Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Travel On: A Guide For the Perpetually Depressed and Other Similar Persons.

The single most difficult thing in life is to accept destiny.

"...And to believe in divine destiny, both the good and the evil thereof." -Muhammad(SAW) -The Hadith of Gabriel(AS)"

No matter how much you try to struggle and run, what catches up to you (or lack thereof) reaches you in a due time and process. (Un)fortunately, no matter how many times you experience a shift in life it doesn't get any easier ever. But I have compiled a list of steps that perhaps may be of use to one experiencing the trouble of acceptance of fate. At the risk of sounding like an AA advertisement.

1.) Accept

The core of destiny is acceptance. There is no changing the past, Doc. so stop trying to build the DeLorean. Sit back take a deep breath and realise that what's done is done. Chill out take a walk around the block. Most importantly try not to take to long on acceptance. Over thinking leads to depression.

2.) The Cons

 TRY WITH ALL YOUR GOD GIVEN MIGHT to draft up a list of contrasts to your situation. Reach and become ridiculous if you must. What matters is that you come up with a minimum of 7 SOLID reasons why the situation you want/desire is actually bad for you. You should aim for 15.

3.) The Pros

Only to be done after step 2. This may sound weird, backwards or downright wrong but you absolutely must think of the positives of the what you wanted. Doing this will free yourself from any guilt and/or late night what-if sessions. If you map out all the possible outcomes that could have been from the get-go you will dwell on them less later.

4.) New

Being where you're at presently. Take advantage of it. Try something you'd have never tried before. You're already out of your comfort zone, you may as well push it a bit further.

5.) Open

Some one's gone through what you've been through, a friend, a co-worker, an Internet blogger. Go find someone and talk to them. Asking for help helps.

6.) Cry

It's healthy. Natural. and you won't be holding all that anger inside.

 7.) Eat

Go eat at a new restaurant with your friends. You'll surprise yourself how enjoyable it will be actually. If you're to scared or too poor to eat at a new place go to your favourite and order something new.

8.) Meet

Make a goal to meet at least 2 new people. Intimately. Get to actually know them.

9.) Watch

Watch Back to the Future. All of them even the questionable part 3.

10. Listen

And that's what you need to travel on

We're all gonna make it brahs,

Zyzz Yusuf
el mariachi

Monday, June 9, 2014

Art to My City

I must say it's been a minute since I've written anything about anything. It's good to be back? Yeah I guess everyone needs an outlet and writing is mine. Gahdamn what has happened since I last spoke to the internet. Well my production company, Arriving Productions (Formerly the local35 we changed the name due to copyright issues) I'd like to say sailed pretty smoothly. We launched an Instagram page (@arrivingproductions) and stayed with the Islamic content on our YouTube page (it's still The Local35.) We were blessed to be able to work with the renowned scholar Yasmin Mogahed as well as support Autism Speaks, an international advocacy group that works with people dealing with autism spectrum disorders. We worked hard (Mr. Sameem Tursonzadah) well into the end of the Pitt semester. By that point unfortunately we weren't concerned with content but more so production experience which in my  opinion is/was one of our weaknesses.

Then tragedy struck(?)

Through a series of events orchestrated by God himself circumstances have placed me in Atlanta, my city for at least six months. I probably won't be returning to Pitt. At least not for a year. But that's a long sob story with great undertones of personal danger and adventure.

Pitt is in the suburbs and for two years I was blessed to live the life of a WASP with my Abercrombie button downs and Sperry-Boat shoes. With my discourses of modern politics and flings with blonde-haired girls. But that's all over for the moment. Being back in Atlanta re-opened my eyes to what I had been ignoring while away at school. Not much has changed gangs and drugs and money still rule everything around me. "Friends" I grew up with are still milling around and my enemies still recognise me.
Being back in my city Stone Mountain has made me realise there is an insatiable need for educated black men to reclaim our neighbourhoods. For culture avant gardes to redirect the focus of the youth. Our communities are in need of individuals incubating a lust amongst our youth in relation to the arts and sciences. To lead the charge against what has tragically become our norm, I'm not yet sure if I'm qualied but I sure as hell am gonna try.
God willingly I'm going to take everything I learned of film production at Pitt and use it to feed my city. Art to my city. Actively and passively encourage my peers and the younger generations to empower themselves through the visual arts. Give people the opportunity and appropriate platform to tell the world our/their struggle/story. We intend to display the actual lasting power independent cinema has on society at large.

 I'm starting a chapter of Arriving Productions here in Atlanta God willing we are successful.

Watch us because we intend to close the racial and socioeconomic gap separating us from you.

Oh you audience, this is cinema.

Zyzz Yusuf
Executive Director
Arriving Productions

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ayah's Eyes: An Excerpt from Punk Rock Logic

The excerpt as promised.

“Late again Mr.Little?” Came the cold accusation of Mr. Dunbar Eric’s Calculus teacher. “Whatever.” Eric muttered under his breath out of earshot of his teacher. “I heard that Mr. Little detention. Again. What is that 5 in the past two weeks?” Eric silently looked around the classroom for an empty seat. He spotted one and walked towards it pausing as he realised it was next to Ayah. Ayah was a quiet girl. Most likely the most quiet girl of girls who are quiet. No one really talked to her besides the other Muslim girls in school.  I mean how could any anyone hold a conversation with a diminutive black clad form. Everyday she dressed in all black flowing gowns and dresses complete with a full black veil that covered her entire face save the small slit at her eyes which revealed her deep caramel complexion and piercing black eyes. Eric took his place next to her. She shifted in her seat sitting more upright and leaning forward in deep concentration. “It must sucks to dress like that all the time.” Eric thought. “I mean she has like no friends and everyone makes fun of her.” “I wonder if her husband forces her to dress like that.” He had once seen a documentary on women in Afghanistan and saw how they had to stay indoors and wear full body veils when they went out. The women they interviewed hated their lives Eric recounted. The would get married when they were like 9 or 10. “What a strange religion.” Eric shuddered. “I wonder if she hates her life?” Eric stole a glance at Ayah. Feeling his gaze she shifted uncomfortably in her seat while staring at her notes. “Mr. Little!” snapped Mr.Dunbar “Perhaps you know the answer?” “Uhh” replied Eric “Screw it ,sue me it’s hard for me to pay attention because you suck at teaching.”  A collective gasp escaped from the breasts of the students. Eyes reduced to slits Mr.Dunbar pointed at the door “Leave!” He commanded. “Whatever, dude.” Eric replied. As he scooped up his backpack he stole another look at Ayah. Their eyes met and she quickly looked away blushing. Confused Eric left. The result of his confusion stemmed from Ayah’s eyes’. She didn’t have the same look of entrapment and loneliness Eric was so used to seeing in his own while looking in the mirror. No they were different. They boasted of answers and freedom and caring, compassion. Wisdom. Eric wanted that all of that. A single look. “Strange” Eric muttered as he strolled down the corridor.
That night Eric dreamed of Ayah. Those haunting eyes that had all the answers.

-From Punk Rock Logic

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Intermediate Punk Rock Rhetoric (J0hnny F!3Nd)

Hey everybody!

My name is Johnny Fredrick aka Johnny Fiend and I am a senior script editor and cinematographer at Local35. For this post I sat down with Yusuf for an interview about a short story he wrote for the spring 2014 University of Pittsburgh official student publication Forbes and Fifth titled Punk Rock Logic. Below you will find the interview and next week we will premiere an excerpt from the story.

JF: Hey, Yusuf How are you doing today?

Y: I'm alright [Laughs] Alhumdulilahi rabi lal amin!

JF: ...

Y: [laughs]

JF: Anyways... you want to explain Punk Rock Logic, sort of where the idea comes from or what, basically explain the, uh story.

Y: You are really bad at interviews man.

JF: Thanks man, that means a lot.

Y:[laughs] Punk Rock Logic the title, well actually comes from a Lupe Fiasco song, umm, Gold Chain, [proceeds to sing the lyric] "Man you can't be punk from projects, firm disbeliever of that punk rock logic was creat- "you know.

JF: So Lupe all the way?

Y: [shrugs] ehh issh fan-ish, but... yeah the story is actually based off of my senior year of high school kinda with much embellishment and of course a difference in characters to protect the innocent [laughs]. Actually whats funny, whatev- like, The main character his name is Eric and even though he is loosely based off of me-

JF: Wow! how humble of you sir!

Y:[shugs and laughs] ehh I'm Yusuf West like the Muslim little brother of yeezy.


Y: Yeah, I mean like what the character, like what happens to him is some of the things I went through my senior year but the actual character, Eric was a character created by my friend Sean Gilmore, he directed a movie and Eric was a college-aged punk rock musician-

JF: Played by you...?

Y: Weeelll, when you say it like that it makes me sound arrogant.

JF: Well considering the situation...

Y: [laughs] As I was saying before I was accused of things I'm not doing- Eric is a character already created not by myself, but Punk Rock Logic IS my imagination of his life before he met uhh...I can't remember the other characters name but he was played by a kid from Point Park University named Drew. I have a script around here somewhere [Looks around the office to no avail].But besides the point I wrote the story from personal experience so yeah it's my story but it is also his. Does that make sense?

JF: Yeah, no I think people will be able to understand. But what is this movie?

Y: It's called The Muse it was uhh Directed and Written by Sean Gilmore a Pitt Student. It was made, acted in by a bunch of Pittsburgh people. Um Ben Hatmaker you know him, he Produced it, umm Olivia Brown an actor from CMU. Drew Clouse another Pitt student was the cinematographer... a bunch of you know.

JF: Oh,ok So where can we see this?

Y: Well we shot it over the summer but, uhh, last I heard it was in super post-production. You know college kids schedules and stuff.

JF: So I was proof reading your story and I noticed there was a lot of detail of the scene. Research or-

Y: Ha, Yeah I was punk rock senior year. Like before I started converting or like practicing Islam.

JF: From East Atlanta? How'd you find Punk?

Y: [laughs] Well when I got expelled from school I had to go to alternative school and so-

JF: Expelled? For what

Y: You know gangs, fights, blah blah blah. It's not important.

JF: Tell me that later, man

Y: Yeah off record though.

JF: That's fair.

Y: Anyway I always thought I was pretty big and bad but man when I got to Alternative school the kids were, man it was ridiculous, they were vicious fights like every class, and not like I mean they were like fighting the security guards and the teachers. We used to have riots like every other day it was magnoon! Tauyab! So I was like yo I gotta put on a front before I like die [laughs].

JF: Wow. so you went with punk?

Y: Yeah, I remember there was this kid at my homeschool and everyone was scared of him even the quote un quote thugs. He was a goth or like a metal head, death rap guy, black kid though so, [laughs] funny enough he was in alternative school with me we became friends there since our scenes were similar it was natural we hung out. We both did music played guitar listened to punk, metal and rapped all that so... yeah. Unfortunately he is now in jail for murder...


Y: Yeah...

JF: Well that's such a sour note to end it on let's try to fix it. Anything you'd like to say Yusuf?

Y: Local trey five i do it for the numbers, LTF I do it for the letters Local up, 3-5 up. Nah but seriously We have a film that should be coming out in mid March so look out for that everybody.

JF: Ah, yes the Scheduling thingy. Ok well thats all for now wanna grab some 'za?

Y: You know it bro.


                  LOCAL35©                                          LOCAL#%
                                               L O C A L


Courtesy of Jonathan Fredrick ©    All Right reserved.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Love Letter to the Future (or flexin on my haters)

a word from the president of local35 it is a prologue and an explanation of the film but much like a book you can skip it and head straight to the part about us flexin.

".cinema   !!!!
this is our(local35) first production piece .cinema
The minute long cinematic narrative is a glance at our beautiful city Pittsburgh, through our radical neo-realistic camera lenses. The film was originally produced for a competition held by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences but was cultivated in a specific caliber that allows it the ability of standing alone as an introspective work. .cinema's[sic] aim was to challenge the status quo of modern Hollywood by displaying in brief clips the lives of everyday people. It has been time existing in an elapsed manner since we, Local35, substantiated the the actual coercive regency motion pictures have on society and on the human psyche.
Therefore it has been made our mission to create content that is realistic, relatable and morally pedagogical in direct defiance to the overpowering grip of the excessive reckless hedonism copiously ingested by the masses, yearning for entertainment. They devour atrocity only to regurgitate it later in the form of bad decisions and misinformation."

and we made it to flex on our haters

.cinema in its purest form exists as a testament to hardwork and a toast to my dreams. For as long as I can remember movies have occupied a portion of my heart. It's been a month since post production and I still can't believe that I finally did it. I did it in an albeit very, short, primitive form, but still its a step in a direction I definitely want to take. My cliche of the day to you is follow your dreams. But to follow them you actually have to do something. It is completely irrelevant how small that fist step is, what matters is that you take it.

Think about when you learned to ride a bike. You really, really, wanted to ride the two-wheelers because all the big kids were doin' it and dammit you wanted to be a big kid already! Some of your friends already learned how to ride and you couldn't keep up because you were bogged down by those kiddie training wheels. OH THE HUMILITY. However did you just leave your bike in the garage, angrily throw your hands up in the air, and yell "I QUIT I'M NOT GONNA LEARN ITS TOO HARD" ??
God willingly you didn't. You probably went out the next day got some help and madethatfirststeppp... thereby pushing the peddle down raising your other foot...

You see when you pushed the first peddle down by taking that first step your other one raised, that is to say (yani) you automatically positioned yourself for the next step and when you took that step you stopped worrying about what was around you.You held your head up.You looked forward at what was coming your way. You rode off of your momentum. You did it.

Ride your bike in your direction whether it is learning how to make samosas or learning how to run a country.
So write a love letter to the future, that means(yani):
Travel on.
Don't aspire,be.
Do what you've always wanted to do.
and love yourself and your life for it.

oh you audience
this is cinema

We're all gonna make it brahs,

Zyzz Yusuf
President, Local35

Sunday, December 8, 2013

my raw unfiltered thoughts sometime before a night prayer 3:53am

in the end will it even matter im talking about the last day
the day about which there is no doubt
i dont doubt it for even a second
so why do my actions prove otherwise
its all so depressing
i dont believe in winter time depression
like adam said
or whatever the heck its called
this has been the best winter of my life so far
it aint even winter yet

donald released an awesome album
he said it would be a world his fans could live in and never leave
and it is
i mean i entered that world since i downloaded his album three days ago
ive been here ever since
its as if someone took all my emotions and put them into 19 songs
its really amazing
is that stupid?
i mean its just music and most of it is haraam by even the least of standards
i dont even like music
i actually hate music

i like themes thats what i like
i like what it stands for more than the actual sounds emanating from the speakers
and the screen play that accompanies the album is magnificent
i say that as a screenwriter
i chose to live in the world of because the internet
because reality sucked
i mean how do the syrians do it?
how do the Palestinians do it?
how do the inhabitants of the indian slums do it
the people of darfur southern sudan
the Philippines
what the heck?
they persevere
i want that i should have that
and im an american i have it all
so what the heck

scientist say people are truest to themselves around this time of day
i guess they are right
sometimes well all the time i worry
that my five prayers isnt enough, nor is my charity i always feel selfish
and i hate taqwacore but i cant knock someones interpretation of allahs deen
im not a scholar
and im tired of internet sheikhs
and im tired of people not giving me a straight answer
and the shaitains influence on the world
most of all im tired of myself
ever seen something so raw it hurts or it relates
im tired of people picking on girls who dont wear hijaab
lower your gaze pig
maybe in that time you werent looking she put it on
or maybe the wind blew it off
or maybe you should make 70 excuses
and if you can not there is something wrong with you

i just found out that i wont be receiving grades this semester
all that work for nothing
ive been removed from the rosters of my classes
because i cant pay my tuition
im not even going to my last final
its stupid
i tried
and failed
i got a job
didnt work
qadr allah
and thats only part of the story
youll never know the rest

and shell never know how much im actually in love with her

sultan said what if you became a muslim and your parents said you couldnt go to pitt
well that happened
that was real that actually happened
i was so depressed i left before speaking to anyone 
i cant seem to figure out
how that guy in the story did it
may allah be pleased with him
oh i have an idea
perhaps it was

by the morning and its brightness
wallayli itha saja
and the night when it covers with darkness

how do they do it
i owe a lot of people a lot of money
and when i see them i dont look them in the eye
i think they notice
i wish people would understand

make me from those who are few

if you dont know that dua omar raa heard while walking
thats a problem
i have a problem
wallahi i swear
the only way to fix it is
oh bilal
oh ayyub as
oh muhammad saws
oh yusuf as
oh maryam raa

how did you do it
i dont understand
writing makes things better
dua makes things great

i want to see my sister
and my best friend
i want my roomate to succeed
hes so miserable
its stupid
hes way better then what everyone else sees

i wish school didnt matter
and you could do whatever you wanted
and i wished school was free
free information
and i wish people chased dreams and not job security
and i wish people saw art in what i see art in
and i wish people wouldn't judge
and i wish people saw what really goes on in my head
but then they might be scared
they probally wouldnt talk to me
i just want to make movies
and i want people to pray for syria
its bad over there
and i wish people would be themselves

Nasir is leaving next semester
masha allah
but now who will i talk to
 i guess im just being selfish
he doesnt know how high i hold him
dont tell him
hes gonna do well i know

so if you see me smile at me
its charity

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Call To Arms: The "Negro" Problem

If God is willing this winter break I will be traveling back home. Eastside DeKalb County,GA. A placed characterised  by deFacto segregation that is to say  low racial and economic integration and low exchange of ideas. Blatantly put for a month I will not come in contact with a White, Desi,or Asian person save a count of Arabs.The only diversity I will see, in albeit low concentration, will be at the Masajd. Same goes for trains of thought. For one month I will be injected with the common nihilistic and hedonistic urban outlook on life.(It always takes me a week or two to readjust to suburban Pittsburgh after my trips, to lose my edge,that is.)Why is it this way?

  In sha ALLAH I will be returning, with an unbridled anticipation, to the warm embrace of my closest family and friends while simultaneously and conversely returning to the cold shoulder and blind eye of privileged America. East Atlanta, my city with which I am forever at odds is an absolute expectoration from the lungs of a treacherous American past.
Fie on the socioeconomic conditions and fie on that which they incubate!

 Sickening are the conditions men are reduced to; generic white bread packagings of black stereotypes to be sneered upon by the privileged few, capitalised on by the entertainment industry and injudiciously emulated by the middle class. We are subjected to drug dealing and robbery and gang warfare in the name of glorious food. A cyclical demise currently devours the majority of our souls. Flagrant unemployment gives birth to frustration and certain aggravation of disparity. Furthermore, so exists a parallel conundrum, when denizens find themselves destitute they are stricken with a sudden inability to purchase goods from an arbitrary firm. Thereby reducing the amount of profit this firm can make inevitably resulting in a depletion of hired workers and a price increase in goods.These happenings lead to the insidious declination of the resilience and economic fortitude of the aforementioned hypothetical firm forcing it into liquidation or general failure thus multiplying the already existing predicament of unemployment.
  We know there is a direct inverse relationship between the unemployment and crime rates. This is a direct result of the absence of that great equaliser of men, fine education.In these our neighbourhoods, East Atlanta as a paragon, that are bitter with unemployment and eagerly accentuated with crime you will find, by using even the most superficial of investigative methods, a decrepit educational system that absolutely fails to serve its intended apparent purpose. Herein lies the the reason for our insufficient acumen! Additionally in seeming spite upon analysing the aggregate school system it is discovered that the premier instructional institutions are disproportionately located in areas of high wealth and low racial integration.
  These schools are well guarded behind flying buttresses of  district lines procured by the so called relic of gerrymandering. The institutions are well preserved behind guises of zoning laws,clever metaphors for socioeconomic discrimination supplemented with vulgar poetic undertones of  racial privilege and black disenfranchisement.

My manifesto is born as such the solution is simple:

  • Redistribution of wealth spent on school improvement with the majority of money to the eastside schools
  • High performing teachers cycled out to eastside schools
  • A funding of intimate scholarly inclined programs in eastside schools
  • An absolute restructuring of the agendas and educational plans of eastside elementary schools.
With a piano you can play music well using only white keys but true harmony comes from using the black keys as well.

Truthfully yours,

From the heart of Local35,
-Zyzz Yusuf

.cinema 07JAN14