Walk Through

I’m thinking of lines to transform minds for generations

They thinking of clever Instagram captions

Flamboyant poses and libations

All I know is the status quo isn’t working

So I’m collecting reparations

Give me your intellectual property

Or I’m taking it

I’ll file my own report at the police station

Money ain’t enough

Gotta keep a remarkable reputation

Street cred ain’t enough

Need more than being a hood sensation

Meditation ain’t enough

You can’t just be great in your mind

At some point tangible success is all that’s left

After you grind

-Shaun Liriano

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Okay Mr.West…

…don’t make me regret this.

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Photo credit: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/kanye-west-graduation-portrait-acrylic-painting-junko-abe.html?product=fleece-blanket&blanketType=blanket-coral-50-60

Let me start by saying, I am writing this as an artist. I am writing this as a student of life. I am not a political blogger therefore I am assuming you are already abreast of the controversy surrounding one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time.  I do not usually provide commentary on societal trends. I am writing this as a tortured creative soul.  I am writing this as a lover of hip hop.  I am writing this as an optimist.

I love hip hop.  I will not mourn Kanye West.  I do not agree with his political views. I am not even sure Kanye West agrees with his political views!  I’m celebrating the parts of him that I can morally subscribe to…his genius.  I will even go so far as to say that I am astounded by his acceptance of himself and of others. He has been saying that he is “leading with love” and that he loves every creature who walked the earth.

I am perplexed by the dichotomy dwelling in Kanye West.  He is talented and articulate.  He is a wordsmith.  Yet, he is thinking clearly (kinda) and he is not successfully conveying the true intent of his actions and thoughts.  In fact, when one mentions that he may be “hurting others” you can see the distress and the SUDDEN awareness on his face as he carefully chooses his words.  How does this happen?

People will take something enlightening, put it in a different context and then call it crazy.  To try to diminish the impact and the value of what I’m actually saying. -Kanye West

 

I was born in 1985.  The artists who have impacted my generation in an astounding way all had a common motif …they were “crazy.”  I don’t even have to mention their names.  You’re thinking of them right now: Michael Jackson, Prince, Left Eye, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston…

They were judged when they were alive.  They were called icons and legends when they died.  Food for thought:  We studied the poetry of Tupac Shakur at Pace University post his death.  We studied the lyrics and videos of Lady Gaga in English Literature at Stonybrook University.  Her “enlightened viewpoints” were compared to the great Edgar Allen Poe.  What measurement do we use to distinguish the difference between brilliance and insanity?

But I know the view is that I’m emotionally unstable, which is reality. Like you aren’t?-Lauryn Hill

One of the most terrible things we do to artists is forget to separate their human form from their ethereal imaginative alter egos.  We have to consider that in order for a person who is of this world to create something out of this world, he or she has to remove their consciousness from the boundaries and constraints of what is accepted as “normal.”  

Bravery is more important than perfection.-Kanye West

I am actually scared to publish this post.  What will you do tomorrow, Mr. West?  What hat will you wear tomorrow, Mr. West?  Will you forget this girl from South Jamaica Queens who bumped “The College Dropout” in my 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix? Will you forget this wannabee rebel who had “The wise man say, you’ll find your way
The wise man say, you’ll find your way” scribbled on the back of my favorite denim jacket?*  This fake actress-Spike Lee geek was glued to the computer screen when you had the balls to release your own full length film, “Runaway.”   I’ve never considered myself a “fan” of anyone really but the respect I have for your talent and perseverance is immeasurable.

I see your pain but I see your passion.  I can disregard the blond hair and the liposuction because that is just a physical representation of a spirit who is lost on a level that he wasn’t fully prepared to ascend to.

We don’t want to mourn you, Sir.  We want to be moved by your music and motivated by your mystique. Get out.

What I see here is nothing but a shell…what is most important is invisible.- Antoine de Saint Exupery (The Little Prince)

By: Shaun Liriano

*Lyrics from Pinocchio Story by Kanye West (808’s & Heartbreak)

 

“As Far As I Can Throw You”

Photography by Shaun Liriano

He threw her.  Just threw her with full force like you chuck a football through a field. He threw her. She flew through the air.

I always knew I could fly, she said.

For the first time there was someone he could trust with his life and he wanted to show her that he cared.  He wanted to show her that she was special.  He wanted to show her that he’d be “mush” without her.

I trust you about as far as I can throw you, he said.

Then he threw her.  He hurled her body and watched it spiral through the air. His love poured out of the sweat that beaded on her forehead.  His faith sprouted wings in her back.  His hope stripped her naked and replaced her bland clothing with an aerodynamic super suit colorful enough to match her vibrant personality.

At first, she was afraid. Fretfully, she gathered herself and tried to get her bearings.  She tried to get used to being in the company of birds, high branches, and jet planes approaching their landings. She screamed in excitement.  No one seemed alarmed that she was up there.  They expected her to be in the sky.  It was as if she didn’t belong on the ground and everyone knew it.

He didn’t look at her though. Once he threw her he didn’t wonder if she could take flight.  He BELIEVED she could. So he obliviously kicked a ball through a field and watched it roll on. He read an article from time to time. He viewed television shows at leisure. He felt the warmth of an onlookers admiring glance. He chugged along knowing she was soaring through the sky for the first time.

Isn’t he wondering if I am okay?  How does he know a larger creature hasn’t consumed me?  Hasn’t he thought about my loneliness? Sometimes it’s cold up here.  I don’t know anyone up here.  Sometimes I’m scared.  I’ve never flown before.  I’ve never been thrown before.  At first it was fun but where is he?  What is he doing?

Her fear ignited a fire so fierce it singed her beautiful wings. It incinerated her custom costume.  It sent her flailing through the sky clumsily…falling.

She landed in a bed of roses.  The thorns, long and sharp, pierced her skin and her blood mixed with the crimson red of the rose petals.  Her body naked and covered in ashes and blood writhed in pain.

She screamed out in horror, “My love! Where are you?  Why didn’t you fly with me?  Why did you leave me all alone?”

Silence.  She waited in the cold.  Naked. Vulnerable.

All the while, he returned to the field of her original launch every day after breakfast.  He wondered why she never returned. He assumed she must be enjoying the clean air, the ascension.

Why didn’t she ever try to throw me?

He felt her absence but he also felt her presence.

-By: Shaun Liriano

*Dedicated to my muse.

My life is part humor, part roses, part thorns.

~Bret Michaels

 

 

Out With the Old!!! (RIP Diamond in the Rough Category)

FYI:

The Diamond in the Rough category has been permanently deactivated (there will be no new posts in that category.) That category was created for promotion and marketing for small businesses and entertainers.

Diamond In The Rough is and always will be a tribute to all aspiring artists, music talents, writers and business owners who are currently serving the community by staying true to their own authentic individuality. We thank you for rejecting the norm and for giving us a healthy dose of passion and dedication.

Old posts may still be found in the Archived Featured Talent category. Also, any inquiries about performing or being a vendor at any upcoming showcases may be directed to my email: Shutyamouthandcallmeugly@gmail.com

Thank you for your continued support!

 

Inspiring Documentaries I’ve Watched Over the Past 8 Days

Documentaries I’ve seen In the Past 8 Days:

  1. Food Inc. (2008) Robert Kenner 1hr 34mins
  2. Living On One Dollar (2013) Sean Leonard, Zach Ingrasci, Chris Temple. 56 mins.
  3. A Story about Living Small. (2013) 62 mins. Christopher Smith, Daryl Gibson, and others.
  4. Gideon’s Army. (2013) 1 hr 36 mins Directed by Dawn Porter.
  5. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. (2010) 1 hr 37 mins. Directors: Joe Cross, Kurt Engfehr.
  6. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011) 1 hr 20 mins Director: Constance A. Marks

I’m addicted!  I’m addicted to life!  I’m addicted to the events, struggles, challenges, insecurities, fears, and achievements of people.  I absolutely love that they have the balls to bleed (figuratively of course) on camera.  Some of these really weren’t that nail biting or gripping from beginning to end but there were definitely some powerful moments!  So, I’m going to tell you what I thought those moments were.

Spoiler Alert!!!!!!! 

Gideon’s Army is about Public Defenders and their personal and professional struggles.  It follows Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander, and June Hardwick who are young, urban, and driven. I really liked Travis who dressed professionally, absorbed himself in his work and fought hard for his clients whether he thought they were guilty or not.  He was committed to the job and he sacrificed time, sleep and a personal life to perform at his best.  His apartment was right next to the office!  The film delves a little into his “daddy issues” of abandonment and how he makes the attempt to resolve those issues. Brandy was a little more emotional. That disturbed me (talking to the TV the entire film) because it made her seem like the stereotypical woman who was too sensitive to toughen up for the tasks assigned. However, the film concludes with Brandy’s courtroom skills.  I had to bite my tongue and set aside all pre judgments. The emotion she had behind her work that I thought would cripple her actually helped her to win.  Brandy’s defense and her closing argument and her relationship with the defendant were touching and surprising because public defenders in the south handle over 100 cases at one time. They’re exhausted and they are like assembly line workers.  I loved it and I learned a lot. What bothered me to my core was the fact that they were BROKE!  There is a scene where Brandy is putting 3.00 of gas in her car to last her for the next two days!  These are lawyers and professionals but they are still living the “broke college life” at 30.  I felt for her because how many of us are already in our line of work but drowning in college loan debt and squeezing into small spaces?  How many of us are living check to check?  How many of us are still coming back from the recession and do not know if it is over yet?  Would you be able to do your job effectively and honorably with that kind of weight on your shoulders? 

For more information on this award winning documentary you can see the following link: http://gideonsarmythefilm.com/

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead was great simply because it can be oversimplified.  If I break down the entire film, it is about poor habits, poor decisions, and addiction.  It shows what happens to the human body/our temple when we over indulge.  I love food but I have always been off and on in terms of discipline when it comes to diet and exercise. I have also always struggled with my skin off and on. This film convinced me that the coined phrase “you are what you eat” is very true.  When I am cooking at home, exercising, drinking water, removing toxins (i.e. alcohol, sugars, etc), and getting somewhat adequate levels of sleep…I FEEL AND LOOK BETTER.  It’s very simple.  The man in the film was able to come off of his medications and lose a lot of unhealthy weight in 60 days with a juice fast. I hate fads and I am not a bandwagon jumper.  I go to my local juice bar occasionally and I also get my teas and natural deodorant from them but it’s expensive. I will definitely try juicing at home NOT EVERYDAY but as a supplement.  The processed, genetically engineered foods that are making us artificial energy addicts are also making us susceptible to illness. MY FAVORITE PART of the film is when he is using animation to explain the juice fast and its effect on the body.  He shows the example of a child who scrapes his knee.  Knees are bleeding and they have bandages on them.  He shows the child tempted to remove the bandages and pick at the wounds or scabs.  He says, “The wound will heal as long as I get out of my own way.”  I thought that was really powerful.  How many times do we prevent our own healing because we are obsessed with whether or not we are going to be healed?  How many times do we try to expedite processes that need to happen organically?  All you need to do is move out of the way and let your body heal itself, fight off disease itself, and sustain itself.

For more information on this great documentary please see the following link:  http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey was a tiny bit creepy. There have been recent child molestation allegations but if you can get passed that, it’s an inspiring story.  Kevin Clash made his first puppet when he was 10 after watching Sesame Street over and over again. He put on shows for the neighborhood kids his mother used to babysit. By the time he graduated high school, he was off to New York to work with Jim Henson, his idol. You see this man who is chronically shy but comes to life in the puppets he creates. This is kind of a zero to hero story because he doesn’t encounter much adversity.  People take him in with open arms and mentor him. The important thing to remember is he embraced every opportunity and he surpassed his expectations.  We all remember people trampling one another in shopping malls to find Tickle Me Elmo’s.  I remember how popular Elmo was even when I was in 7th and 8th grade.  This is a success story. He was a young guy from Baltimore with two loving parents who had a dream and went for it.  He was determined and he was diligent and it paid off.  He visualized what he wanted until it manifested but in the meantime he was aggressively moving towards his goals. The film took me down memory lane and made me want to head to Michaels craft store and make a puppet!

Click the link for more information:  http://beingelmo.com/about.html

 

By: Shaun Nickens

Update! Site changes thus far…

Hi SYMACMU family!

-The poetry category was renamed ” A Woman and A Wordsmith.”

-The humor and venting section was renamed “The Daily Dump.”  It highlights my feelings about random events, narratives, and rants!  I encourage comments and feedback. All comments have to be approved by the administrator prior to being published.  So if you do not see your post uploaded right away, that doesn’t mean it won’t go up.  I have to sift through the spam! 😉

-The category “Girl Bye” was deleted and archived in the “30 Day Writing Challenge” category.

There are more changes to come !  I am still looking for Illustrators, graphic designers and photographers so please comment below with links where I can see your work or Tweet me @shutyamouthnow.

Bless!

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Happy 3 Year Anniversary To Me!!!!!!

Hello Everyone!

Shutyamouthandcallmeugly has officially been up and running for 3 years!  I was very very lazy but I have prioritized the blog, my writing, my followers, and hopefully my future!  Soon and very soon…the following changes are going to take place:

  • Chest Naked in the Park will no longer be a category.  It will be moved to a separate site all together!
  • The Poetry category will have a new name!!
  • Diamond In The Rough will have a new feature at least once a month!  This months feature in James Jones Jr and his new CD “Chains of Love.” Check It Out!
  • The “Girl Bye” category will be deleted and archived in the “30 Day Writing Challenge” category.
  • I will have some new updated photos and A LOT more poetry (frankly because it makes me feel good! 🙂 )

So stay tuned!!!!  Thank you for being loyal and believing in the vision!  Bless!

 

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-Shaun 🙂