Confessions From A Former 'American Idol' Contestant

Confessions From A Former 'American Idol' Contestant

The great, the good, the bad, and the ugly
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My dream had always been to be on "American Idol" and become a successful singer and actor. I used to line up water jugs in the garage to make an outline for a stage while my neighborhood friends and I took turns being judges and contestants. Doodling exceeded the boundaries of shapes and flowers and became five pieces of paper with twenty faces hand drawn on each side, each having a number and playing a contestant in my own fantasy "American Idol" competition on paper. One school night out of the entire year would always be dedicated to staying up late just to see which Idol hopeful would take the crown followed by celebration.

It wasn't until I experienced being a semi-finalist on the show and achieving my childhood goal that I realized many things were as what they seemed yet, simultaneously, not.

1. The Great: Pursuing My Dreams

My memories of auditioning still warm my heart. Before I made the first move, I had been treated in Miami Children's Hospital for anorexia; I was about twenty pounds underweight and on the verge of collapsing. About three weeks following my discharge, my family and I took a flight to New Orleans where we all were embracing the energy of this amazing experience. My older sister at the time had a fractured foot so she signed up to audition just to help get me to the front of the line, and that is something I am forever grateful for. Being the stereotypical Jewish mother she is, my mom would constantly give me honey packets she stole from the breakfast buffets at the hotel to ensure my throat is nice and smooth. Late nights became endless nights with my Dad as he would stay up the extra hour to help me pick out the best song I could sing while my siblings were my backbone of support.

2. The Good: Exposing My Traumas

Once final taping had commenced, I had producers come to my house in Florida and follow me around school to build a story that could capture America. When they asked me about myself, the first thing that came to my mind was to share about my abusive upbringing in an environment of pariahs as classmates. This was good, but also neutral because looking back, I know I could have shared something much less sugar-coated that would get an even deeper message across. All the degrading names that I had been called were translated into family-friendly insults like "dork" and "geek"; the deeper truth would have been too much for anyone to digest. I did not triumph and overcome my past because I was and still am to this date insecure about many things. However, even the slightest bit of a sugar-coated story had inspired many people so that, to me, is good enough.

3. The Bad: Devious Contestants

As the process progressed and Hollywood week came around, I got to know almost all of my fellow contestants on many levels. I recall becoming infatuated with a guy whose name I won't mention, and he quickly became the predator preying on my weakness for him. Ultimately, he was all I thought about and the only one I wanted to impress and gain approval from. As soon as that became obvious, he played with my head and I nearly psyched myself out of my own dream at the hands of manipulation. It was my Dad who actually snapped me out of it with a dosage of his brutal honesty, and thankfully, I moved forward.

Yet, it was not even that one isolated incident in which my naivety overpowered my intelligence. Another fellow contestant and a friend at the time had asked me why I am gay, and then after told me I don't have to be gay, and what she was implying was a popular sentiment in our group. Barring her ignorance, the biggest turn off had been seeing fellow contestants forget where they had come from. All of a sudden, the waitress who messed up an order for dinner had become the servant for the same contestant who had been in her shoes not even half a year before being on the show.

4. The Ugly: A Rude Awakening

Although the subtitle will make my point seem like the ugly is a bad thing, there is beauty to it as well. My rude awakening was realizing that being on a television show was not enough to help me achieve my ultimate goal of becoming an artist and an actor. As a child, you want to be a part of a legendary singing competition with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful artist. After having been on Idol, making it to the top 24, and then, once again, coming back down to Earth, I had realized that it was a beautiful yet bitter facade. The beauty was and is in the experience that I had been beyond blessed with. Bitterness lays in the fact that what I perceived as a child was a distorted version of reality just as the tooth fairy is a myth and Santa does not exist. These beliefs help you stay motivated for the end game, and that motivation will take you further than anything in life.

Cover Image Credit: Brett Loewenstern

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80 Nicki Minaj Lyrics Perfect For Instagram Captions

"Yo, you seen my last pic, go double-tap that for me."
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Nicki Minaj lets the world know about her amazing Instagram skills in Beyonce's "Flawless," when she raps "Instagram another flawless pic." Do you have a #Flawless Instagram picture but need a clever caption to go with it? The Queen of Rap has plenty of Insta-worthy song lyrics.

*(Some lyrics have been edited to keep this article "PG". Feel free to look up the real Nicki Minaj lyrics if you hate the radio edit.)


When you want to diss a hater:

    1. "You couldn't get a fan if it was hangin' from the ceilin."
    2. "I'm throwing shade like it's sunny."
    3. "I'm in my own lane, you ain't in my category."
    4. "These (girls) couldn’t test me even if their name was Pop Quiz."
    5. "Yo, people will love you and support you when it's beneficial. I'ma forgive, I won't forget, but I'ma dead the issue."
    6. "Not that I don't got good vision, but I don't see competition."
    7. "I’m Angelina, you Jennifer. Come on (girl), you see where Brad at."
    8. "I look like "yes" and you look like "no"."
    9. "But if you're ugly it's a no text zone."
    10. "If you are my rival, then that means you're suicidal."
    11. "Shout out to my haters, Sorry that you couldn't faze me."
    12. "Trash talk to 'em then I put 'em in a Hefty."
    13. "Like I mean I don't even know why you girls bother at this point. Like give up, it's me, I win, you lose."
    14. "All these haters mad because I'm so established."
    15. "Competition? why yes I would love some."

















When you want to tell people how awesome you are:

    16. "If I'm fake I ain't notice, cause my money ain't."
    17. "You can hate me, but why knock my hustle? I'ma be the queen, no matter how they shuffle."
    18. "Let me make this clear, I’m not difficult, I’m just ’bout my business."
    19. "I'm feelin' myself."
    20. "Excuse me honey, but nobody's in my lane."
    21. "Put me on a dollar cause I'm who they trust in."
    22. "I don’t say “Hi”, I say “Keys to the Benz.”"
    23. "I've been hot since flip phones" "Running this game for 5 years. Guess that's why my feet hurt."
    24. "Hotter than a middle eastern climate."
    25. "My money’s so tall that my Barbies gotta climb it."
    26. "No, I'm not lucky, I'm blessed, yes."
    27."I ain't gotta compete with a single soul."
    28. "'X' in the box, cause ain't nobody checking me."
    29."Excuse me, I'm sorry, I'm really such a lady."
    30. "Honestly I gotta stay as fly as I can be."














When you're hanging with your clique:

    31. "Cherish these nights, cherish these people. Life is a movie, but there will never be a sequel."
    32. "I’m with some hood girls lookin’ back at it."
    33. "We dope girls, we flawless. We the poster girls for all this."
    34. "Pretty gang, always keep them (boys) on geek."
    35. "The night is still young, and so are we!"
    36. "If you ain’t on the team, you playin’ for team D, ’Cause we A-listers, we paid sisters."
    37. "Pretty (girls) only could get in my posse."
    38. "Cause we the mean girls, y-yes we so fetch."
    39. "We fresh to death, down to the shoes."
    40. "Ain't at no wedding but all my girls cake tops."
    41. "Got a whole bunch of pretty gang in my clique."
    42. "Clap for the heavyweight champ, me, But I couldn't do it all alone, WE."
    43. "Put your drinks up, It's a celebration every time we link up."
    44. "I'm with some flawless (girls) because they be mobbin' pretty."


















When you're hanging with your significant other:

    45. "He tryna kick it like a ninja."
    46. "He could tell that I was wifey material."
    47. "Ayo, I just wanna be your first go to."
    48. "You got spark, you, you got spunk. You, you got something all the girls want."
    49. Find me in the dark, I'll be in the stars, Find me in your heart, I'm in need of your love."
    50. "They holler at me, but it's you, you."
    51. "I'm not living right, I’m not living if you’re not by my side."
    52. "I just wanna be somebody that can add to, your wife, be a friend, be a teacher and a fan, too."
    53. "I just wanna be your favorite."
    54. "He was the realest, I was the baddest, we was the illest."
    55. "I know you can save me and make me feel alive."
    56. "Yes I'll be your girl, forever your lady, You ain't ever gotta worry, I'm down for you baby."
    57. "Baby you my everything, You all I ever wanted."

















When you're single and loving it:

    58. "You could be the king, but watch the queen conquer!"
    59. "Thats why I'm crowned queen, and I ain't looking for the prom king."
    60. "I like independent, like July 4th."
    61. "I ain't never need a man, to take care of me."
    62. "He be like, "Yo, you so legendary", But he can tell just by my face he ain't getting any."
    63. "I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin."
    64. "I don't even brake when I'm backing up, I'll swerve on a (boy) if he acting up."
    65. "So many boys in here where do I begin?"











When you're just living life:

    66. "I never worry, life is a journey. I just wanna enjoy the ride."
    67. "Tonight is the night that I'ma get twisted."
    68. "I’mma keep it movin', be classy and graceful."
    69. "So make sure the stars is what you aim for, make mistakes though."
    70. "And we gon' hangover the next day. But we will remember this day."
    71. "My only motto in my life is don't lose."
    72. "Take me, or leave me, I'll never be perfect. Believe me, I'm worth it."
    73. "I believe that life is a prize, but to live doesn't mean you're alive."
    74. "I wish that I could have this moment for life."
    75. "If I scream, if I cry, It's only 'cause I feel alive."
    76. "I can't believe it, it's so amazing. This club is heating, this party's blazing.""
    77. "It's so amazing, I figured out this world is ours for the taking."
    78. "I am not a girl that can ever be defined."
    79. "I got next, I'm gonna shine."
    80. "This is my moment I just feel so alive."















Cover Image Credit: Nicki Minaj

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'Treme': Defying Hurricane Katrina's Disaster Narrative

As an outsider to New Orleans, it was a privilege to step into the world of these New Orleans residents after Katrina

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"Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, outsiders will have two versions of the Katrina experience. One version will be the images they recall from news coverage of the aftermath. The other will be the intimate portrayal of the determination of New Orleans residents to rebuild and recover their lives." - the blurb of "HBO's Treme and Post-Katrina Catharsis: The Mediated Rebirth of New Orleans"

I remember late in 2005, turning the channel to CNN and seeing image after image of Hurricane Katrina's devastation on New Orleans. I remember seeing the levees break, the houses flood, the crowding of the Superdome, and I remember the first thing 8-year-old me thought at the time was "thank God I'm not there. Thank God it's not me." All I knew was the disaster and the devastation, and when news channels like CNN stopped covering New Orleans after the storm, that's all I knew

"The Wire," "Treme's" predecessor, was the best show of all time because it taught me empathy and compassion. "Treme" is a great show, too, because it defied that disaster narrative and showed me the grit of some New Orleans residents. "Treme" is still the slowest show I have ever watched. To stick with it through the end could sometimes feel like watching a Ken Burns history documentary, but that is the nature of the show: it required a whole lot of patience.

Newsday's Verne Gay's review of the show titled it "'Treme' final season premiere review: Still good, still not for everyone," and that headline rings true as an umbrella for the show. No one I have talked to has heard of the show, not one person has referenced it in conversation - in fact, I only started watching it because David Simon, the creator of "The Wire," was its writer.

Nevertheless, I finished "Treme" with mixed feelings. I think I will need to watch it again, when I'm older and more fully able to appreciate the show, and maybe after I actually visit New Orleans. According to Akiva Gottlieb of The Nation, "David Simon [in "The Wire"]...has unforgettably cataloged all the reasons to quit; now he wants to know why the struggle could be worthwhile." While it is a great review that is worth reading, to keep "Treme" in the shadow of its predecessor to stop from reducing the show. It's difficult when the likes of Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters, prominent main characters in "The Wire," were also main characters in "Treme," but for its own sake, "Treme" should be interpreted as its own show with its own unique structure.

One thing that struck out to me about "Treme," that will most likely always strike out to me, is the resilience of its characters. We follow the same group of people throughout four seasons, people from all walks of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Initially, I thought Simon was going to depict LaDonna Williams, the owner of a local bar, or Antoine Batiste, a local trombonist, as victims of the disaster, and use the show as a just that: a disaster narrative, with an indictment on the institutions that failed the victims of Katrina (much like "The Wire").

But it wasn't. These characters had a tremendous amount of grit, will, and a refusal to give up despite the circumstances of Katrina's aftermath. Look no further than Albert Lambreaux, leader of a Mardi Gras Indian tribe named Guardians of the Flame, whose motto, "won't bow, don't know how," defines his character throughout the series. In one instance, "Big Chief" Lambreaux flat out denies chemotherapy for lymphoma to suit up for the next Mardi Gras. The types of people on the show range from DJs, developers, civil rights attorneys, police lieutenants, and violinists, but all of the mare united by this grit. Above all, all of them are united by their loyalty to New Orleans, not despite its dysfunction after Katrina, but perhaps because of it. Their names are Davis McAlary, Nelson Hidalgo, Toni Bernette, Terry Colson, and Annie Talarico, respectively.

Near the end of the series, Terry, the police lieutenant is visiting his estranged ex-wife and sons, and has a conversation at the dinner table where he asks why do people have to be defined by their profession. He isn't Terry the cop: he is just a guy named Terry. And each character is not defined by their profession or their circumstances after the storm. They are defined by their names, personas, and how they reacted in the face of adversity, and each character had unique ways of doing that.

In fact, one character even resembles perceptions of David Simon himself: Davis McAlary. Pardon the language, but McAlary, for a good portion of the series, is an annoying piece of shit: a rich, privileged white man who attempts to publicize and use New Orleans's suffering to promote his own career as a musician and DJ. But despite his vanity, McAlary is redeeming in the way he treats the people around him and the people he works with respect - and he is no longer DJ Davis, but instead just Davis, a person I feel is a friend.

And what struck out to me was how much I liked not only Davis, LaDonna, and Terry by the end, but how much I liked every character and how they carried on. For me, it was a privilege to share the journeys of Antoine and Sonny as they changed their lives over the course of several years. It was a privilege to step into Janette's various kitchens and see the life of a woman striving to build her own restaurant. It was a privilege to step into Toni's attempt to bring justice to the NOPD. It was a privilege to step into the world of Delmond as he tried to balance the terminal cancer of his father and his career as a prominent trumpeter.

As an outsider to New Orleans, it was a privilege to step into the world of these New Orleans residents after Katrina, and experience this first hand:

"Treme offers outsiders an inside look into why New Orleanians refused to abandon a place that many questioned should not be rebuilt after the levees failed."

Cover Image Credit:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Treme_(5125861363).jpg

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