a response, nor did I ask for one. And I dont even know if he read them. My art has always sought to be a source of encouragement. I began to publish them in the September 2012 issue, and l will be publishing more.

Prophetic Poems for the Potential President

All of the poems were compiled into a chapbook entitled Ripe Fire, becoming the inspiration for the section of our mag with the same title.

Metatron Oct 2012

False memories account for half of the worlds insufficiency. No man can do to one what they havent already done to/for themselves. Concerning fear: If something has never happened, no reason to believe it ever will. No life can be transformed into what one deems impossible. Kill the need to be right and you will find yourself there. Keep custom at an arms length for it may abandon you before you get the chance to do the same.

buildings are not the city, people are

Appreciate calm for even storms are a manifestation of peace. Patience trades jabs with peace and leave anxiety out in the cold. Life manages no one love manages. Comfort eats uniqueness for breakfast. Wisdom is found in the behavior or thoughts we refrain from. When we give but refuse to receive, we cut the love process short. If we are grafted into the Branch, that means we will always be out on a limb. Love is everything, stated simply.
6 Metatron Nov 2012

Editor-in-Chief Erica Henry Creative Director Nathan Bam Bam Stanton

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Web Designer Jeremy Pennington

Account Manager Liz Stanton

Contributors: Zaire Jordan, Ken Reif, Rachael Tanger, Trevor Parker, Cecie Wilson, Jamie Solorio Photography Terry Hogg, Josh Russell, Francesco Sideli, Kara Stewart Photography, Dream Chicago, Anthony Allen, Exodus Music, Dana Gioia, Beni Johnson, Johnny and the Beloveds, The entire GCC family, the entire Bethel family, the entire Stanton/Muse family, the entire Lex family Special Thanks The Trinity, all of our subscribers, the spouses and children of team members, most of all to the Creator who makes it all happen.
Metatron Nov 2012 7

golden notes music Review

Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10

Asthmatic Kitty/November 2012

Silver & Gold:

Sufjan Stevens

5 M-halos out of 7

ven before Thanksgiving Day, Christmas music can become so ubiquitous that we tune it out. Most of us have heard the same dozen of songs every year ad nauseum. Sufjan Stevens is here to help. Every year he records Christmas songs and shares them with his family and friends. Shorter in scope and playtime than full albums, the EPs have been commercially compiled. First, 2006s Songs for Christmas, and six years later we have Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas Volumes 6-10. The Silver & Gold box set is more than music. It includes an 80-page book, a poster, temporary tattoos, stickers and more. As a gift to the world, every song written by Stevens has been released in the Public Domain, which means they are free to perform and record (unlike "Happy Birthday to You," which costs thousands of dollars for use in films and other media). Christmas represents what we truly need to be whole in this life and what we want, the deliverance and desire. The title, Silver & Gold, refers to both material and spiritual wealth. The American holiday season, and the stress that comes with it, has come to be the years climax, before the slate is wiped clean again. Long after were too old to ask Santa for presents, Christmas still begs the question, have we been good boys and girls this year? God only knows. Sufjan sees Christmas as metaphor for the conflict between our dual desires to be selfless and selfish. Symbolically, we try to reconcile our worldly realities and spiritual intent. This collection is a cubist portrait of Christmas; many facets of the joys, the sacred, the sanctimonious, and the crisis are on display. This collection attempts to explore Christmas rather than redefine it. He sings hymns that sound like he authored the lyrics. At other times, his original songs seem anachronistic, made generations before Sufjan was born. The creation of blended,

Metatron Nov 2012

displaced sense of time make the songs, the classics and the contemporary, sound relevant. When a song like Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! follows X-mas Spirit Catcher, the secular and the sacred fuse. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The familiar carols and hymns are not pretentiously reimagined or reworked beyond recognition; his versions of Jingle Bells and Auld Lang Syne are nothing fancy at all. Still, at no point do you forget you are listening to a Sufjan Stevens record. Christmas Woman sounds like an afro-beat remix of a holiday song! This genre record has the kind of songs that make for enjoyable listening well past winter. With nearly three hours of Christmas-themed music, its okay to be afraid. However, the breadth

of the box set guarantees theres something for almost everyone, of all ages. But with an album of fifty-eight tracks, there are bound to be some songs that you like more than others. I am Santas Helper, of tracks 9-30, is the collections weakest. Only seven of those twenty-three songs last more than two minutes (26 of the 58 songs are that brief as well). The 32nd song is the start of the Christmas Infinity Voyage EP, when we board the spiritual starship. Recorded in 2008, Sufjans usage of synthesizers and programmed drum sequencing matches the textural palette of the LP he released around the same time. The science-fiction vibes of the modulated tones do their part for Stevens expanded Christmas landscape, even when it sounds ridiculous. When hes not aiming for other galaxies, he hones in on the chest cavity - to get to the heart of the

Long after were too old to ask Santa for presents, Christmas still begs the question, have we been good boys and girls this year? God only knows.
matter. The last song is a beautiful musing on what it means to be a Christian, Christmas Unicorn. Seven minutes into the final song, the melody of Joy Divisions Love Will Tear Us Apart bleeds on top of the rhythm. It is a fitting choice. In the real world, death, betrayal, and misunderstandings are the side effects of love; it does tear us from apart our fellow man, as the song says. But it is love of God and Spirit that make our earthly, irreconcilable, differences bearable. Hes showcasing the warmth of spirituality that can be found in all religions, no matter how rigid. He only seems rigid about staying true to himself. His recordings testify to how filled with spirit he is. A good relationship with God is a good relationship with yourself, and faith doesnt have to mean the loss of individuality. Sufjan Stevens is aware of that many people feel conflicted. Christmas Unicorn is a nuanced rumination of what it means to be a Christian. He wants to console the under-represented Christians who feel like they dont exist, as if they were unicorns, because they are unseen by the critics of Christianity, and sometimes by the faith itself. Its alright. I love you, Stevens sings to us all. He believes that the world will be a better place when all of us unicorns speak our truths, making the heart of religion as prevalent as the business of religion. The message is clear: love can tear us apart and love can mend us too. The choice is ours! -Zaire Jordan

Metatron Nov 2012

inding buried trash, not treasure is apt to interest a child. Specifically a group of children who call themselves brothers, they never said it but one could tell. While fabricating patterns of existence for those items, truth never became an urgent matter. The tin can was used to communicate with the visitors who landed in the backyard and disappeared before the boys were awakened by the bright California sun. All this and more, spinning tales reached my ears from across my quiet and serene backyard. Every now and then one would come to my front door asking to retrieve a ball that had landed amongst my lilies. Then they would pick up the ball ever so gingerly and make their way back to the hoard of children waiting to restart a game. (I have a habit of over-exaggerating) There were six boys and a sister who appeared frequently then bounded back inside the house. Since my husband died, Ive been a wreck in which the fear of loneliness runs roughshod around me. My peaceful days sitting in my garden capturing the sounds of pre-adolescence are my only past date when I was full of life and vitality. Becoming familiar with their voices was the easy part, matching the names to the voices, no walk in the garden. Only rarely did they refer to each other specifically by name. With the calling of their dogs and a genuine bond, their communication seemed almost telepathic. Then I noticed the skinny one peering up from beneath the oak tree:

With The reaching of the branches I yearned to touch the sky, for my pursuit of a higher bough would confirm i tried. Ever lofty the power line was the goal to achieve, falling soon became the reality immortality. Urged me to stand among the cackles from workingmen brushed away shame, Inside I trod to tell mama I would try again.
Through the ivy on the fence I saw them grow together, bonded by one cause, family. Ralph and I had never stopped our wandering long enough to have children. Travels around the world as a part of various world aid organizations left us caring for others. Our family legacy fell by the wayside as we rocked infants to sleep in Malawi


Metatron Nov 2012

and Uganda. The crises were always compounded by local governments. Their lax attitude towards citizens usually threw fuel on the flames of revolution. All the more reason to be held, not in esteem but as butchers of all that is good. These boys were far removed from any of those conflicts, yet close to the loss of short-lived hope. Sobs intermingled with the aroma of gardenias and I swear the willows wept with them. The dog they had since they moved in seven years ago was being taken by their father. When she first made her appearance it was not pretty. The mut was replete with mange and fleas. Also shed scattered out of sight when her eyes met with the childrens. The process of welcoming her was difficult or so it sounded. In no time at all she was having her name yelled by the siblings, Ramona!. So numerous they were, yet so happy. Maybe there is strength in numbers. This was painful to hear, even in lieu of my vicarious investment. Anguish welled from their souls as could only be described as childhood interrupted by loss previously unequaled before, since it was the first. Nonetheless their father drove off in the van imagining he had done the right thing. The dog was more trouble than good an after all, good things do come to an end. Why dont children ever get used to the feeling of loss as it seems. In adulthood, we coddle the feeling and sometimes defend it like mothers good china. A child never learns to let go. Maybe they are not supposed to. I remember the night the Santa Ana winds picked up like nobodys business. There were gusts of up to 80 mph and power lines were coming down all over the city. Their backyard was not off limits and was soon ablaze scorching that same oak tree. Fire trucks wailed into the night and all seven watched from their porch while flames shone in their eyes. That was the end of exploration and escapades in the adjacent yard for a while. Every once and a while, the children would glance in the direction of the blackened tree only to pass up another day without playing among its base. I began to miss the peals of laughter ringing out across to where I sat straining to hear each refrain. Fear now held the young ones captive.

flames leap like Jesse Owens, while sowing destruction among the fleetest of feet. Worried about a caustic trend, do not worry I assured joy will return again.

Metatron Nov 2012


Ever wonder how we are different from animals? Although the consensus in the scientific community is that we evolved from them. This is not an attempt to argue. But to point out in the story of Creation God made us with His hands AND blew life into us. With the other created things He spoke them into existence.

rakh pny-m

Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness

(Gen 1:26)

Because we are the truest created reflection of the divine we enjoy the presence of the very Spirit of God. In Hebrew, ruwach, Greek pneuma respectively. These alsoe mean a wind or breath. Therefore we can be passionate because the most passionate One who ever was has created us to be the same.


Metatron Nov 2012

Do What You Love : Ken Reif Inspires with His Love of Life and Art

f you see a painting of a tree around Berwyn or Oak Park, IL, it is probably by Ken Reif, a local. I first noticed his art while dining at a neighborhood restaurant and was fascinated by his mystical depictions of trees, from a variety of perspectives. It is the main theme in his artworkhe paints hundreds of pictures of trees and others of open, bare Illinois farmland where the only feature are country roads flanked by telephone poles. Somehow the paintings each stand alone. Trees have become a muse for Ken, and a true muse never stops captivating, because the artists perspective is always evolving. Ken could go on painting trees forever, while continuing to reveal new colors and shapes and feelings. Ken began to paint when he was ten-years-old and has allowed his art to blossom into the core of his life through his intentional choices. His art is also uniquely local in that his paintings are depictions of the rural landscapes of farmland and forest around Chicago as well as the streets and buildings of his community. While he once had to fit the art into the corners of his life, he has cultivated it into his business through consistent practice. Painting from 6:30 am to 4:30 pm and then marketing the business with his wife every evening, Ken spends the majority of his waking day doing what he loves. He explains, Its difficult but once I get behind the easel, that all disappears. Once I start doing it I am not tired anymore. Ken credits Chuck Close as his favorite artist, for both his work and ethic. Ken quoted Close as saying, The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. This mantra is one Ken lives by. Ken is not a Christian but agreed to let Metatron interview him about his mind and creativity. Ken defied some of the stereotypes of the artist by showing up punctually at 1 pm showing us the same respect he shows his work, but fulfilled others, driving up in his red, weather-beaten pickup truck sporting a lush white beard, reminiscent of Jerry Garcia. The first thing we talked about were some of the themes in his work. EH: How did your tree paintings come about? A friend of mine ten or fifteen years ago gave me a photograph of looking up into a tree. A couple years after that I started doing paintings of that. It didnt click in right away but a few years ago, maybe three years ago now, I had a show at the Oak Park library and I was gearing up for that show and I started painting trees on these really big canvases. Since then I have focused on that. Its good to focus on one thing, not just focus on one thing, but kind of focus on one thing. You know, I paint musicians too and landscapes and still lifes. I spend a lot of time out in the woods just taking pictures with the camera. I will go all around a tree. This fall there were such great colors around the Starved Rock area. EH: I love your landscapes too. I love the road paintings where there are electric Metatron Nov 2012 13

wires or telephone wires. I did a lot of those a few years ago, the telephone pole ones. I started thinking eventually these telephone poles are all going to go away. Cause of the cell phones Its a little part of Americana. EH: So trees, do they mean something to you or is it purely the aesthetic? Oh, I think they are beautiful. There is no deep meaning, though I do hope to evoke an emotion from whoever looks at them; the tree is beautiful or you feel despair or something like that. I think even bare trees are very beautiful, just the branches against the sky. EH: And the musicians; I noticed a lot of musicians youve painted close up. Im just so into music. Ive always been into music. That was a way for me to get close to music just by drawing or painting musicians. I have been doing that since I started doing artwork. I am a big Jimi Hendrix fan so I have done a lot of paintings and drawings of him. Certain photos will lend themselves to painting; ones that have a lot of shading and shadows. EH: Where do you think your creativity comes from? Is there anything you have done to get the creativity flowing? Its ever-present, but the older I get there is more of a sense of not wasting time. I would paint for six months and then I would put it down and I would play music for six months, or just concentrate on the music. After being in so many bands and wasting so much time in somebodys garage or house and trying to get guys together to practice and they dont do it and then we practice for months for a gig and dont make any money and its such a 14 Metatron Oct 2012

big waste of time, and Im like, eh, I could have been painting. When I am painting it is just me and the artwork; I dont have to rely on anybody else. When I turned fifty, I really decided to buckle down and do the artwork. I sometimes want to say I wish I would have done that earlier, but the fact is that I wasnt ready when I was younger. I think when the time is right, the time is right. Its not something you can make yourself do. EH: What is it that makes you feel an urgency? Is it that you want to paint as much as you can for the rest of your life? I am just really happy with doing it. I came across this way of painting that I never used to do. Its not the way I was taught when I went to school. When I went to school, I was taught with the impressionist way of painting, the impressionist pallet, doing an underpainting. You start with a blue or a purple, you do your light blue or light purple and you add your analogous colors. Everything I do now starts with a black canvas. It is totally different than everything I did, and it is very exciting. A friend asked me to copy the Born to Run cover, and when I started doing it I noticed there is so much black in it why dont you paint the canvas black and paint in the whites? And thats what I did. And then I started doing other paintings like that and now I do it so much, its really werid for me to paint on a white canvas. EH: How do you see your painting evolving? [My painting] evolves on its own. I just paint everyday, and I like the way its working out. Ill get more ideas when I paint. Its a gradual thing. I look at what I did a couple years ago, and I am more

excited about what I do now. I would much rather show the work I am doing now than what I did a few years ago. Even though thats okay too, but I am more excited now. It just keeps evolving a little bit at a time. Does that make sense? EH: Yes! Its the most mature and wise version of yourself painting right now. I also do this abstract kind of look. It is a white line drawing, and I paint into it. It started

I think even bare trees are very beautiful, just the branches against the sky.

out where I would use a pencil and then I would paint in a white line. That has evolved into me using a white oil paint marker and drawing really quick like a graffiti artist would and then putting my color into that, and then I dont have to paint over it. Now with it going really quick, I think it adds a lot of energy. It is the same kind of marker that the graffiti kids use. Now they use these oil paint markers, and when you go into an art supply store, they are under lock and key A lot of times I wont look at the canvas, I will just look at the drawing. In high school they call it contour drawing. EH: Does spirituality play a role in your artwork? It does. Im not a Christian, but I believe in the same moral code. I am a firm believer in karma, what you do affects your future. I just believe in trying to be the best person and nicest person and kindest and most loving I can be, and I think everything will work out after that. I was brought up in the protestant faith and went to Sunday school quite a bit. I was very much into Christianity, very involved in the youth group. After I got married I drifted away from it. I went back and forth on it. You know, I could never make up my mind, and I finally decided not to be a Christian. My daughters are very Christian, my wifes first husband was a pastor in the church of God so she was a pastors wife, very involved Were just not Christian. EH: Where do you see your art going? What do you hope to be doing in five or ten years? I hope to be in galleries everywhere internationally. Some of the better galleries, the Richard Grey gallery in Chicago, they sell Picassos EH: Your ultimate artistic dream? My ultimate artistic dream, I am doing it now, to be able to paint. I am very happy right now. -EH Ken Reif will be the man with a big white beard selling paintings of trees at the One of a Kind show at the Merchandise Mart in early December. His art is for sale at You can also find him playing bass in his two man band, Jimbo Delta, at Reggies on the first Friday of the month. Metatron Oct 2012 15