Belize, the Central America Paradise

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Paradise on Earth? You Better Belize It

“We want you to feel at home in Belize”

"We can't go out and explore the world, so we want the world to come here"

“We can’t go out and explore the world, so we want the world to come here”

In what is said to be record rainfall this year in Belize, California is ready to declare a state of emergency from their driest year in recent history. Belize is a third world country, so yes, it’s going to have high theft areas of crime. Thankfully, there are just as many safe havens full of the nicest people of any high traffic tourist area. The people of Belize are limited in traveling only across near borders. Without a visa, the furthest they can go north is Mexico, and thus they depend on the tourism industry to meet people from around the world. Ambergris Caye is the place a lot of the mainland people move  because of the serenity of the island. It sure feels like paradise when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing off the shore. They may be seeing record rainfall, but the sun is still shining hard every day periodically between what I know from living on the west coast as pineapple express weather.

Most people know Belize through the hit television show Breaking Bad mentioning it as an analogy for murdering someone. Luckily, my trip to Belize didn’t have such a drastic ending. People either catch this reference, don’t have any idea what or where Belize is, or have been to Belize themselves and know of the paradise with a lack of infrastructure. This emerging getaway has seen many people including Harrison Ford and Madonna come and go. It’s undeveloped compared to that of the Myan Riviera, or Cancun, which is perfect for baby boomers looking for nostalgia. Beach bars blast Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones while people bet on horseshoes or eat at the adjacent barbeque. The amount of diversity is astounding and everyone is eager to mingle with each other tourists and locals alike.

Sunday beach party at the Crazy Canucks Bar

Sunday beach party at the Crazy Canucks Bar

This island was compared to paradise from all the locals I encountered, people from the mainland who saved for years to come to the emerging island get away, American Army vets looking for a place to retire. The Ambergris Caye is located off the east coast of the mainland of Belize, only a fifteen minute plane ride away.  This small island is only a mile wide, allowing you to see the sea on both the east and west coast simultaneously. The crystal blue waters include a river through the island resulting in a lagoon as well as the vast beautiful turquois ocean, the Caribbean Sea. The beach is composed of coral reef sediment sprouting from the second largest reef in the world just off the coast of the island, if you focus on the horizon you can see where the waves crash upon the summit of the reef to ease the waters heading into the Caye. Many citizens of San Pedros own boats and other aquatic craft to navigate the local area efficiently as well as go to the mainland for food, supplies, etc. Most bars are on the beach, some even featuring jet –ski access. The popular clubs of San Pedros are located in the high traffic tourist area, and the locals will be keep you partying there all night if you let them. The most popular club on the island is called “Jaguars” featuring an awesome entrance that’s intriguingly welcoming as you enter the mouth of a Jaguar next to the city center clock tower.

"Jaguars is the place to go" - Yaneli Young

“Jaguars is the place to go” – Yaneli Young

At home in Canada, a dollar doesn’t go very far anymore. In fact, unless you go to a dollar store or settle for subpar quality, you can’t even get a soda for a dollar anymore. Ironically enough, most dollar stores are even bumping their rates to $1.25. But in Belize, your dollar goes a bit further into the realm of minor refreshments and beyond. Your American dollar is worth double in Belize, and though this may sound appealing, there is a price we the tourists pay, then another price for the locals that can’t afford as much. In some cases locals will trade things with each other, such as fishermen trading for produce. This allows for some old fashioned bartering with the right establishments. In souvenir shops, for example, where cheesy shirts say “You Better Belize It!” or “UnBelizeable” which is eye candy to tourists, but not necessarily appealing if the price tag exceeds the novelty.

Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014

Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014

In Mexico or Jamaica, you might come across people desperately trying to convince you to enter their establishment or buy some product in an attempt to make ends meet. While I always felt uncomfortable being led into random, sometimes sketchy places, you won’t encounter much of that in San Pedros. People here are not pushy. They may ask if you would like to have dinner at their restaurant but they leave you alone at no. If you show interest, they might show you the menu before directing you into the establishment, still allowing you to decide for yourself. Most of the time, people greet you in the streets and ask you how you are enjoying Belize. They don’t necessarily want your money, they’re genuinely glad to meet you and are always willing to strike up a conversation to a passerby.

Better than front-row seats, this is our slice of beach feet away from the front door

Better than front-row seats, this is our slice of beach feet away from the front door

Belize has a struggling economy, due to the world economic struggle and their attempts and enticing more people to come to Belize thwarted by the fact that money is going into the wrong areas of town, funding seems to get lost in translation. Despite the rap that parts of the mainland have cases of crime, one thing is for certain, the people of Belize, at least the people of the Ambergris Caye, are welcoming people that are very kind. There is no stigma of keeping to yourself so as not to defend the wrong people like in North America. This spreads the feeling of community, a feeling that even just as a tourist that you’re a part of something bigger and better when you can just walk up to anyone on the street and strike up a conversation, provided you speak enough English or Spanish. That kind of thing doesn’t happen here without being branded as out of the ordinary, despite the fact that humans were made to be communal beings. That all got lost in translation in a lot of places it seems, but you better believe that it hasn’t happened here in Belize.

My best friend in Belize, a young lady I will never forget.

My best friend in Belize, a young lady I will never forget.

Bryan Mollett, the career Kickstart

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Bryan Mollett is releasing a photography compilation from the streets of Vancouver, BC through the aid of crowd funding.

 

 “It will be interesting to see the power of social media. I think word of mouth as well will be a big part of it and even just the kick starter website.” Bryan Mollett, 26, started his photography career as a teenager shooting videos and pictures of his friends skateboarding. Now he aims to release a photography compilation of street photographs covering the Vancouver area. The photos primarily focus on east Vancouver and the poverty stricken, but Bryan also provides a contrast through featuring religious imagery and social statement.

            Mollett got his first photo compilation exposure for the “This Is East Van” photography book. He had more photos in this compilation than anyone else. This is when Bryan started to gain confidence in the art of photography, becoming less concerned about judgement, and more concerned about perfecting his shots, asking friends and family their opinions on many of them.

Every photo makes a statement of its own, and every photo is a unique recorded snapshot of history that Mollett feels necessary to be immortalized in the medium that he’s so passionate about. A nun stands at a bus stop next to an ad for American Apparel featuring mild adultery, a child with dreadlocks and tattered clothing runs through the street alone. “I will be including different gifts as to what people pledge towards the final goal,” says Mollett. “I will be letting everyone close to me and the followers I have gained so far on this journey as soon as I get the video up.” He has yet to release the video, but says that it’s in the works.

 “My best experience in my photography journey had to have been last year in 2012 when my friend gave me a gift of true friendship by signing me up for a secret vacation and sending me to New York City to help build my portfolio.” Bryan says, referring to a television show he was lucky enough to be a part of. “I’d say the worst experience is the price of film in Canada. But tomorrow’s another day.” Bryan is a dedicated film photographer, even an advocate at times. “My digital camera spends most of its time at home.” Bryan shoots most of his pictures with a Leica M6, but he also uses a Yashica Mat 124g, though admits not for a while. Reflecting on the old days, he wishes the best of luck to young photographers. “Just keep shooting. Shoot whatever makes you happy, whatever you’re feeling like at that point in your life.”

On his days off from his full-time job with Shaw, Bryan likes to go downtown as early in the morning as possible and stay until he runs out of film.“I just love watching life,” says Bryan. “Whether it’s on the skytrain, driving, walking, I am just constantly scanning what’s in front of me, and what I can see. I really enjoy just walking around with my camera, finding things, it’s almost like a meditation for me.” No matter what the situation, he will come out of it with a smile on his face, and camera in hand.

Gaga going Galactic

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Grammy award winning artist, Lady Gaga, shoots for the stars as she prepares to sing a single in space.

 

Lady Gaga has always been considered “out there” ever since she debuted in the music industry with her powerful vocals and a don’t-judge-me-for-being-weird attitude, but in 2015, she’s to be part of the Virgin Galactic program and perform a show in the vastness of space. She will literally be “out there”. “She has to do a month of vocal training because of the atmosphere,” says a source, alluding to the changes in air pressure and gravitational force. Another source says this historic event will be “like nothing the world has seen before,” which is obvious as it won’t take place on Earth. Felix Baumgartner proved man can break the sound barrier free-falling from the stratosphere, will Gaga prove that singing professionally can be achieved in the vacuum of space.

 

Original story found here:

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/lady-gaga-to-sing-in-space-in-2015-2013611

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks Album Review

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Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks Album Review

Hey guys, just throwing up my latest album review for Abort Magazine.

Let me know what you think!

Suit & Tie Review

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Before Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, I had never seen a show at B.C. place. When I arrived to my first stadium show, I was told by the first security guard I was to be on the floor, I didn’t believe them as I walked down to the second floor to ask for directions, again, I was sent down to the floor. I didn’t believe it until I was sitting in the B section, looking at a very intricately designed stage. I was surrounded by thousands of seats, the blue sky visible through the new and improved, tax paid roof of the heart of B.C. entertainment. The stage was a very vivid blood red, square screens form an optical illusion in the center, instruments from bongo’s to a scarlet piano strategically litter the layers of the stage. For a moment, I was so interested in trying to figure out the stage and how it worked that I was forced back into reality by a tap on the shoulder by the woman next to me, looking up from my notebook where I was sketching the optical illusion the blood red walls created. “Are you doing homework?” she asked, her friends laughed.

“Dressed to the tee, they call me Cassidy” DJ Cassidy starts the party off with a mix of dance songs from the last few decades. The songs ranged from Drake to Guns n Roses, but for me, it was when Cassidy played some Notorious B.I.G. that I stood up to show my appreciation by grooving out a bit. DJ Cassidy did a good job setting up, he didn’t even have to ask for a lot of us to just start dancing to the music, at least half of the stadium was on their feet. The turn table set-up was actually behind me on the floor so I mostly just got a look from behind but the legs of the table are golden, Victorian style,. The theme of the night seems to be red, as DJ Cassidy was mixing under the red glow of the lights, and above a red carpet. He’s rocking an ivory suit with a white barbershop hat. He keeps the crowd engaged by replacing names of other cities in songs with Van city, but as he gets to hit last few songs he loses a lot of the massive audience when transitioning from dubstep to a very slow beat hip hop song. Everyone was on their feet moments later though, when two figures appeared on the stage on either side. The party has begun.

The blood red walls I had jotted down on my notebook are revealed to be LED screens, as JT and Jay-Z start their set off, they portraying the Magna Carta sculpture scene. Justin Timberlake rocks in a black fedora while Jay-Z lays it down with the New York Nets backwards snapback, proving once again that no matter where you go, “you are what you are playah”. As the show rolls on, both of our proclaimed Legends of the Summer gets their own chance to have the audience sing along to their best and favorite songs. The optical illusion LED screens are like their own performance, showing images that go with songs, from a snake slithering, getting bigger as it crawls from square to square, to water droplets on a puddle for the infamous Justin Timberlake song: “Cry Me A River”, to a blazing fire that was so bright it seemed real for the more recent hit, “99 Problems”.

 I wouldn’t say either of our MC’s was more over with the audience, but Jay-Z got us to be louder, that’s for sure. However, watching Justin Timberlake dance around on stage, picking up whatever instrument he see fit from the keyboard to the electric guitar, he was having fun, and showing just how talented he is. JT does not show any more age today than when he was just starting out. If anything he’s just more confident and more talented. Jay-Z should not be sold short either as he strings words together better than a beat poet, dropping lyrics far beyond where my tongue got twisted, true rapid fire lyrics. We throw up an ocean of Rock-A-Fella Diamonds to show our respect for the hip hop god. The dynamic duo before us present us with tremendous range that still feels natural despite drastic changes in the transition from a Jay-Z song, to a Justin Timberlake song. JT, being the more energetic of the two, will run from one end of the stage to the other, making sure nobody is left out. At one point in fact, he danced from one end to the other. Justin Timberlake’s sets felt more like a cabaret feeling, while Jay-Z maintained the hip hop bobbing, and they swapped constantly so it always felt fresh, the set list is a well-planned flow of the new and old hits of the suit and tie rocking masters.

Jay-Z and JT come back together for “New York”, giving me an experience that alone is worth the cost of admission. Justin Timberlake starts singing “New York, New York” on stage right with a spotlight on him, his voice showing no weakness at all from the hour of entertainment beforehand, Justin hit amazing notes as he passionately sings the legendary Frank Sinatra hit. All of a sudden, Jay-Z’s “New York” kicks in, and anyone that had sat down from exhaustion is now on their feet. Rain begins to fall from the sky above the stadium through the open roof as the sun set in Vancouver, our heat wave and flawless month of sun is over, but it doesn’t get to us, this is the peak of the night. Everyone sings the chorus, so loud in fact that Jay-Z could let the audience sing a majority of the song. When Jay-Z finished his dedication to the city that raised him, Justin Timberlake is now on stage left, he finished his with a bang, dragging the last note out longer than any of us.

After singing the recent hit, “Mirrors”, JT stands on center stage, beginning to descend as if part of a magic trick, next to where JT once was is now Jay-Z for his solo time. Using elevated pads for these last transitions was awesome, especially when Jay-Z switched back with Justin saying “Go get ‘em JT” for the song I first thought was performed by a female when I heard it on the radio in high school Spanish, “Bringing Sexy Back”. Now JT got his chance to let the audience sing a majority of one of his songs. People stood on their folding chairs as they belted out how they too were bringing sexy back. For the finale, JT goes down via the elevator pad, while the band continues to jam out to the sexy back beat.

The house is dark, black as the night outside. The band is silent, but the crowd is loud, screaming for more. Lights hit center stage where Jay-Z and JT come down the staircase in the middle in their suits for the song that inspired this spectacular night, “Suit & Tie”. Both are also holding glasses of champagne, however, only JT drinks from his. JT has a dishevelled bowtie with his suit, while Jay-Z continues to rock the bling he is synonymous for. We have reached our last song when Jay-Z dedicated it to Trayvon Martin, the young man who’s tragic story of a hate crime ending his life, proving that racism is still alive in today’s day and age, the song is “Forever Young”. The sea of fans respond with waving cell phones and lighters, lighting the tremendous stadium as if it were daytime, or as most people refer to, the place lit up like a Christmas tree. It’s an amazing experience to be on the floor and look around at the mass of people united in a mutual respect for a worthy cause, great music, and a spectacular night.

The sea of humanity floods out into the streets of downtown Vancouver to join another from the Festival of Lights like a weather system. Despite the fact that I have been on my feet since DJ Cassidy decided to play my favorite song to smoke to, “Juicy”, I am able to weave through people consistently and make it home quite swiftly. The show may be over, but I’m still feeling the effects, running through it all in my head, all the elements that came together so well to create the stadium experience. Everything from the light show and stage design to the summer legends on the stage culminated together for the best show I’ve seen thus far, and my very first stadium show. Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake need to be seen to be fully believed, and they put it all on the floor tonight.

ABORT Magazine Review

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Hey everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I just got my first review for ABORT Magazine published. I got the chance to see, and critique Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience live at the Commodore. Here is the link to the article:

http://abortmag.com/2013/02/live-review-jason-bonhams-led-zeppelin-experience-feb-13th-2013-the-commodore-ballroom-vancouver-b-c/

I look forward to more opportunities in the future, and appreciate the opportunity.

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