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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Vibe Journal, words

Hot Fun

End of the spring and here she comes back…

 

“Don’t stay lost for too long,” was the first piece of advice from my Grandma after my college graduation. She pursed her dark lips and poked her heavy Southern hands into my shoulder. Her eyes, deep and wide as the Delta,  burned the fear into my skull.

Well, it’s been a year since Grandma’s forewarning, and unless you have a full-time offer for a position in your field immediately after college, getting lost is inevitable. Instead of running off to Europe [like the literal lost she was referring to], I got lost in Los Angeles and made it my home again. I found a part-time job at a cupcake bakery, and searched for myself in books and television shows. The months breezed by like spring, and I relinquished much of my writing to scribbles in personal journals, and letting my creative inhibitions surmount my passion.

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Gen X hearthrob Ethan Hawke in “Reality Bites”

However, when the world turned for summer, a newfound confidence glittered on the horizon. I now find myself in awe of myself, my strengths, and the weaknesses I’m still overcoming. It’s been a slow and undulating process of landing in the murky banks of adulthood, and now that I am here, I finally feel at peace with the little personalities in my creative control room. Thus, beginning a new chapter of this blog.

Much of this transition has to do with locating myself on a spectrum of empowering art movements. My womanhood is currently experiencing a tectonic shift of perspective, as I read through Angela Davis’s incredible book on Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. Like many of the newly freed black women in the postslavery era whom the blues were addressed to, I’m finding my cultural identity in a shared female collective consciousness.

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Gertrude “Ma” Rainey

Davis uses the artistry, performances, and recordings of songs by Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday to show how black women elevated themselves to be proud, assertive, and independent, while protesting themes like male dominance and a racialized and gendered social structure. The way Davis articulates the authority of these oft overlooked women of the blues is so empowering it draws on the sweep of modern feminine movements. The blueswomen and jazz lady she highlights, are the Beyonces of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s (respectively).

Also, this is all coming to me at a time when black artists like Kanye West and Beyonce are shaping our generation’s consciousness. Instagram queens like Rihanna, Zendaya, sensitiveblackpersonAmandla Stenberg, and Beyonce encapsulate the black woman’s crusade to preside over modern media. With projects as famous as “Lemonade” or as focused as the Art Hoe Collective strengthening the demand to be heard and taken seriously, there is so much raw inspiration in the beauty of the black woman.

Say, I wished I had me a heaven of my own

Say, I wished I had me a heaven of my own

I’d give all those poor girls a long old happy home

(lyrics from Bessie Smith’s Work House Blues)

And the drag of summer heat gives way to these goddamn sunsets. Life in LA can seem like a series of traffic patterns and Curb Your Enthusiasm skits, and yet, the world spins madly on. The important thing is to soak in the sweet stuff every now and then, roll down the windows, and smell the magnolias.

Thank you for reading.

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Photo by Michael Kagan

–Tyler

 

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