Tag Archives: love

Letters to C: Home

15 Aug

July 3rd, 2012

C,

I’m on my way to Arizona, to stay at my parents’ lake house for the 4th with Kat and Lluvia. Last week I took 4 flights, saw 8 cities and have been slowly reacquainting myself with California.

I went to Napa for my mom’s 50th birthday then hung out with Kat in SF and Santa Cruz and did the drive down the coast to her beach house in Huntington, where we stayed last night. And now I’m heading to Arizona…

I live a charmed and blessed life and believe me I’m taking full advantage of my time back here, soaking in this beautiful place before I leave it all again.

It feels so strange to be “home”. What is home when a part of you feels like you don’t fully belong anywhere? Or that you’ve outgrown the places you did? I love this state, I love my friends and family but I see this place for what it is and what it does to me.

I’ve been so fulfilled with my “hippie life” where I’m living out of the van and I don’t know when the money will run out or if I’ll have work. The stresses are there but they’re over real things. It was pure.

Now, in the states, I’m anxious. My chest is tight and I’m insecure about my looks. I care how I dress or what I say and how I say it. It’s like the environment here causes me to doubt myself and all the gossip I keep hearing from everyone just reminds me of how I’m constantly being judged.

It’s a really strange feeling and I’m worried all the growth I’ve done is going to unravel in my few short weeks here. I see myself slipping into the habits I’ve happily rid myself of. It worries me a bit.

These are the people I know and love and this my home country, but now I feel like I don’t belong or that it’s best for me not to belong. I guess what I’m saying is I think I’m making the right decision by moving to Oz and I think you did by moving to NYC.

Take Care,

Alex

Tourist in My Backyard: San Diego LGBT Pride Festival

25 Jul

As a California native and proud supporter of LGBT rights,  I can’t believe that with all the wonderful cities in my state holding annual pride festivals I had never been to one. So when my best friend Kat invited me to join her and her fabulous cousin, Austin, for the last day of San Diego’s Pride Weekend, I jumped at the chance.

I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen festival pictures before where everyone dressed in brightly colored outlandish outfits adorned with wigs, props, fake eyelashes and glitter (think Club Kids of the 90s), so that morning I sifted through my closet and tried to find the most pride-friendly, rainbow-colored garment I could.

I settled on my usual look. I like earth tones, what can I say?

Seth Green and Macaulay Culkin in the Club Kid cult-classic “Party Monster”

I met Kat in Huntington Beach and Austin picked us up on his way from L.A. The electro-dance tunes of Britney Spears and whoever was on the latest top 40 list were bumping and Austin did interpretive dances to their lyrics the whole drive down. I was thrilled: it wasn’t even 11a.m. yet and we had a club in our car.

We decided to skip the Pride Parade and Block Party in Hillcrest and went straight to the W Hotel since Austin knew one of the people throwing the massive pool party. We grabbed our drinks at the bar downstairs and made our way through crowd to the third floor deck that floats in the middle of downtown. There were half-naked gay boys as far as the eye could see,  some in dramatic outfits and others looking like they might still be in the closet.

I was feeling overdressed in my shorts and tank top when a Speedo-wearing cutie tapped me on the shoulder as he walked by and said, “You’re the hottest bitch here.” I blushed and said thank you.  He smirked and walked away.

“I could get used to this,” I said to Kat and Austin, with a beaming smile and a boost to my ego. I reveled in how nice it was to get a compliment from a man with no ulterior motives.

The rest of the day continued in much the same fashion as each person we met greeted us with love and sincerity. Boys gushed to Kat telling her she looked like Lady Gaga and Austin innocently kissed his friends on the lips as they said goodbye.  Even as we left the W Hotel pool party and went bar hopping the theme continued and people saw past your gender or your reputation and accepted you for who you are.

Months after same-sex marriage was legalized in California in 2008, the LGBT community’s landmark victory was taken from them with the passage of Prop 8,  or Prop HATE as we refer to it, which amended the earlier decision and limited marriages between a man and a woman. Even though same-sex marriage licenses issued before Prop 8’s passage were still legally recognized,  equal rights supporters knew we’d taken ten steps backward.

Pride weekends, however, feel like a step in the right direction because they’re filled with love and acceptance. No matter who you are or who you’re into: you’re welcome. All races. All backgrounds. All genders. It was eye-opening to see so many men who might be minorities in their day-to-day lives congregating in a brotherhood that dared them to be free. Pride weekend is not about sexual preferences and “alternative” lifestyles. It’s about celebrating who you are.

Davis Fetter: The Interview

17 Sep

                                                                                                                            Photo: Haley Reed

Davis Fetter was the creative force behind Venus Infers but he’s recently decided to step out on his own. He’s foregone his previously enigmatic presence and now records songs that peer directly into his soul. Read on as Fetter opens up about his involvement with Venus Infers, how he’s never really been in love and how he’s transitioned from a guitarist and songwriter to a one-man band.

A: People are always comparing you to other artists, from Bono to Julian Casablancas. Does that make you feel like you’re being stereotyped? Like you’ve been put into a box?

D: People come at you with comparisons all the time. Like a fan will say I like your song because it reminds me of this and I think that’s cool because that means they’re personalizing it, but if they’re comparing it in a bad way and dismissing it because it’s a derivative of something else, that’s not as fun but I think it’s okay.

I always think if people are listening then my job is done, I’ve gotten them to listen to it. You can’t force people to like your music, you can only have them interact with it how they want to and that’s the beauty of music. Everyone is going to have their own personal taste.

Music is funny because people take it so personally, even when they’re not creating it. And it can mean everything or nothing at the same time, to two different people. For me, there’s certain artists that everything they’ve ever done or will do I’ll probably love.

A: Who would those people be?

D: Anything that Morrissey is involved with. I have everything the Smiths have ever created except for maybe a couple random B-sides. They’re my all-time favorite band but definitely like the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, John Lennon – all the greats.

A: I love Lou Reed and when I saw your older band’s name, Venus Infers, I thought that had to be a play on the Velvet Underground song, Venus In Furs.

D: Definitely. I always loved that song but I thought it represented American psychedelic music in the best way. Lyrically it’s cool and you can delve way into it and get creeped out, or you can take it for pop music and enjoy it.

I think that’s the coolest thing about Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground’s stuff. It can be kind of twisted and dark or it can be like poetry and observations, or pop music.

A: I was checking out your YouTube channel and from the songs you covered it’s evident that you have an eclectic taste in music and a good range of your voice. Was it hard for you to find your own unique style and develop your voice?

D: Oh man, I’m learning everyday. I picked up a guitar when I was young but I never wanted to be a singer and I only started singing about 4 years ago. When I started Venus Infers I was just writing the songs, and then from writing more and more I would get into the scene just to hear how they should go and then slowly but surely just kind of kept going with it and here I am.

Those covers, they’re just for fun. I always play those songs live. I like picking songs that are either requests or just songs that I’m really into. Lyrically, vocally, it’s a challenge for me, wanting to sing like Hank Williams, or try to sing like James Brown. It’s just trying to sing like these guys that I really look up to.

A: Do you think your ability to sound like them has actually helped you find your own voice?

D: Yes and no. When I first started learning other people’s songs, that’s when I was playing guitar and I was real little and that was just about learning exactly perfect. Like every Buddy Holly song I learned on guitar, I learned it perfectly. And then I played them from time to time and now I sing them, sort of how the artist would have done, it but I try to put my own little spin on it. It’s almost like I try to emulate it so that I can change it when I play the song.

A: There’s a quote on your Myspace about how much you love singles. Why do you think you like singles so much?

D: I think the root of it all is probably from my parents giving me their collections, 45, singles. It’s just about discovering bands through one good song at a time. I feel like sometimes you can get more from a single than a whole album. I see the counter argument, I can hear my friends saying, no, fuck you man, Love’s ‘Forever Changes’ was amazing from start to finish and there are great albums out there, of course, I have them, but singles are rad because at the birth of rock and roll and pop music you got one song at a time because that’s how it was released. You got to really listen to that song and just get it, and absorb it.

I really like pop music and I think it has a negative connotation to it now but over time pop music was the best music, for me anyway. When I say pop, I don’t mean Lady Gaga necessarily, but I mean like Elvis, and Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, the Beatles and John Lennon, all the great artists that we’ve ever known.

You get that mood, you get that vibe because whoever created that single they were thinking, okay let me say what I need to say as concise and simple as possible. I think in a modern way, pop stars kind of dumb down the audience, but the classic greats were more like, no, let me give the audience the best and most concise version of what I have to say.

I was talking to a friend of mine who’s getting a PhD in Russian and we were talking about Russian propaganda and how it’s very succinct and simple but there’s so much message inside one phrase. I feel like singles are the same way because at least for me, one song will affect me more than the whole album. And also with me going under my own name, I want people to digest the song and get the message because I write hundreds of songs but it takes a while to get that one song that 10 others were trying to say.

Photo: Haley Reed

A: When you say now you’re going by your own name, did Venus Infers break up or were you playing with the guys and now you’re stepping into the limelight as just yourself?

D: Venus Infers was what I liken to Bright Eyes. It was the same situation – Conor Oberst wrote the songs and then put a band together. In Venus Infers, I was the only full-time member in the group and I wrote the songs, wrote the lyrics, wrote the music. It was a collective of artists. A few of the guys stayed in for quite some time, like a couple of years, but it was always my intent to write songs under a pseudonym.

A: And why do you think you needed to write under a pseudonym?

D: I think because at the time it was my first stab at writing and I was probably just nervous to go out on my own. At first it was kind of freeing because if you look at the entire Venus Infers catalogue, it was all over the place. There were albums with two different singers, 4 EPs where I was singing and then I had different musicians playing on the record.  Any whacky idea I had, I could pursue.

When I started writing songs a year ago, they were so personal and so focused and I was kind of like, whoa, this might not work for Venus Infers. These songs were about very real things that I’ve experienced so I thought I’d almost be doing a disservice to the listener if it wasn’t from me.

A: I heard you were chosen on the Locals Only playlist on KROQ?

D: My first single ‘Euphoria’ was just played a few weeks ago and then I had 3 singles released on KROQ that I did with Venus Infers. I’m really excited about my new song ‘L.O.V.E.’ because it’s kind of inspired by Roy Orbison.

In the studio I’m really into the 50s and the 80s, as far as recorded sound. It’s like the two decades I feel are the most unique in sound: the 50s being the most raw version of recorded pop music and the 80s being the height of recording technology. So when I recorded ‘I See Love,’ to me the chords and the message of the song make it a 50s song but the guitar pedals and the technology that we used was 80s technology.

Photo: Haley Reed

A: In that same quote where you professed your love for singles you also talked about how all your songs are about love. Do you find it easier to write when you’re in love or in lust? Or when you’re in some sort of love-induced turmoil?

D: I’ve seen it all and I’ve written about it all. I have 10 songs recorded and finished but I’m releasing them one at a time and I’m hoping people see the progression. ‘Euphoria’ is about looking for that feeling of perfection, basically longing for love. But ‘I See Love’ is a little bit darker like, ‘man, everyone is so happy and everyone is in love and I’m not.’ You’re out and about and you see a couple…

A: And you almost resent them…

D: You go through these emotions right? You get envious, you get jealous and then you might hate them and then you realize, ah, I’m happy for them.

This next single called ‘L.O.V.E.’ is about losing love – a break up song so to speak, which definitely did happen. I feel like ‘Euphoria’ is about how I’ve never really been in love. I’ve said the word before but I don’t think it was that pure, unconditional love where you lose yourself and you find yourself.

To answer your question, I’ve never been in a situation romantically where I’m like, I’m so happy, let me write about it. I’m just trying to write about what’s real to me. It’s easier when you’re hurt or you’re longing or searching for love to write about it, because I’m still searching for it. That romantic love between two people, I’ve never really had that.

I’m old school and I like 50s music so I believe in romance and when I was in college and reading Shakespeare, I believed that stuff and I still do. I think it’s harder to find these days, I think our society right now is a bit troubled and love is kind of a gray area for most people these days but I still believe and hope it’s out there.

I made a list to myself about all the songs I wrote about and the one thing I didn’t write about was love and I was like, holy shit, what’s wrong with me? Why haven’t I tackled that subject? I started thinking about it a lot and trying to get out exactly how I feel and what I ended up with was, yeah I don’t think I ever really have been in love and I really want to fall in love, but I think I’ve never been there so maybe I can write about that. I think, if I can’t say I love you, maybe I can still write about, you give me ‘Euphoria.’

 (Originally published in OC Music Magazine)

Messages on the Wall

8 Dec

You pass it every day without so much as a fleeting thought. It covers freeway passes, it is carved into desks and trees and it lines the walls of bathroom stalls.

Graffiti has become so ubiquitous that its intent is routinely overlooked and its words are seldom viewed as anything more than the defacement of property by careless delinquents. But what are the stories behind these anonymous scribes? Are these words merely written for cheap thrills or is there a deeper expression beyond the surface?

Across Cal State Fullerton’s campus, female students are hiding behind the cloak of anonymity and tagging the walls of the women’s restrooms. The stalls proclaim: “don’t be afraid,” “legalize weed November 2010,” “remember you’re beautiful without him or her” and “good luck on your tests!”

Girls pose the questions: “is casual sex with friends OK at all?”, “how do you go from being boyfriend and girlfriend to just friends?” and “why are guys so dumb?” with a list of reasons from several different participants. One student writes, “if I had to choose between loving you and breathing, I would use my last breath to say I love you” and another confesses, “having depression has ruined me but in some ways, it’s saved me too. I know who I am now.”

“I just have to stop and read it sometimes because it’s interesting. I think it’s way easier to write on a bathroom wall than to go up to someone’s face and talk about it. That’s why this generation is so addicted to Facebook and all the other social networking sites. They don’t know how to have interpersonal communication. There’s a complete lack of face-to-face (interaction),” said Ashley Pillabough, an English major at CSUF.

Anthropology major Breana Cumberland enjoys reading the graffiti and is disappointed when the conversations are painted over. She worries about the people who ask for personal advice. “I feel like they don’t have anyone who they can go to, to talk to. It sucks when people write ‘you’re stupid’ or ‘you’re a bitch.’ It’s like really? Support! Even if it’s from a bathroom wall,” Cumberland said.


However, not all students are as receptive to the graffiti as Pillabough and Cumberland. Freshman Michelle Ruiz said, “I don’t think it’s right. It’s just a waste of time. They’re asking for advice on a bathroom wall. There are things here at school you can go to to get help where you don’t have to vandalize the school.”

What Ruiz refers to are the eight individual counseling sessions that each CSUF student is allotted per academic year. The service is covered by the student health fee but the sessions are remarkably underutilized. According to the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) appointment statistics, of the 68,873 students enrolled at CSUF during the 2009-10 academic year, only 1,162 students visited a counselor using an average of six sessions.

Students may opt for anonymous disclosure rather than seek counseling due to shyness or the lack of a support system but Sapna Chopra, a professor in the master’s program of counseling, believes that it is society’s perception of therapy that prevents people from reaching out.

“Over the past 10 years or so, there has been a real rise in the number of students with serious mental health issues, not just on our campus, but across the country. And sadly, there is still a great deal of shame and stigma for many people to seek help.”

Ya-Shu Liang, a licensed psychologist at the Counseling and Psychological Services (part of the Student Health and Counseling Center) said that the biggest issue she sees CSUF students for, is stress. She urges any student who is considering counseling to try it at least once. Coming here doesn’t mean you have a diagnosis. There are tons of people (who) will never seek help so coming here means that you’re brave enough to talk about it with somebody who might know a little more than your peers. It’s not like your friends and parents are not helpful; it’s the role that they have. They cannot help by having an opinion. They are not really impartial but what a counselor can do is be more objective.”

Nursing major Rachelle Ramiento proposes that the anonymous outpouring of emotions on the restroom walls is just another trend of our generation. Ongoing projects such as Post Secret, where people anonymously share their secrets on homemade postcards and send them to a designated P.O. box, and 1,000 journals, an experiment that attempts to follow 1,000 journals as they travel across the world and continuously change hands, have catapulted the phenomenon of anonymous self-disclosure to fame.

At a time when our means of communication are faster and more accessible than ever, it’s hard to understand how it has led to an emotional disconnection from our peers where, for some, anonymity seems like the only way to have their voices heard. In the 2010 Healthy Minds Survey, 9 percent of CSUF students admitted to seriously thinking about attempting suicide, a statistic higher than that of the number of students who visited CAPS.

Not everyone is comfortable seeing a counselor or sharing their problems with family and friends but anyone can hide behind a pen or a screen name without worrying about being associated with their message. Whether you see graffiti as vandalism or just another mode of expression, it is here to stay. Pay attention to its words and you just might find that there’s a stronger connection between you and your fellow students than you initially thought.

Originally published at The Daily Titan

More Pictures from Messages on the Wall

8 Dec


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