Tag Archives: queer writer

A Writer is a Writer

What makes a writer a writer? Does it matter if they are published? Is it possible to call yourself a writer if you aren’t? Are you a writer if you simply write everyday? Is there a requirement that one must write everyday to be a writer?

Sometimes I think artists of any craft are the hardest on themselves. Perhaps it is the way our brains are wired. 

These are thoughts I have been pondering lately as I make a bolder mark on the world with my voice as a writer. 

Whenever I feel lost in my determination, I think back to this particular quote by a writer named Adam Gnade, “Everyone’s a “writer” between the ages of 16 and 22 because everyone at that age is a romantic. This is okay. The key is to keep doing it after the rest of them quit.”

That quote comes from one of his short essay books entitled Do It Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big F**king Sad. 

“Everyone Good is Necessary”-Adam Gnade ,Photograph by Traci Taylor

Part of me believes if you consider yourself a writer – then you are in fact a writer. Similarly to most things in life, don’t let other people try to label what you are. 

If we learned anything from experiencing a pandemic it is that we were almost forced to get to know ourselves and what we want out of life. Or you just felt stuck with yourself and it was a really frightening experience. I’d like to note…one that we are all frankly still experiencing despite the overwhelming return back to a “new normal”. 

What I found within myself during that time was a re-exploration of the writer in me. For years I called myself an aspiring writer, too shy to claim the sole title of writer itself. I recreated a website focusing on the things I love the most (MUSIC, MOVIES, TV, ALL THINGS GAY) and donned myself a writer. 

There are still many times when I feel lost and I need to recenter myself. I either go for a walk and listen to Jim Croce or I return back to that Adam Gnade quote. 

Whatever you decide your calling in life is, if you are already doing or creating – you are already on your way. 

Let me know below in a comment what are some of the things that help you to recenter yourself.

Summertime is Here Again

Summer had a greater meaning to my life when I was younger

Cape May, NJ Beach Photograph by Traci Taylor

-Spending all day at the beach 
-My birthday season (yes I am a Leo sun) 
-The opening of our backyard pool (yes, that meant pool parties)
-Family BBQ’s in the backyard with corn that we would shuck from Legates
-Endless bike rides to the bay just to coast down the big hill
-Wishing oh so badly that my Dad believed in air conditioning
-My hometown going from complete ghost town to overcrowded tourist central
-Nights at the Wildwood Boardwalk

Living in a couple of different cities for almost ten years I can say one thing, summer does not have the same feeling or meaning for me. Give me any of the other three seasons, please – because summertime in the city is not ideal compared to having the privilege of living near the beach in the summer. 

This summer more than ever I find myself trying to rediscover music I used to listen to that reminds me of having my windows down in my Jeep driving all over town. 

I tried so hard to get out of that small town, and now I would give anything to travel back in time to live another summer day in Cape May.

Here’s a taste of music that pulls me right back in to those summertime memories:

Diamonds and Coal – Incubus

There was a whole summer in my late teens where I would only listen to Incubus. I had a deep infatuation with Brandon Boyd. So, for me when I think of summer time music I think back to Incubus and the times my best friend and I went to see them in concert. 

Bad Fish – Sublime

Yes, I had a very long phase of deeply loving Sublime. I had almost every album and a poster up on my bedroom door. There was a time in high school when my friend and I were on the bus coming home from an away lacrosse game singing this song obnoxiously loud (the rest of the team was not thrilled). When I think of the summer and driving around in my old forest green jeep grand cherokee sport – I think of blaring Sublime driving to see the sunset at the bay with my windows down. 

Blue Sky – Allman Brothers Band

I’ve always self proclaimed myself to be an old soul. The music I mainly loved growing up was from the 60s and 70s. By the time I was a teenager I had a fascination with jam bands and hippie culture. The Allman Brothers were very high on my list of songs I loved to listen to on a cool summer day.

Sweet Honey – Slightly Stoopid

When you grow up living by the beach I think it is almost mandatory to have a love for “beach music”. Slightly Stoopid has the same kind of musical vibe as bands like Sublime, Pepper, and G. Love. Light hearted music that makes you wish you were spending days upon days just soaking in the sun on the beach.

The Wheel – Grateful Dead

My love for the Grateful Dead is intense. I’ve seen Bob, Phil, and the Dead in concert many many times – but sadly never Jerry. Those concerts really are unlike anything you would ever experience at another musical event. A community of Dead Heads come together to enjoy music and just dance. My favorite part was always the before when people just hang out before the concert – you meet some great folks at these events. I heard them perform this song and it has always stuck in my memory as one of the most memorable performances I had seen of theirs.

Jamming – Bob Marley

The love and appreciation I have for Bob Marley and his sons is one I could probably never find the exact words for. I admire his music and his story – I had many of his albums. As I grew older though, I started to appreciate the music his sons were creating more so. There is poetry to his music and you can hear how he sings from his soul in almost all of his songs.

The Traffic Jam – Stephen and Damian Marley

The song this album is off of by Stephen Marley is one of my favorite albums. This is not the acoustic version, but I highly recommend listening to the entire acoustic version of this album. I had it on repeat growing up. Fun fact – I was lucky enough to see these two perform on South Street when I was a senior in high school. At the time it felt so surreal to see the two of them in person, and it was a spectacular performance.

Your Love – Dirty Heads feat Ky-mani Marley

This is the ultimate – drink in hand, sand beneath your feet, and nothing but ocean for miles in front of you kind of song. A reminder of late nights with friends and sun burns I would much rather forget.

Baby’s Got Sauce – G Love and the Special Sauce

G Love’s music reminds me of high school summer nights and an age I don’t want to go back to – but I’d relive the carefree-ness of it all if I could. This song is a little playful, and is really meant to be listened to in times of joyous celebration. Fun fact – G Love is actually an alum to a school in Philly that I used to work at, and I didn’t know that until after I moved on to work at a another school.

Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) Janis Joplin

The time to listen to Janis is in any season, but I used to prefer to listen to her music in the summertime. Her voice is out of this world incredible and there’s no one else like her (and I cringe at the Amy Winehouse comparisons, so don’t even try).

Zebra – John Butler Trio

John Butler trio is definitely one of those laid back, beach vibes kind of tunes to listen to. This is one of my favorite songs, but “Ocean” the live version is worth a listen to. Every setting in life has a soundtrack if you think about it and music just like this is what goes along with summers at the beach.


Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead

One of the more high energy Grateful Dead songs that is highly ranked for me. This song was definitely one I had blaring out of my Jeep many many times. When my first nephew was born I used to sing this to him often and it would always get him to smile. He is about to turn six in a couple of weeks and that makes me feel older than I realize. It also makes me realize how fast time can go in a blink of an eye. Somehow though, it still feels like just yesterday I was riding around listening the Grateful Dead either planning a night with friends, headed to the beach, headed to a show, or going to work a double at work. Good ol’ summer days in Cape May.

What are somethings that remind you of summer?

Cape May Beach, NJ Photograph by Traci Taylor

Queer TV Characters That I Love and You Need to Know

Pop culture is everything to me. 

To me, pop culture is: everything relating to television, movies, celebrities, music, and the history of it all…rather broad, but you get the picture, right?

There are few things I love more than television. 

credit: wifflegif

Too many underrated television characters, particularly Queer, that don’t get enough recognition for how memorable they are. So often the same LGBTQ shows get highlighted along with the same characters over and over again. 

I have taken it upon myself to share with you all the gems of the Queer TV character icons that I adore.

Elektra (Pose) 

At first Elektra was not my favorite character on this show, not even close. Then I re watched season one and recognized her for the true icon of a character she is. The latest and final season really gave us a glimpse into the depths of Elektra (which was also probably my favorite episode of this latest season). Let me be honest though, Elektra wouldn’t be Elektra if it wasn’t the fabulous Dominique Jackson playing her. 

Jake Rodriguez
(Tales of the City 2019) 

Image from metro.co.uk

I love the majority of the characters in the most recent adaptation of Tales of the City (based off of the series of books by Armistead Maupin) and the actors who play them. For me though, it is the depth of Jake’s character and his journey throughout the miniseries that made him stand out for me. The actor who plays Jake in Tales of the City, Garcia, really has a way of making you fall in love with their character…or maybe that was just me. 

Alice (The L Word) 

Everyone may think of Shane or Bette or Tina or Bette and Tina when they think of the L Word…but without Alice, would there even be an L word? There is so much to love about Alice with her humor and quirks. She loves hard, really hard and there is something relatable about that. Leisha Hailey is a gem, and she continues to portray Alice in the L Word Generation Q where she is still just as lovable as ever. 

Noah (Noah’s Arc) 

Image from towleroad

Noah’s Arc was actually a quarantine binge last year from my partner and I. Neither of us had ever seen the show before, but got instantly hooked and then instantly sad because there are only two seasons (and you can no longer get the movie that follows it up). All of the characters within the show are likeable, but Noah is a stand out in my eyes. Darryl Stephens portrays Noah in a way that you are always hoping things work out for him in the end. 

Marco (Degrassi) 

Too often the Canadian show about ALL the teen issues to ever happen and I mean ALL of them goes forgotten. Unless of course you remember where Drake really started from or you watched his latest “I’m Upset” video where fans of Degrassi got the brief reunion we all desperately, secretly, yearn for. I don’t think it would be possible for me to write a list of TV Queer icons without mentioning Marco. He was my introduction to a younger gay person learning to discover, accept themselves, and be proud of who they are. 

Alice (Good Trouble)

Yes, another Alice. This may be just because I love Sherry Cola (the actor who portrays Alice), but ultimately she is one of the greatest current Queer characters on TV right now. Alice is charming, funny, and quirky (there must be something in the character name). For me, when a character feels like you wish they were your best friend in real life – you know the writing & actor portraying the character have done their jobs. 

Kay
(Banana ep 6 ..also featured in
Cucumber eps 7 & 8) 

This is really just because I love T’Nia and everything she ever acts in (Also see her in two of my personal favorites – Years & Years and Bly Manor). There’s this Queer butterfly flutter that happens when you watch an actor in a Queer role and then also discover they themselves are Queer…that definitely happened for me after watching the episodes with Kay in them. 

Emmett (Queer as Folk US) 

Queer as Folk may be outdated in many many things, but there is no denying how lovable Emmett is. After I finally sat down to watch the series a couple of years back, each episode always left me wishing Emmett was my best friend. Once again, when this happens in a show you know the job was done right. Plus, the actor who portrays Emmett also created one of my favorite shows The Fosters which also brought us Good Trouble (remember Alice from earlier in the list?)…see everything comes full circle. 

Micah (L Word Generation Q) 

One of my graduation gifts from grad school last year was a cameo from Leo Sheng who potrays Micah in the L Word Generation Q…because my partner knows how he is my favorite new character in the reboot series. I geeked out to say the least. The character of Micah brings so much joy to the new series – between his friendship relations and his romantic relations …he really is the most likeable, relatable new character in Generation Q. 

Titus
(Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) 

Last but certainly not least..because there was no order to this list. The comedy, the broadway-esque spontaneity, the radiance…he really is a stand out character throughout the entire series. Not to mention a loyal friend to Kimmy through and through. Without Tituss Burgess the character of Titus Andromedon would not be as flawlessly spectacular as he is.

Who are some of your favorite Queer TV Characters? I would love to hear, let me know below in the comments!

Sunsets, Sunrises, & Relaxation

There are many times I try to find ways to center myself through meditation or just listening to music. This week I learned a 4-7-8 breathing technique from my therapist that I found helpful in the moment. 

First you inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold that breath in for 7 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. I repeated this about four times – and felt my anxiety sort of melt away. This isn’t a guaranteed fix and I am no expert – but when I learn things that I find helpful for me, I think it is important to share just in case it may help someone else along the way. 

Watching sunsets or sunrises used to be my favorite calming activity that left me feeling a sense of relief and hope. I often miss seeing those sights in my old South Philly apartment and definitely miss the beauty of a Cape May sunset in my hometown. 

Which is why I take so many sunset/sunrise photos and the reason behind the photo wall in my apartment. Looking back over those photographs gives me a sense of comfort, almost like I feel at home when looking at them. 

Here are a few of my favorite sunset/sunrise photos I have captured with my commentary attached: 

North Cape May, NJ by the bay 2015

This photograph was taken the last time I went to see my Mom Mom before she got too sick. Looking back on this photo always gives me chills because it is one of my favorites for how exquisite the sky appears – but knowing what I know now it also feels like a reminder message to appreciate. This photo brings to mind a quote my Mom Mom used to say to me often, “Ya know those bumper stickers that say life’s a beach? Well they lied. Life’s a bitch, not a beach.”

4th and Washington, South Philly 2014

Without a doubt, this right here is one of my favorite photographs I have ever taken during my time living in Philly. I used to walk all around this city and I captured this on my walk home from a restaurant shift. As a person that grew up in a beach town, I consider myself able to say this… Philadelphia has some of the best sunsets I have ever laid my eyes on. With that being said, most things Philly remind me of Grouplove – and at the point in my life when I took this photo I used to play this band so much it got on a lot of peoples nerves.

Mifflin Street, Home Sweet Home 2015

I really loved this apartment because of the sunset and sunrise views I got. After living in the same house for 23 years of my life, knowing I could never return because it was sold – I never knew if I would feel the same sense of home again. I felt that deeply when living in this city and viewing this skyline everyday. It gave me a lot of hope and reminds me of this quote by Mary Oliver, “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

Views from Seattle 2015

My spontaneous 25th “treat yo self” birthday present …one of the best decisions I ever made. A city I often dreamed about moving to since I was 13 or 15. Andrea Gibson one of my favorite poets has said, “Commit to loving yourself completely. It’s the most radical thing you will do in your lifetime.” That is what that trip and that fiery sunset photograph remind me of – to love oneself.

The View of a Mifflin St Sunset 2015

I wasn’t kidding when I said this view delivered sunsets and sunrises to photograph nonstop. In my early to mid twenties living in Philly, I did feel lost and unsure of what the future held – but seeing those bursts of color in the sky made everything seem okay. Sometimes I’d ask myself in Talking Heads fashion though, “How did I get here?”

Balcony South Philly Views 2016

Oh to have a private outside space in the city! And with sunset views that look like a painting? My Dad used to send me this song (Fall in Philadelphia by Hall and Oates) all the time when I lived in Philly, so naturally it is bound to jog my memory when looking at these glorious Philly photographs.

Portland Maine sunrise 2017

First trip to Portland, ME was a solo trip and I fell in love with this town. So much so that I made sure that one of the first trips my partner and I went on was to come back to Portland. This sunrise was a resetting of sorts, and beginnings were right around the corner that I didn’t know were coming yet. Whenever I need a bit of hope, I often will play some Rilo Kiley – that resonates deeply with this photo. A sunrise bringing on many new horizons.

NYC Christmas Eve 2018

The first Christmas I spent with my partner in NYC and it was absolutely magical. There really is a sunset for every special moment in life. After this view we went to dinner and then spent the majority of Christmas Eve in Cubbyhole when Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” came on. That song tends to follow us around, and when I look at this photo I think of my partner and our moments with that song.

Ocean City, MD at sunrise 2018

I grew up in Cape May, but my partner grew up going to Ocean City Maryland (which as someone from NJ that is not the Ocean City I knew). The sunrises we could see from the balcony were breathtaking. I remember during this time having lived in DC for about a year – really needing something to bring me back to myself. I didn’t appreciate sunrises or waking up early until I got a bit older. Truthfully I only ever get up early because of sunrises.

Sunrise Over South Philly 2015

No, this isn’t a painting…although it definitely looks like one. I remember rolling out of bed this morning and seeing how exquisite the sunrise was. I sat there trying to capture the vibrant colors. Hands down my favorite sunrise photo I ever captured living in this apartment. The song that started to play in my mind when looking back at this photo was “New Slang” by The Shins…no clue why, but it seemed right.

South of Spruce Street Harbor Sunset, 2016

Every now and again I would walk from South Philly up to the waterfront right around the time the sun would be setting. Growing up by the ocean I often feel compelled to seek out bodies of water as a sense of comfort or reminder that things flowing along in life as they should be. This sunset was one that brought me reassurance. In the words of Mary Oliver, “I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only the depth of my seeing.” Although plot twist, the sights did change because I ended up in DC the following year.

Born & Raised: Cape May Beach Sunset 2014

Last, but not least and with a classic old Instagram frame added to it as well. This was taken during my first trip back visiting my hometown after my childhood home sold and I moved to Philly. I longboarded down to the beach front from my old work place where I was visiting some old friends just to capture this sunset. My love for sunsets all stem from where I was born and raised – it is often how I hold on to that piece of me as I exist in other places in the world. You’re welcome in advance for this old Al Alberts classic…I guess I love my lil ol’ hometown in NJ more than I like to admit sometimes.

*please contact me for permission to use any photographs or if you would like a print*

Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken

By Tray Taylor
IG: allusiontoreality

Sometimes writing for this website feels like I am consistently learning how to ride a bike and continuously falling off it each time.

There’s imposter syndrome and loads of self doubt with being a writer, but the gag is …. in order to be a writer you have to get over that and write anyway. 

I don’t think I can count the amount of times I heard the phrase in my life, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I’m trying to relate that to what was working when I first started creating posts on this site and I don’t want to stray too far away from just sharing music with my opinions/reviews to each track or sharing book suggestions or writing anything in my authentic voice. I say all of this because I’m looking to grow my readership, so if you ever want to recommend my writing to a friend, family member, or stranger …that would be greatly appreciated. 

What does seem to be broken though are these past two weeks, because every single day has felt like a Monday. The amount of energy it has taken to intentionally find the silver lining in each day has been utterly exhausting. 

I have searched endlessly to find just the right kind of songs to make me feel upbeat for a mere two minutes of the day. Here are those songs (tell me why I said that like that part in L&O:SVU when the intro says, These are their stories.):

Shakedown Street – Grateful Dead

This is one of the songs that made me fall in love with The Grateful Dead and it is a song I turn to often when I want to reconnect with my younger self. My teenage years and early twenties were very drenched in Dead Head culture. I went to a lot of shows, played the music endlessly on repeat, and dressed the part. Over the years I’ve strayed a bit from my hippie ways, but every now and then I like to play the Dead to remind myself of how carefree life once felt…especially in moments of stress.

At My Worst Pink Sweat$ feat. Kehlani

Okay so, yes this is more of a sad bop. The truth is sometimes, when I am searching for music to uplift my spirits listening to sad songs that I can sing along to actually have a tendency to uplift me (I know I am not alone on this). This song is fairly new, and has been added to one of my recent playlists that I have had on repeat. I love the combination of both of their voices together – poetic in every sense.

Dead FLowers – New Riders of the Purple Sage

I admittedly didn’t discover New Rides of the Purple Sage until a few years into my love for the Grateful Dead. It was actually an old Tumblr friend that recommended the band to me. Sidenote: Tumblr for those that don’t know, is a blogsphere type of platform where others can connect through similar interests & blogging (Disclaimer sidenote: this was not the best description, you can Google it for further details). ANYWAY – my point is I have been going through old favorites of mine and stumbled upon this gem.

Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison

Oh sweet George – I have a deep love and appreciation for George Harrison. I think the first time I heard this song when I was younger, I became instantly obsessed. I know for those that have listened to George Harrison’s music this may seem like the overrated single and he has a greater discography than this song….and I would agree with this sentiment. However, this song still has a special place in my heart, and will always be a favorite. Especially in a time when I need a song to boost my mood.

Heat – Paul Woolford, Amber Mark 

This song just made me feel like I was in a club in the Gayborhood in Philly or at Pride …and I couldn’t resist putting it on the list. I miss music to dance to, I miss dancing, I miss the feeling that dancing to good music gives the soul. So, if you want – here’s a directive…turn up the music, and dance wherever you are…right now.

America – Simon & Garfunkel

Yeah, I know… another sad bop…and this isn’t the last one – so get over that already. I adore this song. I adore Simon & Garfunkel. They were one of the first artists I listened to that showed me that some music lyrics are absolute poetry. Their music tells a story of a time I wish I could travel back and live through. My old soul yearns to just live during this musical time period more often than not. If I could live in a song – it would be this one, hands down.

Dancing On My Own – Robyn

A forever favorite of mine. Robyn is a go-to when I want to get up and dance – but don’t know exactly what I want to be listening to. The answer is never not Robyn, so therefore it is always Robyn. Plus, I mean…”Dancing On My Own”… it just kind of hits different during a time of quarantines and pandemics.

Orpheus – Sara Bareilles

Swoon…Every. Single. Time. when it comes to Sara Bareilles. Her voice is like the sun setting across an ocean horizon and the sky fills up in bursts of all of the colors that every existed in the universe. Beauty that expands any true imagination. She has the power to write a slow song and I find myself singing my heart out in my apartment suddenly filled with energy. Or maybe I am just some strange person that enjoys singing sad songs even when I am not sad just to feel something? I don’t know. Anyway, she’s a master of her craft – if you’ve never listened to any of her music…please do me a favor and go, now.

Welp. That’s it. That’s all there is for now. Writing this made today, an actual Monday, feel a lot less like a Monday…so hopefully reading it did something similar for you.

If You Want to Laugh, Watch The Duds

The Duds, a mockumentary short film created, produced, and written by Sean White (the handsome actor, not the red-headed snowboarder from the 90s)  premiered on Friday, April 9th on Youtube. 

I should put a disclaimer on this post about my deep love and appreciation that I have for two of the people in this production (because I know them personally, and they also happen to be married to one another). 

What got me really excited about this short film that made me want to write a piece to get you all to watch it you may be wondering?

For me it was how well the characters are brilliantly written – and the way the actors that portray those characters deliver the words that will have you cracking up from beginning to end. Why wouldn’t you want a chance to chuckle non-stop?

The build up to this mockumentary pulled me in right away with the faux instagram profiles that were made for each character (taken from Sean White’s instagram: @seancwhite): 

*As appears in slideshow: Rosamund played by Zoe Richards, Jared played by Jeremy Konopka, Iris played by Chloe Mollis-Mcbride , Percy played by Sean White*



So I’ve pulled you in with the comedy of the characters backgrounds, but what about this short film is worth pressing play for? Well I’ve already mentioned the fabulously hilarious acting. What I haven’t mentioned is how well the execution of this short film pokes at true crime interviews. Which is a bonus for folks that are true crime fans, but not a necessity in order to appreciate the humor all the way through.

Sounds like a must watch and you’ve probably stopped reading this review and clicked on the link to watch (I wouldn’t blame you…) But if you’re still reading and you’re not yet convinced I want to highlight words from Sean himself on why you should take a moment to watch The Duds:

 
“I’m so proud of this project, especially having made it with the help of my husband and friends. I’m a huge fan of true crime and I got this idea when I started thinking about if there are ever any people who give interviews that don’t make the final cut. I think people should watch it because it’s a fun mix of two genres and I hope everyone has a nice laugh!”
-Sean White

Click here to watch The Duds!

If you are eagerly awaiting the next production..a recommendation of something to do after you’ve watched The Duds on repeat and you’re wanting more: Check out Jeremy Konopka’s (who played Jared Jacobs) hilarious Ron Weasley and Wanda Vision impressions to hold you over in the mean time on Tiktok (jeremykonop) Or Instagram (@jeremykon).

For Your Listening Pleasure: Recently Released 04/02/2021

By Tray Taylor
@allusiontoreality

I have an appreciation for reviewing and sharing songs that I have been listening to on repeat or just songs for the season- aka my infamous Happy Holigays playlist. Today, I think it is time to share and review some new songs that recently dropped that I think you need to add to your latest playlist, if you haven’t already. 

As much as I love reviewing and suggesting songs from throughout the decades and genres – I believe sharing recently released music to recommend is just as important (coming from a person that loves music and being introduced to new music). 

Some of these songs might be ones you have heard about recently, and others never before. Either way, enjoy:

Dancing with the Devil – Demi Lovato

I have been overly excited for the album to drop after hearing this single last week. This woman blows me away with her voice and her talent EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Overall the entire album deserves a listen, but I chose this song because it is what pulled me in. 

Recommend the entire album, but here are some standouts: Butterfly, Anyone, Met Him Last Night

Montero (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X just keeps giving us the music we don’t deserve but absolutely need in our lives. A true Queer anthem with a backstory that will warm your heart (as long as you aren’t one of those people that have been passive aggressive with your homophobia over the video). I couldn’t get this song out of my head for two days straight…and now since I am writing this blurb it’ll probably get stuck in my head again for a few more days.

I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) [Nicolaas Remix] – Hall and Oates

There’s no hiding it, I am a sucker for a remix version of a song when it is done well. And it is the right kind of song that can be remixed. This falls into that category for me. The song is already catchy, but with this Nicolaas remix it’ll have you turning up your volume so high that you’ll forget there are other people in the room that then tell you to turn it down (…or maybe that was just me…) 

Amir – Serpentwithfeet

The first time I discovered serpentwithfeet was watching the music video to Same Size Shoe which I loved. Listening to this album in its entirety though, Amir was the standout song for me. Serpentwithfeet is unlike anything I have ever listened to, which is a fantastic thing because it feels original and unique.
Also listen to: Fellowship, Same Size Shoe (and watch the music video)

Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen Cover)- Waxahatchee

Some people have strong opinions on cover songs. I would consider myself to fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Sometimes I have strong opinions on songs that shouldn’t be covered, and sometimes I think the cover of the original is much much better. This is one of those cases where I think the cover is better than the original.

What’s Wrong- half alive

Certain songs remind me of different times in my life and hearing this song instantly transported me back to a spring day in Philadelphia. I haven’t listened to half-alive in awhile- and was excited to see a new song drop. If you enjoy indie, alternative music…give this song a listen.

Live & Direct – Kota the Friend, Statik Selektah

There are few things I love more than discovering a new artist and falling in love with their art instantly. This album provided me with that satisfactory moment. Kota the Friend is a lyricist, a poet …so smooth with his delivery. Listening to every song feels like an experience, which made it hard to pick one or just a few songs.
Also take a listen to: Sunrise, Wolves

What better way to start your weekend …or for those in the service industry your work week...than adding a few of these songs to your playlist?

If We Could Turn Back Time (no..nope..not a Cher post…)

This past weekend I was having a talk with my partner about what things would be like if we didn’t have the current technology we have. If somehow the world time traveled back to before cellphones, streaming services, Google searches, and all that jazz. There are many benefits about the world we live in today, but in a world that is so deeply nostalgic for the past…there is no denying there are certain things that would be nice to still have around. 

The conversation had me really thinking about things that I wouldn’t mind from the past being more relevant in the future. And no… I’m definitely not going to be referring to the fashion sense that is recycling itself back around again (no shade, just my own truth) 

Anyway – there are many things I could have added to this list I am sure, but this is what I came up with late at night when I couldn’t think. 

+Landlines

No, you can’t access me everywhere and anywhere at anytime. I love cellphones, I think they are great – especially being able to download games other than snake on your phone. Part of me does fantasize about what it would be like to live as an adult in my 20s and 30s without people constantly having access to me. Maybe it is in the introvert in me, but sometimes it would be nice to say *sorry I missed your call I have been out all day*…knowing darn well I was sitting on the couch watching another re-run of the Golden Girls on Hallmark.

+Pizza Hut Buffets

Salad, pizza, and 90s aesthetic …. do I miss it? Absolutely. Pizza Hut used to be a whole experience, I don’t know how to describe it – you just had to be there. No other pepperocinis tasted as good as the ones in that salad bar.

+AOL instant messenger

The woes of my youth exist in the away messages I saved to use on a regular rotation. Was I ever actually away from the computer? No I shared a computer with my entire family – so away messages were more like the birth of my pettiness used to subtlety tell that person who just came online (because the AOL guy just made that door opening noise so I know) how I was feeling. And to add insult or a sign of the times..whichever way you’d like to interpret my usernames were: ripcurlgurl6675 and tdawg6675. Anyway my point is in its simplicity- it was almost like limited texting time with the option of telling people you were away so they won’t get a response right away. Why hasn’t that been invented for texting yet….

+MTV shows

Yes, there was a time when MTV played shows other than Ridiculousness on repeat. There was EVEN in a time when the Challenge did not look like an over the top action movie and was entertaining (yes I am looking forward to Challenge All Stars airing on April 1st). Looking back I feel lucky to have grown up when MTV had TRL (Total Request Live) and other ridiculous reality shows as well as some decent original shows as well.

+Speaking of MTV….MTV New Years, where’d that go?

Since ABC doesn’t allow anyone to watch their New Years Eve special unless you have actual cable we are stuck with some pretty awful specials that are sometimes cringe worthy. I miss when MTV used to have their special – would I know or like all of the content? Maybe not…but it would probably be better than what is offered now and would actually be filled with music acts.

+Okay so you’re bringing back video game systems but not the games I loved like Skitchin and California games…sure I love Mario and Sonic…but can’t we highlight the classic underrated games too?

+Skip-it

Some may be split down the middle on this – as I know this caused some people bruises and shin pain. But really, if you think about it, what a fun adult work out this could be…

+TV VHS Set-Up in the Classroom

To this day I am trying to seek the happiness adult equivalent to seeing this set-up in the classroom when I walked in.

What are some things you wish could make a come back from when you grew up? If not permanently maybe for like, a day? Like a Back to the Future kind of experience.

TV History & then some: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

*Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…*
the theme song that most people know, even if they’ve never seen the iconic television series it belongs to. 

Just last week I had the privilege of receiving the vaccine, and let me just say that the second vaccine shot knocked me out for four days. In those days that I was stuck in bed – for the most part I was in and out of sleep. So, I needed to find something to watch that didn’t require too much of my attention.

By the title it isn’t hard to guess what I decided to watch – an old favorite of mine, Cheers…and yes when I watched it for the first time as a kid it was re-runs on Nick-at-Nite. 

Anyway, for years (before instant access to Google and wondering these things solely in our minds) I had always wondered why they switched out Shelley Long for Kirstie Alley. Never thinking too much into it because at the young age I adored both actresses (Shelley for her appearances in Troop Beverly Hills, Brady Bunch remakes amongst others..and Kirstie mostly for It Takes Two which I had on repeat) 

Re-watching the series and now having access to the internet with the energy I did muster to Google what had happened all of those years ago I had uncovered all of the controversy that was entangled within the show. 

Knowing what I know now and the experiences I have had thus far in this lifetime, I watched the show this time in a different lens. Here are my thoughts broken up into bullet points: 

  • The amount of misogyny in that show is just…gross. But it was expected for/a product of the time period…I’d like to point out what I believe to be the underrated funny characters of Diane Chambers and Carla Tortelli. Seriously, close your eyes. Now try to imagine Cheers without those two characters. Is it even worth watching? 
  • I loved Fraiser as a kid – mostly because I adored the female characters in the show and his Dad who always sat on the couch. Rewatching Kelsey Grammer’s character in Cheers and reading articles of how he would bash Shelley Long..on top of some absurd excerpts from his memoir? The character of Fraiser was not comically better than Diane Chambers, so I don’t understand the comparison between the two- or why his character was seemingly more beloved over her at the time (enough to get one of the most successful spin-offs in TV history…like…what?). Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) was the best thing about Fraiser.
  • One thing that is certain: there is a difference between the first five seasons of Cheers when Shelley Long is there and all of the seasons after. The chemistry between Ted Danson and Shelley Long is there and it is in our faces- the two play so well off of eachother (the characters relationship itself is toxic, but the natural chemistry of the actors is undeniable). I never noticed the obvious difference between the replacement of the two actresses when I was younger – in fact I think I adored Kirstie Alley seasons more so. But noticing how well the character of Diane bounced off the characters that surrounded her with such effortless comedic timing was undoubtedly missing from season six on. 

In all of my pondering about revisiting shows I used to love and recognizing the cringe worthy parts – I am aware that it doesn’t take away what the show once meant to me. However, it is important that we recognize the problematic things that were once considered “okay”.

The history of television shows is proof that change, evolution, and learning from our past is necessary. 

One docu series that had me especially hype recently was Visible: Out on Television on Apple TV. There were five episodes total in the series, and it was validating for me as a Queer person who loved television growing up because it looked back upon television and the Queer history within it. Television was my comfort zone and where I often saw a reflection of myself or pieces of who I wanted to become. 

Another show that made a comeback on Paramount Pictures new streaming service was the original Real World Homecoming. After having just watched the original series over quarantine last year and recognizing the importance of the conversations that were had on that show way back when (okay okay it was just the 90s..). Bringing the show back now for a reunion, felt vital to revisit those conversations on race and privilege  for the world to witness in current time. These conversations are important to have, and television has the power to bring that dialogue into our homes. 

With all of this, I didn’t think I could write this piece without acknowledging the devastating hate crime (calling it what it is) shootings last week. The attacks in Atlanta are heartbreaking and add to the truth of racism that has been in existence in this country since it was stolen from Native Americans. However, more recently it has been highlighted in the media due to the deaths that happened last year that had people finally waking up to protest for Black Lives Matter.

I have not always been a great ally or advocate, but the important thing that I have gained over the years is that we learn, we listen, and we do our part in stopping the continuance of the racist happenings around us.

Personally, I am on my own journey of learning and listening to be a better advocate and ally to Black, Indigenious, People of Color. The attacks last week that I mentioned earlier were intentionally hate filled and as a result eight people lost their life – specifically six Asian women. History is repeating itself, and we are living history – the time to do something is/was yesterday, today, & infinitely. 

I have been voicing to Stop Asian Hate, and that doesn’t feel like enough – because it is not. Donating is ONE of many things allies can do – so here are a few organizations just to name a few: APIENC, CAAAV, AALEAD, NQAPIA

To circle back to the start of this piece….television is where we learn many things, especially windows into other cultures and peoples lives. My brain wanders..like A LOT at all times…. and all of the above has had me thinking, because in a way all of this feels like it intersects (because it does). 

What we once knew is not always truth, and sometimes actually harmful- we just don’t always recognize it at the time. Or like I once learned: I don’t know what I don’t know. 

So, when we do know or learn – it is our responsibility to ourselves and the world we live in to acknowledge that things change.

Change is good.

We can appreciate something for what we once loved and knew it to be – with also acknowledging it is problematic. 

Do we really want to be caterpillars our whole lives, or wouldn’t we rather all evolve into butterflies?

Sunshine? I Don’t Know Her

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I think I ignore the fact that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a thing because I deal with depression year around. So, when the sun comes out I experience this extra burst of energy and renewed sense of self – without acknowledging it’s probably because spring is right around the corner. Also I have a love/hate affection for winter, so I don’t like to believe the season brings me as deep down into hibernation as it actually does – I can’t be alone in that, right?

Enough about the sadness of the seasons…

I’ve gone from binge watching every true crime, thriller, and mystery show I could find to watching every mystery dubbed in english on Netflix (I know, I know, I am the worst…but my brain won’t let me concentrate on captions for more than 15 minutes…even though yes I still have the captions on at all times…)

My creativity has been at a stand-still and it has been a mood killer for me personally. Writing makes me feel at home – particularly when I feel a connection with the words I am writing. So, I’ve been trying to find ways to pull that out of me. I went in a deep dive of trying to find music over the past week and the few songs I discovered I’ve had on repeat lately. 

Music that can center and ground me I find to be powerfully beautiful. 

Here are a few of the songs I’ve had on repeat over the past week: 

1. Silk Jam – Louis Futon

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this song, but I am glad that I did. If I had to assign a sunny day a theme song it would be Silk Jam. There’s something about a song from a genre that I don’t normally listen to that makes it THAT much better when it wins me over. That’s this song for me.

2.Borderline – Tame Impala

Tame Impala was introduced to me awhile ago, but I hadn’t listened to any of their stuff in a long time. If you’re a fan of Broken Bells or Yeasayer – this will be music for you. This song is catchy, upbeat, and has a way of magically uplifting my mood. Music can either be a distraction for me, or help me focus – this song has me awkwardly bopping my head while getting the writing I’ve been procrastinating accomplished.

3.Butterfly – UMI 

This is what I declare as a sad bop – the kind of music I am not usually into. A song that’s slow, smooth, and also has a groove that makes it a bop. But like. How beautiful is this song? Every time I listen to Butterfly by UMI it calms my soul.

4.On a Wave – Zilo (explicit)

Play this track….go ahead….press play ….were you instantly transported inside a car, with the windows rolled down, on a warm sunny day with no worries? I imagine in my own mind that this is where this song transports me. The days when I used to have a car – before I moved to the city and would drive around aimlessly listening to music on full blast. Anyway – this song will lift your spirits, trust me.

5.Mine – Alex Isley, Jack Dine 

Another sad bop that I highly recommend – her voice is elegant and entrancing. Even if you don’t appreciate the genre, you have to appreciate how absolutely beautiful her voice is. There’s a delicate calming sense to this song, that helps me find my center.

6. I Hear The Day Has Come – Matt Maltese

I recently started watching the Netflix series Elite (yes that is one of the shows that was dubbed in english that I mentioned at the top). What does the show Elite have to do with this song? Well..I kept hearing it over and over throughout the episodes – finally by the season finale I needed to know what the song was. It had won me over after hearing it repeatedly. Times like these I am grateful for Google and the ability to discover a song just by knowing a piece of the lyric. I think his voice reminds me of a Nick Drake song – maybe I am way off base… it just pulls me in and feels as though his voice is singing a very sad poem, and yet, at the same time there’s bits of hope.

7.Green Eyes – Arlo Parks

Someone posted a Tik Tok on Instagram of a person recommending artists that people should be listening to – Arlo Park was highly recommended by this user. I’m the kind of person that will give any song or artist a listen – because there’s a chance I could fall in love with the music…or there’s a chance I’ll never listen to it again. Collapsed in Sunbeams is Arlo Park’s latest album and WOW …like WOW – the entire album is a true work of art. If you need music to relax to, get work done to, create art to – go put on Collapsed in Sunbeams.

8.Hex – Ark Patrol

This was another accidental discovery out of my usual music library and it’s been a nice ear candy break from all of the slow jams I’ve had on repeat. I had a couple of hours to paint over the weekend and this song came on it felt like it unlocked a piece of my creative mind that has been stunted lately. What gets me about the song is the rhythm and how it fills my body with anticipation for days filled with sunshine that are just on the horizon.

These songs have allowed me to fully connect with myself – when more often than not I have been feeling disconnected. I think since we’re coming to almost a year into when lockdown began I am feeling the feelings of disconnection intensely

I long for the days that the future will bring, but in forcing myself to be in the present – I am seeking the kind of music that has the power these tracks had on me. 

Only art can save us from madness.