In the summer of 2019, I went on my senior trip to New York City, the melting pot of the United States. The first night that we were there, we walked along Times Square and came across a piano that was there for anyone to play. A stranger sat down and started to fiddle with the keys, and began to play “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Everyone crowded around and sang their hearts out, not caring if they could carry a tune or not.
It was amazing to see all of these strangers come together and sing their hearts out in a world where so many things divide us. This was the first time where I was able to step back and realize that everyone can communicate with one another through music, regardless of what culture you come from or what language you speak.
After a year of tragedies and chaos, finding happiness in the little things in life like music and art can feel arbitrary, and I feel like I haven’t been able to experience that sense of awe that I had felt in New York for a long time. That is until I watched the film, “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble”.
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This documentary follows the story of the renowned international musical collective, The Silkroad Ensemble, and the artists that have been able to fuse cultures from around the world using music as their own universal language.
As college students, we are a lot like the musicians that came together in the film. We all come from different places, share our life stories with one another, and introduce each other to things that remind us of home, which fosters a community that is then able to truly understand one another.
Even though this documentary mainly focuses on the music, it also highlights various artists within the ensemble as individuals.
During the film, I was given an inside look into the life of an Iranian artist, Kayhan Kalhor, who left his home country by himself when he was just 17 due to the rising violence with the start of the revolution.
Later on in life, he had lost his whole family to the costs of the Iran-Iraq war and chose to live a life abroad after chaos and violence took over the streets in 2009. When explaining his reasoning for moving out of his home country even though his wife stayed, he said “I can choose to be a part of that society or not, and that’s not a very idealistic society I want to be a part of.”
Even though the Iranian government has painted a target on Kalhor’s back for being outspoken against violence and suppression of the arts, he continues on with his life as an artist representing the culture that, in his eyes, brought so much to human life. He does this through his instrument, the kamencheh.
Through all of the years, his kamencheh never left his side even when he walked over 2,500 miles to Italy when he first left Iran. The long-necked string instrument became an extension of himself that kept him close to his roots and was proud to share his culture with the rest of the ensemble.
He lives his life in a way where he chooses to see the beauty in it all despite the tragedies and difficulties he has been through. He says “We have a tendency to not be appreciative of beautiful things that surround us. But if you realize what you have in this life, and how precious is the breath that you take, the water that you drink, the music and your life, and the loved ones around you, it’s just enormous wealth and happiness that doesn’t have to have anything else to complete it. It’s just complete by itself.”
I feel like this past year, we have been able to realize that what we have in this life is special and tragedy is inescapable. So, we must make the most of the time that we have on this earth and embrace the things that bring us together after a year of isolation.
Cellist and creator of the Silkroad Ensemble, Yo-Yo Ma believes that he is always trying to figure out who he is and how he fits into the world which is something I think we can all relate to. As I watched all of the musicians from different cultures come together and make one cohesive sound, I realized that our purpose in life is to connect with one another, and that is what this ensemble encapsulates.
As I think back to all of the memorable moments in my life that caused me to have some type of revelation, like the one I had in New York or how I felt after watching the documentary, I realized that music acts like the score for a movie, except that the movie is actually the events that play out in your life.
When we go through life experiences like dealing with a broken heart or losing a loved one, we go to music to comfort us. Through a playlist of songs, we pick the ones that remind us of a feeling that connects us to that person or that moment, and I think that is beautiful.
Like Ma, I believe that music can be a form of communication that can help us realize all of the aspects life has to offer, it’s just a matter of if we can hear the stories that are being told behind each note that is played.
Even though I know that I won’t be able to experience the same New York City I had back in 2019 for a long time, it’s comforting to know that I can go to Spotify and play Bohemian Rhapsody if I ever want to relive the story of when a group of strangers became karaoke kings and queens in the middle of Times Square.
Brie Haro is a reporter for The Beacon and can be reached at [email protected]
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|Born||July 1, 1950 (age 70)|
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
London School of Economics
University of California, Hastings College of the Law
|Known for||Lead defense attorney in the 2005 Michael Jackson trial.|
Thomas Arthur Mesereau Jr. is an American attorney best known for successfully defending Michael Jackson in his 2005 child molestation trial, as well as representing many other celebrities.
Mesereau represented former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson in a rape investigation conducted by the San Bernardino County, California District Attorney's Office in 2001. Charges were dropped.
Mesereau was the second lawyer during pre-trial proceedings in actor Robert Blake's case over the murder of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley. Blake's first attorney Harland Braun resigned over Blake's decision to appear in a televised interview with Diane Sawyer against Braun's advice and counsel. For unprofessional conduct during the deposition, Mesereau was fined $18,950. After losing his appeal of the fine, he paid a total of $22,000. After Blake had spent ten months in isolation in Los Angeles County Jail, Mesereau obtained bail for him. Mesereau cross-examined prosecution witnesses in a three-week, televised preliminary hearing. The hearing revealed flaws in the prosecution's case. Mesereau resigned from the case, declining to explain why.
In 2004, Mesereau and Susan Yu were hired to replace attorneys Mark Geragos and Ben Brafman as lead trial counsel.Johnnie Cochran, who had represented Jackson during earlier molestation accusations, had recommended Mesereau to Jackson's family. In an unusual pretrial hearing, Mesereau called Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon to the witness stand and examined him under oath. Mesereau and Yu were the lead trial lawyers in the case. The trial lasted from January to June 2005 and ended with Jackson acquitted of all 14 charges against him. Mesereau said that he never expected Michael Jackson to be convicted on any count, felony or misdemeanor. 'I believed, and still do, that he was completely innocent of these false charges'. Mesereau also cited the prosecution as a travesty of justice and one of the most mean-spirited attacks on an innocent person in legal history. Mesereau attended Jackson's funeral service and interment in 2009. In 2019, followed by the release of the documentary Leaving Neverland, Mesereau defended Jackson once again.
In 2009, Thomas Mesereau and Susan Yu defended Joe Babajian in a high-profile mortgage fraud criminal trial in federal court in Los Angeles. Babajian had been indicted by a federal grand jury for twenty-one felony counts, including criminal conspiracy, real estate fraud, bank fraud, loan fraud, and wire fraud. Federal prosecutors claimed Babajian participated in a scheme to inflate property values and submit fraudulent loan documents and false property appraisals.
Called the 'Realtor to the Stars', Babajian was once the highest-grossing real estate agent in the United States. He had sold homes to Barbra Streisand, Bruce Willis, Warren Beatty, Lee Iacocca, Beyoncé, Victoria and David Beckham, Oscar De La Hoya, Nicolas Cage, and others.
Eight individuals pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy prior to trial. Three individuals, including Babajian, went to trial. On August 10, 2009, the jury returned his verdict. Babajian was not convicted on a single count. The jury acquitted Babajian of thirteen counts and hung on the remaining eight counts. The other two defendants were convicted.
On April 9, 2012, Thomas Mesereau and Susan Yu began jury selection in their defense of Claudia Haro, the ex-wife of Oscar-winning actor Joe Pesci. Haro was charged with conspiracy to murder and multiple counts of attempted murder. She was facing two consecutive life sentences.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office claimed that Haro masterminded numerous attempts to murder her next husband, Garrett Warren, a stuntman who appeared in the movies Mission Impossible III, Avatar and Iron Man 2. The prosecution said Haro hired her brother, convicted drug dealer Manny Haro, and three others to murder Warren. During his divorce with Claudia Haro, Warren opened his front door and was shot four times, losing one eye.
The gunman, Jorge Hernandez, received life in prison in a separate trial. Haro's brother, the self-admitted middleman, also received life in prison. He agreed to testify against his sister. After the start of jury selection, Haro pleaded 'no contest' to two counts of attempted murder with a sentence of twelve years, four months. With time already served in Los Angeles County Jail before being released on bail, Haro will serve approximately eight years in prison.
On May 30, 2015, Mesereau was retained by rap mogul Marion 'Suge' Knight, founder of Death Row Records. His appearance prompted the judge to reschedule a hearing on a motion by Knight to dismiss murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run charges. On January 22, 2016, however, lawyer Stephen L. Schwartz replaced Mesereau as Knight's defense lawyer. Schwartz and colleague Thaddeus Culpepper were later replaced by criminal defense attorneys Antoine D. Williams, Jamal Tooson, and Jeremy Lessem on May 9, 2016 as well.
On August 22, 2017, comedian Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial was postponed after it was announced that Cosby had hired Mesereau to represent him at his retrial. On April 26, 2018, a jury found Cosby guilty of felony sexual assault on all three counts. Each of the three counts carries a prison term of up to 10 years. On June 15, Cosby fired Mesereau, replacing him with attorney Joseph P. Green Jr.
Pro bono work and awards
Although known for his celebrity cases, Mesereau is also an advocate for pro bono volunteer legal services. He has established a legal clinic in Los Angeles and accepts one capitalmurder case each year on behalf of a defendant in the Deep South who cannot afford representation.
Barbara Walters named him one of the year's 'Ten Most Fascinating People'.GQ Magazine named him one of its 'Men of the Year'.
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He has been named 'Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year' by the Criminal Courts Bar Association, Los Angeles and the Century City Bar Association, Los Angeles  and has been listed as one of the 'One Hundred Most Influential Attorneys in California' by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Mesereau has also received the 'Humanitarian Award' from the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. Mesereau received a 'Community Service Award' from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Personal life and education
Mesereau was educated at Harvard University (cum laude), the London School of Economics and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
King James Version Bible Online
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- ^Kher, Unmesh; Kettmann, Matt (March 14, 2005). 'Let the Lawyering Begin'. Time Magazine.
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- ^Hood, Abbey (August 13, 2009). 'Babajian Acquitted of Mortgage Fraud in Federal Court'. Beverly Hills Courier.
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- ^Erin Staley (January 23, 2016). 'Suge Knight Gets New Lawyer In Last-Ditch-Effort To Avoid Life Sentence'. Inquisitr. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
- ^Hassahn Liggins (April 27, 2016). 'Suge Knight Selects New Defense Team for Murder Trial'. Radiofacts. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
- ^'Bill Cosby's new lawyer represented Michael Jackson'. NBC News. Retrieved 17 January 2020.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- ^Houston, David (January 3, 2001). 'Attorney Mesereau Works to Beat of a Different Drummer'. Los Angeles Daily Journal.
- ^Hobbs, Dawn (May 18, 2004). 'Jackson Advocate: Mesereau defends rich, famous, poor, unknown'. Santa Barbara News-Press.
- ^Houston, David (February 26, 2003). 'Mesereau's Pro Bono Calling Gratifies Him'. Los Angeles Daily Journal.
- ^Velasco, Eric (April 16, 2006). 'Lawyer Defends Underdogs in Trials of Known, Unknown'. The Birmingham News.
- ^Phillips, Jeb (March 9, 2001). 'Acquittal Inspires Attorney'. Birmingham Post-Herald.
- ^Chawkins, Steve (October 3, 2004). 'Star Lawyer Deeply Committed to Deep South'. Los Angeles Times.
- ^Barbara Walters Special TelecastArchived 2010-10-29 at the Wayback Machine, ABC, November 29, 2005.
- ^GQ Magazine, December 2005 issue, p. 217.
- ^'Jerry Giesler Memorial Award'. Pasadena, California. Criminal Courts Bar Association. March 11, 2006.
- ^'Criminal Law Awards of Excellence'. Los Angeles, California. Century City Bar Association. September 10, 2003.
- ^'One Hundred Most Influential Attorneys in California'. Los Angeles Daily Journal. September 29, 2005.
- ^'Humanitarian Award'. Los Angeles, California. National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. May 17, 2002.
- ^'City of Los Angeles, State of California, Certificate of Recognition'. October 30, 2005.
- ^Biographic profileArchived 2015-02-04 at the Wayback Machine; Mesereau & Yu, LLP, Attorneys at Law