Friday, March 28, 2008

Final Smash

In lieu of a formal post, (that will be coming later today, I promise) I thought I should provide you fine ladies and gentlemen with further proof that links teenagers and batshit crazy.

After getting the go-ahead from assistant principles that probably had a reaction very similar to, "Sure. Whatever." my notorious art school held RADD yesterday, Rocking Against Destructive Decisions. Giant vinyl signs were posted around the area, proclaiming "Just Say No to Drugs, Alcohol, Sex!" (To honor the occasion, I know many a teen who celebrated by smoking pot outside the school gate and enjoying the free Taco Bell RADD provided, but that's neither here nor there.)

But wait! It gets better! I don't know if all you sunlight-seeing adults are aware or not, but on March 9th Super Smash Brothers Brawl (abbreviated Brawl for those with a short attention span) was released for the Wii, and therefore havoc ensued. In fact, most kids I know only stopped playing to go to school and maybe take a shower. Okay, maybe just to go to school.

Except for these kids.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. These fine individuals decided to break free from the gamer stereotype and attend RADD. You know, go outside, get some fresh air, enjoy nature, socialize.

Oh, and play Brawl.

Monday, March 24, 2008


When you spend forty hours a week with the official title of "Communications Major", you end up seeing a lot of weird-ass films trying very hard to be amusing. It's a good thing Jeremy Jones never disappoints. Jeremy is a friend of mine way out on the West coast, and I'm hardly exaggerating when I say he's the strangest full-grown man you'll ever meet (unless you've met Nick Nolte.) Regardless of his mental stability, he's damn funny.

I present to you the best minute-long parody of an O. Henry story from the early 20th century that you'll ever see, and I'm sure you've seen lots. Ladies and gentlemen, "The Gift."

A Short Word on the Holiday Hangover

I hold this firm believe that the only reason parents can get their kids to believe in God is because God deals in chocolate. Unlike Buddhism and Judaism which preach abstinence and fasting on major holy days, all Christian holidays involve gluttony and brightly-wrapped presents for kids to shred in the living room. In a child's mind, Jesus died for our sins only after he died to give us a day off from school and a new pair of shoes with skates on the bottom.

Enter: Easter. One of the strangest holidays we humans celebrate when you consider it because no one's really sure if we're praising miracles, grave robbers, or zombies. Any which way, we still look like a bunch of crazies because bunnies don't lay eggs and no natural egg I've ever seen has come out looking like the product of a retarded six year old with a Paas dying kit.

I've only been to church a few times in my short life, but most of the times I was forced to frequent were during major holidays, namely Easter. I'd sit in the back row between my grandmother and a six hundred pound motherlard with a bible in one hand and a bag of Popeyes chicken in the other, thinking that things couldn't possibly get any worse. But they would. On these fore-spoken major holidays, the pastor would always find it necessarily cute to wrangle every kid in the parish onto the stage so he could embarrass them for life and do his Bill Cosby impression. The kids would squirm around stage, not one of them standing completely still, and at the end of their personal torment receive a York peppermint patty as consolation for their embarrassment. Watching those kids was like watching the dog races. The second the pastor would stand up straight, get off his knees and back onto the adult level, those kids would bolt like Rusty had a Playstation tied around him. It was incredible, and even the ones almost in their teens who knew better felt the urge to bolt back to their pew.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the catalyst to my theory. Sure, most kids grow up still believing in whatever they were raised on. They still attend church or temple or mosque or whatever once they're twenty-somethings with a crop of kids of their own. But if you were to ask most why they take their kids to church, I guarantee you the astounding answer will be "to give them a better moral foundation." It's not sacrilege. It's modern day America. It's the everyman. Yes, there are real live Christians out there who go to church to pray and repent and not for the free wine and crackers, and to those people, good for you. At least those people know what they believe in, even if it does seem illogical to me. But the rest of America, it seems, is in it for the free swag. The kids like the chocolate. The parents like the Cuisinarts. And everybody in between has been doing it so long that they've forgotten why they do it anyway.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes this religion great. It's like Mardi Gras, only instead of beer and tits we get candy en mass! And really, what could be better?

Happy Easter hangover, ladies & gents.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

B+ Movie

Being an honorary film student is hard work, especially when you hardly work. But nevertheless, I do occasionally stick to the stereotype of my high-school major and churn something out, even if it's not quite the highest of caliber. Actually, most things that come out of my school can hardly ever be categorized as the highest of caliber since the Communications major as a whole is known, quite simply, as the "Fallback Major". No one takes anything related to film seriously, and therefore when you're crammed in a mandatory group of six all sharing the same notion of wanting to just lie back and film their buddy skateboarding, it's pretty hard to get most anything done.

But surprisingly, at the beginning of this school year I got crammed in a group that consisted of only mostly slackers. Somehow, by a gift from the universe I was granted entry into a group that wanted to work. And work we did.

Despite the general problems of contending with other group members and with a malfunctioning Avid system, the end product didn't end up looking completely terrible. To be honest, though, it was hardly something that I was proud of and wanted my name attached to, yet our film teacher liked it and decided it needed to be seen. And thus it was entered in the Palm Beach International Film Festival's student showcase.

And now it's in the top fourteen.

Granted, I don't usually do things like this, but I'm genuinely excited at the idea of attaching an "award winning film" to my portfolio. Okay, so maybe I can only take credit for a couple of shots and full-credit for the editing, but I still bathe in the idea that its the editing that really makes a movie. So, ladies and gentlemen, here's where you come in.

The student showcase has already gone through preliminary judging, and now the votes rest with the people. So, vote! Vote so that I can finally bring my department out of the depths of obscurity. Vote so that I can show the world that I really do mean something, and that I won't take life sitting down. Vote so that I can go to school with bragging rights and look down on all those around me because, hey, do they have award-winning films?

Vote, people. Vote to show me how much you love me. Vote to put $2,000 in my pocket. Just vote, dammit.

And all your wildest dreams will come true.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Generation Why

Photo by Noah Stone

Whilst attending one of the many middle schools I found myself slam-dancing through in my early teens, I landed on one in particular that held my attention for at least a year or two, a record when it comes to my history of truancy and transfers. It was, you guessed it, a local art school that held its own in the national standings and even required auditions for all potential students. Much like my confidential art school now, it was highly competitive and a favorite for soccer moms who thought their ten year olds were Liza Minnelli when it came to all-around talent. (And really, they were just like Liza Minnelli on the talent-scale, coming in somewhere just above Courtney Love and Jeffree Star.)

But despite all of these whack-ass parents, it were the kids that really interested me. In my eighth grade year, a few weeks before I withdrew into the seclusion of a six month summer vacation, I observed something that completely blew my mind. Something so utterly odd and bemusing that I don't really know how I went so long without talking about it.

A phase passed over the school, a phase lasting god knows how long. A phase of pure terror and irony. Within five days, the school went from blissful, underaged normality to having the entire 6th grade population decked in jelly shoes and shirts that read, wait for it, "Made in the 80's."

Now I don't know if you folks are aware of this, but being in my current 15-year-old state means that I was born in 1992. Granted, I've never really been stellar in math class, but I do believe that means that these sixth graders of yore were born in 1994. That's one, two, three, four years after the eighties drew to a close, and by 1989 it was practically the grunge years anyway. Cobain didn't shoot himself in the head until 1994, and that's when these kids were still shitting in diapers and sucking down formula.

So, my question posed is this: When did the eighties become cool? Wasn't it just a few years ago that Generation Y was looking back on their parents and their John Hughes-like fashion sense with nothing less of disdain and confusion? Like a bad hangover, those who survived as a teenager in the eighties are now holding their heads and saying, "Wow, what was I thinking?" Meanwhile, their nine year olds are sneaking their preserved articles of clothing from the back of the closet and wearing them to school with a newfound sense of pride.

And not only are "vintage" eighties dresses and the like now extremely hip and groovy, but new eighties outfits are being made with sloganeering proclaiming just how cool the eighties are. Were. Will be?

Case and point: Miami Twice. Miami Twice is a royally wonderful used clothing store that any and all South Floridian teenagers know of, even those of years past. It's been around for forever and a day, and it still remains today, only with a slightly different twist. Then, it specialized in all things used, like a Goodwill boutique for young people with all the bedazzled t-shirts of Calico cats weeded out. Now, Miami Twice is a store that specializes in new things that look old, particularly those that are paralleled to eighties fashion. There is, in fact, one rack of real vintage dresses towards the front of the store, but the rest is replicas of Elvis Costello t-shirts and creepers, pre-faded and mass produced for public consumption.

I sometimes have to wonder if I'm stuck in some sort of Transylvanian time warp, or if kids really are just having a major generation-identification crisis. Granted, I have no room to talk about how great the eighties really were and how kids these days have no idea what the hell they're talking about. Like I said, I was born in 1992. I was raised on Sky Dancers and the Spice Girls. I didn't know who Joe Strummer was until the year he died, which was completely untimely and generally pretty unfair to my budding inner-audiophile. But even to me it seems awkward that while half of the teenaged population is progressing towards a lifestyle of Flavor Flav and MTV2, the younger ones are growing up on leg-warmers and Remote Control.

But don't let these pre-pubescent, cultural concubines fool you, ladies and gentlemen. The first day I saw some unfortunate eleven year old running around that fore-spoken middle school campus in a Clash shirt, I stopped him with the ever-pressing question. The kind of question that totally calls you out on a lie, and generally fucks you over in the end, even if you are just eleven.

"So, what's your favorite Clash song?"

He paused, staring at me like a deer in headlights. He knew his fate before he even answered. By responding, he only sealed the deal. Personally, I half expected him to turn on his heels and bolt out of my grasp as fast as he possibly could. Fight or flight, as the psychologists say.

"Uhm, I like them all?"

They may wear the shirts, the jeans, and the Doc Martens, but they honestly couldn't tell the Specials from the Smiths. It's all about the fashion. The look. The fact that some ten year old in charge of trendsetting somewhere is feeding them messages saying just how cool the eighties were. Nobody questions what the hell they're wearing, they simply go out to Urban Outfitters, but some jelly shoes, and skip on home. But that's fashion, isn't it? Kids are impressionable little shits, and if someone says that Miley Cyrus with her ever-pressing God complex has all the answers, then by Miley, so be it.

In case you haven't noticed, these kids weren't Made in the 80's as their t-shirts proclaim. In fact, most of them weren't even made in the early-nineties. They grew up with fast-access internet, satellite television, and rumblepacks as a standard, not an additional accessory. Yes, we all were. We are Generation Y, ladies and gentlemen, the generation of plenty, born into the world of milk & honey. And honestly, as a product of the grunge age, I'm completely happy with that. I think I turned out with some sense in my head, and hey, maybe not enough to guarantee me a spot in the Mensa brigade, but definitely enough to get me by.

Definitely enough to know that no, in fact, I was not made in the eighties.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Morning Blues.

Because I woke up this morning with a terrible head cold and a truck-load of immigrants cutting down every single hedge in the neighborhood at eight in the morning, it's safe to say there's no post for today.

Instead, here's A Tribe Called Quest. Can I Kick It?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's Kind Of A Funny Story

After spending two years at a high school unlike any you've ever seen, I have to admit that I have learned a lot. No, I haven't been able to memorize the irregular conjugates of "Dire" and "Dare" in Italian and I'm still completely oblivious about most everything that goes on in my math class, but the most important lessons that I've learned come from the people around me, and those fore-spoken people are never the ones that stand at the front of the room with an Expo marker in hand. My kind of lessons come from the kids sitting next to me, chewing gum and downloading the answers to our next Chemistry test on their iPhone. My real-world learning is overhearing gossip about how our History teacher, a woman not much older than us who graduated from the very soil we walk on, was apparently a promiscuous teenager in her high-school days.

As much as school leaves a bad taste in my mouth by the time the day is over, I have to admit that it's the only place in the world where you can experience true, unbridled havoc. If nothing else, by the end of the day I have a top hat full of great stories and a slew of experiences that no world traveler could ever parallel, because even the tightest-knit village of four little huts couldn't spread news as quickly as a high school does.

I really have to thank these crazy kids that I share classrooms with for eight hours a day, because without them I would have never known about the Napoleon Dynamite-esque cat-fight that took place no more than an hour before the news hit my ears.

The China Chongas (also known by those unfamiliar with Miami lingo as "Tokyo Drift") are really two of the strangest students at my lovely school. Even those who don't attend daily know of them because, honestly, they're hard to miss.

As two small asian girls decked in full latin Chonga get-up, they don't just cross racial borders but instead sail across with a kind of impertinent ease that says they were clearly transplanted to the States later in life and raised by MTV. Part ghettofabulous, part Miami skank, and full-time Asia natives, The China Chongas are decked out with bleach blonde hair, gold hoop earrings that I could probably fit my entire hand through, a variation of white/black Reeboks depending on the outfit, and, of course, Sharpie lip-liner.

I refuse to name names for the sake of whatever integrity will remain when I'm finished, but their first names do, in fact, rhyme.

So, now that that picture is painted, let's work on the story.

While it's no requirement, for some reason a good chunk of the who's-who at my confidential art school find it necessary to shove themselves into a tiny cafeteria by the time lunch rolls around. I never understood it until the first Cafeteria-centric happening went down, and then I realized that people weren't sitting in there because they liked the wobbling tables and collective roar; they were in there because if anything groundbreaking were to happen, that's where it would take place. The cafeteria is the Los Angeles of the high-school microcosm. No one particularly likes it there, but it's the axis on which the world turns.

To continue. Whilst eating lunch with a slew of their hispanic friends, one of the China Chongas murmured something or another about a girl sitting near by. Of course, this is where the story starts to get muddled. Some say that Tokyo of the Tokyo Drift initiated what followed, others say that the passing Crazy White Girl was dropping out that afternoon and wanted to start at least one fight during her high-school run. What is agreed upon is that no one in the room could understand what they were saying during the verbal food fight that followed. Anyone who has heard those with a latin background go at it knows exactly what this high-pitched vomiting sounds like. Spanish mixes with English mixes with Vietnamese. Words like "papi" and "hoochie" are thrown around like an inflatable beach ball at a sporting event.

Eventually, Crazy White Girl couldn't take it anymore. She wound up, pulled back, and decked Tokyo right in the face.

A stunned silence followed. Even Tokyo didn't move. Everyone in the room was simply amazed that action had been taken; punches had been thrown. Assistant Principles were ushered in and students jumped to one side, cheering on a competitor of their choice.

It wasn't until after they were dragged away that the stories started to come out. Apparently, the China Chongas frequent a local Presbyterian church that a girl in my math class also attends. During the church's annual talent show last year, the two signed up and stepped on stage in their regular get-up of Baby Phat and Reeboks. Only to perform a nun-chuck act.

Stop me if this starts to sound fake.

As the current celebrities of this epic Confidential Art School, they're getting the full spectrum of attention from every clique and class. Granted, rumors are spinning just as quickly as the truth is, but this, I think, illustrates something grand about high-school culture as a whole.

We are all freaks in the making.

Or maybe we're freaks now, in all our glory, and as we ascend into adulthood that inner Smiths-lover and garage band hero fades away into the back of our consciousness. Maybe growing up doesn't mean maturing, but instead means forgetting what it is to twirl nun-chucks at talent shows and solve problems with brute force. Maybe growing up means putting those Reeboks or Adidas or Converse in the back of the closet and trading them in for something more mild. Maybe this is the last chance we'll get to be completely batshit crazy.

Whatever the case may be, this is our daily life. This is what high-school is like, in case all you adults out there forgot. In case it was you who hung away your studded jean jacket and Cramps shirts all those years ago. This is what you have been missing, and what I'd really like to know is has all that much changed?

I truly believe that it is as they say. The truth, it seems, is always stranger than fiction.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Things We Do For Love (Or: A Word On Relationships)

Photo by Reinar Rivera

According to an infallible British comedy, love, actually, is all around. It's on television and in cheap restaurants. It's in backseats and public parks. It's in music and online, in hearts and minds alike. Love is more than just a universal craving. It's an ideal and a feeling that we're all born with, whether we like it or not. And even if we can't find it in ourselves to love, love will find us with it's TV ads and ten-story billboards. Love bombards us and knocks us off our feet, and whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of personal perspective.

In a world of fleeting relationships, connections and disconnections from everyday people, love seems monotonous. But what about when you find something that breaks that daisy-chain of the everyday and mundane? What happens when love becomes spectacular again? Should it be celebrated with a grandeur so exquisite and divine, or should the celebrations come from the every day? And, when it comes down to it, is it ever possible to break down a love like this?

How do you know when you've found this fore-spoken bliss, and, more relevantly, how do you hang on to it? It's a fact of life that relationships deteriorate over time, just like most else on this tiny little planet, and we as humans are bound to screw up, but I think that in itself is something to be celebrated because it almost always leads to something spectacular. Love never comes when we seek it out. It's a patient beast, sleeping silently until it decides you're ready. Then, and only then, will it come to find you.

It seems like such a strange phenomena that people, us people living on the face of this tiny planet, can connect with each other in such a strong and unbreakable way. We become so close with each other, with our brethren and our lovers, our friends and those strangers who are kind enough to ask about our day, that it seems beyond strange that we're related only by species. It seems as though there is something more to this whole life thing, and that maybe it's these connections that really get us up in the morning and keep us going.

Can these connections even be knighted with the honorary title of "love" or are they simple incidents? When you think about it, love is something undefined. It is something that we can feel deep down in the depths of our bones. It's simply a feeling of euphoria. Cosmic togetherness. Happiness. But don't these little specks of coincidence and chance that fall into our lap really make us the happiest of all? When it comes down to it, I always seem to find myself bathing in a clever conversation starter or a chance meeting when the day finally comes to a close. This is what sticks with me when it's time to turn out the lights.

If all of this is really true, than it seems as though each and every day we are falling in and out of love over and over again.

Maybe love really is just a great song, or seeing your favorite car speed down the highway, or the kind of nail-polish that never chips no matter how long you wear it for. Love could easily be more than people together, one plus one, and instead could be the product of only one. Love could be a great idea, or an even better book, or something as simplistically big as discovering who you really are.

Or, more humanistically, love is waiting outside the dressing room of your girlfriend's favorite store, sitting patiently as she tries on dress after dress. Love is paying for dinner when your boyfriend has had a bad day, even though the twenty bucks in your wallet is your last. Love is patience, virtue, humility, and, if anything, simplicity. It's never giving up, always having fun, and sometimes compromising.

Love will never depart from this tiny planet so long as us humans are still walking on two legs and taking sweet gulps of air. It's as natural as life itself, the ultimate organic diet so to speak, and those who choose to embrace it find more than just peace of mind and somewhere familiar to rest their head. They find themselves. And more importantly, they find a kind of happiness that can't be paralleled by anything else.

There is something supremely spectacular about what we feel and how we act on it, and it is not to be ignored. Despite those scattered billboards and morning commercials, love is not mundane and it is never to be treated like the every day. Love is to be treasured. It's about shouting at the top of our lungs, yelling who we love, what we love, and how this is never to be forgotten. Love, even when hidden in alleyways and night-clubs, is here.

Love, actually, is all around.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Who You Don't Want to Be When You Grow Up

Peers, classmates, fellow High-schoolers, I see you all heading in a terrible, terrible direction. Even though I haven't met all of you, I have this nagging feeling that I know all of you because, hey, no offense, but you're all the same. Regardless, in the few of you that I have met, I've observed something slightly strange about your behavior. As you're getting jobs, submitting college applications, thinking about your future, I see most of you going through a change. You're growing up, growing out of your teenaged skin and shedding it for the future wardrobe of your choice. And therein lies the problem. Most of you, even the most talented, articulate messes, are walking towards a future of mediocrity. You're walking towards state schools that will pay your way and allow you to still live at home. Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that by the time you're a freshman in college, you'll be eighteen years old. Old enough to vote. Old enough to buy cigarettes (legally). Old enough to go to war. Old enough to move the hell out and get your own life. And I'd really like to know why you choose not to. Out of all places in all the world, I would least expect this kind of behavior and career mapping from the art school I frequent, yet that unspoken breeding ground for intellectualism seems to be the main offender. Why is this, kids? With all of your, dare I say, potential, do you really believe that the best use of you as a human being is as a worker bee? A doorstop for the door to happiness? If this is truly what you want to do then be my guest, but most of the time I see you heading towards this life in middle-management simply because you don't know what else to do. It's what your parents did, and it put dinner on the table, didn't it? It can't be all that bad, right? I see you dream big, children.

So while you're off at FSU or FAU or one of the many other F-U's of Florida, just keep this little personalized letter in mind. Remember that there are other choices in life, and that the most "reasonable" or "rational" of the slew isn't usually the one that will leave you the most satisfied at the end of the day. Get out into the world. Take it by storm. Don't just be mediocre. The world doesn't need more burger flippers or soccer moms, and nobody likes the places you guys choose to congregate at. (See: WalMart, Costco, TGI Friday's, etc.) Save the smart-asses of the world the trouble of making fun of you. Go be a firefighter or an astronaut or a ballerina. It can be done.

Reaching for the stars doesn't always mean you'll asphyxiate.

Love, your pal,
- M.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Musical Education

I've realized that, however many months into this alternative to a school-wide rampage of mine, I've managed to slip in little tidbits of personal preference when it comes to books, movies, etc. Yet, somehow, I've restrained myself enough to leave out the most important cultural phenomena to sweep the globe:


Even African aborigines have managed to carve their own form of music, and although some (read: most) modern day chart-toppers may sound a lot like those fore-spoken aborigines, this only illustrates the global reach of sweet sweet music. So, to all of you out there who think that "car music" means showtunes and hitting scan, allow me to and give you the means necessary to choose what's good and bad for yourself. Get out your pencils, kids, and take note. Your musical education starts today.

I know that on "professional blogs," (pardon the oxymoron) folks would usually describe the emotions that I feel towards Ben Folds as "respect" and "admiration." But you know what? I'm fifteen. And therefore I will call it what it is: fangirling. I love Ben Folds with all my heart, and he is honestly what I would consider a Goodwill-clad piano God. Ben Folds, if you're out there, come sing at my birthday party.

Let me say only one thing: Lady Sovereign looks like the girl from Napoleon Dynamite. Yes, she is peevishly annoying when "rocking the mic" on her own, but when paired with The Ordinary Boys, Britpop all-stars taking cues from legendaries like The Specials, she actually seems tolerable. God bless the power of music.

Ladies & gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the greatest band of all time: The Clash. These guys are epic on a scale completely unprecedented, and when it comes down to "favorites" in my musical queue, they take the spot for number one. Music has never been as good as it is with the Clash, and I promise you that no other band will perfect punk rock and rock & roll simultaneously quite like they will. This, my friends, is musical history. And it will never be better.

(No video on this one because I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear some thirteen year old girl try to cover this song and epically fail.)

The first small show I ever went to was at a little dive called the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. It's capacity is about 65 and every night it holds around 200. I went and saw Metric.
Metric is pretty astounding for the sheer reason that they sound just as wonderful on stage as they do in a recording studio, but I think there's something particularly astounding about Emily Haines, their lead singer and resident angel. She has a voice never before heard by even the most educated audiophiles, and when paired with radically poetic lyrics she paints a story that is noting short of magical. Metric is a modern day fairy tale.