The Multi-Cultural Soundtrack of Uber

     On a recent trip to Los Angeles I was pleasantly surprised by the soundtrack of Uber.  I couldn’t help but take notice of the music being played by each driver, unique to his or her own heritage and lifestyle. My drivers expressed themselves by the songs playing in their cars - listening to what they loved - and what they loved was what they knew.

    My first ride, from LAX to Hollywood, was colored by the music of Bollywood. I didn’t understand the words, but I could tell they were love songs. The conversation with my driver was interrupted, at times, by the sounds of passion and longing. He actually chuckled at one point, moved by the emotional male singer and the melodrama echoing throughout the early morning hours.

    Another ride, from Hollywood to Glendale was filled with Jazz. The car became enrapt in tempo and time signatures as my driver explained he was a retired professor of music. Being delighted to have met JK Simmons on various occasions, he told of what a nice fellow he was, and how Simmons explained to him that the actor’s first love was music.

    Then there was the young man driving to Melrose Trading Post, listening to Hip Hop. We had common interests as he was also a writer, having published a series of books. We talked about self-publishing and he gave me some pointers. It was both an entertaining and educational trip…I didn’t want it to end for I knew there was much more I could glean from him.

    At the risk of sounding stereotypical, I didn’t explain that my first driver was of Indian descent and the next two drivers were African American - but they were. The music was good and served as the soundtrack for conversations that were real. 

    In between, there was the laid back hippie guy who moved to L.A in the sixties, the woman from Vegas relocating to be nearer to her daughter who is a singer, and the young man hoping to make it as an actor - all driving while curating the soundtracks of their lives.

    I realize that riding in an Uber is a very intimate experience. I am in someone’s personal vehicle, after all, and it sure feels that way. The first thing I say when hopping in is “How’s your day going?” After that, I get to know the driver on a human level, it gets as personal as it can in ten to thirty minutes. 

    So, on my last drive out of  Los Angeles, on the way to the airport, my driver, a man from Mexico was playing Mexican music. At one point he turned it off to switch on Top 40 radio, and commercials ensued.  I asked him why he turned off his music and he told me he wasn’t sure if I liked it. I told him I loved it, then we started to have a conversation, and again, it got personal. We actually talked politics. I asked him if, being from Mexico, he, his family, or friends felt the pressures of our current government. He explained he was a seventeen year veteran of Coca-Cola, he was retiring in a few years and had a bright future, but he couldn’t say that for the rest of the people he knew. 

    Before I knew it, we were at the airport and our discussion was over. However, the memories of my drivers and our conversations are not. I will take their stories with me wherever I go and those stories will all be accompanied by the music I heard in their cars...the soundtracks of their lives. Music that is the multi-cultural soundtrack of Uber. 

 

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Sweet Endings

In honor of summertime, I thought I would post the following essay. It won first place in the flash fiction category, the prompt being the heat of summer..    

SWEET ENDINGS  by Cherie Fruehan

    I can’t remember when I died. Well, not the exact moment anyway. I certainly recall the day. Ungodly hot. On the day of my death, the summer air was abnormally thick and stagnant, the type of environment I wouldn’t dare expose myself to…ever. I hated summer. She was a sadist who took pleasure in draping her steaming hot blanket over us, holding it down, attempting to suffocate us all.

    I was not alone in my indignation, for there were others with me. We were all captive, within the same cramped space, hiding, trying to keep cool, trying to avoid our eventual fate. A fate that would soon become glaringly obvious. Temporarily shielded from the sweltering atmosphere, we remained boxed within four windowless walls, shoulder to shoulder, with little room to move about. No view to the outside world, the sound of the crashing waves were the only hint as to where we were. We were imprisoned, but at least it was cool within our confines. Chilly, even, as speckles of frost lined the walls. The air was fresh and crisp, almost sweet-smelling. A direct contrast to the hellish world outside. 

    Every time the door to our shelter opened, I winced, shielding my eyes from the blazing sun, as its fiery orb pulsated in the hazy sky, threatening to end my life; all our lives. 

    I scolded myself when I thought about the others. It was every man for himself in our sanctuary from the sun. I knew I had to push the others out of my mind. It was the only way I was going to survive. I needed to figure out a way.             However, I was not in control, for it was the sentinel at the door who held our fate in his hands. Every time the door opened, our captor would remove one, sometimes two, of my brothers and sisters and send them out to be devoured in the cruel world by those who had no respect for our kind.  Sometimes, the guard would visit several times within the hour. Other times, there would be a lull in the action. I couldn’t figure the pattern.

    Each time the door opened, I tried to make myself invisible, to be inconspicuous, to not draw attention. My plan seemed to be working. I hadn’t been summoned. I appeared to be safe in a population that dwindled by the hour. Unfortunately, I had the audacity to exhale.

    As soon as I thought I had averted crisis, it happened. I heard the mumbling of voices on the other side of the door…something about choosing. Suddenly the door opened and our captor grabbed me, along with another brother of mine. I was frozen with fear. I could not move, as we were pulled out of our air-conditioned environment and into the stifling atmosphere. Sweat immediately began to burn my eyes, as I listened to the conversation.

    “Which one?” the guard asked the visitor.

    And that’s when I saw him, the one who requested me. There he was, staring at us, a hunger in his wild eyes as they flitted between the two of us. He raised his chubby arm, pointing at me with his fat finger as he licked his upper lip. The guard pushed me forward. “This one?”

    “Yeah,” answered my new master.

    The guard shoved my brother back into the shelter and slammed the door. I was devastated. Dizzy from the heat, my vision blurred as sweat dripped into my eyes. My master paid the guard and I was relinquished into his hands. His dirty hands. They were all over me. He looked me up and down, assessing every inch. I couldn’t think straight. I was furious, I was frightened, I was melting in the brutal sun. 

    “You’re my favorite.” He said. 

    Was he trying to soften me up? In any other situation, I could be sweet on the inside but not today. He wasn’t going to get the best of me. I was determined to preserve my hard protective shell. 

    Alas, my determination found it difficult to withstand the scorching sun! Weak and waning, I wanted to cry, yet I was adamant to not break, as my master tore off my wrap - the only thing protecting me from the sinister fireball in the sky.

    There I was, naked, sweating, as he drew his face nearer to me, his lips moist and plump like cherries pulled from the cooler. His foul breath nauseated me, as he licked me. 

    “Mmmmm…” he said. 

    I winced. I wished myself dead. In that instant, as if he read my mind, he opened his gap-toothed mouth and took a bite of me. He had granted my wish. I heard the crunch and feared the worst as he gnashed his teeth. I didn’t feel a thing. Correction. I did feel one thing. Hatred.    

    I hated that bitch, summer. I hated the oppressive sun. I hated being an ice cream bar in the hands of an eight-year-old murderer.

 

 

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DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR RESUME´

 

Artists and creatives, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to the crafting of your resume´. With so many candidate’s qualifications floating around out there, neatly typed onto 32 lb. ecru paper, sometimes you will need to take a chance to catch the eye of your future employer; and getting creative with your resume´ may be just the thing you need to do to stand out from the crowd.

Not all industries are going to appreciate a creative resume´ but I am betting that if you are seeking a job in the arts or entering into the fields of advertising, marketing or design, a non-traditional resume´ is just the ticket to get you noticed. That being said, it is important to make sure that your new interpretation can showcase your skills at a glance, and it is critical that you have the qualifications to back it up. 

When hand crafting a unique resume´ keep in mind the industry that you are entering and create something that speaks directly to that industry. Entering the design field? It may be as simple as having a unique layout or eye-catching typography. Want to work for an advertising firm? Create an "ad" that sells you as the brand and it may just get you the interview. Or, if you are looking for a job working for Tom Hanks, peck out your resume´ on a Vintage 1929 Underwood and mail him the whole damned typewriter! Whatever you do, make sure that your design layout and interpretation is good and certainly keep it professional

The key is to get you noticed. That is your initial goal, ultimately your future employer may then ask you for a more traditional layout, which you will always have waiting in the wings.

The inspiration for this resume´ came from the cover of The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to Post-Modern by Carol Strickland.

The inspiration for this resume´ came from the cover of The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to Post-Modern by Carol Strickland.

 

 

TAKE A SELFLESS

November is a month when we celebrate Thanksgiving, a month of being thankful for all that we have. Most of us have at least one thing to be thankful for and many of us are blessed with more than enough. That being said, there are others in this world who are in need. This is where we, as human beings, come into play. This is the moment that we all can serve a purpose, when we can lift our fellow man by being selfless. We can give, a dollar, a meal, a smile or just time to another. We can befriend a perfect stranger to let them know that we are there, that we care. 

It costs us nothing to let our fellow man know their worth as a human being.

I saw him from across the street, he was carrying a plastic bag that most likely contained most of what he owned. As he crossed the street he made eye contact with the two women on the corner as if to say hello; they pretended he was invisible. They were probably afraid he would ask them for money, maybe they were just afraid. I made a u-turn and came back around, I would be happy to donate to his cause, but mostly I just wanted to say hello. I asked if I could take his picture. His name is Gary, he used to be a boxer but his career failed when he would not cheat, he would not take the fall in the rigged matches. He served in two wars. @instagram lets start a new movement. In our small world connected by the internet, where everyone is taking selfies, let's take a "selfless". Do something nice for someone and share it with the world! ‪#‎takeaselfless‬

FEAR

I 'fear' I have missed the mark a tad...this was supposed to be an October Post  :)

October is synonymous with fear. Mostly in part due to Halloween, when people dress as witches and ghouls to hunt for treats under the light of the moon. 

Last month, I was asked to produce art for the MENSA bulletin. It is a magazine sent to it's members roughly ten times a year. In the October bulletin were to be real life stories, told by MENSA members about actual fears they faced. There were all kinds of accounts of terrifying stories, some life threatening, and I had to come up with one visual interpretation to represent that month's publication as a whole.

I must say, while I was imagining what I would create to symbolize their experiences, I felt fear as well. A fear that I would not do the stories justice. A fear I would not be able to produce the images forming in my mind. Sometimes, as an artist, I can see a thing clearly in my head but I cannot get my hands to execute on canvas, what my mind sees. At least not to my expectations. I wondered (feared) I would struggle with that on this particular piece. And what if I did finally create the thing I was envisioning? Maybe the editors and art directors would not like my work. What then? Yes, the fear was real! However, I would not let that stop me. I was excited to take on the challenge!

Regardless of my fears (insecurities really), I was able to come up with an idea the art director liked. Actually, I presented two different images and they loved and used BOTH of them! One for the cover and one for the main article! I am proud of my work and I am happy I pushed through my own fears; which brings us back to spooky October! Did you know Halloween originated in Ireland and was originally called All Hallow's Eve? It was the eve of All Saints Day, a day when Christians wanted to honor all their saints in Heaven? It was not intended to invoke fear at all, but to be a celebration!

So this October, while children and adults are parading about in costume, some goofy, some scary....running about and spooking each other, have no fear! Just remember it is, after all, not so scary. It is just a quest to fill their sacks full of sweets! 




GIFTING LENNY KRAVITZ

As an artist I constantly need to be creating; it is what makes me happy and feeds my soul.

I always look for opportunities to be able to express a thought, an idea, an emotion. Though my aim is to be a thriving, working ( i.e. paid) artist, I also take great joy in giving away the art that I have made. To be able to share a painting or piece of jewelry with someone and say, “here, this thing that I have crafted with my hands and my heart is for you, just because”, is so thrilling. I think it brings more joy to me than to the recipient.

I usually know the people that I am gifting, but this day is an exception. Tonight I am going to see Lenny Kravitz perform, and he will be the intended recipient of my gift. Lenny. Kravitz.

Have you ever heard of him? Of course you have! Do you know him? Then you are one lucky soul! I don’t. However, he is not a COMPLETE stranger, I know his music well, and I feel as if I have literally grown up alongside of him. So, tonight, he is playing in my hometown, in a smallish venue that I know well. It is here that I will share my art.

I was going to paint for him, something really cool,  but then I figured he and his crew would not appreciate an extra 30” x 40” carry-on. Instead, I decided jewelry would work. He is a man of great style who wears unique pieces and wears them well. This…is something that I can do!

I decide on connecting round matte Lapis stones together and add an Ethiopian Star of David pendant to make a very unique and wearable necklace. Blue Lapis is beautiful and if you believe in the healing properties of stones, it is said to stimulate spiritual growth and spiritual health. It governs the throat chakra, useful for singers, and helps to ease negative thoughts and anger. Regardless of its healing properties, it is really a pretty stone and this piece will look awesome with blue jeans.

Step one, design and create piece. Step two, get it to Lenny. Uhm…I guess I didn't think this through.

Aside: I am making this as a way to say “thank you for gifting us with your music”. Seriously. That is it. I have a child who is a songwriter/singer and I fully witness the hard work, energy, heart and emotion that goes in to creating music and lyrics. I also see the confidence that it requires to share that with the world. I am truly saying thanks, and, of course I am a fan.

Back to how do I get it to him? I have a few obstacles. One, there is no meet and greet which means there is no “Hey Lenny, I made this for you and blah bi dee blah…” Two, I am not one of those people who is brave enough to “talk my way” past event security; and three, it is Rosh Hashanah, and he may not be able to accept any gifts until month’s end. 

The only light at the end of this velvet rope is that I have “this friend” who works this venue who knows “a guy” who can “maybe” give it to the tour manager who will “possibly” not throw it away… and “hopefully” it will find the hands of Lenny, who will then read my note of both thanks and apology for the bad timing, and “prayers answered” remember to open it in October!

This mission entails a lot of unknown circumstances and chance, but serendipitous things HAVE been known to happen and maybe my little creation will make it to its intended destiny. Maybe one day we will see it on the neck of Lenny, in all it’s glory. Or maybe…we will see it on the neck of the guy sweeping up the glitter and gum after the show, he certainly deserves an article of thanks as well!

I just hope that wherever it ends up, it is appreciated, for it contains a piece of my heart and soul.

Regardless, I will smile and say peace.

WELCOME!

Well...here it is, the first blog post on the Essential RockStar website! I'm Cherie and I want to welcome you here! Stay a while and explore!  I would love to share, in essence, an extension of myself...through art and design, through creative expression, through writings and ramblings. I hope you enjoy your time here; that you are inspired, uplifted, and most importantly, that you come back to visit! Peace and love!