Ahoy, Mateys — How I Became a Pirate

by Michael Drew on September 26, 2013

Michael Drew · Invisible Heros · September 26, 2013

JJ Project - How I Became A Piratepi·rate, ˈpīrət/
noun – 1. a person who attacks and robs ships at sea.
synonyms: freebooter, marauder, raider

verb – 1. use or reproduce (another’s work) for profit without permission, usually in contravention of patent or copyright.
synonyms: steal, plagiarize, poach, copy illegally, reproduce illegally, appropriate, bootleg;

2. rob or plunder (a ship).

My Pendulum presentation, which I’ve had the privilege to offer to audiences around the world, uses a lot of copyrighted audio and video content to illustrate its points. After people have seen it, they often ask me whether I’m a pirate.

Not exactly. And certainly not a marauding high-seas buccaneer. Nor am I a modern-day digital pirate. People ask me if I had to spend a lot of time tracking down the rights to use all the media I offer in my talk. Not always, but that doesn’t matter. I am allowed to do what I do, and quote what I quote, and excerpt what I excerpt, because the law says I can. So there.

According to Stanford’s Fair Use Project, the most extensive legal study on the matter,  I have permission to use all of this material because I’m not selling the media, and because I’m using it for a purpose other than its initial purpose. I’m using the media for education. Not entertainment.

How I Became A Pirate-BookcoverRegardless, this post isn’t actually about my being a pirate, the rise of the hacking class or thieves who prey upon ships in the Indian Ocean. Nor is it about Radio or TV Stations who use airwaves illegally or Pirate Political Parties (yes, they do exist, particularly in some Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and in parts of Europe).

No, piracy was a ploy to catch your attention, and apparently it’s worked.

What I really want to talk about is a children’s book, “How I Became a Pirate“.

Now, don’t go away. I may have misled you into thinking I was addressing large-scale piracy, and you may not want to hear about a children’s book. But stick with me. You’ll be glad you did.

Our story starts in April 2002 when Jarrell Justice (JJ) Wilkerson was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio. JJ was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease) with 36 broken bones.

Some readers might recall that a character known as Mr. Glass (played by Samuel L Jackson) in the movie “Unbreakable” had this same bones disease.

[jwplayer config=”video_left” file=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8lXs6CqUsI” width=”270″ height=”270″]

JJ’s story is perhaps even more heroic than the fictional onscreen one. His doctors actually told his biological mother that he wouldn’t last the night. But JJ defied the staggering odds and lived.

Another opportunity came for Jarrell Justice when he was placed into foster care and found the love and affection of Sharon and Ray House, who gave him his name, JJ, and ultimately adopted him in 2005.

Like all parents, Sharon and Ray’s goal for JJ was to “live a long and blessed life.”

Like Mr. Glass in “Unbreakable,” JJ has spent much of his life overcoming his severe disability. But, unlike Mr. Glass, JJ hasn’t dedicated his life to being a supervillain or even an art dealer.

Or, perhaps he has. You see, JJ  is now leading a band of theatrical pirates.

In 2009, JJ attended a stage performance of “The Wizard of Oz,” and fell in love with theater. Since he spends much of his life in a wheelchair, breaking into theater the traditional way would be tough. So, undaunted, JJ spent the next two years creating and directing his own theater.

In 2011 JJ’s aunt, Sadie Hunter, encouraged JJ to audition for a production of “Cinderella.” He was initially hesitant, but with the encouragement of his aunt, he auditioned and actually earned a part. Being in Cinderella has been “…the greatest time JJ has had in his life so far,” his mother said.

JJ was so energized by his experience in Cinderella that he told the production company MTVarts that he would someday like to direct his own musical. The people at MTVarts agreed and have given him the chance.

Like Mr. Glass, JJ has, in fact, dedicated his life, albeit short, to the arts. And like Mr. Glass, his subject of choice is, well, the bag guys, Pirates.

That’s right: JJ House’s directorial debut will be a full stage production of “How I Became a Pirate.”

[jwplayer config=”video_right” file=”‘http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viCP8iWXMZ8″ width=”270″ height=”270″]

JJ is an invisible hero I’d like to honor. His story, one of courage, conviction and tenacity, is important to everyone because “The JJ Project Documentary” is now in production to inspire and show how everyone’s dreams can become reality.

Do me, yourself and JJ a favor:
1)  Join me in supporting The JJ Project Documentary, to help prove that all dreams can become reality.

2) If you live in the Mount Vernon, Ohio, area take your family and loved ones to “How I Became A Pirate”

Here’s what I want to know: “How do YOU plan on becoming a pirate?”


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