I love old technology. The analog feel of buttons and dials under my finger, the lights of a stereo amp, the crackle of vinyl, and the warped sound of an overplayed cassette tape––all create beauty we so often lose in the digital world. The beauty of chaos, the unorganized, and the functionless. These devices hold value in their aesthetics but also through the stories that define them.
Such objects fill my room with stories from my own life and the countless others they’ve encountered. Next to my bed sits a CRT TV I found abandoned on the road. It works surprisingly well for a piece of technology made before Facebook, though, like the person who left it behind, not many would think much of it. It’s been replaced by two decades of 4K ultra-HD developments, which produce bigger, brighter images. Why would anyone watch a special effects masterpiece on something with the quality of a cave painting and a screen smaller than a shoebox?
I see its beauty though, the way it needs to warm up before turning on, the way it cracks and clicks when you try to push its archaic buttons, and the decaying colors of the few remaining VHS tapes, long-forgotten.
I imagine this TV didn’t change hands many times. It was probably bought new at Radio Shack in Ventura, six years before I was born. It probably sat in someone’s living room playing movies for their kids on family game night, and then their grandkids, and then it probably sat in the garage taking up space until they finally decided the black hunk of metal, glass, and plastic was an eyesore whose good days were as long gone as its remote. Now it sits as an exhibit in my room, a reflection of others’ memories and a piece of art for me to admire.
Like this old TV, I, too, can easily be overshadowed by things bigger and brighter. I surf with more passion than I’ve ever felt before, but by most standards, I’d be considered unremarkable.
Surfing’s the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered: walls of water like moving mountains, foam like a powerful avalanche, a board that goes from being your greatest ally to greatest enemy the moment it’s freed from your grip. Is the feeling of a wave worth the pain of falling? Often, it is. Small waves, no biggie, a couple seconds of being under frigid water, and then you paddle back out and try again. But when the waves become giants and the board a brute-force weapon, that fall begins to exceed your limits.
I remember going out on a day with waves far beyond my skill set—Goliath and Polyphemus in watery form. Before I even paddled for a wave, a set came in. The first wave blocked the sun as it groaned past me, the second feathered as I crested its peak, the third, I wasn’t so lucky. The avalanche hit me, immediately tearing the board from my hands. The wave was now groaning on top of me, thrashing my body like a ragdoll in a washing machine. Then, it was over. The wave passed, and I was okay. So what pushes me to surf in these conditions? I think it’s because putting myself in places beyond my skill set and comfort, where I’m deeply flawed, has shaped me. I find love and beauty in the places where I know I’ll fall, for it’s there that I find who I am.
I climb, hike, surf, and run, but most athletic is an unlikely yearbook superlative.
Like the TV, I, too, crack and click when I’m pushed too hard. If all that made me was performance, I, too, would be left on the street without a second thought, but I am my story not my statistics. I too, have beauty, which lies not in my achievements but in my imperfections.
I don’t like to be a car kid but man cars are awesome. Here are some I love:
e30, e36, e46 bmw 3 series
These three cars are just so pretty (the last one is my car, although admittedly I’d prefer a different one) the e30 is iconic and overdone these days but just such a nice boxy design with that little grill and the two lights. e36: cool and has a really nice interior plus a little more modern still with that retro boxy thing. e46: I love my car
1955-60 Mercedes Benz 300sl gullwing
I mean this is probably the best-looking car ever made.
Honda nsx 1991
Just look at those tail lights
Porsche safari 911
It’s an off-road 911. What’s not to love.
Iconic in rally racing, similar to MKI gti but just super unique widebody on this car.
911 but like PHAT
My dad had this car in 1986, it is so cool looking and has pop-up headlights and with the stock wing just is a very cool mid-engine Toyota
Detomaso Pantera GTS
He made a new one recently but those old ones are just so nice, really stunning from every angle.
Lowered Toyota hilux (1969) or Datsun
These trucks are so cute my old ceramics teacher had a Datsun in baby blue, awesome car
300sl, pc: i dont know ive had this photo on my computer a while
My creativity is expressed in everything I do––from the blog posts I write for journalism, to the way I dress, and even how I move along a wave when I’m surfing––but ceramics is the place where my creativity is communicated best. It wasn’t always this way, though…
From the time I started in fourth grade, all the way until junior year, I believed that the ceramic pieces I created needed a function. I thought throwing a cup, bowl, or vase made more sense than making a sculptural piece. It wasn’t that I didn’t see the value of a sculpture or a piece of art, rather, I did not believe myself to be an artist, and so, my job was to make utilitarian items. I didn’t know it then, but how I treated my ceramics tied deeply to how I thought about the world. I believed that utility was more important than beauty.
The shift occurred after a new ceramics teacher came to my school––she pushed me to use ceramics to express myself. I began to infuse my pieces with creativity, and, just like that, my life became full of creativity too. I created pieces whose sole purpose was to be viewed: teapots that would never hold tea and bowls that I’d never eat cereal from. I put concepts into my work, and my pieces or collections meant something—they didn’t just fulfill a purpose, they stood as a physical representation of an idea. This allowed me to better understand what a piece will mean rather than what a piece will do. The saturation of creativity in my ceramics changed how I thought about the world. I now understand that there is value in something that is simply beautiful.
We all are artists inside––all we have to do is add a little creativity to the many mundane tasks we complete. Now, even when I write a regular essay, or get ready for the day, I push myself to instill elements of creativity into my presentation.
Beginning in the 1500s when Dr. Faustus was written and spanning to the modern era, the human race has pushed the boundaries of what is natural and tried to become gods. We invented the astrolabe, conquered the seven seas, built nations on the destruction of entire peoples, and constructed skyscrapers which seem to defy every idea of what is possible. Our health has improved, we’ve made life convenient beyond belief, but despite all this achievement we, like Marlowe’s arrogant celebutante “yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man.”
For the past few hundred years mankind has become increasingly involved with the same internal struggle as Faustus. Each new level of knowledge we acquire we become more careless and ignorant. Everytime some new process or physic principle is discovered we slip deeper into the Faustian bargain we call progress. This rat race for discovery becomes paired with this nonsensical notion that we are the only important thing on the planet and that we deserve everything which we can fathom and more. This is the mindset which sent Faustus to eternal damnation, and this is the mindset which plagues the modern world. Regardless of all the power we may accumulate over the natural world we still are humans, flawed forever by stagnant ideas and held to earth by the unrelenting and unstoppable march towards death.
As private school educated students from generally wealthy families, fiscally or situationally, it is easy for us to fall into the Faustian mindset. I’ve been at fault of this, my friends, my family, and classmates––all at some point have looked at the world and thought “I deserve more”. This mindset ruins the last humanity which wisps gently between us, we become stale, ignorant, and spoiled, unable to understand that there are other people around, and even more so, other things. We all too easily divulge in the trap that we can do what we want to the world without consequence.
Just as Faustus enjoyed his twenty four years of power which ended in a no bit unexpected end, mankind is still enjoying its twenty four years marching towards an end we can all see and yet choose to believe is not real. Like Faustus, humans are just people who happen to be in situations of extraordinary power.
I try to clean once a week; today was the day I did that cumbersome ritual. I wiped my coffee table and picked up the clothes and paper that propagate atop the carpeted flooring. I grabbed all the trash on my bedside table and desk. I even made my bed (a task not typically high on my to-do list). Yet, there is dust all over my room, no matter how much a clean or wipe it off it never seems to go away. Every week I fight it and every week it returns, I mean how do you even get rid of it; when you wipe it away half of those pesky particles fly into the air, only to land back where you just cleaned just after you finish. Maybe the dust is why I keep getting sick, full Interstellar mode. The reason I’m thinking about dust though is that today during my incumbent chore the dust was floating through the air really beautifully, it was sparkling in the sunbeams coming through my window and just caught my attention. I wish it wasn’t so dirty, otherwise, I might add more dust to my room.
I’ve always appreciated music, but for most of my life, I never listened to it. I consumed what my parents and friends listened to, there were songs I liked, and artists I didn’t, but never did I voyage to discover “new” music. Even in high school, I was the kid who said “oh I don’t really listen to music”, then, one day, something changed. It came in leu of befriending Adam who I greatly looked up to, he, like the others who have surrounded me, changed me through pointed jokes towards my seemingly ever-lacking personality. The first songs I listened to I played relentlessly and then disposed of when they no longer brought me joy, were decades-old pop songs such as 99 Luftballoons, You Spin Me Right Around, and Kiss. I liked these songs and still do, but they still didn’t feel right for me. These songs have millions of plays on Spotify and thousands may consider them the best of all time—at least in their respective genres—but I still couldn’t connect to them in a way I now knew possible as a result of the passion I saw in Adam for excellent music. I didn’t know it yet but I was in search of the perfect song (something I likely will never find). After old pop, I moved into rap, not the good kind, honestly like bad music, although I do appreciate them for what they are artist like bbno$ and Young Gravy has no place in the search for the best song of all time. It’s not to diss them but they create music not for the soul but for the pleasure of the masses. Now, I think I know what you’re thinking, “this kid just said popular songs can’t be good, twice.” While I do think there is a correlation between production for mass markets and production for emotional expression, many popular songs are that way because they truly tap into a deep human feeling that people can’t turn away from. Latino artists do this incredibly well. I recently played mi gente in the car with Logan and he called it “cringy” still, that song, despite its incredible popularity infuses you with energy in a way most songs could never do. Is Mi Gente the perfect song? No. Is it worth listening to? Absolutely. Another artsiest who accomplishes this emotional feat is Lauryn Hill. I know I’ve already talked about her but she has the infusion into her music that grabs your soul and holds it right in the rhythm and beat of the music. I think this is the beginning of a formula for a perfect song. Though like John Keating with poems, I really don’t think there can be a “formula” to a perfect song, rather, qualitative aspects add up to create something perfect.
This is not just to make Mr. Alvarez happy. I am beyond angry that I got covid, not because of the amount of late work I’m doing this fine Sunday night and not because of the stress I currently face around college, but because it likely destroyed my shot of finishing my last cross country season successfully. For three years i have struggled, fought, and cried over my times in cross country and each year i’ve gotten a little but better. This year, before I even had covid it felt like I had reached a plateau in my running yet every day that passes that I sit in my room I get more and more hopeless about running in the 18s this season. Cross Country is very strange, as far as running in total goes my times are dismal and downright bad but the amount of effort and work I’ve put in makes me proud of them, in the end though it’s futile because I will never go anywhere with running i’ll just finish this season and likely never run in the same sense again yet still I have this need and desire to keep trying my best and keep pushing beyond what I’m capable of. This stretch of covid has just made the fight so much harder and it’s difficult to keep going especially with a positive attitude that’s necessary for captainship.