Camiesha Cassanova, A Wilder Fire

I met Camiesha in an Uber pool in Manhattan. I got into the car and was immediately struck by her beauty. I told her so. “Are you a model?” I asked. She said, “No, but I want to be.” We exchanged numbers and two months later she agreed to meet me in Rockaway on the last perfect summer day in September. We met at Playland, and talked for maybe 15 minutes before walking to the beach. And we just started shooting. Cameisha knew exactly what to do, how to look, how to move, she’s so natural in front of the camera so that the shoot itself is like poetry. It just flows and the images are reflective of her love of modeling and my bliss behind the camera.

 

Growing up in Jamaica, Camiesha started modeling in competition and runway shows at 7 years old. Six years later, she came to New York City to attend school but was sent to meet some family, she is one of 15 siblings, in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Throughout high school, she could not quell her dream of modeling. Camiesha discovered that she had a grandmother living in New York, and she knew that to launch a modeling career, she needed to be there.  “I always had the burning desire to live in NYC and to follow that dream,” she explained. “However, it was not a ‘safe’ profession, as people in my family would say.” After her 18th birthday, she left for New York without telling anyone where she was going.

“I read a lot of magazines and self help books as I had no mentors, or anyone who believed in a dream only I felt and only I could see. Meditation became a big part in my life after all the failures I’ve endured during my journey. Journaling is an escape for me; it spills my mind out on papers that I can read over to relearn myself.” – Camiesha Cassanova

 

 

I love Rockaway Beach and was elated when Camiesha agreed to meet me there. I was also elated when the weather decided to cooperate, since the forecast had predicted showers. There’s a joy when you’re collaborating with someone to make something beautiful, but it’s even more exciting when that person is a complete stranger. We saw a motorcycle, and we were like, Oh it would be so great if  we could ask the owner if we could use his motorcycle in a couple of pics. And then that guy appeared. Cameisha would invite who ever she could into the photos. When we were by the swings, she summoned over these two little girls, “Can I push you on the swings?” “Don’t scratch me!” said one of the little girls. Bratty Irish! In front of Saint Rose of Lima, where my mom was baptized, she reached out to take photos with a nervous chihauhau. Princess was not accommodating. So we had this great playing going on, but as soon as the distraction was over, Camiesha popped right back into to glamour mode.

 

“When I first came to the USA, I was home sick, culture-shocked, and scared. I missed my little island, my comfort zone. That is where I felt I can do anything,” said Camiesha. “Coming here made me feel so small. I realize now at the age of 22 that fear and doubt is what prevented from being that fierce 7 year old that I once was. Now I’m evolving into something more, a wilder fire, to finally become the model I always was, and wanted to be.”

Follow Camiesha on Instagram @theresamoraltothestory.

All Rights Reserved, Tracey Noelle Luz
Camiesha Cassanova, Rockaway Beach, September 18, 2016

 

 

 

 

Karina Rykman, Bass and Beyond

I met Karina in 2011 when she accompanied Alex Skolnick on bass for an “UnBlock the Rock” fundraiser in Jersey City. She wasn’t even 21 yet, we had to ask for permission from the bar to let her in. Five years later, she’s touring with Marco Benevento, filling in for usual bassist Dave Dreiwitz when he’s on tour with Ween.
Rykman started playing guitar at 13, adding the bass soon after. In 8th grade, she joined her first band, “False Arrest” started by her friend Bobby just weeks after she got her first electric guitar. “I told him I only knew how to play power chords – he said that was all I needed to know.”
A skilled bass player for Shitkill until 2015, and the current guitar player for  Youth Posse, Karina learned by playing with accomplished musicians or playing along to records. Her early influences include Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, but as she grew up, her tastes in music expanded greatly. “I listened to tons of punk and metal and funk and hip hop, and then got really deep into Phish and the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead in early high school. Now I’m sort of an amalgam of everything – I love the Talking Heads and I love Funkadelic, but I also pledge allegiance to the Beastie Boys and Slayer and so far beyond.”
I caught up with Rykman in her NYC apartment, in early September. An unexpected yet perfect mix of rock and roll prodigy and toy buddha, Karina exudes joy and humility. Her rhythm is zen, and her future is bright, illuminating the path to musical bliss.

Rockaway Beach, Hurricane Hermine

Maybe it’s because my mother was born there or that it has such a huge Irish history, but I feel at home at Rockaway Beach. To me it’s the perfect mix of a rooted, working class community and surfers. Of old world class and grit with just enough places to get a good cup of coffee or a tasty beer. I love Rockaway. You have to pay to get on the beaches in Jersey, it acts as segregation against folks who don’t have a lot of income. But in Rockaway everyone is welcome.

I planned on going to the beach on September 5th. I knew even though it was shut down because of Hurricane Hermine, there would be surfers. The park patrol kept threatening everyone with $250 tickets but by early evening, they were outnumbered 20 to one and the waters were overrun with surfers. I brought my bikini and my camera just in case. Here’s my walk from 65th street up to 98th.