Tag Archives: flight attendant

Punta Cana with nothing packed

My first trip of 2018 was one for the books… or one for my favorite book – my passport. I got a new stamp thanks to a huge storm in Philadelphia that was causing a declared “state of emergency” in the city.

I received a call at 8am and had two hours to get to the airport. I was supposed to head to Punta Cana & come right back… but after a long delay, a busy flight down, and a cancelled return, we got “stuck” spending the night at an all-inclusive resort. Because of the short notice (and the fact that I was not supposed to layover), I didn’t pack much. On my way out the door, I grabbed some joggers, my favorite Selena T-shirt, and my bikini “just in case.”

I had never seen the Dominican Republic, other than from an airplane window before. So, of course I had to make the most of my short time there.

I’ve mentioned my friend, K, in a previous post about fun times in San Juan, and as you remember, we love to defrost on a beach when winter comes. Between all the food, the perfect weather and clear water calling our names, we spent our layover thanking the Universe.

Sometimes storms work in your favor… and when they do, don’t worry about if you’re packed for it, just count your blessings & float away.

Thanks for stopping by… I’m going to go wash the sand off.

Cuba – Day 3: Old Havana (Photoshoot)

Cat was the perfect partner in crime. She was ready to have a full day dedicated to a photo shoot. 

After primping, we treated ourselves to a mojito (and the spectacular view from the grand garden) at Hotel Nacional, where we paid for wifi and checked in for our flight the next day.  As I mentioned before, the wifi was very unreliable & it was easy to to “disconnect” after checking in.  Besides, living in the moment is preferred in Cuba.

 



Once again, we booked Narki for the day & we headed to La Habana Vieja for some glamour shots. 








Sweaty and all, we wobbled through the cobble stone streets of La Habana Vieja in our stiletto heels, dresses, and full hair & make up.  We took turns shooting each other & soon, Narki, himself, became our official photographer, directing us & shooting on our phones. 

Walking down the streets in our fancy outfits & making heads turn, made us feel like superstars! At one point, I remember Cat saying, “These people wish they were living our photoshoot… or nah?!” Lol it was cute. 


 Not cocky, but confidently, we walked through the streets, spinning, laughing, dancing, holding hands, & interacting with the locals by waiving, blowing kisses, talking, posing & stopping to buy gifts.  














Later, we asked Narki to take us to the best place to watch the Sun set… he did not disappoint! 

At El Morro, we got the best view of our entire visit! We caught the sunset & snapped some great shots… we told Narki, that of our entire trip, this was his winning suggestion. 



I hope you enjoyed these photos… & I hope to see you in Cuba… soon! 

*Here are a few tips for visiting Cuba: 

1. Don’t be afraid. After experiencing this beautiful country, I must say, they seem very happy, welcoming & well balanced. Tourism is alive & well there. U.S. citizens are the only newbies. 

2.  U.S. tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited. You must obtain a license from the Department of Treasury or your travel must fall into one of 12 categories of authorized travel listed here.

3.  Book your place through Airbnb. Hotels can be pricey in Cuba. Get the experience of living like a local, surrounded by locals! Click here to book where we stayed. 

4.  U.S. CARDS WILL NOT WORK THERE! Take enough cash to cover your entire stay. In fact, whatever you think you will spend, take $100-$200 “emergency cash” more than that. Trust me! *The Cuban government requires that travelers declare cash amounts over 5,000 USD. 

4.  The Government of Cuba charges a 10% fee for all U.S. dollar cash conversions.  This does not apply to electronic transactions or other currencies.  *We used Euros that we had from our travels to exchange there.  

5. Take lots of hand sanitizer! Other than the bar form, soap is hard to find.

6. Be ready to be “disconnected.” Finding wifi is like finding a unicorn in Cuba. Enjoy the people around you & live in the moment! 

7. Have fun!!! Enjoy every minute of it! 

*Contact Narki (our taxi driver & photographer) by email: nankis@nauta.cu

*Cover photo/ Feature photo edited by Gustavo Gonzalez

Good Grieves 

I first met Benjamin “Grieves” Laub, at the SoundSet 2014 after party. We talked about music & life. I told him that I’m a flight attendant & blogger, and he expressed how much he’d like to share some stories with me. He gave me his contact information & asked me to follow up. I sent an email almost immediately, but never received a response. So, when I noticed him standing next to me at the Rhymesayers 20 celebration, I had to seize the moment. 

He greeted me very politely, after speaking with Photographer, Beth Saravo, who was standing beside me. I was also very polite with my greeting, & after introductions, I reminded him that we’d met before and I wanted to hear his in-flight experiences. 

I thought he was as going to ask me to email him again, but he didn’t. He took a deep breath and went into storytelling mode – something we all know this West Coast MC is very good at. 

  

Photo by Beth Saravo

  
He started with a flight to Denver, CO, a city I’ve come to love. He didn’t disclose which airline he was flying on, but he did disclose the shameless details. A female flight attendant wanted to go above and beyond customer service standards, when she offered (or insisted that he let her give him) a ride home… a little “extra” was definitely insinuated. I can only imagine… 

Another incident he recalls was a recent flight. The destination wasn’t disclosed, but his neighboring passenger was someone he’d never forget. 

“Throughout the flight this guy was complaining about how impatient everyone was. He kept saying how everyone was in such a rush. I just let it slide & didn’t say anything. Then, after landing,  (when the seatbelt sign is turned off), you know how everyone stands up?  People behind him were already in the aisle and he got all mad and yelled, ‘Oh yeah, like it’d kill ya to wait, huh?’

I didn’t say it, but I was like, “Um, You’re the only impatient one here.” ” 

I was impressed by his ability to spot someone who was clearly deflecting. Not everyone can do that & put their frustration aside, in those kind of situations. But, that wasn’t even the most impressive story. 

One time, upon landing, Grieves was sitting next to a young woman who wasn’t feeling well. She seemed very nervous & looked like she was about to be sick. His suspicions came to fruition when the lady began vomitting… In his direction!  He was sitting in the window seat, the woman in the middle, with someone to her left, in the aisle seat. Grieves was the unlucky victim of her aim.  

My first, and instant reaction, was ‘Oh f%^*#!’ But, when I looked at her, she said, “I’m so sorry. I’m pregnant. This happens.”

It was I one of those total human moments and I couldn’t be mad. I looked at her, wearing a thin top, covered in vomit & I took off my button down shirt,  to let her use it to cover herself and get off the plane. She was already so embarrassed, I didn’t want her to feel worse.”

I was so moved by how cool Grieves was in such an uncomfortable position. I see and work with passengers all the time. Not everyone is this calm & collected. Bravo, Ben! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
Grieves also admitted to me that he only uses social media to talk about good airline experiences. He likes to keep his rants private. We discussed the “power of the corporate letter,” and he promised to write something about the next flight attendant he encounters who goes above and beyond. Maybe my colleagues will catch him on their flights! 

As we approach a busy week with holiday flyers, I hope everyone keeps this post in mind.  Be like Ben, ya’ll! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
I’d like to thank Benjamin Laub, for sharing these stories with me and for making my night so special. You’re a good guy, Grieves. I hope to catch you in the friendly skies soon. Cheers!  

For up-to-date information, head to GrievesMusic.com and Rhymesayers.com/Grieves 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
*Special thanks to the amazing Beth Saravo, for collaborating with me on this post & providing her masterpieces.  I look forward to working with you again! 
Check out more of Beth’s photos on BethSaravo.com

The Queen Mary

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my recent domestic trips took me LAX.  I had the chance to stay on The Queen Mary in Long Beach & I can’t believe I waited so long to share this post with you.  But, since we’re just leaving Halloween season & since today is Friday the 13th, here’s my story about my stay on the famous haunted ship. 

I landed pretty late at night & was ready to head straight to bed.  I definitely noticed an eerie feeling upon my arrival.  When I got into my room, my initial excitement turned to wonder… & a bit of fear.  I mean this place is known for ghost sightings!  I remember sleeping with the lights & tv on that night. This isn’t uncommon for me, in my states of exhaustion, but this time, it was on purpose.  

I wanted to sleep in a bit, since I’d be working all night, as my returning flight was a redeye.  I wanted to explore the ship & take in as much as I could.  Here are some shots from my 3 hour, audio-guided walking tour.  

 

The view from my room.


  

The longest hallway on board. If you stand at one end, people seem to disappear as they approach the opposite end.

 

 

You can find stories like this posted all around the ship.


 

A bit of history: The original office for the Travel Bureau, from the Queen’s active days at sea.

   
 

This is the view you get while entering or exiting the lobby.

 
 In these next photos, you’ll see shots from the upper & lower decks, as well as some of the control rooms.  It was really cool seeing some of the behind the scenes stuff.  

   
   
   

Radio Control and Communication room.

 
    

A look into where the Captain of the ship used to stay.

   
 
   
  

Walking through the control room all alone, was kind of scary…

  

One of the most haunting places I stood on the ship. This room is the lowest point on the ship & the propeller is actually under water.

  

I captured this shot at the end of my tour, before dinner.


After a delicious dinner on the upper deck, and a beautiful California sunset, I headed to my room to get ready for my flight.    
Thanks for checking out this post. I hope you enjoyed it! 
*Remember, for more up-to-date stories, you can add me on SnapChat: CcTheStar. 

For live feed coverage, follow me on Periscope: @StartingAt30

Sips, Stories & Selfie Sticks 

Yesterday I returned from another amazing Barcelona trip.  I was flying with one of the recruiters who hired me.  We spent the day on a gay (nude) beach.  It was awesome! 

Note: I haven’t taken the plunge & gone fully nude on the beach, yet, but I love being topless & people watching! 😜

 

Tuna is life-changing in Spain… here’s a shot of my delicious lunch – my crew member’s treat. In flight attendant life, sometimes senior crew members take us newbies out & show us a wonderful time on their dollar. It’s such a great perk of the job and I look forward to the day that I’m in that position.


We made friends with the guys next us after jumping in on their conversation.  They were travelers from Tijuana & Los Angeles – my neighbors in San Diego.  The guys had beautiful smiles, beaming personalities, fun stories & a full itinerary of travels ahead. 

We decided we needed a group picture. Alex said he had a selfie stick, and heres the first of many shots. Roberto might be joining our flight crew someday soon. Bob was recruiting…

We couldn’t help but bond & be entertained by the transgender (in transition) woman on the opposite side of us.  She seemed to know everyone on the beach and she kept insisting she was “leaving after this drink.”  She left around 8:30pm… 

Anyway, after bathing in the sun & the Mediterranean Sea, we were all hungry.  We changed & met at one of my favorite pinchos spots, Bilbao Berria.  Our party had grown & wine was flowing.  It was a lovely evening with new friends. 

After such a night and working an eight hour flight, I got a group text from my friends in Philadelphia. They were heading to Center City Sips & even though I needed a nap, I was going to join them. 

After a quick costume change, I hop on the metro to meet my crew.  My final destination, a beer garden/al fresco dance party surrounded by tall buildings in the city.  My friends hand me a drink as soon as I walk in & we hit the dance floor.  

It came as no surprise to me that there were fellow flight attendants lingering in the crowd.  It’s always fun when were together.  We play catch up & our conversations sound ridiculous… 

“I’m beat. I just got in from Barcelona.”

“Tell me about it, I just got in from Amsterdam and I have Lisbon tomorrow.”  

“Where’s (insert name)?”

“Oh, he/she got called to Tel Aviv…” 

Lol… We sound ridiculous & I love it!  

 

Here’s a shot of some of us… some flight attendants, some just Philadelphia friends. Eduardo is like 6’6″ & with friends that tall, you don’t need a selfie stick!

 
We danced & drank & enjoyed the perfect weather.  After a beer garden, a historic bar & $1 tacos, I was exhausted.  I had to call it a night. 

I just wanted to share this quick post with you to say that I am so grateful for my life and the wonderful people I get to go out & play with.  I’ve been so busy living, that I haven’t taken much time to write.  I need to work on that… 

This morning, I woke up with a smile on my face as I reflected on the past few days, and I wanted to put something in writing.  Here it is & I hope you enjoyed it.  

For more up-to-date stories, follow me on Snapchat: CcTheStar 😘

Carnevale in Venice

After much self-inflicted internal debate, my flight attendant friend, Ali, and I decided to chase Carnevale in Venice. We had the same days off & needed to ditch the upcoming snow storm in Philadelphia. Italy was a dream.
After a few days working, we were both exhausted & didn’t know if we wanted to put in the “effort” to go to Italy. Luckily, our intuition (& my roommate, Courtney) spoke up.
We were suddenly reminded that we should “not be lazy” or “settle for the easy way out.” We should seize the moment & fly to JFK, to Milan, catch the train, & to the boat, to Venice to celebrate Fat Tuesday.
The idea clicked like a lightbulb & we were off. Escaping the snow storm for 50 something degree weather & delicious pasta was a no-brainier. We were excited!  



The flight to Milan brought about new flight attendant friends. They took care of us & invited us out. This is pretty common among flight crew. We really do stick together.
It took about 13 hours of actual travel time… 2 planes, 2 trains, a bus & a boat. 





 After a long day of travel, we finally made it to our hotel – which we booked at a Mc Donald’s cafè, thanks to wifi and Booking.com





 We each indulged in a long, hot shower, got primped & dressed, and stepped out for the night.
What I must say is that, in this case, the journey was truly more important than the destination. We made friends with our fellow flight crew on the way over. We met the most amazing young woman on the train from Milan to Venice who talked to us about everything from growing up in Europe, to education, to politics, to young love & so much more…she even shared her mother’s homemade, & Venetian trademark, tramezzini sandwich with us. All of these people fed us, loved us, made feel right at home, and engaged us in the stimulating conversations.
We made the trek to the car-less city to partake in the largest Carnevale celebration on the continent… & when we arrived at Saint Mark’s square, we had a real-life “womp womp” moment. The ground was covered in confetti & the crowd was clearing out. We missed the festivities that we’d traveled so far to see… 





 It was ok, though. After the experience we’d had to this point, we were optimistic… We knew there’d be plenty of after-parties. So, we walked the winding roads & stopped for some of the best spaghetti bolognese I’ve had in my life. Maybe it was the best… or maybe I was famished from our busy day.
We stumbled on the cutest local bar – Devil’s Forrest Pub – where the bartenders seemed to love us. They gave us free drinks & beads all night. They even took shots with us. 





They also pointed us in the direction of the biggest party of the night, “Arsenal.”
After what felt like a journey through The Labyrinth, we finally made it to a long, straight path along the water. The path lead to a historic-looking warehouse that was in the distance. 



This is when I turned to Ali with my fear… Maybe we were being lead to the large, annual feeding of local vampires. Maybe this was the part where all of us unsuspecting fools were fed to the blood-thirsty beasts…. But, man, what a way to go!
We continued on until we made it the huge night market/rave. With food, drinks & multiple rooms of music & flashing lights, we joined the masked & costumed guests on the dance floor. We did Arsenal! 



 Needless to say, we were absolutely exhausted after our big day. When we decided to leave the party, we discovered a water taxi that would save us about an hour of walking (that is if we could find our way back). Side note: Venice is a city with no cars, which means no cabs to drop you off… We hopped on the boat & got off at the stop that we thought was the closest to our hotel.
We wanted to get a good night’s sleep, so we could take advantage of a full day in Milan. It was a nice concept, anyway. A few hours would have to suffice.
In the morning, we enjoyed our free, breakfast at our hotel. The sun was shining, the day was gorgeous, and our view was overlooking the Grand Canal. Boats & gondolas rode by us as we enjoyed the most important meal of the day. 









 We prepped for the day & started our voyage back to Milan… or, at least we thought. We ended up running into some of the crew members from our flight, & joined them for drinks & (inevitably) lunch along the water. We knew it would be a voyage back to Milan, & we couldn’t do it on an empty stomach… Spaghetti bolognese was definitely in order. 





 After soaking up the sun, we took the boat, to the bus, that would take us to the train, to get to Milan. We met with a couple other flight attendants from our flight for dinner. We’re all pretty new to the industry. We had a lot in common & a lot of stories to tell. It was nice getting to know each other.
Although I wish the night could’ve gone on forever, and we could’ve seen more of Milan, time was a factor. We needed sleep & we needed to catch our flight home in the morning… A shuttle to the airport, then two plane rides would have us back home in Philadelphia.
Four days to travel to Europe & back may seem crazy to most people, but to us, it was normal. “No time wasted,” is often our motto. So, when we have days off, we make the most of it… Do you?

Thanks for reading along, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this post. How do you spend your days off? Have you ever taken a spontaneous trip? 

 *Special Thanks to Alyssa Muckey for assistance with photos. Also to my bestie, An Dyer , for her ongoing love & support of my life, my blog & my dreams!

Starting At 31…?

I wrote this post over a month ago and just stumbled upon it… I was hesitating posting it, but here it is… Hope it explains some stuff, hope you enjoy it…

As you all know, this blog is my documentation of me “Starting At 30…” With a new career, new city, new life, etc. I must say, this past year has been a roller coaster ride. It wasn’t easy, and at times it was pretty scary, but it was all worth it. With all the lows, also came the highest of highs. This has been one of my most difficult years financially, and at the same time, the richest one when it comes to experience.
I promised you in my first entry that I’d be honest & share the “not so glamorous” side of flying… Well, because of how busy I’ve been, I’ve really only focused on fun times… I mean, who doesn’t want to focus on the positive stuff?
Well, let me recap a little:
On my 30th birthday, I went home for a little over a week. I visited friends & family all up & down California. I was showered with love & gifts & delicious food. I had three birthday celebrations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. I saw so many loved ones and even visited my place of birth (and family there) for the first time in over 20 years! This took place during my beautiful drive down California’s famous Highway 1.
When I returned to Philadelphia, the weather was cold & I was about to experience my first east coast winter (cue suspenseful music). Living with four roommates was about to be a bit of a challenge. We were all going to be home more often, as flying demands slowed. It felt like a reality show. You know…when people stop being polite & start getting real…?! There were good times… and… there was drama. Five personalities from different walks of life in one house during (what’s been said to be) the worst winter in I dunno… ever, put us all to the test… I’ll just leave it at that…
For the first time in my life, I had to work on Thanksgiving. Working at a bank for the past 10 years, I was guaranteed to have holidays off… But, working in the airline industry meant that I got the chance to get people home to their families for the holiday… Not just any people, either. My flight consisted of military men & women who were coming home for the first time in years, after being deployed. It was the most rewarding day on the job to date. I look forward to working the holidays this year.
Once I made it through the brutal winter and all the snow storms, I joined the Spanish-speaking program with the airline. When spring rolled around, I’d only be assigned to fly to Puerto Rico, Madrid & Barcelona. The first day that I had to make Spanish announcements, I was so nervous. I only read from our handbook, word for word. I was terrified when the captain made announcements & I was put on the spot. Now, the (extended) season is coming to and end & I can read my English book & translate the words in my head. I’m proud of how much my Spanish has improved & how confident I’ve become.
Working transatlantic trips opened so many doors for me. I was able to pick up other European destinations from senior flight attendants who met me along the way. This summer was the best summer of my life! I’ve seen some of the most beautiful places & been to some wonderful concerts. Like the time I went to Paris, got paid overtime, got into a show for free & was assigned a hotel room with a view of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, that’s like every girl’s dream, right? Right… Then, I came home to Philadelphia & had to set up a mouse trap…& when it did it’s job, I had to do away with the fury casualty myself. I’m telling you, people… Highest highs & lowest lows.
It wasn’t only Paris, though. This year I’ve also seen Italy, Scotland, England, Ireland and so many other breathtaking places (some of them are still pending blog posts). I’ve been so busy living life & exploring that I haven’t dedicated my time to writing like I’d really like to. It’s not a bad thing, it’s not a good thing… It’s just the way it is.
I have some wonderful posts sitting in my drafts, waiting to be published. I have amazing pictures that I can’t wait for you to see… And most of all, I have so many life experiences that I want to share with you…

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Stay tuned…!!

Yesterday Germany, Tomorrow Italy

I was talking with my best friend one night & she asked me where in the world I was. I told her I had just gotten in from Puerto Rico after being in Germany yesterday, then I’d be heading to Rome tomorrow. The simple fact that that’s what my conversations sound like now is just ridiculous to me… & I absolutely love it!
My crew to Germany was amazing. We were all pretty junior and we wanted to go out & see the city. This was my first time there & I was looking forward to schnitzel & bier!
We stay just outside of Frankfurt, in Mainz. The city is gorgeous. The hazy weather added to the beauty around us.
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After some congregating at our hotel, we head out for some food at a restaurant that’s a crew favorite. The crew & our waitress all suggested schnitzel, so, after plenty of thought, that’s what I order… Schnitzel & dark bier. Yum.

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At dinner, we run into another crew member & his partner, who is a local. Our group grows & we set off to explore together.
Everything is so beautiful, from the streets, to the buildings, to the trees. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It feels like I’m on a movie set! I stop occasionally to touch trees & buildings just to make sure they’re real.

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We spend the day frolicking & making stops here & there for a drink or dessert… It’s Sunday, so there isn’t a whole lot going on.
We all get to know each other better & have great laughs as we close the day by the river.

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A couple of us head out for some late night exploring, where we meet some interesting locals along the way. When we stop and ask for directions, one guy says he’ll walk us. He’s carrying 2 duffle bags & a backpack… He’s just getting in from Berlin. He’s spent all day on the road, in traffic, and now he’s showing us around, while lugging his baggage.
He had the most wonderful attitude & was so sweet, I just has to mention him. That was my impression of Mainz… & Germany. A beautiful city with nice people, good food & great bier!

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When I returned to Philly, I got called for a quick turn to & from Puerto Rico. It was an easy work day…those crews are always fun. Then, I had a few days off…
That’s when my friend, Anabel ( who you met here) invited me to Rome!
I was debating on visiting a friend in LA & going to a show… I even asked a few people about it. The answer seemed obvious to everyone but me. So, at the last minute, while standing at the gate, I walked away from my LA departure & headed towards the gate for Rome!
Anabel was surprised (& excited) to see me. I was pretty excited myself. This would be my first time in Italy…& to do it with a friend, who was willing to share her (free) hotel room…I mean, yay!
When we arrive, Anabel needs to rest. I was able to sleep on the flight over, so, while she naps, I get ready for the day. I love our hotel. It’s cute & quaint. The decor is exactly what I think of when I imagine Rome. There’s a vanity in the room with a darling little chair. The mirror is old & misty. There’s doors (with long windows with wooden panels and shear white curtains) that lead to the terrace. It’s adorable.
Anabel has been here before, so, she has a game plan. When she wakes, we hit the ground running. Here’s how we saw Rome in a day…

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After a day of walking around the entire city, we were pooped. Anabel hailed a cab back to the hotel & even though I wanted to go out & see Rome’s nightlife, I ended up falling asleep in the cab. It was a wonderful day & I was ready for a good night’s sleep.

Dilated Peoples -Directors of Photography

It’s no secret that I love music. I’ve always dreamed of being in the studio with my favorite artists, witnessing and celebrating those magical moments of genius. Well, my friends…that’s another dream that has finally come true for me!
I first met Evidence in November 2011, after one of his solo shows in San Diego. He’s such a cool, humble guy & anyone who’s ever been in his presence can tell you that he instantly makes you feel like you’re life-long friends. Over the years, I’ve seen him perform in different cities (& countries) as a solo artist, as one half of Step Brothers, & of course, as one third of the legendary Dilated Peoples.
I found myself in Los Angeles earlier this year… & was in communication with Ev. He was in the studio working on some finishing touches for the highly anticipated Directors of Photography with DJ Babu. I was elated when he extended an invitation to let me watch the masters at work.
Babu is on his way out when I arrive, so, I only get to chat with him briefly. Ev is sitting in his chair, at the controls, going over some mixes. I’m so excited to hear the tiny previews of the tracks! People have been waiting a long time for this album, and here I am, experiencing it behind the scenes, with one of the creators!
Ev turns to me & welcomes me warmly…then, he asks if I’d be willing to get on the mic to say a few things… Um, Yes, please! I’d be honored.
I step into the booth, put the headphones on, pick up the mic & take direction. He has me play around with accents & I say some stuff (faintly) in the background. I take on my latest character, a South Philly girl. He laughs. I’m having fun with it… and even though you really won’t hear it when you play the introduction, I know it’s there.
Next, Ev plays a snippet for me and he directs me to “just talk,” the whole time. Since I’m a professional at making onboard announcements, and I know that the guys always reference flying, I say what comes to mind…
“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Los Angeles, where the local time is 10:25 (*side note: my birthday is October 25th). For your safety, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened and keep the aisle clear until we are parked at the gate. The captain will turn off the fasten seat belt sign when it is safe to stand…”
I think Ev is amused. He looks up at me through the glass & says, “That’s perfect. You killed it!”
This is definitely a moment in time I’ll never forget… I’m in the studio, with one of my favorite artists, hearing that he likes what I just did in the mic. *Insert fireworks.* 😉
You can hear the finished product for yourself at the end of number 14, “Trouble.” It’s a perfect segway into “L.A. River Drive,” a song produced by Alchemist, featuring another Los Angeles native, Sick Jacken (who I wrote about here). There is a reoccurring line on the track. “From the time I ride out, ’til the time I’m home… I pray for a safe travel, God, while I’m gone.” This is something I can totally relate to.
In my effort to fully support the album, I caught a couple shows while the guys were on tour recently. First, when I had the opportunity to work “Paris, first class international.” (Who caught that movie reference)? Lol. Anyway, I caught the guys Live on Stage at La Plage de Glazart‘s pop-up beach during my Layover.
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The venue was set up for a total Sunday Funday… sand, lawn chairs & open air. I mingled with the fans and got hear about how much the guys are loved & respected in France. I felt so at home with my fellow hip hop heads. We laughed, we drank, we discussed our love for Dilated Peoples, we enjoyed the music together… And, of course, we took pictures…
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The crowd was live & the guys put on a great show. They started with some of their new work, went through some classics, & even took turns doing some solo stuff. It was supposed to be a rainy day in Paris, but when Ev performed his happy hit, “Chase the Clouds Away,” the climate adhered the commands of The Weatherman & the drizzle stopped. It ended up being a sunny day, after all.
I had the opportunity to chat with both, Ev & Rakaa, individually, for a bit after the show. I remember Rakaa telling me to keep doing what I’m doing & to always go for things outside of my comfort zone. It meant a lot, coming from him. He’s definitely someone who knows something about chasing your dreams & creating a life you love.
We talked travel, we talked family, we talked music. We even talked about some young, up & coming female rappers that we both respect… (I mentioned the ladies in previous posts here & here).
My interaction with Ev definitely kept the same themes. Travel, music… Oh, & of course, photography.
His outlook on music & the industry is refreshing, because he never really has anything negative to say. He respects that artists do what they do & that fans like what they like. Of course, he has his opinions, but he’s great about not bad-mouthing anybody. As for his personal style, when it comes to his music, and even his photos, it’s quite obvious that he’s meticulous about everything he puts out.
Later, I caught the guys in Philadelphia for their Word of Mouth tour with Jurassic 5 at Penn’s Landing. I was lucky enough to chat with guys for a bit after catching a dope show with a great view, on a beautiful day in the city I now call home.

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The guys (and the team at Rhymesayers Entertainment) teamed up with Pandora and did their fans a huge favor by letting everyone preview the entire album a week before it dropped. I listened to it over and over as I anxiously awaited my pre-ordered (autographed) physical copy to arrive from Fifth Element.
Directors of Photography is a masterpiece, in my opinion. The creative packaging amazed me.

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Rather than finding the traditional booklet inside the album, you open an envelope that includes individual Polaroid-like photos. The first one is a group photo – Dilated Peoples (Directors of Photography).

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You’ll find a recap of the project, including credits when you flip it over. Next, are a few photos of each of the guys where they share stories about each other on the back, along with their “Thank Yous.” (I gotta draw special attention to Ev’s… don’t forget about the rest of crew next time). 😉

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Each song also has it’s own photo with full lyrics and credits on the reverse side. Nice touch, guys.
The album definitely takes you on a journey. I’d compare it to catching a flight…
The Intro is similar to the boarding process. You’re excited as you enter the aircraft. You’re greeted by the crew. You’re not sure what to expect, but you know something great is up ahead. Ladies and gentleman, welcome aboard flight 812, with service to Los Angeles.
Once you’ve settled into your seat and you’re ready for departure, the crew gives their demonstration and sets the tone with Directors. The opening line is actually about taking flight. The track is perfect for wheels up, as you begin your ascent. You’re on your way now, starting this adventure with the Dilated Crew.
As you reach the sky during your climb, Cut My Teeth (produced by The Alchemist), and the Defari Interlude (featuring Defari) give you endless snapshots and vivid images of the guys’ lives & the city they’re from, from their individual points of view. The Dark Room (featuring Vince Staples, with production by Twiz The Beat Pro) has metaphors and lyrical content that will keep you guessing, like looking out the window, down to little squares & shapes on the land below.
Once you’ve leveled off with Good As Gone (produced by DJ Premier), the onboard service is about to begin. Choose your favorite beverage & be prepared to select your meal as the guys serve up stories of their journey. “The more that I roam, the more that I’m free.” (Ev) “Sat in coach and studied business before my first class.” (Rakaa)
Now you’re approaching cruising altitude, where it should be a smooth ride, but, for your safety, the captain keeps the seat belt sign on…and it’s a good thing he does, because songs like Show Me the Way (featuring Aloe Blacc, produced by Jake One) & Figure It Out will hit you like unexpected turbulence and may knock you out of your seat!
Things smooth out with Let Your Thoughts Fly Away (produced by Diamond D.), but you’ll notice that you can’t keep your head from bobbing due to the light chop of Century of the Self (featuring Catero, produced by Oh No).
The captain makes an announcement that makes you laugh a little with the @MrEvidence Interlude. You are now free to move about the cabin. Enjoy The Reversal like you enjoy a nice stretch.
It’s been a great flight thus far & the crew presents you with & Opinions May Vary (featuring Gangrene) & Trouble to keep you satisfied, just like the arrival service when you begin your initial descent. (*Here’s where you get to hear me in action).
You’re landing now, but “you must remain seated until we are parked at the gate.” The crew welcomes you with L.A. River Drive and when the aircraft doors open, you catch a breath of fresh air with The Bigger Picture, the final track on the album (featuring Krondon, produced by 9th Wonder).
You have arrived. Thank you for joining along on this journey… I hope you enjoy your stay here, or wherever your final destination may be. 😉

I’ll be catching the guys this weekend in Munich for the Streetlife Blockparty. You can catch them in a city near you (or you can catch a flight and catch them in a city far away), by checking tour dates here.

Purchase your copy of Directors of Photography here, on Google Play, through Fifth Element, on Amazon, or purchase it on iTunes to download bonus tracks Times Squared and Hallelujah (featuring Fashawn, Rapsody, Domo Genesis, Vinnie Paz & Action Bronson).

*Special Thanks to Dilated Peoples, Evidence, Rakaa, and DJ Babu for all the love they showed me at their shows and in the studio. Also, thank you to the team at Rhymesayers Entertainment. Shout out to Eddie Sancho, Federico “C Sik” Lopez, and everyone else I’ve met through this project. Great work, everyone. I’m truly honored to be a part of this!

Love Haight

I just got back from a short visit to San Francisco. It was amazing. My good friends, Ryan & Brian, just had twins & I just had to meet them. I mentioned before, that Ryan was a huge inspiration to me when it came to traveling & seeing the world. She’s a special person in my life.
Even with brand new babies & lots of feedings and diaper changes, plus some bathroom remodeling & a full house, she knows how to make me feel completely welcome & at home.
I made a quick, last minute decision to head to California to visit. I was greeted with a delicious dinner with the entire family (Ryan, her husband, the new twins & Ryan’s mother-in-law) at a restaurant in Sausalito with a killer view of the city (forgive the absence of photos). We had invigorating conversations of family, and of course, travel. It was great to catch up.
The next day, the plan was to spend some time in the Haight Ashbury District…a place I’ve always dreamt of seeing…
When we arrive, we park near Amoeba Music and start our walk through the historic neighborhood. Ryan’s mother-in-law tells us that she’s excited to be here, too…she lived through the Summer of Love & has wanted to visit the district for almost 40 years. It’s a first for all of us.
The walk up the street if full of diverse music & fun fashion. We stop to grab lunch at El Faro (they let me feed my Mexican food craving). I We devour every bite, before continuing our voyage.

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We pass by all the cute shops, the hippies – locals and tourists- & loud music to get to the famous corner of Haight & Ashbury, where we stop to snap some photos.
It’s exciting, it’s nostalgic & it’s just plain beautiful…

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The smell of “herbs” in the air, the variations of music, and the fun crowd make for such a great experience. I’m in love & I’m pretty sure I’ll live here someday.
After our adventure, we head home to feed the babies & prepare for dinner. I get to know grandma a little more… She’s actually the one who inspired Ryan to travel so much, so, it’s great to hear her stories..!
There’s one story, in particular, about how she wanted to fly for Pan Am after college that touches me. It’s amazing to hear about such a pivotal moment in her life…
Dinner leads to more stories & quality time. The food is delicious & the conversation is just as indulgent.
The night ends with dad & I drinking “Mexican Ashtrays” & playing games as mom, grandma & babies sleep. Then, we feed the twins before we head to bed.
In the morning, after a quick visit with the ladies & babies, I’m off to the airport…back to Philadelphia, back to work… This is always the hard part. But, alas, I know I’ll be back & I’m
Looking forward to it.
There’s no place like home & nothing like friends & family…

Thanks for reading, everyone. Peace & love!