I pulled a Britney: the freelance rollercoaster is pretty wild

When you freelance all your life, it is bound to have some ups and downs. My birthday month was definitely an up. I dedicated all my time and energy on a project (TRF) that when it ended, it felt like going down on the Dragster (Cedar Pointe) reaching top speed and in an instant, it is all gone. Just like that, I was at he bottom again. If it wasn’t for friends and family, I would be on the streets right now. Luckily, I have plenty of support, but also, plenty of debt.

More than 20 days have passed since TRF and it feels like it has been years. I felt like I needed to escape from Tijuana or myself. With no money, my escape was to shave my head. I actually just wanted a regular haircut, but my friend that cuts my hair was on vacation. I told a couple of male friends to just shave my head, but they did a horrible job that I ended up doing it myself. I didn’t do a good job myself since I looked like a crackhead mental hospital runaway. Luckily, I found the kindness of a stranger that bought me a beer and help me finish the job (weird huh?)

I already posted about Britney in this blog before. I was there after she shaved her head and talked in weird accents. In the eyes of the world, she acted insane. I don’t think there’s nothing insane about wanting a change in your life and opting on shaving your head. Of course, its way more of a shock when a female does it, but the relief of getting rid of dead weight feels magnificent. In other words, I feel like I comprehend Crazy Spears (to a certain degree).

June is now an uphill battle almost conquered. I’ve been working almost everyday of the month and remain at $0, which is fine since the desire to go out and socialize is null. Instead, I’ve got the World Cup fever, making me miss my first official writing job. I started writing about soccer again, just for pleasure. And luckily, a section that I didn’t know existed in the San Diego Reader picked up my writings.

The last World Cup I lived it in Los Angeles when I lived in Mariner’s Village. Mexico played the opening game and I woke up at 6 am to drink a six-pack of Heineken and watch the game, no one in the area cared about the World Cup except the European paparazzi. Of course I saw many soccer players and took their pictures. In fact, the first picture that I took of someone famous was in January 2001 when my brother recognized Ronaldinho in the airport of Rio de Janeiro. He quickly ran to him and told me to grab a camera. We only had a disposable camera and that did the trick.
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In my real paparazzo days I obviously saw plenty of David Beckham, but I never saw him as a soccer player, but more like an obnoxious and asshole male model. Besides him, I had encounters with plenty others. I almost ran over Landon Donovan once while rushing out of the airport parking lot to send pictures. Instead, I hit the brakes, found the nearest parking spot and jumped out of my car to bother Landon. The US soccer star was on his way to the Superbowl and was nothing but a great guy to me.
December 13 2011 LD
(December 13, 2011)I also saw El Pibe Valderrama walking around Tom Bradley terminal, seemingly lost. I decided not to bother him.
March 29 2011
(March 29, 2011)
I spotted Didier Drogba with his whole family at the security line. They were there for a classic LA visit and Disneyland.
July 13 2010 dd
(July 13, 2010)

TRF: Basking in the glory of nothingness

I have no idea what is going to happen to Tijuana Rumble Fest, all I know is that it happened and it changed me forever. Yes, I am is in serious debt and no profits were made. But there was some success. There was never an accurate count of people that went to the festival, but a large percentage were Americans. A lot of locals made an appearance as well, the idea from the very beginning was to mix the two Californias in art and music again. Being one of the organizers was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve done in my life, that I can’t wait till I can simply be a writer and a concert goer instead of the one behind the scenes.

“I feel…. thin. Sort of stretched, like … butter scraped over too much bread. I need a holiday. A very long holiday. And I don’t expect I shall return. In fact I mean not to.”

For some reason, I feel like Bilbo Baggins did when he let go of the one ring.

Was it worth it?

From the very beginning the only thing I asked for was to enjoy 100 Onces, and I did. Carlo Magaloni came up to me while rocking out to them and gave me a hug “esto es tu mero mole,” he said. That was my only moment when I thought “this was worth it.”

I’m not trying to be condescending to the other bands, but I was too busy with everything else that I can’t give you a full honest review of how you sounded. But from the comments I’ve heard, everyone was fantastic, except the sound engineer who gave us a lot of problems.

It was a true rumble of the egos. Not only between the bands who all wanted the prime spot after there was only one stage, but between the three stage managers, Chad Deal, David Villegas and myself. Managing and trying to please so many talented artists at the same time is next to impossible. I will never see a festival the same way I did before and I applaud all event organizers that somehow manage the unpredictable.

I’ve showered a handful of times since the fest. I still smell like TRF.

And now to add a paparazzi bullshit touch to my post:

50 Cent and Matisyahu just had an AMA on reddit. I’m sure they didn’t read my comments but here’s what happened.
50 Cent was on March 13 of 2009. Fiddy was arriving with his posse from a flight from who the fuck cares. I was reluctant to take his picture, but said fuck it, there’s nothing he can do. He came out of the elevator and pretended to attack me. I yelled out “don’t pull a Kanye on me!” He laughed and got in the limo repeating my joke. Kanye had just attacked a paparazzo friend and it was all over the news, hence the joke.



Matisyahu was a complete accident. It was January 18, 2010 and I was waiting for someone else (I saw Dita Von Teese, Edward Norton and Josh Groban). I saw Matisyahu and thought to myself “fuck yeah, that dude is the man,” I had my camera and snapped away. He was super awesome.

matisyahu

From Paparazzo to Festival Organizer and More: Henry Rollins + TRF

I had a great birthday.

One of the best I ever had.

The most memorable birthdays I ever had was when I got Super Smash Bros. for the N-64 when I was 13.

The other was three years ago when I turned 25, quit my job and went on a road trip.

Then this last one that I turned 28. I won’t get in to much detail, but it was four nights straight, almost 96 hours without sleeping (small naps now and then but not for more than an hour). It started with a San Diego Reader party on Wednesday. Thursday we had a TRF meeting with the whole team to finalize some details. At midnight it became my birthday and we started celebrating heavily. Didn’t sleep for more than an hour from like 9 am to 10 am and somehow I forced myself to stay up my whole birthday to crack of dawn on Saturday. That morning I got up early (slept for like 2 hours maybe) for a video shoot with a model from San Diego for TRF and I took the opportunity to take pictures with my iPad.

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It made me miss photography work a lot. Not with celebrities, but with models (in LA you get asked for pictures a lot when you have great gear). If I could do that with just an iPad (plus a bunch of editing), imagine what I could do with my old gear? I used to have such good gear. My favorite was my last setup with NPG when I had a Nikon D3 with a 70-200mm/2.8f lens in one bag (it was my boss’s old camera, the same one that snapped Britney Spears shaving her head and showing her lady parts coming out of a car). And a Nikon D700 with a short-lens (kit), flash + grip in my other bag.

My freelance life is growing. In an ideal life I could do each of my jobs for 3 months a year (with some flexibility of course). And travel all over.

I’m currently juggling all of this somehow:

1. Writer: San Diego Reader, San Diego Red, b1mas4 (in Spanish), translating and ghostwriting for a French guy that hired me all the way from Thailand to do work on his webpage. In addition to updating this blog, Tijuana Adventure and TRF. Other small writing jobs come at me often.

2. Musician: Even though I haven’t gone to practice with them, once I have a car, I know I can get back on the groove with The RockinJazzBigBand as their bass player. I’m also getting gigs by myself with my classical guitar music thanks to a friend from the jazz band as intermediate between the sets of their band (The Zinchiladas). Finally, with my alternative math-rock project Donkey Chow. We had a show at Mous Tache bar in Tijuana the other night and went great. The name might change and recordings will be coming out soon.

3. Tijuana Adventure is going great with more visitors to the site and emails every now and then with people interested in a tour. However I’m way too busy with the music festival and the VIP tickets Tijuana Rumble Fest! Which takes us to #4.

4. Tijuana Rumble Fest. I’m organizing and co-ordinating the event. It has been a lot of work since a friend invited me to throw a festival with him back in March. From a tiny idea, it caught on fire and turned into a huge festival.

5. Photography. This is still not for profit and I don’t have gear except my iPad. But working with a model was so much fun and I know I could get way better pictures if I had better gear and if it was magic hour instead of 2:30 pm. If there’s one thing that I’m super grateful for my 4 years as a paparazzo was learning the best of many amazing photographers. People depict most of the paps as idiots with a camera, but trust me that taking pictures of someone that doesn’t want their picture taken in the middle of others in a public space is not an easy task.

The rest of my birthdays have been utter shit. I remember in one of them I got air-kicked on the chest by simultaneous legs of two different people that were friends of my older brother. We were playing Caballeros del Zodiaco and I went flying and smashed against the wall dramatically, fell down slowly and was injured for the rest of the day.  Of course this a decorated story, I was 8 at the time and that’s how it remember happening. I cried the rest of the day because my thumb had a huge bruise and I had scrapes all over my knees and elbows.

Anyway, one of the favorite people saw back in the day was Henry Rollins. This was in September 1st, 2008.

Henry Rollins

There were a lot of paparazzi waiting at the Tom Bradley International Terminal for someone I didn’t get pictures off and that I completely forgot by now (it was probably Victoria Beckham or something). But Henry Rollins came out before her and I snuck out of the way and into the parking lot where he was headed to take pictures. He approached me and for a moment I was scared of him. He asked me if he take a look at my camera, I gave it to him nervously. He then commented on the grip for the flash and asked me about what sort of camera gear I used. Apparently the PunkGod wanted some recommendations on what camera he should buy.

Happy Birthday Megan Fox! Thanks for destroying my childhood

I don’t give a shit about Megan Fox, much less now that fucking Michael Bay cast her as April O’Neil. I know, I know…Megan Fox is hot, but there are a lot of better looking women with much more talent than her. And for TMNT they didn’t even try to make her look similar to what she looks like in the cartoon. Why didn’t they cut her hair and dye it the right color?! Anyway, rant over…. the reason I mention Megan Fox’s birthday is because we were born in the exactly the same day.

I’m 28 today and so is she. I told her this one day at LAX on August 7th, 2009. Megan and Brian were arriving from a flight on terminal 3 and they crossed the bridge to the parking lot (trying to be sneaky, but LAX was my territory and it was hard to get past me). Another rookie photographer was there, he didn’t get any good pictures since Bryan was not cooperating and neither was Megan.

Before they got into the town car I started telling her that we were born on the exact same day. I simply blurted out “we have the exact same birthdate! May 16th, 1986!” She just looked at me confused (but at least I got her to uncover her face for a picture). The airport handler, who was a friend of mine, got in the car with them (tsk tsk… guess where paparazzi get the tips). I saw him later that day at the horrible excuse of food court that LAX has and told me that Megan commented on the stuff I said and she told the handler that she thought I was making it up.

That was five years ago. Both me and Megan were the same age, one behind the camera, the other just walking around being hot. Now a days I don’t do that job anymore and I couldn’t be happier, while she is still doing her “job” and with the help of Michael Bay she is destroying my childhood.

Here are the pictures of that day:
Megan Fox and Brian arrive together Megan Fox and Brian arrive together Megan Fox and Brian arrive together

I saw her many times before this. Once she was already through LAX security and I got far away pictures that you could barely tell it was her, this was in June 4th, 2008. I wasn’t a good photographer, she wasn’t that famous.
june 4 2008

I saw her in Hollywood several times. From what I remember, she used to drive a black Mercedes Benz with tinted windows and lived closed to Zac Efron on Woodrow Wilson Drive off of Mulholand Drive.

But enough about her and now it’s about me.

I never cared much for birthday celebrations. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my birthday, people tend to be super nice and I appreciate everyone that takes a second off of their life to congratulate me. But I simply don’t enjoy the pressure to have a good birthday, much like I don’t like New Years. This time it’s on a Friday and I have nothing planned (I never do). I can guarantee something, I’ll be out in downtown Tijuana in my favorite eateries and drinkeries. Want to join me? You could through Tijuana Adventure!

It’s been a bit over 2 years since I moved to TJ out of necessity because I didn’t want to work ever again and I had no money. Now I work everyday, but it doesn’t feel like it. My writing career took off and now I’m making as much money as I was when I was taking pictures of celebrities. Besides freelance writing for several sources, I’m getting paid guitar gigs. Soon I will be able to purchase a camera and get more work there. BUT besides all of this…. TRF!!!!

TRF: TIJUANA RUMBLE FEST!

I’m one of the main organizers for TRF. I can add that to my resume of things I do with my freelance life. Like a dream come true, I got offered to create a perfect festival with no investment. TRF was just a tiny idea by a friend of mine (Danger David) and it suddenly became a huge team of people working for a common goal of throwing the best party of 2014 (and many years to come).

May 31st, save the date. This festival is going to be amazing.

The last day as a paparazzo: Going full freelance

It seems forever ago when I decided to quit my job as a staff writer for Soccerly and went full freelance, but that was only 8 months ago. The idea was to combine all my talents and work many different jobs. Many said it would be impossible to do all of them at once, now I’m doing it, and I’m going crazy…

As a writer, I’m still getting published by the same sources, which gives me some stability. I feel like I won the lottery back in February when I started translating and ghostwriting for a website (more about that later).

As a guitarist, I’m getting more playing time as a soloist. I’m working on an album with a drummer on a project we’re calling Donkey Chow (for now). Hopefully soon I’ll be playing bass with the jazz band as well.

As a photographer, I’m still not doing much, because I don’t have gear. But that will change soon.

As a tour guide, Tijuana Adventure is going great and growing by itself as a business. I barely have time for it, soon I’ll be hiring some people (which is crazy, maybe I’ll hire an assistant).

AND …

On top of all that. I’m also organizing a festival. I’m a big part of a team that is helping Tijuana Rumble Fest to happen. In fact, I’m in charge of that website (and many other things). This festival is happening, it’s going to be huge and it’s taking a lot of my time. Save the date for TRF, May 31st from noon to 5:00 am, 29 bands from California are invited. Tijuana Adventure is sponsoring (amongst many other major sponsors).

For the first time in my life I have to keep a schedule and check it constantly to see what my week is going to be like. And somehow I still spent hours on end playing the new expansion of Diablo III (which has been a major distraction from actual work).

Doing all my these jobs at once is something I never thought I would be doing in my life. Finding myself as a full-time freelance of pretty much whatever I feel like is awesome. Quitting the paparazzi life is one of the best things I’ve done in my life. To commemorate that… here are the pictures of the last day of work I have on my hard drive.

All pictures were taken on April 6th of 2011. Ten different celebrities, around 500 shutter clicks and almost no money made. Being a pap is not worth it.

Celebrity is a state of mind: Macaulay Culkin in Tijuana again

Fame is in the eye of the beholder.

There are so many celebrities now a days and so much information online that we can give ourselves the luxury to love or hate as many we want. You know how many fucks I ever gave for the kids of Gossip Girl? I saw all of them, and they were all mean assholes. I tried watching the show once because my roommate was into it. I couldn’t watch it for more than 10 minutes.

It messed with my head that someone like Paul McCartney could be the nicest person ever when you are taking pictures of him at LAX and someone like Leighton Meester, Blake Lively and the rest of the cast can be complete dicks. I mentioned Leighton Meester because she was outright over the top crazy about her picture not being taken. She covers herself in the craziest fashion and even accused me once of hiding in a dumpster outside of her apartment in New York ….I’m never been to New York. Her airport assistant told me this information, she also hated her (and she liked me, many times gave me free tips).

Leighton Meester:

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She goes over the top for you not to get her picture, like hiring an assistant to guide her through the airport while she wears a massive coat over her head. That was the day she accused me of hiding on a dumpster outside her NY apartment….

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This other day she hid behind her ticket in an incredible fashion that it made my shoot worthless. WHO ARE YOU!?!? I only cared because a picture of her would sale between $50 to $200 (if I’m lucky, otherwise worthless).
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This one time, I was stealthy like a ninja and she didn’t see me. After this picture, she basically just hid behind the guy that is carrying her Marc Jacobs bag or whatever she has.

Blake Lively:
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She likes to carry a pillow and hide behind it, however, she’s not that great at hiding. She was never as bad as Leighton, but just a worthless average blonde.

Speaking of worthless people, Macaulay Culkin visited Tijuana again. This time with his insult of a band, The Pizza Underground. Their name like that because they play covers of The Velvet Underground and Nirvana and replace the lyrics with pizza jokes. Something that would have been great if I were 14 and it was still the 90s. It cost $10 at the door, which I refused to pay, so I missed the show (and it was the right choice). Friends that did make it informed me that the show was horrible. Well, you can judge for yourself:

The next day, Retox played the same venue. This show I did attend and it blew my fucking brains out (and it was free…). I chatted with the singer of the band and the other musicians like it was nothing, but in all honest truth, I was a bit nervous. These guys are fucking fantastic musicians and are celebrities in my mind. But people prefer to pay $10 (it was $30 in San Diego) to see fucking Macaulay Culkin insult the art of music. Here’s a review from a fellow writer for the San Diego Reader.

Retox:

I’m so busy but all I want to do is watch House of Cards: Robin Wright at LAX.

So much work, so little time. Or maybe I’m just lazy. 2014 started out slow with my articles getting rejected so I started to look for more gigs everywhere. But after many rejections, sources started publishing me again and work started to pour in. Suddenly, it was February and I found myself overwhelmed by work to the point I didn’t want to do any at all.

I have had so many ideas for articles, Tijuana Adventure has been growing with more interest on it every day, I translated a dating website into Spanish, strangers are getting in contact with me offering stories, also gotten requests from my clients and on top of that, I finally played guitar on the street. Here are the articles I published on 2014, some of them made it into print:

San Diego Reader = Large MuralLa MaguanaAntiYouMarihuana
San Diego Red = Tacos VariosDrugs
B1Mas4 = Marihuana

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I have performed in many places, hotel lobbies, weddings, restaurants, cafes, on stage at my university, etc. But I have never performed on the street. It was for a farmer’s market that sets every Saturday in Old Town San Diego. I played for three hours, made $40 from the event organizer and $35 on tips. A friend from the RockinJazzBigBand loaned me his PA system for amplification so the whole block could hear me playing. At some point during my performance I gathered a crowd of over 20 people and some were recording me play. That felt pretty new.
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But playing for three hours with the blaring sun right on top, took a toll on me. I felt sick, stopped working and watched the whole first season of House of Cards (and now that the second season is out… I can’t stop).

I’m finding a balance between being a freelance writer and musician. But there’s still much more to add. Soon I’ll have a camera and I’m sure I’ll have photography gigs. And let’s not forget the jazz band, my experimental band and my own business.

So much to do, so instead I’ll just go back to watching House of Cards.

With that show in mind. I never saw Kevin Spacey back in my paparazzo days, but I did see Robin Wright. Both times I took her pictures was late at night in LAX. I have no memory of our interactions. Judging from the pictures, she seemed ok with it the first time I saw her when she was departing and she wasn’t happy to see me the second time when arriving. Nonetheless, her work in House of Cards is amazing and I can’t wait to keep on watching the show.

Robin Wright at LAX:

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These pictures were taken on November 14, 2009. She was still married to Sean Penn who is publicly known to dislike paparazzi (he punched a friend of mine in my first week of the job). I also shot Vanessa Hudgens, Viggo Mortensen, Jody Lynn O’Keefe, Carla Gugino and Ashlee Simpson that day.

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These were taken a month after on her arrival flight on December 16th, 2009. She didn’t seem to happy to see me. I also got Sam Worthington, Oliver Stone and Drew Carey that day.