Saturday, October 29, 2011


I write this as it's snowing in October. Strange weather this year. I'm hoping the jury is no longer out on climate change...

I spent the last week in Joplin, MO with Mark and Theresa's MyFixItupLife. They were contracted by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to build a ginormous play structure in Cunningham Park for the residents... a park that was destroyed by May's Tornado. I brought Mr. Mike along for some hard work, car company, and wicked cajon skills (we played 2 live shows with MyFixitUpLife and also played a 3 hours acoustic show for a few hundred volunteers during the build). We can't share our photos and videos until the episode airs in January... but we can show you this video below. It was local news coverage in Joplin, and they interviewed MyFixitUpLife's own funny-man contractor and resident dump truck stealer Greg, along with Mark and Theresa:

Click here for a sneak peak into MyFixitUpLife's Extreme Makeover Joplin project.

I left for Joplin last week, excited to be a part of a TV show. I'd never been to Missouri before and my friend and I were road trippin' to build a bit and play some music. What I didn't anticipate was the human aspect of our trip. I left Joplin rattled and humbled. For 4 days on the job site, we spoke with countless locals, survivors, friends/family of victims, who carried with them a heaviness and pride that would be tough to put down in words. They told us stories that you couldn't believe. Stories that if you saw them in a movie, you'd walk out of the theater because you would "know" it wouldn't be possible. More than any, the story of William Norton, sucked through his sunroof on his way home from graduation while his father clung onto him... only to be found many days later. Unreal.

The tornado was a mile wide at one point with winds around 200 mph. The residents said you couldn't see it coming... It was just a wall of black. It hit Sunday May 22 at 5:30pm. When the sirens went off, most residents didn't think much of it since it's a regular occurence in Joplin. Unfortunately, it was the 7th worst tornado in US history. St. John's hospital, next to Cunningham Park, was shifted 4" on it's foundation. Patients were ripped from their hospital beds and found miles away, days later. Residents told of a 2x4 found sticking out of a sidewalk like a toothpick in butter. A Pizza Hut manager huddled all of his employees and patrons into the walk-in cooler when the sirens went off, only to perish himself. The neighborhood looked like Chernobyl... like the Lower 9th Ward. I had no idea - and it's 6 months later.

But there is a positive side to this tragedy... The people of Western Missouri are friendly, welcoming, proud people who are rebuilding as a community. There were over 10,000 volunteers on site from over 40 states and multiple countries. It reminds you that no matter how much crap is happening out there in the world, there is always a TON of good in people happening all around you. And it's inspiring. It was an eye opening trip... I'm grateful MyFixitUpLife gave me the chance to go. We'll have podcasted episodes of the radio show - complete with interviews of Tracy Hutson from the cast and Executive Producer Brady Connell - along with pictures, video blogs, and more... once the show airs.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition airs Friday nights on ABC. The 200th episode from Joplin Missouri airs in January and features a "7 houses in 7 days build" along with MyFixitUpLife's Play Structure in Cunningham Park.