Thursday, July 2, 2009

Resurrecting Old Dead Horses

After my rather extended maternity leave, I've been anxiously awaiting an acceptable comeback piece. What better than to hop on board the bandwagon...

Recently, swarms of media attention has been surrounding the debut of Hannah Montana starlet, Miley Cyrus' risqué new photo opt with famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. In interviews, Cyrus stands by the shoot's innocence, deeming it "artsy."

Ostensibly, "artsy" was exactly what Leibovitz was going for in this very tasteful and eclectic Renaissance-like piece. Subject-ting the fair-skinned pop star, Leibovitz evokes a classic aesthetic reminiscent of our favorite Raphael’s and Da Vinci’s. Unfortunately, artistic appeal is not the issue here. But rather the scarlet C— Censorship.

All of the aforementioned would be perfectly acceptable, that is, if it were referring to an of-age individual. However, such is not the case of 15-year-old Cyrus, Disney’s ever-wholesome poster child and tween idol. In all of Leibovitz’ timeless and impressive skill, nothing could make a photo of a topless, scantly-covered Mickey Mouse kid appropriate. I think I speak for everyone—whether overtly or subconsciously in agreement—when I say, that’s just wrong. Ahhh, but here’s where “wrong” becomes subjective.

To the millions of adoring fans and their dying-to-stay-“hip” moms, Vanity Fair’s racy little front page is harmless. After all, naysayers are just hungry for scandal, and dying to brand America’s latest Sweetheart as the next Britney Lohan. What this crowd fails to realize is that the bigger issue is not what was intended by the photo, but what was implied. In the portrait, a crimson-lipped Miley poses with tousled hair in what appears to be a bed sheet. Regardless of how it was meant to appear, this look is undeniably suggestive, even if artfully done. In fact, there’s a history behind the subtly lewd trend of women wearing only a man’s half-buttoned shirt, the sloppily wrapped blanket cover-up, the rumbled hair and other such looks that carry intentionally provocative connotations. It’s bad enough when futile attempts are made by adults to defend these actions. The day children are allowed to defy social standards of morality on the basis of freedom of individualism, is the day all statutes must be ratified. Why should 12-year-old females be denied spreads in Maxim, why should older men be penalized for frequenting websites exhibiting under-aged girls? Circumstantially, these scenarios seem as uncorrelated as irrelevant, but principally, they’re almost identically similar. Are they not? Just a thought.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mahalo and Goodnight

Subject Movements

Classically, most indulgences come in the form of decadent little taste treats we help ourselves to now and again. So who would have ever fathomed there were sound bites as equally satisfying? Some things just go great together: wine and jazz, champagne and sushi, chocolate and great shoes…but when the sound of slow rock meets “newgrass,” music becomes a guilty pleasure.

One such music morsel arrives in the form of one Mahalo and Goodnight, Baltimore’s latest guilty pleasure.

What’s that you say? Never heard of them? Where the -halo have you been? This indie trio’s been rocking out the east coast since O-five. If you haven’t been privy to the latest phenomenon, allow me to bring you up to speed. Bandmates Kenny, Joe, and Dan comprise the unique experience of the acoustic Mahalo and Goodnight, effortlessly putting local bands to shame. They prove they’re not only good, but worthy of rivaling the ranks of some of today’s undeserving chart-toppers. Although—inexplicably—the band has yet to be signed, their orphan status hasn’t stopped them from touring. Already, their travel trajectory has run the gamut from Virginia, to D.C. to nearly every part of Maryland. Not bad for a “local” band. It’s no wonder their fan base is growing faster than wildfire.

Their, latest (impressively self-produced) album, Subject Movements, strives for a rich ambient sound, incorporating an interesting aural landscape. For a genre so over-explored by masses of well-meaning, yet unfulfilling, artists, it’s refreshing to find such an intricately crafted and sophisticated sound in this class. Profoundly arranged into three movements, the song trio collaboratively represents a set of philosophical aspects of complete existence—Objective, Self, and It. Objective is a sonic mix of upbeat electro-rock with mellow and embracing jazz textures laced throughout. In a phrase: it delivers. It’s easy to get into, and doesn’t leave you dissatisfied. It offers a more intense, yet similar electronica feel, not redundantly, but with greater emphasis on heavier rock themes. Self starts off in an enticing place, like the opening score to an adrenaline-rich, action sci-fi, video-game-turned-movie film. From there, it takes a softer spin, evolving into an eclectic mélange that’s sure to prove entertaining.

But will you be impressed? You should be. These heartthrobs have been doing their thing at masses of local events and venues, and, in several years of performing, have yet to meet a crowd they haven’t pleased. But don’t take my word, check them out for yourself on their unofficial homepage at

She speaks

Bound to superficial realities
fettered to a vacant vanity,
hiding from my own reflection,
vomiting remorse
and eating my own words.

terrified to face my facade.

Doubled over
impeding the paths of others.

broken by the straw of society

- my consciousness

condemned and frayed.

Bordering borderline insanity,

inundated by missions

armed with promises that simply will not last

haunted by an everlasting past.

My whole world is an illusion

of confusion
I've gradually chosen to embrace.
I reject acceptance to avoid monotony;

even my inconsistencies long for change.

a sinister grin accompanies my every reflection,

liberated of reason or substance.

In these, my gifts

I freely give

replacing the places of self-hatred

with meditation

and erasing all traces of

temporal limitations

Broken and impaled,

I honor my bed of nails

leaving me scarred and numb

but shaping the person that I've become.

But...He Can't Know I'm Human!

From birth, I, like so many other American females, was taught under the falsities of misconstrued perspectives of femininity. Humanness was untolerated, and flaw was simply unacceptable.

Incidentally, I grew complacently conformed to these binding, sexist mores, petrified to submit to any forms of weakness, such as eating, talking, or going to the bathroom, lest I never "snag a man."

Gradually, I began growing out of these ridiculous customs and enjoying my quirky idiosyncrasies. It wasn't until I finally began dating that I noticed these sexist myths begin to resurface. With them, emerged my compulsion to keep silent (Women aren't suppose to speak...unless, of course, when spoken to. Debating is out of the question), eat modestly (It's unlady-like to have an appetite, or hips), and resist excretion (Because it is inhumane for females to--cautious whisper--"make." Watering out is fine as long as it's seductive and referred to by some pretty euphemism like "watering out" or "tinkle"). In my process to Stepfordize, I began wondering, when is it okay to be real? Not real like in terms of 'earnesty', but in terms of actual human existence. Must I always have alabaster skin? May I ever enjoy a hearty bath that isn't fashioned to the setting of Hollywood film? Can I ever be seen with the face God and my mother saw fit for me to have, independent of Lancome and Clinique? May I never enjoy a passionate, enlightened debate because it isn't befitting of a lady?

I enjoy being a girl just as much as the next song, but I equally value being a student, a writer, a mentor, a friend...a person. Why isn't it okay for females to express feminity when applicable without being framed and detached from personality? Just a thought.

Live or Die...

"the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought" - Merriam-Webster's Dictionary

Is abortion murder if it was decided long in advance? Does the principle change with circumstance? Is euthanasic abortion more justifiable than abortion for the sake of the mother? Or vice versa?

Lately, the topic of abortion has been dramatically resurfacing in certain circles. This issue, of course, has always been, but has never definitively been concluded. After consuming a myriad of perspectives, I felt compelled to, finally, shout my own.

In my humble opinion, the issue of abortion is personal and relative; personal as in not public and relative as in not absolute. Reason being, this isn't an open-shut case and should never be treated as such, nor publicly rallied or decided by vox popli. I think if I were to decide in favor of abortions being prohibited, it would be from a jaded and biased perspective. I do not condone murder of any sort, however, I'm equally opposed random individuals exercising jurisdiction over anyone else's life. I think, if anything, the best medium would be legalized abortion under circumstantial limitations, i.e. the conditions of the conception, the age and health of the mother, how far along she is, etc.

Ostensibly, I'm not an advocate of abortion; however, if a young girl is impregnated through rape and cannot physically handle giving birth, I don't think my opinion --and like others-- should be deemed as sufficient grounds to prohibit her from aborting if she chooses to. Principally, to take another life is wrong, by my perspective. Comparatively, I'm lenient to understanding circumstance. I cannot honestly say that every type of wrong should be regarded equally regardless of circumstance. .

In another dynamic, my discord with random abortion stands. With the way science and medicine are disseminating, I refuse to believe that there are any excuses for irresponsible behavior. Voluntary sexual intercourse resulting in pregnancy is a preconcieved consequence that inconveniently actualized itself, not an act of serendipity. Above, I expressed sympathy toward pregnant victims of involuntary, heinous acts, and favor them as abortion candidates if such is their choice. I do not, however, extend the same leniency to "accidentally" pregnant women, unless, of course, they had somehow been introduced to sex, but had never really heard of reproduction.

In the end, "to each his own." I wouldn't go so far as to conclude that abortion should be obliterated, however, it should be used with tremendous discretion. Bottom line: be honest. If a person is growing inside of you, don't discredit his/her life. At least acknowlege that as long as you are living, breathing, this organism is growing; when you die, he/she stops growing, and eventually dies with you. If you're going to do it, own it. Don't abort under the guise of a lie. It is a baby, it is real, and it didn't just happen.

Let them eat me...

I’m recovering from what could possibly take precedence as the most wretched Thanksgiving holiday ever. Where do I begin? I decided to take a break from pre-finals cramming and visit my aunt for the holiday. Unfortunately, I came much too late. I arrived about 45 minutes before the arrival of the cousins – o yes, the cousins. Dear God. They spent the entire time prying into my personal affairs – and justifying it! I spent the evening defending myself. Unfortunately, not well enough. It goes without saying that I am NOT a spontaneous thinker. It takes me a little while to process. During this time, my thoughts are still a bit scattered; during this time, I should not be allowed to talk. In a vain attempt to defend myself, my argument included some bullsh!t about giving blood at Salvation Army – WTF!!! When I arrived home, I realized just how many cogent points I could have made, a few were quite brilliant, albeit quite useless post ex facto. In retort to every position addressed, “quippy,” diplomatic remarks ricocheted off my psyche (still after the fact). However, now it’s too late to rectify myself, I simply have to live with the fresh judgments of already judgmental people, hand-picked by me. Even a golden tongue wouldn’t have saved me because had I kept silent, I would have been “smug.” But I suppose it is better to be thought of as a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

By the by, the argument was quite petty. My family had to indirectly find something out about me that I, myself, “should” have told them. Personally, I don’t believe that I “should” be obligated to share anything with anyone unless I, myself, so choose. And I chose not to volunteer this information about myself. Their position was that as a member of the family, I should periodically update them on my whereabouts and whether alls, even if I don’t have steady relationship with them. My position is that relationships are built on trust, and mine cowers and dissipates in their presence. I feel as though if I’ve shared something personal with one person, several others should not know. If I wanted them to, I myself would have told them. If you have to hear it from someone else, it must not have been for you to hear to begin with. Further, if you so swiftly believe something about me that did not directly make a trip from my mouth to your ears, how can I trust your loyalty. If you would readily hang on the receiving end of gossip, then I can only presume that it won’t be too long before the receiver becomes the dispatcher. In which case, again, how can I trust you? If I cannot trust you, I cannot have a relationship with you, and if I cannot have a relationship with you…what do I need with you?? No, I didn’t say any of this, I’m post-venting. I said the aforementioned bullsh about taking blood and seeing me on the streets, etc. It gets worse. My points were valid, but scatterbrained. As I said, I was still processing. I knew where I was going, but I didn’t allow myself enough time to collect my thoughts and glue my argument together.

I’m infuriated primarily because I hate when things fall beyond the boundaries of my control. I should be the one to exercise agency over my own life – hell, it’s mine! If I purchase a Barbie doll, I should be able to clothe her however I choose. Likewise, my life was a gift, given to me to redress whenever, wherever, and however I see fit. It isn’t that I didn’t want them to know, or even that they spoiled a surprise, but simply that I feel violated. That news should have had my stamp of approval and it did not. If it were copyrighted, I could sue for infringement right about now. Information left my parameter without my John Hancock, Jane Doe, whatever, and I should be paid reparations and apologies for it – dammit! As justification, they made the argument that I just so happen to be a Theatre major, and that as such, I should get used to unvolunteered info circulating about me. And in the event that it ever does, we all know where it came from (raised eyebrows). And thus, I end by saying, count your blessings if your family is neither vindictive nor disagreeable. This thanksgiving, I’m thankful for a blog to exercise my carpel-tunnel with petty arguments from the chronicles of my wicked family. Cheers.

(originally posted November 24, 2006; recycled from Yahoo! 360)