Downtown Travels Mixtape Vol. 5

What to say of Volume 5? 2015. It was an interesting year. It was the age of innocence before the awakening. It was a year where one thought they knew everything. Where everything was planned out so there was more time to play. It was the freedom before the crash landing. This mixtape is a reflection of that. Enjoy.


  1. Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles

First of all, who doesn’t love the Beatles? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Thought so. Secondly, I find this a great way to introduce a playlist as it brings some hope that spring will bring warmth and sunshine.

2. Falling Into Space – Don Dilego

Ok, I discovered this years before 2015. This song is perfect though because of it’s catchy lyrics and beat. Darling you won’t ever see / the coming of your destiny / while you are always staring at the ground. True that Don.

3. Day Wave – Drag

This came out around April 2015 with their album Headcase. The lyrics aren’t the most happy, but the overall feeling is tranquil. I think of the drive through the hills of 360 in the early morning hours of 7 AM going to school, just when the sun is coming up. The skies are a mixture of lavender and a light orange with hints of blue taking over. The bluebonnets take over the grassy field medians like mini ponds. It’s a nice escape if you ever need one.

4. When The Night – St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s debut album came out in 2013. Think Johannesburg meets England meets New York. It’s a blend of synth pop and indie pop. It makes you dance despite it’s a song about questioning. The doubts go away but is it enough? Considering 2015 was in the middle of my college days, it’s a great song to portray the thoughts that raced through my mind as I tried to figure out what to do with my life.

5. Every Night – Walker Lukens

As is customary of every DT Mixtape, ATX is represented. This time around, I’ve chosen Walker Lukens. He, according to Free Press Houston in 2016, is considered “one of the best songwriters in Texas”. This track was released in 2015, with the help of Spoon drummer Jim Eno and Lukens’ side band, The Side Arms.

6. Uptown Girl – Billy Joel

Ah Billy Joel. I went through a mini Uptown Girls phase in 2015. Who doesn’t love young Dakota Fanning? And the fact her sister Ella is rocking the movie world, it’s fun to go back and see the early days of the Fanning family. And I mean, come on, it’s Billy Joel.

7. Queen of Peace – Florence + The Machine

Queen of Peace is the third single that was released for Florence + The Machine’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The song gives the analogy of Florence’s relationship to a royal medieval battle. She is the Queen trying to keep the peace in her relationship to the King, or lover. But, the King doesn’t necessarily do the same, causing her to run to her escape, possibly referencing the Americas. It’s a beautiful song and is wonderful when listened to live.

8. Born Again Teen – Lucius

“Born Again Teen” is the 9th track on Lucius’ Good Grief album. The single was released at the tail end of 2015, in the beginning of December. It’s catchy, it’s fun, it makes you feel young and invincible. I like to call this the semi-climax before the fall into the abyss. (Also, it’s cool to compare this album to 2013 debut album, Wildewoman, as well as their latest album, Nudes)

9. Dancing on Glass – St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s “Dancing on Glass” makes the perfect ending for a playlist like this, which is why they appear for a second time on this mixtape. It’s a nice paradox to the chill nostalgic vibes of “Here Comes the Sun. While “Hear Comes the Sun” is seen as more optimistic and certainly played for the more optimistic moments in TV/cinema, “Dancing on Glass” is about moving towards and desiring things that aren’t the most beneficial to us. It’s rhythms and beat makes it hard to not dance, even with the darker undertone of its lyrics. Though this song didn’t come out until 2016, it is a nice song to foreshadow the year after 2015: 2016.






Stephen Hawking

And another one bites the dust. Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

Dr. Hawking was a Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who pondered on and explored the cosmos. In 1988, he wrote A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. He was also the basis of academy-award winning film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne.

ASL. Before discussing his achievements in the world of science, I need to point out the most fascinating thing about Dr. Hawking is his strength. Dr. Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, back in the early 1960s. ASL is a un-curable disease that breaks down neurons to the point of minimal muscle functionality. For Hawking, the disease reduced his movement to the point where he could only flex his finger and voluntary eye movement. His mental strength, fortunately, was left untouched. He was given only a few years to live. He lived for more than fifty years.

The science. Dr. Hawking’s work can be quite intimidating if you are not a science nerd. I, for one, happily admit slight defeat in understanding science, but I happily admit matters pertaining to the universe fascinate me. I will do my best to provide brief explanations on Dr. Hawking’s work.

Post-education life began around the mid-late 1960s. He worked with Roger Penrose to expand the concepts of singularity theorem, which Hawking first introduced in his doctoral thesis. Their paper received second prize in the 1968 Gravity Research Foundation competition. Failing to accept the silver, the duo published a proof in 1970 stating if the universe were to obey Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity plus Alexander Friedmann’s models of physical cosmology, the universe would have originated from a singularity. That’ll show him.

In 1973, Dr. Hawking focused his attention on quantum theory, hoping to connect it with black holes. This came after a visit to Moscow to discuss these matters with some scientists, one of them being Alexei Starobinsky, whose work on black hole radiation was a precursor to Hawking radiation. Calculating it out, Dr. Hawking found that black holes fizzle out, seeping out radiation particles before finally exploding and disappearing. How did he figure this out? He was annoyed by the fact the calculation contradicted his second law of black hole dynamics.

Later in life, Dr. Hawking set out to figure out the massive questions of the universe, such as a singular nature to the universe and what exactly the fate of our universe would be.

The Book. A big believer in universal understanding of science, Dr. Hawking published A Brief History of Time in 1988 for the nonscientific folks (i.e. me). This book provides a simplified insight on the origin, structure, and fate of our universe. In 20 years, it sold more than 10 million copies. By 2001, it was translated into 35 languages.

Fun Facts. My mind is still boggling while trying to comprehend the concepts, equations and theories Dr. Hawking tried to work through in his career. Yes, this is counterproductive to his wish that everyone would know what’s going on in the universe. So, let’s stick to the fun facts.

  1. Dr. Hawking wanted the formula for Hawking Radiation engraved on his tombstone.
  2. In 2015, Dr. Hawking applied to trademark his name. Not sure if that ever got accepted.
  3. Dr. Hawking has been to every continent.
  4. Dr. Hawking would joking apologize for sounding American because of his synthesizer that he uses to speak.
  5. Hawking radiation led scientists on a 30-year controversy to figure out what exactly happened to things after they were sucked into a black hole.
  6. One of the only awards he hasn’t won is the Nobel Prize, but, according to him, that’s because Nobel Prizes are given to theories that can be observed and it is “very, very difficult to observe the things” he has theorized. You can read more about this in Dennis Overbye’s NYT article “Stephen Hawking Dies a 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos“.

Stephen Hawking may you rest in peace. Say hi to Albert Einstein and Madame Curie for me please.

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking at NASA’s StarChild Learning Center. Photo from Wikipedia

Hubert de Givenchy

Walking back from the break room to get my afternoon snack, my phone lit up with news notifications. Hubert de Givenchy, gentle giant and fashion icon, has died at the age of 91. Considering I had just finished reading two books on twentieth century fashion, my heart sunk an extra 5 levels of hurt. If you haven’t heard of Count Givenchy, bless your soul for living such a deprived life (yes, he is a Count). Givenchy is responsible for dressing the likes of Jackie O., Marlene Dietrich, Babe Paley, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn.


Hubert de Givenchy. Photo from

The Inspiration. Givenchy was born on February 21, 1927 with the name Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy to father Lucien Taffin de Givenchy – the Marquis of Givenchy whose family was ennobled in the 1700s – and mother Béatrice Badin – whose came from a family of well-connected artisans. In 1930, Lucien died of influenza, leaving Hubert and his brother to the care of Béatrice and his maternal grandparents. According to Givenchy myth, Givenchy decided he wanted to become a dressmaker at the age of 10. His family went to a Parisian fair where hot designers like Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli displayed their designs. He told his mother he was to become a dressmaker. Her mother accepted.

Early Career. Givenchy’s early career can be traced as far back as 1945 when he designed for Jacques Fath, a fashion designer part of the Trifecta of “postwar haute couture”. Later in the decade, he worked with Robert Piguet, Lucien Lelong, Pierre Balmain, and Christian Dior, borderline-New Look. Starting in 1947, Givenchy worked under Elsa Schiaparelli (or “that Italian” as Coco Chanel would say), until 1951 to open up his own fashion house. In 1952, at the age of 25, Hubert de Givenchy opened up the House of Givenchy. History was to be made.

Hubert and Audrey. Fashion. Charlie Brown noises are what some of you are hearing. That’s okay. Everyone has their own interests and opinions. I do believe what you fail to realize is the impact Givenchy and his counterparts has made on the world beyond just fashion.

For example, Audrey Hepburn. She wasn’t known as a style icon pre-Givenchy. In Sam Wasson’s Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, Audrey, who was shooting Sabrina in 1953, was assigned to ditch her low-key look for a more chic style. She visited Givenchy, who only gave the time of day because he thought Katherine (“the other Hepburn”) had come to visit. With some begging and the good ol’ Audrey charm, the two became fast friends and the rest is history. Givenchy styled Hepburn in films such as Charade, Love in the Afternoon, Funny Face, and, of course, Breakfast at Tiffany’s with the famous Little Black Dress (side note: in Chanel fashion, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel came up with the concept of LBD and popularized it. Givenchy reinvented it, making it cool again).

Don’t think it was a one-sided friendship. Aside from putting Givenchy’s name out there through movies (and diminishing Edith Head’s power in the process), Audrey was the face of Givenchy’s first perfume collection – L’Interdit and Le de Givenchy – which he designed for exclusively for her. This was the first time a celebrity was seen on a perfume advertising campaign (you can thank them for the 60 seconds of Kristen Stewart and Julia Roberts perfume ads).

Vogue Paris has provided a lovely article on Givenchy and Hepburn’s friendship in 25 photos. You can check it out here.

The Idol. Around this time, 1950s/1960s, Givenchy met The One: Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. The two were peas in a pod for more than a decade. Because of Balenciaga, Givenchy went from simply girly to lavish romantic with, as Eric Wilson puts it in his NYT article “Hubert de Givenchy Dies at 91; Fashion Pillar of Romantic Elegance“, “a strict reverence to construction.”



The Battle of Versailles. In the early 1970s, French and American designers decided to put on a “battle of the bands”-esque show for the restoration of Versailles Palace. Think Givenchy and Dior vs. Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein. This battle was Givenchy’s shining moment. He blew the minds of the traditional societal sticklers when he brought out African-American models. Not just one, not just two, but almost exclusively all his models, seven of which are well-known. This was a radical rebellion, especially for a French haute couture house. Why, this is still somewhat rebellious by today’s standards.

You can read more about Givenchy’s historical fashion moment in Pamela Keogh’s Vanity Fair article “How Hubert de Givenchy Brought Diversity to the Runway

Later in Life. The House of Givenchy was split between the perfume line and the fashion house. The fashion house was sold to the LVMH conglomerate in 1988. Givenchy worked for as a designer for the Givenchy until 1995. From then until his death, he spent time collecting art pieces and being an antiques expert for Christie’s, the Louvre, and Versailles. For several years, he managed the World Monuments Fund. He was a founding chairman for the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation. Givenchy died in his sleep, confirmed by longtime partner, Philippe Venet.


Givenchy, you were an icon. You looked into the future and didn’t fear it, but embraced it. You were more than a fashion designer. You were an innovator. Rest in peace with the rest of the innovators and the lovely Ms. Hepburn.

March 8, 2018 – #InternationalWomensDay

Today is International Women’s Day. I take this day with some form of bittersweetness, because, let’s face it, we as a society should be at a point in evolution where the genders are equal – men, women and everything in between. However, I am not the ruler of the world (yet), and definitely not the authorized signer of the world’s rules (yet). That being said, we shall celebrate the women of the world. I found this quote from Malala circulating online and thought it fun to share:


January 5, 2017

It’s a very dangerous state. You are inclined to recklessness and kind of tune out the rest of your life and everything that’s been important to you. It’s actually not all that pleasurable. I don’t know who the hell wants to get in a situation where you can’t bear an hour without somebody’s company.

-Colin Firth

Part of me has to agree, but there’s also that part of me that finds peace in that state of not wanting to bear an hour without somebody’s company. Is that weird? Someone tell me that’s weird. Actually don’t.

December 17, 2017

To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?

-Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

I understand it’s much harder. I also understand the payoff in the end is much more worth it.

November 6, 2017

Way, way back in the day, like in the 1990s, if you wanted to tell everyone you ate waffles for breakfast, you couldn’t just go on the Internet and tweet it out. There was only one way to do it. You had to go outside and scream at the top of your lungs, ‘I ate waffles for breakfast!’ That’s why so many people ended up in institutions. They seemed crazy, but when you think about it, they were just ahead of their time.

-Ellen DeGeneres