Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hot Track 2sday

Not exactly a 'hot' track, more of that brooding, raw cut you can't get out of your head. Maybe it's the violent guitar strum or maybe it's Miss Megan Myers' voice, but something about this song "Desire", has me hooked.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hot Track Tuesdays—It's a thing!

Need to start collecting music again. I was really onto something for a while here, so why not start up another weekly musical offering? Something clean, something smooth, something that'll go down easy. Let's call it Hot Track Tuesday. Yeah, that sounds good.

First entry, a beat I can't get out of my head. Lyrics are meh, but the hook is oh so nice. Schoolboy Q, what it do?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Keep it moving

"Forcing your way through the sets is futile…Find a friendly current and let it carry you. Relax when the sets sweep over your body. Be as yielding as water is. Think too much and you’ll be wrenched backwards. Take your deep breaths, dive under the incoming waves and let the remnants of the river bear you outward. Newer surfers…would blindly charge out into the maelstrom, only to get batted back every time; the older ones, wiser through observation and experience, put themselves in the correct places and let the water do the work….The surf zone, where the sweet meets the salt, tells us this: Any challenge, any confrontation, can be met with fluid grace. Move as if you were a thin stream that had begun in the mountains weeks before….The only way through is to flow." -- "Waves" Coast Mountain Culture, Fall 2014.

I’ve spent a lot of time surfing this summer, and a better portion of that time has been spent getting crushed by incoming waves. I’m new to the water, new to this surf thing, and competitive as all hell, angry that I can’t get out to where the other surfers make things look so easy.

So this passage spoke to me, but its life metaphor is what really hit home. A lot of people I know, myself included, are reaching that point in our young lives that feels like the crash zone, the floundering victim of unrelenting personal and professional turmoil. These words from Coast Mountain Culture helped provide a moment of pause and clarity though—just because we’re getting pounded by the waves life is sending our way doesn’t mean we’re not moving in the right direction. Inch by inch, we move forward, past the break and into smoother waters. And then, as the metaphor goes, we get to catch our wave, and suddenly it’s all worth it.

To all of you out there struggling against the current, keep paddling, find your path, and flow on.

Here’s a photo roll from a recent trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island. Ironically, the only thing I don’t have pictures of is the surfing itself. Oh well, you’ll have to believe me, I guess.

When your stove breaks, things get desperate...

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Cuban double date

I wrote this a little while ago and just stumbled upon it again. One of my best nights ever in Cuba, circa 2012. I have never, I repeat, never, been further from my element. It was awesome.


In June of 2012, I found my way to the land of rum, baseball, and Castro. Yes, we really can go to Cuba if we pull the right (educational) strings. After a few weeks of kicking around Havana, my classmate had gotten close with one of the secretaries at school, Yanet. One day that classmate, Rafa, ran up to me and begged me to help him out— he was going on a date with Yanet, but he needed someone to occupy her friend. A Cuban double date? Sure, why not, I thought. I had completely underestimated what I was getting into.

Her name was Yessica. She had wild blue eyes and a rose tattoo peeking seductively from the strap of her black dress. My tough-guy machismo failed immediately, and I sputtered to say hello and keep my cool. She graciously put up with it, and as I struggled to pick my jaw up from the sidewalk, she assured me that our night would be fun. We were going to a Willem el Magnifico concert for some reggaeton.
Reggaeton? Daddy Yankee music videos and obnoxious car horns immediately came to mind. It sounded painful… at best. I shook my head as I ducked into the cab.

Twenty pesos at the discotech door for my date and me (chivalry isn’t dead after all), and I found myself plunged deeper into Cuba than ever before.  Women in glittery spandex and ankle break heels swished past me attached to men in tight guayaberas and enough gel in their hair to make the Leaning Tower of Pisa stand straight. A group of ‘unattached’ girls looked over with hungry eyes, eager to see how much money the gringo was willing to spend. I knew I’d be a disappointment to those mamacitas, because unlike the older tourists present for the human buffet, I was dead broke, and there for the music.

The club was outdoors on a deck above crashing waves. An ocean breeze provided needed buffer against human heat as the dance floor slowly filled in.

Suddenly, as the sound check wrapped, the skies opened up, sending 300 spandex-clad Cubanas to the space’s limited awnings. If there’s one thing Cubans don’t do, it’s rain, and this storm all but signaled the end of the show. I was bummed. All of this effort—and a first date with a beautiful Cuban girl—dashed by a little precipitation. Then came the lightning. The neon bolts zapped my remaining hopes as they lit up the Atlantic sky.

But nobody moved towards the exits. The speakers sat under tarps and rainwater cascaded off stage, yet still the crowd stayed put, sipping their drinks under packed overhangs. I remember thinking that whoever this Willem el Magnifico character was had some serious pull, and that maybe, just maybe, this would be worth it after all.

Minutes stretched into hours, until finally the rain subsided enough for soundmen to uncover the speakers and get the DJ spinning. The crowd wasn’t buying it. Only a few ventured out from their protected corners, Yessica was one of them. She turned and waved to Rafa, Yanet, and me, but the two next to me didn’t move. I shrugged my shoulders and gave in to the girl with the rose tattoo, following her out into the drizzle.

That was the best move I made all night. While others hesitated with the finicky weather, we made our way front and center. It was only minutes until a figure straight from a Mad Max film—complete with shoulder pads, chainmail, and a bleached shock Mohawk—stepped onstage flanked by two equally ridiculous backup dancers. Shrieks from the crowd confirmed that this was indeed Willem el Magnifico—the one we’d been waiting for all night.

The bassline dropped and it got grimy. Real grimy. The repetitive reggaeton thump ignited the crowd, and it was clear the animals had come out to play. The first song was a dance song that featured a move that could only be described as an earthquaking hip thrust.  The mass knew every word, and as I watched the crowd’s collective forward push, I was swallowed up in a mass of bodies under el Magnifico’s spell.

Midway through the second song, the rain returned. El Magnifico paused for a second, then kept right on playing. The crowd mimicked him, and instead of running for cover, they danced on. We became a mix of hot breath, sweat, and hair gel. My lack of rhythm was swept up in the mob of Magnifico fans, rowdy but fluid—a beautiful disaster. As the rain fell and bodies rubbed, the lightning became our natural light show, thunder harmonizing with bass. I closed my eyes and let go. I was exactly where I needed to be.