maya contreras

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I got to meet Henry Rollins once at Ian MacKaye’s house in Virginia (right outside of D.C) years ago. Ian called him ‘Hank’ and they were getting ready to watch 'Apocalypse Now" something they apparently did every year. I was there with my best friend at the time (we had met Fugazi the year before in our college town and were lucky enough to forge a friendship with Joe, the bassplay and Ian the singer). Good guys. And I love these pictures. This is when Henry Rollins briefly worked at Haagen-Dazs and Ian came to visit him. 

(Crystal Castles and Me. I’m holding the black purse.) 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

― Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

On Confidence:

I was standing at a bookstore in Cobble Hill with my friend Beans. That’s not his real name, that is his stage name, but I have only ever called him by that in the six years that I’ve known him.

As we stood there talking about writing and music, a beautiful teenage girl with the boldest afro I’ve ever since Angela Davis walked in. Beans and I stopped what we were saying and watched as she walked by, head held high on top of legs that were sky high, and a leather jacket that only accented just how stunning she was. 

“I wish I had had her confidence when I was her age.” I said, much to Beans surprise. 

“I can’t imagine you without confidence.” He said. 

“No, it’s true, I suffered from your typical teenager insecurity,” I said browsing over the books, “Unfortunately it lasted throughout my twenties…and early thirties.” I continued with a smile. 

Some of that is sarcastic, but, yes, some of that statement is true. When I say I lacked confidence, I guess what I am saying is, I didn’t know my worth. 

I had always been a tom-boy by nature, and I was surprised early on when the guys I had always played basketball with started to get awkward around me. I had no idea that they found me remotely attractive, that is because, I didn’t really think of myself that way, or at least I never saw anyone that looked like me in films or on television. The first mixed raced women I saw in film where Jennifer Beals and Rae Dawn Chong, and even then they were to me, impossibly thin. With my thick thighs and big butt, I felt out of place.

Keep in mind this is right before Jennifer Lopez came on the scene. Before J-LO, I was dieting all of the time. I thought, if I was going to pursue acting, I needed to look like the women on the screen. I was also poor, and embarrassed by my thrift store clothing. I some how equated material objects with self-worth. I was young, and naïve. I thought validation needed to come from outside of my head. 

Insecurity let’s itself be known in lots of hideous little ways. It’s not something that is just relegated to teenagers, it’s something adults still deal with as well. There is an insecurity in our politics, where people feel they need to shout their opinion. They need you to be ‘on their side’ to see things from ‘their perspective.’ After all, if you were secure in what you believed, wouldn’t you want to share it in a calm rational way? Couldn’t you listen to other points of view without shouting them down?

The same with religious beliefs- if you are secure in your beliefs why push them on to others that do not share your beliefs? There are lots of reasons, usually, because that has to do with the fear of the unknown.

Which brings me back to confidence. Yes, I wish I had had that self-confidence I saw displayed in that teenage girl at the Bookstore when I was once a teenager, but I realize that because I didn’t, I now have compassion towards my fellow misfits, and I understand what that feeling is like, to feel out of place, to feel like you don’t belong. 

My friends over the years have said some really wonderful things to me that I have dearly appreciated. They have said ‘You always make me feel good about myself.’ The thing is, it’s because I feel good about myself. I accept my silliness, my moodiness, how loud I am when I watch sports, how obsessed  I am with politics, but will enjoy a good gossip story, and that most of all I deeply want people to believe in themselves. I want people to give themselves a break. Don’t think just because you haven’t lost that 5 (or 20 or whatever pounds) that you can’t live life until you do, or just because that girl or guy rejected you that you are somehow unworthy of love. That that bully that said terrible things about you must be some how right about you. Why!? They don’t have any insight into who you are, and if they were a decent person, a secure person, why would they ever bully you in the first place?

So what I am saying is. Accept yourself, who you are, your triumphs, your failures, and know there is always someone out there that is always cheering you on to be a better person, even if you don’t feel that’s true, it is, because it’s me

Classic Comedic Actors I Admire: Steve Martin.
“You mean I’m going to stay this color!?” Steve Martin laments in The Jerk, and I was hooked (I was barely old enough to have know his SNL popularity or comedy touring in-depth – he already had a large cult following by the time The Jerk came out). As a writer I truly admire him. From penning his play Picasso At The Lapin Agile to his (biting) love letter to LA (LA Stories) – Mr. Martin proves himself over and over to be as versatile as his comedic timing. – MC

Sculpture by Robert Gober “Untitled”

In response to my feed being flooded by posts about Banksy over the past few weeks and the incessant chatter in offices and on sidewalks about Banksy’s exploits I would like to point out that right now, in NYC, we have some of the most amazing art shows up by some of the most amazing artists ever, not just some guy who figured out how to paint a stencil of a vaguely socio-political idea on a wall on which he shouldn’t. While I can understand how following Banksy’s trail of hype could be fun, it’s pretty much like freaking out over a new episode of Duck Dynasty when you’re holding The Wire box set in your hands. Know what I mean? I’ll reserve my thoughts on graffiti in general and recognize that Banksy does more than graffiti but I won’t allow that his work is good, nor deserving of a fraction of the praise he’s received. His best piece was the Paris Hilton CDs from way way back, otherwise it is genuinely hype, all hype and nothing more. Like his sculptures? Check out Robert Gober or The Chapman brothers. Like his stencils? Look up Kara Walker, or even Swoon, whose mural on Bowery is looking AMAZING. Like his absurdist/situationist tactics? See: The Yes Men, who have been killing it for ages. Don’t let great art be shadowed by your reality show desires.” - From (my friend) John McSwain

Classic Comedic Actors I Admire: Carol Burnett.
I was in LOVE with Carol Burnett’s comedic timing. Genius. I watched each sketch as if it were homework and tried out multiples sketches for classmates (much to their bemusement). Carol Burnett is one of the undisputed pioneers for females in television on multiple levels- as an actor, producer, and writer she paved the way for so many of our favorite female comedic performers today. I still get giddy watching her performance as Ms. Hannigan in Annie. She is to this day, my idol. – MC

Classic Comedic Actors I Admire: Woody Allen.
I was as devastated as anyone regarding the ‘Soon-Yi’ shameful debacle. However, I have and always will completely admired his body of work (with the exception of Anything Else. That title is…ironic). Between Manhattan, Radio Days, and Hannah and Her Sisters (and yes, I have seen every single one of his films) it’s no wonder why I was catapulted from New Mexico to New York years ago. There is something completely stirring in his dialogue, his carefully cultivated soundtracks, and the strong qualities of his actors (Diane Keaton to Mia Farrow) that makes one feel very Romantic about New York. - MC

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Learn about the animals at Central Park Zoo from my adorable twin nephews Thomas and Matisse (aka The Vet Bros). xo Maya Contreras-Crace

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Chinatown: Oh Chinatown! I could sing its’ praises. Everything about it to me was fantastic, the produce, the Pullman bread, the hand crafted coconut ice cream, the dollar dumplings, the fresh seafood, the wonderful coffee (OK, it sounds like I was mostly there for the food) but it was a very heady time for me. I was living in a loft that was half Bed and Breakfast and half residents. It was loco. But it was also, amazing. The woman who ran the place was a French artist, and there were always people coming and going. For the first few months I lived in a three foot room (yes, I’m not joking, it was a three foot room (see picture of me in the room above) before a larger one became available. I was living with and next door to about 12 single French men and women that just wanted to drink champagne, go out dancing, and eating, I was…in heaven. On weekends we would sit on the roof, tan, and drink champagne until sunset, and then…let the night begin.