22 West Magazine - 2021 December Issue

Page 1

Issue 87.07 · Dec 13, 2021 · 22westmedia.com

Consumerism Issue

CONTRIBUTORS Katelyn Bernardo, Artist Krista Dajay, Artist Patrick Daugherty, Artist Madison Hoiby, Artist Kelsey German, Artist Fabian Rubio, Photographer & Writer Nina Walker, Artist Arielle Zepeda, Artist & Writer

Natalie Comfort, Writer Carlos Fuentes, Writer Martin Garcia, Writer Seth Haden, Writer Ethan Lauren, Writer Caroline Smith, Writer John Tovar, Writer



he semester is finally coming to a close. Way to make it through so much this year. As a second year, this has been the first time I have been able to see

MAGAZINE STAFF Andres Leon, Editor-in-Chief editorinchief@22westmedia.com Jensen Puckett, Managing Editor managingeditor@22westmedia.com Avery Keller, Lead Copy Editor copyeditor@22westmedia.com

campus really come alive.

It’s crazy how the pandemic felt so long and now

that we are closer to normal life, these last months in the

Lianna Schieber, Distribution Manager distributionmanager@22westmedia.com

semester have gone by so fast. The last two issues from this semester were so fun to work on and we appreciate everyone that’s grabbed a copy! I hope you enjoy going through everything as much as I do.

This month’s theme is focused on consumerism and

the holidays. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or anything else this month, it is a time surrounded by lots of joy. It is also a time filled with spending a lot more money. Our writers for this month have shared some ideas and opinions on how consumerism has taken over the holidays. Hopefully some articles in here can help you with any gift ideas; I know I have seen a few I want to try.

If there’s anyone who has ideas for next semester and wants to volunteer, please contact us! It’s going to be a while till you see us on campus, but we’ll be back and better than ever next semester. We’ve got amazing events and opportunities when we return. Use this time for cheesy movies, lazy days, and fun with others I hope y’all have a wonderful break

and enjoy the holidays, whatever that means for you :)


Jake Winkle, Art Director artdirector@22westmedia.com

COVER DESIGN Krista Dajay, Illustrator @dovexgrenade · kristadajay.com

VOLUNTEER MEETINGS To be announced Spring 2022, stay tuned Email editorinchief@22westmedia.com to get involved in the meantime

CONTACT US Email: info@22westmedia.com Mail: 1212 Bellflower Blvd, Suite 108 Long Beach, CA 90815 Disclaimer and Publication Information: 22 West Magazine is published using ad money and partial funding provided by the Associated Students, Inc. All Editorials are the opinions of their individual authors, not the magazine, ASI nor LBSU. All students are welcome and encouraged to be a part of the staff. All letters to the editor will be considered for publication. However, LBSUstudents will have precedence. Please include name and major for all submissions. They are subject to editing and will not be returned. Letters may or may not be edited for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and length. 22 West Magazine will publish anonymous letters, articles, editorials, and illustrations, but must have your name and information attached for our records. Letters to the editor should be no longer than 500 words. 22 West Magazine assumes no responsibility, nor is it liable, for claims of its advertisers. Grievance procedures are available in the Associated Students business office.




t began in high school, toward the end of sophomore year or the beginning of junior year. Colleges started sending mail that shared with me all the exciting benefits of paying them tens of thousands of dollars per year, often on flyers with disturbingly clashing color schemes. Almost every high school student who has taken a standardized test, carelessly opted into allowing colleges to view their information, and promptly forgotten about it, has experienced it. Although being bombarded with advertisements can quickly begin to feel like an exorbitant waste of paper, it encourages students who are interested in college to begin considering their options. However, it also points to the intense commodification of college and the negative effects it has had on post-secondary education and college students. There is nothing inherently wrong with colleges advertising themselves to potential applicants. If students are signing loans for thousands of dollars at the tender age of 18, it’s helpful to be informed of their options. But the way colleges market themselves to impressionable teenagers often calls into question whether post-secondary institutions have a solidified mission or if that mission is simply to maximize revenue. Each flyer, letter, and the occasional email had a general theme of highlighting the best points of their colleges. They advertise their rankings, their networking connections, their career outcomes for graduates. After the practical bits are out of the way, they move on to student life perks: clubs, campuses, location, and various other amenities which relate less and less to education. Finally, they point out their robust financial

programs that are almost always less impressive than they make it out to be. For most students, getting a degree is essential to getting a job that will cover their adulthood expenses comfortably. What a high school student applying to college prioritizes depends heavily on their background. For lower income students, it’s the ticket to a middle class life with fewer financial stresses. As the market for colleges becomes more competitive, students strive to become more competitive to colleges as well. Students entering high school plan out their four years, focusing heavily on good test scores, a shining extracurricular report, and volunteer involvement to appeal to “It’s the ticket to a middle class life with fewer financial stresses”

whatever colleges that they believe will offer them opportunities and be an enjoyable place to spend four years. What’s bad about any of these things? It makes sense colleges would want to appeal to students and students would like to appeal to the colleges they like. A sort of mutually beneficial relationship, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. According to a 2020 Forbes article, “College Tuition is Rising at Twice the Rate of Inflation- While Students Learn from Home,” the price of college has increased at double the rate of inflation since the 1980s (Zenger News). Grants from the government have increased as well, but not enough to cover the same percentage of those costs they used to. According to the Board of Governments of the Federal Reserve System, the current student debt is at $1.75 trillion as of Quarter 3 of 2021 (data retrieved from FRED). The rising cost of college has changed the

way students view higher education, what they demand from universities, and what colleges prioritize in their annual budgets. Attitudes toward education have completely changed. Speaking to parents and friends’ parents, many of them seemed to have chosen majors because they were interested in that field: history, psychology, engineering. Nowadays, that casual attitude towards choosing a bachelor’s degree is laughable. Degrees with low return on investment are discouraged by counselors. Practicality is key for the majority of students. The amount of jobs that require a college degree is skyrocketing even as degrees become less and less valuable without experience. Students evaluate and primarily view education as a job factory. When the cost of entry is so high, students need to know they will be able to pay their loans off sooner than a decade. Although the competition colleges face from other institutions would seem to suggest students are in control, complaints of students paying an arm and leg for education points to the opposite. Maybe it’s because a lot of them don’t feel like there are any other options. Meanwhile, colleges struggle to cover the rising costs of paying faculty, operating facilities, and amenities despite rising tuition. As college education has become commoditized, it has led to a vicious cycle that is damaging to both students and colleges. Whether colleges will refine their missions to lower costs, or more highschool students will opt out of college education as costs rise, only time will tell. ILLUSTRATION BY PATRICK DAUGHERTY





t’s hard to attend college in an area with a high cost of living. Here’s a selection of tips to save money, as suggested by students just like you:

Charles B—Student discounts are everywhere you look, like those sticky fruits that fall down from palm trees. Through BeachBoard you can access MasterClass for free, or pay $20 for a year-long Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Spotify and Hulu have a bundled discount deal for four years; I know because my discount ended, and I remember how truly sweeter life was when I was only spending $5 a month. Kristin W—Prep meals ahead of time and budget for eating out. We all need food, Long Beach and Southern California in general having no shortage of it, but eating out can and will turn your bank account red. Pack a lunch of easy and affordable options such as: chicken, tuna, rice, beans, lentils, vegetables, pasta, and grains. Below is a secret family recipe stolen from Kristin’s apartment after our interview concluded:

Kristin’s Amazing, Spectacular and Superior Overnight Oats™ •

16oz Mason jar

Rolled Oats (maintains a good consistency)

Coconut Milk (can substitute, but coconut gives a nice sweetness)

Chia Seeds (for more milk absorption, and health benefits)

Fruit (Blueberries, raspberries)

Fill the jar halfway with oats. Pour enough milk for the oats to soak. Then a dash of chia seeds, some fruit for flavor, and place it in the refrigerator. They’ll generally keep for three days so make several at once. Sam H—Ramen noodles. For when all else fails and you don’t even have the time or energy to make Kristin’s Amazing, Spectacular, and Superior Overnight Oats (Trademarked). Throw a cup of noodles in the microwave and you are set. Maybe toss in an egg and crack some pepper; or to mix it up, crack an egg and toss some pepper. And if you don’t even want to do that, eat it like a cracker. I once spent $18 on a fancy sandwich for a mediocre date and you know how much instant ramen that could have been instead? Save the money, and the heartbreak. Marisa V—Never buy a textbook before the beginning of class. Not only could the textbook be unneeded, but you might often find professors who will accept earlier editions, which are often much cheaper. Not only that but there are countless resources online to find virtual copies. As far as whether that’s ethical, is it really that fair for students to buy a book under duress? Socrates once said, just before drinking a nice, warm glass of hemlock tea, that if you think you’re right, you’re right. I believe the pursuit of knowledge needs no price tag and I’m not ashamed to admit that. But one of the easiest ways to save money is ultimately to earn more instead. Having watched “Heat,” “Point Break,” and “Hell or High Water” I have concluded that it doesn’t seem that hard to rob a bank. Two tenets to remember: prosthetics and calisthenics. For example, you wear a fake mustache or a prop nose, and then after the robbery you run into a bush and change into a different disguise. And that’s all you need. I haven’t tried myself but do reach out if you end up attempting. I suppose you could apply for the many scholarships offered both on and off-campus, but nobody’s ever made a movie about a hunched-over student spending hours applying for scholarships. However, by implementing some of the above tips you’ll have the money to see any movie you want—send me an email if you don’t want to go alone. ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY GERMAN




n this day and age, we can get almost anything with the snap of our fingers. Easy accessibility is one of the most important things for people. Because of this, we have places like Walmart, Amazon, Costco, and a number of chain stores that continue to flourish. While these chain stores do provide cheap, easy goods, there is nothing like buying locally. Buying locally can mean a number of things. It could mean buying fruit from the weekly farmers’ market, rather than buying it at Target. It could mean ordering an outfit from a person starting their own business in their home. It could mean getting coffee from a small coffee shop on the corner, rather than just going to Starbucks. It’s important to buy locally first and foremost so you can support local businesses and entrepreneurs. People who take time to make all of the stuff they sell or pick all of the produce they sell don’t typically do it just for the money. They care about the quality of their products and they also care about the customers they’re selling to. A lot of small business owners start their businesses because they were tired of not having the quality they knew they could get. When you consistently shop locally, you build personal buyer/seller relationships, which isn’t something you can get at these chain stores. One of the best things you can do is go to a farmers’ market and talk to them about their business. Not only is that a reassurance to them that people

enjoy their product, but it also makes the buying experience all the more personal. When supporting these smaller businesses, you know exactly where your product is coming from. At grocery stores, even when the produce says ‘organic,’ it still undergoes some sort of unnatural processing. These people take time to plant, take care of, and gather the items they sell. If you’re buying something other than food items locally, then you at least know someone took time out of their life to make the product. Unlike mass-produced items, these were made with genuine care and personal attention. Items may not be as perfect as a machine, but they were made from creative people with creative ideas. People often avoid buying clothing and other products from markets because of the cost and chain stores are more convenient. It’s true that items like clothes and furniture or even household decor are more expensive than what one could buy at your local chain store. Of course it would be difficult to buy every single thing you own from a market, so I am not trying to suggest that. I propose that when you do have the opportunity and the resources to do so, it is important that we are able to support people in their endeavors. Typically these items are more expensive because you’re paying for their time and materials. People who make items to sell spend a lot more time working

on their projects and usually products are made with better quality materials, whereas at places like Walmart, they have factories to mass-produce and do not always care about quality. One thing I’ve noticed is that produce is often cheaper at a farmers market than when I buy from the grocery store, so I do like to buy from there when I can. There is a great farmers market behind 2nd & PCH in Long Beach that happens every Sunday from 9 AM to 2 PM. The people are friendly and they even let you try some of their produce before buying it! Another place that has a farmers market close by is the Marina Stadium Farmers Market. It is right by Will Roger Mini Park and it happens every Wednesday from 3 PM to 7 PM. Shopping locally instead of at chain stores can also have an effect on the environment around us. When buying locally, you can drastically reduce the use of plastic bags and containers that end up in landfills. There are not as many greenhouse gases that are being released from the abundance of food miles traveled by bigger trucks. With a reduction in using plastic wear and cutting back on mass transportation, we can take a small step in having a positive impact on our environment. If you are unable to shop locally as much as you would like, another way we can help is by using reusable bags wherever you go. We cannot always do the best thing because of how much it costs, but we can take small steps in the right direction. With continuous support from buyers, we can keep these businesses running. Supporting local businesses means that we are supporting someone taking a risk, someone trying to establish their own employment. ILLUSTRATION BY PATRICK DAUGHERTY




always find myself looking forward to the holidays as there is much to appreciate about this time of year. Houses are decorated with light and shopping malls compete to see who has the bigger tree. I enjoy almost everything about the holidays, but I will stand my ground when I say Hallmark movies are horrible. It doesn’t help that the Hallmark Channel begins their movie countdown in the middle of November when we haven’t reached Thanksgiving yet. So much anticipation for mediocre movies, as they all consist of the same looking cast, the same boring plot, and the same predictable message. If you have seen one movie then you have seen them all, and still people look forward to watching them every single year. I’m not saying Christmas movies are bad, because that’s far from the truth. I’m a firm believer that “Die Hard,” is the best Christmas movie with honorable mentions such as “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Love Actually.” These are the movies that come to mind when people think of Christmas movies, but I’ve never heard someone mention a Hallmark movie and for good reason. Here is every Hallmark movie ever made: It’s hard to recognize the faces of the cast because you’ve never seen them, as most A-list actors respect themselves too much. The leads are the typical brown-haired, pretty, white man and the blonde-

haired, pretty, white woman. Have any doubts? Google “Hallmark christmas movies list” and take a look for yourself. I will admit that the diversity of these casts has improved with more representation of people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, but still most casts are white dominated. It’s always about a hotshot city guy who is obsessed with his career and too busy for love. After several years of being away, he finally comes back to his small hometown for the holidays. There he rekindles the relationship with his high school love interest with the added tension of ‘will they won’t they,’ but in the end they fall in love and he learns the true meaning of Christmas. Of course, there are bonus details I’m skipping over. The woman is a baker or a struggling writer, a family business is going under and needs to be saved, a precious heirloom is passed down, and to tie it all together there is some sort of wish. There are some variations between movies, but this is the most basic formula for a Hallmark movie. Maybe that’s not a bad thing though, and maybe that’s the point of these movies. Expectations are set high for the holidays. We are quickly drained from packed schedules of plans with family and friends. We are driven insane trying to find the perfect gift for our loved ones. Each company bombards us with catchy jingles

and flashy advertisements trying to convince us they have what we are looking for. Our empty pockets are mocked by the price tag of that Tiffany necklace or that pair of Nike shoes. All of this being shoved down our throats while companies beat us over the head with the meaning of holiday spirit. It’s funny because the holiday season is supposed to be about love and sharing kindness, yet we will trample over strangers for Black Friday sales. For an hour and thirty minutes we can escape all of these problems. Everyone knows what to expect when they sit down to watch a Hallmark movie. The characters aren’t special, but they’re enough to keep your attention. The snow looks real, even beautiful, although it was probably made from a machine. No matter what happens, despite all of the turmoil and tension, the audience can always expect to see a happy ending. Sometimes that’s what people need the most: to be given hope that there is a happy ending. I don’t care much for Hallmark movies, but I appreciate them for what they can give to an audience. After the movie everyone will go back to the real world, with their real problems once again, but this time they have hope they will find the gift they have been searching for since December 1st. ILLUSTRATION BY ARIELLE ZEPEDA




his past year has been a treasure hunt. With the holidays approaching soon, this treasure hunt is about to get even harder. When I say “treasure,” I don’t mean gold, or silver; but instead consumer goods. This includes electronics, toys, and really anything that involves entertainment. COVID-19 not only wasted a whole year of my life, but it has also distrubed my ability to have fun. Walking into a store and seeing the electronics section completely bare is something that I thought I would only see on Black Friday. Now I see it daily. I have been on the hunt for a very lucrative treasure this year, the very elusive unicorn of the PlayStation 5. This gaming console has been impossible to track down because it seems to be only released through online retailers. I refuse to spend my money on a reseller’s PS5 so I choose to continue to hunt for one online. I have spent hours in queues waiting to be let in to add the console to my cart, but as soon as I am allowed in, the console sells out. It has been an agonising year that I cannot imagine it getting any better with the holiday season here, and I know I am not the only one who is losing hope on getting the console. “I search the internet daily looking to buy one from a store since I don’t want to buy it from a reseller,” said David Chavez, a marketing major at Long Beach State, “But I have struck out every time because of the limited quantities that the retailers receive.”

Chavez said that he has been trying to get his hands on a PlayStation 5 gaming console since it was released in November 2020. The shortage doesn’t just include gaming systems, it includes almost everything that a consumer could be looking for during the holidays. “I have been to three different Targets and I have yet to find a bicycle for my kid,” said Janet Reece, a mother Christmas shopping at a local Target, “I have never had the problem of finding a gift this early in the season, but this year it has been so rough.” What makes things worse for us as consumers looking to spend our hard earned money is that the supply chain issues are supposed to last into 2022. All it takes is for a trip to a local beach to see how bad the situation is. There is a line of cargo ships waiting to dock at The Port of Long Beach that spans for miles. These ships are likely full of goods that are supposed to fill the shelves at retail stores. “Those ships are carrying the PS5’s we have been waiting for since they were released,” said Chavez. This is an issue that we as consumers will have to deal with going forward, especially if we are looking to buy gifts for the holidays. I can’t imagine that buying gifts this year will be easy, but getting a head start before the shelves are completely empty is a good idea. ILLUSTRATION BY NINA WALKER




or this visual assignment which questions how consumerism affects the holidays, I immediately knew that I wanted to complicate this lens by drawing inspiration from my own experiences with consumerism and transnational economies growing up in a border town, Calexico. First, through black and white film photographs of still-life arrangements, I wanted to acknowledge the genuine pleasure and joy that we get from the acquisition and ownership of nice things. By stripping the compositions of color, I was curious about an aesthetic

that spoke to timeless opulence as bright glass decanters or toiletries are neatly arranged and composed to indicate a holiday feel. Then, I took advantage of the Thanksgiving break and my trip to Calexico to take images of the consumerist scene there, specifically focusing on the Gran Plaza Outlets situated right along the border between Calexico, CA, and Mexicali, Mexico. Having grown up in this hybrid city, I have seen the ways in which our economies are linked, as citizens from Mexicali will travel across the border for holiday shopping. Here, I wanted

to move beyond the simple notion that consumerism takes over the holidays, and instead wanted to focus on the way in which this consumerism is actually essential for border economies. Thus, the images I made within this environment were meant to explicitly address border culture, and how even with increased militarization at the border in recent years, the two cities are still very much economically connected. Overall, my intent was to provide nuance to the idea of consumerism beyond our surface understanding of it by mixing a range of seemingly unrelated images.





uring the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming services work, much to her simple covers on YouTube, it has given Emily Dang focused on song- joy because her family is very proud of her opportunities for growth. writing, including her recent what Dang has done. “If you’re scared to release releases. She’s sung her whole life, “So as long as I have all this your music it’s only going to hinder from early days singing karaoke on her support, I can keep going.” you,” Dang says. “When you release it grandmother’s machine, to years of Dang takes inspiration from out there, that’s when you can actually choir. For instruments, she gravitates many contemporaries, some more get feedback and see what you need toward the piano, guitar, and ukulele. recognizable artists being Kehlani and to change.” Dang currently has two songs Doja Cat. She is currently making EDM Always improving, Dang under the band name MLE on Spotify, and R&B but is looking into rap and constantly reaches out to musicians “Last Time” and “Stress Relief,” hip-hop. Being Vietnamese-Amer- for guidance and assistance. It can released in September and be hard to reach out and to take November, respectively. With the somebody’s time, herself not “If you’re scared to release music it’s only going to hinder you” former song having almost 3000 wanting, “to feel like a burden plays, the latter shy of a thouwhen I’m coming up to people.” sand, it was encouraging for her to see ican, something important to her is But she has found a lot of support, reactions from friends and family. seeing more of both a female and both online and in-person, from fellow “Seeing my song being played Asian representation in the industry, musicians. across 37 different countries when I giving herself a reason to work hard In the future, she’d like to don’t even know people from that on her talent. learn more about producing and many countries, it just baffles my mind Born in Fountain Valley and mixing her own vocals, to revise and and I’m so grateful.” raised in Orange County, it is her refine. She manages media content She’s even had to explain second year at LBSU. Currently in for businesses on occasion, and she to some of her older relatives how pre-communications, Dang is hesitant uses those skills to focus on her own in studying music, wanting instead to social media presence. Dang is open have her music career flourish on her to learning all industry skills so as not own time. Being only nineteen, she to be dependent on others in achieving has found difficulty as an independent her vision, but focus on collaborating artist, believing that everybody should instead. be “confident in what you create.” “I try to stay humble,” Dang Some of the challenges, Dang says, “because I know there’s always says, are in entertaining your audience, someone who knows more than me, not just through the music itself, but in and I’d love to learn about that.” the networking, events, booking, all the while balancing school and social You can listen to Dang’s music under life. While it was scary at first to put her “MLE” on Spotify and follow her at Photos provided by MLE own music out to the world, outside of @officialmlemusic on Instagram.




he time has come! Christmas is around the corner and people are getting ready to crack open their piggy banks. As we all know, the holidays are not cheap and the pandemic has made it difficult to save any extra money for gifts this year. Speaking for myself, I only started working during the summer once I was fully vaccinated. With the little time we have, it’s time to get creative and make a budget for holiday shopping. The holidays are a time where people start invading malls left and right. Buying gifts at the mall isn’t necessarily the cheapest option either, but hitting up your local Marshalls or Ross is perfect for saving money. Moreover, it’ll save you the energy fighting over the last overpriced scarf at Forever 21. When shopping at Marshalls or Ross, think about the different gift baskets one can make. Your loved ones are now receiving multiple items, for a lower cost, rather than getting a sweater they’ll probably only use once. This season, gift baskets are a great idea because shoppers can personalize each basket to their respected loved one and it won’t cost them their left kidney when done at local stores. A gift’s value isn’t defined by the amount a person spends. Sometimes we don’t have that extra money to buy AirPods or a new Canon

camera. The real value of a present comes from the thought and effort one makes. Remember, it’s time to get creative this year and what’s a better way than to create something. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a handmade painting is worth two thousand. All you need is a stack of canvases, that you can get for a low cost at the 99 cents store or Ross, and a set of paint and brushes. Imagine how fun it would be to just set your“Try this and you’ll be known as the new Picasso around the house!”

self up and create something special and meaningful. Try this and you’ll be known as the new Picasso around the house! Every year on Christmas a lot of money goes towards wrapping paper. Instead of traditional wrapping paper, save as much newspaper you receive in the mail and make a variety of wrapped presents. There is no need to go to Target or Walmart for wrapping paper that’ll be ripped up and trashed. Nevertheless, if the cute wrapping paper is a must this season, saving up on plain paper bags can be a perfect substitution. Paper bags, that you can get while shopping at your local grocery store, can be written and colored on. Once again there is room for creativity to prosper this Christmas; we just have to use the resources

available around us! The holidays are filled with love, food, and presents.

There is this pressure created by capitalism that tells us to spend as much as we can, but the reality is not everyone has money to spend on big expensive gifts. Holidays are over commercialized to benefit large companies; it allows the little voice in our heads to persuade us into going practically bankrupt. Save money and give out gifts that are more meaningful; I promise your bank account will thank you later! People are out shopping at malls making their wallets cry. I don’t plan to be one of those shoppers this year. Will you? ILLUSTRATION BY NINA WALKER



Boxes assorted in different proportions Underneath the fallen needles of the dying pine … they’re all mine I am not ungrateful for this pampering I wish the bottom of the tree appeared bare An empty tree gifts paradise Were these gifts approached with care? I don’t know where to stare. Gifting occasionally feels nice With it’s wrongful acquisition and pitiful charity Accepting comes with a price My love language is sincerity. Sit here with me and show me you can feel I beg of you Allow the warmth to pulsate through our veins Plague me with your hidden humanity Thump thump - thump thump That noise — disturbed unfamiliarity Vibrations of tenderness I used to know Comfortably uncomfortable Discomfort knows how to soothe this soul. Awkward is who I can display Yet, there is more I am willing to share Give ourselves this opportunity to be authentic I won’t let this blow air Please, set the materialized items aside And come smile with me on this wonderful night.




Underneath Silent Night icicle lights, I see this napkin-skin girl, gowned in a black and grey coffin-shaped blouse, start to stuff Santa hats down the hatch of her leather pants. Her leather squeaks like my mousy shoes storm-soaked by my grandma’s-dead blues. The girl’s hair curls like champagne bubbles, so she must be a friendly talk! But, wait, her eyes are Jack Frost button rocks and her charcoal pastel lipstick accents all her purple acrylic nails. I want to ask her “how do I look?” with Rudolph antlers on, but her leather keeps eating more snowflake trinkets and ornament orbs. In every bit she steals, her napkin-skin pales and tears the same way my grandma’s moved every time she entered that Oncology room. The doctor’s chemo killed her twice: once by poison and once by family fights. I see the girl coughing like a cat. I run to help her out as this cop cuffs her wrist. Perhaps she already knows loneliness.





yan Manikowski is an LBSU Theater Tech student looking forward to his final semester of university. Manikowski is passionate about all aspects that go into making a theatrical production: he writes short poems, has a prolific acting career, and is dedicated to the value

of theater tech. Having studied previously at an arts high school, Cal Arts, and Grossmont Community College, Manikowski has experienced a breadth of theater departments and systems. I sat down with him, over Zoom, to discuss theater, school, and that dastardly consumerism.

Q: It’s interesting now that I can ask how the transition coming out of quarantine is going. What’s it like moving from zoom to in person theater? It’s definitely a transition. Right now we don’t have access to our materials, we can’t get into the building it’s in. Unless you have class on campus and a green check mark, you can’t really get involved in productions. Lately we’ve been using resources at the USU and talking with the dance department and participated in their Art Walk. That was difficult because we didn’t get testing guidelines until the week of the performance and so it was hard for performers to get tested in a timely manner. The landscape of how we can bring people in is constantly changing and new guidelines have given us new challenges to work through. Q: What has it been like in the theater department getting back on campus? There are things I’m unsure I can talk about. Over summer, we [the students] wrote a manifesto of things that could be worked on in the department. It’s been an interesting time to communicate with professors and staff. Amidst the roadblocks, it seems our department is trying to document everything that is still functional in the building and constructing new facilities for upcoming students to use. Yet, for current students, the building seems eerily vacant, especially those in their last year.

there’s a kind of hierarchy, among professors, staff, students, majors. Some things just feel a little two faced. No one heard a word on the student’s side for a season. My old community college is having normal shows again, and I’m trying to figure out if I should be hurt by that. At a university, when you’re paying a lot for a higher education, it’s supposed to be an elevated experience, but it’s mixed. Theatre Threshold has taken the place of the momentum to have projects to show. We keep facing a lot of roadblocks. Q: What is Theatre Threshold? Theatre Threshold is a student-led theater company on campus that I’m the Art Director for and we’re dedicated to making students’ visions and dreams a reality. You don’t have to be a theater major to produce something over the semester. We produce at least one, free show every week. Over quarantine they were on zoom, and we’re working with the department now to get back in the theater space. Right now we’re having as many virtual showings of these shows in our courtyard and are trying to make plans to have screenings inside the Players Theatre.

commodification. I think it’s a very high price gap that I don’t think should exist. I do think there should be more free theater, more community theater. They put out very important, beautiful, passionate plays. The message that a community theater has is for it’s own community and that’s impactful. I think it’s very important that everyone can have access to those messages. Q: What do you think the general literature around theater will come to look like out of the pandemic? I know that plays, unless they’re immersive, will get shorter. They’ll have to adapt to shorter attention spans or maintain a real spectacle. I don’t think we’ll hit the avant-garde, because people will not be ‘there.’ That kind of elitist art where it’s really out there and fancy, is out-of-touch and doing a disservice to a general audience, especially one coming out of a pandemic.

In our conversation, Ryan said this, which I think will stick with me as a creative writing student: “The whole point of university is to tinker. To fail beautifully and learn.” Q: Is it important to you that the Theatre Threshold is looking to have Theatre Threshold shows are free? weekly, in-person, in-theater shows next semester. Well I think theater is a communal To learn more go to @csulbtheatrehub process. It’s supposed to be with the on Instagram community. Not only that, but Ameri- @csulbartistsinblack ca’s value of theater is different. Other @feministtheatremakers countries will have free theater days or @csulbsatarep Q: I’m an outsider and don’t want to student days. Meanwhile, the theater @ryguy.art.ski put you in a tough space, but can you here is exceptionally expensive. Musielaborate? cal theater and Broadway has defi- PHOTO PROVIDED BY RYAN MANIKOWSKI It seems like with any university, nitely contributed to that problem of




oo many people have too many opinions; capitalism, consumerism, they’re all part of the many problems that affect us all. Yet, we seldom have the means to enact change on our own. If only we listened to experts, instead of relying on word of mouth from strangers on social media, then perhaps many problems could be solved. But one of the oldest constants in human history regards the most dreaded word in the dictionary: taxes. For thousands of years, nobody has been able to crack

this topic, so that’s why I, a liberal arts major, am exactly the person to ask the hard questions. What’s the deal with taxes, anyway? We all work hard for our money. Look at the many incredible articles in this issue, such as Carlos Fuentes’ one on holiday gifts—and in my unbiased opinion—the article about saving money as a student. That’s why it is such a shame when we must take

time out of our busy lives to file taxes when we should be shopping. The government is like a bad friend who you loan money to, but then feel forced to ask for it back. You know they’re good for it, so why do they make you jump through hoops just to get back your own money every year? They owe us, so the burden should be on them. However, a bunch of crooks got together and promised that they would con all of us citizens by making the onus on us, instead. H&R Block, more like H&R… Blockheads. We’ve got work, and kids to feed, and movies to stream, we should not be required to p a y

filing fee. For example, visit www.freetaxusa.com and easily input any information asked. I have no proof, but I’m pretty sure that the people in charge of these tax-filing rackets want it to seem like a scary process, when in fact it’s completely manageable on a quiet afternoon, relaxing in pajamas in the comfort of your own bed. Additionally, depending on your location, there are always services available with trained representatives to help you file for free if you make under a certain bracket. Look up the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program near you. The best day of my life is going to be when that H&R Block across my street finally closes and they take down that silly cutout of a man smiling in such a smug manner. If I worked for the IRS, I would only go after the ‘whales.’ The only reason they don’t is they know people in that income level have access to their lawyers on retainer. I don’t even know how you corporations money to sit in those get a lawyer, do too-small, plastic chairs as terrible you just drive music blares. And it is insane that if around looking for you make a mistake they’ll come after a bus bench ad? you. But there is a way to alleviate these problems. The government must maintain free websites to submit ILLUSTRATION BY your tax records, albeit with a small PATRICK DAUGHERTY





t’s ya boy, the money master, coming back to solve inflation. I’ve never been privy to the economic workings of anything, but I think I have a few solutions to this whole inflation ordeal. It’s really easy, like mind numbingly easy. Print more money. There has been no historic recording of this happening ever, so why don’t we give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen, we have more fire kindling for these holiday seasons that are only getting colder as the ice age encroaches upon us? Nevertheless, we have more important issues that are upon us like the Dollar Tree hiking their prices up by 25% in 2022, making it the Dollar and Twenty Five Cents Tree. What’s the deal with that? I thought we were red blooded Americans who took pride in our dollar stores, not some backwoods country with dollar and twenty five cent stores. That’s beside the point, my point is that why can’t ol’ Uncle Sam take a few lessons from me? Personally, I’ve had huge success printing my own money. There have been no serious faults or issues and it hurts

nobody, it goes back into the economy. I think a needed step toward this would be adopting the number one pledge that any financial master or institution can subscribe to: minimalism. That means slashing every bureaucratic process in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is the organization that is in charge of currency production in the United States. I’ve had loads of success in getting rid of everything that isn’t needed in my life, and cutting down on anything extra that distracts me from making more income. First impressions are important, so I make sure to wear the same thing every day after my first impression. No — I don’t wear the same shirt literally, but I only own a few pairs of slacks, white t-shirts and one unwashed suit jacket. This reduction of my wardrobe lets me focus on the more important things in life. You know what else I got rid of in my life? My ex. All she ever did was cost money with the dates she always wanted. “You never spend enough quality time with me! I don’t even need anything expensive, I just want to spend time with you! Blablabla!” So obnoxious. She didn’t understand that time was money.

You don’t even need love, it just sucks you dry of precious time you could be spending printing money in your basement. My goodness, don’t even get me started on my ex’s idea of ‘illegal activity.’ She was always telling me, “Stop printing those bills in your basement, you’re gonna get in trouble and go to prison.” Some people don’t want to see you succeed and that is the reality. I digress, printing money is a totally soundproof solution to solving inflation within the U.S. and my basement operation is a microcosm of the potential of the success that this holds. The government is probably more equipped than I am with my HP Officejet Pro 8210, they can probably circumvent the security protocols that prevent you from printing money, an annoying inconvenience. While they’re at it, they could give me a lump sum of the cash they print as a favor because my income has been rough ever since my old office job fired me unjustly. I left a ‘IOU’ note in place of the printer that I borrowed to prop up my basement startup operation. Oh well, the world keeps turning and inflation keeps on inflating. ILLUSTRATION BY KATELYN BERNARDO




rista Dajay illustrated the cover for this month’s issue and is a senior at LBSU who is currently in the BFA for graphic design with a minor in biology. With an interest in STEM and the arts, she is a graphic design intern at the Office of Sustainability at LBSU and is working on a thesis project related to infographics - combining her interests. I asked her a few questions about the creation of the cover art and how it was made. Q: What was the process behind creating this piece?

Q: What were your inspirations behind the piece?

When I was given the prompt, I spent a lot of time just thinking about visuals and compositions. I tend to not put anything down until I have an idea I really like, which might not be the most effective, but it’s worked for me! I think it’s because I’m waiting until there’s a concept I feel passionate about because once I finally have something down, I rarely go back on the idea and just run with it. For this piece, I knew I wanted rows of gifts, and that I wanted them to start breaking down into trash, but I redrew the bows and boxes for a couple days until I figured out a style I liked. Then I outlined, colored, added texture, saved as PNG, opened in Photoshop, did a bunch of layering and color stuff, and badabing-badaboom the cover was done. Then I reread the email with the brief, saw I got the format wrong, went back and fixed a bunch of things, and finally sent my final design in four color variations.

When I think of magazine covers, I think of flat illustration styles like The New Yorker. They tend to have bold, illustrative styles that say a lot with so little, so I kept that in mind while I worked, but I didn’t really search for visual inspiration. There was a list of words in the brief -- consumerism, money, broke, holidays, mass production, assembly line, repetition, capitalism -- and I worked off of that because it’s stuff I already like to yell about with my friends. It wasn’t until I was at the color editing stage that I

The idea I had in my head was solid, but it wasn’t specific: just a wall of gifts that ends in garbage. I was trying to figure how I could do this efficiently because I’m a mess and pressed for time, but eventually I was like, fuck it, I’m going to have to draw and shade every ribbon here. It wasn’t so bad after I actually did it, but the idea overwhelmed me for a second. I had no idea how it was going to turn out, and I wasn’t even sure it was good until I sent it out and got feedback. My approach was to take the idea I had and just keep chipping away at it until it was something I’d be proud to put my name on. So I was very excited when you guys said you liked it! Q: Was there a main message that you wanted to get across?

My goal was to make something where, when I look at the page as a whole, I feel the weight of all the “The Idea I had in my head was solid, waste that’s created during the but it wasn’t specific“ holidays. One of the words in the brief was “repetition”, so I wanted started to see a resemblance to some to create a wall of gifts that hinted at Japanese illustration styles with the the sheer volume of packaging and gift gritty black linework and saturated wrap used by everyone who particicolors, so I tried to lean into that. pates in the holidays. When I redrew it a bunch, it was because I wasn’t sure Q: How did you first approach it if I wanted it to be a slow breakdown versus how it turned out? of the gift boxes as it progresses from

top to bottom, but I decided to start the unwrapping later. For the sake of the cover and composition, the top row of gifts had to be cropped, but in the original design, there’s another row of five gifts, so the gift wrap that starts to break down is the right half of the 24th box. So there’s this big pristine wall of presents that’s meant to reflect all the glamour of Christmas décor, and as soon as Christmas eve hits, all of that is scrapped doomed to decay in a landfill.

“I rarely go back on the idea and just run with it”

we’re deciding what we buy and why we need it. Learning from indigenous practices is another thing that I think we could all benefit from. Anyway, I was keeping all that in mind when making this cover a false sense of glamour thrown over a pile of waste.

Q: What are your thoughts on consumerism, and more specifically their impact on the holidays and how did you incorporate it into this piece? Hate her! But I get it. We’re surrounded by ads that tell us what to do to make our lives better or what will bring us happiness. We want to find the perfect gifts for our loved ones, and we are so tired and in need of things that when an ad places the perfect gift right in front of you, it’s hard to not get it. We’re so burnt out, why would you want to add any more “I can’t blame people for wanting to do things that them joy”

stress by thinking about the environmental consequences of your actions? Ultimately, I can not blame people for wanting to do things that bring them joy, and it shouldn’t be our individual responsibility to clean up the mess made by corporate greed. But I do think we should do our best to shop more mindfully, and hopefully that can give us more control when


Q: Where can people find more of your art? I mostly keep my art on Instagram @dovexgrenade, but sometimes I share different things on my Twitter with the same handle. My portfolio (kristadajay.com) has both my design work and illustration work, but the home page is kind of musty right now. Hopefully I can get to it before this is published.




BE AN ASI VOLUNTEER. 22 West Media | ASI Beach Pantry | ASI Communications | Beach Pride Events | IPCDC | Sustain U

As an ASI volunteer you will build your resume, make friendships, receive monthly appreciation perks, network and develop professionally! Contact us now at asi-volunteers@csulb.edu for more information.


Follow Us @22WestLB 22WestMedia.com