Elevate Difference

Reviews by Tina Vasquez

Tina Vasquez

Tina Vasquez is a freelance writer and editor from the Los Angeles area. She is passionate about women’s rights and gay rights and is obsessed with an odd array of random things like dive bars, thrift store cardigans, perfume, farmers markets, composition books, and the fall season. She is a regular contributor to The Glass Hammer, Bound Magazine, and the official sustainability blogger at Home Anatomy, an interior design site set to launch in the fall of 2010. When not writing/editing all night and into the morning, she enjoys cooking from scratch, fishing with her boyfriend, reading in bed, and drinking margaritas and attending cultural outings with The Queer Chocolatiers, a bizarre social club she co-founded with her best friend/gay husband.

Modern Day Asian Sex Slavery: The Musical (2/18/11)

Each year CSULB has Sex Positive Week, presented by various feminist and queer student groups. Mariko Passion, activist, artist, and out and proud sex worker, kicked off the week of festivities with her one-woman show, Modern Day Asian Sex Slavery: The Musical. Passion is a champion of what she refers to as the Whore Revolution, a phrase coined by fellow activist Emi Koyama.

Charles Bukowski: Poet on the Edge

The Huntington Library is a sprawling estate—part research library, museum, and botanical garden, all of which are tucked away in the uber-rich city of San Marino, CA. It's the kind of city that would have rejected ol’ Charles Bukowski—or Hank Chinaski, as he’s known in his many books and poems. So, this blindingly bright, beautiful library seemed an odd location for a retrospective of Bukowski’s work, but the two rooms that housed his life story were magic. I try not to be ashamed to admit that Bukowski is my favorite writer.

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Growing up, I latched on to the writers of the Beat Generation for dear life. I loved them all, from the poets and women writers who lived in their shadows, to the heavy hitters like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and of course, William S. Burroughs. Truth be told, Burroughs was always the least accessible to me growing up. Whereas I identified with Ginsberg’s spirituality and Kerouac’s bruised sensitivity, Burroughs just seemed downright bizarre.


Before we jump into this it’s important to make something clear: Swanlights is both the title of Antony and the Johnsons’ latest album and a collection of Antony Hegarty’s artwork. Sure, all transgender musical geniuses shouldn’t be lumped together, but I like to think of Hegarty as a more psychically wounded, heartbroken, and unbedazzled Hedwig.

The Woman with the Bouquet

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt was been described as one of Europe’s most beloved authors and just a few pages into the first of the five short stories that comprise The Woman with the Bouquet, I began to seriously doubt that claim. Initially, “The Dreamer from Ostend” seemed heavy-handed and awkward in its formality, so much in fact that I found it difficult to focus on the story. However, I trudged forward, and I’m happy that I did.

Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

Everything good these days seems to be coming out of Brooklyn, so I wasn’t surprised to find that Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, authors of Baked Explorations, have a tremendously successful bakery in Brooklyn that is garnering national attention—not to mention a whole lot of love for from the food-centric blogosphere.

Max's Kansas City: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll

The iconic New York club Max’s Kansas City was the art world equivalent of the equally iconic CBGB; it was where all of the beautiful freaks and geeks; aspiring, wannabe, and legitimate artists congregated to see and be seen. Editor Steven Kash has done a magnificent job of compiling photographs that features all of the glitz and grime, genius and depravity that was the New York art scene of the 1970s.

She's Gone Country

When I received Jane Porter’s second novel, I’d been sick in bed for nearly two weeks. Though the book helped pass the time, it did little to hold my interest. From this reviewer’s perspective, a true test of a novel’s worth can be answered with one simple question: Would I buy this book?

The Night Bookmobile

I am new to the world of graphic novels and so is The Night Bookmobile’s author Audrey Niffenegger, bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife. According to the author, the book was inspired by a short H.G. Wells story and a dream she had as a teenager. In just thirty-three pages, Niffenegger manages to intrigue and captivate with the story of Alexandra, a young woman who gets into a fight with her live-in boyfriend and begins wandering the neighborhood in the dead of night hoping to blow off some steam. That’s when she comes across The Night Bookmobile, a mobile library run by Mr. Openshaw.

Cho Dependent Tour (9/23/2010)

Margaret Cho's hour-long set at The Grove began with a story about her recent experiences as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars that parlayed into a story about using a vocal coach from American Idol while touring in support of her newly released album Cho Dependent. Apparently her vocal coach made her drink shots of olive oil when she developed a sore throat, and as a result, Cho suffered from uncontrollable flatulence and diarrhea. This was a reoccurring theme of the night (I actually wasn’t aware Cho had such a penchant for poop jokes), and while I spent half of Cho’s act loving her intensely and laughing out loud, the other half I found myself wondering if she’d lost her edge.

FYF Fest/Big Freedia (9/6/2010)

In 2008 I attended what was then known as Fuck Yeah Fest and despite confusing and complicated scheduling, it was obvious that the festival’s mastermind, a very young Sean Carlson, was on to something special. Fast-forward two years and the fest has a new name (FYF Fest), a more centralized location (Los Angeles State Historic Park), and a killer lineup (The Mountain Goats, The Rapture, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, among thirty-four others).

The United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State

I’m the girl who never goes to a party empty-handed. I come bearing brownies, fudge, or cake balls for all of the guests. And every week I make my seventy-eight-year-old great uncle something decadent, and usually chocolate. He has an astounding sweet tooth, despite not having a single tooth left in his head. (Maybe it’s from all the sweets?) But, truth be told, I really dislike baking. It’s too scientific, too laborious, and feels like a chore. I much prefer the pinch-of-this, dash-of-that approach I take to cooking.

Cho Dependent

To call comedienne Margaret Cho’s latest endeavor, Cho Dependent, a comedy album seems like a disservice. Though songs like “Calling in Stoned” (featuring the ever-stoned Tommy Chong), “Your Dick,” and “Eat Shit and Die” do little for my argument, Cho Dependent is completely unlike her six previous comedy albums. This, my friends, is Cho’s foray into the music world, and a damn fine one at that.

The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage

The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage, written by Iran native Roxana Shirazi, was a complete and utter waste of my time. The book was championed by writers Neil Strauss and Anthony Bozza, who met up with Shirazi one faithful day and immediately became enthralled by her tails of debauchery with bad up and coming rock ‘n’ roll bands, as well as some oldies, but not so goodies like Guns N’ Roses.

Hungry Town: A Culinary History of New Orleans, the City Where Food Is Almost Everything

I’ve had a long and passionate love affair with New Orleans, although I’ve never been there. In fifth grade, I did my state report on Louisiana, and as a bored teenager in a Los Angeles suburb where everything was bright, shiny, and new, I’d dream of spending my days in the historic French Quarter, hanging out in smoky jazz bars and eating poor boy sandwiches at cramped lunch counters.

Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter

Finally, a cookbook with some pizazz! Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter was written by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, food lovers, life partners, and exactly the kind of people who could breathe life into the sometimes stale world of food writing.

The Vegetarian Option

In the past, Simon Hopkinson has been referred to as the best cook in Britain who nobody in the States has heard of, but I’m hoping this will soon change. After devouring The Vegetarian Option, I know the chef has a lot to offer when it comes to beautiful, simple food.

Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas, and Antojitos

I have an exciting announcement to make: I’ve never enjoyed a cookbook as thoroughly as I have Deborah Schneider’s Amor y Tacos. I grew up eating Mexican food nearly every day, and as an adult, I still make homemade Mexican food the way my father taught me at least two times a week—not the gloppy, heavy Americanized stuff full of cheddar cheese and sour cream, but simple, hearty, good-for-you-food that’s easy to make and even easier on your budget.

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter is Kathy Cano-Murillo's first foray into the world of novel writing. The author, known to her crafting disciples as "Crafty Chica," already has a well-established fan base because of her popular crafting books, web series, nationally syndicated newspaper column, instructional craft cruise to Mexico, and product line.

French Feasts: 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings

In my humble opinion, French food is where it’s at. This is a cuisine responsible for the five mother sauces, a cuisine that wholeheartedly embraces flaky pastry, a cuisine that loves cream, cheese, and butter! Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to review French Feasts, and when it arrived, I was shocked to find a massive tome of a cookbook on my front porch. This is a serious book, so large it comes with a built-in bookmark.

Voice of an Angel: Talking to Jill Andrews

When I first spoke to singer Jill Andrews, I was quite shocked when she first answered the phone. Her voice was low, slow, and groggy, which wasn’t what I was expecting. You see, Andrews quite literally has the voice of an angel. As it turned out, I was waking her up from a peaceful nap with her infant son, Nico. Nico was born around the time that Andrews’ critically acclaimed, Tennessee-based band, The Everybodyfields, broke up.

The Runaways

There’s nothing quite like entering a movie theatre on a bright, sunny day and getting completely engulfed in both the darkness of the space you're in and the story being told.

Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway

Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway is kind of like Cherie Currie’s re-working of her first autobiography originally published in the 1980s and entitled Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story.

A Day in LA: A Conversation with Kevin McCollister

Kevin McCollister is a serious and shy man who spends his days working in a Los Angeles office and his nights walking around the city’s less stylish neighborhoods snapping photographs of churches, taco stands, mariachis, the homeless, and LA landmarks like the Fourth Street Bridge, Union Station, and Olvera Street.

The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore

Writing a review for a book like The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal is not a simple task by any means. On the one hand, I want to be as straightforward as possible and simply give my impressions of this one particular piece of writing without going into the issue of prostitution and whether or not it degrades women.

Gourmet Rhapsody

Food has become a very controversial subject, many arguing that education levels, income, and race unfairly dictate the availability of fresh foods and vegetables in low-income American neighborhoods.

Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

In the introduction to Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals, Oliver lays out his plan to get people cooking again by having them master at least one recipe from each of the fourteen chapters in the book. This is being called the “Pass it on Movement,” and it is the young chef’s hope that it will get Americans back in the kitchen and cooking healthy food.

Hard Knocks: Rolling with the Derby Girls

Shelly Calton’s Hard Knocks: Rolling with the Derby Girls is a book of photographs that illustrates everything I love about black and white photography; the smoky interplay of light and dark, negative space and shadow. These gritty, noir-ish photos of the Houston Roller Derby are captivating, but sadly the book in its entirely lacked the oomph I was hoping for. I’ve seen a lot of roller derby.

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession

Julie Powell wrote a blog called the Julie/Julia Project, which was turned into a book entitled Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, and last summer Julie & Julia hit the big screen as a movie featuring Meryl Streep.


While growing up reading Spin and Rolling Stone, I quickly realized that both publications are fond of describing the sound of new bands by referencing older bands, many of which my twelve-year-old self hadn’t heard. I used to hate it, but now I realize it’s a pretty effective if lazy way of doing things.