Today consisted of me tweeting that I was bummed I couldn’t go to the Gungor concert because I had no extra cash.
What proceeded was my friend bringing me to a private show/recording they did at Relevant studios, and soon after, receiving a DM from the Gungor team hooking me up with two VIP tickets to that exact show I thought I wouldn’t make tonight.
So, so, so, so, so incredibly thankful.
Tonight was good.
I have a friend named Andia who I originally met at my church in Orlando. She is by far the best-dressed person I see every week, and it’s not like she’s trying; that’s just who she is. I think that’s what makes her so unique, and such a delight to be around: she’s completely authentic and fantastic in her own way.
Andia had this dream of putting on a fashion show, and today, she did it. Orlando UNCOVERED is what she called it, and it went far beyond what anyone would expect. She successfully crafted a team of collaborators — stylists, models, photographers, make-up artists, choreographers, dancers — to not only create an extraordinary night of fashion and dance, but also a lookbook, and a photography exhibition prior to tonight!
The idea behind UNCOVERED was to promote literacy and the work that the local library is doing — hence the reason that the three themes throughout the show were The Great Gatsby, Divergent, and Where The Wild Things Are — but also just as equally important, to show the world that the city of Orlando has some freakin’ talented people.
She approached me a month or so go, inviting me into the process of lighting the show. WHAT A BLAST! We were on a tight budget, so I found these $2 bins at IKEA, made some holes in it, got some awesome PAR bulbs, routed everything to a dimmer board, and controlled the whole show with an iPad!
Yeah, I’m thankful for Andia, and people like her, in my life.
Any tips or encouragements on getting back into blogging?
I’m not sure if it’s laziness, lack of motivation, or a lack of skill set, but I’ve had a lot of thoughts brewing in my mind for the past month or more — life experiences that are proving to be invaluable to me — yet, I can’t seem to divulge those things.
I was wondering if you guys had any words of wisdom! Holla’ atcha boi, if so.
One Photographer’s Witness to a Brutal Syrian Execution
The man was brought in to the square. His eyes were blindfolded. I began shooting pictures, one after the other. It was to be the fourth execution that day I would photograph. I was feeling awful; several times I had been on the verge of throwing up. But I kept it under control because as a journalist I knew I had to document this, as I had the three previous beheadings I had photographed that day, in three other locations outside Aleppo.
The crowd began cheering. Everyone was happy. I knew that if I tried to intervene I would be taken away, and that the executions would go ahead. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to change what was happening and I might put myself in danger.
I saw a scene of utter cruelty: a human being treated in a way that no human being should ever be treated. But it seems to me that in two and a half years, the war has degraded people’s humanity. On this day the people at the execution had no control over their feelings, their desires, their anger. It was impossible to stop them.
I don’t know how old the victim was but he was young. He was forced to his knees. The rebels around him read out his crimes from a sheet of paper. They stood around him. The young man was on his knees on the ground, his hands tied. He seemed frozen.
Two rebels whispered something into his ear and the young man replied in an innocent and sad manner, but I couldn’t understand what he said because I don’t speak Arabic.
At the moment of execution the rebels grasped his throat. The young man put up a struggle. Three or four rebels pinned him down. The man tried to protect his throat with his hands, which were still tied together. He tried to resist but they were stronger than he was and they cut his throat. They raised his head into the air. People waved their guns and cheered. Everyone was happy that the execution had gone ahead.
That scene in Syria, that moment, was like a scene from the Middle Ages, the kind of thing you read about in history books. The war in Syria has reached the point where a person can be mercilessly killed in front of hundreds of people—who enjoy the spectacle.
As a human being I would never have wished to see what I saw. But as a journalist I have a camera and a responsibility. I have a responsibility to share what I saw that day. That’s why I am making this statement and that’s why I took the photographs. I will close this chapter soon and try never to remember it.
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.
So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.
Dreams burn, but in ashes are gold.