A refreshing space for honesty, compassion, and vulnerability, Hype Park Storytelling brings Austinites together one shared experience at a time.
A refreshing space for honesty, compassion, and vulnerability, Hype Park Storytelling brings Austinites together one shared experience at a time.
As COVID-19 forces millions to self-isolate and remain apart from those they love, communities like Hyde Park Storytelling remind us of the gift that is being together. Tune in to this special Party For ONE podcast episode, featuring this Austin, TX storytelling group, and return to simpler days.
Five years ago, Erin Givarz and Matthew Stoner became roommates in Austin, TX, after crossing paths via Craiglist. Realizing they held the same love for sharing human experiences through storytelling, Matt and Erin decided to do something radical; invite hundreds of Austinites to gather in their own back yard, every couple of months.
At Hyde Park Storytelling, local storytellers share their real-life experiences all centered around one common theme. On March 7th, the theme of the night was lucky, but unlike other storytelling events that are highly curated, no one knows exactly what these storytellers will share until the moment they reach the mic.
And I’m like “Oh my God, you look so amazing,” and she looks up from her phone and she says “thanks” and it was Jennifer Lopez, you guys.
– Michelle, Storyteller
As a stand-up, comedian, co-founder Matthew hopes Hyde Park can be an empowering space for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the stage, because “everyone’s stories matter”. From heart-wrenching tales of love and loss to hilarious moments with a loved one or simply once in a lifetime moment of pure luck, these storytellers captivated the audience.
More than an outlet for simply sharing these captivating moments of life, Hyde Park Storytelling is a community that unifies Austinites of all walks of life. For Matthew and Erin, it’s all about bringing people together. “It’s really hard to hate people when you hear their stories,” Givarz explains.
I’ve since discovered that only 4% of attorneys in Texas are Asian, and I’m so proud to be part of that 4%.
– Tiffany, Storyteller
While no two stories at Hyde Park are the same, storytellers and audience members alike can find comfort in the fact that they’re never truly alone. It’s this space’s refreshing dedication to honestly, compassion, and mutual vulnerability that makes “Austin feel a little bit smaller,” according to co-founder, Matthew Stoner.
Learn more about this group or attend an upcoming virtual storytelling event by visiting Hyde Park Storytelling on Facebook.
A note from Chloe
Although millions globally are now sheltering in place, I hope this episode reminds listeners of just how thankful we should be for the ability to share our lives with communities we love. For Austinites, like myself, Hyde Park storytelling gives us a space to look forward to returning once life becomes more normalized again. For now, however, take whatever measures you can as an individual to stay safe and healthy, but also to stay connected to those who make you who you are. Remember that the people, places, and communities you miss most are only ever a call, click, or memory away. Visiting Hype Park Storytelling reminded me of just how universally shared our experiences are as human beings. No matter the situation or circumstance, you are never truly alone. Whatever you’re experiencing right now, there are millions of individuals currently navigating those same struggles and strides alongside you. No worldly force, not even COVID-19, can change that.
This special episode produced on the behalf of the University of Texas at Austin Journalism School.
Despite nationwide turmoil over the allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, the Republican party judge was confirmed early last month with a 50-48 vote. What this decision reveals about the American attitudes toward women and their stories of sexual assault, today:
A nation-wide scandal
The confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, appeared to be a set victory, however, after allegations of sexual assault from Kavanaugh’s school mate, Christine Blasey Ford, immersed this summer, doubts, fears, and confusion encapsulated the country.
The Palo Alto University professor reported being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in high school, over 30 years ago. Her allegations were proceeded by two other women: Deborah Ramierez reported that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they both attended Yale, and Julie Swetnick, who although did not report first-hand harassment from the Judge, said Kavanaugh was seen attending parties in which women were sexually violated and even raped, during their high school years.
On Thursday, September 27th, a hearing was held for Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh before the Senate. Blasey Ford’s testimony was detailed and moving, however eagerly denied by Kavanaugh who argued no memory of the event. When questioned of his drinking experience, as a youth, the judge replied with vagueness and snark responses.
Provoking more doubt than certainty among senators of both parties, Trump ordered a week-long FBI investigation “limited in scope” to take place immediately following the hearing.
The following Friday, a vote was held confirming Kavanaugh as the newest Supreme Court Justice, but with a 50-48 split, it was a decision met with wide division among party lines. While Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer called the decison “a low moment for the senate, for the court, for the country”, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell stated Kavanaugh’s confirmation would “turn the page toward a brighter tomorrow”.
After weeks of nationwide protests and an final decision not supported by half of the United States’ the question of where the country’s attitudes toward women and sexual assault, present day, linger.
Here are 4 key themes we can take away:
1. The #MeToo era has made a visible impact
When Anita Hill testified that Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, sexually harassed her in the workplace at the University of Oklahoma, in 1991, unlike in the case Blasey Ford, Hill was met with searing disposition from the Senate. This hearing is “now viewed as a low moment for the Senate”, according to the New York Times.
Although Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony was ultimately not enough to stop the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh, Blasey Ford’s accusations were taken with great seriousness compared to those of the past, as seen with Hill. The majority of the Democratic party sided with Blasey Ford, thanking her during the hearing for her bravery to come forward. Her testimony was powerful enough to stir doubt among certain Republican senators, such as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
In conclusion of the hearing, Republican Senator Jeff Flake stated that he would not move forward with Kavanaugh’s confirmation until a week-long FBI investigation took place. With more doubt than certainty in the air, President Trump issued an investigation to immediately take place following the hearing. Despite the alleged corruption found within the limited scope of the FBI’s investigation, the mere fact that this investigation was issued speaks volumes to the impact that #MeToo has made on the country. Although improvement is to be made, the Senate proved through the Blasey Ford Kavanaugh hearing that as a collective, American men and women are truly beginning to respect sexual assault survivors and believe in their stories.
2. Our voices have power
On September 28th, Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila, confronted Senator Jeff Flake, holding open the doors of an elevator he was taking to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging him to holt Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
In their powerful altercation with Senator Flake, the two women shared stories of their own experience as a sexual assault survivor. “What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court” said Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “You have children in your family,” Archila said. “Think about them.”
“Look at me when I’m talking to you,” Maria Gallagher cried to the quite and unresponsive Senator, his head bowed to the floor. “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me.”
Once confident in his decision to confirm the Judge, Senator Flake proposed that an FBI investigation take place prior to Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote, just moments after encountering Archila and Gallagher. Without the testimonies of these two women, it is likely that an FBI investigation would have never been issued.
Your voice as a woman has power and can truly impact those around you.
The bravery of Christine Blasey Ford has also led millions of women around the country to come forward about their own experiences as a victim of sexual assault. In my home city of Dallas, the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center received a sharp influx of calls after the September 27th hearing. According to the Dallas Morning News, a majority of callers have identified as “women in their 50s and 60s who were sexually assaulted as teenagers and never told anyone about it.”
Whether you’re one voice in a sea of protesters or the founder of a progressive political organization, like Archila, your voice as a woman has power and can truly impact those around you. Blasey Ford’s allegations may have not been enough momentum to stop the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh, but her testimony has and will continue to impact American men and women and the attitudes toward sexual assault for years to come.
3. Truth isn’t black and white but red and blue
What began as a pursuit for justice, the Blasey Ford Kavanaugh scandal quickly turned into a vicious brawl between Republican and Democrat parties. For Republican Senators, Kavanaugh’s confirmation meant vast progression, as the new Justice intends to support and enforce Republican ideals The loss of this confirmation would result in a defeat for the entire party. Despite a convincing testimony from Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh along with many a majority of Republican senators, including the President, claimed these allegations were malicious obstacles plotted by Democrats in an effort to win back the senate.
Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!
These harsh and elaborate accusations between parties put many Senators in a tough spot, particularly red state democrats, as their decision on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be perceived to prove more than whether they believed Blasey Ford but the whereabouts of their political loyalties. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota is one of many red state Democrats who has put her re-election on the line by voting “no” for the confirmation of Kavanaugh. A historically red voting state, many North Dakotans claimed they would not be voting for Heitkamp unless she supported the Judge’s confirmation.
With Republican Senator Jeff Flake stating that he would not vote for Kavanaugh before a full back ground check was completed, the President issued a week-long FBI investigation “limited in scope” to take place. How exactly this investigation was “limited” is unknown, however, according to Democrat senators, including Dianne Feinstien (CA) who called the report “the product of an incomplete investigation”. the investigation’s findings gave little to no new information into Kavanaugh’s past,
On capitol hill, truth and justice are no longer black and white but red and blue.
Although the conclusion of corrupt government interference is mere speculation, the immense impact political bias played in the hearing, investigation, and confirmation of Kavanaugh is without question. Ultimately, the Blasey Ford Kavanaugh scandal surpassed a pursuit for justice, becoming a quest for power among Republican and Democrat parties. On capitol hill, truth and justice are no longer black and white but red and blue.
4. progress to be made
Blasey Ford’s testimony will go down in history as one of the first times a sexual assault victim was taken with genuine seriousness and respect by the Senate, Unfortunately, allegations of sexual misconduct were not of enough value to stop the judge’s confirmation. With a 50-48 vote split almost entirely along party lines, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was far from a landslide, but those 2 votes will ensure Kavanaugh the highest position in our nation’s court for the rest of his life.
During the hearing, Kavanaugh was questioned about how his drinking might have skewed his recollection of past events.. “I don’t know. Have you?” the Judge responded to Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota (D), after she asked if Kavanaugh had ever drank to the point of blacking out. The Judge later apologized to Klobuchar for his remark.
For Blasey Ford, it was a moment she remembers with “100 percent” certainty and is unable to forget. “What is the strongest memory you have?” asked Senator Patrick Leahy (D) Vermont at the hearing. “Something you cannot forget?” “The laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two“, said Blasey Ford, as she described Kavanaugh and Mark Judd as “two friends having a really good time together“, implying that while the violation she experienced was scarring, it held little importance nor impact on the two boys. As the age old saying goes, “boys will be boys”.
Now, the nation’s newest Supreme Court Justice may or may not be a perpetrator of sexual violence. For many, this possibility is reason enough that Kavanaugh should not hold one of the most esteemed positions at the pinnacle of American law and justice in the Supreme Court.
Supporter or not, however, Kavanaugh has been confirmed into the Supreme Court and will hold this position for the rest of his life. As advocates for women’s rights, feminists, such as myself, can only learn from this experience, recognizing the strides and setbacks America has made, when it comes to sexual assault.
A young woman living in America, present day, I remain truly grateful for the privileges I have been granted that the women before me weren’t. I can go to school where I please, pursue a career I love, and do all these things while one day building a family. Still, however, sexual assault remains a fear for myself and the majority of women, daily. I advocate for change, not for myself, but for the women who will go after me; that my future daughter won’t have to wrestle with the fear of someone violating her body. That the importance of consensual sex will be taught in my children’s schools, making sexual violence less taboo and giving young girls the resources to report it.
As women, the rights we fight for and support today will be responsible for the quality of life for women to come. By coming forward, Christine Blasey Ford taught America that it is our civil duty to hold those in power accountable. She also reminded us that sexual assault has never-ending consequences, even after 30 years. Only through the bravery and boldness exhibited by Blasey Ford may we change the way our nation views gender and sexual violence. How will you help create a better life for women in America? It’s your turn now.
I advocate for change, not for myself, but for the women who will go after me…
April in Dallas is an exciting time for art. Here’s what you can find at the Contemporary, this spring.
Dallas Art Fair celebrated its 10th year running, this past weekend, and adding to the festivities, the Dallas Contemporary opened brand new exhibits, featuring artists, Eric Fischl, Harry Nuriev, and Sarah Rahbar.
If Art Could Talk – Eric Fischl
Fischl’s premiere large-scale exhibit displays a series of both seemingly insignificant and contrasting powerful moments that commentate on human vulnerability, and more specifically, the international art scene Fischl is so familiar with.
6 Fears – Harry Nuriev
This minimalist piece features dozens of tire swans, placed through out the room, a large glass with window cleaning robots, and bright purple carousel, strategically placed at the center of the room. By highlighting the ever changing nature of urban-ism, Nuriev, both an architect and artist, explores the relationship between design and architecture.
Carry Me Home – Sarah Rahbar
Carry Me Home illuminates the complexities of war through three rooms; the first of which bronze body parts are carefully dissipated. From there, Rahbar displays sculptures composed solely of wooden riffles. An army cot splattered with a bloody world map, sets the exhibit’s final scene. The most compelling and grandiose piece, however, is an American flag stitched with the words “You are safe here with me”, asking what the safety and freedom, associated with home, costs a world, a nation, and a life.
Exhibits will be open, free of charge, until August of 2018.
Dallas’ students spent their Saturday peacefully protesting, and that’s something worth celebrating.
In wake of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, student survivors have gained national media attention, except this time, not as victims, but advocates for political change. Demanding that America takes notice of the voices of youth, these students took their frustrations and birthed them into a movement for stricter gun laws and safer schools, March For Our Lives. On Saturday, March 24th, students, in over 800 cities worldwide, marched in their respective cities to bring the effort into their communities.
I met with the student masterminds behind the Dallas, TX march, learning more about their stories, their hopes for this march, and their hearts for their city. Read the full story here.
Although legislative action is yet to be taken, surrounded by thousands of my fellow students and Dallas citizens, last Saturday, March For Our Lives felt like history in the making…
More than just a moment of female empowerment, the Women’s March has given birth to a global movement towards wide-spread equality.
From Washington to Dallas, Rome and Beijing, millions gathered for the second annual Women’s March, that took place on January 20th, 2018. A Dallas local, I took full advantage of the opportunity to attend my respective city’s march, organized by Texas State Representative, Victoria Neave and local politician, Rhetta Bowers. It was my first demonstration and an experience that was truly liberating…
We were marching for women’s rights, but my brothers and sisters had more than gender equality, on their minds [and poster boards]. The Women’s March has given birth to a wide-spread movement towards equality– reproductive rights, an end to the wage gap, just immigration policy, and rights for trans and gays, and it’s a movement that has only just begun.
As march co-chair Rhetta Bowers says, “Last year, we said this was a moment, but now, it’s a movement”.
Below is the recap of the Dallas Women’s March 2018.
From self-doubt to self-celebration, in this Q & A, young adult writer and activist, AJ Addae shares the multi-dimensional complexity that comes with being, not only a human, but an artist.
I’ve always had a strong connection to art. As a child, this meant performing: on the school’s cafeteria stage, a grand auditorium, and most frequently, in front of the living room fireplace. Fast forward a few years or so, early adolescent Chloe found herself exploring new mediums of artistry, spending Saturdays binge watching independent films or making spontaneous trips down to the art museum. Sophomore year, I ventured into a world of online blogging, which slowly morphed, from a hobby, into a dream career. Now, at 17, I truly believe that it is my calling to be a journalist for news media, hoping to positively impact a transforming field.
Many will dream to become an artist, however, with growing age, a society fixed on money, status, and perfection, stands by, as these, once so passionate and promising dreams, begin to die away. Whether it be external pressure from our peers to find a “real job”, or the crushing weight of student loans, and never-ending bills, with hardship, artistry fades. Some, will persist on, and to these brave artists, our society remains truly ended-ted.
Cleansing our minds and souls, connecting us to people we’ve never met and places we will never go, and most importantly, stirring our thoughts, and calling us to make change, artists are the true revolutionaries of their time. Artists are something to celebrate.
Meet AJ Addae
AJ Addae is a 17 year old writer, with a heart for literature, and and an even larger heart for activism. Producing her own magazine, The Gray Area, snatching an internship with Frisco STYLE Magazine, and self-publishing a book of poetry, Forget Me Knots, all within her senior year of high school, AJ Addae serves as an inspiration to myself and young artists everywhere, proving that age equals not wisdom, nor success.
Currently, a student at Northeastern University, in Boston, pursuing literary writing and women studies, AJ continues to create and share her writing, focusing on topics such as art, politics, the human experience, woman hood, and what it means to be a woman of color.
Below is the un-cut, un-edited Q&A.
Q: Why do you write?
A: I’ve always felt like I’m good at thinking. I’m good at putting thoughts together, really good at communicating those thoughts, and I think about big concepts like being human and art and politics, what it’s like to be a woman, girl hood, the intersections of girlhood in my country. I feel like I have so much to say. Having so much to say combined with thinking well, combined with being able to write, I thought, you know what, I should really put my thoughts out. My English teacher told me something this semester. She said, “AJ, you know that quote ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinion’? I feel like everyone’s entitled to your opinion. That really summarizes why I have all these mediums in which I write.
I feel like I have so much to say…
Q: What do you feel is your purpose, as a writer?
A: As a black woman, especially as a dark woman, especially as a dark women with all these identity intersections, I don’t really see a lot of people like me. When I modeled for this beauty brand, they would post pictures of me on their Instagram, and people would say things like “Wow, you never see dark women.” “You never see dark slim women.”
Everyone has this expectation for black women to be super curvy. Everyone has this expectation for the leader of a movement to be white, or a male, and that’s a really surface level way of describing what my purpose is, but when people think women, they think of white women as the standard, or they think of someone of higher class as the standard. People don’t really know that, at the end of the day, there’s so many voices out there, and we don’t hear any of them. I feel like my purpose comes from that in being that I can be the representation for other people and, at the same time, letting everyone know that it’s okay to be human is a big thing that I focus on in my writing.
Q:What do you believe makes you an individual?
A: Well, I feel like when I first realized that I want to write was when I was a wee girl, and I just had a fascination with words. I would sleep with the dictionary under my pillow just to memorize more words. I started a wiki how page, when I was 8 about beauty blogging, and I got like hundred thousands of views, like for what? I was 8.
I have always been good at thinking.
One thing that I realized, from having this fascination with words, is that it really expresses something that I find myself to be saying a lot to people- it’s okay to be human. I don’t think people know that. A lot of people come to me for advice and ask, “is it wrong that I feel this way? Is it wrong that I feel this or that?” It’s not wrong to feel. I’m an extremely emotional person. Extremely emotional. A lot of people don’t embrace that, and by saying that it’s okay to be human, I feel like I’m embracing that.
There’s so many voices out there, and we don’t get to here any of them.
Embracing the human aspect of myself is one of the best things I’ve ever done for anyone and for myself. I often find that a lot of good things came from that like finding out that, as a woman, I am under no obligation to be beautiful, and as a black woman, I’m under no obligation to fit the narratives that society poses onto me. Being human is one of the greatest things that I’ve ever done for myself.
Q:How have you seen individuality grant you power?
A: In the South, people are weird. People say hi to you, even if they don’t know you. Living in the northeast has made me realize, I’m really out here! I’m on my own. Often times, people say be nice to everyone; be nice to everyone you love, but they forget to tell you that you should be someone that you love too, and once I realized that, it was over for y’all…
I’ve been really focused on identifying with my authenticity. People like music, for example, and I often wonder, do I like the music that I like because of what I’ve been told is cool and told is not cool, or am I being authentic to myself? Not just with music, but with everything, I’ve found that authenticity has really granted me my own power in that I get to tell other people, “No. The way that you are is how you are” and that’s where it starts and ends.
Authenticity is a really big thing to me, especially for my art. I feel like there’s so many stories to tell just through the principle of authenticity and it’s granted me power in that it empowers other people. It’s empowered myself. It’s made me un-apologetic for who I am.
Embracing the human aspect of myself is one of the best things I’ve ever done for anyone and for myself.
Q:I best embrace my potential and power when _____________.
A: Zora Neale Hurston once said that “I often feel the most colored when placed against a white background.” That really completes the sentence, because I feel the most like my own identity, when placed upon a white background, whatever that may mean. Northeastern is a PWI which is a greaaat experience. Frisco is a PWI in itself, so I really found that I embrace my potential more when I’m placed against a white background, period. Regardless, whether its a bunch of white people or a place where people aren’t really in tune with their own identities, I feel the most empowered when I stick out. Often times, I find myself sticking out, so I have no choice but to embrace myself, and I think it’s a really beautiful thing because I learn more and more about myself everyday, when I am placed against a white background. I’m never within my comfort zone, which is really good for me.
I often feel the most colored when placed against a white background.” – Zora Neale Hurtson
Q:How do you overcome the fears and doubts that come with being a young artist?
A: I feel like I can do anything. I’ve always felt like that. I’ve never thought, “when I grow up…” No. I’m here now. I might as well write a book, while I’m alive. There is no “when I grow up”.
The only thing is that insecurities are a thing, and often times, it’s easy to look at other people’s art and think, “Wow. they’re doing that, and I’m not doing anything”, but that’s not true. I am doing things, and not just me. Everyone is an artist in their own way. Even if you’re not an artist, that’s your identity. If you feel like you can’t put color down on paper, you can’t put words down on paper, you can’t put a film together, that’s fine. Everybody is okay in their own way, and owning my okayness is so important. I can draw, but I can’t do portraits, and stuff like that, but owning my okayness is a really really big thing that I had to learn in 2017. I ran track, and I was really good at it. Then I got to high school and I started competing with bigger districts, and I could only run so fast. I’m still good at it. There are people who are gonna run faster than me, and I’m still a fast runner.
Q: As a young artist, have you ever had an “I don’t know what I’m doing” moment?
A: Oh definitely. All the time… all the [freaking] time. I actually never know what I’m doing, and I know it seems like I do, but I don’t. Nobody actually knows what they’re doing , so that makes me feel even more confident, because nobody knows what they’re doing, but I’ve had moments like that.
Owning my okayness is so important.
When I started out with Frisco STYLE Magazine, I didn’t know if I was able to put my own voice into it. Writing to be consumable, versus writing to be proud of yourself- those are two completely different things to me, and I’m still trying to find myself, meeting myself in the middle, because I’m always going to have an audience. Frank Ocean is so [freaking] cool in that, he makes art for himself and he dips. That’s what I’m trying to do. Writing for Frisco STYLE has made me realize that there is a threshold that I have to cross, in terms of writing to be consumed versus writing to be proud of my own art. Audiences vary all the time so that’s my safety net, in that I know that there’s going to be somebody looking at my work that can identity with it, and that’s what I’m writing for.
Q: You’ve managed to expand your skill set, as a writer, into so many different facets. Do you find yourself preferring to write opinion based pieces, such as editorials and self narratives, or traditional news content?
A: Definitely opinions. It depends on what the news is. Writing for the newspaper is great and all, but I can’t put too much of my voice in it. At the end of the day, my voice is always going to be there, and that’a a satisfying feeling, but I can’t put my two cents in there. I love putting my two cents in, but sometimes, it doesn’t need to have my two cents.
Something I’ve also been kind of straddling the line with is my poetry slams. Writing to be read out loud versus to read on paper are two completely different things. When you read things, you apply your own voice onto them, but when you hear me say it, you know that’s AJ. You know it’s my two cents. I started writing so that I could put my voice out there, so I’m gonna feel more comfortable where I can put my voice.
I feel like I can do anything.
Q: Last Question. How does AJ celebrate herself?
A: I celebrate myself by investing in art that looks like me, that feels like me. Sophomore year of high school I went to an all girls private boarding school, in North Carolina. I took this class called Renaissance history, and it was the best thing ever. I love Renaissance art. I love it so much. I went to Italy. I studied all the art and it was so much fun, until I realized a year later that I can’t be investing in art that doesn’t look like me or feel like me, all the time. The more that I consume that, the more I don’t feel okay about myself.
So I went on this detox where I decided… I’m only going to look at art that looks like me. I’m only going to read poetry by marginalized voices. I’m only going to consume art that feels like me, which means I had to cut out Renaissance art, because I don’t look like that. They weren’t painting for me.
I’m gonna feel more comfortable where I can put my voice.
That really helped my art a lot. It made me feel like my art was valid. My words are valid. I stopped reading that poetry they give you in English class about the girl with the long blond hair, because no, that’s not me. It made me feel valid about my art, and at the end of the day, that’s my self-celebration, because I belong here. You know when you’re walking down the street and men won’t move for you? You gotta not move for those men. They’re not there for you. You’re there for you. That’s how I practice my self celebration and validating my art- by looking at other art.
I celebrate myself by looking at art that looks like me, that feels like me.
Black lipstick and fishnet leggings- not the typical exterior you would expect from band Pale Waves’ girly, “bubble-gum” pop. Pale Waves is yet another of Dirty Hit Records’ rising stars that is suddenly redefining what we call “pop”. Like many other artists, including collaborators, the 1975, this new breed is no longer “weak” or “mainstream”, but, as Pale Waves’ lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie puts it, “music that makes you feel something”.
Shuffling Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist, I first came into contact with the Pale Waves and their addictive sound. “There’s A Honey” blared, while on my way to get some after school coffee, and I felt like I was in an early 2000’s rom-com. I looked down at my phone screen to see an all black album cover… seemed ironic for such a colorful, “happy” song.
But Pale Waves is not habitual in any way. Their non-conformist, unconventional nature has established them to be one of pop’s true revolutionaries.
Fresh, funky guitar, synth beats, and catchy melodies are pleasing, however there’s more to the Pale Waves’ “feel good grooves” than meets the ears. Listen in close and you might just feel a slight stomach drop or a trip back to the not so pleasing past.
“I will give you my body, but am I sure that you want me? Am I sure that you want me?”
– There’s a Honey // Pale Waves
This is what lead singer, Heather, is pouring out in single “There’s a Honey”, while I am ignorantly and blissfully ignoring the lyrics, while dancing around my room at 1 AM. “but am I sure that you want me? Am I sure that you want me?”… rip my heart out, please?
For what seems like eternity, “pop” music has carried the poor rep. of being shallow, silly, and yet to be taken seriously. Dirty Hit Records’ artists’, Pale Waves, Japanese House, and the 1975 are completely changing that. One single at a time, they’re proving that pop has depth.
Indie Success; The 1975
“So love me, if that’s what you wanna do…” 1975’s leading man Matty screams as the no-so-typical “boy band” makes yet another statement with their chart topping, 2nd debut album, “I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it”.
The album’s opening track is a bop. Take a listen and just try not to dance, however, there’s more to this fresh groove than a “good time” tune. “Love me” analyzes the not so glamorous nature of stardom and the desperate cry for attention experienced by those seeking their time in the limelight, and the corruption that comes to those with fame.
“You look famous, let’s be friends and portray we possess something important And do the things we like, meaning, We’ve just come to represent A decline in the standards are what we accept”
– Love me// The 1975
Matty Healy has been praised for his elevated lyrics before, and rightfully so. “The Sound” is yet another of the band’s successful hits with guitar riffs and pulsing electronic beats, and per usual, Matty doesn’t refrain to display his profound set of elaborate vocabulary.
“It’s not about reciprocation it’s just all about me A sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe There’s so much skin to see A simple Epicurean Philosophy.”
– The Sound // The 1975
“A simple Epicurean Philosophy”… this is not the Spice Girls, One Direction kind of lyrics we are used to seeing. This is intellectual, meaningful, and deep.
This is indie pop.
Talent; Deciphering the facts
As a musician, I always aim to celebrate talent, however, this does not mean that all artists I can recognize as talented are found on my personal playlist or of whom I enjoy listening to leisurely. A musician can be skilled, but not of my personal liking. This distinction between recognition and commendation is a blurred, often non-existent line for the average listener- a line I long to define.
Pale Waves and The 1975 have been met with controversy and often, as much disapproval as praise. Vibe to it or not, however, when analyzing The 1975’s beautifully phrased, high-level lyrics, complex melodies, individualistic aesthetic and brand, and over-all stunning showmanship, it’s difficult and almost impossible, to argue that extreme talent is not being fostered within such band.
You may have not appreciated, nor enjoyed, pop music in the past, but pop has been continuously changing and evolving, so as you have. Maybe, it’s time to revisit the independent pop of 2017. Perhaps, you’ll find more than just a catchy tune but “music that makes you feel something.”
Welcome to the Bronx, one of New York City’s 5 boroughs. Constructed of 1,455,720 individuals over just 42 square miles of land. It’s an eclectic center of culture, with a population 56% Latino and 43% African American. A haven to the youth, the Bronx’s largest age group is comprised of those under the age of 18.
Home to a million, to ethnicity, and the rising generation, the Bronx is a close-knit community with vast opportunity, however, traces of poverty and homelessness have caused this community to be cast in NYC’s shadow as a less-than ghetto or so called, “hood”.
This past summer, I had the privilege of visiting the South Bronx, on a mission trip with my student ministry at Preston Trail Community Church. Before leaving, I came across an article from the NY Daily News, stating, according to the U.S. Census in 2010, that the Bronx was the poorest district in the entire nation.
The poorest district in the nation… These words remained ingrained in my head. From there on, I, quite unknowingly, had decided that I knew exactly how this trip was going to be. Indeed, I was headed to the ultimate ghetto, to America’s poorest hood and most dangerous community. What I found, however, was something of the most extreme opposite- a vibrant, thriving, community.
HIP HOP & JAZZ
The Bronx is more than meets the eye, as it is home to some pretty monumental history. Home to the Universal Museum of Hip Hop, the Bronx is without a doubt the birth place of hip-hop itself. Jazz also found its place in America’s heart in the Bronx, NY, with great names like Billy Bang, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, and Duke Ellington born and raised in the city. These industry pioneers still remain in the Bronx today, as they rest at The Wood-lawn Cemetery along with dozens of other jazz greats.
If you’re gonna talk culture in the Bronx, you simply can’t forget salsa dance! “The Bronx has long been known as ‘el condado de la salsa,’ or the borough of salsa”, says The NY Daily News. Salsa was born within Bronx communities, when thousands of Puerto-African immigrants traveled to New York in the early 1900’s, and has been prevalent there ever since.
Human Instamatic: Martin Wong, The Bronx Museum of the Arts
Intersections: Arlene Slavin, The Bronx Museum of the Arts
Dr. King and his wife leading march in Montgomery 1965: Morton Broffman, The Bronx Museum of the Arts
Along with great music and dance, the Bronx is the city for another kind of art- visual masterpieces! Art, art… and more art. Not only can you satisfy you creative cravings by visiting one of the Bronx’s awarding winning museums, such as the Bronx Museum of the Arts, but by simply taking a stroll down the borough’s city streets.
The People’s Justice for community control and police accountability, a coalition of Latino and African American Rights groups, have united as one to help end police violence in their New York City communities, by bring beautiful artwork into everyday life. Public art murals, located all throughout the city, are used as an outlet for People’s Justice to make a powerful change. Of the 20 different murals, 5 of these can be seen in the Bronx. Each mural is individually unique, yet includes the same significant title, “Know Your Rights”.
Below is the latest addition to the People’s Justice’s Public Arts campaign, a mural in the South Bronx painted, in 2014, by members, the Justice Committee, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Streetwise and Safe, and artist Raúl Ayala.
The entire community is able to take a part in the making of these murals, including children and teens from the People’s Justice’s partnering organizations. These city-wide murals are just one of many ways Bronx residents, from all walks of life, join together as one New York City family.
NATURE & SCENERY
Pelham Bay Park
Pelham Bay Park Golf Course
Another form of art that you’ll find in the Bronx, is not through sculptures and paintings, but in beautiful park areas and greenery. The Bronx is the greenest borough in New York City, with 25% of its land dedicated to park space. Pelham Bay Park, three times the size of Central Park in Manhattan, is just one of the Bronx’s stunning, scenic attractions. The park includes biking and hiking trails, sports fields, golf courses, and the district’s only public beach, Orchard Beach.
FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Rich, influential history, and captivating culture, a vast variety of peoples and geography- the Bronx, as one would think, carries the admirable reputation of a close-knit, celebratory community. The majority of the country, however, this including residents of neighboring New York Cities boroughs, more often that not, fail to recognize the Bronx’s past and potential prosperity, instead, focusing on issues such as poverty, unemployment, and homelessness.
It’s should come as no surprise that there are negative aspects, living in almost any and every place, whether small town or big city. Issues existing within a community are important and shouldn’t be dis-credited, but never, should these less than desirable aspects take main focus- especially to an outsider, looking at only the surface of a community.
BRONX RESIDENTS TELL WHAT’S UP
Once familiar with an area, we find that things are quite different behind the glass, than from the outside looking in. Here’s a quick video of what residents of the Bronx think about where they live.
Well look at that! Bronx residents love where they live. Spending a week with some sweet kiddos born and raised in the Bronx, who adore their home and the people within, I experienced this firsthand. I live in a quiet suburb in Frisco, TX, with a city population of 163,656 and talk to my neighbors about 3 times… a year. When walking just a few blocks around the Bronx’s city streets, the kids regularly recognized and were greeted by an acquaintance or friend on almost every street corner… (Reminder: the Bronx’s population is over 1 million).
Every nook and cranny of this busy community was bustling with activity. Families gathered together at parks, couples enjoying a picnic, there were barbecues , and recreational sporting. These were just some of the community-wide activities I observed taking place- all of this in New York City’s “dangerous”, “ghetto” community, or so assumed to be.
What I found, however, was something of the most extreme opposite- a vibrant, thriving, community.
The issue comes down to this- that ill-based, speculative conclusions and assumptions about what life is like in a place, other than where we ourselves live, are immoral and must be put to an end. Unjustly, and far too carelessly, we insubstantially declare someone’s entire life, their home, as unsatisfactory, and “unworthy”, many times, unknowingly, binding an entire community to the debilitating chains of predestined failure. We are setting these communities up for eternal struggle, for a lack of opportunities and the necessary financial, political, and social support needed for the chance to prosper.
Yes, homelessness exists in the Bronx, and yes, poverty is prevalent, but why force these things to take center stage, casting a shadow over its amazing diversity and success? Take cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle. In all three cities, negatives such as poverty and homelessness exists, however they’re not what we associate each city with. So why are we doing such with so many hopeful communities, like the Bronx?
Developing the relationships that I did with kids from the Bronx, I found myself later encountering feelings of extreme guilt and disgust for dismissing the Bronx as I, prior to visiting, once did…
The unkind and untrue stereotypes I created, hurt the image and potential of not just a great city, but someone’s home.
Welcome to the Bronx, NY
For 1,455,720 children, teens, adults, and elderly, the Bronx, NY is home. It is where they spent there school days. Where they met their best friend. Where they had their first kiss, their first date, got their first apartment, and had their first kid. For Bronx residents this community is their life. Bronx natives should feel proud of where they are from, and we mustn’t ever let our narrow views, as an outsider, change that.
It’s time to celebrate the power of home. Small country town, overpopulated big city, struggling with poverty, or over-run with vast wealth, where there is people, there is community, and in community, we find something worth celebrating, always.
Imagine the potential neighborhoods could have, if we surrendered our lack of faith and interest, and started appreciating the goodness found within them, instead. Imagine the transformations that could take place, if surrounding citizens, politicians, states and countries close and far away, joined together in supporting hurting communities by simply saying “we believe that you are worthy of accomplishing great things”.
Your home matters, because it is a vital part of who you are, so celebrateyour life, by celebratingyour communities.
We believe in your home. Do you? #celebratecommunity
Early morning natural or nocturnal night native, let’s be honest, with work, school, a social life, and a million other things to do, sleep can be rare and mornings… excruciating. Although there may be no easy fix to the loathing of mornings and everything that involves getting our of bed, non-circumstantial, consistent celebration can indeed be incorporated into our lives, in even the most dreaded of things . Yes, this even includes those not so celebratory “I got 3 hours of sleep last night”, and “I haven’t had my coffee yet, so don’t talk to me” kind of mornings. Sadly, there’s no pill to take for common morning hatred and zombie-like sleep depravity, but there is a sweet medicine called music, which can sometimes be the best remedy.
Welcome to YourMorningMIX – 10 songs to get your day started off on the right beat… literally.
1. “7:00 AM” – Tennyson
This funky, fresh track is sure to get you out of bed and on your feet. Tennyson incorporates your classic, dreaded alarm tone, into a sweet symphony of techno pop.
2. “Let’s Make You Pregnant” – PAPA
Eccentric electric guitar, acoustic beats, and playful bass. “Let’s Make You Pregnant” ‘s beach-like, retro sound will bring you back to a time of drive in’s, diners, and dancing in the 60’s.
3. “Kerosene” – MDSN
Wanting to wake up energized and eager to seize the day? This new, synth pop bop is sure to do the trick. “You are every hope and dream, the spark in me. You light me up like kerosene.” Now that’s some motivation for your morning.
4. “Back Pocket” – Vulfpeck
To listen to this groovy, innovative blend of playful percussion, woodwinds, and bouncy bass and not gain a spring in your step? We’re afraid you’ve just committed a musical crime, my friend. Vulfpeck, the gods of contemporary jazz, with their genius, blend of funky jazz and pop, will whist you away into a moment of of, some much needed, tranquil bliss.
5. “Glitter” Tyler the Creator
“Firework… I feel like glitter.” Sounds like a pretty nice way to feel in the early AM. Not only is this progressive piece attention grabbing, but musically, impressive and complex. With a dynamic mixture of fun beats and differentiating melodies, Glitter, most definitely, gets us awake and on our feet! Props to you Tyler! We vibe to this.
6. “Landslide” – Oh Wonder
Rise and shine to this beautiful blend of soft vocals, piano and uniquely incorporated electric pop. “Landslide” ‘s mellow, uplifting melody is sure to inspire you in a mindset of optimism, each day.
7. “Grant Green” – Mr. Jukes
All aboard the soul train, this morning, as musical genius, Mr. Jukes, takes us on a ride back to the soul and rock n’ roll 70’s. This feel good, jazzy jam is sure to make the birds tweet a little higher, the sun shine a little brighter, and your day, a little bit better than the one before.
8. “Negai” – Zoology
Channel your inner productive side this morning, with Zoology’s new, bustling groove. Lively electric riffs, textured percussion, and exciting melody make this song a dance-worthy addition to this morning mix.
9. “Samson and Delilah” – Willie Watson
Folk artist, Willie Watson’s newly released hit is pure honey to our ears. This sweet, lighthearted song is sure to put a smile on your face, as you start off the day. After all, who doesn’t love some classic, feel good folk?
10. “In My Way” – MUNA
This new release by MUNA definitely makes our list of top 10 morning-time bops. The electric pop group’s collection of bright and groovy melodies, through eccentric electric guitar, funk-like bass, and synth beats, are sure to get us out of bed each morning. We might even be able to skip coffee.
Actually… we think we’ll stick with the double shot espresso, anyways.
I remember, very clearly, the first time “Party for ONE” entered my mind. A morning like any other, I was driving home from a friend’s house with breakfast food on my mind. Driving past my favorite sit down breakfast place, I felt the almost uncontrollable urge to pull in, sit down, and have a nice meal with none other than me, myself, and I. I imagined the scenario in my mind. “How many?”, they would ask. “Just one,” I would say back. “Party of one,” they would reply. “Party of … just me“.
As a kid, the phrase “party of one” was foreign and strange. After all, what was a party with one person and could there even be such a thing? A party of one meant no one but yourself, and that sounded just… lonely. Surely, this was a party I could live without attending.
Life, however, as it often does, gets harder with age. Friends came and went. My schools, my homes, all of this changed. With a few more years of constant change and maturing life experiences, I slowly began to understand the power of myself as an individual; the ultimate power I possessed in my ability to be happy, enjoy life, and measure up to my full potential, as a special and uniquely gifted human being. At age 16, the parallel of life and a sit down dinner for one person, seemed more obvious and applicable than ever. Perhaps, this “party of one” was life itself; a joyous, beautiful, continuous celebration of who we are: our compelling beauty, passion, and unique diversity. A party that begins, not due to the conditions of the atmosphere, but through our very own souls and minds.
At this party, we don’t have to be alone, as there are family and friends to join us in love and celebration, but this party is one we must choose to create, for ourselves, each day. Eventually, we learn that we cannot always rely on the state of our venue or the guests who are attending. There will be plenty of unexpected difficulties; difficulties we cannot control in anyway. We can, however, control one thing… ourselves: how we feel, react, learn, grow, and think.
This party, called our life, begins and ends with none other than us. For surely, we know better than anyone how to host our own best party… a party celebrated with others, but thrown by and made for YOU.
What’s to CELEBRATE?
Party For ONE is an online media site/platform that strives to empower all individualsin fully embracing their unique and exclusive, personal potential and power as diversified human beings, by celebrating individuality: the beauty, passion, and diversity that makes us who we are and this LIFE one big PARTY. A party that starts with ONE. At P41, we believe that you have a GIFT. This gift makes you uniquely inseparable from everyone else! We aim to celebrate these gifts and the amazing power you have through them; the power to educate, to positively impact, to love, and to grow. Instead of asking ourselves what we would like to have, as far as gifts, we ask ourselves what we have been given and what can we give back? So what’s in your cup?
What’s in Your Cup?
If this life is a party, it’s time to take a look at what we’ve been given to drink. Maybe it’s musical talent, an education, athletic abilities, money, creativity, a strong passion for something, etc. Whether it was earned by our own selves or given to us freely, we all, as diversified individuals, have talents, abilities, circumstances, and opportunities that set us apart from each other and if celebrated, can propel us forward into a celebratory future!
Life was never meant to be spent alone, however, at P41, we strive to strongly enforce the importance of the individual. Although caring for community is important, the first needs that must be met begin within ourselves. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to reach our full, powerful potential, and it is at this prime potential that we can fully and effectively serve and love our communities, families, and friends.
The PARTY never STOPS.
In an ideal world, a celebratory life is easy and consistent, but, as we all know, often, along with every up comes a staggering down. Your PARTY doesn’t have to be circumstantial, however. Why? Because this party is dependent on YOU. YOU are the party; the music, the theme, the memory filled moments, the laughter, and the joy that makes this life worth living.
So welcome to your greatest party ever: LIFE Featuring YOU.