Author Archives: Citizen LA

Macy Gray : Sympathetic Opportunism
Macy Gray: Sympathetic Opportunismfotoboy62 | Citizen LA

To act on an opportunity or not: a deceptively simple choice governing our everyday existence.

Weighing the consequences of a decision is admirable, but as we all know, it is action, rather than intention, that ultimately defines us within and without.

As there is often a thin line that separates an act of “appropriate self-interest” with an act of “detrimental self-centeredness”, what defines an act is the context behind making the decision, the pattern of responses to the opportunity, and how the decision is perceived by ourselves and others.

And it is here where we find ourselves at an existential crossroads. Do we follow the principle of doing what we want? Or, doing what is the right thing to do?

For all the wonderful opportunities life has thrown her way, multi-platinum recording artist and Grammy Award winner Macy Gray has also tasted the bitterness of fame. Yet, rather than playing the victim, Macy’s philosophy eschews the very notion of wallowing in the mire of the past.

By not succumbing to criticism, and alternatively focusing on being genuine and true to form, Macy has gained invaluable insight, revealing a courageous personality who continues to create inspired music.

Pulling information out of Macy was… well… as if on a tiny research vessel, struggling to tag a ginormous fish with experience in evasion. Not that she didn’t want to be observed, Macy just didn’t want to be stuffed and displayed on a trophy wall, placed into some biased juxtaposition without having a voice to express or defend herself.

And can we really blame her?

Though her answers were often curt, veiled beneath a veneer of cool, Macy’s unapologetic nature seemed to be paved with gratitude and good intentions.

As the Q&A scrimmage continued, we eventually came around to the subject of opportunism. It was here when Macy perked up, stating, “I don’t think capitalizing on opportunities makes you a bad person.”

To which I responded, “Everybody should have the opportunity to succeed, but we shouldn’t be intentionally crushing people on the way up.”

We both agreed that the goal is to remain mindful and sympathetic while capitalizing on opportunity, as prowess is no substitution for kindness. But regardless of good intentions, it’s often difficult not to let the means justify the ends… especially when paraded as a poster child for the excesses of stardom.

It’s no secret that Macy had her bouts with controversy, but as she puts it, “Unless it’s a direct attack against me, I don’t pay much attention.”

While some artists are simply looking to bask in unscrupulous fame, others fearlessly deliver their message on point sticking to principle. As for Macy, it’s the courage of the latter that she chooses to embrace, and share with the world.

It takes a nimble, yet uncompromising, mindset to sidestep the destructive nature of the ego, and gracefully traverse the moral wastelands of the entertainment business. Though she emerged as a successful singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and actress, Macy is mindful that she beat the odds.

“How do you feel about Billie Holiday?” I ask.

Macy again perks up, “She was incredible… a black woman, in New York, on stage, in the 40s, dealing with segregation? That takes guts.”

Other than being a great jazz singer and performer, Billie Holiday fell into situations that impacted her health and career. I continue the thread, “So how can we navigate the insanity of the music business without becoming a casualty?”

Macy responds, “As a performer, you want people to like what you have in your heart, and what you’re really trying to say, but people do what they have to do sometimes, doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing.”

It is here that Macy touches on an interesting point concerning self-awareness and justification.

Macy continues, “Billie was in and out of mental institutions. She probably didn’t have any support, or rehab, the way they have now. If she hadn’t died, Billie would be doing the best she could.”

Self-preservation is opportunistic; however, we should never be coerced into justifying our actions, especially when confronted with overwhelming external pressures to conform to abhorrent injustices like segregation.

In spite of the seemingly insurmountable marginalization of the 40s, the tide turned in the 70s when a surge in boldly optimistic black performers skillfully began weaving their messages of resistance and reform into their music.

Macy admits to feeling empowered by the sociopolitical climate of the 70s, a decade that offered a glimpse of opportunism at its best, and improved the perception of America on the world stage.

Macy Gray: Sympathetic Opportunism - 7884fotoboy62 | Citizen LA

It is clear that Macy’s many albums have never veered off course. Ripe with unswayable integrity, her songs underscore a complex personality with a steadfast message. No fluff. No gimmicks.

Macy’s impressive career has been a long road from her debut album, On How Life Is, to her latest album, Ruby. Though her music has matured in terms of style and content, the Macy spark still remains. On this note, I ask, “What has changed in terms of your storytelling?”

Macy responds, “A lot of things have happened, and I’ve grown up a little bit. I see things differently.”

She pauses.

Then flippantly comments, “You know, I don’t really sit back and think about myself that much.”

I press on. “So you kinda just go for it… head down… horns up… and just charge.”

With an interesting mix of counterpoise and self-compassion, she replies, “I think you have to. Once you get into analyzing yourself, it’s too consuming. I got caught up in things that I couldn’t fix anymore… so I kinda moved on. I don’t enjoy trying to figure myself out.”

Looking for confirmation, I state, “So, to you, progress is moving forward. Not looking back in self-reflection.”

She responds, “Well… I’d rather look forward. Looking back can be so depressing.”

Addressing painful memories is not easy, but it is cathartic. However, maybe at some point drudging up the past eventually becomes a liability, or a crutch.

Then again, we are inescapably the culmination of our past, and the wisdom gained through previous relationships. Furthermore, the true gems were those individuals who offered support during our most vulnerable moments, believing in us when we felt alone and misunderstood.

I ask, “How has the idea of family shaped your life?”

She asserts, “It’s all about being loyal.”

Allegiance is paramount, especially when people who WANT constantly chip away our patience and sanity.

Loyalty builds over time. Wisdom, on the other hand, doesn’t always naturally come with age. I playfully needle Macy, “One of your latest songs is called ‘Buddah’… so… what wisdom have you acquired over the years?”

She sympathetically responds, “When you have kids, you make a lot of mistakes. There are all these books about punishment and discipline, but that’s not really what it’s all about. Your best bet is to be there and have their back… and be a lot more, chill.”

“Chill”, I repeat.

“Yeah I’m too old for crazy.” Macy laughs.

As with all celebrated artists, Macy may repeatedly find herself thrust into the spotlight with her actions open to criticism. Nevertheless, the way things appear can give an impression quite different from the real motivation behind it.

With an impressive career and a fulfilling family life, Macy continues to excel. She is conscious of the danger in blindly adhering to societal norms, and is wise to the prospect that healing ultimately lies within us.

In lieu of the opportunity confronting us, for reasons much greater than satisfying our personal desires, sometimes we just have to take an action that may not be immediately understood by outsiders.

Just as with Steve Zissou’s infamous “Jaugar Shark”… Macy has forgiven and released her nemesis, which has returned, transformed, to dazzle us all.

Citizen LA

Debauchery In Exile

In a survival game set in the lands of Conan the Barbarian, Conan Exiles allows players to build a kingdom, and dominate enemies, in brutal combat and epic warfare.

Starting with nothing but bare hands, players explore a vast world full of challenge and opportunity. Whether hunting animals for resources, slaying monsters for treasure, or delving underground to discover the secrets of ancient civilizations, Conan Exiles is deeply immersive.

Adding to this already rich experience, FUNCOM introduces twelve DLC exclusive emotes in the Debaucheries of Derketo Pack. Now players can cast their prudence aside and give in to their darkest desires.

Choose to live out fantasies of being a noble, decorate your home with scarlet curtains and wine racks, and prepare yourself for battle with the intimidating Dark Templar armor set. Or satisfy base human cravings by chugging beer, getting drunk and juggling balls (your own.)

Conan Exiles has become one of Funcom’s best-selling games to date. Now that things are getting steamy, there’s no reason to return to reality. So, it’s time to quit your job and forge your legacy in the lands of Conan the Barbarian.

Burning Man Attacks Oakland

Illuminating the event’s origins, and its culture of experimentation, collaboration, and creativity, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man consists of cutting-edge artwork, sculpture, and interactive installations from Burning Man; the infamous event that draws over 70,000 people to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert each year.

Today, the event attracts thousands of makers, artists, and innovators, who together create a temporary city in the desert filled with theme camps, impromptu performances, and experimental art installations, many of which are then ritually burned to the ground.

One of the most widely-celebrated and influential cultural events, Burning Man is deeply rooted in California and the Bay Area with the first “burn” taking place on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986. No Spectators makes its West Coast debut and final stop in Oakland, and will take over the Oakland Museum of California‘s Great Hall and beyond to its galleries.

Featuring costumes, jewelry, “mutant” vehicles, photography, paintings, and interactive pieces, No Spectators will come to life through special programming and workshops where visitors can experiment with dance, music, and radical self-expression.

Beyond interactive activities, visitors will have the opportunity to hear from artists and founders of Burning Man as part of OMCA’s In Conversation speaker series.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man will be on view October 12, 2019–February 16, 2020.

Swan Lake Re-imagined

A new vision for this beloved tale, Loch na hEala (Swan Lake) creates a world of magical realism, compelling imagery and potent storytelling. From one of Ireland’s foremost dance and theatre makers, Michael Keegan-Dolan, comes of one of the most famous of all ballets.

The Dublin based band Slow Moving Clouds has created a new score that combines Nordic and Irish traditional music with minimalist and experimental influences. This Swan Lake is rooted in a place where ancient Irish mythology and modern Ireland collide, re-imagining Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece as a unique fusion of dance, traditional storytelling, folk music and theatre.

Loch na hEala is a stunning debut for Keegan-Dolan’s new company, Teaċ Daṁsa which was founded in 2016 as a means to forge deeper connections with his cultural roots: the native traditions, language and rich music of Ireland. Teaċ Daṁsa, ‘House of the Dance’ in Classical Irish, reflects Michael’s ongoing creative journey, further fusing his work to the place from which it originates.

Tickets available for the November 9 performance at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA) at Royce Hall.

Retrocade at Union Station 2019

Fans of classic games from the 70s, 80s and 90s, can step back in time for the ultimate arcade rewind featuring over 50 cabinet games at Union Station.

Visitors can play on an eclectic collection of classic arcade games and specialty pinball cabinets including fan favorites “Pac Man”, “Galaga”, “Donkey Kong”, “Mortal Kombat” and “Street Fighter”.

In a spin on classic arcade food, 80s candy and soft drinks will be available as well as nachos, popcorn and churros, including beer, wine and specialty-themed cocktails.

Serious gamers can enter the 2nd annual “Pac Man” Tournament each day from 5-7pm. Entry fee is $10 to compete on vintage arcade “Pac Man” cabinets and vie for top-score honors and a custom “Pac Man” trophy.

Admission is $5 per two-hour gaming session. All games are set to “free play”. Tickets are available for purchase at the door this Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29, 2019.

Tawny Ellis | Same Love, Different Love

Tawny Ellis: Same Love, Different Lovefotoboy62 | Citizen LA

Unpredictable, irrefutable, and profound. Though we believe love to be inseparable from who we are as humans, its mere existence relies on our willingness to place an enormous amount of faith in an intangible “energy” that flows throughout the universe unimpeded by space and time.

Regardless of our beliefs concerning the intrinsic nature of this emotion… the love expressed and received though our five senses is rather fleeting, delicate, and at times, deceptive. What may have begun as a fiery romance may well blossom into a more mature love, or it may run its course and fade into a distant memory.

Love is both eternal and transient… one of life’s greatest contradictions.

It is no surprise then that whether celebrating or condemning its ability to conjure a spectrum of emotions, musicians have grappled with the concept of love since time immemorial.

So powerful is this love theme that singer John Lydon from PiL was asked by the records execs to consider a momentary departure from his anarchist tendencies and write a marketable love song, to which he responded with “This Is Not A Love Song” (ironically PiL’s biggest hit).

I guess even the infamous Johnny Rotten can’t defile a love song.

Whether songwriters are looking for love in all the wrong places, or insisting that love will keep us together, love songs have emerged as both cautionary tales and medicine for musician and listener alike. However, to experience the healing benefits of love and the artistic expression that love inspires, we must willingly embrace vulnerability.

Singer-songwriter Tawny Ellis blissfully bathes in the emotional and artistic insight gained from surrendering to vulnerability. Furthermore, her quest for understanding has resulted in music that is accessible and poignant. Tawny’s latest endeavor has resulted in a soon to be released album, due later this year, entitled Love Life.

Merging musical nuances of Country with a subtle hint of Celtic folklorism, her newest songs touch on a timeless romanticism executed as subconscious melodic invocation.

Her video release “Pretend Love” artfully encapsulates a moment of letting go… often the most difficult yet most loving thing that we can do. The video embraces metaphor and symbolism, wrapped in a deep mystical expression of kindness.

Offering praise and gratitude, Tawny acquiesces to the mysteries of the universe via her latest release “Moonshine”, which carries a primordial message love, shrouded in humility and wrapped in admiration.

Tawny has chosen to delve into themes that extend far beyond one-dimensional love songs, revealing a true desire to learn, offering tribute to the universe and our place in and of it.

Citizen LA: Some people pride themselves on making simple life choices. Would you describe yourself as a simple woman?

Tawny: I am an emotional conduit. [laughs] However, I am a simple woman in the sense that I love my animals.

Citizen LA: So you’re in no way an a victim of your emotions?

Tawny: I prefer to curate fun. It sounds really corny but it’s the truth.

Citizen LA: How does love fit into your universe?

Tawny: Everything begins with love. It’s about releasing emotion within us, and with others, in a positive way… to avoid being highly critical, and just encourage ourselves.

Citizen LA: Your new album explores different aspects of love and our connection to it. Why love? Why now?

Tawny: I love watching the dynamics of human relationships. Unfortunately, there are unhealthy scenes happening between couples over and over again. They play house, then a couple weeks later they’re calling someone else ‘Honey, baby, lover’.

Citizen LA: The viscous circle.

Tawny: I understand that sometimes we get involved with somebody or something that accelerates our dark side. It’s important to embrace our shadow-side, work through it, then let it go.

Citizen LA: Do you believe that things happen to us? Or do we bring these experiences upon ourselves?

Tawny: I think we get to choose. If we search for beauty and joy, we’ll respond better to life’s challenges.

Citizen LA: Do you believe in good and evil?

Tawny: I think people can have a good or an evil intent. As far as heaven and hell… I think we can have them both right here on earth.

Citizen LA: How do you interpret or channel your emotions?

Tawny: I’m an ongoing piece of art. [laughs] But I have the tools to keep growing.

Citizen LA: I guess it’s about making the conscious decision to reach into the toolbox, or not.

Tawny: I reflect on what I’m feeling by asking “Is this valid?” A lot of people don’t want to talk about ego. But it can serve us… or it can destroy us.

Tawny Ellis: Same Love, Different Love | 547A5091fotoboy62 | Citizen LA

Citizen LA: How do you disconnect from the world around you? Or is this even possible?

Tawny: By picking up my instruments… diaries… and stacks and stacks of writing. I guess a lot may be considered poetry, as they didn’t come to me with a melody.

Citizen LA: Did you find music or did it find you?

Tawny: It was really about my voice. I remember being like five or six years old… I was in the hallway of my home, which had wooden floors and wooden doors… singing at the top of my lungs… getting off on the acoustics. I thought I was alone, then my Dad pops his head in and says “I thought I heard and angel singing out here.” He gave me the gift of my life, by acknowledging my singing.

Citizen LA: What were you singing?

Tawny: The Lord’s Prayer. But the first songs that I actually wrote were about my animals… horses and pigs and goats. I would sit on the haystacks in the barn and just sing. [laughs]

Citizen LA: The lyrics in these latest songs express an understated confidence. Is there subtext behind this artistic journey?

Tawny: As an artist, I think we’re meant to help each other. It’s like alchemy. I’m taking something that’s not accessible and trying to change it. I don’t want to be selfish or think I’m better than.

Citizen LA: We are influenced by the energy of the world around us. How would you hope your music alters or contributes to this energy?

Tawny: I wanna make people think through the music. In my song ‘Moonshine’, I completely surrender to the universe. I can have all of the intentions in the world… but… it knows more than me. And it may deliver something better than I intended. We should all be open to a different story that might be better.

Citizen LA: Like when you think you’ve ruined your painting… but you work through it… and it ends up being better.

Tawny: Yeah, like that shamanistic feeling of being carried through. I do believe in creative energy and it’s out there to tap into.

Citizen LA: Your new songs have Country influences, yet hint at something folkloric, which is interesting because country music does have partial roots in Celtic music.

Tawny: I don’t know where the Celtic thing comes from but I’ve heard that before. I was born in Savannah Georgia… maybe there’s some connection.

Citizen LA: Did you tap into this deliberately for the new album?

Tawny: It wasn’t a conscious choice. With this next album, I felt like I was taping into a world between worlds.

The ephemeral nature of love ensures its endless arrival and departure. Nevertheless, the fact that it leaves at seemingly inopportune moments is what makes its return so much sweeter.

Tawny Ellis continues to move the needle forward on her LP of life, endlessly in search of that transformative musical silver lining. Her newest songs speak to the wisdom gained by setting limits, while bravely remaining open to the tumultuous cycles of love.

As an artist, Tawny is mindful that without love’s shadow-side, there’d be no juxtaposition, no impetus to work through those feelings as song.

And it is precisely this duality, this contradiction, this suffering and consequent healing, that leads to a clearer understanding of the love around us. Wherein, once again, we find the humor, the irony, in admitting to ourselves… it’s that same ol’ love, yet completely different.

Mobile Film Festival 2019

Defending equality & discovery, and eliminating economic constraints by way of mobiles & free registration, the Mobile Film Festival promotes the creativity of directors who choose to tell their stories in one-minute max!

For its 15th edition, the Mobile Film Festival (MFF) has partnered with YouTube Creators for Change and United Nations Climate Change; choosing to take part in the action by joining the campaign ACT NOW on climate change launched by the UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres.

With the support of more than 90 NGOs, movements and international foundations, the Mobile Film Festival team hopes that these one-minute films from around the world will inspire citizens, politicians and economic decision-makers to act…

…and with €46,000 in grants at stake, participation should be a no-brainer!

Rainbow Shift 4.0

A unique exhibition celebrating LGBTQ awareness through a collaborative community of artistic expression, Rainbow Shift 4.0 offers an opportunity for queer visual, performing, and literary artists, and organizations to meet each other, plug their projects, and support a similar mindset.

This distinctive event, fusing art with social justice and curated by Baha H. Danesh & Tiger Munson, will be held at the The Montalban, and presented by We Choose Art, whose mission is to globally document a vibrant and artistic culture for tomorrow’s unique future.

The Ricardo Montalbán Foundation–which owns The Montalban theatre–seeks to provide educational and employment opportunities for artists dedicated to the Performing Arts, producing and supporting meaningful, world-class presentations that emphasize artistic collaboration, diversity and interdisciplinary work with community participation.

Erroll Garner Remastered

One of the most prolific performers in the history of jazz, Erroll Garner published more than 200 compositions during his 40-year career. Considered a legend among jazz pianists, his unique approach melds bebop and swing, resulting in music that is accessible and utterly distinct.

In celebration of Garner’s musical contributions, Mack Avenue Music Group and Octave Music are set to release a historic year-long, 12-album project, entitled Octave Remastered Series that features newly restored and expanded editions of classic Erroll Garner releases from the 1960s and 1970s. Utilizing the Plangent Process playback system and subsequently remixed by the GRAMMY Award-winning Garner team, the albums also contain newly discovered, unreleased bonus tracks.

The first four titles in the new series – ‘Dreamstreet’, ‘Closeup in Swing’, ‘One World Concert’, and ‘A New Kind of Love’ – will be released simultaneously on September 27. The subsequent series rollout features one album per month – ‘A Night at the Movies’, ‘Campus Concert’, ‘That’s My Kick’, ‘Up in Erroll’s Room’, ‘Feeling is Believing’, ‘Gemini’, ‘Magician’, and ‘Gershwin & Kern’ – leading up to Garner’s centennial in June 2020.

Garner’s most popular track, “Misty”, was ranked by ASCAP as the twelfth most popular song of the 20th century, and has been featured in numerous television shows and films. As well as being an illustrious musician, Garner was a courageous advocate for African-American empowerment and artistic freedom, which unquestionably added to the adoration and respect he received by peers and devoted fans alike.

Argento’s Remastered “Inferno” Soundtrack

Horror visionary Dario Argento undeniably appreciates the significance of a great soundtrack, and his choice of Keith Emerson was perfectly suited for the monumental task of creating the soundtrack for the 1980 Italian supernatural horror film Inferno.

Serving as a the second installment of Argento’s “The Three Mothers” trilogy, which began with Suspiria and concluding with The Mother Of Tears, the newly mastered and expanded release of the Inferno Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is now available from Waxwork Records.

A mix of both electronic work, orchestral compositions, percussion, piano, and a full choir by way of the Chorus of Rome, the Inferno Waxwork Records release includes soundtrack outtakes and alternate tracks making it the most comprehensive and definitive version ever available on vinyl.

Differing from the previous Argento films, in that it did not feature the band Goblin, Inferno‘s tale of three sister-witches that run the world with sorrow, tears, and darkness, is a classic installment from a master filmmaker and an accomplished progressive rock and electronic musician.

For more information, follow the link below…