photos, Visual Journal

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico



Tulum is the first place to see the dawn in Mexico. At this time of the year, the sun crowns the horizon at 7:30am, and splashes gold into the sea, the trees, and the people. Each morning of our trip, the Yucatán Peninsula would welcome us with a warm breeze that smelled so sweet. We’d wake up to the birds tweeting outside our hut on the beach. Whether we’d spend the day reading next to the waves, or touring sacred Mayan grounds, we’d always end the day flopping into the Caribbean sea at sunset, bellies full of beer and ceviche.

The Land.











The Water.














We lived in paradise for six days, and returned to the Pacific seaside just in time for the holidays. There was so much more we did on our trip not pictured here, so check out my Facebook post if you want to see us in an underground cenote or climb half of a Mayan estructura (or eat lots of fresh fish).

– Tyler

Lyrical Journal, photos, Visual Journal, words

Soft Sand

Back in March, Michael and I left the county in a fever for the wildflowers. The El Nino storms created the perfect conditions for what is known throughout Southern California as the very rare Superbloom.

We packed the camper shell, and set out for Anza Borrega State Park in his brother’s pickup truck. All along the side of the highways, lilies, poppies and desert gold flowers decorated the mountainsides. The colors popped against the sand, painting a colorful portrait that reached out to the horizon. About an hour and a half into our arrival, Michael was calling 911 from the middle of the hot dusty road.

After driving down Pinyon Mountain Road for 3 or 4 miles, the dirt road became harder for the truck’s 2×4 traction as the sand got softer. Lacking any experience on this type of terrain, we jollied along down the road bumping some Anderson. Paak. We were in awe of the land. The Spring sun carried a sweet breeze, lifting the scents of the lavender all across the valley. Bouquets of cacti and wildflowers illuminated the dry plains.

The beauty turned flat, and the lush valley was now in the rear view. The road shifted to a smooth bed off the beaten path. When we pulled off the path to turn around, we landed into a bed of deceptive soft sand.

The song ended abruptly. We were definitely stuck and every minute became a precious note in time. The sun was still in high noon and I knew it would take us at least an hour to get back to the road. We grabbed paper towels, the Infinite Jest, and all the water we had, and said goodbye to the truck in the hole.

While walking on the road I thought about a lot of things, Neil Cassady driving on a dirt road in the 1960s, how much food we had, and what the day could’ve been had we turned around sooner. I was worried, but I wasn’t frantic. Deep down inside I knew we would be laughing about this later – I just didn’t know if we’d be laughing -$400 later.

Walking down the barely visible road.

Taking pictures to remember where we’ve been.

We left breadcrumbs for our trail with pictures on my DSLR, and took portraits of each other amongst the nerves. 40 minutes into the hike, we headed towards the lush valley between the two mountains and received a signal. Hesitating, Michael dialed 911. When the operator answered, we asked to be transferred to the Park Rangers. After ten minutes of transfers across a variety of departments, the best the CHP could do is send out a tow for us. We told them we’d try to get our own tow services, and they gave us their direct line if/when that wouldn’t work out in our favor.

Michael on the phone with 911 operator.

Smiling through the panic.

Feeling helpless, we continued our march towards the main road for better service. The sun was high and the horizon began quivering with heat. Out of the dust, a white Toyota truck appeared on the road. We pleaded to the couple for help, and they offered to try to tow us out. We hopped in the bed of the truck and headed back down the road that we had just trudged for nearly an hour to get out. The ride felt much less bumpy this time, with his truck carving the dirt road with four-wheel drive.

The strangers turned into our angels, who devoted their time and patience into helping us out of the soft sand. With their help and guidance, I began carving the tires out and scuffing my white chucks and digging my manicure into the sand. We harvested rocks and shoved them underneath the tire for traction.

We attached the front of the truck to the back of his truck with ratchet straps and prayed for a miracle. The first time it didn’t work, sinking us further in the sand. We were now determined to get out of this hole. We dug out more sand, shoved more rocks, and this time, took some air out of the back tires. Me and the wife climbed into the bed of the white truck, and closed our eyes as the boys cranked the gas.

Pop! The rubber popped off the tires and we went sailing through the soft sand for about a couple of feet before the straps snapped. We were elated. Knowing our salvation was close, we carved out the tires, cleared a path and continued to try again.

After the third attempt got us too close to turn back, a Toyota Runner decked out in camouflage drives by us on the dirt road. When Michael asked for his assistance with some fresh towing rope, the sunburned bald man looks over at me, and looks back at Michael with a face of contempt. He comes out the car, and hands us a thick and long yellow rope.

“Y’all don’t look like you get stuck much,” he said.

We attached the new rope, and try one last time with the white Toyota truck. Our truck lands in even softer sand, and we determine the only way we can go to get successfully out is back, using the tracks we already built. The gentleman in the camo Toyota Runner strapped the back of our truck to his, and with the car flying in reverse, we landed ourselves back on the main dirt road in Pinyon Mountain. From there we left for Hawk Canyon, and made ourselves at home in the desert.




The fields of wildflowers stretched all the way to the horizon and more. Purple hillsides and yellow valleys. It was a magical introduction to the spring, and Anza-Borrega. We made ourselves at home in the backcountry of Hawk Canyon. We pitched our chairs and decompressed the day over cans of tuna, and an audience of wildflowers.



Hawk Canyon Road.


“Now let me take yours!”




Here are some things we learned about getting stuck in soft sand & backcountry camping in general:

  • If you get stuck, determine the grade of the land and see if there’s an incline
  • Keep the tires straight
  • Move in the only direction your car has traction
  • Let some air out of the tires to gain better grip
  • Rocks and wood create surface tension
  • Keep cool and remain levelheaded: every decision matters
  • Use 4-wheel drive so you never get stuck in soft sand
  • Always drive with rope
  • Do lots of research about the state park and the appropriate roads to travel
  • If you have to hike in the desert, bring more water instead of the Infinite Jest

– Tyler

photos, Visual Journal

Sweet & Dandy

My desk is cluttered with rolls of undeveloped film, chapters of my life framed in 35mm format. Here are some special exposures from Coachella to FYF to Santa Barbara taken on my Canon point-and-shoot with Lomo 200 slide film. Cross-processing is a natural way to obtain saturated and high contrast photos without any editing.

Little Dragon.

“Resist” floats above the Coachella ferris wheel.

Chicano Batman was my favorite Coachella set.

Tent city at the campground.

– Tyler

photos, Visual Journal

Post-New York Blues

September—I’m on the L train into the city and I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been reading a lot of James Baldwin, New York’s black literary hero. I’ve been living in Brooklyn for these past weeks, staying in a townhouse in Carroll’s Garden and then in a warehouse loft in Williamsburg. I love it all: the trash-lined sidewalks, the thick air, the cicadas buzzing in the trees. New York has always been somewhere on the vaguely familiar side of my soul’s navigation—I think I lived here in my past life. In a hippie life, I soaked in the fountain at Washington Square Park and spent my days crawling up and downtown across the islands. I sing aloud as I walk here. I walk with conviction and shove past people like I always know where I’m going—even if I don’t. I didn’t think the end of summer would cling on to the sticky summer heat. And as the muggy nights dull into muggier days, it dawns on me I don’t know New York at all. Yet, here I am melting on the subway platform, waiting for another F train to take me back down to Brooklyn.





















photos, Visual Journal

Psychadelic Furs @ Santa Monica Pier


To further my experience in the field of public media, I joined KCRW’s summer marketing internship at the beginning of May. If you aren’t from Southern California, KCRW is Santa Monica NPR, broadcast around the Greater Los Angeles area as 89.9fm. Along with clerical work and selling merch and memberships at events all over the city, I write blog posts as well as take photos for the nonprofit organization.

Here is a gallery of photos I took for KCRW while covering the Psychadelic Furs/Day Wave Twilight Series concert on July 21. With the stunning scenery of the stage set up and the vibrancy of their performances, it wasn’t hard to capture the marvel of both acts.

KCRW Presents Psychadelic Furs, Day Wave 7/21/2016


Visual Journal


I’m always astonished whenever I unearth a roll of mystery film, aging away on my desk underneath a pyramid of cameras. When I developed this particular roll of expired black & white film, I became elated that the exposures were decorated with grainy undertones and natural vignettes. The organic manipulation (which many aspire to achieve through filters) and element of surprise always inspires me to go back to shooting film. Enjoy!





















photos, Visual Journal


Taking a photograph sometimes feels like peering out the window.

One of the particular things I miss about living in Boston is walking everywhere and being present in the moment. Sometimes driving can feel too much like a spaceship, transporting me from time and space in a matter of light-seconds. I’m either too busy changing freeways or missing my turn to capture the streets firsthand, and the light always changes by the time I have my camera ready to fire. Therefore, whenever I have a moment to step out of the driver’s seat, I go on photo walks and relieve some creative tension.

These particular exposures were taken during my April visit to Boston, where I annoyed some geese and aimlessly strolled from Allston to Harvard with my analogue Canon point-and-shoot.


The only thing that makes me feel less hallow is smoke in my lungs, Bathroom @ Refuge


Golden Flower, painted by me and friends outside of Jack and Brandon’s old apartment sophomore year


From the Harvard Yard


Black Lives Matter, St. Paul Church, Mt Auburn St


View from the Cambridge esplanade


Three Geese by the Charles, Memorial Dr esplanade


Shadows on the Pedestrian Bridge, a self-timer selfie boof


Tree silhouettes back on the Storrow Dr. esplanade


Golden Hour silhouette

Some tunes for your next walkabout.

– Tyler