Here are a few bits and pieces of glass and ceramic that collectively make up the mosaic that is me. As I grow, new pieces are added to collage, each contributing to the overall picture. Maybe if you take a step back, you’ll be able to see it.
“The Water Museum” – Luis Alberto Urrea
Sometimes, it seems that life is an ongoing struggle − sometimes between good and evil but other times we struggle against those who seem to be different from us or against ourselves or against fate or against the law or against ethics or against the human race or even against the world in general. Either way, when we pit ourselves against someone or something we are drawing borders and building walls to shield ourselves. The son of a Mexican man and an American woman in Tijuana, Mexico, Luis Alberto Urrea knows all about borders. In “The Water Museum”, a collection of short stories (usually in an American Southwestern setting), Urrea tells tales of people driven to desperation by bad decisions, hard fate, prejudice, and poverty in a way that is harshly real − and yet poetic and eloquent. Although each story is different and rarely uses the characters, one can’t help but feel as though each anecdote is only a chapter in the ongoing story of the struggles of the human race.
“Drawn Blood” – A. Razor
After attending USC’s Festival of Books, I returned home with stacks of literature that I am excited to delve into. I am now enjoying “Drawn Blood”, a collection of punk poetry by A. Razor, who has lead a troubled life (he has experienced homelessness and prison amongst other things) but has made a recovery by using his art as an outlet. He now works to help others who are at difficult places in their lives through is publishing company, “Punk Hostage Press“. Thus far, Razor’s poems are dark and intimate, touching on difficult subjects in a style that is edgy yet eloquent.
“State of Fear” – Michael Crichton
My current leisure book reflects the naturalist in me. As an outdoorsy person who loves all living things, the environment is always a concern of mine. I believe that we all have a responsibility to take care of the planet, since it is currently the only place that we have to live. But what if there was more to the story of global warming than you thought? Michael Crichton‘s “State of Fear” addresses the fact that there are plenty of people out their who make money off of global warming propaganda, so would it be so unlikely that someone out there is abusing the system? This alternate perspective will definitely leave you with a question or two.
Quadrophenia – the Who
This is my absolute favorite Who album (possibly favorite album of all-time) because it seems that it is relatable to anyone and everyone of all different ages, races, religions, genders, and backgrounds. I, like countless others, have gotten through everything from typical teenage angst to things that no one ever hopes to see or hear during their lifetime by letting all of my emotions melt away into the sound and vibrations of Quadrophenia. Everything about this album is impeccable – Moon’s drumming is superb, Entwistle’s bass is complex and intricate, Daltrey’s vocals are powerful and overflowing with conviction, and Townshend’s composition, one of the most ambitious rock projects ever undertaken, is perfection with each song seamlessly flowing into one another with samples of songs imbedded in other songs that resurface later in yet again in other songs, all the while corresponding perfectly with the plot line of the album. Quadrophenia is a concept album that follows the story of Jimmy, an insecure teen with schizophrenia (his four personalities represent the four band members) as he struggles to understand why it is that he doesn’t seem to be good enough for other people. Is it his clothes? His friends? Is he too awkward? Are his parents holding him back? Or is there something else that he does not yet understand about life, something that makes it worth living?
“The Professor and the Madman” – Simon Winchester
As a lover of words, the true story of how Professor James Murray, a lexicographer from Oxford, and Doctor William Chester Minor, a clinically insane but brilliant Civil War veteran provided the foundation of the Oxford English Dictionary (which in turn is the foundation of the English language) is one of great intrigue. I would have read it just from the description on the front cover alone, but with the recommendation of several friends as well I knew that I was going to devour this book. It is, however, definitely for a specific audience, so if you are not a fan of sophisticated and articulate vocabulary then this is not the book for you. But if you are the type of person who enjoys the madness of genius, then I would suggest at least giving this book a try.
“Late Lament” – the Moody Blues
“Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day’s useless energy spent.
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
Lonely man cries for love and has none.
New mother picks up and suckles her son,
Senior citizens wish they were young.
Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white,
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?”
This is one of my favorite poems (I guess it’s also a song too, sort-of?), written by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, often featured at the end of their song “Nights in White Satin”. Maybe it’s a bit cheesy or psychedelic and trippy, but then again that’s the 60’s for you. In spite of any weirdness, it’s an insightful piece nonetheless.
The Beatles and Stones Rediscovered
Recently discovered, never seen before photographs of the Beatles and Rolling Stones were found in the basement of their US tour manager, amateur photographer, and close friend, Bob Bonis. These are great candid shots of the bands between 1964-1966 that show what the legendary musicians were like in real life, beyond the stage and the press. These images aren’t of idolized rock gods but of people being who they were amongst friends and those who loved them.