Rivalries and Reality

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In a time of division, is rivalry an escape or a blunt reflection of reality?

FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

A few months ago, I wrote about an annual tradition my alma mater carries on known as Blue and Gold Week. It’s that week prior to the UCLA vs. USC football game, when Bruins show their school pride and rally to face our cross-town rivals in football. Trojans call this week by a different name, of course, but however way you look at it, one thing is sure: it’s one week when both schools do not hold back in painting the town blue and gold and red. And it gets pretty nutty.

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I first started tinydeskwriters with Aiza and Deo, I always thought I’d for sure write a snarky little post (laced with USC burns) about why it’s awesome to be a Bruin when Blue and Gold Week rolled around. (Ideas for possible headlines: Questions for Trojans, or Did You Really Get Fooled By a Giant Toy Horse?; Brilliant Bruin Comebacks; Brown Bears Eat Gullible Humans… the possibilities are endless.) But now that it’s here, I’m finding myself at a slight loss of words. Not because I feel differently about my alma mater – I bleed blue and gold – but because I’m starting to question the merits of rivalries and their outcomes. In this age of politically heavy divisiveness, are rivalries an escape or a blunt reflection of reality?

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TinyDeskWriters’ Guide To Selling Your Clothes in L.A.

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Vintage Stores Galore in the LA Area

FROM THE DESK OF: Aiza

A few weeks ago, I organized and purged my closet using the Mari Kondo method. I divided my clothes that no longer “brought me joy” into two piles: 1) for donation and 2) attempt to sell. I spent so much money on pairs of jeans 10 years ago, I swore that I could somehow today capitalize on the whole vintage/retro/throwback trend. Through my closet cleanse, I notice how I still held on to NYC and Japanese brands from back in the day. Remember Triple 5 Soul? C’mon millennials, these brands were urban before urban became such a thing! Over the years I collected everything from jackets, t-shirts and shoes that I bought at NYC Sample Sales back to current stuff that just didn’t fit right any longer. Surely, one of the LA thrift/vintage store buyers would also appreciate my Hudson Jeans circa 2006.

Continue reading “TinyDeskWriters’ Guide To Selling Your Clothes in L.A.”

Daydreams / A Soundtrack

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FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known myself to be two things: frequently introspective and highly imaginative. Separately, these qualities have the ability to pave the way for progress and innovation; but in my experience, I think the combination of the two proved to be a little too powerful for my wee little mind to handle at times. As a child, my brain was filled with a ton of very theatrical, anxiety-inducing hypothetical scenarios that often kept me paralyzed with irrational fears. If I walk past a mirror in the early morn, will I see more than just my reflection? When I turn off the light, is there someone watching me that I don’t see? Will I be attacked by Jaws if I swim alone in my backyard pool? The possibilities for living nightmares were endless.

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On the flip side, being “in my mind” all the time also led me to daydream about some sort of hidden superhero within me, casually kicking a** and taking names during the snack breaks of my otherwise mediocre life. Why yes, I can be the next U.S. Olympic gymnast, despite only being in gymnastics for two months! Busting out some secret kung fu moves I didn’t even know I had before? Sure, why not! My brain was (and I guess, still is) a weird one.

With all of those crazy ideas running through my mind, I often wonder what soundtrack would play in the background of these awesomely epic scenes. Here are some of those songs, and some potential scenes to go along with them.

(I should note that this “movie” is not one that is thoroughly crafted with all plot holes covered. Let’s be real: I live in L.A. and have seen enough real-life and cinematic drama on the streets here, but I am by no means an “industry person” who can just whip up an epic, cohesive storyline with the snap of a finger.)

OPENING CREDITS: “The Hop” by Radio Citizen

I first heard this song when a friend introduced it to me in high school, and ever since then I’ve always considered this my ultimate opening credits song. The scene in which it would be used starts with abrupt flashes of the Brooklyn Bridge, and when the song truly rings in, the camera would zoom in on an old-school NYC taxi, then switch POV to inside the cab. A girl wearing sunglasses is shown driving the cab, which seems to be stolen from somewhere. She doesn’t seem to care, though; she just wears an expression of 100% certified DGAF as she drives on.

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OPENING SCENE: “River” by Bishop Briggs

I picture this song being used in a scene involving some serious mic-dropping dialogue. This might be a flashback scene, with our sunglasses girl and some unknown male. Sunglasses Girl – let’s call her Evie – is ruggedly beautiful: she has short, shaggy, wavy hair; wears her father’s motorcycle jacket, and stomps about the entire movie in her signature pair of worn-in boots. The unknown male is, well, insignificant… except for the fact that Evie royally schools him with a witty mic-drop comment in response to his condescending remarks about her. After Evie wins the convo, she pounds her rye-and-tonic, turns around, and walks away. Evie: 1 ; Unknown Male: 0. “River” is playing on the jukebox in the background, and intensifies at the chorus as Evie walks away.

FLASHBACK FLASHBACK SCENE: “Renegades” by X Ambassadors

This would be used in a montage scene showing further flashbacks of Evie and the unknown male hitting the town, engaging in some sort of heist-like behavior. Unknown male turns out to be Evie’s former partner-in-crime.

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PRESENT-DAY SCENE: “Money Trees” by Kendrick Lamar

Scene flashes to present-day, where Evie is driving down the 10 in L.A. in her old-school taxi cab, which she’s completely souped up and turned into a convertible. She’s wearing the same sunglasses she was wearing in the beginning sequence. Eventually, she pulls up in front of some historic building in DTLA and walks inside. (I don’t know how she finds free parking in the front, but this is a movie so I guess that doesn’t need to be explained.) She talks to some large shady-looking dude who is actually wearing shades. The dialogue is somewhat cryptic, but apparently information is exchanged between Evie and Shady Shades.

PRESENT-DAY MONTAGE SCENE: “Picasso Baby” by Jay Z

This is another montage of Evie single-handedly executing a series of heists seamlessly, kicking some royal butt and taking a long list of names. This is what she and Shady Shades were cryptically discussing in the previous scene, but for some reason, you don’t get the feeling that this is a bad act. She goes back to Shady Shades’ headquarters with the loot. Their conversation is less cryptic now, and you learn that the heists are all part of some sort of Robin Hood gesture, but haven’t quite figured it out yet.

NIGHT CHASE SCENE: “Hate or Glory” by Gesaffelstein / “Favorite Star” by Quadron

*cue “Hate or Glory”*

It’s dusk, and Evie leaves Shady Shades’ meeting place. As she’s driving, she notices a car following her closely behind.

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Note: Evie is not Ryan Gosling. But she looks into the mirror like he does.

She tries to lose the car, eventually gets out of hers, and runs into a bar near Spring Street.”Favorite Star” is blaring from the speakers as Evie weaves in and out of the crowd. We still don’t see the person chasing her, but the camera angles make it clear to us that someone is still chasing Evie.

*cuts back to “Hate or Glory”*

This turns into some high-speed chase through Downtown L.A., into the Arts District, and eventually ends on the L.A. River, underneath the Sixth Street Bridge. The driver’s identity is shrouded by darkness up until this point. He steps out of the car, and it is revealed that he is Unknown Male from the beginning. His name is Joe.

Evie and Joe discuss some things, iron out some misunderstandings, argue, and somehow it ends with Joe now ending the conversation with a mic-dropping comeback to her snarky dialogue. Joe drives away, and Evie is left there on the concretized L.A. River, stunned. Evie: 1 ; Joe: 1.

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INTROSPECTIVE MONTAGE SCENE: “It Is What It Is” by Blood Orange

Apparently I really like montage scenes. This song would be used in yet another one, in which Evie drives on until the sun rises and reflects on her relationship with Joe, her role in her Robin Hood heists, her purpose in life, all of the dramatic baloney. She has some sort of personal revelation, and boom! this is where things turn in the movie.

… Aaaaand here is a whole chunk of the movie that I haven’t figured out, nor is there a soundtrack for this unknown part. Sorry. But eventually, all lead to…

END CREDITS: “Dark Necessities” by Red Hot Chilli Peppers

This is the song that ends up playing as the credits roll. And it makes perfect sense. (Not right now, but in the hypothetical movie it would.)

MOTIF: “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin

I see this song being worked in as a motif in the movie. Initially, it would be playing in Evie’s cab when “The Hop” fades out. And then different parts of it would be snuck into a scene here and there with different renditions, and eventually, the finale would be worked into the climax of this movie (whatever that might be), which I envision as one that is jam-packed with action. The song would be a symbol of Evie’s personality: refined yet street-smart, classy yet ready to get her hands dirty when necessary, explosive yet introverted, unpredictable yet guided by her own moral compass.

… Now that I look at this, this would make for a pretty corny movie with several plot holes. Good thing I don’t make movies for a living. In any case, here’s the playlist, if you want to hear what this cheesy piece of work would sound like.



 

The R-Monster

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You can hide from it all you want, but sooner or later, the R-Monster will catch up to you. Taken at Guillermo del Toro’s “At Home With Monsters” at the LACMA.

FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

This past weekend, I had a chance to check out Guillermo del Toro’s “At Home with Monsters” exhibit at the LACMA. There were giant Frankenstein heads hanging on the wall, statues of fantastical fawn creatures greeting me at the entrance, old (looking) paintings of creepy old ladies staring at me from every angle, oddities left and right… overall, things were downright creepy in there. But amidst all of the weirdness, I couldn’t help but realize that what scared me the most about the entire thing was the fact that the scariest monster of them all wasn’t even in that room. No sirree, this monster isn’t visible to the naked eye; it’s one sort of creeps up on you over the years, and no matter how much you’re able to evade it when you’re younger, it eventually catches up to you until you find yourself staring at it point-blank in the face.

That monster is a little something I like to call Responsibility.

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Music Festivals from a Pragmatist’s Perspective

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How to do music festivals the chill way.

FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

Ah, music festivals… places where foolish boys and girls dress foolishly to do foolish things and listen to, well, (mostly) foolish music.

In true grandma fashion, that ^^^ is the attitude I have had about music festivals for pretty much my entire life. For various reasons, I never really got into that whole scene during high school and college. The vice-laced culture of the environment pretty much scared the crap out of me as a high school kid, and I was too much of a cheapskate in college (read: #couldntaffordit) to blow tons of cash on two weekends of standing in crowds in loud places listening to less-than-par live performances by crazy-looking musicians.

But as I got older and built tougher skin (and my own source of expendable income), I decided I would go to at least one, just to see what the fuss was about. And you know what? With the right attitude and right group, the experience wasn’t so bad. Sure, there are a bunch of fools roaming around doing stupid things, but hey – if you sit back to people-watch, be present, and learn to appreciate live music, the whole thing can actually be really fun. It’s just a matter of being strategic and flexible going into the experience.

Here are some tips I’ve found to be useful when doing music festivals the chill, good-clean-fun way.

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My Version of the LA Food and Wine Festival

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My Version of LA Food and Wine Festival Starts at RiceBar

FROM THE DESK OF:  Aiza

Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival took place over the weekend right down the street from my apartment. I really did want to buy a ticket (especially because De La Soul was scheduled to perform on Saturday night). However, I just could not get over the ticket price. For the whole week, I went back and forth debating whether I could justify spending anywhere between $115-$175 for one (only 1) night of unlimited wine and food tastings from up and coming to well-known chefs. While I wanted to go, ultimately the practical me figured that for $150 I could create my own fake a$$ version of an LA Food and Wine Festival visiting different restaurants throughout the city for the entire weekend.

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LBC Style: Flea Market Finds

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Flea Market Sundays. Where else can you see all this mess and get excited?

FROM THE DESK OF: Aiza

I deeply appreciate vintage collectibles and antiques. Flea markets offer a centralized spot to discover treasures dear to my heart. Honestly, I dream to one day take my purchase to Antique Roadshow and end up as the shining star with the most valuable item featured at the end of the episode. I am always hunting for flea markets/antique locations from Monterey to Brooklyn to London. Locally, everyone knows the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market but I just recently discovered the greatness of the smaller Long Beach Antique Market.

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