Amanda Charchian’s Website HERE
In wake of the travesties that have unravelled in Ferguson, I wanted to make a post with photos I took during my time spent in Missouri (no photoshop, just cross-processed film). I went to St. Louis for a close friend’s wedding; it was my first time there, or anywhere in the real midwest. I grew up in New York and South Florida (near the Miami area), and spent my adult life in New York City and Los Angeles- all of these places are integrated and diverse. As we drove through the city, examining the famous arch, the Budweiser ponies, the parks and religious structures, I was under the influence of a strange realization: Everyone was white. Of course, St Louis is not a whites-only metropolis, it’s a major US city with a large black community. But where were they? The heaps of McMansions and upper-middle class neighborhoods were sprinkled with blonde, almost translucent WASPS in chain mall clothing.
The day after my friends’ beautiful wedding, her sister offered to show me more of the city they lived in. I looked forward to exploring the abandoned buildings, the historical monuments, and the real grit that permeated the towns; I was bored of Mr. Whitey’s Playground. During the first portion of cruising, I was shown sprawling, luxurious properties with deluxe landscaping. “Can we maybe go see some of the more industrial areas? Or some of the rougher neighborhoods? Less rich people?” I asked. My friends sister shot a look of disbelief my way. “Really? You want to go to the bad parts of town?” “Yeah, I’ve seen enough of these posh houses.” “Well, okay!” she said hesitantly. We wound around the roads and passed abandoned beauty shops, churches, and old commercial buildings. We started into a neighborhood where black families were sitting outside on front stoops or by the driveways. I could see the look of surprise, but pleasant surprise, on their faces as we we entered their territory. With my window down, I said hello. “So many people get shot around here. I can’t believe you wanted to come here,” my friend’s sister shook her head. The neighborhood was, as you may have guessed, entirely POC. With a similar look of uncertainty that my friend had given me, the families welcomed us to “their side of town”. Never in my thirty years have I witnessed straight up segregation. This was not the America I knew, but it was alarmingly clear that this is an America that still very much exists. In comparison to districts I’ve been to in Miami or The Bronx or Harlem or Brooklyn, I have to say, these parts felt incredibly mild in terms of safety precaution. I mean, it was broad daylight and it was literally families and neighbors hanging out together. I exchanged smiles. I “awwed” the children. I admired the charming architecture. I ran out of the car on numerous occasions to get the photo I wanted: I can tell you it was a far more interesting experience than that of comparing luxury properties. When we wrapped up our tour, my friend’s sister turned on the ignition and said, “I couldn’t pay my friends to step foot here.” I thought to myself, “WHAT YEAR IS THIS?”
I’m grateful for growing up in intersectional communities. I never really had to give the idea of white vs. black a second thought. My next door neighbors were a black family- our community was theirs. But stepping out onto the bigoted lawns of Middle America, where races are so graphically separate, it really jarred me. The events of Ferguson unfortunately made complete sense to me: I have been taught to be more surprised by justice than injustice.
You can donate to the Ferguson Library HERE
I’ve always been interested in astrology and divination- mostly because the cosmos is full of so much wonder that we as humans will never understand. It’s real magic that always exists. I also like astrology because it’s a combination of art, psychology and science. I’m not necessarily a die-hard believer of these ideas, but certain parallels do seem significant, or at the very least, amusing. It’s organization within nature, which is enticing even if not certain. And I do feel that we are all a part of a rhythm- an ebb and flow.
The website Chaos Astrology offers free personalized birth charts! I definitely recommend exploring your own. These charts encompass your own distinct connection to the astrological realm, and all the tools that can be offered within these resources.
Here are some notable points from my own natal chart:
August 7 1984 01:35 AM
Long Island, New York
- 4 GMT
073° 00′ W 40° 50′ N
Tropical Zodiac – Placidus Houses
Sun in Leo
You are outgoing, overflowing, and very generous. Always the leader, if not the center of any group, you seldom fail to exhibit strong emotions. You are proud of yourself and of your accomplishments. Confident, you are warm of heart, gregarious, outspoken, and independent. Your enthusiasm is contagious, and others enjoy your company, especially when it comes to parties and social functions. It is your style to be a bit dramatic, perhaps even flamboyant, colourful and flashy. You contain a vital exuberance and warmth that springs forth naturally. This is the sign of personal sovereignty, of making a self-image and building self-esteem, so it is important to enhance your life through originality, creative efforts and flair. There should be a constant reaching upward to greater perfection. Sun in Leo is the ‘blaze of consciousness’, the force of personality, pride and fearless becoming – that which is done for its own sake, playfully and with pleasure. Leo energy is expressive, vital and exuberant. Often very artistic, and always theatrical and dramatic, this is the sign of creativity and the arts. Warm and big-hearted, Leo lives in full appreciation and celebration of the finer elements of life, bringing a dynamism and enthusiasm to everything it touches.
Moon in Sagittarius
Enterprising, you can even be happy in austere settings, for you have an innate awareness of future possibilities and prospects. Religion, truth and the world of philosophy are of great interest to you. Your knack for understanding opinions, ideologies and how we form them makes you good at politics too. The Sagittarian Moon tends to be more committed to ideas – regardless of the emotional costs – than they are to people. You bring a sense of honesty to any group, are freedom-loving, independent, and at times even a trifle remote. You are not bound by your emotions and are thus not much of a domestic person, prefering to align your life activities with something bigger.
Mercury in Virgo
You have a fine mind and a great appetite for detail. You appreciate minute differences and distinctions and take a very surgical approach to your operations. A craftsman with an innate critical sense, you are always full of suggestions on how to facilitate and implement. Your careful, practical mind wants to salvage every last thing. You possess a love for detail and trivia, are quick-minded, and competent. Opening the doors of the mind, for yourself and others, is your speciality.
Venus in Leo
Big heart, big love, you are seldom petty. Given to grand gestures and dramatic scenes, you love freedom and greatness of feeling in your relationships. You can be generous to a fault. Work with chidren or the up-and-coming are high on your list of priorities. Fervently loyal, you are courageous and demonstrative. Endeavors which boost your creativity will appeal.
Mars in Scorpio
You possess a powerful, persistent drive and are a hard, steady worker. Others may find you deep, with a sense of mission and mystery. You are willing to do work others would not go near, quietly bending things to your will, having it your own way. You have strong sexual energy too, and enjoy getting down to the nitty-gritty.
Jupiter in Capricorn
The perfect manager, conservative and professional in all things, your career is all-important. You are always practical, capable, competent and quick to get the outline or skeleton of a project to see how things work. You should welcome opportunities for discipline, because luck comes to you through self-control and through having a keen sense of purpose.
Saturn in Scorpio
You are very aware of vulnerabilities, in yourself and others. You also have a natural ability to see into the hidden depths; that which underlies and informs the materal world around us. Keeping secrets is easy for you and you may often find yourself in the position of trusted confidant. You may attempt to deny your own passions, but you need to accept instincts, attachments and all froms of pure experience as part of your unique process of individualization.
Uranus in Sagittarius
You have new philosophical ideas for the future, and new approaches to travel and exploration of all kinds. Long journeys interest you. You may startle others with your direct conversations, always getting right to the nitty-gritty. You enjoy being alone, free and on the move. The original optimist.
Neptune in Sagittarius
Idealism is an innate talent, and you are in love with grand gestures and long thoughts. Religion, politics and philosophy are natural interest. The world traveler, you enjoy fair, just, frank and broad-minded persons. You are gregarious and sports-minded. You dare to dream big. You like new philosophies and long novels.
Pluto in Libra
Change and inner growth tend to come through relationships, both friends and lovers. Marriage or union (yoga) will be very intense and not at all superficial. You get to the heart of a relationship each and every time.
Gemini on the 1st House Cusp (rising sign)
Gemini is concerned with connections, communication and logic — voice, thoughts, writing, and rational mental processes in general. It is also concerned with making comparisons, ‘twins’ and duplications of all kinds. Gemini is the communicator, the gossip of the zodiac, the collector of trivia. Gemini energy is unattached, independent, very inquisitive and changable.
For astro trinkets and treasures, one of my favorite online shops 13 Moons offers a catalogue of all that is magickal and celestial. They’re a really great company ran by a lovely Pagan family- not just another new age store! They have everything from talismans to cauldrons to tarot decks to tapestries (and far more).
Oh my god, I made a detailed post about astrology. I’ve been in LA for too long! ;)
Have you heard? Oh, have you heard? Twin Peaks will be returning to primetime where the series left off. David Lynch and Mark Frost will be in full creative control of all the episodes, and though I’m a bit scared as to how the show will translate in this decade, I have faith that Lynch will make sure it’s nothing short of spectacular! This show is my heart and I even have symbols that were illustrated throughout its run on both of my wrists.
Speaking of David Lynch, he and my other greatest influence (none other than thy holy Patti Smith) sat down for a conversation on the BBC network where they discussed Twin Peaks, ideas, and Pussy Riot! Watch the exchange of these two powerhouses of dreams and beauty communicate here.
Some of my recent photojournalism stories:
New Link Love:
+ The Creators Connect: My lovely friend Alec has helped to establish Creators Connect- a community of worldwide creators of all skill-sets and interests who are interested in meeting new collaborators. They offer a free iPhone app, an online magazine, and a free print ‘zine. Need to find the right projectionist for a performance? A hair stylist in a foreign country for a test shoot? Need help art directing your independent publication? New in town or traveling and want to meet some fellow writers? Creators Connect will help you do all of those things and, eventually, more.
+ MAMA Gallery: A gorgeous new gallery space in Downtown Los Angeles, ran by the creative spirits Adarsha Benjamin and Joe McKee
+ Bubbli: the iPhone app for making dynamic spherical photos called bubbles. You can reproduce the entire scene around you–including sound, creating moving panoramas. I am so fascinated.
+ An Essay by Roxane Gay About Banning the word “Feminist”: one of my favorite writers discusses the necessary embracement the F word
+ A self-care playlist: A playlist I created with some of my favorite songs to listen to when times are tough
And lastly, a cup of “damn fine coffee”! One of my favorite coffee companies is Blue Bottle. I love their cafe in Williamsburg, but the good news is that you can order their delicious goodies online even if you’re not in New York. A great recommendation is the Nicaragua Nueva Segovia Buena Vista- the flavoring includes Nougat, cocoa, mixed berry, and pear soufflé!
Megan Amram is a genius whichever way you spin it- from her brilliant one-liners on twitter, the beautiful messages within her poetry, her amazing career that’s exploded at such a young age (Parks and Recreation writer/story editor), being named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30″ and Rolling Stone’s “25 Funniest People on Twitter”, or her educational accomplishments (eh hem Harvard University). But aside from being an intellectual heavyweight, the best part about her is that she is one of the most kind, genuine, compassionate, down-to-earth people I have ever known. Total marriage material- the full package! I first met this brainy babe in Miami for the O! Miami Poetry Festival, and I instantly connected with her- maybe because we’re both pale jews with the same favorite movie (A Clockwork Orange) and hot racks?: I wanted to talk to her the entire night and keep her all to myself. So, naturally, she came out with “Science… For Her!” which is a book of science written from the perspective of women’s magazines (see: cheeky gender commentary). She is the best person ever, so go support her and GET IT!
While in New York, I picked up two books to bring back with me on the plane: 1. “Is It My Body?” by my hero and Sonic Youth member Kim Gordon; a series of writings on art and music ranging from neo-Conceptual artworks to broader forms of cultural criticism, contemporary art, architecture, music, and the performance of male and female gender roles. 2. A University Press book entitled “Politics in a Glass Case” (best name ever) that a lovely employee of The Strand found for me: This book discusses what happens to art when feminism grips the curatorial imagination, and how sexual politics become realized as exhibits. I’m so excited to incorporate what I learn with my own curating.
I have not been as inspired by ANYTHING, in years, as I was with the film Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson. ScarJo plays an alien sent on a mission to seduce men in an effort to send their insides somewhere, most likely a portal to her home planet. My favorite films tend to be those leaning toward the surreal- those that are abstract and dream-like, describing an idea or a message without coming outright and saying it; Under the Skin definitely achieves this in a way that is cinematically stunning and unique. It evokes so much, but I really love the study of humanity’s vanity and superficiality, and also what happens when you become vulnerable and let the world penetrate you. SO GOOD.
I think I will love anything Grouper will ever make; even if she made a compilation of recordings of her blowdryer, I’d still probably listen to it on repeat. Grouper’s atmospheric, haunting and ethereal music has been a favorite of mine for years now- it puts my spirit at ease and I can listen to her albums all the way through, over and over. Ruins is no exception. Although quite different than her past albums, with a stronger, heavier use of piano, it’s still in line with her specific voice and creeps in the same way all of her other songs do. It’s like the background music to my soul.
The past couple of months have been very overwhelming for numerous reasons; one of those reasons being that I moved from East Hollywood to Burbank. Burbank is a combination of suburbia and major studios such as Disney, Warner Brothers, ABC, and NBC. There are quaint, charming houses- bungalow and cottage style- rows of antique shops, small independent restaurants/shops/cafe’s and a modern downtown area. It has a definite small-town feel, which I love coming home to, but its set amongst the entertainment industry. Instead of waking up to a honking Hollywood Blvd, I have orange trees, front and back yards and mountain views. There are lush Northern trees that line the streets and create a welcoming, serene state. It’s also right next to the Toluca Lake area, which has some great hangout spots and giant houses that I will never afford but are nice to look at. I’m still only about 10 minutes from my favorite areas in LA, so it’s really the best of both worlds!
The space is bright and completely renovated- with real hardwood floors! It’s a 3 bedroom house with a backyard, side yard and front yard. There’s central air and heat, a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer. The decorating process is going to come along slowly, but SURELY! We’re trying to go for a modern and minimal feel, but still keep it bright and happy- basically the concept of Jonathan Adler’s brand.
I am decorating my bedroom based on the moon (I know, so LA), so I wanted curtains that had a cosmic vibe but were still simple and minimal. I ordered these cosmic curtains from Urban Outfitters. They remind me of the early-evening sky on an open field.
Speaking of all things lunar, I am going to hang up a moon calendar because they look really beautiful. I like to think the moonlight will tuck me in at night. JUST LET ME BELIEVE IT!!! This one is by Margins on Etsy; it’s letter-pressed by hand and features tree-free cotton paper.
This next calendar is more detailed and uses gold-leaf on heavy recycled matte paper. It’s by Katie Vernon!
A finishing touch to the bedtime dreamscape I’m creating is Uncle Milton’s Moon in My Room. Perhaps intended for children (as most great things are), I actually saw this at a birthday party for a four-year-old! Haha! But why should they get everything fun? Why can’t I have a magical glowing moon comfort me in the night? YOU SEE MY POINT, YOU SEE IT!
Stay tuned for all the renovations we will be incorporating!
Weltenbuerger is my new favorite store- and the exact answer to all I’ve been craving lately: simplicity, functionality, minimalism. Perhaps it’s all the chaos that’s going on in my life, but I’m making a dedication to converting to the type of clothing I mentioned; to move on from overt, busy, excess. I think I’ll feel more grounded somehow. I’d rather have a few strong pieces made from quality fabrics and local, eco-friendly design that will last me for a long time rather than my mix-and-matched collection of chaos. I’d rather my personality do the talking without my clothes suggesting something strongly. I plan on hanging on to a couple of my favorite wild, costumey numbers but other than that, I’m making this shift which I hope will infiltrate my way of life in other areas. I care less about being viewed as wild and I think I’ve held on to a lot of nostalgic fulfillment in terms of the way I dress.
Weltenbuerger carries various designers that support this style of wear, but I am posting the line“W/// by Weltenbuerger”, created by the store’s wonderful and intelligent owner I had the pleasure of conversing with today. He incorporates unusual fabrics like bemberg and ribbed tencel as well as linen with metallic thread, fine fabrics and juxtaposed materials in these designs. To be perfectly honest, I kind of wish I could accumulate an entire wardrobe from this shop. In time, perhaps.
If you don’t live in the LA area, you can order Weltenbuerger online! And I highly suggest supporting this incredible designer and curator.
I was on my way out the door to get a Baskin Robbins Halloween sundae when I realized that THEY WERE ONLY CREATED FOR JAPANESE CUSTOMERS. I know, a blast to the heart. Why is Japan so cute? Why can’t Americans like things with faces on them more? Oh well, I will live vicariously through these photos (let’s be real- it’s all about the appearance anyways and now I won’t be consuming the calories mwahaha). Halloween is just the best.