Okay Mr.West…

…don’t make me regret this.

kanye-west-graduation-portrait-acrylic-painting-junko-abe

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)

 

Advertisements

“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

 

 

Vision Boards and What I Think of Them

image

I have read “The Secret “and I’ve seen the documentary.* I have also read “The Power” by the same author. I’ve read multiple Napoleon Hill titles. I have also seen the motivational video featuring Oprah Winfrey where she discusses how she landed the role in “The Color Purple.”  All of these works center around one thing…

Law of Attraction.

I have often been torn by this concept. I was unsure of how I could implement it into a Christian lifestyle. Can these two beliefs exist at the same time? After many years, my answer is, yes.

The law of attraction is just what it states. It’s a law. Just like the law of gravity it can definitely co-exist with Christian beliefs. Yes, I believe in God and I believe he is the one who has drawn the blueprint for my life. I also believe that doubt, insecurities, distraction , destruction, and distortion can lead you away from the path God has created for you. Your lack of focus and your inability to believe in yourself can cause you to miss out on His gifts.

What is the law of attraction? My condensed oversimplified answer is:
What you believe and envision can and will manifest.

We know this!

Look:

Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…~Romans 12:2

In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.
~Dalai Lama

So what is a vision board? My condensed oversimplified answer is:
Its a map that leads to your own self discovery. It’s centered on you and your desires. It encapsulates your wants and your needs. By taking everything  out of your brain and heart and gluing them to a poster board you are forcing yourself  to focus. You’re at least glancing at this thing twice a day (morning and night.) For me, the images return to me throughout the day. So let’s say one photo on the board is “new car.” I find myself being more conscious of how I maintain the car I have. I downloaded a budget app on my phone to improve my credit. I pack lunch more often to put that money towards savings. That photo is a reminder that there is a goal in place. It also makes that goal feel more like an official agreement with myself. Also, seeing it makes it seem more attainable.

Vision boards are also a lot of fun!! It was fun finding the photos. It was nice to take an hour out to be creative in a different way. I have secretly always wished I could draw. I still can’t draw but I was able to produce something visually stimulating (well at least it stimulated me.)

Try it! Let me know how it works out. Do you already have one? Do you think it can help your quality of life?  Do you think they’re silly?

I’m excited about my future. If you asked me last year if my life would be this abundantly blessed this year, I would have laughed. God has smiled on me and I owe it to Him to run a more disciplined race. See you at the winner’s circle.

By:Shaun Nickens

*The Secret is by Rhonda Byrne

For Pete’s Sake…Lick the Bowl!

image

I made this crumb cake on Wednesday!

When I was young my mother would bake from time to time.  Sometimes I would get so excited. She would give me the bowl to lick the batter while I waited for the cake to bake.  I would sit contentedly with my finger and my spoon in and out of the Tupperware.  I’d be wrapped in a pink comforter, watching a good movie,  with my bowl. Oftentimes,  by the time the cake was ready I didn’t want it anymore.  I was content with what I already received. 

The treat that was given to hold me over became better than what I anticipated.  I started to anticipate the batter and the bowl.  I started to look forward to the process more than the finished product. 
When did you stop enjoying the process? When did you become addicted to instant gratification? Don’t shake your head with that “no, not me” look. Yes, you! Why do you want the glorious rewards of your future TODAY?

What about dinner?  What about finishing the meal God has prepared to sustain you and make you stronger, before you dive into desert?  Thank Him for giving you a bowl to lick. Be thankful for the patience the process will instill in you.

Lick the bowl and enjoy it! The struggle is yours and specifically designed to give you the tasty tomorrow you are craving. 

Bless!

By:Shaun Nickens

Something Like A Classic

image

Rivaling with myself
Running, jumping and climbing through the dimensions of my identity

In my mind I’m sipping Baileys and Hennessey on ice in a jaccuzzi
In a black string bikini with my skin glistening in the moonlight
I’ll take flight into another realm of my imagination
No anger
No punctuations in life
No periods
No stops
No exclamations of uncontrollable emotions
I’ve rarely just gone through the motions
Deeply connected although sometimes rejected but never rehearsed
I step on the worlds stage and expose myself to its critical audience
I’ve cried out on the behalf of my occulent heart
Its been gagged and muted
In fear of making a sound and exposing what’s left of it.
image

I envision the princess turned pauper at the bar
Self medicated and confused
Thinking her riches are Bacardi Gold and 1800 Silver.
Her pumpkin has been repossessed
Her pride has been pulverized

I see the elder
She’s slaving over a meal
The kids feed the vegetables to the dog under the table
Her clothes are classy and discreet
Her hair is radiant and neat
Her home is immaculate
Her soul has been restored

I see a ’67 Dodge Charger
Its the color of Cabernet Sauvignon
Gold speckled
Dark tints
No wheels
No engine
A shell of hope

By Shaun M Nickens

A Day OFF to Get Back ON Track

image

I am the princess of procrastination.  I am the dark cloud of doom, often preparing myself for the worst.  I am emotionally charged.  I am a quick decision maker.  I sometimes explode to prevent from imploding.

The converse is also true.  I sometimes categorize explosion as communication.  I’m easily affected by others moods but only because I care. The bottom line is because of my character traits/flaws I have to “reset” from time to time. The one benefit of my job is I get a weekday off.

Today I was my usual rushed self. Ripping and running.  Hustle and bustle. I got pulled over last night about a broken headlight. So I went to Pep Boys this afternoon and resolved that issue.   I went to CVS to return some impulse buys and replace them with necessities.  When I’m completing my errands, I always have my 5 month old with me. The poor thing is in and out of the car seat.  Ashamed, I admit that not all time spent is quality. I intend to change that.

I got a text from a long time friend last night that read, ” Uncle _____ died.” I couldn’t even respond. After the air returned to my lungs I decided to call. Another young life. Another good person.

Life pulsates. It throbs. For some of us it is aggressive.  Its carnal. We can hear our clock ticking and we are offensive in an attempt to gain (or regain) control. For some of us, we need reminders. We only say “I love you” when someone is sick or dying. Some of us let life boil and then evaporate.

I found a park site near the local town hall. Its beautiful. There is something about being outside on a hard wooden bench. My daughter and I stared at the ripples from the fountain.
image

I can often identify with nature.
image

I wish to stand out from the rest. I want to be noticed.

image

My heart almost busted open with excitement to see my daughter so full of intrigue. So young. So attentive.  So easily satisfied.  Its not hard to build a connection with your children.
image

The gazebo was perfect for a picnic. Perfect for a wine brunch with your significant other. It was perfect for a 30 minute lunch break. It was the perfect spot for a writer, a lover, a hater,  an artist, a bourgeois “time-out.” It was perfect for anything.

I want the shutyamouthandcallmeugly.com family to know its time. Its time now. A wise man once said to me, “get up or give up.” I didn’t appreciate it at the time. No matter how harsh it is, its true.  Accept that you cannot control everything.  Have Faith!  Love HARD! LOVE TODAY! Take time OFF so that you can get ON point!

By Shaun M Nickens