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.

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—Tyler

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In My Headphones, Lyrical Journal, words

Long Black Veil

I listened to a lot of folk music in high school. Like a lot. In tenth grade when I first heard this song on the Johnny Cash show (this was the pilot episode), I made a youtube playlist with only this ballad on repeat to sing me to sleep.

I was completely engrossed with Long Black Veil for over a month. The most beautiful aspect of this ballad is its point of view from the man in the grave. I won’t spoil anything, but he recounts what got him in the grave, and how in the windy nights after, he gets visits from a veiled woman. It’s a tragedy of lost love, betrayal, and wrongful conviction. Written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin, Long Black Veil is shrouded with mystery and influenced by local legend of a veiled woman visiting Valentino’s grave.

This is one of my favorite duets of all time. The contrast of Johnny’s trembling baritone vocals with Joni’s extravagantly symphonic sound is a folk/country marriage that only the mid-20th century sound could sanction. Unlike many of the other renditions of this song, Johnny and Joni’s duet perfectly captures the man’s suffering and the woman’s mourning.

—Tyler

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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

—Tyler

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In My Headphones, words

Fireworks

It begins with a spark.

Rising from the pit of your gut, to the edge of your fingertips, it knows no boundaries. It’s as dense as an atom, but it can swell like the universe, with as much matter and gravity that pulls and contracts galaxies to other galaxies. When it seeps from our eyes, we call them tears. When it explodes the night skies with color, we call them Fireworks. It’s a chemical catch and release, and the first time I ever caught such a powerful light, it burned me. A new skin healed over.

I learn something new about myself every time I play with fire. Some sparks flicker and flirt an explosion, only to fade in the wind, others, were rambunctious and sprayed fireballs in swerving directions. I learned how to read light, or at least I thought I did, until I touched a spark so faint, it embraced me. It felt like faith. This light nursed me, and I nursed it, until it blossomed into a raging flame that roared underneath my skin and behind my eyes. With the gentlest of touches, it swallowed me whole.

But it begun with a spark.

Some sparks grow into a star, or a universe, but fortunately, most of them will blow a short fuse and leave you with a beautiful pageant of colors. You must learn to see the beauty of both experiences: the stars that stay with you, and the fireworks that fly away.

—Tyler

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Visual Journal

Gray-Scales

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!

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—Tyler

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In My Headphones, words

Bless the Telephone

I forgot about this gem until I found Labi Siffre hanging in a friend’s top listened to artists. Even though I first discovered this ditty in my high school Pandora days, it draws me back to the first semester after I graduated from college during my long-distance relationship. Anyone who’s ever waited and wished by the phone to glow their lover’s names can find shelter in the familiar lyrics. The tender fingerpicking, the sincerity of the lyrics–which compose a dance between love being “nice” and “strange”–and the soothing range of his vocals all come together to paint an Impressionist portrait of love.

—Tyler

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In My Headphones, words

Twin Peaks @ Echoplex

It was like being in fuckboy church. You know that feeling right? When the band just swallows the audience whole and has you at their absolute mercy?

I mean we were fucking screaming and squawking lyrics along, gushing beer and limbs, shoving each other around to the beat. It was Friday long past midnight at the Echoplex, and the boys of Twin Peaks stood in formation, and bestowed upon us every fiber of their might. The riffs surged through our veins and poured out of our chest, and we prayed it’d never end.

The end felt so short, the beginning, so long. The opening band, Golden Daze, played their lackluster tunes against the projection of an anime urbanscape. That first flaccid hour dragged and I chugged and chugged and still it wouldn’t go any faster. Each song tasted like mild sauce—just never quite getting there—and blended into one slow bobbing melody. Everyone looked tame and mesmerized under the sparkles of two disco balls.

Another beer and two smoke breaks later we heard Ne-Hi strum their first measures and I began to lose my shit. The first time I saw Ne-Hi was in Massachusetts, opening for other Chicago underground legend Supermagical. The show itself was supermagical, taking place in the basement of Jamaica Plain’s Whitehaus. One of the oldest collectives in the DIY music scene in Boston, the walls of the Whitehaus are shrouded in myth and covered from ceiling to floor with collectible choxies expressing decades of identities. That was the exact night I fell in love with Chicago rock and roll.

Whereas Twin Peaks have gained national success and toured all throughout the festival circuit, Ne-Hi is only beginning their break out of the Midwest. The two bands share a sweet bromance, with a heavy tone of camaraderie you can sense all throughout the show. After slowly seeing Ne-Hi rise out of the basement, I’m honored I could see them play in Los Angeles for the first time.

So yeah, I was fucking pumped to see Ne-Hi on the west coast for the first time ever. And they delivered. They lured us from our slumber and played through their rad hit tunes from the self-titled EP. Although their songs are on the slower burning side of the power-pop spectrum, their enticing chord progressions and harmonies are so profound that I still found myself moved by the music and dancing (with my eyes closed).

Twin Peaks shredding in the middle of their set. Photo by Michael Kagan

The premiere of Twin Peaks’s third studio album, Down in Heaven, brought the summer from spring and I spent countless nights in the early May gloom streaming it all the way through over and over. The range of their melodies—a balance of ups and downs—reverberated my own moody vibes.

Since most of Twin Peaks’s songs color the subject of love, it was such a tender set. In the audience we blurted angsty lyrics usually reserved for the shower or car. I squeezed my boyfriend’s sweaty hand during “Making Breakfast” (or “cooking dinner” as they jokingly called it). He kept me grounded against the jolt of the mosh pit.

Twin Peaks sounded better than they do in their live-sessions or even on festival stages. They successfully knew how to play off of the raw energy emanating from the crowd. A proper exchange of give the roll and ye shall receive the rock. In addition, they gifted us with an improvised cover of “Green Onions” while the drummer fixed his kit.

These Midwestern boys possess the raw talent and DIY spirit it takes to become shred legends. They sprinkled Chicago magic on the disco balls and we breathed it in. I prayed it’d never end. After their encore, an impenetrable silence flattened the air (or had the air always been this flat?).

To throw a cherry on top of those sweaty post-show blues, as we emerged from the Echoplex, a silhouette hollered “You down wit OPP?” from their car window. The squad instinctively responded “yeah, you know me,” and we watched the car disappear into the starless night.

—Tyler

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