My Common App final draft

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 It’s been replaced by two decades of 4K ultra-HD developments, which produce bigger, brighter images.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.

cry, the beloved country

I watched a new movie this week that by any standards is brilliant and moving. And in my opinion, one of the most underrated films.

“Cry, the Beloved Country” is based on a heartwrenching book that deals with really complex topics in such a unique way. I can’t even remotely relate to the characters yet I still suffered with them. This movie deals with issues of segregation and protests against apartheid in such a beautiful and moving way, combined with topics of fear, corruption, death, and forgiveness.

James Earl Jones was incredible. He manages to convey and make you feel so many things through really minimalistic acting. He doesn’t waste himself on meaningless gestures & histrionics, he lets you see the suffering of his soul.

The movie does a great job illustrating the battered country of Africa– where the land itself is described to be the essence of a man– as he navigates through Johannesburg and experiences all its corruption and violence. Many of the political, economic, and societal issues within Southern Africa in the 1950s are brought to light in this film,

This is a movie about black and white. A well-known theme in Hollywood, but I’ve never seen a movie deal with this subject so excellent as this one. The plot is unlike anything I’ve ever read or seen before. Alan Paton, the author of the book it’s based on, is one talented man.

PC: https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.rogerebert.com/uploads/review/primary_image/reviews/cry-the-beloved-country-1995/EB19951220REVIEWS512200301AR.jpg

Semi-Complete list of the cool things in my room

I gonna start with the things hanging on my wall (in no particular order besides the order im looking at them. 

  1. Carnegie melon flag (my sister got in and it pissed her off that I put it up since I have no desire to go there) 
  2. My two running medals from 7th and 10th place, as if that’s worthy of metal 
  3. Anderson Paak jumping crocodile cliff Poster, I don’t even like Anderson Pack 
  4. Odesza weird looking man poster, I dont listen to them either 
  5. Anderson Paak sitting on hummingbird poster
  6. North African guitar stap, its my dads 
  7. A painting my mom did 
  8. A porsche decal design my dad made for some dude on vinyl car wrap 
  9. Micheal Jackson off the wall album, who’s Micheal Jackson? 
  10. A photo of a car that I took 
  11. A photo of a Vespa that a took, these are back from my photography days 
  12. Mercado Segrado market poster
  13. Spacship mini poster 
  14. C Street mini poster 
  15. Three vinyl records, daft punk, Salt n Pepa, MJ off the Wall 
  16. Skateboard grippe with a painting Logan did for me for my birthday on it 
  17. Mami Wata power of the African Surf poster 
  18. Mindsurfing a Conner coffin story poster 
  19. Odesza woman and moon poster 
  20. New York abstract art piece 
  21. My cassette collection 
  22. Italo Ferrera Stoke-ed poster 
  23. A ma Maniere Jordan 1 shoe box cover 
  24. Coach shoe box cover 
  25. Jordan 1 pollen shoe Box Cover 
  26. Lost boys shoes 
  27. Jason Bua “The Dj” poster 
  28. Wax Trax! Records poster 
  29. A bunch of shoes on a shelf 
  30. My VHS tape collection on the same shelving unit 
  31. Art beyond Survival Shepard Fairey event flyer 
  32. My clothes 
  33. Trestles surf comp display
  34. Restroom sign
  35. skateboard deck

Not on the walls: 

  1. Plant 
  2. Plant 
  3. Plant 
  4. Plant 
  5. Plant 
  6. Plant 
  7. Plant 
  8. Plant 
  9. Plant 
  10. Mini TV 
  11. Mini Tv 
  12. Blue Yeti microphone 
  13. 2011 MacBook Pro 
  14. Kenwood turntable 
  15. Skateboard
  16. Onkyo Amplifier 
  17. Tury’s ceramic piece 
  18. Lava lamp 
  19. Percival Lafer Livingroom set including the smoked glass coffee table 
  20. Nike coffee table book 
  21. Kai Lenny coffee table book 
  22. Broken VHS tv 
  23. Functioning VHS tv 
  24. Box covered in stickers ive collected 
  25. Mirror covered in stickers ive collected 
  26. Old UC Berkley bio department microscope 
  27. Perfect condition MisEducation of Lauryn Hill album on CD 
  28. Mammoth stuffed animal 
  29. Moroccan lamp on its side acting as side table 
  30. Rug 
  31. Space Helmet
  32. Book collection 
  33. The front passenger seat of my car 
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Covid Positive

I tested positive for Covid exactly one week ago. Surprisingly, the time went by fairly quickly, as I occupied myself with reading, homework, and plenty of Netflix.

Here’s everything I watched while quarantined:

  1. The second half of The Italian Job. We started this during film studies, and I can’t say I know why. It’s a pretty good movie, but not exactly a classic. And as much as I like a good car chase, it’s a little less exciting when they’re driving minis.
  2. Bridget Jones’ Diary. This has not aged well. Perhaps if I were to disregard the fatphobia and blatant sexism, it would be a fairly enjoyable watch. The premise itself is good – who doesn’t love a romantic comedy, with a relatable protagonist, and a love triangle? But the execution, not so much.
  3. Several episodes of Gilmore Girls. Rory and Jess are beginning to flirt and I cannot wait to see how Dean reacts. I can feel a breakup is coming, and I am so ready! Dean might be absolutely gorgeous, but I personally detest him and his short temper. Rory deserves better.
  4. The first couple of episodes of the Great British Baking Show season 10. This show never fails to make me smile and give me an appreciated British nostalgia. They always manage to find the sweetest bunch of contestants. I’m obsessed with the gay Polish guy.
  5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I LOVED this one. Is Audrey Hepburn totally iconic? YES. Am I going to be Holly for Halloween? Very possibly. The only part I didn’t like was the scene where she threw her cat out of the taxi, and then proceeded to search for it in the rain. It gave me so much anxiety – I breathed a heavy sigh of relief when she finally found Cat.
PC: https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Breakfast@Tiffanys.jpg

scraping

There is one word to describe the feeling that I’ve had all day. Scraping. my soul has been aching to claw its way out of me. I know what it wants, it wants to rip my chest open and thrust its way through the bars. My mind is filled with serrated lines shooting across the interior of my skull. I shake because I am so trapped in here. When I look in the mirror I can feel my eyes fall back into my head as they drown in the screams that shatter throughout my brain. I can not see myself. Why can’t I see myself? No matter how hard I glare at myself in the reflection I’ve trained to stay still, I can see my face morph and melt into the person I try so desperately to hide. I like to imagine my hands pulling my face as they slide across my skin, dissolving the only thing that is truly there with me at the end of each night. My skin tingles all the time, it radiates through me like small bursts of electricity stopping the beat of my heart with each one. It was supposed to be easy, “crying doesn’t make things better” I was trained for this. I was trained for this straight face and beautiful smile. Why can’t I see myself? “No one will feel sorry for you with that look on your face” I’m sorry, the tears burn their way through the gloss that shields my emotionless face. They leave scars you know, the tears, they ruin the smile. I was taught to cry only in front of a mirror, that way I can watch them disintegrate my complexion, I force myself to watch as I express the most basic human emotion and torture myself at the very same time. This is how I was taught to feel so excruciatingly uncomfortable in my very own skin.

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pc: me

The Best Story

The best reality documentary on youtube is a Vice series titled “North Korean Labor Camps” where they sent a Canadian Journalist, Shane Smith, to investigate the hermit kingdom and bring back cultural learnings with him.

It has everything: politics, humor, wit, fear, camaraderie with absolutely random people, realities of everyday life of common people, getting banned and kicked out, and going into the endless unknown (Siberian Tiga) like a spaceship.

It’s in a blog, video diary format with a pretty bad camera (it was 10 years ago), and it’s just so cool. All seven parts of the series are just insane. He gets in trouble with the FSB, there’s a car chase in the wilds of Siberia, and he befriends the local mob. My favorite part though is all the random people that just helped and tagged along: a cop, ex-chief of police, freelance journalist, and some crazy Russian guy who saved the journalist from angry authorities.

It all started in North Korea, with a video titled “We Tried Sneaking Journalists into North Korea.” In it, you see how unsettling and just off North Korea feels, at least 10 years ago. Anyway, soon he finds out that Koreans are being sent to logging camps for like several years at a time in Eastern Russia and so begins the aforementioned series. I want to do something like this one day.

Besides what he manages to uncover, what’s most shocking is how calm the journalist was despite the tense circumstances. From intimidating drunk guys on trains to North Korean camp leaders telling him no, he just kept his cool and kept asking questions. That’s a Journalist!

PC https://static01.nyt.com/images/2010/12/06/arts/SUBVICE/SUBVICE-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale

obsolete tv shows

Besides Spongebob, I grew up on practically extinct shows my fossil of a Dad made me watch instead of like Disney Channel or something.

My favorite one was MacGyver, (NOT the new one with Lucas Till) which is an action series about a guy who can ‘improvise’ his way out of any situation. Instead of combating danger with weapons like you’d expect, he uses his ability to make gadgets to save himself. To this day I still think the premise is really unique and overall it’s a creative show.

Another much more popular show I watched was the A-team. Again, not the newer movies but the 80’s tv series. It’s also an action about a group of ex-military guys who help people in need and try to clear their name from a crime they didn’t even commit. I remember loving one of the members of the group, Murdoc, who was just this really crazy, goofy guy.

Then there are all the detective shows: Columbo, Magnum PI, Monk, Psych -even Perry Mason- you name it, I’ve seen it. My Dad and I are detective show connoisseurs. He tried to get me to watch cop shows, but they were never my thing (Adam-12, CHiPS).

There was a lot of Sci-fi too, I think Star Trek was my first of these old shows (or Rocky and Bullwinkle). I’ve seen both the Kirk and Picard series, but the former is more memorable/nostalgic for me. There was also Time Tunnel, Twilight Zone, My Favorite Martian, The Munsters, etc.

There is more, this is just the tip of my ancient-shows iceberg. There are some really obscure shows I’ve seen. I bet I’m the only person under 50 who knows what the Petticoat Junction even is. Or the Beverly Hillbillies.

Anyway, I’m actually happy my Dad introduced me to these shows from a young age. They really were charming and shaped much of my early childhood.

pc: https://decider.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/macgyver.png?w=646&h=431&crop=1

Writer’s block

I am experiencing major writer’s block. This entire week I open my computer once or twice a day and try to think of something to write about. My mind feels completely and utterly blank. Then I realized that my mind has been blank for the entire week. I know this just makes me seem stupid. Hell, it makes me feel stupid. Sometimes I have the mindset that I can’t write something unless it’s “interesting” but then I go on to wonder what interesting really implies. Is it interesting to just be depressed, angry, or fill your life with gossip? It often starts to seem that way. I won’t pretend to be an angel as if I don’t get involved, I just hate when that starts to be the things I find interesting. The more I let myself get roped into all this shit the more I get sad. It’s all a cycle, you get sad because you get roped in and you get roped in because you have nothing else to think about. Then I realized what even is writer’s block? The idea of free writing is the ability to write whatever is on your mind. So I guess that’s what I’m doing. What I’m trying to say is that, more often than not, the things that happen in my life would not be viewed as interesting. But maybe that makes it easier to write about.

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pc: me

Tik Tok Roundup: Tweak Season

Tweak of the Week. Tweak Playoffs. Free the Commish. A mysterious New Yorker patrols the sidewalks, parks, elevators, and doorways of the city, a vigilante not too dissimilar from Batman. Except instead of protecting the people and stopping criminals, he is heckling normal individuals and acting as “commissioner” of New York City.

Here he is heckling a woman who is trying to spot Mayor Eric Adams (who the commish HATES) from the top of a car.

VC:Tweak Season

He asserts his masterful advice, stating that the woman shouldn’t care that much about the mayor, a belief close to the commish’s heart.

He also inserts his masterful skills in his many passions: here is an example of the Tweak Referee’s architecture masterclass.

VC: Tweak Season

He never fails to update the citizens of NYC of the happenings: relaying celebrity lookalike sightings.

VC: Tweak Season

Shockingly, there are also social justice causes close to the commish’s heart: when he sees an injustice, he doesn’t hold back his feelings about it.

VC: Tweak Season

Overall, The Commish’s lack of care for what others think about him and undying desire to share the stories of the city, and his opinions, make his content must watch. #FREETHECOMMISH

Here are some other great ones for your enjoyment.

Here he just heckles a family gathering.

VC: Tweak Season

Here he just closes someones car door for them without asking.

VC: Tweak Season

This is surely the best one, he recommends a free pile of garbage with good books, dropping the location for citizens to pick up the books.

VC: Tweak Season

Her Made me Feel Empty

On Wednesday, I had to go through the lovely experience of an almost 20-hour travel day to get back from Barcelona to LA. On the long flight from Frankfurt, I did something quite out of character. Instead of just taking Melatonin and crashing for the whole flight, I only crashed for half and decided to watch a movie to pass the rest of the time. The movie I decided to watch was a movie called Her which I had heard was one of the best-made movies in the 2010s.

Going into this movie I was pretty much expecting a two-hour-long Black Mirror episode with some pretty creepy undertones. Although I was only half right, I was not prepared for what I was about to experience. First of all, watching such a movie with the very heightened emotions that come with flying is not the best idea. Second of all, this movie is one of those Black Mirror-Esque experiences that could actually happen in my lifetime. Which is always an extremely off-putting experience. Before I get into how depressed this movie made me I just want to appraise this movie for how well made it is. Not only does it work with color imagery and contrast so well, but every character is so good and so well acted out it’s almost surreal. The way this movie deals with the depression of separating from a partner, the awkwardness of a new relationship, and even a human falling in love with a brand new Artificial Intelligence experience is genius. Every emotion conveyed in this movie is so real, it makes you want to close down your heart and never open yourself up to human emotion ever again.

Photo Credit: BBC

To someone who’s never watched this movie, it’s probably pretty weird to think that a movie about a man falling in love with a computer could provoke any real emotions, but it does. It really does. Honestly, this movie made me feel more empty than Your Lie in April, The Joker, and Dead Poets Society combined. I mean this movie made me feel like a hollow husk of a human being. It’s actually insane to me that the makers of this film even pulled it off. Her is one of those movies that was drastically ahead of its time. For being made in 2013, it could have easily made a similar if not bigger impact if it were released today.

Photo Credit: Rescu