Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Lookout: Wall Street, Asheville NC

Here I am in the streets of Asheville. It's freezing outside, but I decided to layer up with a few warm tones to even things out a bit. Let's start off with details of my outfit from head to toe. 

My hair, lol. If you don't know me you don't know that I'm growing my hair out. It used to be shaved on all sides with a bush of curls on top. I've had lots of people ask me who does my hair and where I get my hair from. I get my hair from a beauty supply store called Venus. They don't have a website, but they're located at Suite D, 891 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28806. The person that does my hair is a friend of mine, so if you want to get in contact with her you have to get in contact with me. She is great and charges affordable prices. 


I wish I could have gotten a better picture of my shirt for you guys. Don't worry, I'll wear it again when it gets warmer and you'll have a complete 360 view! It's from Zara by the way. Over the holiday season, I was shopping for an outfit for the New Year celebration and stumbled across this jacket at Forever21. I've been wanting to grab one of these bomber jackets for the longest time. I've always been a fan of them. My sister is 12 years older than me and used to be a tomboy. When I was a lot younger and she was my age, she sported an oversized classic of one of these. The all black with the orange on the inside. I am so glad this jacket has made it's way back to the timeline. The bomber is always my first pick when out and about.

In the brown paper bag is our first giveaway. Keep reading to see where it's from!

My pants are from H&M. Am I the only person that wonders what those letters stand for? If you know, please let me in on the lowdown. Ion like being left out. I really enjoy wearing these pants. They are slightly darker than the normal olive tent, but I absolutely love this color. These pants are high wasted, have a nice comfortable feel and hug your curves in all the right ways. 

I was shopping in Old Navy before their Black Friday sale when I found these double wrap infinity scarves. I picked up a grey one and a burgundy one. They were a little pricey for me, but a discount was included so it ended up being good enough for me. I proceeded to check out and headed to Target. I headed for the lane where they have really cute cheap, but handy gadgets and crafts. And boom! I spotted this super cute infinity scarf! It was grey and 5 bucks! I think you guys can figure out what I did from there.

Underneath that scarf I wore my classic choker with my hamsa hand choker purchased at Gypsy Creations.

My bracelet came in a pack of two and was a gift from my mother. They go with almost anything I wear. These yellow socks were added for contrast to my outfit. Two pairs for $5 from Old Navy. Originally, they're $5.95 per pair. And lastly, these are currently my favorite shoes. A nice pair of suede Reebok Classics. I ordered these online from Urban Outfitters.

Hearing the words Wall Street, I think of the stock markets in New York City. Literally, that is all that would come to mind until I set foot on Wall Street in Asheville, North Carolina.

If you've never been there, it's located across the street directly facing Urban Outfitters in the center of the city. Wall Street is magical. There are lots of local businesses that thrive from the support from of its people and thousands of tourists who travel through.

There's a yoga studio, a few restaurants with tasty dishes that will make your tongue twirl, along with a couple of clothing boutiques, maybe an antique shop and a few more other places. Out of all of these places there was one place that stood out and that place is called Appalachian Naturals.

Appalachian Naturals is a store owned by a deeply rooted Appalachian Family. They focus to produce pure, high quality, 100% Natural Soap and Skin Care products using traditional mountain techniques that have been passed down through their family generations. Their products DO NOT contain any chemicals, preservatives, petroleums, paragons, phthalates, sodium laurel/th sulfates, fragrances or artificial colors. Their products are composed of all natural and a large variety of essential oils, herbs, spices and botanicals.

When you walk into the store, it's such a warm atmosphere. The owner is a really nice gentleman and an awesome person to talk to! It's definitely a place to invade.

Photos by Makeda Sandford

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Snoozeday: Link Roundup

In honor of the Tuesday blues, we curate a weekly selection of the most interesting things on the web. Brew some coffee, curl up with your laptop, and get clicking!

WATCH: Grimes released the music video for "Kill v Maim" off her phenomenal new LP Art Angels, and it is bizarre, fantastic, and better than I could have hoped for.

TELEVISION: A profile of Gillian Anderson's work as Special Agent Dana Scully just in time for The X-Files series revival, including her struggle to rectify the pay disparity between herself and David Duchovny on the Daily Beast. Click here to read.

DESSERT: In honor of the Snowpocalypse of 2016, here is the best recipe for snow cream that exists.

STYLE: Men's wardrobe essentials, courtesy of SoM. This capsule wardrobe leans towards the preppier side, so I found an alternative basic wardrobe that leans more streetwear and minimal. For you, or to give some helpful hints to the man in your life!
ART: Educate yourself on the provocative images by German-Australian fashion photographer Helmut Newton, who liked to photograph "elegant, powerful, and sensual women." This is a good primer on his background and work.

POLITICS: It looks like Bernie Sanders is turning up the heat on Hillary after all. Listen to the full story on NPR while indulging in "Bernie's Yearning," the new Ben and Jerry's Bernie-themed ice cream.

MUSIC: Apparently this is happening in 2016, but I'm not holding my breath. I've just been let down too many times.

STYLE: My current lust, filed under my Pinterest category of "things that are pretty and also vaguely threatening."

THE WORLD IS SCARY: Lorin LaFave's son was groomed and murdered by an online predator via a gaming site. A tense but important read. The BBC released a special docu-drama on the horrifying story today. 

THE WORLD IS SCARY, PART 2: If you live in Asheville, you're bound to have heard of the Waking Life scandal in which the owners of a local coffee hangout were exposed as pickup artists. If you aren't from Asheville and this sounds familiar, it's because the story went international. New York Magazine's cover story this week is on one of the owners.

ART: A little obsessed with this neon sign campaign by David Drake that is also promotional material for The 1975's new album.

PHOTOGRAPHY: That's What She Said.

HISTORY: Never hurts to learn more about the ancient world. Did you know about the Toltec Civilization? I didn't.

ESSAY: An interesting piece on Stereogum about the relationship between Top 40 music and indie pop that sounds essentially the same but is perceived differently.

What have you been obsessed with this week? Let us know in the comments!


What to Wear this S/S 2016

Okay, so I definitely have a twist to my style and I love it because it's what makes me! But I do have to admit that my style is not completely original. No one today is original. Okay, that's a lie. The Weeknd is original. The Canadian _____ (insert genre of music) star literally created his own genre of music! I'm still waiting for the release of its name. He's got to hurry up with that one. But that's music and I'm talking fashion here, so yeah, no one today is original. My style is constantly influenced by what has been, what is and what will be. We all know fashion has that cycle of repeating itself, whether it's span is long or short, it still makes it to the chart.

Let's talk about all the sweet trends that will be reappearing this year.

According to ELLE Magazine, these are all the trends they spotted on the runway for the upcoming seasons. Well some of them. These are my favorites from their favorites.

1. Paperbag Waist
I'm sure you get it. Squeeze a paper bag and it ends up looking like the waist bands of these garments. These were two of my favorites. On the left is by designer, Phillip Lim and on the right is by designer, Tibi.

2. Spanish Influences 
I really like this one because it reminds me one of my utmost favorite designer, Dolce & Gabbana. Why my fav? It's the authenticity that comes from it. It's real and they always bring so much detail into each custom piece. Proenza Schouler is the designer on the left, Diane von Furstenberg is center, and Michael Kors is on the right.   

3. Suede
Once again suede has made it to the list! This one caught my eye because it's the prettiest pastel ever created! And the fringes. Let's not forget the fringes, another thing trending this S/S16. This whole outfit has a complete 70's vibe, the decade I should've lived in my adolescence. Rebecca Minkoff won me over with this one.  

4. The X-Factor
Well duh they call this one the X-Factor, what else would you call it? The Criss-Cross??? No. That's so not intimidating. I love these daring looks. They take me back to the Greek/Roman Empire women. But of course these have a complete different twist. Lol, get it? Designer on the left is Givenchy, another one of my favorites, ADEAM is the designer for the piece in the middle, and Derek Lam is the designer on the right. 

5. The Flat Mule
Alright now, what do these remind you of? I hope you said Chinese slippers. And not the actual ones, but these actual ones:
Re-occuring trends with completely different designs. Man, I love fashion. 
Designers/Brands left to right: Trademark, Alexander Wang, Victoria Beckham, Edun

6. The Color of the Season
Yes, y'all! It's orange. And that's all I got to say.  
Designers left to right: Dion Lee, Adam Selman, Baja East, Veronica Beard, Altuzzara. 

But to continue, ELLEs team named quite a few things that were specific trends. I'm going to point out a few things that were a little bit more obvious to me. 

1. Loose clothes, literally nothing was skin tight
2. Flowing garments
3. Rectangular silhouettes 
4. Bright colors
5. Bold prints
6. Detail, lots of detail
7. High neck lines

If you ask me, it seems our clothes are becoming more modest and less provocative. That makes me happy. Bye bad biddies!

Jk, I can't be eliminated.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cool People: Jam Session with Lucianna Ania


Lucianna Ania is a lovechild between Luci Davis, singer/rapper extraordinaire, and three talented guy friends of hers: Sebastian, Guthrie and Jack. The band is new, but already has a strikingly unique sound. Incorporating electronic tones with smooth base and sharp drums, Luci leads the sound with harsh yet beautiful notes gliding on top of the harmonies. Picture a garage rock collaboration with Odd Future, or a Janis Joplin post-rock lovechild. You'll get Lucianna Ania. I had the pleasure of listening to their practice and run of their current set, an eclectic mix of all the styles that inspired Lucianna Ania. One minute she'll be rapping about club drugs, and the next minute they'll have a full blown break-down. Here are some visuals, edited in inspiration of their music from my night with these very, very cool people. Listen to their recordings on Soundcloud.



Sunday, January 24, 2016

10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Freshman Year At A Liberal Arts College

Actual photo I took during the first of week of my freshman year
Sometimes, I still can't believe I graduated college. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in the backseat of my parents' Honda van, surrounded by plastic drawer units and trash bags full of clothes that I hoped would convince my soon-to-be college peers that I was worth befriending. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in my first literature class, wide-eyed and excited for the new worlds I was about to discover. And it seems like just yesterday I was lying on a Mexican blanket in the university's botanical gardens with my friends only to suddenly realize, in horror, that a few feet away, a girl I knew was in the process of stripping down to her underwear in full view of students and families alike.

My roommate must have seen the expression of panicked confusion on my face. "Oh, don't worry about Rachel," she said. "It must be the acid. She's never taken twelve hits at once before, but she'll be fine!"

Meanwhile, Rachel had started what can only be described as "frolicking intently" through the gardens, simultaneously yelling, "The police are coming! They're going to make me famous!"

Welcome to the liberal arts experience. 

It's just not like other colleges. If other universities are marked by football rivalries and fraternity parties, liberal arts universities are marked by face paint, Marxism, and a quiet yet pervasive understanding that shoes are a social construct. My school was more akin to some weird, sexually liberated summer camp than anything else, especially during the first year.

I know it might seem unfathomable right now, but the time in which frolicking naked in a public space will be seen as remotely normal is extremely limited. But now, since I am a wise, graduated adult who can finally understand complex concepts like "student loan repayment plans" and "drinking excessively instead of applying to another unpaid internship," I am here now as your sage, to offer you the advice that I wish I had that day in the Honda van.

1. "What is your spirit animal?" is not a valid conversation starter past freshman year.

I know, it seems like a really great opener instead of asking what someone's major is. And I will concede, I made a lot of friends freshman year by saying things like, "Some days, I feel like I'm a squirrel, but at heart, I'm like, definitely a fox," and "human beings were never meant to wear shoes." These phrases are guaranteed to win you hippie cool points with your new friends, and maybe even free weed if you're lucky. However, it is equally guaranteed that if you ever go to a job interview with these babies in your pocket, you will not get the job. Unless the job is a head shop. And even then, you still might not get the job.

2. Stick and poke tattoos: proceed with caution.

These were all the rage for a brief period of time. It seemed like everyone  had a bottle of India ink, safety pins, and a butt tattoo. Because peer pressure is real, I decided I NEEDED a stick and poke and that it would be super edgy to do an upside down cross on my middle finger because Tyler the Creator has one. I only realized this was a dumb idea after I had already started, at which point I decided to just "freehand" a tree branch instead. The tree branch didn't work out, so I decided to turn it into an anchor, which (surprise) also did not work out, and that's why I have a weird light blue marking on my middle finger that looks like the letter R. It took me years to come to terms with this stupidity.

3. If you're really friends, you should be able to have fun in situations that do not involve alcohol.

This one isn't really exclusive to a liberal arts school, but it's important nonetheless. A little partying is absolutely a rite of passage, but at the end of the day, it's all the in-between moments that build lasting friendships. A real friend is someone who will not only take shots with you, but also learn the bus system with you, be your partner in crime, and lay in bed giggling and listening to Ella Fitzgerald on Friday night instead of going out.

4. Similarly, there is more to romantic compatibility than drinking in the same places on the weekend and having the same taste in music.

This is a tricky one. Because while you should want to spend quality time with a significant other, enjoy the tunes they have on their iPod, and also appreciate the types of clothes they choose to drape over their body, these things do not a good relationship make. Pants that make their butt look good can only take a relationship so far. Try evaluating other aspects of the relationship including but not limited to: "Am I embarrassed to be seen with you in public?," "Do you make me feel safe and present?,"  or "Do I actually hate you but haven't realized it yet because you're cute?" 

5. Don't sell drugs just because you "know a guy."

This happened to one of my roommates. Apparently she sold ecstasy for a month or so because she had a connection and thought it would be a good way to make extra money. It turned out that the ecstasy was terrible quality and she got no repeat customers. Also this comes with the possibility that you might get arrested in a dorm room drug raid. So don't do that. 

6. White people: do not dreadlock your hair.

In case you haven't been on the Internet in the last five years, click here for a refresher course on cultural appropriation.

7. College classes and therapy appointments are two different things.

If I had a dollar for every time someone overshared details from their life in class, I would be able to buy a lifetime supply of Trader Joe's wine. And not to be overly negative or whatever, but no one's paying $4,000+ per semester to listen to you dissect the psychological underpinnings of why you had a bad relationship with your parents in elementary school, or how you and your best friend Becky went to the national spelling bee contest and had to ride the D.C. metro alone and saw a homeless person and it was a totally traumatizing experience. Please. Tell this to your friends. Tell this to your roommates. Tell this to literally anyone in any setting besides class. 

8. Snorting melatonin will not make you fall asleep faster.

Not like I know this from personal experience or anything! 

9. Getting involved is the coolest thing you can do.

Don't fall for the popular cultural lie that apathy is cool! You know what's actually cool? Investing time and energy into your passions, and having something to show for it. Being interested in student government might not necessarily be glamorous freshman year, but by senior year, being in a position to increase the amount of locally grown, organic food in the school cafeteria will be. Spending all your time in your room painting might be seen as weird freshman year, but snagging a post-grad art residency after college is anything but weird. College is a unique time for fostering your interests with relatively few other responsibilities. Take advantage of that.

10. There is something very ironic about using your Macbook to post Facebook statuses about how much you "h8 #capitalism."

But you won't realize that until later.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Stress Relief Tips for the Psuedo-Spiritual

You know that awkward moment when someone asks you if you’re religious or spiritual, and you’re like ‘well… I went to a yoga class with my friend once, and I’m not too fond of organized religion, so I’ll go with spiritual!’ Let’s face it, boo. You forget to meditate, even though you tell yourself to and you don’t know the first thing about chakras. I’m here to tell you that’s okay. I live in a very spiritual little town, where it’s just as easy to find a tarot card reader than it is a Starbucks. I love to marvel at the beauty of spiritual practices, but I can’t seem to commit when it comes down to it. I dismiss my stress most days and meaninglessly tap-dance around the inter webs, and the closest thing in my daily routine to spiritually tackling my stress levels is binge drinking tea and rubbing my temples occasionally. So I’ve scoured the web and talked to friends to help folks like you and I, the ‘I think spirituality is attractive but I don’t care to make the first move’ inclined, to deal with stress under means that suit us a little more snug. Let me know if these work for you, and I’ll do the same. Here we go:


Style Profile: Tyler, the Creator

“Can we add some more color? Um, like, some more, yellow? Yeah, that's good.”

I thought it was time for me to stop being the outcast and actually write on fashion. One of the actual topics for this beautiful blog that's letting me be me here.

You may not realize it, but Tyler, the Creator is a fashion icon, aside from having one of the best ears for music in the industry. He and his crew are responsible for a lot of the hypebeast sell outs of brand like Supreme, Thrasher and Bape. He the nigga that isn't afraid of colors. Colors that in the past have been looked at as “gay” or soft. Bright colors, you know nigga, them yellows and pastels. They don't exist in the rap world. Kanye and Cam’ron got that pink to pop but that was about it.

Stripes, checkerboard, polka dots. All the shit I would have never worn but somehow Tyler got to look good. The best things about these fire jawns he puts on is it's just stupid shit that comes up in his head. It's what he wants to wear. Evolving from cat prints in 2013 that sold like heat rock. Golf Wang was just rapper merch at that point, but like his music, his clothing evolved. He has never been a regular nigga, which has been a major part of his appeal to the youth.

Taking classic looks and branding it with his own crude drawings or logos. Parodic yet respectable.

Recently, over the last two years it seems as if the merch has transformed into a label with more mature, wearable fashion. Shortening itself as just GOLF for branding and it looks good on t-shirts.

I really think Golf Wang has the potential and exclusivity to be as influential as Supreme, one of Tyler's favorite brands. He even has his arms reached out to touch into collabs with Vans for shoes. Very impressive, rappers are really the new athletes but that's content for another week.
Now to his personal style. Usually wearing his own brand, one way he keeps himself separated from wearing the exact same thing as you simpletons is his jewelry. You gotta wear something you know these broke boys can't afford. As everyone growing up in the 2000's era, he was exposed to bling. Every rapper had on two, three gold chains in every video. In the last decade it has lost its creativity. Besides T-Pain's 'Big Ass Chain' and Ross' bust chain its all been just gold. No yellow diamonds, no color, and that's what Tyler has made a name on.

His ring that he wears on his hand is a bold statement in itself. Yellow gold and an aqua diamond actually inspired me to get one similar. All black because that's my shit, but the same design. Tyler's individuality has set himself apart from a lot of people in his lane.
Tyler has taken regular shit and turned it into fire ass cult jawns. I gotta applaud the guy. I am a fan of his boldness. Go buy some shit, stop being basic.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hustle & Bustle in the Streets of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the global city of Asia. The dense population describes it as the epitome of the city that never sleeps. From the street markets, malls, business areas, and the subway line know as the MTR, I always find myself squeezing my way through the crowd. I've spent a lot of time exploring the streets of Mong Kok so far. There's great food to try all over and amazing shopping deals to snag while trying not to get too lost in the exploration.  I've been documenting my travels as I go and always keep a smile at the friendly locals who constantly stare in curiosity. Although I have barley scraped the surface in my adventures, I'm excited to see where my travels throughout Hong Kong will take me.


What to Listen to in 2016

2015 was an undeniably great year for music; Grimes, Drake, Sufjan, Miguel, and Carly Rae Jepsen are just a few of the names that come to mind off the top of my head that released albums that were absolutely fire. Fortunately for us, 2016 is shaping up to be just as exciting. Click through the post to find all the albums we can't wait to get our hands on.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Neighborhood Guide: Lower East Side (Ludlow - Centric) Part 1: Eats

As Vice writes in its guide to the neighborhoods of New York, “[Ludlow] used to be good and isn't really any more. But, stay the hell off of it and you can make LES work. Ludlow is now the sole purview of M.U.S.C.L.E.S.and human crepes”. I beg to differ.

While Ludlow may be the nucleus of the hard-partying, heavy-drinking, thai-mexican-southern-california fusion-eating crowd in the Lower East Side, it’s also home to some great restaurants and shops, and acts as a stepping stone to the rest of the wonderland that is the LES.

I live in a building that sits on the intersection of Ludlow and Delancey, the main street that continues over the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn. From here, I’m within striking distance of Chinatown (it starts a mere four blocks away around Canal Street), the East Village (cross over East Houston and you’re in their territory), the West Village, and the amoeba that is Little Italy, Nolita, and shortly thereafter Soho. If you’re looking to get your kicks in any fashion, Ludlow and its surrounding playground of food, booze, art, and fashion, will rock your world.



I’m a falafel fiend and if you aren’t, you need to reevaluate. If you’re in the LES and craving some crunchy, chickpea goodness, you’ve got a few options. The closest to Ludlow is The Falafel Shop, located just past the intersection of Essex and Rivington. This spot is not my favorite, but it serves up decent falafel and is open somewhat late (1am), catering to the bar crowd. I’ve only ever gotten the falafel salad, which is a slurry of greens, cucumbers, tomatoes and a little too much tahini dressing, topped with five falafel balls. It comes with hot pita, which is good for sopping up the overly-generous dose of dressing. The service can be somewhat spotty, but it’s super convenient and reasonably priced. The have the usual host of middle-eastern sandwich/platter options. If you’re up for a 10-15 minute walk, walk (if not run) over to spring street where Taim serves up some of the best falafel I’ve ever had. Run by the same owners as Balaboosta, the uber hip (and uber delicious) Mediteranean restaurant right around the corner. Taim is strictly vegetarian and markets itself as a “falafel and smoothie bar” and it delivers on both counts. It’s falafel, which come in three flavors: green (classic, cilantro), harissa (spicy), and red (bell peppers) are a revelation. Always super crispy with a fluffy flavorful center (and generously sized), they come served in a pita with hummus, israeli salad, pickled cabbage and tahini sauce, and it’s a serious sandwich. Their sabich is also amazing, and I’m working my way through the rest of their menu. My go-to is a green falafel sandwich on whole wheat pita with a strawberry-raspberry-thai basil smoothie (ah-may-zing), Take the walk. Do it.


At the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington, you’ll come across Mikey’s Burgers. If you’re in the mood for a good burger and some always fresh fries, step right up. The small space can be a little confusing when you first walk in - do you sit at the counter? do you stand awkwardly and wait for someone to notice you? - but walk to the end of the counter and someone (hopefully) will be at the register to take your order. I’ve never been inside when it’s crazy busy, but since it’s open until 4am on the weekends, I bet it gets jammed when the booze starts flowing around town. They have a pretty standard menu of burgers, fries, and hot dogs, but their signature burger has corned beef (!) and they have some interesting options like a lamb burger and an avocado shake. Their burgers can tend towards the smaller side, but they’re tasty and the sweet potato fries and always super fresh (and you get three dipping sauces for free with your order). A couple blocks over on East Houston is Lucky’s Famous Burgers which also has killer fries, and a killer meal deal. Their burgers are slightly bigger, but it’s definitely more of a fastfood vibe than Mikey’s which feels more like a neighborhood joint. But, for only 11 dollars, you get one of their tasty sandwiches (burger, chicken sandwich, hot dogs, veggie burger), fries, and a 24oz fountain drink. Also open late night (5am) on the weekends, be assured you can get your burger fix any time of day.


At the intersection of Ludlow and Broome you will find my favorite bodega/deli: Optimum Gourmet Deli. Ridiculous name? Yes. Delicious, pretty cheap food? Yes. The people who work here are good guys, the service is super quick, and they also have the usual host of drinks, snacks, ice cream, and toilet paper. Their menu is extensive (they always are) but I am a creature of habit and usually go for the lamb gyro or one of their huge create-your-own salads. You know a spot is good when you can’t even get in the door at breakfast, the line of students, people on their way to work, and hungover folks is so long. Ignore the tacky name and grungy exterior, this place is a gem.

Right across the intersection from my building is Green Star Foods, a sort of miniature Trader Joe’s combined with a run of the mill deli counter. One of my go-to spots for middle of the night groceries and on the go bagels, Green Star Foods is open 24/7 and the counter is usually pretty deserted. A little more pricey, and a little more health-oriented than Optimum, this spot is not my favorite but it serves its purpose.


Again, Green Star Foods is a good option for (slightly nicer) stapes, and has some fresh fruits and veggies on offer. There’s a Whole Foods on East Houston that does a huge business (obviously) and if that’s your scene, it’s super convenient to Ludlow. But, it can easily be a wallet-buster and it gets extremely hectic most afternoons and weekend days. By far, my favorite grocery store/market is Essex Street Retail Market located one block over from Ludlow at the intersection of Essex and Delancey. An indoor open market of sorts, ESRM boasts a large main floor filled with fresh produce and an unlimited selection of dry goods, two seafood counters, and a butchery counter, along with a host of small specialty purveyors as well as two (tiny) restaurants. It’s cheap, the selection is enormous, and it’s a fun place to shop. Chances are you can find almost everything you were looking for at whole foods, and you can grab a bite and browse some specialty cheese and tasty sweet treats at the same time - all for much less. Long story short: go to Whole Foods if you want to, Green Star if it’s 3am, and ESRM from 8am - 7pm for whatever your heart and wallet desires.
Photo by Makeda Sandford

Life in Word Series 2/3: Love


noun: love; plural: loves
  1. an intense feeling of deep affection.
    “babies fill parents with intense feelings of love”

Out of three definitions with seven sub definitions when used as a noun and one definition with one sub definition when used as a verb, this is Googles number one pick for the definition of love.

Us as humans use the word “love” when it comes to our feelings towards multiple things. This word seems to be the only word that justifies the greatest capacity of feeling that takes ahold of us when something or someone holds substantial control. We all know what love can do... At least some of us to a certain extent, but yeah...we all know due to the fact that we've either experienced it personally or we have experienced it second hand.

I have recently learned of an incident that happened a few months ago where someone close to me was involved. And by close I mean a family member. Anyone that holds any trace of the same blood is, in my opinion, physically close but not exactly relatively. Although it's been on the news and all over the internet, I won't share any details. But this is just another episode of the craziest things that love can make you do. To this point is where you have to stop, focus and justify for yourself whether or not this love is real, worth the risk and if you're better off without. I'd say, if at this point you are not able to justify, that at this point you are being taken advantage of.

If a love fails, then it isn't real

That, my friend, is a fact.

So yeah, not only is this Googles number one pick for the definition of love, but it is also my favorite. Why? Well, it's the only definition that explains love in its truest form. But not because of the actual definition, it's because of the sentence that has been given as an example.

Examples are always the most accurate ways to help others understand what something really means.

Of course, I didn't experience love through Googles definition. I experienced love through my almost twenty-three years of life! It all started when I was conceived. I can't remember what it was like to be in my mothers womb, but I know for sure since that moment, that she nurtured me with the most natural parts of her body. Our love is more intimate than the love that she and my father share.

Some where along the way I forgot about that. It's a cycle a we all go through. Ya know, puberty. Sometimes, we find our way back and sometimes we don't. Although I had forgotten about the ways my mother had nurtured me, she never did. No matter how out of control I got, she always found a way to keep me in line. She remained strong and her faith is an undying faith. That has always been my mothers way of showing me that she loves me... She nagged me.

I never wanted to hear it. I never tried to understand. She wanted me to stay close, so I purposely decided to go to college away from home. I was finally all on my own ready to adult...haha. I experienced life for what it really is and people for who they really are.

In situations where love seemed apparent, time after time I had to stop and focus to analyze whether the pain I was feeling was worth my time or if it was for the birds. For years I was confused about love. It was always the phase of infacuation. I could never get past infacuation because I never understood what love really is.

Just as Rihanna, aka Bae, says in one of her hit singles, We Found Love, it was true. I found love in the most hopeless place. I found it in myself. And it turns out all I had to do was focus in order to find it. Who would've known it was so damn easy!

It was the song by Avicii, Wake Me Up, that literally woke me up! I was in my bathroom in an apartment that I had in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had my makeup done, all my jewlery and swore I was looking too cute about to head to class. All I know is that I was high as fuck, staring at myself in the mirror when I heard the lead singer say these words: All this time I was finding myself and I didn't know that I was lost. I couldn't help but break down and cry. All the things that I thought I was becoming, that I thought made me look good, all made me feel ugly. I immediately knew that I was in the midst of letting society conform me. So I never made it to class and through love I began the journey to finding my true self.



You feel that? The crispness in the air? That fucking tingling on your nape bitch? You're not crazy, its Yeezy again.

Almost three entire years without an album Kanye. He hasn't necessarily been MIA like he was for the productions of MBDTF and Yeezus instead Kanye might have had the biggest year possible. From the separation with Nike and signing with Adidas then creating the biggest buzz for a model of sneaker since the Jordan 11 Concord drop of 2011. To having his second child, a son with wife Kim. On December 31st of 2014 Kanye released ‘Only One’ written from his mother's point of view to his daughter North (Nori) the song received great acclaim. Giving hope that Ye would bless us with an album in 2015. 
Nah, He had better shit to do. Finally getting his clothing line off of the ground, being named GQ’s Most Stylish of 2015, continuing fatherhood. He has been so immersed in this longtime dream of his he stepped down as president of G.O.O.D Music, handing it to right hand man, Pusha T.

Alas on December 31st 2015, following pattern he dropped ‘FACTS’ which is basically shit talking and bravado laced over a Metro Boomin beat. Yeezy jumped over the Jumpman for the second time. Yeezy season begins.

January 8th 2016 at about 1:45 on the east coast Kanye West gave us that good soul music that no one else can quite do. With ‘Real Friends’ and ‘No More Parties in LA’ sending everyone on the internet into a whirlwind, including myself. reaching out to the crooner Ty Dolla $ign who Kanye blessed with a feature on his album ‘Free TC’ on ‘Real Friends’ and one of the best rappers ever Kendrick Lamar on ‘No More Parties in LA’. This shit rides.

The reception was all great, many thanking that we had “The old Ye back” (Which to me is a blasphemous statement.) when we we're blessed to hear this audible chocolate, Yeezy doubled down by announcing his album SWISH is set to release on February 11th. Tis the season!

UPDATE: The full Real Friends is officially released.

ion know why he keep blessing me.  ion know why he keep blessing me. ion know why, ion know why.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Democratizing Music and How Diplo Saved my Life

Right now in this wonderful moment there is a iPad screen. The top is flashing red, indicating an absorption, not unlike the human mind, of the sound of thoughts, had and allowed to be had at any moment, or any place. Just a few years ago, that same process was an improbability in the order of the average state lottery game, it just wasn’t available to the average musician, let alone average person. Yet, that iPad screen, with multiple audio inputs, and serviceable microphone, is beloved by parents for its generous screen size. It’s probably the most powerful tool no one’s said you could make a concerto with.

Maybe concerto a bit of an exaggeration, if only a little, after all that would take years of musical education and understanding that only schooling and financial incentives provided. Though, those too are reasonably acquired with some google searches. I’ve found the term “how to make X sound” a most excellent resource to lead to me a professionally curated series of web pages dedicated to teaching the finer details of auditory aesthetics.

The internet freed up the information that was always thought to have been tangled up in headier parts of society, even if they were just at the library behind some intense vocabulary.

In 2005, an artist now known for his ability to work within a broad range of genres, gave an interview on a site filled with so much pretension, even then, that it makes sense that he found true mainstream success, in the last few years. He expounded upon the exploration of sound that took him all over the globe, to places where day-to-day life entailed making life or death choices just trying to walk down the street. In these places, he described making music, no matter the conditions, with bootleg software and a drive to want to make a sound to express himself. The sounds might not have originated with him but he made them their own. That’s how Diplo saved my life.

Music, the interview taught me, was something that would happen with the tools available to the artist. 

Those tools are no longer, lifetimes of practice from the moments we were seen as fit, nor enormous investments in physical objects meant to handle specific tasks, though a place for both certainly exists. Those tools are now the everyday devices we tend to relinquish as mundane necessities in the day to day consumption of life.

Our computers enabled us for sometime to manage and organize our digital lives, but now we can manage entire studio work flows; having previously cost tens of thousands in equipment, or hourly rental times, now live in the place we pay our bills. While our phones and tablets, though limited by interface limitations, allow us to harness ideas and sounds, previously so elaborate they would be considered other worldly. And Lest we forget about web browsers alone, the power of algorithms enabling creation without any investment at but the time we wish to spend.

Music has forever been the expression we choose to envision, personally as well as professionally. We learn to express emotions, and allow others to swim in the wonder of the spaces between sounds. To spread that wonder, however, used to come with an air of compromise, as the gatekeepers of its flowering usually had something else in mind. No more is that worry with portals to share with (almost) every corner of this pale blue dot.

Technology today has allowed music to flow constantly, as the creator sits on train rides during rush hour commutes, playing with synthesized sounds, previously completely tied to boxes the size of your average walk in closet. 

The freedom of information gives us clues as to how we can use those sounds to evolve our own possible sounds, while pulling the rug out from under the thought that those who make are those who have been taught how.

That iPad screens is still red at the top, still recording the unbalanced sounds of whatever the mind could translate onto its screen. Democratizing the entire notion of what it means to be a musician, no longer beholden to the traditional path. Letting the user forge a new path, allowed to the "go" diverge constantly, and bloom into personal divinity.

How I Live Now

A few years ago, the person sitting in front of this screen, writing words to brace for the moments of rapid fire life changes, was crying uncontrollably at the prospect of not accomplishing goals assigned by a lifetime of necessity and circumstance. Reminiscing on those times, allowing the soul to laugh, deeply, deriving immeasurable pleasure from the fantastic scale of naiveté. Dreading the minutest change, defined by social accessibility and need, perhaps these were the superficial moments, empty of any true motifs worth expanding upon.

It was the only way I knew how to live but to die with some kind of traction. Built on a lifetime of self perceived let-downs and endeavors, life's explanations weren’t meant to be explored. Droning along the river of existence, bumping into the shores of legitimate career opportunities. Knowing full well the things wanting to be changed would fulfill the necessities of moments, outside of a lifetime's reach. Maddening perpetuated in noise constantly dialed into subconscious, the silent agreements.

How I live now is based on day to day salutations of the life there once was. Through the trials of abdominal black holes, unseen spinal protrusions and uncontrollable addiction to sensory deception, the body and mind have been forced to slow down. Slow down so much so to be unrecognizable to a mind burdened by preconceived notions about who the person perceived, is supposed to be. Breathing slowly with the active moments, in the parts of the body creaking into consciousness.
Attaining daily meditation and paying attention to the force of air on morning commutes, as the train arrives in a gale force, reminding the soul that the adventure is still there, and this moments honor needs respect too.

How I live now,is a mystery to the person that came before. The notions of realistically attainable abilities no longer are overridden by the ever-present need to feel burnt out, to derive accomplishment from self destruction and sacrifice.

How I live now does not embarrass an image held too unsustainable standards, by plateaus and journeys with no end to imagine a world with a slightly warmer heart. Working in the service of wonders and space. The need to prove every doubt wrong for the sake of putting the perceived harm in its place is missing.

I choose to live, even with the mistakes.

How I live now: I choose to live even with the mistakes, the ones made constantly for they teach the wisdom of immunity. To listen to those around me for the cracks in hoping to help and love. To be available for the love to enter the soul once again, having so long sought to shield this life, for fear of returning to a place of vulnerability.

How I live now, amongst the infinite unknowns of everyday, warms the feet on a cold days. No longer forgoing that feeling that tells me to “go” from those places that aren’t working but fit the description of normal. The warring factions of who I am and what I do don’t hold me accountable for the time lost on figuring out ideal rights and wrongs.

How I live now isn’t something to brag about, but its impossible to not want to share.

'Cause how I live now teaches the me everyday that the feeling of cliche when putting a smile on any face, is enough, and so might I be.

Sounds of Asheville: Omnitat

Music plays a key role in Asheville's artistic scene. From the buskers in the streets to local bands performing in all the venues throughout the city, there is always a chance to experience new music.

The video below features a local Asheville jazz band, Omniat, who are an exceptional contribution in bringing people together with the use of their talent. They have performed in a number of venues, including Aloft and The National Lounge in downtown Asheville.

Since I am studying abroad this semester, I haven't had the chance to edit the video due to exploring the streets of Hong Kong, China. It's a solid shot, so I think that's fair enough! Be on the lookout!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Triumphs of Art Expression

Visual Arts has always been something close to me. Various ways to show thoughts, ideas and talents to the world, have given me endless opportunities to express how it makes me feel.

Asheville has provided opportunities to challenge myself.

Photography and film have given me the key to evoke parts of me that I've kept in the shadows. It's driven me to explore different creative processes, talk to new people, travel and most importantly, strengthen my character. Putting a team together in order to create a visual always gives me a feeling beyond satisfaction.

Living in Asheville has provided opportunities for me to challenge myself and improve my work. I conducted my first studio photo shoot at Studio27 in the Arts District of Asheville.
It was an amazing experience with great people who, along with myself, wanted the success of the project. For this project, I decided to use the combination of natural skin tones with neon colored makeup and pastel backdrops. During the editing process, I tweaked the color hues to create an abstract mood. 

Models: Jess Williamson and Miranda Lampke
Makeup Artist: Allie Pleper 
Photos By: Makena Mambo
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