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Co-wa-chella

Notes from outside

Day 1

            I had the vague sense that I had been lied to, and the world wasn’t how they said it would be. They would deny they lied. In truth they really didn’t. They never explicitly said that I could actually go to the event. They would say that the purpose of it all was to work, not to party. What I didn’t want to admit, was that it shouldn’t have surprised me. I worked other events; 49er football games/ Cirque du Soleil /tattoo conventions. Every time I never actually attended any of those events. I worked in the parking lot. At the entrance gate. In a hallway no one walked through. This time, the event was the Coachella music festival.

            I was in the security headquarters when they told me I couldn’t attend the festival. The headquarters was a giant white airplane hangar that also housed a separate security company and a cafeteria. There were hundreds of us and we all stood as drones in endless lines, waiting to get checked in on the work clock. Faceless grunts.

            I was almost one year out of college. A lot of the people around me had never gone to college, or finished it. I felt a snobish discontent with them. I felt they accepted their fates too easily. I wasn’t them. I wanted something better. Hoping in it so much that I believed it was real. The truth was that no matter how I felt about them, I was still one of them. A peasant thinking he was a king.

              There’s an idealized way you want to see things. Then there’s the way things really are. I saw the divide from the ideal to the real. There’s no other way to say it; it fucking sucked.

            “Welcome to the Co-wa-chella music and arts festival!” Mikhail told us at the pre-shift meeting. Mikhail was a general kind of brown, and I’m still not sure if he was Latino or Pilipino. He wore a white shirt and sounded as friendly as an automated voice message. He cared about you, but only concerning how much of a liability you could be to the company. He wore a white shirt, because he was El Jefe. The regular supervisors had blue shirts. Grunts like me had yellow jackets. Everyone knew their place.

            The information on the papers we were given helped, but almost all of us had never been to Coachella before. And even if they had, the concert grounds were enormous and things changed every year. When a group of others and I were driven to our post, we were dropped off at the wrong parking lot. It was dark and no one knew where anything was.

            My company was assigned to watch over the parking lot and camping grounds. The shifts consisted of four consecutive thirteen hour shifts, going on from eight at night to nine in the morning. For the first shift I was posted at various entrances of a parking lot, giving directions to people who were lost. I wasn’t sure what I was telling them, but I gave them directions, knowing that if I was wrong, they would ask one of my other coworkers who they would inevitably bump into. And maybe that coworker would be just as stumped as I was, and would give them directions thinking the same thing I did; and this unlucky festival patron would wander aimlessly in the dark and there was no real help.

            My next post was in the parking lot, guiding cars to parking spots. The time I had actually gone to Coachella a couple years prior, I was a college student. When I drove into a lot like this one, I was high as fuck and freaking out about having to drive through a security checkpoint. I remember standing outside my car and watching a car pull up and park. Immediately a group of people got out of the car set up a beer pong table. I remember being really high and afraid that the staff would notice, or that I would hit someone/something. Then there I was two years later, trying to find the people doing what I had been doing. A girl asked me a question. Then a frat guy was being loud and he was purposely trying to mess with me. Another guy wanted to park in a spot that he couldn’t. I told him so. He left, screaming “The organization of this place fucking sucks dick!” I wasn’t offended.

            The lunch we were given was nachos. It was a  6/10. I stopped eating; not because I was full. Later that night I was stationed at a locked gate that no one passed by. Near five thirty in the morning the sun was gradually brightening the sky. The generator light near me was turned off. I stood alone in the dark. Everything silent. It was like I was the leftfielder in a game of baseball. The game had ended and no one told me.

            The sun rose. A coworker of mine complained about the nachos we were given. The day time parking staff arrived. Two of these staff were a couple from Philadelphia. The guy had a milky white complexion and wore a fedora. His girlfriend was browner and wore sunglasses with red heart shaped rims. They chain smoked cigarettes as if they were speaking into microphones. The guy kept talking about how beautiful California was; how Philadelphia was a “concrete jungle”. His girlfriend listened passively while sitting on the ground, breathing smoke like it was air. The shift was about to end.

            But my bosses forgot about us. A van was supposed to come and pick us up. They told us to stay there until the right van arrived. It took 45 minutes for that van to arrive. They said it was because the replacements for the next shift had not arrived yet. But why should I give a fuck? I was forgotten for 45 minutes.

            I drove to the resort where my friends and I were staying. I went to sleep as everyone woke up. Everyone else woke up.

 

 

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                                                                                   The Addict’s Cover Letter

Blake Stevens

1201 West Blaine St. Apt #60

Riverside, CA 92507

(___) 382-5968

 

December 21, 2012

 

___________________

Human Resources Director

____________________

_______________________

Stafford Texas, 77700

 

Dear Mr. _______,

                This letter is sent in regards to the position advertised on ______.com about the position of _____ that you wish to have filled. Attached with this is a copy of my resume, as well as my contact information.

                                It is to be understood by any individual interested in the position of ­­­______ must be filled by a candidate who is not only resourceful, but also have the ability to manage everyone within the work area in the most timely and efficient manner. This individual must also have the drive and charisma of a natural born leader, unafraid to any challenge or obstacle he may face.

                                I am a goal driven individual, with an unbreakable focus to the very minute details that any and all projects demand. And when crunch time inevitably strikes it’s point at the hour, I can be a very resourceful and creative individual, utilizing my vast networking abilities to their fullest extents. I am a also self-proclaimed and self-certified accountant, botanist, chemist, dietician, philosopher, food critic, film critic, paralegal and mathematician.

                                My strengths have given me the inspiration to explore various avenues of not only work related, but worldly occupations and experiences. This has led me to excel in the fields of sales and marketing in particular, as the resume included with this letter highlights.

                                In closing, I wish to reiterate my understanding in finding the ideal candidate. My resume exemplifies that I am exactly the kind of individual who not only shows promise in the position required, but expertise and unsurpassable skill.

 

Best Regards,

-Blake Stevens 

Non-Profit

Non-profit

            On the day before the event, the inside of the event center was nearly complete. The chairs were set, the bar was full, and behind the stage were three giant screens. They were hooked up to a laptop that ran images and text, and there was a man standing on the stage with a microphone in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. He was saying

            “It’s really important to end third world child poverty, and our organization wouldn’t be able to do anything if it wasn’t for all of your generous donations. If it wasn’t for you, none of this would even be possible. Child poverty is a horrible problem in the world today, and if we don’t take a stand to stop it, no one will.” The words are a bit cliché. Unrefined. He’ll tell his assistants where they should make corrections. They’ll correct it once, then again later at night, then he’ll keep them up to make another correction during the night, (because the man himself is a workaholic) then in the morning there will be another revision, one at lunch and a final one by four in the afternoon. Which still leaves the man another three hours to truly perfect his words. Every year, he purposely puts off writing his speech to the last minute. It’s because he loves the thrill of the possibility that everything could be ruined.

            “Child poverty is a plague that threatens to anihilate-” but he stops. It’s coming off too strong. He thinks about this for a moment, then glances at his watch. He’s running out of time. Better to just finish the rehearsal, make sure the computers and the screens are all running in sync.

            “Remember without your help, none of this would be possible.” It’s the cue. The tech guy at the laptop hears this and presses a button. On the screens are giant figures of numbers, starting at $0. Instantly the number jumps to $1,000. It rises like a drug high that threatens to overdose.

            “Reaching our goal of $500,000 will unable us to build thousands of shelters for homeless children across the world! We can make a difference!” The number has now risen to $45,000. There’s a pause. It seems the program has a glitch, but then the number on the screens changes to $130,000. $275,000. $410,000. Exciting music plays on the overhead speakers that are hidden in the rafters, and the seats in front of the stage are completely empty. A technicians hides wires in the corner of the room. A woman moves boxes away from the bar. The man looks at his paper with probing eyes. After a few moments and the constant encouragement of the man to the empty audience to donate money, the number finally reaches $500,000. The music abruptly changes and the words Ce-lebrate good times, Come on! play, and the man thanks everyone in attendance for their donations. $500,000.

            The next day the event has the attendance of all the richest socialites of the city. A balding, old fat man has an arm across two girls who look like models, and he has a cigar in his mouth, and he points it at all the flashing cameras as if it’s his dick and he were saying look at it. A city politician and his wife and their three children arrive, and they wave and smile to the cameras, but it’s a fake smile that they’ve learned to have after years of unhappy marriage. Then comes a lawyer, the attorney general, a few of his friends, a film maker, an actor, a musician ( and not the one who is to perform tonight) and a few other rich people who have the good luck of knowing other rich people.

            The dinner portion is comprised of a three course meal. The appetizers are light and addicting, while the main course has options that include crab from Singapore and Kobe beef from, well actually not Japan but Nebraska, but it was from the best ranch in the state, it was just cheaper to go domestic, that’s all. The desert course included only the richest of German chocolates. The wines were from Napa, and there were four separate fully stocked bars.

            The man’s refined speech hits a real cord. He states simple, direct facts about injustices in the world. A few statistics. As an orator, he rivals Joseph Goebbels. As they listen the men clench their fists in anger, and they’re dates feel tears well in their eyes. The children don’t pay attention. They tweak from the high they get from eating their deserts and sword fight with their utensils.

            The number on the screens hit $500,000. Everyone cheers, as if they were happy that yes, finally the world is actually ending. Ce-lebrate good times, come on! Everyone was full of food and drink and some of the children danced on tables, their parents not stopping them. They kicked the plates and glasses to the ground, and the catering staff watched on with a nervous, irritated glare. But these were the rich. And they had just done a good thing. They had donated $500,000. Everyone likes to feel like they’re the good guys.

            $500,000. $500,000 to a non-profit organization, that had staff all across the country. Connections with other organizations and companies and media outlets. A non-profit organization with bills to pay. And now they had $500,000. It’s not that it all wasn’t used for it’s stated purpose. In rough estimation, about $100,000 would be used to try to end children living in extreme poverty. Cause that’s all you really could do. Try. It was simply too big a problem to completely eradicate. All the various countries, developed or not, all the millions upon billions of people, all of the undocumented, the hidden. An insect against a mountain. And under that mountain, was the rest of the iceberg. It would take more than a few years to completely eradicate. Actually it could take decades, probably longer. Child poverty is like money. It’s always going to exist.

            That night a dubstep DJ mixed really harsh beats and women in little black dresses who wore no underwear danced with men who had power, men who had money, men who had face to save. Men who were righteous and “good”.

            By as early as the next day, there were rumors of who was going to be the musical act at next year’s fundraiser event. Where might it be next time? San Francisco? New York? Honolulu? The man considered this.

            Everyone loves Hawaii.

           We all see movies titles that sound familiar to us, and they usually are because there is a new trend in the film industry; which is turning novels into film adaptions. Sometimes they can be successful just like the Harry Potter series, or can be a total flop like Cirque de Freak. Here are a few films that are already released or will be released this year. You can all be the judges of whether the films make the book justice or not.

 

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1. The Great Gatsby – Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Taking place during the Roaring Twenties, this novel turned movie brings in the elegance and glamour of the time, which is not without its fair share of drama. This movie came out in May and is now on Blu-ray and DVD but this is a must watch. Does it do the novel justice? It is up to you to decide.

Synopsis: Nick Carraway is intrigued by the life of his millionaire neighbor named Jay Gatsby. However, Nick learns how not so simple Gatsby’s life is and how obsession, madness, loneliness and tragedy await him.

 

2. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – Novel by Rick Riordan and Directed by Thor Freudenthal

In order to understand the second film I recommend you to watch the first film named Percy Jackson & the Lightening Thief. The first film was not too bad but this sequel has received better reviews and is worth watching. If you are interested in fantasy, then these novels and films are just for you.

Synopsis: Percy Jackson and his friends embark on a journey to find the Golden Fleece while also trying to stop and ancient evil from rising.

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3. The Host – Novel by Stephenie Meyer and Directed by Andrew Niccol

If you are a fan of the Twilight series, then I recommend The Host! It is different compared to Twilight, but it has some aspects that can relate. Of course it has a love story and if you would like to see an action packed romantic film, then this is the movie you can watch with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Synopsis: A race of aliens start taking over human bodies which causes memories of the human to erase, except for this girl named Melanie. Melanie, later known as Wanderer, is able to feel and think for herself, and is willing to do anything in her power to protect the people she cares about most.

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4. Carrie – Novel by Stephen King and Directed by Kimberly Pierce

Carrie, Stephen King’s classic first novel that became an instant hit when it was adapted into a film in 1976. The remake of the film is just a more modern version of the previous film. Carrie is a tragic story of a girl who is constantly bullied from not only kids at school, but also her own mother. As the story progresses, Carrie discovers a power that she uses to her advantage. If you are into gore and thrillers then Carrie is definitely for you.

 

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Synopsis:  Carrie White is an outcast in school and is sheltered by an overly religious mother, and because of that she unleashes “telekinetic” powers. She unleashes those powers when she is pushed too far in her high school prom.

 

5. Ender’s Game – Novel by Orson Scott Card and Directed by Gavin Hood

I remember reading this book in high school and I loved it so much that I finished the whole thing in just two days. This science fiction novel is full of excitement and courage because of Ender’s character. The ending is unexpected but I am excited to see this movie when it is released in a couple of days. Ender’s Game is a more modern novel but is likely to become a classic. Must watch movie for sure!

Synopsis: The International Military seek out to find a leader to help them save the human race from an alien attack. Ender Wiggin, who is still a bit underage to join the military, is recruited and trained to lead his soldiers into battle to determine the fate of the human race.

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Sources: IMDB, Goodreads, Google.

A grey haired artist bares
His soul as he shares
Emotional words
From that stage up there.
Afterwards he can be seen
Moonwalking towards his
Cup of dreams
A mug of steamed coffee doused in
Amaretto cream.
Ripples caused from his
Shaking hand
Give away to nerves unplanned.
Yet he never walks away
He’ll face that bright
Sunshiny day.
And he’ll face that slow-cooked
Blackened night
Head on, face looking at the stars
The bars, the speeding cars.
He’ll sit on the scarred stone walls
Outside the performance hall.
Writing down thoughts,
Writing down rhymes,
Writing down poems and finds,
Because that’s what he’s supposed to do.
He’s meant to tattoo his words
Onto peoples hearts.
To make his audience stew
Over what’s true
And the facts they thought they knew.
He’s meant to pursue emotions
To color devotions
To knock down promotions,
To tie back hair and watch people stare
At the worlds he’s discovered,
Created, uncovered.
And he does his job,
Pulling back the curtains to reveal
Stories that are fiction
And those that are real.
He designs his own world
In which he’s learned to ignore
How he feels
How it hurts when he’s torn
From pedestals, from stages,
From miles of blank pages.
And he’s stuck in their cages,
Putting pen to the paper,
He writes it all down,
All the smiles and frowns,
His observations of the street
Beats of yellows and browns.
It’s all there, colored in on the page
Outside the lines
Like he was half his age.
He’s bent on breaking through
This world tinted with
Rage.
He desires to
Peel back the pavement
And find something better underneath.
A place that circumvents reality,
Fatality, normality.
Where he can be whoever,
Go wherever.
A tangible universe
In which he can endeavor
To maybe for once,
Stop asking for permission
And produce his own definitions.

 

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While reading Creative Nonfiction: A pact between writer and reader by Belen Chacon, I started to think about an argument my high school AP English teacher would tell us “Is nonfiction entirely true?” Belen Chacon makes great points, and I agree that when we read nonfiction we trust the author to its entirety on what he/she has written. Nonfiction can actually be more difficult to label because there is honesty in a story to an extent. Fiction is much less complicated because we know when a story is fantastical like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games Trilogy or even Crime and Punishment. What I always tend to think is “there is fiction in nonfiction, and nonfiction in fiction.”

 

With nonfiction, whether it is newspapers, journals, or even textbooks, the author writes about what they know. For instance, in movies that say “Based on a True Story,” we tend to believe that what is happening in the film is true, even though some scenes probably did not happen in reality. Nonfiction can be seen in a similar way, but to what point can it be seen as truth or perception? Another example that there’s a couple who have been together for years and if they would describe their first date, both might have the same story, but are told differently. One might miss a few details while the other can describe it more vividly. One story can be told in a several ways, but the writer decides how to write the story, while the reader decides whether to believe the story or not. When I read Martin Luther during a Creative Writing class, he was very straightforward and would say that his translation of the Bible in German is his translation. If the reader did not like the translation, then the reader should become the writer and create their own translation. Writers are writing about their story and their perception.

 

According to Critical Reading, claims of alien abductions are perceived as nonfiction. Whether these claims are true or not is debatable, but we are able to make that choice. Some of us choose to believe these claims are true while others might not. Creative nonfiction can be seen as claims. We can choose to believe what we read. We can decide to believe a celebrity’s autobiography is real, or just a book of fantasies.

 

“We can take readers anywhere in any number of ways. Whether it’s our memories, imaginations, feelings et cetera, one thing writers can do to make sure the line between fact and fiction isn’t blurred is to be explicit with your reader and let him/her know that you are imagining a scene, or that you’re feeling a certain way, or that the details you are describing are in fact your memories. Your prose can be as creative as you like so as long as your reader is aware at all times, which will help keep the story grounded in the world as we know it.”− Chacon

 

Creative nonfiction is an emotional experience for the writer and the reader is able to identify how the author truly felt and if that moment truly happened in their minds. All readers have a choice whether to entrust the author and create that pact, or decide to think otherwise.

 

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You’re having dinner with friends at a restaurant. You’re laughing, you’re drinking, and you’re in the middle of telling your friends the story of how you fractured your knee when you were in the second grade. You use your hands, facial expressions, and maybe even attempt to do some exaggerative impressions of the people that were involved. You don’t remember every exact detail or everything you or anyone involved said in your story, but you work with you’ve got, and don’t mind embellishing the smaller details to keep your friends engaged.

 

Writing a creative nonfiction piece is like telling a non-fiction story to your friends. You use the tools and information available to you in order to amplify your story, but still keep the story grounded in reality. However, depending on the levels of creativity used to make a story more interesting, creative non-fiction can tend to blur the lines of fact, which can then make your story not as accurate or real as you portray it to be, and for some people, that can be a bit of a problem. But if non-fiction stories are supposed to be real and true, how exactly are these truths blurred and what can we do to make our readers feel like they’re not being lied to?

 

Earlier in July, Dennis Miller wrote an article titled, 16 Nonfiction Forms and How to Write Them, where the author points out that creative nonfiction “tends to focus on transformational events in the narrator’s or central character’s life,” and readers are often at the mercy of the narrator’s truths and overall experience as opposed to what may or may not have actually happened. Miller then adds that creative nonfiction also often sounds “crafted or poetic,” which further echoes the writer’s/narrator’s experience or desire to “showcase a certain brand of writing skills,” which again, leads readers to doubt the accuracy of some of the details in the piece.

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However, Miller fails to discuss one important thing when it comes to writing creative nonfiction. When we read nonfiction, we know we’re reading something from another person’s perspective. There’s a certain level of awareness a reader has when going into a story, and it’s the writer’s job to guide them properly so that readers aren’t misled. But how do we do that?

 

Whenever I attempt to write a creative nonfiction piece, I tend to look back at a book I used in one of my creative nonfiction courses at UC Riverside. One of the important things Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction, brings to light is the “pact” the author makes with the reader. Just as I touched upon above, it is assumed by the reader that when he/she is reading creative nonfiction he/she is reading something known to be true, and because of that, the reader is trusting the writer that the details described in the story are, in fact, true. “Because of this assumption,” the authors write, “the reader needs to know he is in good hands…The reader needs to know he won’t be deceived along the way.”

 

The way you choose to tell your story can help show readers exactly what they’re dealing with when reading a work of nonfiction. For example, the authors of Tell It Slant, show that the first person ‘I’ narrative can give the audience some assurance because someone is speaking directly to them. Also, revealing personal, and true, details can make the reader feel like they are talking to a regular person. Once we know who our narrator is, we can decide which details to take seriously and which to glaze over. “If we know we are in the hands of a literary artist,” the authors write, “—one who won’t let us down with clichés or a weak infrastructure—then we’re usually willing to go wherever he or she leads.”

 

We can take readers anywhere in any number of ways. Whether it’s our memories, imaginations, feelings et cetera, one thing writers can do to make sure the line between fact and fiction isn’t blurred is to be explicit with your reader and let him/her know that you are imagining a scene, or that you’re feeling a certain way, or that the details you are describing are in fact your memories. Your prose can be as creative as you like so as long as your reader is aware at all times, which will help keep the story grounded in the world as we know it.