Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Motorcycle Fetish

Just too fucking hot. Now that summer is slowly settling in, I see motorcycles parked everywhere and taking photos of them is fast becoming my artistic afternoon delight. Enjoy.
From Black Sand Journal

From Black Sand Journal

From Black Sand Journal

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

From Black Sand Journal

When I am confronted with an unbearable situation, I make unfeasible promises to myself as a way of coping. I will not let my guard down, again. No one will ever reduce me to tears, again. My heart - now cast in steel - will not feel so much as a scratch, again.

I spent months directing masses of anger towards the world for building barriers that I hesitated to tear down. The walls were too formidable and too familiar, and I felt too frail to fell them. Once the debris began to tumble and the dust clouded my judgment, the last thing I should have been feelings was safe.

All that honeyed anticipation - conceived in a single beautiful, terrifying and utterly forgettable moment - has rotted instead of ripened. My anguish seems thoroughly unjustified. How do I tell people I lost something that I never really had and never said I wanted?

This illegitimate love, it haunts me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Do You Discriminate Against The Mentally Ill?

If I were to reveal to you that I am mentally ill, would you be less inclined to hire me? Less inclined to date me? Less inclined to trust me? Less inclined to even associate with me?

The issue came up in a class of mine this week, when my professor contended that people with mental illness are considered unreliable sources. In fairness, I did not quiz him on his views after class, but I think it's worth discussing the misconceptions about mental illness that have led to discrimination based on it to become a well accepted practice.

Mental illness is an umbrella term - it includes everything from schizophrenia to anorexia to depression to Alzheimer's. Simply describing somebody as mentally ill is just as useful as saying someone suffers from a physical ailment - are we talking paraplegia or influenza? The extent to which a mental illness can/should be considered a disability is highly contingent on its specific type.

Mental illness is by no means rare - it affects 1 in 4 adults, which is roughly 57 million Americans - but its prevalence and nature are not immediately apparent from its frame of reference in mainstream news. 25 percent of the adult population are neither inept nor dangerous, but more often than not you will find the term 'mentally ill' in the company of criminals, the homeless and drug addicts.

Sensational stories that characterize the mentally ill as violent misfits scare not only the general public, but also the mentally ill themselves. Given its low standing in the public imagination, it's no wonder that people who experience a mental illness are reluctant to associate themselves with the term. The poor reputation of mental illness may prompt a person to hide his or her condition instead of deal with it openly, and those who do not seek help are more likely to suffer explosive breakdowns, which in turn supplements the poor reputation. The fear of being classified as mentally ill can manifest itself into the denial that creates this vicious, self-perpetuating cycle.

Thankfully, there are organization working to demystify mental illness. In its mission statement, The Icarus Project maintains that "we have mad gifts to be cultivated and taken care of, rather than diseases or disorders to be suppressed or eliminated." Mental illness should not be a source of shame and viewing it as condition to prosper from and not merely cope with is a powerful shift in emphasis that I strongly support.

I implore you to seek help if you think you may be experiencing a mental illness. If you are in college, counseling is usually free and confidential. I also hope reading this post has forced you to reconsider dismissing a person's worth based solely on his or her history of mental health. There are darker sides to the diseases, but it's unfair and unnecessary to relegate people to the shadows for having the courage to manage their mental illnesses in the public light.
From Black Sand Journal

Friday, April 17, 2009

In Twenty Years....

You turn up at my front door with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire in hand and a smirk. Twenty years after college and I still only grudgingly drink gin in your company. I get two glasses, lots of ice, a little tonic. For the duration of our night-long conversation, every time I take a sip I grimace, every time I grimace you smile, and every time you smile I need to take another sip. This vicious circle is probably the most benign one we've seen during our long friendship.

Our eyes drift to the newer pictures plastered across my walls. The ones from our younger days are still my favorite - of us laughing at each other and all the sublime qualities of the city we both fell in love with. There are photos from my travels. You ask for the stories lurking behind the more startling images. I start by retelling an event in graphic detail, say crashing an inglorious motorbike - nothing like the ones I compulsively photograph - off a dirt path in central Asia. I quickly lose myself in describing the more memorable people I encountered - faces, accents, attitudes, idiosyncrasies. The days and years since college swiftly slipped away, we conclude after pouring over hundreds of photos together.

Now we're a little drunk, which inevitably leads us to playfully argue about how and why we first met. We skirt around some sensitive ground. You wield your trademark eye-locking glance and Cheshire cat smile; I stay silent for a moment longer than makes you comfortable. Somethings never change, we think to ourselves.

We begin to scrutinize each other for alterations. I wear a pair of 1950s black-rimmed glasses now, because after forty years my vision finally began to blur. I remind you, to rob you of your satiated look, that my sight will never approach legally blind like yours. It's impossible to pinpoint what exactly has changed about you with age; you always reinvented yourself on a monthly basis. But your eyes, thankfully, haven't lost a degree of intensity.

The rising sun dyes the sky blue with streaks of pink. We decide to grab coffee to sober up for the day. Though it is a trek, there is only one place our feet will take us, only one place worthy of capping off another classic night of catching up, only one place where our friendship began. I make sure to bring my camera, and I take what must be my 10,000th photo of you as you saunter down the cascading steps.

From Black Sand Journal

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs secret show

I'm still out of breath. The tantalizing voice of Karen O continues to reverberate through my body the day after a secret Yeah Yeah Yeahs show in Chinatown. I have no words. Actually, I have a few.... after you watch this:

Karen O splutters beer like a geyser and exudes sounds as if perpetually on the brink of orgasm. She paired her thick blue eye make up with a kimono, which she stripped off to reveal a leather dress clad in chains and safety pins all tied together with a neon green bow. She looked like the goddess of punk and sadomasochism; her bewitching, creature-like movements at times paralyzed me. And Nick Zinner actually smiled.

The audience included an intoxicated Drew Barrymore and the delightful Andy Samberg. Those of us not of the guest list waited nearly two hours to gain entry. Lauren, Mike and I huddled together for warmth and chatted to a 25-year-old NYU alum who offered to share her weed and buy drinks for us under-21-year-olds (little did she know she was talking to some of the most relatively straight-edge college kids you're likely to find). Alex bailed on work 20 minutes early and ran 10 blocks to make it to the show in time. Her, "God, it's so hot" comment didn't go down well with those of us who had been freezing to save her a place in line for an hour and a half.

Mike actually touched Karen O's hand when she extended it over the crowd. Lauren shoved a fumbling Drew Barrymore, whose smokey-breath came at times too close for comfort. Alex talked directly to Karen O when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were taking song requests (she asked for 'Date With The Night,' which they did indeed play). Mike got a sweaty towel and a chain that flew off Karen's dress. Alex actually climbed on stage to grab a set list, then tangled her foot in a cable on her way off and nearly toppled a monitor (Lauren was there for to save it).

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs definitely played their part in capping off the best weekend of my life, but none of it would have meant a damn if I couldn't share the moment with three of my favorite people in the world. I'm still radiating joy - my bones were tingling this morning and I keep rupturing the cut on my lip because I can't stop grinning.

Every time I've been screwed over, every horrible insult I've suffered, every moment I've felt let down and every scar on my body was worth enduring to lead me to the most spectacular night of my life. This is the rapture Blondie was rapping about.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Blue Spring

The weather in April has been nothing short of schizophrenic. One day I'm sweltering in my skinny jeans, the next I'm shivering in my rain-soaked hoodie. Why are transitions never smooth...

My moods have been as erratic as the weather. Yesterday, for instance, I felt tormented by irrepressible thoughts all afternoon, then went on to have the most spectacular evening out drinking Sangria and dancing till 4 AM. I cannot maintain a frame of mind long enough to write out a post about how I feel about anything, which is why I haven't blogged in forvever.

I did take a few photos during the sunnier days of the last fortnight. The photos this week remind me of my best friend Stefhan.
From Black Sand Journal
He and I studied the Italian Unification together in history class senior year.
From Black Sand Journal
During history class, apart from taunting our teacher, we'd talk about movies, morals, anime, religion, video games and cars.
From Black Sand Journal
And his favorite film is "Big Fish."