March 2021

Well, br33zzyy, we are now living in the Corona history book lesson, one of the weirdest times of life (but it’s all been weird, hasn’t it?). Professor James at Hult has asked you to write a note to yourself for one year from now that you will read. You wanted to go to London and rotate to Dubai and Shanghai (then move to Thailand) sooo badly, but when getting to London hated it and wanted to go back to the sunny, care-free festival and party times of LA. Finally, after a few months, you got used to it, loved it even, made friends in uni and outside in your music scene, felt focused and unstoppable, and BAMMMMMM CORONA. Just to remember to live in the present and be careful what you wish for. After working on a start-up for 2 years (that you’re now in debt because of), you decided to say no mas due to your team. It’s hard to know when to leave/stay sometimes, but this was probably for the best.

The future is uncertain, and is hard to get clear in the moment. You have always had a hard time being certain because of how free you are and open to new experiences. In the future you could work for the EPA and help with climate change, be a sustainability consultant for events in Dubai, create digital content around the world through your Youtube budget travel blog, teach English and DJ in Thailand, launch your thrifted festival fashion start-up, who knows? The opportunities are really endless. However, through the trial and tribulation you know you have always loved music and live experiences, and their ability to move people. With the passion and love for that, you will jet-set your music career and actually be able to profit from it by this time next year.

You have just created your website for Satnam, your start-up dedicated to thrifted/vintage festival fashion that will donate money to charities of the buyers’ choice, could be issues of minority or environmental rights. At this time it’s hard to put into practice since everything is on LOCKDOWN, however in the future it will be easier. This just makes you even more certain of the necessity to be one thing you already are- a resilient digital nomad who can work remotely. You have lived in 4 countries in the last 4 years, over 6 cities, and you can be planted and thrive everywhere. You have worked over 50 festivals in CX, performance, and media. You released your first album and music video. In quarantine, you have finished a song that you think will be your best of all time.

In this time next year, you will be continuing this legacy and making an income through private music production, DJing/live shows, Satnam, and many other projects you are taking to learn this time such as Forex trading. Who knows, maybe one of Hult’s alumni referrals will land you a job at Google or Facebook after Hult has taught you to be the most confident and educated you have ever been. Hult has given you the gift of knowing people from all over the world, and truly believing in the ability to improve it.

Burning Man 2018: The Desert of Connection

People can say what they want about Burning Man- that it causes immense carbon emissions (which goes against its principles), and has been sold-out and popularized into the corporate world, etc., and these things are true. But the point people are missing, and haven’t felt is this community open to adaptation and change, coupled with acceptance, to combat the hypocrisy of the global world in which we live. This acceptance encompasses the bad which comes from good, and good which comes from bad. We cannot glorify nature and condemn technology, or glorify technology and condemn nature; we must realize we live in a world where they are now, in large part, very dependent on each other. Technology must be, in many ways, modeled after nature, and the survival of natural resources against pollution and other human activities is largely dependent on our ability to find the technology to undo the problems we have caused with technology. It is in this madness that we find ourselves living everyday life in the United States and much of the world, uncertain of the facts we are given by news and the media, and still feeling as though the structures around us protect us from harm when we know that they often cause it.

This past Burn, there was a light show of 600 Drones (above), created by Studio Drift, a couple from Amsterdam, who modeled the design after the migratory flocking of birds. Here, we can see how technology can not only mimic nature perfectly, but also do so in a way that shows the peaceful side of technology, with an immense capacity for creating interactive art and live art installations. Ironically, as many issues posed by climate change drive bird species to extinction, this Drone show may well be a way for people of the future to see how birds once migrated. Interestingly, the Playa (the desert landscape of Burning Man) doesn’t hold any life (no plants can grow there, nor animals live there), but there is a different energy of liveliness created by a collective consciousness created by the human visitors who come onto the playa with intentions for their week there,  artists who have been tirelessly working on their installations for months, and workers who have been creating the structures (both physical and institutional) so that Black Rock City (the formal city which hosts Burning Man) is created.

In fact, the creator of Burning Man Mr. Larry Harvey said, “The essence of the desert, is that you are free to create your own world, your own visionary reality”, so that there is a ”deep parallel between desert and cyberspace”; “‘Both Burning Man and the Internet make it possible to regather the tribe of mankind.” Where there is chaos, there is room for endless possibilities. However, Harvey also hinted that the desert and Burning Man also reveal the limits of technology by showing the spirituality which can be shared by collective living beings, which no technology can emulate. In many religious contexts, the desert is a place for reflection on our relationship with God, and reminds us of our vulnerability by stripping us of most resources under harsh conditions.as we are challenged both physically and mentally.

As MARÍA GONZÁLEZ DE LEÓN said,

“The desert reveals the paradox between simplicity and complexity. Both visually and symbolically, it exalts clarity, honesty and cleanliness in all its manifestations. It is maximum freedom and at the same time the impenetrable maze. The void that it projects works as a complete mirror that shows us, reflected, as a synthesis of what we are. In the desert, the exterior void obliges us to look inwardly, making it plain what poets, philosophers and scholars have been saying for centuries: that which is outside of us reflects us.”

Thus, the location and nature of Burning Man brings us to the human paradox, of endless submissiveness to nature, the elements, and God, while simultaneously wired for adaptation and creation as influenced by our outside world, and how we interpret it.

While technology moves us forward in many ways, we can also see how it contributes to our access but not necessarily sustainably, especially with Art Cars (below). Although not sustainable in use of gas, these are another form of art themselves, and fuse music with movement, which encourages dance and brings people together in amazing ways. It is seen within all forms of life, animals, plants, everything, the need to create. We build nests, we raise young, we make art installations and music and artcars, we tell stories of our experiences and those which we imagine and dream of, much in the same ways that octupi can build their own homes with coral decorations. We are all united by this thread of the need to create, and adapt to the changing world around us. What we create is destroyed at some point by nature and other forces, or else lives on through time. In this way, the world has always been shaped by innovation, and the ability to create new and adapt to circumstances which change.

The Dragonami from Colorado

Flower Power Art Installation

The Wynwood Art Murals on New Year’s Eve

A mural in the Wynwood Walls by popular artist Obey.

The Wynwood Walls in Miami are the brain child of Tony Goldman, and were created in 2009. Blocks and blocks of old warehouses and building spaces have been transformed into canvases for street and graffiti artists from all around the world.

Goldman references his friend Jeffery Deitch in calling this project a “Museum of the Streets”. The Wynwood Walls Program has seen over 50 artists representing over 16 countries.

Even outside of the designated project area, murals have become extremely popular, and make up a large portion of this area of Miami. They serve as a representation to Miami’s diverse culture and artistic prevalence.

Mystic Valley-Thailand

This past weekend, I worked Mystic Valley Thailand, in Khao Yai National Park. I was blessed enough to talk to two of my favorite artists (Nakadia and Alle Farben) who performed, and take many pictures of many beautiful people and moments (below). <3<3

Favorite artists:

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Nakadia (Thailand). Nakadia is one of Thailand’s most loved underground techno DJs. Even just watching her performance, her charisma and personality sparks laughter and smiles in the crowd from her pure light and energy. She grew up with little resources, and is self-made in every light possible, making her success all the more inspiring and beautiful. After working on her skills in Braunschweig, Germany, in the summer of 2003, she decided to move from rural Isaan in northern Thailand, and she started to DJ and play for European tourists in Koh Samui. She then started touring internationally as she gained fans, and since has been one of the first female DJs from Thailand to gain global recognition.

Br33zzyy Question: What is your favorite part of making music?

Nakadia Answer: To bring people together, to be able to represent my country and bring people a taste of Thailand that they normally don’t get, especially in the Western world, is amazing. I love music’s ability to do that- I bring all my friends onstage, and to be able to have friends from all over the world is awesome. If you have a passion, a drive, a desire to do well- you will always be successful. Every moment of your life will feel precious, and you will infect those around you with happiness- that is what living is all about.

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Alle Farben (Germany). 

Br33zzyy Question: Have you been to Thailand before? How does performing here compare to other places where you have played?

Alle Answer: Yes, I have been to Thailand before, but never to Khao Yai, and I feel blessed. I just played at Koh Phagnan, and it’s a magical place. All of Thailand is. Soon I will be touring in the US- I start out in LA. I’m excited to see California. This is one of the smaller festivals I’ve worked, but that’s nice because when they get too big it’s overwhelming and the vibes can get off-center. You can connect with the crowd and see individuals and their beauty a little bit more easily. Thailand has a vibe different than many other places- the locals are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met, and there’s an eclectic expat community that attracts a lot of free spirits (besides all the old dudes trying to get girls). I definitely want to come back to Thailand soon.

 

 

Angkor Wat: an Empty, Hidden Treasure

Some depressing poetry to fit the mood of this beautiful, ancient place that was abandoned after Buddhists took power in Cambodia.

This bus window reminds me of Los Angeles, of dodging people dried out by drugs and the sun, drunk wanderings and eating Thai food. Arguments, lots of them, about things irrelevant, blowing through the air like beautiful dragonflies (ugly upon first glance), but blossoming into beauty, becoming nothing in a sky of love and hate and endless energy.

Did you come to say goodbye? Fire and water were never meant to balance, both selfish in their burns and drowns. Igniting the other, jealous of different strides and the qualities they wish they could both possess.

Distance and time have changed our minds, dreams and goals our spirits. I must be free, free, and you want security because you never had it. I let my flame down to lie, and watched your Grandmother die. I know you regret letting me in, and haven’t been right ever since, but how can love work when we both know that to trust is a sin?

I’m just speaking my mind, I’ve found the path of divine love that will never lead you astray. Once you love what makes you different, you’ll see that we’re all the same, and life is just a greedy game, darling it pains me to see you float away. No time or touch wasted, just growth for ourselves, addicted to each other, love our medicine instead of looking for help.

Lately I’ve been livin like I don’t care if I die, you say we’re too different, we manipulate with words like sweet cherry pie turned sour, too early or too late, always competing for who could have less on their plate, to feel empty inside to match how we’re feelin, if you compare us to others then life will have no meaning.

You say I don’t talk, but I’ll say I love you forever. Just hoping sanity and sanctions stay together, stronger for having known you, learning about my flaws and strengths. Your first true love, I wanted to love life like me, never wanted you to break. I can’t say if things will be better or worse, just know that I have always put you first. I’ll never forget holding your life’s strings in the hospital, playing with fate, for me it was always just love and hate, no one can do the same.

Sometimes I wish I could go back, before I knew the world was so big, now I see the truth and there is no time to waste on unhappy things.

 

How to: Enjoy North-Western Thailand

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A Memorial Paying Tribute to Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Pai

After living in Salaya (the suburbs that stretch west of Bangkok near Mahidol University) for quite some time, nature has been a pretty foreign concept. On our travels, my roommate and I heard of a remote destination called Cave Lod with caving, hiking, and village tours. It is close to a small tourist yuppie town called Pai, a few hours from Chiang Mai of Northern Thailand. After a ten hour ride from Bangkok to Chiangmai and three hour bus ride from to Chiang Mai to Pai, we stayed in Pai for a night. Vegan cafes, long motorbike roads, waterfalls, and lots of through-hikers made up the cute place.

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Our Airbnb in Pai, owned by Milk who also runs a jewelry shop and makes homemade soap!

Our Airbnb in Pai was serene; run by sisters who also have a jewelry shop and showed us around the marketplace. I rented a motorbike for only one hundred baht (only about $3!) and took myself on a tour of the rolling hills.

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A Pai motorbike adventure

Not only were the views spectacular, but I made some friends on the way. The rolling hills reminded me so much of Munnar and Kumily in Kerala, India, complete with rice and banana plantations, as well as temples nestled in the mountains.

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Kisses from some friends

After enjoying some serenity and meeting people who had been living near me in California this past spring (funny coincidence), the next day we continued our van journey. We finally arrived at our destination after an hour ride from Pai to Sappong, and thirty minute motor bike ride to Cave Lod.

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One of the many farmer huts in the countryside near Cave Lod

It is still the slow season; more tourists will come in the next few months, but it is also quiet because of the King’s recent death, putting all of Thailand in a period of mourning and decreasing the amount of tourists wanting to come here because of restrictions on partying and such. Thus, it was tranquil at Cave Lod, making our stay nice and relaxing, once again meeting lots of travellers from all over the world. Most of them planned to travel to Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam next.

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Monks strolling by the river

We decided to take one of the day cave and adventure hiking tours for our full day at Cave Lod, and ended up trekking, crawling in about a foot of space in between the cave wall and water, seeing cave formations that looked like they were from another planet, and immersing ourselves in largely untouched nature.

 

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An entrance to one of the caves

Two of the caves were dry, while one had a waterfall that dropped forty kilometers!

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\A rock formation resembling coral

In between the caves, we hiked and made friends with our guide, Tan.

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Tan leading the way

I wish that I had travelled here sooner! I felt great peace and prosperity here, and it made me grateful for the chance to experience such a beautiful place. Between beaches, the mountains, and a thriving city life, Thailand has such immense diversity and abundance to offer that is rare to find in just one country!

Veganism: a Comparison Between Thailand and America

ka-phun-ka-chinatown-bangkokRainy dinner, Chinatown, Bangkok

Thailand: the land of smiles and flavours. In any given meal, a Thai tongue seeks to taste salty, savory, sweet, and sour all at the same time. Markets offer fresh fruit and vegetables (what a novelty compared to the GMO-ridden produce of the United States), as well as seafood that has been caught a couple hours earlier. American food is bland, dull and uninteresting in comparison (not that I eat “normal” pizza or cheeseburgers anyway).

morning-veggies-som-lom-thailand_-copy-2A morning market at Som Lom

However, Thai people also eat lots of meat- practically at every meal! Usually it is made up of chicken, cow, and mystery meat;). But being in the city of Bangkok, I have yet to see any of these animals. Which begs the question: where do they come from?

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Pig Heads, Ban Tai

Similarly as in America, Thai meat is produced in the countryside in large slaughterhouses that mistreat animals and cause environmental degradation and pollution. According to The Guardian, in June, Thai police found a tiger slaughterhouse used to raise tigers for their skins on the black market. The act of raising animals unjustly for human consumption is equal in both countries, although Thai people eat more seafood, leading to less of a demand for meat than in the US.

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Chili crabs at the floating market

According to Forbes, America is the second largest meat consumer in the world after Australia. Reducing our meat intake is the most environmentally conscious action we can take to reduce our carbon footprint. That, combined with how energized I feel when eating vegan, and how great I feel about not mistreating animals, is why I have been vegan for a year and a half. Interestingly, under Buddhism one must not harm any living creature, yet Buddhists eat meat (so they must harm these animals which they eat).

black-chicken-ban-tai-thailand_Black Chickens, Ban Tai

In regards to the ease of being a vegan, I would say that it is about equal in Thailand and the United States. It has been more difficult for me in Thailand because I cannot fluently speak Thai, and it is therefore difficult to communicate my dietary needs because all I can say is “jay”, or “vegan”, but often the Thai people are not familiar with that word. It is not popular for people to not eat meat or animal products here; there is fish sauce in most stir fry and curry, and almost always milk in coffee. “Thai sweet” describes how drinks such as coffee and tea are served here; sugar with a little bit of liquid.

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Jay pad thai with tofu, one of my favorite dishes near our dorm, Green Park

However, I have found a few places where I can eat “jay” and the workers remember me and make delicious vegan options! Above is from pasta lady, a wonderful woman near our dorm Green Park who makes delicious noodles. Pad Thai with fresh peanuts and lime juice is hard to beat.

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Yum, Chinatown, Bangkok

In America, being a vegan is much easier in some instances. Living in Los Angeles, I was constantly surrounded by healthy, vegan food options (ironically, most of what I ate was vegan Thai food). Even back home in Maryland during the summer, we grow corn and zucchini in our own garden. However, if one is living in a food desert in a city like Baltimore, then they will not be able to have ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Ladies sell their fresh seafood at a local floating market.

But regardless, in most American cities one can purchase produce from a local supermarket or Walmart. I am greatly missing kombucha from back in the states, but have been enjoying the delicious desserts that make use of lots of sweet rice and coconut milk. Thailand offers many vegan desserts, while in America it is difficult to find enjoyable ones unless made at home or living in an urban place.

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Delicious, Chinatown, BKK

Mango sticky rice and coconut pudding, both delicious vegan desserts, Chinatown.