Tag: #firsttime

An Affair With Another Major: Journalism

An Affair With Another Major: Journalism

In an ongoing series, where I explore other academic majors that peaked my interest at one point or another in my life, this blog post will cover the major called journalism. This blog post was made possible with the help of Jamie Perez and contributions from readers like you, thank you. (Can you imagine in an alternate dimension where like Earth-310 version of Tony Nguyen was actually a journalist instead of this Earth’s Tony pretending to be a journalist? Mind. Blown.)

I barely met Jamie this semester in “Contemporary Leisure Study”, which is just some fancy-swami word for a class based on how our individual selves and we as a society use free time but I digress. When we first had class, our teacher asked us about our majors and Jamie said journalism to then my immediate response was “Hot diggity damn, I need to talk to this chick to see what that major is all about.” This was because I’ve always found journalism mesmerizing and powerful. Journalists have so much influence on this world with the information they give to the people, whether they’re truthful or not (I would like to take this moment and give a disrespectful shout out to all those journalists out there knowingly giving skewed, incomplete, or otherwise completely false information to the public, especially you FOX news, y’all some perplexed, dirty, snakey, self–indulgent douchebag assholes still struggling to completely understand the basic concept of honest journalism. Don’t pardon my French on this one for I knew what I was saying) and in a perfect world we would only have the most responsible and honest journalists but we don’t. They’re kind of like the superheroes and supervillains of this world (not very cool heroes or villains when you think of them in the traditional sense but!… eh, never mind, I got nothing) and I always wanted to be a hero so I had to ask Jamie what it takes to become one.

Just kidding, I didn’t ask her how to be a hero (I’m a anti-hero after all).

So the story goes like this, when I first spoke to Jamie it was due in part to our mutual friend, Darren. I could tell she was an easygoing, mellow, and a confident person from the way she spoke to the fact that she drove Darren home after the first day of class even though at that point in time she barely knew him. So I jumped the gun and asked her for a interview about her major which resulted in a yes. However, I had to wait two weeks before I had the chance to sit down with her since our professor had cancelled classes for two weeks meaning our schedules wouldn’t line up with each other until then. Fast forward two weeks, boom, bang, zing, and our class had ended for the day and we (including Darren) walked over to the pool hall on campus to meet up with some of her friends. Friendly introductions to strangers over, I started the interview.

The conversation went easy enough, I told her about the rules on how I conducted my interviews, “No boring questions like “what inspired you”, “what color do you”, “if you could be a dog or a cat…” you catch my drift, I’ll try to keep the interview cool, casual and not forced upon” and thanks to the interviewee it went exactly as so. First we spoke about our current states of life, how it was going between us two, why I started the blog, how was her weekend, again cool and casual. I found out that she was of a French, Native, Mexican, and Spanish descent. Next, I delved into her major only to realize that I knew little to nothing about the journalism degree offered here at CSULB. CSULB wasn’t just teaching students the fundamentals of hardcore-in-your-face investigative techniques (if at all) or how to write an informative article but it also taught journalism media (not in a complete kind of way, where the student didn’t get to learn all about media). Jamie loved the sub-focus of journalism media where she could be artistic and use Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator to help make news more visually exciting and relatable to the viewer. It’s a much needed talent especially since this generation and no doubt the next generation will be very tech dependent, too easily bored to look at boring layouts, and not to mention moving from day to day without a second thought of what happened yesterday, so the journalism game must keep up with the times (I much prefer my news simple, coming from someone wearing a fedora with a piece of paper reading PRESS stuck in it’s brim, jotting the news on a notepad with a pen but what can you do?). Jamie then told me an insider secret (well, not really a secret I guess if they’re teaching people about it), which is called the inverted pyramid. The Inverted pyramid has tiers of how important and how much information should be at the top of your article and as it decreases to the end with the more fluffier news to fill space. According to Jamie the first two to three paragraphs is all you really need to read if you wanted to get the main news in that specific article, the rest is important, yes, but only necessary as detail and information to further accentuate the news at hand. I decided to test it out, you, the reader, should too. It’s quite extraordinary to just read the first couple of sentences and know the news but is it really knowing the news? Maybe this is why the inverted pyramid isn’t taught to the public, so they would actually read the entire article. As Jamie so neatly said, “modern journalism is a two way street” in which the journalist job is to get you the truth and the facts but it’s up to the public to have the curiosity to read and make sure they’re fully informed. Or the worst will happen and we’ll end up getting articles that are three sentences long like this,  “Apple Inc. is taking people’s souls. Apple Inc. announced they do not care about public backlash. To avoid this from happening, do not sign Apple Inc. contracts.”  See, you get all the news but you don’t get the “why” and the “how” of the news.

As we continued to speak, I disclose to her that in a way, she and a pen pal of mine (also a journalism major) influenced me to start this blog because journalism was always an interest of mine but it one of those things that gets pushed all the way to the back, right into the corner nook of my brain that until when someone reminds me of it, it likes to just nags at me until I do something about it (it’s exactly like that one time when I was watching a commercial about Toaster Strudels, you know that commercial that says Warm…Flaky…Gooey…Toaster Strudel, now with more icing, because damn right we need more icing. Anyways, yeah, I totally ate Toaster Strudels that same day because of that commercial). Jamie said that it was amazing that I said she was an inspiration, and she was being very humble (no sarcasm) when she told me she had had others tell her the same thing. So the topic then turns to inspiration and how we as people inspires others. It’s an amazing effect that we have on each other, to inspire the people around us to do great things without knowing it and at the same time it can produce awful, awful results. But of course, I would be the one to bring up that point during our conversation, the sometimes awfulness of us human beings just like how when the news lies about the weather for the next day and I can’t trust any of my local meteorologist anymore. Just then, Jamie proposed an idea, that everyone should be a journalist, not in the traditional sense (fedora and all) but to be a journalist that collects news, watches out for their community, and to be a positive but most importantly an active voice in their own society which might just influence our society. To that I say, what an idea, what a wonderful idea.

Tea Falls in the Fall

Tea Falls in the Fall

In an ongoing series called “Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space” where I talk to artists that have a gallery space at CSULB, this week I delve into the work of Kiyomi Fukui and her ever-changing gallery space. If you think about it, Kiyomi is kind of magician to have her gallery continuously change everyday throughout the week just like the changing of visitors that would continually come in and out of the show (I shall break the magician code this week! And explain her magic trick later, it’s a doozy).

(Note, this was my first interview of an artist that was not of an acquaintance or friend, I didn’t even know her name when I first spoke to her. She was a blank slate as you might have it, a complete stranger to me however thanks to Kiyomi’s help, the interview went exceedingly well.)

So the story goes like this, I was interviewing Jaycen Mont Rios about his show, .stonedon a Tuesday afternoon but I couldn’t help but to look across the way to Kiyomi’s gallery, where she sat behind a small table, welcoming guest to her gallery. “Jaycen, what’s going on with that show across from us?”, I inquired to my companion that sat at the table with me. “You mean that gallery over there? It’s a tea ceremony kind of thing. Go get some free tea, man,” he stated in his forever chilled tone of voice. Of course I had to finish my conversation/interview with Jaycen before starting a new interaction with someone else and getting free tea (I do have some sort of manners after all, my mama raised me right). As we kept talking, I would glance back to Kiyomi’s gallery, the Dutzi, to realize that people came and went but would always stop to talk to her even if they didn’t partake in the tea. It was an astounding sight to me because for one, she genuinely wanted to talk to her visitors (I mean, yeah sure, most artists that have had galleries here at school would like to talk to the visitors about art but she interacted with them on a different level, having real conversations that deviated from art onto other life topic, plus it wasn’t artificially forced either) and second, she had actually accumulated an audience for herself in front of her gallery(I want to do that when I have a gallery show).

Having finally finish my interview with Jaycen and waiting for her previous guests to leave the table, I decided that I was thirsty and the only things that would quench this thirst was tea and figuring out what her show was truly about (it couldn’t just be about a tea ceremony, could it?). So I strolled on by to her gallery and said hello. She replied with a smile and, “Hi, would you like some tea?” In my head, I was like, “Hell yes!”, but I decided that “Yes, please. Thank you.” for first impressions would suffice. I casually sat down across from her, she poured me a cup of tea which was a deep rose red color. If you, the reader, inspected the table, you would see that the table was covered by a very reddish purple tablecloth. In the center of the cloth was little shells and other shapes made of sugar that could be used to sweeten your tea. An adorable and very personal touch, seeing as Kiyomi casted the sugar into the shape of all the different objects that she had found during her travels, such as shells.

Now, here is where the magic happened. We just started to talk. Simply put, it was a natural, uncoerced conversation between two human beings.  Call me Marty McFly because this is when I entered a time warp, it must have been about 15 minutes (or longer, I don’t know how to estimate time to be honest) before I realized that the tranquil conversation that I had entered, I didn’t even know Kiyomi’s name. I was dumbfounded by this revelation, we had spoken to each other as if we were long time friends just catching up on life. “We’ve been talking for a while now, I forgot all about introductions. Your name is?”, I had to ask, it’s just something I need to know if I’m talking to someone for the first time. “Kiyomi.” “Ki-yo-mi… is that right?” “Yes and your name is?” “Tony.” It’s amazing what type of information you can get when you’re in a very welcoming and unfenced conversation. She had received a BFA in Graphic Design from another college and while she was tending to that degree, she also found a love for Printmaking. Thus, this is why she’s at CSULB now, to get a MFA degree in Printmaking. Kiyomi isn’t a party animal, so one on one (or sometimes 4 on 1 for her case) face to face interactions are very important to her. As you can see with the way she set up her show, she took on the challenge to have as many face to face interactions as possible (a ballsy move, but one that comes with a great deal of courage to pull off) in where she created a judgement free-zone. The goal for her was accept the person and their words at true face value and to listen to their stories with no ill intent. The original intent of her show however, as she told me, was a place for people to share their insecurities and to accept them but it evolved into a more positive route because as people began to speak to her, it just became more cheery and explorative in nature of the people she spoke too.

So I told you I would reveal the magic trick of the daily-changing-gallery show of Kiyomi and so I will.  I just thoroughly explained one part of it, the people that stopped by the gallery. Each visitor was a key to this mystery because they helped change the gallery space. As I continued to drink my hibiscus tea, Kiyomi asked me if I would spill some it on the tablecloth (in truth, I didn’t want to waste a drop of it because it was so delicious but she’s the artist after all so I couldn’t say no) because she actually took each cloth at the end of the day and hung it in her gallery. With each new visitor was a new spill, a new drop, a new stain, ultimately a new piece of art to be hung. That week everyone had left a remnant (keyword for all you taking notes) with Kiyomi. Second part of the magic was the tea; she explained to me that tea, if you think about it, tea are tiny remnants of something much bigger such as a plant or a herb but when tiny remnants are collected from all over and mixed together it forms something amazing such as tea. Something that was once alive, now beautifully repurposed for something else. The tablecloth was a remnant of a tree, the sugar was casted from the remnants of nature, we as visitors were remnants with our stories, our spills, our drips. We left Kiyomi a small part of ourselves when we chose to interact with her that week but she also left a small part of herself with us that week (with free tea and sugar!). And that my friends, is the real magic, when she gave us something physical to grasp such as tea, sugar, and comfort but what she gets in return is instead incorporeal, such as our time, memories, and stories. However, as any good magician would have it, just when we thought the magic trick was over, we realized at the end that we were grasping her time, memories, and stories the whole time. I applaud you Kiyomi for a such masterful show.

Finally a little gift for you, the reader, I would like to leave you with a poem(also the artist statement) from the artist herself that she delightfully categorized as “positive propaganda”. It is called Reminiscing Remnants: Survival List for the Scary World,

“Consuming traces of life, which means eating and drinking

Finding a connection to the person in front of you

Chit-chatting meanings

To be comfortable breathing in someone else’s CO2

Love what you love

See what the person in front of you loves

Pay a tiny a bit of care, whether you love it or not

Share the good stuff

Share the bad stuff

Leave your marks

Look back with love Read too much into

Forget about it

Remember later

Reminisce the remnants”