June 27, 2018

(Bitter)Sweet 16: An L.A.nniversary


For my 16th L.A.nniversary I thought I would be waxing nostalgic on the life I’ve created for myself in this city, reminiscing and reflecting on the moments that have brought me to this point in time – like I usually do. I thought I would be celebrating 16 years of surviving a city that tends to chew up and spit out those who have – let's say – a more delicate constitution.

But unfortunately, I’m not feeling that right now. There is something about the sociopolitical climate we’re currently living in that is inspiring more bitter than sweet within me. And, for other reasons I’ll likely disclose at a later time, I’m feeling a little…vent-y (not the Starbucks kind). I’m ignoring the advice of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” That said, I’m sure I’ll look back on this someday and say to myself: Sheesh. Get the stick out of your ass, Mitsuzuka.

In other words, #sorrynotsorry for what you’re about to read...


As I reach this 16-year milestone, I’d like to share some of my own words of wisdom.

If I had any advice for young hopefuls planning to move to L.A. in order to pursue their dreams and passions – or pursue the hot piece of ass they met on Bumble or Grindr – it would be this:

Don't come here.

Seriously. Don't move to this city. We've already got plenty of folks scrambling to achieve a number of #careergoals, #bodygoals, #couplesgoals, and whatever other goals are currently being invented by some 20-year-old intern who wants to "make it" as an influencer.

Trust me. You'll only clog up more boulevards and freeways (and our infrastructure is already fragile as it is). You’ll only crowd more gyms – and the hiking trails at Runyon Canyon. You’ll only create a longer wait at that brunch place Eater said had “killer gluten-free French toast.” You’ll only further inundate our inboxes and news feeds with invites to see your stand-up comedy, your one-man show, your gallery opening, or a table read for that indie drama you co-wrote with the college friend you’ll eventually lose touch with once she books a pilot and leaves you with nothing but a side gig writing TV recaps for a website no one reads.

You are basically the reason why La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, and downtown have been dominated by state-of-the-art condominiums and countless housing developments, why rent is skyrocketing, and why no one can afford anything north of the 10 Freeway.

In fact, I'll go one step further and say this: stop dreaming. The industry you're hoping to break into is already at its most competitive. By the time you read this sentence, a thousand wide-eyed YouTubers and Instagram models from New York and the Midwest will have already arrived in town with plans to “dominate,” “get some exposure,” or “not take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Instead, move to another city that could use a boost in its economy. Go gentrify a neighborhood somewhere else where you can make a bigger splash, where you can get more recognition, where you can buy a three-bedroom house for the price of a studio in Silver Lake.

Sure, L.A. may look all glam and fabulous (and some of it is), but turn around, save your hard-earned money, and flourish in another place.

Don't come to Los Angeles. Really.

We’re good here. Thanks.

@TheFirstEcho

June 11, 2018

"Too Many Friends" by Hearts & Colors Might As Well Be My Theme Song For Life


Sweden sure knows how to crank out some pop.

Hearts & Colors, a duo from the northern European country, has come out with "Too Many Lovers," a seductive, mid-tempo track that is resonating with me a little too much with its lyrics about empty beds and the dead-ends of one too many platonic relationships. And never mind that these guys resemble a more ripped version of early 90s twin rockers Nelson.

And after befriending a stranger from Stockholm during my recent visit to Berlin, I'm taking this as a sign that I need to take a trip to the northern European country in the near future.

Enjoy:

@TheFirstEcho

June 08, 2018

Review: 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'


Ever since the trailer for director Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? dropped earlier this spring, fans of the beloved kids’ show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, have been sharing their reactions to the emotionally powerful preview that has undoubtedly stirred up countless childhood memories. As for the documentary itself, which looks back on the impactful legacy of Fred Rogers, the man behind the long-running TV program, it is guaranteed to open even more floodgates of nostalgia.

“Although Fred Rogers was an ordained minister, he didn’t preach when he was on TV,” the Academy Award-winning Neville states. “He was far more interested in asking questions and offering ideas that could help guide his viewers on their own journey in life.” And with this sterling doc, the filmmaker succeeds in taking Rogers’ lead and exploring the groundbreaking and powerful ideas that were subtly communicated within the show throughout several decades.

As a result, Neighbor is a beautiful tribute as well as a testament to the power of empathy. It’s the soothing balm we need for this divisive Era of Outrage. It’s also one of the best movies I’ve seen this year thus far.

The film takes a deep and insightful dive into the off-camera life of Rogers and poses the question: Is he really like his TV persona in real life? Is he more than just a friendly, soft-spoken man with a penchant for cardigans? The answer is yes…and yes.

Punctuated by beautiful animation and loaded with rare and fascinating behind-the-scenes Mister Rogers footage, the film seamlessly bounces back and forth between the harsh real world events that played out on American TV sets at the time and the simple, nuanced lessons Rogers doled out on his show — whether it was in his living room, interacting with his friendly neighborhood servicemen, or in the Land of Make Believe, the fantasy realm in which the lives of royal puppets paralleled those of the Land of Grown-Ups.

What Neighbor also does is prove how revolutionary Rogers’ show was during a pivotal cultural shift in the country. A simple gesture like sharing a wading pool with an African-American policeman during the height of the Civil Rights movement — on public television — was more daring than anything found on broadcast networks at the time. And tackling the definition of “assassination” with child surrogate Daniel Tiger is both scary and a relief all at once.

Through it all, you never feel as if Neville & Co. are blatantly tugging at your heartstrings, exploiting your own personal connection to Mister Rogers. All the feels (and yes, some tears) come naturally, especially when the film revisits a poignant 1980 exchange between the host and young quadriplegic Jeffrey Erlanger, whose appearance on the show resonated with viewers — and still does.

Neighbor, which is ripe for a Best Documentary nod next year, reminds audiences of the importance of seeing the world through a child’s eye, yes, but it also asks viewers to stop, listen, and rediscover each other. And what can be more powerful than that?

@TheFirstEcho




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