Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

So You Wanna Be A Gangster?

So it’s been a while since I have posted on the blog but hey I have been busy. How busy you ask? Well Lets see… Finished collage WOOHOO!!! Put on a film Festival, and most importantly been making movies. I have spent the last few weeks filming a group of ex-gang members in Oxnard that are putting on a play about the gangster life and healing powers of Jesus Christ. The whole experience of filming these pious players of the stage has taken root in my heart and is opening my eyes to the power of religion. Not to long ago I watched Ingmar Bergman “The 7th Seal” a great euro-classic about a knight returning home from the crusades that is searching for the meaning of life as he plays chess with Death himself. There is a part were the knight is confessing in a small church in a plague ridden town and says

“We carve an idol out of fear, and call it god.”

WOW Deep! The film just said what I have thought of but been unable to put into words all my life!

Keeping this quote in my mind I went to the Victory Outreach Church in Oxnard to document the play for the first time and WHAMMM!!!! Everything changes!! At the church I saw a miracle, ex-gang bangers praying for Jesus and worshipping the lord. Here I was surrounded by a group of people that at one point in their lives would have robbed me and stolen everything I have if the opportunity had arisen. Yet now they were coming to me with open arms wanting me to hear their story of how they turned their life around with the help of Jesus. I heard all the horrors these people went through.
“My little brother was shot and died in my arms.”
“I was addicted to heroin and had sores all of my body”
“I sold Meth to my dad.”
I also heard the turning point,
“I found God.”
“Jesus saved me.”
“I was saved by my Homie on the streets.”
Everyone had a different story of hatred and vice that only led down one road, yet there was a fork in the road that they all took and were now on a path to prosperity.
Now on a mission from god they are telling the story of the gangster lifestyle and party scene and the path it leads to through the medium of drama in “So you Wanna be a Gangster” The cast of the play feels right at home playing the part since they draw from past experiences when they are on stage.

The whole experience has changed me. I am a person of fact, with that said I don’t believe in god, but I now believe in the healing powers of religion, and the members of the Victory outreach church in Oxnard is my case study.

Photo: One of the actors’ poses for a portrait outside the Isabel Junior High School in Santa Paula Ca. before going on stage. © Michael Thanhouser 2010

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Spent the week in Phoenix visiting my mom and god-sister Laura. Had a great time eating great food, buying super-cool sun glasses, reliving my childhood through a waterside. I also did some underwater photography in the pool at the hotel and at the house. over all i had a great time and I cant wait to spend time with them again.


These photos are from Laura's camera and she took some of them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Animals were always present in my childhood; my brothers and I had almost every animal you can think of as a pet. Lizards, rats, fish, tarantulas, even a freshwater eel by the name of “noodle” lived at 705 NW Albemarle terrace. Yes we had just about every animal you could think but to me the dogs in our family were not just pets, but extended family members.
Throughout my childhood I had the pleasure of sharing a house with five different dogs, and each one of them touched my life in a different way. Some provided companionship while other provided something more. April was my families second Dog. She was a beautiful Black Lab that always protected and cared for our family. We would treat her like a member of the family, my dad would always take her on jogs around the neighborhood, they would run up and down the hills of north-west Portland some times all morning long. One time a burglar broke into our home and April chased after him before he got a chance to steal anything. A day later April came back home with the thief’s hat between her teeth, that hat became her favorite play toy. April always loved the Beach. Every time when we went to the coast we would always bring April, she would run and play in the water without a care in the world.
As the years passed April became less active, she no longer went on runs with my dad and spent most of the day lying in the entrance hall waiting for someone to pet her. One day the front door was left open and April got out. We were not worried at first because she knew her around the neighborhood. When she did not return after a few days we started to get worried. My brothers and I peppered the streets with Lost Dog flyers and made calls to the local animal shelter telling to keep an eye out for her. A few days later, a neighbor of ours that lived two blocks down hill brought her back home. She had fallen down one of the steep hills that are common around the area. The neighbor found her limping past his house took her in and nursed her back to health. Soon after we took her to the vet and found out that she was going blind. Knowing that April’s life was coming to end we decided to take her to the beach one last time. It was strange seeing her at the beach in her old age. All though she could hardly see anymore, you could tell she knew were she was and felt happy, Shortly there after she died.
I remember the day she died so vividly. I was at home watching Scooby do of all things and my mom came in and told me that April could no longer move. I went to the library were I found her lying by the back door. She had wet herself and did not seem to notice or even care. My mom told me that it was time to put her down. As I looked in April’s sad white-eye’s I could tell that my mom was right. I gave April one last hug, pet her belly and scratched her ears and went back to watching the crime solving K9 and his band of hippies. I then started to cry. About a week later my dad came home with April’s ashes in a Jar and an engraved marble headstone. That evening my family gathered in the backyard and buried our beloved friend.
At the end of July of 2009 my family and I moved out of our home 22 years. It was a very stressful time for my brothers and I. packing up our childhood and shoving things in to boxes took a toll on all of us. My God Mother and Sister realized and how much help our family needed and gratefully put in as much free time as they could. One day, towards the end of the move, Laura found an old photo of April at beach and posted it on FaceBook. I took one look at the photo and feel in love with it. I got a HI RES version of the photo and Played around with it Photoshop. I found the photo of April so Iconic of her, walking on the beach, headed toward the picturesque Haystack rock. She Just Looked so Peaceful to me.