Dear Old Nicki

(via Dallas Observer Blog)

Dear Nicki,

I’m a big fan of yours. I can honestly say that I get sick of most albums after about a month of thorough play, but your debut album Pink Friday is really something else. The songs are fun, sweet, and light, but with just enough heart to make me come back to them. But what I like about you and your music is your character: strong, goofy, sexy, mature, experimental, and confident. When I saw interviews with you, I felt like I wanted you to be my buddy. There aren’t any other female artists, let alone a pop star, I can think of who seemed as real with herself as you.

Having said that, I gotta say that I’m pretty damn disappointed with your new work. Believe me, I’ve tried to listen to it at least 10 times, and haven’t been able to warm up to it one bit. All your new songs, from Starships, Stupid Hoe, to Beez in the Trap. There’s something about it that’s completely missing the mark.

You know what I think is the problem? You felt your heart out of it. The whole album feels like an empty shell of overproduced noise with you rapping about fashion, hoes, and finding success. It’s both uninspired and uninspiring. There nothing about the album that sounds like it’s coming from you. I know you have an amazing voice and you do care about fashion, but if you want to take it to the next level, you need to show more of yourself (and no I’m not talking about your ass). Rapping is an art form that’s made to tell stories. So tell your god damn story. Let yourself express yourself and stop listening to whoever the hell at Young Money telling you what you need to do to top your last album because whatever it is that needs to be done, the only place you’re gonna find the answer is inside your beautiful head.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m sick of artists doing shitty work because they think it’ll be popular, especially when they’ve got the skills and are completely capable of doing something better. I think you sold as many copies of Pink Friday as you did because you seemed like real person that people could relate to. Even if we only got to see small glimpses and traces of the real Nicki, it was still enough for people to want more.

So I know it’s too late this time around… you’ve gotta do what you gotta do to promote the crap out of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and there’s nothing that can be done about that. But please, next time you go back to the recording booth, whether or not it’s your own song or another song you end up getting featured in, remember that people like you because it’s you. Because you just seemed like a cool fucking person. So go pick up a book, or watch a good movie, or do whatever it takes until you get inspired to tell it like it is. Write about the world, about your life, about something that’ll remind them why they should give a crap about you.

Please remind me what it looks like when I see a strong, goofy, sexy, mature, confident, cool ass woman. Be you, Nicki.

A loving fan,

Maira

P.S. I know this song wasn’t one of your biggest hits and the music video doesn’t make any sense, but this is still one of my favorite life anthems:

Nicki Minaj – Fly ft. Rihanna

Beach House : "Bloom"

New LP from Beach House dropped today.

I was completely obsessed with their last album so I jumped the gun and bought it.

No regrets.

~

If you like:

Interpol, XX,  Florence and the Machine, early David Bowie, the Cure

Sound:

Dreamy 80’s rock with female vocals

Mood:

Feeling emo but not pathetic

Listen here:       https://www.npr.org/2012/05/06/151227631/first-listen-beach-house-bloom

foodie 4 lyfe.

Cooking is a big hobby of mine. Part of it is that I love eating what I cook (actually maybe a large part). But I also love it because I always approach it like a puzzle and an experiment. I rarely use a recipe unless I’m dealing with an ingredient I’m unfamiliar with (turns out people eat nettles??) or the dish is just plain challenging to prepare (principles of baking never ceases to get lost on me). There’s also something that feels innately human to me…taking various raw materials and organizing them into an other enjoyable creation.

My mom told me that after her first choice of “lawyer”, her second choice for my future profession was  a chef. She’d say it was because “I’d go to your restaurant and eat good food whenever I wanted”. Perhaps out of this ulterior motive (not really), she always had me help her cook in the kitchen and taught me all the basics of food preparation. More recently, I’ve been partaking in cooking projects with my uncle Terry who is by far the most gourmet, non-professional chef I know. He has a giant industrial grade gas “Wolf” stove in his kitchen, the sharpest knives of every imaginable size, and an extensive collection of animal fats in his fridge. He’s friends with all the vendors at the farmers market and knows exactly which vegetable from which stall is to die for this season.

Today, I spent 2 hours making pasta from scratch.

1 egg per 3/4 cups of flour.

Starting from making an egg reservoir out of flour, I slowly mixed the flour into the egg with a fork. Being careful not to break the wall of flour around the pool, it slowly turns from soupy to gooey. After a while, it became this stretchy, heavy yellow mass. From there I used a rolling pin and did my best to flatten it while it kept bouncing back into a hunk.  Once its flat enough, I cut it into fourths, then using the Pasta Queen, a pasta maker, I flattened and cut the pieces until getting long lasagna-like sheets of pasta, all the while dusting each piece with flour to prevent it from sticking to the hand-cranked machine. The last stage was to cut them into spaghetti and hang them from this rack before boiling them for no more than 30 seconds.

 

 

Voilá!

they give me security.

(a creative writing piece: from the perspective of one of the riot cops I saw on May Day night at Oscar Grant Plaza.)

waiting.

we’re in formation, ready to go…and goddammit I need to take a piss.
how long is this gonna take?
I wonder if I’ll make it home in time to tuck Sam into bed.

we wait.

an older lady yells at us, “This is what a police state looks like.”
People walk out of the square from the back.
“Fuck the PO-lice! Fuck all of you! You fucking pigs!”

we wait.

then, we get the order to go ahead: “March forward, swing your baton, and instruct them to move.”
starting toward the plaza, most people jog away from us out of the square. About a dozen of them stay and stare at us with a mixture of confusion, sadness, and hatred.

swing march “move”

they’re talking to each other, a couple of them run off, the rest of them keep staring.

swing march “move”

we’re about 20 feet from them. they’re on the steps up to the field now, and all but 2 leave. a young man and woman. The boy yells “Who are you protecting? From whom? FOR WHOM?!”

swing march “move”

the young woman starts to tear up. the boy runs off.

swing march “move”

my helmet begin to fog up. this always fucking happens.

we’re about 10 feet now and the woman walks backward, facing us, at the same pace we move across the plaza.

swing march “move”

through sobs, barely audible she says, “why…”

swing march “move”

girl cries, “why are you doing this? why are you kicking us out? the public from a public space?”

swing march “move”

she’s screaming, spitting, “please just tell me WHY. TELL ME. WHY…WHY…WHY.”

~

Please shut up…JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Why? Why am I doing this?

Because it’s my fucking job, that’s why, and you and your bratty friends aren’t doing anyone a favor by being here and wasting our time.

You all act like you’re going to solve the world’s problems by camping out here, talking about the Revolution stoned out of your minds, and festering out on this lawn like the space is yours.

Tell me, what solutions do you have to my problems? How the fuck are you gonna fix my wife’s health, or help me pay to get my car taken in, or give me the money I need to get my kid the present she wants for her birthday next week?

Maybe if you stopped whining about how all of us are screwed by the system, you could make the time to start thinking long and hard about what exactly you’re proposing as the alternative. Maybe you enjoy complaining about how things are way more than you actually like facing the difficult task of changing how it works…and please, could you think of a way of doing it that didn’t involve the defacement of other people’s property?

Stop acting like this is the only thing you can do. Stop acting like you’re the only ones who realize how bad things are. We all know. We know it already so quit acting like your own fucking heroes.

So you know why I’m here? Because this is my job, and it gives me security. It’s enough to take care of my family. I know things are fucked, but you sure as hell don’t know what you’re doing.

Just go home, kid. Go home.

short May Day recap

It was gorgeous yesterday. The weather was perfect, everyone I met was great, and I felt so excited to finally make it to some big rallies.

Still, it was exhausting. All the hope and energy I got from everyone during the day almost got completely drained out of me when I experienced the Oakland riot cops that night. I wasn’t arrested, nor was I gassed or sprayed, but seeing them become this wall of dark bodies in giant helmets…it was overwhelming to me.

I’ve been involved in a book club called Revolutionary Reads where we read a “revolutionary” book every month and meet up to discuss it over beer and wine. I joined it so that I could become better at articulating what’s wrong, what can be fixed, and to be better prepared for thinking about how to improve things. I’m a very very skeptical person…and as someone who went to UC Santa Cruz’s Politics program, I was surrounded by self-proclaimed Marxists who tended to be the most self-righteous stuck up kids around. They turned me off to thinking about Capitalism critically, and was convinced that all we needed was reform, higher taxes, more regulation, and a re-commitment to public social programs to fix our biggest problems.

5 years later, I was reading David Harvey’s Rebel Cities for book club and I felt it crack. I felt a big crack form into my life-long held beliefs about societal structures, the economy, and power. What did it was the realization that Capitalism wasn’t created to be functional or sustainable. It was made out of the assumption that people are inherently greedy and competitive, and that the only way for an equilibrium to occur was to let everyone pit themselves against one another over wealth, property, and power. Our cities, our state, our economy, grows out of this. One by one, policies governing money, business, trade, and even creativity, reinforced this idea. No wonder this system isn’t sustainable or community oriented. The underlying presumption of Capitalism is that we’re all incapable of thinking or living for our own communal well-being.

And no, I’m not proposing socialism.

(going to write more soon. It’s 2am dammit.)