A Farewell to Tonsils


Tonsils, we've been through a lot.

Who knew we'd be together this long? I certainly didn't. You were supposed to go away once I hit puberty, but you stuck around. In fact, you got bigger. Inflamed, if you will. You're like the imaginary friend who never disappeared.

Remember that time when I found those white stones on you? No wonder I had bad breath!

Remember all of those delicious meals we had? That lasagna! Those desserts!

But I'm afraid we have to part ways. My doctor says you're useless. If we stay together, things will only get more complicated. Things like more halitosis...and sleep apnea. I know you want the best for me. I know you wouldn't want me to suffer through another one of my biannual sore throats. That's why it's time to say goodbye.

So, tonsils, on behalf of the other masses of tissue and glands in my body, thanks for the memories. You'll be missed -- actually, let's be honest here. You probably won't be.

But you won't be forgotten.

*My tonsillectomy is scheduled for Friday, June 24. My throat's gift registry can be found at all ice cream and smoothie shops in the greater Los Angeles area. Thanks.

@TheFirstEcho


This is "What You Want" in a Summer Song


Recently added to my SUMMER16 playlist is "What You Want," a great pick-me-up from Los Angeles-based group The Heirs. And any band that throws confetti and tosses in a random disco ball in their video is A-OK in my book.

Just listen...and love:
@TheFirstEcho


Someone Turned Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean" Into an 80s Slow Jam

During shitty and depressing times like these, I tend to turn to music. A lot of music. (And old episodes of The Golden Girls, but let's not go down that path just yet.)

Thankfully I have stumbled upon some new tunes like "What You Want" by the L.A.-based group The Heirs (listen and watch HERE)...and an 80s slow-jam remix of Justin Bieber's hit from last year, "What Do You Mean."

The flawless rendition comes from Canadian composer Tronicbox (a.k.a. Jerry Shen), and it is sheer, sparkling perfection -- right down to the saxophone-filled bridge.

I could be writing about how Satan has just created a new Circle of Hell reserved for Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, but I'd rather enjoy THIS. Oh my God -- THIS:

@TheFirstEcho


I'm Tired. I'm Crushed. I'm Frustrated.


My mind can't properly function today.

My soul is in a funk.

I'm in such a state because the state of my world is horrific beyond imagination. My funk is a result of an accumulation of horrible news and headlines that seem to punctuate my life on a near-weekly basis.

I tell myself I need to take a deep breath and collect my thoughts and feelings because there are so many of them running through my head. So I do what most of my friends, acquaintances, and loved ones do: I let my fingers run across a keyboard to form words and sentences that will, with the click of a button, eventually be shared with a network of people who will undoubtedly (and hopefully) share the same feelings and thoughts.

It's a reactionary impulse we all have whenever something life-shattering occurs.

We do it because we want to express our condolences, communicate our rage, and demand a solution that seems to be more and more elusive with every body that is added to the bloody pile. (180 mass shootings in 2016 as of this posting. That's 180 incidents in 164 days.)

It's a cycle with which we are all sadly familiar. We hear the news. Our jaws drop. Some of us cry. Some share links to online petitions to enforce gun control laws. Some share the opposite sentiment. Some post memes about the shocking statistics on gun violence in America. We even write about this vicious cycle. Comment wars begin. Talk show hosts debate and discuss. The POTUS makes a statement. Other politicians wring their hands, offering thoughts and prayers. The names of victims are listed and shared. Rinse. Repeat.

I've experienced this for the past several years. I go through my usual routine of reactions: shock, sadness, frustration, anger. I've posed the question before: When will we reach a point in which every single American citizen will know someone or be someone involved in a mass shooting?

"Raise your hand if you've been in a car accident or a fender bender. Now raise your hand if you or someone you know has been a victim of a mass shooting...See? Not much of a difference."

These tragic events resonate with people in different ways depending on how much you identify with the circumstances and location of the shooting. Parents of young children are completely affected when an elementary school becomes a scene of a crime. Coworkers think about their mortality when an office complex becomes riddled with bullets. And anyone who enjoys going to the movies can't help but feel vulnerable at the multiplex after a gunman takes aim inside a dark, crowded theater. (*Shortly after the shooting at Santa Monica College in 2013, I was one of the many who stampeded out of the AMC multiplex in Century City after a suspicious, trenchcoat-wearing man brought a guitar case into our screening of The Purge.)

The deaths in Orlando also hit hard for me and many people I know because it disrupted a carefree scenario we recognize all too well (although I haven't been on a dance floor in quite some time): A Saturday night out with friends, drinking a little too much, shaking your ass to loud music, wondering where the fun will take you...and then it's all shattered, plunging you into a sobering nightmare.

You think to yourself, it really could have been us. You picture yourself holed up in that bathroom, barricading the door with other hostages, hoping the bullets won't come through. You wonder if you too would think quickly enough to play dead and bury yourself under the corpses of people you just saw dancing outside not too long ago. You can't help but think about what you would do.


I hate that a fun night out for a large group of people ended in death and horror.

I hate that I will gradually go back to my regularly scheduled life days after this massacre.

I hate that I feel hopeless, especially after emailing my local Congressman to voice my support for gun control last year, attending rallies in my community, and exercising my right to vote as an American.

I hate that there exists in this country a presidential candidate whose first reaction to the latest act of gun violence is to spew a humble brag reinforcing his stance on Radical Islam -- a blatant "told ya so" without the uttering the words "hate crime" or showing an ounce of sympathy for the victims and their families.

I hate that I have to live in a society where I have to now condition myself to take a mental note of emergency exits or escape routes whenever I visit a movie theater, a bar, an office complex, or any other public space with a significant amount of people.

I hate that the image of America's latest mass shooter being plastered across news outlets is a photo of him posing in a mirror for a selfie.

I hate that I am using the word "hate" so much right now, because hate is the very seed that grows into such horrible violence. So perhaps I should use a different word.

I'm tired and frustrated. When faced with an enormous problem -- an issue that is so complicated and seems like it's beyond your grasp -- you can't help but feel helpless.

But I refuse to settle into complacency.

"Happiness is the ultimate rebellion." 
- an Orlando-based drag queen

Living for those we lost seems to be the only way many of us can pull through. We can't stop -- won't stop -- living. It might just be as simple as that. Living free, living as our true selves, may be the best way to stand up against the forces that don't respect such a basic, human need to just live.

Come at me if you think my life doesn't align with your discriminatory religion, beliefs, or corrupt moral code, and I will show you an army of passionate fighters who can take you down -- not with weapons, but with intelligence, compassion, and some fucking common sense.

Come at me if you think I'm intruding on your 2nd Amendment right to "bear arms," and I will say that you are exploiting and taking advantage of an archaic rule written over 300 years ago by a group of men who did not have the foresight to include provisions to that rule -- because they could not imagine a future in which technology allows a hundred bullets to tear down innocent lives in less than a minute.

Come at me. I dare you.

Love,

@TheFirstEcho


That Time Bernie Sanders Interrupted My Sunday Brunch


The plan: meet my friend, the illustrious Ragan Fox, for a 12pm brunch after a Saturday night of martinis. (I only had one, extra dirty -- don't look at me like that.)

The place: Joey's Cafe at Sweetzer and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

Since neither of us could wait until noon for some grub, we decided to meet earlier. When we showed up, a group of individuals, some with press badges, were gathered at the corner, in front of the restaurant, two of them holding large video cameras. Were they paparazzi? Were we about the witness a recorded segment of a reality show? (*This is L.A., and that's how jaded we are.) These people were definitely not waiting for a table. They were waiting for something else.

Once we were shown to our table -- outside on the sidewalk, perfect view of the street -- all I could think about was bacon. And an iced coffee (because, martini).

Then came the men in suits. Then, a police motorcade, halting traffic. Then, several black SUVs pulled up to the curb directly in front of us...

And then...this happened:

A video posted by Hiko Mitsuzuka (@thefirstecho) on

Apparently, Bernie's tactic to remind the residents of WeHo to vote during Tuesday's California Primary was a smart and strategic one.

How's THAT for a #SundayFunday?

@TheFirstEcho


The Summer Song We All Need: St. Lucia's "Help Me Run Away"


I once called it the perfect spring break anthem, but now that we have a proper video for St. Lucia's "Help Me Run Away," we have the summer song everyone needs on their playlist. This glittering track is everything a roll-down-the-windows jam should be. And the video is an adorable story about an abandoned pair of white Converse sneakers that goes on a epic journey. 

It is magical. It is awesome. It will make you smile. 

Watch now:

@TheFirstEcho