Hello all! Sorry being a literary slacker these past couple of weeks. I have been writing, oodles in fact, but for various publications that don’t include LTA (i.e. The Crocodile, Spoon University, and Vice). January melted into February while Business Finance, hopping fences, and dawn crawling campus etched the fine details. I’ve given up on sleep and afternoons by the yellowing pool reading French Rhapsody [Update: I’m nearly-almost-just-about-a-few-fifty-pages-left done.] VICE editor emails are exhilarating yet stressful. I see my entire writing career laid out underneath income statements and trial balance worksheets—I just need to grasp it. My favorites are purely art because literature and music haven’t been stellar in the last few weeks. I went through intense Nights by Frank Ocean and Piano Concert No. 2 by Rachmaninoff phases, but they were fleeting.
Photography captured me this mid-month. I quarantine time for eternity, cropping and filtering it until it’s Instagram fine. I don’t have a fancy Nikon or Canon yet—iPhone quality is my cornerstone—but my history of photography class has exposed me to some puzzling prints.
- Boy, Bicycle, & Baguette, France, Elliot Erwitt, 1955
I first saw this print in a grainy, PDF essay about documentary photography in the 40s and 50s. I skimmed the essay, parsing its thesis and confusing paragraphs for class the next afternoon. The one-point perspective of the trees and the overwhelming cute factor snagged me. It’s a little French boy—Jean perhaps—on the back of a vintage bike with a beret and bread! I couldn’t resist. It’s such a romanticized past of deserted avenues, rolled up sleeves, and pin-straight poplars. The image is grainy when I zoom in, but I imagine a casual smirk on the boy’s face as his grand-père peddles away. Erwitt was born in Paris in 1928, lived in Italy for a few years, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1939. Along with his slew of spouses, Erwitt toyed with photography, the military, and film (i.e. Glassmakers of Herat, Afghanistan). His style is unusual, unsettling even. The black and white hues only add to the noir vibe. As for his contemporary photography, I adore the “scandalous” photo in the Prado Museum: all the men are drooling over The Naked Maja (Goya) while a lone woman surveys her clothed counterpart. Some things never change.
- Untitled, Kim Kardashian West, 2017
*Before you judge, I do not support the fame or commercialization of the Kardashian Clan. I appreciate this image because of its stylistic and artistic merits, as well as the controversial conversation it created. *
Who knew porn stars could be such good mothers? At least that is what Kimmy K is attempting to portray in a series of grainy, 1970s-esque images she debuted on Instagram. Featuring her children and rap hubby, Kanye West, the photos depict the “family” as laidback, simple, and unassuming…which is hilarious because it’s the opposite of the Kardashian West claim to fame. Wearing a white shirt and spanks with stringbean locks, Kardashian looks oddly feline to me. Her kids clamor at the background glass as she dotes on them from her mashed-peas perch. However, it’s difficult to see Kim as “motherly” considering her exposed legs—muscular and unblemished—as well as her teenage hairstyle. Also, her outfit (not to mention Saint’s plush suit), which is supposed to look casual, probably cost hundreds of dollars. After posting these pictures, the petty Internet exploded with accusations against her “poor” look. I don’t think Kim wore the stripper outfit and furry sandals to look poor—rather, she wanted to connect with her fanbase by humanizing her seemingly spotless life. Stylistically, I adore this vintage filter and how the greens, metal whites, and cool blues become sepia-infused. The softness of Kim and her cloth throne contrast with the hardened enamel of the windows and floor. It almost resembles a movie still or the interior of a dollhouse. The other unusual image from this series (below) shows Kim with Saint on her hip and North being kooky in the background. Again, she tries to look like a normal, diaper-changing mom, but her stripper heels (Christian Louboutin? Prada? Michael Kors?) give her away.
- For Such An Overwhelming Day, X. Lan, 2016
It’s scary how much I relate to this drawing. These past few weeks were a haze of no sleep, dried-out contacts, and furiously writing my thoughts in my journal. The amount of overwhelm has been staggering, what with higher level exams and the drama of “just-friends? or maybe more” guys. Even the girl’s hair, splayed and tangled like cheese sauce on the pillow, is too real for me. X. Lan is a self-taught artist that doodles illustrations and comic strips for a hobby—although her images are poignant and worthy of discussion. She is the pen-and-ink soothsayer of emotions—and modern ones at that. The 21st century crafted a generation of stressed out, overwhelmed youths like the lady with the rocking eyelashes. When asked what her favorite things to illustrate were, she replied, “Emotions. As mentioned above, it can be how I feel listening to a song, watching a movie, having a crush on someone, missing a friend, enjoying the rain or sun.” I do the same thing with my words, rebuilding feelings through vowels and consonants rather than charcoal and paper. X. Lan’s main profession is that of an English teacher, although her “hobby” has garnered over 20,000 likes on her Facebook page. She’s insightful, whimsical, and relatable; in short, the optimal illustrator for my messed up dailies. The other drawing I adore is It’s not that I don’t enjoy music. Sometimes I just prefer the sound of real life. As a braided girl on RTS buses, I understand this daily rigmarole of Spotify, sore ears, and blasting out white noise. Her image is cartoonish and yet scarily real, the doodled version of every morning. X. Lan is my visual counterpart, especially when she said on Bystander, “The comic strips are actually my kind of visual diary.” She illustrates her life; I chronicle mine on Word 2016. My writing is me, my entire being concentrated on characters. Find more of X. Lan’s drawing on her Facebook page.
- Friends, Mackenzie Patel, 2017
This is the first time I’ve included my own art—I’m excited!
I shot this photograph for an article I wrote for Spoon University, How to Friendzone Guys Through Baking. I ran out of time to contract an official photographer and the deadline demanded instant visuals. So I cracked out croissant dough, cut out “friends” haphazardly, and pretended to be a camera hotshot on my balcony. It’s nothing special—just a few Pillsbury crescents with scrap paper words on top, but I’m proud of the irony. I’m pleased with the burnished tones of the baking sheet and flakiness of the croissants. It’s succulence through visuals, and of course, I gobbled down a few after the shoot. Friendzoning through baking sounds ridiculous, but it’s effective to an extent. Also, friendzoning has such negative connotations; what’s wrong with just wanting to be friends with someone? It’s the same thing as having a friendship with a girl, except it’s more complicated. Therefore, “just friends” is needed even more so inside jokes, fence adventure nights, and pancake mornings aren’t ruined.
Damn. This post was art heavy, but I don’t regret the discourse on pixels, grain, and ink. Art was the catalyst for my present personality, not writing or music. Until next mid-month; Sayonara, Sammy~