blur the art of undefining
The Universal Language Soccer helps Karen refugees find a new home on a familiar field.
Franken-animals Partners in Politics Black vs. African American
Mmm... Dig in to some of the best multicultural meals in Minneapolis.
Letter from the Editors
Editors Mandi Castillo Roberts Lauren Scheller
We are opposites. One of us has blonde hair, blue eyes and has lived in the Midwest her entire life. The other has brown hair, brown eyes and has lived on three different continents. The first is indistinguishable from the locals of the small, predominantly German, Wisconsin town her family moved to when she was in second grade. The second is the first of her family to be born in the United States and has always stood out as “exotic” no matter where she lives. Both of us have experienced the feeling of being an outsider. Lauren never managed to shake that “new kid” feeling, partly because her peers referred to her as “the girl from St. Louis” until she graduated from high school. Mandi has learned not to take offense when people call her “white.” She is extremely proud that she’s Danish, Japanese and Latin. Working on this magazine has helped our entire staff realize that we all have had that feeling of not belonging. Whether it’s because of our sexuality, life experience or taste in music, each and every one of us has unique characteristics that separate us from our peers. That’s why Blur educates, celebrates and accepts how these differences overlap and make us who we are. The United States is no longer simply multicultural; instead, we have successfully transitioned into a multi culture. New technologies make it both harder and easier to find one’s place in the world. Today, language barriers, or any other barriers for that matter, can be overcome. We can all take a lesson from the Karen soccer team (page 18). Nobody is silenced in today’s world. The Deaf community (page 4), like many minority groups, is speaking up and merging into everyday society. From technology to wrestling to glow-in-the-dark animals, Blur is not about putting people or ideas in a box, or giving new names to old categories. Instead it’s a celebration of the art of undefining.
B L U R S T A F F
Jessica Tam Chelsey Larson
Art director Alicia Werdel
Senior editors Agnes Rzepecki Kevin Coss Nicholas Lawrence Laura Sievert
Staff writer Yuridia Ramírez
Associate editors Samantha Machart Brian Johnson Alyson Cummings A.J. MacDonald
Assistant art directors Sam Offerdahl Benjamin Ong Ken Nelson
Staff photographers Marlie Barry Matt Carlson
Web editor Will Wlizlo
Web programmer Dustin Cahill
Web art director Kristin Lueck
Web associate editor Alex Hall
Bloggers LAUREN SCHELLER
MANDI CASTILLO ROBERTS
THANKS We would like to thank the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, Elizabeth Larsen, Jeanne Schacht, Scott Dierks, Wally Swanson and Al Tims. This publication is made possible by the Milton L. Kaplan Memorial Fund.
Larry Gandy Rebecca Ernst
Circulation/Marketing manager Marial Weidner
Wrestling, writing and entertaining are only three strands in Terrance Griep’s web....... 10
Japanese aesthetics sculpt American pop culture...................................................... 14
SOCCER: DO YOU SPEAK IT?
Karen refugees find a new home on a familiar field...................................................... 18
Four great places to find multicultural meals in Minneapolis........................................ 22
DOING MORE, THINKING LESS
Is multitasking lowering our IQs?................................................................................ 28
LIFE Krishnadelic—Prince Rama blend Vaishnava Hinduism with experimental rock............. 2 Mix and Mash—Match the songs to the tracks they sample......................................... 2 Learning through Lyrics—McNally Smith’s new program brings hip-hop to the classroom................................................................................... 3 Unheard—When it comes to Deaf culture, there’s more than meets the ear.................. 4 Eti-questions—Prof. Politeness helps you mind your P’s and Q’s.................................. 5
POLITICS Breakin’ it Down—The U.S. Census Bureau projects the country’s demographics........ 6 Finding the Bull’s-Eye—Targeting an audience is becoming more precise..................... 6 Seeking Common Ground—Is it time to focus on political parties’ similarities?.............. 8
TECH Beyond the Blueprint—Computer-aided design pushes the limits of architecture........ 30 Going Hybrid—Designer dogs are the new top models.............................................. 32
Freaks of Nature—Move over, Superman. Here are the new super animals................. 32
NINE TO FIVE One-Man Band—Employers just can’t get no satisfaction with their ideal new hires.... 33 From Scratch—Immigrant restaurant owners build a tamale empire........................... 34 Inquire Online—Internet classifieds reroute the job search........................................... 36
VOICE I am [Enter Race Here]—Checking a box has never been so complicated.................. 37 Paint and Prejudice—Is graffiti art or vandalism?......................................................... 38 Blur’s Wish List—Four needs you didn’t have, satisfied by consumerism.................... 40
37 BLUR | fall 2010
Prince Rama blends Vaishnava Hinduism with experimental rock.
Bedecked with jewels and playing otherworldly psychedelia, Prince Rama is the last band you would expect to have grown up immersed in the Hare Krishna community. But that’s not stopping them from taking the experimental music scene by storm—Prince Rama released its latest album, Shadow Temple, on Animal Collective’s imprint Paw Tracks in September 2010. Blur interviewed Prince Rama’s leading lady Taraka Larson.
BLUR: What was your upbringing like, being raised in a Hare Krishna community?
B: Do you try to recreate spiritual experiences of a Krishna service when you’re playing a show with Prince Rama?
psychedelic, experimental rock that you play? TL: I think the psychedelic experience is supposed to get you out of yourself, to get you to see and be aware of other dimensions folded into this reality. And the mantras themselves—there’s not much in the words that you can grasp onto in this reality. If you focus on it, it doesn’t give you much knowledge about your external reality. Yet, it sort of creates this semantic porthole into mystery, into some sort of other mysterious realm. — WILL WLIZLO
Taraka Larson: As soon as we [Larson and her sister] got to high school, we moved out to Alachua, Fla., which is like the U.S.’s largest Hare Krishna community. Our parents would take us to services a lot. But it’s not too different from people going to church, except that everyone has these funny, unpronounceable names and wears saris.
Photo by: Michael Collins (bottom). Image from Flickr by ClintonSteeds (top).
B: Could you describe what a Hare Krishna service is like?
TL: I feel like without intentionally doing it, it kind of has evolved to be that way. We make handmade percussion instruments, like little jinglejangles, bells stuck on toy dinosaurs or beer cans filled with rice, and we hand them out to the audience. B: What about the chanting and mantras of Prince Rama work so well with the
TL: The services themselves are mostly comprised of singing and chanting. The terminology for it is kirtan, which means call-andresponse hymns. It’s definitely a super-participatory thing. There’ll be 13 people playing drums as loud as they can or playing harmonium. People are up dancing—it’s a total loss of self.
“Play Your Part” Track one from selfdescribed “pop music enthusiast” Girl Talk’s charttopping 2008 release, Feed The Animals. Waxy.org’s Andy Baio estimates that Gregg Gillis, the DJ behind Girl Talk, sampled 322 songs on the 14-track album.
“I’m An Adler Girl” Los Angeles’ Super Mash Bros. took their party “from the basement to the masses” with their 2009 release of F--Bitches. Get Euros, which this track is on. Made up of Dick Fink, Nick Fenmore and Ethan Dawes, SMB have called themselves “Girl Talk’s hot cousin.”
“Dirtbag Baby” The best part about this track, off E-603’s Torn Up, is that it’s free. Ethan Ward has made both his albums, the first is aptly titled Something for Everyone, available for free download from his website and MySpace page. Ward also offers a “Pay What You Want” option.
From left to right: Nimai Larson, Michael Collins, Taraka Larson.
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The act of taking a portion of a single recording, the “sample,” and repurposing it for use in another recording. — ALYSON CUMMINGS
Limp Bizkit “Nookie” Mariah Carey “Always Be My Baby” a-ha “Take on Me” American Hi-Fi “Flavor of the Weak”
Tears for Fears “Shout” Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg “Still D.R.E.” Avril Lavigne “Girlfriend” Disturbed “Down With The Sickness”
Roy Orbison “Oh, Pretty Woman” Unk “Walk it Out” Rage Against the Machine “Freedom” Lil Mama “G-Slide”
Answers: 1c, 2a, 3b
Learning through Lyrics McNally Smith’s new program brings hip-hop to the classroom. When on stage, mic in hand, Toki Wright wants the crowd not only to hear his words, but his honesty. He expects the same at his day job, where instead of a mic he uses a dry-erase marker. Wright, a Twin Cities hip-hop artist, shares his knowledge and passion for the genre at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minn. He serves as a student advisor, teacher and program coordinator for the Hip-Hop Studies Diploma Program, the first accredited program of its kind in the nation. Wright’s wisdom encompasses all aspects of hip-hop: the business, the performance and the music’s capacity as a cross-cultural platform. “Hip-hop doesn’t have a specific race, color or gender,” Wright says. “If you’re good, you can be respected.” The Twin Cities area proves just that with its diverse hip-hop scene. It is home to the independent record label Rhymesayers, which distributes independent acts such as the albino, Muslim rapper Brother Ali, the commercially successful group Atmosphere and the comic book-inspired MF Doom. Wright himself often opens for Brother Ali and belongs to three other hiphop groups: The C.O.R.E., Aphrill and The Chosen Few.
Hip-hop doesn’t require a specific performer or listener, because it revolves around honest reflections of daily life. “Hip-hop is relevant and recognizable all over the planet,” Wright says. Through the music, the genre’s artists can cross boundaries and start conversations. “Whether you go to Uganda, Italy or the Czech Republic, you hear a
certain rhythm,” Wright says. “The conversation can exist even when you don’t have a language to speak.” The program at McNally Smith allows students who might not have gone to a traditional college—whether because of grades or a lack of interest—to continue their education in an area they find compelling. Wright doesn’t think of his job as teaching, but as providing students with the tools to appreciate hiphop’s cultural impact. “So much can be learned from hip-hop,” he says. It gives students insight into why they dress the way they dress and speak the way they speak. Wright says hip-hop can teach students more than he ever could. — SAMANTHA MACHART
Images from flickr by Qυeeπ 8яeeв миi (top) and Spikeylc (bottom).
Match the songs to the tracks they sample.
BLUR | fall 2010
UNHEARD When it comes to Deaf culture, there’s more than meets the ear.
Less than one percent of all people are “functionally
“[The hearing community doesn’t] always think the Deaf have their own culture, but they do,” says Shirley Egbert, assistant education specialist at the University of Minnesota. With a whole different set of social norms in etiquette and language use, Deaf individuals are challenged to develop an identity as fluent participators in two separate cultural realms. “The jokes, the literature, there’s a whole gamut of things that are different,” says Egbert. “Deaf people know how to interact with hearing people, but hearing people don’t know how to interact with Deaf people.” The movement to raise awareness of the Deaf community as a unique culture, independent from but existing in the hearing community, remains the true challenge. “More awareness is needed,” says Egbert. “That there is a Deaf culture, the use of sign language…none of that information is presented.” The lack of acknowledgement for Deaf individuals creates obstacles on
deaf,” according to research done at Gallaudet University. So it’s not surprising most Americans don’t think of Deaf individuals as bilingual and bicultural citizens who participate in both the hearing and Deaf communities. Instead, Deaf people are mostly thought of as disabled.
BLUR | fall 2010
a daily basis for members of the Deaf culture. “Things aren’t as accessible,” Egbert says, referencing the increased accessibility for minority populations. For example, audio messages in airports are commonly broadcast in multiple languages, but remain completely inaccessible for any nonhearing individuals. Though the Deaf community serves as an important minority group in the United States, the national census has never identified it as such. The United States may be a diverse nation, but our history shows we’re not always inclusive of different cultures. Is our attitude toward Deaf culture any different? — A.J. MACDONALD
Photos by: Matt Carlson
in the United States
ETI-QUESTIONS Our world is shrinking. Globalization and technology are allowing cultures and ideas to meet and intermingle like never before. We’re in uncharted water, people! Naturally, you might have a few questions. So, whether you have a cultural conundrum or need advice about new media manners, I’m here to help with all your real world etiquette uncertainties. — LAUREN SCHELLER
tly having I was recen with
Ah, yes. To shake or not to shake? The answer is more complex than one might think. It’s possible the man was just shy or sexist or a germaphobe. But most likely his actions were because of cultural or religious beliefs. Perhaps you remember the “will he or won’t he shake” hoopla surrounding Somali President Sharif Ahmed when Hillary Clinton visited Somalia last year? Some members of Islam consider handshaking between genders taboo. Ahmed, himself a Muslim and president of a predominantly Muslim country, risked offending many Somalis by shaking Clinton’s hand. As one Somali man was quoted by the Washington Post, “For many people, whether he’s loyal to Islam or not depends on the handshake.” Islam isn’t the only religion that restricts opposite gender handshakes; Orthodox Jews that practice “shomer negiah,” which translates as “observant of touch,” often won’t shake hands with the opposite sex. As for your question, if there
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is any way to identify these customs, the answer is no. Just as many Somalis wanted Ahmed to shake Clinton’s hand as those who didn’t. Considering the situation, you did nothing wrong by extending your hand for a shake. You were being polite. You were also being polite by not making a scene when the man declined. Can you imagine explaining yourself every time you shook someone’s hand? It would be exhausting and possibly uncomfortable depending on the setting. Sarah Routman, the executive director of Hillel Jewish Student Center at the University of Minnesota, offers some helpful advice: If you are unsure of someone’s customs, wait for them to extend a hand for a shake. If the situation requires you to make the first move, be gracious if you get denied. A Muslim or Jewish man’s decision to not shake a woman’s hand, or vice versa, is no different than a Roman Catholic refusing to eat red meat on Friday— it’s spiritual, not sexist. Shake on, Prof. P.
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BREAKIN’ IT DOWN BY ALICIA WERDEL
The U.S. Census Bureau projects the country’s demographics.
Population by Race Caucasian
74.3% African American
4.4% 2.2% .8%
Population of the United States by State
.15% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
“I mark African American if I can only choose one, because when I’m out and about I don’t feel people see me as white. They see me as a minority.” — Aaron Smith, 28, Minneapolis
Finding the Bull’s-Eye Targeting an audience with a political ad is becoming a more precise art.
BLUR: How has the practice of targeting your audience changed?
When an election nears, ad campaigns make or break a politician. But are successful advertisements getting harder to produce? Scott Perreault, CEO and founder of a Minneapolis-based political advertising company, ScottPolitical.com, has more than 20 years of experience in audience targeting. He shares his insight on how he uses market research to guide politicians in pointing their ads toward voters most likely to tip the scale.
it’s massive. There’s no guesswork anymore. The last week before an election, when people are inundated with commercials on CNN or NBC, they literally turn their channels off to get away. We track them down. We find them on The Golf Channel. They’re more likely to be receptive [to the ads that we make] because there’s just one of our ads versus a hundred in a row.
BLUR | fall 2010
Scott Perreault: It’s not just a little bit of knowledge;
“I do like to put Hispanic/Latino, because people have pre-judgements about them and if they see me it confuses them. But there are times I won’t put anything because I don’t want people to judge me based on that. I don’t think it should matter at all.” — Amy Jo Rohrer, 27, Mound, Minn.
Hispanic Population Mexican
69.1% Puerto Rican
Of Spanish Descent
Top 5 Languages Spoken at Home
8.7% 5.4% 4.3%
English Spanish Chinese French Pacific Islander
Multilingual Americans English Only English and Spanish English and Indo-European English and Asian/Pacific Islander English and Other
B: Which aspects of an advertisement do you change to make it appeal to certain groups of people? B: How important is it for a candidate to figure out how to reach their target audience?
SP: It’s pretty obvious—maybe I’ve been doing this too long—[what] you’re targeting in the 2010 election: the female, independent, moderate vote. There are two or three issues the female moderate will be more willing to listen to—certainly more visuals can be used and can include children. If you see a specific type of core—iron workers, steel workers or business people—you can tell by the colors. All those kinds of things that allow you to reach that person without screaming, “Hey, are you this person? Vote for us!” — KEVIN COSS
SP: A couple years ago we worked with Ralph Nader. [He was] busy ... constantly on the move. But he found time once a week to be involved in all the production meetings. It was that important. Usually, candidates are involved. They have a vision, and our job is to put it into a format with pictures, and words, and music and high-tech fonts and all that stuff.
BLUR | fall 2010
Seeking Common Ground Is it time to focus on political parties’ similarities? Let’s face it: The political climate in the United States is growing more hostile every day. Anybody who witnessed last year’s town hall meetings on the federal health care bill can attest to it. For a myriad of reasons, including a slower-thanexpected economic recovery, hyper-partisanship is the norm in American politics, and there seems to be less and less room for moderates and those who advocate compromise. In this environment of divisive politics, it’s difficult to see anything but the differences that exist between political ideologies. But what is rarely acknowledged is the common ground that these groups often share. Whether it’s philosophy, policy or just common goals for the country to achieve, politicians from different parties can, on occasion, agree with each other. Yes, Republicans can agree with Green Party members. Even Libertarians agree with Socialists on some issues, believe it or not. — ALEX HALL
Key to Political Ideologies Democrats
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REPUBLICANS ONLY: For: right-to-life policies; private school vouchers; the death penalty. DEMOCRATS ONLY: For: a government-funded health care option; government intervention in the economy (imposing regulations on financial companies, government spending to stimulate the economy); the graduated income tax. LIBERTARIANS ONLY: For: elimination of the public school system; elimination of the Federal Reserve; elimination of the income tax; abolition of the minimum wage. SOCIALISTS ONLY: For: worker and community ownership of corporations; public-only financing of elections; a cap on executive compensation; the repeal of North American Free Trade Agreements (NAFTA) and other free trade agreements. GREEN PARTY ONLY: For: eventually eliminating the use of fossil fuels. REPUBLICANS AND LIBERTARIANS: For: a laissez-faire economy; small government; privatizing social security; a flat income tax; privately run heath care; gun rights; reduction of taxes. REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS: For: the war on terror; prohibiting illicit drugs; a strong military presence overseas. LIBERTARIANS AND SOCIALISTS: For: legalizing illicit drugs. GREEN PARTY AND SOCIALISTS: For: universal health care; prohibiting offshore oil drilling; holding corporations who pollute responsible; prohibiting new nuclear and coal power plants; a steeply graduated income tax. DEMOCRATS, GREEN PARTY AND SOCIALISTS: For: the creation of green jobs; legislation regulating greenhouse gas emissions; social programs (such as welfare, food stamps and publicly-funded social security); federally-funded stem cell research; labor unions. DEMOCRATS, LIBERTARIANS, GREEN PARTY AND SOCIALISTS: For: GLBT rights; womenâ€™s reproductive rights policies; complete separation of church and state.
ALL FIVE: For: energy independence; freedom of speech; freedom of religion.
BLUR | fall 2010
SPIDER BY BRIAN JOHNSON
Wrestling, writing and entertaining are only three
strands in Terrance
wrestling hold called the seated abdominal stretch. A Minneapolis
TV show that addresses whatever is on the host’s mind. A ScoobyDoo comic book featuring a
Griep, of Minneapolis, may be best known for his wrestling character SpiderBaby, who woos his devoted fans by respectfully calling them “fruit flies.” Like his creator, SpiderBaby is unique in the Twin Cities wrestling community and beyond because he’s openly gay. But Griep’s wrestling alter ego is definitely not a gimmick. He’s earned the title of Midwest Champion with his home federation, Northern Lights Wrestling. In 2009, SpiderBaby was named Best Professional Wrestler by Minneapolis’s City Pages.
mythical Rainbow Serpent. What, you may ask, is the thread that ties all of these together? In some shape or form, each is the creation
Griep started wrestling in 2003. He came out to the wrestling world before his first match. “Coming out on the independent scene
of Terrance Griep, also known as
retired or active,” says Griep. After the match, Griep received a
Tommy “The SpiderBaby” Saturday.
standing ovation from other wrestlers in the locker room. (continued on page 12)
BLUR | fall 2010
Photos by: Matt Carlson
is not nearly as big a deal as coming out as an NFL player, whether
BABY “I always rooted
“The writing, more than a
for the villains, to
job, it is a lifestyle. It just
the extent where
my mom wanted to bring me to the
“Writing structure will
bleed into all sorts of things, but especially
“SpiderBaby is exactly
who I would be.”
“[When writing on
“There’s a lot about him I
deadline], the rest
admire, because he lives
of my life kind of
in the moment, which I’ve
has to take a
never been able to do.”
backseat.” “A wrestling match is a story— it’s an extremely physical story—but it’s a story. It has a beginning, middle and an end.”
BLUR | fall 2010
“Coming out on the independent scene is not nearly as big a deal as coming out as an NFL player, whether retired or active,” says Griep. but that seems far away,” Griep says of his constant writing.
Since then, he has found a way to successfully relate to his
This fall marks Griep’s seventh anniversary as a wrestler.
fans. The fruit flies have stuck around. “I don’t forget that they are
When asked about retirement, Griep admits he finds it hard to
there. I’m always interacting with the fans,” Griep says.
take seriously until he finds something that he loves as much
Whether he’s playing a good guy, bad guy or just plain cheater—which he often is—Griep’s can send a message. “He’s
as wrestling. “Interacting with a huge live crowd. And living in a
just really smart about telling a story with his body,” says Bill
world where I can beat people up legally. And good and evil are
Borea, a retired semi-professional wrestler and Griep’s co-host
clearly, easily delineated. I just don’t know what would replace all
on MTN Spectator, a Minneapolis variety TV show. “He’s a
that,” Griep says. He isn’t sure when it will be, but when he eventually walks
away, it won’t be easy. “There will be a hole there,” Griep says as
comic book writer since 1993, he’s written for the DC Comic
he ponders his future. “What do I replace that with? Who will that
Scooby-Doo and is currently developing a SpiderBaby comic. “I
version of this Griep guy be?” More than likely, he will spin up an
keep working toward the day where I will be less all-consumed …
entirely new web.
Photos by: Matt Carlson
Griep’s talent for storytelling extends beyond the ropes. A
BLUR | fall 2010
But whether he’s a good guy, bad guy or just plain cheater, Griep can tell a story.
GLBT... Is that a sandwich? A crash course in gender identity terminology. Do you know how to respectfully refer to someone who has had a sex change operation? What about a man who wears women’s clothing? The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) website provides information specifying commonly misused and misunderstood GLBT terms. Here are a few that are good to know: TRANSGENDER Is a term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. This term is meant to be used as an adjective, not a noun. Right: “a transgender person.” Wrong: “a transgender.” Transgender can include transsexuals, cross-dressers and other “gender-variant” people. Some transgender people alter their bodies hormonally and/ or surgically, while others choose not to. Thus, transgender is often referred to as an umbrella term in the GLBT community. TRANSSEXUAL Refers to people who have changed their gender by undergoing surgical procedures. While some prefer the term transsexual, others want to be identified as a transgender person. TRANSVESTITE Is an offensive term in the GLBT community; cross-dresser is the preferred alternative. This term pertains to people who are comfortable with their sex and don’t desire to change it. Cross-dressers are not individuals who have taken on a full-time life as the opposite sex. — LAURA SIEVERT
Griep’s fruit flies cheer on SpiderBaby as he singlehandedly fights an uphill battle against Scott “The Brauler” Brault (in pink) and his partner, Patrick “Seven Feet of Sexy” Lomax (in black).
BLUR | fall 2010
BY BENJAMIN ONG
Japanese aesthetics sculpt American pop culture. Don’t lie. You collected the cards. You watched the show. You chose Pokémon and Pokémon chose you. But it’s no coincidence that cute little Pikachu made its way into your heart. Since the term “Japonism” was first used in the late 1800s to describe the influence of Japanese art on Western art, the impact of the Japanese aesthetic on American pop culture can’t be overstated. From cartoons to comics to film to architecture, Americans increasingly see the world through a Japanese lens. Samurai Jack
BLUR | fall 2010
Drawn together Anime and manga—Japanese cartoons and comic books, respectively—have influenced American television shows such as Samurai Jack, The Ren and Stimpy Show and The Powerpuff Girls. A cartoon about a timedisplaced warrior, Samurai Jack uses flushed-out colors, much like traditional Japanese paintings. The Powerpuff Girls, a show about three action heroes, uses a color combination of pink, blue and green. Each specific color is associated with a member of the superhero team. What’s more, the cartoon’s giant robot and Godzilla-like monsters are as gimmicky as traditional anime villains.
Courtesy of: Cartoon Network and Speed Racer Enterprises. Copyright 2010 Speed Racer Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Illustrated evil Anime villains are scary because they unexpectedly transform in front of your eyes, says Frenchy Lunning, Ph.D., a professor of liberal Speed Racer is an early example of anime that gained popularity in America. arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. books like Spiderman, which showcases Peter Parker’s struggle In Perfect Blue, an anime film focusing on a pop idol and her into maturity. Parker was the guy who never could seem to do stalker, the audience first gets to know the singer’s manager it right, a flaw that brought realism to his character. The change as a positive and helpful character. As the film progresses, in character styles can also be seen in the evolution of the the manager develops an obsession with the singer that Batman franchise, which originally assumed a lighthearted and eventually drives her insane. “When she transforms at the end, comical triteness but later turned dark and serious. Think of it’s so freaky because we know her and we can think like her,” Adam West’s portrayal of Batman opposed to Christian Bale’s. Lunning says. Disney’s Sleeping Beauty presents the opposite approach, where the villain Maleficent is simply evil. The The eyes have it Big eyes are the defining feature of anime. narrative provides little back story or character development to When anime artist Osamu Tezuka started the trend with his explain how this happened or what’s going on in her head. 1952 Astroboy comic book, he was inspired by the exaggerated features of Walt Disney’s characters, including Mickey Mouse We’ve got soul Before the late 1990s, most American cartoons and Bambi. That’s because Tezuka believed that large used linear storytelling. The characters were flesh, bone and eyes showed more emotions and distinct expressions. superpower, but they lacked soul and character development. In the 1980s, many American cartoons like HeLunning points to the advertised trailers for the upcoming film Man and Thundercats had a realistic look with normalGreen Lantern, due to hit theaters mid-2011, noting it trades sized eyes. Eventually, large eyes made their way back character depth in favor of action scenes. Lunning says the way into American cartoons, including Dexter’s Laboratory, Green Lantern laughingly shows off his newfound superpower Rugrats, The Ren and Stimpy Show and Family Guy. seems disingenuous and fake. “[American comic producers] are so tied up with this love affair for the dorky, funny power toy,” she says. “If it were a real person, they’d be freaked out.” American plots originally revolved around a superhuman and super shallow male protagonist, who was a far shot from a regular guy. The Japanese anime Sailor Moon changed that by introducing characters that matured over time; they grew from frightened schoolgirls to heroines. Eventually, that preference for character development moved stateside. “They started to change things,” Lunning says. “[The cartoons] started to be about the person.” That preoccupation with character growth appears in comic
Girl power Until the 1990s, most American cartoons were created for boys, featuring lots of fighting and male superheroes. “We girls, all we got was Wonder Woman. That was just DC throwing us a bone,” says Lunning, who adds that early female cartoon characters were rarely tough. Often, they played the damsel in distress for the male superhero to save. And then came Sailor Moon. This anime about a group of middle-school girls with super powers hit American airwaves in 1995. Lunning believes that the show and other “girl-centric”
BLUR | fall 2010
anime sparked a new trend in the West, with television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Powerpuff Girls, in which girls are the prominent characters and are able to stand their ground against male counterparts. “It’s not just that they can go kick ass,” Lunning says. “The story revolves around them; they hold the story together. That’s where the power is.” These female characters weren’t just heroines in an action scene, but they were emotionally powerful as well. Nana, a manga about the friendship of two girls living in Tokyo, trades fight scenes for the personality difference between friends to further its plot. The influences of Japanese manga brought American girls into comics in a way they had never been before. “It was such a boy’s art—done for boys and done by boys—and girls were really cut out of it,” Lunning says. Today, the majority of comic books produced by industry giants such as DC and Marvel are still directed toward boys, but women characters are growing in popularity among independent publishers. Fun Home, a memoir comic by Alison Bechdel about her life growing up in a funeral home, was a huge hit. Despite its success, Fun Home wasn’t published by a major comic book producer. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published the series.
have been profoundly influenced by the Japanese fondness for cuteness. That’s what drove the American craze for one of the most popular Japanese contributions to American culture: Pokémon. Eventually, “cuteness” found its way into cartoons and packaging. Hello Kitty, a Japanese merchandise franchise featuring a rounded female cat with an oversized red bow, was an immediate success when it hit the U.S. in 1976. Since then, advertising and marketing companies have incorporated fuzzy animals into packaging and advertisements. In 2000, Charmin toilet paper introduced a group of fuzzy bears in their advertisements—they have since become mascots of the toilet paper. This year, Kia released a television ad featuring adorable hamster rappers. In addition to airing on television, the ad has amassed hundreds of thousands of views on Internet video sites, such as YouTube— evidence of its warm reception in the U.S. While Japanese manga and anime have changed American comics and cartoons in many ways, Lunning believes the influence is still in progress. “They’ve recognized the power of manga,” she says. “And they’re adapting both stylistically and in terms of storylines.” Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup together form the Powerpuff Girls, a superpowered team that fight to save the world before bedtime.
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Courtesy of: Cartoon Network and King Features Syndicate. ©2000 King Features Syndicate, Inc./Fleischer Studios Inc. TM Hearst Holdings.
Betty Boop’s “big eyes” inspired Osamu Tezuka’s drawings.
Too cute American marketing and design, according to Lunning,
ZEN SPACES Traditional Japanese
of space, from Japanese
architecture idealizes the
architecture. When I visited
use of space and ease of
Fallingwater in Pennsylvania,
movement. It is a practical
I found that same sensibility
idea, one that American
of space. But there were the
architecture legend Frank
additional natural sounds of
Lloyd Wright realized
nature that appealed to me.”
and incorporated into his
Japanese architecture also
designs, particularly with his
emphasizes harmony with
nature. Built atop an active
Tadao Ando, a renowned
waterfall, Fallingwater feels
Japanese architect, was
bonded to the surrounding
quoted as saying, “I
forest. Constructed of wood
think Wright learned the
and grey-stone, the structure
most important aspect of
is well integrated with its
architecture, the treatment
natural surroundings. — BENJAMIN ONG A fireplace in Fallingwater. The Japanese elements used in Fallingwater’s design include horizontality of space, low-slung profile, extended rooflines, detailed roof
Photos by: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (Exterior) and Robert Ruschak (Interior).
edges, exposure of natural materials and the use of a porch, according to Blaine Brownell, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture.
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DO YOU SPEAK IT? Karen refugees find a new home on a familiar field. As the national anthem played over the loudspeakers, the boys of the Humboldt High School varsity soccer team stared at the flag of the country that had granted them refuge. Humboldt lined up along the right side of the field, standing tall and yet a full head shorter than their
BY YURIDIA RAMÍREZ
opponents. The boys smirked as they heard their names being mispronounced by the announcer. When Aliaar Abdulle, a team captain, became “A liar,” their chuckles could be heard from the stands. But by the time the starting whistle blew, all traces of laughter had vanished from their faces. This was the championship game of section 4A, the furthest any Humboldt team had ever gotten.
Photo by: Marlie Barry
There are 16 players on Humboldt’s soccer team. Fifteen are refugees from Myanmar—the official name of Burma—and Somalia. Of those 15, 13 are Karen—an ethnic group from Karen State, Myanmar, that has been aggressively targeted for nearly half a century by the governing military group that has controlled the country. Traditionally, Myanmar is a Buddhist country, but about 30 percent of Karen practice Christianity. Eh Taw Dwe, a board member of the Karen Organization of Minnesota and a refugee himself, says that the Karen are persecuted because of their religion, their ethnicity and their political opinion. “You can tell religious persecution is happening in the country,” Dwe says. “Those who are Buddhist may not be familiar with this part because the country is a Buddhist country. Only the Christians understand it.”
The Karen students and teammates Julian GarciaDelaney, Abdulle and Abdishakur Mohamud have revitalized Humboldt’s soccer program, which until 2007 had not had a winning season for 20 years. In October, the players 19
Left: Humboldt boys varsity soccer team huddles before their first playoff game against New Life Academy in St. Paul, Minn.
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“Even though we all want to go to college next year, we all want to go to the same college. I’m scared to go alone. I don’t want to be new again.” became Humboldt’s first varsity soccer team in history to advance to the championship game in their section. Tin Tun Naing, 20, was the goalkeeper and one of the team captains—the former a role he wishes he didn’t have to play because of the pressure, the latter a role he takes seriously on the field. “He’s like their dad,” says head varsity coach Matt Osborne. “He is the one who keeps them together.” Born in the village of Kaw Hlaing in Karen State, Naing’s life was disrupted when his family’s farm was forcibly taken away by the military when he was five. Naing’s family is Buddhist, so they were not persecuted for religious reasons. He thinks the military wanted his family’s land for themselves. Seeing no viable way to provide for their family, Naing’s mother and father departed for Mae Sot, Thailand, leaving Naing to live with his 15-year-old sister. Naing was finally reunited with his family four years later, and by the time he was 13, he and his family were living in a refugee camp in Mae La, Thailand. More than 1,000 people were living in the refugee camp, which Naing says was a microcosm of Myanmar, where they ate free rice and fish paste donated from an international human rights organization and lived in houses made of bamboo. Soccer distracted Naing and other children his age from camp life. Naing remembers skipping school to go play soccer with other boys, even though he knew his actions would prompt a certain stick-whipping by his teacher. That there was no grass or appropriate footwear didn’t matter. “If we put shoes on, we can’t catch the ball,” Naing says. Besides, “shoes are expensive.”
Mounds Park tied the game at 1-1 by the 12th minute, and five minutes later they scored again to take the lead. Slowly, the Humboldt players’ consistent game became disordered. Mounds Park players were brawnier than the average 5-foot-5-inch Humboldt player, and their aggressive style of play remained unchecked by the referee.
Four more years would pass until Naing would be safely in the United States. His family applied to be relocated in Minnesota with the help of the International Organization of Migration. Naing and his family arrived in St. Paul on March 11, 2008, a day that will live forever in his memory. “I have to remember that day,” Naing says. “First day of being in the United States.” So far, Naing says life is better. He doesn’t have to pay for school or live in fear that the police will send them back to Myanmar. “I like it here,” he says, “Here is better. You can have a job here. You can have an education here. I don’t want to live there.” Starting a new school in a new culture, however, was difficult. “The first year of school, no good,” Naing says. “I didn’t know anybody in school. I didn’t have a friend here.” Naing didn’t speak English, and in 2008, there were only a handful of Karen students, most of whom were more advanced than Naing. He was left to venture on his own. But now with more than 100 Karen students attending Humboldt, refugee students have a greater network of support than Naing had just two years earlier. They even have a Karen translator: Mr. Sunshine. Soccer entered Naing’s life, again, at a crucial moment. He eventually befriended a Hmong student, Yee Her, who invited him to play for St. Paul United, a competitive club soccer team in the city. “When I joined the team, I didn’t even talk,” Naing says. But he liked playing soccer, and while he might not have understood what his teammates were saying, he did understand the game.
Within 13 minutes of the first half, Myat Aye had scored a goal for Humboldt—a scissor kick in the air that propelled the ball to the top left corner of the goal. The game was tight for the rest of the half, both sides equally diligent. The first 20 minutes of the second half proved decisive.
Left: Tin Tun Naing strikes the ball back into play. Right: Julian Garcia-Delaney (left) readies himself as Yae Naing Tun (right) heads the ball toward their goal. Top right: Head varsity coach Matt Osborne (right) tackles his team after earning second place in their conference.
BLUR | fall 2010
Photos by: Marlie Barry
Now Naing has a lot of friends, most of whom are refugee and immigrant students from all over the world. But his closest friends are members of the team. Their varsity team is united by soccer, the one language they all fluently speak. And their “family” exists off the field as well. At a team dinner, GarciaDelaney’s mother, Carrie Garcia, made the team feel like they were all in the same family, eating noodles together, Naing says. “Sometimes when we meet before the game starts,” he says, “instead of saying ‘Hawks on three,’ we say ‘Hawks on family.’” Family is especially significant to these students, some of whom lost parents, brothers and sisters in Myanmar. Players who do have relatives in St. Paul still can’t expect their families to attend games because most lack transportation or have work conflicts. So, Humboldt’s students and staff have become surrogate family members. In a school where 41 percent of the students are English-language learners and 91 percent receive free or reduced lunch, a welcoming atmosphere has positively impacted their lives. Though they will part ways upon graduation, GarciaDelaney, Abdulle and Mohamud will continue being Naing’s friends. But he and his Karen friends will most likely be together for a long time to come. “Even though we all want
to go to college next year,” he says, “we all want to go to the same college. I’m scared to go alone. I don’t want to be new again.”
In the final 20 minutes, Mounds Park scored again, making the final score 3-1 and ending Humboldt’s chances of making history at state. The Mounds Park team—whose students pay an annual tuition of $19,960—celebrated by drenching their coach with ice water. The boys from Myanmar—all who had lived in refugee camps, and some who had been forced to live in the jungle in order to hide from “the enemy”—sat on the soccer field, staring at the goalposts. Teary-eyed, the boys rose slowly and walked with their heads down toward their bench. The cheering of the small group of teachers and classmates who had travelled to watch them play made them look up—a greeting fit for champions. “At this point,” Osborne says, “there is no way this season isn’t a success.” Naing was sad, but the shining medal hanging around his neck only reaffirmed how far his team had gotten and demonstrated his feelings now that it was all over. “Better now,” Naing says. “It’s better now.”
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BY MATT CARLSON
Four great places to find Multicultural Meals in Minneapolis.
Chin Dian Café
1500 East Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55414 612. 676.1818 www.chindiancafe.com Married couple Nina Wong and Thomas Gnanapragasam of Minneapolis are the masterminds behind this Chinese-Indian eatery. Wong is of Chinese descent but was born in Vietnam. Gnanapragasam is Indian, born in Malaysia. The couple also has a 3-year-old daughter who, according to Wong, is truly “Chindian.”
Chicken Chow Mai Fun Ingredients: 1/4 cup cooked chicken 1/4 cup carrot (optional) 1/4 cup onion 1/4 cup bean sprouts 1/4 cup green onions 1 handful of rice vermicelli
Preparation: Heat wok on high and add oil. Reduce heat to medium and scramble one egg. Add sliced onion, carrot and chicken, sauteing until onion is translucent. Next, add rice vermicelli, curry powder and salt into the wok mixture. Cook until noodles are limp. Finally, toss in bean sprouts and green onions.
The food overlaps Asian traditions with distinctly Vietnamese and Malaysian influences. Their Chicken Chow Mai Fun is a traditional Chinese dish with an Indian curry zing. Wong also markets her own line of sauces, so you can take the unique flavors home.
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2 tablespoons curry powder 1 tablespoon salt 1 egg 3 tablespoons oil
201 East Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55414 612.746.0304 www.gingerhop.com East meets Nordeast at Ginger Hop, where Asian flavors spice up classic American dishes. Manager Katey Leitch says the Northeast neighborhood is a great spot for an Asian fusion restaurant like Ginger Hop.
The restaurantâ€™s signature sandwich, dubbed the Kimchi Kulakofsky, takes Reuben Kulakofskyâ€™s original Reuben to new levels. Co-owner Charles Lodge was inspired to replace sauerkraut with kimchi and Thousand Island dressing with Sriracha mayonnaise while eating the traditional version on vacation.
Photos by: Matt Carlson
Ingredients: 2 slices pumpernickel bread Generous pile of corned beef Swiss cheese Kimchi Sriracha mayonnaise Sweet potato fries Preparation: Heat corned beef and toasted bread on a griddle. Assemble sandwich with desired amount of toppings and condiments. For sweet potato fries, slice sweet potatoes into thin strips, fry and toss with salt.
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2916 Hennepin Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55408 612.824.7878 www.chinolatino.com
Chino Latino’s cheeky menu reads “crisp fried calamari with a spicy pepper salt from some island in the South China Sea,” but there’s more story behind this squid dish. Before opening the restaurant, Executive Chef Tuan Nguyen traveled to Lamma Island, southeast of Hong Kong, where he sampled items and formulated the menu. Nguyen found a restaurant serving a delicious squid steak dish. When he returned to the U.S., he could find nothing like it. With the addition of peppers and onions, the Asian island dish evolved into a Minneapolis favorite.
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Lamma Island Salty Squid Ingredients: 1 squid, cleaned and cut into rings 1 red pepper 1 jalapeño 1 yellow onion Breading: 1 quart cornstarch 1/4 cup salt 1/6 cup white pepper
Squid Salt: 1/2 quart fine salt 1/2 cup black pepper 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup five spice 5 tablespoons garlic powder 1/4 cup cayenne
Preparation: After slicing squid into rings, dredge them in the breading mixture. Fry the vegetables and squid until the calamari is crispy. Add the salt mixture into the calamari and mix to taste.
With a nod to the singer’s famous “Banana Boat Song,” this chicken dish will sail to the top of your list of favorite plates to share at Chino Latino. The chicken is breaded with crushed plantain and doused in passion fruit sauce to brighten up this Caribbean-style dish.
Belafonte’s Banana Boat Chicken Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup passion fruit concentrate 1 pint heavy cream j 3/8 cup sugar 1 shallot, minced 1 tablespoon chicken base salt and pepper mix to taste 1 green plantain
1 cup vegetable oil 1 pound chicken breast 1 egg 1/2 green pepper julienned 1/4” 1/2 yellow onion julienned 1/4” 1/4 carrot julienned 1/4” 1 cup white rice
Photos by: Matt Carlson
Preparation: Melt butter in a large saucepan and add shallots for a brief saute. Add sugar, chicken base and salt and pepper mix. Remove from heat and keep warm. Slice plantain thinly on a mandoline slicer and fry in vegetable oil until crispy. Crush plantains for breading. Dip the chicken in the beaten egg wash, then roll in fried plantain crumbs. Saute and finish in 350-degree oven. Serve with passion fruit sauce and rice. blur-mag.com
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291 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55408 612.824.6300 www.fusionmpls.com
The word “Tako” is not an attempt to be hip; it is the Japanese word for octopus. Chef Terry Hong fuses typical sushi accoutrements with a variety of ingredients, such as fried tempura crumbs and house-made mayonnaise. Since sushi has little smell by nature, Chef Hong stacks this dish high to stimulate the diner’s sense of sight.
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Terry’s Tako Salad Ingredients: Octopus Seaweed salad Spicy Sriracha mayonnaise Smelt roe (smelt eggs) English cucumber Burdock root (pickled Japanese carrot)
Daikon sprouts Tempura flakes Flying fish roe (flying fish eggs) House sweet sauce Sesame seeds Lemon garnish
Preparation: Cut octopus into thin slices. Mix with seaweed salad, smelt roe and spicy mayonnaise. Slice English cucumber and lay out for a “liner” on the plate. Place salad on top of cucumber with julienned, pickled carrots and sprouts. Complete by sprinkling tempura flakes and sesame seeds. Drizzle on sweet sauce and place flying fish roe on top with a lemon garnish.
Fusion Roll Ingredients: Nori (seaweed roll) Sushi rice English cucumber Burdock root (pickled Japanese carrot) Spicy Sriracha mayonnaise Shrimp tempura
Spicy tuna (Sriracha chile oil, jalapeños) Fried Yukon potatoes Flying fish roe White truffle oil House eel sauce Diced scallions Wasabi Ginger
The brainchild of the four original Fusion chefs, the Fusion Roll is comprised of elements that are usually on opposite ends of the table. From fried shrimp and potatoes to raw tuna, it’s almost faster to list what’s not included. The mixture of hot and cold, crunchy and chewy creates a unique blend of textures and flavors. It’s topped with crispy potatoes and a drizzle of truffle oil.
Photos by: Matt Carlson
Preparation: Flatten sushi rice onto the nori. Lay shrimp strips, cucumber and carrot lengthwise, add mayonnaise. Roll this with the rice on the outside. Place spicy tuna on top of the roll, and slice into bite size pieces. Top with fried potatoes, eel sauce, scallions, truffle oil and roe. Complete with a traditional wasabi and ginger garnish.
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DOING MORE, Is mu lt it ask i ng l owe r ing ou r IQs? BY MARIAL WEIDNER When recent college graduate Ross Urven wakes up, he does a lot more than read the morning news or down a bowl of cereal. “I turn on the TV, turn on the computer, check my e-mail, Facebook and about eight different webcomics—all on different windows,” says the Wisconsin native. “Sometimes I use two different computers. I also feed my plants on Plants vs. Zombies on Xbox 360.” Urven is a proud epitome of a generation known for doing five things at once. He is a multitasker. And according to current research, all this switching around may be more hazardous to his health than taking a bong hit or getting behind the wheel after a round of beers. Used for decades to describe the parallel processing abilities of computers, multitasking is now shorthand for the human attempt to do as many things as possible at the same time. Years ago, the skill was the mainstay of corporate resumes. Today, the rapid rise of the Internet and other technologies has made multitasking so commonplace that it’s almost blase. The simple act of reading a book has been replaced by listening to a podcast while walking down the street and texting your friend. Want to write in a
BLUR | fall 2010
Multitasking has become second nature to many university students.
journal? Don’t be so old school. Try posting on a blog while listening to music and cooking dinner. All of this multitasking is made possible by our increasing dependence on digital technology and screens. But while multitasking has been encouraged in schools and in the workplace, new research shows that it can have some very serious consequences. Several studies show that doing more than one thing at a time can have drastic consequences, including car accidents and injuries. Workers who were distracted by e-mail and phone calls saw their IQs drop more
than twice compared with people who smoke marijuana, according to a study conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London. Multitasking has become so routine that it can feel like an addiction. According to InsideFacebook.com, 18- to 25-year-olds make up 43 percent of total Facebook users, more than any other age demographic. A study conducted by Covenant College found that Facebook users have lower GPAs than those who use Facebook less or not at all. In addition, a study conducted by Ohio University about their undergraduates 28
concluded, “Users averaged one to five hours a week studying, while non-users studied 11 to 15 hours per week. Typically, Facebook users in the study had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5, while non-users had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0.” Laptops can also feed the multitasking frenzy. Results from a study conducted by the Winona State University Psychology Department showed that students who brought a laptop to class spent much of their time doing several tasks at once, distracting both themselves and fellow students: “The level blur-mag.com
THINKING LESS of laptop use was negatively related to several measures of student learning; including self-reported understanding of course material and overall course performance.” Instead of absorbing the information their professors are presenting, students are increasingly logging on to Facebook or browsing YouTube. “You can be in the front of the classroom and your hair could catch on fire and they’ll never see it because their eyes are glued to the 14-inch screen at the end of their nose,” says University of Houston Associate Professor Dennis Adams in his Wall Street Journal article, “The Laptop Backlash.” Libraries used to be a place for people to read or study quietly. Now they are filled with people clicking away on their laptops, listening to their
iPods and quickly scanning information. This concerns librarians like Kimberly Clarke, who works at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities: “New technologies provide a quick and easy way to scan information, but often students do not actually retain the information,” she says. But not all multitasking is harmful. For Urven, it’s actually helped him maintain one of the most important aspects of his life. “I’m in a long-distance relationship and we rarely have enough signal for actual conversations,” he says. “So we tend to text throughout the day.”
Your memory frequently lapses.
You have difficulty retaining information.
Your productivity drops.
Your accuracy declines.
apps to make those everyday devices
Layar Reality Browser
Starbucks Card Mobile
you’re lugging around obsolete. To
Picture this: You’re on an
Trying to find enough
unfamiliar street and want to
change in your pocket for
know which restaurant is the
your morning espresso?
best. Don’t Google each one—
Nothing but lint? Don’t cry.
fire up this app. Using your
Now you can pay for your
Why get your news from only one
phone’s camera, Layar Reality
caffeine fix with your phone.
paper? Broadersheet combines all
Browser visually recognizes
Currently this app can only
Smart phones store more, so you can carry less.
the news from around the world
places and then layers textual
be used at limited locations,
in one app. It learns about your
information, like reviews, on top
but it’s expected to expand.
Backpack full? Go buy a smart
interests and feeds your phone
of what you see on your screen.
phone. Now, go purchase some
with related stories.
help you get started, here’s a list of helpful apps. You’re welcome.
Within Reach Photos by: Marlie Barry
Is multitasking ruining your life? Here’s how to tell:
— LARRY GANDY
BLUR | fall 2010
Beyond the Blueprint
Computer-aided design pushes the limits of architecture. If you watched Michael Phelps win a record-breaking eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games, you witnessed another incredible feat as well. Beijingâ€™s Water Cube, the aquatic center for the competition, was created with the help of generative designâˆ’a new type of computer software for architects.
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Photos by: (clockwise from left) Dmitry Perstin, Francisco Diez, Kudu Momo, Taso Viglas and Kyle Simourd. Rendering by Mike Hara.
Without generative design, architects begin creating a building with an overall vision of what they want it to look like. Then they adjust their models according to what is actually buildable. With generative design, architects start with the parameters they want the building to incorporate. This can range from wanting to take full advantage of south-side sunlight to needing the air to flow in an energy-saving, spherical pattern throughout the building. Or, as in the case of the Water Cube and the Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium), it may be that the architect wants to build an aquatic center around the concept of how bubbles look grouped together. Starting a project this way can result in a building with an appearance an architect could never have imagined. The computer, in a way, is a co-designer of the spaces. “It’s hard to tell where computeraided design ends and generative design begins,” says Lee Anderson, a professor of architecture at the University of Minnesota. “But usually, if there are parameters and some equations driving the shape, then you can pretty much call it generative design.” Since generative design is still considered a specialty in the field of architecture, the programs are fairly technical. However, Marc Swackhamer, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Minnesota, says it has already caught on in big firms and predicts that more will likely adopt it. — SAM OFFERDAHL
Opposite page: Beijing National Stadium (better known as the Bird’s Nest), was created using generative design components. Top far right: Inside Beijing’s Water Cube during the 2008 Olympics. Middle far right: Marc Swackhamer and Blair Satterfield, in association with colleagues from their architecture research collaborative HouMinn Practice, created OSWall, a relief shelter that can be built in one day and be made out of any type of material native to the land. Bottom far right and middle right: Outside Water Cube.
BLUR | fall 2010
Going Hybrid Designer dogs are the new top models. Labradoodle. Cockapoo. Schnoodle. Puggle. Poochin. Why would you shell up to $2,500 for a dog called a Labradoodle? Despite its silly name, Labradoodles and other hybrid dogs are challenging the superiority of the purebred— the long held standard of excellence in the dog world. Hybrids may have enjoyed increased recognition lately thanks to their popularity with celebrities, but they are more than just a hot trend. The breeding of the hybrid has serious benefits to the owner and dog alike. Hybrids, a combination of two purebreds, usually possess the highest level of physical and mental strength in the dog world, says Dr. Margaret Duxbury, a doctor of veterinary medicine and assistant clinical professor of behavior sciences at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
In addition, crossbreeding allows for a more diverse gene pool, eliminating most health defects that exist in purebreds. There are over 300 genetic heath defects documented in dogs, such as eye diseases, heart diseases, seizures and immune diseases. Many are common among purebreds due to years of breeding genetically similar dogs with one another. Crossbreeding two purebreds eliminates most of these problems. These designer dogs are proven to live healthier lives as they mature. Aside from the health benefits, hybrids have other favorable characteristics. For example, Poodle hybrids are non-allergenic. This is due to the Poodle’s unique coat that doesn’t shed. In fact, the first acknowledged hybrid, which appeared in the 1980s, was
a Labradoodle that was bred specifically to create a nonallergenic dog. While crossbreeding purebreds allows for the combination of dogs’ desirable physical traits, there’s no guarantee the two breeds’ temperaments will carry over to their hybrid offspring. This is one misconception of any breed, according to Dr. Duxbury. Thanks to extensive documentation, it may be easier to accurately predict a purebred’s temperament and behavior. But there are no guarantees to the temperament of any dog. People need to consider the early environmental and socialization aspects of a puppy, rather than focusing entirely on the breed type, says Dr. Duxbury. It’s one of the most important, yet most neglected, considerations
before buying a pup. All potential owners should research the early environmental situations of a dog before purchasing one, regardless of breed type or price. “Magic doesn’t occur with a specific breed; it’s the breeder.” — CHELSEY LARSON
Take a backseat, Lassie. Poodle hybrids are becoming increasingly popular.
FrEAkS of Nature
Spidergoat Don’t be surprised. You believed Spiderman creator Stan Lee, and the marriage between spider and goat is far more natural. Spidergoat milk
produces the same silky thread that spiders use to spin their webs. The silk is stronger and lighter than steel and is used to manufacture superlight clothing and bulletproof vests. Currently, scientists are working to make spidergoat silk production more sustainable and efficient.
discernable innards, especially the vital organs, the inviso-frog (more commonly known as the seethrough frog) is completely transparent. The frog was bred in Japan in 2007, and could someday save seventh graders from the horror of dissection, as its internal processes can be observed without picking up a scalpel.
Glowcat No, you cannot Inviso-frog Except
buy this fuzzy nightlight for your daughter who is afraid
for its perfectly
BLUR | fall 2010
of the dark. These cats emit a fluorescent green, or sometimes red, light at night that is used to test the effectiveness of introducing foreign genes to an animal. Scientists introduce a single glow-in-the-dark gene, and if the cat glows sometime later, it proves the original gene multiplied. Scientists hope the research will yield a treatment for human genetic disorders. — AGNES RZEPECKI
Photos by: H.L.I.T. (bottom) and Carl Malamud (top).
Move over, Superman. Here are the new super animals.
nine to five
Illustrations by: Jessica Tam
One-Man Band P21, a group that is devoted to preparing students for the Today’s 21st century job market. employers just In April, the AMA and can’t get no P21 published their “AMA satisfaction 2010 Critical Skills Survey,” which polled 2,115 managers when it comes and other executives in to their ideal AMA member and customer new hires. companies. The results show that managers measure their employees’ performances Abhi Kumar is in his final year through their ability to as a journalism student at the communicate, think critically, University of Minnesota. And like most soon-to-be graduates, collaborate and solve problems creatively. According to the he is well aware that he needs AMA, 75 percent of participating to gain experience in many executives say they “believe aspects of his future field. On top of crafting perfect inverted these skills and competencies will become more important to pyramid story structures, their organizations in the next Kumar pads his work with three to five years, particularly his own sound bites, video as the economy improves and supplements and photos. organizations look to grow.” Kumar is expecting the According to the American job market for journalists to Society for Training and Job be very difficult. “[It’s] not Development, new trends in just about knowing more,” job training and development says Kumar. “It’s being lucky include a focus on self-directed enough to land a job.” learning rather than big training He’s not alone. Today, events, diversity rather than many employers are asking homogeneity and social employees to increase their responsibility rather than profits. workload for the same pay. As For help improving your a result, job seekers such as resume, check out The Kumar are worried. For many University of Minnesotapositions, it’s no longer clear Morris Career Center which skills are considered to website at www.morris.umn. be the minimum requirements. The American Management edu/services/career/. — JESSICA TAM Association (AMA) has some answers. The AMA focuses on improving the performance of employees to make successful businesses. They work with national organizations like
BLUR | fall 2010
nine to five
From Scratch Immigrant restaurant owners build a tamale empire.
Amid the colorful and eclectic ambiance of the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis is the cornbread smell of tamales steaming in their husks. It’s lunchtime and there’s a line at La Loma Tamales restaurant. People are busy ordering their favorite tamale, from a vegetarian option filled with cheese to the classic Oaxacan version that’s wrapped in crunchy banana leaves. The restaurant and its cousin in Mercado Central are the creation of husband-wife duo Enrique García Salazar and Noelia Urzua Vázquez, who started their business in 1999 only to see their savings
BLUR | fall 2010
Because they were already selling homemade tamales to friends and people in their Minneapolis neighborhood, Salazar and Vázquez decided to open a restaurant. Using donated kitchen equipment, the couple opened La Loma in Mercado Central, a Latin American marketplace on Lake Street. The restaurant served atole—the traditional masa-based Mexican hot drink—and tamales.
They still had much to learn, however, about running a business. “We got a small loan and opened the business, but the results were not what we expected,” says Salazar. They started losing money and working long hours. Vázquez became pessimistic about their endeavor. That’s when the couple sought advice from their local Neighborhood Development Center. And for the first time,
Hungry lunch-goers wait patiently at La Loma in the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis.
Photos by: Marlie Barry
Enrique Garcia serves some of La Loma’s famous tamales.
depleted and credit scores devastated within three years. Now, nine years later, they’re not only the proprietors of two successful restaurants, but are selling to hungry Minnesota Gophers fans and preparing to market their tamales nationwide. Salazar and Vázquez are both from Quebrantadero, a tiny village in the Mexican state of Morelos. Both grew up in peasant families who lived off their harvests. In 1993, Salazar and Vázquez married. They left Mexico for Minneapolis just two days later. Their first jobs working in the Minneapolis food service and hotel industries were dispiriting. “We were treated poorly by racist people,” Salazar says. “And we were taken advantage of because they were in charge, not us.” When the hotel where they worked announced it was closing, the couple saw a perfect opportunity to become entrepreneurs.
nine to five
History of La Loma January 8, 1993: Salazar and Vásquez marry in Mexico. January 10, 1993: Immigrate to the U.S. 1998: Develop their tamale-making business idea as the Mercado Central initiative takes shape.
December 1998: Mercado Central initiative approves La Loma Tamales.
July 31, 1999: La Loma Tamales debuts as one of the founding businesses of Mercado Central.
A taco salad is just one of the many Mexican specialties of La Loma.
the hardworking couple saw a profit. With the help of John Flory, the current special projects director at the Latino Economic Development Center, they developed a plan to expand their business into wholesale, including distribution to the Cub Foods grocery chain. Today, you can buy La Loma Tamales in almost every Twin Cities supermarket. Their burritos and tacos are also sold in TCF Bank Stadium at Gophers home football games, and the company has continued to grow despite the poor economy. “They have qualities that most successful entrepreneurs have,” Flory says. “They are highly motivated, and they are willing to make big sacrifices and take risks.” Flory also attributes their success to their specialization in one niche market. La Loma currently has about 35 employees who are
all Mexican immigrants. “They have a strong sense of fairness to their employees and what their employees need,” Flory says. That insider knowledge also applies to their business savvy. “Immigrants are more likely to have some of the characteristics required of entrepreneurs,” says Flory. Salazar and Vázquez work hard to maintain the reputation of their primary product. “We have clients that come every day for their tamale and their coffee,” Salazar says. “So we try to return to the client a little of what they’ve afforded us over the years.” Salazar and Vázquez give back to their community by sponsoring programs that benefit Latinos. “We always think, ‘where did we come from?’” Salazar says. “That’s the key to being humble.” — YURIDIA RAMÍREZ
2001: La Loma Restaurant in Mercado Central opens; La Loma Tamales loses one cent for every tamale sold.
2002: Profits finally seen. 2003: La Loma Catering begins. 2004: Planning for La Loma Wholesale gets underway. 2005: La Loma Tamales opens in the Midtown Global Market. La Loma Wholesale is finally established.
2006: Cub Foods successes lead to mass appeal; Minnesota’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “25 on the Rise” list recognizes Vázquez and Salazar among 25 men and women under the age of 40 who have contributed to their communities.
2007: Vázquez is recognized as the Empresaria Latina by the Latino Economic Development Center.
2008: La Loma Tamales’ catering sales boom at the Midtown Global Market.
2009: Vázquez is awarded the 7th Annual National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship Entrepreneur of the Year.
2010: La Loma Tamales launches at the Northstar Tower in Minneapolis; TCF Bank Stadium location opens on the first level; honored at Finance & Commerce’s Minnesotans on the Move event.
2013: La Loma Tamales is projected to go national.
Qué Rica Vida
General Mills goes bilingual. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Latinos now constitute almost 16 percent of the U.S. population, making them the largest minority group in the country. That statistic is not lost on marketers. Twin Cities-based food giant General Mills has developed a program called “Qué Rica Vida” that targets Latina moms through a quarterly print publication and website. Both are written entirely in Spanish and not only promote healthy lifestyles but also provide recipes (often featuring General Mills foodstuffs), life advice and coupons. Five years later, the award-winning program is still going strong in its goal of “connecting to the Hispanic community through food.” — REBECCA ERNST
BLUR | fall 2010
nine to five
online Internet classifieds reroute the job search.
BLUR | fall 2010
Bullet points and scam warnings?! Also, notice how there is no real contact information. Enjoy sitting around in anticipation for the next month to get an application— that is, if the mysterious school bus company in question gets back to you at all. — NICK LAWRENCE
Above: A typical classified ad from today, found on Craigslist. Right: February 16, 1995, “Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul.”
Photos by: Argonne National Laboratory, Craigslist, Marlie Barry, and the Star Tribune.
Looking for work has never been easier; finding it is another story. Popular sites like Craigslist provide employers with an enormous audience of potential employees to draw from, which isn’t a good thing for those looking for a job. Before the Internet age, finding a job was much easier: you opened the newspaper to the classifieds page, found an appealing ad, called the number, scheduled the interview and, soon enough, you were peeing in a cup. Let’s take a look at a typical classified ad from a much more simple (and prosperous) time. A PHONE NUMBER? Seriously—you mean I get to talk to an actual person? Ah, the good old days. Now, it goes more like this: scroll for a job (the requirements are so specific you can’t even get your foot in the door), do some resume spamming (pray to the gods someone replies) and then hear back from one job out of the 30 you applied for (Congratulations! You landed that coveted thirdshift janitorial job you only applied to as a last resort).
I AM [ENTER RACE HERE] Checking a box has never been so complicated.
Are you black or are you African-American? For me, race has always been a topic of consequence. I was born in Kenya, on the east coast of Africa, to a loving mother and a man I have never seen. Both were of Kenyan descent. My mother later married an American man from the Peace Corps, whom I consider my father. We moved to Minnesota when I was four to start a new life. A year later, my mom gave birth to my brother; he’s mixed. With the different racial backgrounds in my household, race was never a problem. My father preached to us that we are all human beings. If anyone ever asked our race, we should answer: the human race. Unfortunately, race relations have been an issue in the United States ever since its birth and plague it to this day. blur-mag.com
The U.S. Census, taken every ten years, must ask about race to comply with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. The box I chose for the race question in the 2010 Census was “Black, AfricanAmerican and Negro.” Checking that box not only went against my father’s advice, but raised some other issues. Why are all three of those categories in the same box? Also, if there were a chance to pick one of those options, which one would I, and others in a similar position, choose? Truth be told, this is a complicated answer. When black is listed separately from African-
American in race questions, it is assumed that there is a distinction being made between black people that were born in Africa and those who were born in the U.S. When they are listed together, like in the Census, it can be assumed no distinction is being made between the two. Or, the federal government is trying to save on ink and paper. The listing of Negro in the census is confusing; it’s hard to figure out why it’s even on the form. Census Bureau Spokesman Jack Martin told the New York Daily News that it’s a term of inclusion for the older generation of African-Americans. But many civil rights leaders rejected
Negro as early as the 1950s and 1960s. When will everyone cease to identify with the long-retired term? So how should we label ourselves? This is when my father’s wisdom really makes sense. Confusion ensues when we start to try and figure out what race people are. Many of my friends could care less if I’m AfricanAmerican or black, because in the end they judge me as an individual. So instead of trying to figure out what box to check, I’m going to choose the only box that truly identifies me: human. How long will it take for the Census to add that one? — KEN NELSON
BLUR | fall 2010
PAINT AND PREJUDICE Is graffiti art or vandalism?
BLUR | fall 2010
Photos by: Marlie Barry
Vandalism as Art: Graffiti is an
Art as Vandalism: Who pays
equal opportunity art form, open to anyone with a pen or paint. It’s art that serves to shock, intrigue or just get people to think. Graffiti artists have the world as their canvas and the public as their audience. Tom Owen, a retired St. Paul, Minn., graffiti artist, believes “the greatest message graffiti has to offer is true democratization of speech.”
the price for these open-ended canvases? Many frown upon graffiti, seeing it as destructive or an eyesore. Business owners complain it deters customers, while residents claim it reduces property value. Many major metropolitan police officers and city officials across the country, from Los Angeles to Minneapolis to Charlotte, N.C., are enforcing city ordinances to help home and business owners recover damages. And, they are attempting to reduce graffiti production overall. While repercussions, like fines and jail time, will temporarily hinder artists, graffiti is not a dying trend. It has been popping up on subways and benches since the 1970s. Officials nationwide have yet to find a solution to stop these artistic rebels. For the artists, the rebellion is half the fun, Owens says. — MARLIE BARRY
Not confined by material costs or canvas edges, graffiti serves as an outlet of expression and voice for the “starving artists” of today, just like it did for those of the past. With a spray can or pen in hand, artists can go out tagging, painting, signing their names or creating other representations of themselves. “Just because you can’t afford a billboard, or your message isn’t popular enough to get funding, doesn’t mean what you have to say is any less valuable or important,” Owen says. “Graffiti allows us the outlets to express.” blur-mag.com
BLUR | fall 2010
BLUR’s Wish List
Four needs you didn’t have, satisfied by consumerism.
Organic Batter Blaster $6.19 per can www.batterblaster.com Is there anything more American than breakfast food coming out of aerosol cans? We think not. Instead of going through the arduous steps of mixing water with eggs, flour, yeast and butter, buy these “spraycakes” and save yourself time and a mess.
CitiKitty Automatic Toilet Flusher $189.00 www.citikitty.com Who would’ve thought that cats could be potty trained? Or that their owners would be willing to buy a pricey, automatic toilet flusher just to keep the cat scat from floating around the bowl? And this wonder of modern engineering need not be reserved just for use by felines. Buy one and save yourself the effort of flushing.
Big Daddy Driver $49.95 www.bigdaddydriver.com How do you win the hearts and minds of suburban men? Excel at the two things they love most: lawn care and golf. Thankfully, the savvy consumer need not purchase equipment for both; the Big Daddy Driver is both driver and weed whacker. Just be careful not to whack your golf buddies as you go for that hole in one.
Blur Blogs Join the conversation as our bloggers examine everything from movies to ethics, identity to robots.
Fisticup Brass Knuckle Mug $18.00 www.fredflare.com How often does this happen: You’re in a coffee shop, ordering a chilled frappe-latte, when suddenly a brawl breaks out at the counter? No need to duck behind the nearest barista for cover. With this combination weapon and cup, you’ll be able to hold your own against all the caffeine-tweaked yuppies. — DUSTIN CAHILL
Ever wish you had a place to read about cyborgs, genetic engineering and augmented reality? Have we got a blog for you! Nerd out with our web team on
You could call Smudge a dumping ground for everything culture. And we’d be fine with that. Let us be your garbage men in the arts junkyard.
The Synthesis! Politics, discourse and ethics like you’ve never seen. Blogger Becky Ernst uses smarts and snark to discuss moral quandries of all stripes on
From a mixed background, Larry Gandy writes about identity and what it means today. Taboo, confusing and serious topics all find a home at
The Self Between.
Find all this and more at: BLUR | fall 2010
Photos by: Used with permission from www.batterblaster.com, www.citikitty.com and www.freflare.com.
ABOUT THE COVER
New York City is quite possibly the best place in the world to demonstrate how beautiful our differences can be. Photo taken November 21, 2010, in Times Square. â€” MATT CARLSON, BLUR STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER