Desert Art

The Vessel

Leaving Manhattan behind for the mystery of the desert is exhilarating.

Visitor

Growing up in a 1990’s downtown New York that was vibrantly full of character and danger inspired me from a young age.

Skull

Now, I no longer feel the gritty, creative thrum from the sidewalks of my childhood which have been scrubbed clean and developed into condos, bank branches and chain stores.

Raven

I seek new vistas and bring my vivid Pop Art neon dream style to the iconic beauty of Arizona’s landscapes, wildlife and desert mystery.

Couch

At twenty-nine years old, painter/writer Royal Young’s debut solo show “LUSH DOOM” premiered at Figureworks Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2015.

Young’s work has been called “Titillating,” by the New York Post, “Bold, fast and explosive with hyper saturated colors…a sense of American dreaming,” by New York Magazine, and “Creative, tumultuous,” by Honeysuckle Magazine.
https://www.instagram.com/theroyalyoung/

Photographs by Amanda Segur.

https://www.instagram.com/lukyclover/

 

 

 

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New Moon in April and a Heart Shaped Box

New Moon 5 April 2019
introducing my newest Model: Ella Turner
and featuring the poem Dreamland by Royal Young with Photographs by Michelle Gemma

I want to enjoy the sunrise
While we still have them
Your quiet little town
Won’t be safe much longer

A stolen heart is never truly
Yours
A boot to get what you want

Imperfection is beauty
Torrid
Tortured
Terrible glances like lances

Give me open terrain
If I could climb this fire escape
To the future I would

My soul is following
The train’s whistle
My body lays next to
A sleeping dog

The dog dreams
Shivers in sleep
We’re both running
Still

 

https://www.instagram.com/theroyalyoung/

 

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WAX and WANE: The Full Moon of March 2019

new project!
WAX and WANE: Full Moon Photoshoots by Michelle Gemma
The project begins on the Full Moon of March 2019, symbolizing the start of the astrological year in Aries, and will document each Full Moon until the end of the astrological year in Pisces. Fire to Water.
I will be photographing all of my female models from Personal Universe, plus will introduce three new models.

How fitting to start with the Fire Sign of Leo:
featuring Model: Alycia de los Santos
20 March 2019
Seaside, Waterford, CT  USA

In 2019, the full Moon of March rises on the same day as the vernal equinox—marking the start of spring!


March also brings the final supermoon of 2019.


The March full Moon is particularly special because it reaches its peak on the same day as the spring equinox, on March 20, 2019. The last time the full Moon and the spring equinox coincided this closely (4 hours apart) was in March 2000, but the last time they occurred on the same date was on March 20, 1981!


Traditionally, the Moon we see in March is called the Full Worm Moon. At this time of the year, the ground begins to soften enough for earthworm casts to reappear, inviting robins and birds to feed—a true sign of spring. Roots start to push their way up through the soil, and the Earth experiences a re-birth as it awakens from its winter slumber.

This full Moon is also a supermoon, meaning the Moon will be nearly at its closest to Earth for the month of March. It’s the year’s third (and final) of three straight full supermoons. This means that the Moon may “appear” brighter and bigger than normal, provided the night sky is clear and dark.

 

 

https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox

 

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Turquoise Days

Just when the thought occurs
The panic will pass
And the smell of the fields
Never lasts
Put your faith
In those crimson nights
Set sail
In those turquoise days

You’ve got a problem
Come on over
You’ve got a problem
Come on over

It’s not for glory
It’s not for honour
Just something someone said
It’s not for love
It’s not for war
Just hands clasped together

It’s not for living
It’s for hunger
Just lips locked tight
It’s not rebellion
It’s not suffering
It’s just the way it is

And my pistol’s packed
And my God goes with me
I feel easy
And I want it
And I need it
And I’ve got it

It’s not for this
It’s not for that
It’s not any of it

Did you say knowledge?
Did you say prayer?
Did you say anything?
If not for good
If not for better
If not the way it is

excerpt from Turquoise Days, Echo and the Bunnymen, Heaven Up Here, 1981.

“In 1981, music magazine the NME described the album as darker and more passionate than 1980’s Crocodiles. The Record Mirror also said that the band sang the blues and devoted themselves to existential sadness. They went on to note that the album offered ‘an anatomy of melancholy, resplendent with the glamour of doom’ ”

featuring Models: Jackie and JoEllen
Green Falls, Voluntown, CT  USA

 

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The Bell Jar

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and
I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I’m stupid about executions. The idea of
being electrocuted makes me sick, and that’s all there was to read about in the papers —
goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanutsmelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help
wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves.
I thought it must be the worst thing in the world.

—excerpt from the Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, first published in January 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas and later released posthumously under her real name.

featuring Model: Jane Anderson
Photograph by Michelle Gemma

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little spacey

Night in Saint-Cloud by Edvard Munch

i am the exile, the dreamer,
i am the ghost who blesses the slumber of your sleep.
i am the autumnal draft which crosses your pillow in the night.

little spacey, i am the skeleton who sleeps in your closet,
i am the turner of the doorknob in the dark.
i drift beneath the celestial sphere, and i find you.

we meet there, behind the black of bleakest soul,
when eden whispers her sweet mysteries
and the moon droops beneath the stars –
we meet behind this balcony to heaven,

deep down inside this dream,
deep down inside your sigh
our spirits dance,
and we are dazzled to love

 

(composed in 1993)

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PAC-MAN: How We Played The Game

Pacman edit pink

A repost from Retro Bitch

Pac-Man: The Untold Story of How We Really Played The Game

The impressions of human desire are often left upon objects of their devotion or on the paths leading to where a sense of peace or pleasure can be found; i.e. the worn frets on a favorite guitar; the finger-smoothed ivory keys on an old piano; the “secret path” in the forest blazed by decades of children that’s been “a secret path” to other children for over 100 years.

By Cat DeSpira

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The Pedestrian

our next door neighbors on Ashby Street
were a decade older than my parents.
they felt an intrinsic responsibility to
impact their wisdom on our young family.
their most consequential advice
was to have our family join
the congregational church
that they belonged to-
in the City of Groton.

my Father never attended the services
my Mother ascribed to,
following the recommendation of our respected
neighbors. She was the one to wake up early
on Sunday; to get my brother and me
into the appropriate clothes, and the appropriate attitude
to mingle with the good Christians recommended to my mother.
what i did not know at the time
was that my Father was literally
incapable of attending a church service.

the car shuffled to a slow stop;
about a hundred yards from the entrance
to the highway exit that led to our house.

“ok, Richie, i need you to walk to Nana’s house,
you know where that is, right? near Ocean View but closer
to the Ice House. do you know where i’m talking about?”

our house was located at 56 Ocean View Avenue,
two blocks below the intersection
of US Rt. 1 and the Ocean View Avenue.
Nana was my Father’s best friend’s mother,
Polish for “Grandmother”
my Portuguese Grandmother was known as
Vovo.

her residence was my destination;
following the command of my Mother,
at the end of the exit ramp.
a two mile walk was of no consequence
to me- i would have walked as far as
she instructed me to.

when i arrived at the home of the Hoinsky Matriarch,
my parents best friends were waiting for me.
“where is Linda?”
“she’s at the entrance to town, at the foot of Exit 89…..
Allyn Street…..”

i had walked two miles
in an effort to help my Mother.
no one thanked me for making the trek.
i was an afterthought in the “rescue” of my Mother.

_____

i was fortunate to be drafted as a nine year old,
added to an expansion team of our Local Little League.
that was not something to bring up
in the schoolyard.

at the end of an early season Little League practice, it became apparent
three players waiting for their parents
to arrive late would be revealed.

i immediately decided that walking away,
toward the parking lot, that would allow me a certain plausibility.
if i made a run for it…
on my own…

the driveway of the Ramada Inne
that sponsored my Little League team
was where my Mother spotted me,
walking alone.
i would catch the yellow of her Volkswagen Bug
out of my peripheral vision,
as she makes an abrupt left turn.

“why are you out here? why are you walking
home? why did you leave the practice?” my mother’s voice was forceful,
withholding an inherent terror.

i realized that negating a public embarrassment
was paramount, and it did not rest exclusively
within the wealthy families of Mystic.

it was an incisive insight.

youth football had a very low
return on investment for a five foot one inch
Portuguese kid;
who would have been a soccer player in Stonington Borough,
but grew up on the Groton side
of the Mystic Village.
few of the neighborhood kids
who participated in Little League Baseball
arrived at that first football practice.
i was there. and i realized that certain families in town,
whose kids participated in Little League Baseball
were not present in this public sphere.

the rationale for youth football was
Regional Rivalries;
a clash with a neighboring town
according to an accumulated sense
of self-worth.
the parents against the parents, articulated within the specious
athletic ability
of their children.

i was a first round draft pick,
but my mother had yet to arrive
after the practice.
i was petrified to be the last player
in the parking lot, holding the coach up
in an untenable situation.
i decided to simply walk home.
i decided to disappear.
i walked into the woods between the
junior high practice fields,
and our neighborhood; higher up the valley
than the basin.
i felt confident no one would find me
as i followed President Carter’s “Fitness Trail”
built by federal funds,
to encourage a more healthy population.

i emerged from the woods,
onto Prospect Avenue.
i was quite scared of the Judson Avenue climb,
toward Ocean View Avenue.
a woman had just set the weekly trash
at the curbside, as i passed in heavy breaths.
a cavalcade of tears.

“do you need to call somebody?”

“yeah…. can i call my Mother….?”

“of course you can……”

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Marry A Poet

 

Marry
A poet
You
Could be
Poor forever
You could
Live
In
A shack
Marry
A poet
You could
Start
A revolution
You could
Star
In La Boheme
Or Rent
Or whatever
Some martyr
Some poetic
Death
But
You’d
Live forever
Marry
A poet
You could
Lose
Everything
You could
Travel
The world
On
A suicide mission
You could
Be brave
You could
Marry
A poet
You’d never
Grow
Old
You’d starve
Like
A statue
Marry
A
Poet
It’s more
Than the rest
Have
Marry
A
Poet
It’s better
Than
An
Accountant
For more poetry by Royal Young his Instagram page is:

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Goodbye Moonshine Man

I am sitting in my small Santa Monica apartment when Mom calls. She refuses to take her anti-psychotic medication these days, dozing in and out of sanity. It’s hard to believe if what she is saying these days is true or not. “Charlie, Haliti vdiq.” She speaks very matter of fact. “Haliti died” Grandpa had rarely been sick, he was a tough Albanian country man, who religiously brewed his own moonshine with the grapes that grew in his garden. But I believe Mom. Partly because a few seconds into our conversation my younger brother texts with the news.

But still neither mom’s words nor my brother’s message hit a cord, no tears, no sick feeling in the stomach, nothing.

It isn’t that I don’t care about my grandfather. I believe I loved him. Last time I had seen my grandfather when I visited Albania, I stayed with him and grandma. At 76 he hadn’t slowed down a bit. When the 6ft wall that separated his garden from the neighborhood had been damaged in an earthquake, he dragged his hurt leg and re-built it himself. Brick after brick. He refused any help.

At the end of the trip I remember grandmas last words.

“Call us okay?” she says as we hug one last time and the smell of her warm cooked peppers wafts off the white gauze scarf she wraps around her grey bob. Now guilt rushes in.

I never call my grandparents after that trip. Not once.

“What a cold hearted bitch” I hear my inner voice railing on me. “Why hadn’t I?”

I know being an immigrant has toughened me up in some ways. And it had also numbed me.

Numbing up was a better guarantee of survival. My family’s first many years as immigrants in the US were fraught with so much drama, pain and poverty. When my mother’s mental illness got out of hand, I was the only one in the family to admit there was something wrong and eventually had to make the call that landed her at Bergen Regional, a mental hospital in New Jersey. I was nineteen. Already having spent 10 days in a looney the year prior when I’d called the suicide hotline.

Mom was the one who usually called our extended family in Albania. The last few years the relationship between her and my grandparents had been strained.

Dad had told me that she’d often call my grandmother at 2 or 3am Albanian time and go on one of her delusional rants. Speaking about dead Albanian relatives she’d seen roaming the streets of Hackensack New Jersey, where my parents now lived.

Dad would have to intervene or eventually grandma’s patience would run out and she’d hang up, usually in tears, upset Mom was so delusional. I felt too embarrassed to call grandma. I always felt I had to make excuses for mom.

When my grandparents refused to accept mom’s invitation to come visit us in America Mom had been furious and upset. I understood and was angry with her, but I also realized my grandparents had spent a lifetime dealing with a daughter who seemed too wild, too much for them. For most.

“They never loved me” Mom moaned for days, weeks, months, then eventually her madness got the worse of her. She rarely spoke of them anymore. I never knew what had really happened between Mom and her parents when she was young. I wish I knew.

My grandparents were tough country folks, they were also kulaks. Persecuted by the communist regime because their families had owned lands pre-communism. My grandfather’s dad, my great grandfather had hung himself off a fig tree in his land when the communist came to snatch everything he’d worked for. My grandpa had to learn to fend for himself early on.

I want to cry for my grandfather, I want to be there for him, but I can’t.  To cry means to feel the pain and to remember the past. To forgive him and grandma for never visiting us, for whatever I assume they might have done to Mom. For sometimes wondering if his moonshine obsession had something to do with Mom becoming addicted to alcohol from an early age.

I call my brother Ergi in NY. It’s already ten in the evening there. His work as an inner city teacher and his second master’s studies keep him busy. But he answers. “I meant to call you but it’s been crazy.” he says, sounding exhausted.

“I know it’s okay”

“You got my message about grandpa?” he asks worried.

“Yea, mom called too. She didn’t even sound upset”

“Yea that’s mom for you, she’ll panic over the silliest thing but her father dies you’d think she didn’t even know the guy.” Ergi ads sighing in a tired laugh.

“How are you feeling though?” we rarely speak these days.

“Better than I thought. It’s crazy how living apart makes you not as upset, you know. It’s like you let yourself feel and in some ways you’re kinda fucked cuz you can’t do much about it. I mean I haven’t seen the guy in forever. I’ve forgotten what he looks like.” His words are somewhat comforting. I know exactly what he means.

I decide to rummage through some old boxes where I’d hid old photographs of my family. Some from my childhood in Elbasan, Albania. Some from our early years as fresh off the boat immigrants in New Jersey.

Black and white photographs of our family at the beach before life in Albania became a shit show and even those gorgeous beaches were too dangerous to visit. Black and white photos of me as a baby. The first colored photo of my little brother and I posed in a bush in the main park, taken by one of the local photographers since nobody owned personal cameras. Photos of our parents’ wedding, even one of my mother in the special black wedding dress my paternal grandmother had sewn of her.

But no photos of Grandpa. I quickly rummage my memories of him. They always begin in the house he’d built in the north end valley of our lil ol city of Elbasan. His immaculate garden, chickens running around kookooing, the whole property surrounded by his all organic white and red grapes. So many you’d bump your head thru the bushels as you walked through the front gate in the later summer months. The time when I was seven and sat on his lap curious as to what that wood oven in the middle of the garden my dad had built for him was being used for.

“I wanna try grandpa” He doesn’t hesitate.

The small shot glass smells like rubbing alcohol and grapes. It’s warm, immediately comforting but also nauseating. I take a small sip feeling the heat burn up my insides.

“Yuck” I pucker my lips and run off. Grandpa laughs.

Then there is Grandpa sitting on the veranda, writing in his mysterious notebook in the early afternoons. A notebook he keeps locked in an old wooden box at the foot of his bed. Grandpa was a serious man. He spent hours watching the news. Yelling at the politicians on the screens for making empty promises. Then I remember grandpa, who wasn’t one to give compliments, telling me one hot summer afternoon when I am twelve: “You’re smart, you know. You can make something of your life.” I don’t know what to make of it. “Did he mean it? Or was he trying to make up for the times when he’d make fun of my dad for not being able to hold his alcohol well.”

My heart is softening up but my mind is still fighting it. I wish I could’ve been closer to my grandparents. I wanted to know them better, as an adult. I wanted to ask them about mom. Sometimes I’d blamed them for her madness. “They must’ve done something to her.” I remember feeling upset as a teenager when mom’s madness hit its peak. But I would never know. I close my eyes and realize I don’t want to live with anger in my heart for a dead person. I have to let it go, all of it, the questions and the silent accusations. I imagine his soul somewhere between the living in the dead. “I hope you hear me. I didn’t know you so well but I want to wish you a good afterlife. Goodbye Moonshine Man.”

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