Citizenfour

My review of Citizenfour, the most important documentary you’ll see this year. Read it on Complex.

The last issue of the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Another champion goes down.

The State of the American Dog

I recommend everyone, especially pet lovers, pick up this month’s issue of Esquire and check out Tom Junod’s piece, “The State of the American Dog.”

What Remains After the Curtains Have Closed

Or, the Beginning and End of My Dancing Career in About 13 Minutes

I’d woken up earlier than expected. Well, I thought that was the case. I could only sense that I had woken up early because I couldn’t actually see anything: my eyes weren’t opening, something was clenching them together. I slowly rose out of bed, stuck my arms out like a mummy that had risen from the dead, and felt for my bedroom door. I made it to the bathroom, managed to turn on the faucet, and splashed cold water onto my eyes—a pair of eyes, mind you, that had worked very well for 16 years until that moment. I slowly opened them and peered into the bathroom mirror: my eyelids were fused together with mucus, and dozens of inflamed blood vessels turned the whites of my eyes into a sickly, painful red. What. The. Hell.

It was May 2004 and I had just joined a dance team thanks to the urging of my friend Arshad Aslam. The group was set to perform at Torrance High’s talent show just a few days after I came on, so adding someone who hadn’t even been to a school formal was bordering on disaster. Our competition that Friday night was an all girl hip-hop dance group named DyNasty, and a two person crew who had won first place the year before. It was Friday morning.

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This was the first time I had it, so I didn’t know what I had was “pink eye” until I got to school and was laughed at by my fourth period Geometry teacher, Mrs. Castro. After I was stopped every other second by students asking if I was high, she sent me home early (this was the only day I would have chosen to stay in school instead of leaving, so I could get some final practice in with the team during lunch. I even tried to sneak back on to campus for it.) But after taking an unsafe amount of Advil, flooding my eyeballs with Clear Eyes, and self-medicating with antibiotics my friends and I found around the house, I was good to go as the show inched closer.

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The dance routine my two friends and I choreographed only lasted about nine seconds, but it took us an entire day stuck in a small bedroom to come up with it. It starts at about the 2:30 mark in the video. If you can’t tell, I’m the guy in the white jacket, black shirt, white shoes, one red glove (a Michael Jackson tribute), and rolled up black sweats who thought he was doing a hip Run DMC impression. We won first place—probably because the only part I actually danced in was limited to a few seconds, but we were probably better off for it. No matter how small it was, the experience was addicting—the cheers of the crowd, the applause, the rush of being on stage and muscle memory taking over. Though, when I high-fived a classmate afterward, the following Monday his eye was really, really pink.

We came back the following year, I had a bigger part (still dressed like a schmuck but I was pink eye free), and we won again. This time, I wore a XXL shirt that I decorated with camouflage paint, along with a sideways black Dodgers hat. At the end of the video you can catch my mom say, “I didn’t know my boy could move like that!” Sadly, she didn’t know because I didn’t invite my family the year before because I felt my part was too short to get hyped about, but in hindsight, I’m sure they would have enjoyed it all the same. With it being my senior year, I wanted to surprise them.

One of the girls in the group ended up being my prom date, and I’m still good friends with many of them. Crazy to think that just two years earlier I was a rocker guy at Torrance High whose main fashion statement was drawing flames on his forearms. This was a turning point in my life: it opened me up to different music and new forms of expression. The human body can do amazing things when you dedicate yourself to practice. That goes for the mind, as well. Most importantly, though, it got me closer to great people who are still in my life a decade later; some who went on to become lawyers, actors, musicians, veterans, and artists, who were all dancers on a single stage a long time ago.

A great experience, even if I became a tad bit too confident in my newfound abilities afterward:

Goodbye, New York City

I played this song almost every day while working on my application to Columbia Journalism School. It’s surreal that I’m sitting in JFK right now, more than two years later, leaving the city I once knew nothing about. It was quite an adventure getting to know her. So, here’s one more play for old time’s sake.

Adios, New York. Until we meet again. Off to LA.

New York to Los Angeles

I have a ticket to LA on June 21, but this time it’s a one-way trip.

Complex is opening offices in Hollywood, so I’m taking the chance to head home and spend much needed time with people I’ve only seen on and off since I left for the Bay Area in 2009. It’s been a good two years in New York City. I’m excited to take all that I’ve learned here back to the old stomping grounds and piece together some great stories. Maybe I’ll have a few stories of my own.

See you soon.

If You’re Going to Try, Go All the Way

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

― Charles Bukowski, Factotum

“A House on the River”

“A House on the River,” a great read in this month’s Esquire about how a man rebuilt his life after his family was murdered.

Visiting the Met

Press preview of Velazquez’s portrait of the “Duke of Modena” at the Met.

An Eloquent “Otto the Bus Driver”

’…his sentences are peppered with “dudes,” “likes,” and “mans” – music to the ears of anyone who grew up as part of The Simpsons generation. (An eloquent “Otto the Bus Driver,” if you will.)’

A perfect description of me that my friend Jack Williams wrote for our Magazine Writing profile assignment.

Should This Have Been Published?

Cover of the New York Post. This man was pushed onto the tracks yesterday after arguing with another man. He was declared dead at the hospital.

Is this a compelling cover, or irresponsible?

“La Bestia”

In Stabile watching “La Bestia,” a film about migrants making their way to the US on the tops of trains.

Inside and Outside

One for the thing beating inside your chest.

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