Evan Gabriel

Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Published In Print

In Anywhere But Here, Nonfiction on December 16, 2013 at 12:24 am

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Shout out to The Nature of Words. My travel essay, “Zagora and Beyond” won the 2013 Rising Star Creative Writing competition for literary nonfiction, ages 19-25. This essay will be featured in the 2013 Anthology.

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Oct 15, Thoughts on the City

In Anywhere But Here, Nonfiction on December 8, 2013 at 12:13 am

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“Whether one is an Easterner or a Westerner. (Middlewesterners, too, make the choice: people in Cleveland consider themselves Easterners, people in Kansas City know they are Western).”

—Edward Hoagland

“Thoughts on Returning to the City After Five Months On A Mountain Where the Wolves Howled.”

I love living in the city for the amazing sounds—the lulling of the steel freighters, carrying coal and soot to safety. The chill breeze underneath the bright patches of illuminated streets (the glowing torch-light bulbs reminding us our eyes can twinkle). I love these elements of urbanity, even the plane flying overhead, or most certainly inspiring are the sirens that sound off down the street when I’m sleeping—giving off the curious distinction of place—distance so immense. I hear engines and see screaming eagles all the same, remnants of this valley that once was. Such balance gives me and my city the opportunity to continue to grow and to help me peal back shapes of my past, bringing me to those lovely nights of cool summer and breathing pockets of people all scattered through the flat and inhabited Midwestern planes. I love these images in my head. Missing those houses.

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Leaves Changing

In Nonfiction on December 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Sept 22

“The roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are what they are, they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them…[Man] cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”

—Emerson

“Self-Reliance”

On my walk to the corner store I scornfully kick through heaps of the oak trees’ red-orange plumage. The sight makes me nostalgic—for found memories of fall, football games and drinking in windbreakers. But I also become bitter. Although I prefer rain to the blizzards of the Midwest, I cannot stand Oregon’s dismal gray skies in the winter months. Last winter, I realized how much this monotonous sight affected me. By March, I was so happy to be getting out of town that on my drive to Los Angeles, I marveled at the fact that I would soon be sitting in sunlight.

“No-Win” and “In the Event of My Demise” by Tupac Shakur

In Nonfiction on October 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

September 12th marked the 17th anniversary of Tupac’s murder on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, NV. Almost two decades since Rap’s rawest poet was carried away by gun shots, his poetry remains stunning in its simplistic and genuine verse. “The Rose That Grew from Concrete” is a 72-poem collection that Pac scribed out in various notebooks from ages 19-25. Like his music, these handwritten pages reveal Tupac’s desire for love to extend from his art. The majority, deal directly with love–past, present and eternal. And still, I find myself re-reading two poems that are less than lovey.

No-Win 

(Dream poem)

Backed into a corner

alone and very confused

Tired of running away

My manhood has been abused

Not my choice 2 be so blunt

But u must fight fire with flame

I allowed myself 2 run once

and was haunted by the shame

if I must kill I will and if I must do it again

I would but the situation is a no-win

In the Event of My Demise

Dedicated 2 Those Curious

In the event of my Demise

When my heat can beat no more

I hope I die for a principle

Or a belief that I had lived 4

I will die before my time

Because I feel the shadow’s depth

So much I wanted 2 accomplish

Before I reached my Death

I have come 2 grips with the possibility

and wiped the last tear from my eyes

In the event of my Demise!

Reader Review: Eddie Huang Getting Fresh

In Current, Nonfiction on September 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm

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“We don’t wear chef coats, we wear Nikes, and Dipset is the anthem.”

The release of Eddie Huang’s 2013 Fresh Off The Boat couldn’t be timed better, as the second season of his show by the same name is set to premiere September 30th. When it comes to digital media, call the internet viral, overrated, or just plain lazy, but Huang makes his idiosyncratic slang-based voice bleed through the pages as if you were speaking with him. This is the only book I’ve read that has epigraphs by Cam’ron, Jada and footnotes that include multiple hashtags. Huang unabashedly speaks his mind regarding race, 1st and 2nd generation Americans, his dad’s motto of “figuring it out,” and of course, food. Lots and lots of food. While you may know Huang for his hilarious and entertaining food/travel series, “Fresh Off the Boat,” he is a writer who completely grasps style and rules. Sure, some of the writing comes across as something you could be reading on the internet, but make no mistake about it, all of his quirky recollections and epiphanies about Jonathan Swift, hip-hop, love and basketball sit perfectly in the binding of this 276-page memoir. Image

This book is chalk-full of quotables. I’ve grabbed some to give you a taste:

  • “Chuck E. Cheese was for mouth breathers and kids with Velcro shoes. ‘I want to go where they have the best soup dumplings!’”
  • “Working in a law firm was not for me…While other associates competed on billable work trying to climb the ladder, I got high and took Major Abshed around the city.”
  • “Asians are funny; we can take anything and repackage it for your inner eight-year-old.”

And if Huang’s closing words aren’t the proof I don’t know what pudding you’re eating: “WEOUTCHEA” (272).

Does the future strikes fear in your heart? If so, leave Huang’s tales of FOBs making it in America at the door. This guy speaks the truth. Huang proves that in regards to success, parents don’t always matter as much as you.  It’s possible to make it in this world without the suit-and-tie job and Huang walks you through his story that eventually led to him opening his own restaurant, Baohaus in New York. This memoir is written for like-minded people interested in the progression of their passions, AKA dope shit. Read this book and make sure to check out the season two premiere of “Fresh Off The Boat!” Stay up Eddie, and dun, no bullshit, get me a job at VICE? Image

Thoughts from Venice Beach

In Anywhere But Here, Nonfiction on July 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm
Palm trees on an overcast day

Touchdown on a rainy day

Everything always immediately becomes a little different when you express it, a little falsified, a little foolish—yes, and that, too, is very good and pleases me greatly, I am also perfectly contented that one person’s treasure of wisdom always sounds like foolishness to someone else.

—Siddhartha

17 February, 2013

Went down to Venice Beach yesterday to meet up with Sonny and the gang from USC. Stopped off at the corner of Washing Pl. and Lincoln to hear the Zydeco band playing at a Mardi Gras celebration. What a great place to pause and see the world revealed; black cowboys in fancy leather boots, Chicano men with fedoras teaching their grandparents how to eat crawfish through spoonfuls of jambalaya, little kids running around confused and happy, and of course, women strutting up and down the lanes, flashing morsels of skin and flab and skirt all together, all over. For my eyes only.

I sat happy and anxious eating my delicious $5 catfish as the band played and I realized Zydeco music is pretty sweet. Made me think back to my senior years, Audio Tech, final recording project when a few other classmates and I were assigned to produce a Zydeco song. This timid freshmen would always come up to us when we were slacking off, working on our own shit:  “So, wussup with the Zydeco beat today?” I don’t think we ever finished it.

Sunny skies flapping overhead like the patriotic flag on the Fourth of July in Excelsior, I headed down Washington on foot to hit the beach and find Sonny, who had just taken acid, he announced to me on the phone as I passed Marina Del Rey. Finally reached the Venice Beach boardwalk. What a scene. Beautiful beach in the distance, silk sand, palm trees, but people everywhere. And the houses—so lavish, such complex structures, beautiful in their integrity, ugly in their origin—having come from money and ugly people and the dream of attaining happiness (their little piece at least). The boardwalk is a bit of a freak show: the Muscle Beach section is solely devoted to guys lifting in front of medical marijuana card shops while gaggles of bros, French and Middle Eastern families clip the heals of gorgeous women who steer clear of the homeless and crazy. Strangest of all, I saw a short man, very dark, with a greasy sleek-down perm flat to his skull, strutting along, content wearing a revealing red Speedo and carrying a strange, big black oblong shaped object that looked like a horn. He smiled in his cheap running sunglasses as people passed, some of them shocked at this curved, phallic object he kept hooked around on of his bulging biceps like a wrench.

I finally reached Sonny who was coming up on some good giggles and we hung out on the sand with his girl Nicole. Eventually, Will and Geenie showed up after some time underwater. All nice people. All in their own world of LSD, and me, happy to sit and think more about this place and the deeper theory I have about California—L.A. specifically, holding this elusive promise of happiness to its inhabitants. I mean even the lawns and boulevards are professionally manicured. Nonnative palm trees tower over every city block. What were Tom and Ma and the rest of the Joad clan looking for, more than just stable employment? What is America looking for? In second and third world countries, the only cities most people have heard of are New York and “California.” What is it seeded in this land of sun and long days that draw people toward it? What wheat is planted in these fields that causes people spend their whole lives working it?

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Sonny and I talked about his friend, Tyler, a guitarist from La Crescenta whom I had become very interested in after we’d met a few nights before at a recording session at USC. Tyler was a very quiet kid, wearing a loose beanie and carrying a pack of Marlboros in the tattered breast pocket of his red-checkered flannel. After the guys laid down about an hour’s worth of music, Sonny toggled his thumb up and down to mimic a lighter and called me outside. In the dim courtyard, we talked future plans as smoke poured from our mouths and noses. Then gradually, with the pumpkin glow of streetlights piercing the iron latticework, the subject took an unexpected turn to literature.

“You’re an English major. So…do you read books?” Tyler asked me.

The way he muttered “books” made me think that was the only subject he really associated with English majors. I couldn’t help laughing as I answered.

“Yes, I do—read books.”

But after this, my first impression of him receded, for his seemingly shyness about the subject was not based on a weak understanding of a literary track, but rather the opposite—the kid was addicted.

“Good. That’s like, my favorite hobby. That and this,” he pointed to his potent pillbox.

So we began talking about subjects and titles and devices that escape the appeal of most standers by. I brought up books I had only heard about, with sexy titles by far off authors. Tyler had read them all.

“Absalom, Absalom?” I asked. “I’ve heard it’s one of the hardest books to understand, up there with Ulysses.”

“Ehh, not quite on a Joycean level,” Tyler croaked through a throat load of smoke. “But definitely amazing prose, the stream of consciousness with that guy, man.”

The kid was very well read—excelling in almost any author I brought up save Bowles, Theroux, Hawthorne, and Kerouac. But what does it matter? He knew the prose of Joyce, Faulkner, Pynchon and had no resistance to attest to their genius. I liked that.

“The beauty of tragedy,” he kept muttering.

By the end of the night, I was fond of the saying as well. And it made me ponder why tragedy was always so beautiful on a page when it was far away from the reader.

On Venice Beach I recounted the conversation Tyler and I had to Sonny.

“Yeah dude, Tyler’s the man. He’s crazy smart. He’ll just go for days, reading and writing books, writing music, just smoking. He’s always doing that. But like, I worry about him. He’s got such a good style [musically]. I just hope he doesn’t burn out, you know? He’s a heavy smoker. I don’t want to see him burn out too quickly.” Sonny smiled through his baby-blue Raybans.

“Man, I don’t want to burn out too quickly,” he said, and stared toward the boardwalk as if speaking passed me.

Abruptly, I became omniscient and was not me but rose into the sky, above the ocean and saw us sitting there, young and brimming with life in America, trying to succeed by societal standards while not losing sight of the unquantifiable joy of existence—the fuel to pursue dreams, the treasures of wisdom—and I sincerely hoped none of our fuses burned too quickly.

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